Sunday, 18 October 2009

'Tweet ...!'Tweets the Tweeter

Believe it or not I have finally caved in and signed up for a Twitter account ... something I though I would never do. And I'll tell you why too ... I read about Tweet What You Eat, described as a 'Twitter-based food diary'.

I've kept food diaries before and they are very good at keeping me terribly conscious of what I eat but as most diaries go, I've always been too update it lazy after awhile. Perhaps, just perhaps, I would be better this time. So far I'm on 230 calories today and it's past 3PM. If I'm very, very good for the rest of the day, it means I can have dinner of 1700 - 3 Big Mac meals plus dessert!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Sunday Roast - Roast, Borough Market

We had big plans for the last Bank holiday weekend but for one reason or other (mainly because we were feeling old and creaky), we decided on Sunday roast instead - chunky cardies and knitting bags were left safely at home. With dozens of suggestions flying about, we finally headed down Southbank towards Borough, home of gastronomic delights (just steer clear on a Sunday - the one day the market is deathly quiet), only to realise we hadn't a clue where Roast actually was. I knew it had a good view over St Paul's (though we would later discover that 'good' was stretching it a little far), which points to it being on a upper level...indeed a good start ... However, there was no need for tilted heads - quick thinking Roast (or just a restaurant who had many a lost customer) had very kindly left a trail of signboards leading all the way to the restaurant, right above Brindisa. So far so good.

View - Roast, Borough
The view from our table; the dome of St Paul's in the background

Lunchtime and we hadn't booked a table (we were still deciding on a venue right until we met up at Waterloo) but it was past 2PM and it was a Sunday. This played to our advantage as having missed the lunch rush we managed to secure a table fairly easily - sitting at the bar for only about 10 minutes whilst enjoying the strains of a tinkering piano in the background. The large main dining area was bright and airy, split into 2 levels, with large windows. It's one of those rooms that would be lovely in summer (nice English summer mind you ... a degree or two warmer with the sun overhead would mean sunburned diners sitting in an overheated conservatory) but pretty dismal in the middle of winter. However, whilst saying that we did turn up on a pretty dreary, overcast day and we were in perfect temperature throughout our 5 hour stay (yes, 5 hours ... Sunday lunches are supposed to be leisurely, are they not?).

Menu - Roast, Borough

Roast offers a Sunday roast set menu at £26 for two courses or £30 for three courses. Everyone went for three courses. It wasn't a difficult decision for any of us.

Bread and Butter - Roast, Borough

We feasted on bread (the downfall of every meal) whilst waiting for our food. It was a choice of white or brown with lush Netherend Farm butter (it was so yummy that I even did a little research and found out it is stocked by Waitrose. Yay!). Testtiment to either how hungry we were or how good the bread was, we had an extra 2 baskets of bread and another round of butter.

British Bubbly - Roast, Borough

In celebration of not going out, getting drunk and falling over ill like a bunch of first year university students at freshers week, we had a couple bottles of Sussex's finest bubbly - Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2006. Snickering aside for any mention of English wine, this was actually rather excellent. Winner of several awards, it tasted soft, clean and crisp - everything I like for easy drinking. Again I did a little research and this is sold at Waitrose (really have to love good ol' Waitrose).

Butternut Squash Soup - Roast, Borough

There was an almost silent round of applause when our starters arrived. We were never going to be content with just bread, butter and bubbly. R had the butternut squash soup with spiced sour cream, which she gave the two thumbs up to. I had a tiny taste and it was like being wrapped up in a warm comfy duvet.

Laverstoke Park Buffalo Mozzarella - Roast, Borough

P and J both had the Laverstoke Park buffalo mozzarella with baked figs and mint. I'm not usually a fan of figs (too many tiny pips for my liking) and was a little hesitant to try any but oh wow ... this certainly changed my idea of figs. Intensely flavoured - sweet and caramelised, it went very well with the creamy cheese. The mint brought a hint of freshness to each mouthful.

Potted Gammon - Roast, Borough

Taking a step back from dairy, I opted for the potted gammon served with piccalilli and toast. The little chunks of meat were tender and the tart piccalilli cutting nicely through. But I've never had piccalilli before (it's one of those old fashioned English delicacies which I'm not drawn to trying just for the sake of tasting it) and cannot say if this was wondrously delicious or just bordering on average. If I had to be negative, I would say it was a teeny bit too tart but yes, it's a pickle .. so it should be .. well, tart.

Slow Roast Wicks Manor Pork Belly - Roast, Borough

For mains, both R and J had the slow roast Wicks Manor pork belly with Bramley apple sauce. A very generous serving of meltingly tender pork encased in crispy crackling. Happy smiles from both R and J. I had some of the pork minus the crackling (I'm not a fan ... seriously not a fan) and apple sauce (it conjures up the image of bottled baby dessert) and it was lovely.

Roast Sirloin of Welsh Black Beef - Roast, Borough

P and I both had the roast sirloin of Welsh Black beef served with Yorkshire pudding, horseradish and Coleman's English mustard. Cooked to medium rare just the way it should be. P had second thoughts about this dish when she saw the 'cooked to medium rare' note on the menu but ordered it and thoroughly enjoyed eating it. The Yorkshire pudding was light and crisp. The meat was gorgeous and the serving was generous (this always scores big brownie points with me). I was a very happy bunny indeed.

Cooks Selection of Vegetables - Roast, Borough

Roast Sirloin of Welsh Black Beef - Roast, Borough

The cooks selection of vegetables - minted runner beans and roasted potatoes in beef dripping were served in separate dishes for us to help ourselves. The beans were tender with just a touch of butter and mint to bring out the flavours. Roasted spuds in beef dripping ... oh so bad and yet so good. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Pear and Raspberry Crumble with Custard - Roast, Borough

By the time our plates were cleared and we handed the dessert menu, we were grumbling about the evils of too many bread baskets and rounds of butter. But we soldiered on. High on every ones list was the pear and raspberry crumble with custard. Very good it was too. The best bit was the crumble top. Crunchy and 'bitty', it was just my idea of a good crumble.

Banoffee Pie - Roast, Borough

I had my eye on the Eton mess with elderflower jelly but was sorely disappointed when the waiter returned to say that they had run out of jelly. I could have the Eton mess by itself but I didn't actually want mess when I placed my order. I wanted elderflower jelly. It had to be banoffee pie. Oh the dairy ... the dairy! The pie wasn't too bad but you know when you don't want something but had to eat it anyway because you had ordered it? I usually want banoffee pie as a teatime treat, not really as a dessert ... it's a little too heavy. My slice came sitting on a mass of chocolate and caramel squiggles (as good or bad as any good quality chocolate and caramel sauces) and a large wafer like round stuck into the whipped cream top. I say 'wafer like round' because it was rather indistinguishable - not particularly sweet nor particularly crunchy nor particularly nice to eat. A bit of a waste of time. Disappointing.

It was a delightful meal. The last seating on a Sunday is 3.45PM with no dinner service but we stayed past 7PM and we were not rushed to leave. There were still a few lingering diners at other tables. It was deliciously relaxed. There was even entertainment in the form of our waiter, who though very efficient and courteous at all times, found himself on hostile ground with P. It was just one of those situations where two people just don't like each other. He was never rude, just very French in the way of being quite (OK, very) self assured. The rest of us found it hilarious though ... and he did have gorgeous eyes.

The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, London, SE1 1TL

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Fresco - Bayswater

Visits to Bayswater usually end with a meal at a Chinese restaurant with a large plate of roasted duck as the centrepiece. I love Chinese and I like duck but after awhile it does get little … well, boring. So, it’s ‘hurrah’ for an ex-colleague of mine, Rosa, who lives in the area and has absolutely no interest in eating anything Chinese (I should really dislike her :) but with the sort of food that comes out of most Chinese restaurants, I don’t blame her). Hanging out with Rosa usually starts with a drink (or more) before heading off to Fresco - with their made to order fresh juices, wraps and Lebanese maze.

Lunch - Fresco, Bayswater

I’m a fan of the mix plate – where I get to choose 3 dishes from a selection of maze with a side of warm pita and pickles for about a fiver. Bargainous! If I really wanted I could actually construct my very own (very large) maze sandwich. It’s thoughts like that that really gets me excited. Two staples on my plate are the moussaka and tabouleh. The oil drenched aubergine in garlicky tomato sauce with the stray chickpea is SO good. I have been known to get a takeaway portion of this for lunch the next day. Let’s just say whoever gets the seat next to me on the bus home will have wondrous smells wafting their way at some point in their journey. For harmonious balancing, I order the tabouleh – the aubergine to make me all tingly happy and the tartness of the salad to make me feel less guilty for consuming the whole portion of oily aubergine. I do actually like tabouleh – honestly! The third item on my plate usually varies depending on my mood. On this visit I got the falafel, which had probably been heated up in the microwave. I like my falafels piping hot, straight out of the deep fat fryer – so these weren’t great (unless it's the falafel, spinach and tomato sandwich from Pret A Manger - something about the tomato chutney that they use ... do they actually use tomato chutney or am I just going a little crazy?).

A Mixed Plate - Fresco, Bayswater

It would be rude to all that way and not get juice. Unfortunately I am frequently rude – big mix plate + big glass of juice = unhappy tummy. On the odd occasion I’ll be reckless and go for the full whack - papaya, mango and mint mix.

25 Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Grove, London, W2 4UA

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lunch in the Sun

I've been such a grouch lately. Mainly because the weather has been turning and autumn has always been a real downer season for me. It conjures up images of having to return to school after 3 glorious months of doing absolutely nothing at home. Ergh ....

Smoked Salmon and Tomato Fritata with a Strawberry Smoothie - Saturday Lunch

I grabbed my last chance of lunch in the warm sunshine at the weekend and actually sat on my balcony with a plate balanced on my lap. I must admit I have NEVER eaten on my balcony before. It must be one of those crazy things the sun does to us.

Smoked Salmon and Tomato Fritata with a Strawberry Smoothie - Saturday Lunch

Lunch consisted of a 2 egg frittata topped with smoked salmon (the very un-posh itty-bitty stuff that comes in wee packets - yup the bit that gets sliced off the beautiful long slices that go for astronomical amounts), sweet cherry tomatoes, mangetout, sliced chili and mature cheddar. A very strange combination indeed but tasty. Heck ... anything that has melted oozy cheese over it is good! Washed down with a banana and strawberry smoothie.