If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

27 March 2012

Patrona- Authentic Mexican in Helsinki

 One night last week we had an opportunity for another date night and I am so happy that I remembered that the guys behind Cafe de Nopal had finally opened a new place on Annankatu 20. I managed to get a booking to Patrona for the same day, and it seemed pretty lucky as the place was packed and had to turn some walk ins away.
When we got in the decoration immediately caught my eye and I couldn't help taking pictures straight away. I love all the paintings on the walls, especially the Mexican version of the Last Supper with all sorts of characters. There were also headless chickens flying around with some Mexican wrestlers trying to catch them. Hilarious.

 The menu was more restaurant-like that the one at Cafe de Nopal, with plenty of choice. They really want the dishes to be authentic and for us that seems to be happening pretty well. There is a nice selection on wines, cocktails and beers. A lot of different tequilas.

 A sharing platter of starters; amazing guacamole, spicy prawn cocktail, Whitefish ceviche and pineapple. Fresh, moorish, tangy, creeps-up-on-you-kind-of-spicy stuff. Came with homemade totopos(?) and crackers.

 My main course was stuffed green chilis with a beany sauce and rice and plenty of tasty cheese. Looked pretty, tasted awesome. The chef brought me some fresh tortillas even though they weren't mentioned on the menu just because "In Mexico, they make a taco out of everything!", and he said how they want to provide the real experience of Mexican food. How cool is that!

 The chef had some tacos with a pork filling and a green chili sauce.
 He was rather chuffed.

 I think the dessert was a key lime pie even though the waiter called it lemon pie. But who cares, it was awesome. During the meal we tried several different drinks; prosecco, Mexican beers and  Mexican "lonkero" (me likey!!).
The service was fantastic and the guys really make this place, creating the right atmosphere that is laid back and relaxed, a bit loud and happy. The guy serving us said that it was a stressfull day and later on we were laughing cause for us they all seemed really relaxed. I think I should mention that this is not fast food, but in my opinion we never had to wait too long for anything. With quite a few drinks and three courses the bill came to just over a hundred euros, and I reckon the night was totally worth it. Gracias Patrona, we will be back!

After the meal we checked out the English Comedy Night at Apollo. We really loved the Swedish mime guy Lasse Nilsen, and the Aussie host Louis Zezeran was hilarious too. Hope we get a chance to go again at some point, the English nights are held about once a month.

26 March 2012

Maaliskuun ruokahaaste - March Food Challenge

 So, I am one day late to actually take part to the monthly recipe challenge hosted by Jaana at Kulinaarimuruja. But as the challenge is so funny I am still going to post it!

The object was to find somebody else's receipt at the supermarket and use at least two ingredients out of it to make a dish. I did my shopping tonight at Alepa in Hakaniemi after a long day at uni and work, and as I was packing the shopping I remembered the food challenge. I felt like a proper weirdo when I grabbed a handful of receits from the end of the cashier where people leave the unwanted receipts. I was hoping that there would be one with two ingredients that we would already have at home. Literally a lucky dip!

So, the first receipt had beer and cigarettes on it, and I started to feel uneasy. Will I find anything on here? Some very depressing receipts came up with processed ready made meals, boring salad ingredients (tomato, cucumber, lettuce) and sugary yogurts. Finally I was was happy with this one that included two ingredients that we just happened to have- cherry tomatoes and halloumi.

I did some googling to find a nice salad dressing that would have honey to match the salty cheese and found a recipe here.I think halloumi always needs something really contrasting for maximum yummyness, be it something really sour like lemon juice, sweet like honey or tangy like balsamic.

Our dog eats everything, even tomatoes. But cucumber is his favourite...

Halloumi and Cherry Tomato Salad with a Sweet and Sour Dressing

Halloumi, sliced
Cherry tomatoes
Salad (Rocket would have been nice here)
Herbs; Mint and Basil worked great
Cucumber, Sliced thinly with a potato peeler

1 tbsp Honey
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, grated finely
Zest of 1 lemon, grated finely
Juice of half a lemon
Chilli to taste

1. Grill or slow roast the cherry tomatoes until soft.
2. Make the dressing by mixing together all ingredients.
I find an old jam jar or such is great for this.
3. Plate the salad, cucumber and herbs.
4. Take tomatoes out of the oven when ready, pan fry the halloumi in hot sunflower oil (not olive), until golden and crisp on both sides. Place on some kitchen paper to remove excess oil and place on top of the salad.
5. Dress the salad and enjoy!

18 March 2012

Sunday Brunner

Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner all in one, what's not to love?
Today we had a friend over for "brunch" as an advance thank you for taking care of our dog while we're away on holiday in Paris.

Menu du jour:

Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling, Marlborough, New Zealand

Beetroot Carpaccio with Goat's Cheese
LaiLai Pinot Noir, Chile

Herb crusted Salmon Fillet with Creamed Leeks and Sugarsnap Peas
Vinho Verde Alvarinho, Portugal

Metsuri Cheese with Fig Jam and Rye Crispbread

Rose Flavoured Macarons
Taltarni Brut Taché, Tasmania, Australia

Table setting

The best wine today, unusual sparkling out of Sauvignon Blanc that worked as an aperitif as well as with the starter and the main.

Beetroot carpaccio


Herb crusted Salmon Fillet

I <3 Creamed Leeks
Lovely Johanna

Main Course
Metsuri Cheese

Rose - Macarons AND Bubbles

Pretty happy with these, although half of the batch failed - but more about that in a post coming soon...
 So this is what you might get for taking care of our dog - who wants to be next? :)

Ps. Consumed life encourages you to drink responsibly !! (In other words, we did not finish all those bottles of wine during this meal)

16 March 2012

Pasta Vongole

 I made a trip to Anton & Anton in Kruununhaka yesterday and ended up buying a kilo of cockles. I have tasted them a couple of times in a restaurant I've worked at somewhere (Australia?) but never had I bought them or cooked them. Luckily I have my chef who knew what to do, and that was a creamy pasta vongole. The pasta should really have been linguine but we had pappardelle, and I forgot to get herbs - flatleaf parsley would have really nailed it here. But even without the parsley this must have been one of the best things I have eaten in a while - thank you chef!

 Pasta vongole
Serves 4, or two very hungry people in our case

1 kg cockles (sydänsimpukka in Finnish)
Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped finely
Celery, 1-2 sticks, chopped finely
Shallot onion, finely chopped
Olive oil
Dry white wine, 1-2 dl
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
Cream 2dl
Salt and Pepper

Pasta - linguine or spaghetti,50 g per person is enough

1. Cockles are full of gritty sand. To get rid of the sand place the cockles in a bowl of cold water in the fridge up to 24 hours before cooking. When you're ready to cook, remove the cockles carefully from the bowl and rinse under running water in a sieve. Discard all open cockles, which do not close when tapped (this means they should be alive before cooking).

2. Cook the pasta by the package instructions.

3. Heat up oil in a (very) large saucepan, sautee the garlic, shallot and celery until soft. (Fennel would work here as well). Heat up to high temperature again and add cockles and the white wine as well as the lemon zest. Place a lid on the pan, shake occasionally. Wait until all the cockles are opened, add cream, reduce for a 2 minutes. Finally add the drained pasta and some flatleaf parsley if you were smarter than me and bought some. Discard unopened cockles. Plate, eat and enjoy!

(There might still be some sand so try not to scrape the bottom of the pan or your plate and chew carefully!)

We had sparkling water with the pasta as we both are working for the evening but as a wine recommendation I would go with something dry and mineralic ; Chablis, Sancerre, Muscadet etc.

Ok, it was a huge amount of cockles for two people as you can see from the shells we ended up woth.. Almost didn't need the pasta!