In order to at least try to eat healthily during the week and not take the easy route of one of the many takeaways nearby, we write a menu and shopping list for the week and then broadly stick to i, (yes that is my mother’s influence – though I haven’t gone as far as printing templates in the order of the supermarket layout, my list is broadly split into groups on the back on an envelope!).
But even with veg coming from our fortnightly delivery, at the moment, inspiration is low, so writing a menu consists of picking a theme or recipe book.
This week its Italian. Robbie’s pick, maybe inspired by his attempts to learn some Italian or maybe as the sun is out, making it feel like summer is on its way and a reminder of sunny holidays to Italy.
So thanks to some help from Jamie and Nigella, our menu is:
- Bistecca con fagioli cannellini
- Gamberi con limone e pangattato
- Pasta e ceci
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Costolette di maiale con salvia
- Salsicce con lentichhie e salsa di pomodoro
It’s December and the run up to xmas has truly started, the post to Robbie’s family is done, the cake is soaking up brandy and this weekend I’m testing baking treats. Now I just have to sort out my family.
This weekend has been fairly quiet as we’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on housework. So I thought I’d write a little about our trip to Bray.
The main purpose of the trip was to go to the Fat Duck for a 15 course meal in what is essentially a converted old English cottage. For those that don’t know, the Fat Duck is owned by Heston Blumenthal, known for his inventiveness with flavours and cooking techniques, and it is one of the top 10 restaurants in the world. So we were expecting something special and it didn’t disappoint. There was immaculate plating and my favourite was a chicken liver parfait with mushroom toasts, as they presented the dish they put in the middle of the table a box of green moss from which dry ice started to pour out of which invoked earthy aromas. The service was the perfect balance of friendly chatter, discrete, knowledge and attentiveness. A contrast to Sunday’s fuss of French silver service, but will come to that later. Robbie got slightly different food to avoid his allergy, in particular a beetroot risotto where they had cut radish so thin that it was translucent. Overall 4.5 hours well spent on a Friday afternoon.
Having finished lunch at 5, unsurprisingly we weren’t that hungry for dinner but did manage to fit in a scotch egg and chips at the Hinds Head (Heston’s pub).
Saturday we headed into Windsor for a bit of a wandering before dinner at the Royal Oak. Unfortunately dinner wasn’t what we were expecting, and while the food was good we never quite recovered from the mismatch in expectations . Which combined with the fact that there was garlic in Robbie’s main, set up an uncomfortable conversation with the maitre d as when I said we weren’t paying the service (you’d never believe it was discretionary) he didn’t believe that Robbie had garlic in his meal and said he would check with the chef (to prove us wrong) before coming back rather unrepentant that they had made a mistake and yes there was garlic.
Sunday, was lunch at the waterside. As the name suggests it was on the bank of the Thames and is a traditional French restaurant owned by Roux senior. The boys had a Sunday roast while mum and I picked from the al la carte. Uncharacteristically, though possibly not surprisingly, after our decadent weekend, I was too full for dessert, however they brought out lovely petit fours with the coffee and I was pleased that I skipped desert or I might have burst!
Mum & Paul joined us on Friday for a weekend spent eating and drinking. Friday night we stayed in the wharf and ate at Tompkins, not great , but not bad though defintely not helped by the acrid smell of carbonised meat. But on this occcasion the choice of restaurant was not driven by the expected quality of food but for the location. Tompkins is located in south quay at the bottom of what is apparently the tallest residential building in the uk. The view of the dock is ok, but by eating at the restaurant you get access to Attic, the bar on the 48th floor with views from each side.
Saturday we spent at Taste of London, sampling a range of dishes from fine dining restaurants and wandering around the foodie stalls. Best of the day was Bocca di Lupo and l’Anima, closely followed by many others. Last year on the back of our Taste experience we had a lovely meal at l’Anima (thogh not so fond of its decor), so this year I think we’ll be heading to Bocca di Lupo.
Sunday was far more relaxed, as we headed to Locksbottom for a set menu at Chapters to celebrate Jackie’s b’day. We’ve been to its sister restaurant in Blackheath and always enjoyed.
All up a great weekend, with lots of lovely food and company.
This weekend Robbie treated me to a trip to Honfleur. Leaving early from work we arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal to the news that an illegal intruder was causing delays. So a couple of hours later than planned we arrived in search of a late meal. Despite the hour (close to 11 by the time we’d dumped our stuff), there seemed to be a few choices and we settled on moules and crepes by the waterside. The rest of the weekend was spent wandering around town, along the beach or simply sitting watching the world pass us by in one of the many cafes. Best food of the weekend goes to entre terre et mer. Overall a great weekend.
Today our weekly mini fruit and veg box arrived supplied by riverford. Its usually, with some planning and additions, enough to get us through the week allowing for a couple of nights out but this week (with no advanced planning) it will pretty much go in two meals, a mushroom and aubergine curry, currently in progress, uses four of the five ingredients and the fifth spinach will go nicely in a filo tart recipe – its just a good thing thats all it needed to stretch to this week!
Today, after a later then preferable finish from work, Robbie and I decided to meet in our newest local restaurant. As a “steak and fine dining” restaurant in East Greenwich we hoped it would add something different to the multitude of chinese and other take-aways in the area.
While steak is not really my thing, the idea of a nice bit of venison has sounded good for a while. So I thought why not, its got to be better than cooking. Overall while the food was average, I’m just not convinced we’ll go back.
Robbie’s medium rare porterhouse was more like medium while my medium venison was pretty close to blue in the middle so had to be redone (which interestingly came back with a second portion of sauce which looked and tasted different from the first). The generous sprinkle of parsley and spoonful of chopped coriander on a single tomato was a little dated, as was the red neon name.
None of this was helped by various other little things which on there own are trivial but together made for an entertaining evening, (which it was). While I was late it was still light outside but the restaurant lighting felt like I’d walked into a cave, the bartender was enthusiastic but served Robbie a red pinot grigio and thought veal was venison, another waiter managed to spill a beer not just over one, but two, customers on the next table, while the menu suggested serving dessert wine in 250ml.
We hope its all teething problems but when a small side salad is 4 quid (thankfully a free side with the meat) and that they managed to undercharge us with only 6 items on a fairly quiet Friday night I won’t be holding my breath. (and yes for those of you who are wondering, yes we did tell them they’d undercharged us – how could we not, they had the best intentions and were very friendly!)