Food, Travel

Weekend in London

So this weekend we took the bus up to London for a couple of days catching up with friends.

I started off Saturday morning feeling pretty smug that we’d got to Bristol Bus Station in good time, no stress. Then as we got to the front of the queue to board the National Express bus to London, we were politely informed that our booking was for the Megabus, which was departing from behind Debenhams in about 4 minutes.

The mad dash through the Bear Pit and to the bus, brought to my attention just how out of shape I am – I’m talking chest pains, shaking, and waves of ‘I’m going to throw up’. Definitely need to get back the gym, ASAP.

But, we made it on to the bus. And we coped with three hours of confinement surrounded by awkward conversations and people eating strange, funky smelling salads. Once we arrived at Victoria Coach Station we hot footed it over to the underground (with a quick stop at McDonald’s, don’t judge!) and off to South Kensington for the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Comptoir Libanais

Before we dived head first into our culture trip at the V&A, we went for ‘a feed’ at Comptoir Libanais.

I’ve seen a few of these around, with a vast menu of Lebanese dishes, but never tried them out before. It was very busy, but we were quickly seated outside under the heaters with the promise of inside spot when it opened up (we ended up deciding to stay out).

Despite the obvious mad rush of Saturday lunch time, the staff were lovely. However, I was pretty underwhelmed by the food.

My friend and I shared the Mezze platter for two. To be honest, it was probably a fair portion for one person – but a very light meal for two people to share. At the very least two of each thing on the plate- we had to split one falafel?!

But I would definitely recommend their homemade lemonade vodka drink – I had the Toufaha with apple, mint and ginger; it was so refreshing. Plus it helped take the edge off my already aching feet (breaking in new DMs is such a pain).

Victoria and Albert museum

After lunch, we went to the V&A, and we wondered round. We spent a good couple of hours looking at some impressively old statues, paintings, jewellery etc.

There’s currently a Dior exhibition on, which looks really good but it had sold out and the queues were long – so if you’re planning on seeing it then book ahead and get there early!

When we’d seen enough at the V&A we went for a few drinks before heading off to our Airbnb.

The Bite, Dalston

After checking into our Airbnb, a lovely little flat just minutes away from Dalston station, we had a quick power nap (we’re old now) and then went out to find some food.

We wanted comfort food, ie pizza, and somewhere chilled out and cosy to have dinner – The Bite checked all boxes. Read all about The Bite here.

Fix 126

A little morning stroll round Shoreditch brought us to Fix 126, for a coffee and a freshly made fruit smoothie. And a delightful doughnut!

Chick’n’Sours, Sevendials

We met up with more friends and went to one of the Chick’n’Sours, by Sevendials, bang on midday.

I was actually quite surprised at how many people were there, ready for some delicious fried chicken that early on a Sunday.

I had the chicken tenders, with their incredible hot sauce and a little pot of blue cheese as well – heaven.

After checking out the pelicans in St James Park, we headed back to Victoria and another bus journey home.

– Verity May

Jumpsuit – Marks & Spencer, Trainers – Converse, Leather Jacket – Marks & Spencer (10+ years ago!)

Food

The Bite, Dalston

Nestled on Kingsland Road, Dalston is a delightful little Italian restaurant, The Bite. We stumbled on it, late Saturday evening, tired and hungry for pizza; it didn’t disappoint.

The Bite has a casual, cosy feel, with friendly staff and a typical Italian menu: pizza, pasta, calzone.

Their pizzas are Neopoliatan style, with a thin base and lots of sauce.I went for the Capricciosa and to be honest, it was absolutely just as good as the ones I’ve had in Rome and Venice.

A lovely thin but doughy base, with a very generous helping of mozzarella, plus cooked ham, mushrooms, artichokes and green olives. For all those crazy pizza combinations out there, is there anything better than this classic?!

The Bite is a no frills kind of place, but cute and welcoming, with lots of delicious Italian comfort food.

The Bite, 533 Kingsland Road, Dalston, London E8 4AR

Food

Quick and easy dinner ideas

I haven’t done a recipe post in a very, very long time- but recently I’ve been really trying to cook from scratch more often, so I have control over the amount of salt, sugar etc that’s going into my meals. Here’s a few quick and easy recipes that I’ve been making over the last couple of months:

Mixed bean chilli soup with homemade guacamole

This is based on this BBC recipe for Mexican bean soup with guacamole.

Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 red pepper, 1 red chilli, tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of Tesco’s taco mixed beans, veg stock, chilli powder, coriander and cumin. Avocado and lime to make the guacamole.

Method

  • Chop up the onion, garlic clove, red pepper and 1/2 the red chilli, fry in a drop of oil
  • Once they’re starting to soften up (about 3-5 minutes) add a bit of chilli powder, coriander and cumin
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, the tin of taco mixed beans and 200-300ml of vegetable stock
  • Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes
  • To make the guacamole: One chopped avocado, with quarter of a chopped red onion, the other half of the red chilli, a sprinkle of coriander and the juice of a lime – mash it all up!

 

Pad Thai

Adapted from Miguel Barclay’s ‘One Pound Meals: Fast & Fresh’.

Ingredients: Flat rice noodles, sesame oil, garlic clove, chilli flakes, red onion, stir fry veg (or other chopped veg – carrots etc), 3-4 spring onions, cooked and frozen prawns, crunchy peanut butter, 1 egg and soy sauce.

Method

  • Cook the rice noodles according to the packet’s instructions
  • Heat some sesame oil up in a frying pan, add a couple of pinches of chilli flakes, the red onion, garlic and whatever veg you’re using
  • Stir fry for a few minutes, then add the prawns and 2-3 tbsp of peanut butter
  • I also added a dash of fish sauce at this point
  • Move the veg to one side in the pan, crack the egg in the other side. Let it start cooking, and then scramble it up as it starts to fry and mix it with the veg.
  • Add in the noodles, pour on some soy sauce and mix it all up.

 

Chorizo and butterbean stew

Ingredients: 220g chorizo sausage, garlic clove, 1 tin of butter beans, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 red onion, tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and paprika.

Method

  • Chop up the chorizo into slices and then half or quarter the slices. Stick in the frying pan with the chopped red pepper, green pepper, red onion and garlic.
  • Leave it fry and sweat for a good five minutes, adding some paprkia to taste as you go.
  • Add in the tomato puree and 2 tbsp of green pesto, cook for another couple of minutes
  • Add in the chopped tomatoe and the butter beans. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • We ate it with skin on garlic mash on the side, which was delightful.

 

Red Thai prawn fried rice

This one makes a massive amount of food, and is great for another round of leftovers the next day. I followed this BBC recipe: Thai prawn fried rice.

Ingredients: 275g uncooked rice, 2 eggs, 300g frozen prawns (I use slightly less), 1 tin of cooked green beans, 1 lime, fish sauce, red Thai curry paste

Method

  • Cook the rice as normal and set aside
  • Pour two beaten eggs into a frying pan, move the pan to form a thin omelette and cook until it sets (about 1 minute).
  • Roll the omelette up and slice into thin strips
  • Heat 1-2 tbsp of red Thai curry paste in a big pan, with a drop of water and then mix in the rice to coat it.
  • Add the prawns and the green beans and heat through
  • Pour in 1 tbsp of fish sauce (I add a little more), and the juice of 1 lime, mix in the egg strips.
Food

Greens, Zetland Road, Bristol

Turn off the busy parade of Gloucester Road, and you find a handful of cute, independent restaurants along Zetland Road. One of my favourites for a special occasion is Greens; serving a small menu of traditional British dishes with influences from international cuisines, using high quality, local ingredients.

Greens is a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant, taken over by Head Chef Martin Laurentowicz, and front of house Nick Wallace, in 2012, whose partnership began in fine dining restaurants in Scotland.

From the outside, Greens looks cute and cosy; very enticing when you walk past at night. And inside it’s decorated very simply, with a cool, intimate atmosphere. It’s the kind of place you can dress up for on date night, or pop in on the spur of the moment if there’s a spare table.

Last time we went was over the weekend between Christmas and New Year, the time when you have no real clue what day it is. There were a handful of other tables, a mix of families, friends and dates.

To start I had the wild mushroom and buffalo mozzarella arancini with aioli and truffle oil (£8.50). Mushroom and mozzarella are always a perfect combination, so these were fried delights.

This was followed traditional Cullen skink with smoked haddock, braised leeks and cripsy potatoes (£16.50). Cullen is a thick Scottish soup – the smoked haddock flavour was almost overwhelming, but the braised leeks added a little taste of sweetness. Overall, it was a little too salty for my taste, but I did enjoy it.

Finally we shared a sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and cream. It was rich, decadent and amazing.

Greens is a lovely little place for an evening meal, especially if you catch their evening set menu of two courses for £17.95 or three courses for £23.95, Monday to Thursday.

Greens Restaurant. 25 Zetland Road, Bristol BS6 7AH.

Food

Quay St. Diner, Bristol

If you’re looking for a new brunch, lunch, dinner, all day dining spot in Bristol city centre, Quay St. Diner is the place to go. The California inspired restaurant is located in the former premises of Roll for the Soul, and has hit the spot with it’s laidback atmosphere, colourful interior and delicious menu.

Pride of place in their open kitchen is their custom charcoal grill, which has enabled them to build the menu around cooking over an open fire; ‘live fire cooking’.

We ventured in there on a rainy Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, for breakfast (maybe brunch is more accurate, it was nearly midday!) and were absolutely delighted with it.

First off, the coffee – I ordered a latte (£2.80), while Tom had a flat white. I’m not really much of a coffee expert, but I loved the giant teal coffee cup, and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee!

The brunch menu, served 9am-12pm Mon-Fri and 9am-2pm on the weekend, is full of tasty, California influenced choices, from Pancakes and Fruit to Brunch Tacos topped with grilled tomato and ancho chilli salsa, smashed avocado, pumpkin seeds, fruit salsa and pomegranate!

We both went for the Huevos Rancheros (£7) – baked Mexican eggs in a tomato salsa with crumbled feta on top and sourdough dippers, and added bacon (£2). It was incredible. The salsa was a little on the hot and spicy side, but full of flavour, and the contrast with the feta was just right. Oh, and the thick chunks of bacon were amazing.

The all day menu also looks exciting; small plates, tacos, and a selection of burgers, steak, salad etc. We’ll definitely be back to try it out.

Quay St. Diner is a great, friendly and welcoming place, with full flavour, smokey, delicious food – go now!

Quay St. Diner, 2, Quay Street, Bristol, BS1 2JL. 

Food

Got Beef, Cardiff

Inspired by street vendors and food trucks, Got Beef initially started out as a mobile catering business for gourmet burgers, and then took up residence as a pop up kitchen at The Canadian in Adamstown, Cardiff. In 2014, Got Beef fully joined Cardiff’s growing burger scene with its own restaurant on Whitchurch Road.

Got Beef burgers

Offering a creative burger menu, and some very indulgent sides – it’s best to go there hungry. There’s a lot of mouth watering choices, and a special mention definitely has to go to the Donald Trump burger – ‘Mexican cheese, American cheese, Russian dressing, topped with a tiny pickle’!

I went ‘dirty’ with my food choices. I order the Dirty South burger (£8): a tender beef patty, with cajun onions, a homemade bbq sauce, jalapenos, cajun mayo and American cheese all served in a brioche bun. The burger itself was great, and the jalapenos gave it a real kick – I would say that the bun was a little oversized compared to the burger though, but overall it’s up there with the best burgers!

On the side I went for the dirty fries (£3.55) – perfectly cooked fries topped with American cheese, bacon sprinkles, jalepenos and chipotle sauce. It was a perfect portion size for one person; indulgent, delicious but not too excessive.

The true highlight of the meal was the halloumi fries (£3.60) – big chunky pieces of cheese fried and smothered in hoisin sauce, peanut crumble and sesame seeds.

We went on a Monday evening, and the place was buzzing – it’s probably worth booking a table. We were slightly disappointed with how long we had to wait after we ordered the food, and a long gap between burgers and sides arriving – but it was very busy and the staff were all lovely.

If you’re after a burger in Cardiff, Got Beef should definitely be on your shortlist!

Got Beef – 83, Whitchurch Road, Cardiff, CF14 3JP

Food

Wallfish Bistro, Clifton

Award winning restaurant, Wallfish Bistro is quietly tucked away on Princess Victoria Street in Clifton. It’s a small place, with a handful of tables upstairs and a few more in the basement, simple decor, and a laid back atmosphere. The menu offers contemporary British dishes, with an emphasis on fish and seafood.

As it was a special occasion (my mum’s birthday), we may have gone a little overboard with our food order, but once we’d read the menu it was hard to maintain self control – we wanted to try it all.

For the first round of food, between us we ordered an assortment of appetisers: Green Sicilian olives (£4.00), Radishes with mayonnaise and celery salt (£3.50), a Porlock oyster (£2.90) and the Scrumpy-fried oyster with jalapeno mayonnaise and pickled vegetables (£3.00). I’m not the biggest fan of oysters, but I had a little try of the fried oyster, and I’d definitely recommend it.

Then for a starter I had the Portland crab on toast with pickled cucumber, lemon and watercress (£9): big juicy flakes of crab, which contrasted perfectly with the tangy pickled cucumber.

For my main course I had the Smoked haddock (£18); a sizeable piece of fish, served up with braised leeks, saffron and a few mussels scattered around the edge. The combination of the sweet leeks, and the intensely fishy taste of smoked haddock was spot on.

Tom had the Rack of Cinderford Lamb (£22) which came with peas, girolles, shallots and green sauce. I don’t eat lamb, but he was adamant that it was the best lamb he’d ever had.

Finally, we made it to dessert, with a few simple offerings on the menu – I went for the Chocolate mousse cake with raspberries and creme fraiche (£6.50).

Wallfish Bistro is a perfect little place, however, the restaurant is currently up for sale, so if you’re tempted by all this insanely delicious food then call up and book a table ASAP!

Wallfish Bistro – 112 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, Bristol, BS84DB

Cardiff Bay, Cardiff
Food, Travel

Thali at Chai Street and Cardiff Bay

Last week, on an after work trip over to Cardiff, we decided to pop down to Cardiff Bay and soak up the last of the evening sun.

Cardiff Bay

I haven’t been down to Cardiff Bay in at least a couple of years, but it’s still just as buzzing as ever, with a lots of new exciting restaurants and bars around the waterfront.

Cardiff Bay, Cardif. Trousers: Zara, Tshirt: Monki
Tshirt – Monki, Cropped trousers – Zara, Sandals – Dr Martens.

Cardiff Bay, Cardiff

Chai Street, Cardiff Bay

This is my second visit to a branch of the Cardiff local gem, Chai Street Indian Street Kitchen. It’s a really laid back restaurant, with the best, bright and dazzling decor; ideal for just dropping in on a whim, or for a special meal.

Chai Street Indian Street Kitchen, Cardiff Bay

I went for the Traditional Chicken Thali (£11.95) – a spicy chicken curry, a potato curry, dal, raita, pickle, mini poppadums, rice and a naan bread. I love to try a bit of lots of different things, so thalis are ideal for that, plus the Chai Street thali is slightly different every time. Despite the heat, the chicken curry was definitely the highlight for me though.

Chicken Thali at Chai Street, Cardiff Bay

Tom, meanwhile, went all out and ordered the non-vegetarian Chai Special Thali (£13.25). This was a meal and a half, it included: a starter (baji), a chicken curry, a lamb curry, and some of the potato vegetable curry, as well as dal, raita, pickle, poppadums, rice and a naan bread.

Thali at Chai Street, Cardiff Bay

It was a really delicious thali (almost as good as Thali in Bristol), but I think next time I’m going to try out some of their ‘Street Delights’. The chicken lollypops (marinated with spices, ginger, garlic and then fried!), Prawn Chatpata and the samosas all sounded, smelled and looked incredible!

If you find yourself down at Cardiff Bay, hungry and fancy some authentic Indian street food, then definitely check out Chai Street. They also have restaurants in Canton and on the High Street in Cardiff – so there’s no excuse not to visit.

Travel

A Cornish wedding

This weekend, I went down to Cornwall for a beautiful wedding – perfect, sunny weather, old friends, many many drinks, and a picturesque location made for a wonderful time.

Harlyn Bay

We travelled down Friday afternoon, and went straight to our B&B in Harlyn Bay near Padstow. We were staying in the Harlyn Inn; a pretty basic room above a pub, but literally just across the road from the beach.

Sadly we didn’t have much time to spend on the beach, but it’s the perfect little spot for sunbathers, dog walkers and surfers. We did find a little time to dip our toes and take in the view before dinner though.

Holiday in Padstow, Cornwall
Halter top from Primark, midi skirt from Zara, platform sandals from Dr Martens.

I picked this yellow floral midi skirt up in Zara’s sale this week. It’s a-line cut is so comfy and flattering, and I love the jazzy pattern, perfect for super sunny days like we’ve been having recently.

The View, St Merryn

For our dinner we walked about twenty minutes up the road to The View, St Merryn.

Dinner at The View, St Meryn

The restaurant is located in a holiday park, you go past a play area, up the steps and there’s a little inside area with a few tables and a covered outside seating area with the most stunning views across the fields to the sea.

The View, St Merryn
The View

I had the fish goujons, that came with a generous portion of fries and a delicious salad and balsamic dressing. Amy went for The View burger – beef, cheddar cheese and chutney.

The View is a lovely little, family run restaurant that’s definitely worth visiting.

Summer wedding in Trevone

The wedding was at the Well Parc Hotel, Trevone. The hotel has a perfect garden overlooking the beach and the seas, the ideal backdrop for an outdoor ceremony. And the weather was absolutely incredible.

Wedding venue, Well Parc Hotel, Trevone

After a buffet lunch, there were of course pasties and chips in the evening, with plenty of dancing, laughter and far too many photos – all round it was a wonderful venue for a lovely Cornish wedding.

Summer wedding guest dress
Mint green halter neck lace dress, Boohoo from ASOS

Summer wedding venue - Well Parc Hotel, Trevone

Amsterdam city travel blog
Food, Travel

Amsterdam in December

Amsterdam is a city I’ve wanted to go to for so long, and one thing or another’s always got in the way. So we ended up going in December on a very last min, spur of the moment trip.

We stayed in the ClinkNOORD hostel,  a quick (free) ferry ride across the water from Centraal station. It’s clean, funky and super convenient for a quick trip – our double private room was basic, but everything we needed as a base for exploring the city.

They also offer really great breakfasts, and have a pretty cool bar. We’ll definitely be staying at ClinkNOORD again for our next Amsterdam trip.

Amsterdam city travel blog

As for the rest of our trip, it was very very cold, icy and snowy – but there’s so much to do, see, explore around Amsterdam that it didn’t stop us at all.

Amsterdam travel blog

My favourite Amsterdam highlights include (and yes, they’re mostly food related):

Foodhallen

The Foodhallen is an indoor food market inside a renovated tram depot. With lofty ceilings, over 20 food stalls serving cuisines from all over and a really chilled out vibe, it was definitely worth trekking to the other side of the city for. We tried out some  bitterballen, beers, and gyozas.

Bitterballen at Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Foodhallen – Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam

BeerTemple

Not exactly an authentic Amsterdam experience, however BeerTemple is an American beer bar with 35  draft beers and around another 200 in bottles and cans – they also do a great cheese board if you’re feeling peckish while sampling the beers.

Cheese board, BeerTemple, Amsterdam

BeerTemple – Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250, 1012 RR Amsterdam

Kantjil & de Tijger

We had dinner at Kantjil & de Tiger based on a recommendation from one of Tom’s friends. It’s a wonderful Indonesian restaurant, and as soon as you walk in you’re hit by the most incredible smell.

Luckily we were able to get a table for two without booking ahead – but for larger groups it’s probably worth making a reservation.

I went for the Nasi Goreng Rames – spicy stir fried rice with rendang (curry), satay skewers, fried vegetable and an assortment of other delicious bits. Probably one of the best meals we had in Amsterdam, and for €17 was pretty good value.

eating out in Amsterdam

Kantjil & de Tijger – Spuistraat 291/293, 1012 VS Amsterdam

The Butcher

We can’t go anywhere without trying to find the best burgers, and The Butcher, Amsterdam did not disappoint. It’s a very casual, diner, eat in or takeaway place: ideal for a quick, amazing dinner.

The Butcher, Amsterdam

I kept it simple and had The Butcher with Cheese: Prime Aberdeen Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, gherkin, Dutch Edam cheese and The Butcher sauce. It was absolutely perfect, and they also do some incredibly indulgent milkshakes, if you feel like being a bit extra gluttonous.

The Butchers – Paleisstraat 14 1012 RB Amsterdam

Cafe Sonneveld

We did one of the free (pay what you want at the end) walking tours around Amsterdam. It’s a great way to find out some of the history of the city, see the sights, and discover some local hidden gems like Cafe Sonneveld. 

Cafe Sonneveld, Amsterdam

Our tour finished outside the Cafe Sonneveld, and the guide recommended it as a good place to try out traditional dutch food.

I had Stamppot with meatball, and Tom had it with sausage. It was a delicious, warm and filling meal – just right for the end of a pretty chilly December walking tour. If you want to sample local food in Amsterdam, then Cafe Sonneveld is definitely worth a visit!

Cafe Sonneveld – Egelantiersgracht 72-74 , 1015 RM Amsterdam

Amsterdam travel blog