Archive | January, 2011

Beer battered Squid and Baby Octopus

31 Jan

When we were wandering around Leederville in Perth, we stumbled upon a fantastic fishmonger called Kailis Bros. We stepped inside and saw a wide variety of fish on sale that had been caught that day.

We bought a few Red Snapper to BBQ but the Squid and Baby Octopus caught my eye. We got enough for a starter for everyone and it was very cheap. When we got back to the flat, we set to deep frying it. Serve with Mayonaise and a wedge of Lemon and you have a easy and tasty starter.

Ingredients

75g self-raising flour
100ml beer (we used Little Creatures Pale Ale)
Squid and Octopus to serve 5 people for starter
Salt and pepper
Sunflower oil (for deep frying)

Method

1. Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan
2. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl and whisk in the lager to make the batter. The consistency should be like very thick double cream
3. Season with salt and thickly coat Squid and Octopus with batter
4. With a slotted spoon, place the seafood in the hot sunflower oil and cook for 5 minutes until golden and crispy
5. Remove from the pan with the slotted spoon, drain and sit on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, then keep warm in the oven if you have to do another batch
6. Serve with a wedge of lemon and mayonaise

Flatplanet, Soho

28 Jan

I love London, in particular Soho. It is a buzzing hub of media workers, tourists, cool arty folk and the weird and wonderful. You’ll know what I mean if you walk down the alley way that connects Berwick Street with Brewer Street. Look up and see the mysterious red lights in the bedroom windows with ‘models here’ on the sign at the door. I thought that was illegal in this country?!

But that’s not why I like Soho of course, I’m merely pointing out what a diverse part of London it is. I love it because of the food offering – Wardour Street is one of my favourite streets, being home of Busaba, Hummus Brothers, Princi and Byron Burger!

As I was walking to Pho last night to meet my dad for dinner, I stumbled upon a brand new cafe called Flatplanet on Marlborough Street. As I was looking through the window to check it out, the man behind the counter beckoned me in to try some of the Flat Bread Pizzas that they offer. They use Sharpham Park Organic Spelt Flour and this is the base for all of their ‘flatbread pizzas’.

I tried a slice of the’El Diablo’, which has a topping of Chorizo, Tomato, Smoked Chilli Jelly, Rocket and Parmesan. It was very tasty. My boyfriend had the slightly more odd looking ‘Moroccan’, which was topped with Hummus, Tzaziki, and Tabbouleh. He said it was delicious. We had to be careful because we were on our way to eat dinner but said that we would be back.

The next day, sure enough, I was back. This time to try the Coffee and a Brownie. A slice of ‘Sarah’s Sexy Chocolate Cake’ looked tempting (being that my name is Sarah and all) but I went for the Brownie. I took a seat in the corner, got my laptop and camera out and they were brought over to me by one of the politest Italian ‘bar men’ that I have come across in London. In fact, he was the one that beckoned my boyfriend and I in the night before to try the pizza. Having polite staff really is a bonus – it makes you come back!

Despite eating and drinking inside the cafe, they served the Coffee in a paper cup and the Brownie in a plastic take away bag. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest but it surprised me a little. My first impression of the brownie was that it looked small (I am a pig) but it turned out to be just the right size. It was amazingly buttery, rich, moist and chocolatey. I have been known to prefer Chocolate Brownies with a really crispy top but this one hit the nail on the head completely. It was ever so slightly warm and felt and tasted like it had just come out of the oven – although it hadn’t. I asked via Twitter if they were baked on the premises and the reply was that a lovely lady called Sarah bakes the cakes in Bath and they’re sent up to the cafe twice, sometimes three times a week. Sarah must be the best – judging by her brownies, she probably is!

Flatplanet Flat White

The Coffee was also delicious – they use Darwin from Matthew Algie here, which is a change from all of the Monmouth coffee that I have been drinking recently. If you didn’t already know, Matthew Algie is the UK’s largest independent coffee roaster and it is delicious.

The Cafe is a new project from Leon founder John Vincent. I would have had no idea unless I read it and the only similarity that I can see is the water jugs – is it sad of me to notice that?! I really like the decor. Mismatched furniture, white tables and old beaten up school chairs. They also have a large map on the wall and after thinking about it a bit more, it looked like a flat planet, get it?

There is a ‘vintage corner’ with an old record player, mini lamp, another map, a few books and an old video recorder, which added to the cosy atmosphere of the place. I then went downstairs to the loo and fell in love even more. There is a bigger seating area with a different feel, it’s brighter and the retro furniture is amazing. I could happily waste away the afternoon down there.

I didn’t try any of the pizza this time because I was on my way out for dinner again but next time i’m around the area and in need of a spot of lunch, i’ll be sure to come back.

Flatplanet
39 Great Marlborough Street
London
W1F 7JG
020 7734 3133

Bar du Marche, Soho

27 Jan

Bar du Marche is an intimate no frills French restaurant in Soho. Don’t go expecting haute cuisine because you won’t get it. Instead what you will get is reasonably well cooked simple French food.

Six Snails arrived swimming in a welcome Garlicky and Parsley Butter and we used the left over Bread from the basket presented to you upon arrival (which you are actually charged £1.60 for!) to soak up the remnants of the dish… It went back to the kitchen spotless.

photo

I chose Moule Marinière for main as I’d had a heavy lunch and needed something light. I wouldn’t say it’s the best dish I’ve ever eaten, nor would I say it’s the worst. It was good – if only slightly too much celery for my liking.

photo

The Tarte Tatin dessert was nothing to write home about – the pastry was soggy but the apples had a nice caramel taste (although my fellow diner thought that it was burnt!) I was unsure as to why a suspicious looking Mr Whippy style strawberry sauce had been poured over the whipped cream. I was also slightly alarmed at how quickly it came out after we had placed the order (about 2 minutes!)

photo

I didn’t try the wine but my companion did and she wasn’t complaining. I stuck to the tap water and I wasn’t complaining either.

The service was faultless, a very happy and hospitable French man was on hand to provide us with entertainment and make us feel very welcome.

If you want to retreat to a cosy restaurant in Soho with good honest simple food and no 45 minute waiting time, Bar Du Marche is your place.

19 Berwick Street
London
W1F 0PX

Bar Du Marche on Urbanspoon

Foxcroft and Ginger, Soho

26 Jan

Is this the best coffee in London? It’s definitely a contender!

Foxcroft and Ginger is part of the growing number of coffee shops in London serving lip smackingly good Monmouth coffee – hallelujah!!

I must add that they also serve a great range of freshly baked cakes and pastries, plus delectable sandwiches (some toasted). Tea and coffee is served in cute china cups and there is even an old fashioned mangle table that they put the cakes on – I particularly like this. Water bottles are old milk bottles with vintage prints and there is a display of ready bagged Monmouth coffee to purchase for take away.

Foxcroft & Ginger Flat White

This time I had a Flat White, which is literally to die for – smooth and creamy. I also purchased the French Toast with Ham and Cheese. It arrived at the table toasted with a drizzle of honey. Great touch.

Foxcroft & Ginger French Toast with Ham and Cheese

My friend got a Cappuccino which came in a tall ceramic ‘plastic cup’. I first saw these a few years ago and instantly fell in love with them. I like the mismatched crockery, it adds an element of surprise.

Foxcroft & Ginger Cappuccino

Upstairs is a cute and intimate seating area with comfy cushions but downstairs is a bit more rough and ready – beaten leather sofas and a Pommel Horse as a table. They have free WI-FI so it’s a great spot to do a bit of work/blogging while you’re enjoying the food and drink on offer. Last time I went downstairs, I was welcomed by a sea of men tapping away on their Macs. They even have an alcohol licence so it’s a great place to enjoy a post work tipple too.

It was closing time when we were leaving and the barista came over to the table with a muffin wrapped in cellophane and told us that they are a bit of a tester and to let us know what we think. They call it their superfood muffin and is made with Beetroot, nuts and seeds. What did I think? Delicious – not too sweet and the beetroot gives it a lovely and moist texture.

Foxcroft & Ginger superfood muffin

I’m always content when I walk out of the large wooden door onto Berwick Street, then winding down the back streets of Soho to the tube, or wherever the night takes me.

Foxcroft & Ginger
3 Berwick Street
Soho
London
W1F 0DR

Foxcroft and Ginger on Urbanspoon

Fremantle Arts Center Cafe

25 Jan

Fremantle is one of Perths best suburbs, in my opinion! We visited for a day to have a look around some of the vintage shops and stumbled upon a fantastic book shop, which had a huge cookery book section. I got lost in there for a while before trying on and buying a dress from the vintage store in the back.

We then went for a bit to eat in the Fremantle Art Centre Cafe. By this time of the holiday, I was becoming obsessed with coffee – I cast my mind back a few months ago and I wouldn’t even touch the stuff. So I ordered a Flat White (my new favourite drink) and a Chorizo and Halloumi lunch board.

We sat in the courtyard, which is very pretty – vintage bicycles hang on the wall and the tables are laid with flours. When we arrived, all of the seats in the shade were taken so we had to sit in the sun and it was slightly too hot for my liking.

When you’ve had a bite to eat, saunter next door and take in the exhibition on show or visit the shop.

1 Finnerty Street
Fremantle, Western Australia
+61 8 9432 9555

Fremantle Arts Centre Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pan Fried Sea Bass with Spinach and Tenderstem Broccoli

24 Jan

Before I went on holiday, I was told that they key to solving a problem that I’ve had with my stomach for a couple of years was to cut out sugar for 6 weeks. What I didn’t realise was that this meant cutting out most carbs (except Brown Rice, Sourdough Bread and a few Pulses), all fruit, tea, coffee, alcohol – and the list goes on.

Knowing that I was going to Australia, I decided to start the day I got back. I lasted 6 days without sugar and on the 7th day gave into a tripple chocolate chip cookie from Gails Bakery, oops.

If I wasn’t such a sweet freak and I didn’t live and breath food, this could potentially have been a doddle – but I just can’t give up the things that I love. However, the recipe below does prove that you can still eat a delicious meal – it’s just the pudding afterwards that is the problem!

IMG_4688

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 Sea Bass fillets
Pack of Tenderstem Broccoli
Pack of ready washed spinach
1 Chilli, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive Oil
Black Pepper and Salt to season

Method

1. Place spinach in a frying pan, season with salt and pepper and wilt. Once soft, add chilli and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Take off the heat
2. Preheat a large frying pan. Rub fish fillets with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper
3. Add fish fillets to the pre-heated frying pan skin side down and cook until the fish becomes white rather than translucent
4. Steam Brocolli
5. When the fish fillets are nearly white, flip over for a further minute
6. Serve and enjoy!

Princi, Soho

23 Jan

Princi is one of those places that I go quite often but never think to write a blog post about – and I really don’t know why. This place deserves praise so after my latest visit on Friday, I have decided to give it some.

Situated in my favourite area of London, Soho, Princi is the brainchild of Alan Yau, also known for extremely popular Busaba Eathai, Wagamama, Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Sake No Hana and Cha Cha Moon.

In fact, one of my favourite ‘cheap eat’s’ restaurants in London is Busaba Eathai – a more upmarket version of Wagamama, serving fusion Thai food that you can get no where else. The Calamari is to die for and each dish oozes flavour – my favourirtes are Ginger Beef, Pat King Talay (a sea food dish) and simple Noodles with Smoked Chicken and Chinese Brocolli. The Chinese Brocilli side is also an absolutel winner.

But I’m not here to talk about Busaba, yet another frequently visited restaurant that I haven’t written about yet, I’m here to talk about Alan Yau’s newest venture, Princi.

Before you even step inside, the in house bakery, large roaring Pizza oven and long row of freshly baked Italian style breads and cakes lures you in. When you do eventually get inside, you have to be lucky to secure a table – the trick is to go early before the mad rush. If you don’t, you’ll probably be lurking around for a while waiting for someone to move.

Towards the back you’ll find freshly cooked Pizza and Pastries, Salads and at the very back hot dishes such as Lasagne and Meatballs, sitting next to the drinks bar – this cafe also has a booze licence, which is a bonus.

We grabbed a seat at the bar in front of the water feature that runs along the top – I love a good water feature. It takes the form of a long trough with taps dispersed along it, which are constantly running. There are lights towards the bottom of the trough so the water ripples make the light shimmer all the way up the wall. It looks beautiful.

The dishes are great for sharing, they’re not full meals by any means so we shared a salad of Butternut Squash, Cinnamon Ricotta, Mozzarella, Tomato and Rocket and Sausage and Lentil dish. My boyfriend is cheeky and asked them to slip some Roast Potatoes on the plate as the dish didn’t come with any originally. They obliged and I was glad!

Princi Salad

The salad is simple and drizzled with great quality Olive Oil and thick, syrupy Balsamic Vinegar – they don’t put enough on for my liking but if they put as much as I would have wanted, they would have been down half a bottle! I can’t get enough of Olive Oil and Balsamic!

Princi Sausages and Lentils

I find that the ‘hot’ dishes are never really that hot, only warm, which is slightly annoying but it just means that you have to eat it quicker! The Sausages were absolutely amazing, the lentils lovely and garlicky. We also shared one of their freshly baked bread rolls to dip up the remnants of the Lentils and the Olive Oil and Balsamic, delicious!

Princi Pizza

As the dishes were small, we shared a slice of Pizza afterwards. If you go, make sure you look at the baker putting the pizza in or taking it out of the oven. It is so long and it stretches right to the back of the room. The Ciabatta base is charred from the wood fire oven. I ordered a Brie and Parma Ham slice, which was delicious.

I have had three cakes from Princi before and I have never been impressed. This is by no means due to the fact that they are bad quality but they are just not the style of cakes that I like. Too much cream – I’m not a massive fan of Patisserie. Instead I usually go for one of the mini bites that they have and this time on show were mini Chocolate Madeleines so I ordered 6 of those. I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t have any Hot Chocolate as it is fantastically creamy and chocolatey, just what I wanted to go with the Madeleines!

Princi Madeleines

Princi is a great cafe to go for lunch or a lite bite at dinner followed by a cake, the atmosphere is always buzzing and the food is always great. I wouldn’t expect to go here for a proper meal but when you fancy good quality sharing dishes, this is your place. You can even buy tomorrow’s Croissants and Bread while you’re there.

135-137 Wardour St
London W1F 0UT
020 7478 8888

Princi on Urbanspoon

The Greenhouse, Perth

22 Jan

The Greenhouse in Perth city centre is certainly impressive. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks daily (closed on Sunday), it’s an all around foodie destination.

The first thing that strikes you is the Strawberry Plants that are potted all the way up the walls on the outside of the building and when you walk in, it soon becomes apparent that nearly everything in here has been recycled. From the plywood walls to the sugar in old jam jars, the watering can jug and the fruit and veg bowls along with the toilet door handle all made out of the tops of old gas cylinders.

An eye-catching feature is the bar – bottles of spirits hang overhead by blue rope. I’d like to see The Greenhouse in operation for a few drinks but on the agenda this time was, you guessed it, brunch.

The breakfast menu is not overly large but they do offer a different range of breakfasts to most places in Perth, including a ‘Brekkie Pizza’ and Calzone. As it was my last brunch, I went for the sweet option, the Spiced Bread with Grilled Banana, Butter and Praline. My boyfriend went for the Slow Cooked Eggs with Wild Mushrooms on Toast.

The Spices in the bread were subtle and the Grilled Banana was delicious, but again not overpowering. There was a huge amount of Butter placed on the top of the bread, which was a welcome addition. The Praline was what made the dish for me – I have never seen Praline in it’s original state before, I’m used to it being in the form of a creamy chocolate centre but it was fantastic. It reminded me of Cocoa but without the absolute bitterness.

The Baked Eggs were impressive. The Yolk looks bright and as if it’s going to ooze out all over the plate but as it is slow cooked, when you cut into it, it doesn’t do this. It remains firm but not over cooked, amazing. I should have asked really but I’ll just have to figure it out – if anyone knows, let me know!

A couple of Flat White’s later, we were ready to pay. Not before looking into the open kitchen at the Vegetables for the lunch service roasting away in the Wood Fire oven and one of the chefs rolling out the Pizza dough in the pasta roller.

On the way out, I noticed the outside ordering hatch, which had a great view into the restaurant. Selling coffees, freshly baked cakes and treats – I wish I had this hatch around the corner from my office!

One more thing to mention is the toilet – I haven’t seen any like them before. When you press the flush button, the water runs out of a tap and into a sink, straight down to the cistern. So you’re even recycling the toilet water, brilliant. It’s a bit of a novelty too.

Greenhouse
100 St. Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
(08) 9481 8333

Greenhouse on Urbanspoon

Cicciolina, St Kilda, Melbourne

18 Jan

After a nice long warm day walking around Melbourne, we stopped off for a few drinks on a mini bar crawl along Fitzroy Street, down from The Belgian Beer Garden before riding on the oldest rollercoaster in the world at Luna Park, St Kilda.

We wanted to go for a special meal on our last evening so we headed to Cicciolina on busy Acland Street as it had been recommended to us by my boyfriends family friends who live in the area. Apparently it is a favourite of foodie Melbourne residents so we had to try it out.

Cicciliona is a small, cosy, dimly lit and very atmospheric up market Italian restaurant. When we arrived there was a 30 minute wait so we decided to put our names down and have a drink in the adjoining bar at the back. I walked in and it was very dimly lit – it reminded me of a New York bar. A couple of the party were very hungry so we decided to order our starters in the bar from the special bar menu, found on the chalk board above the bar.

We had Calimari, Meatballs and Deep Fried Risotto Balls. All of the dishes were delicious – tapas portions and a perfect way to start the meal. However, I didn’t eat too much because I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for my main meal.

We were called to our table 45 minutes later and were served by a very witty waitress who joked about throwing my brother out when he knocked his beer all over the table. Despite this minor blip, all three waiters that served us were extremely attentive and friendly.

One waiter excelled himself at describing the dishes. One of the party was asking for his recommendation on what was best between two dishes and the way he described them looked like he was in a dream world where he was eating the dishes himself. In the end, he won our friend over with his description of the Steak.

IMG_4626

I opted for the Lamb Loin with Cauliflower Puree, Tenderstem Broccoli, Flaked Almonds and an Olive Tapenade. The Lamb was moist, pink and cooked perfectly. I forgot that the ‘mash’ was Cauliflower Puree and was pleasantly surprised when I took the mouthful.

My boyfriend ordered the Pasta with Prawns and Chilli, which was a simple but refreshing dish. I can never get enough Pasta but never normally order it in a restaurant because of fear of paying through the roof for a dish that I could do just as well. I knew that it wouldn’t be the case here however because having spied on the food before we ordered, I knew it would be done well (and better than I could do!)

I also tried the Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil, which was divine. Due to the starters in the bar before hand, my brother’s girlfriend had trouble finishing it off so I stuck my fork in and gave it a good go. She mentioned that it was extremely garlicky and it was but the Truffle Oil won out on the taste front.

Awful of me but I can’t remember what my brother had – I did take a picture but I didn’t try it because he wolfed it down in a couple of minutes but it sure did look delicious.

IMG_4628

The Steak was, in the end, to DIE for. The waiters description was bang on the nose and it literally melted in your mouth as soon as it hit the tongue. I have recently stopped ordering Steak in restaurants because of repeated disappointment but I would order this dish any day.

Too full for pudding, it was to be an ice cold pudding for me again so we headed to a local Gelato cafe, 7 Apples afterwards before retreating to bed before the early trip back to Perth in the morning.

130 Acland St
Melbourne VIC 3182, Australia
(03) 9525 3333

Cicciolina on Urbanspoon

The Premises, Kensington, Melbourne

17 Jan

I’m so glad my brother lives in Melbourne as that provided me with an excuse to visit when I was staying Perth. Hop on a flight and 4 hours later you’re in the wonderful city.

He lives in Kensington, which is not too far out from the city. I did my research this time – last year when I visited, I didn’t do any and I definitely found it more enjoyable this time – snooting out the best cafes, lunch and dinner spots around the city.

We only had 2 full days in Melbourne as we also took a trip to Mt Martha to visit my boyfriends family friends so we had a lot to cram in.

Day one, the first brunch. I wanted to go to Spinifex but it was closed over the Christmas and New Year period but luckily a new cafe has just opened a few doors down called The Premises.

The cafe is not quite on the corner of the street – it takes up a lovely shaped space that nestles on either side of the corner shop. The cafe is furnished with old school desks and what looked to be reclaimed furniture (although most of which I believe was made by the owners dad!) The colour theme is green – the tiles and lamps and chairs are all a beautiful emerald green.

First thing was first, a Flat White and a freshly squeezed Orange Juice was in order. The Coffee was absolutely amazing and sourced from Seven Seeds. I found that the best coffee in Melbourne seemed to be Seven Seeds. I know that a coffee is good when I don’t need to add sugar to it! The OJ was tangy and fresh as a daisy.

We then ordered a couple of dishes from the brunch menu – the Ras al Hanout Baked Beans, Feta, Corriander & Chilli Zhoug with toast and simple poached eggs on toast with ‘Nana Kath’s chutney’.

I love the way that ‘baked beans’ don’t mean Heinz in Australia. Moreover, the beans are homemade with Butter Beans, Canelini Beans, fresh Tomato Sauce and a Chilli kick. This dish had added spices and a subtle heat from the Chilli Zhoug. I wished there was slightly more Feta cheese on the top but maybe that’s just my greed or because I was sharing.

The Poached Eggs were cooked perfectly and I really enjoyed the chutney, which I would never had put on the side of this dish myself.

The Premises was a great start to our Melbourne foodie adventure. I am so jealous of my brother, I wish that I had this cafe on my doorstep!

202 Bellair Street
Kensington
Melbourne
Australia

The Premises on Urbanspoon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,599 other followers

%d bloggers like this: