My line of work brings me to such spectacular places. Some have Michelin stars. Some don’t. Some are in little tavernas up mountains. Others are large classic restaurants. A few weeks ago I was wined and dined in the best Chinese restaurants in China, one of which was the West Lake restaurant in Chingasha, the largest restaurant in the world with 5,000 seats. Mind you, I have to say, it had too many dancing girls for my comfort and regular readers know my fear of dancing girls. When they appear before dinner I know the food will not be to my liking.
I am always rabbiting (or labbiting as the Chinese would say as they can’t pronounce the letter ‘r’) on about my network of true celebrity chefs across the globe. But let’s take a step closer to my home and let me share with you, if I may, about a very special little place. The Oval Lounge is just beside the Oval Tube Station on Kennington Road in South London (don’t worry, crossing the River Thames is less fearful than the time I crossed the Yellow River in China – I was on a bamboo raft that was kept floating by 6 hollowed out sheep skins tied underneath). You know the Oval. It’s one of two famous cricket places in London.
I seem to be at the Oval Lounge more and more. Before my flight to Beijing the other week I rallied together my nearest and dearest and we had a big brunch there. The crew, headed by Matt, serve Great British food at a price that is great for friends to have an impromptu soiree. And yes the Bloody Marys are spectacular. Me being me, I had gin too www.drinkaware.co.uk Not any old gin may I add, but Beefeater London Dry Gin. Well, one can see the distillery from the Oval Lounge.
Last night I made a return trip to my new extended living room. Matt was there in full swing ‘labbiting’ on about how pleased he was with his new haircut as it removed some of the grey. I was delivering a pavlova. My mate Sean is a DJ and a great chap. I felt Sean needed a birthday cake, so the mood took me to make a boozy pavlova. Remember www.drinkaware.co.uk is not only about a beverage but also about booze in food. Now, I’m a moderate drinker. I count my units. But China confused me. When they pour red wine one gets a thimble sized amount in a proper sized wineglass. Then when it’s drunk one gets another thimble, and so on. So how can anyone count the units?
So back to Sean’s pavlova. Rule one when cooking a meringue, and readers of my cookbook series will know this, you cannot make a meringue on a wet day. Fact. A good meringue requires the egg white to be completely dried out and a wet day wont allow for this. You can get the recipe for the pavlova from my iPhone app – Whisk Cooking www.whiskapp.com, But the decoration! Well that was fun. I find that whipped cream is as 1970’s as Terry and June, so I feel a bit of umph is required to cream. It’s known as a syllabub. Whipped cream with a dash of pinot grigio, sugar, range zest and vanilla seeds. This is then spread and/or dolloped on top of the meringue, and a few marsh mallows around the edge. I filled the middle with two types of strawberries (as Gary my hairdresser who was organising Sean’s party insisted on strawberries). The first set were sliced and soaked overnight in cassis, cointreau and gin and then drained and placed on top of the syllabub with fresh strawberries quartered and placed on top. Edible glitter spray made the whole pavlova a little bit more “disco” for DJ Sean. It was then topped with red roses.
Sean. Happy 37th!
If your in the area, go on, call into see Matt. You never know, I may be lurking about with that Bloody Mary.