Categories
Dinner MettleFork Kitchen Recipes

Sticky Smoky Pork Belly Recipe

Pork Belly

This sticky smoky pork belly recipe is everything y’all.  If you are anything like me, then you enjoy eating pork from time to time.  I grew up eating bacon, ribs, heck even chitterlings for that matter.  As far as my memories serves me, I do not recall eating “pork belly”.  Even as I type this, the only thing that I could compare it to is what we call Fat Back.  A quick google search and voila!  They are pretty similar but the do come from different cuts of the pig.  Pork belly has some meat and is close to the area where bacon comes from.  Fat back comes from the back of the pig and is simply just that FAT!  
If you have never had the pleasure of eating pork belly, let me be the first to tell you that you are truly missing out.  It is extremely common in England and if you’ve seen my Instagram feed, you will know that I have a soft spot for these tiny morsels of goodness.  If you are looking for a few spots to try them out check out my post on Las Iguanas or Tap N Kitchen.  These places serve up some amazing pork belly bites.  In fact, they are the inspiration behind me wanting to create my own pork belly recipe.

Sticky Smoky Pork Belly

After two successful trials, I am happy to say that my pork belly is outstanding.  I tried two different cuts, the first was in small cubes the second was in 1/2 slices.  Either way is okay, I suppose it just depends on the use i.e. an appetizer for a party vs putting it in a rice bowl.  What is important is the jam packed flavor that this recipe creates.  Lessons that I am imparting on you so that you do not make the same mistake I did.

  1. Remove the thick skin layer – it is just like our skin…well definitely thicker than our skin but the pork belly I had still had hair in it.  Thick course hair…and I doubt pig hair is a delicacy.
  2. Remove the thick skin layer before you cut it into chunks.  My first mistake was trying remove it after it was cut up in cubes….see #1 as to why that is a bad idea.

The dry rub ensures the pork belly bites have flavor before the sticky element is added.  I love that the dry rub gives it its smoky flavor and let’s face it pork was made to be smoky.
Dry rub for pork belly
Next, when baking the pork belly, I recommend cooking it at 400 degrees for roughly 8 minutes.  Since the pork belly has a high proportion of fat, it basically fries itself under intense heat.  Once the pork belly is cooked, remove it from the oven and place it in a skillet.  Again, the fat content of lends itself to creating a nice crispiness on the outside of the pork belly.  Lastly, the real magic happens when you top it with the glaze.  It creates a sweet sticky sauce that takes the pork belly bites out of this world.

 
 
Here is the recipe, feel free to give it a try and let me know what you think.  If you make it be sure to tag #mettlefork for a chance at a feature.
[cooked-recipe id=”5191″]
Forks Up!

Categories
Cambridge Copenhagen Dinner International

Sticks N Sushi

Sticks N Sushi

Coming from America where there are a plethora of sushi restaurants to England where you really have to search requires some patience. Sushi is just one of those meals that it has to be right or it’s wrong. After a less then pleasant experience the last time I had sushi I must admit I was skeptical. My husband gave me two choices for my birthday dinner and I had heard good reviews about Sticks N Sushi so I pushed skepticism aside and decided what the hell why not.
First things first, I love vibe of Sticks N Sushi. It is a complete upscale, date night, high class bar type of vibe. Covering the door is a large green curtain, so when you first walk in, it’s like a mystery and then you are transported to an elaborate Sushi restaurant. While there were a few children there, they were older so I probably wouldnt bring my toddlers.
Now on to the important part…the food. I do not think I have ever had better sushi than I have had at Sticks N Sushi and that is saying a lot. My tastebuds and I are still completely dumbfounded by how ridiculously amazing the food was.

Sticks N Sushi Starters

I got Shake Tataki (sha-kee ta-tah-kee) as one of my starters and bay..bee it was lit. I wanted to share but I couldn’t stop myself. The salmon was so tender it literally melded to my tastebuds and disappeared. The Shake Tataki is sliced salmon topped with daikon, cress, kizami, wasabi and ponzu. Everything about this was perfectly balanced, the wasabi added just the right amount of heat and the daikon added a little crunch. This is a must order when you visit Sticks N Sushi.

For my second starter I ordered the beef tartare. I have always been skeptical of beef tartare well because of the tartare. I mean I don’t even eat my steaks rare and I’m just now moving to a medium cook. Beef, smoked cheese, spring onion, tosazu, spicy goma & jeruseleum artichoke chips…. it was a mouthful typing that…now imagine eating it. This was honestly so good, I forgot it was tartare. Every bite was a step closer to heaven and I honestly don’t know if I could choose between the beef tartare or the Shake Tataki. I NEED them both.

Tartare [Tahr-Tahr] : Finely chopped and served raw

Sushi

When it came time to order my sushi…I went a little overboard. I mean it all sounded good when I read the menu. Do I regret my decision? No. Read these descriptions and tell me if you would be able to resist.

New York Subway: tempura shrimp, avocado & spicy sauce topped with salmon and garlic.

Hell’s Kitchen: tempura shrimp, avocado & spicy sauce topped with tuna and barbecue.

Crunchy chicken: chicken, smoked cheese, crunchy chili & red onion.

Ceviche: red onion, avocado & cucumber topped with scallops and coriander cress.

Sticks

If you are anything like me, I thought the sticks in the name Stick N Sushi stood for the sushi sticks. The truth is they have a menu dedicated to non-sushi items that are served on sticks. *Psshcow* mindblown! These sticks are a perfect way to try multiple mini masterpieces without feeling like you’ve over indulged. Even if you are vegetarian, don’t worry they’ve got one for you too! Out of all of the sticks that I tried, I would say the chicken and squid sausage was the most unique both taste and texture wise.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the types of sticks that are available for your eating pleasure:

Hotate bacon – Scallops and bacon with miso herb butter

Enringi – Grilled king oyster mushroom with miso herb butter

Yaki yagi – Goat’s cheese with dried ham

Momo chili – Chicken, chili dip, teriyaki, and spring onion

Kushi katzu – duck breast with panko and wasabi caeser

Sticks from Sticks N Sushi
Drooling yet?  I certainly am and I’m only reminiscing and writing.  The second best thing about these sticks is that the price is ridiculously cheap – the most expensive one is £5.60  (well that is unless you go with the Japanese wagyu from Kyushu -£15).
Whether it is a date night or just a casual lunch, Sticks N Sushi is the move.  There are locations in Denmark, Berlin and the UK so to find the one closest to you check here.
Until next time readers,
Forks up!  Sticks up!

Categories
Dinner England

Tap and Kitchen Oundle

Tap and Kitchen

One of the most adorable towns in England I’ve been to is Oundle. At the request of one of my very best gal pals, I made the journey to Tap and Kitchen in Oundle to say farewell over dinner. I was impressed my very first time so I returned bringing along my family so they could experience a Tap and Kitchen meal. This review is a combination of both experiences which were lovely.
Tap and Kitchen is just on the outskirts of Peterborough. Right as you pull into the town it is on the right hand side and it has it’s own little wharf. Don’t go too fast or you will pass right by. The parking lot is gravel, so on rainy days be sure to have some wellies close by. When you walk inside you are transported to a homey shabby chic place. There are velvet chairs and frilly lampshades hanging from the ceiling. There is also an outside seating area but I don’t suggest outdoor seating during rainy season.
Tap and Kitchen Oundle reminds me of one of my favorite places I like to consider one of the best kept secrets in Tampa – Stein and Vine. The menu changes daily so if you see it and want it get it, because chances are it won’t be there tomorrow. The bar is stocked full of gin and other spirits and flowing from the tap are local beers. Now to the best part…the food.

Starters

I ordered something new as a starter.  Pea Kofta with minted paneer, harissa mayonnaise and pickled onion.  The harissa mayonnaise is the perfect dip for both the pea kofta and the minted paneer.  If you ever see this on the menu, order it.

These scallops were featured on my Instagram account and are quite possibly the best scallops I’ve ever had. These king scallops are served on a bed of peas, chorizo, samphire and potato puff. Not only are the colors visually appealing, the texture of the peas, potato puff and chorizo complement the scallops.

Main Courses and Sides

Ever since I had my first bite of sweet potato gnocci, I’ve been hooked. The first time I tried it was at Boca Brandon.  Anytime I see it on a menu I have to order it and this time was no exception. There is just something about the sweet, savory, melts like butter gnocchi that can not be denied. Pair it with some asparagus for that added crunch and voila you’ve got yourself a star dish. I was so convincing with my order, three of my friends ordered the same thing. I’ll just say none of us were disappointed.

On my second trip I got the pork belly for my main.  The pork belly was placed atop of wholegrain mustard mash, savoy cabbage with pan jus. The top of the pork belly was seared just right.  My husband got the salmon with roasted vegetables. The mains were simply amazing!!

I was initially skeptical when I ordered the zucchini, tomato and chorizo side.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Somehow it worked.  The zucchini was still firm and the chorizo gave it just enough kick.

Desserts

One of the most common desserts in the UK pubs is sticky toffee pudding.  As you can see from the picture below, it’s a monster of a dessert.  If you haven’t had sticky toffee pudding, visit Tap N’ Kitchen for one of the best around.

Me and my one of my best gal pals as we say see you later.  She is the reason that Tap and Kitchen is forever a part of my life. Thanks Brook!

Forks Up!

Categories
Dinner England London

Red Dog Saloon Review

Shoreditch London has so many food options to choose from. However given my upbringing I am partial to some good bbq. We stopped by the Red Dog Saloon on our way to visit Boxpark. The vibe was up and the tables were packed. We were escorted downstairs to the additional seating area which was complete with its often full bar. The menu is similar to what you’d expect to see at a bbq spot in the south. There were several brisket options (to include sandwiches), bbq chicken options, smoked sausage, and typical sides of mac and cheese, coleslaw and beans.


Starters

One of the most difficult decisions you make when dining out is whether or not to order a starter aka appetizer.  There is always that off chance that you will get full and not finish your main. I believe that all courses should be enjoyed so I rarely skip starters. Tonight we were battling between ordering the fried pickles and jalapenos or the brisket nachos. Internally I rationalized and decided not to fight over such trivial things??? Order both I said! I love both fried pickles and jalapenos and nachos and with the four of us there will be plenty to share.  Both were delicious, however the brisket topping to chip ratio could have been a little better.  We ordered a second serving of the fried pickles and jalapenos so that let’s you know they were hitting.

 

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Drink Up

 

Don’t forget to order a drink while you wait.. I ordered a mojito and it was the best mojito I think  I’ve ever had.

 

Go Big or Go Home

I went for the most photo worthy flavorful sandwich I could find. Brisket topped with smoked sausage and a fried jalapeno pepper. It was massive both literally and flavor wise. 20190803_2049591582164431562855129.jpg

Sadly, the sides left much to be desired. MY sandwich came with a side of coleslaw and it was hard to distinguish if it was vinegar based or mayo based. I enjoy coleslaw made both ways but this one lacked that umph. I also ordered a side of beans because when one enjoys bbq; ones meal must include beans. I typically get really excited about beans because they are tangy and sweet.  Occasionally they can be a meal all by themselves.  To my disappointment, the beans were just okay…nothing to write home about.

I pride myself on honest and real reviews so I won’t sugar coat it. As difficult as it is to say the sandwiches and starters are great, the sides are not.

Categories
Copenhagen Dinner International Lunch

Hija De Sanchez Tacos

I love tacos! I mean who doesn’t love tacos?  Everyone is always saying Taco Tuesday as if it is a rule.  Well I say to hell with that!  What about the other weekdays?  Taco Monday can totally be a thing. I don’t want to wait until Tuesday to celebrate my tacos.

Categories
Dinner Florida Lunch

Top 5 Pizza Spots in Tampa Bay

Pizza is often considered one of those convenient foods. Pick up the phone call your favorite carryout and bam you have dinner in less than an hour (with a clean kitchen). Honestly over the past few months of my blogging I’ve come to realize it is more than a convenience, it is a craft. Kids love pizza, if you even mention it they go crazy. As an adult I want that same enthusiasm regarding pizza but on a more sophisticated level than just cheese or pepperoni. I want to bite into a slice of pizza and instantly jump for joy in utter satisfaction. I’ve traveled throughout the Tampa Bay area and I’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 places that have the best pie.

1. Midici

2424 Tyrone Blvd North. Ste #524B St. Petersburg, FL 33710

Veni Vedi Veci Midici which was an LA based company has recently expa

nded to the St. Pete area. This is as authentic napolean pizza as it gets.

2. Eddie and Sams

203 E Twiggs St. Tampa, FL 33602

Offering NY style pizza by the slice or a full pie in the downtown Tampa area. It’s an excellent choice for lunch. Try the eggplant parmesan for a hearty treat.

3. Ava’s

718 S. Howard. Tampa, FL 33606

Inspired Italian, wood fire pizza located in the SoHo district of Tampa Bay. Ava’s is serving up more than pizza, but their pizza was good enough to make the top 5.

4. Mellow Mushroom

The psychedelic feel makes it an out of this world experience. It’s worth a trip to Brandon, but plan accordingly there is usually a wait (and for good reason).

5. Westshore Pizza

10309 Causeway Blvd. Brandon, FL 33619


The crust is so soft. The slices are large and the prices are good. Give the white ricotta spinach pizza a try! Its amazing!!

Categories
Dinner Lunch Oklahoma U.S.A

Oso Tacos OKC

 

DONT TACO BOUT IT BE ABOUT IT

 


When given the option between anything else and tacos… tacos usually win. I haven’t been home in two years and the food scene has changed quite a bit. It is definitely not the same food scene as when I grew up. My sister took me to Oso which is nestled in the artsy Paseo district. Creativity doesn’t just remain on canvas anymore. My mouth was bursting with flavor from the works of art placed in front of me.

 

Our lunch started off with complimentary chips and an order of street corn commonly known as elotas. It wasn’t the best elotas I’ve ever had that came from a food truck. None the less it was very good.

 

LUNCH TIME JUST GOT SERIOUS


Any time you see the words brisket burnt ends you know some serious eats are about to be had….My first taco choice was the afore mentioned brisket burnt ends taco accompanied with a pumpkin seeds and fresh radish and topped with a fried pickle. I grew up on bbq and I love a good brisket. This taco literally spoke to my soul. I loved that it wasn’t over the top with the bbq sauce so you could really taste the brisket. My description probably isn’t going to cut the mustard to here’s the pictures so you can drool for yourself.


 

Up next I decided to tap into my British experience and go for a fish taco. Most fish tacos are a Maui Maui fish but not this one. This fish taco should pretty much be the national dish of England. I must admit I wasn’t expecting too much from this taco but damn! This taco tasted like a taco where the fish was cooked in an English pub and flown directly to my plate. The fish was perfectly breaded, light and fluffy. They topped it with tartar sauce and pickled onions and gently placed it on top of a slaw. All joking aside I nearly bit my thumb off it was that good. And out of all 3 tacos it was my favorite.

Fish tacos


My last taco was a dedication to my vegetarian friends. I’ve made veggie tacos at home with flour tortillas but the use of corn tortillas makes it a little extra special. It was a toss up between the mushroom and the cauliflower but after much debate I chose the cauliflower. It was jam packed with veggies (olives, red bell pepper, chargrilled onions, cilantro,pumpkin seeds and garlic)and overflowing with flavor.Vegetarian taco made with Cauliflower

My mom ordered a burrito and it looked pretty epic. Probably should’ve snuck a bite but I didnt. I guess it leaves me something so look forward to. 

 Oso has definitely earned its rank among best tacos which you can read more about here. Oso was so impressive it is debuting in the number 2 spot. 

Categories
Dinner Lunch

NaruOne

My travels have taught me that most major cities have a Chinatown somewhere. Some are big and some are really small, regardless you are instantly immersed in the Asian food and culture right away. During my recent visit to Sydney, Australia I happened to stumble upon their Chinatown (which really pales in comparison to London’s) while we were out exploring and I felt instantly transported. What I didn’t expect to find to in Sydney was Koreatown because usually Chinatown covers everything Asian, yet here I was standing on the corner of Pitt St. heading into Koreatown. If you are anything like me, just the thought of Korean bulgogi puts my tastebuds in a frenzy and I’m instantly salivating. As with any “town” there are multiple food options to choose from and if you aren’t a local you depend heavily on reviews similar to this one for an unbiased opinion. We ultimately chose Naruone because it was rated extremely high for its Korean style fried chicken and it was open late.

Categories
Dinner International Lunch

Nick's Seafood Sydney Darling Harbour

Nestled right in the middle in the Sydney’s Darling Harbour is Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. With so many food options, it would be easy to walk right past this place and chalk it up to another seafood restaurant. I’m here to advise you that if you ever visit Darling Harbor, a meal at Nick’s Seafood Restaraunt is a must. Nick’s has both indoor and outdoor seating, however in the midst of the Australian summer indoor seating is the better of the two options. You are able to enjoy beautiful views, live entertainment, fireworks at night and a nice breeze from the harbor. We were leaving the Sydney aquarium and decided to stop and eat before going back to our hotel. We arrived just before the lunch service was about to end so it wasn’t crowded and the wait staff were very attentive. As usual my husband and I ordered appetizers and mains to give ourselves a broader and better taste of the menu to complete our reviews.
For our entrée, I ordered the Hervey Bay Queensland Scallops. One of the benefits of eating seafood on an Island or in a coastal area is that the seafood is often fresh. Australia is a huge continent/country and here seafood is a part of life. These scallops were seared to perfections and drizzled with a honey soy dressing. A serving of five will cost you $24.00 which may seem expensive but I’ve learned that with food sometimes you really do get what you pay for. If you’ve ever eaten scallops before you know it can go one of three ways. The scallops are either not cooked, too chewy or just right. These scallops literally melted when I bit into them. The honey soy drizzle was perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sweet and salty.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans.

When in Australia, be as wild and adventurous as the outback”.

As I prepared for this trip, I told myself I was going to try some kangaroo. It’s the one thing that you will not be able to get authentically anywhere else. Up until coming to Nick’s seafood, I hadn’t been able to get my hands on some kangaroo and I was afraid as the trip was coming to an end I’d miss my opportunity. However, our impromptu lunch stop provided the chance for this foodie to treat her palette to something exotic. Funny thing is, right when it was time for me to order I almost backed out and went with a safer choice. To be honest I was a little afraid I wouldn’t like it, but boy oh boy am I glad I didn’t let fear keep me from this delicacy. With full mettle, I ordered the Kangaroo Fillet with Tomato Chutney and Chargrilled Herb Polenta and hoped for the best. The picture may or may not do this dish justice depending on if you think it looks delicious.

This kangaroo dish will knock you out. The kangaroo was cooked perfectly, not too tough and not too tender. My suggestion would be to order it cooked medium because well done would make it much too tough. I was able to cut through the fillet with ease with my steak knife. The meat itself had a slight gamey flavor but it wasn’t overbearing. I can honestly say it doesn’t taste like steak. The tomato chutney was amazing and paired well with the meat. It had the perfect amount of sweetness which elevated the kangaroo’s flavor. Lastly, the polenta was fantastic and the perfect compliment to the kangaroo. An complete oxymoron, the polenta was firm yet buttery. When I add the two together it was the perfect harmony. As you can tell from my face, I was in pure bliss. The kangaroo not only met but completely exceeded my expectations.
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FUN FACT: Only 14% of Australians report they eat Kangaroo.

It is a close battle between the squid and the octopus when it comes to who tastes better. It comes as no surprise that calamari will be on a seafood menu, at a minimum as an appetizer. I must admit calamari is always a fan favorite but I think octopus can give calamari a good run for its money. Rarely have I found that octopus is a staple on many restaurant’s menu and I’m not sure why. Whenever we get the chance to eat octopus we take full advantage because it is just that delicious. Lucky for us, Nick’s spared no expense with the portions and we were able to enjoy a hearty size. I mean look at the size of the octopus I’m trying to scarf down LOL!

It’s okay to drool over this mound of octopus… and if you listen closely enough you can practically hear the sizzle on those chargrill marks. Looks scrumptious right? The chargrilled octopus is served with cherry tomatoes atop a basil rocket salad and topped with a balsamic reduction sauce. The main portion is a whopping $38.00 so if you don’t want to spend that much on your meal you are in luck. Nick’s offers the octopus as either an entrée or a main so if you want to try it but wish to go easier on the pockets you have the option. For what it’s worth, this octopus is the second best octopus I’ve had in my life.
Overall, Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Darling Harbour was a great experience. It was clean, the wait staff helped with recommendations and were very attentive and the view was great. Moreover, it was kid friendly. I’d go back and dine there in a heartbeat.

Categories
Dinner England International

The Brampton Mill

The Brampton Mill is a nice gastropub and restaurant tucked away in Huntingdon.  It backs up to the River Great Ouse which offers a great scenic backdrop.  Built into the building is this really cool water mill which I didn’t get a pic of because it was sooo dark. My husband found this little gem while searching for places that offered a Christmas reveillon (pronounced rev-ee-on) meal.  Last year while visiting New Orleans we had our first experience of a Christmas Reveillon which is a really fancy dinner that usually includes 3-4 courses.  To prevent me from misquoting how the tradition started, you can learn more about it by reading this article.  Considering that our first experience was so wonderful, my husband started the hunt to find a restaurant that offered the meal  (seeing as how we are so close to France and all).
The setting in The Brampton Mill was perfect, intimate yet homey.  There was a bar with lounge seating in front of a fireplace.  The smell of burning wood really set the holiday feeling in motion.  The restaurant was extremely family friendly as there were quite a few children dining and they offered a children’s menu- a huge thumbs up.  We chose to order from the Holiday Menu as opposed to their regular menu well because that was the point of the trip right?

First Course

My husband and I always order different meals, mostly because he is a weirdo and doesn’t like people to order the same thing as him.  I also order separate because it allows me to try more of the menu when I stick my fork in his dish too lol.  I decided to go with the thyme-roasted portobello mushrooms and he chose the severn & Wye smoked salmon.
 

The dish name is deceiving because it doesn’t include all of the scrumptious deliciousness that is in that mini cast iron skillet.  Aside from the fact that the mushrooms are roasted with thyme which makes them awesome in itself.  The mushrooms are basking in a chestnut puree with melted raclette cheese.  I’ve never had raclette cheese let alone chestnut puree but man oh man I could have kissed the chef. Served on the side are toasted ciabatta slices to sop up all that yummy sauce.
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My husband was gracious enough to allow me to taste his appetizer. It is really hard to describe the taste other than creamy and fresh.  The salmon was mixed in a cute glass mason type jar and was more like a spread, hence the reason I added it to some ciabatta. It was mixed in a Devon crab creme fraiche with pickled beetroot. I’ve had a few salmon dips/spreads in my time but none like this.  I am not sure if this is included on their regular menu but it was a light and refreshing way to start the course.
The Brampton Mill will most definitely be placed in our “go-to” restaurant categories.  I cannot wait until Spring comes around and we can dine outside next to the river.