Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Last Samurai

Sous Chef Stef goes the way of the Ronin.

  1. Salmon & Avocado.
  2. Spicy Tuna.
  3. Salmon & Scallion.
  4. California Roll.
  5. Eel & Avocado Roll.
  6. Ponzu Marinated Tuna Roll.

I love sushi, yet I've never really had the guts to try to make it at home; until today. My brother (& part time sous chef) made 6 delicious rolls today. The whole process was a lot easier than I expected & was far less expensive than the sushi at my favorite spot; Bond Street Sushi. Sure, the rolls lacked the artistic flair of a high end sushi joint, but they were delicious nonetheless. The first roll (the 'mighty' California Roll) came out somewhat lopsided, but with every roll, Stef's technique got better, culminating in the Eel & Avocado Roll which was amazing.

It just goes to show that you can achieve whatever you put your culinary mind to!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Where's the f**king butcher's shop?

Why dont we have one in Park Slope? We've got everything else! Did somebody just forget, or don't we Slopers eat enough to warrant a shop specialising in this?

I have to trek to BoCoCa to get mine:

Check out Los Paisanos (Brothers) on Smith St. at Wyckoff. They have an unrivalled (so far) selection of sausages, pork loins, pork chops, lamb, beef short ribs, game, poultry etc. I bought a load of stuff when there because the prices were very reasonable, and the choice endless. I came away with duck and Grand Marnier sausages, with some wild boar sausages thrown in for good measure, and fabulous pork loin, (which I stuffed with apples and chestnut puree) and they even guaranteed a pig's head and tripe (stomach) if I ordered in advance. (I've seen a great recipe for Pozole in Daniel Boulud's cookbook.) Well worth the trip, even for Manhattanites wondering what all the fuss is about east of the River. Highly recommended.

Jun 06

Birthday Blowout!

It only comes once a year - go on, enjoy it.

I had the pleasure of becoming 34 last weekend. Although I don't really lke getting any older (I always feel like I shold be doing so much more with my life every added year) it is a great excuse to go hell-for-leather at fine food, wine, and of course cocktails. My girl took me to one of NY's older and snobbier French temples of gastronomy. 'La Grenouille' is in Midtown East, and looks at first glance like a florist! I am then told that La Grenouille ("The Frog") is famous for it's floral displays. I must admit, the air smells really good in there, although we have just entered from stinking, humid East 52nd at 5th Ave. I have an excellent Martini at the bar - Grey Goose with just enough vermouth and 3 olives, chilled down (is there any other way?) and we're shown to our table, in the middle of the dining room. The menu is VERY French, and VERY expensive. I, rather traditionally, go for the roast quail, and then brochet (Pike) which is served in a 'quenelle' with rice. To be brutally honest, I've never tried pike before and I didn't know what to expect. It was OK. My quail was tasty and moist, although there is only scant amounts of food on my plate. (I had starved myelf all flippin day too). Serena goes for lobster and tarragon ravioli, which was well cooked and sauced beautifully, and then oxtail and old classic, which is also executed with aplomb. The meat is rich, moist and utterly tasty. I watch her eat that for the next 5 minutes, wishing I had not been so adventurous with the pike. Cheese follows pike and oxtail, and the remainder of our rather expensive wine. I like the dining room at LG, but the menu was not as extensive as I would have liked, and the food is somewhat expensive, But, for hardened Francophiles, this is the THE place.

Teddy, June 06

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Samba-Le -- 23 Avenue A (The Mighty Lower East Side)

I checked out Samba-Le this past weekend. Nestled on the Lower East Side on the corner of Avenue A and 2nd Street, nothing flashy or grandiose jumps out at you first glance, but it turned out to be a nice find in an area packed with restaurant choices.

They offer Brazilian and Italian fare served in a tapas style. The atmosphere was cozy and dimly lit with some good Brazilian music that was loud enough to be noticed, but not too loud as to swallow up a conversation. No reservation was needed for a mid-evening meal for 3, but I would suggest calling ahead for a large party. Samba-Le seems to cater to this type of crowd, with their large tables and tapas-heavy menu.

I’d have to say the highlights were the Duck Breast with Balsamic-Strawberry Sauce and a few fried croquette style dishes which showcased shredded meat and bacalao encased in a crunchy shell. A few bacon-wrapped items graced the menu also, you've got to love the Brazilians for that. Although the main dishes sounded impressive (Filet Mignon Ravioli and a number of seared seafood dishes to name a few), we sided for about 9 small dishes to pass around the table and that was more than enough to send us on our way without packing down any dessert.

The service was very average, but the strong, sweet mojitos and constant flow of small dishes pouring from the kitchen kept us distracted enough not to be overtly critical. They are a cash only restaurant, which usually doesn't sit well with me. It was very affordable though and the small, but decent wine list won’t put to much financial strain on you either.

Samba-Le was dead-on with all the essentials and would be a good place to bring one, two, or ten friends who love to eat......

In the heart of America's Dairyland

I had the pleasure of spending the long weekend in Wisconsin, the cheese capital of the USA. Despite a vast aray of really good cheese (the stuff that doesn't come in orange squares) it wasn't the dairy produce that stole the show, rather it was a traditional 'fish boil'. Historically, this stuff fed the pioneers in the area, mainly Scandinavians, Brits and Germans. An icredibly simple dish, with mouth watering results. Fish (whitefish I think) potatoes and salted water. A spectacle to witness too.

The kitchen science behind this is as follows: A huge pot of boiling water is set over a log fire, salted at the correct time, and then the potatoes are added. Then the fish later. The impurities and scum float to the surface. When a massive dose of kerosene is added to the fire, the whole thing boils over taking all the scum and impurities with it...leaving spuds and fish perfectly cooked. Served with coleslaw, tartare sauce and lemon wedges. Fabulous! (I had mine at the White Gull Inn, in Fish Creek, WI).

Check it out:

Teddy, Jul 06

Menu Thursday 13th July 06


Bring voracious appetites and wine – a hefty pinot noir for the oxtail and perhaps something white and sparkly for the soup and fish. Gordon Ramsay is the inspiration here....

And some vintage champagne. A Perrier Jouet ‘Belle Epoque’ 1996 will do nicely.

  • Spinach Veloute Soup w/ Goat’s Cheese Quenelles
  • Poached Sea Trout, Asparagus and Mint Hollandaise
  • Braised Oxtail-stuffed Beef Tomatoes, with mini Potato Dauphinoise, Carrot emulsion
  • ‘Le Crotin’ parcel w/ Roast Pear and Leek Cream
  • Apple, Butterscotch and Prune Compote

How it All Began

How it All Began!

A brief history of the humble beginnings of Thursday Club. A British fare that has found it's way to the shores of New York.

For me I vaguely recall the rationale of the Thursday Club. Four of us went out to the French House, Alex, Matt, Ted and I. As ever it started off as a quiet couple of cheeky ales. I'm not even sure whether we intended going out to eat. I don't recall many details other than we ordered heavy reds and Matt had a steak that cost about £17. The important aspect of this was that we concluded that it was fairly poor food for the price. I also recall that we behaved appallingly as did the moody bitch who served us, so much so that we took the 12.5% optional tip off. I don't think the Thursday Club was necessarily born then but our dissatisfaction at this pricey and ordinary fare led to us to decide that what

we actually prefer is cracking home made food with sublime wines and regional cheeses in out own homes.

I also don't recall who cooked first. I do know that we were soon aware that a real good concept had been formed. Not wishing to make anyone feel left out, we kept this idea safe from the ears of our other pals (who would probably think we were gay anyway. I think our respective partners quite liked the idea of us doing something so positive, but as it took up virtually every Thursday and most likely the majority of our enthusiasm for the week ahead they soon got a bit irritated.

One of the best aspects of the Thursday club was that we had mutual respect for our companions' efforts. We tried out best not to let our natural competitive streaks get the better of us, but it was virtually impossible for things not to get a little carried away. The quality of the ingredients rarely strayed from Borough Market or Selfridges and Matthew's reds were right out of the top one.

Like all good things like that it came to an end but not before we'd knocked out right stonking meals fit for the kings that we were and are. Nice one chaps


Matthew's Bloody Delights

Matthew's own Thu delights.

Reached 38" waist yet Teddy? I'm doing a chicken breast stuffed with the most fresh & tender black pudding- straight from Lancashire, the blood still warm from the kill & loosened up with a veal demi-glace sauce. Got a cheeky Chateau Fougueyrat Saint Emilion Grand Cru 1996 to go with it. Can't do a desert: not enough time as little Oscar keeps filling his nappy.

Good luck lads and keep that culinary flag flying!! I've said it before Teddy but you can all expect something in the post shortly.


It’s funny when you meet somebody with similar interests to yourself. At first it’s an idea that you might like something a bit, but you pay it no attention, and then you bump into a couple of lads who share the same idea. And all of a sudden, it’s become a passion, an obsession. That’s what happened one night in London, after a meal and vast quantities of booze. Now, I spend at least $100 a month on Amazon, reading about Brillat-Savarin, Heston Blumenthal, Larousse G, Careme, Escoffier, Herve This, Freres Troisgros, biographies of famous chefs, marveling at their culinary journies and depth of knowledge on a subject forever expanding. Perhaps that’s what I like about it so much. It’s very personal. Nobody’s wrong. Nothing EVER tastes the same. The kitchen is the centre of my Universe. I love it there – it’s warm, it’s where food comes from, and it’s where families and friends eat together. Eating should be fun. Eating should be love. One should always drink when eating. That’s what we want.


I do remember the trip to the French House, (see Singapore Sid, Jun 2006) but my first memory of us cooking together, and really stretching ourselves technically (or in terms of ingredients) was at Matt’s gaff in Clapham. I tried my arm at roast rabbit wrapped in bacon. The oven was fucked, and the rabbit woefully undercooked when I pulled the bugger out, so we threw the bacon away, uncurled the little fella and roasted him flat in the pan with an onion and mustard cream. And then tore the roast beast apart at the table with our fingers, like starving Barbarians. I can also clearly remember Sid’s sautéed scallops and prawn in lemon sauce with rocket. Tremendous. And Matt made an oyster soup from Larousse. And somebody made duck liver pate…..I can’t recall who. It was all good.

I was saddened by my loss when I moved to New York. Not just the loss of the Thu Club, but sad that I wouldn’t see as much of the boys any more. Not just Sid and Matt, but all the others too – Shane and le Forge, Alex, Olivier, Simon, European Dave. I have been fortunate again to meet a couple of New Yorkers who share my passion. Clearly, there must be more of us than I thought. I have rekindled my own passion for the Thu Club and given it an international flavour. We are now London, New York and Singapore~! From such humble beginnings…..

Within these pages, you can track our Thu Club adventures in taste and technique, our forays into NY restaurant cuisine, new ingredients, our late-night boozathons on the Lower East Side, Park Slope and beyond. I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as my fellow Thursday Clubbers enjoyed making them.

New York, June 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Thursday Club 7/06/06

- Edamame.
- Cold Soba Noodle Salad.
- Spicy Tuna Tartar w/mango & a sake/sesame marinade.
- Pork Tonkatsu with sticky rice & sautéed cabbage.

Teddy had done a Spanish-themed night a few weeks ago, so I decided to choose Japan as my region. This was my fourth time cooking & to be quite honest, I had the confindence & swagger of an 800lbs gorilla. I had asked a few of my Japanese friends for ideas & I thought I put together a pretty well-rounded menu. Part of the fun of preparing this meal was the shopping. I picked up some bamboo chopsticks & rests from Crate & Barrel, then some cooking moulds from Sur La Table for the tuna tartar & sticky rice. I really gave a lot of thought to the presentation as I feel it enhances a meal.

So, it was Thursday Club +1 again, with my brother, Stefan, serving as sous chef. We all had a great time; Good Food, Great Sake & Friends... Result!

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