First Name Terms with A Champagne named Colin

A review of Champagne and Fromage in Greenwich SE10

I’d just like to say, I’m on first name terms with a champagne called Colin. But when we pointed this ‘silly name for a classy drink’ out to the waitress at Champagne&Fromage, with an immature giggle, she pronounced it in a French accent which sounded so much more sophisticated. This led to attempts to think of names which did not translate well into French (and we hadn’t even started drinking yet). Where was Dave, for example? “Daveed” she responded with narrowed eyes. Champagne&Fromage is a dinky little place, where many tourists peer into the windows to see what happens within, so our ignorance was public.

A champagne called Colin

Our waitress compounded her superiority by pouring the champagne swiftly into two vertical glasses with no overspill, releasing the biscuity smell into the air. She cracked a smile then, and said, that’s my new party trick. Colin actually turned out to be the duller (Chardonnay based) champagne than the pinot based (and cheaper) Blanc de Noirs.

The interior of Champagne and Fromage

We were offered the option of choosing our own cheeses, but we deferred to the experts (ie. The Waitress with the French Accent). This resulted in dark cherries poured on top of a soft cheese which was melt in mouth delicious – and I’m not normally keen on ‘sweet’ with cheese. There was also a goat’s cheese rolled in the grassy flavours of thyme (no Boursin here – fortunately.)

They were complemented with shot glasses of condiments: olive tapenade which was too sweet for me, sweet enough to be sandwiched between layers of sponge cake and sold as dessert and just as with every cheese tray, there was a fig jam. (Why? Why?) However the basil preparation contained a healthy dose of garlic and redeemed the condiment with cheese concept for me.

Meat and Cheese at Champagne and Fromage

The large number of meats on the board were nice, but too strongly flavoured against the champagne and spoilt it a bit. I’d recommend sticking with cheese if you are having the champagne. The restaurant has got Champagne&Fromage only in the name after all.

Now this is where your average diner is going to make a terrible mistake. The average diner is going to say, I have just had a delicious treat of luxurious products, and I feel very spoilt and I am going to leave now. Erreur Terrible!

Fortunately I am not your average diner. Instead of the ‘I am going to leave now’ bit, I say ‘right, dessert!’ And my decision here is going to prevent you from making L’erreur terrible. Because the desserts are the best I have had in a long time as sampled with the dessert platter: french macrons (are more floury tasting than British ones); Good cheesecake with chocolate chips, which whilst sounding like a gimmick had a fantastic effect on the consistency and unlike almost every other cheesecake in the world was not childishly saccharine ; and the seasonal caneles, made up of very salted caramel (have you noticed how all caramel is supposedly salted these days? well this one really was), and a spot-on batter.

It’s a long time since I had a dessert as good as this one. Thanks Colin.

Brunch – actually lunch

A review of The Ivy, Blackheath

Sometimes you don’t want the carbohydrate bomb and crowds that Gail’s has to offer when you fancy a last minute lunch in Blackheath. That’s what led me into the new Ivy, Blackheath – for what the menu called brunch. It had to be done sometime.

The Ivy in Blackheath is kind of different from Chapters that it replaced, full of quirky 1930’s glamour and jazz. But the glistening atmosphere, initially at odds with laid back Blackheath vibe (that I never before noticed was laid back…) was actually quite enjoyable for its efforts. The walls were crowded with exciting engravings of old maps and scenes from South East London. The Hand Made Food interior is going to have to up it’s game if this is what dining in Blackheath has become.

The glistening interior at The Ivy in Blackheath

Art at The Ivy, Blackheath

The menu seemed a little full on with heavy dishes for the lunchtime/brunchtime slot, but there were some gems. Despite my intention to flee carbs, I ended up with pancakes.

Pancakes at The Ivy SE3

(That’s because I started with truffle arancini which I say is enough of a savoury meal to start with.) and an English Spritz cocktail with Earl Grey gin  which despite having a tea-ish name, can’t be bought at Gails, so I feel quids in.

Earl Grey Cocktail

The non-alcoholic tea selection was good, and I had nearly ordered an Oolong tea, but the sight of that Earl Grey gin on the drinks derailed me. I found the cocktail a little pasty, but my other half was thrilled with his virgin mary.

My pancakes, loaded with cream and berries, were fine enough and not too sweet, but the point of pancakes in my opinion is to taste the batter, and here they were quite overwhelmed with condiments.  I  really shouldn’t have ordered coffee and cream as well as flourless cappuccino cake, because there are only so many courses and drinks that can come with cream in one sitting, but hey, I had Earl Grey gin to soak up. That’s why I had to apologise to the waiter for not being able to finish his chef’s very fine food.

Steak and eggs at the Ivy, Blackheath

Flourless chocolate cake

My other half’s dessert

The downstairs of Chapters, having been a dining area is now replaced by mysterious underground rooms. “The ladies is the seventh door you will walk past,” said the waiter. No really he did, as if to invite me to ask, what could the other rooms be…? And I’m still left with that question. Is this a novel way of convincing customers to return, as if a little bit of the mystery might be unveiled?

Yorkshire Pud justification

https://www.thewhiteswancharlton.co.uk

Sunday lunch at the White Swan was a bit of an unexpected trip for me. Otherwise  I would have ordered the beef with Yorkshire pudding – obviously. As it was, I had eaten more than my fair share of beef brisket the previous night and really didn’t fancy anymore, yorkshire pud justification, or no Yorkshire pud justification. Even I have my limits.

I went for chicken, with a sigh and revelled in the cosiness of the White Swan. We ate around a genuine open coal fire on old sofas, one of which was malting feathers (we didn’t ask… although  I will say that we were at one point told that the chicken had run out and then a chicken was found, and it was after that that we saw the feathers. Just saying.)

Through the window, the beer garden looked impressive with a decorated hut-like-construction at the very end so it seems well worth a revisit in the summer. I also heard good things about the live music offerings.

My chicken meal, was nice enough. It wasn’t a beef roast though. I hungrily hovered over my husband’s beef roast until winning half a Yorkshire Pud, and a description of an exceptionally well cooked beef.

Staff operated on a ‘the customer is always irritating’ philosophy, curtly advising us half way through our main course that the starters were on their way. Clearly asking for starters at the start was just plain passe… Still, I may well go back to this not quite local local.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

A review of Boulangerie Jade SE3 on the Blackheath Standard

http://www.boulangeriejade.com/welcome

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the opinions of nutritionists. Breakfast is really the most important meal of the day because it is the downright most funnest. At what other time of the day can one  eat cake and pastry as a main course, or instead choose spicy eggs, or maybe all of the above because there are no rules on courses, all washed down with the biggest of coffee bombs, because you don’t have to worry about caffeine keeping you awake?

Or maybe you choose cereal. I don’t judge you. I I feel pity.

Boulangerie Jade in the Blackheath Standard understands breakfast with its  suitably diverse menu leaving you flummoxed (and hungry) for a good chunk of time while you debate whether you are going down the savoury route or the sweet route.

I went for the Mackerel tartine.

Mackerel Tartine at the Boulangerie Jade on Blackheath Standard

I’m a big fan of mackerel me. This was pleasant, and different, which is what I’m always looking for, but maybe not full of the huge flavours i was craving. There was horseradish as promised in the accompanying creme fraiche, but only just. and only discernible after having a good glug of water to clear the palate.

Another time I’m trying that considerably unhealthier sounding toulouse sausage roll. Here was my husband’s choice:

Service from our initial visit has upped its game. Losing the frosty looks if you glance at a waitress about your twenty minute delay on your eggs, and the arrival of bacon that does been cooked to the beer mat consistency plus the constant implication that your presence is generally really really annoying being welcome improvements. So the harsh trip advisor status may yet improve.

My only disappointment was the constant promise that the cakes (from the Jade bakery) were on their way. It has to be said, Jade cakes are very very good cakes – all the ones I have tasted. They were on their way through out the whole meal. They were still on their way when we had to give up and leave and go about their business (with a sourdough loaf of course). Not all of my business is sitting in coffee shops you know.

Fun from the foodie festival,

My tickets to Blackheath foodie festival were courtesy of ABK-Beer Events sellers of beer and pretzels.

So this is an odd blog to write… because I always think of you guys reading this to decided where to visit next in Greenwich… but I’m guessing you’re going to have difficulty getting back to the foodie festival to check out these recommendations until next year. Or find out where the foodie festival moves next…

Savories were my favourite in the whole visit. Absolutely perfect was the Caribbean stall’s jerk chicken which was delicious and according to my husband who brought it home from me to tempt me into the festival when I wasn’t well (just call him the pied piper healer of Greenwich) was prepared very healthily, and my husband don’t lie, he don’t!

Caribbean food at the Blackheath foodie festival

 

 There’s only one way to tackle a foodie fair… full of no end of exciting options. And that’s to have a three course meal with drinks, followed by shopping. That seems to be the only way to feel that you’ve made the most of your ticket without feeling rather ill. So for starters we had oysters and (despite this being brunch) champagne. These stalls were rather cleverly set out next to each other, leaving me sitting in my arm chair, one glass in each hand, trying not to warm it, whilst waiting for the oyster queue to go down. The oyster stall sold both farmed and natural oysters, proving that the latter are far superior… and I feel a bit sad that I can never ever eat farmed oysters with the same enjoyment again (or at least until next month…)

And the Indian street food was fantastically delicious. 

Sweet things were focussed on special diets.. a lot of gluten free. Having many celiac friends, I am happy that there are an increasing amount of options available to them… but I’m not sure that there were many options at all for non-special-dieters. There was the occasional pretty traditional cake stand, that (as is so often the case) failed to live up to its chintzy promises in taste and I ended up going for the bubble waffle ice cream store… a great idea of turning an actual bobbly waffle into a cone and filling it with ice cream. Sadly the flavour combinations promised much, but the delivery was not far off from school canteen fare.

 The other disappointment of the day included the rather arch shop sellers in the Greek olive stall though. They were determined to pack large orders into bags, despite being asked to do smaller, racking up a bill of £30 on lemons and olives that were mouldy by the end of three days. I should have walked away.

But we had lots of exciting flavours from this cheese store. Aged mozzarella, and hard goats cheese that we took home and finished off far too quickly, along with this Spanish crisp bread that may well be intended to be eaten dry, but was particularly delicious with proper butter.

Cheese and Crackers

Venice isn’t Local , but…

 

So, this is not a local food review, but having recently returned from an anniversary trip to Venice, here are some food photos to enjoy…

Exotically dressed pasta, in Italian, rather than English sized portions:

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Pasta at the Guggenheim

Every guide book told us to go to the fish market early in the day as the boats came in to get the real fish market experience. Whatever. We reached there at 10am. It was stunning, although we were laughed at for taking pictures.

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Delights at the Fish Market

…And Cafe Florian on St Mark’s Square is apparently the oldest coffee house in Venice, and is full of beautiful (if kinda gaudy) interiors. The catch is, there are too many people in there to see anything but the ceiling. And you have to eat quickly to avoid being herded out by a door man.

The tea, affogato and (not very Italian) sacher torte were however delicious.

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Sacher Torte and other Treats at Cafe Florian

“Shopping ain’t my bag” A Review of L’orchidea

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“Shopping ain’t my bag” A Review of L’orchidea by blackheathcoffeeshops A Review of L’Orchidee in Westfield Shopping ain’t my bag, so you will not be shocked to learn that I have only just visited Westfield in Stratford despite its proximity … Continue reading