Monday, August 26, 2013

Burger & Lobster

If you regularly read my blog -even more so if you read my Twitter- you've probably noticed that I quite like burgers. Lobster, on the other hand, I've eaten just a handful of times and I was always disappointed. I always thought lobsters were just like big ol' bugs that got steamed, and I suppose they kind of are. I learned an important lesson, however, by the end of this blog post.

We went to Burger & Lobster's City location at St. Paul's on Saturday just a little after noon, and even though we had made reservations it wasn't too busy at all -could've just walked in and got a table- because of that, I'd totally recommend this location at weekends.

I've heard plenty about their burger, so I was quite excited to give it a shot; not nearly as excited as my husband was to eat lobster. If you haven't heard, Burger & Lobster's whole idea is that there are only three items on the menu: a burger, a whole lobster, and a lobster roll - all £20. The lobster is a super value, the lobster roll is pretty good from what I understand, but the burger seems quite costly. I suppose when you factor in that it includes salad and fries it isn't so bad - still kind of pricey, even for London gourmet burgers. It is 10 oz of steak mince, with a broiche bun, a massive slice of tomato, lettuce, bacon, cheese, and pickles. All in all, I'm the kind of person who would spend £20 on a nice hamburger, so I was game - and it was my husband's birthday so we were celebrating, anyway.

We started off with two drinks, and since it was the early afternoon I went with something non-alcoholic-- the birthday boy threw caution to the wind and got a cocktail.
I can't recollect the name of mine, I'm pretty sure it was something something Iced Tea, and it was earl gray, watermelon, and lemon. Very refreshing, and nicely tangy. The fruit juices really brought out the sweet lemon-yness of earl gray, a tea I've always considered to taste exactly like the milk left in Froot Loops. It wasn't too sweet, like some iced tea can be quite sickly. The birthday drink was Soul Happiness, which was tequila, watermelon, and lemon. I had a little sip, and it was super tasty - tequila can be quite horrible, but this was smooth and well-blended with the tart lemon and sweeter watermelon.

So far, so good. On with the mains - after much deliberation (titter titter, none at all) we had ordered the lobster and the burger.
Can't really get a sense of scale here, but that is quite a hefty burger. That tomato ring itself was probably the size of my entire hand. I was a bit apprehensive, news stories about women dislocating their jaws dancing through my head, but I managed. The bun was quite squishable, but within the bun lies the problem if you ask me - way too much bun.

This may be controversial, but I feel that with a burger the bun should be more or less an afterthought. I am here for the meat, cheese, and any extra toppings - not bread. The bun tasted a bit like a nice piece of brown bread, sure, but it had that disconcerting cake-y texture that brioche has. Frankly, I don't much cotton to the brioche bun trend, it adds nothing in my opinion and just makes burgers taller and more 'grand' looking.

In this case specifically, it detracted from the burger - as for whatever reason, the steak mince was quite delicate in flavor. Don't get me wrong, it was incredibly tasty and beefy in size and flavor, but it was a bit dulled by the bready taste, and the sweet-and-sloppy pickles. I took the tomato off, but I imagine if I had left it on I would've had an even harder time tasting the beef. It's a shame, the bites I had that were heavy on the meat and light on everything else were wonderful - but the beef was really so light that it was easily dominated by everything else. Now, this could definitely be just to my taste - and it was by no means a bad burger at all, but I've had better (to me) for less money. I like sloppy, beefy burgers with squishy, barely-there buns. I can see where this was even more of a gourmand burger than I might like - I can appreciate it, but I wouldn't order it again.

That's where the lobster comes in.
(photo courtesy the birthday dude)
As I said, I've had lobster maybe a handful of times and didn't like it, ever. Even with the butter sauce, much to everyone who knows me's shock - because I normally love butter. This blog, by the way, would make an excellent case study for adult onset diabetes.

Anyway, after much cajoling my husband cornered me into eating two forkfuls of lobster - and sister, I ain't looking back. It was so delicious! That must be what lobster-lovers (that's what I call people who eat lobster) taste whenever they eat it. Before I've had lobster, and it tasted fishy, and the texture was weird: slimy and overly wet. This had a firmer, meatier texture than what I've had before, and just tasted like popcorn or butter - even without the butter sauce.

What I'm getting at is thus: if you are going to Burger & Lobster, get the lobster, even if you think you hate it, because it turns out that you'll love it. Probably. I sure did, and I wouldn't have guessed it.

Bonus: They have a lobster tank, and while you don't pick out your lobster, you can look at some of the monstrous thugs that are available to eat - for the right price. At least at the City location, there is a board with special lobsters on it - ranging from 2-3 lbs for £40, all the way up to 'do your bidding' type sizes, for upwards of £100.

When we were there, we saw a 6 lb lobster that would've cost £100, but looked as if it would feed a family of 6, walk your dog, or take out all of your enemies. Whatever floats your boat...which is also something this lobster could probably do.

I'm certainly not the first person to recommend Burger & Lobster, and I won't be the last - but heed my words, those who agree with me about burger styles & remain unsure about lobster...go with the lobster.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Snickers Shake

I was never a big shake fan in America, just thought it was sat in an uncomfortable place between ice cream (eating) and milk (drinking) - most shakes in the USA are too thick to comfortably drink through a straw, and they don't have the ease-of-eating that ice cream has. Basically, you're meant to just drink it in a cup or something and get milkshake all over your face - and you're taking in even more ice cream than you would if you were to just eat a bowl of ice cream, because it's all melty and...yeah, so it took me a long time to try the 'milkshakes' of the UK supermarkets. Your Yazoos, your Mars milks, your Crusha.

When I did get around to it, I realized that milkshake also seems to mean flavored milk here, and I like that. Your chocolate, your strawberry, your vanilla. They're nice.

A lot of the supermarket milkshakes are slightly thickened, but they're all easily swiggable. I've tried some intriguing flavors in the past; Frijj has a few like Banoffee Pie, Caramel Latte, et cetera - they're all pretty nice, but this one has me the most interested...
Of all the mainstream candy bars available world-wide, Snickers is probably in my top 3. So, I was super interested to drink it.

Well, fact is, there isn't too much to say - but it is like Snickers. If you've ever had Mars milk you know the texture - thin...milky...

Key difference here is that it tastes like peanuts and nougat more than it tastes like chocolate. It isn't salty peanut, which would've been a bit strange, but more like a peanut butter taffy or peanut butter nougat - very much sweet rather than salty. I'd say it was definitely tasty, and if I was in the market for a milkshake I'd certainly get this one again over a more general chocolate like Mars or Milky Way, but if they had the Bounty flavor I'd choose it.

Peanut is kind of a weird flavor to drink, but I have to give props to the folks down at Snickers Shake HQ, they didn't just rest on their laurels and make it taste like chocolate. Kudos for taking a chance.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Puchitto Kudamono, Muscat

Hope you guys like reading about Japanese candy, because I love eating it, and then writing lots of paragraphs about it.

This time around, I've got Puchitto Kudamono. No, it's not that disease you get from kissing or eating pufferfish, it's a variety of Japanese gummi inspired by the kind of fruit that you can pull apart into littler bits...and pineapple. Yep, somehow among the easily cleaved fruits such as grapes & oranges, pineapple got itself into the mix. Pineapple always has been the trickiest of fruits - both in terms of cleverness, and ease of eating. Guess I should be thankful they simplified it for the candy version.

Now, the flavor I will be reviewing is muscat, which in Japanese sweets is seen as a distinct flavor - separate from grape. Usually breaks down that muscat sweets are green, and 'classic' grape sweets are purple.
Monkeys, of course, aren't picky and will happily eat any fruit candies you've got. See?

The main difference between grape and muscat is the same difference between grape soda and grape juice. Grape juice has a tangy edge, something similar to what you'll taste in wine; vaguely fermented, slightly soured, resembles actual fruit. Whereas grape soda tastes just like...well, purple. Most days I'll gladly take grape soda over grape juice, so I'm more of a fan of the purple grape candies than the green. What an explanation...

However, candy's candy and most all of it is dandy, so I was excited to try these. Also, I love the idea of tearing tiny chunks off of an already small gummi, and eating it like actual tiny fruit. Spoiler: by the end, I was just eating an entire Thing of Grapes candy, no tearing to slow me down.
Cute, huh? As you can see, they come out looking as they do on the package. The color is sweet, sort of somewhere between a pastel green and undercooked bun. They are certainly small, but you get quite a few in the package and if you manage to be daintier than me (an easy feat) you'll take awhile to get through each little 'grape'.

They're very squishy, and gently chewy like the more marshmallow-y type Japanese gummies, as opposed to the firmer sugar-and-gelatin type variety. I always feel like these softer chews have more collagen, but that also sounds like something I could've made up.

The flavor is like other muscat products on the Japanese market, a lot like white grape juice but sweeter. It is more of an 'adult' grape flavor, I suppose, than the purple stuff. S'pose it's a lot like an actual green grape, just sweeter with a less juicy texture.

All in all, these were a super fun candy & I'd gladly give any of the other flavors a try. OyatsuCafe, who generously provided me with these to review, currently have a nice offer on their site where you get a 3-pack of the Muscat, Grape, and Pineapple flavors for a discounted price. I'd take advantage of that if you're at all interested in these cute & tasty novelty gummies, and slap on some pizza chips while you're at it. You know, for dinner.
(OyatsuCafe so kindly provided me with some products for review, but all opinions are just my own!)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Sorry for the lack of updates, but whew. I moved house earlier this week, and it was quite intense. Even though it was only one town over, it felt like it took months to do and years off of my life. & I was going into work as normal, and work has been super busy...I think next time I'll take a few days off for a move, haha.

Anyway, I deserved a treat. I'd been dreaming of going to Street Feast for the last month or so- well, ever since I heard of it. Unfortunately the locations have always been a bit out of my way to head off to on my own, but I finally goaded my husband (plus a couple of his workmates) into coming with me last Friday!

The straw that broke the procrastinating camels back was the appearance of Tim Anderson, MasterChef winner and Japanese food uh...guy. He'll be opening a restaurant soon (Nanban) somewhere in Shoreditch that I'm pumped for - it will serve Japanese soft serve ice cream, ramen, buns, and best of all yaki-curry. Remember those cheese curry instant noodles I ate and loved? I'm quite sure they're based off of this curry, which is your classic mild & sweet Japanese curry rice topped with broiled cheese and a soft boiled egg. This yaki-curry was going to be available at Street Feast, so I hopped all over it.

We arrived at about 10 p.m., and it was still hopping. Good sign! It was a really nice feeling at the location, too. I don't much care for crowded areas with lots of drunks or 'wild' times (man, I sound ancient) but I don't mind nice crowds full of jolly food-lovers who are all just having a good time- which is exactly what Street Feast felt like. The emphasis was on the food, and I really appreciate that. But if you wanted a bit of a boozing, there was plenty of beer and even a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, which looked pretty cool.

I only had eyes for food, though. First stop was Nanban for some of that sweet, sweet cheese curry.
Aw yeah. Tim Anderson was actually there and actually broiled our cheese, which was quite cool. I didn't watch MasterChef, but he seemed like good folk. One of my companions at Street Feast was my husband's Japanese co-worker, who said it this was similar to how it would taste in Japan - probably the only difference is what sort of cheese.

 It was delicious, very creamy and mild with a perfectly cooked onsen egg - which is sort of soft boiled. I love Japanese curry, it tastes quite different from your average Indian curry as it is generally mild and almost sweet - there is even some varieties that involve apples & honey, which I'd like to try. Nothing but good things to say about this - perfectly cooked vegetables that maintained some texture and bite. So looking forward to Nanban opening.

My husband and I split the curry between ourselves, so we'd still have room to try some other stuff! Next place I was most excited for was the Ribman...excuse me, THE Ribman. This meat deserves bold and caps.

I had no idea how easily and tastily ribs could be eaten, but brother, I know now. By the time we got there they had just run out of buns for the rib sammich, so we just ate a bowl of off-the-bone rib meat like a couple of extremely well fed house cats.

 It was beyond delicious. I like ribs, but they're usually more trouble than they're worth, ya know? If you're eating in public, you will be covered in sauce by the end of it, with little meat to show. With these, the bone is a non-issue, so eat them with a fork and avoid sauce-shame. Speaking of sauce, the Holy F#ck stuff was amazing, hot with a vinegar-y kick, my favorite kind of hot sauce. Loved it!

I've never had just shredded rib meat, but it tastes great - tender, melting and fatty like good ribs, not messy, well-sauced, and lots and lots of meat for just £5. Next time I'm anywhere near The Ribman, I'll be getting a huge portion. Oh, and you can buy the sauce for home use. Shame I have no idea how to cook ribs half as good as those were, or else I'd have no reason to ever leave the house again.

Next me and the ol' ball & chain split, very much down your classic gender lines - he went for a Korean fried chicken sandwich from Spit Roast, and I got a double scoop of Sorbitium ice cream.

I got the salted caramel and lemon curd with ginger biscuits. Impossible to choose which was best - the salted caramel tasted like cooked sugar (kind of like creme brulee or really good caramel) with salt, and the lemon curd with ginger biscuits was intensely lemon-y, but super creamy in texture, with big chunks of ginger biscuits that tasted homemade - or at the very least, not like gingernuts. Both were ridiculously creamy and well-textured, no ice crystals or gunkiness even though it was so near the end of the day. I'd gladly eat them both everyday. I managed to get a lick of the pistachio stracciatella as well, and it tasted strongly of semi-salty pistachios - not just like plain pistachio ice cream, which is just kind of salty green vanilla when it isn't well executed. This one was just perfect! They were all perfect. I want more!

I'll definitely be going back to Street Feast, I've got to try Mother Flipper, You Doughnut, everywhere else, and eat another big bowl of rib meat. Maybe I'll have to go a few times.