Posts Tagged ‘Cookbook Cafe’

Weekly Reading and Photos Coming Soon

Bus stop
Hyde Park Corner bus stop in the rain — taken on my cell phone last night

After having Evan’s parents and my friend Shayne visit last week — photos of our adventures in Bath and Kew Gardens are coming soon — this week has been relatively quiet. We went to see the new Indiana Jones (I was a bit disappointed), I hung out with the Londonist crew over in Ladbroke Grove and I started working on some new projects, which I’ll tell you about soon. Sunday, we also had a terribly extravagant brunch at Cookbook Cafe, which involved peppermint tea martinis, fresh waffles and plenty of other indulgences.

We’ve also reached the point where we only have a month left in London — I can’t believe how fast time has flown here. I’ve been having so much fun I don’t want to leave, though I am very excited about our summer trip…

And without further ado, your weekly reading from Londonist and a Workology survey for all your small biz owners, freelancers and general non-9-to-5ers to fill out.

Melt Chocolate Master Class at Cookbook Cafe

Table of Chocolate at Cookbook Cafe

Last night, I finally got to take the Melt Chocolate Master Class at cookbook cafe that I tried to take last month.

There were 11 of us in the group, set up in a small area of the restaurant just to the left of the open cooking area. It was a bit distracting at times, when wafts of just-cooked fish would come over, but otherwise the space worked well, with three rows of chairs set up, a table full of chocolates and a drink-mixing station set up behind us.

We were offered champagne when we arrived, and the £35 class started about 10 minutes late because one of the attendants was a bit off schedule. Keith Hurdman from Notting Hill chocolate shop Melt led the class and took us on a worldwide tour of chocolates, starting with some French and Venezuelan white chocolate, moving to Belgian, Swiss and French milk chocolates and then giving us a variety of dark chocolates, too. We learned about different cocoa beans and growing regions, why organic chocolate isn’t always the best option, and how Chef Hurdman comes up with some of the flavors for his confections: “What grows together, goes together,” he says.

My favorites were a slightly crunchy hazelnut-filled chocolate, a chocolate truffle with a creamy soft chocolate center that tasted like rich hot chocolate, and the jasmine chocolate.

Though I was disappointed that there wasn’t any hands-on chocolate making — I thought we would be learning ow to make truffles from the description I read of the classs — we did learn to make some delicious chocolate martinis from the Intercontinenal Hotel’s bar manager and mixologist, Joel, who also taught us how to make our rose petal martinis on Valentine’s day. I feel inspired to start stocking a bar and making some cocktails. I would definitely love to have that chocolate martini again.

My favorite aspect of the class was that Keith and Joel were both really open to taking questions, and in such a small class, plenty of people were happy to chime in and ask about the topics they wanted to learn more about. We also got to take a whole goody bag of chocolates home. Not that we really needed any more — we were all totally stuffed.

Drink Mixing Station at Cookbook Cafe

National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square and Dinner Drama

Today, I went to the National Portrait Gallery with Evan. We didn’t have time to see the whole thing — we got about halfway through, and the Vanity Fair exhibit was sold out — so we’ll have to go back again. Good thing the museum is free.

Though it rained earlier today, the afternoon turned out to be quite nice, and we got a few good photos in Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery and the large fountain there.

Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, London

After our time in the museum, we were ready for a snack and stopped at a nearby French cafe (I don’t remember the name and couldn’t find it when I searched online). I ordered a cappuccino, tap water and a Spanish omelet. Evan ordered sparking water and a panini. It took about 15 minutes to get my coffee, and more than 30 minutes later, we were still waiting for our food. And getting grumpy.

Nobody had come by to ask how we were, even though we were sitting right in front of the counter, and we finally asked them to check on our order. They found the order slip right behind the counter and asked us if we still wanted our food. Nobody had started on anything and they didn’t seem keen to. They weren’t apologetic about it at all, either. I also never even got my water. Serves us right for stopping near Leicester Square.

We were ready to get out of there, so we paid for our drinks and headed to Cookbook Cafe to get a good diner.

Thankfully, Cookbook Cafe yet again proved a good choice. We had salads and starters from the market table, a creamy onion soup, mushroom risotto and a nice selection of desserts from their pastry workshop table. We also had some delicious fizzy berry, elderflower and prosecco cocktails, with lots of muddled berries at the bottom of the glass.

A Valentine’s Day Date at Cookbook Cafe

Cookbook Cafe

Last night, Evan and I went out to Cookbook Cafe to learn to mix drinks, dance salsa and have a nice dinner. Unfortunately, the salsa portion of the evening had been canceled and nobody had told us or put up a message on their website, but they adjusted the price accordingly, and we enjoyed the rest of what the evening had to offer.

First, I’d been to the cafe at lunch and liked its chic but relaxed atmosphere, market table overflowing with food and friendly service. We got all of that last night, plus a little lesson on making a rose petal martini, which I wrote up for Londonist (“Lessons Learned: Making a Seductive Martini“). The restaurant was pretty empty, which was surprising since of course it was Valentine’s Day and they had a really fun-sounding offer with all the activities and dinner, though it was a bit pricey. I think they need to step up their marketing. They also need to follow through on what they do advertise, as I had the problem with the chocolate class earlier in the month, too.

Still, we had plenty to eat, with all the salads and simple appetizers on the market table, an “oyster cappuccino,” which Evan tried — it involved some sort of frothy oyster soup in a little cup. For the main course, Evan had lamb and I had mushroom ravioli, and for dessert we had chocolate fondue as well as other little cakes, cookies and fruit salad from another free-reign sort of table.

Our biggest regret: We should have made ourselves another martini with the mixology master, since that was fun, though over quite quickly. All in all, though, a very nice Valentine’s Day.

Lunch at Cookbook Cafe

Cookbook CafeToday I wandered down the street looking for a nice lunch at a cute little cafe I’d walked by a few times before — Cookbook Cafe. Once I realized it was in the Intercontinental, though, I got a bit worried that it would be too pricey or too stuffy or that I would just feel like a bit of a fool. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Walking through the clean and elegant lobby, bar area and cafe area, with its leather seats, shiny tables and small, square pieces of artwork, I stopped to check out the lobby menus. Not bad, but not a huge selection. I figured if the restaurant wasn’t going to work out, I could settle for a sandwich or some sort of snack out there. There prices were more than what I’d normally spend on lunch — 10 to 20 pounds — but it was a nice, soothing environment where I could at least pull my laptop out and get some work done while sitting in a comfortable spot.

When I got to the restaurant, I asked about the menu. It turns out that it’s just as affordable, if not more so than the lobby. And the market table was calling my name. I haven’t encountered too many market tables in restaurants before, but they seem to be the higher-class cousin of the salad bar. No sneeze guard. No regularly shaped and spaced slots. Just an abundance of fresh breads, salads, cheeses and more, laid out on a nice, big, wooden table. For 12 pounds, my meal also included some delicious pumpkin parmesan soup and dessert.

Market Table, Cookbook CafeThe service was also very friendly. My waiter was a very friendly hotel/hospitality management student from China who has been in London for two years now. The restaurant wasn’t very full, and it had a quiet, soothing atmosphere, with lots of clean lines and soft music. It would be a great place for a business meeting, and unsurprisingly, the rest of their clientele was in suits.

And now that I found the Cafe’s website, I have found out they have a “Chocolate Master Class.” Their description: “You will be starting with a glass of bubbles, Keith will demonstrate some tips and tricks, you will be tasting various chocolates and then you can make your own box of your signature truffles. To finish the sweetness off, our mixologist and bar manager Joel will teach you how to make the most seductive Chocolate Swirl Martini.” OK, I’m sold. Next class is on February 6 if anyone wants to join me.