Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Pudding Bar, Soho

This weird thing happened to me while I was pregnant (yes, possibly even weirder than being kicked by the tiny human growing inside me and needing to cross my legs whenever I sneezed more than twice in a row) - my tastes changed. I'm not talking in a wanting to eat ham wrapped pickled onions topped with apple slices craving kind of way, but a complete shift from savoury to sweet.

Until pregnancy, I'd never been huge on desserts or sweets. Chocolate bars could waste away at the back of cupboards (or would have, if the CG wasn't around). But crisps! Oh, glorious crisps! And a two course meal would always be starter and main, never main and dessert, if I had the choice. But then along came the bump and suddenly the most appealing thing in the world to me was a doughnut, washed down with a family sized chocolate bar, topped with a bucket of Ben & Jerry's. 

I was hoping the switcheroo would reverse itself with the appearance of Wolfie, but sadly it shows no sign of abating. The CG could hardly believe his luck when he would arrive home night after night to find the cupboards bursting forth with sugary temptation, but even he this week has declared a break from it all. 

As I'm a pretty considerate lass, I decided to keep the cupboards empty in support of the CG's resolution, and ate everything in them. Then I headed out to The Pudding Bar with Miss B to inhale 5 desserts for lunch. S'more cheesecake, eton mess, earl grey panna cotta, choux buns and an amazing blueberry baked alaska with elderflower gel. Apparently I am a sucker for meringue in any form.

My only regret is not having had double the baked alaska. And of course, coming home to empty cupboards. So I whipped up some brownies today. Obviously.

Meanwhile, Wolfie has started rolling (one way) and laughing - who knew so much joy could be brought to my life by such seemingly simple things?

Pudding Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Harwood Arms, revisited

As it turns out, eating out with a baby is actually pretty easy. So long as you don't mind eating lukewarm food with one hand, and your fellow diners occasionally cut things up for you into bite sized pieces you can stab with a fork, obviously. Luckily I've never been that attached to using a knife, and my addiction to taking food photos had pretty much rendered eating my meals piping hot a thing of the past long before Wolfie appeared on the scene.

Speaking of which, taking photos has really taken a nose dive - probably to the glee of my usual accomplices. But I do have something like a thousand photos of Wolfie instead, so y'know. Swings and roundabouts. Speaking of which, HOW CUTE IS HE?!

Not biased at all. 

After being so impressed with the Harwood Arms last year, we headed back to celebrate the CG's first father's day (did I mention that managing to blog in a timely fashion also goes out the window when you spend most of your day living and breathing a small person? I assume, given the vast number of mummy blogs out there, that my previous time management skills and motivation will return at some stage.)

We weren't disappointed.

Starters were innovative and presented beautifully, from duck egg and snails to squid.  

Of course we couldn't resist one of their signature scotch eggs either.

But the real star of the show was our Sunday roast. Beautifully tender roasted rib eye, served up with cheeks, stuffed yorkshire puds, cauliflower cheese, smoked bone marrow, buttered greens and crispy roast potatoes.

Father's Day perfection.

Topped off with a little something sweet.

Top notch dining in one of the best gastropubs around.

Wolfie sure knows how to treat his dad.

Harwood Arms on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hutong, The Shard

When people tell you that having a baby takes up all your time, they are not joking. An outing a day, we can manage. An outing plus responding to emails, or publishing a blog post? No chance. And yet every day just goes so fast, and Wolfie gets bigger, and I wish time would slow down and I could bottle my memories of every single moment with him.

Mum came to soak up her first grandchild (read: completely spoil) which handily coincided with her birthday. We headed to Hutong to celebrate with views over London.

How gorgeous is my mum?

When we were growing up, peking duck was my brother's favourite, and I was always a little bit envious of the excess portions he would always be offered first when we were lucky enough to have any. Hutong's offering is some of the best I've had, with a particularly good hoisin sauce, and the second course they serve the remainder of the duck up as is a delicious version of sang choy bow. 

The lotus root was satisfyingly crunchy and spicy, and the salted egg yolk prawns were delicious albeit presented fairly poorly.

We expected the crispy lamb ribs, marinated for 24 hours, to be the star of the show but unfortunately we were a little disappointed. The flavour was fairly one dimensional, despite their tantalising and impressive appearance. The duck definitely stole the show and is 100% worth visiting for.

We nursed our full bellies while watching a thunderstorm roll across London, its lightening actually striking the Shard as we digested our lunch. 

I've missed celebrating so many birthdays and special occasions with my family. It was a perfect venue to share only the second birthday I've been with my mum for in the last seven years.

Hutong on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Hungry like the wolf - a new chapter

I've always thought of life as divided into chapters of a story. There was being a a kid, high school, university, starting work, backpacking adventures, living abroad, meeting the love of my life, more backpacking adventures…and now being a mum. 

Little Wolfie (not his real name, but one that we did seriously consider before deciding that we really weren't cool enough to be those parents) appeared on the pages of our story a month ago - over two weeks early - and I honestly feel like we've had him forever. 

People tell you about the unconditional love you will feel for your child, and how much your life will change, and it turns out they're telling the truth. Who would have believed it?! I could never have imagined feeling this way. Even while I was pregnant, I was anxious about motherhood and what that would mean - not working, not having the freedom to do as I pleased, being 100% responsible for a small person every day and knowing exactly what to do. 

Every concern I ever had has vanished. I look at Wolfie and my heart feels like it will explode. He's the cutest thing I ever laid eyes on, even when he's screaming. I just can't believe how lucky we are to have him, and what a little miracle he is. 

And obviously he takes just after me. The perpetually hungry little man is happiest when he's eating, and he's been making sure his mummy is getting all the food she needs too - accompanying me out for steak, burgers, brunch, dim sum, pizza,  mexican, seafood, and cake. Happy, happy days.

By the way, pork crackling with guacamole? Best. Idea. Ever.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Nut Tree, Murcott

Well hey there, world! What's been happening with you while I've been a weird flux of childbirth classes, applying for my next residency visa, and immersing myself back in the world of cheese?

As a little reward for all my hard work growing a little person (37 weeks already, yikes) and a final last hurrah to adult weekends away, the CG, Miss J, Mr S and I headed for a shopping, spa and golfing weekend at Bicester. Total. Relaxing. Bliss. 

Made even better by being spoilt rotten - new handbags from the CG for my upcoming birthday and a super generous double birthday celebration dinner organised by J & S at The Nut Tree - a gorgeous village pub that just happens to have a Michelin star.

It's been a while since we've been for a proper three course (I know, I know, times are definitely changing) and this one did not disappoint.

Jerusalem artichoke soup with truffle and cornish lobster salad kicked our meals off with a bang, while Mr S made me incredibly jealous with his smoked Loch Duart salmon - I cannot wait to fill my boots with sashimi as soon as the baby has left the building.

While the boys went for slightly safer options of beef and lamb for their mains, Miss J and I took the plunge and tried the stuffed pigs trotters - which weren't too pretty, but were incredibly tasty. Chicken wrapped with pork...what's not to love?

It's a good thing we have separate stomachs for dessert, because we were definitely not left wanting after our first two courses. Generous portions, all round.

We finished off with soufflé, sticky toffee pudding, and jaffa cake (which I don't recommend having if you want to avoid the bitter disappointment that will forevermore come with consuming normal jaffa cakes).

It might just be the hormones talking, but I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life - and so many that appreciate food as much as I do! I am one lucky, lucky lady.

The Nut Tree Inn on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Ben's Canteen, Battersea

I'm watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations (um, hello - food AND travel? Just two of my favourite things EVER) and a cold chill sneaks up my spine. I look down at my freaking ginormous belly and think "I am never going travelling again."

Drama queen? Who, me?

In fairness, I'm talking backpacker style, roughing it travel. Travel that requires no plans, just landing and deciding to go where your fancy takes you. Maybe it's me being narrow minded, or not really knowing what to expect, but I'm guessing kids and travelling without a plan don't really mix. Hell, I don't know many of my friends with kids who can get out the door for the afternoon without planning what to pack, where they're going, and when they'll be back.

Luckily, brunch requires slightly less planning than a trip to Honduras.

I've been meaning to visit Ben's Canteen for ages, and our only disappointment when we finally got there last weekend was that they had run out of chorizo. Oh, the tragedy. 

Mr and Mrs H opted for a burger (if it's two past midday, burgers are a-ok) and breakfast sandwich, which I was unfortunately too preoccupied with stuffing my face to happy snap.

Miss L and B went for the sweet corn fritters - a true indicator of any antipodean style breakfast menu in my opinion.

And the CG and I opted for smashed avocado on toast. I think I've consumed an average of 4 avocados a week the last few months. Might have to step up the pace.

Perfectly runny eggs, creamy avocado, proper hashbrowns, and a big old smoothie. Sounds like a good Sunday to me. 

There's way too much on the menu to choose from which means we'll have to pop it onto our list of local haunts and go back again and again. What a hardship.

Ben's Canteen on Urbanspoon