This weekend was my housemates last in London before a 5 month trip to the US of A so we decided to go for brunch at Ziloufs, which is one of our favourite places. It's a small bar/restaurant at the Highbury end of Upper St, they serve Asian food in the evening but also have a fantastic brunch menu. I've eaten the full English before, which on a hangover is out of this world, but on Saturday I decided to go for eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.
Brunch with cocktails - perfect
Eggs Benedict is probably my all time favourite breakfast and when you add salmon into the mix, it's pretty much incredible. It was served on freshly made sourdough toast and topped with a rich hollandaise sauce. The salmon was thickly cut and the eggs were perfectly poached. My only slight criticism is that there could have been slightly less hollandaise but other than that it really was amazing!
Best ever eggs Benedict
We decided to have cocktails on the side which is a little OTT for breakfast but bank holidays do dictate that you should drink excessively. I had an espresso martini, which I'd happily drink any time of the day but it's a perfect pick me up after a few too many ciders in the pub garden the night before. Linz had a bloody Mary, which I'm told was excellent.
Ziloufs is one of the few bars in London which have a happy hour on Saturday night (until 7pm), anywhere which serves 241 lychee martinis gets my vote! It's great for breakfast, dinner, or a few cocktails to start your evening off and is especially nice during the summer as there are huge windows which fold back to let the fresh air in.
Today we received some lovely Easter cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery, generously donated from the office next door - they were amazeballs! I'm looking forward to 11 whole days off work, fingers crossed for some early summer sun. Have a lovely Easter everyone : )
Last night I went for dinner with my friend Anna who’s just returned from an 8 day sponsored bike ride to Berlin, very impressive! We went for dinner at the fantabulous Wahaca on Wardour St. It’s a Mexican restaurant, specialising in street food. They do serve main courses, which look delicious, but whenever I go I like to order a few small plates to share. It’s more fun to try a little bit of everything and when you’re as useless at making decisions as me it means you can have everything you want. Wahaca was set up in 2007 by Thomasina Miers, who won Masterchef the previous year. After travelling around Mexico she wanted to create an authentic experience of Mexican food, rather than the Tex-Mex which is usually served in ‘Mexican’ restaurants in the UK.
Grilled Steak Tacos
As usual Anna and I shared the guacamole and frijoles (refried beans). As I’ve mentioned several times, I LOVE guacamole, given the opportunity I would eat it every day. Whilst the somewhat slimy texture of avocado is something I hated as a child, I’ve now grown to love the smooth, creamy taste. The coolness of the avocado with the heat of the green chilies is a winning combination. I only recently discovered refried beans; at Wahaca they’re served topped with either chorizo or crumbled cheese both of which are amazing. Whilst the thick, brown paste doesn’t look particularly appetising, the rich, saltly taste is just delicious. I also ordered 2 small plates from the street food menu; grilled steak tacos and bean & feta quesadillas. The tacos were topped with juicy pieces of rare steak, guacamole (yum!) and grilled cheese and were pretty much perfect. The quesadillas contained broad beans, peas, feta and mint which is a great spring combination, however they were a little dry and could have done with a touch of sour cream on the side.
Broad Bean & Feta Quesadilla
Overall Wahaca is a great experience; the food is excellent, thoughtfully made with ethically and locally sourced ingredients and they serve an array of Mexican beers, tequilas and soft drinks. When looking for a quick, cheap meal or snack in central London I don’t think you can do better. The service is always excellent, the food is on your table within 10 minutes of ordering and the staff are friendly. This is fast food at its best; fresh, original and authentic. I’d also highly recommend the Wahaca cookbook, the squash & chorizo tacos are incredible.
Inspired by the great easyteas recipe blog, Chris and I decided to make eggy crumpets for breakfast during our long weekend in Bath. At the weekend there’s nothing better than spending a good hour drinking coffee, reading the paper (preferably the magazine section, real news is far too stressful for the weekend) and eating something tasty. This really is a great recipe; it’s suitably unhealthy and filling to help you recover from a hangover and more importantly it tastes delicious!
After managing to pull every muscle in my body at a power plate class on Thursday lunchtime, I decided to ruin all of my hard work by going out for a curry in the evening. After a few beers, we headed to the Lahore Kebab House in East London, which is a Pakistani restaurant. Being rather ignorant of Pakistani food, it seemed to me much like an Anglo-Indian restaurant serving classics like chicken tikka masala.
It’s a BYOB restaurant, with an off license over the road selling Cobra beer. The restaurant itself has a somewhat disheveled feel to it, it’s like a cross between a school canteen and a warehouse. You can tell little time or effort has been put into the decor, but that’s part of its charm. The atmosphere was raucous, with dozens of people squeezed into the restaurant and plenty of beers to go around the chatter was deafening.
Despite being incredibly busy the service was good, the staff were attentive and the food was served quickly. We shared a portion of onion bhajis, which according to my colleagues were the best they’d ever had. They were good, but seemed to contain a variety of vegetables, rather than just onion. I ordered chicken saag for my main; the sauce was nice, but could have done with a little more spice in it. The meat was a bit of a letdown as they used thigh meat off the bone, rather than breast meat. I probably should have ordered lamb instead, which according to Matt, was great.
For starters, main, rice and naan we paid just over £12 each, which is pretty impressive in central London and as you're able to bring your own booze, it was a super cheap night out. Every table was packed, so it’s obviously a popular destination which I’m sure is a lot to do with it beong such great value.
In terms of price, I don’t think it can be beaten. You can tell that everything has been done on a budget, including the food and surroundings. For a Friday night curry with a group of friends, it’s a perfect cheap and cheerful destination to soak up the booze. However, for a quiet meal with friends I’d be inclined to pay more for higher quality food and a more relaxed atmosphere.
After eating salad for dinner on Saturday evening, it only seemed right to have something outrageously unhealthy for dessert. The main ingredients for panna cotta are double cream, chocolate and sugar, so there really isn't anything healthy about it!
The recipe is one of my mum’s, I’m not really sure where she first read it, but a lot of her favorite recipe’s come from Good Food. It’s super easy to make and only takes a moment to dish up which is perfect after a few glasses of wine. With 2 pots of double cream, it’s quite heavy, but the sharpness of the berries cuts through the richness.
100g Green & Blacks white chocolate, broken up into squares
600ml double cream
200ml semi-skimmed milk
50g caster sugar
4 gelatin sheets
For the berry compote:
500g bag frozen summer fruit, defrosted
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp caster sugar
Add the cream, milk, sugar and chocolate to a pan, put on a low heat until the chocolate has melted. Meanwhile soak the gelatin in cold water
Take the mixture off the heat and add the gelatin, stir until it has melted, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes
Pour the mixture into individual ramekins and leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours
To make the compote, add half the fruit to a pan with the water and sugar. Simmer until the berries have begun to burst, add to the rest of the fruit and serve with the panna cotta
On Saturday my old housemate Lucy came to stay for the weekend. I love being out on the balcony on the rare occasions when the weather permits, seeing as it was so beautiful I decided to make a salad for dinner - perfect for some al fresco dining.
Mackerel is both good for you and cheap; it cost just £2 for three fillets compared to £4.50 for two salmon fillets. It's an oily fish so it's high in omega 3, along with the avocado and olive oil the salad contains plenty of 'good' fats. The new potatoes bulked out the meal, but if you're having this for lunch you could leave them out.
4 peppered smoked mackerel fillets
1 bag rocket, spinach & watercress
4 spring onions
400g new potatoes
For the dressing:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Put the potatoes in a pan of water and boil until tender, this normally takes around 20 minutes
Meanwhile chop the cucumber, spring onions and avocado. Place on 4 separate plates with the salad leaves
Once cooked through, slice the potatoes and add to the salad along with the mackerel
Drizzle with the dressing and serve with plenty of creamed horseradish
Last weekend a big group of us went out for dinner to celebrate my friend Helen’s 25th birthday. We went to a Caribbean restaurant called Guanabana in Kentish Town. It’s a fun, lively place with excellent food and best of all, it’s bring your own booze! I’m happy to pay above the odds for good quality food, but paying £15 for a bottle of wine you know you can buy for a fiver in your local off license does seem a little unreasonable, so I’m always a big fan of BYOB.
We ordered from the party menu, so had starters to share and a main course all for £20 (including corkage). The starters consisted of nachos, calamari, chicken wings and spicy sautéed potatoes. They were all good enough, but none particularly stood out. Although after my guacamole rant in my review of Navajo Joe’s I must point out that the nachos had plenty of toppings! For my main I ordered goat curry, which was delicious. The sauce was incredibly rich and thick and the meat (mutton not goat) was so tender it fell off the bone. The curry was served with rice & peas, which I realize is hardly haute cuisine, but they are seriously yummy. The rest of the food also looked great; I tried my sister’s chickpea stew which sounds pretty uninspiring but in reality was fantastic. The chickpeas and spinach were in a lightly spiced coconut sauce and was also served with rice & peas, if I go again I’ll definitely think about ordering it (although the lure of jerk chicken will probably be too much!). Alongside the traditional Caribbean fare, they also serve burgers, salads and fajita’s. Aisling ordered a jerk burger with a sweet potato rosti and mango chutney, which looked amazing!
My only complaint was that the staff seemed a little over-whelmed; the restaurant was fully booked but I’m sure this is standard for a Friday night so isn’t really an excuse for poor service. I’m a recent convert to Caribbean food, but from what I could gage the food was really tasty and reasonably priced. The atmosphere is always great and there is a spacious garden which is lovely in the summer. Despite a few issues with service, it’s a great restaurant and perfect for large parties.
After a long trip to IKEA on Sunday afternoon I decided to cook one of my mum's recipes. There's something very comforting about cooking a meal you're used to eating at home with your family. My version wasn't a patch on my mum's unforunately, as I put too much stock into the sauce and didn't have the time to let it reduce. Nevertheless, it's a great take on a traditional shepherds pie; the spices and goats cheese add a middle eastern flavour which works beautifully with the lamb.