May, 2014

May 14

Shoryu, Kingly Court, London


Shoryu Ramen has very recently opened on Kingly Court, just off bustling Carnaby Street in London. Not long ago, we popped along to try it for ourselves.

The restaurant features an open ramen kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work. Owned by the Japan Centre chain, Shoryu is a sleek, modern and stylish restaurant, brining a real flavour of Japan to London.

Shoryu prides itself in offering in the most authentic tasting Hakata tonkotsu recipe outside Japan, with many delicious varieties of the dish on the menu including yuzu, piri piri and their signature Shoryu version. I went for the Dracula (pictured) for an intense garlic hit, and I’m very glad I did. You can see how nicely the food is presented from the picture. The menu also includes a range of delicious side dishes such as hirata buns and amazingly delicious gyoza, alongside a selection of exclusive dishes that change on a regular basis.

Shoryu also offer a really interesting selection of gluten free dishes, which includes the most delicious gluten free buns we’ve ever tasted. Staff are clued up on what diners with allergies can and can’t have, and are really helpful when it comes to checking ingredients with the chefs, so you do feel in safe hands dining here.

The bar offers a huge range of sake such as royal warrant Gekkeikan Nouvelle from Kyoto, awarded the monde selection gold medal for 4 consecutive years 2008-2011 and Gekkeikan Gold containing flecks of beautiful 24 carat gold leaf. A selection of sake cocktails are also available, which are most interesting. The Umeshu royal and Negroni San cocktails are also a must.

Portions here are large, but the ice cream, if you can manage it, is a must. Choose between matcha and black sesame flavours to finish off your meal, or, as I did, try a scoop of each and see which one is your favourite.

For more information, please see Shoryu’s website.

May 14

Wine and cheese pairing at Theo Randall, InterContinental Hotel


Theo Randall is one of the country’s top chefs, with his award-winning restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel on London’s Park Lane being one of the best restaurants in town.

It was with much excitement that I recently headed over to try the new wine and cheese pairing experience, designed to be a journey through Italy’s terroir and traditions. Priced from £24 per person, the tasting is tailored to guest preferences and includes four carefully selected Italian wines with four regional cheeses.

The suggested selection starts off with the pairing of two adjacent regions in Piemonte, north-west of Italy; the Roero Arneis and the Robiola delle Langhe. The first is a wine made from the Arneis grape that blends together with the Robiola, a mixed cow, goat and ewe’s milk cheese, to create a honey-like texture.

Moving from the mildest to the strongest flavours, the second cheese is a Pecorino Ubriaco di Pienza, a sheep’s milk cheese made in a small town southern part of Toscana, near Montepulciano and the Maremma. Maremma is also home to the Principi Corsini Bonacossi Birillo, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that works beautifully with the Pecorino’s fruity, rich and floral aroma.

Next on the plate will be the Taleggio di Valsassina from around the hills of Bergamo in the Lombardia region, which is matched with Ronchedone from Cá dei Frati, made south of Lake Garda. The creamy, mature and salty cow’s milk cheese marries fantastically with the juicy strawberries, cherries, vanilla and soft tannins of the Sangiovese, Marzemino and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Last, but not least, is the matching of a Gorgonzola and a sweet Moscato Passito di Strevi from Marenco. The dried fruit and sweetness of the Moscato contrasts perfectly with the spicy, strong flavours of the Gorgonzola. The whole plate is accompanied by a “sweet-and-hot” Mostarda di pere and homemade crackers, and gluten free options available for those who need it.

Theo says, ‘The restaurant is designed to be accommodating and flexible so we encourage guests to join us at the bar for wine and cheese, cocktails and antipasti, a glass of wine and bowl of pasta, or to enjoy a full dinner.’ The new menu joins the recently launched selection of aperitivi, Italian cocktails and Theresianer beers. For more information visit

May 14

The Merrion, Dublin


There is only one place in Dublin where celebrities and politicians alike stay in Dublin, and that’s the Merrion Hotel. Despite its prime location in the city centre: smack bang opposite Leinster house, Ireland’s main government building, and around the corner from St.Stephen’s Green, one of the loveliest parts of the Irish Capital, the Merrion is possibly one of the most discreet 5 star hotels you could find. No grand entrances, flags or car parks outside, but as soon as you enter; you are immediately transported in to the luxurious surroundings of a world-class hotel.

The welcome is warm in this elegantly decorated city-centre hotel, so popular it has been extended from the original Georgian building, with the new wing accessible through a glass walkway running through the hotel’s gardens. The original building is formed from a number of joined townhouses, and signs are placed throughout the building so you know which part you are in. Indeed, this is a building steeped in history, particularly Irish political history, right up to the present day, and evidence of this decorates the walls, including a signed Good Friday Agreement by the lift. It is also home to one of the most important art collections in the country, mainly including 19th and 20th Century pieces which adorn the hotel walls.

The bedrooms are really large and incredibly elegantly decorated. The marble bathrooms are decadent and luxurious. Fresh flowers make a wonderful touch, too.

The Merrion’s lounges are stylish, yet comfortable and are both a perfect spot to relax by the fire in the winter, or admire the gardens in the summer.

Dining at the Merrion is absolutely essential. Executive chef Ed Cooney is a member of EuroToques and is absolutely committed to bringing the best of Ireland’s produce to the menu, which features Irish fish, meat, Toonsbridge mozzarella, Glenilen yoghurt and more. The evening menu is varied, interesting and importantly absolutely delicious. Highlights included the black sole with beurre noisette and Szechuan spiced duck, both served with carefully matched wines.  A real effort is made to look after guests with food allergies

Breakfast too is an absolute must. The coffee is excellent, juices delicious and the fresh fruit is not only flavourful, but perfectly ripe. There is so much to choose from (although a slightly reduced menu is served in Sundays) and is one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve had in a long time.

The Merrion is an absolutely wonderful place to stay in Dublin, where luxury meets discretion. You also really get a sense of place staying here, both with the food and surroundings – you are most definitely in Dublin – not just any luxury hotel in the world. And you never know who you might see, whilst you’re there.

May 14

Cauliflower pizza with roasted tomato sauce


I’ve seen a lot of talk about cauliflower pizzas for some time now. As I cook a lot of gluten free food at home, I thought it would be a great thing to try. I had a brief glance at a couple of recipes online, and decided to make my own version.

Since my first attempt, I’ve made this a couple of times, refining the recipe each time. I have made the base using hand grated cauliflower, which works well, but the process is vastly sped up by using a food processor.  In fact, making the pizza base this way is much quicker than making a flour-based pizza base, be it gluten free or with wheat flour.

The resulting base mixture is soft and has to be shaped by hand into a pizza-like disc. Once baked, it’s crispy around the edges, and although it doesn’t look and taste quite like pizza as you know it, the flavour is actually delicious and flavour-wise blends well with the flavours you’re most likely to use to top a pizza.

I highly recommend making the roasted tomato sauce to top your base, too. It is very simple and quick to make and adds a wonderful depth of flavour to the pizza.


Makes two large pizzas

For the base:

400g cauliflower, grated or blitzed in the food processor to fine chunks

75g parmesan cheese, grated

2 large eggs

Sea salt and pepper

For the sauce:

400g cherry tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, skin on

Olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

For the topping:

1 large ball good quality fresh mozzarella cheese, torn

2 large flat mushrooms

2 thick slices prosciutto


To make the base, preheat the oven to 220C Fan. Cover two large baking trays with baking parchment and set aside.

Grate the cauliflower or blitz in the food processor. You want it to be in small slithers or chunks. Place the cauliflower into a heat-proof bowl and cook in the microwave on full-power for 6 minutes. This will tenderize the cauliflower. Once the cauliflower has been briefly cooked, place it into a colander and press down to remove any excess water.

Mix the parmesan and egg together in a large bowl and add the slightly cooled cauliflower. Stir until well combined. Divide the mixture between the two trays and shape into a pizza base shape by hand. Watch it is not too thick, particularly in the middle.

Bake the base on its own for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Top with sauce and your toppings and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until the toppings are melted and bubbling. Serve immediately

To make the tomato sauce, place the tomatoes and garlic cloves, skin on, onto a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season and bake at 200C for around 20 minutes until the tomatoes are tender. Remove from the oven. Squeeze the garlic out from the skins. Blitz the tomato and garlic together in a food processor or blender until smooth. Use to top a pizza base immediately. It also freezes well

I topped this pizza with mushrooms, prosciutto and mozzarella. I find that placing raw sliced mushrooms onto a pizza base can make it soggy, so I always cook them first. Simply slice the mushroom and cook in a little olive oil over a high heat for around 10 minutes. Then use to top the pizza.

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