When we’re in a city, Matt and I always try to sit down and enjoy something that we can’t get closer to home. On our last London trip, this was set to be ramen.
With the nearest ramen restaurant being 95 miles from our front door, we made plans to slot in a trip to Bone Daddies whilst we were down there. Staying in Shoreditch, we made the 30 minute journey to Soho on a crisp winter eve. It was the complete opposite direction for where we needed to be later that night, but I knew it would be worth it.
As we came in to Leicester Square, we met with the late night crowds of tourists and cinema goers. Nipping past china town, we scanned the street names to figure out where we were. Every corner we turned was the wrong one and Bone Daddies was no where in sight. I’d dragged him all this way for a place we couldn’t find. Matt was so close to saying ‘ok, we can’t find it. Let’s go to ….’ and then we looked up to see the Peter Street sign.
Down this narrow side street, I’d spotted the tell tale noren – the Japanese ‘open for business’ curtain on the door.
It was quiet – maybe ten diners inside. A relief after hearing of the huge weekend queues. We made our way inside and sat in the window.
Other than pickle jars and sake, the decor is pretty plain. Almost utilitarian.
Old school rock and roll set the backdrop. A pint of Asahi super creamy head for Matt (an exclusive to Bone Daddies in the UK) and an iced green tea for me. We flipped through the clip board menus but having stalked the menu online, I already knew my order. Within 15 minutes, it began to roll in and soon we had a feast in front of us.
Tonkotsu ramen – a 20 hour pork bone broth with slices of ridiculously tender pork, spring onion, marinated egg, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), bean sprouts, noodles, cock scratchings (an extra I added that we’ll get to in a minute) and a slick of salty soy. After 20 hours of simmering, the fat and bone marrow melt in to this phenomenally porky, intense, creamy and rich concoction. The fat content sits heavy on the palate, relieved a little by a dash of chilli oil in to the bowl and sips of the green tea. It was the heartiest bowl of winter warming that I’d had in a long time and although the broth its self nearly out did me, I could have taken 6 more of the Ajitsuke Tamago (marinated egg).
I was tempted to add some pickled garlic to my ramen but I was so scared I’d ruin the whole thing. I like the extra condiment choices at the tables though and thankfully we didn’t need the provided bibs!
Next, Matt’s T22.
Based on chicken bone broth, this dish was entirely sold to him on the inclusion of ‘cock scratchings’. These herby grains of fried chicken skin are knock out. I’m so glad I had added them to my bowl as well. Matt’s ramen also came with menma, beansprouts, a marinated egg, chunks of chicken, nori and mustard leaves. His broth had a much cleaner mouth feel, was loaded with umami and if I’m honest, was the winner.
Every so often, we took a break from our bowls and turned our attention to the sides. Fried chicken and softshell crab.
I’d say it was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had and it’s exactly what ‘popcorn chicken’ should be. Chunks of tender thigh meat, crispy light batter. Perfection.
The batter on the soft shell crab was equally perfect; barely there with it’s tempura texture, it left the crab to show off all of its flavour. The green chilli ginger sauce was something I’d bottle up and keep -Ross Shonhan, if you ever read this, please start selling it!
Our bill came to around £45, but we’d over ordered by far. The Ramen bowls are a huge meal on their own so between those and our two side orders, I’d barely made it down to the half way line. I’d suggest just one side between two diners if you’re feeling very hungry. To be honest though, I think we’d go for their sides alone, I wished we’d sampled more; the sticky pork bones sound incredible.
Matt declared this meal the best thing he’d had in his mouth. This is the man that I’d practically had to drag to visit this ‘soup’ place. Bone Daddies Soho, we will be back, I want to try your pickles. I imagine we’ll also be paying a visit to their sister restaurant soon, Flesh & Buns.
It’s Christmas Eve. I’m just waiting for Matt to arrive at my Parents’ house then the excitement will really kick in. I’m making us roasted aubergine pasta tonight, just because it’s so easy. Then later there are carols on the cross nearby so perhaps we’ll go up there, if not, it will be something to drink and some boardgames. Do you have plans this evening?
I thought I’d sign another Christmas off with photos from my town’s Christmas Tree Festival. Fifty real trees decorated by organisations, companies and groups to raise money for the charities close to their hearts. It’s a lovely thing to stroll around and draws quite a lot of visitors from all round the county. I’m told that more than £5000 was raised last year.
This year the trees were following the theme of TV programmes, old and new. Dr Who fans should easily be able to spot their tree in the photos below, but I’ll come to my favourite at the end.
The winner for me. The Frozen Planet, raising money for The British Heart Foundation.
For Christmas eve reading, I reccommend skipping back two years to Christmas traditions in our house. Are you excited about the day ahead? I can’t wait to spend it with my family. I hope your Christmas is a fantastic one.
When I began this blog, I often mentioned that I didn’t really like chocolate. I never really craved it or found myself blown away by any particular brand. It was just a food stuff that always sat in the ‘average’ catagory for me. Now, some years on, either my tastes have changed or I’ve ventured in to better quality chocolate. I’m not sure which it is, but I actually like it.
My favourite is the intense, high cocoa chocolate with a flavour (if you haven’t tried Lindt’s dark lime yet, you should) or better still, some spice. The spiced chocolate I’ve been loving lately comes from the John Lewis Cook Edition’s killer truffle recipe.
These are french pavé style truffles; the beauty of these is that there’s no messy rolling or shaping to do. Just whip up a ganache, leave it to set, cut it up and dust with cocoa. If you’re short of last minute gifts or want something special for guests over Christmas, these fit the bill. The silky, shining ganache is incredibly rich with it’s 70% cocoa content and the added spices leave a warming feel, making them the perfect treat for winter days.
John Lewis have kindly let me share this recipe with my readers, but you can pick up a copy of the free magazine in store to get your hands on the rest. It’s all focussed on celebrating food moments and has plenty of ideas for last minute edible gifting. That said, I think these truffles would make a great mini project for the quiet days after Christmas and are simple enough for kids to get involved in.
There’s so much beauty under the cocoa dusting of these truffles that I almost didn’t want to finish making them. If I could have left them with their lustrous sheen, I would have.
Line a 20cm square tin with cling film or baking paper and set aside.
To make the ganache. Chop the chocolate finely in to a medium sized bowl. Using a small saucepan on a low heat, combine the spices and cream by stirring with a whisk, until the cream reaches a simmer. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes.
Stir the chocolate and cream mixture together with the whisk until you reach a glossy, smooth consistency. Don’t worry if the mix starts look split, grainy or oily, it can easily be rescued. It may be as simple as to just whisk the mixture more to help the emulsification process. If that doesn’t work, try adding a tablespoon of warmed milk at a time and using an electric whisk.
Pour the silky ganache in to the tin and level out. Alow to cool at room temperature for around an hour, then transfer to the fridge until firm. Cut the ganache in to truffles of around 2cm and lightly dust in cocoa powder, shaking off any excess.
These gorgeous truffles are best eaten at room temperature but should be kept in the fridge where they’ll happily keep for two weeks. Just pop a few out on a plate an hour before serving.
If gifting, there are plenty of kits around to dress up your home made goodies at this time of year. I used the bags and gift tags from the Meri Meri Kit to package mine.
If you make these beauties, come back and let me know how they turned out and tweet a photo using the hashtag #JLCook.
Every single year, there’s a guaranteed gift at the bottom of my Christmas stocking. A big shiny apple. It’s a tradition that comes from when my Mum was little and her great-aunt in Canada would send over a box of huge apples at Christmas. So to me, apples are very Christmassy, hence today’s recipe for apple crisps.
They’re a healthy treat alone and extra festive with a sprinkle of mixed spice, but I know how to make them absolutely awesome. Lindt’s Crema Nocciola. Think nutella, but more indulgent and way more luxurious. Dip an apple crisp in to some or drizzle it on with a spoon, it’s the perfect pairing.
To start making the crisps, take your apples and give them a good wash then twist the stalks off. These imperfect beauties are the first crop from the trees in my Parent’s garden. They are quite tart but I love how that comes through in the crisps, especially with the Crema Nocciola (or Lindtella as it’s become known in our house).
Now preheat your oven to 180 Celcius and start slicing.
You’ll need a mandoline to achieve thin slices that dry out evenly. I used the Chef’s Slicer from OXO (£60) for this recipe but for a more affordable, less bulky option, their handheld mandoline (£15) would handle these apples with ease. It’s best to leave the apple core in as you slice and just brush away any pips before baking them. Less hassle and more apple.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or greaseproof paper and lay the slices in a single layer. If you’d like to sprinkle any spices on them, do that now. Bake for around 25 minutes but keep an eye on them towards the end as all apples have different moisture content. The edges will start to curl up when they’re nearly done.
Take them out to cool on a rack, then it’s just a case of enjoying what you’ve made. I’d love to tell you that these will keep for a week, but unfortunately mine never have made it that far. They do tend to lose their crispness so they’re best eaten straight away with something naughty to drizzle/dip them with.
I feel pretty strongly about bloggers being transparent with readers about gifted items or sponsored content. So here is the down low. Lindt sent me a package of samples to test out and the Crema Nocciola made my hit list. I chose to share it with you because I really believe it’s a great product, I haven’t been paid in any way to say that. Seriously, it’s just that good. Also, you may have noticed that I work with OXO products quite regularly and that’s a partnership I hope to keep. Their kitchen tools and gadgets are especially good if you struggle with grip or dexterity. Again, I’m never paid to include them or talk about them but I am given samples.
This year, I’ve been finding it hard to buy for people. It’s a good problem to have in a way because it means my closest friends and family are content and have what they need or want. Then there is Matt… well he is just a naughty pre-Christmas shopper. All the stocking filler ideas I had for him arrived in an ASOS parcel this weekend. New belt, new beanie, the obligatory new Christmas socks. I needed to rethink his gifts.
For the lovely ladies in your life; Nans, Sisters, Mums, Aunties, Friends. If there’s nothing that they particularly want this year, I have two gift ideas to help you treat them on a budget. Chocolates and flowers. A cliché, they may be, but for a good reason.
I had the arduous task of putting Hotel Chocolat’s H-Box though a rigorous testing procedure. Rumour has it that this is Matt’s Mum’s favourite brand and I can see why. They use more cocoa and less sugar than most chocolate brands, resulting in more complex flavours and to me, much much much better chocolate. The cherry on top is that they’re an ethical and fair grower, something that is often overlooked in the cocoa bean industry.
The Christmas H-Box has fourteen chocolates with all the flavours you’d expect; nutmeg, champagne, mulled wine… The winner for me was the gingerbread truffle, topped with a sprinkle of gold leaf.
This box is £12 which includes a personalised card inside. Order up until 6pm on the 19th December using the standard delivery option or if you’re in a squeeze order next day on the 23rd. You can also cheat entirely and have it beautifully gift wrapped.
They’ve lasted well but the tulips did something I’ve never seen before. They grew, considerably! I trimmed them and put them in a vase as soon as they arrived and two days later, the tulips had grown a good two inches. Does that normally happen or is it just a sign of how fresh they still are? A quick trim soon tidied them up and they were nestled amongst the roses again.
This bunch works out around £23 with the discount code and comes with guaranteed named day delivery as standard. There are flowers at both ends of the scale; the Designer Gold Leaf is way more extravagant but the Festive Rouge sits at just £12.75 after discount. The order cut off for Christmas Eve flower delivery is 23rd December by 4pm. The code to grab you these bargains is: DFBLOG25
I hope this post helps you out if you’re looking for gifts still. As for Matt’s gifts, if you have any suggestions I’d love your help!