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Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world

Month

February 2013

A Burger Hunt, Suited and Booted!

Anyone who is currently living in London and who dabbles in the restaurant scene of the city should understand the title of this piece. If not, it’s no complicated concept, just that burgers are EVERYWHERE. Due to the recent food trend of upmarket fast food, burger joints of all kinds are popping up all over the shop. Some literally, in the form of a ‘pop-up’ temporary location that will be gone quicker than you can say ‘fast-food’, others establishing themselves as a permanent venture even though it may be in a shack out the back of another restaurant (Dirty Burger!).

After a couple of bleak years of recession, Brits are migrating towards good quality comfort food for a feel-good treat. This means that chickens are back on the rotisserie, milkshakes are being whipped up by the minute and burgers are BACK (cue farmyard animals up and down the country to squirm).

I love the no-fuss, unpretentious surroundings that going for a burger involves and you’re always guaranteed to leave feeling perfectly satisfied. Though there is one catch (as there always seems to be.. ).. You can’t book, thus queues are inevitable.

Cladded rather inappropriately in suits due to the ‘after work’ nature of our outings, my friends and I have managed to pack in a few burger joints over the past couple of weeks.

Honest Burger: A few weeks ago for a birthday treat, a few of my now ‘young professional’ friends and I congregated suited and booted after work for a good and honest burger. The initial wait for our table was definitely worth it as we stepped in from the cold into a small room buzzing with burger joy. A fantastic concept, the menu was displayed on the wall with the choice of chicken, cheese or veggie fritter and then the added dilemma of what cheese to have (Our poor friend Zaf, being the only male, struggled with we indecisive girls). Served in a glazed toasted bun and served with hand-cut chips with the skin on and sprinkled with rosemary salt, these burgers were ‘honest’ly rather posh (yet distinctly unpretentious). The exceptional chuck beef comes from the Ginger Pig (http://www.thegingerpig.co.uk/) and is served very pink in the middle, just to my liking!

Tucking in to Ginger Pig Honest Burgers!
Tucking in to Ginger Pig Honest Burgers!

Our drinks were served in jam-jar inspired tumblers with jazzy straws and the burgers in enamel dishes, adding small touches of edge to the restaurant.

We all left with huge smiles on our faces and tummies very happy! Exceptional quality, a fantastic concept and not too much grease!

A Great Menu and Happy Girls
A Great Menu and Happy Girls

Dirty Burger: I was told it was hard to find and that it was just a shack, but I was not quite expecting a corrugated room built onto the back of a Pizza Place, the doorway artistically framed by the stairs of a fire escape. This ‘out back’ characteristic was so charming and just my kind of place, reminding me of all our favourite off the beaten track tapas haunts on our Spanish travels.

I pushed on the metal door which creaked open into a burger room if there ever was one. Ketchup and mustard bottles scattered over a huge wooden table around which people munched on burgers in the trademark ‘Dirty‘ wrapping. In one corner is the tiny kitchen where you place your order. The vast evening menu consists of cheeseburger and… cheeseburger! That’s right, you have no choice. So if you’re a fussy eater or a veggie then, well, tough! Although veggies could order one of the two available sides… Crinkly chips and deep-fried red onion chips. Once you place your order, you proceed to the next corner where a wooden cupboard magically opens into a self-service drinks fridge jam-packed with sodas and shakes. Finally, choose your seating from the central communal wooden table or the wooden shelf hugging the perimeter of the shack and wait for your grub.

Chilling at Dirty Burger
Chilling at Dirty Burger

My friend Jess and I, again suited up, thoroughly enjoyed our burgers, with the exception of a slightly soggy bun. We didn’t mind as much as the filling was so deliciously packed, but when it comes to comparisons Honest Burger has to sit above. Though Dirty Burger’s onion chips were a real winner and made the meal! A fantastic concept that I hope does not lose it’s charm when the masses inevitably begin to flock..

Dirty Burger 'We ordered everything on the menu'
Dirty Burger ‘We ordered everything on the menu’
Jess discovers the drinks cabinet
Jess discovers the drinks cabinet
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Melting Over Melt Chocolates!

On Monday I had the day off and took myself on a foodie trail through the stunningly grand architecture that Notting Hill offers. Just off the French haunt of Westbourne Grove is a treasure trove of a chocolate lover’s heaven… Melt Chocolates. And it’s contents are sure enough to make you melt, living up to the boutique’s name. Placed with the most intricate of care and individually wrapped for a clean finish, the chocolates twinkle at you from every angle. In the back there’s a very white chocolate factory (streamlined surfaces ready for individually made chocolates of all kinds) waiting to be smothered and splattered in silky smooth chocolate.

A Pretty Platter of Chocolate at Melt
A Pretty Platter of Chocolate at Melt

I wandered around in wonder and asked the poor sales assistant many a question before carefully making my selection, featured above. These choices were as follows:

Individually wrapped chocolate caramel: buttery caramel made from organic cream, butter sugar and 100% cocoa chocolate. A Meltaholics favourite, I found that these deliciously sweet caramels go superbly with a cup of tea and sea salt popcorn… Definitely worth a try!

Mango and Passion Fruit chocolate truffle: a filling of dark chocolate ganache which is cut through by a smooth passionfruit and mango layer and coated in luxurious dark chocolate topped off with a dash of gold. Reminded me of Pierre Hermé’s Mogador macaroon, available in Selfridges.

Candied Chocolate orange: candied orange coated in silky dark chocolate, one of the best I have tasted!

Red Peppercorn chocolate discs: thin milk chocolate discs embedded with red peppercorns that added a spicy kick to the sweet chocolate. Something a bit different and extremely moreish.

Dark Madagascar Single Origin Hot Chocolate cube: I am a huge fan so my standards are high when it comes to liquid forms of chocolate. This one is slowly melted into a pan of hot water or milk. I gave this to a friend as a present so I will have to wait until next time for the personal judgement!

The Beautifully Packaged Selection of Melting Chocolate... What to Choose?!
The Beautifully Packaged Selection of Melting Chocolate… What to Choose?!

Melt Popcorn Chocolate Bar: My mum bought me a bar of this for my birthday to my delight as I had seen the colourful clean cut packaging in Selfridges and it was rather out of my budget at the time! Caramelized kernels of fluffy popcorn are hidden away in a thick slab of silky milk chocolate, creating a crunchy sweet surprise when you come across one.

For places to snap up this true treasures, visit http://www.meltchocolates.com/ or pop in store at 59 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill.

Eat, Love, Ottolenghi!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and for a dinner party thrown for other reasons coincidentally landing on this day of love I will choose to celebrate a love of another kind, a love equally as wonderful and consuming as the ‘regular’ type… the love of great food!

This evening shall involve an attempt of a recreation of some of Ottolenghi’s stunning master pieces…

We’ll see how it goes…

Salads taken to a whole new striking level at Ottolenghi's
Salads taken to a whole new striking level at Ottolenghi’s
Desserts seemingly too beautiful to eat, until you realise they taste even better!
Desserts seemingly too beautiful to eat, until you realise they taste even better!

A Burger in a Haystack… The Bun is BACK!

Anyone who is currently living in London and who dabbles in the restaurant scene of the city should understand the title of this piece. If not, it’s no complicated concept, just that burgers are EVERYWHERE. Due to the recent food trend of upmarket fast food, burger joints of all kinds are popping up all over the shop. Some literally, in the form of a ‘pop-up’ temporary location that will be gone quicker than you can say ‘fast-food’, others establishing themselves as a permanent venture even though it may be in a shack out the back of another restaurant (Dirty Burger!).

A Sickly Sweet Burger at Tickets, Barcelona
A Sickly Sweet Burger at Tickets, Barcelona

Let’s delve into this trend a bit more.. after a year or two of depressing recession the UK’s population have migrated towards two areas of what they want on their plates. The first is healthy eating without dieting (looking after ourselves more and knowing more about the origins and nutrition of what we are eating) and the second is good quality yet great value comfort food. This means that chickens are back on the rotisserie, milkshakes are being whipped up by the minute and burgers are BACK (cue farmyard animals up and down the country to squirm).

Last week my plan was to head to three burger joints… Dirty Burger, Patty & Bun and Meat Liquor. As it turned out, due to an amalgamation of reasons, none were ticked off (though the latter came close as my friend and I hopelessly queued on Monday evening before deciding our hungry tummies couldn’t handle another half hour!). However they shall all be visited and are in the diary over the next couple of weeks after which I will be sure to write an attempt of a comparison!

I love the no-fuss, unpretentious surroundings that going for a burger involves and you’re always guaranteed to leave feeling perfectly satisfied unlike some tiny portions of fine dining. Though there is one catch (as there always seems to be.. ).. You can’t book. Thus queues are inevitable, as we discovered on Monday night before eventually giving up.

So next week off I shall trot on my brave quest around London to fight the queues and get my burger! Watch this space..

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