Saturday, 31 March 2012

It's Time To Grill - Barbecue T-bone Steak with Pitt Cue Co.-inspired Chipotle Slaw

With the weather bonkers at the moment, I tried to grab every given opportunity to have my barbecue fit whenever I can. So when I came across some beautiful looking T-bone steak in the market, my first instinct was to buy them and have a simple BBQ with them. What could be nicer than a smoky and flavoursome steak for a weekday supper.

I always love T-bone, but it is not very easy to come by especially in most restaurant. This is highly bizarre give that this cut contain the best of both worlds: a large strip of flavoursome sirloin and a small strip of tender fillet. The bone contribute lots of flavour as it cook and all it takes is very light grilling and you will have before you a tender piece of juicy steak for a meal.

To complete this easy supper, I have came up with my own take on the yummy chipotle slaw that I've had from the famous Pitt Cue Co. at the beginning of the week and I must say, it tasted very nice indeed.

For the Chipotle Slaw: (Serves 2)


1 small celeriac, finely shredded
1 medium carrot, finely shredded
1/2 mooli/ daikon, finely shredded
2 tbsp créme fraîche
1 tbsp mayonaise
2 tbsp chipotle en adobo (click here for recipe)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, plus a bit for garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
a small pinch of cayenne pepper, for garnish


Combine all the shredded vegetables in a large bowl.
Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, add the créme fraîche, mayonnaise, chipotle en adobo, lemon juice  and whisk to combined.
Pour the dressing into the bowl of vegetables, add the chopped coriander and toss to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.
Just before serving, garnish with some chopped coriander and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
For the T-bone steak: (Serves 2)


2 T-bone steak
4 tbsp my homemade dry rub (click here for recipe)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Holy-Moly BBQ Sauce, to serve (click here for recipe)


Place the steaks on a plate and sprinkle liberally with the dry rub and rub until the steaks are well coated. Turn the steak over and repeat. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
When ready to cook, start the barbecue. 
Note: For more information about starting a barbecue, see my BBQ spareribs post.
The barbecue is ready when the coals gives off an orange glow and the fire has dies off. Oil the grill grate before grilling. Fold a kitchen paper into a small pad and grip it with a long handled tongs. Dip this into a small bowl of sunflower or vegetable oil.  Brush the oiled paper pad along the bars of the grate.
Arrange the steak on the barbecue and grill for 4-5 minutes each side for medium-rare (adjust the timing according to how you like you steak). Season with salt and pepper whilst it's grilling. Remove the steak from the barbecue and rest for a 3-4 minutes before serving it with the chipotle slaw and a generous helping of the Holy-Moly Sauce. Chips or pan-fried potatoes are also great addition.

A Neopolitan Manifesto - Pizza Pilgrims, Berwick Street Market, Soho

I don't like pizza. For no particular reason, I just never seemed to have the same fascination that most people have in regards to this Italian creation. Maybe it's due to the number of bad versions from the horrible Pizza Hut chains that I was forced to consume when I was young; or the occasional unwilling dining dates in the Pizza Express who serves just equally bad takes on this dish. Before you say anything, I have been to Rome and surprisingly, had a really good pizza that was topped simply with a rich and deliciously tart tomato sauce and basil on a thin, crusty base which I thoroughly enjoyed. But that was probably the only good one that I can remember.

However, ever since I got wind about this little street van establishment, I was immediately captivated by the back-story of this entrepreneur brother duo. Rather admirably, they have been travelling around Italy in order to learn the perfect techniques and recipes to make authentic Neopolitan pizza. Ever since their debut on Berwick street, I have been watching them at work with sheer fascination. The dough were homemade and every pizza is cooked fresh to order in the mobile fire oven at the back of their Piaggio Ape 50. Everytime I walked past, there is a queue building up and these seems to get longer and longer by the day.
 After putting it off time and time again, I have finally decided to pay this pizza pilgrims a visit. I  managed to persuade of couple of my friends, Jonny and Oli, to join me in this venture on this glorious sunny day for lunch.
Through the buzzing crowds of Berwick street, we arrived at this charming little stall. Oli and I both ordered the today's special - Pizza Bianca and Jonny decided to go for the Margherita. Even though the Bianca was supposed to consist of Nepoli sausage, I was told that they've ran out and will instead have andouille spicy sausage which was fine by me, always love a spicy kick in my food.

There was a really friendly atmosphere in the stall. The owners/chef were busy making the pizza, but still managed to chat to the diners who were were waiting patiently throughout the whole process. We were all mesmerised by the fire oven in the back of the van. There's something truly magically about watching a pizza being made from scratch.

The little balls of pizza dough - which I've  learnt later on were a mixture of overnight dough and fresh yeast - were placed onto the work top. These were then flatten by pushing the fingers into them and turning them as he go along to spread it into thin discs. After which he just started tossing them effortlessly, as you would, like a true pro, into a paper thin base for the pizza. The thick tomatoes sauce were then spread onto the bases, little cubes of mozzarella were then scattered on top of these and the rest of the ingredients following swiftly. These were then placed on the wooden paddle and insert into the fire oven to be cooked. It's all rather theatrical and just added to the whole experience. I would expect nothing less for a street food!

When the pizza were ready, they started yelling out names of the diners to alert them of their order. Rather unfortunate for a chap named 'Matt', after a few attempts of trying to locate him with no success, they gave the Bianca to my friend Oli, who was next in line. 

'Mmm...this is good' muttered Oli between mouthfuls.

Due to the no-show of 'Matt', they called out my name and a few other just to make sure that we are still present. Mine was ready not long after, and when my name was called, like a good obedient kid, I went forward, unable to contain my excitement after the prequel of seeing the chef at work, and grab this delicious looking pizza. The mozzarella has melting into a thin pool of creamy white strands coating the flavoursome tomato sauce. It was salty and rich and the addition of fresh tomatoes just complemented the richness beautifully; together with the aromatic basil and the spicy andouille, is simply delicious! But the star of the dish is definitely the pizza base. Like the pizza that I've had in Rome, it's a thin crusty bread that has a hidden depth of flavours, just as a good artisan bread should be and not thick, chewy and bland.  

Jonny 's Margherita unfortunately was slightly burnt so they decided to make him a new one instead of serving it. Even though that was a tad annoying but it did showed how they attention to quality control and will only offer the best to the diners, which is another admirable trait to have. They did tried to offered Jonny a drink whilst he waited and when his pizza was finally ready, they offered him a sincere apology, which is a good way to do business, a plus point from Jonny who thought that was rather nice of them to acknowledge their mistake.

'Was it worth the wait?'  I asked him as he took a bite into his Margherita. 'Hmm...' was the answer as he munched his way through with a big smile on his face, nodding his head.
Was I a pizza convert  by the end of this, you might wonder. Sadly not. I still won't be going to  any of those hideous pizza restaurant anytime soon. But I will definitely, without a doubt, go back to the pizza pilgrims again for their artisan Neopolitan pizza. In fact, when I got back to the office after lunch, I have started a campaign to organised another trip to the Berwick street market for another bite of their delicious crusty pizza soon.

To all the second-rate pizza restaurants/joints out there, this is how a real pizza should be made.....with lots of passion and sincerity.

Pizza Pilgrims
Berwick Street Market

(Monday-Friday Lunchtimes, prices ranges from £5-£6)
Pizza Pilgrims on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Foxcroft & Ginger, Berwick Street, Soho and Boxpark, Shoreditch

Having always been on my to-visit list,  I finally managed to squeeze in some time to pop in for a cup of coffee and a quick bite recently. Since then, this has became one of my go to place whenever I'm near Soho and after a good cup of coffee.

From the outside, this look like one of those trendy and cool cafe you would expect to find in Soho. Bright neon lights, exposed brick walls juxtaposed with clean white tiles. Once entered, you are greeted with an arrays of beautifully presented food. Eclectic mix of vintage furniture throughout the cafe further added to this bohemian ambiance. Even the gymnastic horses were being wittily transformed into tables, although not that practical in my eyes.
Foxcroft and Ginger uses coffee beans that has been specially blended and roasted by Climpson and Sons which means the quality itself is top notch. Strong, robust with sweet aromatic aftertaste, quite literally one of the best coffee I've had in ages.  The coffee (£2.40) come in quirky pairing of random vintage teacups and saucers. A charming and quaint little touch and always bring a smile to my face. This personal touch is one of it's unique selling point which makes this a standout and memorable cafe. Over the past few visits, I have had the great fortune of savouring a few of their delicious savoury offerings.

The pancetta and egg roll (£5.95) contained a generous piece of thick, smokey pancetta that was just salty enough without being overpowering. The soft, creamy scrambled eggs with chives were a velvety addition. The layers of flavours and textures are simply sublime.
The Slow cooked pork belly roll (£6.50) was just as delicious. The pork were so impeccably cooked that they falls apart as soon as I bit into the roll. The apple compote and onion jam complemented the meat with a fruity tartness.
The famous French toast (£4.75) was definitely one of the highlights and it's reputation is well deserved. Soft eggy bread filled with pieces of ham and cheddar cheese, lightly smeared with béchamel sauce. Every ingredient was vividly flavoured and when combined with the sweet honey mustard dressing, is just alluringly moreish.
I've also managed to visit the other cafe in box park, shoreditch after a ramen lunch recently too. The facade is rather different to the soho branch. It has a huge outdoor area where you can sip your coffee with a beautiful view over looking the streets of shoreditch - provided the weather is nice and sunny of course. The cafe itself occupies two of the containers in this pop-up containers establishment. It has a rather industrial feel and with it's wooden and narrow interior, couldn't have been more different to it's other site. The open kitchen in the cafe is somewhat a nice addition and quite a joy to watch as the chef is preparing all the hot food.

Along with their superb coffee, M and I ordered a apple crumble muffin (£2.50), aromatic cardamon cake (£3.00) and a cup of hot chocolate.
The cardamon cake was heavenly perfumed, moist and buttery. Crumbly to the touch, slightly nutty and topped with a sharp lemon icing. A delightful treat!
The apple crumble muffin was soft, buttery and yet somehow light as a feather. Even the chocolate was rich and comforting.
On both premises, the service were friendly and everything were served with a smile. The coffee is always  excellent and along with their freshly made sandwich rolls,pastries and cakes, this is definitely not a place to be missed if you are near soho or shoreditch.

Foxcroft And Ginger
3 Berwick Street,
London W1F ODR
Foxcroft and Ginger on Urbanspoon
Foxcroft & Ginger (Boxpark)
42-43 Boxpark
Bethnal Green Road
E1 6JE
Foxcroft and Ginger (Boxpark) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Just like the way they grill it in the deep south - Pitt Cue Co. , London, W1

After my last unsuccessful attempt at visiting Pitt Cue Co. - which led me to the wonderful Yalla Yalla - I decided to try again on Monday. It was 5:50pm when I arrived, already there were a queue of five outside the restaurant. As I approached to joined the queue, another two added to the line. So seven in total before me. Not bad I think, after hearing that this place is so busy that sometimes the the queue builds from round the corner. Is that a good indication that diners are willing to queue up just to have a go at some authentic BBQ or is it just the hype?

Pit Cue Co. occupied a quiet corner just off the busy Carnaby street. The facade is just as you would expect from this cool, hip area. It has a deceptively simple but well thought out decor, with it's narrow counter, accompanying by a few leather covered high stools. More seating are available downstairs but apparent this small venue only sit 30 diners, hence the no reservation policy. This is obviously designed to go with the relaxed and 'grab-and-go' attitude.

I didn't have to wait too long before I was let in and shown to a spot in the corner. This being my first visit, I asked for recommendations from the waiter/bartender.

'Oh! You definitely got the try the pulled pork and the chipotle slaw too, it's my favourite. It's really good.'

I kindly obliged, and decided to order a burnt end mash on top of that and a pint of 'whatever' draught beer. In case you are wondering, that is the name of the beer on the menu.
The beer arrived almost instantly, a pint of subtle loganberry-like sweetness and was easy on the mouth. The pulled pork arrived just as quickly too, in a quirky blue-rimmed enamel tray, looking rather beautiful in a rustic sort of way. The whiff of vinegary sweetness was simply divine. The pulled pork came with a house pickles of cucumber and onions. Meltingly tender pork that were grilled to perfection, one bite and it almost instantly dissolved in the mouth. The sauce were smoky with a balanced flavour, sweet and punchily sharp. It were so intense that even when eaten together with the grilled sourdough bread, it was still vivid.

The chipotle slaw did not disappoint, a hidden spicy kick that gradually built up with each bite of the crunchy vegetables. A delight indeed. Even the burnt end mash, top with beef brisket bits and rich barbecue sauce, was creamy and definitely one of the best mash I have ever tasted.
Sometimes, you get a restaurant so hyped up that your visit ended up with disappointment but Pitt Cue Co. is definitely not one of those. By having a small menu and serving nothing but their perfectly honed Americana-style barbecue offerings, it has built up a massive following, very well deserved too. If you haven't been, it's absolutely worth queuing up for.

My bill came to £17.45 with one main, an additional side and a pint of beer.

Pitt Cue Co.
1 Newburgh Street,
London W1F 7RB

Tel: 0207 2875578
(No Reservation, lunchtime 12-3pm and dinner 6pm-11pm, arrive early and be prepare to queue)
Pitt Cue Co on Urbanspoon
Square Meal


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