Tag Archives: chicken

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

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momofuku, New York

momofuku means ‘lucky peach’ in Japanese. As there’s no fruit to be seen in this popular restaurant, I can only assume the name refers to its customers – happy, juicy peaches that are lucky to be eating its noodles.

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We went to the original momofuku noodle bar on 1st Avenue and waited around an hour for a seat, guzzling wine by the window. Long wooden tables surrounded the busy bar and kitchen. The atmosphere was fun and lively.

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Some friendly New Yorkers recommended what dishes to choose from the menu, starting with one of the specials – yummy pork buns that made me want to cry with joy ($12).

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They came with a plate of Shrimp & Grits with Benton’s bacon, a poached egg and scallion ($14). This rich, buttery dish was a first for me and one I’d like to relive soon. I hear the Lockhart in Marylebone does a very good version (*dials reservation line).

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Big bowls of Spicy Miso Ramen came next ($15). Filled with smoked chicken, noodles, scallion and sesame, there was also a poached egg that delightfully broke with one prick of my fork, flooding the bowl with bright yellow yolk.

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We didn’t have room for dessert, but our waiter turned us with tales of the momofuku Milk Bar – a standalone bakery that produces weird and wonderful treats for each of the restaurants.

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This month’s focus was cookies, so we ordered a Milk Bar medley – ‘the ritz’ cookie, pretzel cake truffles and strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. I couldn’t eat the truffle – it was too sickly for my very sweet tooth. But the cookie made a perfect scoop for the creamy, sweet ice cream (she wonders why her jeans are too tight).

I’d go back to momofuku in an instant; it’s the original Ramen bar that made me feel like the luckiest girl in New York.

momofuku noodle bar, 171 1st Avenue, New York, ny 10003

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

Provence, Summer 2014

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Street Feast, Dalston Yard

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Getting into Street Feast was a five stage process. 1. finding Dalston Yard (not as easy as planned); 2. locating a cash point (the vendors don’t take card); 3. having our bags searched (they weren’t looking for hip flasks); 4. paying a £5 entry fee (obligatory after 7pm); 5. receiving a black stamp on the back of our hands (something I learnt to love over the next three days).

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Fortunately, this slightly frustrating process was well worth it as we were soon standing with happy East Londoners in a smaller than expected space, debating where to start our street food journey.

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Over the next three hours I drank too many glasses of Prosecco from easy-to-find-with-blurry-eyes Street Vin, whilst keeping my balance with delightful grub from Clam Bake, Breddos, Yum Bun and Sorbitium Ices.

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To give you a bit more detail, this meant a perfect Steamed Hirata Shrimp Bun (£4) from the ladies at Yum Bun – definitely my dish of the night – along with an interestingly flavoured Crunchy Nut Fried Chicken Taco with Raspberry Hot Sauce by the Breddos’ clan (2 for £6).

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The chicken couldn’t be faulted, but with each bite of the small, yet perfectly formed taco, I questioned the raspberry sauce – something wasn’t working for me. That said, the taco itself took me back to Mexico with its unmistakable wheat and corn aroma.

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Last on my savoury list was a Lobster Roll from Clam Bake (£7). The well baked brioche overflowed with beautiful meat, but the overall effect was a bit of a let down. For one, I expected it to be warm, and secondly, I really wasn’t keen on the powdery paprika sprinkled on top.

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Around me, friends devoured hunks of meat from the 4.5 tonne BBQ Smoke Train that is Smokestak, Kreole from Vinn Goute, Margheritas by Pizza Pilgrims and many a burger from Slider Bar. It was a happy, foodie affair.

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I finished my four course meal with a Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream from Sorbitium, coated with chocolate sauce and caramelised nuts. It was a fitting end to a special evening, giving me yet another reason to love our eclectic Capital.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard, Hartwell Street, London E8 3DU 

Rotorino, Dalston

I’ve always liked Stevie Parle’s face. He looks like one of the good guys; someone who enjoys life and isn’t afraid to show it. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this – even I am a bit – but I truly believe people’s personalities are reflected in their work. So, how could sunny, optimistic looking Stevie do any wrong?

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Because of Stevie’s face, The Dock Kitchen has been on my restaurant bucket list for the past few years. It’s still on there today, but at least I can now say I’ve eaten at his new, slightly cheaper restaurant Rotorino, which opened a couple of months ago on Kingsland Road.

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A diamond in the ‘no longer rough’ Dalston, Rotorino is made up of a large rectangular dining room that’s blue, brown and white all over, filled with wooden tables, black plastic chairs, a row of booths down one side and bright, loud patterns.

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I was right about the face; Stevie’s food is lovely. Inspired by gorgeous Italian cuisine, the menu is split into First, Second and Third courses, followed by the all important ‘Sweet’.

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We shared courses, which covered off refreshing Watermelon & Tomato Salad with chilli, mint and ricotta (£6), Buffalo Mozzarella with smashed broad beans, mint and a giant, claw like pod  (£6.50) and lightly battered Mixed Small Fish & Squid with Monk’s Beard and grease cutting fried lemon (£6). Nothing blew me away, but at the same time, not a crumb was left on the pretty, rustic plates.

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Second was a small bowl of Pistachio Casarecce (£7.50) and Sausage Gnochetti Sardi (£8). I often find restaurant pasta boring, but this was not the case here. The first creatively combined crushed pistachio, basil, garlic and olive oil (YUM), whilst the latter delightfully combined slow-cooked sausage, red wine, chilli and breadcrumbs.

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For Third, we shared Sasso Chicken (£14.50) and Pork & Veal Meatballs (£9.50) from the ‘stove’, with a side of Chickpeas topped with fried breadcrumbs (who could resist!).

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The meatballs were tasty enough and my favourite part of the bird was the juice drenched bread that sat beneath it. But it was the chickpeas that stole the show – so simple, they reminded me how satisfying vegetarian living can be.

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I must pause to tell you that there were three, not two of us at this dinner. I wouldn’t want you trying to tackle this much food, believing they’ll be room for pudding – something that should never be missed.

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It was L’s birthday, so a candle topped Chocolate Cake (£5) was quietly ordered on a trip to the bathroom. It was divine – chocolate, honeycomb, pistachio and soured cream should get engaged, married and live happily ever after.

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Stevie did me proud, just like I knew he would. I enjoyed each and every dish, although some stood out more than others. The restaurant was buzzing and will now be my little oasis of calm (and tasty food) in bustling Dalston. I’m giving Rotorino a LLE Rating of 8/10.

Rotorino, 434 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AA

Rotorino on Urbanspoon

The Hand & Flowers, Marlow

When Tom Kerridge opened The Hand & Flowers, he put pretty Marlow on the map. It’s a gastropub with two Michelin stars. A gastropub that’s been on my restaurant bucket list for well over a year.

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We booked at Christmas and went three weeks ago – something the hungry punters at the bar should have done. Our square, wooden table was at the back of the charming restaurant, complete with exposed beams, white-washed walls and wild flowers.

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We chose from the Michelin priced menu, whilst munching on complimentary white bait and bread. The homemade sourdough and soda was delightful and the lightly battered fish was dunked and devoured in an instance. We were off to a great start.

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Pumpkin soup from the very reasonable set menu (two courses for £15, three for £19.50) was velvety, nutty and made all the more special with aromatic truffle.

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Crab Ravioli (£11.50) had a wonderful flavour, but the best part sat on top – sweet, chargrilled calcot onion smothered in smokey butter. Delicious.

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Mains were Cornish Monkfish smeared in a peanut crumble and served with roasted cauliflower (£29.50) and a Half Beer Roast Chicken with Glazed Celariac and more of that tasty truffle (£28).

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The chicken was succulent and, much to my surprise, blew the monkfish out of the water. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the fish – who knew it went so well with peanut?

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Across the table sat pork belly from the set menu. The verdict was clear from the mmms, ahhhs and ‘this is the best crackling I’ve ever had!’ statements. Another hit.

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We couldn’t refuse a couple of sides (all £4.50 each), so chose Curly Kale with Crispy Ham Hock (a meal in itself) and the Hand & Flowers Chips – a staple for any good gastro.

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Dessert was a must. Sweet Malt Gateaux with Malted Milk Ice Cream (£9.50) wasn’t my usual choice, but Lent made chocolate off limits. It was presented beautifully, but for me, didn’t have as memorable a flavour as the other courses.

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Tom Kerridge – aka Mr Gastropub – deserves a handshake and a bunch of flowers. This bloomin’ marvellous pub gets a LLE Rating of 9/10 and a strong recommendation to anyone visiting or lucky enough to live in Marlow.

The Hand & Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow SL7 2PB

Hixter, Shoreditch

As Mark Hix continues his London takeover, so opens Hixter opposite Liverpool Street station. It’s very similar to Tramshed, specialising in chicken and steak, but minus the formaldehyde cow with a cockerel on its head. I guess they’re hard to come by…

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The restaurant’s also a lot smaller, but the long mirror at one end makes it feel more spacious. There’s bright, modern art on the walls and red leather seats perfect for local ‘city’ boys looking to fill their bellies before heading downstairs to London’s second Mark’s Bar.

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We shared all of food, starting with Yorkshire Pudding & Whipped Chicken Livers (£3.95), De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon with Pickled Cucumber (£5.25) and Cock ‘n’ Bull Croquettes with Wild Chervil Mayonnaise (£4.95).

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Each was perfectly tasty, but it was the Yorkshire Pudding – or rather the Whipped Chicken Livers – that stood out for me. The chicken livers had a sweet, wholesome flavour that was carried by the crisp, bouncy pudding. A triumph.

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Next up it was a Herb Roasted Chateaubriand (£75) and half a Barn-Reared Indian Rock Chicken (£25). We asked for a whole bird, but the waiter looked at our enthusiastic faces and suggested half. Thank god for that.

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The steak was cooked rare and our knives slid through it like butter. The chicken was juicy and succulent, but not as impressive as what I’d had at Tramshed. I disliked the half hearted stuffing, which was dry, flaky and resembled a heap of moss.

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We didn’t need sides, but ordered them anyway – it was Christmas after all. The Grilled Field Mushrooms (all £4.25 for small, £6.95 for large) were deliciously garlicky and definitely what I’d recommend. The chips were chips – yummy, but not spectacular.

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The Credit Crunch Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce (£1.90 per scoop) was a delicious, but unnecessary dessert – we’d consumed rather a lot by this stage. Another time I might have one less starter and indulge in the Salted Caramel Fondue.

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Hixter doesn’t have the wow factor of Tramshed, or the variety of Hix Soho, but it’s still an enjoyable joint that I’d be happy to go back to. It’s also very well priced, so for all that, I’m giving Mark a pat on the back and Hixter a LLE Rating of 6/10. 

Hixter, 9a Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4AE

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