Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Fremont Diner in Sonoma, CA revisited

Some of you may remember how I raved about the Fremont Diner in the Northern Californian town of Sonoma last year.  Well, I was lucky enough to go back there last month and, let me tell ya, it is still one of the best places I have ever eaten.  This time the gorgeous sunny weather allowed us to enjoy our meal outside overlooking the Sonoma vineyards. Yes, not only does the diner have amazing food, it has a breathtaking view too. 

As a person who lives by the good old "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" saying I had the same dish as last year - the whole hog sandwich. It was even better than I remembered it.  Last year it came with chips. This time it came with baked beans in a smoky sauce. Phenomenal. 

The whole hog, onion rings and ice tea (cool glass, ey?)

Mr. Sprinkle had the shrimp po'boy; he wanted to order the oyster po'boy, but the kitchen had unfortunately run out of oysters.  He was very happy with the shrimp version though. 

The shrimp po'boy with super crisp homemade crisps

Coupled with a large vanilla milkshake and a homemade ice tea, these two dishes would have been more than enough for the two of us, but, as there is an ocean and a lot of land between London and the diner, we thought it best to sample a bit more of the menu so we ordered a plate of onion rings and some delicious fried padron peppers. 

Hot padron peppers

The place is obviously very popular so we had to wait a bit for a seat, but it was completely worth it. The staff there were busy running around, but friendly at all times. 

This Sonoma gem now has a website where you can read the mouthwatering menu in full. I cannot recommend this diner enough - if you ever find yourself in Northern California then go eat here and tell me all about it. 

View from the dinner 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Eating and drinking in Bali, Indonesia

Mr. Sprinkle and I have been travelling a fair bit these past months hence the silence on the blog front, but I am back.

We went to beautiful Ubud in Bali which is known as the cultural centre of Bali.  Lots of pretty temples, very friendly people, rice paddies, wood and stone craft, new smells, new sounds and, of course, new taste experiences!  During our trip we enjoyed some incredibly delicious (and cheap!) food.

Main ingredients in most of the local dishes are peanuts, rice, eggs, all sorts of vegetables, lime, chicken, seafood, chilli, bananas, palm sugar, and other fruits I'd never seen or heard of before.  

It was fun and exciting to try out new foods.  

Below are photos of some of the dishes we had; I ate a lot of Nasi Goreng (fried rice with a fried egg, fried crackers and shredded chicken in an amazing sauce). 

Nasi Campur was another favourite(rice with a number of small sides like chicken satay, curry, prawn crackers) as I am terribly indecisive when it comes to ordering food.  This dish allowed me to try lots of different foods at once.

We drank lots of cold Bintang beer and fresh fruit juices.  If only I had been introduced to water melon juice earlier - what a wonderfully refreshing drink, especially when it's humid.

 Nasi Goreng

 Nasi Goreng 

 Enjoying the local Bintang beer

 Nasi Campur 

 Yummy fried bananas with ice cream

 Pancakes with palm sugar and coconut filling

Freshly squeezed water melon 

 Chicken satay

More Nasi Goreng 

More fried bananas 

 Fried duck

Can't remember the name, but it was good

 Where some of the fried bananas may have come from

I would warmly recommend visiting Ubud if you are planning a trip to Bali.  Meanwhile stay away from Nusa Dua; it is basically a long strip of giant resorts packed with tourists. 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The De Beauvoir Deli Co.

Right before moved from Stockwell to the De Beauvoir area earlier this year, I woke up in a panic one night: soon I would be leaving my flat 5 mins from the Old Post Office Bakery on Landor Road - would the new place allow Mr. Sprinkle to head out every Saturday morning to pick up my weekend fix of fresh bread and croissants and be back by the time the boiled eggs and tea was ready?  The answer, thank goodness, was yes.  We could not believe our luck when we discovered The De Beauvoir Deli just 5 minutes away from our new home.

The deli has become one of my favourite places in London and a place that I have prohibited myself from going to on an empty stomach.  Cosy is a good word to describe the 2 year old deli, which is open 7 days a week and packed with delicacies, many of them from local and British producers.

You will find fresh bread (from Euphorium on Upper St), pastries, cakes, cheese, cold cuts, meat, wine, spirits, olives, crisps, chutneys, jams, sweets, teas, coffees, vegetables, fruit, oils, vinegars, ice cream (they sell Simply Ice Cream, my absolute favourite), Brindisa chorizo - the list goes on.  I could sit in there all day, eating and staring at the many wonderful foods on display. 

You can buy Monmouth coffee to stay or to go.  You may have to wait a bit on weekends as everyone from the greater area seems to come here to load up on caffeine.  It is worth the wait though. 

The De Beauvoir Deli is located at the intersection of Southgate Road and Northchurch Road.  It is open from 8am to 8pm during the week.  Saturdays from 8am to 6pm and Sundays from 9am to 4pm.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Summer barbecue: chicken, lamb and ribs

One of my favourite things about summer is barbecued food. Thanks to my local butcher (James Elliot on 96 Essex Road N1 8LU) and our new barbecue Mr. Sprinkle and I have enjoyed some excellent meals this summer.

Yesterday I picked up some chicken thighs, pork ribs and lamb chops; I marinated them 4 hours before whacking them on the grill.   

I marinated the chicken using soy sauce, white onion, garlic, fresh ginger, lemon, groundnut oil, sesame oil, dried chilli, salt and pepper. 

For the lamb I used olive oil, rosemary, white onion, garlic, salt and pepper. 

We soaked the ribs in Jamie Oliver's absolutely incredible marinade which we regularly use for chicken and pork.  It has become a staple at our barbecues and, so far, we have never had any leftovers.

I served the meat with a big salad and rice cooked in chicken stock with onion and fresh ginger (another staple when we barbecue).

Rice recipe:
1/2 a white onion
a thumb of fresh ginger
1 chicken stock cube
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
1 tbsp of olive oil

1. Chop the onion into small pieces, grate the ginger and chop the stock cube into small pieces.  

2.  Heat the oil in a pot.  Fry the onion until it's nearly translucent, then add the ginger.  Fry for a minute then add the rice, water and stock.  Stir until the stock has dissolved. 

3.  Boil until the all water is gone.  Leave it to stand with the lid on for at least 10 minutes or preferably a bit longer. 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Brunch at Albion in Shoreditch, London

A couple of weeks ago I went for Sunday brunch at Albion in trendy Shoreditch with my friend Rena.  This cafe/shop/bakery is obviously a popular spot - we waited just about 30mins for a table and, let me tell you, they aren't short of seating space. I've walked past on other weekends and there always seems to be a bit of a queue.  Positive albeit slightly annoying when your body is screaming for bacon and coffee. 

You are made wait in the shop area where you will be tempted by cakes, bread, teas, wines, dairy products (organic, bien sur) and other treats.  It is a bit like queuing to pay in the fenced-in areas of Marks & Sparks next to all the nuts and chocolate - only the stuff at Albion is a hundred times more tempting.

Once seated in the very bright and airy dining area (it felt very Scandinavian because of all the light wood and minimalist decor), I ordered a bloody mary and a bacon sandwich.  I thought the brunch offerings were a bit dull, but it was a tasty sandwich. The service was friendly and fast. 

After our meal we browsed through the impressive selection of delicious and exciting goodies in the shop.  I'm definitely coming back for some of their cakes. 

Albion is on 2-4 Boundary Street in Shoreditch E2 7DD. 0207 729 1051

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Eating and drinking in Broadstairs and Margate, Kent

As a surprise Mr. Sprinkle whisked me off to the Kentish seaside for a weekend of walks, food and drink.  We stayed in Broadstairs and walked up to Margate along the Coastal Viking Path Saturday and down to Ramsgate on Sunday.  It was great getting out of London for a bit.

Now, I wouldn't exactly say these towns are brimming with culinary gems, but we found some good spots.  And they are by the sea so there is always the option of fish and chips on la playa.

In Broadstairs we had dinner at Restaurant 54, where we enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal and very friendly service.  For starters we had the Prawn & Fennel Bisque and the Cornet of Fresh Crab and Smoked Salmon.  Hunger and excitement took over so I forgot to take pictures, but both were lovely. 

Next we had the Herb Crusted Roast Fillet of Cod and the Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bass.  No complaints there either - good-sized portions and very tasty. 

Following our mains, we were incredibly full, but after a quick glance at the dessert menu, we manned and womanned up.  Mr. Sprinkle ordered the cheese platter while I went for a selection of 54's homemade ice cream.  Hello strawberry & basil, orange & chocolate, and lemon meringue ice cream - where have you been all my life? Divine. 

The cheeses were served with grapes and a delicious chutney.  

All in all a great meal in cosy surroundings. I will definitely be coming back.  

Another excellent place to eat and drink in Broadstairs is Peen's Gastro Bar. They serve everything from breakfast to cocktails to roast to tapas.  The decor is typical gastro pub - white glossy tiles, enamelled factory lamps and chalk boards.  Love it. Also, the playlist was awesome: Simon & Garfunkel and loads of other classics which slip my mind right now. 

We had drinks there one evening - I had a gorgeous Campari Orange made as it should be (with freshly squeezed orange juice).  Mr. Sprinkle went for a well-mixed gin martini. 

We also tried the lunch menu; Mr. Sprinkle had a very tasty paella while I went for some simple dishes (hummus & pitta; chickpeas with spinach & pancetta).  

Our only meal outside Broadstairs was at BeBeached in Margate, a slightly run-down town on sea.  Right on the harbour, Bebeached serves brunch, lunch and dinner.  We had the burgers (yes, I should have had fish, but sometimes I just need a burger) which came with excellent homemade chips.  

We had to wait a while as the kitchen was quite busy, but as we sat 
overlooking the harbour, sun in our faces and a delicious glass of local white wine from Biddenden Vineyards in our hands, we weren't bothered (note self: do some further sampling of Biddenden wines).

I noticed that you can buy Kentish Simply Ice Cream at BeBeached. Great to see that they support their local food and wine producers! 

That was our weekend in Broadstairs. Only 1hr 20mins from King's Cross in London by train. We have already agreed to go back sooner rather than later. 

Restaurant 54 is on 54 Albion Street, CT10 1NF. 01843867150. Make sure you book a table. 

Peen's Gastro Bar is on 8 Victoria Parade, CT10 1QS. 01843861289. Make sure you book especially for dinner. 

BeBeached is on Margate Harbour Arm, CT9 1AP. 07961402612.

Do you have any places to eat and drink that you would recommend in Kent? 

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Simply Ice Cream - very possibly the best ice cream in the world

Ever heard of Simply Ice Cream?  I hadn't until Mr. Sprinkle and I picked up a tub of Simply Ice Cream Heavenly Honeycomb Crunch from our local deli last night. Oh. My. Gawwddd. This small Kent-based ice cream producer has every right to call her ice cream made from locally sourced cream "heavenly".  Oxford Dictionary should have a photo of Simply Ice Cream Heavenly Honeycomb Crunch under the definition of heaven. It puts most other ice creams to shame with its wonderful creamy taste.  It is perfection. 

I can only recommend that you run out and find a tub or seven. Be sure to bring a spoon so that you don't have to wait till you get home before you indulge.

There are three other flavours: Sublime Strawberry, Divine Chocolate and Dreamy Vanilla.  I haven't tried them yet, but they just made the top 3 of my to-do list.

Here is a 
list of all the places that sell Simply Ice Cream.