Bellevue Rendezvous

Yes I have been getting out and about a lot lately. This review will be up on Huffington Post soon too but I thought I would give you a sneak preview.

Bellevue Rendezvous is a charming little French restaurant on the corner of Wandsworth Common. When you don’t feel like parting with the entire contents of your wallet to eat at Chez Bruce, but want to eat somewhere in the neighbourhood, this is your answer. Run by a French couple (who seem to be the only waiting staff), you will be treated to French classics like Coq au Vin, Bavette Steak and Duck Confit. There is nothing overworked about the dishes here, it is unpretentious, rustic, very good French cooking for a very good price.

The menu is short but offers a range of different types of meals, from fish to duck to stews. I started with the traditional French Onion Soup (£7), which had a blob of cheese floating in its centre (as it rightly should!). The cheese was nothing to write home about, and truthfully neither was the soup, but there was nothing wrong with it either. If anything (and how often can you say this with French cooking) it needed more salt.

Fellow diners at my table chose the roast goats cheese and beetroot salad (£6.50) which had delightfully tangy beetroot and a large round of hot, astonishingly good goats cheese. Men at the table made ridiculous happy food sounds while devouring their ‘home-made’ foie gras terrine with onion jam (£9). I don’t do foie gras, so didn’t sample it, but given the speed with which they inhaled it, and the slightly licked-looking plates they left behind, I can only deduce that it was entirely fabulous.

Foie Gras

To follow, I ordered the bavette steak with shallots and sauteed potatoes, but part way through our evening I saw something else being delivered to a nearby diner and got a serious case of food envy. The staff were very accommodating and let me change my order to the dish I had seen, guinea fowl with carrot mash and ceps (£15). It was a good trade, and I was very happy with my food when it arrived; the guinea fowl was tender and juicy with a very rich but tasty carrot mash beneath. The ceps were a little too buttery for my palate, but we are dealing with French cooking here, so it is not a criticism of the restaurant, more a comment on what is manageable for my personal taste. (It is important to add, I ate them all anyway because the flavour was excellent). I got to try the steak, and although it was very good (and an extremely large portion of thick-cut steak for £14!!), it had clearly been cooked in butter, which slightly overwhelmed the taste of the meat.

Guinea Fowl

The coq au vin (dish of the day at £18) was very basic, but hearty and good.  Venison filet with roast vegetables and caramelized apples marked the most expensive menu item at £21.50. The venison was beautifully cooked, and the zing in the caramelized apple provided just the required freshness to the dish to complement the rich sauce.

After two rather fabulous bottles of 2008 Chataeau Tour de Calens (at a reasonable £30 per bottle) I was ready to get the party started. Three chocolate fondant for the table please and a bottle of the 2009 Sauternes (at £20 a bottle…a total steal). The fondant took some time to cook, and one of the three broke open in the kitchen apparently, so they remade it and presented it a little later than the first two. This was no issue, however, as they compensated by pouring us more of the Sauternes, a sure way to keep any diner happy while they wait. Perfectly cooked, incredibly tasty fondant with a small round of vanilla bean icecream makes for a great finale at Bellevue Rendezvous, although I recommend getting one each, otherwise marital problems could ensue.

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There was no possible way I could stuff in anything else, but the elaborate selection of cheese (which you can sample any of with the cheese plate) was winking at me before we got the bill. Not this time, but one of many reasons to go back.

At £50 per person for a 3-course meal with copious amounts of excellent French wine, Bellevue Rendezvous makes an excellent choice for a fun night out with friends, or a romantic dinner for two. You could easily get out the door having enjoyed a bottle of wine and two courses for £30-£35 per person. A clear favourite with the locals, and you can see why.

Bellevue Rendezvous, 218 Trinity Road, SW177HP, 02087675810

Same Again Please – Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte

As promised, here is a link to my latest restaurant review on The Huffington Post. It is for an authentic French Bistro, Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote, that lead the way in London in offering a ‘Limited Menu’. I do hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think, and if you have eaten there, what you could taste in the ‘secret sauce’?

Happy Weekend!

x

Reviews and Inspiration

Ladies and Gents,

A week ago I reviewed The River Cafe in The Huffington Post. You can read the article HERE. I have started doing a lot more food reviews on huffpo and will endeavor to put up links to them all here too.

I am always on the lookout for recipe inspiration, so if you have eaten somewhere or something that has delighted, inspired, stimulated or excited you, please let me know as I would love to hear all about it!!

My cookbook is nearly done it’s nearly done!! Long gestation period for this baby I know, but I am sure you will love the result!

Wishing you all a very happy weekend

x

 

Kiwi Local – Manuka Kitchen

What Fulham has needed for some time now is an independent restaurant that is charming, tasty and affordable. Finally, with the arrival of Manuka Kitchen, it has just that.

Manuka is the name of a native New Zealand tree that is now famous for producing honey with high naturally occurring antibiotics. Manuka Kitchen is a European Brasserie and the passion-child of Tyler, a kiwi chef, and Joseph, his business partner, who has worked in high end hotels and restaurants for the past 15 years. This restaurant is a labour of love from start to finish. The boys have done everything from choosing the light fittings to painting the walls. They are there every day and while Tyler cooks Joseph serves and hosts.  Photos_0

You cannot help but become immersed in their genuine desire to have people love the place, with attentive personal service and a very relaxed, almost home-style atmosphere.  The tables are rustic and simple wood with little candles blinking away on each one. The restaurant only seats about 20, which makes for a cozy, intimate setting.

House-baked complimentary foccacia bread turns up at your table while it is still warm, and is best smothered in the salted butter that accompanies it. The Veal Meatballs with tomato sauce were delicious, not too ‘meaty’ tasting as so many meatballs are, and topped with a little parmesan cheese. Crispy Squid was perfectly crispy but soft in the middle. The nam jim sauce accompanying was a little too intense for me without the kick I was hoping for, but nonetheless this was a starter that was well done.

Crispy Squid

Crispy Squid

The Rabbit, Venison sausage and thyme Rigatoni was a moderate portion for a pasta main, but at £10.00 who can complain?  My market fish with orange vegetables and samphire aoli was truly delicious and cooked perfectly. The orange sauce was glorious with the fish, albeit a little too rich for my palate.

Market FishRabbit Rigatoni

A huge round of applause please for a Bistro that serves excellent wine at excellent prices. Only a short list is on offer but when it encompasses such fine choices it only serves to make my job easier in selection  New Zealand features heavily on the wine list, and the Momo Pinot Noir at £23.50 a bottle is not only entirely affordable, but far too easy to drink! The Seresin Organic Sauvignon would be my choice of white at £22.50, or just head straight for party with Tattinger Champagne at £36.

Joseph was eager for us to try the Seresin with our crispy squid starter as it was a better food-match than the pinot, so he poured two little glasses for us to enjoy. There is nothing more inspiring in hospitality than a little generosity and a genuine passion for presenting fine wine and tasty food to happy customers.

Tyler and Joseph’s Manuka Kitchen deserves to be busy, and I have no doubt that this new bistro will thrive. Note that it is a cash-only establishment at present. There are many more items on their menu I would be eager to sample so I, for one, will be back to support this adorable little local.

Manuka Kitchen510 Fulham Road, SW65NJ bookings@manukakitchen.co.uk  02073849774  10:00am-11:00pm Tuesday to Sunday

Poached Salmon with Lemongrass and Sauvignon

Given the insipid colour poached food usually turns it had never appealed to me, but I was happy to discover that this dish is most certainly the fastest for fish I have ever used or created, and it is light, healthy and delicious.  A little homage to my homeland is in the Sauvignon, and an homage to my childhood living in Asia in the lemongrass.

What I particularly love about poaching fish (speaking like an old pro now) is that it won’t stink out your house, and when it comes to cooking salmon, that earns huge brownie points in my household.

  •  2 Salmon Fillets
  • 2/3 Cup Sauvignon Blanc (or any white wine)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs chopped lemongrass
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh basil for serving

In a small saucepan heat the wine, garlic, lemongrass, salt and spring onions until just simmering. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and lay the fillets snugly in the pan. Cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes.

Slide the salmon fillets on to a plate and spoon over with some of the lemongrass and spring onion pieces. Season well with more salt and pepper and sprinkle the fresh basil over the top of the fish.

You can serve this on it’s own and then serve a large salad to follow, or serve with green vegetables, roast vegetables, or on a bed of kale.

 

Stories of Salmon

Last week alone I ate salmon four times. One new recipe for dinner (coming soon), wild tinned red salmon for lunch and plenty of Salmon at Sushi Samba London! It did get me pondering ways to reinvent and re-inspire recipes for this favourite fish.

I have been quite into the Great British Chef’s Website lately. They promote some of the UK’s top culinary talent and their chef’s have parted with some incredible recipes which are listed on the site. They also list recipes by collection, and here I point you to their Collection on Salmon.

It provides a wide range of salmon recipes with everything from utterly gourmet and fine-dining fancy to entirely mid-week manageable. The photography on their site is beautiful in itself, and we all know how much I love a good dose of Food Porn.

From the collection my picks would be the Salmon en Papillote from Josh Eggleton, it looks so quick and light but the flavours would be perfect together. The Boullibasse from Tom Aikens, which would require more attention but particularly in these colder months would make a wonderful weekend meal for entertaining. And for all my readers in warmer climates, the Lemon & Herb Marinated Salmon Skewers from Marcello Tully would be perfect on the BBQ. Oh to be in a BBQ climate!!

While many of the recipes in this collection look michellin-star worthy (and if that is what you are after this is a pretty amazing resource for elegant recipes) but as always for my palate, I prefer the clean and simpler flavours like the recipes mentioned above. The other dish that caught my attention was for poached salmon, because it made me realise I had never poached fish…WOAH! Immediate rectification necessary.

If you haven’t read it previously, you may like to see the article I wrote on Wild versus Farmed salmon. The difference in flavour, texture and nutritional value is enormous…and yes while we are at it, so is the cost. It is better to be armed with the facts so we can make an informed decision though no?

Food Porn

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Did you make anything new? Taste anything fabulous? I always love hearing from you so keep me posted.

As promised, here is a link to the lastest article I have written for The Huffington Post. It is about a Food Photography event I covered last week in London with some amazing people involved.

FOOD PORN HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE

Hope you like it! 

Back To Business

Hello hello hello,

I hope you are all doing fabulously. Yes there has been an extreme hiatus at Elisa’s Table, and no, it is not for lack of recipes or new taste concoctions! In fact, I have been more immersed in the world of food and taste and all things culinary in the past months than ever before in my life. Over the past 18months I have been working hard behind the scenes to create new healthy recipes for my first Cook Book, and I am fast approaching completion! Over 90 recipes later, I thought it was time to start sharing some of them with you again! 

Food Writing has taken a larger focus in my life of late too, so as I publish more and more articles and reviews, I will endeavor to post the links to various publications on Elisa’s Table too.

But let’s get back to business! FOOD, quick, healthy and delish. Here is one to get you going again.

 

Mustard Soy Pork

1tbs ketjap manis

2tbs soy sauce

½ juice lime

2 cloves garlic minced

½ tbs grain mustard

salt

4-6 pork chops

coconut oil for cooking

 

Mix all the ingredients together (except coconut oil) in a marinating dish and add the pork. Marinade for 30 mins-24 hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 mins before cooking.

Heat some coconut oil in a pan and cook the chops turning once until just cooked through. They can be a tiny pink in the middle. Serve with a big green salad or green vegetables. Great with butternut/sweet potato mash, and even better when grilled on the bbq! You may like to serve with a wedge of lime too.

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OMG Parmesan Crusted Chicken

My husband loves, adores and pretty much worships schnitzels. Sadly for him, I find them too heavy most of the time so have never cooked them for him. However, having decided to put my gluten/wheat free existance aside for this meal…I can tell you that this much healthier version of chicken schnitzel is to die for. So yummy in fact, that I just had another one for breakfast! This meal takes less than 10 minutes to prep and only 20 to cook so a very handy mid-week option.

  • 50gm grated parmesan cheese
  • 5-6 chicken breasts
  • 80gm croutons (herb/plain) crushed to a breadcrumb size
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 220 celsius. combine the olive oil and garlic and lightly heat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. This warms up the oil a little to bring out the garlic flavour. On a separate plate combine the crushed croutons, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.

With a rolling pin, flatten out the chicken breasts so they are all about 1cm thick. (You can cover the breasts with cling film then just bash them….naughty little chicken). Dip each breast in the olive oil to coat it, and then dip the breast into the crouton mix to coat evenly. Do this for each breast and lay them all on a foil-lined oven tray. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes then turn each piece, and bake for another 10.

Serve hot with a colourful salad and enjoy!!

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Whitebait Fritters – Kiwi Style

Whitebait fritters in New Zealand are a classic, something your grandmother used to make, something your parents grew up on, something they still serve in the best cafes in town for breakfast. New Zealand whitebait are tiny little fish, unlike the much larger mediterranean style whitebait found in Europe. These miniature little morsels are so delicate, and very subtle in flavour. They taste anything but “fishy”, which suits my palate perfectly..and…they can be caught in the stream behind your beach-house, or bought from the fish-shop in little punnets.

Rob (my hubby) had a hankering for whitebait fritters when we were home recently, so when down in Napier visiting his grandparents, I got to work. Nanni had procured 2 x 250gm punnets of extraordinarily fresh, perfect little whitebait for me.

Because the flavour and texture of these fish is so delicate, I didn’t want to add much to the fritter, so kept them VERY basic, and they were to die for!!! I wanted 100 more, but was certainly full of little fishies once we were finished.

  • 500gm super fresh shiny Whitebait
  • 2 eggs
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon wedges for serving

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and then gently combine the whitebait into the mixture. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Heat some butter in a frying pan and when it is starting to bubble add small dollops of the mixture. These take NO time to cook, so stand by and turn them once they are just set on the back. Once flipped cook next side until you have a tiny golden brown fritter. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon and sprinkle with a salt and pepper. YUM YUM YUM.

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