Category Archives: exciting food events

Goodbye Family Styles, Hello Mei Mei Street Kitchen

Named by our amazing brother Andy for us (Mei Mei means little sister in Chinese), this family business will start off as a Chinese and American-influenced, farm-sourced, community-oriented food truck serving up dumplings and other deliciousness.   We’ll serve only humanely raised meat and work with local growers to serve great tasting food produced in the best way possible.

Some day, we hope to have a larger business that encompasses multiple exciting food projects that celebrate delicious food, friends & family, sustainable farming and eating, social entrepreneurship, pop-up events, producer partnerships, exciting spaces, and other fun things we love.   It will probably involve buns…

and will most definitely involve crispy, fatty, spiced pork belly.

Since we’re spending tons of time on this project, we’ll no longer be blogging here at Family Styles. We want to thank all of you for putting up with our food porn raves and sustainable food rants over the past three years – we’ve loved sharing our food with you.  If you want to keep up with our antics, we’ll be doing some blogging on our Mei Mei Street Kitchen website and you can also follow our journey across the interwebs on Twitter and Facebook.

Even better, come visit us in Boston! There’s a slight chance you might be able to get in on some bun & pork belly action that might look something like this:

or some dumplings…

Now that we’ve reposted here at familystyles.wordpress.com, some of the photos from back in the day didn’t import. Our apologies! Hopefully you can still enjoy some of the recipes and randomness. Thanks again to you all for reading and as always, happy eating.

Much love,

Mei & Irene

What We’ve Been Up To

Hi everyone!  We’ve been a little MIA for a while, but never fear, we’ve been up to some fun foodie stuff. Namely:

A) The undeniably obsessive baking of macarons. Ask anyone in the house, it’s gotten a little out of hand. I’ve read countless blogs with insane amounts of information that has led to a once, twice, or sometimes even thrice-daily macaron bake.  I’ve purchased enormous boxes of almond flour and gone through at least 10-12 pounds of butter in this month-long quest.  It’s led to some macaron disasters, but also some deliciousness…

B) Over-the-top Thanksgiving cooking!

We visited 3 Massachusetts farms and bought 2 turkeys, 2 pork shoulders, 5 hunks of smoked bacon ends, a ginormous bag of short ribs, and 150 pounds of fall vegetables.  Whew.  Check out our happy food faces:

So much food we jump for joy.  It was an epic 30-person, 14-dishes and 8-desserts night of eating madness. The very best holiday of the year.  And now for the big excitement…

C) We’re starting a sibling food business! Along with our awesome big brother Andy, we’re working on a very exciting venture and hope to hit the streets of Boston within the next few months. Keep your eyes peeled for more information soon…

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The Magical Urban Physic Garden of Enchantment and Poop Converters

Creep around the back streets and hidden alleyways of London and you find interesting things sometimes. With the Rambling Restaurant, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to cook and serve meals for cabaret and theatre performances under the cold grey stones of the railway arches near London Bridge, down narrow passages and past car parks. This summer, the Ramblers spent weeks hanging out just next to those dungeon-like spaces, but instead we were outside in the sunshine and the rain in the beautiful and inspiring Urban Physic Garden.
A collaboration between so many talented people including the visionary designers of Wayward Plants, the herbalists of Living Medicine and urban planners Publica as well as so many other wonderful volunteers, contributors and supporters, the Urban Physic Garden was a magical wonderland of greenery and delight, featuring curious seesaws, a dumpster pingpong table, an old operating theatre for workshops and performances, and herbs historically used to treat your every malady.
There was a dermatology ward…
an oncology ward..
a respiratory ward and a cardiology ward…
and of course a gastro ward…
but most importantly there was a kitchen garden with herbs and edible flowers and also an eating enjoyment area for Rambling celebrations of all kinds.
Abi the foodrambler, with the help of an assortment of talented and creative people set up the Rambulance – a cafe and kitchen run out of Bertha the decommissioned ambulance.

We served drinks, food and snacks during the week as well as some spectacular dinners inspired by the gifts of the garden.  We even had a Loowatt!  It’s an outdoor waterless toilet system developed by some fellow Imperial and RCA students where you do your business in a toilet made out of poop from the Queen’s cavalry – the horses, not the soldiers – and the waste gets emptied into an anaerobic digester (chilling behind Abi) that converts the waste into fertilizer as well as methane gas that powered one of our stoves! SO AWESOME.  It was very cool how many people got excited rather than disgusted by the big canister of poo behind us in the cooking area.
It was so fantastic being able to marinate meat, grill pizzas, brew tea, and toss salads by just walking over to the garden and picking multiple varieties of mint, basil, parsley, lemon verbena, coriander seeds, sorrel, nasturtiums, thyme, and whatever else tickled our fancy.
We served salads grown by friends in community gardens in nearby Walworth with vibrantly colored edible flowers and dressing to be squeezed from syringes..
followed by what is in all likelihood the peak of my cooking career – the simultaneous grilling of 28 pork chops –
and topped off  by Abi’s beautiful lemon verbena creme brulee topped with edible flowers.
Beyond eating, it was a place for firepit hangouts…
seesaw shenanigans of all kinds…
–  watch Jenny flex her up&down skills –
and a wide array of other activities ranging from nature walks to concerts to a seriously cool site-specific theatre performance by the Flying Orchard where I got to dress up as a nurse and order people around and of course death drawing.
It’s been a wonderful place to spend time, but sadly is all closed down after a summer of lovely outdoor experiences.  You can no longer wander through the garden of delights doing your best to avoid eating from the poison cabinet or falling off the seesaw….
RIP Urban Physic Garden…you’ve been a magical space. Can’t wait to see what enchanting things this crew comes up with next!
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Pizza Night at Orange Peel: “It’s as much about the people as it is about the pizza”

When the Li-Bruynell-Hull vacation team pulled up for Pizza Night at the Orange Peel Bakery on Martha’s Vineyard, the sun was so bright that I forgave the weather for the past three days of rain, the stone oven so beautiful that I snapped pictures unabashedly, and the people so friendly that I wondered if I’d somehow teleported to the West Coast. In a word, it was heavenly. Special thanks to Amanda for the recommendation!

Here’s how it works:

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Once Upon A Rambling Time in the Enchanted Fairytale Forest of Bumpkin…

Welcome friends, to the mysterious enchanted forest of Bumpkin, where last week the Rambling Restaurant transformed a skyhigh attic dining room for a fabulous fairytale feast. As one of the Three Little Pigs, let me welcome you into the lush and glittering Rambling Fairytale…

The whole event was a fantastic collaboration between so many talented people – Sarah demonstrating her chef skills in the kitchen along with the versatile and knowledgable Bumpkin staff, Abi aka the Little Red Riding Hood and I doing the serving with the help of Ali and Billy behind the bar, the gorgeous decor creations of Miss Ali O’Malley (previously of Moulin Rouge fame), and a participatory cabaret full of wit, wonder, and wows led by Lucy from The Little Show Off as the very Wicked Stepmother, Matt the contact juggler, and Simon who dazzled the crowd as the surprise secret ingredient. Although not one of the listed performers, the man behind these lovely photos, our photographer Martin – had our diners shaking with laughter at his spectacular poetic rendition of Hansel and Gretel.

I’ll let the wise and wonderful words of the Wicked Stepmother take you through the evening….

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Amazing Views and Serious Market Adventures in Athens

Only in Athens can you have your moussaka with a colorful rainbow-bright salad of shiny purple olives, green peppers, and red tomatoes,  a side plate of olive oil and herb-dusted grilled bread and an accompanying view of the Parthenon.

You can also visit one of the most hardcore, badass, no-yuppie-bullsh*t central markets I’ve ever had the pleasure (and underlying sense of intimidation) of wandering through. This ain’t no Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid , lushly teeming with expensive port and tapas with caviar and design nerd tea towels.  This is a serial killer basement of unidentified animal dismemberment. If you’re squeamish, I’d just stop right now…

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Community Feasting and the Best Cupcake Frosting You May Ever Put In Your Mouth

I always wish I had access to a table large enough to seat 20 of my best friends around it for an epic dinner party. I still haven’t managed to acquire such a table or a room large enough to put it in, but I got a taste of what it might be like at a great event last night called the Hub Feast.  It’s a potluck and a dinner party,  a chance to meet great people and talk about all sorts of cool food things, and an opportunity to make an unnecessary amount of insanely indulgent peanut butter cream cheese-frosted cupcakes.  What more could you ask for?

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A Night of Moulin Rouge at the Rambling Restaurant

Welcome to the Moulin Rouge Ramble, a dimly lit den of cabaret, cake  & corsets that popped up on Great Windmill Street a few weeks ago.  Hosted by the amazing word-of-mouth agency 1000heads, decorated by the creative visionary Ali O’Malley, and captured on film by the fantastically talented Mark, it was quite the evening to remember…as long as you didn’t down too many absinthe cocktails.

Come check out Mark’s amazing photos of our ephemeral Parisian creation filled with candlelit erotic poetry, beef bourguignon,  fishnet stockings and freeflowing champagne…

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I’m On A Roll! Or, The Painfully Punderful World of Sushi Making

I love salmon nigiri, I love cucumber maki, I really love shrimp tempura and avocado hand rolls and, as the mini button says, I love Yelp.  Thanks to the brilliant folks on the Yelp team here in London, I got to attend a sushi-making class at the brand new location of the paper crane-bedecked, double-fried soy garlic ginger chicken-producing Tsuru Sushi.  In case you’re wondering, I also love paper cranes and all things double-fried.

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Almost 99 Bottles of Wine on the Wall…and Nearly 99 Courses to Follow.

Imagine a world where your bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich comes in one surprising multitextured bite of  Essence of BLT. Where Death of Elvis is a completely bizarre and completely delectable mouthful of  solid yet somehow softly melting banana, peanut butter, nutella and jam.  Where the cheese never seems to end and where the wine flows like the water dripping from the ceiling…

It sounds like Wonderland, but don’t be fooled by the 7 foot tall cross-dressing Alice in spectacularly tall heels opening the door. It’s 99, a pop-up restaurant run by friends Whetham and Dave, who have combined their impressive and inventive artistic, hosting, and culinary talents to create a spectacular and stomach-busting evening of performance, gastronomy and often a topsy-turvy combination of the two.

I was honored to be invited along to help out in the kitchen on the final night of 99’s first run. Donning pristine chef’s whites in the kitchen of their Victorian mansion in Hackney, I joined chefs Dave and Hugo to whip, dip, bread,  layer, chop, and see the magic happen behind the scenes.

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