Saturday, January 31, 2009

Harrods o'clockAt Lisbon airport there was a little bit of home feeling from the Harrods shop and cafe. The one thing though was that the sandwiches looked dire as they were in a glass case with no refrigeration and at 7pm they looked a bit droopy and sweaty!

At the cafe we had some pastel - the pics is mine, unlike the one from yesterday's post and after that I searched the whole airport for something proper to eat, I had had a few days of way too many sweets. The only thing I could find that wasn't a sweaty 12hour old salami sandwich was...a salad from McDonalds - gasp! Yes I had 6 Euro tuna salad from Mc.Dees with a nice olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing and it was good. I didnt even know they did salads? Not bad for a starving traveller about to board a plane by an airline (TAP Portugal) that serves bad food - my colleagues all warned me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pastel pour moi
Just back from rainy and grey Portugal (I thought there would be sunshine and blue skies to welcome us?!) and the best part of the trip was not the full days of meetings but the food. The pastels de nata (pic) were divine and are served everywhere - hotel, bar, at break during our meetings and in the airport. More to follow once I unpack and get some rest.

Obrigada (thank you in Portuguese)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pizza Nina
Why isn't Rexi fatter? If my mother made pizza like this, (note: she comes close), I would be a fat cow as it is so good and all you want is more! I think she should open up a pizza restaurant as I know a few customers who would definitely be regulars.

Her husband can still throw knives across the kitchen at errant wait staff (that was long time ago) and the place would be full of loud Italian family and friends. I could get my Momma Dolce to provide the tiramisu. What a winning combination, non?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Woody serviceGood food but poor service at Woodlands Indian restaurant on Marylebone Lane. Maybe the staff were having an off night. The food is great but I guess a little bit of attitude keeps you from lingering on at such a busy restaurant!
Leith's cakeThe Christmas cake made for class. The two peeps were made by Amish's mummy but the rest was made by Roberto. I want to enroll at Leith's now!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robbie's Fab Profiteroles
Robbie's magnificent profiteroles. As he explained it was very simple. Bring water to a boil with butter then add the flour and stir vigorously until you get a nice consistency. Then add in 2 beaten eggs until you get a nice shiny batter. Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25min, careful not to open the oven door or they will deflate! Cool them on a wire rack and pierce a hole in the bottom to ensure they dry out completely. Fill with custard/cream and drizzle with chocolate and there you have fresh profiteroles.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lovely Leith'sRoberto has been learning loads at Leith's cooking school. Can't wait to try this later with my tea!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Scholars talk about food

By Bee Wilson

Published: January 17 2009 2009

“There’s carrot blood everywhere!” exclaims a small round bespectacled scientist, chuckling to himself. His audience laughs, but nervously. The scientist is Dr Len Fisher and he is attempting to fashion a musical instrument out of a carrot – using nothing but an electric power drill, a bradawl, a plastic funnel, a mouthpiece and his wits. Fisher holds the carrot lengthwise in his bare hand and blithely starts drilling into it. “Jesus, take care!” a man mutters.

Anxiety turns to admiration when Fisher – unharmed – holds up his finished product: a perfect six-hole carrot “recorder”. He hands it to a jazz saxophonist who proceeds to play a mellow rendition of “Pop Goes the Weasel”.

At the Oxford Food Symposium such sights are not merely possible, but normal. The symposium, an annual event for the best part of three decades, is like no other conference. Here, in an Oxford college, you will find seminars on the properties of sheep fat, chemists making mayonnaise out of egg whites instead of yolks, and middle-aged men wearing edible hats – all in the name of food scholarship.

I want to go to this symposium. Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CubyataI think that is how you spell it, Cubyata is a lovely Christmas treat of almonds dipped in sugar. So simple yet so tasty. There is an art to not making it stick to your saucepan, body and fingers - but it is easy to make, my Aunty Eleanor is the pro at it.

Recipe: One cup of sugar for every cup of chopped almonds. Roasted almonds also give it more flavour. I think you need a cup of water to dip your hands in frequently when you are transferring the almonds from the pot to the small portions on a serving tray or you can serve them in those cupcake paper liners, not sure what they are properly called. I think I tried this once with a cup of butter by my side to not make my fingers stick to the pot! Also, I always thought these were covered in honey but it is just plain white sugar.

Easy to make and a nice thing to serve alongside fruit or dessert.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dining at Providores (the queue was too long at the 'steak frites' place again!)
Two nights in a row the queue was disgustingly long at the steak frites place, not sure its name but you will know it, it's the one on Marylebone Lane with a horrible queue outside ALL the time. The alternatives were Italian or tapas at the Providores. We chose the Kiwi-owned, Spanish inspired latter. The mains were great as usual, a nice blend of different flavours but my favourite was the dessert.

Sticky banana and date pudding with salted maple caramel sauce, served with cardamom ice cream (this was gross and on the side). Why not just plain vanilla ice cream? I guess some people like the taste of cardamom with their ice cream, not sure who though. We ate very well and had lovely wine too, although you can't really go there if you are too hungry as you would need to order a lot of tapas to fill you up. I was quite happy about that as it meant that I had space for the delicious dessert. Ed watching over the pudding, not eating too much of it as he is on a dairy free diet - this was good news as it meant more of the sweetness for me!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baker Street Pit StopIf you want a freshly brewed Illy coffee, go see Amir at the Coffee Boutique in Baker Street station. His regular morning visitor and I paid him a visit late one night, where he gave us a tour of the Boutique. Even at such a late hour the place smelled wonderfully of freshly ground coffee. It was too late for an espresso though, but will try one another day!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Turn up the heat for tradtional dinners
My friends said that they were cranking up the air con in Australia on Christmas day as their mum's had made traditional turkey dinners. It was almost 40degrees and they were sweating inside as their oven was on cooking their big birds all day. We instead were cranking up the heat and braving a bit of nippy weather to bbq our Christmas dinner. Not very traditional indeed, I don't think we have ever had a turkey at Christmas. Luckily it was sunny and the cold was a dry biting cold so it wasn't too bad, and Quinn did it all while we sat around the fireplace -thanks SQ! Also, from all the of toys my nephew received he loved this box full of food toys the most. Perhaps there is a budding chef there? Many times we would find him with all the pots and pans and bottles of oil and vinegar spread out before him while he quietly was in his own world stirring and 'cooking.' Just need to make sure that when he gets strong enough to open these bottles that they are filled with water. He needs to keep practicing as he is going to make us Christmas lunch one day, maybe it will be a turkey by then.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bags o' MilkCanadian Milk: This is the way you buy your milk in Canada in 4 - 1L bags which you place in these plastic containers to serve. They also sell it in regular cartons, like you would buy Tropicana juice in. British Milk: In the UK many offices and homes still get delivery of little milk bottles each day, see the below pics. They are cute little glass bottles and are very fresh as the milk man leaves them outside your door.
Or they are sold in these plastic bottles of varying sizes. I like buying the little ones as they take up less space and I only use a little milk for my coffee or tea.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is Paul2 eating today?

Organic gummy worms. No artificial flavours or coloring - bought at Whole Foods- they were yummy! Made by the Natural Confectionery Co. They have the cutest website, check it out here.

Since I left Paul1 at my last job, I have inherited another interesting eater who is also named Paul - who is a bit of a sweet hound. I will document his food habits and eating as I did with the actor extraordinaire Paul1.

I hope his series is as exciting as the last...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Surely that's not a£5 carvery?
Oh yes it was! Located in Dudley, north of Birmingham. Exact location unknown.

Ursula, Diane and I went there for an early dinner and I just have to get what you pay for. Our 5 quid full roast dinner came with entertaining service and questionable beef and some really hard stuffing balls. The turkey was nice tasting but looked like it had sat there since 8am and our server was not the most hygienic looking man. The Yorkshire puddings were flying everywhere when he filled up his tray from the kitchen. The way he sliced and served the turkey, gammon and beef with his grimy hands was a little sloppy and scary to say the least, and the gravy boats (or buckets) were also probably a health hazard. We ate in blissful ignorance as that is the only thing you can do when you are lost and hungry right?

Am sure we won't be back there any time soon. We only found it as we got a bit lost as the Tom Tom which they call Naggy wasn't telling us to turn in the right places. I didn't catch the name of the establishment either but it was friendly, had a nice fireplace and nice servers. For 5quid you can't expect your Momma's Sunday roast can you? It was a nice afternoon and the most important bit was spending time with new friends.

Monday, January 12, 2009

LimoneThe best panettone with limoncello filling. It was divine. You can buy this flavour at your local grocery store. It's too bad they don't sell these all year round. A slice of this goes well with a cuppa tea or coffee or is also a good breakfast treat. I am still partial to the chocolate flavour but the lemon comes a close second. Pre sprinkling of the icing sugar.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pretty, dainty, cute...but not too cute to eat
When you see this box of chocolates from Altmann and Kuhne you want to coo at it like you would a cute baby in a frilly dress. The ladies who saw this box on my desk all remarked at how cute it was, how gorgeous the little chocolates were and how they were so dainty and pretty they didn't want to eat them.

I gladly gave them a try as am not on a diet like it seems the entire female population is. I am actually never on a diet, life is too short to not enjoy your food -just eat everything in moderation. Now if I could turn that last sentence into a 200 page book and sell it to a publisher and get it on Oprah I would be rich.

Anyhow I digress, I tried one of these little packets of adorableness and it was delicious! They are slightly bigger than a peanut M&M. I actually upset their perfect setting in the round little box, that you would keep to use as a jewellery box afterwards, but I discovered that there is another layer underneath. Chocolate is meant to be eaten, not saved!

My grandmother and mother used to 'save' chocolate for a special occasion and when you then went to open it, years later, it was so stale and white - it was grotesque. My grandmother also always served 'saved' or recycled crisps/chips too as she would open a pack and keep it for eons. You would have to be polite and take some, knowing that you would almost gag, chew on it and the politely refuse any more as you would say that this would spoil your dinner. That would be fine with her as off it went back into the bag for the next grandchild to enjoy!

Well at the confiserie in Vienna, Altmann and Kuhne's chocolates are handmade, just like they were when they started in 1928. Order a box today they deliver anywhere in the world and they are just too cute! (the pics don't do it justice)

link to the Altmann & Kuhne website

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dull dinners?
Do you really need cue cards to start a conversation at dinner? This was a Christmas gift my sister got and although she is not a motor mouth, she can hold an intelligent and interesting conversation. Do you think someone was trying to tell her something?

This one was all about food, apparently there are others that are more exciting which focus on sex, relationships and other topics. We answered a few questions that were picked from the deck and posed by Mr. Home Depot but I think half were cheesy and half were not more interesting than the conversation we were already having.

A good stocking stuffer I guess, am curious to see the qs on the other sets.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Fete de l'Escalade

Pics from la fete de l'Escalade in Geneva this past December, more to follow...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Milan's caviar handoutIn the press it was reported that Italian customs officers seized more than 40kg of illegal Beluga caviar and distributed it to the poor in Milan as a Christmas gift. The haul was valued at £370,000 - and was said to have gone to shelters and hospices.

I am not sure if I was a person who was living below the poverty line and a little can of caviar showed up that I would even know what to do with it, or if it was plunked on my dish at a shelter I may think it was some odd garnish? Caviar is such an acquired taste and so non-filling that it was most likely not appreciated by the masses that it was distributed to. Staples like warm and hearty soups, meat and potatoes would be what I would want to feed myself or my family at Christmas. They may not have had the little water crackers or a little blini with some creme fraiche on which to serve the little salted roe (fish eggs) on -the latter is apparently the preferred way to serve caviar.

With the level of Italian corruption it was probably publicised as 'distributed to the poor' but probably delivered to Berlusconi's house for his NYE party.

From a caviar website: 'fine caviar should be served as simply as possible; the fewer accoutrements the better.' I hope the Italian customs agents passed this message on with delivery.

Someone said I am cranky this week....probably because I am still fighting a cold after a month...I think I need to browse Whole Foods today for some energising and Vitamin C filled smoothies or shakes, maybe with a dash of beluga caviar - I wonder if it has any health benefits?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Brie and cranberry pizzaApparently eaten down under in Kiwiland. It tasted delicious and is such a great idea! D made this along with some other clever pizza concoctions for a friend's baby shower.

She is now enjoying the NZ summer and similar pizzas, sailing around and getting tanned while the rest of us freeze, enjoy Dee!


Monday, January 05, 2009

Figs ripieniA traditional recipe from Mr V - he said his grandmother used to make these in Calabria around Christmas time.

  • grated tangerine rind and tangerine juice
  • Walnuts
  • grated semi-sweet chocolate
  • Sambuca, cognac or homemade grappa (moonshine) -your choice
  • Fresh figs - Turkish ones (apparently they are bigger and better)
Create your own quantities of the above ingredients as you may want it more fruity and nutty or more alcohol laden.

  • Make a cut in each fig so you can open it wide enough to fill
  • Mix the juice of one tangerine and some grated tangerine rind with your alcohol of choice
  • Fill each fig with a little of this juice mixture until it is absorbed
  • Fill each fig with some chopped walnuts and grated chocolate
  • Store in a container with bay leaves as the bay leaf gives it a distinct flavour and fragrance
Serve before dinner with an aperitif or after dinner with fruit/cheese & wine.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Last minute potluck creativityHappy New Year to All! Am back on track to blogging, it was a nice break but the food adventures must continue...
For a potluck dinner over the holidays, a friend of mine was late from work and stuck for what to bring - creative genius struck and she went and ordered loads of chips/french fries and onion rings from the famous Canadian institution called Harvey's. Fries and onion rings were a nice treat and something out of the ordinary for a potluck dinner, they were also deliciously good!

Harvey's started in 1959 in Richmond Hill and the original location is still there, just looking on the website is making me hungry! Harvey's always makes your hamburger, 'A Beautiful Thing' (from their ad campaign). And while visiting Eleni in Richmond Hill, a cool jeans wearer member of the family brought us Harvey's. I had a flame broiled chicken burger with fries.

As I have said before, my friends are not only beautiful but they are smart and now I can add creative to the mix! I am going to bring fries and onion rings to the next potluck I am invited to, just need to find a Harvey's equivalent here in blighty.

'Well, I was at Union Station and I saw a Harvey's...'