Over the past three and a half years I have written about my personal dining experiences from England and around the world. My collection will continue for as long as I have a passion for great food, travel and good company. My reviews are much more personal then you would normally find as I focus on the company as much as I do on the food.

I am hoping that those featured in my collection will be taken back to the moment and also on the memories they have from that day/night.

I am not a "margarita pizza" kind of girl when it comes to trying new foods. There are of course tastes I will sample once and never again - such as a battered chickens foot, however it is all about the experience of tasting something new and making up your own mind

I love food and writing and I hope this comes through when reading my blog. The aim of it is simply to make you smile

All the best

Morelle

"Simply does it " Ristorante Sirena – February 2013


London has an abundance of Italian restaurants to choose from. This is the cuisine I find myself craving the most, but I was yet to find an authentic taste of Italy in the West End.
My Mum and I were looking forward to our evening outing, and after a full day of walking through the Capital and shopping, we were looking for a quick bite to eat, leaving us time to hop in a black cab to Theatre Land!

The restaurant which has been open for over 25 years had a welcoming atmosphere. James Street- conveniently placed a stone’s throw away from Selfridges, has a number of Italian restaurants to choose from.  I was sold on trying out Sirena once I saw green, white and red colours of the Italian flag on the shop front blind. The small tables with white tablecloths, candles and Italian music playing softly in the background all add to the ambiance. There are additional tables set in the lower ground floor, which would be perfect for larger parties.

 After indulging on the beautiful bread selection dipped into olive oil and balsamic vinegar, our two main courses of course for the evening were a classic beef lasagna, and Penne Arrabiata.

 I am so often disappointed by a watery béchamel sauce and overcooked lasagna sheets. This was by far the lightest lasagne I had ever eaten, the waitress told me the secret was that the béchamel sauce is mixed together with the meat sauce. The Pasta Arrabiata, perfectly cooked aldente pasta was fragrantly hit with garlic, and a fiery chili tomato based sauce. Both dishes at our request were seasoned with a generous helping of fresh Parmesan and black pepper.  A no frills side salad to share was the perfect accompaniment to the pasta dishes. Simply belissimo.

Italian cooking has an emphasis on using simplistic flavours, in order to create spectacular dishes you will want to order again and again. A quick coffee for dessert, and we were ready to jump in a black cab to finish our evening out at the theatre.

44 James St  London, Greater London W1U 1EY
020 7486 5620

www.sirena-restaurant.co.uk/

"Yorkshire Girl" Haley and Clifford, Leeds March 2013


Growing up Haley and Clifford was always my local deli whilst living in Leeds. My first taste was around 10 years ago and I still enjoy eating the same pastrami, cream cheese, pickled cucumber and coleslaw sandwich.

The award winning deli is open for breakfast, brunch and late lunch, showcasing local Yorkshire produce, aswell as inspiring ingredients from all over the globe. Walking into the store, you really are spoilt for choice as your eyes wander from the impressive cheese counter, over to the barrels of shiny green olives, selection of cured meats, homemade cakes, handpicked wines, impressive collection of store cupboard ingredients and the largest meringue nests you have ever seen. Haley and Clifford is the perfect place to purchase a personalised food hamper, and makes a fabulous gift.

One of my best friends Dalia and I love to “do lunch”. The casual atmosphere, ultra friendly staff and reasonable prices make this a perfect environment to have an informal catch up. I always find myself holding up the queue, as I gaze at the blackboard menu, and peer at the specials through the glass counter, finding it hard to make a decision as everything looks  so appetising.  For lunch there is a large variety of fresh seasonal salads, quiches, pies, tarts, generously filled artisan baguettes and soups- this being just a snippet of the savoury selection. There are often delicious tasting samples on offer which I always take advantage of.

I ordered the goat’s cheese, spinach and tomato filo pastry pie served with green salad leaves drizzled with a locally produced lavender, lime and black pepper dressing.  The crisp filo was light and delicious. To drink I ordered a pot of earl grey tea.

Dalia ordered a portion of spiced lentil soup, which was thick and hearty and had the delicate warmth and earthy scent of cumin. She also ordered a roasted vegetable panini on the side.

Although the filo pie was a generous portion, with all the talking, my savoury taste buds were telling me I needed to order the rare roast beef, watercress and Dijon mustard baguette- which is exactly what I did! For dessert we shared a portion of homemade of banana cake which was comforting and substantial.

For around £11 each, this is great value for money. Although I have lived in London the last four years, I will always be a Yorkshire girl at heart, and will continue to support this lovely local business.


"Two Amigos", Café Condesa, New York August 2012

It was a humid afternoon in the city, and my good friend Richard and I enjoyed an afternoon outing in the West Village. After walking for what seemed like 100 blocks, we were on the lookout for a place to eat, rest our feet and dry off- as an afternoon storm with no umbrella had got the better of us. We stumbled across a Mexican gem called Café Condesa just in time, as my flip flops were soaked through!

The Mexican owners have created an inventive menu serving New York favourites for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner with a Latin American edge. The restaurant, a former cell-phone store is around seven years young, and has a space saving open faced kitchen, where you can watch how the freshly prepared ingredients come together in a flash.

Café Condesa fits in so well with the uber trendy vibe of the West Village neighbourhood. It is intimately sized with a relaxed, warming atmosphere. The owner Emir Dupeyron who was a fan of our British accents helped us through the menu. I ordered an unsweetened iced tea to drink, which is so thirst quenching. I chose the Torte de Milanesa, which is a sandwich made with breaded chicken breast on a crusty ciabatta served with tomato, onions, avocado and chile mayonnaise. The creamy, buttery texture of the Mexican avocado against the crisp breaded chicken was the perfect combination. The humble sandwich is something New Yorkers seem to get so right. This is not only due to the size, but the variety of breads and adventurous filling combinations.

Richard ate a Mexican corn on the cob which was simply grilled to bring out the natural sweetness; alongside soft steak taco’s served with avocado and zesty lime. I will always find an excuse to go back to New York and on my next visit will be returning to sample the dinner menu and wine.

The rain continued through the afternoon, and after buying an overpriced umbrella from a street corner stand, we continued walking for what seemed like another 100 blocks in order to get to the lower East side.  We found Yonah Scimmal’s Knish Bakery which was our final destination for the day. Their doors have been open for over 100 years, and after sampling a traditional cherry cheese knish followed by a well-earned cup of tea, we gave up walking another 100 blocks and me and my amigo caught the subway back up town.

"Enchanting Afternoon Tea" Alice’s Tea Cup, New York July 2012.


Afternoon tea is typically known as something very British, but today I opted for a taste of of this in New York. During my time in the big apple, I became accustomed to a daily slice of pizza, and thought it was high time for a more “dainty” lunch. I find it quite delightful to be served decedent sweet and savoury tastes on a three-stand tier, alongside drinking endless cups of tea. My search led me to Alice’s teacup.

The tearoom was opened in 2001 by two enthusiastic sisters and is located on the ground floor of a pre-war brownstone building. I am sure the name gives it away but Alice’s teacup is all about Alice and her wonderland adventure from the world famous Lewis Carroll novel. The décor is enchanting and innocent, complete with fairy wings for your little ones to play dress up whilst eating. Within the glass tables were all things Alice including dolls, books and even a Cheshire cat grinning at you if you look closely enough. 

I chose to eat “The Nibbler” from the menu, which translates from wonderland language to your choice of one scone, one sandwich, assorted cookies and a pot of tea. This is a great way to sample a mix of the menu if your taste buds are torn between sweet and savoury like mine are so often.

Although I am biased towards a cup of English breakfast tea, I do also love to try tea from different origins. After browsing the vast selection of over 140 on offer, I chose a pot of Alice’s house tea. This is a house blend of black tea married with rose petals, Indian black vanilla and Japanese green tea, and was delicious. I highly recommend you try this smooth, delicate blend. The brew is made from double filtered water, which really makes a difference. The loose tea is available to purchase, should you wish to drink a cup of tea outside Alice's world. I bought enough loose tea for 20 cups of this very drinkable blend to enjoy at home.

A three tiered stand arrived to the table with charming mismatched patterned china. Although not quite enough for the entire mad hatters tea party, there was certainly enough for one. I am often defeated by afternoon tea and rarely finish. I now realise that amongst the indulging, this is due to drinking so many cups of tea in one round!

I chose the delicious homemade pumpkin scone, served warm, accompanied with sweet berry preserve and thick cream served on the side.

The middle tier was a fragrant curried chicken salad sandwich, made with celery, red onion, crisp granny smith apples, tomato slices and tangy marinated chicken served on semolina raison bread. The heartiness was a pleasant surprise as there was not a crustless cucumber finger sandwich in sight.

True to my prediction, I did not have any room left to attempt the third tier cookie selection. Upon my request these were whisked away and wrapped in a pink paper bag for me to enjoy the remains of "the nibbler" later that evening. 





“Mmmm Mmm Mmm Do I Smell Fried Chicken!” Mama’s Food Shop Manhattan June 2012

Since visiting, unfortunately I have heard that Mama's Food Shop has closed down which is a real shame. Although I won't be able to return to try the banana cream pie, I still wanted to share my enjoyable eating experience here.

I had left the “big smoke” after nearly 4 years and arrived at the “big apple.” I was very lucky to embark on a fantastic life opportunity spending the summer months in New York.

The weather in Manhattan is as summer should be. I could finally put my winter boots to bed, after wearing them in the UK all the way from November until June!

Adam and I caught the Subway down to the East Village to meet a friend Brandon for some afternoon drinking in a local garden bar. A few hours later we were ready for an early dinner, so headed a couple of blocks down to Mama’s Food Shop.

Southern food is not a cuisine readily available in London, aside from “The Colonel” at KFC. As much as I secretly enjoy it on the odd occasion, I highly doubt any southern Grandma would count it as authentic!

This casual self-service food shop has been open since 1995. As we walked in I said, “mmm mmm mmm do I smell fried chicken” in my impressive attempt at a southern accent. I then heard customers say, “this is fantastic” with a satisfied expression, as they tucked into their platefuls of homemade style southern comfort food.

There is a feature wall covered from top to bottom with an array of miss matched self portraits, alongside floral patterned curtains, and a pea green ceiling, which make it look like an old fashioned sitting room. You will find hot sauce in glass condiment bottles on the tables, which is an all time southern staple, and poured generously over just about anything...with an exception of the banana cream pie! 

You should only come to Mama’s when you are ready for a tremendously filling meal, as the portions are wholesome and hearty, just as home cooked food should be. For $13.50 I ordered mama’s fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy and mac and cheese. Adam ordered the same with sides of broccoli and corn salad so we could share. The perfectly cooked chicken was indeed “fantastic” just as the other diners had described it. There was a subtle flavour of rosemary on the golden brown crispy coating, leaving tender chicken inside falling off the bone.

Sweetcorn is at its best when in season just like other fruits and vegetables. The salad was fresh and zingy, made with shredded corn off the husk, tomatoes, red onion, herbs and lemon juice making a great accompaniment to the chicken.

Eating a piece of fried chicken simply cannot be done with any airs and graces, as you just have to get right on in there. I for one needed plenty of napkins to wipe my face, hands, dress, legs and anything else near me, as I seem to be a bit of a messy eater!

Fried chicken is just one of mama’s basics she serves up. Others include roasted chicken, pan fried tilapia and meatloaf. There are lots of seasonal and traditional sides such as collard greens, tomato and watermelon salad, beet salad and corn bread just to name a few.

Here I was sat in the quirky east village on my first week back in New York, sipping fiery ginger and mint iced tea, eating southern soul food at its best. The talked about $5 banana cream pie had sadly sold out earlier in the day due to its popular demand.  I will just have to make another visit during my stay, so I can sample the calorific slice of heaven for myself! Note to self that I must pack baby wipes in my handbag next time to avoid any spillages!


mamasfoodshop.com/




200 East 3rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10009, United States
(212) 777-4425

“Let The Falafel See The Pita” Shlomo's Falafel King Tel-Aviv May 2012

Tel-Aviv was my chosen destination for the start of the summer 2012. My itinerary included two weddings, a day trip to Jerusalem, a dip in the Dead Sea and time to relax with family, friends and my fiancé in the sunshine.

I stumbled across Shlomo Falafel King, situated on the corner of Nordau Street and Ben-Yehudah, whilst walking to the local supermarket a stone throw away from the Grand Beach Hotel where we were staying.

At the street food stand, you are asked “Kama?” translating to “how many?” You pay, you eat, and then you tell the next person you see “oooh I just had a great falafel”. There is no menu as they mainly sell falafel, aside from a couple of alternatives including latkes (potato cakes) and shakshuka (Middle Eastern poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce.)

This impressive business has thrived for 45 years. I spoke with Gabi the owner, who has carried on the successful falafel making tradition from his parents. It is a no frills, simple street shop selling one of the most popular tastes of Israel.

I arrived during the lunchtime rush, where I watched dozens of people casually hover around the serving stand in no kind of orderly fashion.  There are no such things as a queue or line in Israel! Some passers-by pulled up on motorbikes to collect their order and then sped off, whilst others relaxed, and enjoyed eating the contents of the wax paper parcel on some nearby wooden benches. The smell of falafel was in the air on Ben Yehudah!

The operation starts with the star of the show- the falafel. These are cooked fresh to order, a batch at a time. I watched the young boy working alongside Gabi take a utensil just smaller than an ice-cream scoop and fill it with the raw falafel mixture. Traditional falafels are a delicate mix of chick peas and Middle Eastern spices. As a vegetarian dish, this is really satisfying. The falafel ball is then dropped into the hot oil for some deep frying action. Whilst cooking, a fluffy, fresh white pita is carefully slit open to make a pocket for the filling. Humous lines the bottom, and then let the falafels see the pita! Israeli salad which is a mix of diced tomatoes and cucumber is added, as well as finely shredded white cabbage and salty pickled cucumbers. The pita’s are packed to perfection, and are piled high with all the fresh ingredients.

Just like the saying “roast beef and all the trimmings”, the traditional falafel has its own additions which completes the masterpiece. These include tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds and olive oil), mild or fiery red or green chilli sauce, and plump picked chillies for an extra kick! All of this for 15 shekels which equates to £2.50!!! You just cannot go wrong!

This is street food served at its best. The falafel king has continued to be successful over the years as its customers enjoy this simple snack, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or in fact any time of the day, and certainly gets my recommendation.

After my first sampling, I shared my “find” with friends and relatives holidaying in the city. When I returned the next day, I found them all outside at lunchtime eager to try for themselves with my brother in law first up!
Out of the many food stands in the area, there are very few which have a long standing reputation, such as Schlomo’s, as most seem to only last a year or so before they need to reinvent themselves as something new.

If you do find yourself in Tel-Aviv, and fancy ‘fressing’ (meaning - to eat a lot without restraint) a good falafel, head in the direction of Shlomo Falafel King and you will not be disappointed!

Falafel Shlomo & Sons, corner of Nordau Street and Ben Yehudah Street, Tel Aviv


“Surprise Surprise” La Giostra– Florence February 2012

The famous Cilla Black saying “surprise surprise” says it all really. I was sat in KFC…yes I admit this is another one of my guilty pleasures! I asked Adam my boyfriend where we were going on our 3 day trip. We love our “mini breaks,”enjoying exploring and appreciating the beautiful English countryside staying in local B&B’s along the way. We have learnt the art of “countryside etiquette” if there ever was such thing. This includes saying “good day” to passing walkers; eating a full English for breakfast and of course a trip to the village pub. I would have been happy going to Wales which is where I had guessed, so when I heard Florence I was giddy with excitement!
Florence is a city with all things beautiful including the architecture, people, food and wine. We checked into the stunning Continentale branded as a contemporary pleasing hotel, situated right on the famous Ponte Vecchio.
After a lovely day of browsing the shops and exploring all the delights that Florence has to offer, our concierge booked a reservation at La Giostra whose doors have been open for 20 years. A cab ride away and apparently intentionally difficult to find, we pulled into the cobbled narrow street and welcomed into the restaurant by a mysterious looking man I believed to be the owner’s son. He was accessorised from top to toe with assorted silver bangles, necklaces and rings, and reminded me of a tribal leader preparing for a festive ritual. He had a calming aura about him and showed us to our table.
La Giostra which means “the carousel” has a personal, intimate atmosphere with only 16 tables. You are sat inside a piece of history which dates back to the year 1700, and was once a storage place for a local carousel…hence the name. With original brickwork,  skinny candles flickering on the tables, copious displays of expensive wine bottles and lots of quirky artwork and photo’s, the restaurant has a beautiful setting and romantic charm about it. We sipped our Prosecco, (which was on the house) and dipped our bread in the deep green olive oil while we sat back and relaxed.
The menu has a large selection of dishes to choose from and of course written all in Italian the helpful waiter translated where necessary...which in my case where languages are not my forte meant translating practically everything!  A plentiful selection of antipasti arrived at the table (another complimentary offering on the house) including bruschetta with plum tomatoes, chicken liver pate on crostini, marinated aubergine, roasted peppers, dressed celeriac and Italian cured meats. These bite sized tastes were all delightful and it became apparent I was going to be eating a lot over the next couple of hours!
I ordered “morelli” to start with. Before you pre-empted it, I have to say that I only chose this dish as it has my name in it! It translates as baby artichokes which were served carpaccio style dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese.   Adam ordered giant asparagus with shaved parmesan.
 For main course, astounded is an understatement when the wiener snitzel arrived at the table on yes a platter rather than a plate alongside various accompaniments.  Adam is certainly a meat eater and has more than a healthy appetite; however this portion could stretch to feed a small army! I tasted some of course and size aside, the meat was tender and delicious with a light coating of crisp breadcrumbs.
I ordered a slightly more delicate main course of sea bass which was beautifully cooked, served with a medley of black olives, tomatoes, courgettes and potatoes which is a typical Italian combination.
During the meal service the owner’s son who I mentioned earlier casually sat down for dinner alone, and was served his ravioli and red wine. You could see the pride in his eyes as his eyes glanced over the restaurant where there was not an empty table to be seen.
After a lovely stroll back to the hotel, we skipped a visit to the gelaterie as we were so full. Adam said he had one last surprise and pulled out a ring box from his pocket. Overwhelmed with happiness and excitement and of course black mascara tears gently falling down my cheeks,  I was on cloud 9 which is where I stayed for the next few days and couldn't stop smiling. Eek I’m engaged!
This dreamy restaurant is definitely somewhere to pay a visit to if you find yourself in this beautiful city. 
Borgo Pinti, 12-r  50121 Florence, Italy
055 241341




"A Taste Of Flamboyancy" Oslo Court February 2012

As well as being passionate about the property industry, my company is also known for their love of food. They very generously took our team for a lunchtime outing to the nostalgic Oslo Court. It is definitely a place to celebrate an “occasion”.  My colleague Lucy is due to have a baby soon which was our reason to go.
The restaurant is accessed from the ground floor of a mansion apartment building situated in the upmarket St John’s Wood. Passers-by would never know this old fashioned haunt ever existed as its entire reputation is based on word of mouth ever since it opened in the 1970’s. As I unsuspectingly walked into the lobby for the first time, I was beckoned to the right hand side just past the cloakroom, which takes you through the door where the magic happens! You are transported back in time as you observe the pristine peach table cloths, matching napkins, salmon pink walls and powder blue chairs.
I immediately knew that my every need was going to be taken care of as one of the delightfully over attentive, immaculately dressed waiters, complete with dinner jacket and bow tie pulled out my chair for me to sit down.
Crudites, melba toast and garlic mayonnaise arrived before our eyes. We ordered two dozen oysters for the table served with lemon wedges, complimented by tabasco sauce and vinaigrette to taste. My first taste of raw oysters, although slightly unattractive as you pour the liquid gem down your throat, I found after I had one… I just had to have another!
For starters, aside from one portion of fried calamari, we ordered a round of lobster cocktails which was from the specials list. This generous portion of sweet plump lobster meat dressed in its 1970’s glory of marie rose sauce, served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, alongside thinly sliced buttered brown bread (crusts removed )was a winning choice.
When the waiter recited the specials menu, it really felt like he was saying this for the first time. It is clear to see that all the staff have true passion for what they do which makes the customers dining experience spectacular. The room is filled with "nachas"and you cannot help but soak up the glowing joyful atmosphere surrounding each table. Forget moving with the times, the unique factor of Oslo Court is that their customers simply do not want change! The reason that the business continues to thrive forty years on, is that it is irresistibly delicious and really does run like clockwork.
My main course of fillet steak served medium rare with béarnaise sauce was presented. The accompaniments for the table which just kept on coming included a selection of buttered green cabbage, creamed leaks, potato gratin, mangetout and latkes. I found you almost offended the waiter if you asked for a small helping.
Amongst the table for main courses we ordered calves liver, venison, turbot, sea bream and veal. Filled with classic dishes, there really is something for everyone on the timeless French inspired 1970’s menu. My grandma uses the phrase “pickling”. If you have something you love, such as a dress from the good old days, you can pickle it for years, bring it out again and it will be revived and good as new.... and look even better then the first time round! The collection of dishes can definitely be described as “pickled to perfection.”
If you ever speak to someone that has eaten at Oslo Court, the first thing they will tell you if that you will love the slightly eccentric and very camp, flamboyant dessert waiter. He flaunts what he has to offer for the day from his trolley in his foreign accent. We were enticed and mesmerised with his selection ranging from a “fabulous strawberry tart,” to the “to die for pavlova" and his “sensational crepe suzette”. His famous spiel which can be heard echoing round every table is something which gives the restaurant its slight oddity, yet oozes old fashioned charm
As a girl in my mid-twenties, stepping into a restaurant that opened before my time was a true eating experience. Although I just had the one glass of white I definitely overexerted myself with the food. I was still digesting my starter late into the evening, and for me to pass on a Friday night dinner definitely says something else!
Oslo Court
Prince Albert Road, St John's Wood, London, NW8 7EN
 020 7722 8795      




"Me, myself and my knife and fork" Fine and Shapiro New York November 2011


I recently returned from 31 incredible days living in Manhattan - the heart of the big apple staying with my boyfriend Adam in a fabulous part of the Upper West Side. I took a mini sabbatical from my job of three years in London, spending my time living the New York lifestyle. I passed the time with near daily sessions of Yoga at a great studio (NY Loves Yoga), mostly followed by lunching, brunching, dining, walking and taking time to appreciate my surroundings, and how fortunate I was to be spending time there.
Although you may not think it, November is the perfect time of year to visit New York. There are endless things to do to entertain your senses. I managed to take in the Marathon (spectator only, running is not my forte), the joy of the Thanksgiving Holidays (turkey, turkey and more turkey), festive holiday markets bursting with gifts galore, and incredible window displays. Not forgetting the beautiful autumnal weather that lasted the entire month, with clear blue skies and amber/crimson leaves lining the streets.
Adam was working hard downtown, and aside from meeting him for lunch a few times and a handful of friends, I pretty much had a month surrounded by my own company, which I embraced with every effort.
After Yoga, I always found myself “hank marvin” (cockney slang for starving...) I walked down to 72nd street, complete with my trusty yoga mat strapped to my shoulder (we became inseparable for the month!).
I came across “Fine & Schapiro" – a Jewish Kosher caterer and deli restaurant, who have fed hungry customers from all walks of life for 80 years! Their website quotes that “life is like a good pastrami sandwich, tender, delicious and full of flavour”- which is a mouthwatering statement to make.
Walking into the restaurant, the friendly waitress asked me “how many?”. “Table for one please” was my reply. Her gaze looked a little surprised that I was dining alone. Without an iPad, iPod or something to read, eating alone in a restaurant although can seem daunting, is something I would definitely recommend everyone to try. With no distractions, the sole purpose of my visit was to eat plenty, and eat I certainly did. For the following hour or so, it was me, myself and my knife and fork, getting to know each other.
Deli’s are not about the fancy decor, they’re about the Hamishe food. You sit, you eat, you eat some more and then undo the button on your trousers and make room for dessert! As a girl with Eastern European ancestors, I felt more than at home, sat in my corner booth nibbling on my pickled cucumbers. Fine and Schapiro focus on preserving the old fashioned dishes that my great-great-grandma cooked, such as borscht, latkes, knishes, chopped liver, goulash and my ultimate favourite... matzo ball chicken soup!
I ordered the $12.50 lunch special including a drink, soup or salad, main course and a dessert which was an absolute bargain! I had the chicken soup with giant matzo ball. Good chicken soup is good for the soul and this one did the trick. I also must add that I have just mastered making my own soup which I am proud of.

Second Course was half a corned beef (salt beef for my English readers) sandwich on rye bread with mustard to taste, new green and salted brine pickled cucumbers and coleslaw on the side. The sandwich had plenty meat in it which left me stuffed to satisfaction rather then overstuffed and overfaced like in some of the deli's in New York.

For dessert I chose a delicious apple strudel which I asked to be warmed up. This was simply a comforting lunch which was just what I wanted. I wasn't suprised that I found the room to finish my 3 courses... as I always do! 

 Enjoying the food so much, I was just happy to be alone in that particular moment. Traditional Jewish food like this warms the soul and my own grandma's preserved recipe's which she has taught my mum, and then onto me will be treasured hopefully for generations to come. I arrived back to the apartment happily content, and curled up on the sofa for a well deserved late afternoon schluuf after an indulgent day with myself!

138 W 72nd St  A  New York, NY 10023-3391, United States
(212) 877-2874

http://www.fineandshapiro.com/



"Bohemian Hideaway"- Little Bay London September 2011

Nestled away in a road in Kilburn this charming, well established business called Little Bay hides away from the hustle and bustle of the High Road. Kilburn does have some great little gems if you know where to look for them, and this is certainly one of them.
 
Little Bay has been open for 16 years and its Yugoslavian owner, Peter Ilic now has 5 restaurant located in Kilburn, Farringdon, Battersea, Croydon and Brighton.
 
One of my best friends Simone, her boyfriend Adam, my Adam and I were going out for a mid week boozy ish dinner. I say "ish" as both Simone and I were designated drivers for the evening, but could not resist a little wine after a long day at work! When Simone and I get together we are like two giggling school girls and this night was certainly no exception. I booked the table a couple of days in advance and requested the "tree house" style seating. As you walk through the front door, the restaurant is intimately sized and has the feeling of a secret bohemian Aladdin's den with a theatrical twist. A reddish tinge to the lighting is reflected off the pillar box red painted walls. The tables dressed with red skinny candles in empty wine bottles, where the melted wax has delicately wrapped around the green glass.


There are 3 tables "upstairs" where you access the seats by climbing up a loft style ladder. Get ready to duck your head as you are walking up if you are graced with long legs! The seating plan is certainly a talking point and gives the restaurant its quirky,  charming atmosphere. There is also a separate side entrance to the restaurant which has a much bigger dining area used for larger parties and weekends. 
 
The menu is simple with a small, but perfectly formed sized collection. The style of food is European with a French influence. All of the starters from the main menu are just over £3 and the mains less then £8 which is very reasonable, and refreshing to find that the prices are not over inflated for a home cooked meal out. You cannot help but have a good time at Little Bay.
 
By 7.30pm the front restaurant was full to the brim.  To start with, we ordered warm asparagus served with hollandaise sauce and shaved parmesan, fishcakes, and homemade vegetable soup. The service was prompt and portions were generous.
 
For main course I chose Burberry Duck Breast Duck served with savoy cabbage, bok choi, honey and ginger jus. For £7.25 this was a hearty plate of food. The chef did take note of how I asked for the duck to be cooked (pink) which I was impressed with. Simone had Organic Salmon Fillet, my Adam had chargrilled lamb steak, crushed new potatoes and julienne vegetables. Simone's boyfriend Adam had a meat craving, so ordered the grilled steak. The main waiter was full of character. He must be used to running up and down the ladder with the plates of food and it did make me a laugh when we reminded him we had ordered a portion of chips - somehow they magically appeared from behind his hands before I finished my sentence.


 Little Bay is a cash only place so remember to bring some with you. We did not know this at the time so Adam and Adam had to briskly walk down Kilburn High Road to get some from the trusty hole in the wall! All full up after a laughter filled evening in this warming atmosphere, we were all noticeably glowing red in the cheeks a little. I am not sure whether this was from the heat of the candles on the table, or the mid week tipple. It is a safe bet to say it was a mixture of the two!

228 Belsize Road
London NW6 4BT
020 7372 4699

www.littlebay.co.uk







"Truly Scrumptious" The Wolseley London September 2011

As you will have read, I love to indulge in brunches, lunches and dinners out. Having said that, getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday is a rare event for me. I am lucky that my boyfriend Adam is a good cook and makes a fabulous breakfast – fry up’s, steak and eggs and pancakes are just a small selection.

For a change, I decided to treat him to breakfast. Booking the table 2 weeks in advance, there was one slot available for 9.30am on a Saturday morning. Both of us all dressed up for the occasion- I am not sure why, but it felt appropriate for a posh breakfast and shopping in the West End. We hopped on the tube and were in Green Park in no time at all.

The building in Piccadilly was originally commissioned as a showroom for the Wolseley Motor Company. Opened in 1921, it served as a showroom until 1927, after which it housed a branch of Barclay's Bank.

The Wolseley as we know it today has been trading for 8 years. Before opening, it was restored and renovated to show off its beautiful original design features complete with grand entrance, large pillars, curvaceous arches and sweeping stairs.

The Wolesley is open for breakfast, Al la carte lunch and dinner service as well as afternoon tea. The menu is a mix of simple classics, and indulgent delights. All menu's and prices are available to view online.

We arrived promptly for our table and were seated by front of house. The elegant silver service is certainly a lovely way to be served. Whilst browsing the menu we sipped our English breakfast tea and had a read of the weekend’s newspapers. It only felt right to sit up straight and hold the cup in a dainty fashion whilst dining here.

I chose Eggs Arlington with a side order of Spinach. Adam ordered poached eggs, Cumberland sausages and granary toast served in a sliver toast rack. Upon request, they have Heinz Tomato ketchup and HP brown sauce available - I did overhear the table next to us almost whisper for this request to their waitress which made me laugh. All the glass bottles were housed neatly in an old fashioned wooden cabinet. Of course this is not the kind of establishment where the tables are cluttered with condiments!

We were swiftly served by our waiter. For those unfamiliar with Eggs Arlington, this describes poached eggs with smoked salmon, served on a toasted muffin and hollondaise sauce garnished with chives.

Although I would normally always go for 2 eggs, a generous helping of Salmon, fresh spinach leaves and rich Hollandaise sauce meant I was perfectly satisfied with just one. As my boyfriend loves to remind me, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, so I simply had to order a pain au chocolat on the side. I can confirm that I did indeed finish it all!

The sausages were divine, served piping hot and just peppery enough in flavour. The eggs were really poached to perfection which Is a technique I am yet to master.

Breakfast cost £36 including service. On this occasion I was playing "suga mama" so I paid the bill. It always makes me chuckle when the Waiter automatically passes the card machine terminal to the man! Although more expensive than your average eatery, this is somewhere to dine as a treat and I would certainly return to try ones of the other menu's they have to offer.

A truly scrumptious breakfast, and a lovely way to start a Saturday morning, followed by a leisurely browse around the famous Fortnum and Mason's department store next door. After browsing, my only purchase was some "morello cherry jam"- as if I could resist this going in my basket!

Until next time :)



Contact details

Address

160 Piccadilly
London W1J 9EB
United Kingdom
www.thewolseley.com/

020 7499 6996     

"Finding My Inner Zen" August 2011 Les Passeroses Angouleme South West France

After much research I was desperate to go abroad on a yoga retreat. Having practiced for 2 years now, yoga has truly become something I cannot live without. My choice of destination was South West France, easy to get to by air or train. I went alone which was a brave move if I do say so myself. Julie – the wonderful yoga teacher who organised the retreat – gave me the contact details of Kathryn, who was also travelling by herself.

We planned to meet at St Pancras which was heaving due to the summer holidays. After checking in with security and going thorough passport control, I met Kathryn and was relieved to see that she looked very was friendly and most importantly "normal"! I was a little nervous about going alone. I had feared before meeting her, that I had signed up for joining a cult, or naturist resort only due to my wild imagination of course!

After saying hello she said to me "gosh you're travelling light" when she saw I was only carrying my handbag. A look of sheer panic crossed my expression and I had realised I had not picked up my case after it went through the security check, and had now probably been seized and locked away as a fear it was a security risk. As I ran back through passport control and the swarm of people I luckily found my grey wheelie waiting there for me, exactly where I had left it on the end of the scanner!!!!

Drama over, we caught the Eurostar to Lille and changed onto the TGV to Angouleme. Another 2 lovely girls from London, Orpy and Saira were also travelling with us which was a nice surprise. I immediately relaxed as we chatted and dipped into our books - my choice for the trip was " A thousand splendid suns" if you have not read this -I highly recommend it.

We arrived in the evening and were picked up from the station by the owners of Les Passeroses. Alex and Adrian, who are chefs by trade- but decided to swap a life in Manchester for a taste of the French countryside. After arriving at the house and immediately I knew I would enjoy my stay. There was a calming smell of perfumed fresh lavender, and warming incense as we walked through the front door. The house had been beautifully renovated with a charming quirky design including a huge farmhouse kitchen table, curved outdoor swimming pool, fantastic yoga studio and Moroccan inspired chill out room filled with books and magazines. All of this was enhanced with dreamy views of the surrounding sunflower fields, and several quaint boutique bedrooms overlooking mature gardens.

I cannot rave enough about my time spent at Les Passeroses. What more could you ask for then beautiful surroundings, French sunshine, wine if you wanted, a fantastic group of people, inspiring yoga practice and teacher, relaxing massage treatments, and fantastic food.

As a group we got on brilliantly. We had Naomi, Saira, Kavita, Orpy, Maureen, Margaret, Kathryn, Cathy, Paul and our teacher Julie. It was refreshing to come on holiday and have conversations with different groups of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. We were all on the same wavelength and found joy from yoga.

The food is all vegetarian as helps digestion whilst practicing yoga. I was a little apprehensive, as my boyfriend has turned me into a carnivore due to his love of meat with every meal. I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised as to how a vegetarian meal can be created from scratch, with adventurous flavours and be so appealing to the eye.

For breakfast there was a selection of homemade breads, homemade yoghurts, beautiful fresh fruit salad, muesli, granola, jams, honey and the widest variety of herbal teas you could ever ask for. I must have gone though at least 8 cups a day!

Every day there was a different theme for the menu and we experienced French, Italian, Moroccan and Greek. They went that extra mile with attention to detail - such as the table setting and general ambiance. I must add that they also had music playing according to the food theme- for example on the Greek night- they have a bit of George Michael playing softly in the background! We all appreciated a little bit of cheesiness :)

For lunch and dinner we ate outside on the decked terrace which was delicately lit with candles and glowing lanterns above us. If anyone has seen the film Mama Mia-it reminded me of the outdoor area of the house featured in the film where they celebrated the wedding meal.

Some of the delicious food we ate is mentioned below. If you were not hungry before reading this, you will be in a minute.

Spiced Moroccan salads
Delicate filo parcels filled with chickpeas and celeriac
Moroccan stew served with quinoa

Courgette ribbons delicately infused with lemon juice, zest, shaved Parmesan and thyme.
Polenta pizza base with creamy garlic mushrooms
Sliced chicory dressed with orange zest and parsley
Creamy risotto with French green beans

Tomato Mozzarella salad with homemade basil oil
Traditional Greek salad
Homemade humous and warm pitta
Spinach and feta wrapped file pastry served with grated carrot salad dressed with orange juice and white wine vinegar.
Rice stuffed baked peppers served with sauteed potatoes and tzatziki
Sweet sticky stewed fruits with rose water, pistachio nuts and toasted almonds.
 
Feeling extremely "Zen " after my heavenly, relaxing few days away, I came back to London (via Paris), and my first holiday "alone" definitely superseded my expectations.
 
http://www.passeroses.com/
  www.yogalighthouse.co.uk/








"Is Everything Ok For You" Sukhothai July 2011 Leeds

I was back in Leeds in late July for another fix of family time. Saturday night was reserved for a chance to catch up with a couple of the wonderful girls who I used to work with. I love hearing a bit of Northern twang; after all, I am living down south now. Back in Leeds, we were an office full of opinionated women bar one guy at that time in our department. We often used the phrase "Patrick- earmuffs please" whenever we used to have our girlie 'loud mouth' conversations about all the things that make men feel very uncomfortable! He was a good sport really!

I worked for a local estate agent for almost 3 years and most of the time we got on like a house on fire.  Obviously you do get some office politics from time to time but it wouldn't be normal if there wasn’t. I had not seen Zoe or Susie since November last year so we basically had over 6 months nattering and catching up to do. It was great to reminisce and have a good old chinwag. We met for a cheeky pre dinner drink at Zed Bar accross the road.
 
Sukhothai is a very popular restaurant in North Leeds. It is owned by a couple who have turned the 9 year old restaurant into a very successful business, now with 3 locations. The staff are immaculately dressed in silk kimonos with chopsticks in their hair, the men wearing the equivalent attire minus the chopsticks of course ! The name Sukkothai - meaning the dawn of happiness is actually is the place where the owner of the restaurant grew up and is situated just north of Bangkok.
 
There are approximately 175 dishes on the menu and this really is authentic Thai cuisine. The staff are ultra friendly and would be happy to advise and recommend on dishes that might suit your individual palette . Our waitress must have asked us if "everything was ok" about 12 times bless her.
 
All dishes are made without MSG, so any selection from the menu will be fragrant and fresh, with tastes which will transport you to the Far East.. well after a few bottles of wine at least :) The Thai flavour is made up of a mixture of sweet, sour, spicy and salt flavours.
 
With two bottles of white vino already passed on our agenda, we went for the easy option which was a set menu for 3 of 4 courses.  Zoe made a 9pm booking as we knew we would still be chatting until cows came home, and indeed she timed it right  as we were the last ones in there, past closing time - aside from the staff who were all relaxing after their evenings shift,  all sat down to eat their supper together. If the Thai staff are all eating the food then you know it must be good!

Here is a list of what we had- with the Thai name and all- you will have fun saying these names out loud.

 Khow Kreb Tod. Deep fried prawn crackers with sweet chili sauce.


Satay Gai -Marinated chicken grilled and served with peanut sauce.

Gung Chup Pang Tod- Tiger prawns in crispy batter served in sweet chili sauce.


Tom yum Gai- spicy hot and sour chicken soup.
(Susie who has been to Thailand quite a few times now makes this authentic dish at home and she must be quite good at it because on tasting it she said "ooh it tastes just like mine") :)

Gang mansaman Gai. Chicken in a rich coconut sauce with peanut and potato-


Pad Gratium Prik Tai Gung.Prawns marinated in spices served with Garlic and pepper.


Khao Suay. Jasmine rice


Thai custard and coffee or tea.

The pretty interior is calm and relaxed with a beautiful water feature at the back of the restaurant. Saturday night is rammed so I do advise that booking is a must in order to avoid disappointment. 
They also offer a catering service which could actually come in handy for a party, which will dazzle your guests taste buds.
We carried the night on across the road in a couple of the local bars in Chapel Allerton. I had forgotten after not living at home for 3 years that I didn't tell my mum I was going out after dinner. I had 6 missed calls on my phone asking me where i had got too,when I arrived home after 1.30am  :) 
I recommend this restaurant for a taste of the Orient. 






CHAPEL ALLERTON: 8 Regent Street, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 4PE
Tel: 0113 237 0141

"Juicy Juicy Mango's" Dreams Resort Dominican Republic July 2011

My first exotic holiday was a weeks "vacation" to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with my boyfriend Adam.
Staying at the 5 star all inclusive Dreams resort, we stepped off the plane and as soon as the hot breeze hit us we knew we were in the Caribbean heat, and it was going to be factor 30 all the way!

The resort had a beautiful private beach with magnificent palm trees, the sea was glistening and the temperature of a warm bath. Listening to "Jammin" by Bob Marley on my I pod I was in a great place, and even managed to squeeze in some yoga poses on the white sandy beach.

We received a leaflet from the airport with some handy tips about the country. One of them said if a Dominican local tells you to wait 5 minutes, a Dominican 5 minutes translates into half an hour. This isn't out of laziness but just due to the laid back atmosphere. We certainly embraced this during our stay.

I have decided to write about our last meal of the holiday which was in the beach side restaurant called "Side Grill". This was the only restaurant out of the other 4 which had a relaxed dress code and Ad was dying to wear his shorts.

A perfect evening with sea breeze, moon lit sky, a warm and fuzzy feeling in the air. The palm trees at night look especially beautiful- I looked around and I was one happy girlie.

Back to the food - to start I chose creamed corn soup which was delicious and Adam had minestrone.
Main course- Grilled breast of chicken and Herb crusted Salmon both served with mashed potatoes and Mediterranean vegetables.

I am not raving about the food as with an all inclusive holiday you are constantly eating and drinking day and night. (Local Presidente beer during the day and cosmopolitans at night if you want specifics). To be honest we were both looking forward to going back to New York to have a jacket potato with cheese and baked beans, as sometimes home comforts are just what you crave after endless amounts of eating rich unfamiliar foods until you are full to capacity. I will say that the food was lovely and it was just what it was and we both enjoyed eating here. The best part is after you have cleared your plate of course there is no bill to pay!

The exotic fruit that is available on the resort is delicious and I definitely took advantage of this by having daily helpings of juicy mango's, papaya, passions fruit, star fruit, melon and I even had a freshly sheared coconut from the palm tree where one of the locals had hacked the top off for me. I drank the fresh thirst quenching coconut water from the shell through a straw. A guest of the hotel sat behind me offered a little white rum poured inside, will chilled me out Dominican style.

We didn't leave the resort apart from a short walk to the local "shops" and were both amused by a shop sign owned my a man that named it "Costco 27". We of course came home with a few unnecessary trinkets but one always does.


A holiday I will always remember

www.dreamsresorts.com/drepc/







"Ladies That Brunch" Sarabeth's New York July 2011

Its a boiling hot July afternoon. I had been to Lansky's Jewish style Deli on Columbus Avenue the night before. Of course New York style, the remains of dinner came home with me in a doggy bag with enough to last me the next breakfast, lunch and dinner, as the portions in most restaurants are so huge! I was happily sat in the apartment eating my leftover chopped liver and "corned beef" (salt beef) sandwich on rye bread with latkes.

A few hours later and I was peckish for more food. I was in New York visiting my boyfriend Adam. His cousin Leah who takes me out shopping and drinking and we always have a giggle together. Leah's friend Mallory - who is great fun (love the name) was staying over and the three of us headed out for a rather late brunch and cocktails.

We took a short yellow cab ride, as we were all in heels, and arrived at Sarahbeth's situated in the upper west side. This great find is a must recommendation and since it opened as a tiny bakery-kitchen many moons ago, it has since expanded as a huge business with several restaurants and an impressive website.

I wouldn't normally go out with a sweet tooth but Leah and Mallory convinced me that the waffles they were ordering were incredible, so I jumped on the sugar rush band wagon.

The description from the menu is pumpkin waffles topped with sour cream, raisins, pumpkin seeds and honey. Their faces lit up with delight even when they placed the order, as they were excited to be eating them again.

I chose the cheese blintzes served with homemade apple butter and sour cream.  A great mix of sweet and savoury which was the perfect selection for me as I was feeling indecisive.

The three of us ordered "4 flowers champagne cocktail" which is a miniature bottle of champagne served with a baby glass full of fresh orange, pineapple, banana and pomegranate juice. The entire menu is so appealing with so many delights to choose from. Its a really girly indulge place to go- however they do also have "manly" main courses to chose from on the menu!

Sipping champagne we giggled and all girls that brunch will know that the usual conversations revolves around boyfriends, fashion, plans for Friday night and of course the yummy food we were eating. It was a mini splurge and went down a treat. Brunch cost us $33 each including a generous tip.

After the insane heat, the air needed clearing and it started to rain, so of course girls being girls, we caught a taxi home. 

Sarabeth’s (West)
423 Amsterdam Avenue
(80th Street)
New York, N.Y. 10024
Phone: 212-496-6280
Fax: 212-787-9655
http://www.sarabethswest.com/

"Welcome to the good life" Tao Vegas April 2009

If you have read my entry with Kate titled "Red meat fix" you will see that we had that meal in the run up to Vegas. An unforgettable 6 days in Las Vegas- both of us here for our first time. As we waited at our United Airways designated gate for the flight- we heard a lady on the tanoy advertising for upgrading to business class as there was a special deal of 2 for 1! A temptation far too hard to resist, we looked at each other and smiled and within a minute we were handing out our credit card details so we could set off on this adventure in style. We couldn't be happier as we sipped champagne, dining with silver cutlery, laid back on our beds and just chilled out for the duration of the flight.


We were staying at Planet Hollywood hotel on the Las Vegas strip. I highly recommend this hotel as its a fun, young, party vibe with a great pool atmosphere, fabulous restaurants, clubs, shopping mall, pink casino and of course a wedding chapel.


We ate at the famous Nobu restaurant which is located in the Hard Rock Hotel, however I decided to write about Tao as this was the most memorable meal.


Tao restaurant and nightclub is a sexy pan Asian bistro inside the gorgeous Venetian hotel, influenced by Hong Kong, Thai, Japanese and Chinese flavours. The original restaurant is in New York City and is a very desirable place to eat. Our hotel concierge had made our reservation and as we entered the restaurant we were welcomed by exotic girls with fake boobs (They are a must in Vegas) dancing in a oval shaped bath full of rose petals and water! You have to see it to believe it.


All glammed up we were shown to our downstairs corner table in view of the enormous 20 foot bronze Buddha statue. We ordered martinis and browsed through the rather large menu. Our aim- sad but true was to try as many different flavours of martinis as we could in Vegas! Passion fruit, lychee, apple, blueberry, cucumber, strawberry, pomegranate and pineapple later we could have a new career as a "martini connoisseur" if there ever was such a thing.


From the large menu we chose spicy lobster roll with shiso and black tobiko, king crab Californian roll, edemame and crispy spicy tuna with avocado and soy paper, satay chicken and duck spring rolls.


The restaurant is mysteriously very low lit with great beats and excellent service. The waitressing staff are so organised like a military operation. They have to be as the restaurant and bar area is so busy. Tao is pricey but definitely worth treating yourself. Top class food down and feeling ready to carry the night on, we headed upstairs into the club for a night of dancing in the same room as Jay Z and that smile we had in the airport lasted the entire trip.

A very memorable holiday with endless laughter and jokes. This really was a taste of the "good life".







http://www.taorestaurant.com/lasvegas/









"Home from Home" Trampolines Riccione Italy July 2010

Riccione is on the Adriatic Coast of Italy and is a place where I have been going on holiday since I was 18 months old with my mum, dad brother, sister, family and friends. A weeks break away with my mum was perfect and just what we both needed. My mum has also been coming to Riccione since she was 13 years old. Two hours from London and you are in  a place with beautiful sunshine, fabulous service, even more fabulous shopping and laid back people.

We call it home from home because the family run hotel is a place where we have been coming for so long. All the staff including waiters, porters and chambermaids make us feel so welcome.

Trampoline's is located just minutes from the hotel and on Riccione Beach, It is a perfect place for lazy long lunches or relaxing dinners and suitable for any diner who loves no frills real Italian food.

In our weeks holiday we went once for lunch and twice for dinner. As I now live in London it is great to spend some quality time with my mum. She is a wonderful mother who would do anything for her children and I love and appreciate her very much. As we both love eating, shopping, long walks and sunbathing- what girl doesn't - we were so happy to be here enjoying ourselves.

A bloody Mary aperitif to start to get my tastebuds going we were shown to our table. A basket of bread, oil and balsamic vinegar later we ordered our mains. Nothing fancy just one fungi pizza and one tomato, artichoke, olive pizza and one mixed salad.

The difference between a pizza at home and one in Italy is obviously incomparable. This is down to the thin crispy base cooked in a wood oven, the sweetness of the fresh Italian tomato base, perfumed olive oil and the Buffalo mozzarella cheese. Simple, feel good holiday food at a reasonable price is what this place is all about and is a must to eat here if you ever find yourself in Riccione. The staff cannot do enough for you here.

For our late long lunch I ordered a huge dish of clams and mussels in a white wine, lemon and parsley sauce with crusty Italian bread. My mum went for a tuna nicoise salad and we shared a portion of chips. Two ice cold diet coke's and we were in holiday bliss. There is not much more to say then the reason we keep coming back to Riccione and Trampolines is simply because we love it.

Bronzed, shopped out and relaxed we came back home to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Bellisimo