Monday, October 30, 2006

Well we think we have found a good caterer - I did meet with another one at the weekend but blimey was she an old stick in the mud.

I fought hard to like her as she seemed very capable but she didn't like me much I could tell...

Now the race is on - we need to just check that this other woman's prices aren't ridiculously cheaper and get on and book the other lady, especially as I have just found out that she has another potential booking for the same day.

The worry!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Caterers

The other bit of news I forgot to mention was that I got engaged recently. Now we are planning on getting married next year, but one of the biggest shockers I have had is entirely underestimating the amount that caterers charge.

We had allowed a certain amount of money per head, but to be honest having never done anything like this before I had forgotten essentials like; ovens, tablecloths and glasses, and boy do they rack up the cost.

(that and wanting to have Beef Wellington!!)

I will keep you informed, but currently one of my friends is talking about getting himself ordained online, so we can ditch the church and get everyone to bring their own sarnies.....

A little time has past...

Since I last knuckled down and added anything to my blog a lot has happened.

Food wise - I have been on a bit of an economy drive and trying to eat less so haven't been out that much. I have managed to cook for friends however. Avocado and prawns - with a very hard and unripe avocado - not great. In my mind though there is little that beats that combo as a quick and tasty starter when you want to still have room for your main course (a ripe avocado helps though). Thankfully I did redeem myself with splendid racks of lamb and rhubarb crumble, what joy.

I did also rustle up, a quick spatchcock chicken and new potatoes for another dinner party, especially good as I arrived home after one of my dinner guests! One of the party was providing the pudding, and I have to say mangoes and ice cream went down a treat. I normally really don't like letting people bring food, as really I love to play the martyr and do it all myself, but I also find what others constitute as a good starter or pud, differs so much. Some turn up with homemade specialties and others the economy range from Tesco's and whilst I don't mind either, and have served both, I behave quite irrationally sometimes, and therefore it is easier to do it all myself.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Malaysian Marvel

Having been recommended by a colleague to give Awana a go, I duly booked a table. We nipped to Bibendum for a quick drink beforehand, beautiful wine but I could really recommend going somewhere else if a drink is all you are after.

We trooped off to the restaurant which was just up the road and the reviews I had read really seemed to be right about the decor so fingers crossed for the food. Very stylish interior but quite dark, it was great for a catch up with good mates. Added to this we were dining on a toptable deal so were eligible to get 50% off the total food bill when you had 2 courses. The food and wine were superb, we started off with some really gorgeous flat bread and dips (might not have been flat bread but it certainly was very similar). To start I had Sajian Laut Goreng (Scallops, Prawns And Cuttlefish Golden Fried With Sweet Chilli Sauce) a generous portion for a starter and boy was it good. I then followed this up with Lobster, which was stir fried with noodles. The guys in the party binned the deal and went for the Malaysian journey (a type of taster menu) which looked fantastic, lots of variety and masses of food, the bits I managed to wrestle from Oli's grasp were delicious. Particularly the authentic Malay pudding - which was a rice pudding of sorts but really unusual and very tasty.

I find it a constant challenge to pick restaurants that are good value for money, that are really great quality and that can put up with us and our rowdy mates. Most of the time I am pretty lucky and this was a definite hit, even though we did rack up quite a healthy bill even with the deal. The pressure is always on though to make sure that you have great food, that the service is just right and then all your friends are left to worry about is having a good time. I love it....

Simpsons

A couple of Sunday's ago I went with a group of friends to Simpsons on the Strand for Sunday lunch. Simpson's is next door to and part of the Savoy group (Fairmont) and sums up fine old English dining.

The menu was fairly extensive, however with it being a Sunday and much meat and two veg required I really didn't pay much attention to anything that wasn't roasts or pies. After some deliberation I plumped for my all time favourite, Steak and Kidney pie and I wasn't disappointed. There was plenty of kidney which normally most resturants seem to like to use in the smallest amounts, which upsets me enormously. The pastry could have been a bit better, for puff it wasn't that puffy but it did the trick all the same, the veg and mash were great, which helped me not to worry too much about the pastry. The really impressive thing was watching as my fellow diners picked their required roast lunch and it was wheeled over to our table in silver domed carving trolleys, where they were then able to select how they would like it cooked, and this was then carved and a plate filled.

We all opted for pudding I had treacle sponge and custard which was yummy but the sponge was slightly too dense for my liking, I did feel like it would be staying with me for the next few days straight after eating it, but yummy all the same. Everyone else seemed to like theirs apart from the plum cobbler, well our friend who ordered it liked it but his girlfriend tried it and she thought it was very disapointing so beware.

It was a great place, we ate downstairs and there was much wood panelling, high ceilings and chandeliers, which were all lovely and ye olde English, but as a rule not necesarily my scene. I won't be rushing back but I would recommend it for a unique experience. Just make sure you have a few quid in the bank as it was quite pricey and at one stage I really did wonder if I wouldn't have got the same fare at a decent pub for half the price..... but then it wouldn't have been the same I am sure.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Capital Night

Friday was a celebration of a little anniversary of mine and Oli's so he surprised me by booking us a table at The Capital. Well what a little treasure this place is, (here I am so tempted to start sounding like a restaurant reviewer and write pretentious crap like "the restaurant, nestled down a side street..." but I shall refrain) the restaurant is part of a hotel by the same name, in Basil St, Knightsbridge - for those of you who are yet to take The Knowledge just opposite Harvey Nicks and the back of the other big dept store down there.

Our table was booked for 8 and as we walked into the restaurant there were only two other tables already occupied, the age range was somewhat troubling and I was a bit twitchy that we could end up being the novelty young couple. I had no need to worry as some young looking types trotted in later.

The service was impeccable, as you might expect from somewhere with 2 Michelin stars, and the restaurant whilst small, it seats about 34, was pleasant but a bit bland in decoration, but who cares about that, lets talk about the food.

Before our starters arrived, we were presented with a small appetizer of a gently fried prawn resting in a seafood soup. Oh blimey what a taste sensation, so fresh and tasted of proper seafood. I followed this up with Crab lasagna with langoustine cappuccino, and a neat little scallop on the top which was again another taste sensation, fresh and light but the scallop was a bit stringy, but still no complaints from me. Ol had Assiette "Landaise" which to the rest of us, is about 3 different types of fois gras and duck. Some of the finest fois gras I had ever eaten. (We had a little sancerre to go with yum yum)

By this stage our taste buds were tingling and I was in food heaven, strangely for me I decided to have the turbot as my main course (Grilled turbot with mushroom ravioli and jus diable) I am not a big fish fan but if I am going to eat it, I am particularly partial to having it cooked well, and boy was it. The mushroom ravoli was a great accompaniment, and whilst the other side dish of mushrooms in a strong red wine type sauce felt overpowering with such a gentle tasting fish, they were served separately and so I could enjoy their great taste without overpowering the turbot.

Ol went for Fillet of lamb with cumin jus and it was a splendid combination of spices in the cous cous which went perfectly with the pink lamb. We then skipped the cheese course as the boy isn't a big fan but dived in to the puddings with...

Caramelised banana with vanilla couscous and passion fruit sorbet, was the best thing of the whole menu, I am a pudding lover and this was like a very very posh version of a banana fritter, not making it want to sound gross what I mean is that lovely taste that caramelised banana has, which was perfectly offset by the vanilla and passionfruit. All of this was accompanied by a heavenly glass of Tokay, my most favourite pudding wine. Oli couldn't decide and went for a selection of the puddings, a tiny mouthful of each, and a sample of three pudding wines. He was loving it, but to be honest I was so wrapped up in my banana heaven I didn't really notice.

Thinking that was it and that we could make our escape and have a little walk to relieve our swollen bellies, they then decided to bring us a small selection of sweets and homemade chocolates, I suspect these were intended to go with coffee but I was so full there was no room at the inn for anything more... ok I did eat the choc.

It wasn't cheap but for a really special occasion it was the business. Still dreaming of it all...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The advantages of having people to dinner

are that you get invited back. Ol has mate who often pops in for simple supper or Sunday lunch. Last night was his turn to have us to dinner and boy what a feast. He knocked up a yummy smoked haddock and prawn souffle followed by; venison that he had been waiting to feed especially to us as I had told him how much I loved it and he has a ready supply from his connections in the north. A nifty little white sauce over the cauli and some green beans accompanied and the creme brulee just about finished me off. I was so impressed, the boy could really cook and it was sublime. I felt very privileged to have been invited to share in such a prime cut of meat. Cooked to perfection and exceptionally pink the taste was fabulous, gamey but only slightly and lighter than steak, I am now on the hunt for a supply of my own. Oh and a wife for him.....

Saturday & Sunday

Mellowed quite a bit and I thankfully only had to eat a huge amount of Thai, some pasta oh and another cooked brekkie.
Roll on the salad...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Friday and the hash..

Yes you guessed it corned beef hash was on the menu for Friday's supper and whilst I love corned beef I had never had it hashed before. Thankfully I was skipping the racing and was able to witness the preparation process first hand, and it seems quite simple really. CB, Potatoes and seasoning, a bit of mustard I think and some tommy K, all mixed together and then fried. I think you can make your own corned beef so I will have to look into it. It was gorgeous and what a cheap supper for feeding the masses. I was also beginning to be slightly relieved that the week was nearly over, the food was so gorgeous but I needed to eat beans on toast for a couple of nights to get me back on track, but I knew it wasn't over just yet....

Thursday.. the weather turned

Having spent Wednesday basking in the sun, Thursday was met with snow, and Artic temperatures. Thankfully we were sent off for the day with a hearty cooked breakfast and picnic for the end of the day. Having stuffed my face at breakfast I didn't meed to eat until we got back home where we decided to tuck into the soup and sausages that had made up our picnic provisions, this was then followed a few hours later by a beautifully cooked leg of lamb, dauphinoise potatoes, peas and left over cabbage. What more can I say it was truly delicious and the potatoes were to die for, even the host thought that she had never cooked them better, apparently the secret was to gently heat the ingredients together before putting them in a dish in the oven. I was getting twitchy by now that I wanted to get back into my own kitchen to start trying these things out as they were truely inspirational. Rather than having a pudding we had a savoury - Welsh rarebit, the cheese was mixed with beer and mustard, not really my cup of tea as I don't really like strong cheese things, give me a bit of Brie anyday...

Wednesday... Off to the races

This didn't get off to a good start, I am normally a girl who can't leave the house without eating something let alone driving for two hours first, I had also had limited sleep which meant that I am always extra hungry. There was much talk of a McDonalds brekkie but in the end thankfully I couldn't bring myself to do it. As soon as I was at the racecourse though everything changed, I was able to indulge in a hot pork roll, I did bolt it though which wasn't a great idea and the apple sauce was as ever very synthetic but it did set me up for the day, i don't know why I love them so much but they really are the business and if you only have a fast food option then they are perfect. We are very lucky to have one of our best friends who lives very near to Cheltenham and who is a mad keen racing fan, it also is a bonus that her mum is a fabulous lady that puts up with a hoard of people invading her house and for whom she cooks a constant supply of excellent meals. Wednesday night supper was pork tenderloin with braised red cabbage, celeriac and potato mash, peas and beans. Gorgeous. This was then followed up by one of our friends cooking a pudding she had made, a sponge lemon syrup thing which was tasty but didn't really live up to the main course, not that we needed much pudding really as by this time and seconds I was stuffed. Oh the pork tenderloin was a thing of dreams.....

Tuesday in the week of food heaven & hell

I managed to skive off most of last week and spend two days at the Cheltenham festival, my favourite hobby. Tuesday night started the foodathon that I knew I would be experiencing for the next few days as I was kindly taken to Randall & Aubin in soho. I opted for calves liver and mash, with green beans which I have to say rates as one of my all time favourite meals especially when it is cooked as well as it was. I then committed a sin and had a slice of Baileys cheesecake, which whilst yummy was a bit of a disappointment. I so rarely eat puddings in a restaurant that when I do I really want it to be exceptional and I lucked out this time. (We did drink a lovely Australian Shiraz which was divine though). Overall with my companion and the gorgeous boys that flooded the restaurant it was a great time and very recommended.

Night Off

The following day I was allowed a break from the stove as we had been invited to dinner at a good friends house. Thankfully I managed to lay off the pre dinner dips quite well, although I did manage to eat a piece of asparagus in the most unattractive way possible. The starter was Parma ham, cherry tomatoes and I think artichoke, nevertheless all pretty yummy and light setting me up for the main course which was roast chicken. I am sorry to say that the chicken was a bit dry although I had predominantly gone for leg meat which is my favorite and was lovely and moist, I love chicken but it does upset me that it can often turn out a bit dry, the friend cooking for us is mainly a veggie, occasionally eating a bit of organic chicken, so lashings of bacon over the top to help keep the moisture in was a bit of a big ask. No pudding but cheese which I decided to avoid, but loads of lovely organic wine which I am sure helped in the no hangover stakes the next day.

A Racing Dinner

Prior to the Cheltenham Festival, I rescheduled a dinner that had to be cancelled from a month earlier with our hard core racing pals. Having not done a dinner party for a while I was quite up for making sure it was a mini food extravaganza. I decided to cook a fillet of beef, but when I got to the butchers and had to actually consider handing over 60 big ones I decided I couldn't do it. Please don't think that I am niave, I knew it was going to be expensive but when it came to the crunch I thought that noisettes of lamb would do just as well. Thankfully I was right and we sat down to smoked mackeral pate (homemade of course) with Melba toast, and capers. Followed by the lamb, which had been marinaded in redcurrant jelly and rosemary; I did roasted new pototoes, leeks and broccolli. Oli (wine waiter and beloved) thought that I had only just got it right in terms of how much food I had done, but I was happy that for once I hadn't over done it. I love people being able to come up for seconds but to be honest one of those poeple is normally me and we had all had plenty. Pudding was a cheat, I decided to by a pot of mini rolls from M&S and they were gone in seconds. I can't remember what wine we had, a cheeky Bordeaux I think but who knows, I was just shocked more wasn't consumed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A new tactic



After a crap attempt to start a blog, my sister has kindly pointed out that I should probably try and focus on something that interests me so I am sticking with food and what I do with it, in my case namely feed numerous people that turn up to my house on numerous occasions, oh that and eat out. (I do also have a slightly mad relationship with it too but hopefully I can avoid that coming across!)