I always thought of Victoria as a place with very little in the way of great food. Well, those days are over… enter Laos Cafe! I decided it would be a good idea to meet here with a few friends to reminisce over travels long ago; any excuse to eat. The pop up is sticking around until the end of Feb when it will then close for refurbishment and open again in March, bringing with it a flavour of Rosa’s Thai Cafe – what’s not to like? I’ll tell you more…
The cafe in its current state is basic but cosey – as you walk in you see chefs in full action and get wafts of delicious things to come. We started with a few nibbles…
On the left, spicy pork patties (laab tod) which were (as described) spicy, meaty and they certainly whetted our appetite for things to come. On the right, isaan sausages (saigrok-isaan) which were really juicy and tender and probably my favourite of the two.
The Laos Cafe serves sharing dishes, the idea being you get a mixture of meats, salad and rice/noodles to share with people you like (or people you don’t like, who cares, as long as there’s plenty of food). We went for a papaya salad which had a delicious nutty dressing. We also had spicy minced duck which sure was spicy and very nearly caused tears at the table, char-grilled chicken which was beautifully simple and served with a spicy dipping sauce and finally sticky white and brown rice. My favourites were the chicken as well as the sticky rice. I probably wouldn’t have the duck again, purely because I’m pathetic and couldn’t handle the spice, but it was really tasty when wrapped with the lettuce served with it.
Overall, a top evening packed with great food. The drinks menu is small but varied – a good selection of wines as well as Chang beer and iced teas. The service was friendly and the food arrived quickly. So if you want to remember times gone by or just want a taste of Laotian food, get yourself to the Laos Cafe quick – or put it on the list for when it returns!
So this year, or should I say last year, Antwerp was the destination for New Years Eve. I’ve never spent NYE out of the UK and I was unsure whether it was this fact that swayed me to go or the opportunity to gorge myself on frites and waffles. Both lived up to expectations so all in all, a successful trip spent with two great Sarahs.
NYE was, as you would expect full of fireworks, count downs (two- one for Belgium and one for the UK) and drinks so I won’t bore you with all the details.
The food was spot on. Naturally, as you do, I arrived looking for a typical Belgian meal and ended up with Asian… but I’m not complaining (well may be a small complaint, but that’s to come).
I spent the first day with Sarah #1 as Sarah #2 was at work (she was our host). We decided to go to Ghent, a city in the North of Belgium with beautiful architecture, but more importantly a market! We devoured frites (covered in mayo and what I think was a mix of salt and white pepper) and apple gluwein which warmed us through and left us satisfied with our trip.
That evening we went to Lucy Chang, a restaurant in Marnixplaats, Antwerp. It was reasonably priced, may be a tad on the expensive end. The food came so quickly, it arrived before our drinks which wasn’t an issue other than the fact that my beef chow mein was so salty I was gasping for a drink. The meal was tasty but service on the drinks end was a tad slow and I was thirsty until the next morning! It almost felt like they wanted to get us English lot over and done with and out the way. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the meal and had some great company so I would go back. It was a bit dark in there so photos aren’t great!
Other treats included a waffel covered in melted chocolate which was wonderful. I could only eat half though and that’s because I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I’m still yet to master the fork with a serrated side to cut the waffle. Cute but requires practice. Also, we had a moochie which isn’t particularly Belgian but it filled the spot. White chocolate and raspberries – what a great combo.
Finally, New Years Day brought with it a fry up in a sandwich. It was needed and it did the job. The only thing I would say is I prefer British bacon, but everything else, the sausages, egg and bacon were spot on. Plus, when you get an egg like the one I had (in the pic below) you know, for a few short moments, all is right in the world because I HAVE A RUNNY EGG!
As winter draws in and deadlines get closer procrastination becomes inevitable. Flicking through pictures of travelling is not a wise past time because:
1. It makes you hungry
2. It makes you cold
3. It makes you feel pale
4. You wonder why you ever decided to come home
Luckily for me and my fellow travellers, we went to a cookery class just before we forced ourselves to get on the plane home. We learnt to cook Thai Green Curry, Pad Thai and Chicken Noodle Soup. Three classics. Three things which I have never been able to properly replicate since returning home. My lack of a wok doesn’t help and living in the middle of nowhere means the supply of tamarind paste and lemongrass and so on is rather sparse. However, being at uni at Birmingham means every ingredient you could ever wish for is on your doorstep. OR there is every restaurant under the sun and therefore you can have a proper Pad Thai courtesy of ekachai noodle bar and plenty more! So looks like I’ve got the food covered but don’t think I’ll be getting a tan anytime soon or strolling down the streets in my flip flops.
I spent 4 months eating my way around Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Tanzania. Don’t worry, I did leave some food for the rest of you. Where do you suggest my stomach should take me next? Please tell me about any amazing dishes you’ve had on your travels!!