Hot on the Highstreet Week 269

This summer Magnum have set up shop in the centre of Covent Garden offering visitors the chance to design and devour their very own personalised ice-cream.

The concept is proving to be extremely popular with a long queue outside of sweet-toothed fans. The bespoke ice-creams are freshly dipped and topped with treats of your choice. Indulgent, delicious and completely unique.

Choose your own selection of tempting toppings from thousands of flavour combinations from rose petals to black lava sea salt. Magnum’s specially trained Pleasure Makers will then sprinkle your toppings over deliciously luxurious chocolate as it sets. Each ice-cream creation will be perfected with a drizzle of chocolate and the finishing touch – a classic M coin decoration – all for only £4.50.

The Magnum Pleasure Store has been designed with the Magnum Dipping Bar at its core surrounded by a mix of seating and standing areas. It is the perfect pit stop for shoppers, especially in the unusual warm British weather!

I opted for the vanilla ice-cream, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with rose petals, coconut flakes and pastel pink crunchy balls and finally drizzled with milk chocolate with a white chocolate motif. It was decadent enough to substitute dinner!

The Magnum Pleasure Store is open in Covent Garden until 30 August, more information here.

#MagnumLdn

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Ippudo, Covent Garden

Ippudo’s heritage is long and storied, from Fukuoka Japan in 1985 to New York in 2008 and finally to Europe in 2014. They serve 50,000 bowls of ramen each and every day. As interesting as that may be, the food is better. At Ippudo TMM was taken through the classic range of a Japanese taste palette with dexterous ease by the brigade of highly skilled chefs in the open kitchen, and it was nothing short of delightful.

I feel I should warn you before we go further, dear reader, because in this review I shall say some lovely things about tofu. This is not in my nature, but events conspired against me and I was forced to reassess some of my most fundamental culinary beliefs. Now warned, please read on.

Ippudo 4

Sake and gin-based cocktails were the order of the day first up, with the tart crème de cassis lifting the concoction to crisp refreshing notes. Once seated, first up on our menu was a revelation in cream and green – chilled tofu with spring onion with anchovy and kelp. Soft and supple, it worked wonderfully with the salty and sharp notes offered from the toppings. If Ippudo can make me say nice things about tofu, then the battle is already won.

 

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Tempura king prawns with crispy noodles and an Asian mayo followed, and then the best steam bun you’ve ever had, filled with meltingly soft and sticky pork with Japanese mayo and Ippudo’s original spicy bun sauce. TMM was not alone at the table in drawing comparisons between our steamed buns and “the best McDonald’s you’ve ever eaten”. The fried chicken with grated daikon and ponzu was a particular highlight, with all the best things about Japan meeting Southern hospitality, and getting on famously.

 

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Delicious treats were arriving thick and fast, and each accompanied by its own sake pairing, from dry and crisp to sweet and heady matching the delicate balances of each dish. Finally, and not without a concerted albeit gluttonous effort to make our way through a range of delicacies, we arrived at our main course – and Ippudo’s specialty – the ramen. One half of the entire menu is given over to variations on the classic Pork bone broth with homemade noodles, thinly sliced pork belly, soft-boiled egg, mushrooms and radishes. Given, dear reader, that TMM is as greedy as he is indecisive, two “small” portions were ordered, one of the seasonal varieties and Ippudo’s classic. Although the seasonal Deep Tonkotsu’s broth was served to the side allowing for dipping and seasoning of the ingredients individually, the classic was lifted yet higher by Ippudo’s secret Umami Dama paste. Complex flavours simply delivered, happy customers, and a tofu convert to top it all off. Not a bad evening’s work from the boys in the kitchen.

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Ippudo seeks to reclaim the energy and passion that has deserted Japanese cuisine in recent years. Hospitality staff and chefs are brimming with gusto, and the kitchen positively vibrates with passion and excitement. The event TMM attended was a small gathering of 20; the kitchen at full flow serving all covers would surely be a sight to behold, worth the trip itself. As when great British summer inevitably disappoints us and you need a clean, healthy, delightfully balanced bowl of the best ramen you’ve probably tasted, Google your nearest Ippudo (for you Londoners that’s St Giles Street WC2 or Canary Wharf) and head over pronto.

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More information on Ippudo and book a table here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.

Fetish Infiniment Vanille, Pierre Hermé

Last night I visited the Pierre Hermé store in Covent Garden for a sneak preview of their new Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection. A select group of food bloggers huddled around the counter, peering in at the immaculate rainbow coloured macarons. But though the rose, pistachio and passionfruit all looked very appealing we were here for the showcase of one particular flavour, vanilla.

Vanilla is a Special. A spice of multiple aromas depending on where it has been grown: overtones of chocolate, butter, fruit, wood, liquorice… A gem Pierre Hermé adores. An insatiable gourmand, Pierre Hermé couldn’t use just one variety of vanilla. And so Pierre Hermé composed his interpretation of the ideal vanilla flavour. A recipe combining different varieties from Mexico, Tahiti, and Madagascar that has become the signature “house” fragrance.

After a glass of pink fizz we tasted a selection of treats from the vanilla collection. The super soft macarons sandwiched together with a creamy buttery filling.  Then came shots of the warm, comforting vanilla infused green tea and a slice the white chocolate vanilla coated cake. Finally we tried vanilla scented rich dark chocolates and mouthfuls of Sablés diamant (a shortbread like vanilla biscuit). It was all delicious, and Pierre’s delicate treatment of vanilla brings out a unique warmth from this familiar flavour.

We stepped out of the sweet Parisian emporium with a new knowledge of vanilla and delightful goody bag to continue enjoying on the bus home. If this evening was proof of anything, it is that Pierre Hermé is so much more than just a master of macarons.

Discover the Fetish Infiniment Vanille collection from March 3rd to April 19th. See more here.