Tag Archives: asparagus

The Oak Private Room

10 Jun

Last week-end, I went to London to meet some friends and enjoy the spring in the parcs…. The first task was fully completed…. the second…..

Anyway, on Friday evening, JC, my friend Pauline’s husband had organized a great dinner for her. He had booked the Private Table at the Oak and had her best friends in France coming over for the week-end. She was very surprised and we were happy to be part of the fun!

The Oak is one of my favorite pub in Westbourne, I used to go there almost every week-end to order the Zucchini pizza. With kids, with friends, in the Winter or Summer…. all the occasions are worth going there. Even if you want to share a drink with friends, you can go upstairs at the bar they have at the 1st floor. They have nice boards of cheese, mezze and patés served with amazing bread. The cocktails as well as the wines are just what you are looking for when you come during the week for a casual drink. And the atmosphere is just slightly more sophisticated than downstairs.

It’s also a good alternative when the restaurant downstairs is full and the waiting list too long….!

The Bar at the 1st floor:

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The Private Table:

The Private Table at the Oak is also upstairs and you have to walk through the bar to reach it.

You can have a drink at the bar while waiting for all the guests to arrive or seat around the large wooden table straight away to enjoy the privacy of the room.

You just need to close the white doors to get separated from the bar.

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A tasty Italian wine: Valpolicella 2011 Allegrini Veneto


For the menu, the person organizing the party has to make a pre-selection of dishes in order to make it easier to deal with for the kitchen. Still, you have 3 choices of starters, mains and desserts!

We were pretty lucky as JC really made a great choice and we had a taste of the whole list…. Here is what we had:


Burrata di Puglia, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Bruschetta

The Burrata was very creamy and fresh, the olive oil tasty and the prosciutto very thinly sliced. A perfect starter!


Dorset Crab Salad, Fennel, Black Olives, Dill, Radish, New Season Felsina Olive Oil

That was my starter as I love Dorset crab and Fennel! As you may guess, I loved it! Fresh and light, really what I expect for a starter.


Sautéed Scallops, Broad Bean Puree, Crisp Pancetta, Truffle Oil

A great starter that can also be a great dish served in a larger proportion. The scallop is sautéed in butter and almost caramelized. Soft as butter, it really gets well with the crispy Pancetta served with it. The broad bean puree and truffle oil bring some more complexity to the whole dish and brings it one step further in comparison with many other places serving the same dish.



Fillet of Sea Bass, Globe Artichoke Puree, Lemon Oil, Parsley Salad

The fish was fresh and cooked to perfection, the Artichoke puree creamy and light and well enhanced by the lemon oil and fresh parsley salad.


Grilled Corn Fed Chicken Breast, Asparagus, Jersey Royals, White Wine & Tarragon Sauce

That one was a very earthy dish, served with tasty potatoes, soft asparagus and light but powerful tarragon sauce.


Seared Tuna, Insalata Primavera, Basil Mayonnaise

Not a huge fan of raw fish, this was not one of my choice obviously but the salad was fresh and crispy and the mayonnaise was very tasty too. And for those who like raw fish, it was cooked just the way they wanted it.


We were a bit disappointed indeed. By the presentation but also the taste….

Semifreddo Zabaglione, Confit Lemon, Baci Di Dama Biscuits

The Zabaglione was too sweet and not creamy enough, the confit lemon did not really sparkle and the biscuits were just adding some more sweetness to a dish that we expected to be more on the citrus feeling.


A Selection of Ice Cream & Sorbets

The ice cream was OK but nothing to crave for in the future.


Cheesecake, Hazelnut Base, Banana, Rum & Caramel Sauce

The cheesecake was actually the good surprise among the desserts. The hazelnut base brought some crispiness and flavor and the cream cheese batter was very airy and fresh. Not too sweet in order to enjoy the sweetness of the caramel sauce.

The portion was just the right size also…. Neither too big nor too small. A perfect ending!



Basically, we were just delighted to have a great room to chat and to enjoy a wonderful dinner that we did not have to prepare. The privacy of the room makes it even more special as you are not disturbed by the noise of the other tables or the constant flow of the waiters.

Just keep in mind that you have to be at least 10 to book it and also that the waiting list can be very long in the week-end and the months before Christmas!

Oak London

137 Westbourne Park Road

Westbourne Grove

London W2 5QL

tel. 020 7221 3355




Green Asparagus in a Serrano Crust….. Let’s Spring!

27 Apr

A few years ago, I went to Barcelona for the very first time. I was lucky enough to be hosted by one of my good friends’ parents in the suburb of Barcelona. We were warmly greeted and his Mum prepared amazing specialties for us for our first meal with them.
One of her signature dish was The Green Asparagus in a Crust of Serrano Ham. Using fresh local green Asparagus and very tasty Serrano sliced to perfection, the result was simply perfect and as I was chatting with her in the kitchen while she was preparing the dish, I came back to France with a new trendy recipe to share with my friends!


  • a bunch of green Asparagus
  • Spanish cured ham, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Parmesan shavings
  • balsamic glaze (optional)

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Preheat your oven to 200 °C.
Rinse the asparagus under cold running water. If they are fresh from the market, they should not be stringy but after one day or two they might need to be peeled.
In that case, peel at least 2/3 of their lenghth starting from the bottom. The heads are very fragile and not stringy.
If they are very thin you may find it hard to peel them by holding them in your fingers. In that case, turn a bowl with a flat bottom upside down and place the asparagus one by one on the surface to peel them.
Cut the base of the asparagus until you do not feel any resistance in the middle. If you feel resistance, this means they will be stringy once cooked.

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If the asparagus are very thick and your oven very strong, you may need to cook the asparagus before roasting them in ham.
In that case, bring to a boil a large pan of salted water and cook them for 6-7 minutes until they start to soften but still offer resistance as you try to pierce them with a sharp knife. They have to stay undercook as they will keep on cooking in the oven.
Rinse them under cold water until they are at room temperature and dry them with a kitchen cloth.

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When they are ready and dry, get your ham slices at hand and roll each aparagus in a slice until it is covered to the 2/3 at least. Try to make it look like a uniform layer so that it gets a nice crispy feeling all along the asparagus. The ham should not form multiple layers.

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Place the asparagus in a roasting dish or on a tray covered with parchment paper.
They have to be on a single layer to get crispy.
Cook them for about 10-15 min taking care to slightly rotate them after 7-8 minutes in order to get the other side crispy as well.

While the asparagus are getting cooked, using a peeler, start to make nice Parmesan shavings and reserve them for later.

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Just before serving the asparagus, you can drizzle Balsamic glaze on top and spread some Parmesan shavings.

Serve it straight away with a nice mixed leaves salad or as a side.

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Asperges Vertes en Croûte de Serrano


  • 1 botte d’asperges vertes
  • Du Serrano finement tranché
  • Huile d’olive
  • Sel & Poivre du Moulin
  • Copeaux de Parmesan
  • Réduction de balsamique (optionnel)


Préchauffez votre four à 200°.

Rincez les asperges sous l’eau froide. Si elles sont bien fraîches, elles ne doivent pas être filandreuses. Après 1 ou 2 jours, elles peuvent le devenir. Pour prévenir cet effet, évitez de les conserver dans un sachet plastique et enveloppez-les dans un linge humide et à l’abri de la lumière.

Si vous devez les peler, faites attention de ne pas les rompre car elles sont souvent fragiles. Si elles sont très minces, il sera peut-être plus facile de prendre appui sur un petit seau retourné. Epluchez de la base vers le sommet jusqu’au 2/3 pour éviter de casser les têtes qui sont les parties les plus fragiles et les plus savoureuses.

Prenez aussi soin de couper les bases pour obtenir des asperges d’une longueur identique et réduire la partie filandreuse qui est sans réel intérêt au goût.

Si vos asperges sont assez épaisses, il vous faudra peut-être les pré-cuire pour être sûr qu’elles soient cuites sans devoir brûler le Serrano au moment de les rôtir.

Pour les pré-cuire, portez à ébullition une grande casserole d’eau salée et faites cuire les asperges de légèrement croquantes à al dente. Passez-les sous l’eau froide pour arrêter la cuisson et séchez-les bien.

Une fois prêtes, enroulez les asperges dans une fine tranche de Serrano en évitant les chevauchements et en gardant la pointe apparente. Vous obtiendrez ainsi une couche de Serrano uniformément croustillante.

Placez les asperges côte à côte et sans chevauchements dans un plat à rôtir ou sur une plaque couverte de papier sulfurisé. Faites-les rôtir 10 à 15 minutes en prenant soin de les retourner à mi-cuisson pour qu’elles soient uniformément croustillantes.

Pendant que les asperges rôtissent au four, à l’aide d’un économe, faites des copeaux de Parmesan et gardez-les de côté.

Lorsque les asperges sont bien croustillantes et cuites à coeur, vous pouvez verser un trait de réduction de balsamique en surface et parsemer des copeaux de Parmesan.

Servez-les telles quel ou accompagnées d’un généreux mesclun. Ces asperges sont aussi un accompagnement très agréables pour des poissons ou viandes blanches, des plats de pâtes.