London Restaurant Festival 2013

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At the top: Red ripple whippy on a red velvet cone. A laughable attempt at the classic whippy, for despite it’s fantastical Alice-in-Wonderland loopiness, the thing’s still a McDonald’s vanilla cone at heart. And apologies for the ghastly red nail.

Regent’s Street was full to brimming, even when the clouds above were hovering and pregnant with imminent rain. My uncle, grandmother and I fought to share one poor, battered black umbrella.

That man was staring at me in the eye, thinking, ‘oh these Asians nowadays, can’t do anything but take pictures. Always pictures, pictures, pictures’. Embarrassedly, I walked on into the frigid arena, crowded with long-legged socialites, dedicated foodies and yes, more cameras. This is the real life, people. You can’t walk anywhere in the 21st century and not document every precious, london-lit second. I was walking around starry-eyed, and believe it or not, the rain soon stopped. I swear.

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An innocent take on lamb rendang. It was superb, I must say, though a little too sweet for my liking and perhaps not spicy enough. Not one of the special highlights, but a calm starter.

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pulled pork shoulder with pickled red cabbage and a slice of cornbread

It’s around 11pm now and my mouth is watering at the sheer sight and memory of that gracious, sacrificed piece of meat. Good heavens it was good. The pulled pork was just, once again, perhaps a tad too sweet, but on the whole I couldn’t care less for it went so wonderfully with the soft bite of cabbage and buttery cornbread. The first forkful (which was not to mention, incredibly fork-tender) sent me to porky heaven. Dripping with marinade, slightly chewy, soft and sharp. How ridiculous.

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roasted apple ‘burger’ with caramelised onions, mayonnaise and pickles

How unusual! I exclaimed. I inched closer and closer to the little counter, and delicately asked for what they labelled as a roasted apple burger. Of course I didn’t expect much meat in it. I respected the fragility of a good roasted apple. The man at the front immediately placed a plate in front of my uncle and I, said ‘thank you miss’ and rushed away to attend to the bottomless mosh pit, armed with hunger and fuelled by the new London heat. The apple itself was soft, though not sappy and sloppy, with the perfect amount of filling. I loved the whole idea of an apple burger, and the size was so becoming.

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1. Pork and chilli dumplings. Altogether, really nothing outstanding, but I appreciated the insertion of Chinese cuisine amongst the oodles of burgers and Middle Eastern get-ups.

2. Oxtail doughnut with apricot jam. Yes, this was a glorious, fried, doughnut. A prying open of the crisp and battered surface, like golden, compressed crumbs, revealed a tender oxtail stew, coupled with a lightly sweet jam. What genius, what spectacular cruelty.

3. Lamb and yoghurt. You see a trend happening here?

4. And lastly, the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my life. Pictured is the banoffee flavour. We also tried the fresh berries and clotted cream, which was more subtle, less sickly sweet but just as magnificent. I never thought anything could beat the luxury of Haagen Dazs, but I guess I was wrong. Purbeck Ice Cream nourished my heart and soul for a good 5 days after my first bite. As creamy as a molten white river having just turned solid on a sudden snowy night, blessed with the richest virginal quality and orgasmic aftertaste.

One of the best days of my life, to put it lightly.

London- Signor Sassi

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The thing about London in general is that, in full and absolute honesty, you are a man of zero intellect if you ever get tired of it. Fine, that’s mean. What I mean to say is, I don’t think it legal for one to grow near half weary of what I believe to be one of the most beautiful historical cities in the world. Or of all the universes, parallel and distinct alike. Those Charles Dickens cobblestones, the crass rumbling from here, there and everywhere, the chilly mist which all succumb to in either cutting hatred or morose indiference. Perhaps even glee, to the odd one or two. A heat wave to them is like 18 degrees C, after all. The glaze of English folklore, the nostalgia from God knows where. The tea craze, the well dressed and eccentricity. Boots (yes the drugstore too), tights and soft sky hues, made subtler with greyer undertones in the dusk and early morning. Driving from Heathrow to Kent Street for another stay at Monarch House actually gave me chills, as memories of my stay here as a 5-year old came swamping my sentience.

Signor Sassi is a world-renown Italian restaurant in Knightsbridge Green, the South of London. Plastered up on the walls were black-framed portraits of Nigella Lawson, Rihanna and if I am right, one of the PMs. The round tables are packed from random circumference points, glasses crowding the spaces and yellow lights imparting a romantic, sentimental glow. The waiters bustle about like agitated ants shouting in sparkling Italian.

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We started off with some cheese, bread and olives. They come to you with a cloth-covered basket filled with an assortment of crusty, freshly baked breads. I chose a dark rye type, and the parmesan was like briny crystals of heaven.

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Rare bluefin tuna fillets, a ‘special’. You can choose between medium rare and rare, so well, the choice is a little obvious now, isn’t it. They cut like chewy butter and retained a lovely fragrance on that bed of petit pois, tomato and olive oil. It was divinity with the bread and cool tomato on the side. Despite my deep love for tuna, I found the strips to be more on the salty side, teasing the border of excessive.

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Foreground: Scampi pasta (special)

Background: Spaghetti Lobster

Both of which I sampled. The best flavour award definitely has to go to the scampi pasta, which reeked of perfection. The luxurious, yet not overly creamy sauce bathed tender noodles made pungent with the aroma of sweet, plump, scampi, the juice taking on a delightful serum-like consistency.

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You can’t exactly not have tiramisu at an Italian restaurant. I patted my inflated belly and decided to give it a taste.

Oh, and my uncle says hello above the willowy gooseberry(:

Soaked through, stiff and sweetened cream, tender, luscious. My only complaint would be that it reminded me of a kid-style tiramisu, steep sweetness and lacking alcohol (ooh, the white wine here was quite a treat).

The first of many posts on London as I sit here on fluffy and bulging white sheets, soaking up the quaint and established architecture, a stand-alone dream.

Signor Sassi

14 Knightsbridge Green, London