Burns Night at Boisdale of Mayfair

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend the Burns Night at the brand new Boisdale of Mayfair, which has launched just in time for the Scottish celebration. The event offered an exclusive preview of the traditional Burns Night Dinner, a five-course set menu served at all four Boisdale sites throughout January. Asking if I could bring a plus one, I decided to bring Mark along with me. 

boisdale-231116_mayfair_520Upon arrival, we all mingled by the bar as we sipped on old-fashioned cocktails.  They were tasty! Strong, but with the right amount of sweetness that made me keep going back for more. Once we were given enough time to relax and warm up from the cold outside, we were all seated. The dinner started off with a welcoming speech from the owner of Boisdale, who explained the delicacies of Scottish cuisine and what inspired him to put the menu together. Together, we all clinked our glasses and begun our feast.

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To start, we had an assortment of fresh seafood to share, including fresh langoustines, rock oysters, Shetland mussels and Atlantic prawns, as well as luscious smoked salmon. Making sure I didn’t get to full on a first course, I tried to pace myself. Mark and I tried everything except the oysters, as we are still sceptical about them- (I know what you’re thinking, everybody loves oysters… I’m still undecided). Each of our courses was also served with a specially selected wine pairing and with the seafood, we inevitably sipped on crisp white.

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Feeling slightly tipsy at this point, having had little for lunch, I anticipated our second course. It was a mini roasted Blackface Haggis, served with creamy mashed potatoes and swede all served with a noggin of whisky. The owner suggested that we pour our whisky over to really accentuate the flavours and because it is traditionally what happens when one eats it. Now, having heard of what Haggis was made of, I was worried that I would perhaps not like its taste or texture. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It was flavourful, tender and really yum!. I am a haggis virgin no more, and I’ll definitely be eating one again. This was paired with a full bodied red and the more  I ate, the more I also drank- tipsy Sofia and Mark coming out to play! 

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However, Mine and Mark’s favourite dish of the evening was definitely the Aberdeenshire dry-aged fillet steak, served with green peppercorn & whisky sauce, greens and bone marrow potatoes. The sauce was rich, and the steak melted in our mouths, being the perfect medium. It was succulent and tender. I also loved the crispy, yet creamy potatoes. I’d even say it was the best steak I’ve had in a while. This dish was also paired with more red. (Mark… pss I think I’m drunk) While we dined, a talented man played melodious tunes with his bagpipes. What could be more Scottish than that?

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By this point, I was incredibly stuffed and knew we had two courses still to go. Of course being greedy and tipsy made me prevail and carry on eating. After all, I am the type of person who gets jealous or sincerely regrets not trying everything and anything offered to me. Oops. 

To finish, we had a tipsy scotch tart served with clotted cream and cheese served with chutney. Although I am not a fan of raisins, which were in the tart, it was still moreish nonetheless! It was filled with spiced nuts, encrusted in pastry and the clotted cream really helped to cut through all the richness. 

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Overall, we had a lovely evening in good company eating good food and drinking great wine. If the Burns set menu at Boisdale is meant to evoke and preserve the precise feelings that people get when they sit down and share a meal together then it does just that! The food was delicious, the choices on the menu varied and the atmosphere cheerful and comforting.

If you’re looking for a traditional Scottish evening to share with friends and family, I’d recommend it.

 

 

Making Pizza with my Kitchenaid

To christen my new KitchenAid and celebrate the return of my boyfriend Mark coming back from his travels, we decided to make our own pizza yesterday! It is already incredibly simple to make but having a kitchen aid makes it that much easier! I know we all say that “this year is definitely a new year and new me” but now I can pretty much make pizza in two hours it’s going to be a struggle to stick to my vows...jokes never made any.

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The recipe we used for the dough itself was as follows:

  • 2 and a half cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 7g of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

This is enough for about 5 small pizzas.

With the KitchenAid, it is as simple as chucking in all the ingredients on speed setting 2 with the dough hook, until the dough clings to the hook and doesn’t stick to the sides, making sure the yeast was pre-dissolved in the water before adding it to the mixing bowl. If at this point, you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about- don’t  worry. If you are doing this manually, all you have to do is create a well with the flour and pour in the warm water slowly before adding the rest of the ingredients. This is the laborious part. Pizza dough needs a lot of kneading, usually for about 8-10 minutes, until it is soft and springy. Even so, it is still worth it to make your own dough because it only really requires minimal labour when you think about it in the grand scheme of things. I mean, 8-10 minutes isn’t even half an episode of most TV shows, and I watch a lot of T.V.  I find that when I didn’t have a kitchen aid, a big phat glass of wine and an extra pair of hands helps with this step.

Next, you need to leave the dough to prove. Put it in a flour-dusted bowl with a damp tea towel on top. The minimum time is an hour, but ideally the longer, the better. We left it for about an hour and a half until we couldn’t take it anymore due to our hunger, but you could leave it for much longer if you had the time. Sip more wine, time will fly by I’m sure!

Finally, we also made our own tomato sauce, and since I have an Italian mum (probably about the 100th time I’ve mentioned this), I know the best tricks and trades to Italian sauces.  Honestly, if you’re not feeling lazy, why buy a jar of sauce when you can make it fresh and catered to your liking. Plus, you know exactly what is going in it, none of that shit where you read the back of the label and try and figure out what all the fancy chemicals are. First things first, tinned plum tomatoes are essential, rather than chopped. This is because they are a little more acidic and when rendered down and cooked for a while, they begin to let off their natural sweetness (true story). I added slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon of salt and sugar, a glug of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. If you had fresh basil that would be great, but freeze dried works fine if that’s all you have.

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Leave it to simmer for 30 minutes and spread it all over your dough! I have a rolling pin, but my rolling skills suck so we used a plate to mould out circle shapes, folding the leftover dough to make our crusts.

Cook the pizza for 10-12 minutes at 200c.

. The toppings we went for were:

  • Margarita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano and parmesan)

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  • Mushroom & Ham (Oyster Mushrooms, Tomato sauce, ham and both mozzarella and buffalo mozzarella)
  • Asparagus, Mushroom & Chili (with truffle oil ham and buffalo mozzarella)

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It’s safe to say, the pizzas came out so good!! I wish we had been able to make more.  My favourite was probably the first batch we made, only because we were expecting to have a bit of trial and error and somehow they ended up being perfectly cooked. The fresh tomato sauce definitely made the pizzas taste more authentic.  We were impressed with ourselves, and it was the perfect way to spend an evening together.

If you have any leftover dough, you can freeze it or, my favourite, make a sweet pizza with some Nutella all over…. trust me, it’s delicious.

 

 

New Year’s Eve Dinner Party

Happy 2017 to you all!!

Hopefully, by now everyone has recovered from the nasty first hangovers of the new year. I know I was suffering bad yesterday, but thankfully, I was in the company of friends, and we recovered by chilling out in front of my TV indulging in our carb cravings.

This year was the first year I’ve officially spent in London, and I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, our night was enjoyable, fun and everything went so smoothly! I am yet to experience the hecticness of London during New Year’s (thank god). To celebrate, I decided to properly christen my new apartment with a dinner party for sophisticated pre drinks!

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Let me tell you, if you are embarking on this, be sure to do your prep the night before. This seems so obvious in hindsight but my friend Katrina came over, we got really into Harry Potter on TV and wine probably didn’t help my cause. Actually, I can’t even blame it on that because I still had the whole day. Anyways, while it was certainly stressful cooking four dishes in 6 hours and also making sure the flat was clean, and I was dressed, all in all, it turned out successful, and I had a wonderful time – I hope all the girls did too!. Also, shout out to my sis for helping me with it all and Louisa on the gravy.

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I decided to go for a black and gold theme, sparkles at the plenty and champagne to get us all started! I found a garland and props in HomeSense near my mum lives and felt like they were the perfect accompaniment! Also, nothing would be complete without my bar cart stocked with alcohol as everyone bought something for us to indulge in, from prosecco, to wine to more champagne. (I know the picture looks empty, but I can assure you there was booze at the plenty!)

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The dishes I made were: Roast Chicken and white wine chicken gravy (wish there was more of this!) THIS CHICKEN was fantastic. Sorry to toot my own horn and all but it was so succulent. I used a flavoured butter full of thyme rosemary and porcini mushrooms, as well as lemon zest and garlic! To make it even juicier, I rubbed the butter both under the skin and on top and stuffed the chicken with lemon wedges and some of the fresh herbs. The juices from the chicken created a perfect gravy that only needed a little wine and a stock pot. The chicken was also cooked with flavourful carrots and onions topped with some bay leaves. Thanks Becky for being the carving queen.

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Crispy roast potatoes: I love roasted potatoes, and I love when they are nice and crispy- nothing is more disappointing then soft spuds after all! I par boiled the potatoes and used butter. Next, when they had been cooking for an hour, i used a potato masher to squash them out a bit and added sage. This made them extra fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside!

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Baked Camembert and bread: (my own you’ll be pleased to know): Super easy to make now I have a kitchen aid. Left the bread to prove for two hours and it was all ready to go. This was a fun little dish which is perfect for dinner parties! Rebecca put chilli’s rosemary and garlic in the cheese.

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Last but not least whoopie pies for dessert! I think I went a bit too ambitious at this point and found myself struggling for time, however, I wanted to use my Kitchen Aid as well as make something I never had before. They had caramel and banana inside and the little sugar in the batter meaning that the flavours were just right and it wasn’t too sweet. Unfortunately, i was way too full by the end of my meal to enjoy these properly.

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IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR AN AVERAGE PERSON, my lovely friends also bought oreo brownies, Dorito mac and cheese, soy and garlic broccolini and sausage rolls. It was a feast we had all been eagerly anticipating the whole day.

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I am a sucker for food, and now I’ve come to realise I am also a sucker for dinner parties! ( Maybe just not the cleaning part- My flat is still raining gold glitter even after a good clean). It was a such a nice way to kick start the celebrations, as well as all, have a nice meal and drinks together- socialising before shit got real wild. We played drinking games, indulged in all the good food and all had a good laugh together. Bec also bought over some limoncello, and we all had a nice gulp of that before we left. Heading to Queen of Hoxton, the bus took 20 minutes, we were met with no line, and everyone got their twerk on the dancefloor.

Here’s to the start of a great year!

Peace out bitches xoxo

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Christmas and what I ate

Merry Christmas all!!

This year marked the first year I have spent Christmas in the UK after my mum and sister moved back to the U.K. I didn’t really know what to expect considering I’ve spent the majority of my Christmases in the Middle East, boozy brunching on Christmas day in the sun. 

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However, I will say my first cold Christmas ended up being a super cosy few days that really does encapsulate the spirit of the festive period. We did nothing but eat good food, drink wine and sit by the warm fireplace as the tree twinkled, playing monopoly (we found it in the loft- it’s practically vintage) and watching TV. The sun even came out- which for England at this time of year is a rare occurrence.

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Our cheese board, Christmas Eve (eve)

Christmas Eve:

My mum, sister and I decided to have cheese to start (if you can’t tell already we LOVE cheese). Taking inspiration from Twisted Food on Facebook, we decided to recreate a camembert ‘snowflake’. Essentially, it is pastry that is assembled with bits of crispy bacon and cranberry sauce with a whole camembert in the middle, shaped into a snowflake, sprinkled with rosemary and cooked in the oven. THIS WAS DELICIOUS. Crispy salty bacon goes so well with the oozy camembert and sweet cranberry. We also decided to make some extra pastry sticks with the remaining pastry (had to be done). I am having a dinner party for New Year’s Eve as a sort of sophisticated pre-drinks, and I think I will have to whip this one out again– (there you go! for the people attending, a sample of what you can expect haha).

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For our main, we then went for salmon en-croute. I have always wanted to make it, and while my mum felt incredibly lazy, I was up for the task. Using spinach, shallots, parsley, lemon juice  – and zest – creme fraiche all cooked in butter, we created the tasty filling, which was placed on top of the salmon fillets and covered with a layer of pastry. We also served this with creamy mash potatoes, adding milk butter and creme fraiche – (calorie counters, you may want to leave this page). I’ve mentioned this already, but my sister Rebecca is not a fan of seafood so she made her own dinner, which was a juicy pork chop crusted with sage and served with apple and shallot butter – I must admit this made me slightly jealous. Nonetheless, the salmon was definitely the right choice and the sauce filled in the buttery pastry was super yummy! It didn’t even take that long so for all you salmon lovers out there, this one is for you.

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Christmas Day:

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a traditional roast with all the trimmings, am I right? Surprisingly, I’ve never really had a traditional Christmas roast, as my mum is Italian and we’ve usually headed out in the past so I was definitely excited.   Taking inspiration from my friend Laura, we decided to pimp up our Brussel sprouts. Using bacon, shallots and balsamic vinegar, it turned a mundane dish (in my opinion) to a real contender and while I’ve never been a fan of plain ones, these were the shi*.dsc02193dsc02205We also had crispy potatoes (not as crispy as I would have liked sadly), roasted parsnips, carrots, potato rosti’s as well as a turkey with pork, onion and sage stuffing. This was all served with some flavourful gravy – concocted with juices from the meat to make it extra moreish. We had this with some bottles of prosecco and to finish it all off… a black forest cheesecake! We also realised how much we were into Monopoly and it turns out the more you drink, the more competitive you get. We got the turkey pretty exact, remaining juicy and tender, which meant all the sides were the perfect accompaniment. No matter how much we ate, it’s safe to say, we have a lot of leftovers. Which brings me to…

Boxing Day:

Today we decided to go for the classic boxing day dish: bubble & squeak!. Again, never really had the chance to use leftovers to make any boxing day dishes so this was fun. We took all our vegetables, diced them up and mixed them with an egg. Forming them into patties, we shallow fried them in olive oil and topped them with cranberry sauce, turkey slices, stuffing and a drizzle of gravy. Great use to get rid of leftovers and makes a filling meal. I don’t always enjoy eating the same thing twice so it was a nice way to recreate a Christmas roast.

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After feeling content with all my food and reminiscing about the last few days,  I am currently sitting on my sofa in a fluffy robe watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix.

Christmas time is bliss.

Festive Feasting at Nordic Yulefest

On Friday, nursing a horrid hangover, I had been invited to a festive feasting event sponsored by Ketel one vodka at Nordic Yulefest. For £85 guests could have a 5-course dinner feast, complete with half a bottle of wine each and because I was listed as press, this was actually bottomless. Sounds epic but since I felt so shi* I didn’t take full advantage of this as much as I would have loved.

Nordic Yulefest was in Old Street, inspired by Nordic culture, the venue was decorated with a new trend that has swept the nation, ‘hygge‘-a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Arriving just after 6 pm, Serena and I (a childhood friend of mine) were introduced to the Ketel one representative and given a yummy cocktail inspired by the festive season and sprinkled with spices like cinnamon and star anise. Led to our table, with the menu placed in front of us and the room decorated with Christmas pines and tree branches, the banquet room certainly felt festive and snug.

Our meal started off with Birch cured venison, pine smoked Norwegian beef tartare and BBQ’ed Lamb Skewers with blackberries.

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From this board, I thought the food was OK. For one, it was definitely not the best beef tartare I had ever had, but the venison and lamb were quite tasty. I do want to point out that the portion sizes were quite small as we were 4 on a table in total and had no trouble scoffing most of it down. One thing I read online is someone complaining that the feast was too small and why I had no trouble with that, I can see how others might have felt they didn’t get enough per portion.

Next on our list was torched mackerel, ice cellar salmon, pickled herring tempura with dill mayo and a Nordic potato salad.

dsc02049In my opinion, this course was a lot better and tasted pretty good. The salmon was fresh, the mackerel in tasty bites and the tempura pretty crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I also surprisingly loved the potato salad– not because I don’t like potato salad but because I perceived potato salad to be rather mundane in comparison to the other items, but it was delicious! I had to keep nibbling on it even after everyone on the table was pretty much done with that board.

The meal was then followed by a wild mushroom and truffle broth. I must say this was rather disappointing. For one, I was looking forward to a nice warming broth, but this was definitely more of a soup. That would be absolutely fine, but it tasted more like a pasta sauce. I LOVE truffle, but here it was so overpowering and meant I could only have a few mouthfuls. Sad.

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Thankfully, the next course redeemed itself yet again. It was Icelandic cod with clam butter sauce. The Cod was moreish and soft, and the clams were the perfect accompaniment. This was one of my favourite parts of the whole meal.

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One more course to go before dessert. I must say that I was getting quite full by this point and also felt more hungover as the evening went on. I sound like a massive baby, but hair of the dog and food weren’t helping. Nonetheless, I stuck it out for my love of food. The last savoury course was smoked and roasted duck with apple and prunes. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the apple and prune side that was meant to go with it, but the duck was tender and yummy. Also, we had sides of caramelised potatoes and sweet and sour red cabbage. 

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Finally, to round it all off we had a board of different desserts (always a highlight for me). This was initially confusing as it didn’t really say so on the menu. Nonetheless, I love desserts, so I was happy to comply! The macaroons were probably my favourite, I managed to try the vanilla and raspberry ones, and they were gooey in the middle just the way I like them. The meringues, despite being listed as raspberry were not- and the sauce didn’t taste like raspberry either but overall, they were alright.

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My final thoughts?

I liked the cocktails that were crafted with Ketel one vodka, they were tasty. I loved the decor. There was meant to be alcoholic snow, but staff told us different things about whether that was happening or not. In the end, we ended up leaving because I had reached my limit (my bad) so I can’t say whether that happened, but it sounded like such a cool concept. Regarding the food, it could be improved slightly as some dishes were better than others, but overall that is down to personal preference, and it was still a lovely evening that felt super cosy. As there was a range of different tickets-  including the option to pay solely for entrance to a 5-course feast, guests don’t have to pay £85 pounds to have a good night.

A favourite Korean Restaurant of Mine: Jinjuu

Checking up on the status of my blog, I realise I haven’t blogged in a while, but in my defence, I have recently been ill and only ate what I could chew, which thanks to my wisdom tooth infection was not a lot.

Anyways, as I sit here at my desk, I started thinking about what sort of food I was craving. I am currently in the fifth week of my internship at the Culture, trip and I usually spend most of my day looking at food articles and images, which doesn’t help my obsession with eating food – now, I have to look at tasty dishes constantly too. Doing this made me think of my last delicious meal I enjoyed and immediately, Jinjuu came to mind. Mark and I went a couple of weeks ago, and while I Instagrammed a picture of our meal, I never got round to writing about everything we ordered (as well as what I liked most- because that’s what we all care about the most right?)

Jinjuu is situated in Carnaby, next to Oxford Circus, the perfect sort of place to visit if you are shopping and you need a good meal after scouring the clothes rails of your favourite shops. It serves modern Korean food, and since Mark had never been and I had been introduced by my friend Amar, I was excited to return.

Regarding drinks, we decided against the alcohol (shocking for us) and went for a delicious honey & lemon tea. For food, we wanted to get a range of different items, so we carefully went through each menu item before making our decision (not shocking at all). We decided to go for a variety of dishes. These included:

  • Jinjuu’s signature fried chicken paired with two tasty sauces: Gochujang Red & Jinjuu Black Soy. £9.50
  • Pork Belly Tacos marinated in Korean spices, apple, kimchi & Asian slaw. £8.50
  • Short Rib & Kimchi Mandoo crispy dumpling stuffed with braised beef, mushrooms & kimchi with spicy dipping sauce on the side. £8
  • Bibimbap filled with white rice & seasonal vegetables and served with gochujang sauce on the side. Topped with a fried egg. £9 (We took the option of adding some bulgogi beef for an extra £2.50)

First off, let me start by saying that every dish was mouth watering! But, if I had to rank them in order of preference I’d start with the short rib dumplings first. The softly braised beef combined with the crunch of the fried dumpling and the sauce on the side were the perfect mix. 

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I also loved the fried chicken and how it came with two little sauce bottles, not only making the experience more enjoyable but ultimately letting you decide which and how much sauce to use. I always find that with the sauce it can either be TOO much or TOO little and I liked that we could have it with both.

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Next, I would say the Bibimbap- the sauce came on the side which I liked because if you can’t really handle a bit of heat you can adjust it to how you want. The beef was also wonderfully tender, and the whole thing was presented in a traditional bowl which made the bottom of the rice go nice and crispy (my favourite part)!

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Lastly, I would have to say the tacos, only because there was more Asian slaw than marinated pork slices, but that being said, they were fresh and light and still tasty nonetheless.

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Although I was full, vowing how I couldn’t eat another thing, we obviously had to order a dessert. I honestly have such a sweet tooth and feel like I need it to finish any dining experience.

We decided to share one (the only way I could get Mark in on it, so I didn’t feel like a total fattie (To be fair I do still end up eating most of it)… no shame! I decided to go for the Snickers Hotteok, which essentially is a Korean doughnut, stuffed with salted caramel, roasted peanuts, peanut parfait, chocolate ganache, praline & Nutella powder. £7

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Obviously, if you don’t like peanut butter, this dessert probably isn’t for you. However, if you are obsessed with all things peanut butter like me, it is perfect. Nutella and peanut butter also go together so well and throw in a salted caramel doughnut in the mix? Well, you’re sorted. I’d highly recommend the dessert, it’s super yummy.

Overall, I would recommend Jinjuu for anyone looking for good Korean food, the prices are good, and despite its touristy location, the food is moreish and delicious.

In case you were worried about my wellbeing, I am also better now thanks to a week dose of antibiotics so i’m back to my blogging game,

did you miss me?

xoxo gossip girl (sorry that’s just how I envisioned a gossip girl episode to end and if you haven’t seen gossip girl, well we can’t be friends)

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Feasting

Last Sunday, Katrina (who makes a regular appearance on this blog) invited me and some of our other friends around for a Thanksgiving feast.

Her family are American and so, naturally, have always celebrated the holiday and are used to the great abundance of tasty dishes traditionally available. I, on the other hand, had never really done anything for Thanksgiving before until I met Katrina, who had kindly invited me around to her house the year before. Making this my second official edition and knowing what to expect, I eagerly anticipated all the amazing food I was about to consume.

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Thinking tactically and arriving with an empty stomach (this backfired as I was literally starving), we all sipped some wine and helped ourselves to the array of delicious snacks and starters, including the amazing crab dip Katrina’s parents made. P.s Katrina and Mel if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe, please?

Knowing this was only the beginning, moments later (and much to my delight as you had probably guessed), the (massive) and succulent BBQ’ed turkey arrived on a platter. Then, a vast number of side dishes also started to appear- another shout out to Katrina and her family for the organisational skills needed to execute a Thanksgiving dinner of that calibre. I am pretty sure me and the others just stared in silence at it all coming out at this point and needed a moment to take it all in. Ellie and Andrea also arrived and made matters even better by bringing the greatest portion of mac and cheese and sweet potatoes known to mankind. Picking up my plate and pretending to contemplate letting others go first (sorry…but also not sorry), I quietly and quickly scurried to the front to fill up my plate.

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I had to try everything – (I mean obviously who wouldn’t?) and I took a small (ok, small ish) portion of each. These included:

  • BBQ’ed Turkey
  • Gammon
  • Dave’s Famous Stuffing (Katrina’s Dad for you guys)
  • Green Bean Casserole made by Katrina- you go, girl!
  • Previously mentioned Mac & Cheese with a Dorito Crumb- YUM
  • Mash Potatoes & Sweet Potato cubes

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Everything was fantastic as expected- I especially loved the mac & cheese and the stuffing, having to go back for seconds…and maybe thirds. If all this wasn’t enough already, Mel had also made delicious banoffee and pumpkin pies. The banoffee pie was probably one of the best I’ve tried as I tactically asked Mel what biscuits she used in the base. Writing this post now has made me crave it all over again… especially on a hangover like today.

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We spent the entire afternoon drinking wine, eating and chatting to one another. The definition of a perfect Sunday. It’s safe to say I was way too full that day to have any form of food for dinner as I was well and truly stuffed and satisfied.  

It’s official- I love Thanksgiving.