Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Amsterdam Weekend Day 1

Last Friday, mum woke me up at the crack of dawn, 4 am to be precise, to get dressed to go to the airport. 
We were having a mother/daughter trip to Amsterdam!

Once we'd checked into our lovely little hotel, 717, we took a stroll around in an attempt to get our bearings, which proved to be a little difficult in 27 degree heat, so we went for a tour around the canals.

I actually left my camera in my room this day, in my excitement to go out an explore.
We found a couple of blocks of streets with lots of restaurants, where we stumbled upon this little gem, a minute tapas restaurant, with no name, and about five tables.

We started off with globe artichoke, peppers and onion,

Battered courgette, grilled peppers and onions,

Closely followed by an enormous plate of paprika squid,

Which would have been amazing if the jelly like bits had been taken off,

But these, these were so good, razor clams in some sort of pesto (I can't read Dutch), if a little overcooked,

Seeing as it had cooled down, if only by a few degrees, we tried to walk off our lunch by doing a little retail therapy,

It seems that cheese is quite popular in the Netherlands, so much so I must have become a little overwhelmed because I found this on my phone;

Amsterdam is so lovely to just amble around, looking in little individual shops and pouring over their beautiful clothes.
All this ambling became thirsty work, so we found a little bar on the side of the canal, and ended up having a Heineken (as it's brewed in Holland) floating on top of the canal,
I mean how is this for a relaxing view?

We finished off our drinks and continued on our quest for food, this time, supper.
Mum and I are really big on our asian food and we found a little Thai restaurant (again, I don't know the name, helpful!)
They squeezed us in and gave us a starter as a surprise, coconut, peanut something or other, we didn't understand and it wasn't on the menu, but the best bit about it was was all the ginger packed inside it!
The waiter told us to wrap the leaf up like a parcel and pop it all in at once, mum and I eyed each other dubiously, but did what we were told, it was amazing!

Next was the usual line up of hors d'oeuvres that you get eating asian food, chicken satay, tempura butterfly prawns and spring rolls, all of them delicious.

We finished off with an extremely spicy green curry, then headed off to visit Anne Frank's house, where I, understandably, didn't take any photos, but it's worth a visit.
The queues go around the corner during the day but if you wait until an hour before it closes you'll get in in no time at all!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Naked Chocolate

Over the past few weeks I've developed an increasing addiction to Nakd bars, which are essentially made up of dried fruit and nuts.
I actually found them in the uni library, grabbing a couple before my library lectures, but now I'm hooked.

I found this picture floating around on Tumblr, it verges on my ideal snack collection to nibble on, mmmm.

The basic chocolate recipe goes by
2 cups of pitted dates
1 cup almonds
2-3 tbsp or more if needed of cocoa powder

Then you can add whatever extras you'd like, in the photo below the bar shaped ones (I tried my best) are chocolate and orange, where I zested one large orange and added about a teaspoon of the juice.

The unsightly sausage shaped one is chocolate and lime, where I added the juice of one whole lime.

Put the dates and nuts into a blender and keep it whizzing until they start sticking together in clumps.
Here is now a good time to add your cocoa and any extras, give it a really fast whizzy burst and then slow it down so a ball of fruity/nutty dough can come together.

Wrap it in cling film and pop in the fridge for a while to set, once it has firmed up a bit you can shape it into bars like I tried to do, by sandwiching it between 2 layers of cling film and rolling it out, or roll it up into a big sausage like I did this time, cutting into disks.

All you have to do to keep them is to wrap them up in cling film and keep in the fridge so they stay harder which makes them a bit chewier.
I find they're useful to have on hand for a grab-and-go breakfast or a snack, plus you're saving lots instead of just buying Nakd bars too, as tasty as they are!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Taste of London Part 2

We continued our mammoth tasting feast to Club Gason, where we had their icon dish, crispy barbecued foie gras,

 … Just look at that shatter..

This was my first proper time eating fois gras, it wasn't what I had expected, a lot softer, although it was really yummy, I'm still yet to make my mind up about this one, beautifully presented though!

Then I demanded yet another coconut stop!

They had several places with lovely fresh coconuts stacked up, say the word and with the swoosh of a big knife the top would be off, straw inside, and you could have your coconut water fix.

Apres coconut, we tried Gordon Ramsey's restaurant Maze, and plumped for the Sezchwan salt and pepper squid, 

We agreed that it could use some lime, but that didn't stop Mum smiling!

Okay so, prior to this, I have never liked oysters, there was something so unappealing about the cold, salty slime but my mother and the waitress (turned photographer) took upon themselves to change,

The first one I had plain, which I foolishly decided not to chew once...

… Which, as you can see in the photo below, was a bit of a shock

After a bit of coaxing, the ever so helpful waitress recommended I try one with tabaso,

Plus I chewed!

Such an improvement, and now a converted oyster fan!

After our oyster palava, we ambled through the Thai restaurants, we both found it surprising that none of the foods really appealed to us (probably due to all the food we had been eating all day?), but we did come across a man making vegetable sculptures,

Have you ever seen a more beautiful carrot?!

Our last food stop was to go to Cliveden House, where Andre Garrett had such a delicious pudding in store for us, peanut butter parfait with salted caramel, chocolate and raspberry, 

Holding tightly to our pudding we went to the Shack Revolution, where we grabbed a raspberry mojito, for her, and a apple and ginger vodka collins, for me, and funnily enough we ended up preferring each other's drinks.. 

Which both proved to be a little bit lethal!

 Okay, enough fraternising with cocktails, because this could be one of the best puddings I have ever tasted, it was a bit like a a deconstructed, molten peanut butter and jam sandwich, replacing bread with nuggets of crunchie and popping candy, I mean, just look at the wonder on my face:

We headed home, a coconut in hand for me, a bag of treats for Mum, heavier than we arrived, and slightly merrier.
Taste of London has finished this festival, but there's one from 20th-23rd November HERE.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Taste of London Part 1

After a brief fandango with table bookings at Duck & Waffle, and thanks to Emily and D&W's executive chef, Dan, Mum and I boycotted a bird's eye view of London and moseyed on down to Regent's Park to go to Taste of London.

Taste of London is a restaurant festival.
Think of it as going to the cinema, and you're watching all the trailers before the film starts, only except you're in a beautiful park, on a glorious summer's day and the trailers are restaurants showcasing their dishes, their very best dishes.

We arrived, starving, and went straight to the first familiar name.
Remember Flesh & Buns?

We went for their roasted pork belly with mustard miso and pickled apple, all bundled up in one of their cloud like steamed buns. 
Think hog roast, but Japanese style, and just as delicious.

It filled enough of a hole to be able to wander around the smaller brand's stalls, swiping tasters off of their plates as we went.

Smith & Sinclair are an alcoholic sweet company, pretty cool packaging with some pretty cool ideas, Mixed Berry Daquiri Pastille, anyone?

Next we dos-a-dosed to Sushi Samba, where we poured over their Wasa roll: shrimp tempura, quinoa, shisito, coriander, wagyu chorizo, spicy mayo and red onion...

… And their tuna seviche served with watermelon leche de tigre, maize morado, wasabi peas
and basil...

But in the end we couldn't miss out on trying their icon dish: Lobster Taquitos: avocado purée, aji amarillo served with roasted brazilian nuts.

 This was Mum's favourite dish of the day, it was like eating a more oriental taco, with lobster, mmm mmm.

Seeing as it was right next door, and that our plans had changed we popped into Duck & Waffle, it was quite busy, but we managed to get to the front and choose our dishes;

BBQ Pigs Ears, they sound more like something you would give to your dog, not something you'd order in a high end restaurant, but they were tasty, chewy with a barbecue kick, sealed up in their own little paper bag.

The second dish we ordered was smoked chilli braised ox cheek, with cheesy polenta and a fried pickle on top, which was almost like a stewy casserole.
 I really wanted to like this because I've always heard such good reviews about D&W, but it was heavy and hot, probably my fault for choosing something like that on such a warm day.

I'd probably have really enjoyed it if the nights were drawing in early and it was November.

After Duck & Waffle we strolled over to Intercontinental, where Theo Randall had whipped up some pan-fried scallops served in the shell with pancetta, red chilli, parsley, capers, lentils di Castelluccio and chopped rocket.

The attention to detail was amazing, look at the seahorse pancetta!
I'm a bit of a sucker for scallops, especially when served with pancetta, and especially when they're presented as nicely as this.

Next we went to Roka, a restaurant I hadn't heard of before, which is now firmly under my radar for black cod, crab and crayfish gyoza with chilli dressing.

Both Mum and I are huge fans of gyoza, deciding instantly what we wanted, this over exceeded our expectations and I'd gleefully demolish a whole plate.
 So as not to bombard with photos of some of the tastiest food London has to offer, I've split the festival into two, part two coming soon!!!
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