Adam Handling at Caxton, London


One day, I will enter Masterchef when my cooking skills are just maybe on par with the professional level. I love cooking, at the same time I love trying new restaurants and sampling and learning different cuisines. I don't have talent like Adam Handling, he was a contestant on Masterchef: the Professionals. A show for the up and coming professionals showcasing their skills and pushing boundaries and flairs. Unlike me, I am just an amateur and love eating foremost.

I never really got into watching the Masterchef: the Professionals, I am a sucker for the amateur version (and it is a better show). It was not until another blogger mentioned that we should try out Adam Handling at Caxton that with my slow train thought, to realised who he was. Handling was a runner up in Masterchef 2013, but have also won numerous other awards since. With his name hanging on the restaurant of St Ermin's Hotel in St James, one may thought this was a popular restaurant not. Location wise is not a bustling area, just across the road from New Scotland Yard so definitely in a safe hand.


What Adam showcased on the show was his own distinctive flairs and technical skills which reflects on the European menu with a touch of Japanese essence. We went for the barginous set meal of 3 course plus a glass of wine each that was booked through "bookatable".

Bread with Olive Oil and Chicken Butter

Bread came in a very small loaf, unsliced. We had to saw through the crust, I tried and struggled. I felt like needing a chainsaw for the job, so I left that job to my company Tom, from Food and Drinks Noob blog. Beside the hard crust, it was decently soft inside with a chicken butter. It tasted like chicken, chicken skin to be more precise and the thought of it is heart attacking but too precious to go to waste. Also on displayed was a Spanish olive oil for dipping, which apparently Handling produced. All I can say is I had better.

Nitro Salmon, Snow Peas, Wasabi, Blossom

Smoked Pork, Pineapple, Lovage, Parmesan

The nitro salmon was a theatrical show, spiking it with nitro smoke. The presentation was spot on, crafting a colourful mosaic. I can see the Japanese influence in this dish with the use of wasabi but I did not really get that hit of wasabi in the form of an oil with the fresh salmon and the greeness of peas. Tom's starter was interestingly covered with Parmesan snow, balanced by the smoky aroma of the pork and offseted by the sour note of the pineapple. I preferred my salmon dish. We had a glass of house wine each with it and frankly it was gone before the main course arrived.

Lamb, Artichokes, Garlic, Sour Cream

For main, we both chosen the lamb. The lamb looked tender but my first cut of it was tough, so much hard work of sawing through it that it lacked excitement. The dish was playing too safe, all classic well complimented flavour. Not much I can fault beside the meat being on the tough side.

Pre Dessert

Apple, Tonka, Elderflower, Coconut

Mandarin, Yuzu, Lime, Choux

The pre dessert was a mini wafer cone with a custard ice cream. I was left out of words with the lack of imagination. Tom had the apple dessert, which was clean and fresh. Whilst I had a giant choux filled with mandarin creme patissiere, it had a looked of a pineapple bun (bo lo baau) and a crunchy texture. It was more crunchier than a normal choux pastry. There was a lot of element to this dessert and I have to give an applaud to the sugar work, what a skillful job.

I can see the potential of Adam Handling, a very young chef with a contemporary and elegant style that has Michelin aspirations. The meal showed techniques and thoughtful combination of flavours but it just lacked excitement, and can be a bit dull within a hotel environment unless you're a businessman or a visitor in the saturated hotels area of St James Park.

Score: 3/5.

Spring Feast with Lisa Faulkner #CurrysOnHotpoint


Ever since I started blogging, I get invited to all sort of different food related events. My most recent invite was with Currys and Hotpoint to an exclusive Spring Feast dinner where I would be cooking with the Celebrity Masterchef 2010 winner Lisa Faulkner. 

Spring is coming soon, a new seasonality of food is appearing on the menu. We should be following the seasonal food and supporting the local produces. The lovely Lisa rustled up scrumptious two course meal where the bloggers had to replicate afterward at the Hotpoint Design Centre. This was a chance to try out all the latest Hotpoint kitchen gadgets. The centre was a serious kitchen porn, being an amateur cook I dreamt of having a kitchen like this.

It was not about an evening of just getting fed, we had to get dirty on hands to prepare for our own supper. We were divided to cook up either the main dish or dessert. I am always a savoury person, in no decision I volunteered for the main. 

After a lot of confusion and some careful choppings, the main was put into the Hotpoint Openspace oven to bake away. This new design oven has a special feature of double oven flexibility in a single oven space with the intelligence and innovation of Luce Openspace. A simple divider creates two individual cooking zones with independent timers, controls and lightings. A dream oven if you have a small kitchen.

Menu of the night:
  • Lemon Sole En Papillote - so simple and tasty, the fennel added some strong aniseed flavour to fish. A brilliant balance to such a delicate fish. With sides of potatoes and greens, too much food to digest.

  • Upside Down Pineapple Pudding - an old school retro dessert, it may even drew back up school dinner memories. Another very simple recipe with the all in one method of just blending everything together. It was served with custard, prefect ending to such a wonderful evening.
Thank you Lisa Faulkner!

Noble Rot, London


Once upon a time, the Princess and the Prince Charming lived happily forever after. That did not happen to me, ended rather tragically but one thing that it lead me into is the world of wine or some may called it alcoholism. So much so, when I asked the mighty world of Twitter for the best wine bar in London, Noble Rot was one that got mentioned the most along with couple of other names. I remembered talking to someone at Handford Wines before Christmas, they were saying how good the wine lists was. Anywhere with a good wine list will most definitely attracts me.

Lamb's Conduit Street is a fascinating street, a historic street with all different quirky shops. Sitting on this street is a new wine bar from the chaps of the wine magazine Noble Rot. It feels like it's been there forever, which it has since 1973 before a change of ownership in the late 2015.

Lopez de Heredia, "Tondonia" Tinto Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2003

The menu reads simplicity, at the helm of the kitchen is Paul Weaver who previously worked at the Michelin starred The Sportsman and St John Bread & Wine. With consultant assistance from the man himself, Stephen Harris of The Sportsman. The wine list is even more impressive and is organised by a mix of geography and grapes variety. If you know your wine well, you can spot few bargain bottles below the retail price.

A start with a sip of Lopez de Heredia Rioja 2003, full of juicy ripe fruit flavour. Along with the wine was a cheese plate (Reblochon, Sant Andrea, Beauvale), I got too excited looking at the cheese that I forgot about the photo. Before I know it, the cheese was already demolished.

Duck Ham

I do realised that I started with a dessert first, well cheese for me is more of an appetitser. There's no right or wrong order for food, eat what you love and drink what you appreciate. The duck ham has no relation to the animal piggy, it is thinly sliced smoked duck breast. The oiliness cut through the second bottle of wine, a Shiraz that is very different palate to the initial bottle of Rioja. (I cannot seem to find the Shiraz on the wine list afterward, forgive me again no photo).

Comté Tart, Pink Chicory & Pickled Walnuts

Confit Duck Leg, Puy Lentils & Aioli

Tonight, I found a new love in the form of a Comté tart. Comté is one of my favourite cheese. This is like a savoury custard tart. That intensive cheese flavour and slight gooey melt in the mouth texture, no amount of words can describe it to the point that I have ignored the duck. The salad that went with duck had a slight bitterness but a tang with the dressing making it refreshing to eat. Whilst the duck was good, meat falling off the bone paired with a hearty puy lentils. The dish was simply over shadowed by the brilliant Comté tart. 

Noble Rot is indeed very good, fantastic food and exceptional selected wine list. It met up all the hyped that I heard and excelled in my expectation. Quality food with a bistro fare and quality wine with price tag that does not break the bank. What is not to love about it? With delicious food comes great wine, more importantly is the company that you attended with. With an amazing company, it made this meal even more brilliantly. A word of advice: drink on caution! 

Score: 4/5