Hi everyone I’m back. After a long sabbatical from the blogging world I’ve decided to resume my blog from where I left off, albeit sporadically, to recount my recent forays into the world of food and restaurants.
So, you might be asking where have you been? Well to cut a long story short I’ve been studying for a food and wine diploma at Leith’s, a prominent cookery school which has seen the likes of Henry Harris, from Racine through it’s hallowed doors. I don’t think I’ll be hailed as the next culinary sensation to hit the London scene, however, over the past six months I’ve learnt an immense amount some of which I will share with you.
The first thing that you learn when embarking on a professional cookery course is that you can’t actually cook. Cast aside any delusions that you might have held prior to starting because they will quickly and harshly be knocked down. For any home cook these words will sound ominous, however for someone embarking into the world of professional cooking it appears to be a right of passage.
The diploma, which runs Monday to Friday, 9-5, for approximately 9 months, is an intensive course which equips students with the necessary skills to enter the culinary world. However, despite the practical skills learnt few go on to become chefs working in professional kitchen. There are a couple of reasons for this, the age of the students which ranges from 18-60, many are career changers who are not prepared to work the torturous hours with little pay demanded in the initial stages of chef-ing. Another factor might be that many of the students are women who sometimes feel out of sorts working in the predominantly male environment of a kitchen.
I myself fit neatly into both categories and can honestly say that the world of chef-dom is not beckoning. At this stage, I am just about to enter the advanced term, so still have a little time to decide what the future might hold for me in terms of my culinary career.
At the moment I’m taking a well deserved break for Easter so have a little time on my hands to recount some of my recent experiences. I would be interested in answering any culinary questions that you might have, not that I am an expert or anything (yet!) however the Leith’s methods are somewhat foolproof and I would be more than happy to talk you through them.
Wham Bam Thank You Pham
I happened on Pham Sushi by chance. Walking down a desolate street, tucked behind the back of the Barbican, I spied a diminutive Japanese restaurant overflowing with diners. Fed up with the generic conveyor belt style sushi bars springing up across London I ventured inside and made a reservation for the following evening.
Again the place was full. The crowds weren’t there however for the opulent surroundings or odd celebrity sighting that have become synonomous with the more upscale sushi bars. Rather they sat huddled together around cramped tables in pursuit of, what I later learnt, some of the best sushi in town.
Whilst the establishment might be modest the menu is anything but. Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño peppers is a nod to the chef’s background and training at Nobu and the unusual yet sophisticated selection of dishes hint that this restaurant might be a cut above the rest. Hawaiian Roll (pictured above) a kind of inside out California roll, with a thick slab of salmon arranged artfully on top, was a sight to behold. Rock shrimps encased in a light,crisp,tempura batter went down well with my husband who tends to shy away from the more exotic options. The real jewel in the crown belonged however to the crunchy tuna roll, not actually listed on the menu, but something which was recommended by our amiable waiter.
Since my initial experience at Pham, almost a year ago, I have become a regular. Their delivery service which cargos their sushi within a one mile radius has become a godsend on evenings when I can’t be bothered to cook or eat out. As a result I’ve pretty much made my way through the entire menu and can honestly say that it is rare to have a dud dish. The sushi is of a consistently high quality, the fish always fresh and the rice always cooked well, something which is quite rare to find here in London without forking out loads of money. Whilst the hot dishes can’t really compete with the sushi offerings they are fine nonetheless.
I highly recommend.
155 Whitecross Street,
I may as well devote the month of May to asparagus because that’s what I will be eating for the most part of it. The asparagus season in Britain is pitifully short lasting no more than 6 weeks so time is of the essence. When I first get my hands on them, which I managed to do last weekend at Borough market, I like to savour them in their most natural state - simply blanched for a couple of minutes with a generous slosh of extra olive oil and a drop of balsamic. A soft boiled egg is an optional extra although it is great for dunking the spears into. Don’t be coy remember that asparagus is a finger food and half the fun of eating them is to pick them up between your fingers and plunge them down your mouth!