Saturday 10 August 2013

Time To Say Goodbye

After exactly four years and three hundred blog posts, I'm calling time on Eat Noodles Love Noodles. Giving up blogging hasn't been an easy decision to make. After all, it's a hobby that's given me great joy, and one through which I've met some great friends, online and off, along the way. Big thanks to you all, especially to those of you who took the trouble to comment on the blog along the way. {Update July 2015 - I've made a kind of a comeback on my other blog - click here.}

Why now? The truth is I've been thinking about jacking it all in for the past year or so. The only reason why I continued was the proliferation of ramen shops in London and my travels abroad. But there's only so much I can blog about ramen, and my mad run of travel this year has come to a halt.

If there's one aspect of blogging I'll miss, it will be writing about food on my travels. I doubt I would ever have started blogging if I didn’t have the kick-start from a trip to China in 2009. And to the end, it's these posts that have given me most pleasure to write.

I won't miss writing about London restaurants so much, though. Despite all the new openings, I've not really blogged about too many places in the capital this year. It's not that I don't take an interest in all the big name chefs and restaurateurs. I do, and I even sometimes eat in their fancy gastrodomes. It's just that I feel the London restaurant scene is a bit like English Premier League football: an exciting and cosmopolitan spectacle, but one where the actuality does not match the hype.

Now I don't want to end my blog on a negative note (although I have been known to shake my fist at crap restaurants, awful food TV and incorrect food grammar), as I've always been passionate about promoting the food I love the most. So with that in mind, I thought I'd end my last post with my fantasy last supper. I've bent the rules a bit in that I've somehow ended up with a ten-course Asian seafood banquet.

My Last Supper
Sashimi selection
I love sashimi and it's the perfect start to my banquet. Of course it's going to be weapons-grade raw fish, with the only stipulation being the platter must include some of my favourite hamachi (yellowtail).

Steamed scallops topped with garlic & glass noodles
This classic epitomises all that is great about Cantonese cuisine: fresh ingredients, simply cooked. This is also the first appearance of noodles in the banquet.

'Chao Tom' - Grilled prawn paste on sugar cane
In this Vietnamese dish the sugar cane acts as a skewer and the prawn paste is eaten by wrapping it with herbs in lettuce and rice paper before dipping in nuoc cham.

Under the Typhoon Shelter pissing prawns
After a relatively healthy opening three courses, the banquet get dirty in the form of fried 'pissing prawns' aka mantis shrimp tossed in a violent mix of fried chilli and garlic. ('Under the Typhoon Shelter' is the poetic Chinese name of this Hong Kong dish more commonly cooked with crab.)

Singapore chilli crab with fried mantou
Things get dirtier still with this Singapore classic where the crab is almost an afterthought. I can foresee much dipping of fried mantou (Chinese buns) into the flavoursome eggy, tomatoey chilli sauce.

Clams in fish soup with rice vermicelli
Asian food is all about balance, which is why this course is a bit cleansing. Having said that, a big glug of rice wine should go into the soup. (Noodlewatch: noodles make a second appearance in the banquet.)

Shanghai-style river shrimp stir-fried with Longjing tea
The comedown continues with a delicate dish of river shrimp, coated with egg white and cornstarch, stir-fried with Dragon's Well aka longjing tea leaves.

'Pla Neung Ma Nao' - Steamed grouper with lime, chilli, garlic, lemongrass & fish sauce
I have to have a Thai dish in my top ten, and this whole steamed grouper (sea bass would do at a push) sat in an aromatic 'soup' is my choice.

Pak choi stir-fried with garlic
Although my last supper is being served banquet style, this simple vegetable dish will be brought out just after the fish. And for those carb lovers, now might be a good time to ask for some rice. Mind you, not too much though…

Lobster fried with ginger & spring onion on a bed of e-fu noodles
So this is it, the coup de grâce. Of course it was going to be Cantonese, of course it was going to have noodles, and of course it was going to be lobster cooked with ginger and spring onion! My apologies to dessert fans, there's no proper pudding but there will be slices of watermelon.

Now I know some of you may be surprised at my choices. For instance, neither dim sum nor Cantonese BBQ makes an appearance. But that's OK, as I had both at my penultimate meal at lunchtime. Being a critic of the concept of pan-Asian restaurants, some may be surprised the feast contains a mix of different cuisines. However, I don't think it's an issue, as all of the dishes are bona fide classics and they will be served 'banquet-style' rather than in a blurry family-style free-for-all. And being a bit of an obsessive, I've also given a lot of thought to the sequence in which the courses will be served.

So that's it. I am now a former blogger, although I will continue to post food photos on Instagram. Thanks again for reading.

PS: Thanks for the good wishes and messages on Twitter - I'm very touched. For clarification, I will be keeping the blog alive but there won't be any new posts. And I'll still be on Twitter.

Thursday 1 August 2013

The 21st Century A-to-Z of Food & Drink

X is for Xiao Long Bao
A is for Artisanal
B is for Blogger
C is for Craft Beer
D is for Denmark
E is for Ethical
F is for Forage
G is for Gastronaut
H is for Hipster
I is for Instagram
J is for Jam Jar
K is for Kilner Jar
L is for Lobster Roll
M is for Macarons
N is for Negroni
O is for Offal
P is for Pop-up
Q is for Queuing
R is for Ramen
S is for Supper Club
T is for Tapas (that aren't actually tapas)
U is for Udon
V is for Vietnam
W is for Wagyu
X is for Xiao Long Bao
Y is for Yotam Ottolenghi
Z is for Za'atar

Let me know if you have any alternatives e.g. S is for Sous Vide etc...