It’s been a good food week

I generally avoid trendy food; I live off a steady rota of pasta, curry and burritos.  However, it is the week before my birthday and hence the annual 20 days of birthday celebrations have commenced – and so this week I have had two very fashionable meals – one Peruvian (it’s the new Nordic apparently) – and one from The Dairy – a much praised new eatery in Clapham Common – a place I can only ever be persuaded to go to once a year (because it seems as much of a trek from my flat as Peru) – and only then in order to visit the awesome Trinity.

First things first, to Peru via Rathbone Place, W1.  Lima had amazing reviews when it opened last year and I’ve been meaning to go ever since.  I’m glad I finally did.  This beef loin with yellow aji chile sauce was sensational.

This sea bream ceviche with Tiger’s milk (not from a tiger, not milk) – was pretty ace too – super limey and I do love a lime:

And this octopus with quinoa and some pretty blobs of purple olive dressing was killer too.

I got really quite drunk on a couple of bottles of very cold white Torrontes wine, so the rest of the meal was a blur.  All I remember was insisting on going to Gail’s Kitchen for pudding, for their ridiculously perfect warm chocolate cookies with milk.  Not very Peruvian, though I suspect Paddington would have approved:

I mean seriously, what is better than a molten chocolate cookie with ice cold milk?  Apart from three cookies…

Then, last night, birthday celebration 2! At The Dairy in Clapham.  Book now, it’s bloody hard getting a table – probably because it’s utterly delicious, and very reasonable for the excellence of the food.

Everything we ate was beautiful and fresh tasting and interesting – the kitchen’s use of herbs is amazing, not least lemon verbena, my favourite slightly not mainstream herb.  I’m only posting a handful of pics of dishes, as the lighting / my camera / my drunkeness – were not conducive to good photos – but the best of a great bunch were as follows: the bread, which I could have eaten ten of….perfect texture, oven-warm, served with bone-marrow butter:

almost as good as the bread I had earlier this year at a restaurant called Radio in Copenhagen:

In Copenhagen my friend and I ate three baskets of this bread – served with caramelised onion butter.  They hated us so much at that restaurant but you know what?  If you don’t want customers to eat three baskets of bread, don’t make it so damn delicious.  I did learn my lesson in Denmark, which is that eating 3 baskets of bread is a) – greedy b) – painful c) – can get in the way of the rest of the food.  So we just ate the one basket at The Dairy and saved room for this delicious, delicate potted salmon with Guinness soda bread.  It was touched with cumin and combined with jalapeno – and at £5 was probably one of the most reasonably priced high end dishes I’ve ever eaten.

Meanwhile, this photo does no justice whatsoever to a dish called ‘fresh peas, celery, mint and fried bread.’  It was the prettiest, greenest thing ever – totally fresh tasting, with an amazing textural combo of creaminess from the mousse, super crunch from the ‘fried bread’ which was I believe a sourdough crumb, and then two different textures of pea.  Delish.

This Cornish cod, heritage tomatoes, rooftop herbs and toasted bread was another killer – beautiful yellow and red tomatoes, super fresh fish, awesome crunch, and a background sauce of the most delicate, light cream.  I couldn’t work out what it was – it wasn’t sour like sour cream, but it was not as dairy-ish as cream – and the waiter informed me it was made of ‘ling roe’ – which makes it sound as if it was super salty or fishy, though it was neither.  Utterly delicate and perfect.

It reminded me of this super pretty dish I ate at Story, which was jazzed up with nasturtiums and I believe cucumber balls – seriously, I can’t remember, it’s been a busy year but anyway – it’s a nicer photo than the one above at least.

And then finally pudding.  I really don’t care for edible ‘soil’ – which seems to be a Nordic trend that refuses to die.  Still, given that the menu said this was ‘salted caramel, chocolate, malted barley ice cream’ – I had no choice but to order it

and even though it reminded me of this (from Copenhagen again) – and quite a few other soil-y, deconstructed puddings I’ve eaten this year – I forgave it for its fashionableness – because I’m a forgiving type.  And because it was AWESOME.  And actually it’s trendy texture was justified.

I loved The Dairy so much that I’m going back with my mum and dad next week for lunch.  I’ll attempt better photos and improved coherence then.  Watch this space.

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