Flesh & Buns, Covent Garden

The clue is in the title – buns (the best kind of buns going if you ask me). Flesh & Buns offer delicious Japanese food with the buns being the star of the show – you can choose from a range of top-notch fillings and then pile them up yourself, at your table.
My parents and brother were visiting and so I decided Flesh & Buns was the perfect opportunity to show them what London has to offer. This is how it began:Ccz_lUxWwAAaPXJ.jpg-large
A chopstick lesson from Harry (my brother) for my Dad. The chopsticks didn’t last long. After much deliberation we went for the tasting menu. It was perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to try lots of new things in manageable sizes. It’s a five course tasting menu which is reasonably priced at £35 or £54 if you want wine pairings.
In order of appearance…
1. Rice crackers with avocado shiso & tomato jalapeño. A glass of prosecco regardless of whether you have chosen the wine pairings option. Sorry, no picture the hunger pangs were too strong.
2. Salmon avocado roll & tuna tataki
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3. Fried squid and Korean fried wings
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4. Buns with crispy duck leg and crispy piglet belly (pork pictured bellow)
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5. S’mores – passionfruit marshmallows, almond chocolate and crackers
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Overall, we were four happy dinners at the end of the evening. I would eat every course again (everyday if possible) but a personal favourite was the salmon and sushi. My Dad and brother really enjoyed the Korean fried wings. Whether you’re a Japanese novice or expert, Flesh & Bun’s serve up wholesome, flavoursome food that will leave you tummy happy.

Gazette, Battersea

A few weeks back my aunt visited London. This meant one thing, food everywhere. She came armed with curly wurly brownies from Borough Market as well as cheese. Brownies for us lot, cheese for some other lucky buggers – don’t touch the cheese, I didn’t touch the cheese, I knew better than to touch cheese than didn’t belong to me (I really wanted the cheese though OK?!). Anyway, this post isn’t about cheese.

We headed to Gazette which is right by Wandsworth Bridge. Whilst it’s a cosey French restaurant, it actually seats quite a few but the service felt personal and quick. We went on a Wednesday so it was ladies night (a free cocktail or pudding – since we had the brownies at home, we went for the cocktails). I had a mojito…
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It was a super tasty mojito with an added swirl of strawberry puree at the top. It was a pleasant surprise and it went down far too easily. For starter I had Cocotte Meurette – fried eggs and toast with pancetta and mushroom in a red wine sauce. It was absolutely delicious but perhaps a little large. No one needs three fried eggs, especially in a starter. “too big?! Don’t eat it all then”… IMPOSSIBLE. I can’t control myself when it comes to food, especially food that tastes this good.

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The eggs were perfectly cooked and the flavour of the mushroom and pancetta were delicate.  Next up I had Le Burger Gazette – now we don’t need to speak French to work that one out. It came with cheese, a warm tomato relish and salad. Of course there were chips – crispy but chunky (one of the few places you don’t have to buy chips at an additional cost).

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It was a very tasty burger but I was left feeling a little jealous of my fellow diners steaks. With the competition of burgers in London the Gazette burger could not compete. It lacked the real juiciness packed full of flavour I have tested in rival burgers, this is not to say it was dry!

Overall it was a delightful meal, the starter was outstanding, the main less so. The drinks were quick to arrive and a little different (in a good way).

The Orange, Victoria

I had the weekend from foodie heaven last weekend. My parents came to visit and  there’s only one thing beef farmers’ like more than a good plate a beef and that’s a good plate of beef they haven’t had to cook. We went to The Orange before heading to see Billy Elliot (which, by the way is incredible, you must see it!). The bar was heaving as we entered, whilst this was a good sign we where glad to be ushered upstairs to enjoy a more peaceful meal. It had a great atmosphere – a family feel and the waitresses were relaxed and chatty. We skipped straight to mains…
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Proper grub. Becky had the pork belly (with rosemary white beans, kale, apple & saffron chutney and brandy jus) which she said was delicious and not too fatty. It certainly looks good – you can’t tell me it doesn’t look good (?!). I had the Chorizo, Fivemiletown goat’s cheese, spinach & red onion jam wood fired pizza. There was just the perfect about of goats cheese as it was quite rich and the chorizo was light yet really flavoursome. It arrived… “you’ll never eat all of that” was the general consensus around the table. 15 minutes later, not one slice left. Not impressed? I also finished off a side of the truffled macaroni cheese which was glorious.
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Still not impressed? I had only had brunch 5 hours beforehand. STILL NOT IMPRESSED? Well I give up. Anyway, back to the food (as if it was ever not about the food). I was IMPRESSED by the food offered up by The Orange. Five of us dined and we were all more than happy with our choices. My Dad, the classic steak eater had a funny turn and had the mussels with a side order of chips. The slurping noises from across the table assured me he was happy with his choice and thank god otherwise we wouldn’t have heard the end of it. 
So, book Billy Elliot and go for lunch/supper at The Orange. I can guarantee you will have a fantastic time. What better combo than good food and good entertainment? I can’t think of one.

Source, Battersea

After hearing about Source after moving to London it has been high on my list of places to try. So when my Aunt came to visit it seemed like the perfect time to visit! Source offers seasonal, locally sourced food so it has a small yet yummy menu which is constantly changing to reflect the best produce on offer. For starter I had grilled sardines with Isle of White tomato gazpacho, whipped feta, olives & oregano… I’ve never had a dish like this before; it was a light and refreshing and the gazpacho was wonderfully flavoured.
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My Aunt had the Charcuterie Board – Cobble Lane (a british charcuterie maker from Islington) Charcuterie (Fennel Salami, Bresaola, Saucisson) and house cured ham. Served with Balthazar bread, pickled crab apples, smoked tomatoes and pickled beetroot. The meat was flavourful and she really enjoyed the tomatoes and beetroot with them. One happy Aunt.
For main I had monkfish cheeks and cuttlefish thick stew with smoky peppers. It was absolutely delicious; so filling and warming on a cold evening and the fish was lovely and meaty. I need more bread to mop up the stew – I wasn’t leaving anything behind. My Aunt, being a ceoliac was only able to eat two items from the main options so she went for the hake; something she wouldn’t usually have but she was extremely pleased with her decision…
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Source is the place to go if you want real food. Not just real food but carefully thought through wholesome food packed full of seasonal, delicious food. With the ever changing menu I can’t wait to go back to see what is on offer.

Product Review: Men’s Pie Manual

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Well I think we all know, you don’t have to be a man to enjoy a bloody good pie. Whether it be a pork pie ready for lunch, a hearty beef and ale pie ready to warm you through or a light fish pie topped with gnocchi the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual have got it covered. The book is written in a light hearted, quirky tone, constantly reminding you of the delights to come and pushing you to carry on; especially in the case of the beef and ale pie which takes two days to make. This recipe book is for the ultimate foodies out there (male or female) who handle their grub with true love and attention and seek out the best ingredients to produce the best results. I would like to consider myself as being within that category, hence I went for the beef and ale, two day pie.
This is why you need this book…

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Look! Beef bones! After 5 hours of cooking the skirt and bones in the dark ale the bone marrow oozed out. Flavour, flavour and more flavour!
image 8And I was left with this sensational filling after adding the braising steak, carrots and onion and cooking for a further 3 hours. I had to stop myself from spooning it in my pie hole (hehe) to save some for the actual pie!

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Nearly finished!
image 6Voila! Ready for the oven. By this point I was pacing the kitchen in a fury of hunger. GIVE ME PIE.

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Here it is, served with buttery, delicious mash and of course some peas!

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So, if your a true pie lover and a perfectionist (when it comes to food anyway) then the Haynes Men’s Pie Manual by Andrew Webb is a winner – Tom Kerridge certainly thinks so (and who doesn’t trust Tom Kerridge when it comes to proper food?!). There’s a huge range of pies from the hearty meaty ones to lighter chicken and fish pies and of course sweet pies for pudding because after all, I could probably live off pies. What a good idea…
The Haynes Men’s Pie Manual is available from www.haynes.co.uk priced £21.99.

Raspberry, Lemon and Yoghurt Loaf Cake

  This light cake is a new favourite of mine. I love cakes that have yoghurt in them as it keeps them lovely and moist. The raspberries are a great addition and a nice surprise when you cut the cake. Despite the fact that this cake isn’t very seasonal, it’s so delicious that unfortunately, I don’t care. You can always buy frozen raspberries to cut the costs.
Ingredients:
  1. 115g salted butter, softened
  2. 225g caster sugar
  3. 250g plain flour, sifted
  4. 2 tsp baking powder
  5. Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 100g natural yoghurt
  8. 25g ground almonds
  9. 200g raspberries (defrosted if you are using frozen, do not use juice that comes off them after defrosting)
  10. 100g granulated sugar
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven at 180c.
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  3. Cream together the butter and caster sugar. Ensure it is well combined until light and fluffy and pale in colour.
  4. Beat in the lemon zest.
  5. Once combined beat in the eggs, one at a time and adding the second only when the first is fully combined.
  6. Once eggs are fully combined, in a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder.
  7. Then fold in the sifted flour and baking powder in large spoonfuls.
  8. Next, fold in the yoghurt.
  9. Lastly, fold in the ground almonds.
  10. Spoon one third of the cake mixture into the loaf tin and top with a layer of raspberries.
  11. Repeat this process twice more until all the cake mixture and raspberries have been used up.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.
  13. If it requires longer (knife/skewer must come out clean) then cover with foil and bake until cooked.
  14. Once baked, leave to cool for five minutes in the tin.
  15. Make the lemon drizzle by combining the granulated sugar and lemon juice. Spoon over the cake, in the tin and leave to soak.
  16. Once drizzle has set, take cake out of the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
Let me know what you think to this recipe. It’s a winner in my family and perfect for those decadent days with afternoon tea.

Dads Birthday Trifle Cake

Harvest and my Dads birthday always clash so this year I decided to make a combine friendly version of his favourite dessert. A trifle cake. Admittedly, the finished product is still a little tricky to eat in a moving vehicle (let alone a combine) but he loved it! So layer them up and try this scrummy cake!
Ingredients for the cake:
  1. 400g butter
  2. 400g caster sugar
  3. 1tsp baking powder
  4. 8 eggs
  5. 4tbsp coconut cream*
  6. 400g self raising flour
* if you can’t find coconut cream (which I couldn’t) then use coconut milk. Open the tin but do not mix it together and scoop out the hardened milk.
Ingredients for the fillings and topping:
  1. 8tbsp icing sugar
  2. 500ml readymade custard
  3. 8tbsp white rum
  4. Juice and zest of 2 limes
  5. 400g raspberries
  6. 200g raspberry jam
  7. 150ml double cream
  8. Desiccated coconut for sprinkling on top (optional)
Method:
1. Heat oven to 180c and grease and line two 20cm cake tins (or bake one after the other).
2. Beat all the ingredients for the cake together, apart from the self raising flour. Once they are all combined and the mixture is smooth sift in the self raising flour and fold in.
3. Separate the mixture evenly into the two tins. Or you can halve the ingredients and make it in two batches to make it more manageable. Bake for around 40 minutes.
4. Whilst baking prepare the custard filling. Whisk together the remaining hardened coconut milk (discard the coconut water) and sifted icing sugar. Bring the custard to the boil and quickly whisk in the coconut mixture. Allow to thicken on the heat and then cool in the fridge.
5. To make the drizzle for the layers mix the white rum, lime zest and juice and 4 tbsp icing sugar.
6. Cut one of the cakes horizontally into two. These are your top two layers. Leave the remaining cake to be the base.
7. Line the cake tin with a little oil and cling film. Place the base cake into the tin and sprinkle with some of the rum mixture. Mix the jam and 150g of the raspberries together and spread on top of the base. Don’t let the name mixture go right to the edge.
8. Put in the next layer of cake and top with more of the rum mixture. Then spread over the custard.
9. Finally, add the last layer and sprinkle with the last of the rum mixture. Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours to set.
10. When you are ready to serve, whisk the cream with 1tbsp of icing sugar. Allow to thicken so that it will spread onto the top of the cake and stay. Once the cream has been spread on top, add the raspberries and desiccated coconut.
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Felix Yu, Northampton

Based in Northampton’s town centre, Felix Yu is the place to go if you want authentic, delicious Cantonese food. The interior is a mix between your normal Chinese restaurant and an office space. It would benefit from a slight make-over but the food is the star of the show, and quite rightly.

 

I decided this was to be the restaurant to celebrate my 22nd birthday with my parents. After a few jokes (i.e me being deadly serious) about whether we should go for the most expensive fixed price menu which came with wok fried lobster we settled for the fixed price menu priced at £24.80 per person. For starters: Chef Selection Mixed Hors D’oeuvres, a wonderful selection of little nibbles (3 of each to avoid any arguments). We also ordered an extra portion of Crispy Crab Wontons. The wontons were delicious, the crab meat packed with flavour. As part of the Hors D’oeuvres we got: Chilli Salt French Bean, Garlic King Prawns with Kataifi Pastry, Barbecue Spare Ribs Peking Style, Satay Chicken Skewers and Samosas. My favourites from this selection had to be the prawns and the green beans but all of them were packed with flavour and I really enjoyed the range of textures. The samosa’s were delicious and filled with what tasted like a thai green curry sauce. This provided a perfect sized starter for three with a good selection of your favourite Cantonese goodies as well as a few new bits to try.

 

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Next we had an intermediate course, Roasted Peking Duck. This was my least favourite course as I felt the duck was a little dry and the pancakes were too floury and doughy. That doesn’t mean I didn’t manage to eat a few as it was still tasty.

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For mains, Special Fried Rice (served straight into our bowls by the waitress with more left on our lazy Susan), Wok Grilled Fillet Steak with Chilli, Garlic and Peppercorn Salt Nyonya Crisp Chicken Fillet and Stir Fried King Prawn with Sun Dried Chilli and Caramelised Cashew Nuts. They came steaming hot with healthy sized pieces of meat and prawns. The beef was so tender, it fell apart in the mouth. Each was a taste sensation with each dish so different from the previous that I had to keep going back for more.

 

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We left full to the brim feeling satisfied with the great selection of food we had eaten. Service was a little slow and they seemed a bit stretched for waiting staff but they were friendly and apologetic. I will definitely be heading back here for my next Chinese fix with I am in Northampton. It is worth a visit, make sure you book!

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The Butchers Arms, Priors Hardwick

For this years Mothers Day 13 of us piled into the already busy Butchers Arms in Priors Hardwick (Warwickshire). It had been on my Granny’s list as a place to visit for a while so Mothers Day seemed like the perfect occasion to treat her. In total, our party had four Mothers to celebrate and being a family who love food, the Butchers Arm was a good place to come. From the exterior it seems like a traditional British pub, and it is to some extent… other than the fact that it is run by a Portuguese family and a few other things I shall mention… However, it truly is a family run pub with at least two generations waiting and chatting with guests.

There was a huge selection of starters. After settling on whitebait my Aunt declared that I must try something different. “I rather fancy some nice whitebait” I thought (in my head) but gave her the benefit of the doubt and chose Duck the Oriental Gressingham Duck Salad – two duck cakes served with sweet hoi sin sauce and tossed dressed leaves.

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I have been having a bit of a hankering for duck recently, however, I wish I had stuck with my initial choice and gone with the whitebait. Even more annoying was looking across the room (we had two tables because apparently it’s bad luck to had 13 people to one table) to see my Dad munching on a nice piece of whitebait looking very happy with himself. My brother had the same problem as me and we found the duck cakes to be quite dry, it really did need the sauce on the side… and more. However, everyone else was happy with their choices (especially Dad).

With it being Mothering Sunday there was a choice of a roast (chicken, lamb, beef, pork) and two fish dishes (sea bass and halibut). I went for the halibut which came with prawns, spinach, an asparagus creamy sauce and some delicious buttery potatoes. The asparagus seemed a little dull in colour but nevertheless tasted good. This was my first time having halibut so I would like to try it again before coming to a firm judgement but I couldn’t help but think it was a little dry.

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After delivering my fish, and for the rest of my family, their meat, potatoes and yorkshire puddings, waiters came round with carrots and broccoli, serving it straight onto our plates. I really liked this little touch and the waiters were really chatty and friendly. These veggies were buttery and cooked to perfection. I had a taste of my Aunts beef and it was delicious but the gravy was already served onto the plates and my cousin who only likes a little gravy was a tad disappointed.

Puddings was something else. A waitress reeled off pudding after pudding – probably around 10 in total – which were served straight from a pudding table in the centre of the room. Usually the puddings go round on a trolly but the pub was so crammed that it had to be stationary. I went for a simple plate of strawberries and cream, the strawberries were huge and I would have liked some clotted cream but the double cream served did the trick. Others had meringues with caramel and strawberries and some had traditional Portuguese puddings.

The pub has lots of seating areas, indoors and out for coffees after eating which was just what we needed to kick back and let the meal go down. Dotted around, on the walls were signed photos of celebrities who had popped by for a meal at the pub. There was a huge amount of them and from what I gather, people have a real connection to the family who run the pub. This really makes for a great atmosphere; the service was quick and friendly and the staff were passionate about the food. I would like to head back here soon to try the à la carte menu as they have some great fish dishes that I hope are as good as those served in Portugal.

I would recommend The Butchers Arms for a relaxed and friendly meal. Despite my reservations I will be returning to order that whitebait!!!

The Cromwell Cottage, Kislingbury

The Cromwell is one of my favourite places to eat when I head home from Uni. I couldn’t possibly tell you about all the wonderful meals I have had here, I really would struggle to say anything bad about the place in general. It’s a great place to head to, whether it’s for a wonderful gastropub style meal or for a cosey drink by the fire in the winter or outside in the summer.

The menu is extensive and covers every craving you might have. The staff are all wonderful. The fact that many of their waiting and bar staff have been there for a while speaks volumes.

I can never turn down a starter at The Cromwell. They always have something (or a selection of things) that really takes my fancy. This time, as I am currently on a bit of a black pudding high, I went for Pork Belly with Black Pudding and Apple & Vanilla Puree.

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It was gone in approximately 5 seconds. Dad had the same and we gave each other a look of triumph as we ate. There is, after all, nothing better than knowing you have picked the right dish. The vanilla was a really nice touch. I was unsure at the start whether it would add anything to the dish but whilst subtle it made the dish really unique.

 

I must have been feeling lower on protein but next I had a beef burger with pulled pork on top. This is a new addition to the menu and the optional topping of pulled pork left my mind wandering. There was only one thing for it, I must eat it.

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A good portion of chips is always vital. I was not left disappointed. Skinny or chunky, The Cromwell knows how to make a good chip. On this occasion I would say the burger was a tad dry but the pulled pork and gherkins gave it that extra moisture. I was well and truly proteined out are this dish. My brother and Dad both had the sirloin steak. Anyone who knows my Dad will know that a steak is his go to dish on any menu. There is no competition when a steak can be fried up and popped on a plate so we didn’t need to ask what he was having for main.

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Dad, as usual, was happy with his decision to get a chunk of beef accompanied with chips and of course some pepper sauce. My brother however was slightly disappointed as he had a really grissly steak and found it really tough to cut through. With parents as beef farmers’ there was a process of investigation around the table concluding with Mum bringing it up with the waiter (because the rest of us are far too chicken). The waiter took the news back to the chef and then bought more news back to us. They decided to not charge us for my brothers steak… these things happen. We were more than happy with the way the waiter dealt with the complaint and apologised for my brothers bad luck. Dad meanwhile was polishing off his perfect steak.

 

Despite the grissly steak, once again we were happy customers. We are always greeted with wonderful waiting staff and our tummies full to the brim with hearty, tasty food. The Cromwell is definitely a must if you are stopping or driving through the Northamptonshire area.

 

Website: http://www.thecromwellcottagekislingbury.co.uk