Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Smoking a whole short rib to make pastrami

Last week the brilliant Felicity Spector did a piece about us in The Telegraph, and got us talking about smoked meat. 

The ribs - it's one of the dishes we're most excited about on the new menu, carried out of our open kitchen and, just like the big signature sandwiches in Schwartz's in Montreal, hand-carved to order. 

We love brisket and we use it in other places in the restaurant but the pastrami short rib has a whole different level of juiciness. 

The dish is for sharing, and comes with freshly baked bread, and little mezze plates like whole roast cauliflower with tahini, whitefish croquettes, citrus kale and Iraqi blackened aubergine.

Because we grew up eating or got obsessed by Montreal delis, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cooking, and dishes from California, we put as much of these flavours in the cure which includes a little fragrant Middle Eastern notes like cloves and ras-al hanout, as well as bay leaves and sugar, salt and pickling spices. 

Turner and George send us these amazing dry-aged ribs full of gamey, meaty flavour, and they take on a redness and flakiness from the curing and smoking process. 

We have been experimenting different approaches to curing, brining, flavouring the meat with different spices and cures, for a year and experimenting with different cuts and shapes. We cure the meat for 10-12 days before being slowly smoked over a mixture of apple, cherry and cedar woods for 12 hours, and rested before it is served.

In New York, and in London, with salt beef or pastrami, its wet-cured in a brine before being coated in black pepper and coriander. Then it gets smoked and steamed. 

But we do it the way they do it in Montreal, using a dry cure instead. Dry curing the meat gets the full flavour of the spices into the meat for much longer than you get with brining. It also gives the meat this delicious charred spiced crust like barbecue, you can break up and fold through the softer slices of meat for contrast. 

Sharpening those knives now, ready for service...

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Slight delay

Apparently it happens to the best of them - and we aren't going to open next week as planned. 

After a hectic week here in Eggs HQ, we're sorry to say that we've had a construction set-back and we won't open on the 15th October. We just don't want to welcome you until we're absolutely ready for you. We've been so overwhelmed by the interest in our opening, we were featured in The Telegraph last week and Evening Standard yesterday.

We'll post our new opening date soon, we really can't wait to have you all eat with us.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

We're open for bookings!

Update: we've had a slight delay. New soft launch dates coming soon.

We're now taking bookings and are delighted to announce our 50% all food soft launch! Please sign up on our website to register to come along from dinner on the evening of Thursday 15th October to brunch on Sunday 18th October.

As some of you know, we'd originally planned to open doors next week but the works to restore our beautiful Grade II listed building from a shell without running water or electricity and soundproofing and restoring the garden have unearthed a few nasty surprises which pushed us back a few weeks.

The clip above is from a stop motion we've been making of the whole build - blog post to follow on some of the highlights of the whole process.

Have also had some lovely surprises during the build! Like these beautiful tiles and original floorboards, and a few other little details. More on that next time!

We've had a few lovely surprises during the build too - like these original tiles... 
...some of which we've salvaged and brought back to life... 
...and these original floorboards we've been busy polishing!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

No. 93 Church Street

Copyright © London Metropolitan Archives.

Much loved (by us) restaurateur Danny Meyer says that you should never open a restaurant more than five minutes from where you live. After weeks on tenterhooks - we're delighted to reveal that we just got the go ahead for our site, and it's our dream spot. 

Right in the heart of Stoke Newington, just a few minutes from our founder Joel's house. No. 93 Church Street. To celebrate our new doors - which will, all things being well, open this August - here's a few pictures our friend Amir (aka @historyofstokey) dug up, of No. 93 as it's appeared through the ages.

Copyright © 1980 Alan Denney. No. 93 is just visible on the right - as Wimbledon Sewing Machine Club.

Copyright © 1990 Derek Baker.
Research conducted by Derek Baker into the history of the site from 1910 to 1990.

Maynard's print advert 1951, source unknown.
Back when No. 93 was a gift store.
Nothing like fancy goods and bric à brac. And a bit of personal attention.

Copyright © 1990 Derek Baker.
No. 93's incarnation as A.R.Dennis - 'the bookies of distinction'.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Eggs Daffodil

I first read about this dish in Danny Meyer’s book Setting the Table. As the story goes:

We served a late night dinner party at Eleven Madison Park for about a dozen media people who included NBC's Tom Brokaw, the New York Times' R.W. (Johnny) Apply, Maureen Dowd, Todd Purdum, plus Purdum's wife, Dee Dee Myers, Bill Clinton's former press secretary. Following a marathon evening at the convention, they all finally sat down to a five-course dinner at eleven-forty-five. Before I left at one o'clock in the morning, I said, "If you folks stay long enough, we'll have to serve you scrambled eggs for dessert." And Johnny Apple, who's from Akron, Ohio, said, "I can tell you're a Midwest boy, probably attended a bunch of coming-out parties." I smiled. "In fact," I said, "it was by going to debutante parties as a nineteen year old in St. Louis that I first learned about eating scrambled eggs at two in the morning." "But I bet you've never had 'eggs daffodil'," he said. "That's the real thing."

He had me there. As I was leaving for the night, I said to my team, “You guys need to go online and figure out what ‘eggs daffodil’ are, and I want you to make sure to put a bowl of them on the table by two o'clock in the morning.” After all, if you believe that word of mouth makes the world go around, here were eleven people who had fairly big, powerful mouths. Googling “eggs daffodil” revealed just a vague description, but it was enough to inspire Eleven Madison Park’s chef, Kerry Heffernan, who improvised what he imagined eggs daffodil to be, creating an inspired recipe that included zucchini blossoms and cheese. They were brought out at two o'clock and served in a copper pot to Johnny Apple, right around dessert time, as the journalists were making some toasts. (Brokaw and Apple would soon be retiring and were each covering their last political convention.) The next day Kerry told me the eggs daffodil “blew them away.” 

Kerry loved the recipe - he had cooked the eggs and cream slowly, put them in a blender with some beurre fondue, and then gently heated them up again, stirring in some zucchini blossoms - and said he had decided to put it on our brunch menu. We had served a wonderful dinner as it was. But when Johnny Apple made that remark about "eggs daffodil." it was as if he had presented us with a rock with all kinds of life growing underneath it, and we were then able to tie the right fly to catch the fish.

Two years later, I saw Tom Brokaw at a dinner party, and he told twelve other people the story of eggs daffodil. Ask Johnny Apple or the others what they remember most about that evening's menu. I guarantee it's the eggs daffodil. 
After a bit of digging I discovered there are many variations - and most in fact use courgette blossoms. 

Courgette flowers have been in season for a few weeks in the UK now. They're amazing looking things with a delicate flavour. You can pick them up at farmers markets and good fruit and veg shops. We bought ours from Natoora whose produce is always exceptional.

The basic idea is to make 'a very soft scramble of butter with eggs, zucchini blossoms, scallions and Comte (Gruyere) cheese'. (Louis Rousseau).
After a quick rinse under cold water, take out the stamens, and then with scissors snip them into rough strips. Fold the courgette flowers, heritage tomatoes, radish tops and some gruyere into buttery scrambled eggs just as they are browning. Top them with lots of parsley and chives and serve with homemade caraway rye sourdough toast.
The resulting scramble is elegant and rich  - ideal on a bright summer morning with a glass of juice (or Prosecco!). And we haven't tried them at two in the morning... just yet.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Gefiltefest: sabih, challah and pickle

We had a brilliant time at our favourite Jewish food festival, Gefiltefest, last Sunday. I joined "The Ashkenazi Fightback", a talk chaired by our good friend (and now shareholder!) Felicity Spector, alongside Louis Solley from Jago and Mark of Monty's Deli. 

Conversation centred on the growing influence and rise of Jewish - specifically Ashkenazi - cooking in London restaurants. The talk ranged from our own inspirations, to the Ottolenghi diaspora and the challenges and aims we each bear with our respective projects. 

After that I dashed downstairs to meet Alex who was just setting up in front of a room jam packed with people ready for our demo, which, of course, was focused on bread, eggs and pickles. 

We made, plaited and baked a sweet and light Challah, showed the audience how to knock up their own pickles - and used them to add a bit of zing and crunch to our favourite Tel Aviv street food Sabih (an aubergine and egg pita with spicy zhoug, mango pickle and tahini sauce). 

To finish we used the freshly baked challah to cook up challah French toast - the perfect American-Jewish desert.

Alex and I did a reasonable job of making and plaiting the challah which was no mean feat - a process that Oded, our head pastry chef, usually keeps watchful eye over. The audience were delightful and really involved - which definitely helped.

We proceeded to devour treats outside in the courtyard - from our friends Hansen & Lydersen, new Shakshuka street food stall Shak, and Zest, the restaurant run by Ottolenghi disciple Eran Tibi. Massive thanks to Nicki, Ella and the whole team Gefiltefest for organising such a great celebration. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Olives and Blackacre

This is part 4 of our series, A Trip South West.

On our third morning of travelling, we raced (as fast as we could in the old camper van) to Olives et Al in Dorset for lunch in the sunshine at their little cafe on site. They were genuinely some of the best olives we’ve ever tasted.

Giles was a pretty inspirational guy to meet and it was a pleasure to listen to him tell the story of how Olives et Al came to be. Some 20 years ago, Giles and his wife to be gave up their former careers and set off on two old motorbikes looking for an adventure. The trip took them through North Europe, Syria, Jordan, across the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank and Israel, Cairo and Libya. Their adventure lasted about a year and the pictures that are peppered around the Olives et Al offices tell the tale.

Giles and Annie returned to Southampton and in the sway of post travel blues, set up camp in the garden. They went to the local shop and bought some olives recreate the life they had grown accustomed to that year. The olives were apparently disgusting, nothing that resembled the Olives they had enjoyed on their trip. It was at that moment that they decided they needed to bring olives into the country and that's how it all began.

Back on the road and after an hour lost in the Dorset countryside, we reach Blackacre Farm.

Blackacre is a small family farm run by Dan and Briony Wood. They weren't really expecting us - Giles had only suggested us to meet them a few hours previously - but nonethless kindly welcomed us in. Dan put us in his Land Rover and drove us up to see his hens. Blackacre is a much larger operation than the Dave and Wendy's, but still only sizely enough for them to ensure the well being of all the animals.

So we got to meet more happy chickens - the hens looked really healthy and had a huge amount of land to roam, dig and socialise in.

Blackacre is also home to many ducks and quails. The quails' eggs were delicious - did you know that each quail lays a uniquely patterned shell, so that the bird can pick them out? 

As the sun set we hit the road back to London, fresh faced, inspired, excited to get back to the kitchen - and, thanks to the openness and hospitality of all the folk we dropped in to see, with a real sense of the kind of the production we want to support, the kind of produce we want to work with every day.