*is properly French today* Saturday, Jul 28 2012 

I just ate carpaccio!! And I liked it!

ImageNote that this is not a picture of the one I had. But the concept is the same. Carpaccio is usually very thin slices of raw beef, although you can also do it with other meats and even fish (e.g. tuna). I tried it as it was being served up at my inlaws’ place for lunch and was surprised to find that I liked it. High quality meat is obviously a top priority in terms of texture and flavour, but the seasoning helps too: try lemon, vinegar, olive oil or chives as well as the standard salt and pepper.

The trick, too, is to slice it thinly enough to make it palatable. You can slice it manually with a sharp knife or use a meat slicer. Some recipes recommend slicing the meat while it’s still in a frozen or semi-frozen state to make this process easier.

It’s a big leap as a Brit to eat carpaccio when for years you’ve eaten your meat cooked well done. As I’ve now been living in France for nearly 4 years, I’ve weaned myself off this now and now always order meat medium rare. While not quite into “saignant” territory (this is how my husband always orders his meat, and the term is generally translated as ”rare’), I’m still happy to have tried carpaccio and liked it. A good standby in case of any awkward dinner party or restaurant situations, and not such a big leap now from steak tartare either. Or indeed from “saignant”!

Knowing that I now like this could also be helpful in other culinary spheres, such as Japanese food, where chunks of uncooked salmon are not an uncommon sight. And since we’re in all likelihood going to take a holiday to Japan in 2013 or 2014, I’d better get practising my sushi skills. In the meantime…bon appétit!


Chain Review: Yo! Sushi Saturday, Apr 28 2012 


Lunchtime. Mum and I had just arrived at Paddington Station with my dad as a precursor to his 2pm meeting at the in-station Hilton. We needed food, and fast. The station has many options, including a pub, a Garfunkel’s, Boots Meal Deals, and McDonalds. But we decided instead to plump for Yo! Sushi instead; neither of us had ever been before (although we had eaten sushi) and Mum was quite excited at the prospect of going somewhere she would never get to go with Dad (he doesn’t like sushi).

The concept of Yo! Sushi is simple. Bowls are colour-coded by price, ranging from £1.70 (green) to £5 (grey). You take what you want off the conveyor belt, or buzz for a member of staff to bring you what you want (if you can’t find what you want off the menu or are just lazy), and at the end of your meal your plates are added up. Plates include everything from salads and sushi to duck and desserts, and what’s more, you can have unlimited refills of green tea or water for a mere £1.50 (other drinks are available too, of course). The menu clearly explains the pricing structure and breaks down the dishes into their constituent ingredients. Those with allergies or counting calories need not worry either as these concerns are also clearly marked.

We got four dishes between us, but shared them so that we were able to taste as much as possible. We plumped for prawn and chicken katsu with pumpkin korroke (nomtacular is NOT the word), salmon maki, duck gyoza (dumplings), and spicy chicken salad – and loved it all. There is really something for everyone here, from vegetarians to hardened sushi fans – even those who just don’t like raw fish (there’s enough cooked meat here for my BBQ-loving dad to shake a stick at).

The system of colour-coded plates, which are used to work out your bill at the end, has several advantages. One: as mentioned above, you can always share plates. Two: those with certain dietary requirements or preferences don’t bother anyone else that they’re with. Three: you have the freedom to pick what you want if you’re alone, or to socialise and share if you’re with others, and not feel freakish in any situation. On a less related note, staff don’t give you any hassle, but are quick when needed, meaning you can stay for as long or short a time as you want or need. And four: there should be no arguments about splitting the bill afterwards!

After all that we eschewed dessert (although the black sesame ice cream was VERY tempting – despite the fact that it was peeing it down with rain outside) and settled the bill, which was very reasonable indeed, coming in at around £20 for two (and we were more than satisfied).

Yo! Sushi also offers a host of other services, including takeaway and delivery; they regularly run competitions and promotions; they have an effective loyalty card scheme; and they also throw parties for large groups on request (although of course this comes at a cost). In short, they do everything they can for just about every group of people, whether they’re commuters or trying to throw a Christmas party.

Affordable, delicious, healthy, quick, and with a variety of locations (although sadly not in France yet!) – I’ll definitely be back.


Locations: truckloads across the UK, Ireland,  Portugal, the UAE, Bahrain, and Norway