Additions to my London foodie calendar

Want to try London’s finest unique dining experiences and aren’t too excited by Timeout’s alternatives. Try these bad boys:

Taken from Grape Night In Official Website

Taken from Grape Night In Official Website

March Secret Wine Supper

Every month A Grape Night In and The Rookery Clapham Common hosts a Secret Wine Supper, each with hand selected wines paired with a seasonal menu with a secret theme… Check out the poster for some clues for March’s event.

We guarantee that each month will be as topical as it comes, but the final reveal won’t happen until the night! Your challenge – to help us find the best food and wine pairing.

Each night includes 5 courses of ‘mystery’ wines and seasonal small dishes, accompanied by an interactive tasting hosted by the Grape Night In girls – all for just £32!

*Look closely at the poster for clues to this month’s theme

History

Laura & Kiki, who have started pop-up wine company A Grape Night In, are part of the new generation breathing life into the stale world of wine tasting. These girls bring youth and excitement to a normally bland setting – White table clothes are banished and quirky themes welcomed. These wine tasting sessions are designed to bring wine to a new level of coolness, ready to challenge any fancy cocktail or craft beer!

If you like wine, but don’t know why, and want to be able to tell your Cabernet from your Pinot, make sure to find A Grape Night In pronto as their passion will infect you…

Read More… A Grape Night In

Zoe’s Ghana Restaurant [A Pop-Up Restaurant]

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is a ‘pop-up’ restaurant creating a look and feel from its Ghanaian roots that merges with a contemporary dining experience. Home spun, home cooked food. Always fun, always relaxed and always tasty…

Born from creating a ‘pop-up’ Ghanaian restaurant in my live/workspace in Hackney Wick in the summer of 2010 as part of Hackney Wicked Arts Festival, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen has grown with popular demand.

We now have a monthly night, the first Saturday of every month at Carlton London Café in East London and regularly take Ghana Kitchen experience to Berlin.

We cater for functions, festivals, private parties and install our ‘pop-up’ experience across the UK and now Europe.

Price and events: see their Facebook  to see up and coming pop up events, prices vary.

Their on going Carlton London Cafe Event is 6 Courses, £20 per person.

See More at: Zoe’s Ghana Pop up Restaurant

The Secret Supper Club Social

Cuisson’s Head Chef, Paul, invites you to join him for one of his secret supper clubs. With a very social format, a rotation through different central London locations, and an ever changing interactive menu – this is one gourmet dinner experience you’ll not want to miss.

THE UN-RESTAURANT

Cuisson’s Head Chef, Paul, invites you to join him for one of his secret dinner parties. This is one (un)Restaurant you’ll not want to miss.

  • Typically involves a five or six course gourmet menu. The photos on this page are for example purposes only, as each event has a different menu.
  • Menus will be available one week in advance, and Paul will endeavour to cater to any special requirements.

Paul prefers an interactive format to his supper clubs, and if you want to get hands-on, you can join him in creating the canapés. If you’re not the cooking type, just relax and chat with the other guests while he prepares the five amazing courses. Butternut squash velouté with home-smoked chicken roulade, and truffled bread are typical of what you can expect on his menu, and as Paul prepares his dishes you’ll learn the inside secrets such as how to make the perfect wild mushroom butter. But be warned, don’t get too excited by the mains as Paul’s desserts are divine — like the thick and delicious butterscotch set cream with autumn pear, spiced blackberry and almond crumble. It is a heavenly end to an evening of culinary bliss.

Read More… Chef Website

Read More… Lime&Tonic Experience london

Pipsdish [Islington]

I’ve already been here and I LOVE IT! Closes at the end of april, so book while you can!

Read more on my blog: Pipsdish Review 

Read more… Pipsdish official site

More London Culinary Experiences

Lime and Tonic – Culinary Experiences

We are pop up – sharing current pop up restaurant experiences in London

London Pop ups – Great list of supper clubs

One Glorious meal at Islington’s pop up restaurant [Pipsdish]

Pipsdish is an amazing little gem nestled in a little alley off of the main highstreet of Islington, London. This charming little restaurant is a well kept secret and has only a limited time open. On entrance it looks like a Citroen car garage, and thats exactly what it was since 2011 when the founder Philip Dundas started the venture. This little place was rented and converted to a foodie heaven. Fresh produce, artisan goods, fine culinary work and simple hearty dishes.

[Visited Saturday 9th March]

Whilst working at my internship in a design agency I was fortunate to find out about this place. I had to delivery tea there for an event and fell for it immediately. Hastely booking the venue 3 weeks in advance (yes it is that much in demand now!). Many have dined here more than once and I can see why. The chef is friendly and talented, and the waiter is just as warm. You immediately feel like your being welcomed into someones home, and the chef cooks in front of you as though you are indeed, in his kitchen.

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The decor is kitsch, country and realistic to being in a garage, contains a mini old citroen van which is quirkely converted into a private dining space.

This cute little venue has another quirk, its menu- There isn’t one. You pay a set 3 course meal rate of £30, but you don’t know what you will get until the day. Food is made daily, depending on the ingredients bought and the mood of the chef. Theres something exciting about not knowing what you will get served, adding to the experience. They are still very accommodating to dietary needs if you tell them prior to the day. I was worried i may not enjoy it as I can be fussy but every dish as lipsmackingly amazing.

Pipsdish is closing in April, so time is tight before we say goodbye. I must make sure I go again before it disappears.

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Starter: Onion Soup (They gave it a more flowery explanation but this is what it is) topped with pancetta, pumpkin seeds and bread pieces. The flavour was lovely and the textures of the pepper, pancetta and seeds really added to the dish. We savioured every bit.

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Couscous with Beef. My friend doesnt usually like beef but loved this. And I usually dont like couscous but the lemon herb dressing and the flavour of the beef made this delicious. I have been converted to couscous. When the waiter went to get the dish with only a few spoons left on it. My friend pryed it out of his hand, its not done till its licked clean!

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This was a highlight. My friend ate hers in under 5 minutes and I finished every morsel too. I am not a sweet tooth but this pear and butterscotch crumble with cream was one of the best desserts Ive ever had!

Philips Dundas explains the story of the pop restaurants birth at: The Wheels of Fortune Turn

Friday at the Borough Market

IMG_4947I have lived in London for 16 years of my 23 year life and yet never bothered to go Borough Market, What sort of foodie am I? I have one paid and unpaid job and a maximum of one day a week free. This one day should be made the most of but I spend so much of it asleep, or lazing about or doing chores that could

IMG_4925have taken an hour for hours as I fly back and forth to the couch to watch another repeat of Friends for the billionth time.

So this friday was different. Bloody cold and miserable for march but I dragged my arse there anyway- no regrets this market it the shizzle. So much good food I was salvating. I tried to make room for as much as possible.

IMG_4923 The baked goods are to die for. Admittedly not so great to buy and eat later, as the breeze and cold air makes it go all dry. I think the smells are more seductive than the actual act of eating as my £2 bread hurt my pocket later. Whilst walking around I found myself so drawn to the scent and the colours and the flavours that I found myself buying things that were ridiculous in price for what they were. Women and spending, you know how it is:))

CHEESSEEE

CHEESE

I love cheese! The french stalls were the best, boasting so many different cheeses. Delicatessen’s are so rare in places like London. In my district of West London there are no local butchers, no fresh local grocery stores and our food is dominated by Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s and Waitrose. It’s not the same, and borough  market just has remember how much I love fresh food.

In my 3 years living in Turkey my mum and me went to the fresh food market every friday to get all vegetables and fruit. Every morning we would go to buy fresh loaf of bread. I miss that so much.

A Meringue Tower

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It’s like walking back to a time where a community existed behind our food. Where quality trumped quantity. It’s a shame you have to go to a touristy, small area of London to look for something that everywhere should have. Local markets.IMG_5038

It’s great place to go for a half day as a tourist, as it gives you a great introduction to good english produce as well as an insight to the diversity of cultural foods in London.

Getting to the Market: Borough Market is easily accessed by public transport. We’re seconds walk from a major train station, on countless bus routes and even provide bike racks for keen cyclists. Best day to Go: Fri-Saturday

Travel by train and underground:

The Market is located right next to London Bridge Station which is serviced by the Jubilee and Northern Lines on the Underground and by overground trains from all over London and the south of England.

The Sugar Myth Unveiled

We were sitting in the office when the question was asked: Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?

[For informative reading, read the complete article. Otherwise, scroll down for the summary!]

We have been trained to believe all things brown are better for us: brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta… but what about sugar? Being a carbohydrate like the others it has been led to believe that brown sugar is healthier. I wanted to examine this claim.

What is sugar made from?

Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants but are only present in sufficient concentrations for efficient extraction in sugarcane and sugar beet. Sugarcane is a giant grass and Sugar beet is a root crop, both create sugar but grow in different climates, Sugarcane in hot, and sugar beet in cooler temperatures. 

But this is just the base ingredient, it requires processing before it reaches the table of the consumer.

How is it made?

The sugar cane is taken to be refined. The first stage involves immersing the sugar crystals in a concentrated syrup which softens and removes the sticky brown coating without dissolving them. The crystals are then separated from the liquor and dissolved in water. The resulting syrup is either treated by carbonation (a type of chemical reaction process).

Both involve the precipitation (dissolve the fluid) of a fine solid in the syrup and when this is filtered out, a lot of the impurities are removed. The sugar syrup is concentrated by boiling, cooled and seeded with sugar crystals causing the sugar to crystallize out. The white crystals are dried in hot air, ready to be packaged or used.

What does the refining process achieve?

So we are talking brown sugar versus white sugar, which is more healthy? The question first must be: Exactly what do we mean by that?

There are raw unrefined regular sugar, refined white sugar and brown sugar.

Raw Unrefined Sugar

It’s not the same as the brown sugar that you see in the store, even though they are both brown.Unrefined raw sugar is made from the juice from the sugar cane plant and has trace minerals and nutrients present.

Raw sugar contains roughly eleven calories per teaspoon and has the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium.

Refined White Sugar

Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients. Typically, white sugar is made of pure carbohydrates. when sugar is refined and processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar as a result. Some of these include: Phosphoric Acid, Sulfur Dioxide, and Formic Acid.

When the term “refined” is used in reference to food products, most people think of a highly processed or altered product. However, in the case of sugar production, the term “refined” simply means “to make pure.” During the refining of sugar, natural sugar is extracted from the whole plant material to make a granulated product that can be easily used in food and beverage preparation.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is sugar that has been refined and then molasses has been added to it. Brown sugar varies in color according to the amount of molasses that has been added to it. Like white refined sugar, brown sugar does not have the nutritional content found in unrefined. Both white refined and brown sugar are comprised of sucrose.

So what is the difference between brown and white sugar?

When people talk of brown sugar, they are generally comparing two grocery products one stating ‘brown sugar’ one saying ‘white sugar’ and I have made that comparison on that basis.

So to help you make your decision I have made a Summary below:

  • They are equally unhealthy, equally void of nutritional substance.
  • The only difference is the colour, obviously, which is due to the addition of molasses.
  • Molasses also may create a mild difference in flavour between them.
  • White sugar is more processed as the colour is whitened, but this near to no effect on the end of products nutritional values. Refining of white or brown sugar, does not mean it is processed and unhealthy, it just removes substances we cannot or would have difficulty consuming.

Of course, if your referring to RAW SUGAR (Which is brown) then there is a difference, and it is healthier – but as rule in cookery if used as a substitute, it weighs differently to brown and white sugar, so recipe measurements must be adapted when swapping them around.

Hope this helps!

(A Traveller’s Guide) Roman Cuisine: Restaurant Reviews and sharing a slice of Foodie Heaven

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I felt Roman Food needed it’s own post as the variety was something I couldn’t quite share in a general Rome post. I find food the most important part of investigating a country, as it is the thing that brings us together and lets face it.. we do spend a lot of our holidays pigging out.

Picking up my Lonely Planet guide to Rome and doing quite a bit of research on Tripadvisor, I came up with a selection of places I wanted to try on my journeys. In addition, I found my own gems along the way. Romans eat like true British foodies eat, they have generous but not ridiculously portioned meals, with flavour and appreciation for good fresh dishes, eating out not because they are celebrating but because every meal is meant to be done amongst your closest friends and family, dining in true Italian style. In the evenings the main piazza’s are booming with life, couples, families, and friends gather around a good wine whilst they graze on antipasti and order their meals on their outdoor seating. Live Music is heard and shops remain open until late hours to accommodate the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

Its a dining atmosphere I wish Britain embraced a little more. Most people I know have a budget and the question is:

Do I eat a decent meal tonight or do I buy that amazing beer offer at Tesco’s?

Sad to say… The latter prevails. Many do not cook whether due to lack of knowledge, practice and time. Sociable dining is put on hold for more important things like overworking, getting drunk and sleeping. It’s sad that less importance is placed on the family meal. Few friends go to dinner together unless in celebration. What about going out to dinner for no reason but the appreciation of good food and company?

That being said we do not have the same gorgeous weather, and with that comes the lack of lovely outdoor seating. It’s a shame, isn’t it?

What is Roman Cuisine?

Most of us are familiar with Italian Cuisine, especially with the hundreds of Italian restaurants dotted around the streets of London. I would say Roman Cuisine is somewhat similar to what we eat but with a difference in that the ingredients used are fresher, the flavour and textures more delicate. Beautiful Grocery stores display a fine array of fresh cuts of meat, cheeses, fresh made pasta and antipasti vegetables to purchase. The ingredients are so beautiful that I desired such a thing to exist on more street corners of London. It is something we have lost to the monopoly food giants of Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco’s, the homemade, fresh goods of the family run businesses. It was spectacular. I tried to eat my way through Rome by tasting all they have to offer. The fine pizza’s, pasta, and meat dishes. Bellisimo.

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Photos taken in a lovely store just a few minutes walk away from Piazza Di Spagna. (Spanish Steps District)Rather than buy an elaborate picnic box from one of the very over priced restaurants in the area, we chose a selection of meats, cheese and bread to take on a little picnic at the Villa Borghese Park at the top of the Spanish Steps. I could live in this shop, the smells, the splendour of the products and the service was like no other. 

Restaurant Reviews

Restaurants In Campo De Fiori

Campo De Fiori was my go to place for an evening meal. Trastevere district was full of shops, bars and restaurants all nestled down narrow winding alley ways. The atmosphere was something I couldn’t find in any other district in Rome, and found myself back there time and again.

RJ Numbs: Restorante Campo De’ Fiori

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                        Food:✰✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰✰✰

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This lovely restaurant is positioned right in the heart of Campo De’ Fiori square, Rome’s most buzzing part of the Trastevere District. Placed in such a touristy position, my expectations were quite low. You tend to find such areas offer inadequate food for extortionate prices. This is one of the reasons why I was so taken back by the quality of the place. On top of being in a hotspot for people watching a live music in the evening, the food is delicious!

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I ordered a pizza with Bresaola (air-dried salted italian beef), Parmesan and Rocket. The ingredients were so fresh, placed upon the dough in such a way that it was like having a giant salad Bruschetta, perfect with a glass of crisp Prosecco on a warm summers day. It took slightly longer to arrive but it was worth the wait.

My Partner had a soup for starter which he loved, followed by the Lamb Cutlets. He is a lamb addict, and scrutinises the quality of the meat, and how tenderly it is cooked. He said the seasoning was perfect as was the cooking of it. Simple but tasty.I would say this restaurant was one of my best dining experiences in Rome, and that I would not hestitate to go again.

The only downfall would be the service. Very difficult to get their attention but this was partially due to how busy they were, given the location.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d3488008-Reviews-RJ_Numbs_Campo_De_Fiori_Restaurant-Rome_Lazio.html

Aristocampo

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                        Food:✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰✰✰

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CIMG3051I was immediately drawn to this restaurant because of it’s very traditional Italian decor. It had a cabin feel that made it quirky and kitsch. The hanging chilli, the candles and the paintings on the wall teamed with a dim lighting made it the perfect setting for a quiet romantic meal. It was placed on one of the alley’s leading up to the Campo De’ Fiori main square, a very busy street with many dining options next to it. The choice was endless so the deciding factor was how welcoming it seemed.

After eating I found that this was not as traditional as I might have hoped. I turned out that it was a chain as I noticed a few of the same establishments dotted around Rome. What acted as a family-run cutesy restaurant was actually more like the Bella Italia’s of the Italian Restaurant business. This did not make it less charming but did effect it’s appeal somewhat.

We ordered a lot of food on our visit as we were feeling keen to try dishes we had not tried before, and had done a lot of sightseeing during the day. So we did it the true Italian way: Antipasti, Main Courses, Sides… The table was like the embodiment of the Last Supper.

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We ordered Roman Meatballs in a tomato Ragu, Roman-Style Chicken and Roman-Jewish Style Artichoke. The artichoke was a big mistake. I love vegetables but did not anticipate how much I would hate artichoke! I was not sure if it was the way it was cooked or the vegetable itself but it had a very bitter off flavour I couldn’t quite get to grips with. We ordered it as Tripadvisor said it was a must try, I would said tripadvisor is not always right. I had one bite and left that aside. The meatballs I thought were a safe choice as It would take a lot to mess a meatball dish up. It was tasty but very very salty. So much so that the rich saltiness made it hard for me to finish. I found that all their dishes had this issue. They had a problem with overseasoning, which I guess is not as bad as being very bland but still meant I did not finish my meal. My boyfriend enjoyed his chicken.

I thought the food was okay, but that is lacked freshness, flavour and depth. It did the job but considering the competition, I am sure the others may have been better. Salt is not a flavour I desire in heaps. I must have known they wouldn’t be amazing in that their menu was so overwhelmingly long, it would be impossible to do them all well. The service was okay.

All in all and average restaurant not worth going to but not utterly horrible if you find yourself going there for a bite.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d801765-Reviews-Aristocampo-Rome_Lazio.html

Ristorante La Canonica

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                 Food:✰

Service: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                   Price: ✰✰

We chose this restaurant as it was both very busy and had a very lovely atmosphere. Perched in a small alley on its own, this cute little CIMG3158restaurant had everything a trattoria should need a buzzing atmosphere, live music and an appetising menu. The menu is something you see through most of Rome as the dishes tend to be very similar everywhere you look. The thing that drew us was that people were queuing for it and the Turkish way to tell a good restaurant would be to see how many people go there.

CIMG3159We sat down and a lovely chubby older waitress came, she offered us our menu’s and spoke little to no English, but she smiled and laughed a lot so we immediately felt well looked after. We ordered a basil, tomato and mozzarella salad and meatballs to share. I couldn’t ask for cheese to put on top because it was too busy to get their attention and to be honest, this was the blandest ugliest dish I had eaten in Italy. No flavour, and what only could remind me of heinz tinned Spaghetti. It had no decadence, no flair. It was basic, but not in a simplistic beautiful kind of way.

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My Salad was beautifully presented but let down by the produce used. One thing I can’t stand is unripe flavourless tomatoes (like the tesco value kind), orange coloured, watery and tasteless. Considering the abundance of beautiful vegetables and fruit, and the amount of gorgeous fresh tomato dishes I tried, I did not understand why they gave us such a pitiful excuse for a tomato.

I would say the attraction to restaurant must have been the live music, and the fact that a load of people made a bad decision, and a load of ignorant diners saw them and followed suit.

Restaurants Around the Vatican City

Pizzeria Amalfi

Location: ✰✰✰✰✰                                                 Food:✰✰✰

Service: ✰                                                  Price: ✰✰✰

The Vatican was a nightmare to find food in, as for some reason all the restaurant’s we visited had closed after lunch period. We had finished St. Pauls, The museums and were dying for a bite to eat. We went through the Tripadvisor one by one knocking off all possibilities until we found this one, saw it open, so stuck with it. It was very quiet when we visited but in a pleasant location very close to the main attractions. We sat down and ordered Pizza (It’s a pizzeria, you have to!) and a variety of antipasti such as mozzarella, bruschetta, bread sticks.

829Service: The one major thing I unfortunately, have to point out was the very bad service. Waiters held themselves with a sort of arrogance (that’s what tripadvisor does to people it seems). The first guy took our order, we placed it and waited 20 minutes at which point we questioned the whereabouts of our drink. They said they had forgotten and brought it to us. Then after 45 minutes had past, we wondered where our food was. Not one waiter was to be found, and when we eventually found a guy it was not the one we placed our order with, he told us sorry but he did not know our order. We then saw our original waiter in his clothes, off out and assumed, shift over, he did not give a crap. Our food was not ordered, we had to replace it, after waiting so long, and whilst the other waiter was apologetic he also was quite arrogant. For a royal cock up of this kind we assumed they would be abit more sorry. 824

The food came at long last and it was just what we needed. The pizza was average but still hit the spot and tasty, very few toppings made me thing they were very stingy especially considering the toppings at other pizza places were far more abundant. I do not think it deemed itself worthy of mention in a travel book but it definitely was good enough for me. The starters were stodgy and filling. They felt more like a take out service food than a dine in restaurant in that the way the selection was presented and what I ate much reminded me of the stuff I would pig out on in Dominos in the UK after a heavy night. After all our walking it was definitely what we needed, but a true Italian restaurant it was not. This is far more for tourism, but given the location it makes sense.

I would go here again if I was at Vatican as it is easy to find and does the trick but I would not go out of my way to eat here again.

Restaurants in San Lorenzo

Pommidoro

Location: ✰✰✰                                           Food:✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                             Price: ✰✰✰✰✰

I am still very upset about the loss of the photographs from this evening, we just can’t seem to find them anywhere! We chose to find this place after reading Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet:

Throughout San Lorenzo’s metamorphosis from down-at-heel working-class district to down-at-heel bohemian enclave, Pommidoro has remained the same. A much-loved local institution, it’s a century-old trattoria, with high star-vaulted ceilings, a huge fireplace and outdoor conservatory seating. It was a favourite of controversial film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, and contemporary celebs stop by – from Nicole Kidman to Fabio Cappello – but it’s an unpretentious place with superb-quality traditional food, specialising in magnificent grilled meats

It was a bit of a walk to find this little gem as it was in a little investigated district of Rome, down the back streets of Rome’s Grungy student district. Termini was very close to San Lorenzo so it was not too far to find the area. At first glance it seemed as though we were in the middle of no where with no atmosphere and everything closed, we started to doubt we would find such a rave review restaurant. It was later we realised that this district wakes up at the late hours of the night, and that the town was still sleeping until at least 11pm. We found the restaurant using our much needed map and in relief asked for a seat. Indoor was full of what seemed to be large group of gathering of the Locals. We chose to sit outside which did not have the same ambience but was worth it. Indoors downstairs was like a little cavern with low hanging ceilings and wooden tables and chairs. Upstairs hosted a lovely warm cottage feel trattoria with a nearby grilling station like a pizza oven where you could see the cooking of the meat and smell the delightful aromas.

image taken from: http://www.asureviews.org/romeagm.php

  We unfortunately, did not get to order too much as the waiter was unable to speak english and the menu’s were all in Italian, you could tell this was for locals from that alone! We stuck it safe and I ordered a pasta with wild fresh collected mushrooms and beef. It was to die for. The vegetables were in eye view, all dirty and fresh they looked like the owners had foraged them just before our meal. That freshness was tasted within the food itself with delicate notes of butter, garlic and herbs. The dishes were elegantly places, and the food was not huge but adequate. We wanted to try grilled meat so bad but I opted out as it seemed they liked offal and unusual cuts, not knowing what I was ordering put me off. If you are willing to try though, these dishes all were true Roman. If its a real Italian meal you want this is the place.

More Reviews at: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d1319857-Reviews-Pommidoro-Rome_Lazio.html

Restaurant’s in Termini

Florin’s

Location: ✰                                                  Food:✰✰✰✰

Service: ✰✰✰                                             Price: ✰✰✰

This place was a gem of a find. The location was food in that it was close to Termini Station, but horrible in that it was basically on a giant roundabout with alot of ongoing traffic, So romantic and peaceful were not words for it. That being said, the food was delicious considering other restaurant’s in the area were horrible. We walked through many Termini restaurants and walked

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away because the food look dull and tasteless. Catering for tourists who chose to stay near the station this district is not a foodie heaven.

That is why I was pleasantly surprised in finding Florin’s. It put all the other restaurant’s in the surrounding area to shame. The carbonara was one of the best I have ever had. Fullsome in flavour, yet light and delicate. It did not have that heavy feeling you have from thick and creamy english carbonara. Instead it had a light buttery texture with just enough cream to make it tasty and fullsome without overly bloating you. It was bliss on our first night of being in Rome and was the perfect meal before bed.

 

Hungover Monday: A hearty Chinese Hotpot, The Ultimate Comfort Food.

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I know I have called it hungover Monday, but to be clear, this is not a new weekly special, I have no intention of being hungover every Monday. Yesterday was a heavy night as it was my works staff party, belated for the Christmas but fun anyway. Many glasses of wine (bottles) and a few lemoncello’s later we were well and truly wrecked. I awoke to that deadly heavy headed feeling you get after far too much wine. What does the hungover mind crave? Comfort food. Now many find themselves drawn to burgers, pizza or a fry up but I have a very different hangover cure/ craving. A Chinese Hotpot.

When living in China I had many a hotpot. In fact I believe I have mentioned it in my blog previously because its so good it has to be mentioned twice. I eat it with a hangover but regularly the Chinese eat it drunk. Its a social occasion as the hotpot bowl is shared amongst as many as 8 people alongside a chilled beer. The hotpot restaurants are like a Seven Eleven, they are open 24 hours for your catering needs. After clubs when we had munchies we headed straight for the hotpot joint, got ourselves private room and munched out.

20130115-013956.jpgThe Chinese Hotpot is nothing like a British One, its not a casserole its like a big boiling broth for sipping and dipping. Eating is not just a meal, its an experience. Its entertainment as you spend time popping food in with chopsticks, mixing a variety of herbs and spices in your personal bowl for dipping fun, boiling your food and removing it. If you like playing with food this is for you, it is cheese fondue to the oriental diner. I find its the only time when I spend time eating. Usually I eat so fast that I barely breath through mouthfuls, the work during the eating process of popping in, waiting to cook, removing, dipping then eating slows the process ensuring a far healthy pace.

Nothing beats a hotpot on a cold winters day. Funny enough today was both snowing, and I had alcohol in my system, so this was quite possibly the most perfect moment to have it.

Me and my boyfriend started on our preparations for the meal. One half of the hotpot 20130115-014018.jpgwill me hot and numb broth, the other a simple chicken broth.

HOW TO MAKE IT

(1) we cut and washed our choice of vegetables. Washing all our greens and leaving mushrooms unwashed to reduce goopiness. My favourite vegetables to use are a selection of mushrooms (Oyster & Enoki are the best!), Chinese Cabbage, Pak Choi, and Chinese Greens.

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(2) We then prepped the broth. The broth is a mixture between our own ingredients and a pre made hotpot mixture that we purchased from Loon Fung Oriental Wholesaler. The own ingredients were:

the frying of peppercorns, anise, spicy bean paste, chilli flakes, dried chilli’s, and dried oriental mushrooms mixed with a premade spicy hot pot broth package. Sichuan Chilli and bean paste go well too. The other side of the broth is less spicy and is made with: The chicken broth was also with premade package, spring onion, Goji Berries (optional), coriander, garlic, and Chicken Stock.

(3) Leaving it to boil and infuse, we pull out all our additional material such as the cutlery (chopsticks, small dipping bowls, hotpot spoons) and our extra dipping sauces such as Chilli Oil, Bean Paste, Soya Sauce, Coriander, and chopped Garlic.20130115-014030.jpg

When it is hot, and left to stew for abit, food is served. For meat thin slices of meat such as beef and lamb are recommended. We get hotpot lamb from the Loon Fung which is extremely thin making it easy to cook and infuse the flavour in the meat. Alternatively, thin sliced meat would do the trick. Other optional add ons are Noodles, and at the end of the meal, cracking an egg in the broth is yummy. The egg retains shape in the natural chilli oils and is yummy! Its delicious, fun, and you definitely receive at minimum of one of your five a day.

20130115-014039.jpg20130115-014056.jpg                                                                              The hotpot paired with my Chinese Flowering Tea made this feast a perfect beginning to the week.

I had been saving my flowering tea that I bought in Shanghai for a year for the perfect occasion, and this was definitely perfect. Hangover gone.