Monday, 31 January 2011

Brunswick House Cafe - a gem within a gem

Upon moving to Stockwell nearly two years ago, Mr. Sprinkle and I went wandering one day and discovered Brunswick House by Vauxhall.  At the time this old Georgian mansion was home to Lassco, a marvellous antique dealer selling everything from art deco furniture to 19th century maps to original Victorian mantelpieces. It still is, but the mansion has also become home to Brunswick House Cafe.  I usually find much truth in the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but what a sensible addition to this gem! You can now marvel at the wonderful furniture and fixtures that fill the mansion from cellar to top floor and either begin or end your tour with a cup of gorgeous coffee, a cocktail or a meal.  Two words: perfect Sunday.  

I went twice this past weekend. On Friday I went to my friends' engagement party and on Sunday I went for brunch with Mr. Sprinkle.  Both times were delightful. The main room is decorated with an impressive assortment of furniture from different periods and lit by one chandelier bigger than the next.  T
hink Mad Men meets Downton Abbey. 

On Friday I must admit that I only hit up the bar - had a pretty tasty white wine.  I regret not trying the cocktails - the
menu offers a very respectable selection of classics.  It seems a perfect venue for enjoying a Manhattan.  

For brunch I had mushrooms on toast while Mr. Sprinkle went for the hamhock and bean on toast.  Simple and cooked to perfection. 

The main room

The cafe

Exploring the rest of the mansion

Located on 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG, New Brunswick Cafe is a 2-minute walk form Vauxhall Tube Station. See opening hours here

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Lentil soup with chorizo and savoy

Here is an easy recipe, perfect for brightening up these drab January evenings.  It takes 10 minutes to prepare and needs to cook for 40 minutes i.e. enough time to read a chapter in your book, catch up on Gossip Girl or take a warm bath.  Meanwhile a delicious smell will spread across your home.

To serve 4 people:
200g of chorizo, sliced into small pieces
1 chopped savoy cabbage
1 chopped white onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
400g of lentils 
1 can of chick peas
1 can of tomatoes
2 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste
400ml of chicken stock
smoked paprika
dried thyme
salt & pepper 

1. Heat a big pot on the stove and add the sliced chorizo. Let it fry for a minute then add the onion and garlic.  Fry until the onions are light brown then lower the heat and add a tablespoonful of thyme, a teaspoonful of smoked paprika and the lentils. Mix it well.

2. Next add the canned tomatoes, 2 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste and chicken stock. Stir it well.  Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat and let it simmer with the lid on for 35 - 40 minutes.

3. Add the chick peas and savoy cabbage.  Mix it well with the soup and let it simmer for 7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to your liking.

This is quite a thick soup and can easily be eaten on its own or with some bread.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Fremont Diner in Sonoma, CA

This will be my last post about places to eat in northern California this time around.   I have saved the best for last: the Fremont Diner in beautiful Sonoma. A place that ticks all the boxes - excellent food, excellent atmosphere and excellent service.  I realise most people visit Sonoma to indulge in wine, but if you're in the area, you really ought to have at least one meal here in between tastings. 

You couldn't dream up a better place; I have accepted that I will probably never eat a whole hog sandwich as tasty as the one I had at the diner until I return.

Run by caterer Chad Harris this place serves classic American dishes including hamburgers, chilli con carne, mac & cheese, ribs, and fried chicken.  Each dish is cooked to perfection and served with nice sides. My whole hog sandwich came with pickled fennel and perfect fries.  The chilli was served with freshly baked corn bread.  Each portion was just the right size.


Situated against a backdrop of vineyards, the diner is beautifully located but looks pretty rundown from the outside. Step inside and it is a whole other story.  The counter is reminiscent of an old grocery store while the seating area is bright and full of quirky retro signs and objects. 

The Fremont Diner is located on 2698 Fremont Drive, SonomaCA95476. Tel. 707-938-7370.