Happy New Year to my friends and readers across the world.
I hope that 2018 is filled with love, laughter, energy and peace.
It’s been a busy year with lots of travel, food and opportunities and I’m grateful and thankful. I’m keen to find out what 2018 holds in store for me and for this blog.
I’m setting myself a few goals or ‘resolutions’, written here to ensure they happen. May it bring change to those who need or want it, may it provide stability for others.
My list of things to achieve in 2018
Go to the gym. I’ve just joined one so I need to physically get there and exercise more.
Sort out my diet – eat more fruit and vegetables.
Volunteer – ideally I’d like to do something involving history and or food.
Write more for my Huffington Post blog.
Whatever your hope is for 2018, may you achieve it and have fun getting there. As ever, thanks for stopping by, keep stopping by because I’m sure there will be something here that will make you laugh or inspire you. At least that’s my hope.
Have you set yourself any goals for 2018?
We ate at Rochelle Canteen today, Margot Henderson and Melanie Arnold’s second restaurant, at ICA on The Mall.
It’s rare I look at a menu and want everything.
The Merchant’s Range provided wines by the glass (£5) from local Pall Mall vintners Berry Brothers and Rudd. Bottles of wine are reasonably priced. I think the costliest was a Burgundy at £56.00.
We didn’t opt for the small snacks, bread or olives or the Radishes with Cod’s Roe (£4.50), or the Rillettes with Pickled Cucumber (£5.50) but we did encounter serious food envy and craned necks for the majority of the meal.
To begin I had the butterflied Grilled Quail & Aioli (£9.50) which I destroyed, picking up the delicate wings and sucking off the meat and lightly spiced, crispy skin.
Mr opted for the Pig’s Cheek, Dandelion & Mustard (£7.50). A really good balance of flavours, capers, bitter greens and that richness of the pig’s cheek made this dish an absolute winner.
For our main course another rich dish for me. Ox Tail, Pickled Walnut & Celeriac Mash (£16.00). The meat fell off the tail bones and the gelatinous fat and jelly, sublime. The rich gravy had worked its magic on the chunks of carrot which needed little help to cut. The celeriac mash pulled the whole dish together.
Mr and I shared some sprout tops which were lightly steamed, retaining their glorious colour and freshness.
The suet shortcrust pastry top on his rabbit and bacon pie (£16.00) was immense. It was difficult not to pick the excess off the side of the ceramic dish and I didn’t try too hard. The gravy was thin but full of flavour, the rabbit was moist and tender. Huge pieces of smoked bacon completed a really well-balanced pie.
Our bill, including service, and drinks three glasses of house wine and a large bottle of sparkling water, was £79.31.
Arnold and Henderson, ICA, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH
020 7729 5667
Did you read my review on Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush?
A friendly pub with a warm atmosphere, great drinks and good food. Here’s my review of Princess Victoria in W12.
After a short closure, and a dramatic makeover, The Princess Victoria forms part of the extensive gastro-pub portfolio owned by the Three Cheers Pub Company. They’ve turned a car-park into a heated terrace, worked on the back garden and made the upstairs private room welcoming.
This former gin palace has over 100 bottles of gin from all over the world, they stock the mixer range from the sister-run company Double Dutch.
The main bar is colossal, with the primary focus being a large central bar. Table 1 in the bar is the one near the gas fire, which is perfect for the winter months.
The dining room is another vast space, beautifully decorated, with lots of botanical prints.
Upstairs, is the 1829 Room, named after the year the pub was built. It comes complete with cocktail bar, open fire, huge television and can hold 50 dining and 90 standing.
We were invited to try their seasonal menu, and we weren’t shy.
We began with a British Charcuterie Board (£9) Bresaola, Coppa, Venison Salami and Chorizo slices, served with tiny sweet pickled onions and cornichons. A few fat fingers of homemade focaccia was just showing off. Delicious.
To start, I had the confit chicken terrine with a wonderfully spiced pear chutney and toasted sourdough (£6.50). The chutney was set nicely and had a beautiful sweet spice to it which worked hand-in-hand with the terrine. Plenty of sourdough toast which is always a bonus.
Mr opted for the salt and pepper calamari (£6) which came with a rich aioli. Crisp light batter covered a perfectly cooked squid ring.
Butter roasted garlic was an absolute delight and sat shimmering in the spotlight on my perfectly cooked Sirloin (£19.50). Chips were well fried and Bearnaise sauce as expected.
The dish of the night had to go to Mr’s garlic chicken (£14). If I were sitting in a zinc bar in Paris, I would not have been disappointed. Soft garlic chicken, fondant potato and a confit savoy cabbage, draped in chicken jus were out-of-this-world.
We did try a side of mac and cheese (£4), but it was way too salty to enjoy. Sadly missed a trick by being blasted by a blow torch and not finished under a bubbling hot grill.
We skirted the Pizza which looked like excellent value at under £11 and with flavours including Chorizo and goat’s cheese, sausage, chorizo and ham and a mushroom and stilton with chill and black olives, a varied choice of flavour.
Expect a wide range of starters for those with a real hunger and mains to include good selections for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
It’s fair to say I was starving, but I couldn’t manage the pudding.
From bar food to Sunday roast, I doubt you’ll be disappointed at Princess Victoria. They’re also open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day if you’re looking for a break from the kitchen.
The staff were friendly, knowledgeable and made you want to return. There’s a little bit of me almost glad the last owners had to let it go.
Princess Victoria, Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London.
Did you read my review on Pothecary Gin?
Looking for a bottomless brunch, breakfast, lunch or dinner spot in Victoria? You won’t be disappointed to eat at Timmy Green.
Who doesn’t love a bottomless brunch? Here in the UK, we’re slow on the uptake and slowly but surely it’s being introduced to lots of restaurants, here in the capital. Nova Victoria takes up a vast swathe of a new development in Victoria. Seventeen restaurants and three pop-up stands run in a square along Victoria Street, Buckingham Palace Road and Bressenden Place. It’s the result of a significant investment and huge re-development known as The Nova Manifesto. It brings offices, apartments and some fabulous places to eat in an area which was once a food desert.
Timmy Green is the latest Australian-inspired cafe from the Daisy Green Group. It’s a triangular-shaped restaurant within a rectangular building, so it’s a piece of art in itself.
The restaurant can cater for 150 covers, and there are two floors, mostly set with tables for 2. We visit during a Friday lunch service, and it fills to bursting by the time we leave. I bring Mum along to sample the bottomless brunch which is on offer every weekday here from 8 am to 3 pm.
Prosecco and orange juice free-flows until you’ve sat for 2 hours and in fairness, we drank more OJ than Prosecco. Diners can choose one cold item, one hot, and can pay an additional £5 for bottomless coffee or £8 for smoothies and juices.
To begin, Mum had the housemade maple granola served with thick Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, honey, chia seeds, flaked almonds & flowers. A generous plate of fresh fruit, dried berries and toasted oats and seeds topped with thick creamy yoghurt.
I plumped for the coconut bread french toast, with thick Greek yoghurt, fresh & freeze-dried berries, griddled mango, shaved coconut, bee pollen & pure maple syrup. Two puck-shaped and baked, sweetened bread was stacked with everything. Three soft fingers of mango on one side and pureed raspberry on the other.
Both dishes were very filling, and we became a little worried that we’d ordered a hot plate too. But following a pause and a couple of glasses of fizz we were ready for it.
Mum chose the healthy breakfast greens. Two poached eggs came on a bed of steamed seasonal greens with halloumi soldiers on the side. The halloumi soldiers are excellent, ideal for dipping in the egg yolks (although I’d also ordered a side of toast, made with Daisy Green’s famous activated-charcoal bread for that very purpose).
Bright orange yolk ran over the plate when I broke into one of my poached eggs. The smoked salmon royale came on dark rye. Lemon hollandaise with just the right amount of tartness covered two perfectly poached eggs. There was half an avocado on the side with a dollop of spicy homemade pesto. Another generous plate of food which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We loved the atmosphere inside. It was beautifully light with some beautiful art inside, including these Lone Ranger prints (with banana guns) by the artist and printmaker Shuby. Look out for the massive painting by Louise Dear and giant egg by Sir Peter Blake.
There are plenty of exciting options on the menu including the full English with a twist, broccoli & corn fritters, Shakshouka and the fancy bacon roll, with the Ribman’s Holy F**k sauce.
We were guests of Timmy Green, Nova, Victoria.
Did you read my recent review of Kaspar’s at The Savoy Hotel?
International Sherry Week is a great opportunity to scream to the world about this wonderful Spanish product and with the added challenge to pair food with a mystery bottle of this wonderful wine I’m there with bells on. Sherry, I hear you cry! Isn’t that for maiden aunts and the like? Well, I hate to break it to you but if that’s your first thought, you need to hop on a plane and get yourself to Jerez – the Sherry capital of the universe.
International Sherry Week
I’ve had a thing for sherry since I visited this part of Spain some time ago, bolstered after a fabulous wedding in a Bodega in Vejer soon after. Forget the Bristol creams of this world or the old thick syrupy stuff that lurks in crystal decanters. I’m talking sherry wine that’s full of depth and flavour. Once you’ve tried one that blows your mind, you’ll enjoy sampling sherry all the more.
Game or Offal?
The dish had to be local to where I live, or certainly where I come from. I toyed with the idea of pheasant and marvelled at game birds of every variety currently in season, all of which work with Palo Cortado. London isn’t well known for its shoots or it’s chicken but we do have some of the best restaurants in the world here and there are parts of the UK that do. Tender, organic chicken livers from birds reared on farms where they’re free to roam on organic pastures form the basis of my dish.
I was sent a bottle of Palo Cortado to work with and it’s a beautifully complex wine with the wonderful smell of toasted raisins. Now I can’t confess to being a sherry expert, you should visit the Bodegas of Jerez for an education but I know a little about what I love. Its production would mean a whole other blog which I shall work on.
I do know it takes its name from the slash or ‘Palo’ the cask is given when it’s initially fortified to 15% by volume. When the tasters get round to sampling, if it meets certain very specific characteristics it’s given a horizontal line across the original slash mark. See the bottle below for the visual.
Could I get away without cooking at all? Palo Cortado works so very very well with strong cheeses, this Gran Padano Reserva was a fabulous match.
It’s best served chilled and it will keep in your fridge once it’s opened, for months. Sadly, not in our house.
I chose a chicken liver parfait recipe simply because of the depth of wonderful flavours, the chicken livers, garlic, cream, thyme and basil. Not for it’s photographic opportunities I hasten to add. You just need to understand the taste is outstanding for this fairly simple and cheap dish.
Chicken Liver Parfait with Spiced Fig Chutney
175g unsalted butter softened
500g chicken livers. I used organic.
3 tbsp Palo Cortado sherry
2 sprigs of stripped Thyme
1 chopped garlic clove
2 basil leaves
4 tbsp Double Cream
Salt and pepper
Spiced Fig Chutney
2tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 fresh figs, chopped into quarters
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper