Tramshed, Chicken & Steak, Shoreditch-London

NOTE: I am in London until the beginning of October, for Berlin Posts, please visit my Berlin, Favourites page or Places I’ve Eaten In  

We were 20 minutes late for our reservation at Tramshed on Saturday but since our reservation was for 5pm, an hour which is neither lunch nor dinner, I didn’t think to mention it when we gave our name to the hostess. That’s why I was surprised when the blond amazon woman receptionist with frizzy hair made a big fuss; flipping back and forth through stapled papers, scrolling up and down on the computer screen – like I was a George Costanza claiming to be on the guest list at a lady Gaga concert.

“Oh there you are! Your reservation was at 5.” She bristled. “You are half an hour late!”

“Well now I am.” I wanted to say because you’ve been wasting my time for 10 minutes.

“I just want to inform you that we will probably need the table back in one hour and 10 min. We might not but just so you know.”  I wanted to remind her that this is no longer February 2007 (boom) but rather June 2012 (bust) and that on behalf of her employers she should smile and thank me for my custom but I channeled my inner Yoda and simply look at her blankly.  Humor me and let me explore this inane statement for a minute. Because by trying to bully the customer, even one that is 20 minutes late, two things are guaranteed. First, the customer knowing that he will be “maybe, perhaps, possibly’ forcibly evicted when some kitchen timer behind the hostesses desk goes *ping*, doesn’t order a bottle of wine. Second, they skip any side dishes and desserts because to get through starters and a main course in an hour in unrealistic let alone side dishes and dessert.   The last thing the offended customer wants to do is pander to the bully receptionist by asking “Do you think  I have time to order dessert and give you more of my money?”

Meaning that she may have made her point but the restaurant has lost out on all their margins, since everyone knows those come from drinks, desserts and side dishes.I am sure that Mark Hix didn’t open 8 restaurants in 5 years, pen 9 books and commission a special Damien Hirst installation and use Jake and Dino Chapman “Insult to Injury” wallpaper  just so the customer could be put off their dinner within the first seconds of entering his restaurant.  Read more of this post

Reflections on Jordan

My two weeks in Jordan gave me some significant insight into myself.  Jordanians are possibly the most food obsessed people on the planet.  And my father is Jordanian, so it’s no wonder then, that I go on and on about food; it’s in my genes.
Jordanians are either eating, talking about eating or thinking about what they are gong to eat.  To this end, the provenance of their food is very important.  Not in the conscious way that it is in Europe in the minds of the nutritionally educated but in an inherent instinctual way.

Most things are organic because the land is rich enough to produce unaided and because industrial farming is, for the most part, not present.

A lot of families have an olive grove somewhere, or maybe a few trees or perhaps know of a few trees that they can plunder so that they can take their olives to a communal press and have their own olive oil made.  (And here I thought my mother’s friend from Crete was extreme, eschewing supermarket olive oil because ‘they put stuff in it” in favour of giant cans she would bring back to Athens with her from her village in Chania).

I risked paying a fine for excess luggage and lugged back a 3kg bag of Terra Rossa, hand-picked, extra virgin olive oil (0.8 % acidity).

If you want chicken, you go to the butchers, point at the live specimen which is quickly and efficiently dispatched to chicken heaven.  

Read more of this post

Chicken in Lemon Syrup with ras el hanout and harissa paste

I am not particularly gifted when it comes to meat cooking. In fact, I would say it’s my weakest area.  Some of the blame for that has to be attributed to the sub-standard meat available to the consumer.  You just need to take one bite of Michy’s Churrasco, and you instantly remember that “oh yeah” – this is what meat should taste like!  But the majority of it is all me.

I have a deft hand with poultry though and no doubt it helps that I have less performance anxiety.

I steer clear of animal during the week, having labeled myself with the moniker “a weekday vegetarian”.  Primarily to reduce my impact on the environment (thereby feeling virtuous) and because I love vegetables and pulses so it’s easy.

A it’s the weekend, I made this great chicken recipe out of Jason Atherton‘s book Maze: the cookbook.  I like this book as it has some truly original recipes including one for chicken poached in 1 kg of butter! (Love that! Don’t you?  And then we wonder how, some, restaurants make everything taste so good?!)  Here, Atherton has us making up a stock syrup, throwing in 5 lemons and a head of garlic poaching the chicken briefly then pan frying it.  The result is the chicken is sweet and spicy with crunchy skin and a fragrant red oil that goes particularly well with some simple green beans. (Although, my all time favourite chicken lemon recipe comes from Maggie Beer and I wrote about it here).  Read more of this post

Henne – The Chicken Place

I had been looking forward to eating at Henne for literally months!  I read about it in the Lonely Planet guide to Berlin and the quirkiness of a place that served just chicken intrigued me to no end.  It must be really good chicken!  If they have managed to keep their doors open for 100 years and haven’t caved in and offered a vegetarian option or some pork (in the land where pork is king). Read more of this post


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