September 29, 2009

First House Guest

I had my first house guest this past weekend! My colleague Serene from Singapore extended her work trip over the weekend and stayed with me. She's into vintage stuff and markets so we went to Portobello on Saturday morning. The last time I went to Portobello I didn't really manage to see much of the vintage and antique shops and wasn't very impressed. I was quite amazed to see all these alley ways of shops in the snaking galleries behind the main shop front. Much larger than I thought they were and full of all sorts of trinkets and furniture and jewellery from yesteryear.

I managed to pick up a few nice pieces of jewellery for myself and Serene also scored quite a few purchases. Wan headed straight for his German food truck with another friend and we only managed to catch up just before we were due to leave for our lunch appointment. I had a proper undamaged Hummingbird Red Velvet this time and it was truly moist! I need to make cupcakes like that. This second trip opened my eyes its treasure trove and I will definitely be back.

We left my friend shopping and the 3 of us headed to Launceston Place (off Gloucester Rd) for lunch with other members of FAT (Food Appreciation Team, more on that next time). Launceston Place is part of the same group of restaurants (D&D London) as Orrery (which wasn't that great) and quite a few other nice restaurants. The chef Tristan Welch was previously from Petrus so it was something I was looking forward to after a friend recommended it highly. A 3-course lunch for £19 sounds like really good value at this restaurant. After some initial confusion, we managed to claim the table and got our order in before the kitchen closed. What followed was possibly one of the best meals I've had in London since I arrived (have I said this before?).

All of us had similar variations even though there were 3 choices for each course. We were served pickled cucumber in a yogurt sorbet as an amuse-bouche and for starters it was pumpkin soup or crab risotto. I personally had the pumpkin soup, which was amazing, very smooth and velvety with the right sweetness, accented by the tender beetroot cubes and finely grated cheese for slightly more creaminess. The crab risotto seemed pretty good too, full flavoured and served in a crab shell with a wasabi-laced pesto puree.

09 London Food

We then had our main course, which was poached chicken breast (yes all 6 of us had the same thing) with girolles in a hollandaise sauce, accompanied by some kale and baby carrots which we ordered as sides. While it sounded simple, the chicken breast was very tender. Usually I tend to avoid chicken breast as it is usually dry but this was juicy and tender, without the fattiness of the thigh. The baby carrots were really delicious as they were caramelised.

09 London Food1

The palette cleanser was a lime and raspberry sorbet, a little too sour for me but did its job. For dessert, most of us ordered the roast peach with almond ice-cream while there was also 2 people sharing the gigantic apple tart. The apple tart was excellent, handmade flaky puff pastry with chunky pieces of caramelised apples served with clotted cream. Yum. My roast peach was alright but next time I go back, it's going to be the tart. I was quite wowed by the food, although the same could not be said about the service. Patchy at best, and not very friendly.

I was so full afterwards (we only ended lunch at 4.30pm) I had to walk around to be debloated. I went home and 'exercised' by potting my plants, which caused a massive backache afterwards. Stooping over the step and scooping compost into pots in the dark was not exactly fun. I had gotten some lavender, herbs and small flowers the previous week and just chucked the pots on the balcony. I only recently managed to buy my compost and long container so I wanted to transplant the plants. Unfortunately, I don't think I have very green fingers and my plants look worse after repotting. I must have overwatered most of the plants cos the lavender's drooping (apparently it likes well-drained dry soil) and the violas are also wilting. Sigh. At least the herbs look ok.

I can't believe after that we still went out for dinner at Cha Cha Moon that night (one of my fave cheap eats) albeit a little later than usual. I finally got to try the Chiu Chow Rice Cake, which was chwee kueh! I had spied it on my last visit and was determined to see if it matched up to the ones back home. Sadly, they were served cold, and small (they probably made it in a petit four tart shell) and the chye poh was mixed with bean sauce and a bit salty. The chicken satay salad was not bad but the winner of the night was the tea. Advertised as Hong Kong Milk Tea, it was really teh tarik (HK Milk Tea usually has another taste) and it was good! My constant gripe about Cha Cha Moon is that there is no dessert :( They really need to add dessert (are you reading this Connie? heehee) and it would be perfect!


Linnet said...

hey babe! great pictures! and they make me miss london!
we went to launceston place on our 2nd last day too :) and yups, the food's amazing eh??? apple tart!!!! :)

hope u are settling in well and that the plants will settle in well too :)


Connie said...

Cha Cha Moon does do breakfast!! My main gripe is that there is no congee!

EL said...

dessert my dear! not breakfast! like soya beancurd, sesame cream, almond cream, stewed papaya with snow pear and white fungus! haha...

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