There's been a bunch of family in town for a wedding, and they fly out today, so we had a bit of a celebratory dinner. Gaucho in Hampstead is always a crowd-pleaser - for the meat-eater - so it was a natural choice. Particularly since the wedding was vegetarian and we've all been overcompensating since.
My love of Gaucho is tempered by my attempts to eat ethically. It seems absurd to patronise an establishment that makes a virtue out of the food miles on their beef. And it's even worse with the current foot and mouth outbreak limiting the transport of British meat. So eating Argentinian steaks seems to be rubbing it in a bit.
Of course the other reason for going to Gaucho is the cheese bread they serve at the beginning. Gorgeous, elasticky, cheesy balls of bread. It took a while, but I eventually figured out that they are called Pao de Queijo and found a recipe. The next difficult thing was finding the manioc starch - ended up getting it in Wing Yip, where they call it tapioca starch. I think their tapioca starch is the equivalent of sweet manioc starch. Anyway, the dough comes together like a sticky choux paste, but the finished cheese puffs are heaven. Better than at Gaucho!
So, in solidarity with British beef farmers I had a seafood stew, which I think was called Zarzuela de Marisco. It was delicious - monk fish, mussels, calamari rings and big fat prawns with tiny new potatoes, asparagus and cherry tomatoes in a beautifully flavoured creamy saffron broth, with a couple of pieces of sourdough toast on the side. A very good choice, I thought!
Couldn't face pudding - my experience with Gaucho is that the good desserts are too filling and the light desserts are disappointing. But I did have a glass of pudding wine. It was a South American moscato, which I found a bit too sweet and one-dimensional. Never mind - still a lovely meal!