I booked this back in October as soon as it was announced, and finally the date of our Warner Bros Harry Potter tour arrived on Saturday! I’ll pop most of the photos and info under a cut, since there’s an awful lot and some people who are visiting in the future might not want spoilers…
We had a great time last night learning how to make pasta properly at Fifteen restaurant, thanks to Google London. If you didn’t know, Fifteen is the restaurant set up by Jamie Oliver to train young apprentice chefs, and all profits are put back into training the next generation of chefs. Alumni of the scheme have gone on to open their own restaurants and work at other top kitchens in London, so the scheme’s definitely a success, and the flagship Fifteen is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
We started our class with chefs Alex and Nathan talking us through making the basic pasta dough. It’s just equal quantities of liquid (egg, water or flavourings like tomato, spinach or mushroom paste) to fine ’00’ flour, and a glug of olive oil. The dough is then kneaded to stretch out the gluten, then should be rested for up to 24 hours.
The rested dough is flattened by hand then fed into the pasta machine.
I picked up a top tip here that I’ve been missing out on at home: fold both edges of the dough back into itself on the first few goes to get a smooth ‘leathery’ texture and create a sharp straight edge. Genius.
When it’s long and thin, time to fill with a ravioli filling, in this case a mix of roasted squash, garlic, ricotta and chilli – yum.
Use a piping bag for pro results and make sure to leave plenty of space between each dollop for sealing.
Then ‘cup’ each little mound with your hands to seal and push out any air.
Finally, cut around each mound (a fancy ravioli cutter looks good but a pizza wheel or knife will do fine) and voila – perfect little raviolo. They just need boiling for 4-5 minutes and tossing in a butter sauce.
We got to take our proud creations with us to cook at home, along with some brilliant tips for making pasta at home. I learned loads that I hadn’t thought of while trying my own efforts, but it really is quick and easy when you know how.
We then headed down to the restaurant for a lovely meal of antipasti, the squash ravioli (properly prepared by Nathan!) and chocolate brownie, complete with a matching glass of wine for each course. Fab night, thanks Google and Fifteen.
Google are running loads of foody events at the moment due to acquiring respected restaurant reviewers Zagat, and lots of them are open to anyone who applies by reviewing some restaurants on Google Places, so keep an eye on their Twitter to see how you can get involved.
If there’s one thing I like doing it’s learning about new things, and I like it even more when it’s booze-and-yummy-food-fuelled. To this end, we spent a fabulously enjoyable evening at Protein’s Shoreditch HQ last Tuesday, at their first Alcohol Alchemy Academy (+++ points for alliterative title). Protein are a band of terribly clever people who analyse and forecast trends, as well as producing an excellent daily feed and putting on regular events in their gallery space.
After nibbles and warming cognac cocktails served in teacups, we split into groups and rotated around talks by the three guests: spirits aficionado Alex Kammerling, product designer Sabine Marcelis and Ash Millard, owner of North-London craft ale house The Southampton Arms.
We started with Alex Kammerling, an artist and bartender with 15 years’ involvement in the spirits industry. He started developing his own drink six years ago, getting inspiration from ancient Chinese medicine’s natural botanical ingredients with a view to making a healthier spirit — perhaps even one that doesn’t ever give you a hangover. The resultant ginseng-based beverage, packaged in its alluringly medicinal bottle, defies classification: part-bitters, part-liqueur and made using the same process as gin. After Alex explained the ingredients and process in getting to his final product, we sampled the spirit neat and then mixed into a cocktail.
I don’t usually experiment much with different spirits and I’m certainly not a fan of gin, but this stuff is different: aromatic, bittersweet, citrusy (thanks to fresh grapefruit rind in the mix) and surprisingly easy to drink due to its low 33% abv. I particularly loved it mixed into a cocktail with apple juice and ginger beer. Amazing. I’ll definitely be buying a bottle for impromptu supping.
Next we had a presentation from New Zealander Sabine Marcelis, who developed this beautiful sculptural wine home-brewing kit called House Wine. It’s a reaction to her realisation that traditional homebrew kits are usually ugly plastic bins hidden away in the garage, so you miss all the ‘magic’ happening. House Wine is designed to be a self-contained system for small-scale home brewing which is pretty enough to be out on display.
The wine ferments in the top bulb and is then siphoned into the lower one for further conditioning and bottling. All the other kit needed – hydrometers, cheesecloths and a corking device – is neatly tucked into a drawer in the base. We sampled one of her homemade Merlot grape and elderflower wines, which was somewhere between a red and rose and very delicious. Sabine is currently looking into putting House Wine into full production.
Finally, a talk and tasting of a range of beers from Ash Millard of Kentish Town’s Southampton Arms. This boozer only serves British-made craft beers from small breweries, and only ever buy one barrel of each beer so stock changes nightly. We sampled brews from Brodies and Dark Star and a coffee porter, and discussed the massive renaissance and appreciation of craft beers, especially in London.
The night was rounded off with more food, more beers and more cocktails. And no, I wasn’t hungover the next day, praise be to Kammerling’s. Keep an eye on Protein’s feed more more upcoming events, and you can see their (superior) photos of the night here.
Get ready for a handmade Christmas – here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of festive craft fairs in London.
November 21st – Decmeber 10th: Handmade-Christmas at Exmouth Market
November 22nd to December 15th: Handmade in Tooting (and Crafty Pint market on December 3rd)
November 25-27th (Holborn) and December 2-4th (Deptford): Cockpit Arts Open Studios
December 3rd: North London Vintage market in Crouch End
December 1st – 24th: The Temporium by Dezeen, Covent Garden
December 7th – 11th – The Workshoppe, Clerkenwell
Deceber 10th: We Make Christmas, Battersea
December 10th-11th: The Crafty Fox Christmas Markets, Brixton
December 17th: Rich Mix Christmas Market, Shoreditch/Bethnal Green
Did I miss any? Leave a comment and I’ll add it!
I spent most of Saturday cooking up a storm, firstly for family coming round for dinner, plus a few treats for a bloggy picnic on Sunday… (click all the names of the foods to go to the recipes)
For Saturday dinner starters I made baba ghanoush (aubergine dip) and Butternut ‘hummus’, with crispy pitta chips and Turkish bread to dip in. These were both delicious and easy to make; extra props to Grania for tips on the butternut hummus.
Cooking the aubergines whole over a gas flame makes them all smoky and soft – perfect for baba ghanoush.
For the main, more aubergines (my guests dropped hints that they like them..), baked and stuffed with feta, served with giant cous cous and griddled courgettes. I’ve been trying to steer clear of wheat lately as I don’t think it agrees with me much, so that means lots of ‘meaty’ veg and interesting non-wheat grains. With an amazing greengrocers just up the road and lots of local Turkish supermarkets with unusual grains, spices and sauces, this isn’t too hard to achieve. This dish went down well with my non-veggie guests too, so I’m calling it a win.
Everyone else made a good effort with the food too, it was quite a lovely spread. It was a really fun afternoon and great to chat to lots of new blogger friends – hello Lisa, Daisy Fay, Michelle, Alexis, Marianne, Carole, Ana, Becky, Elizabeth, Tori, Hannah, Ray.. phew!
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I spent a fun Thursday lunchbreak in the local Urban Outfitters yesterday, taking a stamp-cutting workshop with Christine Schmidt of fabulous SF-based stationery and jewellery studio Yellow Owl Workshop.
Christine was on hand giving tips and advice, as well as signing copies of her new book, Print Workshop, which covers all sorts of do-at-home printing projects, from block-printing to stencils.
I had a quick flick through and it looks like a very comprehensive guidebook to DIY printing, with tips on materials and techniques, as well as several pages of Christine’s own designs to use for personal projects.
Lookit, I made a little hello bubble stamp to take home! A little rough, but not bad for a lunchbreaks’ work.
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We had bags of fun last night at the Underground Night Market, hosted in the home of Secret Supper Club foody goddess Kerstin Rodgers, aka Ms Marmite Lover. It was a gorgeous warm evening and the house and garden were packed with people and all kind of lovely goodies, from sizzling bacon butties to refreshing sorbets.
Our nibbles of choice, Korean sliders and Mauritian chickpea fritters
Homemade spicy fruit liqueurs by Alchemist Dreams
Delicious fruity dessert shots by Art of Puddings
More photos on Flickr.
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Anthony Burrill‘s open studio, with interactive cut + paste fun
Lili Cowley Wood textiles
Kitty tent in Jaguarshoes‘ room
Mini village by the Themlot collective
Today is the last day of the show so, er, be quick if you want to see it!
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John Lumbus’ drumming hand, above, and tea cups, below
More photos on Flickr.
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Amazingly, it’s exactly a year since my amazing holiday to Japan – in fact today was our final day in Kyoto. Coincidentally, I just got an email from Atsuko, whose fantastic Japanese cooking course I attended earlier this year, to let me know about a week-long foody event she’s helping to organise.
It’s a celebration of shojin ryori cuisine, the vegetarian Buddhist diet of Japan that’s become a fine-dining experience in its own right. Focusing on health, balance and nourishment, this is special cooking – I had my own experience of it at Mikoan in Kyoto this very day last year and it was one of the best meals I’ve eaten.
The week-long schedule starting on November 15th comprises a free cooking demonstration on Monday, cooking classes on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday – each focusing on a different area of nourishment – and a shojin ryori feast on Thursday, cooked by celebrated Japanese chef/author (and Atsuko’s own mentor) Mari Fuji. Check out the menu here, and see the full schedule of events here. It’s all being held at the lovely Grocery in Dalston. I can’t recommend taking a cooking class highly enough; once you’ve learnt the basic skills you can cook so many dishes at home.
Email email@example.com to book the events, and if you mention that I sent you, you’ll get 20% off until November 14th!
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