Friday, 30 December 2011

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Me and the family have been in New York this Christmas, and that is why I you will have to excuse me if I haven’t been keeping the blog up to date. I’ve been to NY many times since I was a kid, and each time we find new buildings, museums, restaurants and shops. But there is always one place I make sure to go to in our time in NY: Grand Central’s Oyster Bar

The first time I ever went, I was probably about 10 years old accompanied by my dad, who had been telling me how he just loved the place. The thing that made me fall in love with this is place is the fact that it is so old fashioned; it is huge with it’s high vaulted ceilings and a feeling that you are stuck in the 20’s.

They have a huge variety of seafood to choose from, but I find myself always ordering the same thing : New England Clam Chowder and Grand Central Oyster Platter. They have over 17 kinds of oysters to choose from, and if you find yourself too overwhelmed by the choice, just go for the mixed platter like I do, it’s delicious. Also, I would advise to skip the line of people waiting to be seated and just make your way to the bar where the rule is “First come, first serve”.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Dinner in Lanuvio

When in Rome, I always make an effort and head to Ariccia with my friends at least once a week. Ariccia is the town famous for it’s Porchetta and it’s Romanella wine, situated in the Colli Romani, right outside Rome. The other night though, we decided to head a bit further to a town called Lanuvio, about 7km past Ariccia, to the restaurant owned by the uncle of one of my good friend’s. While Lanuvio is still part of the Colli Romani, the restaurants there are not considered Fraschette (a kind of restaurant typical of that area, but particularly of Ariccia), they serve more traditional food and better quality wine. The restaurant’s name is La Taverna del Marchese and is hidden in a tiny street in the old part of the small town. It’s been open for three years, and while in the very beginning it used to be a fraschetta, it recently had to turn to pizza making as well. The restaurant is very ‘homie’, with the owner’s young daughters running around the place, and it feels like you are actually eating in someone’s home. It is made very clear on the menu that it’s a ‘ristorante a km zero’, which means that all the food and wine are from Lanuvio and the area around. We had an ‘antipasto misto’ and asked the chef to bring us a mix of things, including the Focaccia they had just made; for the main we had Amatriciana and Cacio e Pepe, both very delicious. As a second course we had Abbacchio scottadito and Filetto ai Funghi Porcini, both meats came from the local butcher Maurizio Galieti. The meal was accompanied by a local biological white Malvasia, and ended with a pear and chocolate tart baked that morning by Giulia, the chef’s wife. The town is beautiful, and the simple home-made food was definitely worth the 40minute drive from Rome.

Mozzarella di bufala and Affettati

Focaccia and Olive Ascolane, both home-made

Cacio e Pepe

Other reasons to go to Lanuvio:
·      Music Festival or ‘Festival della Musica’ takes place each summer in June
·      Wine Festival takes place in September
·      Juno’s temple

La Taverna del Marchese
Via Stampiglia, 51-53 Lanuvio

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cupcakes and Mulled Wine

I guess one of the perks of living with two other girls is that we have days like "cupcake baking accompanied by homemade mulled wine". I am personally not a huge fan of sweets and am really not a great baker, but watching the girls bake was fun, and the Mulled wine was delicious.
Mulled wine and freshly baked cupcakes were the perfect accessory for a cold Sunday in London, the only problem with the whole thing was that the mulled wine tasted so good I didn't actually realise how much I was actually drinking, that resulted in me being quite tipsy at 2PM in the afternoon. By 5PM the cupcakes had been forgotten and the Wine had completely taken over.
The warm wine and the Christmas themed Cupcakes definitely got everyone in a Christmas mood!

For the Mulled Wine:
1 bottle red wine (we ended up using about 12) 
cloves (as many as you like) about 6
1/2 tsp nutmeg
sliced oranges
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup brandy (we used rum)

Cinnamon Swirl cupcakes 

Red Velvet

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Chris’s Ginger Soup

So my friend Chris makes an amazing Ginger soup. Every time I go to Chris and Annie’s house for dinner, I make an effort in requesting the special soup. I personally have an obsession with lemons and love anything with lemon, and this soup has a lot of lemon. The only problem is that when I ask Chris for the recipe he just answers “ Just add stuff ‘till you like the taste of it, innit?”, but after one year of watching him make Ginger soup, I managed to figure out the recipe and even made it a few times on my own. I will provide a basic recipe for the soup, but Chris’s theory of “adding stuff until you like the taste of it” actually works.
(The amount for the ingredients varies depending on how many people there are and how much soup you want to make, also how much of the stuff you actually want in the soup)
·      Beef or Chicken (I prefer beef)
·      Ginger
·      Lemons (I use a lot)
·      Okra
·      Chinese leaves (or whatever green you like, I prefer Pak Choi)
·      Chayote (this is similar to an apple on the inside, with a taste similar to that of a cucumber, it looks like a green apple)
·      Hot peppers
·      Rice

First step is to boil a pot of water; when it comes to a boil you can add the meat and let it cook in the water until you think it is sufficiently soft (probably about 40 minutes)

While meat is cooking you can start adding some lemon juice, grated ginger and hot peppers (not all of them)

You can also add a stock cube to make it tastier

The vegetables go in last since they take the least time to cook (the chayote goes in first)

The main ingredients for a successful Ginger Soup are the lemons and the ginger, so just keep adding those until you like the taste of it. I like it very lemony and the vegetables not too overcooked, so they are nice and crunchy.

Cook a pot of white rice on the side, and serve two spoonfuls of it on the bottom of each person’s bowl, then pour the soup on top of that.

It’s a very simple soup; I love how I can add as much lemon as I want and the feeling that it’s so healthy (it actually is). Also, it’s different each time you make it, since you can change the amounts and even the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Lovely day in Brighton

Even though I love London, I get extremely overwhelmed by it and often feel like I need to give my brain a rest from all of its chaos. Yesterday I decided to finally take a day trip outside of London and give my brain a rest in Brighton.
I had heard only good things about the seaside town and was extremely excited to explore, and eat some fish of course. It only took a 15 pound one hour journey to get there, and there are trains about every half an hour.
We walked down the Pier, which was empty (probably because it was a Wednesday morning); ate fish and chips at a pub, got a great look at the burnt pier, the Pavilion, and got to do some fun rides. At the end of the day we walked around Brighton’s small central streets which are full of shops, my absolute favorite was ‘Dirty Harry’ an amazing vintage store where I managed to pick up two vintage Hooter t-shirts and an old Adidas sweatshirt.
While walking along the beach I found a small stand that sold things like Oysters and Mussels ready to eat right there, they also had ‘Jellied Eel’ which I had never seen or heard of in my life, unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to try it and just stuck to Oysters, which were absolutely fresh and delicious.
I was extremely impressed with the Pavilion, which my dad recommended to go see. It looks totally misplaced, like someone just took a building from somewhere in India and plopped it in Brighton. It’s huge and amazingly beautiful.
The one mistake I made was to go on the pier’s rides (which are quite harsh on the stomach) right after a huge meal of Fish and Chips, but apart from that Brighton was the perfect place for a brain rest. Oh remember to bring a scarf and gloves, the sea breeze is absolutely freezing!

My vintage bargain!