The land of frites, pancakes and bagels

Last month we were extremely lucky to spend a long weekend exploring the beautiful city of Amsterdam. As well as doing all the touristy stuff – Anne Frank’s House, the Van Gogh Museum, a canal boat trip, searching for tulips, etc – we had a few foodie things we wanted to tick off our list whilst there.

We obviously had to experience frites and mayonnaise, which is practically an obsession in Amsterdam. On pretty much every street there’s a small takeaway shop selling them in paper cones – so cute! We didn’t go for the paper cone serving option, mainly because we were in torrential rain all weekend and paper and water aren’t the best mix! Instead we opted to shelter in a small pub during torrential rain and have them then. Let’s be honest we weren’t even slightly disappointed – the combo is a winning one!

One surprising thing we discovered whilst there was a cafe chain called Beans and Bagels, which as the name suggests is all about the coffee and bagels. I’d recommend this to anyone fancying a simple and filling breakfast. We got coffee and bagels (with numerous toppings) for about 10 euros which wasn’t bad considering how much we had. Also it introduced me to the idea of cream cheese and chocolate sprinkles on a bagel – genius!

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Before I mention the best foodie thing about the whole trip   I need to mention the sheer amount of cake and coffee stops we had on our weekend – it was almost obscene! But hey a good tourist survives on a full stomach so multiples coffees and cake – in particular this banana bread, which lets be honest is basically a breakfast food is essential!

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The absolute crowning glory of our trip occurred on our final day when we trekked across the city to experience one of the most highly recommended pancake places, at least according to the internet and multiple guidebooks. We were not disappointed by The Pancake Bakery in the slightest. Not only was the restaurant cute and quirk, it also happened to make the most amazing pancakes. They were huge and the toppings weren’t just toppings they were embedded in the pancakes, yes embedded in the pancakes. I really have to try this out myself one day! After much deliberation I settled on a banana, apple and raisin topping, with lashings of maple syrup and molasses – delicious. Lau went for bacon and apple and our friend had a random concoction of onion, bacon, mushrooms and cheese. I definitely think mine was the most superior pancake. Hands down.

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So that was our Amsterdam culinary experience – anything you would have suggested/added from your own travels there?

– Fi xx

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Afternoon Tea at The Swan, Bankside

This past Saturday Fi and I were treated to afternoon tea at The Swan Pub on Bankside. This was a birthday present – a pretty awesome one if you ask me – from our Aunt and Uncle. The present also included a tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. So we did our tour, wandered around the exhibition and then headed next door for a champagne afternoon tea treat. There’s something so perfectly British about Afternoon Tea isn’t there? Plus added champers? A totally winning combination in my opinion!
Afternoon Tea
So afternoon tea at The Swan looked a little something like this.
 
Champagne Afternoon tea and cakes
And included…
– Brioche finger rolls with four different fillings; cream cheese & cucumber, egg & cress, ham hock & mustard and smoked salmon.
– Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream
– cakes, so many cakes; shortbread jammie dodgers, mini chocolate eclairs, coffee opera cake and lemon curd madelines.
I think you’ll agree that it’s a veritable feast for anyone’s taste buds.
Now here’s a pic of Fi enjoying herself!
Fi enjoying afternoon tea
There aren’t hundreds of types of tea to choose from, like at some other hotels, and you don’t get offered seconds (or thirds) of the food but there is plenty of food to go around. And it’s a decent option if you want to do Afternoon Tea without spending lots and lots of your hard-earned cash.
Finally I really must recommend that you do the tour of The Globe Theatre – it was so interesting, very informative and the building is spectacular. Did you know it’s there is no metal in the construction? It is held up by over 9,000 wooden pegs – how amazing is that?
– Lau xx

 

Review – The Riverfront

Last week Fi and I joined the parental units for an evening of theatre at the National. We are all a bit obsessed with the National Theatre, due, in equal parts, to the stunning river location and the ever changing selection of superb and entertaining plays. I highly recommend seeing a play there if you can. Anyway before we headed into the Olivier Theatre to watch A Small Family Business we headed for food. Obviously. I mean it’s what we do!

We decided to meet (and eat) at a new favourite of ours, The Riverfront. The Riverfront is part of the BFI and is situated right under Waterloo Bridge, which also happens to be next to The National Theatre – handy that! The building has glass walls so you can spend hours just watching the world pass by, and there are deckchairs outside if that’s what you fancy. It was raining (of course) so we headed inside and got situated with ginger beer and Victorian lemonade – we are British after all! 

Now to the food. Well we decided to share a tomato bruschetta and a baked provolone cheese with honey. Both of which we’ve had before and loved. The tomato brushetta is made form heritage tomatoes, so you get the lovely orange and yellow tomatoes involved too. Nom nom. Add the provolone cheese is seriously to die for with the most amazing crusty, chewy rind on it. For mains I can definitely recommend the pulled pork and bacon burger. It comes in a delicious brioche bun with a mini bucket of chips on the side. The rest of the party sampled the beef burger and the fish and chips. From previous visits we can also suggest sampling the Caesar salad and the sausage and mash. Basically this place is all about good British food, done very very well.

Another quirky thing to mention is that as this restaurant is situated in the BFI you get announcements to let you know when films are about to start – such a clever and fun idea.

Lau xx

Franco Manca

By now I’m sure everyone knows that I love pizza – and if you don’t then where have you been? I swear I must have some italian blood in me from somewhere. Pizza is all kinds of awesome. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this, I can’t be can I? I mean there’s something so right about the perfectly soft yet crispy dough smothered in tomato sauce, sprinkled in cheese and piled with toppings, don’t you think?

So yes, I love pizza, which is why it surprised me when I discovered a pizza place nearby that I haven’t been to. I know it totally shocked me too. But it’s true. I was in Balham with Fi to meet a friend for lunch and said friend suggested we go to Franco Manca for pizza. When someone tells you it’s the best pizza they’ve ever had? Well obviously you jump at the chance to eat there. So it turns out that this friend of mine, she knows good pizza. Yippee for me as it was so so good.

The menu at Franco Manca is very small with six pizzas and two salads, plus daily specials. But you can customise your pizzas with extra toppings as you wish. I like this though as it meant I didn’t have too much to choose from, too much choice is always an issue for me. I ended up going for number 6, the tomato, cured organic chorizo (dry & semi-cured) and mozzarella. My two lunch companions chose number 4, a ham and  mushroom pizza. The service was super fast and our pizzas arriving within 10 minutes. Now I know pizza cooks quickly but this seemed amazing to me, especially as I was sitting next to the kitchen so I literally watched them make and then bake my pizza. So the pizzas arrived and they were so so good. Like mouth watering and delicious and so moorish. I didn’t want to stop eating! Plus they look pretty scrummy too.

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So if you are ever in London and happen to see any of these places then go in and start eating straight away.

Now if you after reading this you really want pizza, take a look at this homemade pizza post.

Lau xxx

A New Favourite Brunch Place

A few weeks back we took our little sister and some of her friends to our favourite brunch place in Clapham Old Town, Del’Aziz, and we crossed our fingers that they’d all love it as much as we do… and the result? They adored it too! Hooray! Don’t you love it when that happens? There’s nothing worse than when you go on about somewhere you love – Five Guys – and people hate it? It makes me question whether or not I should be friends with these people, what about you!?

Anyway let’s take a moment and discuss the delicious food of Del’Aziz. First off, if you walk past their window you’ll be assaulted by an amazing array of scrumptious looking cakes, including meringues that are the size of my face! Really there is something for everyone in that display and I don’t know how I’d ever make a choice, hence why I steer clear of the cakes! Opposite the cakes you have the most amazing deli counter with salads and quiches and wondrous sandwich fillings, all with a middle-eastern/eastern European twist.

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Now to the food, I’ve tried a number of things off the menu including scrambled eggs with mushrooms, the poached eggs on toast and the eggs Florentine, all of which taste amazing. As for the other items – the berber pancakes, the egg and bacon bap, the muesli and The Frying Pan, they all look unbelievably good. I just need to try them all sometime soon I think… It’s most definitely one of those places where it takes four hours for you to make a decision on what to eat.  But one thing you always have to have is a smoothie – like the one below which is called the Monkey Shake, Packed full of banana, orange and blueberries it’s the best way to start a weekend! IMG_2208

Have you ever been to Del’Aziz and if so what did you have, what should I try next time? Or is there a new place you’d suggest I try in London town? We’re all ears!

– Happy brunching, Fi. xxx

Brasserie Zedel – A little Parisian gem in London town

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One of the best things about London Town, in my humble opinion anyway, is that you are constantly discovering amazing new places; be it museums, independent shops, hidden parks or in the case of this weekend – amazing eateries. That’s one of the reasons why I love this city so much. I never know what I’m about to discover, it’s like being a tourist all over again! This past weekend I met up with a good friend for a late lunch and she suggested Brasserie Zedel, which is slap bang in Piccadilly. After having a peruse on the site I was up for it as it looked like proper French food and not the touristy stuff like snails or frogs legs that I assume isn’t as widespread in France as one would think! So off I set with no clue of what to expect and ended up having the most brilliant taste of France (literally) smack bang in the middle of London.

You enter the Brasseries through a very unassuming little cafe with only a few tables and what looks like the most amazing tasting croissants – I most definitely need to return soon to try one of those! We headed through the cafe to a corridor lined with the most brilliant French posters and made our way downstairs to a very Moulin Rouge looking lobby that opened up into the most surprising room – the restaurant. The restaurant is a cavernous room that I can’t believe I never knew existed under the streets of London. It’s got massive marble pillars and huge bright lights and tables and chairs fill the space. There are also gorgeous red velvet covered booths and a grand piano with a pianist to provide wonderful background music. The place really is the most surprising of venues. I can’t believe it’s only just been bought to my attention – amazing.

So that’s the restaurant, now what about the important bit, the FOOD! I have just one word for you: sublime! Really everything that I tasted was exceptional. From the freshly baked bread and crispy fries to the delicious Croccroute de la Mer and succulent chicken in champagne sauce and then on to the scrumptious tarte tatin, the food was just perfect! I opted for the Croccroute as I had no clue what it was and I thought I should try something new (to me at least) and it was definitely a good choice. It was a selection of really fresh fish – mussels, salmon and trout – in a creamy sauce on a bed of sauerkraut and new potatoes. Not something that I would have chosen if I knew what it was as I once had a very bad sauerkraut experience, but this meal was so delicious I may be converted to such a delicacy. I honestly can’t fault the food at all. It was all delicious and seemed to have been kept faithful to the French recipes.

Even though the room was fairly cavernous and every table was full on Sunday afternoon it wasn’t an overwhelming restaurant at all – you didn’t feel like the noise was overwhelming or like you were eating in a massive air hangar, which is prove that they have got the vibe right. As for the cost, we had two courses and drinks and it was £25 each, which isn’t cheap. But when you remember you’re in central London and you’ve just had the most scrumptious French food you can’t really complain. Plus it’s such a great experience, it’s worth every penny!

If you’ve never been to Brasserie Zedel and you fancy a little taste of France when you’re next in London I highly recommend it. After all anywhere that has their name embroidered on the serviettes has to be worth a try right?

 

So tell me have you ever had a similar experience and discovered somewhere just round the corner from you that transports you to an entirely new country? It can’t just be me!

Brunch at Tom’s Kitchen

Let’s jump back to the beginning of January when I wrote the below review of my brunch with my family at Tom’s Kitchen, over on This Rambling Corner. I thought that seeing as this here blogalog is all about food and eating I should probably share it on here too. So here we go. Enjoy!

This time last week I was well on my way to a perfect Sunday. I had met up with my sister and Dad and we were running around London (FYI I love this city). Our route went a little like this; along the Southbank, across the Millenium Bridge, around St Paul’s, through the city to Farringdon tube (it’s the oldest in London you know), down to Aldwych, into Covent Garden, across Trafalgar Square, into St James’ Park and through Parliament Square before crossing the Thames at Westminster and running past the London Eye back to the Royal Festival Hall. Wow I’ve exhausted myself just typing that! Anyway back to the point of this post… So after we ran our 5 miles we had a quick wash up and change into ‘normal’ clothes before we met up with the Mumbles and youngest sister, who had been reading and revising in the RFH while we were running. The five of us headed for brunch at Tom’s Kitchen at Somerset House (see there’s the point of the post!) for a final brunch before returning to work, university and general life things. It was so much fun. And that’s what I wanted to discuss today; the wonderfulness that is brunch at Tom’s Kitchen.

This was my second trip to Tom’s Kitchen and it was just as good as the first. We were sat at a lovely round wooden table with booth type seating and even though it was 11am the restaurant really wasn’t that busy so we were served really quickly. Which was perfect as I was starving! Tom’s Kitchen only serves brunch on a Sunday but the brunch menu is extensive. Obviously you get the usual brunch menu options; eggs, french toast and bagels but they also serve salads, steaks, crab cakes and risotto too. Like I said so much choice! I opted for the Eggs Benedict as it’s my favourite breakfast food ever and this time it didn’t disappoint. I mean is there seriously anything better than a doughy english muffin, runny orange poached eggs smothered in hollandaise sauce and salty crispy bacon? Nope I don’t think so. Add in some freshly squeezed orange juice and this is definitely the best way to refuel after a Sunday run.

The rest of my family went for Eggs Royale, Toasted Bagel with Smoked Salmon (x2) and Scrambled Eggs on Toast, based on the speed at which we all finished our food I think it’s safe to say that all the dishes were delicious. Next time I go I think I’ll try the bagel as it looked so good and the salad that came with it had the most delicious dressing (I stole my sister’s as she doesn’t do salad). Although saying that I did see another tables order of Belgian waffles and they also looked good. Hmm decisions, decisions, I think it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong with the food choices here and that I should go there more often!

Below are a few pics of some of the food, I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of everything consumed as some people just ate too fast!

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toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon & berry smoothie

I think we can all agree that Sunday’s don’t get better than delicious brunches and energetic runs – at least in my humble opinion. But what do you think? Any lovely London brunch places that I must try? Or has anyone else ever been to Tom’s Kitchen and can recommend any of the other dishes there?

Laura xx

Brunch at Tom’s Kitchen was originally posted on This Rambling Corner on Sunday 12th January 2014