Month: April 2011

Pollen Street Social

Living in London has changed my attitude to dining out. Going out for dinner in my hometown of Nottingham was a real treat – partly because there just isn’t the choice but also because the good restaurants are extremely expensive so dining out wasn’t quite so frequent. It is a lot more casual for me now. There is a plethora of fantastic quality, good value restaurants in London and sometimes it just makes sense to grab a bite to eat when I’m in town. I love it. Most of my usual haunts are based in Soho and it’s these restaurants that I would call ‘easily accessible’ – you can walk in off the street and be seated either immediately or not long after. Every now and again I do like to re-live the excitement of dining out that I used to get when I was a kid but I choose my restaurants wisely. There’s nothing I hate more than paying through the teeth for average food and a mediocre experience. I have been keeping a …

My new Silkie hen

I went to Chichester over the weekend to stay at my boyfriends parents house. They have a few hens happily roaming around their garden but wanted more so we took a trip to the farm. What I didn’t realise was that we would end up buying three and bringing them back to London with us. My boyfriend spent all of Saturday fashioning a pen for them so that we can keep them on our roof. They’re a cute little trio but my favourite is Silkie. She is a young’n at the moment but in three or so months we can expect her to lay delicious Bantam eggs. I’m in love.

Spuntino

I went to the Spuntino for a quick lunch bite last week. I promised myself that I wouldn’t read any reviews before I visited and I don’t know how I did it but i managed not too. I am a huge fan of Russell Norman’s other Soho establishments, Polpo and Polpetto so have been very excited about visiting. My worries about dining alone were shattered as I walked in and saw four other lone diners dotted along the bar. It is probably because of the bar that dining alone seems fine – you have the waiting staff to keep you company. Spuntino only has 25 covers but feels larger due to high ceilings. The beautiful rustic tiles were apparently uncovered when the place was being designed. What a lucky, lucky man Russell is. They are a perfect fit in his new and very (pardon the word) cool establishment. I glanced at the menu and the spicy sausage, lentil and radiccio dish caught my eye. After the waiter took my order, he retreated to the popcorn …

The most AMAZING fudgey chocolate brownies

About three and a half years ago, I found myself at a loose end so decided to try something that I had never really done before. That something was baking – chocolate brownies to be precise. Since the moment I took that gooey, chocolatey tray of naughtiness out of the oven and slid a spoonful into my mouth, I became hooked. Absolutely, totally and utterly hooked. I can’t remember ever being a massive cake fan but that was the turning point in my life. There’s only one regret I have about that batch of brownies and that is not remembering what recipe I used. Really, I am THAT stupid. Since then I have made countless trays of brownies with a different recipe each time, trying my hardest to either recreate the first batch or better them. I came close the bettering them with a pecan and caramel version but I have to say that this recipe probably tops it. The brownie debate can often get heated and seemingly everyone likes them a different way. I …

Pearl barley summer salad

Pearl barley is simply barley with all of the bran removed. Similar to wheat in terms of nutritional value, this chewy grain is perfect in stews and soups. I have just started using it in salads as it gives a great texture and fills you up! It’s also extremely cheap (around 50p for 500g) so provides a delicious meal without breaking the bank. This recipe was inspired by my recent trip to Petersham Nurseries. The delicious salad that I had there was made with faro but I substituted for pearl barley as it is more widely available. I’m also substituting my usual olive oil for a lighter and less fruity oil, rapeseed. This adds a light nutty and earthy flavour, which I think works better in a salad. It also contains 50% less saturated fat than olive oil so better all round really. Ingredients (serves 4) 150g pearl barley 6 vine ripened tomatoes, quartered 1 tbsp sunflower seeds 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds 1 small butternut squash, cubed 6 flat mushrooms, sliced Rapeseed or olive oil …

The Fox & Anchor dinner and hotel stay

I was invited to stay at The Fox & Anchor pub/hotel in Clerkenwell recently so on Friday, my boyfriend and I packed our bags and headed to this city boozer come boutique hotel for a meal, followed by an overnight stay. We arrived at the pub at 6.30pm and leaned over the bar to let the staff know that we had a room booked. They grabbed the key and told us how to get to our room. We wrestled past the Friday night city punters enjoying their end of the working week drinks and unlocked the door to walk upstairs. Our key told us that we were staying in ‘St. Bart’s’, which actually stands for St Bartholomew’s – one of London’s oldest churches. All six rooms above the Fox & Anchor pub have a name, rather than a number and we had the pleasure of being surrounded by Smithfield, Charterhouse, St Paul’s, Barbican and The Market Suite. I believe that all rooms are pretty similar, each comes with a king sized bed (with a picture …

London Coffee Festival

It seems it wasn’t just me that got totally and utterly confused by the location of the London Coffee Festival over the weekend. I was sent an email by La Cimbali, one of the main sponsors and the email mentioned that the stand would be in Hyde Park. What I didn’t realise was that this meant the Hyde Park ‘Zone’ in the Truman Brewery, East London. It was a bloomin good job that I phoned to ask which entrance of Hyde Park I should use before I got on the tube, otherwise I wouldn’t have been going at all! I’m sure the lady on the other end of the phone had a right giggle when she got off the phone to me. Then I found out that a few of my fellow Tweeters had had the same confusion. The website didn’t exactly make it much better! Confusion aside, we arrived on Saturday morning for the brunch session. I felt a bit cheated as we were greeted to an empty stage – despite seeing a whole …