Tag Archives: spanish

Sangria tart

Sangria tart

Sangria tart

Hands up from those that can’t help ordering a jug of sangria when dining at Spanish restaurants. It kind of happens by default, doesn’t it? For some of us, anyway. And the scary thing is that the jug’s empty before any tapas come out. Well then allow me to introduce you to my sangria tart!

Sangria tart

It tastes like sangria, has some of the same ingredients, but you won’t get pissed because the alcohol has cooked out of the syrup.

Did you all just lose interest?

Oh, hold on, there’s still booze in the apples – so I told a little lie.

Interested again?

Sangria tart

Ok, so let’s start with the fruit. Sangria always has apple and orange in it, so those two can be found in this little baby. Actually, the apple is the hero and the orange only shows its zesty face. Chunks of juicy orange would take the tart into soppy territory, so food science prevented me from going there. I’m not into sloppy tarts, and I’m assuming you have an aversion, as well.

Sangria tart

Just like traditional Spanish sangria, the bulk of the liquid is red vino. Forget the expensive stuff, and same goes for the cardboard box variety. Nothing too dry, nothing too sweet. You want something juuust right. No white spirits here, either. Or fizzy lemonade.

Slice up your apple, toss in some orange and lemon zest (the lemon zest is in place of the lemonade – food science, remember) a bit of cinnamon spice and fragrant vanilla.

A good soak overnight with the red wine, some sugar and orange juice and it’s good to go the following day. Yep, this isn’t one to knock together at the last minute. Forward planning is paramount.

Sangria tart

Sangria may be Spanish, but I’ve taken the concept of France’s tarte fine to create this dessert. Puff pastry topped with thinly sliced apple, baked and then caramelised beneath a grill.

Sangria tart translation – a thin, crispy and flaky pastry base topped with thinly sliced apple soaked with booze, spices and zest.

And we can’t go wasting that liquor the apple was soaking in, right? That’s reduced down to a syrup so you can drizzle as much, or as little, as your heart desires.

Sangria tart

sangria tart

serves 4-6


  • 750 ml red wine – I used cabernet merlot
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 green apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry


Dissolve the 1 cup of caster sugar in the red wine. Set aside.

Cut the top and bottom off the apples, then thinly slice with a mandolin or very sharp knife. Peel and core the apple beforehand, if you wish, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Just pop the seeds out once it’s sliced. Put the apple into a large bowl.

Using a peeler, slice off 2 – 3 pieces of the lemon rind and toss them in with the apples. Reserve the rest of the lemon for another recipe.

Do the same with the orange, except you want to juice it and pour the juice in with the apples.

Cut the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds out. Toss the seeds in with the  3 tablespoons of caster sugar, rub them into the sugar and set aside.

Put the scraped vanilla pod in with the apples, add the cinnamon stick and then pour over the red wine. Mix it a little with your hand, then lay a side plate on top to keep the apples submerged.

Refrigerate overnight.

Using a fine mesh sieve, drain the wine from the fruit and spices straight into a small saucepan. Put the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod in with the wine. Lay the slices of apple onto lots of kitchen paper and dry them really well on both sides. Reserve the lemon and orange rinds.

While the tart is baking you can make the sangria syrup. Recipe below.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a baking tray with baking paper, then brush it with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle over about half of the vanilla sugar.

Take your sheet of defrosted puff pastry and cut a 24 centimetre diameter circle from it. Use a dinner plate, or anything the same size as the pastry. Lay the circle of pastry on top of the prepared baking sheet, then arrange the dried apple slices over it, leaving a 1 centimetre border. Brush the apples and pastry border with more butter and bake for 30 minutes.

Take the tart out of the oven and switch the oven to grill mode.

Scatter the remaining vanilla sugar over the tart and put it under the grill until slightly browned. Keep an eye on it as it can burn very quickly.

Note – if the pastry grills faster than the apples, tear off a piece of foil big enough to cover the tart. Cut a circle the same diameter as the apples on top of the tart, lay the foil over the tart to cover the pastry (only exposing the apples) and continue grilling until the apples get some colour.

Syrup:  Bring the wine, cinnamon and vanilla pot to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, allowing it to cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon and vanilla pod – discarding the cinnamon but reserving the vanilla pod. Continue simmering for another 10 minutes or so, until it has reduced and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

To serve, drizzle the syrup over the tart and garnish with the reserved vanilla pod and the finely julienned reserved lemon and orange rind.

Grilled figs with chorizo recipe

Grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble

My love for figs can probably be traced back to a very young me, picking fruit off a small tree we had in our back yard. I’m sure my father wondered why they kept disappearing before he had a chance to get his share. Let’s blame the crows, shall we? Hold on, I think I did.

Fresh figs food styling

Chorizo is another thing I have a soft spot for. I may not have known about them until my teenage years, but the fact they were similar to Croatian kobasica meant I was already in tune with the flavour profile.

Grilled figs always make an appearance in my kitchen when they’re in season. Sometimes stuffed with gorgonzola, grilled and drizzled with honey or combined with chorizo, as I have here.

Grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble food styling

Grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble food styling

The natural sweetness from the fruit makes great friends with the paprika-spiced chorizo, and a touch of pimento brings aroma whilst the parmesan adds its own layer.

They’re perfect on a mezze board or simply on their own with a crisp white wine. And did I mention they’re impossibly easy to make?

Grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble food styling

Grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble food styling

grilled figs with chorizo & almond crumble

serves 2


  • 8 figs
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pimento (allspice)
  • 1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp grated parmesan
  • ½ cup finely chopped chorizo


Preheat your grill to high heat.

Cut a cross into the top of each fig almost all the way to the bottom. Arrange the figs on a baking tray and set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Divide the crumble mix into each of the cuts on the figs, packing gently.

Grill the figs for 5 minutes or until the crumble is sightly caramelised. Serve with a light drizzle of virgin olive oil and salad leaves.


Jimmy Grants, Barry, Doughboys, Gypsey & Musquito, MoVida Next Door

Melbourne mural

44 hours in Melbourne.

Why 44 hours? Well, it was just a short visitation to meet our new baby. A baby that we found across the road from the botanical gardens in St Kilda. The time came where we had to think about our future and make sure things are financially in place when retirement becomes reality. Our first investment property that will hopefully make a little money for us.

Aside from doing a property inspection, the only other activities happened to be related to eating. Why else go to Melbourne in the middle of winter? Ok, I know, stupid question.

Our first tram stop was in Fitzroy; a relaxed fill at celeb chef George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grants. And I love the name; a slang term given to Australia’s first wave of “immi” “grants” by Aussies that struggled to get their tongues around foreign names.

Jimmy Grants Melbourne

What drew me here was the souva, that hot roll of pita lovingly stuffed with meat, onion, fries and mayo. I first fell in love with them in Santorini many years ago; a corner joint on the main drag that attracted the hoards. It was the first time I’d seen and tried a souva – or gyros – with french fries stuffed in it. Talk about love at first bite.

The Jimmy Grants selection offers a variety of protein fillings along with a falafel for the non carnivores. For this pair it was the Mr Papadopoulos (9.5) – lamb, mustard aïoli, chips, onion & parsley – and the bonegilla (9) – the same deal with chicken. The warm and spongy pita harbours some good flavours, a lot of juiciness and seems the perfect accompaniment to a glass or bottle of booze. Or should it be the other way around? Loved the intense sweetness from the onions. Was it as good as I had in Greece? No, but it wasn’t too shabby either.

We both had a touch of food envy when we saw the grain salad at a neighbouring table (grains, nuts, pulses, herbs & yoghurt), but garbage guts over here had to order the chips, garlic oil, feta & oregano (7). Kinda glad I did, though, as the combination was just what by buds and arteries were needing.

Jimmy Grants Melbourne



Desserts aren’t all that plentiful at this inner city fast food joint but I’m beyond glad that I ordered the Greek doughnuts (6). As any hasty fool would do, I dove right in and burned my mouth on the first bite. I guess sticking something into your mouth straight from the fryer is asking for injury. I think I fell in love after the second bite. Puffy, golden nobbly orbs of fried dough doused in honey and generously sprinkled with walnuts.

We passed on the chocolate fudge bar and instead went for Jimmy’s wheel (6), a take on the classic Wagon Wheel. Two crispy chocolate biscuits, raspberry marshmallow and salted peanut butter dipped in dark chocolate. Crushed roasted peanuts bring it all home. I think it may be better than the original.

Jimmy Grants Melbourne Greek doughnuts

Jimmy Grants Melbourne Jimmy's wheel

  • Jimmy Grants
  • 113 David Street
  • Fitzroy 3065
  • website
  • Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon


Melbourne architecture

Melbourne railway viaduct

We enjoyed the breakfast at Barry so much that we ended up returning the following morning for another fill. Beats going downstairs for an ordinary hotel buffet, even if it was 7°C outside. The digs are spacious, airy and very inner city at this friendly corner café. And you’ve got to love the polka dot staff aprons that match the concrete polka dot floor.

Barry Northcote Melbourne sunrise

Barry Northcote Melbourne cafe tables

It came as no surprise when the other half ordered the crushed avocado (16.5); and they don’t mess around with the quantity of avocado, either. Two thick slices of toast are pile high with the green stuff, plus a variety of heirloom tomatoes, incredibly creamy goat cheese, black sesame and sunflower seeds. Loved the thyme roasted grapes that were generously interspersed throughout the rubble.

The following morning he opts for the less elaborate toasted fruit & nut bread (9) pimped-up with whipped spiced orange ricotta.

Barry Northcote Melbourne crushed avocado

Barry Northcote Melbourne breakfast

Barry Northcote Melbourne piccolo latte

When a menu adds “trust us” to a dish description I can’t help but sample what it is they’re so confidant about. Crunchy peanut butter (12.5) on toast is very much a normal breakfast option but when you go topping it with heirloom tomatoes, things may change a tad. I had to try it. Perhaps I would have been convinced if the tomatoes were sweet and at the peak of ripeness; instead they were rather tasteless.

No qualms were to be had with the ricotta hotcake (17.5), however. One substantial, thick, fluffy and warming pancake studded with blackberries and creamy ricotta. Toasted hazelnuts brought some crunch to the silky softness and a sweet splodge of Canadian maple syrup sweetened it even more.

Barry Northcote Melbourne peanut butter & tomato on toast

Barry Northcote Melbourne

Barry Northcote Melbourne

  • Barry.
  • 85 High Street
  • Northcote 3070
  • 03 9481 7623
  • website
  • Barry on Urbanspoon


Doughboys Melbourne

Doughboys Melbourne

Tucked away in the Mercat Cross Hotel in the same space as Fancy Hank’s barbecue is Doughboys, a small-batch doughnut producer that stands a little differently from other doughnut peddlers. Dipped and topped with goodies as soon as they’re ordered; a method of production that leaves those mass produced wannabes for dead.

Are they worth the five-or-so minute wait and that $4.80-$5.80 price point? Well, kinda. Nowhere near as cloying as Krispy Kreme or airy fairy anaemic as those things from no-frills Aussie bakeries.

Doughboys Melbourne doughnuts


Our choice – The PBJ – fresh churned peanut butter icing with a boysenberry jam dip and sprinkle of roasted hazelnuts and walnuts. And Espresso – coffee icing with roasted almonds, smashed coffee beans, dark Callabeut Belgian chocolate.

And you’ve gotta love the signage at the amenities these guys share with Fancy Hank’s.

Doughboys Melbourne doughnuts

Doughboys Melbourne sausage & bun toilet sign

  • Doughboys
  • 456 Queen Street
  • Melbourne 3000
  • website
  • Doughboys Doughnuts on Urbanspoon


Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne

The name of this café comes from two bushrangers that created a bit of havoc in the early 1800’s. Gypsey, son of a wealthy English family, turned to bushranging after his wife died giving birth. And Musquito, a Sydney aboriginal that was once a stockman and tracker; sentenced after killing his wife. He too turned to bushranging.

Their names live on at Gypsey & Musquito, an inner city café that has a bit of a penchant for local, foraged and native ingredients. Now you can see my interest in this place. Rustic, understated and cosy are the up and downstairs eating spaces; buzzing with locals up for a breakfast and brunch fill.

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne green juice mural

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne

A touch of nostalgia struck when I set my gaze on the counter display of house-baked cakes and sweets. Iced vovo’s, lamingtons and honey crackles sat alongside gluten-free goodies and cakes spiked with native lemon myrtle or bush berries.

Mental note – try some of the sweets before we leave.

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne lamingtons

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne iced vovo

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne frittata


A couple of very green drinks started us off before lunch choices were made. My innards were smiling when I took the first sip of the green bits (7.5). And some recipe bloggers would have felt tingles at the mere sight of the jar it was served in and the candy stripe straw. What were all those green bits? Well, warrigal greens, for a start. Along with kale, orange juice, lemon and coconut water; even a little banana.

There’s also the Van Dieman’s elder (7.5) – crushed cucumber, mint, apple juice and elderflower extract. Seriously good. Is it bad that we were imagining how fab it would have tasted with a slug of gin?

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne crocodile burger

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne

House-made granola that features macadamia and bush berries, a camel cassoulet, even Tassie smoked salmon with finger lime and sea blight all sounded tempting. I went for the crocodile burger (18.5); a very moist patty of minced reptile from the Northern Territory teamed with cheddar, foraged greens and pepperberry aïoli. Some chips would have been a nice addition.

The quinoa salad (13) went down a real treat. The delicious jumble of textures, colours and flavours came from beet, apple, coconut, a bunch of seeds, kale, sea blight and feta. I loved the pops of sourness from the pomegranate molasses and sorrel; and that oozing poached egg made for a swoon worthy salad.

And yes, I did squeeze in a slice of lemon myrtle ricotta cake and an iced vovo with my macchiato.

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne

Gypsey & Musquito Melbourne

  • Gypsey & Musquito
  • 382 Bridge Road
  • Richmond 3121
  • 03 9939 9314
  • website
  • Gypsey & Musquito on Urbanspoon


Laneway Melbourne cobbled lane

Laneway Melbourne

MoVida Next Door Melbourne seafood

Back in town, after a little relaxation time in the hotel with a bottle of vino, we joined the rapidly developing line of people at MoVida Next Door. It was only 5.30pm and there was already a forty minute wait. Popular, much?

Perched up at the bar by the seafood display cabinet I reached for my freshly poured Spanish vino tinto, stuck my nose in and took a substantial whiff.

“Wow, this smells like caramel!” I said.

It was at that point that I turned to my right and noticed the chef conducting a little brûlée action about a metre away. Not the wine after all, but the chef got a laugh, anyway.

MoVida Next Door Melbourne

MoVida Next Door Melbourne

Neither of us was overly hungry so our relatively sparse selection of plates kicked off with a tapa that’s very similar to the one I tried at the Sydney MoVida outpost many months ago. In place of the small quenelle of smoked tomato sorbet I tried in Sydney, it was a piped streak of gazpacho jelly that joined goat curd, capers and anchoa (5.5) on the brittle wafer. A definite must-try for any anchovy fan.

Our other wafered tapa was off the specials – the sardinas (5.5) – a simple and tasty tempura sardine fillet on a slice of house-made pickle. Concentrated omega-3 fatty acids, you know. Very good for you.

If you were to put black pudding and morcilla side by side, I can safely say I’d be swooping in for the latter. It’s spreadable texture, its richness and complexities. Here the morcilla (17) is crumbled and mixed with peas, croutons and lovingly topped with a poached egg. It’s a yolk and flavour explosion.

MoVida Next Door Melbourne morcilla

MoVida Next Door Melbourne cerdo

I’m generally ok with eating pork fat but the lump of cerdo (17) proved to be a lot more lardo than meat. A thin and slightly crisp layer of skin provided crunch factor, whilst a pickled carrot purée dispersed the extreme fatty flavour of the 2 parts meat-8 parts fat portion.

No qualms with the codorniz (16.5), however. It was perfection, actually. Semi-boned quail that had just enough pan-time to render it internally juicy and slightly crisped on the outside. Salty jamón lay across the tasty little birds like warming doonas and the most delicious white beans provided the lumpy mattress.

I’d jump into bed with birds like this any day.

MoVida Next Door Melbourne codorniz

  • MoVida Next Door
  • 164 Flinders Street
  • Melbourne 3000
  • 03 9663 3038
  • website
  • MoVida Next Door on Urbanspoon
Charles River Boston skyline

3 days in Boston

Boston Wharf Co. Industrial Real Estate

The next stage of our trip involved flying from Charleston back up the east coast to Boston, a city I’ve always wanted to visit. A little odd, mind you, that we left New York and headed south before hitting up Boston back up in the north east. I guess that’s how things were panning out.

A relatively late arrival gave us enough time to catch the Copley Square Farmers’ Market before its vendors packed up and left town. Somehow, after the market, we ended up in the South End tucking into pints of Samuel Adams, wondering where we’d end up for dinner.

Trinity Church Boston

Trinity Church Boston reflection

It was then that I remembered I had a few places in the neighbourhood pinned on my phones food map. No point in wasting all the time I put into researching places and compiling an eating map, right?

“Fancy a little Spanish?” I asked.

Why not.

Toro restaurant, South End Boston

As the sun was about to set we turned up at Toro. No reservation; just feeling a little hopeful that they had a couple of spare seats. Not that you can book, anyway.

Inside was heaving. A very dark candle-lit room buzzing with locals trying to yell over the top of one another. Hmm, maybe not a good idea. An outside table it was, out in the cool air where we could sit and enjoy a bottle of Spanish San Clodio and nibble on a few tapas beneath the street lights. A rather large menu meant we had to be selective. Pinchos, tapas, charcuterie – there was too much I wanted to sample at this South End institution that has been going strong for almost a decade.

San Clodio wine at Toro restaurant, South End Boston | heneedsfood.com

Jamon de pato at Toro restaurant, South End Boston | heneedsfood.com

We didn’t want to pass up the jamón de pato (9). Impossibly thin slices of cured duck breast scattered with espelette pepper and orange zest; so delicate that it virtually dissolved in the mouth. Pan con tomate (4) joins the set, toasted and topped with beautifully garlicky tomato with olive oil and sea salt. For an extra $1 you can add anchovies.

I personally couldn’t ignore the mollejas (15); a trio of crispy sweetbread lightly glazed in blood orange reduction with peanuts, fermented black beans and a swipe of puréed celeriac beneath it all. Sweet, salty, sour. The tastebuds were jumping.

Pan con tomate at Toro restaurant, South End Boston

Mollejas at Toro restaurant, South End Boston

Toro restaurant, South End Boston

A tapas menu is bound to have a croquette of some description, so here we have the croquettas de bacalao (10). Salt cod fans can rejoice in the creamy innards and crunchy exterior; dunking away in the aioli and finishing with some tempura lemon rings. We couldn’t quite get the flavour of lemon, nor the texture, which led us to believe it was a vegetable we’re more familiar seeing in such an outfit.

Well hello there, panza de cardo (14), you sexy lump of crisp pork belly. The yellow street lamps may have drowned out the colour but they had no chance in drowning out the flavours. Things veered from Spanish to Korean with the inclusion “kimchi” vegetables that were basically like a pickle spiked with ginger, rather than the complex kimchi flavourings. A vermouth and carrot purée is there, as well.

Our final plate is the pato con membrillo (9); two smoked duck drumettes loaded with smokey bbq flavours. A sticky, sweet and tart quince glaze makes for some messy finger food, which is half the fun.

Croquettas de bacalao at Toro restaurant, South End Boston

Panza de cardo at Toro restaurant, South End Boston

Pato con membrillo at Toro restaurant, South End Boston

  • Toro
  • 1704 Washington Street
  • South End 02118
  • 617 536 4300
  • website
  • Toro on Urbanspoon


Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

Staying at the Loews Hotel gave us a relatively central location to many parts of town. Ten minutes to Downtown and very close to the South End; an area that reminds me a little of Sydney’s Newtown, yet not as busy and much more spread out. Breakfast wasn’t covered in our room rate so that meant one thing. Finding somewhere close enough to grab food and a coffee. And naturally coffee was the biggest concern.

Down on Berkeley Street is the appropriately named Berkeley Perk Café, a busy little place that’s a convenient spot to hit up for a cheap breakfast. The small counter overflows with home-baked cakes, cookies and sweets, flasks of coffee and a small espresso machine sit beneath chalked drinks menus and breakfast offerings are scribed on another board.

Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

My macchiato comes delivered in a large mug, filled to half-way point. A layer of airy foam blanketing a rather long pour of espresso. When I saw a mug coming our way I almost said it was probably for another table; until I looked inside and noticed this was how a macchiato was made at Perk. Perhaps a single shot espresso should have been ordered.

Our food is unfancy and very much like you’d knock up in your own home kitchen. The Berkeley omelette special (5.95) is filled with tomato, bacon and onion and topped with a little avocado. A coffee is included with the smoked salmon bagel (6.5); an everything bagel lightly toasted with tomato, onion and cream cheese. A comfy café, very pleasant service and clearly popular with the locals.

Macchiato at Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

Omelette at Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

Smoked salmon bagel at Berkeley Perk Cafe, Boston

  • Berkeley Perk Café
  • 69 Berkeley Street
  • South End 02116
  • Facebook
  • Berkeley Perk Cafe on Urbanspoon


Steps in South End, Boston

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

Anyone that’s up for a serious coffee made by serious coffee nerds ought to look up Render, down on Columbus Avenue. It’s housed in an old Victorian brownstone with a sunny entrance and front seating area that overlooks the street. Most of the food in the cabinet is made in the minuscule open kitchen behind the counter, with some exceptions like the pastries from local baker hero, Iggy’s.

The macchiato is done “noisette” style and packs a real punch; something we returned for a few times during our Boston visit. Pity we weren’t around long enough to partake in a little free coffee cupping. And you’ve got to love those Iggy’s bagels; toasted and spread with a normal amount of cream cheese. Not those artery-clogging mountains you get in NYC.

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

Render Coffee in South End, Boston

  • Render Coffee
  • 563 Columbus Avenue
  • South End 02118
  • 617 262 4142
  • website
  • Render Coffee on Urbanspoon



The city of Boston drips with history so a visit to at least one of its cemeteries ought to make it to the agenda. What used to be part of the Boston Common, the Granary Burying Ground, was instituted in 1660 thanks to overcrowding at nearby Kings Chapel. Ordinary folk, three signers of the Declaration of Independence (Hancock, Adams & Paine), industrialist and patriot Paul Revere, members of Benjamin Franklin’s family and many more. It’s a fascinating place to explore, read grave stones and see a whole lot of inscribed skulls, crossbones and winged death-heads.

The burying ground at Copp’s Hill is worth exploring, as well.

Granary Burying Ground, Boston

Granary Burying Ground, Boston

Granary Burying Ground, Boston

Tremont Street, Boston

A little too much talk about dead people? Then a short walk down Tremont Street for a coffee may be a better way to fill the time.

Thinking Cup overlooks the Commons and is a decent contender for those amongst us that quite happy turn a nose to the consistently ordinary Starbucks empire. Oregon’s Stumptown Roasters provide the beans, there are baked goods galore, and no wifi. No wifi means there isn’t a sea of laptops taking up tables in this slightly Euro-feeling set-up. And that’s a bonus, in my caffeine-induced opinion. The cafe does feel a tad “high-density” thanks to its size and popularity, but when you’re lucky enough to nab a table or stool, the coffee is worth it.

Thinking Cup Tremont Street, Boston

Thinking Cup Tremont Street, Boston

Thinking Cup Tremont Street, Boston

  • Thinking Cup
  • 165 Tremont Street
  • Boston 02111
  • 617 482 5555
  • website
  • Thinking Cup on Urbanspoon


Daddy's Fried Dough, Boston

Daddy's Fried Dough, Boston

With lunch-time fast approaching, consideration was given to Daddy’s Fried Dough across the road in the Commons, for a bit of a snack. Nah. We were craving something Asian, so walked down towards Chinatown.

South Street Diner caught my eye, but I stuck to my cravings as we scoped the streets of Boston’s rather small Chinatown. And then we came across Hong Kong Eatery. Perfect.

South Street Diner, Boston

Chinatown, Boston

Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

Tsingtao at Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

An obligatory Tsingtao, or two, cool us down in this eatery that claims to have Boston’s best Chinese food. One thing for sure is the look of the place transports me back to any one of the beaten-up eateries you can find all over HK. Nasty bright lights above-head, chair legs that screech across floor tiles and locals slurping away on one thing or another.

All the Cantonese favourites are there for the picking. Jellyfish with shredded duck, anyone? A massive menu that takes a little time to get through; plus a bunch of American-Chinese dishes for those that can’t veer from the food hall staples.

For such low prices I wasn’t expecting as much food as what we were given, and when it came to those pork spare ribs (8.95), they were exactly what my body needed. A light crispness on the outside with incredibly juicy meat that slipped off the bone with ease. A liberal salting, loads of fried onion and garlic and minimal chilli made for some serious lip smacking.

The bbq pork (6.5) may have been generous in size with some really good crispy skin, but the meat was fresh from the fridge and unpleasantly cold. I’m used to this being either room temperature or a little warm, not colder than the beers we were drinking.

Pork spare ribs at Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

Hong Kong Eatery - Chinatown, Boston

  • Hong Kong Eatery
  • 79 Harrison Avenue
  • Chinatown 02111
  • 617 423 0838
  • website
  • Hong Kong Eatery on Urbanspoon


Seaport District, Boston

Boston skyline

The Barking Crab, Boston

Barrington Coffee in Seaport District, Boston

Across the channel in Fort Pond is Barrington Coffee, the café and retail store of this local roasting company. A big open space, shiny Synesso, a few single origin beans to choose from, there’s drip and flash brew as well. Really good macchiato and a nice little place to drop in for a quick pit stop.

Barrington Coffee in Seaport District, Boston

Barrington Coffee in Seaport District, Boston

Barrington Coffee in Seaport District, Boston

  • Barrington Coffee
  • 346 Congress Street
  • South Boston 02210
  • 857 277 1914
  • website
  • Barrington Coffee on Urbanspoon


Boston Grain Exchange Building

Exchange Place, Boston

Acorn Street, Boston

North End, Boston

The Butcher Shop, Boston

Once again the South End was our saving grace when it came to dinner. I’d already known about The Butcher Shop so it was almost by default that we grabbed a couple of seats before the place filled with carnivores.

This fully functioning butcher shop is like something in Italy or France; providing not only fresh meat and smallgoods, but ready-to-take-home prepared meals, condiments, breads, oils, even a cookbook.

The Butcher Shop, Boston

The Butcher Shop, Boston

The Butcher Shop, Boston

We gave our livers a rest from the vino and settled on a couple of cold brews; which is a given when there were sausages in our sights.

Heirloom tomato salad (14), a bit of a favourite for this pair, swiftly landed on the table. A few shavings of parmesan, chunks of balsamic-soaked baguette, and a good glug of olive oil helped make those impossibly sweet tomatoes shine.

I’m also a bit of a sucker for steak tartar (17) and here they don’t mess around with the portioning. There was a lot. And thankfully enough toasted bread to pile it all onto. Some pickled onions sit to the side and my only gripe would be that there weren’t enough capers mixed into the meat.

The Butcher Shop, Boston

The Butcher Shop, Boston

There’s not a great deal you can do when it comes to presenting a sausage on a plate. So snaps to the chef for not doing a smiley face. Not that he would have. First we have the prosciutto sausage (19), house-made of course, served up with arugula, fig mostarda and more of those tasty little balsamic croutons. Nice sausage, chef.

Mine was the hot dog à la maison (16), a fairly decent sausage presented on rather dry bread and topped with pickled fennel. There’s a little seeded mustard plus some not-so-crispy pomme gaufrette; or waffle fries for us non-French speaking folk.

The Butcher Shop, Boston

Hot do a la mason at The Butcher Shop, Boston

  • The Butcher Shop
  • 552 Tremont Street
  • South End 02118
  • 617 423 4800
  • website
  • The Butcher Shop on Urbanspoon


North End - Little Italy, Boston

The city’s oldest residential neighbourhood, the North End, is also known as Boston’s Little Italy. The first Italian immigrants arrived in the mid 1800’s and by the 1930’s the area was almost exclusively Italian; a bustling community that was teeming with small grocery shops, bakers, butchers, tailors and services.

Today much of the area has been retained. It may no longer be exclusively Italian, but the narrow streets and lanes are still home to many shops, grocers, providores and dozens of Italian restaurants. And at times it really does feel like you’re wandering the streets of an Italian city or town.

North End - Little Italy, Boston

North Square Park - Little Italy, Boston

Monica's Mercato & Salumeria - Little Italy, Boston

Thinking Cup in North End - Little Italy, Boston

A little bonus came our way when we stumbled upon the second outlet of Thinking Cup. Whether it was the time of day or just the area, this one was quieter and more laid back than the downtown outlet. And the village atmosphere of this part of Hanover Street makes it all the better. Once again it was a couple of macchiati that did the trick in putting a little more bounce in our step. And with lunch time fast approaching we were keeping an eye for a nice little restaurant around the neighbourhood. Italian lunch, of course.

Thinking Cup in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Thinking Cup in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Thinking Cup in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Thinking Cup in North End - Little Italy, Boston

  • Thinking Cup
  • 236 Hanover Street
  • North End 02113
  • 857 233 5277
  • website
  • Thinking Cup on Urbanspoon


Polcari's Coffee in North End - Little Italy, Boston

This part of Little Italy was my favourite. A tight cross of streets that almost felt like Rome or Naples. Elderly Italian folk standing and chatting in doorways, deliveries of fresh vegetables to corner shops, even a guy going from door to door selling loaves of fresh bread.

One place that stood the test of time, since 1932 anyway, is Polcari’s Coffee. Stepping into this corner grocer is like taking a step into decades past. Not only do they stock almost thirty varieties of imported coffee, but it’s a one-stop shop for loose leaf tea, legumes, nuts, flours and a dazzling array of spices. Even shaved ice slushies.

Polcari's Coffee in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Polcari's Coffee in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Polcari's Coffee in North End - Little Italy, Boston

  • Polcari’s Coffee
  • 105 Salem Street
  • North End 02113
  • 617 227 0786
  • website
  • Polcari's Coffee on Urbanspoon


North End - Little Italy, Boston

North End - Little Italy, Boston

North End - Little Italy, Boston

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Feeling a little spoilt for choice with the abundance of Italian restaurants, it was Trattoria di Monica that took our pick as a lunch venue. The display of pumpkins helped in getting our attention, as well.

This cosy little restaurant is one of three businesses owned by local boys, the Mendoza Brothers. Over the road from the trattoria is Monica’s Mercato, a gorgeous and recently expanded providor. A few blocks away is the sprawling Vinoteca di Monica, the original restaurant that moved from the small space the trattoria now calls home.

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Lunch was a relaxed and delicious affair. A simple spaghetti aglio e olio (16) – garlic, olive oil, chilli flakes and parmesan. Just what the other half was craving. For me, an oozing meatball panini (12) loaded with homemade meatballs, tomato & basil sauce and mozzarella. Not the daintiest object to eat, but when something is that delicious, who cares what my face and hands look like during the process.

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

Trattoria di Monica in North End - Little Italy, Boston

  • Trattoria di Monica
  • 67 Prince Street
  • North End 02113
  • 617 720 5472
  • website
  • Trattoria di Monica on Urbanspoon


North End - Little Italy, Boston

North End - Little Italy, Boston

Once again we end up in the South End for an evening meal, this time across the road from where we’d eaten the night prior; The Butcher Shop. Somehow we’d ended up at two places owned by local chef Barbara Lynch, without even knowing it. And it appears she has several more places about town

B&G Oysters is all about the bivalves. Well, that seems to be the main attraction at this subterranean neighbourhood restaurant. The sunken rear courtyard was already teeming with early diners, so it was a lucky strike that we were able to nab a seat inside at the marble bar, sans reservation. Best seat in the house? I guess it depends on how you look at things. The way we were looking at things involved a whole lot of shucking action.

B & G Oysters, Boston

B & G Oysters, Boston

B & G Oysters, Boston

B & G Oysters, Boston

A few oysters landed in front of me – from Dabob Bay, Miranda Bay and all the way from the northwest coast, the Olympic Miyagi. I’m not connoisseur enough to taste much of a difference between each variety, but I must say they’re pretty damn special.

Whilst the menu is predominantly seafood centric, there are a few items for those that shun the creatures from our oceans and estuaries. The reoccurring menu choice on this American trip seemed to be tomato related. And why wouldn’t we when they were at their seasonal best?

Heirloom tomato salad (14) with yellow watermelon, feta and pistachio. Lovely combination, even if it did lack some seasoning.

B & G Oysters, Boston

The Atlantic blue cod (29) comes crisp-skinned, resting on green and yellow beans in bagna cauda, a “hot bath” of olive oil, butter and perhaps an anchovy or two. There’s grapefruit in there as well, making for a really tasty dish.

My Jonah crab tagliatelle (26) was all about sweet crab meat poached in butter, but sadly let down by overcooked pasta. With more hits that misses, this is one eatery I’d gladly welcome to my own neighbourhood.

B & G Oysters, Boston

B & G Oysters, Boston

B & G Oysters bivalves, Boston

  • B&G Oysters
  • 550 Tremont Street
  • South End 02116
  • 617 423 0550
  • website
  • B & G Oysters on Urbanspoon


Pavement Coffeehouse, Boston

With the weather gods on our side we thought we’d head out early one morning and explore Back Bay; in particular Newbury Street. There’s a whole lot going on along the eight blocks of this bustling thoroughfare. Boutiques, restaurants, cafés, galleries, you name it. Most of which are housed in gorgeous 19th-century brownstones.

A post-breakfast second coffee hit occurred at a popular little café tucked down a few steps from the street. Pavement Coffeehouse uses robust Counter Culture coffee, and for those that prefer leaves to beans, Risha Tea may be of interest. Something tells me there are edibles on the menu but I didn’t really pay attention to anything other than my rockin’ macchiato.

Pavement Coffeehouse, Boston

Pavement Coffeehouse, Boston

  • Pavement Coffeehouse
  • 286 Newbury Street
  • Back Bay 02115
  • 617 859 9515
  • website
  • Pavement Coffee House on Urbanspoon


Charles River, Boston

With the morning sun ablaze over the city, it was when we walked across the Harvard Bridge that we appreciated the beauty of this waterfront city even more. Barely a breath of wind, the Charles River almost resembling a mirror and the sparse city skyline stretching to the east. Stunning.

For those unaware, two of the worlds most prominent universities can be found on the north side of the river in Cambridge – Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We were heading into uni territory to see what else went down outside of these massive learning institutions.

Brookline Street, Cambridge, Boston

Bottled Liquors, Cambridge, Boston

Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Boston

Boston may not have much to offer when it comes to African restaurants, but I did notice there were a few on this side of the bridge.

Asmara is the capital of Eritrea, a small African country barely twenty years old. It’s also the name of this friendly restaurant on busy Massachusetts Avenue. The set-up is cosy – cane furniture, a collection of traditional artefacts and a television playing Eritrean music videos. There’s the option of sitting at regular tables or the more traditional mesob; a woven wicker basket on which food is placed and eaten communally using your fingers and a flatbread called injera.

Asmara restaurant, Cambridge, Boston

Asmara restaurant, Cambridge, Boston

Both of our dishes arrive on a platter which is placed on the mesob. Time to get dirty. Stuffed green pepper (7.95) with spiced ground beef is a beautifully savoury appetiser served on injera with a house salad.

My desire to try a few things was satisfied with the sega bebaynatu (15.95), a meat combination plate featuring a few of the curries. Tsehbhi derho – chicken marinated in garlic & herbs in a slightly splice red pepper sauce. Timtimo – yellow split peas cooked in a mild sauce. Atkilt begeeh – lamb in mild yellow sauce. Asmara tibsy – cubed beef sautéed with onion, peppers, chilli and garlic. Alitcha ahmilti – vegetable stew. Most are quite tasty and mildly spiced, yet the beef was nothing more than boiled meat with onion and barely an ounce of flavour.

Still, a pretty good lunch.

Stuffed green pepper at Asmara restaurant, Cambridge, Boston

Sega bebaynatu at Asmara restaurant, Cambridge, Boston

  • Asmara
  • 739 Massachusetts Avenue
  • Cambridge 02139
  • 617 864 7447
  • website
  • Asmara on Urbanspoon


Dwelltime, Cambridge, Boston

I took us on a little detour in search of this café on Broadway. Dwelltime. With previous incarnations as a grocery store and then an auction house, the cafe is open, light-filled and dripping with students socialising or with eyes transfixed on a laptop.

A large island service counter takes up the centre of the maplewood floor. Cabinets with snacks, La Marzocco Strada machine, pour-over station, shiny brass tap for cold brew and a row of seats for onlookers. The beans come from local Arlington roaster Barissimo, a bunch of folk that clearly know what they’re doing. And an added bonus for people like us … no wifi during lunch hours. That means less people setting up office, sitting on one drink for hours and taking up seats.

Dwelltime, Cambridge, Boston

Dwelltime, Cambridge, Boston

  • dwelltime
  • 364 Broadway
  • Central Square 02139
  • 339 368 7300
  • website
  • Dwelltime on Urbanspoon


Cambridge, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

Our final meal in Boston was spent in casual style at the iconic Craigie On Main, also on the Cambridge side of town. Cheffed by Tony Maws and a kitchen brigade that works like a well-oil machine, this is a place that firmly believes in gathering the ingredients and then creating the days menu.

We were here to try the 3-course prix fixe menu (67); a line-up of food where concentration and effort is clearly evident in each plate set before us.

This would have to be the first place to send out an amuse bouche that differs to the one your companion received. A one-bite-and-it’s-gone chilled Maine mussel with fennel foam for him, and a beef heart pastrami for me.

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

I could tell someone was getting a tad enamoured with the Spanish octopus a la plancha. A couple of impossibly tender tentacles twisting beneath a pickled lemon salad, micro basil and a cushy bed of green pepper romesco. Great stuff.

I did a little swooning myself when I sunk my teeth into the meaty, fatty, rich and sweet fried pig’s tails. Seriously? The ass-end of a swine tastes this good? Halo’s of fried onion brought some crunch and some Vietnamese nước chấm, pickled peanuts and coriander made everything shine even more.

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

The swine party continues with a Vermont pork 3-way. First there’s a juicy rib crusted in coriander seed & other spices, a hunk of confit belly and another hunk of confit suckling pig. Some wheat berries, baby yellow carrots and maitake mushrooms join the party as well.

Some rather large chunks of swordfish à la poêle are spruced up with braised alliums, bacon lardons, tomatillo and barley couscous. Some very clean flavours, yet quite filling with the meaty fish.

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

A trio of house-made sorbets does some cleansing action with raspberry, cucumber and peach flavours. A rather simple dessert addition compared to the miso cheesecake I ordered. The cake itself is beautifully fluffy and a touch salty from the miso, but I wasn’t entirely in love with the daigaku imo (candied sweet potato); that wasn’t sweet at all. Akin to eating fried pieces of yam that’s still a little soft. I think the herb was baby amaranth. The best part? The chunks of caramelised puffed rice.

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

Craigie on Main, Boston

  • Craigie on Main
  • 853 Main Street
  • Central Square 02139
  • 617 497 5511
  • website
  • Craigie On Main on Urbanspoon
Carpaccio of sea bass at Cata, Lower East Side

Casa Mono & Cata

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Returning to New York had few requirements. There was that nagging list of places as long as my arm, many of which we didn’t get to because five weeks in NYC still isn’t enough; but one restaurant we had to revisit was Casa Mono. Loved it the first time and, as expected, had the same feelings the second time around.

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Rather than squeeze my long legs beneath the cramped table like last time, it was dinner up at the kitchen counter with full view of the boys in action. What’s the best way to eat at a place like this? Order a bunch of plates and go with the flow.

The first dish to arrive is the pulpo (13), a tangle of charred squid over a salad of sheaved fennel and grapefruit segments. A few simple components that prove less is often best.

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Salads are seldom ordered at restaurants but the sound of the blackened beet salad (14) couldn’t be ignored. Charred chunks of golden beets joined a medley of caña de cabra (a mild creamy Spanish cheese), blueberries, shaved pickled beet, some micro herbs and a caraway tuile.

A little confit goat (19) hits us with its rich tenderness; served with zucchini, its flower, pistachio and an interesting emulsion of cheese and avocado. One of my favourites are the sweetbreads (19), cornmeal-crusted and fried and teamed with baby fennel and doused in a buttery almond sauce.

Confit goat at Casa Mono, Gramercy

Sweetbreads at Casa Mono, Gramercy

Bone marrow at Casa Mono, Gramercy

A little more offal joined the set, of course. Two decent sized baked bones of marrow (15) with braised beef cheek that sits on the side. The torn beef is quite sweet and rich with cinnamon but sadly less than two teaspoons of marrow came from the bones.

Next up, desserts. An almost cleansing bowl of lime basil sorbet (9), olive oil ice cream, fresh plums, charred apricots and a good drizzle of wildflower honey. Can you imagine the flavours that were going on? Delicious. The other dessert is cherries with corn ice cream & meringue (9). The ice cream has a distinct corn flavour, just sweeter, which is a winner with the torched meringue, some salted pistachio’s and the balsamic-macerated cherries.

I look forward to my next Casa Mono visit, whenever that may be.

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Casa Mono, Gramercy

Casa Mono, Gramercy

  • Casa Mono
  • 52 Irving Place
  • Gramercy 10003
  • 212 253 2773
  • website
  • Casa Mono on Urbanspoon


Cata, Lower East Side

Cata, Lower East Side

In keeping with the Spanish theme, here’s another place that’s worthy of repeat visitations. Cata is a newish tapas restaurant that opened in the restaurant-heavy Lower East Side. The fit-out is easy on the eye and the service is spot on. The guy running the floor couldn’t have been more helpful to his customers and proud to do what he does.

Cata, Lower East Side

The dinner menu is cleverly broken up into categories such as pintxos, plancha, land, sea, brochettes etc. Within these categories is a bunch of dishes that I personally wanted to try, one by one. Almost every one of them.

Pan con tomate (3.5) is a typical Spanish snack that is often eaten for breakfast. I know I had my share when travelling through Spain many years ago. It’s a DIY affair at Cata, where you spoon the delicious mixture of tomato, olive oil, garlic and salt over the toasted bread. We even had a little tomato left over and the manager insisted he bring more bread as to not waste it.

Skewers of haloumi (6.5) are next, served with caramelised onion and membrillo (quince). Salty, sour and a tad sweet.

Pan con tomate at Cata, Lower East Side

Haloumi at Cata, Lower East Side

Cata, Lower East Side

Cata, Lower East Side

The carpaccio of sea bass (12) was not only beautiful, but the fresh flavours were divine. Thin slices of fish, a good glug of olive oil, sea salt, chives and lemon juice. To mix up the textures there are a few crunchy pieces of fish crackling.

I’m never one to order patatas bravas (7) at a Spanish restaurant as I often find it ordinary and an unnecessary space-taker. However, once I tasted it here, I wished everyone made it this way. There was none of that tomato sauce that slops everything together. Instead the potato is crisp on the outside, fluffy within and coated in a highly seasoned and spicy mixture. A ramekin foaming with espuma d’allioli is there for a little dunking.

Carpaccio of sea bass at Cata, Lower East Side

Patatas braves at Cata, Lower East Side

It didn’t mention it on the menu, but the Spanish mackerel (7) is served raw, which would disappoint anyone with an aversion to uncooked fish. I’m ok with raw fish but the other half wasn’t too happy. There’s nothing complicated about the dish, either. Slices of mackerel, herb oil and alternating dabs of heirloom tomato foam and yuzu jam foam.

One of the go-to dishes at Cata has to be the smoked lamb ribs (16). These babies are intensely smokey, supremely rich and a tad fatty. To balance out the intensity there’s some pickled veg on the side.

The final savoury dish is roasted bone marrow (17), loaded with the fatty wobbly stuff. So much marrow that there wasn’t enough bread to spread it on. What made it even better was the bright green manila clam, garlic and parsley concoction on top. The flavours being subtle enough as to not overwhelm the hero of the dish.

Spanish mackerel at Cata, Lower East Side

Smoked lamb ribs at Cata, Lower East Side

Roasted bone marrow at Cata, Lower East Side

Cata, Lower East Side

Warm olive oil cake (9) brought a little sugar to the table, topped with a poached half of Jersey peach with crunchy pistachio ice cream. The other dessert, supremely rich as it was, is a dark chocolate terrine (10) drizzled with olive oil and sweet & salty breadcrumbs. Every ganache-like mouthful felt like sweet sin on the tongue.

Warm olive oil cake at Cata, Lower East Side

Chocolate terrine at Cata, Lower East Side

  • Cata
  • 245 Bowery
  • Lower East Side 10002
  • 212 505 2282
  • website
  • Cata on Urbanspoon
Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago

This is a variation of the Torta de Santiago that I made late last year. The recipe for this tart was actually given to me by a reader named Tony, a guy that seemed pretty chuffed with my previous recipe for this beautiful Spanish cake. I understand it comes from a book named The Spanish Kitchen by Pepita Aris, and to be honest, I couldn’t wait for very long before I gave the recipe a burl.

I thought about using the same cross stencil to decorate the top, but when I glanced out of my kitchen doors I spotted some beautiful leaves on my deck beneath our black Japanese maple tree. Perfect!

What makes this tart so special is the addition of quince paste; a layer of which sits between the pastry and the filling. The recipe called for cinnamon or cardamom to be used in the pastry. I went with both. It’s supremely moist and quite sweet and it may sound like a cliché, but I couldn’t stop at one slice. This thing is divine. Thanks Tony!

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Santiago

tarta de santiago

serves 12


pastry :

  • 150 g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100 g butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • cold water (approx 4 tbsp)


Place the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, sugar and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse to incorporate. Adding one tablespoon of water at a time, pulse until the mixture just comes together. Remove the pastry from the processor, squeeze together, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for half an hour.

Dust your working surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry and line a 27 cm tart tin. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

filling :

  • 200 g ground almonds
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 75 g butter, melted
  • 75 ml dry sherry
  • 200 g quince jelly
  • icing sugar, to dust


Preheat oven to 200°C.

Take 50 g of the ground almonds and mix it with the quince jelly. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread the quince paste over the base of the chilled pastry base. Spread the almond filling over the quince layer evenly. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 170°C, then bake for a further 20 minutes.

Allow the tart to cool in the tin before removing it. Dust with icing sugar and serve at room temperature.


Encasa Deli

Going into town on the weekend is an exercise I prefer to avoid as the Monday to Friday trudge is enough for one week. For some reason we needed to head into the city centre to look at or pick something up so seeing it was almost lunch o’clock, Encasa Deli down on Bathurst Street was a good contender. Plus I’d been wanting to try try it since they opened towards the end of last year.



The set-up is a neat little parcel of Spanish food to be eaten inhouse and other bits to be purchased for home. Smallgoods and drygoods, predominantly from Spain, cover the deli component. A dazzling array of charcuterie, bacalao, oils, spices, even bathroom products.

Aside from the great coffee they churn out, it was the bocadillo’s that got our appetites. A crusty baguette filled with a variety of tasty ingredients and something that anyone could settle on. Something that became our staple on both previous visits to Spain was the good old bocadillo pa amy tomaquet (8.5), or tomato-rubbed bread with jamon serrano. A simple arrangement and a mighty fine one. I went for a bocadillo with a little more substance – the pepito (13). Consisting of pan-seared medallions of eye fillet, a fried egg, cheese, aioli and lettuce. Man, what a sandwich! Finished off with a second macchiato (3) and a custard tart (3.5), that was our stomach’s sorted for several hours.



  • Encasa Deli
  • 135 Bathurst Street
  • Sydney 2000
  • 02 9283 4277
  • website
  • Encasa Deli on Urbanspoon
Torta de Santiago | heneedsfood.com

Torta de Santiago

Torta de Santiago

The first time I tried this deliciously moist cake was at Brindisa Spanish Foods in London’s Borough Market. It has to be the simplest cake anyone could make. A handful of ingredients, easy mixing and very little to wash up.

Torta de Santiago

Being almond based makes it gluten free as well. The recipe I used is based on this one, but I’ve used orange instead of lemon zest, raw instead of white sugar (and less of it) and threw in some fragrant cardamom because I love the stuff.

Torta de Santiago

Spanish history traces torta de Santiago back to the Middle Ages and by more recent tradition (in 1924 by Jose Mora Soto from Santiago de Compostela) it’s branded with St James’ cross. The actual origin may be a little hazy and uncertain but one thing for sure is it’s hard to stop at one slice. Click on the cross below to print off the stencil I’ve created.

Torta de Santiago Cross

torta de santiago

serves 12


  • 250 g ground almonds
  • 200 g raw caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Icing sugar, to sprinkle


Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Grease and line a 20 cm springform tin.

Combine the ground almonds, sugar, zest, cardamom and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl lightly beat the eggs and vanilla until just combined. Pour the beaten eggs into the almond mixture and stir well to form a batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin before unmoulding. When cooled completely, lay the cross stencil in the centre of the cake and dust liberally with icing sugar. Carefully remove the stencil, slice into portions and serve with double cream.


Beet & goat cheese croquettes

Beetroot & goat cheese croquettes with salmorejo

Beet & goat cheese croquettes

This recipe came about after I was instantly besotted with one of the tapas at Delicado Foods in McMahons Point. Not only was every dish really good at this north shore eatery, but it was the croquette that won my tastebuds that day.

A simple filling of beetroot and goat cheese, crumbed and snap fried. A divine creaminess on the tongue and an accompanying sauce that’s normally eaten as a cold soup. I recreated the salmorejo here, so now it was time to put my hands to the star of the show.

Very simple, really. It took little thought to figure this one out. Finely grated cooked beetroot mixed with goat cheese. A bath in egg, crumbs, hot oil. Done! Teamed with the salmorejo – something that can be prepped the day before – your tongue will be doing pleasured back-flips in no time.

Beetroot & goat cheese croquettes

Beet & goat cheese croquettes

Beetroot & goat cheese croquettes

beetroot & goat cheese croquettes with salmorejo

makes 8-10


  • 300 g goat cheese
  • 1 medium beetroot, boiled, chilled and peeled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 500 ml canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • salmorejo, get the recipe here


Grate the beetroot very finely using a microplane. Measure 6 tablespoons of the grated beetroot and set aside. Any excess can be used in a salad. If you don’t quite make 6 tablespoons it doesn’t matter either.

Using a fork, mash up the goat cheese in a mixing bowl. Add the grated beetroot and mix until well incorporated. Measure heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture, roll it into balls and place onto a large plate. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to firm up.

Place the beaten egg and panko in two separate bowls. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Remove the beetroot & goat cheese balls from the fridge and quickly shape into perfect balls. One by one dunk each ball into the egg and the roll well in the panko. Repeat with the remaining balls, then repeat the egg and crumb procedure. This gives it a better and thicker crust.

A couple at a time, fry the croquettes in the oil until golden brown, being careful as you turn them as they may split and burst open. Drain on paper towels as you fry the remaining croquettes.

Serve hot with a good dollop of salmorejo. Garnish with herbs, if you wish.

Salmorejo recipe


Just about everyone has heard of gazpacho, that Andalucían chilled vegetable soup commonly consumed in the warmer months. A close relative to gazpacho is salmorejo, originating in Córdoba. It’s basically an emulsion of fresh tomatoes, bread and oil where it’s served cold as a soup or even as a dip or sauce. The flavour is earthy and it’s really refreshing as a starter to a more robust spread of dishes.

The recipe I’ve come up with is based on many I found online. I’ve sautéed the onion and garlic instead of using it raw as I’m not a fan of the lingering after-taste, and rather than vinegar and lemon juice, I just used verjuice. Traditionally the soup is garnished with chopped boiled egg and jamon serrano but I’ve decided to finely grate the egg for a more delicate finish. I even put an egg into the soup. The jamon can be chopped and sprinkled over the soup as is but crisping it up in the microwave (or use an oven) adds a nice salty crunch with each spoonful.

This soup is ideal to serve in very small glasses if you’ve got a cocktail party planned. No spoons required. Just a quick shot and your guests are happy!

Salmorejo recipe

Salmorejo recipe


serves 4


  • 1 cup tepid water
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup day old baguette, roughly torn
  • 5 medium tomatoes (500 g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp verjuice
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, reserve 1 for garnish
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to garnish
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 4 slices jamon serrano, or prosciutto


Dissolve the salt in the tepid water then pour over the torn pieces of bread. Allow to soak for half an hour then squeeze out the liquid, reserving the water.

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Cut a cross on the bottom of each tomato, drop into the boiling water and allow to blanch for 20-30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and quickly refresh them in a bowl of iced water. Remove and discard the skin and core, cut in half, squeeze out and discard the seeds and place the tomato halves into the bowl of a food processor.

Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pan and sauté the chopped onions and garlic over low heat until translucent, but not golden. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes and place in the processor with the tomatoes. Add the verjuice and process until very smooth. With the motor still running, gradually add the soaked bread and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved bread water. Finely grate one of the boiled eggs and add it to the food processor, blending well for 30 seconds. With the motor still running, add the 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream. Season well with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Place the slices of jamon serrano on a paper towel in the microwave and zap for 15 seconds. Turn the slices over and zap for another 15 seconds. Remove from microwave and allow to cool and crisp up.

To serve, ladle the cold soup into 4 small bowls, finely grate over the remaining boiled egg, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and garnish with the jamon.