Lunches with Food Bloggers (from all over the world)

3 June 2005

I know it’s been almost a month since I joined a London food bloggers’ lunch – it may be too late for a blog post, but I wanted to mention it as it was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the great ‘local’ food bloggers in person. Although I don’t live in London any more, Johanna of The Passionate Cook kindly asked me if I wanted to join and I’m so glad I did!

The people who made it on the day were:

Johanna of The Passionate Cook (she kindly provided her lovely place)
Jeanne of Cook Sister!
Celia of English Patis
Jenni of Pertelote
Meg of Though Small, It Is Tasty
Andrew of Spittoon


I’m not going into details here as other people have made wonderful posts about it already. They’ve got nicer pictures than I took and needless to say their writing is much more entertaining than mine, so please visit their sites for details.

I must just say that I had a wonderful time (and great food and wine of course!) – their knowledge/passion about food/wine was just incredible and was really fascinating! I’d like to thank Johanna and Jeanne especially as they planned this get-together and worked hard organising things. I’m looking forward to the next meeting which apparently is taking place by the Thames enjoying the Henley Regatta... Sounds perfect for spending a summer afternoon, I just hope we’ll have good weather…

Oh, I almost forgot to post the recipe for the creme brulee – which was one of the desserts I made for the lunch. I wanted to make something more adventurous but thought it was the kind of thing that everyone can enjoy.


Creme Brulee

Serves 6-8

750ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
130g caster sugar
8 egg yolks
Light brown sugar or icing sugar for the glaze

Preheat the oven to 130 degrees C.

Pour the cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod, scrape the seeds into the cream and add the pod too. Bring the cream to the boil then take off the heat and leave to infuse for about 5 minutes.

Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale (don’t beat). Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg mixture, whisking all the time.

Strain through a jug and skim away any froth on top. Pour into the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting tray and cover them individually with foil. Pour boiling water into the roasting tray to about halfway up the outsides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 1 hour, or until the custard is just set and still a little wobbly in the middle. Remove from the tray and leave to cool.

When they are ready to be served (you should chill the custard in the fridge at least for a few hours, preferably overnight), sieve about 1 teaspoon of icing sugar or light brown sugar (if you are using brown sugar, you need to powder it in the food processor) very thinly and caramelise with a blowtorch. Repeat this process at least two more times to give it a lovely crunchy top.

I personally prefer using light brown sugar – it has a stronger flavour and I think it works really well with the vanilla custard. You can caramelise the sugar under a hot grill, but it won’t give as nice a finish as with a blowtorch. It is worth having it even just for making créme brulee!

Last week, I had another chance to meet up with a fellow food blogger in London who came all the way from Japan (well, she didn’t just come to see me obviously, she was on holiday travelling around Europe. We’ve known each other almost two years and have met in London before, but not in Japan – what a shame!) We went to St. John in Smithfield for lunch – I regularly go there to get bread (they don’t have many varieties but what they have is pretty good) but had never eaten before.

The place was packed with business people from the City – after ages trying to choose what to have, we decided to share the famous roast bone marrow & parsley salad, followed by roast guinea fowl and courgette for Chika and poached skate and leeks with aioli for me. We both enjoyed the bone marrow on toast – although it was a little oily and by the time the cheerful waiter had brought our main dishes, we felt almost full…

The skate wing was really nice – meaty and flavoursome – goes well with the really garlicy aioli and nicely cooked leeks. The guinea fowl, on the other hand, was OK but we both thought it a little bland.

We did enjoy the meal, but couldn’t help feeling that it was a bit overpriced (even knowing that we were in London) and wasn’t as special as the media says. Still, I love the buzz and unpretentious interior :) The portions for the main dishes are quite big so if you’d like to try desserts too (which we couldn’t) you might need to be starving before you go!

The picture on top is the bar area in the restaurant.

Food - Sweet    Places    12 comments    Permalink

  • That creme brulee really was divine!

    The offline blog-meet is going ahead. Details at

    Hope to see you there.

    Posted by Andrew | 5 June 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko!
    Your post came right on time! I did my first crème brûlée with lavender - it turned out wonderful in taste, BUT the texture was a bit strange, smooth, yes, but a little flaky. I followed the recipe very closely (quite similar to yours), so I keep wondering about what to improve... I’ll give it another try with your recipe - they look truely amazing :)
    I’m quite jealous about the "UK-food-blogger-community" - sadly London is a bit too far for a one-day trip... ;) Have fun on your next events!

    Posted by Nicky | 5 June 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko!
    I’m glad you also had a good time - I certainly did! And thanks so much for the creme brulee recipe - it truly was fantastic. Will keep you posted on developments re. the Henley get-together and look forward to seeing you again.

    Posted by Jeanne | 5 June 2005 #
  • It all sounds fabulous! Must be a fantastic and enjoyable experience.I enjoyed reading the post very much.

    Posted by Dreska | 6 June 2005 #
  • (Sorry this is such a late response.)

    I LOVE creme brulee...will try to make some soon. Thanks for the recipe!

    It sounds wonderful, the foodblogger’s club.

    Oh, by the way, I just realised that my ’shoppaholic’ friend can read this (she’s Japanese but only knows how to read and write in English). I will pass this website onto her!

    Posted by yuki | 10 June 2005 #
  • You remembered! Thanks for posting the creme brulee recipe. Hope to see you soon in Henley. Shall we take our fancy hats with us? ;)

    Posted by celiaK | 10 June 2005 #
  • Hi Andrew - thank you again for bringing such lovely wines, I really enjoyed them. Looking forward to the next time...

    Hi Nicky - I must say I’ve made creme brulee/creme caramel hundreds of times... I am a real custard fanatic :) I think the temperature is important when baking, my oven has got a fan and tends to get much hotter than it suggests in recipes so I need to give it constant attention! BTW, I hope we can meet up in London this summer ;)

    Hi Jeanne - thank you so much for organising it. I know I said this before, but I LOVED your mushrooms and courgettes, they were not just delicious but really refreshing too.

    Hi Dreska - you MUST join next time!

    Hi Yuki - thank you for your kind note. I’m looking forward to meeting you and your friend in London, it’d be great! It’s really easy to make creme brulee, so you should give it a try soon.

    Hi Celia - thanks, I didn’t know you would need a fancy hat for that!

    Posted by keiko | 16 June 2005 #
  • Hi Keiko, after being on holidays, I only just got round to reading your post - thanks for your kind words, it was a great pleasure having you all. Sorry you couldn’t make it to Henley, we had a great time... next meeting is a chocolate tasting, I hope you will be able to make it! Thanks for the creme brulee recipe, they were truly delicious, as was your mousse au chocolat - any chance that you might share this as well? love johanna

    Posted by johanna | 30 July 2005 #
  • Hello! keiko

    The new posting looks amazing...I’m thinking of buying the book "A Passion for Desserts" since you made such a good looking dessert from it. Keiko. I’m wondering what kind of vanilla bean is good??? I saw good vanilla beans for a very reasonable price, but I don’t know if tahini is better than bourbon. I wanted to make the creme brulee but vanilla beans are soo expensive.

    When I have time I will post the green curry recipe on the site ok!!

    hope to hear from you

    Posted by Shanna | 26 September 2005 #
  • Hi Shanna - thank you, as for vanilla beans, I’m afraid I don’t know much about it but McAuliflower wrote a really interesting post on the subject. I think I’ve only used bourbon ones so far - they are really expensive here in the UK too, so I might try buying some on eBay like she did. Where did you find yours? And yes, please post your green curry recipe some time, I’m really looking forward to it ;)

    Posted by keiko | 27 September 2005 #
  • Hi! Keiko

    Sorry I didn’t look back at this page until now. I bought my on ebay as well from this company here in colorado. I’m about to try it on this creme brulee recipe, but I’m wondering if it’s ok to use heavy whipping cream. Is it quite similar to double cream cause I can’t find double cream at any grocery store at all. The price is very cheap compare to anything at the grocery store. If you havent give ebay a try you should definitely check it out.

    Posted by Shanna | 28 June 2006 #
  • Hi Shanna - welcome back :) I believe that heavy cream is the same as double cream, so you should be able to substitute it. I’ll check vanilla pods on ebay next time I buy in bulk, thanks for letting me know.

    Posted by keiko | 4 July 2006 #

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