Goodbye for now, but not forever…

I’ve been a little quiet of late, so thought it best to tell you that after three and a half years, I’m pausing to work on something new for Little Lady Eats. I look forward to seeing you soon with new content and a new look! So for now, keep doing what I do best – eating x

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Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly

A few months ago, Afternoon Tea was something I’d never experienced…out of choice. Brunch I could handle, but an over priced feed that disrupted lunch and dinner? No thank you.

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But then I tried it and fell in love. Little did I know how much I’d enjoy the decadence of Afternoon Tea. Little did I know about how much I could indulge. Yes it is expensive, but it’s also unlimited.

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The Afternoon Tea that broke me took place at Fortnum and Mason one Saturday before Christmas. There was a beautiful tree, a man serenading us on the piano and more cake than any little lady could eat. It was glorious. My sister even wore pearls.

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We sat on plush green chairs as waiters glided around filling endless cups of tea. I ordered a savoury tower of gorgeous treats (£44 per person) and a magnificent bottle of Champagne. I felt like Alice in wonderland and could have sworn I saw Mary Poppins laughing on the ceiling.

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The top of my savoury tree was adorned with a stunning Oeuf Drumkilbo, Carpaccio of Venison, Smoked Salmon Blinis and Goat’s Cheese on Walnut Shortbread with Beetroot.

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Then it was a selection of sumptuous scones – Wholemeal Cheese with Walnut & Raisin Butter (the butter was the best bit) and a Caramelised Onion variation. And it didn’t stop at that as I moved onto sandwiches fit for a queen – Coronation Chicken, Cucumber, Egg and Roast Beef. Yum Yum Yum. Give me more.

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After a couple of rounds, I moved onto a large slice of chocolate cake with the smoothest ganache. It was a classic choice for me and one I didn’t regret from the first to the last bite.

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So I went from being an Afternoon Tea virgin to an Afternoon Tea junkie. I couldn’t get enough, so now must restrict myself to one sitting a year. It’s for the best and at least I have the memory of my day of decadence.

Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

Food 5/5 – Price 5/5  (it’s unlimited) – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 5/5

Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason on Urbanspoon

Courgette & Aubergine Curry

The Art of Eating Well arrived on the same day as my first Riverford veg box. I was excited by both, so decided to create a slightly tweaked Hemsley & Hemsley recipe to make room for my extra veggies.

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The result? A sweet, aromatic medley of vegetables that was the perfect antidote to the blisteringly cold weather. So here is my version of Jasmine and Melissa’s recipe – one I’ll make word for word when there’s less veg in town.

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Serves 2 (with yummy leftovers for lunch the next day)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or coconut oil if you’re as good as the girls)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of root ginger, grated
  • 3 large garlic clothes, diced
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large purple carrot, diced (thank you Riverford)
  • 1 large courgette, diced
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lime (grated zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs (I could only get parsley, which tasted lovely)
  • 1/4 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 tin of coconut milk

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and lightly fry the garlic, leaks, mushrooms and onion until soft
  • Add the diced carrot, coconut milk and vegetable stock and stir well
  • After six minutes, add the aubergine and stir
  • After ten minutes, add the tomato courgette and lime zest
  • After six minutes, add the maple syrup, lime juice and fresh herbs
  • Serve in a bowl with a scattering of herbs and toasted cashew nuts

Cafe Murano, St James’s

Cafe Murano appeared in almost every 2014 ‘best restaurant’ list. Everything from the olive oil to the cocktails were praised, along with the light and breezy price tag. Angela Hartnett had done it again and I wasn’t going to waste another Saturday night without experiencing it for myself.

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What struck me on arrival was the smart, sophisticated dining room. The prices might be easier on the eye than nearby Murano, but that certainly wasn’t reflected in the decor. This is the place to impress a date, whilst secretly high-fiving yourself for not breaking the bank.

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Over a glass of Champagne (dry January eat your heart out), we nibbled on my favourite Sicilian olives (£3) and a couple of light, aromatic truffle arancini (£4). A perfectly simple way to start.

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We both choose starters from the Antipasti menu, not that the Primi options weren’t crying out for attention. I went with an Octopus salad with potato, preserved lemon and parsley (£9). The flavour was lovely, but it confirmed something to me. Cold octopus is not nice, it’s slimy.

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Up next was cod with romanesco and an Italian cured meat called Guanciale (£17.50). I loved the simplicity of this dish. Tender white flakes of cod were boosted by the meat and nutty romanesco. It also went well with our sides of buttery polenta and wild rocket (both £3.75 each).

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I had a cheese plate for dessert (£12) served with yummy London honey and biscuits. As for L, the Amalfi Lemon Tart (£6) proved too tempting and disappeared in an instant.

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It’s rare to find a central restaurant serving near perfect food at a reasonable price in a gorgeous setting, but that’s what you get at Cafe Murano. I will go back and I will recommend. This really is a ‘best restaurant’.

Cafe Murano, 33 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1HD

Food 4/5 – Price 5/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 5/5

Cafe Murano on Urbanspoon

Tredwell’s, Covent Garden

Before I launch, eating and slurping into 2015, I want to tell you about my lunch at Tredwell’s. A lunch that took place many months ago, in a year we called 2014.

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Despite less than favourable reviews, I was keen to try Marcus Wareing’s newest and most ‘accessible’ establishment. The restaurant was named after the butler in Agatha Christie’s The Seven Dials Mystery, so it had to have hidden depths (even if the soulless dining room suggested otherwise).

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Turns out I was right to trust my instincts as aside from the lack of customers chatting and chomping, I rather enjoyed my meal. Prawns on a bed of white polenta with white garlic and chicken broth (£8.50) was a lovely start. A hug in a bowl, it was sweet and sumptuous with pleasant warmth.

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Sea Bass was of similar design, but this time the gently cooked fish crouched on creamed carrots, lentils and shallots (£15). Had it not been for the sides of Kale Slaw (£3.50) and Sweet Potato Chips (£4.50), I could have lost the false teeth for the duration of the course. As with the starter, this dish was made for Mr Soft.

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A Virtuous Chocolate Brownie (£5) was shared for dessert, washed down with what remained of our carafe of house white (£13). It looked like a brownie, but a lack of eggs, dairy, wheat and refined sugar changed the taste and texture beyond repair. I regretted my choice and vowed never to liken ‘virtue’ to a ‘pudding’ again.

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I wouldn’t rush back to Tredwell’s, but I certainly wouldn’t avoid it as some critics suggest. The food is tasty, well presented and not insanely priced. So it’s a shame the restaurant is deprived of charisma and warmth due to a distinctive lack of bodies.

Tredwell’s, 4A Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2H 9NY

Food 4/5 – Price 3/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 2/5

Tredwell's on Urbanspoon

Stelle di Stelle, Harrods

I rarely take selfies, so I’m glad one of the few was Annie Feolde – the first female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars in Italy. Turns out it was Annie’s first selfie, so I can safely say it was a special moment for all of us.
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Special, but not the highlight of the night. That was saved for the London debut of Annie’s exceptional food. Oh yes, her exquisite Tuscan restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri had landed in Harrods and I was there for the launch.
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The three course meal started wonderfully with a pretty plate of poached egg, Alba white truffle and Grana Padano cheese fondue – three of my favourite things. We were also treated to fantastic Italian wines, washed down with S. Pellegrino’s sister Acqua Panna, which had recently released a restyled bottle to reflect its Tuscan roots.
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Next up was Fusilli al Ferretto with artichokes, scampi and liquorice powder. The simple, yet distinctive flavours wrapped themselves around the homemade pasta in a way that made me want it to last forever. So far, so very very good.
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We finished with a gorgeous dessert inspired by a traditional Italian pudding given to children. Chocolate soaked bread was juxtaposed with oil and salt to create a sweet dish with a savoury nudge.
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I plan to go to Tuscany in 2015 and have told Annie I’ll be paying her a visit. Her food was too good to only have once in my life and she was too sweet not to meet again.
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What we had was just a sample, so if you want to enjoy the whole hog at Enoteca Pinchiorri in London, get to Harrods before the 31st December for a six course tasting menu priced £115, or £140 with matching wine.
Stelle di Stelle, 87-135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL

Tanya’s Cafe, Kensington

As the rudest, most obnoxious man pushed and shoved his way onto the train last week, I wondered if a world without men would be a better place. Especially those that fall into the angry face, big arm category.

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Perhaps that’s a step too far, but time out from men certainly isn’t. So, I’m pleased to share Tanya’s Cafe in Kensington – the perfect place for man down time as no male would voluntarily visit due to its ultra girly raw menu.

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Set up by holistic coach and editor of Better Raw Tanya Mayer, Tanya’s Cafe was born out of a popular supper club and focusses on all things raw. I went a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to find the place heaving…with women.

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The cafe itself is an oasis of calm. A light conservatory filled with clean, white tables and chairs, wooden panels and flashes of colour from fresh fruit adorning the counter and bright green plants hanging from the walls.

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We ordered two My Alkaliser juices (£6.50 each), Lasagne (£15) and Tacos (£15.30). My Alkaliser combined kale, spinach, apple, lemon and cucumber to create a juice my body thanked me for. As for the Lasagne, well that was a pleasant surprise…

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Pasta and meat was replaced with courgette and mushrooms, creating a light, tasty dish that would have been perfect on a warm, summer day, but didn’t go down quite so well in our current climate.

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The Tacos were along the same lines – walnut oyster mushroom meat sat on soft shell tacos with guacamole, soured cream and salsa. Again, this dish was delightfully presented and made a lovely light lunch.

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We finished off with a slice of blueberry cheesecake. This was by far my favourite dish as I love anything that feels like a treat, yet is actually rather good for me.

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I enjoyed my visit to Tanya’s and felt inspired by her creativity. My only real criticism was the cost. I know we were in Chelsea, but £15 for a raw veg lasagne seemed a little excessive. But, perhaps that’s the price you pay for lunch in a man-free environment.

Tanya’s Cafe, myhotel Chelsea, 35 Ixworth Place, London SW3 3QX

Food 4/5 – Price 2/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 5/5