The Breakfast Club’s Pancake Day Challenge 2014

Pancake Pheebz

Pancake Pheebz

It’s Pancake Day! Rejoice! Finally, we can give these simple floury, eggy, milky creations the full appreciation they deserve.

Why then, am I looking so anxious at the giant stack of pancakes in front of me? Because I had to eat them ALL in 15 minutes – that’s why.

Every Mardi Gras, The Breakfast Club really does take the day at it’s literal meaning – ‘Fat Tuesday’ – and presents customers with an ego-massaging, or ego-destroying, Man V Food eating competition. The rules are as simple as the ingredients: eat all the pancakes within the time limit and pay nothing; fail and pay £17.50 to Rays of Sunshine children’s charity (so basically, it’s a win-win situation).

Last year, I wolfed down 12 pancakes in 20 minutes, earning myself some applause and this wonderful footage of me gagging bravely struggling.

This year, the challenge was tougher: just 15 minutes for 12 pancakes. And they were definitely bigger and eggier than before.

The monster portion

The monster portion

I knew before I started that defeat lay ahead of me, but how much did I enjoy getting dirty?!

Concentrating on chewing

Concentrating on chewing

Kissing the cream

Kissing the cream

By ten minutes in, I settled for defeat. Quantity was not the problem so much as sweetness and dryness, and swallowing pancakes mixed with water was not agreeing with my stomach. By taking the sensible decision to quit, I a) didn’t feel ill all afternoon and b) got to take away what I didn’t finish – win! Pancake Day is lasting that bit longer for me and I’m looking forward to breakfast!

Apparently, there is no such thing as too many pancakes…

Pancakes in London: The Functional, The Fancy and The Foreign

Plum and cinnamon compote at The Delaunay

Plum and cinnamon compote at The Delaunay

Original article posted on Tryum.com.

Pancake Day. Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. Whatever the term… the day of pancake goodness approaches!

Simple though they are, pancakes are a comfort food that can insistently transport you back to your childhood days. They come in many different forms and many different guises. So if you want to branch out this Pancake Day, here are some top tips for shaking things up a bit…

The Functional: My Old Dutch

If you want pancakes, My Old Dutch has pancakes! The Holborn branch is a favourite haunt of LSE students, and it keeps things simple. It serves up a range of sweet and savoury treats at pitch-perfect prices – you can get a pancakey fix from £5.95. Or if you go for the Monday Madness, all pancakes are just a fiver. Bargain!

Pancake with vanilla ice-cream = winning

Pancake with vanilla ice-cream = winning

Try the apple/pear and cinnamon for the perfect amount of sweetness and the ability to smugly claim that you’ve just eaten one of your five-a-day.

Pear and cinnamon

Pear and cinnamon

Where: Kensington, Holborn, Chelsea
Website: http://www.myolddutch.com/

The Fancy: The Delaunay

Sitting on the Aldwych, The Delaunay is a fixture on the London dining scene for serving up good quality European fare in rather swish settings. However, The Delaunay is definitely not above serving the simple delights that are pancakes. On their brunch menu, there are the classic delights of bacon and maple syrup (£9.75) and blueberries and crème fraiche (£9.95), or the more unusual plum and cinnamon compote (£10.50). I’m not going to lie though – it’s all about the bacon. Who can resist that saltiness cutting through the sweetness, cushioned with some soft dough? Not me, anyway.

Bacon and maple syrup

Bacon and maple syrup

The atmosphere is far more laid back than you might expect from a place that has doormen and two people working front-of-house. Settle in and get your pancakes on order. Also, fear not: at the Delaunay, poshness does not equate to portion poverty. The pancakes are some of the heaviest we’ve ever sampled and they’re huge. You may well be defeated.

Where: 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
Website: http://www.thedelaunay.com/

The Foreign: Japanese Pancakes

Savoury – Okonomiyaki by Sho Foo Doh, Pacific Social Club

Stop with the sushi stereotypes! There are pancakes in Japan too, and they’re delicious enough that you should definitely put them on your food radar. Famously un-Japanese in aesthetics is the incredibly messy okonomiyaki. This is a savoury pancake, made from the standard eggs and flour, but with cabbage, topped with a sweet sauce, mayonnaise, fish flakes and seaweed. It can have various fillings – most popular is squid or pork. Yes, it sounds like a catastrophe but trust us, it works.

For some seriously delicious and messy times, head to the Pacific Social Club on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night where Sho Foo Doh cooks up Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (£8) which include NOODLES!! You can then add a range of toppings priced between £0.50 and £3.

Okonomiyaki Hiroshima-style!

Okonomiyaki Hiroshima-style!

Where: Pacific Social Club, 8 Clarence Road, E5 8HB
Website: https://www.facebook.com/shofoodoh

Sweet – Dorayaki at Japan Centre

Chocolate dorayaki

Chocolate dorayaki

If you absolutely refuse to take your pancakes savoury, then you need to get stuck in to dorayaki. These are similar to Scotch American pancakes but come with a gorgeous sweet filling sandwiched in between. In Japan, the filling tends to be azuki bean paste or custard, but a whole range can be bought from the Japan Centre, just round the corner from Picadilly Circus. Like this red bean and cream cheese mix. There’s also a really genius matcha (green tea) and mascarpone mix. Warning: these are addictive.

Red bean & cream cheese dorayaki

Red bean & cream cheese dorayaki

Where: 19 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7ED
Website: http://www.japancentre.com/

Choccywoccydoodah, off Carnaby Street

BrownieHow many of you will be giving or given chocolate this Valentine’s Day? It’s a pretty standard gift that ensures that February 14th is sickly sweet in more ways than one. Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate, of course. Just why not give your special someone a little bit more of an imaginative, full-on chocolate experience? You know, a bit of a cocoa thingamabob? Or a sugary whatsit?  Or maybe, some… Choccywoccydoodah?

Yes, Choccywoccydoodah does exist and it will excite even the most chocolate-apathetic among us. Hailing from Brighton, they have now set up a shop and café just off London’s Carnaby Street.

Bunny girl bath
Imagine what would happen if Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory got it on with a fine lady’s boudoir. You get extravagance, flamboyance, weirdness and wackiness all rolled into one. In fact, entering Choccywoccydoodah for the first time will visually overwhelm you. There is too much to take in – it’s an Aladdin’s Cave of all things yummy.

Cartoonish models of bunny girls are interspersed with giant marshmallow lollies, strawberry chocolates, hearts and flowers. It’s so over-the-top and playful that I defy you not to grin and squeal, and start examining all the treasures.

Mantlepiece
Up the stairs, you will find a small café split on two levels. The centrepiece is a table covered with cakes that are just as extravagant as the décor. At Choccywoccydoodah, the request of ‘just a small slice, please’ is seriously frowned upon. At Choccywoccydoodah, size is everything.

Now that you’ve impressed your loved one with such opulent and ogle-worthy offerings, take a table and order the hot chocolate (£3.50). This is one of London’s best – you can choose from milk, dark or white and it comes with marshmallows, plenty of cream and a chocolate straw. Also on the menu are milkshakes, chocolate fondue and the dangerously sumptuous Choccywoccydoodah sundae.

Hello hot chocolate
There is enough here for your love affair to weather several repeat visit – and it may also be a teeny-weeny bit addictive. A word of caution: the café does get busy so allow yourself plenty of time as you may have to queue. Just remember that all good and pleasurable things are worth waiting for.

So if you really want to impress your loved one for Valentine’s Day, off you trot to Carnaby Street. Choccywoccydoodah will give you all the choccy woccy you need… please save the doodah for later 😉

Website: https://www.choccywoccydoodah.com/
Where: 30-32 Fouberts Place, off Carnaby St, London,W1F 7PS
When: Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm; Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Article originally published on Tryum.com, which you check out for loads more London food news.

 

Semla Season – A Quick Trip to Bageriet, Covent Garden

Sweet treats

Sweet treats

I’ve decided to do something rather mad. I’ve decided to have a sugar-free February. The reasons for this are two-fold and I won’t elaborate on them here. Instead, I’ll cut to the important part – the part about what any dessert-loving person might do when faced with a sugarless February: eat a shed-load of sugary desserts.

As it so happens, it’s semla season. For those of you who have never heard of a semla or semlor, they’re a cardamom-spiced bun with the top sliced off, filled with an almond paste and whipped cream, and they’re eaten across Scandinavia for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras. Last year, I went on an epic hunt for semlor across London and tried three different semlor.

Semla

Semla

Daniel Karlsson, pastry chef of one of the semla I sampled previously, has since set up a tiny, quaint Swedish bakery/café in Covent Garden called Bageriet (you can read about my previous visit here). I took a trip with a friend who had never tried a semla and was desperate to get their Scandinavian/Swedish sugar fix.

Now being a tiny specialist bakery, this isn’t the cheapest dessert rampage in the world, but we’re oh-so-cultured, so we ordered our semlor at over £4 each. I got mine with cinnamon milk, which is apparently the traditional way to eat semlor. Personally, I found it was a little thin and that it detracted from the bun, but I quite enjoyed drinking it separately.

Semla with cinnamon milk

Semla with cinnamon milk

The semlor themselves are CREAMY. Be warned. But the texture of the bun is beautifully light and the almond paste is fantastic.

Not content with just cakes, we got the home-made hot chocolate. This was way too mild for me on the chocolate front, but my partner-in-sugar-munching was delighted with its gentle spiciness. It certainly warmed us up on a cold day.

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

As for the sugar-free February, the following day was the February 1st and my resolutions fell epically flat. I went to a friend’s birthday meal at Wagamama, where out of their excessively long menu, there was NOTHING that didn’t contain sugar. I was offered raw vegetables without dressing, declined and ordered whatever. On Monday we begin again, I vowed.

To be continued…

Bageriet

Website: http://www.bageriet.co.uk/
Where: 
24 Rose Street, WC2E 9EA
When: Monday – Friday 9am-7pm; Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday – closed.

Some more Swedish treats…

009

008

007

Review: Hurwundeki, Korean café, Bethnal Green

Chandeliers and railway arches

Chandeliers and railway arches

This is the era of postmodernism. Gone are the days of restrictive categories and set definitions. Why should a café just serve food? And why shouldn’t a hair salon serve a decent lunch?

Welcome to Hurwundeki – a place that can take care of both your hunger and your haircut needs. Located in the railway bridge arches next to Cambridge Heath station, you might be forgiven for thinking they sold tyres rather than Korean cuisine. Even more baffling, despite the industrial store front – blue corrugated metal – the yard is filled with ancient play park toys and eclectic chairs.

Hurwundeki

Hurwundeki

The inside, however, exudes a kind of shabby cuteness. Chandeliers dangle from the brick arches above tightly packed tables. There’s a simple open kitchen, which allows you to spy on large tubs of kimchi and other dishes being freshly prepared.

Under the arches...

Under the arches…

Peeking into the open kitchen...

Peeking into the open kitchen…

A cursory glance at the menu will tell you that there’s more than classic Korean fare on offer – udon noodles make an appearance and bulgogi beef is to be found holidaying on top of bread! Hurwundeki are proud to have just launched a fusion lunch menu, which includes Korean salads and Koran curries on sourdough bread (a new kind of open sandwich perhaps?). There are both traditional and modern Korean dishes with some surprises thrown into the mix.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

I went straight for the classic – the beef bibimbap (£6.50) served with an egg yolk on top. I love this dish in that it is fresh and filling. Hurwundeki’s version did not disappoint and, mixed with the chilli sauce, it was the perfect pick-me-up weekend lunch that I was hoping for.

My lunch partner took a chicken stir-fry on rice – simple but tasty – and we shared some chicken dumplings or mandu (£4.50) on the side.

Chicken with rice

Chicken with rice

Chicken dumplings

Chicken dumplings

We were both feeling a little sleepy on a Saturday afternoon but again Hurwundeki had us covered: we happily caffeinated ourselves with a latte and a mocha. For those fancying something a little stronger, you can bring your own wine (or maybe even some soju if you want to keep things Korean).

Pretty latte

Pretty latte

Pretty mocha

Pretty mocha

Finally, if you feel you ought to smarten yourself up, step through the arch and get yourself a haircut in a room decorated with eclectic old objects, looking more like a period set piece than a hair salon.

In the salon

In the salon

In the salon

In the salon

Hurwundeki – Reasonably priced traditional and fusion Korean dishes with a whole load of quirky charm thrown in.

Website: www.facebook.com/Hurwundeki
Where: 98-299 Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9HA
When: Mon – Fri 8am – 10pm, Sat 9am – 10pm, closed on Sundays.

Review: Biscuit Ceramic Café, Greenwich

CAKE TIME

CAKE TIME

I love Greenwich market. It is crammed full of beautiful jewellery, clothing, leather bags, art and other crafts, and upmarket food produce. It basically screams “Hello, I’m a middle-class shopping haven” and I absolutely, unabashedly love it.

I am, of coruse, blaming it for making me buy loads of stuff for me instead of presents for others. In fact, it was so tempting that my sister and I had to drag ourselves away from it fairly sharpish. We settled into the adjacent  Biscuit Ceramic Café for a (not so) well-deserved hot drink and cake.

Biscuit has a great vibe – always bustling and with friendly staff, it normally has a fair amount of kids covered in paint as they decorate various ceramic shapes, although there are always a fair amount of ‘grown-ups’ having a go. There are shelves lined with white ceramic items begging for colour.

Disco santa

Disco santa

Paint me!

Paint me!

My sister Macadie and I managed to quell our inner children and resist painting a whole army of Santas (although she spotted a kid with a Dalek and was looking a little too eagerly for some more). Instead we took advantage of their wonderfully reasonable offer of £4.25 for any hot drink and homemade cake.

Chocolate torte

Chocolate torte

Mac tucked into a generous slice of chocolate torte, which was very dense but a little dry. I got myself a mocha – slightly too sweet for my liking – with a toffee pecan cheesecake. Oh, this was a very good cheesecake. Not too sickly. Base perfectly biscuity. I had to pace myself.

Toffee pecan cheesecake

Toffee pecan cheesecake

The only slight mishap was my nut-allergic sister thinking she could get away with trying a bit of my cheesecake minus any pecan chunks. Well, as it turns out, she is slightly more allergic than she thought and sent one dedicated Phoebe running to Boots for antihistamines as her lips swelled up. Who needs implants eh?

My superhero mission did, however, earn me forgiveness from the fashion police as I was wearing eye-watering triple-patterning, topped off with a purple sparkly scarf.

Fashion baby

Fashion baby

We spent over two hours sitting at the back of Biscuit, sipping our drinks, munching cakes and generally have a sisterly catch-up. I have a feeling we’ve found a new favourite haunt.

Biscuit 3.5/5 – Perfect for relaxing as well as indulging any creative urges. Take advantage of their great value hot drink and cake deal for £4.25.

Website: http://www.biscuit-biscuit.com/
Where: 3 – 4 Nelson Road, Greenwich, SE10 9JB
When: Mon – Fri 10am – 5.30pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 6pm

Burger Bonanza… Lucky Chip and Honest Burgers

Oooh what's hiding under that bun? Read on...

Oooh what’s hiding under that bun? Read on…

The past 24 hours have been tough. Very tough indeed. I may have reached my foodie limit. For I have consumed two very large, heavy burgers along with some not insubstantial other meals and some luxury gelato. I type this having awakened from a burger-induced slumber, although I’m struggling to reach the keyboard as my burger-belly is making tucking the chair in very difficult.

Oh, all right – I give in! I LOVE burgers and there’s no such thing as too many! It was an awesome 24 hours…or 18 hours to be more precise!

Lucky Chip’s Jesse Pinkman Burger

It started with an adventure on Friday night to visit Lucky Chip, who are somewhat legendary on the London burger scene and are currently residing in the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green. They recently caused quite a stir with a Breaking Bad menu. Check out what they were ‘cooking up’ – sounds enough to make any foodie high.

One item proved rather popular that they injected a new lease of life into it by making it a special for this week – the Jesse Pinkman burger (£9.50). So if this inspiring chap…

Jesse Pinkman

…were to order a burger, he’d order this:

No, that's not ketchup.

No, that’s not ketchup.

What is that, you ask? This is a burger with PEANUT BUTTER and JAM (yes Americans, it will never be jelly to us). But it doesn’t stop there. It has the classic accompaniments of bacon and cheese, and some seriously hot red chillies.

What did it taste like? Well, to be honest, as weird as it sounds. The jam had almost no flavour at all, which meant that this burger was a complete salt-fest. I mean, it contains peanut butter and cheese and bacon – how could it not be salty? Still, I did love confusing my tongue; what’s that motto – try everything once?!

Beetroot-flavoured onion rings

Beetroot-flavoured onion rings

Chips with sweet chilli and wasabi mayonnaise

Chips with sweet chilli and wasabi mayonnaise

We also had some beetroot-flavoured onion rings (£4), which were not very beetrooty and disappointingly soggy, but Lucky Chip need to be commended for their chips with sweet chilli dip and wasabi mayonnaise (£4). Particularly the wasabi mayonnaise. This is a very good thing. Unlike wasabi ice-cream, which I recently bought from the Japan Centre, and which was just jarringly wrong.

Will definitely be back to give Lucky Chip another try – watch this space for a review of their normal  burgers!

Website: http://www.luckychipuk.com/
Where: Sebright Arms / Netil Market

Honest Burgers’ Chrismas Special

I think this is the epitome of the term 'food porn'

I think this is the epitome of the term ‘food porn’

For a much more palatable burger, I highly recommend Honest Burgers’ Christmas special, which I sampled at their Camden Lock branch. This is a juicy patty made from Ginger Pig beef (food snobs, you know what I mean), with deep-fried Camembert, cranberry sauce, smoked bacon and rocket, served with their legendary rosemary chips (£11).

When served to me, the waiter told me very proudly how it was best to squash the burger down so the very hot, gooey Camembert cheese coated the whole burger in its beautiful, cheesy goodness. This man was not wrong. What a frickin’ genius burger idea. I find Camembert quite strong but who can resist it when deep fried? With cranberry sauce? If I had to be picky, I could’ve done with a tad more cranberry sauce. But this honestly was a delight.

Honest Burgers are expanding their burgery empire and can now be found in four locations: Brixton, Soho, Camden and Portobello. Check their website for details.

Website: http://www.honestburgers.co.uk/