LOVE FOOD, LIVE FOODIE:
Over 40 years Glastonbury has been delighting music lovers with headline acts and new upcoming artists. Three days in Somerset and with over 180,000 people, an important element of the experience is food.
So how good is the food there?
Well, there are definitely food heroes and villains here. The real heroes are the ones who showed love and care for the food they served and some obvious ones were Smokestak, Anna Mae's and Gilcombe Farm.
Why did these three stand out?
Because they were the ones that put love into their food and seemed to actually care about that which they served. Others did too, however, catering for so many people can be difficult, especially in the rain, mud and demand. Caring for your food is important and these were the occasions that food and the people were the winners at Glastonbury.
The festival is for the Performing Arts and the Music here is what stands out; good food and drink is secondary but when you can get some of the good stuff, do not hesitate.
Vegetarians seem to like their cheese and why not. I happily went to my friends baby shower and they graced us with barbecued delight with halloumi, paneer and peppers, veggie burgers and even a chocolate fountain. A new type of baby shower and I like it this way. Thank you to Reena and Jay for all the goodness.
The baby shower was the start of my night and it continued from there with cocktails and a burger of course. In between this at Bukowski Grill my friend took on the chicken wing challenge. The challenge is as epic as the Man V Food challenges you see on TV and this was One Man Versus 4 Spicy Chicken Wings; no time limit and if he managed to eat them all, they would be free. AMAZING.
I had a bite of one wing, as my brothers and I ordered our own portion and they were very, very spicy and painful. Well done Mr Oran for completing the challenge, the spice of the wings for me was unbearable and having one and a half was enough for me.
Bukowski Grill: What would you like to know?
Well, they serve Burgers, Ribs,Steaks and other "modern American classics' in their charcoal grill. Serve this alongside Craft Beers and cocktails and they have successful driven couples and groups to the restaurant and now they have three branches in London alone. A sign of success I say.
I did my research before I arrived and I was surprised to see that their burgers were highly recommended, just because you do not see it on many peoples lists of best burgers. However, I decided that i was to try their burger regardless of the waitresses recommendations. Her recommendation was for the Short Rib, which my brothers and Mr Oran ordered. These came with tobacco onions, which were crispy onion pieces. The ribs were very tasty and although I only had one bite, this was enough to make me feel slightly jealous and upset at not ordering them. The rib was smokey, tender and juicy and the boys were stuffed and happy.
The victor of the challenge Oran, provides his views on Bukowski:
The burger I ordered was the Fat Gringo, which appealed to me for two reasons. ONE - candied Bacon. TWO - Jalapeno Mustard. Both of those together with a medium patty, just sound too good to turn down. Looking back at the burger picture above, I can see now that it was just too much for me. I don't know if it was the chicken wings, alcohol or probably all the food at the veggie BBQ from before, but i could not finish it off. The patty was nice and thick and the bacon too was monstrous. This beast was tasty and moorish but I failed to eat more than three quarters, i was stuffed. With the beef dripping potatoes as a side too I managed to get all the flavours on my taste buds but I just couldn't eat much more. In this way, Bukowski delivers on its aim of serving American food, flavour and portion size. CHECK.
Man V Food = Man Always wins.
Well 1 out of 4 defeated the challenge and that is good enough.
Good wings, beef ribs that were very pleasant and a beast of a burger. I will be going back, because the burger got the better of me and I need to conquer it next time. Good to see that the venue is expanding its presence in London. Not overly expensive and if you are brave enough, try and tackle the Wing challenge.
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It has been a while since I did an interview, so it had to be big. And who better than Chef Yogesh Datta. I went to one of his London restaurants recently, Bangalore Express and it was really tasty and after this I managed to get an interview with the great man himself.
Long regarded as one of finest Indian chefs of his generation, Yogesh Datta brings a strong sense of tradition to his cooking yet marries it with just the right sense of modernity and flourish. Born in Shimla, a hill station in northern India, Datta initially honed his expertise at New Delhi’s prestigious Taj Palace Hotel. This was followed by working in Geneva, and then Dubai. From there, Datta arrived to work in London, heading up the kitchens of Tabla, a modern Indian in the Docklands. Thereafter, he went on to open the widely acclaimed fine dining Indian restaurant The Painted Heron, which recently took the accolade of ‘Best Indian Establishment’ at The Food Awards London 2016.
Great heritage and great food... you know what's next.
PLEASE Read on.
Who is/was your inspiration to start cooking?
It was definitely my mother. She was a great cook and a host. I am from a largish family of 5 siblings as well as many uncles and aunties and other relatives from the extended family where each family meal was like a family feast.
Contrary to Indian culture, as a boy, I was always helping her in the kitchen, even more than my elder sisters!
What is your goal in the business?
Provide proper, healthy and honest Indian food to the Indian food lovers of London in a casual, fun environment, comparable with any other world cuisine and at competitive prices.
Who was your biggest critic when starting?
My first chef I trained under in India, Chef Sandeep Kalia at the Taj Palace Hotel in India. He guided and helped me through the initial baby steps in this eventful culinary journey I started at that hotel 33 years ago!
When did you realise you wanted and could be a major chef in the world?
When I came to London in 1998 and was guided through the culinary demands for London by Iqbal Wahhab of Roast fame at his restaurant Dockmasters House in Docklands. I realized I was in a place where I could let my creativity and flare flow in my dishes.
Where else aside from the UK do you see your restaurant and Cuisine working?
Indian food is addictive, once initiated and exposed to Indian food, one can get hooked to it. At macro level, Indian food is still at its infancy in most other parts of the world, apart from of course India. England and London come the closest in terms of quality of Indian food available outside India. In micro terms, all over England and Scotland, apart from major cities, the quality of Indian food available is still quite bad generally.
"Provide proper, healthy and honest Indian food to the Indian food lovers of London"
Why is everyone now a foodie?
2 Major factors :-
1. The power of internet.
2. Advent of smart phones.
All knowledge is now shared over the internet and is available literally on your palms at the touch of a few buttons. You can now ‘google’ anything including the elusive knowledge of spices and Indian food.
Which restaurants in London are your Top 5?
St. John, Farringdon
Chiltern Fire House
Thank you so much Chef Datta.
A great read and inspiration. I trust you enjoyed it too and we have some new restaurants to try.
I look forward to returning to Chef Dattas restaurants very soon.
When choice is plenty what do you do?
Well when I went to 35 New Cavendish I sat back and let them decide for me. A set menu of pure bliss added with a great summers evening and a chilled negroni and all is good.
The menu here has been updated by Douglas Santi and some of the stand out names are the rib eye steak, tuna tartar and a 100 layer lasagna. Say what!!!
The focus of the menu is ingredient led, highlighting seasonal delights with fresh vegetables and well sourced meats all amalgamated by Italian head chef, Douglas Santi. Chef Santi brings over 25 years of culinary experience and started at just 13 working for Laurent Saudeau - the right hand man of acclaimed chef Paul Bocuse. These credentials had me exited before I even ate any food. A good start I say.
The food came out in the order above with a few pictures missing. In order we gladly ate:
The lobster burgers were nice and fresh with the citrus kick bringing out a nice cooling vibe. Then the contrast with the grilled and smokey prawns with the Taboulleh. This was one of the standout dishes and when prawns are bbq'd well the are amazing as was the case here. Again with the quinoa, chef Santi mixed up the textures and provided real depth to each dish.
The Lasagna which is becoming The Cavendish's show piece dish also brings with it a depth of flavour. This is most evident with the rich tomato sauce with garlic adding a moorish element to the soft cheese and meat. Good quality food at this brasserie and great service too. I was treated well, fed lots and drank a fair bit too. A good night and definitely a good place to visit. Great work by Chef Santi and this updated menu appeals to all. Thank you.
"Smoked Meat that's Hard to Beat".
That is a good strap line.
Oven & Hearth make it quite simple and easy to understand what they do. This venue is now on its third ownership in just over three years. When i first moved to Stroud green the venue played host to Brisket, then Rub and now after another change, it is Oven & Hearth and after this visit I will be happy if they stayed here.
I am not a big fan of change.
£10 for a smokey meal in London is a good price.
Make it a meal and this gives you a piece of smoked meat; we went for the Pork Belly and Smoked Beef Brisket and then add a side and finally some greens. All for £10. Our sides were Rosemary fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Market Greens and Mixed Leaves. Remember, all for £10.
So how was it?
I was expecting a platter of sorts, along the same vein as a Bodeans or Big Easy, but instead it is more civilised and classy. The pieces of meat we both ordered were chunky ones and although the pork plate looked less indulgent it was good value. With the greens and sides and a cheeky beer I was happy with my food.
The brisket too was quite tasty, not the best, but by no means the worst and if I didn't mention it already, it was all for £10. The sides of sweet potato and rosemary fries were a bit under seasoned for me. There is a thin line between too much and too little rosemary and here unfortunately there was hardly any. You need to taste the rosemary, if you mention it, make it evident.
All for £10
On the high street and a moments walk away from Finsbury Park Station. If you want smoked meats for good value, then tuck into Oven & Hearth. Fingers crossed that this venue is no longer cursed and that the guys stay here for a while yet.