Hidden away in the rather anonymous and uncharming area between Euston and King’s Cross sits Somers Town Coffee house, an unlikely named gastropub specialising in British tapas. “That sounds odd”, the Salted cod said when I told her, but in fact it is carried off very well. The pub in itself is very pretty inside, with sturdy tables, old school armchairs and a door hidden in a bookshelf for the curious (if you dare open it and walk down the staircase you may be rewarded an invite to their “secret” supperclub) and there’s also a beer garden outside.
Me and my friend shared six tapas dishes and an excellent bottle of Rioja (there are some Tuesday lunch luxuries only dissertation writing can warrant) which came to about £25 each, so it’s not a very cheap place. But some of the dishes were absolutely fabulous. I found a favourite in the rather blandly named Cheese and onion pie, which was incredibly rich and sweet, with a heavy note of caramelised onion and creamy, light cheddar cheese. Potted crab was also lovely, with tender crab and shrimp spreading out coarsely on the different coloured toast. The salad with asparagus, goats cheese and beetroot was simple but delicious, sampling the best of seasonal without making a fuss. We also had a salmon and prawn tart wich was strong and fresh the way only cooked smoked salmon is, with strong hints of dill.
The only let-down was the beef, stilton and stout pasties which had way too much pasty on them and were too dry, with no note of stilton. The jus that came with them was sweet and lovely, and complimented other parts of our dishes well. Since we were hungry we also opted for chips as one of the plates, which were perfectly fine, especially with the jus from the steak pasties, but being… chips, there wasn’t that much to wow us about them.
All in all, it was a lovely eating experience, and we both walked out full and content. This is a good way of sampling little bits of classic British food and when I come back (and I hope I will) I’d love to try the gourmet scotch egg, the smoked applewood chunks, de-shelled popcorn mussels and the marinated pork belly lollipops. If I add that smooth bottle of Rioja, maybe I’ll actually dare enter the bookshelf staircase for the supperclub. 7,5 meatballs out of 10.
Somers town Coffee House can be found here on the map:
Since our last post on healthy breakfast ideas was so popular (especially in Sweden for some reason) I decided to write a second post. Breakfast is definitely one of my most important meals: usually I have to either stock up for several hours in a library where it is forbidden to eat, or prepare for a five hour shift with no eating breaks. This means my breakfasts have to be good (how else am I gonna motivate myself to do either of those two things…) and filling… and they also have to comply with beach prep strategy (although I can be flexible on that… a lot of hollandaise would definitely make me forget this strategy). Here are some suggestions, all egg based:
Egg crepes with asparagus
This ‘recipe’ came from the idea of thin egg omelettes used in some Vietnamese recipes. I decided to adapt it and use it as breakfast pancakes or crepes. All you need is: eggs, a splash of milk, a handful of finely chopped parsley, some butter or olive oil to fry and cooked asparagus or your choice of cooked vegetables or meats. Start by whisking the eggs, the milk, and the parsley together. Heat up a frying pan with some olive oil or butter. When the pan is quite hot ladle a small amount of the mixture while rotating the pan (as if you were making crepes) to evenly and thinly spread out the mixture. Cook for a few seconds, add your vegetables and fold over. Serve two or three for a filling breakfast.
Crustless quiche with tuna and watercress
Unfortunately I have no photo for this dish but it’s really easy to make. For a big round oven dish (enough for 4 people) mix 6 eggs, a big splash of milk or creme fraiche, a tin of tuna in olive oil (drained), some watercress (or rocket), salt and pepper. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes and voila – easy, effortless and healthy breakfast.
This is definitely one of my favourites! It’s a pretty flexible ‘recipe’, all you need really are tortillas (corn tortillas are the best), eggs and tomato salsa. I usually add whatever I have in the fridge: sharp cheddar, home-made refried beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus, etc… This is a really filling breakfast and a good way to use up your Mexican leftovers.
Despite the chorizo this dish remains healthy by using it sparingly, simply to flavour the tortilla. You will need:
- 1/4 of a Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, chopped in small cubes.
- 4 medium eggs
- 1 large potato, preferably maris piper.
- Half an onion, sliced finely.
- Two handfuls of parsley, chopped.
- Salt and Pepper.
This dish takes longer than the other ones and so might be better done in advance – as it can be eaten both hot or cold. Start by peeling and slicing your potato. Drop it in salted boiling water and cook for five minutes. While the potato is cooking fry chorizo in a little bit of olive oil to render the fat. After a few minutes add the onions and cook until soft. Reserve the onion and chorizo and keep the pan hot. Now mix the eggs together and incorporate the rest of the ingredients. In the same pan where you fried the onion and chorizo (on a medium-high heat) drop the mixture and cook, slowly, until the top of the tortilla is almost cooked. At this point you will need to get ready for some flipping skills: put a large plate on top of the frying pan, turn it around (dropping the tortilla in the plate) and return the tortilla to the pan to finish cooking the other side (2 minutes). Serve straight away or keep in the fridge to eat cold.
Soft-boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers
This is obviously very simple. All you need to do is to soft-boil your eggs (this hilarious website can help) and to cook the asparagus. I like to cook them in butter for 5 minutes until they are slightly burnt to get a nutty flavour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Obviously these are also great cures for Euro 2012-induced hangovers.