Tag Archives: artichokes

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.
photo 2
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.
photo 2
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.
photo 5
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.
photo 4
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.
photo 3
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.
photo 3
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

Provence, Summer 2014

IMG_2117

A couple of months ago, I went on a much needed holiday to the South of France. For me, it was always going to be about the food. So if you’re already planning your 2015 getaway (the thought has crossed my mind), perhaps this post will tempt your tastebuds to Provence.

IMG_2055

We stayed in a pretty village called Le Rouret, which just so happened to have its own Michelin-starred restaurant (she says). Le Clos Saint Pierre serves delicious dishes on a magical terrace, which keeps it packed every night. It’s so charming, made all the more special by Head Chef Daniel Ettlinger, who enthusiastically chats food and France with his guests.

photo-10

Renting a car was essential for us to explore the surrounding countryside. The Gorge du Verdon is spectacular, whether looking from above the clouds, or pedalling across the turquoise water to its many waterfalls. This ‘Grand Canyon of France’ also gave us an excuse to eat yummy snails and wickedly good creme brûlée at La Table de la Fontaine in Rians.

IMG_2105

Antibes was our number one stop for sea, sand and sunbathing, along with a mooch round its daily food market. Le Marche Provencal is filled with beautiful fruit, vegetables, flowers, cakes, pates and hungry Frenchmen. It made us wish for a villa so we could stuff our baskets with local produce and cook up a feast for dinner. Maybe next time.

IMG_2065

One town we couldn’t miss was Medieval Mougins. Famed for its restaurants, art (Picasso lived there) and undeniable prettiness, it’s also home to a lake of Lotus Flowers that will literally take your breath away.

IMG_2165

We also went to Tourtour, Vence and Nice, which all have qualities you’d be mad to miss. In fact, you’d be mad to miss any of Provence, so go, explore and enjoy. I promise it won’t disappoint.

IMG_2127

Pieds Nus, Marylebone

Quick! Pieds Nus is open for business, serving some of the most innovative food you’ll find in London. The problem? It’s a pop-up, so won’t be there for long.

Pieds Nus 4

For the time being, you’ll find it next door to Big Sister restaurant, L’Autre Pied. Inside, it’s small and simple, with rustic white walls and exposed bulbs hovering above each wooden table.

Michelin restaurateur David Moore outside Pieds Nus

Pieds Nus is the brainchild of Michelin restauranteur David Moore, run by Head Chef Ed Dutton from Tom Aikens in Chelsea. The concept is ‘little or no cooking’ – ‘barefoot’ dishes that deliver fresh and simple combinations with intense flavours. An ambitious idea…good thing it worked.

IMG_1256

We started with a basket filled with gorgeously warm bread – Bacon & Onion Brioche, Black Onion Seed Flat Bread and a soft Milk Loaf, served with a tiny bowl of hummus (£4.50). That, and a wooden block draped with melt in the mouth Paleta Iberica (£10.95) and a couple of Pieds Nus Cosmopolitans (£7.50).

Pieds Nus 2

The dishes that followed were made to be shared. But rather than arriving all at once, were enjoyed one by one so each got the attention it deserved.

IMG_1253

Salt Baked Jerusalem Artichoke with Wild Mushrooms and Sea Purslane was a delight, combing sweetness with a touch of sour (£7.50), but the Slow Cooked Duck Egg with Potato and Belper Knolle was the star of the vegetable dishes (£6.50). An egg was hidden in a heap of finely grated potato and cheese. Once mixed, we were left with a  creamy, subtly flavoured paste that focussed wholeheartedly on the egg.

IMG_1252

Next up was Scallop Ceviche (£12.50). Our noses were filled with a fresh aroma from the fish, cucumber and fennel, which only enhanced our experience eating the light, pretty dish. 42˚ Confit Salmon was heavier, but no less sublime with its intense crunchy cauliflower and sharp pink grapefruit (£8.50).

IMG_1249

From the meat section, we chose the aromatic 60˚ Gressingham Duck Breast (£11.50), the clean Rose Veal Tartare with generous truffle shavings (£12.95) and the 98˚ 12 Hour Slow Cooked Pig Belly (£11.45). Each dish showcased the chefs’ attention to detail and skill. I loved the Pig Belly and its perfect crackling. Couldn’t have been better.

IMG_1246

We finished with Banana Financier with Maple Syrup & Banana Ice Cream (£6.50) and the Chocolate, Chestnut Frangipane & Caramel Ice Cream (£8,95). It was the perfect end to pretty damn perfect meal.

IMG_1259

The food, the service and wonderful wine list makes me sad to say goodbye to Pieds Nus. Perhaps it’ll pop up elsewhere, but for now, I feel lucky to have been and give it a LLE Rating of 9/10.

Pied Nus, 19 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 3DH

Pied Nus on Urbanspoon

Gallery Mess, King’s Road

Gallery Mess is located within a gallery – that of Charles Saatchi to be precise – but is in no way a mess. Instead, it’s an incredibly attractive restaurant, with vaulted ceilings, pretty fairy lights, exposed brickwork and floor to ceiling windows. The only thing that could be considered ‘littered’ is the wonderful array of contemporary art, which includes a neon cockerel, giant boot, and a wall made entirely from soap.

Restaurant 5

When we arrived for dinner last Monday, we were surprised to find Gallery Mess two thirds full – not bad on the quietest night of the week. We were seated just beyond the long bar and ordered a bottle of beer for The Boyfriend and an ‘off the menu’ White Lady for me. These came with freshly baked soda bread and some large green olives.

The menu is filled with Pastries (morning only), Soups, Salads & Starters, Sharing Boards, Mains, Puddings, Afternoon Tea and smaller plates for children. Our slightly eccentric waiter told us how most of it changes once a month, depending on what’s in season. The rest are the staples that remain all year round, such as the ‘best fish & chips in London’.

IMG_0305

I picked the Warm Squid Salad to start and The Boyfriend went for Warm Chicken Livers. The portions were enormous, making them a perfect option for ‘ladies who lunch’. My squid was tender, without being chewy, pairing perfectly with the pickled shallots and radish. The chicken livers were juicy and rich, tumbling over the soft boiled egg, enhanced by the fried smoked pancetta and soaking into a bed of sour dough toast.

IMG_0302

At least one of us should have had Fish & Chips for main, but sadly that top tip came at the end. Instead we went for Pan Fried Sea Bass, which came with swiss chard and a brown shrimp butter, and Chicken Fricassee on top of gnocchi and jerusalem artichoke, with a mushroom and truffle cep sauce.

I’d usually steer clear of food I can easily cook at home, but I was intrigued by the chicken, which turned out to be a good move. The meat was moist, giving the gnocchi a beautiful flavour when teamed with the surrounding artichoke and mushrooms.

IMG_0300

We decided to share a Steamed Rhubarb Pudding at the end, which came with vanilla poached rhubarb and clotted cream ice-cream. The pudding was sweet, light and made more intense by the poached rhubarb. Our waiter said it was the best on the menu. We couldn’t compare, but I’m sure it’d be hard to beat.

mess4

The whole experience was delightful, making our long, stressful day in the office feel like a distant memory. I’d love to go back in the summer and take advantage of the large terrace. They don’t take bookings for alfresco dining, so getting there early is a must.

The lovely Gallery Mess gets a LLE Rating of 7.5 / 10. I’ll see you there when the sun is shining, sitting on the terrace, sipping a cocktail and eating fish & chips wrapped in newspaper.

Gallery Mess, Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York HQ, King’s Road, SW3 4SQ

Tapas Touring in Seville

Seville is home to some of Spain’s best tapas bars, the world’s largest gothic cathedral, fantastic food markets and lots of beautiful orange trees. So, I’ll never understand why it’s such a pain in the bull’s backside to get to.

Thankfully, after taking one of the few scheduled flights to the Andalusian city, I made it. And, in just three days, managed to eat at five different tapas bars, some more than once. To my friends, it may have felt like a military tapas tour, but I’m fairly confident they thank me…deep, deep down.

Each place was either recommended by journalists, bloggers or locals. On the list was El Burladero (Gran Melia Colon), Casa Morales (García de Vinuesa 11), Boudequita Casablanca (Adolfo Rodriquez Jurado No. 12), Las Teresas (Calle Santa Teresa 2) and La Azotea (Calle Jesús del Gran Poder), each bringing something different to the table (mind the pun).

At expensive El Burladero, we dined on Salmorjo a tomato cream similar to Gazpacho, sprinkled with Iberian cured ham and a quail’s egg – oozing ‘Grandma’s Homemade Croquettes’, succulent skewered beef, roasted octopus on garlicky potato puree and Burladerdo (bull’s tail). It was a delicious feast all round and perfect if you fancy treating yourself to something special.

Casa Morales, Boudequita Casablanca and Las Teresas can easily fit into the same  evening, if you’re feeling energetic. Morales dates back to 1850, so takes tradition and authenticity to the next level, both in the food and decor.

The tapas we went for were aromatic Garbanzos Con Espinacas (chickpeas and spinach), pork Albondigas (meatballs), Habas Con Jamon (broad beans and serrano ham) and Ortiz Ventresca (tuna belly), all happily washed down with a large glass of Verdejo Blanco.

Casablanca was all about pijotas – crispy, fried baby hake, eaten like corn on the cob, from head to tail. That, coupled with a fantastic view of the cathedral when standing outside, makes for a very happy fish loving tourist. Just like me.

At Las Teresas, the chosen tapas was what us Brits would call ‘traditional’. Calamari, Anchovies and Chorizo were devoured as we sat on a cobbled street, wondering why we don’t take ‘City Breaks’ more often.

Across town at La Azotea, we settled in for the night. The queue that ran out the door made us pleased we’d arrived as the restaurant opened. As we were sitting at a table, tapas was unavailable, so we picked four half plates and two portions of dessert.

Everything from the croquettes and prawn stuffed filo triangles, to the beef carpaccio, clams with artichoke and chocolate pudding was lovely. And, the 25 Euros per head with wine was even lovelier.

So, if you’re prepared to be flexible with your flights and travel with Ryan Air or Easyjet (double yuk), I couldn’t recommend spending a few days in Seville enough…and that’s not just because of the food.

Daphne’s, South Kensington

Does anyone else feel at a loss now the games are over? Sure, I have other things to occupy my time, but I miss chatting to strangers about Mo Farah’s victories and seeing ‘Go Team GB’ painted across foreheads as Union Jack flags hang out of ears.

It’s in times like these I turn to food. I not only cook and eat it, I reflect on recent meals that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. My dinner at Daphne’s is a case in point.

Daphne’s is a smart, white tableclothed Italian in Brompton Cross, between Chelsea and South Kensington. The area sets off price alarm bells. It’s not somewhere to go if you’re not prepared to pay a small food fortune.

When faced with prices like these, The Boyfriend and I share where we can. The menu was divided the Italian way into Antipasti, Paste e Risotti (Primi), Secondi and Dolci.

With our ‘pre-holiday’ sharing hat on, we picked one Antipasti – Beef Carpaccio with Rocket & Artichoke. I knew the flavours would go well together, so there were no surprises with this dish. The portion was perfect for sharers and the effect was delicately simple, which is what you’re after from carpaccio.

The mains were an exception to the sharing rule. We both picked our favourites, which for me was Linguine Alla Vongole and for The Boyfriend was Pappardelle con Ragu di Cinghiale.

You could tell the pasta was made fresh that day as it wasn’t used as a vehicle to carry the sauce. My Linguine was generously doused in clams that flavoured the garlicky sauce perfectly. The Boyfriend also had an ample serving, this time of sweet, tender shredded wild boar.

Before Sicily, I didn’t see how Italians could eat a meat or fish dish after so much pasta and Antipasti. Now I’m back with a stretched stomach, it seems more understandable. Obviously Daphne’s was pre-Sicily, so we skipped Secondi and launched straight into Dolci, sharing Torta al Fromaggio con Frutti di Bosco – a prettier way to say cheesecake.

Pudding really stood out for me. The Boyfriend preferred the traditional set up, but I loved the way the cheesecake had been mixed together a la Eton Mess. The sweet fruity sauce stopped it being dry and the biscuit remained crunchy despite mixing it with the soft creamy goodness.

Daphne’s gets a LLE Rating of 7.5/10. I would have given it more if it weren’t for the prices – our meal with one bottle of wine was nearly £100 – and slightly outdated decor – white tablecloths really aren’t my cup of tea.

Goodwood Revival

When I wasn’t sipping on Johnnie Walker cocktails, deciding who had the best outfit and watching the World War 2 planes fly overhead at Goodwood Revival this weekend, I was raiding the Tesco pop up store.

This wasn’t because I’m a huge Tesco fan (I’m actually more of a Sainsbury’s or Waitrose girl), it’s because the Tesco store stocked all the original sweets, chocolates and crisps from the 1960s, including Opal Fruits. Made to make your mouth water, I still don’t know why Opal Fruits changed their name to Starburst as there is something so lovely about the original name…even though I, and probably others, haven’t a clue what it means.

I was so excited by the sight of the sweetie aisle that I felt compelled to buy everything on offer, including an original Flake, Crunchie and Marathon bar (some are missing from the picture above as I shamefully ate them on the way home). I even managed to purchase an Andy Warhol style Tesco baked bean t-shirt, so I guess I’m becoming a Tesco girl after all.

The other brilliant thing about Revival was being invited to a revolving picnic by James Bond and his surprisingly jolly villains – Auric Goldfinger, Oddjob and Ernst Stavro Blofeld (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).

Packed full of homemade terrines, pates, oak smoked salmon, smoked duck, artichokes and quails eggs, it was one of the most impressive, delicious and ingenious things I’d ever seen, mainly because I could sit and spin the picnic when I fancied something on the other side – some might call this lazy, I prefer practical. I would like to thank James, Auric, Oddjob and Ernst for their kind hospitality and I can’t wait to join their picnic again next year.