It Just Has To Be Delicious

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These power packed balls are really soft and succulent, you can vary the ingredients to suit your taste, but mine are laced with warm Christmassy spices that are a nice contrast to the sweet apricots. This recipe makes approximately 10 ‘mouthful sized’ balls.

Ingredients (all approximate – adjust them to suit your own taste):

70g Dried apricots whole or shredded

Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Half a teaspoon of ground cardamom

Sesame seeds for coating (approx 15g)

1 cup of muesli of your choice – blitzed to make it finer in a food processor – not quite powder, but no big lumps

Method:

In a small saucepan simmer the apricots with a quarter of a cup of water and the cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom until the apricots have softened (about 12-15 mins), add a little more water if they look dry.

Cool the apricot mixture to room temp, then stir it into the muesli to make a soft paste.

Roll the paste into balls and roll them in sesame seeds. If the paste is a little dry add some more water, if it is a bit too moist, add some more muesli or some ground nuts.

Simple ! Enjoy.

 

Matthew Thomas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Matthew Thomas is a lovely little art cafe on the coast road overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Sandgate.

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We arrived for brunch on a Sunday and it was fairly busy. The menu was full of nice choices and it was difficult to decide, but I opted for a mt classic which is eggs, bacon, tomato and sourdough while my companion chose the grande breakfast.

Other options on the menu included pancakes, waffles, muesli, salmon, and eggs benedict.

I had an almond and nutella shake which was delicious, and the coffee was also very good.

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Every element of the mt classic was done well. The bacon and eggs were full of flavour, the sourdough nicely made and not too crunchy like some sourdoughs can be.

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The grande was equally flavoursome with delicious corn and vegetable fritters, succulent mushrooms, eggs and bacon.

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This is a nice location and everything is served well and nicely presented.

Matthew Thomas could be a brunch favourite for me.

O-Sushi is a nice restaurant with both a kaiten sushi train and pavement tables. There are heaters for chilly evenings, and the overall vibe is trendy and comfortable.
O-Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We chose a table on the pavement and ordered from the tapas style part of the menu. There are also options for ordering traditional sushi and sashimi and also individual complete meals and noodles.

We chose the steamed gyoza, which come with a dipping sauce – we poured our dipping sauce over the dumplings and they were succulent and delicious.

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Prawn and vegetable gyoza

We also chose one of the ‘specials’ the sake marinated duck spring rolls. They were nice but needed a bit of seasoning. They came with a thick sweet soy sauce, but could have benefited from some chilli or onion.

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Sake marinated duck spring rolls

Our meal included chicken teriyaki skewers which were tasty, succulent and nicely seasoned.

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Chicken Teriyaki

Another dish was tuna rice paper rolls where the tuna took the place of the rice paper as a wrap around carrot, noodles, lettuce and cucumber. This was accompanied by nice hot wasabe, spring onions and tobiko (roe).

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Tuna rice paper rolls

I enjoyed my meal at O-Sushi and would definitely return. I wouldn’t choose the duck spring rolls again, but everything else was really nice. The staff were very friendly too.

Jade is a restaurant that I have been to twice before. I like it because it serves first class Chinese food and has a variety of good value, good quality set menus. Even though the menus say minimum 2 persons, the restaurant often allow you to choose different options even if there are only two of you dining.

The setting is within the grand Fullerton Hotel, a colonial, classic and beautiful building. The restaurant is stylish and sophisticated.

We chose the Nostalgic Flavours menu which was delicious throughout.

The three starters were Poached Fragrant Turmeric Chicken – subtle and tasty, Crispy Prawn coated with Chocolate Mayonnaise and Oatmeal – quirky but it worked, and Crispy Roast Pork Belly – classic and well executed.

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The next course was Spicy and Sour White Pepper Seafood soup – lovely rich flavours that worked well together with a slice of silken tofu on top.

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Next came Steamed Chilean Seabass served on a lotus leaf. For me this was the star of the menu, beautifully cooked and very satisfying.

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This was followed by Stewed Pork Ribs in Honey and Fermented Bean Sauce, beautiful ribs that fell away from the bone, tender meat and excellent flavour.

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This was followed by Wok Fried 5 grain rice with Roasted Duck, Kailan and XO Chilli Sauce. Unfortunately my photo failed, but this dish was a fitting and tasty end to the savoury courses.

Our dessert was Shaved Coffee flavoured Coconut Ice with Caramel Jelly and Honey and Avocado puree. A wonderful and not overly sweet finish where the flavours danced on my tongue.

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What a nice well-rounded meal at Jade. This place is always a Singapore favourite and one that I will visit again and again.

Midsummer House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Midsummer House is a 2 Michelin Star restaurant right by the river on Midsummer Common in the heart of Cambridge. I first visited in 2005 and had the most amazing meal. Ten years later I was interested to see if the standard was the same.

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The restaurant has Daniel Clifford as it’s head chef and he certainly puts his heart and soul into every dish. The staff know every aspect of every dish and they are quirky and entertaining, adding jokes and theatre to make the diner feel both relaxed and special.

We were treated to 4 canapes – each one exquisite in its own right and accompanied by a glass of bubbles from the champagne trolley. The staff also mentioned my dairy intolerance and adapted the dishes so that cream and butter were kept to a minimum.

Canapes included an ash roasted beetroot marshmallow with dried yoghurt crisps, a potato souffle (like a crisp potato shell) with a sour cream and lime jelly, a canneloni stood in a dish of cardamom seeds with a compote of duck and cardamom cream, a Bloody Mary foam with a celery sorbet and a piece of lamb shoulder in a crispy tempura batter with mint mayonnaise.

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We chose the seven course degustation and the first of the courses was smoked haddock, a crisp potato shell, pickled onion and caviar. This was  a beautiful combination of smoky, sour and salty with no accent being overpowering.

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Second course was Celeriac baked on open coals which one of the chefs brought to the table and carved open, scooping out the tender celeriac flesh and dressing the dish with two types of hollandaise – one at room temperature and one frozen with liquid nitrogen, hazelnut, celery and wood sorrel.

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Item three was a roast quail with a tempura smoked quail’s egg, shallot puree, grapes, celery and sourdough crouton.

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Then came the star of the menu. The signature sauteed scallop with Granny Smith, celeriac and truffle puree. The scallop was amazingly soft and delicately flavoured and an absolute treat.

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The fifth and final main course was a roast glazed duck breast, with canneloni, fig, dill and fennel puree. All elements of this dish worked really well and I loved every mouthful.

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The pre-dessert was aerated lychee, mango and lime. A tropical treat for the senses.

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The main dessert was a Marquise of blackberry and pear with a delicate and sublime pastis crisp. This dessert had the real wow factor.

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This was followed by beignets with cream and chocolate

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And a few chocolates from the chocolate trolley (yes they have a chocolate trolley).

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I chose a sage chocolate and a dark passion fruit chocolate.

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We also chose a bottle of Meltwater Sauvignon Blanc which had a perfect gooseberry and pinapple bouquet.

Midsummer House is a place to book for a special occasion and every course will delight you and awaken your senses – yes I could not fault the venue, the amazingly knowledgeable and entertaining staff and the exquisite presentation. Three Michelin stars is on the horizon for this beautiful establishment.

I went to the Fox and Hounds in Hunsdon which is a little village in Hertfordshire just north of Harlow. I didn’t expect much but was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a gastropub serving excellent steaks and seafood.

The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, a quaint village pub with a good sized car park at the rear.

Starters all seemed appetising and included

  • burrata (creamy mozzarella), tomato and rocket
  • smoked mackerel, beetroot, watercress and horseradish
  • lobster linguine with chilli, garlic and parsley
  • black pudding, mushroom and fried duck egg
  • melon and ham
  • veal, rabbit and bacon terrine, chutney, pickles and toast

I chose the delicious crab tacos with mango salsa, guacamole and sriracha chilli sauce

Crab Tacos

Crab Tacos

Mains included:

  • Skate with spinach and brown shrimps
  • Wild sea bass with pepperonata, borlotti beans and rocket
  • Rabbit leg confit
  • Chateaubriand
  • Scotch black Angus cote de boeuf

I chose half a lobster with garlic and herb butter and chips

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Chips

Chips

Some of my fellow diners had the steak

Steak

Steak

Everybody enjoyed their meals. The only difficulty was that one of our group is vegetarian and the vegetarian options were quite limited, but the chef very obligingly provided a vegetarian pasta dish.

The lobster was fresh, good quality and seasoned beautifully, the steak was delicious, well rested, and succulent.

For dessert I chose the chocolate and hazelnut torte which was like a chocolate brownie with whole nuts in it. The texture was a little dry on the outside but gooey in the middle and there were probably too many nuts in it. I would have preferred a chocolate orange version.

Chocolate hazelnut torte

Chocolate hazelnut torte

Some of my friends chose the strawberry sundae which by all reports was delicious

strawberry sundae

strawberry sundae

I loved the meal – the atmosphere was great and the food was top notch. The pub also has a comprehensive wine and beer menu. A great place which will see me returning very soon.

Click here for more information

Click to add a blog post for Lima on Zomato

Lima is a Peruvian restaurant run by Virgilio Martinez. It’s not a cuisine that I am really familiar with and always keen to true new adventures, I decided to visit Lima on a Friday night. Nestling between Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road on Rathbone Place, it’s not a restaurant that stands out and I almost walked past it. Inside the decor is modern and clean with mirrors everywhere. The wait staff are very helpful and explained every dish in detail.

I started with a cocktail called a Chilcano. This contained Luna Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), Lime, Sugar, Ginger Ale and Angostura Bitters.Very nice, refreshing and slightly bitter, it felt good on the palate.

cocktail

The delicious bread was made of corn and asparagus and came with a yoghurt, lemon and chilli dip.

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We were also served an amuse bouche of quinoa with creme fraiche, which was okay but not overly flavoursome.

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Starters were scallops with yellow aji pepper, muna mint and corn – a lovely flavoured dish but the scallops were thinly sliced and I would have preferred them to be left a larger size.

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We also had tuna ceviche with tigers milk (a citrus fish marinade). chilli and red onion – a real treat for the senses – this dish was a favourite.

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The best dish was main course Beef Pachamanca with Black Quinoa and Cusco Corn. The beef was really flavoursome with a lovely marinade, and the corn croquette topped with queso very tasty.

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Sea bass chalaca was perfectly cooked and came with olluco tuber root, yellow aji emulsion and avocado oil.

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Dessert included traditional alfajores (biscuits sandwiched together with dulce de leche), dulce de leche ice cream and chancaca honey.

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Chocolate Mousse (Cacao porcelana) which was rich and luscious with cinnamon cream and blue potato.

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What a wonderful introduction to Peruvian food. I can’t wait to return to Lima. It also has a Michelin star I note – well deserved.

sing noodles

I had a bit of a craving for Singapore Noodles the other day and decided to make something similar from pretty much leftovers.

I had some leftover roast chicken from a Sunday roast and some leftover greens which were ideal for the job. Sometimes the best dishes are made form leftovers.

You need:

3 tablespoons of Rendang paste (you can use any curry paste but this one gives it that authentic Singaporean flavour)

1 tablespoon coriander

Half a tablespoon cumin

Half a teaspoon turmeric

Some protein of your choice – tofu, chicken, beef, pork, prawns etc.

A bag of bean sprouts

A fresh chopped chilli (or some dried chilli that you can crush and flake into the mixture)

An onion finely sliced

A clove of garlic finely sliced

A few mushrooms sliced

Some cherry tomatoes sliced

Some ‘straight to wok’ thin Singapore egg noodles

Something green thinly sliced (I used a few leaves of spring greens, but pak choi or similar will be good)

Optional extras – chunks of omelette, capsicum, small slices of carrot, fresh coriander, crispy fried onions.

Method:

Fry the onion, chilli and garlic in a little groundnut oil until they begin to soften. Add the curry paste and dry spices and stir well. Cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep some sauce happening.

Add the protein and mushrooms. Stir fry for approx 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, half of the beansprouts and the noodles. Stir well and stir fry for another 2 -3 minutes to ensure that everything is coated in sauce. Stir in some fresh coriander.

When warm through, serve on a plate or in a bowl. Add some raw beansprouts and some crispy fried onions to finish.

YUM.

Mustard Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I paid my second visit to Mustard tonight, having first tried this restaurant with friends a few years ago, and remembering that the previous meal was quite nice.

The menu has all of the standard UK curry fare along with some very nice sounding chefs specials, however tonight I wanted a standard curry fix, so I chose something that I knew would satisfy.

The restaurant is modern and stylish – no flocked wallpaper or moving light pictures – the lighting is subtle, pictures modern, and general ambience is clean and minimal with wooden floors.

We chose some pappadoms to start a mixture of plain and spicy, and they were accompanied by mango chutney, yoghurt sauce, onion salad and tomato onion relish. All were really nice.

We didn’t go overboard with mains, I chose a king prawn dopiaza and my companion chose a chicken jalferezi. We asked for aloo peas as a side dish (not on the menu) and the chef happily provided this. Then a pilau rice each – the rice being lovely, fluffy and separate.

King Prawn Dopiaza

King Prawn Dopiaza

Chicken Jalferezi

Chicken Jalferezi

Aloo Peas bhajee

Aloo Peas bhajee

The Chicken Jalferezi was made with chicken tikka and a lovely gravy which was spicy but not overly hot. The King Prawn Dopiaza was full of juicy prawn meat, onions and capsicum in a plentiful medium heat gravy. The Aloo Peas was nicely spiced and delicious.

We cleared our plates ! A perfect amount of food to fulfil our curry craving, very nicely presented with good service. Everything was tasty and as expected. Lovely food, and I will return.

Saigon Shack on Urbanspoon

Saigon Shack is a small bustling cafe in Greenwich Village just off Bleecker Street. It is a cash only establishment and regularly has a queue outside.

We popped in for lunch and were lucky enough to be seated pretty quickly.

Our starter was summer rice paper rolls with prawns – they were very nicely filled with veggies, noodles and prawns and served with a tasty sauce.

Rice paper rolls

Rice paper rolls

I chose rice with shrimp. The shrimp were a little on the sweet side but nicely char grilled and came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and plenty of salad/

Rice with shrimp

Rice with shrimp

My companion chose the Saigon spicy beef brisket pho. This was full of flavour and nicely spiced with herbs, vegetables and noodles making for a heartwarming meal. Very welcome in the sub zero temperatures of winter.

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

Saigon Shack is definitely a neighbourhood gem with a nicely varied menu and good service. The food is good quality authentic vietnamese, just remember to take cash because they do not accept cards.

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