Friday, 25 July 2014


I like to make the most of living in London by visiting the parks (we had a hilarious time on a pedalo in Hyde Park on Tuesday), enjoying the various markets like Borough and discovering the many museums. 

After watching the Sound of Music numerous times, Arabella has become really interested in World War II and so we were very happy to hear the Imperial War Museum had reopened after a big refurbishment. We had a great time, especially in the Horrible Histories section however it was a little old for her (she is 6) - I think I need to wait several more years until she can really appreciate it…I loved it though!

It was pouring with rain when we left so we just jumped on the first bus that would take us to a tube and I nearly passed out with delight when I saw "Dirty Burger" at Vauxhall station. Dirty Burger is one of the latest ventures from the Soho House team. I consider the burger at the Electric Brasserie one of the best I have ever so I had high hopes.

It was surprisingly quiet - just one person waiting for a take away so we ordered straight away and grabbed a seat. There were only about 14 stools inside the burger bar and about 8 seats outside so I imagine it can be extremely busy at times.

The menu is simple - there are two breakfast burgers and then a cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger and a veggie one. For sides you have a choice of crinkle cut fries or onion fries and then there are donuts for pudding. They also serve milkshakes, a few beers and soft drinks. It is all very laid back and "shack" like.

Arabella ordered a cheeseburger and me a bacon burger and we shared some chips.

It was freshly cooked and service was very friendly. The burgers soon arrived and I realised I had made an error with Arabella's! They were packed with tomato, lettuce, pickles and a mustardy sauce….not really her cup of tea!! I removed the lettuce the best I could and happily added the pickles to mine. She was so busy tucking into the chips she didn't notice what was going on. The fries were definitely much better than we expected - perfectly salted and crunchy.

I had the bacon cheeseburger which was exactly the same as Arabella's but with extra thick cut bacon.

No wonder this place is called Dirty Burger - this certainly was a dirty experience - I had sauce and burger and lettuce everywhere….Arabella even managed to get some in her hair! I enjoyed my burger but it wasn't the best I have ever had, the bacon was very salty and so that overpowered everything else. I loved the pickles, the mustardy sauce and the soft bun but the cheese and patty were pretty unmemorable which is surprising as the meat is sourced from the Ginger Pig Butcher and I am a cheese addict (maybe there wasn't enough cheese)?!

Arabella was not that enamoured with her burger either - too much sauce for her. We both decided it was a good burger but nothing spectacular and not a patch on our favourite Shake Shack. It is a shame as it had the potential to be awesome! 

I won't be rushing back but having said that if I was in the area and starving I would give it another go and try their onion fries as well. I can imagine it would be a very welcome meal after a few too many shandies!!

Arch 45
6 South Lambeth Road
Tel: 020 7174 1444

Square Meal 

Dirty Burger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


I am a HUGE fan of the TV show 24, I would even be tempted to say it was the best series I have ever seen…..and I have watched a lot of television in my time! So when 24 returned to our screens this year, I recorded every episode so Pascal and I could watch them all in one go and that is exactly what we did on Sunday - we literally spent all day on the sofa in our pjs… was bliss!

Obviously we had to eat so we cooked a Roast Pork Belly and as a side we decided to try something new…..Spinach and Pine Nut Gratin.

We made the recipe according to the instructions but then only actually used half the cream mix as it would have been far too creamy with it all - so ignore all the eggs etc in the picture and just follow the ingredient list below.

Ingredients for 4 people:

10g butter
75g pine nuts
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
450g spinach
A big pinch of ground nutmeg
2 eggs
225ml skimmed milk
75ml whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4 & grease a serving dish.

Slice the garlic, onions and pick the thyme leaves.

Heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming and then add the pine nuts for a few minutes, stirring often, until golden.

Then add the garlic, onion and thyme to the pan and fry gently for around 10 minutes until they are sweet and softened.

While this was cooking, I made the sauce. To do this just beat together the eggs, milk and cream together and then season.

Once the onions etc are cooked start adding the spinach in batches - I always find it amazing how spinach decreases in size. Stir all together and cook until you have added all the spinach and all the leaves have wilted.

Season well and a little nutmeg to taste.

Spread the spinach mixture into a dish and then cover with the cream mixture.

Cook in the oven for 35 minutes and then rest for 5 minutes before serving - it would be great with just a green salad or chicken or fish or roast lamb or pork (as we did). To be honest it would go with anything!

It tasted delicious - nutty but green and the garlic really stands out. My only complaint was that I should have added a cheese topping! I really enjoyed it but I would have preferred it with some cheese but then again, I am a cheese freak. Let me know what you think….

Monday, 21 July 2014


My brother is much more into Chinese food and kebabs than fine dining but he did come up with the brilliant recommendation of Il Paradiso Marivent when we were in Mallorca. It is a beautiful restaurant perched on a cliff edge with incredible views. If you can, try and book a table on the balcony but if not, the terrace is also spectacular.

As we only booked that day we were seated on the terrace but it was still an intimate setting and you could see for miles out to sea.

Like always we had a couple of drinks while we looked at the rather large menu full of Italian and Mediterranean classics, salads, pastas, seafood and meats. We also nibbled on some amazing olives, Italian bread, truffled ricotta and a caramelised tomato and onion paste. All absolutely delicious - Pascal and I were fighting over the truffled ricotta!

There were so many starters Pascal and I wanted so we ended up ordering a selection which consisted of mozzarella & tomato, tuna tartar with a quail egg, thin parma ham filled with lobster cream flavoured with cognac & dill and bresaola with burrata (my favourite), rocket & truffle dressing.

It was all incredible - superior fresh ingredients which tasted all the more delicious thanks to it's stunning setting.

For mains Pascal went for the Black Angus beef tenderloin served with a béarnaise sauce and garnished with asparagus wrapped in pancetta and potato puree. It was cooked to perfection and he loved it….I even had some food envy!

Now I made a bit of an error and was so busy tucking into my pappardelle with sautéed shrimps, black olives, capers, anchovies, chilli sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil that I forgot to take a photo! Whoops! I just couldn't stop myself as it was amazing - plus I even managed to have lots of Parmesan too….Pascal seems to believe fish and cheese don't go together but for me, cheese goes with everything!!

We had a lovely bottle of wine which I would also recommend.

WOW! A fantastic restaurant - we will definitely be going back and I cannot wait….perfect for a special or romantic night out. For once I can admit that my brother was right!!!

Il Paradiso

Joan Miro 243
Palma de Mallorca
Balearic Isles 
Tel: +34 971 103379

Sunday, 20 July 2014


Having returned from our lovely holiday I should be cooking air and water and not consuming a thing - instead I am still larding it up! It had been 48 hours since we last had pasta and the weather forecast said storms and rain (couldn't be more wrong) so we chose to cook this washed down with some red wine….we would have been better off with a bbq and some rose!!

Anyway I have had this recipe for years so I was extremely pleased to finally cook it - I think I ripped it out of the Sunday Times magazine in about 2001!!

Ingredients for 6:

300g rigatoni (you can always use penne if you can't find this)
Salt and pepper
60g butter plus a few extra knobs
2 garlic cloves crushed
60g plain flour
75ml dry white wine
1 litre whole milk
Half tsp ground nutmeg
175g Parmesan, grated
130g parma ham or similar, cut into strips
200g baby spinach
Obviously I added a little bit of extra grated cheese but this is optional

Ignore the thyme in the picture - no idea how it found itself there!!

Preheat the oven to 200 C and boil the kettle for the pasta.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook it for two thirds of the cooking time on the packet (it will cook more in the oven). Once finished drain and set aside. Pascal added a knob of butter to it so it didn't stick together.

While this is cooking, in another large saucepan melt 60g butter over a low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute (without browning). It will smell delicious!

Add the flour and whisk together with the butter and garlic to form a yellow paste. 

Let this bubble gently for a couple of minutes, so the flour has a chance to cook, and then tip in the white wine and whisk. It's times like this I wish I had an electric whisk!!

After another minute start adding the milk, a little bit at a time and whisking as you go. The flour mixture will loosen and it will come together into a smooth sauce.

Next add the bay leaf, bring to the boil and then turn the heat down so the sauce can simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, then mix in the spinach, two thirds of the Parmesan, the nutmeg, the ham and season generously.

Finally mix the sauce with the pasta and pile into an oven proof dish. 

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese (I added some cheddar too as I am a piglet) and a few knobs of butter.

Put it in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until browned and bubbling. Ours was super hot when it was ready so we had to set aside for 10 minutes.

Finally serve and tuck in!

It was delicious and I think it would work very well with a green salad. Pascal found it a little too creamy and if we did it again we would just use half the sauce. It all worked so well though and was very easy - another good dinner party dish as you could prepare it all beforehand. I think peas would be another great addition and if you couldn't buy parma ham, you could substitute with lardons. I am already looking forward to tucking into the leftovers with Arabella!

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Sorry for the radio silence but I have been on holiday to Mallorca with Pascal - it was blissful - a week of sunbathing, swimming, reading, eating and drinking…..literally all my favourite things!! Like last year we stayed at the Hotel Melia de Mar which I would really recommend if you are looking for a holiday without kiddies (no under 16s allowed)!

We only booked the holiday the night before we went so I was pretty stuffed re restaurants - normally I make reservations a month before….not the case here and when I tried to book Flanigans I was told they were completely and utterly fully booked. We therefore ended up going to Mood Beach & Restaurant which I knew nothing about (I didn't even have time to look up the menu online) but it ended up being the perfect location.

The restaurant is perched on the cliff edge with phenomenal views of the sea, there is a lot of white, very helpful staff, great music, and then huge sun beds and a swimming pool for day time.

We started with a drink - a g&t for me and a Ricard for Pascal much to his delight! 

The menu was full of goodies - a combination of English and Spanish and lots of pasta, fish and steaks and even "Lean" options which we ignored!!!

We started with prawns in garlic, Iberian ham and mushroom montadito (scrambled eggs scented with truffle oil and wild mushrooms on Mallorcan bread).

The prawns were big and juicy, the ham full of flavour but my favourite were the scrambled eggs and mushrooms - I will definitely be recreating this at home.

For mains we went for one of their specials - sea bass in salt which is a favourite of non fish eater Pascal! It really was fantastic. Served with vegetables and potatoes and a hot butter sauce and crispy onions.

I need to stop ordering burgers and start ordering fish more often - it was so fresh and tasty plus after I finished I didn't feel like I was going to explode!!

Obviously there was room for a digestive - an amaretto for me and god knows what for Pascal!!

As I said, a great meal in a beautiful setting with brilliant, attentive staff….we will definitely be back here - it is perfect for a romantic meal or for fun with a group of friends.

Mood Beach & Restaurant

Ctra Palma-Andrtx km 11,
Costa D'en Blanes,
Calvia 07181,
Islas Baleares,

Tel: (+34) 971 676 456