Tag Archives: cool food events

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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Mom, Dad and BeanPie Turn 150. We Celebrate with Roast Pig, Crack Pie, and Butter.

It was a grand occasion in the Li family household on Sunday for an epic once-in-a-lifetime event: the 150th birthday party! Once-in-three-lifetimes, to be exact – it was a springtime celebration of our mom’s 60th birthday, Irene’s upcoming 20th birthday, and our dad’s upcoming 70th. Obviously, 60+20+70 = BADASS PARTY TIME. And no badass party would be complete without roasting a 50 lb pig in the backyard.  Or grilling a 30 lb fish. Or baking 10 desserts, including 4 crack pies. Or making 3 kinds of homemade pickles. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of beef brisket, pulled chicken, barbecued ribs, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, three bean salad, collard greens, and sandwich rolls from Lester’s Barbecue and three sheet trays of cornbread from Andy’s restaurant Harvest.  And an accompanying approximately 20 cubic feet of alcohol. How else would you celebrate such a once-in-three-lifetimes occasion?

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Rambling Restaurant at the Market Estate Project

We’ve cooked in old train depots and darkened car parks and city centre squats and sprawling warehouses. Last week, Rambling Restaurant added a soon-to-be demolished 1960’s North London housing estate to the list of odd and unusual venues, swooping in just ahead of the wrecking balls.  In the amazing Market Estate Project, artists from around the world took over empty flats to create imaginative, engaging, thought-provoking and awe-inducing installations ranging from short films to death-defying performance art to covering entire apartments in building plans or blue plastic.  We were honored to be a part of the day by cooking up all sorts of meals and snacks for people involved with the project.

Sarah and foodrambler conjured up massive pots of beef rendang and aubergine and sweet potato coconut curry with rice and creamy cool banana chutney to fill up the many volunteers before their very very cold outdoor shifts.

Once people began trickling in, we Rambling Restaurateurs turned our attention to making canapes for visitors and staff and lucky wanderers. Homemade chickpea and beetroot hummus on crackers, carrot and cumin dip on crispbreads, mini onion quiches, and Michelle’s famous fried-on-the-spot fish and chips.

In between dishing up cute little newspaper cones and assembling sandwiches for staff sustenance, we found some time to explore the incredible and inspiring works of art. Like an entire flat – bedroom, living room, bathroom, balcony and all – transformed into an enormous blue plastic balloon:

And another apartment entirely papered over, top to bottom, in building plans:

More art photos and some thoroughly inauthentic banh mi sandwiches after the jump…

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Food Events Around London: Tea Parties, Pizza Parties and…Wine Parties?

I love parties. I’m in the process of planning a big family joint birthday party for my mom, sister and dad that may or may not involve an entire roast pig. Who doesn’t love a good party?  Obviously, the best parties include copious amounts of food and alcohol. At many London parties and events of the last month or so, my alcohol consumption has drastically outweighed the food consumption.  Often, my memories of the event can get a bit fuzzy. Luckily, I took pictures.

Here’s a photo from the Bibendum wine event at the stunning Saatchi Gallery. Can you spot the foodrambler?

Amidst approximately 149803454 bottles of wine spread over something like 10 galleries on 4 floors were all sorts of cool installations by local designers:

Equally alcoholic was the fabulous Yelp’s Burst Birthday, a surprise-filled soiree in an old metalworks building complete with a grassy garden tea party room filled with tea cups of gin and teapots of tonic amidst tiered trays of sugar-stacked snacks.  I’m still dreaming about the plate below of melty chocolatey caramelly Millionaire’s Squares…

The room was carpeted in real grass (hand laid by our dedicated friend Lizzie!) and populated by a small community of garden gnomes, one of whom came home with me at the end of the night. Chris and I named him Chomsky. We’re nerds.

The Yelp party also featured a real tube-car-as-a-bar slinging free cocktails and bunch of market-style food stalls, including fantabulous frozen yogurt, a sort of bizarre spiralled potato chip on a stick, and my most favoritest roast hog people.

Last up, I got a chance to taste the new Pizza Express menu by Francesco Mazzei, the chef from an award-winning London restaurant called L’Anima that I’m hoping to go to someday.  Shockingly, I’d never had Pizza Express before – it’s a very popular chain in the UK – but I was quite impressed with what I tasted of the new dishes.  I liked the spicy Calabrese pizza the best – a thin and crispy crust, fior di latte mozzarella, watercress in basil pesto, a few more chilies and peppers, and most importantly, nduja sausage.  Anything with nduja on it is a friend of mine.

Mmmm…looking at pictures never fails to make me hungry. I’ll take a spicy pizza, a few Millionaire’s Squares, a bottle of that rich and chocolatey Malbec, and a teacup of G&T.  It’s 2am.  Bibendum, Yelp and Pizza Express, do you deliver?

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Sailing An Orange Slice On A Punch Bowl Sea and Coffee Geekery

You know you’re about to have a bit of a bizarre experience when you’re asked if you’ve recently suffered from discharging ears. I suppose all sorts of odd precautions are necessary when you’re about to float across a punch bowl full of 4,000 liters of cocktail. WOOHOO! PUNCH IN YOUR FACE.

I got to visit the amazing Architectural Punch Bowl by Bompas & Parr last week and wrote it up for Wired UK here.

I also got to interview my favorite coffee maker and World Barista Champion Gwilym Davies and coffee roaster/ex-World Barista Champion Jim Hoffman for a piece on coffee geekery as well! So much cool sh*t going on here in London.

Some more photos from the Punch Bowl after the jump…

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A Golden Ticket Tasting At Artisan Du Chocolat

The invitation from Yelp read: ‘a tutored tasting of one of a kind cocoa creations, chocolate bars, and chocolate cocktails from the chocolateria menu at Artisan du Chocolat’ and I felt like little Charlie Bucket when he peeled back the wrapper of his hard-earned Wonka bar and first caught the glint of his Golden Ticket.  I’d never say no to a chocolate tasting in the first place, but a private behind-the-scenes showcase of the couture creations from one of London’s most illustrious chocolatiers? My eyes grew bigger than Everlasting Gobstoppers.

My excitement only continued rising upon stepping into the shop in Bayswater, a curious composition of luxury boutique crossed with gleaming white and futurisitic space pod.  Squares of etched chocolate as colorful as works of modern art, rounded truffles piled like jewels on a queen’s dressing table, boxes of caramels as classic and streamlined as the most expensive French perfume. My mouth dropped open, and stayed open for the next two hours as we lucky Yelp Elites were plied with chocolate, caramels and cocoa in an stunning array of forms and flavors.

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Exporting the Valuable American Traditions of Turkey, Pie, and Stuffing…Your Face

Thanksgiving is without question my favorite holiday of the year.  It involves all the things I love most – family, friends, fun in the kitchen, and obscene amounts of food. Before returning back to Boston for the annual FamilyStylesFoodFestFunTime, Chris and I decided to organize a London Thanksgiving to comfort the Americans missing their annual tryptophan hit back in the States and to introduce some Brits to their FirstEverThanksgiving. Such a phenomenal opportunity to welcome foreigners to a holiday that revels in stuffing yourself beyond capacity.  Oh and we tossed a few Australians and Canadians in the mix too. I only wish we could have invited about thirty other friends, but we could barely pack the 20-odd guests into the living room already.

The menu was a classic Thanksgiving feast for the first-timers but also involved some first times for me. Like my first time brining a turkey! Apparently the ratio of one gallon of water to one cup salt and one cup sugar  is ideal to unwind the meat proteins of the turkey, allowing the flavored solution to be drawn up into the meat. Sweet. More moisture + more flavor = happy eaters. There’s nothing worse than dry turkey breast. And you can add your choice of spices, aromatics and flavorings to make things even more exciting. Here’s what I came up with based on the contents of the kitchen:

Brine For A Juicy Turkey:

1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange, sliced
1/2  lemon, sliced
4 cloves smashed garlic
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
about 1/2 tbsp white pepper
about 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice
a few sprigs of thyme

Here is Boris (named for our London mayor) or Natasha (named for Boris) in his (or her) bag of spicy salty sweet bathwater.

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