This week I've been eating...Chawanmushi (savoury custard)
The Corner Room restaurant, tucked away in the white marble splendour of the Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel in London, has one of the most inviting dining rooms I can think of.
The oak floors, wall of pendant lamps and spiral-staircase sculpture leading to absolutely nowhere give proceedings a whimsical air. It’s warm and playful; the sort of place you got to for the type of long lunch that last through to the next morning.
The food is playful too, and sometimes experimental. A dish of “cod gazpacho” came out as slivers of ceviche cod with a snowy dusting of gazpacho granita. A triumph.
Even better was its take on Chawanmushi, the Japanese savoury custard. It is a country garden in a bowl, the custard firm, topped with shiitake mushroom, strips of corn and a little forest of edible flowers. Beautiful food, beautiful place. townhallhotel.com/corner_room
Cakes and ale
Lily Vanilli is just about the busiest foodie I know. She is a graphic designer, she has a bakery in east London, she designs cakes of startling beauty and deep originality and now she’s turned to the bottle: making her own beer.
Working with the nanobrewery at London’s Sebright Arms (where it is now on sale), she has created a light wheat beer with a distinctly fruity flavour, the result of adding a home-made syrup of English raspberries and gorse flowers to the mix. Who says brewing and cake-making don’t mix? £5, sebrightarms.co.uk
Typically, designers are employed by booze brands to draw deep on their own inspirations to create new bottle shapes or to jazz up labels. Well, that’s the usual order of things anyway. At Absolut, however, that message seems to have got a bit lost.
Its collaboration with emerging fashion designer Kitty Joseph has seen Joseph design a three-piece capsule collection of clothes which are inspired by the new Absolut Originality bottle, rather than the other way around. It sounds bonkers, of course, because it is bonkers, but that said, I’ve got rather a soft spot for her creations. addyourdrop.com
It is at this time of year that I like to pick up a pumpkin and bite into it. Not a real one (well, unless it’s cooked). No, the ones I like are made from chocolate and come in little trays from Hotel Chocolat. Its autumn collection is an absolute cracker. In the interests of fair testing, I cleared my diary last weekend and sat down with a box. Reader, I ate every single one and I can say, hand on heart, that there was not a duff one among them £12.50, hotelchocolat.com
London restraurant Bistroteque is going on its holidays this weekend. Swapping its usual warehouse for a 30-seat restaurant in a B&B, Broadstairs’ Belvidere Place. It will be serving local oysters, terrines, fish stew and, best of all, loads of champagne to punters at the Broadstairs Food Festival. £60, bistrotheque.eventbrite.co.uk