Bokit at Bokit’La, Oval Farmers’ Market

29 Aug

Salt fish Bokit

Salt fish bokit (sorry, I couldn’t wait to eat it)

LOCATION: Oval Farmers’ Market, St. Mark’s Church, 337 Kennington Park Road, SE11 4PW [map]

PRICE: A fiver, I think.

BREAD: A sort of fried pitta-style pocket bread.

FILLING: I tried both the aubergine with lettuce, avocado and hot sauce, and the salt fish with lettuce, avocado and hot sauce.

PROS: Where to start? I shall break it down into three glorious parts.

1) I hadn’t heard of this sandwich before last Saturday, and I was slightly ashamed/unsettled by the thrill it gave me to discover some fresh meat on the scene. I imagine it won’t surprise you to learn that this is the only bokit stall in London, and so we should firstly rejoice at the fact it is something new and interesting that is not just meat in a bun.

2) The bokit, in case you don’t know (ahem), is sold as street food in Guadalupe. Small balls of dough are rolled out, deep fried, split and stuffed with a variety of fillings. Bokit’La offer chicken, aubergine, or salt fish. I tried the latter two, both topped with avocado (this is extra, recommended) and hot sauce (this is essential). Both awesome, but if I had to choose just one I think it would be the aubergine due to its almost explicit silkiness. And the sauce! It is made from scotch bonnets and comes in four heat levels. I, uncharacteristically, chose medium; next time I’ll go for hot. They pack all the flavour of the chilli, plus a whack of garlic, plus THEIR MUM MAKES THEM. Or the mother of one of them. I’m not sure these people are related. I’ll get to that in a minute.

3) Ladies! Gays! Listen the fuck up, right now, because these three men are BUFF. I am not kidding. Check out the evidence below. They bonded over their mutual love for swimming, apparently, and I’m talking serious swimming here, not a couple of lengths on a Monday afternoon when it’s quiet. Again, I point you towards the pictorial evidence. They’ve got the look, they’ve got the music, they’ve got the sandwiches. I’m not entirely sure what else you could want, save them being licensed.

Bokit'La

CONS: Despite the fact that the sandwiches are mega tasty, I did, to be fair, give them an extra point for being muscly. I don’t think they’ve quite hit the giddy heights of an LROS 10/10 just yet.

SCORE: 9/10

Sadly their website is down but you can stalk them on Twitter and Facebook.

Holy Burger at Ham Holy Burger, Oxford Street

15 Aug

Ham Holy Burger
LOCATION: 3rd floor, John Lewis, 278-306 Oxford Street, London W1A 1EX [map]

PRICE: £8.95.

BREAD: Un-seeded burger bun.

FILLING: Piedmont beef burger, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, holy sauce.

PROS: Meh, I dunno, sometimes I tie myself in knots with my own format, here. I’m just going to whack it all under the cons, which to be fair, isn’t that far off anyway.

CONS: Ham Holy burger is full of really irritatingly bouncy, cheery staff, presumably because they don’t need to do a great deal. When I arrive, a woman at the door screeches at me “whaddya want?! PIZZA? PASTA? BURGER?” to which I reply “burger! Burger! Burger!” in the manner of someone trying to calm a person who is having a panic attack, and she ushers me towards Ham Holy Burger.

All the food is ordered on an Ipad. What? What’s that? Yes yes, I said everything is ordered on an Ipad. It’s saving staff costs and is more efficient, you see. PAHAHAHAHAHA. Just kidding on the last part. A very young, very enthusiastic Italian man is telling me how to use said Ipad. This takes a while. The obvious thought occurs to me: it would have been much quicker if he could just take my order. “Can I have a glass of Chianti please?!” I blurt out, desperately, confused by the fact I have been sat at this table for a while, talking to a waiter, yet he hasn’t offered me a drink. At this point, he turns his head from the Ipad to face me, bares his teeth in a sort of dazzling, threatening smile, and says ‘”OOOOH!” as if I have just suggested we have a threesome with one of the waitresses. He then stabs at the Ipad and someone else brings the Chianti, which is grim.

The Holy Burger is made from Piedmontese beef, which is criminally under seasoned. Perhaps because I am so discombobulated by the whole experience, I forget my Maldon pinch pot nestled in my handbag, but obviously I shouldn’t need it. Bun = fine. Lettuce = fine. Onions = fine. Tomato = fine. Cucumber = weird. Usually, of course, they’re pickled, but in this case thick slices of plain old cuke bring a sort of odd freshness, like I’m supposed to be eating a lamb pitta with tzatziki. The ‘Holy Sauce’ is rather nice actually, but there isn’t enough of it to bring the richness and pickle flavour that the burger so desperately needs.

As our hearts slowly sink and we contemplate asking (an actual person) if we can have the bill, my mate decides to take revenge. I snap a picture of him on the Ipad which he sets as the wallpaper and home screen, before password protecting the Ipad so they can’t change it back. We walk away, chuckling, and head straight around the corner to MeatLiquor.

SCORE: 3/10

 

 

Philly Cheesesteak at Liberty Cheesesteak, Victoria

5 Jun

Cheesesteak

LOCATION: Liberty Cheesesteak stall, Cardinal Place Shopping Centre, Victoria, SW1E 5JD [map].

PRICE: £8.00 for a whole one. You can also buy a half for er, £4 I guess?

BREAD: Italian-style sub roll.

FILLING: Rib-eye steak, Cheez Whiz, fried onions.

PROS: Soooo, the deal with Liberty Cheesesteak is that they are all about the authenticity. While I was waiting for my mate I overheard one of the cooks saying to an American customer, “when we sawwww how people were doing cheesesteaks over herrrre we were all like, whaaaaaa???!!” and so Liberty Cheesesteak was born. The sandwich apparently should not contain any extras, such as the commonly added fried green peppers, only the fried steak, the onions, the cheese, that’s it.

Now I am not a fan of the food police, you must know that, but I have to say, this was a fine cheesesteak. I like green peppers in a cheesesteak, I do, but it turns out that I also like the sandwich very much without ‘em. The beef was rib eye, cut into really thin slices (I presume by freezing it first), then slapped on the hot plate and chopped up and mixed with the onions using those scrapey flippy spatula jobbies. There were three options for cheese: Whiz, American, and Provolone. I went for Whiz, firstly because it was billed as ‘authentic’ HINT HINT and also because I’ve always wanted to try it. It’s like artificial processed cheese that comes in jars. The Americans love that shit. It was great in the cheesesteak I have to say, like a cheesier Dairylea or a melted slappy cheese slice, and it made for the most wonderful goo inside the sandwich when mixed with the hot meat. That sounds horrible but was great, really. Honest. You no like idea of goo? No goo for you? Boo hoo. Okay I’ll stop.

Oh and the bread! Those very light and easily inhalable Italian style subs that the Americans do so well.  They didn’t get the bread FROM America, obviously, but they have, apparently, ‘worked with a baker in Putney’. So there ya go.

CONS: Ummm well we agreed the meat could use some pepper, but other than that it’s hard to think of any. Still meat in a bun wit cheez though innit, so just shy of full marks.

SCORE: 8/10

Untitled

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches at Claridge’s, Mayfair

8 May

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches Claridge's

LOCATION: Claridge’s, Brook St, Mayfair, W1K 4HR [map]

PRICE: £61 for whole afternoon tea with glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut (£51 without bubbles but seriously, why wouldn’t you?)

BREAD & FILLINGS: Chicken, lemon and tarragon on granary; ham, celeriac remoulade and tomato chutney on onion bread; smoked salmon on brown; egg mayo on white; cucumber on white.

PROS: Claridge’s is like some kind of ultimate pleasure palais; once you’re in, it feels like time could cease to mean anything at all and you’ll emerge three weeks later having spent a million pounds and destroyed all your organs. I like that. The light also has a disorientating green hue to it, as if you’re looking through absinthe goggles.

This afternoon tea has to be the most perfectly executed in London, surely. The room is as grand as they come and looks like it was jointly designed by the Queen and the Mad Hatter. The sandwiches arrive on that distinctive stripy china, and they keep on arriving until you stop asking for more. In my case, that was after the third round. I know. You knew I liked sandwiches though, right?

Tea sandwiches are so appealing because of their dainty size, and the fact they can be consumed in a few bites. It doesn’t feel like you’re stuffing yourself (until the third round) and you never get bored before moving onto the next filling. These are exemplary. The egg mayo is proper nursery food stylee, as it damn well should be; it’s one of the greatest and most comforting fillings of all time and I will not hear otherwise.  The smoked salmon is of first class quality (Severn and Wye), and plentiful. The ham is Dorrington, and comes with celeriac remoulade, which I love, and tomato chutney, which I would usually hate because I hate all chutney. Why has no-one realised that chutney tastes horrible? Weird. They somehow make it work; there’s just background sweetness rather than any taste of – boke – chutney. The chicken is Daylesford organic and therefore has actual chicken flavour, helped along by being at the right temperature; it’s sad that we now so often associate chicken sandwiches with too-cold pappy pre-packs. The cucumber numbers are perfect too, crisp as you like. Such an under-rated filling. Oh, and the best thing about all of them? So bloody British.

I took the cakes home.

CONS: Are you kidding?

SCORE: 10/10

Lamb Kebab Wrap at Asian Takeaway, Peckham

30 Apr

Babbage

LOCATION: ‘Asian Takeaway’, opposite the station on Rye Lane, next to Ali Baba fruit n veg.

PRICE: Can’t remember. A few quid? Not much, anyway. 

BREAD: Naan.

FILLING: Minced lamb kebab, cucumber, lettuce, yoghurt sauce, chilli sauce.

PROS: This sandwich is a lesson in the value of simplicity and freshness. Who would’ve thought we’d be so lucky that a bunch of firecrackers would set up a tandoor in what is basically a shack tucked away off Peckham’s main drag, Rye Lane? A man works next to the sweaty heat of the oven rolling balls of dough, one under each palm in opposite directions, simultaneously. Wax on, wax off. These are shaped and hand-slapped into the tandoor, to order. He wears gloves. Long, skewered kebabs are speared in and out too, then hung from the roof to cool once cooked.

What’s particularly impressive about this kebab is the spicing. So often too many spices muddle together making the overall flavour flat and oddly, very bland. These guys know when to stop. There’s a whacking great measure of green chilli though, which brings searing freshness as well as, obviously, hefty poke.

The salad is as juicily spanking as everything else, and the cucumber is cut lengthways, so that it actually lies flat in the wrap and doesn’t fall out. Finally. Someone. I can never get one of these wraps into my face quite fast enough actually, and then I always have to be talked out of getting another. I don’t let go of this idea usually until I get way down past Maccy D’s and almost around the corner to the High Street, by which point it just means really that I can’t be arsed to walk back.

CONS: So I have lived in Peckham for like, quite a lot of years now and I never knew this place existed. The first time I went there I asked the guy why he didn’t have a sign, to which he responded by pointing at the sign. It’s kinda hard to see but actually once you…okay I’m just a massive doofus.

SCORE: 7/10

 

 

Highland Burger with Korean Pulled Pork at Smokehouse N1, Islington

17 Mar

LOCATION: Smokehouse N1, 63-69 Canonbury Road, N1 2DG [map]

PRICE: £15.

BREAD: Seeded burger bun.

FILLING: 5 year old Highland cow burger, pulled pork, lettuce, gochujang mayo.

PROS: Right, RIGHT! Listen up. Listen good and listen hard, because this is important. I do not give out full marks lightly. I hope you weren’t waiting for that bit at the end? Oh. Well anyway since you’re here I might as well tell you that this is one of the best burgers in London and you must go and eat it immediately. Usually I can’t stand pulled pork on a burger. CAN’T. STAND. IT. Then I remembered that’s because there is so much terrible pulled pork out there. You know, cotton wool mushy wush; squeaky flossed fibres. Then I remembered that this is cooked by one of the best BBQ chefs in London. The best, probably. Actually. Neil Rankin. As an aside from the sandwich, Smokehouse N1 is just a fabulous place to sit and eat, particularly if you get a space around the back by the kitchen, where the Big Green Eggs waft their ghostly gusts through the open door. It’s the best BBQ you’ve never been to.

So the burger is made from the chuck and carcass offcuts of 5 year old highland cow and the flavour is intense. It was described by my mate and I as ‘sick’ which is what people younger than us say instead of ‘top brass’ or ‘fookin ace’. It has me scooping at the fall out with my fingers. It’s rare as hell inside and, at the risk of sounding ‘a bit Rayner’ awakens something primal within me. I should probably say something here about needing a cardiologist.

The stuff that looks like cheese, isn’t. ‘What’s the cheese?’ Asks my friend. ‘It just looks like cheese so you think it is’. Huh. It’s mayonnaise and gochujang mixed together, which is just bafflingly tasty considering, well, it’s just mayonnaise and gochujang mixed together.

CONS: Nothing. Honestly nothing. I went on about this sandwich so much during the eating and the digesting that my friends started to blatantly ignore me. I never thought I could be excited about a burger ever again, considering, well, you know, the whole Burger Trend business but fuck my hat if this isn’t the absolute biz.

SCORE: 10/10

Croque Monsieur at Le Peche Mignon, Islington

14 Mar

LOCATION: 6 Ronalds Road, Islington, N5 1XH [map].

PRICE: £5.50.

BREAD: White sourdough.

FILLING: Ham and cheese, bechamel on top.

PROS: The state of croques in the world is dire. In London it’s bad but in Paris? Even worse. Seriously. It’s depressing. This presented me with a dilemma then, about the criteria against which to judge this sandwich. Should it be judged relative to all croques in London that I know about? Or all other croques in the world, including theoretical not in actual existence yet croques? I decided upon the latter. The opinions expressed on this blog are based upon nothing if not whim, fancy and my highly variable mood, as ever.

This was one of the best croques I’ve ever had in London actually, which isn’t saying much (check out this abomination) but then it’s very surprising considering what happened when I arrived at Le Peche Mignon. I’d gone halfway up the ginger line to eat this bastard, and so when I spotted a pile of pre-made croques upon entering the cafe well, you can imagine, my little heart sank into my biker boots. I wasn’t leaving without trying it though, considering the effort of sitting on the tube for a whole 20 minutes. ‘What actually happens to cheese if you melt it twice?’ we pondered. Turns out, not a lot apart from melting, again. With reflection, I think the inside had only been melted the once, and it was just the sauce on top that had been pre-applied. Okay so it was a little crusty in places, but the sandwich in general was soft, the bread really decent, the ham perfectly good and the side salad of a little lettuce with a mustard heavy dressing, exactly as it bloody well should be. Few people seem to adequately understand that last element; there should be just a few leaves of soft, inoffensively flavoured lettuce (i.e. no sodding rocket) and a bitey dressing. No more, no less. Very well judged, Le Peche.

CONS: Okay so there’s no ignoring the fact that this was pre-made. Why won’t someone open a croque cafe? And no I don’t mean one where they start tinkering about with weird additions and combinations; I mean one that just does perfect croques, with maybe a madame and one option for the crazies. WHY?! Someone should just get the hell on with that.

So this isn’t a croque I’d ever travel to, say, North London for, but it’s certainly one I’d eat again if I lived nearby, particularly if I was hungover and had a pot of mustard in my bag which, incidentally, I often do.

SCORE: 6.5/10 (extra half point for getting the side leafage right)

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