Monday, 25 August 2008
The words 'best falafel' will always get my attention. Everyone knows there's a lot of terrible falafel out there in the big bad world - dark brown discs of any texture ranging from deep fried sawdust to rubber. I'll never forget the pride in the voice of one kebab shop owner as he asked me how I liked his falafel. I couldn't bring myself to tell him it looked and tasted like a wet sock left for a week in a plastic bag.
My love affair with this humble chickpea patty began when I was in university. The local strip housed a Falafel Kitchen, which pretty much kept me well fed for my entire uni life. Sometimes they would stand on the street handing out falafel balls on a tray to entice customers into their store. I would always devise a way to walk back and forth several times for another little snack.
Fast forward to The Big Apple, where Moustache in Greenwich Village, has a reputation for serving the city's best falafel. They're part of the Slow Food movement too, so you know they're putting thought into what they do.
Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with distinct, identifiable flavours, served with pillow-soft pitta bread and fresh salad; what you get at Moustache is exactly what every falafel in the world dreams of being. The best in New York? I'd need to do more research to be sure. But the best I've ever tasted? Definitely. Don't miss the chance to try it if you're in the area.
Get the table in the window and, if you're very lucky, you'll get a little episode of New York life. While we were there, a fire truck turned up to quench a fierce flood from the apartments above. Hot falafel, fresh mint tea, and brawny men with axes. What more could you want?
Monday, 11 August 2008
Prices are rising and so stopwasting food! Let's beat the credit crunch and use up crap left behind in your cupboards by past visitors (in my case two of the same box of cereal, Alpen muesli, in the red box. But any old oat based breakfast cereal would do nicely. I think better than the traditional plain oats because of all those extra little bits)add any other fruit or chocolate (which I think would taste gross) to this recipe to really use up what is festering in the back of your cupboards
What you need
80gm brown sugar
2 tbs. golden syrup
250gm left over cereal (or oats)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1.5 bananas thoroughly mashed
1 lemon (rind removed)
10 small cubes crystalised ginger chopped finely
1. Heat oven to 220
2. Melt sugar, butter and syrup over low heat
3. Add mashed banana, cystalised ginger and lemon rind to butter mixture
4. Fold in cereal, salt and ground ginger
5. Pour into lined tin
6. Bake for 25mins
7. Meanwhile make a syrup from the juice of the lemon and equal part sugar over a low heat (until sugar has dissolved)
8. Pour syrup over just cooked flapjack, score into pieces and leave to cool in the tin for 2 hours
Wow, this feels a little like those movies where the city family heads to the beach for an epic summer that changes their whole lives and when they return home to remove the dust covers a symbolic montage explains that, though nothing appears different, nothing will ever be the same again. It's been a good couple of months since I last posted (I'm sorry Chew!)... tumbleweed indeed.
I moved house in June and I've been sniffing suspiciously round my new kitchen ever since, not particularly inspired to develop a relationship with it. I could search for a deep psychological explanation but, really, I think it's because the oven is shit. That said, I am now slowly getting a cooking groove back on, mainly thanks to two foxes who've taken up residence in my back garden. I can see them frolic and play from my kitchen window and their excited yapping and tail shaking is a beautiful thing (even if they drag all kinds of crap into my yard).
Getting back on the horse with something simple -- and in need of uber nourishment after an epic 40 kilometre mountain climb -- I opted for a big plate of marinated mushrooms and boozy Puy lentils. I wanted a big bang of flavour in the lentils, so cooked them down in a miso sachet stock and big cup of water, sharpened with generous splashes of white wine, vodka and Pimm's No. 1. A good forty minutes simmer time saw them reduce into a thick, salty stew, the ideal companion to some stir fried mushrooms (marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, sesame, balsamic and a splash of soy), brown rice, toasted seeds and ribbons of flash fried egg. Looks dirty, tastes foxy.
A little shocked to hear about Isaac Hayes giving it up on a treadmill on the weekend. He looked well fit -- and performed beautifully -- when I snapped these pix at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2005. Hayes and Porter, the great Stax team.