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

"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







"Chinwag" Fish Works London May 2011

We were in need of a Thursday boozy night dinner and a chance for a bit of a chinwag. Amy and Natalie both work on front desk. Although we have all worked in the same office, apart from the odd rushed lunch we never really get a chance to socialise.

Amy and I hopped on the tube, and a short walk later we were on Swallow Street. There are 3 Fishwork restaurants, Swallow street, Marleybone high street and Richmond. Our reservation was for 7.30pm and we walked past the fresh fish counter to be seated by the window. Fish can be purchased from here so this restaurant also doubles up as a fishmonger.

Sauvignon Blanc was the wine of choice. I ordered Fresh whole plaice with lemon butter,grilled tuna with soy and mirin for Amy and fillet of sea bass with rosemary for Nat. Our sides were new potatoes with herbed butter, wilted spinach and a bread board with aioli and salsa verdi. We had a very informative waitress who knew the entire menu and all wines to compliment.

We "clinked" our glasses to toast just because we could, We are all in our twenties and we filled the room with infectious harmonised laughter as we swapped embarrassing stories from the days gone by and enjoyed the night away.

I have to say this is great quality fish, simply cooked and tasted amazing. The flavours were uncomplicated which let the quality of the fish speak for itself. Perfect for a warm late may evening.

We carried out the night at a local pub just a few streets down on Dover Street "The Clarence". Three cocktails and a cheap bottle of plonk later we were all a wee bit merry- mission accomplished :) Back on the tube I closed my eyes for what I thought was a minute and before I knew it I was home in West Hampstead again.






www.fishworks.co.uk/swallowstreet

7-9 Swallow Street, London W1B 4DG
0207 734 5813

"More bread please" La Grillarde Leeds 28th May 2011

I couldn't leave my home town of Leeds out of my worldly food collection- it just wouldn't sit right! An unplanned evening with a trip to this delightful French restaurant with my brother and his wife I had booked a 2 day trip back home to catch up with family. As I live in London I tried to come home once a month for home comforts and catch ups. My brother takes my wonderful Grandma to La Grillarde and she absolutely loves it. She says "are we going down the steps tonight"! The table was booked for 8pm and we went "down the steps" as the restaurant is lower ground. Away from the dreary rainy Saturday night you enter the restaurant and see pristine white tablecloths, shiny tiled flooring and low ceilings. The restaurant is deceivingly larger to the immediate eye.

The waiter who of course knew my brother- he is known for his love of eating out (fressing) and wining and dining. He always spoils me :) The waiter said he was a lucky man dining with 2 ladies for the evening. I would say this is traditional service with smart waistcoat dressed staff, immaculate etiquette and manners, attentiveness and all having good knowledge about the food on offer.

La Grillarde House red on order with 3 glasses we quickly browsed the menu. As this is typical French cuisine- frogs legs and all I highly doubt the menu has diversified in the 30 years the restaurant opened its doors. This is a good thing as it is a sign that the food is established and almost matures with age- just like a vintage wine :) I know my brother in law James would like that comment.

After bread basket number 2, we ordered our mains. Who can resist crusty French bread and rich President butter.

It sounds strange but everyone that knows this restaurant raves about the crudites to start with. It sounds like something you would normally save for a pre dinner drinks but this is crudites like you have never seen before. A huge wicker basket arrives at the table with a selection of carrots, celery, chicory, cabbage, peppers, tomato, celeriac, spring onion and cucumber served with various homemade dressings for dipping.

A perfect starter to share as the man sized mains were to follow.

Chateau Briand of fillet steak was the choice for my brother and I to share-this was served medium rare with frites and salad with French dressing.

Duck A L'A Orange- which is something my dad normally goes for.
A wooden board arrived with sliced fillet steak cooked to perfection- uncomplicated, simply cooked food with extra skinny frites and very strong French Mustard.

The duck had a crispy skin and was intentionally cooked through - it was still sweet and rich in flavour and pink blushing duck meat would not have suited this dish.

The red wine was going down a treat and we were positively stuffed but a tempt of the cheese board was too hard to resist...with yes another bread basket. We chose a selection of 3 cheeses including brie and my brothers favourite - Camembert calvados- which is infused with apple brandy. A quick double espresso shot and we were good to go. A great place to enjoy high quality french cuisine surprisingly served with a smile. :)

http://www.lagrillade.co.uk/

27 Wellington Street
Leeds LS1 4EA 0113 245 9707



“Red Meat Fix” March 2008

Our trip to gaucho was a planned Thursday night evening outing. I have been friends with Kate for over 7 years now and we have recently just planned a trip to Vegas together the following month. We found our love of food when we met at 16 years old on tour for a month and lived off feta cheese, humous, and peanut butter sandwiches. We also have a great love for making each other laugh... none stop, and are like a pair of hyena's when we get together!

There are 13 locations of gaucho around London. They are designed with a wonderful interior which really has the "cow factor". Sexy, sleek and moody lighting makes you feel a million miles away, when in fact I was sat in Hampstead village. The cow hide chairs covers and wall hangings gives the restaurant its Argentinean feel.
Gaucho has a motto for its customers, and this is to experience the true essence of Argentinean life in its food wine and culture using exceptional ingredients.
The versatility of what the menu has to offer, means that this restaurant is great for long luxurious lunches or boozy dinners galore.
The cheesy bread which is complimentary is amazing. I say no more- as you will think the same once you have tried it for yourself.
As designated driver for the evening I just opted for a small glass of red which was excellent. An Argentinean red such as Malbec is always a winner.
I order the beef de lomo 225 grams fillet steak while Kate had the charrasso spiral cut of sirloin- with side orders to share of sweet potato chips with chorizo and roasted vegetables and peppercorn sauce on the side.
The waitress knew the entire menu inside out and I always find this impressive. She brought out a wooden board with all the cuts of meat in their raw state and explained the flavour and texture of each cut

It is not a meal for those on a budget at £21.50 for a piece of steak- but the simplicity of the food makes such a delicious meal that I had craved for so long. I have also eaten at Gaucho Moorgate and Gaucho Piccadilly.
Lets just say I got my red meat and laughter fix that evening.

I also enjoyed my 25th Birthday at Gaucho Piccadily with a couple of people from work. Six of us in total. Natalie, Hayley, Jamie, Nick, James and myself. Nick very kindly sorted out a round of champagne for everyone. We had a round corner table with lots of wine and cocktails flowing and courtesy of Natalie- hilarious conversation. All I need to say is- google image "Gaucho man" and let your imagination do the talking!

I tried the fillet steak cooked "blue" which is basically raw! Just a corner of Nick's. I was pleasantly surprised- A) that I actually tasted it- and B) how much I secretly liked it.


Contact Gaucho Hampstead

64 Heath Street,
London NW3 1DN
T 020 7431 8222
F 020 7431 3714

http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/restaurant.php?id=hampstead




"Expect the unexpected" July 2008 Supper Club cruise Amsterdam

My second trip to Amsterdam. My first was my 21st Birthday where I went to the Supper Club restaurant to celebrate. There were 11 of us in total and Sarah (my sister's friend) and I  had to organize a jam packed weekend extravaganza for my sister's hen weekend. The supper club restaurant is 100% an eating experience to remember. Having researched the supper club cruise, it sounded perfect for the drunkard occasion.

We boarded the ship at 7pm prompt, loaded with our “L” plates, tiaras and naughty games for the evening we climbed aboard. The bottom deck is completely white in colour with huge beds for seats and turquoise strobe lighting throughout. We were shown to the upstairs deck where it was the same layout but in midnight black. Heels off as instructed we all jumped on to the beds with excitement. Pink was the wine colour of choice for the evening. Light, fruity and most importantly for a hen night – very drinkable.

The way the dining experience works is you just need to inform the waiter on the night if you have any specific dietary requirements and then leave it up to the chef. A 6 course meal of the chef's choice will arrive in strange and spectacular ways.
Some of the food we were served was as follows:-
Smoked chicken Cesar style salad with fresh beets served in a glass airtight container (similar to what you store coffee in)
Thai style coconut broth served in a clear drinks glass
Seabass fillet on a bed of spinach, black beans and a cream of tomato soup style sauce. This sounds like chalk and cheese but actually were amazing and that wasn’t the wine talking on this occasion.
Between courses we were dancing and prancing around the boat. as expected. This was a night filled with self made entertainment. We all wore LBD’s and my sis- the bride to be wore cream.
The supper club is famous for their crazy choices of entertainment. The DJ stopped and the set changed. The most flexible lady I have ever seen- I think the term is contortionist began parading her limbs around the boat for all eyes to enjoy. You should expect the unexpected at the Supper Club.

www.supperclub.com/html/cruise


supperclub cruise
Ruyterkade Pier 14
+31 (0)20 3446403
info@supperclubcruise.nl
















“A perfect lazy Sunday Lunch” The North London Tavern January 2009

I wanted to add the North London Tavern into my collection as Kilburn where it is situated will always be remembered as my first home in London. There is no exaggeration when I say we lived behind the pub. No Iie, I used to go to sleep at night to the sound of the glass bottles crashing as they were being emptied into the bins outside!
It wasn’t a planned outing to the pub. One of my best friends Abby and I had been on a winter walk around Hampstead Heath and built up an appetite... although it did come naturally with a hangover on a Sunday. I think ravenous is the word I am looking for. Armed with my "News of the world" Sunday paper we prepared ourselves for a long and lazy, surprisingly non boozy afternoon. I do love a sneaky cider when I go to the pub and call it my guilty pleasure. I have actually asked for it in a wine glass on previous occasions so I don't get the stares when I am lugging round a pint glass full of the stuff!  Conveniently placed by our choice of seating was a copy of "The Sunday Times"- which was left by another diner- including the abundance of supplements draped over the table.
The pub is a dark cosy atmosphere. It is a great find away from the hustle and bustle and yes bartering that happens on Kilburn high road. It is even a little out of place you could say.
I ordered braised beef stew with mashed potato, baby onions and celery and Abby ordered Roast chicken, Yorkshire puddings, roast vegetable and gravy. Both meals were reasonably priced at £12.50. As this is known as a gastro pub- the prices are a little more inflated than your average boozer. I would have normally gone for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with my food- however the mood, food and the company was good enough for me. The service was speedy and we were both impressed with the food. The beef was tender and the rich red wine infused jus went perfectly with the sweet baby onions. Abby’s portion was massive- it was a hearty plate of crispy skinned roast chicken, savoy cabbage, roasted parsnips, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes and gravy..and Yorkshire pudding.
Knife and forks down and clean plates, we cast our eyes over the dessert menu. My choice would have been Apple crumble and ice-cream and Abby’s chocolate brownie, chocolate sauce and crème cantily- but we were both officially stuffed so started our silent paper reading session. We stayed in our seats for a good few hours all in all.
The pub was filled with a mixture of couples, friends and locals all enjoying each other’s company. It was an enjoyable meal and I can see this pub continuing to thrive over the next few years. Lazy Sundays are what it is all about and this one hit the spot for me.


http://www.northlondontavern.co.uk/

North London Tavern   |   375 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7QB   |   Tel: 020 7625 6634


“Mixing business and pleasure” Benny Hadayag- Tel Aviv October 2008


         This was a wonderful meal to finish off a perfect holiday. I had been in Tel Aviv for 4 days with my boyfriend Adam. He was sent on business to do some schmoozing in Tel Aviv and invited me along. We had been seeing each other for a couple of months and I agreed to spontaneously join him for an all expenses paid fun mini break away in the sunshine. I will always treasure this holiday as it was our first together and I have such great memories.

           I met him on the tube when I was 15. Strange but true. He helped me off the carriage with my bags as he could see I was struggling. It was my first time on the tube travelling to London. Seven years later we crossed paths again and he said "I remember that face, I met you on a train about 7 years ago" and the rest is history!

         We got a short taxi ride to Tel Aviv port, as we were staying at the David Intercontinental which is based at the other end of the Tayelet. Arriving into Tel Aviv at 6am on a BA night flight- we both crashed out curled up on the hotel lobby sofa as we were hours away from check in time.

         We came across Benny Hadayag (the translation in English is Benny the fisherman) and chose to eat here. The fact it was packed out on a mid week evening in October was a good sign.

         This restaurant can definitely be described as informal, taverna style dining.
         There were seats outside on the port for those who liked to people watch, or indoor seating for comfort. We sat inside as hunger could not wait on this occasion. It has a no fuss interior and a relaxed atmosphere with big wooden tables. Having sat down for less than one minute an array of ten small white appetizer dishes arrived including humous, tahina, olives, deep-fried aubergine, harissa, Moroccan potatoes, Israeli salad, pickled turnips, pickled cabbage and pita bread.

          The friendly buxom waitress came over to explain what happens next. It is approximately 95 Shekels for the whole meal each. The main course if a choice of grilled/baked seafood/white fish such as red snapper or sea bass and also steak as a meat option.
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Two humongous pieces of white fish- one snapper and one seabass arrived bbq’d and wrapped rusticly in sliver foil. This wholesome way of serving was the epitamy of great holiday food. The simplicity of the food, decor, relaxed dress code creates a wonderful get stuck in, sit back and relax vibe.

The waitress gave me the background of the restaurant and told me it originally started over in Jaffa 15 years ago. it certainly has a long history as an authentic fish restaurant. I highly recommend this restaurant to any fish lover dining in Tel-Aviv.

Gamla Riesling was the white wine of choice and is excellent.

I have since returned with by best friend Dalia on our holiday in April 2010. We ate outside this time and I tried the grilled mixed seafood which is incredible and I would say is their most popular dish on the menu.

"Bete Avon"


  • Old port of Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • (03)5440933







“Welcome to Miami – "You eat a lot” Sushi Samba August 2009

          We arrived in Miami on Monday 4th August at our hotel Gansevoort South Beach. It was just recently built – 6 months prior so it wasn’t 100% finished; however it was perfect for us, complete with a roof top pool. Miami was booked as a last minute 10 day splurge to end the most amazing summer of 2008. I went with Dalia, Hannah and Tori. Our concierge- we named him Fernando- soon became our new best friend and he made a reservation for us at Sushi Samba. They have 6 restaurants including 5 in America and one in Tel Aviv.

          We jumped into our yellow cab and were greeted by front of house and were shown to our table overlooking the whole restaurant. The theme of the menu is Japanese, Asian, Brazilian and Peruvian fusion flavours. This exotic mix is also incorporated into the DJ, the design and even the layout of the restaurant.
           We all chose to eat sushi and dry white wine was perfect to compliment. That makes us sound so sophisticated, however this was really just a tame start to a drunkard night to follow. We ordered vegetable tempura and edamame beans to start and then we each went for a samba roll. This was 8 pieces of inside out roll and 4 pieces of sushi.
          My samba roll was lobster, mango, crispy rice, soy paper, red curry sauce and chives served with a lobster claw on a banana leaf garnished with exotic flower petals. As you can see from the photo this was beautifully presented.



          I also chose the salmon and avocado inside out roll. We were all in agreement that this was amazing sushi. The restaurant had a great buzz with a DJ, heaving bar, low lit lighting and good looking locals. Two bottles of Pinot Grigio later we were ready to continue the night in the Florida Rooms in the Famous Delano Hotel- co- owned by Madonna. Again Fernando our concierge had sorted us out with guest list so we walked right in. We carried on drinking vodka and vino until 4am. Lindsay Lohan was on the next table to us out with Samantha Ronson.
          We enjoyed our sushi experience so much we made another reservation for the following Tuesday night at 10.30pm. On average both meals for around £35 each. After our second meal we ordered a bottle of hot sake to share. We were all new to Saki and as this was a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage we gave it our best shot... pun intended. Let’s just say it’s not suited to my palette but at least I gave it a go.

         Overall definitely an eating experience. Sushi samba’s website quotes
From the carnival, inspired colours to the samba beat, to the centerpiece sushi and ceviche bar, the soul of sushi samba is about enjoying life and celebrating with friends. We welcome you Bern-vindo

600 lincoln road

miami beach, florida 33139

phone | reservations


305.673.5337 fax 305.673.5451
http://sushisamba.com/

"Get on it” Little Italy- Jerusalem July 2008

This was my second visit to the reputable Italian restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem city. The first time was my 19th birthday, and the second was me and my six amazing Leeds girlies. We had all come to Israel for 12 days during the summer as my friend Abigail’s sister was getting married. We have Dalia, Simone, Abby, Hannah Helen and Danielle. This was the first time a big group of us had gone away together in the summer since our club 18-30 days in Greece.

Apart from an enormous jellyfish sting which I got on the first day. ( I kicked the thing as I thought it was a plastic bag) this was an incredible holiday in Israel and the wedding was beautiful.
As we entered Little Italy we were all warmly welcomed to our reserved table by the owners of the restaurant. The waiter was very attentive and his English was 100 times better then my Hebrew skills, I am ashamed to say after doing months of learning the language on my gap year in Israel.
We skipped starters and went ahead and ordered the main. The menu was so appealing; Dalia and I decided to share 2 mains and a salad. We went for “Avi’s grilled haloumi salad- Israel style, Spinach and Jerusalem artichoke ravioli with tomato and cheese sauce and eggplant and Parmesan bake.
The restaurant has been open 22 years which is impressive. It has a warm, happy atmosphere. Wine flowing and of course laughter in the air our mains arrived. The portion sizes in Israel are certainly plentiful.
Diced cucumber, tomato, parsley, lemon juice with salty grilled haloumi cheese made up Avi’s salad. Eggplant is extremely popular in Israel and I have to say after trying some many disappointing Parmejana Melenzana’s back at home I was very impressed. The homemade tomato sauce was delicious and was cooked to perfection. The spinach and ravioli was also a great order. I am tempted to order anything with Artichoke in as I am addicted to the sweet but tarte taste. The ravioli was generously filled.
We all shared a selection of desserts to leave a sweet taste. We ordered a cheesecake, chocolate souffle and passion fruit sorbet.
We all couldn’t be happier, great friends, great food, great wine, staff and atmosphere. The old fashioned Italian restaurants usually always have the owners in house to meet and greet the customers. This all adds to the wonderful atmosphere.
Barkan Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent choice in Israel... I am no wine connoisseur, but it is very fruity. The correct description from their website is as follows:-

 Grapes from the Galilee are blended with those from Tel Safit to create this elegant wine with its complex "rainbow" of aromas from fresh mown grass to cranberry and mango. Although of a light body, the intense herb and tropical fruit flavour and crisp tart, long finish is refreshingly delightful.
Jerusalem is a magical city and I have many wonderful memories of being in the capital. This restaurant is a great find and I hope to return on my next visit. Our night continued drinking vodka and amaretto sours in the outside bars and smoking nargila in down town Ben Yehuda Street.