Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Foodie Penpals package

This month I was more excited than normal when the postman made his way to our house, as this was the first month i'd signed up for the foodiepenpals monthly parcel.

A great idea, you send a parcel of foodie finds to someone and receive one from another.

This month NoshwithNikki was my foodie penpal and she sent me some amazing goodies.

The parcel included:

The brownie was interesting - very strong flavouring and a slightly odd texture made for an interesting eat.  The Bath Pig Chorizo snack bags are already a favourite and were quickly wolfed down.

I'm a big chilli fan, so am looking forward to using the Wiltshire Chilli Farm Chipotle Chilli salt and the peppersmith mints are a fab ending to a meal.

A great parcel. I just wish i'd remembered to take a snap of the one I sent my penpal!

If you want to join the foodiepenpals team, you can register here: http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Le Grand 8

A few weeks ago I decided to take a Eurostar trip to Paris with my friend, Rhi.  We decided a girly weekend of much food and drink was in order. My highlight of the trip was definitely the restaurant we fell upon one evening.

We actually ended up stumbling into the most fantastic restaurant near Sacre Coeur. With amazing views across the city, friendly staff and the most amazing food, we felt right at home.

As the restaurant, Le grand 8 was really busy, we were seated with a couple on a table for 4 and this turned out to be the best thing. The couple were incredibly friendly and let us taste their wines, chatted to us and generally made us feel at home.

It turned out that the restaurant was renowned (and is in the UK too) but we didn't know it. Known for it's food and it's wide variety of natural wines, people travel far and wide to go there.

I started the meal with a dandelion, lardon and egg salad. Bitter tasting but the egg took the bitterness away the lardons complimented them perfectly. My friend opted for the Foie gras.

For my main meal I chose an octopus risotto and really wish I'd taken a photo! I was served a good portion of deliciously creamy risotto which was then accompanied with a tentacle of octopus. An absolutely amazing, melt in the mouth dish.

Our friendly neighbours let us try some of their wine too - no idea what it was but it was called L'Insolent and was deliciously fresh and fruity.
What made this restaurant so fantastic is not just the friendly atmosphere that you don't always get to experience in Paris, but also the amazing seasonality of the food. The menu was presented to us on a blackboard.

Fantastic value at just 15Euros for a two course meal and a fantastic and affordable selection of wine, this was the best meal i've had in a very long time. Superb!

I'm not the only one who thinks this place is fantastic. Since visiting i've seen this blog, where the blogger, Wendy also thinks this is an amazing place to visit:

Visit the restaurant's website for more info:http://legrand8.fr

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Jamie's Italian - St Albans

I'm pretty lucky really. I work in Soho and live in St Albans which means i'm surrounded by good independent restaurants to pop into.  But every now and then I also enjoy a trip to one of the bigger chains such as Pizza Express or even Pizza hut on occasion (I know, I know, but when you are a child of the 80s, it was the best we had on offer!)

So, I was looking forward to trying out Jamie's Italian, now it has finally reached St Albans.  It was our 2nd wedding anniversary and we decided to save a bit of money and just pop out somewhere local.

We started the meal with a chacuterie platter between the two of us, which was pleasant enough, but ended up costing a ridiculous amount as you are charged per person and not allowed to share!

My other half had the fritto misto as a main, which was presented fantastically. See the image below and had a good mixture of fried fish.  However, it was a little bit 'too much' and would have been nicer if it had come with some salad or something to break up the 'friedness'!

I chose the squid ink spaghetti with scallops. (See image below) Again, presented really well but was incredibly disappointing. The Spaghetti was chewy and plastic like and the scallops were watery and unpleasant.

All in all, really not a wonderful experience i'm afraid to say, which is a shame. Although maybe we just chose the wrong dishes?

I don't think we'll be going back again to be honest, when there are plenty of other fantastic restaurants in the area and it isn't cheap.


Friday, 6 July 2012

My 'Ideal'o summer reads

My cookbook collection is getting a bit out of hand. With over 60 different books all piled up in my kitchen, you'd think i'd stop...but i can't.  There's nothing more therapeutic than having a flick through and gaining a bit of inspiration for the next meal.

So when Idealo suggested that i'd be interested in joining their Idealo Summer reads event this year, I wasn't going to be choosing anything but cookbooks obviously.

So with the £25 limit I was very kindly given at Amazon, I picked out the following to start flicking through and pulling some recipes out over the next few months.

Joy the baker cookbook £7.99

Fantastic book for those of us, like me, who have a sweet tooth. I've been following her blog for a while and had my eye on this book.  Some great inspiration for baking here. I'll let you know how some of the recipes turn out.

Lunch in Paris - A delicious love story with recipes £5.66

Something a little bit different. Part love story, part recipes. Looks like a goodie!

Good Food - Easy Baking Recipes £3.64

Classic, easy to bake recipes

Skinny Meals in Heels £8.99

Great recipes of real food for those watching their weight. It's all about proper food done in a healthy way.

Thanks very much to Idealo for the Amazon gift voucher to buy the above. Here's the link you asked me to add: http://www.idealo.co.uk/pcat/3935/cooking-dining.html which will lead you to some frying pans.