I have been a regular at this lovely wine bar just around the corner from me since it opened and have already written a blog post on the well sourced, reasonably priced wine served here before. I had however never tasted the small plates section of the menu and it is definitely not to be dismissed as afterthought alongside your chosen tipple. The absolute highlight amongst an array of salads, bruschetta style dishes, cold meats and cheeses has to be the cheese toastie which involved an impressive three types of cheddar. With a hint of red onion and sandwiched between crusty, freshly toasted artisan bread, this is carb heaven in a nutshell. One to yourself could quite possibly put you in a food coma but shared with a few olives on the side it may have just become my new favourite bar snack.
2. The pizza at Olive Hoxton Street
Pizza isn't fancy food. It's a comfort food that relies on simple and good and ingredients yet in London you are far too often faced with overpriced, overcomplicated and very mediocre tasting pizza ( Pizza East is a prime example of this). The little van parked outside Olive on Hoxton street, which has to my great enjoyment been spared gentrification thus far, may not look very fancy but the pizza baked inside it's oven is damn fine. With no pizza costing over £7 despite some pretty fantastic flavour combinations on the menu ( I went for an asparagus, sun dried tomato, rocket and goat's cheese number), this is a true neighbour hood gem for me as I live literally a 2 minute walk away. Ok, you can't sit in the adjoining cafe, which is more builder's caff than romantic tratorria but the perfectly thin dough, fresh ingredients and price make it my favourite takeaway pizza in London.
3. A Lebanese takeaway feast from Al Qalaa
As some of you may have realised I injured my hand a little bit at the beginning of the year ( more precisely managing to break an amaretto bottle with my hand). Being pretty much unable to leave my flat ( yes. it was that painful), I had the opportunity to explore some takeaway options around me. One surprisingly fantastic discovery was Al Qalaa in Camden town. Far from your usually slightly greasy and stodgy takeaway Al Qalaa offers the best of Lebanese mezze- from hummus, fantastic tabouleh to juicy and well spiced wraps. Even the lemonade we ordered was freshly squeezed and full of flavour and able to bring a little bit of sunshine on a delivery bike for my miserable injured self. One I would fully recommend for anyone to lazy, or injured, to leave the house.
4. Truffle Mascarpone
I first had truffle mascarpone in one of my former favourite brunch haunts Workshop Coffee and have used it ever since with almost every dish I cook. Simply mix some mascarpone with truffle oil ( which you can get for around £4/5 a bottle in Sainsburys) and season with plenty of salt and simply add to dishes like roast veg, braised beans or here with a more brunchy concoction of eggs, smoked salmon, asparagus and rocket. It elevates all flavours with the hint of truffle and really does wonders for any veggie based dish. It's so ridiculously easy to do you got to try it!