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Return of the Maki with Sushi Shop

I’m obsessed with raw fish. Ceviche, carpaccio, gravadlax, tartare. If anything raw and fishy features on a menu, you can bet you bottom dollar, first born child, Twitter passwords, whatever, that I will order it.

Maybe it’s the texture, or how every bite feels like a packful of flavour and delicate in equal measure. Or maybe it’s that it makes me feel like a fancy bish. Whatever the deepset psychological root for my cravings, all this makes me a natural swooner for sushi.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I need no persuasion to get excited by sushi.

Sushi Shop1

Sushi Shop, the loved South Kensington sushi joint, invited me to check out their new collaboration with famous Brooklynite tattoo artist, Scott Campbell. Tattoos and sushi might not seem the most obvious matching, but there’s definitely something in there about masterful precision, beauty, etc etc. Stick with me.

They have come up with this gorgeous box- absolutely stuffed to the brim with sushi- that looks cool and sounds fancy when you order it. I got to watch one of their master sushi makers- a dashing bloke with a history in those fancy French kitchens and years developing his love for Japanese food- give us a whistlestop tour of how you make maki and nigiri effortlessly.

200w_d

I absolutely devoured the box- it’s got about 40 pieces in there so definitely one for sharing. And for those ink-inclined, there’s even a little transfer of Scott’s designs, so you can tat while you snack.

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Cooking with Comté, hon hon hon

Since career jumping into the world of wine (metaphorically and literally, splish splash) I’ve been flexing my new wino buff knowledge. I am enoteca-wisdom defined, hic.

I mean, well, obviously I’m not. I put my bra on one boob at a time like everybody else. But if you know me, you’ll know that a little naivety doesn’t stop me from full force barrelling my way into any ‘well actually‘ or ‘did you know‘, which leads me to this glorious statement: Did you know that certain cheeses are protected by law?

Similarly to how you can’t get Champagne from anywhere other than the French region of Champagne, and wagyu beef from certain cows in Japan; authenticity, tradition and quality is closely controlled for certain cheese. Comté, one of the first cheeses to be ‘awarded’ such protection, invited me down to a cookery class (At the Saturday Kitchen studio! Can you believe it! I’m James Martin!).

Comte Cheese 1

First up was an introduction to the four different varities Comté, followed by a cookery course from the Michel Roux Jr school. The idea was to show off the versatility of Comté, which in practice meant a buttload of cheese on a Wednesday night and some pretty wacky dreams.

The food was delicious, as any three course cheese fest should be, and all swilled down with some lovely vino.  Due diligence was given to ensuring each and every dish had the maximum amount of Comté in there- when it’s handcrafted by over 2,000 local farmers as a cooperative and literally protected by law then you’ve gotta make the most of the stuff. It’d be rude not to.

I heart Comte 1

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108 Garage – Restaurant Review

The struggles you face in London are truly real. Sure, there’s the ones everyone knows about (rent rises, Southern Rail, the chaos of the first snowflake landing, the ‘liberal London elite’, etc etc). But those pale in comparison, surely, to the guttural need to be constantly ~ I N – T H E – K N O W~.

I’ve tweeted about FOMO to an audience of eye rollers before, and it did seem a contender for Word of the Year before alternative facts got in the post-truth way (A shame of many facets, to be sure). Whilst in the midst of my tweetstorm (three likes and a scathing reply, shout out to my fans), Giles Coren posted this:

And let me tell you, friends, that when Giles Coren tells you to get to a restaurant, you immediately stop what you’re doing and book a table. Or at least I do, so I did.

108 Garage Wine

Round rolls the fateful Saturday, and after battling through the carnage that is Portobello Road Market, we emerged into the promised culinary haven to settle in for a few hours. Perched at the bar (another great Giles tip), we had a vantage point straight into the tiny kitchen and across the red-brick hues of the restaurant. Copper and industrial steelwork lined the walls. The beautiful staff joke with us and each other. Chef Chris Denney asks if we had allergies and hands us appetizers. I make eye contact with Jonathan- who is typically a fair but harsh judge of my restaurant choices- and he is buzzing.

Chris Denney at 108 Garage London

We order, as you should too, the five course menu. For food this good it is startling value at £35 a head. Between the two of us it meant we got the try every dish on the set menu, so go with someone you’re willing to share the good stuff with.

The chicken parfait was so smooth you wouldn’t be certain you had actually popped it into your mouth if it wasn’t for the blow-away flavour. Cured mackerel is light, happy. The beetroot is sharp, happy. We sit wide eyed, happy.

108 starter five course menu

108 Garage John Dory Dish

Our mains are John Dory and wagyu, respectively. The fish (pictured above, out of focus in excitement) is exquisite alongside an almost Portuguese-style sauce, the samphire and pumpkin seeds genius texture additions. It was a smart dish and a lovely dish. The wagyu comes donning a mustard seed relish, and melts just by looking at it. This dish was a particular flirt- Chris Denney was preparing other guest’s wagyu tantilisingly in front of us, meaning that even as we ate we were driven to distraction by the next batch of beef…

108 Garage - wagyu main

A palate cleanser, served over the bar by one of the chefs, of pink-lady apple sorbet.

Pink Apple Sorbet palate cleanser

I cannot reliably report on the date and IPA cake as I did not get a look in. I can however report that the cheese was fantastic. Black bomber is a little cheesy punch in the tastebuds. It came crumbled onto fresh (and also crumbly) cracker breads and generous pickle. Every morsel was appreciated and licked up.

108 Garage date and ale pudding

Not willing to let go of our experience just yet, we ordered cocktails to prolong the joy. I had a rosemary and tequila concotion, Jonathan had the house signature (£10 each). As we sipped and stared out into the restaurant, Jonathan decided that we would come back. Which, forgive me Giles Coren, is probably the best compliment you can give a restaurant.

108 Garage cocktails

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The gin is in…

Where gin is concerned, I consider myself an eager student.

Once upon a time I was perfectly happy with whatever house gin was included in the student union happy hour, but as I’ve grown up and (at least partially) on my way to becoming a sophisticated woman, I’ve cultivated a taste for fun, more developed gins.

One of the ways this has substantiated itself is through my new love of gin-souvenirs. When in York, I picked up a lovely local sloe gin from my favourite pub House of Trembling Madness. When at Taste of London, I scoured the best options and triumphantly picked out a little keepsake of cocktail gin. So on and so forth, with increasing fascination and an increasingly fuzzier head.

I picked up these little trinket sized treats- from London’s own Edgerton Original Pink Gin. The pomegranate involved in the heady mix of your usual botanicals gives it this cheeky rosy-pink hue. The touch of sweetness takes away gin’s usual bite, so could quite easily be served straight.

A video posted by Farrah Kelly (@farrahkelly) on


You could be forgiven for thinking the colour was a gimmick or novelty- but on further inspection, pink gin is in fact somewhat of a nautical tradition-and what sailors don’t know about spirits isn’t worth knowing…

I think the pink adds a real charm to a classic drink, so I whipped up some fancy looking G&Ts to greet my sister with before we headed off for our festive holiday to Berlin’s Christmas markets. That’s proper Christmas spirit, in every sense of the word. Auf wiedersehen!

Pink Gin