Hunting for food: Camden Markets

Hi, my name is Sofia and I’m addicted to eating good food… but you already knew that. Also that introduction sort of sounded like the beginning of an Alcoholics Anonymous discussion. 

Anyways- Last Sunday, Mark and I decided to make use of the sunny weather that is currently blessing London. We started off on a cultural adventure to the British Museum, which went really well until an hour in when we started realising just how hungry we were and how desperate our love for food conquered finding out all about ancient Egypt- (which by the way is definitely my favourite part). So we quickly left and eagerly made our way to Camden.

I know what you’re thinking… wait, girl, you’ve never been to CAMDEN’S FOOD MARKETS? Sofia, aka EASTLONDONFOODGIRL I was rooting for you. WELL, you’ll be happy to know I have. However, on a serious note, I’d never really had the chance to take my camera out and write about it after – “Mark we have to eat one more thing so I can add it in” – the classic one liner I can now use at leisure. Plus, as I am true to my name, I do usually hang around the food markets like Brick Lane and Broadway market. Needless to say, we were super excited to be back trying out all the food. We started off in Camden lock and went straight for the halloumi fries stall. OK – that’s a lie, we did a whole lap pushing and shoving our way around as it was hot and busy and because we needed to scope out ALL our options. Nevertheless, we headed to the fries first.

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These. Are. So. Good. The salty halloumi goes SO WELL with all the toppings and really compliments the middle eastern flavours of Sumac and Za’atar. The pomegranate also helps to provide the freshness as the dish is naturally very rich in flavour profiles. YUM. I highly recommend you try these if you haven’t already.  The perfect starter – especially for a cheese lover like myself!

Next, we hunted out our next dish. Don’t you love how I’m using ‘hunting’ as my chosen adjective. We take our food searching seriously. We decided to avoid the tasty burgers and pasta- Mark even made me say no to the mac & cheese because we’d had it on our last trip (BORING- jokes he had a point). We finally settled for the Kati Rolls, as we’d never tried them before.

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This was essentially a chicken curry, topped with sauces, vegetables and fresh herbs put into a paratha wrap. The paratha was so buttery and flakey and the curry was aromatic and flavourful. My favourite part of eating a curry is having some naan bread with it and a paratha wrap to me felt like a clever hybrid of the two!

While we were walking around, I also needed to quench my thirst and the square root soda bar caught my eye! We went for the mango and lime flavour. I don’t usually like fizzy drinks but this was refreshing and tangy- certainly great for a hot long day of walking around hunting for….more food to eat.  p.s please excuse the nails in the photo. and if you didn’t notice them until I pointed it out let’s all pretend we never read this…..

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RIGHT, one more place before we headed for dessert. Hummuslina, located in the stables area of Camden market. They had kindly invited me to go and try some of their hummus out. Mark and I decided to go for the ‘Hummus Lina’, which was topped with aubergine and eggs- (I must admit, I’ve never had hummus and eggs as a combo but you can’t beat it until ya try it!). They freshly prepare each order of hummus and make their own pita as well. My ultimate verdict? While fresh and certainly tasty, it’s not the best hummus I have had- I’ve got to be honest. This may be because both Mark and I both grew up in the Middle East and probably got used to the authentic (and cheap) hummus from Bahrain and Dubai.  (I’ve also mentioned that about 10 times now but you know- a girl know’s her HUMMUS) I will say, we LOVED their fresh pita bread, it was a lot fluffier and lighter than typical pitta which made the optimum conditions for double (or triple) dunking.

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With our stomachs almost full we ended our trip at the famous Chin Chin Labs- the ice cream frozen to order with liquid nitrogen, which is part gimmicky part ‘okay that’s pretty cool’. We caught the optimum time of the day where the line was short and even managed to snag a table to sit- wahoo. We decided to try the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallow fluff (my favourite out of the two) and the Brownwich with tonka bean ice cream – ( and in case you didn’t know you can choose what flavour you’d like to have in this).  The tonka bean ice cream was a bit underwhelming, but the brownwich cookies made up for it. If you’re like me and you like a soft gooey cookie then you’ll love this. Yet, the winner for me (and I’m sure for other sweet tooths alike) was the hot chocolate. The marshmallow fluff- DESPITE being super sweet, was perfect. Who doesn’t love to stuff their hot chocolate mugs in the winter with as many marshmallows as they can fit so it all melts on the top? This is exactly like that- but on steroids. I couldn’t finish the whole thing personally but I did find myself saying, “Just one more spoon and then I’m done!”

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All I can say is YUM. I felt like the fattest person ever after this trip to Camden but it was all totally worth it. Does anyone else have their favourite Camden eats to recommend? Let me know!

XOXO,

EASTLONDONFOODGIRL

(I like signing off as gossip girl- I’m going to do that more often)

Italian Tapas at Gastrovino, Chelsea

Situated over 2 floors, Gastrovino is a cute Italian restaurant nestled in the heart of kings road. Surrounded by Italians, (and being asked if I am ACTUALLY Italian – half mate, half) I knew that the food had to be yummy.

IMG_5246Andrea, Katrina and I attended last Wednesday for their aperitivo night! For just £10 pounds per person, every guest is given a welcome drink, as well as an unlimited access to a selection of different small dishes, which are continuously brought out by the chefs as the night unfolds. In terms of price, their Wednesday night deals are such a bargain, as each dish usually ranges between £5-8. I will say we arrived pretty late and so it was rather difficult finding a table and setting up- if you don’t want the hassle of standing around praying someone gets up, definitely go earlier than 8:30 pm! It is also more dimly lit downstairs than up, but this is because the lower deck is a great place for a cocktail, serving as the bar area rather than the main restaurant itself. However, once we did find a seat it was a cosy evening! There was some live music going on in the background and an array of tasty drinks on offer, which really added to the atmosphere. In terms of food, (my favourite part of any situation) we were in control of what dishes we wanted (and in our case, re wanted teehee)- helping ourselves to the various tasty dishes that were on order. As previously mentioned, because the chefs constantly bought out variations of traditional and authentic Italian dishes throughout the night, there was always something new to try. I must admit I kept helping myself to more… it was for the whole table Ok. My favourite dish had to be the aubergine parmigiana. If I have to explain what that is then you know nothing. Jokes.  It is deep fried aubergine in tomato sauce covered with mozzarella cheese mmmmm. We also had the classic bruschetta, pizzette, seafood risotto, pasta with a creamy tomato sauce and meatballs! A pretty good selection if you ask me… and that wasn’t even the half of it!

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All the food was what I’d expect (and want!) from a typical Italian restaurant: tasty carbs, cheese and lots of deep fried goodies.

Looking for Mexican food in London?

Hello, all!

Another post that is LONG OVERDUE. I have recently started working full time and as I know from interning, it becomes much harder to fit everything into your evenings when you get back home. I usually want to mong out and watch TV all evening. (Challenge accepted)

After my recent take on a vegan taco, (which by the way were delicious, super easy to make and can be found the picture is on my Instagram with the ingredients!), I was thinking about what my favourite Mexican place is in London.

As you may or may not know, I went to Mexico in September with a few friends. Once you’ve been there and tasted their fresh guac (among other yummy delights), you realise that a lot- and I’m not saying all! -chains here in London just don’t offer the same authenticity.  

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Take Lupita on Commercial street in Aldgate for example. I don’t’ usually call out restaurants in a bid to shame them and I don’t want anyone to get the impression that that is what I am doing (Ok maybe a little, though). All I will say is, the last time I went the food was pretty substandard. I just didn’t enjoy it and for a split second, I think I began to think that that was what Mexican food was SUPPOSED to taste like (which obviously it isn’t). SO, naturally, when I heard a few good things about Mestizo I knew I had to check it out. They even serve vegan/ lactose and gluten-free menu options for anyone that’s interested and looking for a restaurant to cater to your dietary needs! My sister and I were craving tacos and my mum was in town so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and give it a go!. It’s based near Kings Cross but I will say it is nestled on a busy road next to nothing particularly prominent. However, once you step inside, you are transported to an atmosphere that is quintessentially Mexican.

With its focus on Mexican cuisine, the restaurant serves traditional food as well as drink: TEQUILLA! There are tequila sours, various flavoured margaritas, tequila sunrise and tejito all on offer. Mexican beers are also available. Unfortunately, since I went to Mexico I must say I struggle with drinking tequila in any and all forms so I avoided these at all costs. However, if tequila is your thing, you’re particularly in luck here!

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In terms of food, we went for a few options. Guacamole for one is always a necessity when you get Mexican. Who doesn’t like guac? (If you’re reading this and you don’t then you probably need to reevaluate your life choices, -just joking).  I think when it’s made a simple way, with the classic flavours, it is actually probably the tastiest.  Then, because I LOVE CHEESE. -Yes, cheesy capitals for emphasis ( see what I did there…), I knew we had to try the Queso fundido (melted chihchuaha and oaxaca cheese) with chorizo all served with tortilla’s to dunk in and scoop up that goodness. This was also served with pico de gallo which does help to cut through all the richness of the dairy. Who knew a simple salsa would be so crucial!

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As for our main’s, we were (if you haven’t gathered) pretty decided on tacos. They have this cool option for “when you really want tacos” where you can have a tray with four different fillings – a quick way to try out a range of diverse flavours! My sister and I decided to go for these four:

  • Pollo con Mole (Shredded Chicken cooked in traditional Mexican sauce- one of the ingredients being chocolate) topped with queso fresco
  • Pastor (Traditional Mexican marinated pork served with pineapple chunks)
  • Arrachera (Beef marinated in beer, garlic, onion and spices)
  • Cuitlacoche (black corn mushrooms with onion, sweetcorn, chilli and garlic)

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The tacos were TASTY! I think my favourite was definitely the beef, however, that may be a personal preference because whenever I am making Mexican at home I always tend to go for beef as well. Ordering this was a great idea if you’re like me and you get especially bored of eating the same thing. By having it on the table, where diners help themselves also meant that you could customise and experiment until you reached taco perfection.

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Now, if you know me (and this is beginning to sound like Deja vu) I love desserts. Naturally, we all decided to order some to finish off our lovely meal. We decided to opt for the pastel 3 leches, as well as the buñuelos. These were essentially crispy dough fritters served with cane syrup and ice cream.

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The 3 leches cake was made with ‘3 milks’ – condensed and evaporated milk all topped with double cream!

DSC02872While the crispy dough fritters came off a bit boring, the 3 milk cake was delicious! Anything that has that condensed milk in it is going to taste yummy! The richness of the cake contrasted really well with the fresh double cream. I’d definitely recommend it if you have a sweet tooth. We were fighting over this dessert rather than the other that’s for sure!

So, it’s safe to say- If you’re looking for a Mexican restaurant in London, head to Mestizo!

Brunch at St. Regis, Doha.

The last of my Doha series. (LONG overdue, I know)

I realise that I have recently spent less time blogging. I think this because I’ve been more preoccupied with trying to find jobs and amidst all the rejections, it is sometimes hard to pick yourself back up. I’ve always enjoyed having a set plan in life- I always knew I wanted to do a masters degree straight after my undergraduate for example and now I feel like the universe is testing me, pushing me on a path into the unknown.  However, when I think about it, blogging, (no matter how many people read my posts- shout out to the family), is a way to have that control I yearn for, as well as the chance to speak about things I am passionate about – namely food and going out to eat! My holiday to Doha was exactly what I needed to put all of that into perspective and I do have to constantly remind myself of all the things I am lucky for.

Anyways, enough of my current life situation and more on what is really important- delicious food! I wasn’t initially going to post this because I figured it had been a few weeks since I’d been to the St. Regis but when I tell you it was the biggest spread of food I’ve ever seen in my life, I knew my fellow foodies would appreciate it.

 

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An abundance of seafood for all you seafood lovers out there

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Fresh oysters

 

In the Middle East, Brunch on a Friday is a regular (and amazing) occurrence. I’ve often wondered to myself why they can’t bring it over to the U.K but the answer is pretty simple. Unlimited booze and food send people into a frenzy! If you aren’t familiar with the Middle Eastern version of brunch it goes a little something like this:

Brunch

brʌn(t)ʃ/

noun

  1. A late morning unlimited buffet, offering everything from starters, desserts and a range of cuisines eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. Unlimited alcohol and rowdiness usually always included.

    “I’m not having any breakfast this morning, I’m heading to Brunch and need all the space I can get”

Now, living in the Middle East for most of my life, I can say I’ve experienced a fair few brunches in my time, as well as a fair few nasty hangovers the day after. (The trick is to most definitely keep on eating despite the urge to keep topping up your free flowing glass) However,  I have got to hand it to them, the St Regis’s Brunch was truly something else. I was in awe at just how much food was stocked and spread throughout the entire layout of the restaurant, stretching outdoors all the way to a neighbouring restaurant on the other side. The brunch offered fresh seafood, salads, Arabic mezze and that’s just the starters!

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a snapshot of the mezze and salads

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In addition, you could have unlimited flowing bubbles, as well as visit the FIVE (yes, I said five) bars that were on offer, each tackling a different spirit. I’m going to keep this post short and snappy for once but in order for you to get an idea of just how much food was available, I’ve attached my pictures so you can live vicariously through me! Even these only provide a mere glimpse into the brunch (believe it or not!).

Enjoy, I know I did.

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Tender steaks- (made to order!)

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Chili con carne

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Wagyu beef sliders

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Aromatic Curry

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Cheesy pasta with mushrooms served in a parmesan wheel (YUM)

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Sauteed Beef and Prawns

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Grilled Meats

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Probably my favourite of them all: Beef Wellington – This ended up running out fairly quickly so I’m glad I got to try it!

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Freshly prepared sushi

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Only a tiny fraction of the tasty desserts provided- my all time favourite was the apple crumble (sadly not pictured)

 

 

 

East London Food Girl Abroad: Nobu, Doha

 I’m back bitches! But seriously, It’s good to be back in the Middle East after not visiting for a year! 

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in Bahrain, a small island connected to Saudi Arabia by bridge. My dad currently lives in Doha and will be moving to Oman so I wanted to try to see everyone before the big move. For the next week and a bit I am visiting friends and family. Naturally I thought it would be a good idea to blog and document all the good food we’ll be eating. I mean, this is a food blog after all!

Last night, I had the pleasure of dining at Nobu in Doha (the biggest one in the world apparently… look that shit up, it’s a real fact). My dad and Amel like to go quite a bit so it did feel slightly cool when the head chef casually came and sat with us at our table. Elegantly drawn out over three floors, facing the sea, I knew we were in for a real treat. Apologies for the low resolution images, Nobu is one of those dimly lit restaurants and I felt bad shining my light and disturbing the ambiance (haha sorry not sorry).

Whenever I’ve been to Nobu, we always tend to go for the same order. Spicy Edamame to start, the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna as well as Spicy Salmon (A MUST) and the Mini Tacos (ALSO A MUST).

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My favourite tacos are the Wagyu Beef with Spicy Ponzu, but the King Crab with Tomato Salsa and the Salmon with Spicy Miso are also incredibly delicious too. In addition (and in commemoration of Rebecca’s absence) we also got Wagyu Beef Tataki. If you’ve never had wagyu beef (which to be fair, a lot of us haven’t) it literally melts in your mouth. It is luxurious for a reason because it is probably the softest piece of beef you’ll ever have. However, I was a little disappointed with the beef this time round, it was super chewy and did not do the usual dish any justice. Usually it is thinly sliced and requires little effort to eat. However,  we did speak to the chef after and he said they were having a problem with their usual supplier… so I suppose I can forgive ya.

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We also then got the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño. So good! Especially if you’re a seafood lover but find yourself sticking to salmon all the time. I love the combo of coriander, the spiciness of the  Jalapeño all pieced together with some delicious fish. I also had to go for some Rock Shrimp Tempura with Spicy Sauce because… who doesn’t love deep-fried prawns. I realise I sound like an absolute fat ass by now… oops. Oh well. We all are at heart.

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For our mains, we went for two off menu items. One was a Whole Lobster, prepared ‘new way’, boiled and served with saffron and mushrooms. We also had the Razor Clams, which were also prepared in the ‘new way’ lightly sauteed in olive oil and sesame, topped with ginger and sesame, also served with lightly sauteed mushrooms. I had never tried razor clams before and I think trying them for the first time at Nobu was probably the best decision ever. They were tender and full of flavour! The lobster was also soft and rich, making every bite as tasty as the last.

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Finally, the chef picked our deserts (actually a winner in my books because I am always so indecisive and tend to stick to the things I know). He went for a creamy cheesecake with raspberry sorbet and another off menu item. It was AMAZING. The off menu item consisted of chili infused bananas, layered on top of a brownie and served with green tea, vanilla bean and chocolate ice cream. A true comfort food option. If I were to usually order a desert, I’d always go for chocolate instead of fruit, but this dessert cleverly combined all the elements into one!

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Nobu is definitely a pricy option, we all know that, but it also ensures you will eat yummy and satisfied food every time. A win in my books and a must try if you haven’t been and if you want to treat yourself for a special occasion. There are rumours that a Nobu in Shoreditch will be opening later this year. If this is true, that’s my excuse to try it. After all, East London is the best place to live.

 

Lunch at Palatino

Last week my sister and I went to check out Palatino, a new restaurant following Stevie Parle’s The Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London & Sardine. Palatino is an Italian restaurant with a focus on food from Rome. We have been to Rotorino before as it is an East London favourite (and five seconds from my house) and we love trying their different regional dinners from various parts of Italy, which they host at the end of every month. Knowing we have enjoyed it in the past, we decided to try our luck with Palatino.

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The decor is modern, with a mix of concrete fittings and warm yellow furniture and as we were seated we decided that in order to fully try out the restaurant’s new menu, we had to order a vast selection. We essentially picked our favourite dishes from each section and had a mini feast, (“it’s for the blog though”) opting to share each dish. I am currently unemployed (anyone looking for a brilliant worker hint hint?) and Rebecca has university so it is nice to be able to meet up in the day now that I am still searching.

For antipasti, we ordered Supli with wild mushroom & mascarpone £3 (essentially small arancini). These were delicious- mushroom and mascarpone are the perfect combinations, especially when fried into a small ball of greatness. Great choice for a sharing starter option.

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For pasta, we decided to go with Ravioli with spinach & squash £14 (main course portion). The pasta tasted fresh, the filling was flavourful and the sauce made a nice accompaniment. I always feel like, with ravioli, the mistake is having it with tomato sauce as sometimes that takes away from the flavour inside. My only complaint about this course would be that I wish there was more sauce as Rebecca and I were scraping the plate for more. Overall, though, coming from an Italian background and having tried a lot of pasta, this was pretty decent!

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Next, nothing seems more traditionally Roman than Saltimbocca, which is veal, surrounded by prosciutto, spinach, sage & Marsala wine £14.

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We also liked the sound of the fried potato gnocchi £4.

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Again, the veal was tasty! The meat was tender, the sauce was just right and the spinach on the side provided a bit of relief from the saltiness of the prosciutto. The fried Gnocchi were also extremely moreish and made a good alternative to having potatoes on the side.  However, I found that because they were bite size I kept going back for more. They were also covered in cheese and sage and who doesn’t love anything covered in cheese? (I LOVE cheese).

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As some of you will know if you read these posts often (and I’m not sure how many people that actually is.. Hey mum & Rebecca) I always love dessert and a meal is never finished without something sweet. We couldn’t decide between the Almond lemon & ricotta cake, rhubarb & creme fraiche or the chocolate cake, pistachio & honeycomb (both priced at £7) so we let the waiter surprise us. In the end, he picked the almond ricotta cake. This was light, tangy and the creme fraiche and rhubarb gave it some tartness. It was nice but not my favourite dessert I’ve ever had. Nonetheless, it was still worth it to round off an overall lovely meal.

If you’re looking for a cute Italian restaurant to bring you fond memories of a past trip to Rome, the food at Palatino will do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.