Spiced Rhubarb Syrup

rhubarbThis weekend welcomes the start of winter with a rainy few days. I for one, love the excuse to stay in and catch up on some relaxing. Well I call it relaxing but it’s just staying at home, cleaning, baking and repotting some of my plants to make more space on the balcony etc etc.

When I first made this syrup it was to accompany a semi-sweet sparkling wine on a picnic in the park. I was honestly surprised how well it worked, balancing perfectly together with the wine. It was a warm Autumn day and the leaves were in full change, so beautiful. If only I remembered my camera.

The syrup would also work swirled through some natural yoghurt or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Don’t waste the remaining rhubarb either! Use it over muesli or porridge but remember to remove the spices before storing in the fridge.

rhubarb syrup

Spiced Rhubarb Syrup

250g caster sugar

350ml water

6-8 stalks rhubarb, cut into 5 cm pieces

1/2 a star anise

1 stick cinnamon

thumb size piece of ginger, sliced

squeeze of half a lemon

First make the simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low-medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer gently until the rhubarb is soft.

Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Stir the rhubarb to remove most of the liquid. If you want a clearer syrup and have the patience let the liquid drip out without forcing or stirring the rhubarb. Leave to cool then store in a jar in the fridge.

Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

If there was ever a place I felt at home in, a place that really feels like ‘me’, it’s Bob Bob Ricard. Nestled in the streets of Soho you enter into something straight from the opulence of the Orient Express. 

Attention to detail is what I love at Bob Bob Ricard. The ‘wallpaper’ is actually custom made, hand printed origami paper, the beautiful wood detailing, marble bar top and the tiny velvet curtains that enclose you into your own private booth, so luxurious and it doesn’t stop there…there is the much loved button for Champagne!If you love long lunches running into decedent evenings you will certainly find a home at Bob Bob Ricard. Does it sound like I love the place? Oh yes, and let that be a warning if you continue reading.

If you really like good wine you might be interested to know that at BBR they have a “reserve wine price guarantee”. So while other restaurants can make 300% on a bottle, BBR  charge no more than £50 on a bottle of reserve wine. Perfect if your planning on a celebration and a few bottles of vintage Champagne. It also makes reading the menu very interesting when it is noted the price of what other establishments charge for the same bottle. Clever.

Delicate cocktails, each served in a different style of glass. The signature cocktail is the rhubarb gin and tonic and it is amazing. No really, even if you don’t like rhubarb you will like what they have done to it in this cocktail.

My favourite snack, perfect pick-me-up and shopping stop off, is a glass of Kauffman’s 2006 vodka served with Iranian caviar, sour cream and warm blinis. A sip of icy cold Vodka quickly followed by a mouthful of warm blini and caviar….divine. My first visit to BBR’s was for a London Food Blogger’s dinner kindly organised by Niamh of Eat Like A Girl. I have a lot to thank her for.

So this was my introduction to the ‘Russian way’of Zakuski, the combination of vodka and food and the way in which it can open up the flavour of food. This ox tongue and quails egg in aspic and horseradish cream, was served was served with ice cold vodka (-18°C) that you drink as a shot before quickly popping an already prepared fork full of the aspic and horseradish into your mouth. The flavours seemed to love the shot of vodka as much as I did.

The Anglo-Russian ownership comes through in the interesting menu, but it works. I think they blend the two cuisines very well. The veal Holstein with quails egg, anchovies and truffle mash is a dish apparently named after Count Holstein, foreign minister under the Prussian leader, Bismarck. It is served with a secret BBR sauce that has deep smokey undertones.

The beef onglet (using beef from O’Shea’s of Knightsbridge), served with caramelised onions. Green peppercorn sauce, buttery peas and carrots come on the side served in silverware. The beef was medium rare, tender and full of moisture and the onions sweetly sautéed.

Striped strawberries and cream souffle is light and airy served with extra cream and strawberry coulis. If only my souffle’s turned out anything near as good as this one and I’d be dancing by the oven.

Leonid and Richard (aka Bob and Ricard) know what people want,….to feel good. They do such a good job that I hardly notice the rising price of my bill, but BBR’s never set out to be cheap and cheerful, and I’m glad.

You could never walk into Bob Bob Ricard’s without coming out feeling like you have just escaped on a little trip back to a decadent 1930’s. A place where women wore slinky backless silk dresses with big fur stoles, and gentlemen looked like Clarke Gable, and everyone was a VIP.