Monthly Archives: June 2009

rambling restaurant


The Rambling Restaurant launched on Sunday after a wild flurry of activity with friends and neighbours. The precarious table I’d made out of a volume of Renaissance Drama, a Tom Wolfe tome, chest of drawers & filing cabinet was deemed unsafe, so I borrowed Mary and Edward’s garden table from down the road. My mum spent an entire day hemming material (wonkily self-cut in Ikea and some from neighbour Elspeth) to make tablecloths and napkins. Her friend Hilary provided candles and ivory bedsheets to go under the table cloths, which they both expertly pinned and sewed until they hung perfectly. My friend Emily cut down roses, created a suitable playlist on her ipod and ran off to the shops for extra cream and cava, while Michelle and Mei – the star sous chefs and hostesses of the evening – chopped, grated, wrote menus and generally got things organized. I used strength I didn’t think I had to shift my bookshelves across the room to create a room divider between kitchen and dining room and we hung up a curtain to shield diners from the cooking frenzy within.

By 7.10pm I had finished most of the food prep and left Michelle making toast, while I went to change. The first guests arrived shockingly (well just 10 minutes) early at 7.20pm (Chris and Helen must’ve been rather hungry…), so I just had time to scramble upstairs and make some Rambling Cocktail (gin and homemade elderflower cordial topped with cava and a mint leaf). For the next 40 minutes, as I pootled away in the kitchen plating up chicken liver pate and frying streaky bacon, I could hear people arriving and there seemed to be a cocktail party sort of atmosphere. People popped their heads in to say hello and take a peek at the cooking. One pair dropped in to say sorry, they couldn’t stay as they thought they had food poisoning, but they had come along to see what it looked like and they very sweetly insisted I take their donations – thank you! With the two cancellations we were still full, with 15 for dinner (not including myself, Mei and Mish).

mei & liver, bacon, pea starter

Here is Mei with the liver, bacon and mushy pea starter (photo by Michelle). The main was trout on a bed of fennel and parmesan, potato rosti and rocket. We were so busy plating it up – a rather labour intensive process – that we forgot to take any photos.

homemade lavender ice cream

Lavender icecream before the arrival of the chocolate fondant (photo by Mei).

intense conversations

Looks like some rather intense conversation going on. Thanks to Andre (of The Worm and Antic Banquet festival) for making coffee and to Horton (of The Secret Ingredient) for finding it…

Check out Boo in London’s review of the launch.

Rambling Restaurant hopes to be a weekly event and opens its doors again this Sunday for a Moroccan feast on a rooftop terrace in Bethnal Green! To book please contact



Filed under restaurants, Underground restaurants and secret supper clubs

delhi delights: street food

You can’t walk far through the streets of Delhi without stumbling into some of these treats…

Sweet paan: this was an exciting mix of ingredients, expertly measured and wrapped up in a betel leaf. There was a bit of a language barrier at the little paan shack I tried, and neither the rickshaw driver who wanted us to try this solid after-dinner digestif, nor the man making it could tell me the ingredients. First he spread the bright green leaf with a mysterious paste, then added a treacley, tobacco-looking mixture. On top of this he placed cubes of what looked like turkish delight – pink, rosy and icing sugar-dusted (some sort of candied fruit). Then he liberally heaped on numerous seeds, including fennel and anise, followed by a huge dollop of honey. It was impossible to squash into my mouth all at once, as you’re meant to, so I politely took the biggest bites I could and stored the stuff in my cheeks, squirrel-style. I chewed and chewed for what seemed like a good ten minutes before I could even talk. Meanwhile the ultra-sweet, bitty liquid threatened to dribble down my chin. I wasn’t sure if I was meant to swallow any of this, but didn’t have much choice when my mouth was so full. And trying to spit out the side of a speeding rickshaw whilst avoiding the backspray of my own paan-flecked spittle was quite a challenge.

Parathas: soft, flaky, impossibly buttery breads. So hot and delicious they often burnt my fingers and the roof of my mouth. These were usually served with potato (aloo) or cauliflower (gobi) inside.

Samosas: crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, with plenty of cumin. Punjabi samosas seemed spicier than those in Delhi, and some of the best were to be found in Amritsar, at Bubby Vaishno Dhaba, a cafe in the covered market near the Golden Temple. They were fresh, crispy and served with sweet, smooth, fruity chutney on the side.

Potato cakes: these fried road-side snacks were surprisingly salty, tasty and filling. Usually served with coriander chutney.


Filed under India