Flourless Chocolate Cake


  • 4 eggs (4 whites and 2 yolks)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 125g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 200ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease a 17cm x 17cm square baking tin with butter, then line it with 2 rectangular pieces of greaseproof paper. This is so you can lift the cake out of the tin when it has cooked, so overlap the pieces and leave 5cm at either side which will be your ‘handles’.
  2. 5. Fold in the egg whites...
  3. Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl (any grease at all will stop the whites whisking properly) and add half the caster sugar. Using an electric beater, whisk until they form stiff peaks and then set aside.
  4. Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to simmering point, and place a large bowl over the pan so the base of the bowl does not touch the water below (this is a bain-marie). Put the egg yolks and the remaining 20g of caster sugar into the bowl and whisk until you reach the ribbon stage (forming thick ‘ribbons’ that fall off a spoon). Remove the bowl and put to one side.
  5. Place a second bowl on the saucepan. Put the chocolate and butter in the bowl and let them melt, stirring occasionally.
  6. Take the egg yolk mixture and stir in the melted chocolate and melted butter, then fold in the whisked egg whites.
  7. 6. Pour the cake mixture...
  8. Pour the cake mixture into the lined baking tin and place in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, using a hand whisk, whip the double cream and icing sugar together until they form soft peaks.
  10. Allow the cake to rest for 10 minutes in the tin − this will allow it to set slightly. After this time, carefully lift the edges of the greaseproof paper to remove the cake from the tin. Slice into squares and serve at room temperature with a generous dollop of the cream.
8. Allow to rest...

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o-cha (hot japanese tea)
This is our first vist back here after the inauguration of our blog, it's finally fallen off the "talk of the town" urbanspoon London top ten.  So I can write about it, and not feel guilty about being awarded silly urbanspoon points.  Speaking of which, they seriously need to work on their algorithm to reward those that discover up and coming joints, and not reward those that jump on the bandwagon.  Anyway, yes.  The better half is a Tokyo-ite.  So she knows noodles, and her fave is the udon.

Quail and aioli
So, to give the short answer first, these are the real deal.  Udon take time and effort to create, and when they run out of noodles to serve - they just plain run out.  There's no quickly whipping up another batch to satisfy the drooling customer.  Hours of work have gone into this dough.  Is that the right word?  Dough?  I need to look that up.  Regardless, these are the best udon you are going to get in Britain.  That's a bold statement, and one that I have absolutely no empirical evidence to support - but that's how these noodles, and the environment of Koya, make you feel.  Like it's the real deal.

Deep fried Tofu
The last couple of times we've been, we've been seated next to super loud nasally Americans for some reason.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love America - we both lived there for close to a decade - but hey, can you just turn down the volume a notch or two pleeeease?  I'm sitting right next to you.  Anyway.  No beer this time for myself, they serve good old Kirin (made under license) or Echigo (as seen at Yashin a few weeks ago).  You certainly pay the price for the latter - over £8.  but worth a punt if you want to feel like you're going properly Japanese.  We both ordered a classic personal pot of o-cha (hot Japanese tea).

We've tried the pork belly to start before, and I would recommend that to all and sundry.  But, today we went for a couple of items off the specials menu - deep fried tofu, and another dish of deep fried quail with aioli.  The tofu was delicious.  Of course this was "proper" tofu, not your dodgy supermarket stuff, deep fried just enough to coat the surface of the cubes with a layer of fat, then served up with a soy based sauce, watercress, spring onions and ...?  The quail was a little fiddly, but I enjoyed it.  The aioli was overpowering, and maybe was unnecessary.  A few greens were served in the bowl, which added a welcome change of texture.

Buta Miso
Onto the main course - the noodles.  The better half went for her regular Kizami - hot udon in hot broth with fried tofu and spring onion.  I went for Buta Miso - again, hot udon in hot broth, with pork and miso.  The noodles are what it's all about.  Soft, but satisfyingly spongy.  Just an absolute delight to consume.  Served hot enough to burn, it's quite the challenge to wait long enough for them to be comfortably edible.  I usually just end up hurting myself instead.  Last time I had the Buta Miso, it was a touch too salty.  This time it was perfect.  For the first time I actual beat my champion noodle eater of a wife.  I'm still working on my "Tokyo slurp" though.  It's one noodle at a time for me.  No room for sen-cha ice cream after that lot.  We toddled off to have a look at the W hotel instead.  Which was rubbish.  it's 2011, not 2001.  Seen it all before.  Sorry, I digress.  Best.  Noodles.  Ever.

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Signor Sassi

We visited here a couple of years ago, so knew what we were in for. Namely fantastic pasta (don't order anything else on the menu) and sub par service. This place is always busy, partly due to its reputation, and partly due to its location. It must be in all the Japanese and Chinese tourist guides, and it also attracts its fair share of Knightsbridge douche bags (yes, you guys behind us taking shots of Grey Goose). However, it obviously can't be that bad, since we were back for a second go. Last time, the stand out dishes were the pasta, so that's what we came for - and some culatello (the Carluccio VT snippet on Saturday Morning Kitchen made me fiend for it).

Zitoni Toscanini - Tuscan spiced sausage, tomato and pecorino

Our coats were checked, and we were seated, offered bread, provded with olives and then we settled in for a 15 minute wait. Notably, the olives were great. Fresh and tasty. A grateful diversion during our sojourn. The restaurant is a little weirdly shaped. There are 3 main areas, and both times we've been seated in the tiny area just to the right, where there are only 4 tables, and ample room to get ignored. We finally ordered the culatello to share, which comes with deep fried pecorino. The other half followed with spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico, and I went for Zitoni Toscanini - long pasta tubes made with Tuscan spiced sausage, tomato and pecorino. We also got a half bottle of Chianti (hate those ridiculous half bottles, would far prefer half a full bottle decanted to a carafe) - and some tap water, which I had to ask a few times for.

Spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico

The culatello - the "king" of parma hams, was pretty pricey, at a few pence under £15. Worth it? Nah, not really. But I just wanted to see what it was all about. Sliced thinner than proscuitto, and drier, it was certainly pleasant, but probably not worth the extra price. As mentioned, the pasta is the main attraction - so much so, we are willing to put up with the idiot neighbours and the slow service. The pasta itself is just awesome. Great texture, and the tomato just jumps so far out of the sauce at you. I was wholly satisfied with my dish, as was the better half. We didn't stick around for dessert, or even coffee. a) it would have taken too long, and b) they were on their 3rd round of shots behind us. I asked for the bill, and was presented with a tab including items we certainly didn't order, and even more importantly weren't going to pay for. The girl, whose sole job appears to be to take the money, was semi-apologetic, and returned with the correct tab. Next time, until we find better a better pasta purveyor, we'll definitely try to get in the main room in the middle.
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Les Deux Salons

Almost 6 months after its opening, and we only managed to get a 6:45pm table booking a week in advance. I guess this indicates it's still pretty popular, and indeed there was quite the buzz about the place. I checked my coat, picked up the other half at the bar, and we were taken to our table - bar tab was transferred with no fuss. We'd already taken a look at the menu, and read a few reviews, so had some idea of what we wanted to try. Bread, and butter arrived as soon as we sat, and a question about water. The bread was good, as was the butter. I went for a Burgundy to start, a carafe of Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru ‘Les Lavières’, Prieuré. Priced in the upper 2/3rds of the list, I got what I was looking for.

Bacon and Snail Pie
We started with the Herefordshire snail and bacon pie, and the Cornish Sardines with chilli, lemon, toasted sour-dough and olive oil. We switched halfway through, in order to get a share of the tastes, but mainly because I don't have the patience for the fish bones. The pastry was good, just enough of it, but well cooked and nice and flaky. The béchamel sort of sauce was gooey and delicious. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of bacon, and the snails were a tad chewey, but there was enough flavour and texture to make it a decent dish all around. The sardines, although difficult to eat, were well cooked and certainly fresh. The accent of lemon worked well, but I didn't find a whole lot of chilli going on. Just too difficult for me to eat personally.

Onto the main, and another 250ml carafe - Rosso di Montepulciano, Cantina Crocian. I'm a fan of Montepulciano, and this delivered the fruit I desired. I opted for the Bavette of Scottish beef, shallot sauce, the better half going for Friday's special dish - Classic bouillabaisse ‘Marseille style. I stuck with the suggested medium rare, being flank steak, it's not a good idea to cook it anymore than that. It was a pretty decently sized piece of meat, served with grilled carrots, and I ordered an extra side of fries. It arrived in a pan, that I'm pretty sure it wasn't cooked in. This is a bit disingenuous feeling. Hmm. I transferred it to my plate, and our young French waiter aided by adding a last ironic cheffy smear of the shallot jus (he was a good lad, we liked the service.) The beef itself was actually very good. Nothing ground breaking, but seemed very good value at 14.95. The fries were fantastic. The better half's bouillabaisse was lacking - where were the molluscs? Shellfish? There was hint of them in the sauce, but just a massive slab of fish was all she could find in the pot. The soup had such great flavour, it's a shame she couldn't sink her teeth into any of the participating ingredients. It just didn't have the wow factor, and was a little same-y.

For dessert, a classic vanilla crème brûlé. There are a couple of basic things on the check list for a crème brûlé. First the sugar. Is it the right thickness? Has it been over or under torched? This first box was thankfully ticked. Onto the contents - it wasn't quite as set as we would have liked, a little too, milky. Where was the vanilla? Better half wants to see specks of seed all over the place. I think I could count maybe 20? I'm sure it's a personal thing, but hey, there's no accounting for taste.

Would we go back? Probably not. But that's not to say I wouldn't recommend it. It definitely has a nice atmosphere, the service is great, and the cooking is certainly competent. But eh, there are plenty of other restaurants I need to try before returning here. Go to Arbutus instead if you've never been.
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Americana and Buffolina
Just a quick one...  TehBus had mentioned he was going for lunch at Sartori, since I happened to questioned him on his pick of the best pizza in London.  He said this was worth a look - and definitely one of the better pizzas around.  This is a local spot to my place of work, so thought I'd give it a go.  Looks like a regular modern italian, tables and bar upstairs.  More tables and the pizza oven downstairs.  It was pretty quiet on a Thursday night, and our waiter was nice enough to offer to move us a bench seat after seating us, since a couple of other diners were about to settle up and leave.  We were here for the pizza, so pizza it was.  The pizza comes in 2 forms - metro and, er, regular.  Metro is sold by mass/length.  ie. 250g/25cm, 500g/50cm, and so on.  Haven't seen this before.

I went for an Americana - mozarella, salami and basil.  The other half went for a Buffolina - mozarella and basil latently placed on a basic dough and sauce base. One of the antipasti items boasted that the mozarella was flown in from Naploi.  Whether that applied to her pizza, I'm not sure - but that was some damn good mozarella.  Now this is going to sound like a weird thing to comment on, but the basil was fantastic.  Herby and sweet, but smooth, with no after bite.  Whether it was super duper special organic stuff, or just straight out of a catering supply place, I don't know - but something was going on there.  On mine, the salami was, well, run of the mill salami.  Nothing special to report.  Down to the two most important components of the pizza - the dough and the sauce.  To be honest, the dough was slightly disappointing - or perhaps the actual preparation.  Although a well balanced mixture, it was somewhat soggy.  Wife thinks there was too much oil drizzled on top, which had soaked through and spoiled the bake.  I definitely wanted a little more crispiness from the base.  The sauce though was great - tomato-ey, with just enough sweetness, but not too sweet.  I'll give it another go, since it's local, and that mozarella is the best I've had in recent memory.

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Japan finds the recipes and does the cooking, England takes the pictures and writes the words. Then we both eat the results!