Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mum's pork crackling

For those of you who have seen THIS, here's how you make it...

Ingredients (serves two hungry people)
500g pork belly
1/2 tsp salt
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into perfect roastie sized spuds
1 large carrot, peeled and cut lengthways
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut lengthways
1 large red onion, quartered
A couple of sprigs of thyme

1. Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees.
2. Score the skin of the pork belly creating a criss-cross pattern and rub salt all over.
3. Grab an oven proof dish or roasting tray and place a wire rack on top for your pork belly to sit on.
4. Place the pork in the oven and roast for 3 hours.
5. Prepare your veg by parboiling the potatoes for about 6-8 minutes in boiling water until the edges become fluffy, then drain and fluff up the potatoes some more by shaking the pan with the lid on.
6. After 3 hours, turn the oven up to 200 degrees, add the veg and thyme to the roasting tray underneath the wire rack and coat with the pork fat that has dripped down.
7. Roast for 1 hour or until the crackling is lovely and golden and the veg starts to colour. Make sure you turn the veg and mix it all about half way through.
8. Serve with plenty of gravy and enjoy!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Monday, 13 October 2014

Polpo - a Venetian tapas style restaurant

I think I've found it. The restaurant that I would literally order almost anything, and greedily want EVERYTHING on the menu, just to have a little taster of every single flavour combination it offers.

This beauty of a restaurant showcasing this wonderful menu is Polpo, which serves up Venetian tapas style sharing plates in various locations across London.

The menu is fairly sizable and once you've confirmed with the waiter what is an acceptable number of dishes to order* (avoiding that embarrassing restaurant moment where you over-order and a continuous stream of food begins to head towards your table, whilst you frantically start eating, stacking plates and hiding the evidence...) Anyway, when you've found that number, the menu is simple - you fancy meat, fish, or veg? Little nibbles or bigger plates? Completely up to you, and if you make the mistake of not ordering enough then fear not - just order more and it will come out as and when it's ready.

To start our feast we nibbled on some olives. Not the usual olives we almost always order, but anchovy stuffed olives, coated in breadcrumbs and beautifully fried until crisp and golden, wonderfully salty and deliciously naughty.

The meatballs seemed like the thing to order, so we headed for those next. Disappointingly, once smothered in tomato sauce, the aniseed punch of the fennel struggled to come through our pork meatballs.

The disappointment was soon forgotten however when the clear highlight of the meal arrived: mackerel tartare, horseradish and carta di musica (or to translate - crispy thin flat bread from Sardinia). A delicious dish from the sea, with the bite of horseradish chasing its fin. Adding in the flat bread gave a superb mix of textures to match the mix of flavours.

Being the terribly traditional British foodie that I am, I couldn't stay away from having a typical meat and veg meal and ordered lamb with potatoes on the side. Whilst the potatoes were nothing to write home about (I mean you can't really go wrong with rosemary and garlic potatoes, can you?), the lamb, served with caponata (an Italian aubergine stew) and basil was delightfully tender and grilled to perfection. The sharpness of the capers and tomatoes within the aubergine stew contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the basil.

Basil was also a key component with my chosen dessert too when it was paired with a strawberry panna cotta. Not something I had ever experienced before, but it provided a pleasantly refreshing, yet creamy dessert to end a very filling and all round, fantastic meal.

I have been very complimentary of my visit to Polpo, and have very few negative points to make regarding the food. Reading previous reviews however, my one piece of advice would be to avoid busy periods or, like me, visit the Farringdon branch on a weekend, else you will probably be packed in, elbow-to-elbow.

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

*The acceptable number of dishes is 2-3 per person. I'd go for 3. Plus dessert ;)