Tuesday, 29 December 2015

RECENT EATS DECEMBER

Fondue flat night


Christmas meals tend to be pretty meat heavy so when it came to deciding on a festive flat dinner for me and my also none meat eating flatmate we had to think a little outside the box, eventually deciding on the best (well in my opinion even better) alternative to it...cheese! Of course even more superior, we concluded, in a melted fondue form.

Combining camembert and gruyere ( Nigella recipe I used for your pleasure here) with wine, another flat favourite, this sounded as close to dinner heaven as one could get and oh boy it was. After purchasing a rather cute fondue set on Amazon for under a tenner, we began thinking of ideal dipping vehicles, something a little different from your boring bread option (a no for my gluten sensitive belly anyway) and cut up carrot crudités . In the end we compiled quite the spread. Apple slices and grapes for that lovely sweet and salty sensation when dunking them into the cheese, rosemary and garlic sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and baby new potatoes, roasted just long enough in the oven for crispy, slightly charred edges, and griddled tender stem broccoli and asparagus- this was veg and fruit heaven when combined with the cheese.

We also got some lovely deli olives, cheese straws, because the answer to cheese is of course more cheese, and my current obsession when it comes to crisps, Tesco Finest Goats cheese and sweet chilli crisps, providing the perfect crunchy texture break. I also mixed up a lovely garlic mayo, mayo with chopped up parsley, a few cloves of garlic, lemon and plenty of season to finish off this unconventional tapas style dinner. This is the perfect food to have whilst sipping on a cold glass of rose and catching up with your nearest and dearest, it's nibbling at it's best, allowing you to get a taste of lots of different flavours without having to commit to one hefty main course and is exactly my kind of food. Though we both had some rather bizarre cheese dreams that night I can't wait to have another fondue night and have already started to think of what other lovely things we can be dipping into that gooey delicious mix next time round!

The best ice cream EVER


Now as everyone that knows me even in the slightest will have realised I bloody love ice cream, in fact I have previously dedicated an entire post to my favourite flavours ranked from best to worst (read it here), and have always been pretty annoyed about the lack of flavours available from the likes of Haagen Dasz and Ben & Jerry's in the UK compared to the US where a new one seems to come out nearly every month. Well things seem to slowly be improving with this beauty, a long running US flavour, finally hitting our supermarket freezers, my tub found in my local big Sainsbury's. 

Now I am big fan of cinnamon in all forms anyway and as result had high expectations for this flavour from the onset but OH MY GOD it is even better than anything I could have ever dreamt of. It's like making the milk at the bottom of your bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal into a smooth ice cream then mixing it with tiny iced cinnamon buns that taste pretty darn close to a Cinnabon one, which for whoever hasn't had the pleasure of tasting one is probably the most heart attack inducing/great cinnamon roll in existence with cult status after being featured in the most brilliant opening scene of Breaking Bad spin off Better Call Saul and is only available at 4 rather bizarrely located outlets in the UK, finished off with the most luxury swirl of pure cinnamon sauce goodness. Every spoonful of this is a 10/10 for me and I have been through too many tubs since it's release than I'd like to admit. Sorry Pralines & Cream you've lost your number one spot. Go and buy it now, thank me later.

Seriously good Caribbean @ Rudie's


Rudie's in Dalston hosted my work Christmas dinner with the Coffin On Cake crew which may explain the lack of pictorial evidence of the rather fantastic Caribbean food I sampled here, a couple of expertly mixed Mai Tai's and bottles wine later food more eagerly consumed than well photographed first. 

That is not to say that the food was merely a drink accompaniment. The sharing menu we had was absolutely fantastic and offered a modern and fresh take on this cuisine. With juicy king prawns in chili broth, jerk calamari and plantain chips to start and a huge jerk meat platter (with tasty jerk veg as alternative for me that featured a delicious take on Ocra) as main, served with a fresh mango and avocado salad as well as classic rice and peas, this was vibrant soul food bursting with flavour, coming in portion sizes that left us more than stuffed and with doggie bags to take home. There was a dessert of rum cake but knowing that we were hitting the dance floor after, I declined, saving a taste of it for my next visit. 

That's the thing with Rudie's, this sharing menu gave me a first glimpse of it's brilliance and I already cannot wait to go back and order a la carte, perhaps this time managing to take a snap or two. Service was also flawless with the staff making sure our group of 11 always had enough to drink and with food coming at a steady but not overwhelming pace. Rudie's is a real addition to East London's dining scene and will brighten up any gloomy London day with it's true sunshine food that comes with a modern twist. 

Junk food done right @ What's Beef


Last but not least a new food discovery in my German hometown of Düsseldorf that is worth shouting about and definitely one to try if you ever find yourself there. I know, I know, in London we've been on that burger hype for what feels like the last 5 years but What's Beef adds a little German twist (mainly great quality ingredients and strong seasoning) to their dishes that see What's Beef comfortably holding it's own even when compared with it's iconic and longer established London counterparts Meat Liquor, Honest Burgers, Lucky Chip and the like.

I didn't sample any burgers on my two visits there but what I did have was absolutely fantastic. The sweet potato fries were without a doubt the best ones of my life (and heck I have been on a mission to create decent ones unsuccessfully following a number of different recipes at home for a while now), crispy, salty and with a delicious sprinkle of parsley. Served with garlic aioli, I have been dreaming of these ever since I've been back in London and if it was in any way feasible would get my mum to send me some over asap.

I also sampled one of their infamous milshakes, so instagrammable it almost hurts. And to be fair they didn't only look pretty but the Vanilla one I chose and the chocolate one my friend went for were pretty damn good.  Yes, it's only a bloody milkshake in the end of the day but a lot of thought has clearly gone into the presentation here ( I particularly loved the sprinkles on the glass rim) and the result whilst a little trashy is fun food at it's sugary best. It may have taken Dusseldorf a little longer to get it's very own culty burger joint but they have a pretty good contender with What's Beef and it will be one of the first stops on my next visit over if only for those fantastic sweet potato fries.

Monday, 28 December 2015

CLUELESS

Roll Neck / Primark
Skirt / Topshop
Shoes / Zara



Thursday, 24 December 2015

POPS OF PINK

Dress / Marimekko for H&M
Roll neck / Topshop
Shoes / Swedish Hasbeens

Monday, 21 December 2015

DOUBLE TARTAN

Shirt / Burberry 
Dungarees / ASOS 
Shoes / ASOS

Thursday, 17 December 2015

WINTER BLOSSOM


Turtleneck / Primark
Dress / Topshop
Boots / ASOS




Monday, 14 December 2015

Thursday, 10 December 2015

PURPLE TONES

Hat / OBEY Women;s
Coat / Topshop
Top / Vintage
Shoes / Nike

Monday, 7 December 2015

GOLDEN GIRL


Jumpsuit / American Apparel
Shoes / Russell & Bromley


Thursday, 3 December 2015

WINTER JEWELS

Dress / Zara
Roll neck / Primark
Necklace / Topshop
Shoes / Mango

THE GATE - VEGETARIAN FOOD DONE RIGHT


As I've said before it's not always easy to find restaurants in London that cater well for vegetarians and don't leave you with no choice but to order the standard risotto or stuffed pepper just. With a growing number of vegetarians there are thank good more and more restaurants that offer well conceived and executed veggie mains that don't pale compared  to their meaty counterparts. 

The Gate takes it even a step further by being a fully vegetarian restaurant, serving up eclectic, Modern European fare in their Angel and Hammersmith restaurants. And boy do they do it well. Here every dish is beautifully presented and flavours carefully combined, elevating simple vegetables into something quite special. On my recent first visit to the Angel branch me and my friend shared the mezze platter to start, which not only looked stunning but borrowed inspiration from vegetarian dishes from all around the world, making each component stand out in its own right. From the sesame coated tofu with coriander peatland sweet weed salad ( and I am usually not a huge fan of tofu despite it being an obvious food choice for any non meat eaters) to the mushroom arranchinis and grilled halloumi in chermula, this is fresh, fantastic food that impressed us before we had even gotten to our mains. 


The mains too all sounded amazing on the menu and it proved difficult for us to choose (I already have my eye on two other mains for future visits) but in the end we rather boringly went for the same main - tortillas filled with sweet potato, beetroot and goats cheese, finished off with a black bean salsa. Again the dish stood out with its freshness but was also substantial enough to leave us with that full satisfied feeling. We also shared the chunky polenta chips with a tangy garlic aioli and a sweet potato and pomegranate salad in a creamy tahini dressing for added greens, both once again delicious, beautifully present and perfectly seasoned. 


As it was Sunday and with official pigging out day we couldn't help but order the dessert mezze, especially as we enjoyed the starter one so much, and thank god we did! With a mix of vegan and none vegan desserts, the Gate also excelling in offering most dishes on request dairy and gluten free as well as clearly labelling everything on the menu and with that making it a dream for anyone with intolerances, we were a little apprehensive to start with. After all vegan cheesecake and the like had never really enticed me, at the back of my mind unsure how dairy components could be convincingly and most importantly in a tasty way replaced with an alternative. However the walnut base raw vegan chessscake, topped with prune jam, that appeared before us was absolutely incredible! It was light, creamy and in no way the odd tasting thing I had envisioned! I am definitely going to give making one a go especially as I am intrigued to learn as to what is used to substitute the dairy. My dining companion was overjoyed as she suffers from a dairy intolerance and the Gate again showed true kitchen ingenuity.  The other mezze desserts were as good with highlights being the apple mille-feuille, caramilsed apples with sweet cream and calvados sorbet as well as the chocolate and griottine mousse which lacked the overwhelming richness of some mousses I've had.  To wash it all down we had a very reasonable priced bottle of rose (at £19 pretty darn good for central London) and two fantastic cocktails- the flaming sour (amaretto, absinthe , passion fruit and lemon)  even arriving in flames, only further reiterating the great attention to detail that is taken here not only in the food but also presentation and service overall.


The Gate delivered one of the best meals I've had in London, regardless whether it is a vegetarian restaurant or not. The food and the ingredients it is made out of is loved here and you can really taste that. Try the Gate and leave surprised and in awe at how versatile and darn tasty a meal without meat ( and dairy in some instances) can be and you may just change your preconceptions of boring veggie food with no stuffed pepper in sight!