Friday, 25 November 2011

November nibbles

This month I've been trying to save money and cut back on eating out but I still managed to take the time (and expense!) to visit these places:

Vinopolis for a glass or 6 of wine and some food to soak it up

The Three Horse Shoes (St Albans) for a classic Sunday roast

Sketch for one cocktail which quickly turned into 5

The Gallery at The Westbury for a launch party

Dean Street Townhouse for lunch with two of my favourite bloggers

Boulevard Brasserie to eat mussels and gossip

Scoop Gelato for a quick after dinner fix

Cox and Cookies for a couple of boobs

Wahaca for a little taste of mexico

Winter Wonderland to enjoy a Bratwurst

So expect some reviews up soon! The worrying thing is, I thought i'd hardly eaten out at all this month - shocking isn't it...

My Kitchen Mess

Here's a quick picture just to show how incredibly messy I am when I bake. Note the complete chaos and mess which is my kitchen!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Baking Bug

I've really got the baking bug at the moment and have pulled together a list of must make cakes etc.

Top of the list is a nice Lancashire Parkin cake which always reminds me of Bonfire night, when my mum would knock up a batch.

Then i'm going to try making a lemon tart (inspired by Mary Berry), a Sacher Torte (again inspired by the Great British Bake Off) and i've recently found an amazing recipe for cinnamon tear and share bread. 

So expect some baking updates over the next few weeks along with my usual restaurant ones!

All i need now is to invest in a Kitchen Aid mixer or Kenwood to help make my baking easier. It's almost Father Christmas, if you are listening...I've been a good girl!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Chocolate Cake time

Just thought i'd share my lovely chocolate cake picture.  I've made this cake a dozen or so times but this time, rather than covering with chocolate icing, I covered with vanilla icing and topped with raspberries.

I'm not going to giveaway my secret recipe for making the most chocolatey cake ever (let's just say there is plenty of cadbury's involved) but you can find a recipe for a good chocolate cake here:

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Les Deux Salons

I was really excited about finally visiting Les Deux Salons in Covent Garden, so jumped at the chance to take some clients there for dinner. 

The team behind Arbutus have done a fantastic job to create a restaurant with a fantastic ambience and more importantly, a mouth watering menu.

They've certainly done a fantastic job with the decor - you'd never have guessed it used to be an All Bar One. It looks authentically French.

The food was a triumph. Delicately cooked steaks, the best seabass i've had in a long time and an amazing cheeseboard, that you could smell on arrival.

One of my guests was a veggie, which left them with the option of one main meal - macaroni. So definitely not worth a visit if you don't eat meat!

Staff were stiff, unfriendly and hard to pin down. But a fantastic restaurant!

Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance.
Les Deux Salons on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A guest blog - The Stafford London by Kempinski

I was invited to join the team at The Stafford London for a Gourmet Soiree but due to more boring commitments, I couldn't make it - but my foodie friend, Nicole Wright, did.  So see below for her view on the event. Sounds like I missed a goodie:

Hidden away on a side street of the historic St. James’s district, away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Piccadilly, this is not an easy hotel to find. This is all part of its charm however, as once you are greeted by the doorman and shown inside you feel like you have found a well-kept London secret.

I went along to the first in the series of their (free!) ‘Pub Talks’ entitled ‘Gourmet Soiree’,lead by Executive Chef of the hotel’s Lyttelton restaurant, Brendan Fyldes. I was escorted down to the superbly replete wine cellars dating back to the 17th century. If you ever need a special private dining space for the wine buff in your life then this would be the place to hold it.

Word has obviously not got out yet about these evening talks as less than 20 people took part. A likeable mix of PR girls, hotel residents and genuine Foodies. Once everyone had a glass in hand Brendan began preparing his first creation; sea bass with rosemary and lemon. He made gutting and scaling the 12lb fish look like something everyone could easily try in their own kitchen, pointing out the techniques for removing the head and scales and how once removed the head and bones can be used to create a fish stock (make sure to remove the fish eyes!). The prepared fish was then whisked away and came back 20 minutes later beautifully grilled and ready for us all to dig in to accompaniedby a simple and delicious dip of blended chick peas and olive oil.

Following on from this we were shown how to prepare foiegras with rose salt and andPedro Ximenez (Spanish sweet wine from the Andulsian region). This reappeared later for us to try in the form of an incredible foiegras burger. I would definitely have indulged in a second one if Brendan had not whisked me away to the kitchen to try his freshly prepared Eccles cakes. The Eccles cakes alone make it worthwhile coming for afternoon tea here.

Throughout the food preparation and tasting we were encouraged to try a variety of different beers picked to match the food as well as being shown the different effects that different shaped beer glasses can have on taste. The final cheery beer was served elegantly in a martini glass.

I left having learnt how to gut and scale a fish, eaten well, sampled beers I never would have tried myself, made new friends, and with a new destination in my address book. There are 4 more Pub Talk evenings scheduled throughout September and October looking at wine and cigar pairing, cocktail making, custom jewellery and portrait photography and I plan to be at all of them!

Brendan’s recipe of the week can be found on the Lyttelton’s website:

Stafford on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 August 2011

Venetian Style Tapas

I love Tapas.  I love the whole sharing, passing around ritual and love even more the fact that you get to try a bit of everything without really trying...which is why i'm excited to hear about the new Venetian Style Tapas at Zizzi. Launching in September (so just a couple of weeks to wait) the tapas dishes give us a taster of Italian Tapas. Originally from Venice, you can now try this across the country.
Dishes range from Polenta Croccante - crunchy nuggets of polenta - to Arancini, mini risotto balls with mozzarella, peas and a tomato chilli sauce,
I've never been that keen on Zizzi, as it's always felt like a bit of a 'poorer sister' of pizza express...but I think these new dishes may well persuade me otherwise.

Don't worry, i'll let you know what i think when September comes around!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

L'Italiana, St Albans

Since we moved to St Albans, a full year and a half ago, there were two places we didn't hear the end of - The Waffle House and L'Italiana. Well, we've made it to the waffle house once already (review to go up soon I promise) but until Friday night, we had tried and tried but not been able to get a table at L'Italiana. Amazed that we finally managed to pin down a table, we were pretty eager to get started and arrived ten minutes before our booking.

We were told to wander around town for ten minutes before we could take our seats - which was a little strange, but I felt the food would be worth it, so didn't mind too much.

We shared some calamari to start, which was melt in your mouth delicious. Followed by a L'Italiana pizza on my part (rocket, parma ham, cheese and tomato) and a prawn and scallop pasta for my other half. Both were fantastic - in particular the pasta.

We finished up with an irish coffee and a creme brulee (as all my friends/readers know, i'm a bit partial to a creme brulee!)

Overall the dinner was pleasant and well put together but neither of us could understand quite why the restaurant was so busy.

I think this is one of the places you go to for the atmosphere more than anything...singing along, clapping to the music and dancing all make for a great night out.

Definitely one to go back to!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Wicked Lady, Wheathampstead

So, i've been a bit slack in keeping up with my blog - but don't worry, i'm back on board again and have been visiting plenty of restaurants to tell you all about. So i'll be working backwards over the next few days.

Last night was the most gorgeous weather in a long time and the perfect opportunity to go for a drive into the countryside for a pub dinner. The Wicked Lady in Wheathampstead really is in the middle of nowhere. It's not the first time i'd been as i'd visited previously for their Sunday lunch which is pretty impressive and takes up an entire plate.

Last night though we went for the regular menu, sharing some rosemary pizzetta and splitting the fishcakes and the spit chicken in garlic with chips. Finished off with a decadent Eton Mess and Caramelised Banoffee Cheesecake. Fantastic.

This is standard pub fare at it's best - service is impressive as they were incredibly busy but didn't leave us waiting and always had a smile. Food was good and hearty.

Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Clarendon

When my friend suggested we go with our boys to a pub for a good old fashioned Sunday lunch I jumped at the chance. So we woke up late, pulled on our jeans and headed off to The Clarendon, which was apparently a pub which did a good Sunday lunch just outside Watford.

Well, we were under-dressed and pub didn't really describe it - definitely a restaurant. Admittedly I should have done some research first, as it doesn't describe itself as a pub but as a restaurant and bar. Fantastically furnished, designer looking venue in the middle of the country side.

We went for mains and dessert. Main for me was a delicious traditional roast beef which came with an enormous Yorkshire pudding on top of the plate. The beef was cooked to perfection and the whole dish well co-ordinated. I finished off with my favourite dessert of all time, Creme Brulee and it wasn't the best I've ever had, but it was decent enough.

If we'd just been for the food and weren't worried about the service, the meal would have been amazing. Unfortunately, we received appalling service. Drinks were taken away before being fully drunk. The waitress actually stuck her finger in my drink and then instead of getting me a new one, just poured the same one into another glass.

It took ages to order and staff were hard to get hold of and miserable. One of the waitresses, who was highly pregnant, was trying her best, but needed more help.

All in all, great meal, fantastic location and i think we were probably unlucky with the service. I'd definitely try it again. Great place to take someone you want to impress (parents?)
01923 270009