All posts filed under “Chocolate

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M&M World London: Emmm & Errmmm?? At Leicester Square

I spent a good part of my evening at Hampstead Theatre, another munching Sherwarma at Beirut Express but my ideal outing concluded in a psychedelic vision of militant consumerism at Leicester Square… in the form of M&M World London.

Annexed to the newly opened W Hotel London, this M&M store boasting 35,000 square feet and spread across three and a half stories is the world’s largest candy shop. It seems a dreamland of colours for tourists and kids. Many M&M personas in different colours and postures for ultimate photograph opportunities. Mr and Missus M&Ms in action.. On the walls are hung King Henry VIII in red and Queen Elizabeth I in green. There are obviously historical inaccuracies. King Henry of M&M is sporting a pair of Croc, while the crown on Miss Elizabeth Tudor of M&M is surely NOT what Queen Elizabeth has ever been portrayed with.

IT IS A MAN’S CROWN FOR CHOCOLATE’S SAKE!!!!!!!

What about the chocolate?

One corner — you hear me right — ONE CORNER on the basement level is dedicated to M&M chocolate. Divided by colours. Only chocolate flavoured as I came across. No peanut butter. No global flavours. Is this because of the EU restrictions??

You’ll get to pick ‘n mix the calori – SORRY!- colours only.. and that’s about it, which I’d rather go pick ‘n mix Jelly Beans at Cyber Candies.

The rest of the store… houses M&M merchandise.

From knickers to blings….

From M&M dispensers to obese cuddly dolls. From smiley saucers to smiley cushions…

There were a lot of happy customers and a lot of loiters like us who appeared in awe….

Enough said but..

I won’t attempt at rating this. JUST GO SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!

M&M WORLD LONDON

Ground Floor
W London Hotel
10 Wardour Street
Leicester Square
London
W1D 6QF

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Do I Care For Cupcakes?

Do I care for cupcakes?

No, I don’t. I seriously don’t.

I can never understand the cupcake allure. My other bib has it that I suffer from Francophilia and my heart only beats at the sight of good madeleines.. very well diagnosed indeed!

That said, them cupcake shops that have mushroomed recently in London invoked an attention of sort, and so have proliferated a good number of cupcake cookbooks. Hummingbird Bakery came to my mind, so to speak.

Do mainstream cupcakes cut it for me? Let’s have a look…

Hummingbird Bakery
Hummingbird Bakery on Urbanspoon

Everybody’s favourite?

Strictly not mine. I found their cupcakes stodgy. The one I had was this carrot (cup)cake with walnut (£2.65). Not aggressively spiced, adequately carroty. Heavy and the frosting over-sweetened. The Pumpkin Whoopie Pie, less attractive in appearance and more expensive (£3), was a far more superior alternative.

You can’t eat both by themselves. A cup of tea/coffee is needed to wash the sugar off your system.

Moving on to Cox Cookies & Cake on Brewer Street…

Cox Cookies & Cake on Urbanspoon

If you get over the seedy neon lights (that make Cox look as if the place sold cocks not cakes) and the sexy novelty looking cupcakes, theirs are not that bad. The Muscle Mary one (at unreasonable £4) – hazelnut and praline – was quite lovely. The cake was lighter than Hummingbird but the icing not as smooth.

The classic range is cheaper (£2.50). The triple choc chip with crunchy malt balls was good. Full of texture and more sweet than bitter.

Ella’s Bakehouse at Covent Garden Piazza looks a girly gimmick. Sparkles and all.

Ella's Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

Surprisingly theirs are very good. Light. Moist. Great consistency from the icing. Flavours are not out of this world, but it fares well. The regular sized Nutella (£2.50) was ok – I don’t mind reprising – and the miniature vanilla (£1) was just the right amount of cupcake and flavour combination I’d like to put in my mouth.

That said, the flavours are subtle and do not sparkle at the tongue..

My least favourite of the West End = Sweet Couture on New Row.

I had Red Velvet – classic American red sponge with cream cheese frosting – and Vanilla, all at £2.35. All dry, heavy, unpleasant. Say, both did not taste fresh whatsoever.

Primrose Bakery

Primrose Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Very much like Ella’s Bakehouse, Primrose Bakery is a cupcake institution. Girly, pretty. Grannies will love them and so will their little nieces. The bakery ambiance is very dreamy 60s. Theirs (£1.85) are not as light as Ella’s but the flavours – carrot cake below – are a lot more pronounced. Decent frosting, too.

This brings me to the surprise cupcakes my other bib tailor-made for my last Christmas. Not by himself but through a custom made site.

.. BIG CAKE LITTLE CAKE ..

They specialise in all-you-want-to-have-them-look cupcakes. Jam filled. A variety of unusual (and usual) flavour combination. Loved the Cherry Blossom-looking strawberry-filled, Victoria sponge mini cupcakes. Great madeleine-like texture. Delectable icing. Varying degrees of strawberry-ness..

£18 for 2 dozens.

And the mint choc X-mas cupcakes. Bittersweet + minty. Very gooey sponge. Glistening frosting.. super fresh!!

*licking lips*

This could convert me into cupcake-ism.

My cupcake ranking?

Big Cake Little Cake 9/10
Primrose bakery 8/10
Ella’s Bakehouse 7/10
Cox Cookies & Cake 6/10 (too expensive)
Hummingbird Bakery 6/10 (too heavy)
Sweet Couture 5/10

And the Candy Cakes?

They look toxic .. neither keen on look nor taste!

POSTSCRIPT

Came across Treacle Cupcakes on Columbia Road the day after I published the post. Really good miniature lemon (£1). Fresh spongy sponge. Velvety frosting. Well balanced flavours. Thumps up for me ^_^

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Cocomaya: A Brief Encounter

I was standing next to Colbeh but my eyes strayed from its fiery clay oven to this little shop of sugary curiosity just opposite, Cocomaya. To cross the street or not was totally not a question. My legs did their job before my brain could even rationalise or my eyes checked there were no cars coming (highly not recommended).

Inside there was a big bird, a communal table and an exquisite array of chocolate made at the premise. I thought I was teleported back to Bruges Ambiance was, in my words, a Sketch Parlour after being tidied. Eclectic, classy and with a lot of decorative teapots, the sort of decor my dad wouldn’t mind basking in for an hour or so and the sort of chocolate he would indulge in and dream away his diabetes. There were loose chocolate truffles to be boxed and the packaged ones that would make lovely novelty gifts. the flavours utilising many familiar British flavours were not too daring but sounded tempting enough. I picked up a few including star anise, cinnamon, green tea, Bramley apple and a couple more.

Hopping into the other room of Cocomaya, I came across, well, a lot more. The “next door” was a deli with decent selections of cakes. I picked up some mini madeleines – better than Princi but nowhere near St John Bread & Wine or Ble Sucre – and mini financiers – tastier than the madeleines but pricy.

The salad offerings looked fresh but quite traditional. There were some quiche too which I was keen to go back for. And while waiting for my bill, my eyes sparkled at the rows of Alain Millait’s juice and nectar. This could be my second choice for juice shopping: the selection at Gauthier Wine Shop – inside Gauthier Soho – was more intriguing. Yellow tomato juice and strawberry nectar…

And this was my desserts for the evening. Taste-wise, it was half way to
Bruges

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “8 out of 10″.

COCOMAYA

12 Connaught Street
London
W2 2AF

Tel. 020 7706 2770

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The Ones Worth Gaining Weight For…

Happy Fashion Week (and Weekend)!!

Yes, I am one of those contemplating a crash diet so as to dash out glamourously at the social happenings of 2011, but I do – I DO – have a list of gastronomic exemptions, those o-so-good dishes of 2010 that I wouldn’t, in a million years, refrain from whilst my path to being skinny again. So, if one of your many on-going New Year resolutions is to slim down, you may want to stray away from my Top 2010 list.

And, for those skinny or not-so-bothered enough about getting little too plumb, let’s get the tummy rumble!

No. 10: Le Chateaubriand at Hawksmoor (with Fried Egg and Triple Cooked Chips)

Medium rare, I love my beef like that and the crispy chips and the silky egg yolk. No elaboration needed. Just imagine it …. aaaahhhhh!

Read the full review HERE

No. 9: Saddle of Rabbit, Peas, Girolles and Rabbit Cottage Pie/ Arbutus

While people are talking Les Deux Salons, I feel Arbutus is still at the top of its game and fares better than its sister restaurants, especially in the service. This saddle of rabbit, Demetre’s signature dish, that got me hooked for actually quite a few years and still gets me horned up for more. Bold and meaty, the dish boasts the richness of the jus and the perfectly cooked saddle. And, that modest cottage pie? The best in the world. With all that said, the portion size at Arbutus is the most sacrilegious for those on a diet.

Read the full review HERE.

No.8: Chilli Mince Pies/ Dishoom

They were the Christmas specials. Soft and melt-in-your-mouth pastry plus the heavenly and well-balanced mince meat with a bit of chilli, cinnamon and nutmeg made my knees weak and my belly growl (for more). The custard was spot on in term of consistency, too. There is a lot of potential in Dishoom and I feel they keep pushing it. You know, until the next X’mas arrives, I will just indulge myself with Dishoom’s Kulfi on a Stick. Sweet, creamy …. damn it!

Read the full review HERE.

No.7: Slow Cooked Octopus, Tomatoes, White Polenta/ Zucca

Never had it so good. No I’m not quoting Harold Macmillan or some Tory brat who recently commented on Cameron’s policies. But this dish was just so damned good and a little more healthy compared to the ones mentioned. Soft octopus that sucked in all the delicious jus and juice while being slow cooked again and again, and it went down well with the naturally sour and sweet tomatoes. You know if I lived in Bermondsey, Zucca will be my most favourite restaurant.

Read the full review HERE.

No.6: Caramel and Liquorice in Textures/ North Road

Sugar, sugar, sugar, isn’t this all I ate last year? But, oh, no! This dish brought about the happiness of a child who discovered caramel for the first time in his life, and how on this bloody earth could I resist it? The flavour combination was simple but faultless, whilst the contrast in textures was daring and worked o-so-well. I love desserts at North Road and believe it is as amazing as the ones Redzipi serves at Noma. However, I am not convinced the Danish trend will go down well in any English stomach.

Read the full review HERE.

No.5: Seared Wagyu Sushi with Shiso, Ponzu Dressing/ Sushi of Shiori

Sushi, who says it’s healthy? Well, they are healthy as opposed to kebabs and chips but man, that amount – or mountain? – of carb I usually consume in just an hour’s sitting!! But, it’s really, really worth it at Sushi of Shiori as their signature canape sushi got me to dump my long love Sushi Hiro. Personally, I feel the most WOW dish at Shiori is their seared wagyu sushi. Great quality wagyu – unlike the Australian import that was chewy and unappetising at Dinings – rightly vinegared rice, appetising dressing and the perfect execution. Shiori paves ways for the new trend for traditional sushi eateries in London, though too bad the place is like a hole in the wall and makes booking so essential.

Read the full review HERE.

No.4: White Truffle Risotto/ Gauthier Soho

I am quite certain that they’ll to get a Michelin star in the next two week, or else my little belly would be so disappointed. Personally I feel the food at Gauthier verges on being a two-starred restaurant and also hope it will materialise some day. At Gauthier Soho, you just cut the crap, the pretense and the price, too! Refined food that is personal enough to be my everyday food – isn’t this self-explanatory why I need to curb my gastro-enthusiasm? – the impeccable service and the so bloody good wine that would get a teetotal drinking. This white truffle risotto was the most orgasmic (and the most reasonably priced) I’ve ever had and Gauthier did have a bit of a twist of extra creaminess and cheese making it so bloody theatrically unforgettable. The sight, the aroma, the taste, it was all there. Equally indulgent was Gauthier’s Louis XV, an intensely dark, ridiculously glossy choco-delight that has the gooey-ness as well as the crunch. You also can’t dismiss the luxury of that pure 100% gold leaf and I’ve heard they’ve got a new gold leaf supplier :-p

Read the full review HERE.

No.3: Udon, Any of Them/ Koya

Carb, again? Gosh, why do them chefs have to make carb taste so freaking great? The thick buckwheat noodle made daily by feet – yes that’s how you make udon! – not only marks the revolution of Japanese food in London but becomes my real scale-buster. Yes, the Brits can be a bit dumped down and stereotypes all foreign food. Japanese food, in particular, is strictly defined by a piece of raw fish and a ball of rice, hence many of its soulless replica in many supermarket stalls. Koya gives the Brits something different and, guess what, they love it! Bouncy noodle that slithers down your throat to go with the Dashi based broth in any way you like. That is just sensational, and so the queue in front of Koya at lunch and dinner every day has proved. Again, after raping my body with this heavenly carb, I am back on the treadmill again ….

Read the full review HERE.

No.2: Sushi without Soy Sauce/ Yashin Sushi

I am not a Japanese whore, but in 2010 the Jap have definitely upped their game. My reunion with Shinya Ikeda – I in front of the sushi counter and he behind it – after his departure from Sushi Hiro has been the best and most deserving weight-gaining experience of 2010. Their sushi without soy sauce – yes that is the theme and after my fourth trip to the restaurant I can tell it’s not gimmicky – is a revelation, one I’d die to have my friends, boyfriend (without an “s”) and guests experience. The freshness is top notch – a bit better than Shiori but also little more pricey – and the innovation is truly deserving the M star. Guess what, I totally forgot about weight gaining (or losing?) whilst slurping his sushi.

Read the full review HERE.

No.1: Almost All the Dishes/ St John Bread and Wine

The Bibs are not fans of St John Restaurant but we would prostitute ourselves for a dozen madeleines at Bread and Wine. Are we that cheaply bought? Well, yes, as my recent trips have proved that Bread and Wine freshly baked madeleines will put any French man to shame. Other dishes – actually ALL other dishes are, likewise, noteworthy, say, the phallic venison pie, the snails and kale on toast, the Middle White faggot, the pickled hare, and the list never ever ends! Just stop reading and go to the place. My words seriously can’t do their food justice. This is the food that makes ones proud to be (a little) fat!!!

Read the full review HERE.

And all the info you’ll need ;)

HAWKSMOOR SEVEN DIALS

11 Langley Street
London
WC2H 9JG

Tel. 020 7856 2154

Hawksmoor (Seven Dials) on Urbanspoon

ARBUTUS

63-64 Frith Street
W1D 3JW

Tel. 020 734 4545

Arbutus on Urbanspoon

DISHOOM

12 Upper St Martin’s Lane
Covent Garden
WC2H 9FB

Tel. 020 7420 9320

Dishoom on Urbanspoon

ZUCCA

187 Bermondsey Street
SE1 3TQ

Tel. 020 7378 6809

Zucca on Urbanspoon

NORTH ROAD

69-71 St John Street
EC1M 4AN

Tel. 020 3217 0033

North Road on Urbanspoon

SUSHI OF SHIORI

144 Drummond Street
Euston
NW1 2PA

Tel. 020 7388 9962

Sushi of Shiori on Urbanspoon

GAUTHIER SOHO

21 Romily Street
Soho
W1D 5AF

Tel. 020 7494 3111

Gauthier Soho on Urbanspoon

KOYA

49 Frith Street
Soho
W1D 4SG

Koya on Urbanspoon

YASHIN SUSHI

1a Argyll Road
High Street Kensington
W8 7DB

Tel. 020 7938 1536

Yashin Sushi on Urbanspoon

ST JOHN BREAD AND WINE

94-96 Commercial Street
E1 6LZ

Tel. 020 7251 0848

St John Bread & Wine on Urbanspoon

Also check out what LondonEater and Gourmet Chick think about 2010.

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Choco-Dilemma: Let the Tasting Commence

I’m sitting in an enclosed, brightly-lit room facing my four boxes of Belgian chocolate I bought from Bruges. I am not quite sure where to start, which box, and on top of that, I’m having the ultimate doubt, “Will I have to taste all those chocolates?”

THAT–eating all the chocolates–would be a sacrilege to my health-conscious routine. One other thing on my mind is the ethical issue surrounding chocolate-binging I came across on BBC3 Blood, Sweat and Luxuries, of labourers, and child labourers too, who are being exploited in chocolate plantations in Africa. Indeed, when looking back to this history of cocoa production and luscious chocolatey consumption, you’ll find a paralleled story–No, “stories”–of hardship, struggle, slavery and even genocide.

Am I spoiling your appetite now?

I feel, it’s just nice to know where our food actually comes from and the history trailing behind it.

Continuing my choco-history lecture, chocolate landed in Europe thanks to the Spaniards, who conquered the Aztecs–we’re talking the 16th century–and enslaved the indigenous to plant and soil cocoa trees so the royal and affluent Europeans could savour this marvellous drink. That’s it, there was no chocolate truffles or bars then, only chocolate in liquid forms. It wasn’t until the mid 19th century that the chocolate recipe was adapted turning the chocolate into a solid form like we have today. This, coinciding with the Industrial Revolution in Europe, enabled more advanced and mass production of chocolate. So, if you look at all those countries the chocolate is imported from, that means, in blunt terms, they were part of this aggressive choco-colonisation and exploitation.

As for the Belgians, their chocolate industry was established when Leopold II took over Congo forcing the Africans into slavery and when the excessively high demands were not met, Leopold’s minions would say, “Off with their hands!”. This didn’t end there, the hand-chopping. The hands of choco-slaves and million other slaves were to be smoked and sent to some Belgian authorities to count them!!! Ergh!!!

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