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Showing posts from October, 2010

The Sunday Times Food List Top 10 and Jinkichi

Jinkichi is another of those Japanese restaurants for which I have a massive soft spot and like to visit as often as possible.

Their speciality is yakitori, and they offer slightly esoteric items such as tori-kawa (chicken skin), suna-gimo (chicken gizzards), gyu-tan (ox tongue), and occasionally, if you're very lucky, nankotsu (chicken cartilage - crunchy heaven).

They also have zosui rice soup, as well as tuna natto, salmon jaws, and my beloved Calpico. So not just sanitised sushi and tempura, and more like downtown Tokyo.


The food is smashing, but despite being in Hampstead, Jinkichi is far from fancy - you wouldn't expect to see it get into the Michelin Guide any time soon.

It has, however, made the Food List. For, tomorrow, the first ever The Food List: Britain’s Top 200 Restaurants will be launched by the Sunday Times, and Jinkichi has made number 71.
And the reason Jinkichi is there (above many other more chichi joints) is because this list concentrates purely on the foo…

PUMPKIN Does Not Get TOUGHER Than This

Dear Waitrose,
Here is my entry for your Pumpkin Carving Competition.
Hope you like it!
Lots of love,
meemalee xxx ps follow the further adventures of Pumpkin Gregg here.

Pumpkin Fun at Halloween

I adore Halloween - parties, sweets, dressing up, movies, hiding from local chavs as they bang on your door asking for money, and no obligation to buy anyone a present - best festival ever.

It bugs me a little when people complain that it's a purely American tradition and shouldn't be celebrated in Britain, as Halloween is actually descended from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, although these days jack o'lanterns are carved out of pumpkins rather than turnips.

Pumpkins are probably my favourite part of Halloween. I've been carving the blighters since my first year at uni - because when you're a student, you embrace every festival going, be it Diwali or Hanukkah - so that's more than 10 years of pumpkin joy. My friends and I would try our best to out-do each other with ever more elaborate designs, and then line the lit-up pumpkins up in a ghoulish parade, turn out the lights and watch horror films all night (last year, we made our own movie).

Possibly even…

Bray's Cottage Pork Pies - Perfect in Every Way

I went to Chocolate Unwrapped last week. Still debating whether or not to write about it. You see, although most of the wares were a delight, a few of the vendors were less so.

This isn't just the case with chocolatiers - there seems to be a strange type of snobbery (or maybe complacency) prevalent in certain producers and restaurants where they think customer service is irrelevant if their goods are renowned for being the best (regardless of whether they actually are or not).

This attitude is unwarranted and also rather short-sighted. I couldn't care less if they're selling me rainbows - if people are dismissive, or they act like I should be lucky to taste their food, they can take a running jump - they won't be getting repeat custom from me.

And then, there are those who make up for everyone else. Bray's Cottage of North Norfolk is one of them.


Now, Bray's Cottage are known in food circles as being one of the best pork pie purveyors in Britain. Their pies have s…

Brock Hall Farm Or: How I Learned to Like Goats' Cheese

Though an ardent food-lover, there are a few food-stuffs which I'm really not particularly keen on:
Aubergines, for their creepy texture and nothing flavour, though people have tried to cure me, and one place almost succeeded. Cucumbers, for their ability to make me start belching like a small toad if I even get a sniff of them. Cardamom, but only when used in sweet food - love it in, say, a chicken biryani. And goats' cheese, because it's claggy, and whiffs and tastes like a sweaty, goaty jockstrap.But - I am always happy to be proved wrong.

And so it was the case that the first time I tried Soft Fresh, a goats' cheese from Brock Hall Farm (about which I'd heard good things), I had a cheesy epiphany.

It came in the shape of an onion tart.

My husband's choice of starter for lunch at The Wild Garlic in Dorset.

I poo-poo'd his folly, as I merrily ordered a pot of stickily delicious moules marinieres.



But then his onion tart arrived, and it smelt so wonderful an…

The Pickle Poll [CLOSED]

Mat tries Barry Norman's Pickled Onions - the finest known to man -
and fails to appreciate them in any way.

Mat Follas does not like pickles.

I do not like liquorice.

I think I'm in the majority; he thinks that he is.

Vote now - the poll will close midnight on Friday.

The loser has to treat the winner to a free dinner. I don't want to lose.

The question is - Which do you HATE?

20.11.2010: THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED - And I won :)

Thanks for voting!




Meemalee's Kitchen at The Wild Garlic

I'm staring at the biggest box of onions I have ever seen in my life. And all I can think is, "Oh boy".

About six months ago, I was chatting on Twitter, when someone asked me for a Burmese restaurant recommendation. I mentioned Mandalay as being the only place I knew of, and then someone else jumped in and asked if I'd do a Burmese night and cook for people.

The next thing I knew, Mat Follas, the chef and owner of The Wild Garlic and winner of MasterChef 2009, tweeted to me, "Why don't you come and cook Burmese food at my place?"

I am not a chef. I had never been in a professional kitchen. So I did what any normal person would have done in the circumstances, and I rang up my friend Kavey and screamed at her in excitement,

"Oh My God - is he joking? I'd love to do it. Do you think I can do it? What the hell should I say?"

Kavey is infinitely more sensible than me, and she said to me, "Play it cool and say yes".

So I said yes. Fast forwa…

The Wild Garlic, Beaminster, Dorset

Yes, I know I've just come back from cooking Burmese food at The Wild Garlic and you may want to know a little more about that.
However, I thought I'd take a step back and throw you a curve ball by writing about what Mat Follas and his fine brigade normally dish up.
Last February, my husband, his brother, his brother's girlfriend and I had resolved that as soon as the gladiator that had slain his opponents in culinary warfare had established a going concern, we would venture west and pay a pilgrimage to this champion.



Well, life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans, so it's not till more than a year later that we four are embarking on an adventure to the distant land of Dorset to make good this resolution.
None of us want to drive, so we get a train to the nearest station, and thus find ourselves in the village of Crewkerne wondering what the hell to do. There's some kind of funfair being set up, and the temptation to go on the Mega-Dance and …