Home made after dinner mints

Ok so what the fuck do you do when you have gluten free and dairy free people over for dinner and you want a little snaffle to go with after dinner drinks? After trawling Pinterest for desserts I almost pulled my hair out trying to find something that didn’t involve a combination of coconut oil, cashew nuts and nightmares. Then a glorious pattern caught my eye, home-made after dinner mints it had to be.

I wish I could call this an actual recipe… but all you need to do is choose your chocolate (I went as dark as possible because of the aforementioned dairy free issue) then melt it in a bain marie, or microwave if you feel like living on the edge. Then take your fresh mint leaves and dip them round end first into the chocolate.

A couple of things that I learned in the process, leave this as late as possible i.e. just before your guests arrive. The longer your mint is off the branch the more it will wilt, so put this together just before you get the party started and then pop them in the fridge.

Also be patient with the chocolate, once you have melted it it will be hot (don’t you roll your eyes at me) so just chill out and wait till it has cooled right down to room temperature before you get your dip on otherwise you will scald the leaves. Oh and when you are popping them off the baking sheet don’t grab them by the leafy tops, just turn the baking sheet upside down and push on the chocolate part and they will leap for freedom.

The finished after dinner mints were the perfect refreshing but decadent snaffle, and went down a treat served with sloe gin over ice.

Only complication? I don’t like mint.

The Colour Palate feeling green

Every so often you hear about something so quirky that you can’t help but immediately book a ticket. One of these was the Colour Pallet dinner run by the clever kids at the Art of Dining. My imagination was running wild, each of the courses was going to be themed around a colour…but what exactly did that mean?

Arriving at the Colour Pallet we went straight down stairs only to be smacked in the face with green…green everywhere. The walls were green, the lights were green, the tables were green, and just in case you weren’t maxed out by green there were trees lining the walls. I have never been in a room quite so emphatically green. Sitting down there was a lot of nervous laughter in the room, not something you normally hear in a London restaurant (unless its first date central), it sounds like we weren’t the only ones eagerly anticipating the evening to come.

The Colour Palate

We started with quail wrapped in vine leaf with wilted herb salad and freekeh. My first bite was the start  of an evening long mind fuck that I am still bamboozled by. Nothing on the plate tasted quite as expected; it wasn’t bad by any means (the entire meal was fantastic) it just tasted indescribably greener than it should. The colour of the room/lights/cocktail/plate/table was totally messing with my head and taste buds.

The Colour Palate green

Throughout the green course the Audio Wave Ninja and I were debating just how we would move on to the next colour. How would the Art of Dining crew turn this green pleasure palace into a mellow yellow dream boat (yellow was our next course). Would we go into a different room? Would there be a massive delay while they made our green world yellow?

This was partially answered when the waitress had a quiet word in my ear “start ripping”. Seeing my confused expression she demonstrated and ripped part of our green table cloth. Trading joyous looks of disbelief, the Ninja and I started ripping away the green paper tablecloth to reveal the yellow beneath. The discarded green was thrown over our shoulders and onto the floor. Then the lights changed, turns out we were in a white room and all the colour was provided by the lights. Genius.

The Colour Palate orange

Throughout the yellow course we kept ordering the colour cocktails and getting a bit grumbly that they didn’t fit in with the colour themes. The ‘yellow’ cocktail looked more orange, and similarly the ‘yellow’ food appeared white/orange/brown. It wasn’t until the white course that we all shut up. Turns out the food and drink colour had been entirely on point, it was the colour of the lights that was distorting our perception of colour – total mind fuck.

The next question was how we would enter into the black course…there isn’t exactly lighting that fits an absence of light. Well, easy solved really… they turned the lights off. The waitresses all put on mining head lamps and we were in the dark to eat the soy aubergine with fermented garlic and black sesame. If we thought the lights had changed how we tasted food, wait till you can’t see a thing. Absolutely amazing to experience food in this way.

The Colour Palate black

By the desert course (orange) we had managed to make our way through every colour of cocktail. So it seemed totally reasonable to make friends with the couple next to us and wage war on the other long table. During the final table cloth rip, instead of quietly depositing it on the floor it was a paper snowball fight – with extra points if you could hit someone without incriminating yourself.

It was such a fun and unique evening, I will for sure be keeping an eye out for any future Art of Dining events.

I know I am normally all about the coffee, but sometimes a Runawaykiwi has to eat. So to get you planning your Friday night feast here are two new names for you to try.

BunnyChow

1. Bunnychow, Boxpark (and other locations)

A bunny is something I first heard about in Disneyland but actually originated in South Africa. The Disney version was a full sized loaf of white bread, top cut of hollowed out and filled with clam chowder. The London version is much more civilized, a small round loaf filled with whichever of the creatively named options you want. Now, as good as Monkey Glands sounded I went for the BangCluck Bunny which was a Thai chicken curry in the aforementioned loaf. Full of flavour, and 100% portable Bunnychow is the ideal Friday night feast.

 

Bird London

2. Bird, Shoreditch

Bird does exactly what it says on the tin, top class free range fried chicken.  You can choose how many pieces, light or dark meat, what glaze you want and then a dipping sauce. I was uber demanding and wanted different glazes on my order and they were happy to indulge me. I highly recommend the Honey Ginger glaze, its crispy and sticky and all full of goodness. Bird will forever be awesome in my eyes, because they guessed that it was my dinner mates birthday and bought us a doughnut and a party popper to celebrate.

 

L'Entrecote

I seriously suffer from food envy. Now annoyingly this is not yet a recognised medical condition, if it was I’m sure there would be some sort of ‘bring me two meals’ law in place to alleviate the symptoms. I don’t even know how it happens, I spend ages perusing the menu, only to like the dish that my dining companion got; one that didn’t appeal until it was too late. Well, thankfully I have discovered* the restaurant to solve everything.

L’Entrecote in Canary Wharf does one thing, and does it well. It uses the same recipes, style and dining order that it has for over 50 years. Starting in Paris this chain has now got two offshoots in London, and one in New York – the world loves a classic. You don’t have many decisions to make when you sit down, it’s how would you like your streak (still mooing thanks) and if your poison is red or white wine.

L'Entrecote salad

Are you getting the picture? No chance of food envy because the menu is the same for everyone. Starter is a lettuce walnut and mustard salad and the main is thinly sliced steak with chips and the secret sauce. I wasn’t a huge fan of the starter to be honest, mostly because mustard just isn’t my topping of choice (would much prefer a balsamic), but the main was right up my alley.

L'Entrecote steak

Chips perfectly fried and steak tender and tasty. The not so hidden secret about L’Entrecote is that they keep a portion of your steak warm and bring it out when you have finished the first half, such a nice idea and saves you munching on cold steak towards the end of your meal.

I’m not too sure how many people I could bring to L’Entrecote, I know an alarming amount of vegetarians, vegans  or people with food allergies (I love you kids really, more tasty meat for me), which means a one size fits all menu isn’t ideal. But for the days when I just want a damn good steak and chips? L’Entrecote is for me.

*by discovered I of course mean I was invited to try it by a PR company, all views are my own.

MEAT liquor burger

I am a huge fast food fan. As a kid it was always a treat food, something we longed for and every so often got. In fact my favourite day of school out of all 13 years was the day my Mum woke me up early and whispered “come on, let’s get McDonalds for breakfast”. This was unprecedented behaviour from Mum and for the mini-runawaykiwi, who at eight already hated school, it was like a dream. Nowadays I can realistically get fast food whenever I want, but in my head it’s still a treat that should be savoured every so often. And the best bit is that these days, if you know where to go, fast food comes with cocktails.

MEAT liquor Summer lovin

In London it’s the dirty burger which had really made an impact, a burger that couldn’t care less about calorie count and is focused on a greasy flavour punch. The hero of this genre has to be MEAT Liquor, a darkened haunt just behind Debenhams on Oxford Street. There are no plates here (much to the consternation of the people eating next to me), just burgers wrapped and dumped on a tray.

I started with a couple of very strong Summer Loving cocktails, don’t let the name fool you while they may taste as sweet and fruity as can be but I almost fell off my chair they were so strong. So strong in fact that at the end of the meal I accidentally tried to pay with my Art Fund card and had an argument with the waitress about why they wouldn’t accept it …oops.

MEAT liquor art card

The burgers are as I said before everything that is good, messy and in no way in the right part of the food pyramid. I went with the cheese burger and basically inhaled it while being watched mournfully by an owl overhead. Screw the owl, this kind of burger doesn’t stand on ceremony it’s just there for the messy messy eating.

MEAT liquor Owl

If you go you have to take my advice and order the fried pickles. I know, it sounds weird but it is the best fried thing I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The sour crunch cuts through the salty batter like an unexpected dark comedy.

The only thing to watch out for at Meat Liquor is the whisper gallery. If you sit in the right seat at the round centre table, and someone with the right pitched voice is talking at a side table you will hear every word reverberated off the curved roof. You feel like you are going ever so slightly mad as you hear voices out of nowhere, but it sure does add an extra element to dinner.