Well. I have not forgotten Mexico, but there is such a lot in London. This week saw us try a new restaurant in Soho, well new to me, it has been opened for 6 months only. Giles Coran reviewed it in the Times last week and declared it like the Apple genius Bar, but with food. ( for those of you are not Apple…. computer fans, might not understand this reference… All Apple shops have a what they call a genius bar, where super geeks, greet you with a smile, solve any of your computer/phone/tablet problems with a blink of an eyelid and are happy to have been of help…. all not very English really)
The restaurant in question is La Blanchette
(9 D’Arblay Street, London W1 (020 7439 8100; blanchettesoho.co.uk)
So long time London mate and I decided to check it out, and what a find it was. Funky and fun and cheap. The menu is very simple, there is Charcuterie ( it looked ample for a Lady who lunches) and cheese as well as the menu. There were 5 choices in each section, Fish, Meat and Vegetables, all priced around the £7-8 mark. We were told that the portions were small so we ordered something extra. We had and shared the Moules, which were delicious and being an Ex Belgian, Moules have to have Frites with them, and they were excellent, hand cut, double fried and crispy( not like the frozen ones being delivered daily to Nando’s or McD’s a stones throw from my house . They were accompanied by a béarnaise sauce, and not the normal Belgian way of mayonnaise.
This was followed by, friend choosing the smoked duck salad and myself the warm confit of Salmon with puy Lentils. Both dishes were excellent and I would have been happy with anything from the menu, all looked really good. A large Perrier and 2 cafe lattes completed our lunch and cost £20 each, which included a generous tip. Will go back, the staff were cheerful, friendly and funky. Oh what fun.
I LOVE markets, Flower Markets, fruit and Veg. markets, fish markets, bird markets, In Hong Kong, Singapore, Majorca, Barcelona,South Africa, Belgium, Flea Markets, Mexico, ( more on those later) Oh how I love markets.
So, my love of markets led us to an early morning trip to Billingsgate fish Market, which lies in the shadow of Canary Wharf, London’s new financial district, it of Sky scrapers to rival the best.Billingsgate is the United Kingdom’s largest inland fish market. An average of 25,000 tonnes of fish and fish products are sold through its merchants each year. The Market covers an area of 13 acres and is entirely self-contained. The ground floor of the building comprises a large trading hall with 98 stands and 30 shops, including two cafes; a number of individual cold rooms; an 800 tonne freezer store. The market is policed daily by an inspector who ensures that all the produce on sale, whether it be fresh or frozen, meets the required standards of freshness, quality and if frozen, the temperature it is kept at.
Tel: 020 7987 1118
Fax: 020 7987 0258
Opening hours are from 4.0am until 9.am, Tuesday to Saturday. Parking is on site, or Docklands light rail road will take you there. Black Plastic bags are supplied, so you can carry your fish home. Shopping trolleys can be left at the door. I saw some today were secured by Bicycle locks, don’t want to have that nicked, when you have just purchased tons of fish! Also on site, but upstairs is
Billingsgate Seafood Training School
A cooking school, by any other name, and when I attended a class there it was given by by C.J. Jackson who is the Director of the Billingsgate Seafood Training School and she is a hugely experienced teacher who has worked at the Cordon Bleu School, Leiths School of Food and Wine, where she was Vice Principal and now at the Training School. She has written two books about fish, Leiths Fish Bible and The Billingsgate Market Cookbook.
Tel: 020 7517 3548/9
Fax: 020 7517 3544
The other thing we did in the wee small hours this morning, was to visit, Smithfield Market, or London central Market
Smithfield Market is located in the City of London and is close to landmarks such as the Barbican, St Paul’s Cathedral and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
The markets at Smithfield are open MONDAY to FRIDAY from 3am but are closed on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays, but buyers should arrive no later than 7am. Smithfield Market is over 140 years old but has been on the site for almost one thousand years, is a fully EU approved wholesale market. As with Billingsgate, this is where the retailers buy their produce and so as you might expect the prices are CHEAP, the downside of course buying is in bulk, 30 Sea Bass=£30 orAustralian/Scottish/Argentinan Ribeye +/- £15 a kilo!