The Friday 5 #5
My new favourite London restaurant, why May 5th needs to be Taco Thursday and an unbelievably bargainous Bordeaux …
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Make it Taco Thursday!
You might not be aware that next Thursday is Cinco de Mayo (the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862 for the history geeks among you). It’s become a bit of an annual knees up and an excuse for the rest of us to stuff ourself with tacos.
I was going to suggest you went on a taco crawl but I when I tried to check out a couple in London’s Borough Market yesterday they were so insanely busy and the ones I eventually managed to snag so far from those I’ve had in the US (too sloppy and so spicy so you couldn’t taste the tortilla) that I suggest you make your own which would be fun with the kids anyway.
You can buy the the maize flour and tortilla press relatively cheaply (My local Mexican shop Otomi normally sells both online) then try one of these recipes
Fish tacos are my favourite and these are Mexican food enthusiast Tommi Miers.
There’s a very kid-friendly chicken taco recipe here and a slightly more complicated but very tasty pork el pastor recipe from Nud Dudhai of Breddos Tacos in Clerkenwell which is a great place to go for a taco fix.
There’s also a terrific selection on Rick Bayless Frontera website. (He was the first chef who got me into Mexican food when I visited his restaurant in Chicago.)
Give them a run-through this bank holiday weekend
Verdita: the drink you didn’t know you were missing
While we’re on the subject of Mexico I’ve just discovered a drink called Verdita which you down as a tequila chaser but which was used as a dressing for a mezcal-cured salmon salad by the very inventive Rob Howell of Root (and which I made my match of the week with a lovely crisp Vinho Verde). It’s based on pineapple juice normally but Rob uses apple and cucumber. There’s a simple recipe on the BBC Food website but I’m going to have a play with it.
And I do recommend you to try mezcal, especially if you’re into smoky flavours like Islay whisky and lapsang souchong. Here’s a selection I wrote about in The Guardian a couple of years ago. Actually almost 4 years. I clearly need to do some more *research* 😉
Beautiful butter you can buy online
Butter gets a bad rap these days but I can think of nothing better to melt on your asparagus or Jersey Royals. There’s not much choice in the supermarkets but the good news is that you can buy it online from a company called Ampersand which is based in Oxfordshire. It’s a really gorgeous golden buttery butter made out of Jersey and Guernsey milk and they send it out in packs of five for £25 + P &P along with a carton of buttermilk which you can use for sodabread, pancakes or even to make fried chicken. You can freeze the butter you don’t want to use straightaway. (Even for me 5 packets is a LOT!)
BTW if you’re a fellow butter addict follow chef @thomas_straker on instagram and Tiktok in which he regularly whips up the most gorgeous flavoured butters. Follow his hashtag #allthingsbutter.
A £5 Bordeaux that looks like a £15 one
It’s hard to get a decent wine under £5 but I discovered a bottle the other day that not only tastes good but looks the part too. It’s the Chevaliers St Martin Bordeaux 2020 which is selling in Morrisons for £5. It’s obviously quite simple at this price, fresh and unoaked, made in a style which used to be referred to as a ‘lunchtime claret’. The label is the main draw though - it really looks smart - the sort of bottle you could take to the parents or in-laws for a Sunday lunch. And no-one will know how much you paid for it (unless you tell them!).
While you’re in Morrisons the Klein Street Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa is also worth a whirl, particularly for bank holiday drinking. It’s £5.75 a bottle which is already cheap but £15 if you buy 3. Great bargain.
My new favourite restaurant in London
Part of my job* is checking out restaurants so I’m always drawn to new openings rather than places I’ve been to before but I’m definitely going back to Lisboeta. It’s the new opening from the hugely talented Nuno Mendez. As the name suggests the food is inspired by Lisbon and just brilliant.
You definitely need to order the vindalho empanada (goan spiced pork pie), the mushroom açorda (an umami-rich mushroom bread soup though, don’t worry, there’s not that much bread in it), the bacalhau à Bras (salt cod confit cod with caramelised onions and straw potatoes) but ABOVE ALL the arroz de marisco. It’s a wonderfully soupy red prawn and razor clam rice dish - possibly the best I’ve ever eaten - no doubt thanks to the prawn heads, the contents of which which we were encouraged to squeeze into the bowl though they would probably do that for you if you feel a bit squeamish about it. That’s for sharing (as you’ll probably want to at £49) although one customer apparently comes in and has one to himself.
There’s also a dessert of pork fat custard with port wine sauce that has divided the critics. To be honest I wouldn’t have ordered it had I not been giving the menu a run through but it’s a lot nicer than it sounds. Rich and creamy without being porky. I prefer the tarte de Amendoa - almond and butternut tart though with which we had a really lovely tawny port-like wine called Carcavelos by Villa Oeiras. (The all Portuguese wine list is amazing).
There’s a lovely bar on the ground floor in which takes walk-ins but you can apparently order the full menu there. The whole vibe is really homely and cosy. I was invited as a guest but, as I said, I’ll be back.
*who am I kidding? My hobby
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Have a good weekend!