London: The Palomar, Soho

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The Palomar in Soho is a snug little restaurant serving up dishes from the Jerusalem of today and has been around for a while. It’s still as popular as when it opened and I had a fab dinner with my friend Felicity here quite a while ago that I’d like to tell you all about.

Arriving on a weekday after work the small restaurant was of course full (always expect a popular Soho restaurant to be full unless you go very early or very late) so we put our names on the list and when in search of a drink.

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About an hour later our seats at the bar were ready and our enthusiastic water welcomed us and started to recommend dishes from the menu. The kabaneh, a Yemeni pot baked bread with tahini and a tomato sauce was a must and we loved dipping the fluffy bread in the different sauces.

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Next we had a special for the day; crispy Jerusalem artichoke with tuna rillette and duck fat which was amazingly good. Loved loved loved this one!

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The burnt courgette tzatziki was another favourite. It also pairs very well with the bread!

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Another special, the bonito carpaccio, savoury cookie crumble was also really nice! And full of freshness.

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The Jerusalem style polenta with asparagus, mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil was pure indulgence (I wish I could cook polenta like that!!) and a real treat.

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But the deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon and harissa disappointed us a little. It was still nice – but lacked a bit om oomph compared to the other dishes.

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So did The beets go prawn with smoky beetroot, labneh, prawn jus, basil and chilli but it was still a nice plate of food. Just lacking a bit of wow factor.

All together we had a fantastic evening here, chatting with our waiter, the people next to us and of course each other, enjoying some excellent food and lovely wine! This is what Soho is all about for me; the informal yet amazing dining experiences.

The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN

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Slow cooked lamb shank with herb polenta

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This autumn is the strangest I’ve ever experienced, weather-wise. Apart from the dip in temperature at the beginning of this week it’s been very warm for November. Not that I’m complaining (I hate the cold!), it just feels strange not having to wear gloves when Christmas is just around the corner!

The warmth outside hasn’t really put me in the mood for warming soups and hearty stews, in fact this recipe of slow cooked lamb shank is the most autumnal dish I have accomplished the last few months.

The recipe for herb polenta is courtesy of my Swedish food blogger colleague Annika and works with all sorts of tender meats.

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Slow cooked lamb shank, serves 2

1 lamb shank

a knob of butter

1 onion, unpeeled, cut into wedges

1 carrot, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

salt, pepper

1/2 bottle red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Melt a knob of butter in an oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the meat on all sides and season. Remove from the pan and add the onion and carrot pieces. Fry for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Put the lamb shank back into the casserole dish and add the wine and bay leaves. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 2 1/1 hours; you want the meat to be very tender and fall off the bone. Check on the meat every half an hour. Add more liquid if needed and turn the shank once in a while. To serve, take the meat off the bone and serve in chunks with polenta and vegetables.

Creamy herb polenta, serves 3

Translated from and adapted after Annika’s recipe (which I have halved)

700 ml vegetable stock

50 g butter

300 ml polenta

a handful finely chopped mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage etc)

150 ml finely grated parmesan 

Bring the stock to simmer (not boil) in a large saucepan. Add the polenta while whisking. Add butter. Whisk until the polenta starts to boil. Whisk regularly while the polenta cooks for another 15-20 minutes. Add the herbs but save some for decoration. Add more stock if needed. The polenta needs to be thinner than you think as the parmesan will thicken it. Add the parmesan when the polenta is cooked. Season to taste and maybe add another knob of butter. Serve immediately.

Creamy polenta with mushrooms and chorizo

I’ve tried once before to make creamy polenta but I failed terribly although (or despite of) I followed the instructions on the back of the packet. To not repeat my failure I consulted an Italian cookbook (Bringing Italy Home by Ursula Ferigno) and a google-search, and that made me succeed this time. Yay!

There are few different types of polenta, both yellow and white, and according to the cookbook the yellow polenta that takes about 40 minutes to cook is the best one. I could only find yellow 1-minute polenta, but that worked well too.

I didn’t have parmesan at hand, so I used a Swedish mature hard cheese instead and at the end I added, very unorthodox, a dollop of Philadelphia cheese (I picked that up in the google search) and the result was a creamy fluffy polenta with lots of flavour.

I kept the trimmings simple, just fried button mushrooms and chorizo but it complemented the creamy polenta very well. A perfect weekday supper for a gloomy day, and if you use the quick polenta like I did, this is done in about 10 minutes.

Creamy polenta with mushrooms and chorizo, serves 2

100 g chorizo, in slices

200 g button mushrooms, in quarters

chopped parsley (optional)

butter and oil for frying

600 ml chicken- or vegetable stock

150 g polenta grains

50 g butter

150 ml finely grated cheese of parmesan type

2 garlic cloves, pressed

salt, white pepper

1 tbsp Philadelphia

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Fry in separate pans the mushrooms in butter and the chorizo in oil. Season the mushrooms. Pour the polenta grains bit by bit into the stock, stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens (which is fast). Remobve from heat and ass butter, cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and at the end the cream cheese. Serve in bowls with the mushrooms and chorizo. All you need is a fork – this is comfort food.