A weekend away in Venice

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For my Birthday this year, Mark decided to pull out all the stops (cheers babe) and take me on a little weekend trip to the city of love. and carbs. and wine- Venice! This was a wonderful surprise and a great start to the month- aka the best month because I was born. Jokes. Sort of. Setting off on Saturday morning and smoothly arriving into Venice we were both excited for our lovely long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of London. Venice life is relaxing. Everyone drinks wine for breakfast, lunch and dinner and leisurely strolls around the city soaking in the culture -sometimes underrated here in London where life always feels so rapid.

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On arrival, we walked the quick distance to our bed and breakfast. In a perfect location, just across the main bridge from the bus station and nestled in one of the alleyways of the city, (il Giardino di Giulia- translating literally into Giulia’s garden) was a true gem. Owned by a lovely man named Marco who prides himself in everything his b&b upholds, we had a lovely quaint room on the ground floor, decorated with old-fashioned furniture juxtaposed with modern art touches. It only has three rooms in total, making it lovely, cosy and intimate. For breakfast, which was served on the top floor, decorated with Marco’s vintage furniture, we were served Italian cakes, coffee, tea, toast as well as a list of other organic items made to order, whipped up by Marco himself as smooth jazz played in the background. He made delicious scrambled eggs with chives and porcini mushrooms, as well as fresh pancakes with tasty berries. By having 3 rooms, the breakfast table is essentially shared by all the guests, which means there’s always a chance to talk to Marco, as well as everyone else, discussing restaurants, where they’ve been around Venice, as well as getting to know people. If you don’t really like the idea of socialising- Breakfast is the only likely time you’ll ever see someone, as people spend most of the day out and about exploring.

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On our first day, we decided to do the whole of Venice. WHOLE? – I know what you’re thinking. Damn girl, that’s a bit ambitious. While that may sound like the case, if you look at the map, you can actually go from north to south of the islands in around 50 minutes. Our idea was to get all the main sights done as well as take the famous gondola down the tiny canals. We went to the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco and let ourselves be guided by the city, constantly wandering down little pathways. Note- this doesn’t always work because you end up walking down a path and hitting a dead end, or several in our case. Also- I’d just like to point out gondola ride is 80 euros for 30 minutes. A bit PRICEY IF YA ASK ME, but, nonetheless, I’d definitely recommend it- you truly see the beauty of Venice as you calmly float through the city.

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SATURDAY:

On our first night, we frustratedly walked around looking for a restaurant which would satisfy us and live up to our expectations. I am, the most– pickiest person when it comes to going to a restaurant when I’m on holiday. Especially in a city which attracts more tourists than locals- it is especially important to know you’re eating somewhere that isn’t a tourist trap. Actually, maybe that is just me and Mark, but we love to know that we’re in for a treat. Thankfully, this is exactly what we were in for when we stumbled upon Osteria Enoteca al Artisti. The wine was gorgeous, the food prepared with the freshest ingredients and the tiramisu was THE BOMB.

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Orchiette with Duck Ragu

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Stewed Lamb and Fried Corn Polenta with Veggies

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Tiramisu

 Sunday:

On Sunday, we were knackered having walked all over Venice. Marco suggested we head to Osteria Alba Nova Dalla Maria, tucked away on a small street, away from the main touristy spots. It was also a five-minute walk from the hotel and as I was feeling particularly lazy, this was great news. It is a family run restaurant that is cosy and authentic. If you’re looking for a small, quaint restaurant that serves traditional Venetian recipes then this is your place to go. Just be careful of an old grumpy Italian man that knows the owner, attending regularly for dinner and who ends up getting drunk and hurling abuse at people. I wish I was joking – he must have been about 85 pissed on half a bottle of red, telling mark how only women should wear shorts- bitch, please.

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Selections of meats

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Spaghetti al Vongole (clam spaghetti – MY FAV)

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Dark Chocolate Pasta – (sounds strange, but apparently an ancient recipe and definetly tasty) with cuttlefish

Monday:

DSC03571On Monday, we decided we would head off to the other surrounding Islands of Venice. If you haven’t been, there are no cars so everything is done by boat- imagine moving house and shifting ya furniture down small canals- nightmare! We decided to take the water boat to the north of the island, where you can access further water buses to Burano, Murano and other little islands. I will say, If you don’t want to spend 80 euros on a gondola then this is a cheap way to float through the city- you essentially get an inexpensive tour and can pay for a day pass for 20 euros and take it all around Venice. Burano is a cute little island, famous for knitting intricate lace and is dominated by pretty colourful houses that are fit for an Instagram account’s dream. For lunch, we decided to try Trattoria Da Romano.  As Burano is small and touristy, all the nice restaurants quickly get filled up. We were being consistently turned away or being told to “try our luck in 30 minutes”. Getting hungry and impatient, we were lucky to finally get a table as I had read good things. I’m glad this was the case because the food was worth it! Burano has lots of fresh seafood and I knew we had to take advantage of this.

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Vongole saltate in padella. Clams quickly tossed in a pan in a white wine sauce, with garlic and parsley. You may tell, I like clams. No, I LOVE CLAMS. In Italy, they are a must try dish- especially with a bit of lemon.

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Calamari with white polenta and deep fried vegetables – again, fresh and tender seafood- crucial for a good calamari dish.

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Gnochetti ala Grancevola (crab and tomato sauce)

Later, for dinner, we went to a lovely Venetian place called La Bitta. A restaurant choosing to focus solely on meats, we went for steak, chicken with red peppers, tomatoes and olives as well as a moreish plate of beef carpaccio. I must admit the pictures look a bit blurry and I think this was because I was slightly tipsy.- As Always. But, I did save you a picture of my favourite part of that meal – the dessert. The Panna Cotta was amazing. It had a perfect consistency and jiggled like me on a club night out- haha, seriously though, it was epic.

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TUESDAY:

Finally, our last food stop of the trip consisted of trying Chichetti (Venetian tapas) traditionally eaten standing up.  You can’t go to Venice and not experience it like a local and Chichetti is no exception! You essentially head to the bar and the food is all on display, as you select which different dishes you’d like. It’s all back to basics here- usually served on paper plates and plastic cups. This is even more enjoyable on a sunny day as revellers sit outside in the sun sipping on crisp, cold white wine. We tried Chichetti in both Cantinone Gia Schiavi and Osteria Al Squero, which are both down the road from each other. You must try the latter as it is always popular no matter what day you walk past and has become synonymous with eating like a venetian.

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I can’t honestly tell you everything we got because we asked for house favourites – I’d recommend doing this so you can try an array of different items rather than go for flavours you’re automatically drawn to

Venice was a lovely trip. I got to forget about work for a few days, eat yummy ice cream every day and justify it because we were “walking around”, practice my Italian and spend time with Mark as we basked in the sun.

A personal shout out to him for organising everything, you really are the best.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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)