Tag Archives: food

Once upon a time we spent a SUNNY Sunday at the Real Food Market

Oh my, the weather is crappy at the moment. All you want to do is curl up on the sofa with chocolate and a steaming hot cup of tea.

But if it hadn’t been pouring down we might have packed the bag and the baby and taken the tube to Embankment, as we did quite a few weeks ago.

We crossed the bridge and found ourselves amongst the touristy crowds on the South Bank. But we were hungry, so we headed straight towards the back of the Southbank Centre & the Royal Festival Hall.

And found what we were looking for: The Real Food Market. A small collection of food and drink stalls focusing on quality produce and serving up anything from gourmet hotdogs and burgers to slow-cooked pork, paella and churros.

You can also buy cheese, olive oil, pastries and other high quality produce and delicacies.

There is even a “food busker” – a guy called John Quilter – who cooks up different dishes every week and then it’s up to the customer to pay him what they think it’s worth.

After circling the stalls for a while we decided that what we needed was a big, fat smoked sausage-based hotdog with salad and pickles from the Polish Deli.

Delicious!

After a bit of sausage & sun it was time to get the baby home, so back we went, over the bridge.

And one ting is certain: we’ll be back as soon as that damned sun decides to make an appearance in London again…

What: The Real Food Market
Where: Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, outside Canteen restaurant (Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX)
When: Friday:12 am – 8, Saturday:11 am – 8 pm, Sunday: 12 am – 6 pm

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Easy peasy blueberry muffins

I was having a friend over for tea the other day and wanted to offer her something sweet. I knew I couldn’t leave the house as I was waiting for a guy to come around and install our broadband, so instead of running to the bakery I had to get my hands dirty.

And I’m not much of a baker, especially not when recipes get just the tiniest bit complicated. So I went for the simplest of blueberry muffin recipes.

They were quite yummy, not too unhealthy, and couldn’t have been easier to make. Also, I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard.

Here’s what you need…. (10 muffins)

110g butter
65g caster sugar
2 eggs
110g flour
1½ tsp baking powder
A tiny pinch of salt
1 small pack of blueberries (or other berries or even dark chocolate, if you’re naughty)

OPTIONAL: Orange zest OR a pinch of nutmeg

How to do it…

Whisk the sugar and butter together with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Add the eggs, whisk gently, add the flour, salt,  (orange zest or nutmeg) and baking powder. Leave in fridge to set for at least an hour – preferably overnight.

Put the mixture into lightly greased muffin forms until forms are a bit more than half full, and put around 8 blueberries in each. Bake at 200C for around 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm with creme fraiche or greek yoghurt.

Wahaca – modern Mexican market food

I have this weird relationship with Mexican food. And when I say Mexican I refer to the Tex-Mex Americanised version….ooooh how I have fond memories of eating huge burritos with guacamole & tortilla chips while sipping from huge jugs of frozen margaritas in a rainy New York.

It’s sloppy comfort food and I like the idea of it more than the actual food (which often turns out to be pretty awful).

I have a similar thing with horror movies: the concept and anticipation of snuggling up on the sofa while eating popcorn and watching a horror flick is often so much better than actually doing it, as 9 out of 10 horror movies are crap.

But back to Mexican food – the problem is you don’t feel too hot after swallowing tons of melted cheese and refried beans.

So the next time you’re in the mood for an inexpensive, non-grease-dripping Mexican meal, I suggest you try the restaurant chain Wahaca, that specialises in modern Mexican market/street food.

They have restaurants all over London, but I’ve only been to the new(ish) one in Wardour Street in Soho.

You often have to wait a bit for a table, but that’s no problem as the friendly staff hand you a buzzer and send you downstairs, where you can kill time with a drink in the big colourful bar.

The food is lo-key and you can either go for one big plate or several smaller ones. You eat the smaller ones tapas style and order around three each.

If you can’t be bothered to browse the menu, just go for the Wahaca Selection; a selection of the restaurants most popular plates for two people to share (costs £20 for two).

That’s what we did, as we were a bit indecisive. Five minutes later the first dishes started to appear. We had everything from vegetable tacos….

to chicken taquitos.

And some pork pibli tacos (slow cooked pork in Yucatecan marinade).

The food is good, although it doesn’t blow your mind. But I’ll still recommend this place because of its friendly staff, upbeat atmosphere and very reasonable prices.

And the food is not too greasy or covered in 10 cm of processed cheese.

Wahaca, 80 Wardour Street, Soho
(See website for more locations)

The Bridge House – cosy cavernous theatre pub in Little Venice

If you find yourself wandering around the lovely (but a bit overlooked) area of my neighbourhood, Little Venice, you’ll probably find yourself admiring the cute house boats and the picturesque bridges.

And the ducks.

And then all of a sudden your stomach will start to rumble, and you’re wondering where to go for at nice lunch or dinner.

If that’s the case I suggest you head up on the bridge that connects Blomfield Road with Delamere Terrace.

You cross it and there it is on the corner, The Bridge House or “the pub equivalent of a big warm hug” as they say themselves on their website.

It’s dark and cosy with red walls n’all and the day I was there it was very easy to get a table.

But then when you sit down, you’ll notice that it gets very crowded at intervals (at least in the evenings), as there’s a comedy club upstairs, The Canal Café Theatre.

The food was not bad at all (I’ve learned not to have sky-high expectations when it comes to pubs) and the prices very reasonable. My friend had the goat’s cheese risotto (£7.50).

And I had the slow cooked pork belly with bacon and sage mash, sautéed leeks and mustard gravy. Very yummy. (£10)

You can have a look at the menus here.

I’ve walked past this place a hundred times and this is my first visit. But I’ll definitely come back.

The Bridge House, 13 Westbourne Terrace Road, London
Website

Broccoli, leek & potato soup – easy, cheap and healthy winter food

I made this soup the other day without any recipe and surprised myself by how yummy it turned out (my cooking intuition is non-existent). The magic ingredient must have been the yoghurt as it added just the right amount of tartness/acidity to the vegetables.

If you want to give this hearty winter soup a try, here’s how I made it. All measurements are very approximate, so feel free to improvise:

Ingredients (4 pers.)

  • Butter & olive oil for frying
  • 4-5 leeks, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 large potatoes, chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped (use the stem as well)
  • 1/2-1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 300 ml single cream (or milk)
  • 400 ml yoghurt naturel (add a bit at a time, as you might want to use less)
  • a few drops of avocado oil for decoration

How to do it:

  • Heat up the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the leeks with the chopped garlic until soft.
  • Add the potatoes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the broccoli. Add a bit of salt and pepper + cayenne pepper.
  • Add the chicken stock and a bit of water until the vegetables are covered and cook until the vegetables are soft.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and blend it (I just used a hand blender directly in the pan and left a few vegetable lumps for added texture).
  • Put back on the stove. Add more stock/water if consistency is too thick, then add cream and yoghurt.
  • Add salt and pepper (and maybe a stock cube) to taste.
  • Serve with cheese sandwiches or whatever rocks your boat.

BON APPETIT!

pssssst! In the mood for more soup? Head for my butternut soup recipe.

Cox Cookies and Cake + HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m really not a big fan of the hype surrounding neither cupcakes nor New Year’s Eve. But I think I’ve found the perfect cake for that last night of the year…and it’s a cupcake.

Last night I walked past this blingy, shiny multi-coloured shop front in Brewer Street in Soho and was nailed to the ground, hypnotised by all the bright lights.

This cupcake and cookie shop is called Cox Cookies and Cake and it’s the brainchild of Canadian-British designer & shoemaker Patrick Cox and master patissier Eric Lanlard and it’s nothing like your average cutesy and cheerful pink cupcake shop.

Oh no, this place is like a psychedelic stripper cave, filled with neon signs, skull-clad cakes and handsome staff wearing studded leather aprons.

Mesmerised by the interior I decided to pop into the shop today and try one of their crazy looking cakes.

I took a long hard look at the different choices: should I choose the Pop Cake – a vanilla cake with a blueberry compote centre, vanilla frosting and decorated with a chocolate Marilyn Monroe? Or maybe the Bling Cake – A raspberry cake with raspberry compote centre and decorated with pink icing and sugar diamonds?

Nah, too ordinary. I left the shop with this one:

The Black Skull Cake. A triple Valrhona chocolate cake with goth black frosting and a dark chocolate jewelled skull. This is one of the shop’s special cupcakes that cost £4 (yes I know, that’s bloody expensive), the classic ones cost a more reasonable £2.50.

But this one was actually worth the money. The cream cheese based frosting was perfect and the skull made of bitter dark chocolate. Even the normally boring sponge cake base was lovely. I’ll definitely be back for more.

So with that last blingy picture there’s just one thing left to say:

A very happy new year to all my dear readers. I hope 2011 will be a good one!

COX COOKIES AND CAKE
13 Brewer Street
Soho, London
Website

Copenhagen’s best shawarma

I’m slowly…..very slowly coming out of my Christmas holiday/energi-sucking winter blogging-hibernation. And today I want to point you towards THE best place to fill your stomach with comfort food in Copenhagen.

Because that’s what your body screams for, when it’s cold outside, isn’t it?

When I’m in Denmark, it’s become a tradition that I meet up with my good old friend Tine at Shawarma Grill House at Strøget. (There’s another similar joint a few metres down the street, but it’s nowhere near as good as this one).

Here we choose between lamb or chicken (lamb is best) which has been marinated in a secret spice mix and is served up with salad and yoghurt dressing in home-made pita bread. The shawarma menu also gets you fries and a soft drink for 67 DKK (£ 7.70).

Then we head towards the kitschly decorated first floor, clutching our precious meal. We find a window seat near the gleaming red neon signs and chat and eat and occasionally look down at all the people running past on the busy shopping street.

Fast food doesn’t get much better than this! Even our eerie former Prime Minister loves this place (click and scroll down for pictures).

Damn, now I really feel like eating one again…

Shawarma Grill House
Frederiksberggade 36
1459 Copenhagen K
Website