01 February 2012

black sesame ice cream...heaven in a bowl

One of my favourite places to eat in London has just become slightly more accessible to the foodie public. It is the home of Luiz, The London Foodie. I have been to his house for several London Cooking Club events. At these events, Luiz designs a menu based on a particular cuisine and sometimes a particular cookbook. Each guest signs up for a dish and brings it along with a bottle of wine. It is fabulous...and I look forward to the two I am signed up for in the next couple months (Neopolitan and Filipino).  These require that you can and want to cook a dish. However, recently Luiz has changed career paths, remodeled his already amazing kitchen and following on from the success of the Grazing Asia Supper Club (featured in Time Out) has started his own Japanese Home Cooking Supper Club.

I booked this evening the moment Luiz advertised it back in September. I booked it for two and brought along Cath. She was excited to join me at a supper club evening as she has heard me talk so much about them. We had a pre-dinner drink before we headed to Luiz's house where we were the first to arrive. We were greeted and served Gin and Tonic as more guests began to arrive. As we were mingling, we were served canapés of Takoyaki (octopus balls) and pom pom chicken provided by Pom Pom a company that makes these fresh for parties and events. They were really tasty.

Once all 18 guests had arrived, we were led upstairs to a kitchen like no other. It's incredible! I loved their kitchen before it was redone, but now Luiz and Gerard have a wine fridge, a massive beautiful Aga and enough table space for 20 guests! I only wish I owned a decent camera...I apoligise for the pictures that follow!

The tables were set with small stoves for cooking the first course: Spicy Pork and Seafood Nabe. This is a family dish in Japan that is only served to very special guests. The bowl was full of a selection of seafood (prawns, clams, squid), pork belly, enoki mushrooms, cabbage and daikon. Into this Luiz poured a dashi broth with Korean spicy paste. This was left to cook in front of us for a few minutes.

While we waited for the Nabe to cook we enjoyed salmon sashimi with a japanese vinaigrette that cures the fish slightly. It was served with a mix of creme fraiche and avocado. The salmon was so fresh and delicate; I loved the light vinaigrette made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and grated onion.

Once finished with the salmon we served each other the Nabe with the communal chopsticks. This was very flavourful. The dashi broth made with dried sea kelp and bonito flakes had flavoured all the seafood and vegetables. I fished around in the near empty bowl to find missed bits of squid and clam :)

Once the goodies were gone lightly fried gyoza (dumplings) were added to the broth, which were immediately consumed.

Finally, udon noodles were added to the broth. This was simple...just noodles and broth, but I really like the texture of udon noodles...thick and a bit chewy so I really enjoyed this.

The next course was Beef Tataki with Creamy Sesame Sauce. The high-quality and perfectly cooked fillet of beef was served on a bed of cooked onion topped with a sauce made from tahini, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and a bit of sugar and a sprinkling of perfectly cooked crispy garlic slices.

For a mid-meal palate cleanser, we received two slices of tamago-yaki (Japanese omelet). I think I read somewhere that a sushi chef is judged by the quality of his tamago, similar to western chefs being tested by their ability to properly fry an egg. I am not a tamago expert but this was very nice.

Next up were a selection of small plates:
  • Rice with chicken, carrots, and shitake mushrooms
  • Aubergine with sweet miso topped with mozzerella
  • Green beans and fishcakes with spicy mayo... I really liked this. The fishcakes (which can sometimes be dubious at restaurants) were delicious.

The final savoury dish was miso soup with spinach and deep fried tofu. It was made with white miso which is slightly sweeter. I love miso...and this was an excellent version.

To end it all was a trio of ice creams: black sesame, red bean and green tea served with a home-made madeleine. I am a massive fan of mochi filled with red bean paste so I thought the red bean would be my favourite, but the black sesame was AMAZING!! I loved it and I am definitely going to try to make it at home...just as soon as I buy an ice cream maker!!

This was a perfect evening. As always Luiz is the best host, and the food was just phenomenal! I was also very impressed by his attention to detail. He recently returned from a 2-month trip to Japan where he purchased most of the dinnerware we ate on and also glassware for the condiments (soy sauce, chile oil etc).

He even had ice buckets for bottles of water and all of the wine we brought.

Plus I haven't even mentioned how lovely it was to chat with all the other guests. As has become common for me at these events, I knew two others. We had met at the French London Cooking Club.

Many of the recipes and a good portion of Luiz's Japanese cooking knowledge comes from Reiko Hashimoto. She teaches several levels of Japanese cooking courses in London (I am dying to take one). Luiz has taken them all and has even assisted her with several. She recently published the cookbook "Hashi", and Luiz had several copies for purchase. I bought one and cannot wait to try it out...the black sesame ice cream in particular. 

Luiz has now released a range of dates for more Japanese Home Cooking Supper Clubs. I highly recommend booking in...his house is most definitely one of London's best kept secrets.

Edible Experiences


Anonymous said...

Your blog is so fun, Tiffany! You are fortunate to be able to partake in all of those great dining experiences! Wish I could join you... =) -Rachel Colvin

Tiff said...

Thanks Rachel! If you ever find yourself back in the UK or if I in Australia, or if we find ourselves in Arizona at the same time we'll have to go for dinner :) If you ever do make a raw food cookbook let me know! Hope you're family is well xo

The London Foodie said...

Thank you for the most lovely review Tiffany! I hope you are well, and I look forward to seeing you at London Cooking Club soon!

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Tiff said...

Very much looking forward to the next foodie evening, Luiz! See you soon.

May said...

Great review. You must come along to one of the Malaysian Supper Clubs at Luiz's house (under the GrazingAsia banner) soon.

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