Monday, 31 August 2015

The Chef's Table at Crocker's Folly.

Last week I was lucky enough to go to a foodie dinner at the Chef's Table at Crocker's Folly, a restaurant located in a beautiful Victorian Grade II listed building in St John's Wood, that was built in 1898 as a pub. Headed up by talented chef Damian Wawrzyniak, the dinner with Zomato consisted of a humongous 12 courses of pure indulgence. So, without further ado, let me tell you more...

Venison Pie at Crocker's Folly in London

We arrived at Crocker's Folly and started with a cocktail, I'm trying not to drink so much at the moment, and it was a Monday night, so I only had half of it and stayed away from the majority of the wine flight (I just had one small glass of white). The restaurant was absolutely beautiful, huge and opulent. It's full of grand marble (over 50 different types!) and huge fireplaces, with a saloon style bar. It would be the perfect place to while away an evening in the middle of winter!

Cut glass chandelier at Crocker's Folly in London

We started with Chicken skins and onion syrup. The chicken skin was crunchy and delicious yet delicate, it was a little like the chicken version of pork crackling. The onion syrup was surprisingly sweet, and I could have easily drunk more of it.

Chicken Skins and Onion Syrup at Crocker's Folly London

Next was raw lamb, this was one of my favourite dishes from the evening. Despite the first four courses being called 'snacks', they were quite large and filling and I'd class them more as standard starter portions. 

Raw lamb at Crocker's Folly London

Paired with the starters was a Lebanese Chardonnay Cuvee Des Papes from the Bekaa Valley, I really loved this wine and found it very drinkable.

Ksara Chardonnay Cuvee Des Papes from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon at Crocker's Folly London

The Josper grilled brined cauliflower topped with caviar was sensational, I never thought I would eat such incredible cauliflower. I mean, it's just a vegetable? And a boring one at that. Cauliflower isn't supposed to make you want more. 

Josper grilled brined cauliflower topped with caviar at Crocker's Folly London

Our next dish was another favourite; New potato with herring and oat cake. I'd never had herring before, but I really enjoyed it. I didn't eat all of the potato as it was pretty huge, but the herring piled onto the oat cake was so good! You'll have to excuse the quality of the photos, the restaurant was insanely dark, and I was struggling with the low light shutter speed (I don't have the steadiest of hands...).

New potato with herring and oat cake at Crocker's Folly London

After our four 'snacks' I was already getting a little full, but we still had five main courses and three desserts to go (I know). The first two main courses I skipped, the only foods I don't eat are pink/red fish, and beetroot. The next two courses were salmon...and beetroot. Chef Damian explained how they prepare the Gravad Lax (salmon), which is sliced in front of the guests. 

Chef Damian at at Crocker's Folly London

You then had to go up and choose how much you wanted. I stayed sitting and thought it would be a good chance to let the starters go down before the next mains. I was given the second beetroot dish, and it was like a work of art! I did try a little but just couldn't stomach it. I don't know what it is about beetroot that my tastebuds just can't stand...I just find it a very earth strong flavour. 

Salt baked beetroot salad at Crocker's Folly London

Anyway, next up was the Venison pie with pickled root vegetables. This was definitely one of my favourites, however it was absolutely huge and a full sized pie! It arrived and my mouth just dropped. Obviously I ate it all though. It was way too good to leave any of it!

The next dish was nice....but just nice. Again it was massive, and I couldn't eat it all. Pearl barley with mussels. Because we were testing out new dishes for the winter menu, all of them were really heavy and hearty. We really could have done with smaller portions, as none of us could finish them all and it felt like such a waste to leave such amazing food.

Pearl barley with mussels at Crocker's Folly London

After the Pearl Barley we all went downstairs to the kitchen to see how the Josper Grill works. Rosie from A Little Lusciousness had a go at putting the steaks on and working out when they were the perfect medium rare.

Cooking steaks on the josper grill at Crocker's Folly London

Cooking steaks in the kitchen at Crocker's Folly London

We tucked in to the Porterhouse steak and skinny duck fat chips, all of us sticking out forks into the sharing platter and having a taste for ourselves. The steak was perfect.

Porterhouse steak at Crocker's Folly London

Sadly I had to leave just before dessert as I had to go and get my train home back to the countryside, it was already gone 10pm and it took me 40minutes to get back to Waterloo! I did manage to get a photo of the first dessert (Chocolate Sphere) before I rushed off though....

Chocolate sphere at at Crocker's Folly London

I had a wonderful evening at Crocker's Folly, the food was brilliant, and it was so great to see Suze and finally meet Rosie!

The Chef's Table at Crocker's Folly runs on a seasonal basis and is by invitation only, however you can inquire should you have an interest in attending. It's meant to showcase dishes that could make it to the new seasonal menu if guests shout enough about a certain dish. However a few signature dish favourites are already on the current menu, including the 7-day Cured Salmon Gravad Lax, Asparagus Risotto, and the incredible Porterhouse steak. I myself am really hoping that the raw lamb, herring, and venison pie make it onto the Winter Menu, they were definitely the stand out dishes for me!

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Travel Throwback Thursday - Roadtrip to Esperance, WA.

It's that time of the month - Travel Throwback Thursday! This month I'm going to tell you all about one of the most memorable roadtrips my family ever took when we lived in Australia. Last month I told you all  about our trip to Uluru, and this month I'm going to tell you about our roadtrip to Esperance, which is home to one of the most famous beaches in the world; Lucky Bay. 

Lucky Bay Esperance Australia

Now you'll have to forgive the photos, this was before I got my SLR (I actually got it a few weeks after we got back from this trip), so they were just shot on a little point and shoot. We went to Esperance in January 2008, it was the school holidays and we wanted to make the most of the long summer holidays. We went to Esperance via Hyden, which is where the famous Wave Rock is. On the way we passed through the wheatbelt and teeny tiny little farming towns...

Brookton train station western australia
Western Australian wheatbelt

However, we stayed in Hyden two nights too long (we were there for two nights...). I told you very briefly about the hotel we stayed at in Hyden in the March Travel Linkup - Disastrous Hotel Stays, basically Hyden is a great place to visit for a couple of hours just to see Wave Rock, but that's the only thing there. The rest of it looks sort of like this...

Hyden Western Australia

Kidding. That's just the area where we were staying.

We made the time pass by pretending to canoe in the middle of an empty salt lake...

Hyden Salt Lake Western Australia

Prancing around the lake....

Hyden Salt Lake Western Australia

Visiting the Hippo's Mouth....

Hippos Mouth Hyden Western Australia

Taking a look at some local art....

Hyden Railway Western Australia

And obviously seeing Wave Rock...

Wave Rock in Hyden Western Australia

In the evenings we drove around randomly looking for wildlife, and found a coupla kangas...

Hyden in Western Australia
Mother and baby Kangaroos in Hyden Western Australia

We also saw this incredible sunset.

Sunset in Hyden Western Australia
Incredible fiery sunset in Hyden Western Australia

And my brother and I watched films on his PSP (old school or what...this was 2008 guys).

Our shitty chalet that was full of  huge spiders and creepy crawlies!

When we finally left Hyden we continued our drive through the wheatbelt, passing through small towns in the middle of the outback until we finally reached the small town of Esperance. We stayed in a townhouse which was really nice and modern! There was far more to do here, and we had a really great time! 

Esperance National Park Western Australia

Dad and I made this sea lion really angry by walking up to it taking photos, then all of a sudden it started chasing us and we both ran up the beach screaming. The sea lion was surprisingly fast, and we had to leap up onto the boardwalk to get away from it! 

We also climbed up this massive sand dune...and I lost my flip flop. Thankfully I found it again after lots of searching in the sand!

Naturally we couldn't go to Esperance without visiting the national park and beaches within it, especially as it was the height of summer and the temperature was in the high 30's/low 40's. Lucky Bay was just breathtaking. The sand was so pure and clean it squeaked beneath your feet, and the water was crystal clear. There are absolutely no filters on these photos, and I haven't edited them at all... 

Lucky Bay Esperance Australia
Lucky Bay Esperance Australia

We also checked out some of the other beaches, and were preeeeetty impressed with what we saw!

Esperance Western Australia

We also saw some pretty impressive sunsets in Esperance as well!

Sunset at Esperance Western Australia

Next stop on our roadtrip was Bremer Bay. On the way we stopped off to see the Rabbit Proof Fence, which is a state fence built to keep rabbits and vermin out of the state of Western Australia. It was also the subject of the incredible film Rabbit-Proof Fence (see the 2002 trailer here), which is about the Stolen Generation and well worth a watch if you don't know much about this dark part of Australia's history.

The Rabbit Proof Fence South Western Australia
You can tell how old this sign is from the fact it says £100 and not $100!

The water here was as clear as Esperance, and Bremer Bay was full of 4WD enthusiasts making the most of the off-road tracks.

Bremer Bay Western Australia
Bremer Bay Western Australia

Dad thought he'd have a go on a 4WD track. Yeh...real adventurous huh... :|

Bremer Bay 4WD Western Australia

After a day or two in Bremer Bay we drove back up to Perth via Busselton, you can see below the full loop we did! We covered nearly 2,000km in just over a week.

Best south western australia roadtrip route

But what an epic family roadtrip! We still laugh about it today, and I'd love to go back to Esperance some day, it was just spectacular!

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