Tuesday, September 4

How to fry Pappadum

As requested by some lovely people, here is a video demonstration of how to fry pappadum. Below the video, I've included some written instructions to help you along your way. My parents very sweetly filmed the clip for me - my mother is frying the pappadum, and my father is capturing it on his smartphone. I did some editing and added the text and transitions.

I found the video very relaxing to watch. It's almost hypnotic - hearing the pappad sizzle in the oil, listening to the tap-tap-tap on the side of the vessel, and that beautiful crunch sound when the pappads come into contact with one another. I'm almost expecting lunch! :)

1. Watch the video first.

2. Secure a vessel with a rounded base.

3. Heat some cooking oil in this vessel for about 3 minutes over a medium-to-high heat. You can use pretty much any vegetable oil (e.g., sunflower), but not olive oil.

4. Before starting the frying process, check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of pappadum in the hot oil. If it doesn't look like anything much is happening, then the oil's not hot enough.

5. Once you have the right temperature, ensure that you maintain the same temperature throughout the frying process.

6. Drop a single pappadum into the oil. Use some tongs to pick it up and turn it over.

7. When both sides are fried to a golden yellow colour, remove the pappad from the oil.

8. Notice from the video that the whole thing is done relatively quickly. Don't let it sit around in the oil for too long.

9. Once you've taken the fried pappadum out of the oil, you might want to gently tap it against the side of the vessel, to remove any excess oil. Watch how this is done in the video.

10. Place the fried pappadum straight onto some kitchen paper towel.

11. Ready. To. Serve!

Usual precautions apply: hot oil, hot temperatures, don't touch it, don't break the pappadum when you're tapping it, don't try to fish broken pappadum out with your fingers in a panic, etc. etc.



More photos from the Supperclub Summit

I mentioned in my last post (on Maltby Street Market at the Supperclub Summit) that I'd been gigging at some of the other wonderful supperclubs that were part of the series. I asked some of the chefs for photos from those nights, because the food looked simply spectacular, and I wanted to show you what guests were enjoying while yours truly was singing. The audiences at each of these dinners were really wonderful to me - there were so many smiles of appreciation and encouragement, and the positive energy was just ricocheting around the room. I loved it.

Here are the photos of dishes and scenes from those days. Thanks to Fabio of the Backdoor Kitchen for providing photos of their dishes and to Wen of Edible Experiences for providing the rest.

Grigliata "Pollock", inspired by Jackson
The Backdoor Kitchen

The Backdoor Kitchen

The Backdoor Kitchen

Rob and Fabio
The Backdoor Kitchen

Poached chicken with ginger and spring onion sauce
Two Hungry Girls

Chili Crab
Wild Serai

Pork buns
Mama Lan

Come and get 'em! Pork bun distribution

Bamboo boat of desserts
Two Hungry Girls, Wild Serai and Mama Lan

Shu, Chef at Two Hungry Girls, and Goz, Chef of Plusixfive

As I said, I loved playing at these gigs. It was a hugely uplifting experience, and I'll never forget it.  Whenever I do a gig that includes covers, or when I'm busking out somewhere in London, there's one song that unfailingly gets the biggest smiles, the most number of people stopping to listen, and the most love. This is it.

A blues song that never needs an introduction



Monday, August 27

Maltby Street Market at the Supperclub Summit

The Supperclub Summit just wrapped up on Saturday night. I'd heard news of the almost-month-long Summit before the series began, but I didn't foresee that I'd be playing three gigs there. The room ended up being quite special for me as a result, and so I was quite excited to be at the grand finale, which featured traders from the Maltby Street Market.

Maltby Street Market is a Saturday food market in Bermondsey, south of the Thames, near London Bridge. It's been getting a lot of attention recently, and having been to the dinner, I can see why. Check out the courses for yourselves below.

Cod roe amuse bouche, by Greek Archipelago

For amuses bouches just after being served a welcome drink of negroni, we had cod roe served with slices of radish on bread from St John. There was also cod roe served on white bean mash, but my dining companions finished it off before I could photograph it.

Pulled pork on peri-peri croute, by African Volcano

This starter was one of my favourites of the night. An absolute star of a dish. It was pulled pork on peri-peri croute, from African Volcano, a creator of peri-peri-style sauces and marinades. I checked out their website, and if you are dying to try the above, you might want to look at their recipe for pulled pork and their bap recipe. Honestly, this dish beats hands down any other pulled pork I've tried in London (and I've tried some of the most popular ones).

The vegetarian starter was sun-ripened tomato relish en croute. I didn't taste it, but it sure was beautifully presented.

Sun-ripened tomato relish en croute, by Pink Organics

Jamon Ibérico and artichoke 'barigoule', by Tozino

This was my other favourite of the night - jamon ibérico from Tozino. For me, the taste test of jamon ibérico is all in the fat, and this one didn't just pass, it was awarded a distinction! Melting and yielding, without any of the chewiness that substandard jamon displays, but with an explosive yet elegant flavour. If I ever get to Maltby Street Market on a Saturday, I will be buying some of this jamon.

Norwegian smoked salmon with caperberries, by Hansen and Lydersen

The alternative to the jamon was Norwegian smoked salmon. I was so busy with the jamon, I didn't even think to ask to try someone else's. You have a pretty picture, so you'll have to use your imagination.

If you thought we were full by this point, you'd be right. But if you thought that was it, you'd be wrong. Oh yes, the good people of Maltby Street wanted to feed us some more, and, after a palate cleanser of elderflower sorbet, the following is what came out.

Smoked lobster, butter-soused fennel, heritage potato 'gremolata', by Christchurch Fish

This was the fish option for the main course. I couldn't try it, but Frangelico and my mother were very happy with it.

New season lamb, spinach, 'dauphinoise', port jus, by Cornish Grill

I had chosen the meat option and was faced with two very generous cuts of lamb (the part in the photograph was only half of it). The lamb was beautifully tender, and you can see as much from the part of the above photo that's in focus. I also have a weak spot for dauphinoise (having had an unfinished plate of it cleared away from my wedding dinner table, when I'd foolishly stepped away for a few minutes. Yes, 5 years on, I'm still unhappy about this.)

We then had a plate (each) of Austrian cheeses from Reiners Austrian Fine Foods, followed by Apfelstrudel by the awesome Speckmobile. (By the way, my buddies** Marco and Franz at Speckmobile make the most desirable Kaspresknödel - pan-fried cheese dumplings served with a yoghurty sauce and rocket. Check them out!)

Baklava from Turkey

With coffee, we were served gorgeous, soft, springy, syrupy baklava.

A little bit about supperclubs. This is important! I was thinking recently about how amazing some of London's supperclubs are. The quality of the food can be outstanding, and if the hosts have love and passion in their hearts, the vibe they create is awesome and the other guests that they attract can be very personable. Going to a supperclub, in a complete stranger's home, ends up turning into such a personal experience. I first experienced this at the plusixfive supperclub, and felt it again most recently at the Backdoor Kitchen. When dining out, I realise I've started to think of them as options alongside restaurant bookings. I really hope more people do, because there are some amazing people out there with ideas and passion, who want to share their cooking with you. If you're looking for a supperclub to book, you might want to try Edible Experiences*.

A Supperclub Summit dinner in flow

I spent a completely unexpected total of four nights at the Supperclub Summit (either as the background entertainment or as a guest), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the co-ordinators of the Summit is Edward Smith, chef and food writer. I'd heard of him from a friend, but the first time I met him was an evening that I turned up in South Kensington (where the dinners were taking place) with my guitar and busking amp. I was fiddling with my equipment, trying to find a spot where the feedback wouldn't deafen the entire room, and he very kindly offered for me to share the family meal he'd brought along for the front-of-house team. Thank you, Edward. I discovered that he used to work at the same firm that I was once a slave at, in a previous life. It seems that he, too, decided to pursue a passion, and there we all were. I really wish him all the best. Check out his food blog, Rocket & Squash. If he does another pop-up series in London, I'll be there!

Florian Siepert and Edward Smith, rocking the Supperclub Summit

Thank you also to the fantastic chefs who invited me to sing at their supperclubs during the Summit - Goz of plusixfive, Yolanda of Wild Serai, and Fabio and Rob of the Backdoor Kitchen - and their co-chefs who made the dinners splendid places to be.



* Disclaimer: I'm totally partial to Edible Experiences (apart from the fact that it's the only supperclub booking site I'm aware of...). I first met the amazing Wen Lin Soh, co-founder of Edible Experiences, at my first plusixfive supperclub experience and have met her a number of times since. And she has a cute baby.

**In case anyone thinks I'm plugging my friends' products, I don't actually know the Speckmobile guys personally. We buy their food, and we chat with them while people behind us in the queue are figuring out what to order. But Frangelico and I love their food, so we wish they were our buddies!

Read more about Aug 25: Maltby Street Market Dinner on Edible Experiences

Friday, July 27

food for the body, food for the soul

I might have mentioned some weeks ago the reason for the drop in blogging frequency: i.e., I've been spending a lot of time on music. Writing songs and gigging around the city requires a lot of energy, though, and the restaurant circuit still gets plenty of visits! (Just not so many photos and written observations from Truffle.)

Next weekend, there's a wonderful opportunity to combine both the music-making and the feasting. So, if you want food for the body as well as for the soul, read on!

Global Feast 2012 is a supperclub* festival taking place in London from 25 July to 13 August. Coinciding with the event-that-may-not-be-named, it will feature 20 top London supperclubs on 20 nights at the Old Town Hall in Stratford. The festival kicks off with a West African night on day 1, and then it winds it way through the rest of Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia before landing in the Antipodes. 

It's an ambitious event, and having been at the press launch earlier this week, I can tell you I was impressed at the energy and passion that's behind this project. I hope it prospers. There are plenty of high-quality supperclub chefs out there who want to feed you, people of London!

Day 12 will feature Truffle's all-time favourite supperclub, +65. This Singaporean supperclub has been discussed a number of times here**, and I am absolutely thrilled that Goz, the rockstar chef of +65, has asked me to play at his dinner. Want to see Truffle play guitar and sing, while feasting on Goz's amazing food? What are you waiting for? Get booking!

Flying the flag for Singaporean cuisine

More shapes of things to come (photo credit: Shu Han of Mummy, I Can Cook)

Date: Sunday, 5 August 2012
Time: Welcome from 6.30pm and first course at 7.30pm (times are estimates only)
Place: The Old Town Hall, 29 Broadway, London E15 4BQ
Bookings: http://www.globalfeast2012.com/

Follow my Facebook event page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/events/359396997462212/



*A supperclub, in this context, is a private dinner party hosted by a professional or hobby chef usually in his/her home. Members of the public may secure spaces to attend the dinners, and they pay a suggested donation amount in return. The supperclubs I'm talking about have nothing to do with that worldwide restaurant chain with beds. You have been warned.

**As if you needed any more enticement, check out photos from an earlier post of mine about the +65 Supperclub.

Thursday, June 7

Just a thought

I’m taking a bit of a leap with this blog post. I’m not going to re-read and agonise over it before it’s published. It’s scary, but sort of liberating too. Here goes…


This week, I’ve been taking a break.

From what or whom, you might ask.

I’ve been taking a break…

…from myself.

And boy is it a relief. 

New things are exciting again. I let myself play with ideas that crop up in my head, unrelated to what-I-am-supposed-to-be-doing (what is that anyway?). And I feel like I can finally breathe once more. I’ve realized I’m a bit of a slave-driver. I don’t say that with any hint of pride in my voice at all. Being unkind to anyone (oneself or other people) is not nice.  And if you’re being calculating about it, it ain’t productive either. Ultimately, I suspect, you’d end up killing any connection that person has with anything beautiful in this Universe.

What does this have to do with food? Nothing. But everything. Anyone who has tried to grow anything will probably know what I’m talking about. Roses? Cucumbers? Since when did treating that thing badly get you the results you wanted? But treating it kindly and giving it the conditions it needs will usually make it achieve its potential. I’ve been thinking that the same applies to cooking. When I cook in a hurry, with no attention being paid to what I’m chopping or stirring, it turns out bland, unbalanced, shapeless. That’s no surprise, I realize when I’m eating it, because it’s unloved. Giving it time, listening to my instinct about what it needs, feeling warmth flowing through my hands, that’s when it works. Does this happen to you?

If we know this about growing food, cooking food and serving it, why are so many of us tuned into thinking that it’s ok to be unkind to our selves? ‘No pain, no gain’ ringing any bells?

(For the avoidance of doubt, I’m not endorsing, for example, letting go and eating the entire bag of chips. I suspect that over-indulging in unhealthful things, or even over-eating healthful things, is actually one of the ways of being unkind. It’s not entirely unlike self-flagellation, to punish yourself for something else that didn’t go right…)

Why are we sometimes somehow deemed more worthy when we box ourselves up (or agree to let others box us up) into situations which, if we asked the question to the voice really deep inside, we wouldn’t want to be in?

Just something that’s been going through my mind today, and I wanted to share it with all of you, because I know some really thoughtful peeps are reading this blog. I would love to know what you think.



Wednesday, February 15

Pizza in Tuscany, a guest post from Bibsey Mama

This week, we have a special guest blogger! Bibsey Mama writes to us from España and tells us a wonderful story from her childhood. I know Cinnamon will love this story too. Read on, good people...

¡Hola! Readers of Cinnamon and Truffle

When the delicious Truffle asked me to write a guest post for her highly edible, and achingly stylish blog, I was of course ridiculously flattered and the vain-glorious egomaniac in me (such a small part of me, honest guv) jumped at the chance.

Then the non-food writer in me thought "eek". You see, I am in fact an British expat mummy living up a mountain in Spain writing about life up a mountain in Spain, motherhood and the ravages that both have wreaked on my poor beleaguered body and social life.

What do I know about blogging about food? Nada, niente, nix. But when in doubt write about what you know, right? So, I know my family and my family loves food.

The writing of this post has led me to suspect that I may have led a rather charmed childhood. Annual family holidays were spent in an ancient, and idiosyncratically rustic, Italian farmhouse (originally bought by my grandparents in the 1970s) tucked away in a Tuscan hillside. There my sister, my brother and I braved such torments as scorpions, hornets, hoppy things, bitie things, monster mosquitoes, wild boar, unidentified night-time roof dwellers, bats and much, much more. There were even tortoises to be found on those hillsides.

Long afternoons were spent playing rummy and whist in the sun. Nights were spent trying to keep cool and fending off the mosies. And in between there was swimming in the lake, trips to the sea, stargazing and moonbathing on the terrace and above all else there was food.

Our Italian holidays were a festival of food to which we as a family wholeheartedly surrendered ourselves. There was no talk of moderation. No stinting ourselves. There was limited time and we all have to eat, right? We would have our lunch on the terrace under the shade of an enormous fig tree looking out over the olive groves. Panini, finocchiona, mortadela, prosciuto, mozzarella, gorgonzola and dolce latte, bruschetta, salad, watermelon, coffee, chocolates...

Gnocchi making with Mum circa 1979. I'm the one bottom right looking for all the world like Steptoe Snr.

The majority of nights we ate out. Consequently a great deal of time would go into the planning of our eating itinerary. So many good restaurants and never enough time. You have to go a long way and try very hard indeed to find a bad meal in Italy. Or so has been my experience.

Everyone had their favourites: the best place for pizza, the best for supa di vedura, or crostini or bistecca or scottaditta or frittura mista, or best located for a walk and ice cream after dinner. At times we nearly came to blows over where we might eat. This was generally when we were running out of time. Much depended on who could shout the loudest.

 Amazing pizza. So why do I look so sad? I suspect I had no front teeth that year.

But there was one place where all appetites were met, a typical family run restaurant where four generations of my family have been eating for nearly 40 years. We know the waitress as Bronzatta because of her perfect tan and general air of glamour. She's still there of course. As is her similarly glamourous brother who sports a very distinguished streak of grey. This was, and still is, the first place my family visit at the start of the holiday and the place where they choose to eat on the very last night.

So, if you ever find yourself near the beautiful hill town of Cortona in Tuscany, and in the market for the best pizza on earth, visit Pizzeria il Vallone. I would say "tell them I sent you" but I imagine, no, I am sure, that they would have no idea who or what a Bibsey Mama is.

Sunday, February 5

A taster from Roganic, London

Hello C&T readers! The blog posting schedule has been relaxed somewhat dramatically, as you can see. Stateside, Cinnamon and her family are busy with many projects I'm sure. On this side of the Atlantic, my excuse is that I've been starting up a band with a friend of mine. Exciting times!

That doesn't mean I've been passing up many foodie opportunities that have come my way. We've still been eating, exploring and photographing. I have an enormous stock of photos to share with you guys, so I thought a quiet space on a Sunday (occasioned by the snow on London streets) was the best time to get some of these photos on the road.

First up, we have photos from a long-ago lunch at Roganic, one of the biggest openings on the London restaurant scene in 2011. We had dinner there just last week with some visitors from San Francisco, and they loved it. San Franciscans have high standards when it comes to food, so Roganic is clearly still going strong in 2012.

Lion's head mushroom

What the mushroom looks like once the kitchen's transformed it

Leek baked in clay

Said leek on plate, before generous amounts of black truffle were grated on

Venison, with a sliver of autumn vegetable reaching for the sky

Warm spiced bread, with smoked cream, salted almonds and buckthorn curd

Lunch is a cosy 3- or 6-course affair, and dinner is a full-blooded 10 courses. Of all the tasting menus in the city, this is currently my favourite.

That's it for now, but I'm hoping to get more of my stock of photos out there to you, so watch this space.

19 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DH
020 7486 0380



Tuesday, January 3

Warm up January with some Beef Rendang

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2012 sees you having had a fantastic holiday, feeling well-rested, and now raring to go! First up this year, we have a guest post from our friend, Vanessa, with a delicious-sounding recipe for beef rendang. If you're trying to remember what rendang is, here is a picture from a previous post...

Ox cheek rendang, at the +65 Supper Club last year

Now it's over to Vanessa!

I boasted on Facebook a few days ago about an outstanding Rendang which The Husband spent an afternoon cooking. Having seen the wifely praise and a pretty dubious picture of the dish, Truffle kindly invited me to share the recipe. So thank you, Cinnamon and Truffle, for this opportunity to write a guest post. I’ve read Cinnamon and Truffle since it’s inception and enjoy the easy prose, the fantastic steering to London’s (and the world’s) good food and all the epicurean miscellany I glean.

Rendang is an Indonesian dish, which can now be found as extensively in Malaysia and Singapore. Originally a ceremonial dish which would be served to honoured guests, Rendang has cemented it’s place onto the menu of Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean restaurants in Asia and around the world. You can have Rendang made with all manner of meat – mutton, goat, chicken, liver – but we prefer Beef Rendang.

The key to Rendang is in the long, slow simmer. Initially, once the ingredients are fried together and the coconut milk and water added, it looks like an ordinary wet curry. 2½ hours later however, this has reduced into tender beef that falls apart at the slightest touch of a fork, covered with a sticky, dark and divinely fragrant sauce, which has completely infused the meat. It’s pretty much heaven in a pot. Soon to become heaven on your plate. Which then melts in your mouth. You can’t say better than that.


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