Sunday, 15 December 2013

Enchanting Edinburgh

I spent 3 and a half days walking around Edinburgh, happy to be back in the cold once more, and ecstatic to be eating different kinds of food. I've been to Edinburgh 3 times now, and each was the lead up to a trip we made for a wedding. The city comes alive in August during the Fringe Festival, and we spent many hours walking around, trying to catch shows and picking at the different food stalls. Unfortunately for me, I had to upgrade my phone a few weeks later and hadn't backed up my images. These are what I managed to salvage. 

Sashimi bowl

i was awesome

Yes, do...

look at his big toe! 

My favourite meal

Monday, 9 December 2013

You Can Pat My Bun Anytime

There’s this blog I follow that’s written by a regular London girl – ok you guessed it, it’s called thelondoner – duh. I absolutely love her lifestyle, and can’t imagine how she eats the amount she does and stays as superbly beautifully skinny as she is. She travels, eats, cooks, parties and looks amazing doing it all. Before leaving for our trip, I spent a few days poring over her website trying to identify places to eat at that weren’t the regular places. 

Hello grey skied London
Now there's a place I could live in
Being extremely lazy and also incredibly tired out by the time we got to London (10 days of walking everywhere in extreme heat will do that) my friend’s living room and couch seemed like the most inviting option every time we decided to make a plan, and needless to say we didn’t go many places. Queensway is full of takeaway restaurants and we may have cleaned out the Peking Duck supply that week (thanks Four Seasons). 

why would anyone want to leave the house?
The one lunch we did drag ourselves out for turned out to coincidentally be one the burger places I’d read about online. And surprise, surprise, it was also conveniently in one of my most favourite, though cheesy and touristy, bits of London – St Christopher’s Place. 

waiting in line
Hello Patty & Bun. Walking past it, you wouldn’t look at it twice. The walls are a slightly unwashed white, with graffiti and industrial lighting everywhere. The storefront is painted a bright post box red, and the line that winds its way down the street tends to catch the eye. The smells wafting out catch the nose too! 

We were lucky to have caught the front of the line, and didn’t spend more than 20 minutes waiting before we were shown to a table. The menu is relatively simple – 6 burgers, some sides and desserts. 

erm yes, i'll have them all

Who are we to resist chicken wings? Spicy and hot, they were crispy on the outside and fell off the bone as soon as you picked them up. A sprinkling of spring onion on top complemented the taste perfectly. Delissssssshussshhh. The chips with rosemary salt go really well with just the wings, as well as the burgers. 

We ordered the special of the day – the Jose Jose Chilli Burger – a deluxe double patty with 2 kinds of cheese, house smoked mayonnaise, chili chorizo relish, pickled onions and other things I can’t remember – as well as 2 Smokey Robinsons. Smokey Robinsons are beef, brioche, bacon, their own house smoked mayo, cheese, tomatoes and caramelized onions. I decided to be slightly healthy and order a side of house salad with my burger. I’m sorry I’ll never do it again! 

to be fair, it was pretty good
The burgers were huge and a bit of a struggle to eat in one bite, but I managed just fine. Soft, juicy and every so smoky, the Smokey Robinson just calls to you. I’m not a big onion fan, so I had to open my burger up and get rid of the top coating, and I have to say it didn’t make much difference. 

deconstruction so you can see
taking off the onions
The meal was over pretty quickly, the service is fast and the burgers don’t take more than 15 minutes to get to you once you’ve ordered them. If you’re travelling to London anytime soon, I definitely recommend Patty & Bun. They’re just off Bond Street so you can pop in between shopping runs. Try and avoid weekends, I’m pretty sure the lines will be unmanageable. And don’t take it out of context if you hear people yelling ‘Great Buns’. X

Monday, 2 December 2013

Lungo Il Tevere - A Riverside Story

Walking through the streets of Rome at night is fun. We’d decide where to go for the night, and then get completely side tracked. On our way out for dinner one night, we crossed a bridge (which I identified later as Ponte Sisto) and saw a line of brightly lit white tents winding down the side of the Tiber. 

What could this be?
Being eternally curious, and always up for adventure we wandered down to the riverside. It turned out that this was Rome’s annual summer market, held between June and September every year, called Lungo Il Tevere. 

Eye catching, and dangerous steps for me
We filled plastic glasses with red wine Sangria, and slowly wended our way down river. The fair was full of all sorts of fun festival like things – open bars, restaurants, cafes, live music, tents selling things no one actually needs, toys, video games, dancing, and most importantly – street food. 

Great place to hang out
I'm pretty sure the sangria stops are timed. No sooner had I drained my glass than the next bar showed up. At 5 euros a Sangria, we took a pretty big hit walking up and down that night, but hey – who’s complaining! 

While we had originally planned to eat dinner in Tratsavere, the irresistible smell of fried food, fish and calamari drew our attention. After buying bags of candy and sweets from a candy store, we sat ourselves down on a slightly rickety wooden table by the river and tried to decipher the menu.

Couldn't resist

I can’t remember the name of the place we stopped at, but I do remember that there is a big wooden wall with an anchor spray painted on it, and fishnets hanging outside the kitchen and a fantastic view of the bridges. 
Loving the view
I’m a big fan of pointing at people’s food and saying ‘I want that’, which is exactly what we did. The result was a bucket of steamed mussels in white wine and cream, a plate of deep fried prawns in their shell, and grilled calamari in a bready batter. 

The way I eat shellfish is pretty amusing to most of my friends, I’ve spawned hours of jokes with the way I eat crab. Rome was in for a surprise! The mussels were perfectly steamed; though I wish the sauce had been slightly thicker and that I had thought to ask for crunchy bread to go with them. 

The prawns were fantastic – I couldn’t tell that they were fried; we crunched through them in minutes, shell and all. I couldn’t bring myself to eat the heads and ended up with a pile of tiny prawn eyes staring up at us. 

Little prawnies
We had a great evening walking up and down the riverside, it's amazing how many fish we saw in the water even though it was more polluted than I expected. Huge black fish with funny orange mouths that could have been the grilled fish on offer ;) Lungo il Tevere opens every night from June to September at 8.30pm and is a draw for locals and tourists alike, and a great place to hang out and feel like you're part of the city and its incredible charm and allure. I loved that we were sitting by a slow moving river on a starry summer night - molto romantico! Highly recommended if you're visiting. 

Streetlight people

Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Roman Adventure

 When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie that’s amore. When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, that's amore…

If Paris is my favourite city in the world, Rome has snuck up and kicked it on it’s behind. After a lot of careful planning, we added Rome to our list of summer holiday destinations and arrived there one hot, sunny day, ready to tackle the heat wave and the food.

first look
When I think of Italy, I think of balmy air, a light breeze and fantastic food. We got 1 out of 3 – thanks for the heat wave Italy!!! The absolute beauty of the city is the architecture, and the way the city has grown and adapted itself around little ruins and old villas. Even the newer buildings come up keeping the old style in mind.

a tiny glimpse of rome
We stayed at Hotel Navona – perfectly located to walk anywhere we wanted. Day 1 was pretty funny. We got to the hotel, changed into something less heated (SHORTS!) and set off on our Roman Adventure. Taking a 6am flight out of Edinburgh may not have been the best idea, but it was the only flight there was. As a result, we were tired, thirsty and hungry. Keeping that in mind, we probably shouldn’t have stopped at a bar first (we slept for 14 hours that day), but we did. Ice cold Mojitos and some crisps a few minutes later, and we were part of magical Rome.

We had to stop
The next stop was pizza and pasta. I’ve always wondered, but I’m scared to ask – can I put pasta on my pizza? Or inside it like a Calzone? Do I really need to choose? The food we ate was at a little café just off Piazza Navona, unfortunately I don’t remember it’s name, I’ll blame that on the booze. By the time we finished our meal (Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza Margerita and Bruscetta) we couldn’t keep our eyes open. Back to the hotel, and to bed at 6pm. The next time I opened my eyes, it was 6am!
Red red pomodore
First pizza in rome
The next day dawned bright and early for us – we were out of bed at 8am! After a quick shower and breakfast of coffee and pastries at a local coffee shop we were off to the Vatican! (Tourist tip – if you’re asking for a latte, specify there needs to be coffee inside it. Say the actual words Café Latte, or you will get a glass of warm milk, like I did the first time round.)

OMG - I'm in Rome!
Walking the streets of Rome with the person I most want to be with all the time (sorry love, hehe) was amazing. Seeing buildings, roads and people that I had only read about was inspiring. The Vatican was gorgeous, and we spent so much time in St Peter’s Basilica that we didn’t make it to the Vatican Museums before they closed!

After a great day of sight seeing, we showered, changed and wandered down to Campo de Fiori, once again a stones throw from the hotel. Settling down at Primo Café, we proceeded to demolish a bottle and a half of wine between us.

Ready to paint the town red
In addition to multiple sides of vegetables and potatoes, I ordered Il filetto guanciale e carciofi –a  fillet of beef with pork cheeks & artichokes. I was a bit hesitant about the pork cheeks, but it turns out they wrap the entire tenderloin in said cheeks and then slice of the fillets as needed. Delicious, juicy and wonderful, it needed no accompaniments to make it amazing.

Beef with Pork Cheeks
The pizzas flowing out of the oven looked incredible, but we managed to ignore them in favour of the meat we had ordered. My dining companion ordered l’abbacchio al forno con le erbe aromatiche della campagna romana also known as lamb chops over roasted in regional herbs. We’re used to seeing lamb chops drenched in gravy and mash on the table, so we were a wee bit disappointed that the meat came unaccompanied. The meat was perfectly cooked, pink and delicious and went well with the sides of roast potatoes and artichokes.

Lamb chops

No dessert for us, just more wine, and we were off to wander the streets of Rome. An amazing, magical night it was, one I don’t think I’m going to ever forget! (Now now, I can’t tell you everything)…

The Pantheon

The Trevi Fountain

Monday, 11 November 2013

Mars Smileys & A Summer BBQ

My summer holiday usually coincides with windy, rainy, cold England and an even colder Scotland. Imagine how happy I was that we spent a few days in Edinburgh during their ‘summer’. The word summer means that our friends who live there walk around in shorts and flip flops, while I huddled under one light jumper. Ok maybe it wasn’t that light. And maybe there was another layer inside.

The magical, wondrous thing about Europe is that the sun doesn’t set till 9pm. The first time I walked out of a pub at 9, I was slightly scandalized to still see daylight! And also unable to accept that the shops didn’t stay open till the light lasted- gasp!

Hello to you too Edinburgh 
We took advantage of a lazy Edinburgh Sunday and lots of light with a BBW at a friends’ house.

On the menu – sausages, sirloin steak, red & yellow peppers, portobello mushroom caps & grilled asparagus. What I love about the UK (and pretty much most countries that aren’t India) is that you can walk into a supermarket ten minutes before you’re supposed to make dinner and walk out with everything you need. Of course nothing beats ordering your stores home (hello, bhajiwala?) but this is a pretty great thing too. You don’t really need to preplan.

How to have Scottish BBQ

Step 1 - Send boys to buy self-lighting coal

Step 2 – Watch as boys attempt to fire the bbq, using all coal

Step 3 – Cut up & skewer the peppers, marinade the steak in salt, pepper and oil, clean mushrooms and open the sausages

Step 4 – Place peppers, sausages and mushrooms on the grill

Oh Yum
Step 5 – Drink while you watch your food cook

Step 6 – Serve the cooked food and put your steak on the grill

Step 7 – Add some sliced cheddar to the tops of the still cooking mushrooms, and watch it melt and bubble

Step 8 – Drink some more, it helps the food go down while you’re watching the amazing display of clouds

Step 9 – Finish everything and if not, feed the cat

Step 10 - Dessert

The one thing I’ve never had, and I have to say was pretty amazing was a Mars – Banana Smiley © Kit Carson

It’s pretty simple, so simple that I definitely intend to try it at our next bbq. The end result may not look fantastic, but it tastes incredible.

Kit Carson’s © Incredible Mars Bar Smileys

What you need
4 ripe bananas
6 Mars Bars
And a BBQ

Step 1
Keep the bananas in their skin and slice them vertically, like you’re drawing a smile into the side of the fruit.

Step 2
Thinly slice the Mars bars, also vertically, so you have long thin strips of chocolate goodness.

Step 3
Stuff the sliced chocolate into the bananas – try and fit as much as you can into the banana without tearing it on the other side or over stuffing it.

Step 4
Wrap each banana in foil and toss directly onto the coals on the BBQ.

Patience is a virtue
Step 5
Depending on how hot the coal it, give it about 15 to 20 minutes before carefully peeling open the foil.

Step 6

Serve with a big spoon and some ice cream.


Until next time Edinburgh… 

Lovely, Simpson like clouds