Tulse Hill Hotel

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I am finally ensconced in my new home!

My sister and I have bought a charming (read small) 2 bedroom flat the other side of Brixton, in a place called Tulse Hill. The kitchen needs to be completely renovated, you can hear the neighbours creaking around upstairs (are they ALWAYS doing aerobics?!) and the bathroom needs to be re-tiled but its all ours!

I would be lying if I said the house buying process was smooth…

But its all over now and I am so happy to be there!

I now handily live next door to one of the best pubs in the area. Even before moving, I had enjoyed many a glass of red wine/pint of cider in the huge beer garden of the Tulse Hill Hotel but was yet to sample the food. I wish I had now!

The Girls and I popped for a quick breakfast one morning and were really impressed.

IMG_6249

You are led through to bright dining room area that overlooks the Garden. We picked a table near the window and quickly ordered caffeine.

Spot the engagement ring!

IMG_6243

It is an odd thing to comment on but I love the tables here! They are rich shade of nut brown and are huge so the whole place feels spacious and relaxed. I loathe being squeezed into places so this another reason they get my thumbs up!

IMG_6247IMG_6250

Exceedingly good Eggs Royale for me. The hollandaise was very slightly too tart for my tastes but the eggs were beautifully poached and sat atop exceptionally good quality salmon.

IMG_6252

Fruit, nuts and yoghurt for J. This came served on the most rustic wooden board that I thought was wonderful. My new property-owning status has left me obsessed with all homewares!

IMG_6251

The best part of having poached eggs for me, is diving into them and unleashing that beautiful runny yolk…

IMG_6254IMG_6255

C had the Eggs Benedict with ham which also got the nob of approval.

IMG_6256

It is more expensive than the average brunch but for convenience,top quality ingredients and marvelously chatty staff, the Tulse Hill Hotel can’t be beaten. It wasn’t THAT busy so I wouldn’t think you need to book.

Wesbite here, menu we had here and the fuller brunch menu here (doesn’t the Tomato Bread sound like a dream?) I have heard good things about the Roast as well, so that is next on my list to sample…

Batched cooked Bulgar

Tags

, , , , , ,

I am a BIG batch cooker. Nearly every Sunday I make a big vat of something-something and eat it for lunch all week.

It is worth saying, this normally has incredibly mixed results. Some weeks, I nail it. Right portion size, great taste – I am basically skipping to the fridge at 1pm.

However, on other occasions…

and then I am stuck eating it for 5 days!

I made this recipe up as I went along and it was an experiment that turned out right! Super easy, tasty, healthy and cheap. A couple of people at work have asked me for it so I thought I would share the love…

To make your own batch of lunchtime goodness, you will need the below:

  • 80g Bulgar Wheat
  • 200g cooked and peeled King Prawns
  • 200g Spinach – one the big bags at the supermarket is perfect
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of crushed garlic (I do like my food garlicky though!)
  • blob of honey
  • 2 tsps coriander powder
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Spoonful of greek yoghurt

 

First off, cook your Bulgar Wheat. Throw it all in pan and top with boiling water. Bring to the boil and then let simmer for 15 minutes until it is nice and soft. Drain the water and put the grains in a biggish bowl.

While the bulgar wheat is cooking, get out a large heavy bottomed frying pan and put it on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add your crushed garlic and all your spinach. Keep it moving until your spinach has become all wilted and soft.

Add your can of tomatoes, honey, coriander power, paprika and season well. Give it all good mix and leave for 5 minutes to reduce. Once it has, add your prawns, stir through and then take off the heat.

In the big bowl that you have your bulgar wheat in, add your seeds, the mixture from the pain and yoghurt. Stir well and voila! Lunchtime happiness guaranteed – even, if you’re like me and have to eat lunch at your desk most of the time…

IMG_6214IMG_6217

 

Billy and The Chicks

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Two things I like very much… a chicken dinner and a good pun. When I read about this place in Time Out, I was sold!

donald duck chicken dinner

A hop, skip and jump away from Oxford Circus, allow me to introduce you to Billy and The Chicks.

We arrived at 7.30pm on a Thursday night without booking a table which meant I was frantically thinking of other places we could end up in, if the restaurant couldn’t fit us. Thankfully, a very friendly waiter led us to a snug table for two and we were left to peruse the menu.

IMG_6060

The menu is simple and to the point. Pieces of chicken, burgers and a smattering of sides.

We both opted for a chicken burger with cheese and then, being as greedy as ever, I chose to supplement my burger and chips combo with even more chicken and mac and cheese ‘to share’…

The whole place is quite small and everything is served ‘take away’ style. The service is brilliant and we had our tray of goodies was delivered to us extremely swiftly by a wonderfully smiley waiter.

IMG_6063

Sorry for poor quality pictures; I literally snapped one with my iPhone then put it aside and started shovelling food in my mouth.

Juicy crispy succulent chicken coated in herbs, smothered in salty tangy cheese all captured in a soft fluffy bun. The restaurant prides itself on only using the best British ingredients which comes across hugely in the flavour – the burger beats any other I have had, hands down!

For drinks, there are a selection of cocktails and some fancy craft beers. We both opted for soft drinks so I can’t comment on these but the menu looked pretty varied so sure there will be something for every palette.

IMG_6069

Mac and Cheese is good, the chips are crunchy, the atmosphere is great but the main event really is the chicken. Yum.

Website here, find them here via a very cool map.

IMG_6071

 

Champagne Life

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

No no, sadly not the new title of this blog. Though, truth be told, my life is very like the below…

180424-snoop-dogg-champagne-cheers-gi-bIxe.gif

At this moment I am definitely not sitting in my pyjamas, with Homeland on in the background, eating Nutella straight from the jar. Yep.

Anyway, Champagne Life is a brand new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, running until the 9th of March. It is a show entirely by woman artists showing different sculptures, portraits and creations.

I know next than nothing about Art, but had heard good things so dragged N with me one blustery Saturday afternoon.

We meandered down the Kings Road and then joined the throngs of people heading into the Gallery.

IMG_6090

Upon arrival, we discovered it was £1 for a programme. ‘Bugger this!’ I cried, ‘We are intelligent and cultured, who needs that?’ and marched into the first room.

After 5 minutes of wandering around, nodding pensively and staring intensely at different paintings, our eyes met with the same look of confusion. We had no idea what was going on.

£1 later, we went back in, feeling slightly ashamed but much more well informed.

IMG_6098

(Nails ruined from peeling off a shellac!)

All the exhibitions were interesting and a few, down right terrifying. I have popped a few of my favourites below:

IMG_6100IMG_6103IMG_6104IMG_6113IMG_6120

The show is running for a couple more weeks and, even if you’re like me and know nothing about Art, is a fun way to spend a couple of hours! Most importantly of all, it is FREE. All details here.

IMG_6127

After grabbing frothy coffees, we slowly meandered back to Victoria, playing my favourite game on the way – ‘Dream House Hunting’… anyone have a spare £55 million for this delight in Eaton Square?

One day…

IMG_6128

Peach Frangipane Tart

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

The weather was horrible this week. Grey, rainy, windy and miserable.

giphy

After a week like this (and probably a cracking hangover from Halloween merriment last night!), you need a good sugar kick to help you combat the blues. My Peach Frangipane Tart fits the bill perfectly! It is super easy to whip up and tastes like summer. Serve with a dribble of double cream or best quality vanilla ice cream.

You don’t need much – all the ingredients you should be able to find in your cupboard already.

For the pastry…

  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cut into cubes
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 beaten egg

For the filling…

  • 75g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tins of peach slices… like this one

For the icing…

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons leftover peach juice from the tin

You will also need a tart tin, at least 3-4cm thick.

First off, make your pastry. The trick here is to make sure everything is really really cold. Make sure the butter has been cubed and stored in the fridge, open up all the windows and run your hands under the cold tap.

I made this at home and my parents have one of these wonderful Kitchen Aids. I merely bunged all the ingredients in, then mixed until it became dough. If you are doing it by hand, rub your butter and flour together until you get breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix, then add your beaten egg and water and mix until the dough holds together.

Roll your dough on a floured surface and shape into a circle. You want the dough to be about 2-3mm thick. Line your greased tin with the pastry, making sure you push into all the corners and make a lip around the top. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork.

Next up, your filling. Cream together your butter and sugar until its nice and creamy and then beat in your ground almonds and vanilla extract until everything is well combined.

Next up the peaches. Empty the can, saving a bit of the juice and dry each slice individually with kitchen towel. This is a pain and takes ages but you want to get as much moisture as you can out of the fruit or it will make your pastry soggy… and no one likes a soggy bottom.

gbbo2-mary-uh-oh-2

Once your peaches are all dry, arrange them in your pastry case and top with the filling. Pop in the oven at Gas Mark 5 for 45 minutes until the pastry looks lovely and crisp and the tart is golden.

While thats cooking, make your icing. Simply mix the icing sugar with the peach juice until you have a runny consistency. Drizzle over your creation when it is completely cool.

Cut into manageable hunks and enjoy!

Wild Caper, Brixton

Tags

, , , , , , ,

In my humble opinion, brunch is the best thing ever.

Eggs, bacon, coffee, Bloody Mary’s and pancakes, all served up alongside catching up with a friend. So much better than breakfast when everyone (read me) is still a bit too grumpy/groggy to be any good company.

But brunch… Brunch is fun! Brunch is sociable! Yummy food that can be masked as ‘breakfast’ and sometimes even the suggestion of alcohol? Brunch every weekend is fine with me!

pancakes bacon cafe-au

Now, I love brunch but I am also very lazy. I am very lucky Brixton has so many great spots and majority of my friends live a bus ride away! A and I went to an old favourite in the Village last Saturday, Wild Caper.

The focus is on really high quality ingredients for a fair price. The place itself is teeny tiny but they can normally seat you pretty quickly.

IMG_4745

IMG_4752 IMG_4754

The front counter spills over with home made pastries, cookies and cakes. Only just leaving room for a huge gleaming coffee machine.

IMG_4746

The tea pots are pretty fancy as well!

IMG_4750 (2) IMG_4750

Granola with fresh fruit, yoghurt and honey for A

IMG_4751

Eggs Royale for me – two perfectly poached eggs, smoked salmon, smothered in creamy hollandaise sauce perched on big buttery slices of sourdough. A is much healthier than me!

IMG_4755 IMG_4756

The staff are lovely who leave you in peace to natter away and the bill came to under a tenner each. I didn’t try the Bloody Mary’s but judging from the groans of delight (!) from the table next to us, they were worth a try.

Find them here and definitely buy a croissant as you leave for later! Happy Brunching 🙂

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tags

, , , , ,

Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn too much but these might just be the best thing I have ever baked.

92682-Taylor-Swift-Whatever-shoulder-H5Uf

I have been experimenting on my Rolo Cookies and think I have finally nailed the perfect recipe! I present to you salted caramel stuffed chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Now the secret ingredient is something a bit a bit odd… a packet of butterscotch Angel Delight. I found it in the back of my cupboard and chucked it in the bowl with my fingers crossed. To my delight, it turned out to be the magic these cookies needed to turn from ‘pretty good’ to ‘completely awesome’.

Another important step is the chilling time – sticking the dough in the fridge for at least an hour makes such a difference to the outcome! It stiffens the dough which helps encase the rolo better when baked. The result? A chewy crumbly cookies that molten caramel pours out off…

ryan

To make 12 – 15 large cookies (depending on how much dough you eat… ahem), you will need the below:

  • 180g softened unsalted butter
  • 95g brown sugar
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 260g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pack butterscotch Angel Delight
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g chocolate chips
  • 2 packs of rolos 

Beat your sugar and butter into a bowl until it is pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs and mix beat until they are well combined.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, the baking soda, the salt and the packet of Angel Delight.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and once completely mixed, stir through the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl, pop in the fridge for the next hour and go about your business.

Once the hour has passed… Place foil on a baking tray and heat your oven to Gas Mark 4. Take just over a spoonful of mixture, roll it into a ball and then push one rolo gently into the middle so it is completely surrounded by mixture. Repeat with the rest of your mixture and make sure all the balls are about 3 inches apart, as they will spread when they bake. (You might have to cook them in batches like I did!).

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until they are golden but still slightly undercooked. Immediately sprinkle with best quality rock salt and leave to cool.

rolo cookies

I took these into work to stop myself from eating the whole batch and am very pleased to report that they were demolished by the end of the meeting! A sign of a very good bake 🙂

Bone Daddies, Soho

Ramen seems to be the new thing in London. It used to be fried chicken, then Burgers and now everyone seems to be going wild for noodles!

noodles

My haunt of choice? Bone Daddies. The super talented Ross Shonhan (the guy who used to be Head Chef at Zuma and Nobu) opened this super cool ramen bar in 2012 in a hidden corner of Soho. It’s small, crowded and the blaringly loud rock n roll music hits you like a tidal wave when you walk through the door.

Now it is one of those annoying places you can’t book and have to queue, but every time I have been, the queue honestly hasn’t been that bad! Expect to wait about 30 minutes for a table but you can order a drink to pass the time – the Mr Sparkle (cucumber, pink grapfruit and oolong tea) slips down very easily if you are avoiding alcohol or if you fancy something a bit stronger, I would recommend the Berry Berry Nice (gin, raspberry and gingerbeer).

I always insist on getting the fried chicken to start. It might seem odd… but trust me. It might be the best I have had in London! I would also recommend the soft shell crab. It is served pipping hot with a green chilli sauce that has a kick! We burnt our fingers (… and tongues, ahem!) in our haste to eat it!

IMG_4413

All the Ramen’s come with egg, bamboo and sprouts and are all very different but equally filling. My favourite? The Tonkotsu Ramen. Made in 20 hour pork bone broth, it comes with chashu pork and spring onions. The broth is creamy and rich and salty and just all around delicious!

download

Now, last time I went, I recommended the Tonkotsu for my dapper dining companion and plumped for the T22 – chicken with a soy ramen.

IMG_4414

Basically, I ordered it because it came with ‘cock scratchings’. I still have no idea what they are but they were tasty and it and the name made me laugh!

Immature? Me?

tumblr_mdr10yWekk1rq0hnm

Anyway, the T22 was good… but the Tonkutsu was better! If you are a spice fiend, I have also heard the Tantanmen packs a punch!

Capture

Now, that looks like three people enjoying ramen!

Find them here and remember, your bowl must look like the below when you’ve finished!

IMG_4415

Duck and Rice, Soho

Tags

, , , , , , ,

S recommended this to me in an offhand way, ‘O if you are about Soho, I have been meaning to go to Duck and Rice. It’s new. Meant to be good.’

Doing a bit more research, I found out it is styled on a ‘Chinese Gastropub’, whatever that means. Then stumbled upon the fact that it is the new venture by Alan Yau, the genius behind Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Busaba Eathai (their thai calamari is the best I have ever had) aaaandddd… WAGAMAMA.

giphy

That was it, I had to go. I grabbed G and we headed into Soho one Friday night.

It is located the scruffy end of Berwick Street but don’t worry, it is easy to find! The outside looks like a combination of a science museum, brass factory and planetarium but its pretty fancy!

IMG_4032 IMG_4035

(It is very cool outside so I felt a bit silly snapping pictures!)

The downstairs is a buzzy heaving bar but we (carefully!) journeyed up via the spiral staircase to the restaurant upstairs. With no reservation, we crossed our fingers and managed to get the last couple of seats near the kitchen. If you are going, especially on a Friday night, I would definitely advise booking. We were told we were very lucky!

IMG_4021 IMG_4031

The cocktails aren’t that great but there are three brilliant twists on the classic Gin and Tonic – we both plumped for the ‘Hayman London Dry’, which came with lashings of elderflower cordial and sprinkling of raspberries and blueberries.

IMG_4023

After poring over the menu, we ended up ordering a smattering of all the favourites to share.

IMG_4026

Prawn toast and gyoza – everyone’s favourite and they didn’t disappoint.

IMG_4027

Salt and pepper squid… obviously. Not as good as Busaba but still pretty damn tasty.

IMG_4028

Jasmine smoked ribs – these were unbelievable! We were um-ing and aah-ing about these and the waitress insisted we order them. Best decision of the year! Perfectly cooked juicy tender meat that fell off the bone, covered in a smoky sticky glaze that left you licking your fingers, wishing there was more!

IMG_4030

We also tucked into cloud like char sui buns that disappeared before I had a chance to snap them and finished with the crowning glory of the Crispy Peking Duck. Resulting in two very full and sticky, but incredibly satisfied girls.

The pros? The food and drinks are awesome, the staff charming and friendly and the service is quick.

The cons? It is expensive and you could probably find the same dishes of the same quality somewhere cheaper. Apart from the ribs. The ribs will blow your mind.

Go visit yourself to make up your own mind and let me know how you get on! Visit their fantastically confusing website here, full menu here and for the love of God, order the ribs.

Amsterdam… aged

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Amsterdam was awesome. There are no other words for it. Just freaking awesome!

giphy (6)

The obvious debauchery aside, there is a lot more to the Dam than you would have ever thought. It is simply picturesque! C, a die hard Scot, even remarked at one point, ‘I think this might even be more beautiful than Edinburgh’, which shocked all of us to our very core. (You can read about our Scottish adventures herehere and here).

I have posted a few of my snaps below – all taken on my trusty iPhone. I really need to get a new DSLR – any recommendations from pro-photographers?

When the sun comes out, the City is magical!IMG_3800 IMG_3801 IMG_3808

Topsy turvy houses!

IMG_3810 IMG_3815

Smallest house in Amsterdam!

IMG_3818 IMG_3829

We stayed on a houseboat which as you can see from our beaming faces below, was fab. They are moored a 5 minute walk from Central Station and 10 minutes from the Red Light District. Book them here and if you’re not convinced by me, read the reviews here.

IMG_3845 IMG_3846

Traditional food is ‘bitterballen’, little deep fried balls filled with cheesy, meaty, potato-y goo. Okay, I am not describing them very well, but I promise you, they are nice!

IMG_3784

Three Bloody Mary’s and one chocolate milk…

The food generally is pretty good, there are lots of sweet things: stroop waffles, poffetjes (traditional dutch pancakes) and the best Apple Pie ever – if you ever venture to Amsterdam, please make sure you have a trip to Winkel’s!

BUFFET von Odette was recommended to us for Brunch and it was wicked (get the truffle cheese omelette – take that hangover!).

IMG_3824 IMG_3825 IMG_3888 IMG_3898 IMG_3902 IMG_3951 IMG_3988

Bloody Mary’s are the best way to cure any hangover!

IMG_3822 IMG_3912 IMG_3924 IMG_3982

Make sure you book Anne Franks House or prepare to stand in a veeeeryyyyy long line and the Museums are worth a trip (Van Gogh, Matisse etc etc). We made a trip to ‘Foodhallen’, Amsterdam’s version of Borough Market – thanks for insisting we went A! It is set in an old warehouse where disused Trams used to be stores and has lots of food stalls and bars. I would particularly recommend the Gin and Tonic Bar – don’t worry, we sampled majority of them for you and it resulted in 5 very happy, if not merry girls!

IMG_3881 IMG_3882 IMG_3932 IMG_3947IMG_3957 IMG_3937

Amsterdam used to be the wealthiest city in the world – it is built over a formation of canals that ensured its place as a vital trading hub. The best way to explore is to hit the streets and dander around – you come across so many cool little spots completely by accident.Make sure you take comfy shoes! My converses did the job perfectly.

IMG_3790 IMG_3792 IMG_3831 IMG_3840 IMG_3863 IMG_3870 IMG_3876

Amsterdam might have been one of the best city breaks I have ever been on and what made it so good was the lovely bunch of birds I went with. You can get pretty cheap flights if you book far in advance and all i can say, is go go go! And remember, what happens in the Dam, stays in the Dam!

IMG_3884

Obvious trip to the Sex Museum… best 5€ spent.

IMG_3960 IMG_3961 IMG_3962

large