Monday, 31 March 2014


I had a brilliant weekend - both Pascal and Arabella were in London, my brother came to stay, and it was Mother's Day! I received the new Fay Ripley cookbook and cannot wait to cook up her amazing new recipes.

On Saturday Pascal, Arabella and I went bowling together - omg, it was so much fun. I had been to All Star Lanes when it first opened in 2006 and while I had fun bowling, the food wasn't great - however I think it was just teething problems.

I booked this a week in advance and not surprisingly the place was pretty booked up but we managed to organise a a 40 minute slot and then lunch in the restaurant. I was super excited especially when I checked out the menu online - my idea of Heaven (menu) - all totally American!! Last time Arabella and I had been bowling was at Guildford Leisure Centre and then lunch at MacDonald's so this was definitely a step up in the right direction.

There are 5 All Star Lane Venues - and I am sure there will be more and more to come as it is a great concept - bowling, good food and cocktails all in one place.

As we bowled in one of the 6 lanes, we were offered cocktails and snacks from their vast drinks list - I had a mojito and it definitely helped as I then won the bowling!!! (Pascal blamed it on the fact he hadn't bowled in 24 years…I just think I am a champion bowler especially when you have the barriers up)!!

We were all then very ready for lunch - the restaurant was pretty noisy as there were a few kids' parties going on - it is definitely a good place to come if you are a big group.

I was so so torn over the menu - I wanted the pulled pork sandwich, the burger with blue cheese, the popcorn squid, buffalo wings, quesadilla, mac and cheese and a hot dog!! Unfortunately even I couldn't fit that all in, in one go!!

We didn't have starters and instead just got more mains. Arabella my pasta piglet went for mac and cheese. They do a great kid's deal - £15 for a game of bowling, a main course, side, drink and then either a milkshake or pudding.

Her mac and cheese was a little creamy but cheesy and delicious and a good size portion - she polished the lot off. I made her order the coleslaw as I wanted it but it had been in a very cold fridge so was too cold to eat - shame as it had a good flavour.

Pascal went for a burger with cheese, bacon and onions. I had a bit of food envy!!

Pascal said it was a very good burger but a bit too packed - he would leave out the onions next time as there were too many and they were too sweet. I had some on my cheese hot dog and felt the same way.

I loved the hot dog - it was delicious with the cheese and Frenchies mustard - the bun was also so soft. I would definitely have it again….maybe with double cheese though!!

To round the meal off we also had a mac and cheese with bacon.

It was cooked in true American style - loads of cheese…and creamy too like Arabella's. Pascal found it a bit too much but I ate every last mouthful.

We were all too full for pudding but we will definitely be back for more another time as it was so much fun plus Pascal is very keen for a rematch!! This is a brilliant place for adults and kids alike.

All Star Lanes

6 Porchester Gardens
W2 4DB
Tel: 020 7313 8363

Square Meal
All Star Lanes on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 29 March 2014


After the success of the shrimp tacos, it was time to go back to basics and do beef tacos. These have been a favourite of mine for years, I remember my parents having them when I was a child and I would be at the hob spooning the mince out the saucepan…(no wonder I had a weight problem)! Even my sister says they are her favourite food and she is a vegetarian!!! 

These aren't exactly low cal, hence why I don't cook them often, but I try to cook them as healthily as possible by doing my own salsa (recipe here) and guacamole. 

Ingredients for a bowl:

1 avocado
2 tomatoes (deseeded and chopped) - I only had cherry tomatoes and I was too lazy to deseed!
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp coriander, chopped

 Scoop out the avocado in a bowl.

Add a spoonful of lime juice.

Add a spoonful of coriander.

Chop the tomatoes and remove the seeds (if you can be bothered).

 Season and then mix altogether and enjoy!!

For the tacos, I used a taco spice mix, minced beef, tortilla wraps, sour cream, salsa, lettuce and lots of grated cheese!

And here was the end result!

I am pleased I bought the big tortillas as I always put so much in them and so it's hard to wrap. Arabella enjoyed them so much she couldn't stop eating. I will definitely have to do these more regularly!!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


On Monday night I was at a total loss at what to cook. I wanted to make something from scratch but knew I wouldn't have much time as Pascal was flying in from France late afternoon and so whatever I knocked up for the three of us, would have to be a five minute job…..a problem for lots of people when it comes to preparing supper. The thought of a microwave meal suddenly became appealing…although not for long as I would then have to find the time to actually buy a microwave and create room in my kitchen…

Eggs are always a good bet when you want a quick meal and this omelette came to mind.

Ingredients for 3 people:

2 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
2 large leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed
8 eggs, beaten
200g Caerphilly or Wensleydale cheese (in future I would use Feta or goat's cheese)

First of all prepare the ingredients…cut up the leeks and crumble the cheese (I used a knife to help but it was a lot easier than I thought)!

Heat the oil in a large frying pan for a few seconds, then drop in the butter.

When the butter stops foaming, toss in the leeks and stir fry for four minutes until soft but not coloured.

Beat the eggs while these are cooking and season.

Then pour the eggs so they cover the bottom of the pan and cook for 5 minutes until the eggs are no longer runny.

Crumble over the cheese and leave to cook for another couple of minutes.

Then fold the omelette in half (this wasn't the easiest - hence the mess I made)!!

Finally cut into wedges and serve.

Definitely not the most well presented dish I have ever done!!! So this omelette was received with mixed reviews. Pascal loved it all but Arabella and I didn't like the cheese - we used Caerphilly which I think was too bitter. I have never tried the cheese before and certainly won't again - it was very sharp. Next time I would definitely use feta as this also crumbles and I think works really well in an omelette and goes well with the leeks, goats cheese would be another idea. The leeks were fantastic in the omelette - a good change from the usual mushroom or onion.

I would also serve with a tomato salad too.

I will try this again as omelettes are so quick and easy to make and eggs are so good for you but certainly with another cheese and if I am feeling naughty some lardons too…!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Whenever I am out and need a quick lunch I ALWAYS go to pret-a-manger. I have to say I love that place....I love the salads, sandwiches, savoury croissants and wraps and I particularly love the fact you know how many calories are in everything. If I am feeling very naughty I will have the cheese, ham and mustard toastie, if I am feeling so so I will have the ham, cheese, bacon and tomato croissant and if I am feeling angelic I will have the chicken salad or the crayfish and avocado "no bread sandwich". 

When I used to work I would literally go to pret everyday....and do you know what, I am still not bored of it! I love the way they bring out new sandwiches and salads constantly...although I am still annoyed they discontinued the tuna Nicoise sandwich about 3 years ago!!! Please bring it back!!

Anyway sometimes it is good to try something new and so I decided to check out the falafel sandwich bar 'Just Falafel' that recently opened on the Fulham road. Falafel is something I adore but don't have often, I don't think it is as popular over here as it is in other countries. Apparently falafel is the most successful street food in the world and has been around for 4000 years....pret definitely can't stake such a claim!!!

Just Falafel offers 8 different types of wraps, all are made to order and include 4 freshly cooked crispy falafels with different ingredients. For example the Greek includes olive tapenade, lettuce, tomato and tzatziki and the Mexican includes Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, jalapeños, chilli sauce, avocado and tomato salsa. You can also build your own wraps, have a big falafel in a bun burger style, falafels on their own, soups and salads.

I went for the original with fresh mint, parsley, tomato, cucumber and turnip pickles, tahina and I added hummus. I did also want feta but they surpringly didn't have it. Funnily enough the girl in the queue behind me also wanted it.

I had to wait 5 minutes or so while it was cooked and when it arrived I was very very happy I had come here!

It was delicious - so yummy - fresh and full of flavour - I really enjoyed it and will definitely be back again to try the other flavours. I will even bring Arabella as they do mini kids' wraps. 

Change can obviously be a good thing. I am not sure how many calories are involved....and to be honest I don't want to know. It feels fresh, healthy and delicious and that is good enough for me!!

There are 55 Just Falafel branches around the world including 6 in London (Hammersmith, Covent Garden, Fulham, Charing Cross, Baker Street & Romford), the founders' mission is to redefine the fast food category with great flavours, nutritious food and socially conscious behaviour…and I think they are doing just that.

Just Falafel

7 Fulham Broadway

(Take away available) 

Square Meal

Just Falafel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 March 2014


I have been home alone again this weekend and had all these plans to detox, take it easy, do yoga etc….it went brilliantly until Saturday night. Typical! I went for a "quiet" dinner at my lovely neighbour's house…..and it was anything but….I finally crawled home at 2am after a fabulously fun fun evening! So today it was all about the burger, not Bikram!!

Tommi's Burger Joint is the brain child of Icelandic entrepreneur Tomas Tommasson (hence the name) and he already has 4 very successful branches - the only other one in the UK is in Marylebone. You wouldn't think it is Scandi though - it feels totally american with memorabilia from the States around the restaurant.

The menu is tiny - a burger, cheeseburger, veggie burger or a steak burger, the only side is fries and you can add bacon. This works though as they do what they do and they do it well. The burgers are cooked medium over an american charcoal grill and served in a soft bun with chopped onions, ketchup, lettuce and tomato.

So I rocked up at 2pm on a Sunday and the place was heaving - no seats available. I was assured by a waiter that once I placed my order at the bar I would find somewhere to sit and he was totally right - no one dilly dallies here, the turnover is quick.

I ordered a bacon cheese burger with fries and a diet coke (got to save calories somewhere) and it was £10.50…not MacDonalds prices but not bad at all considering it is good quality british beef. As soon as I had paid, a table was available and so I sat down, plonked my bag and coat down, while I organised my sauces. One thing I absolutely loved about this place was the "sauce station"!!

As a sauce lover - this is stuff my dreams are made of! Pickles, jalapenos, chutneys, american mustard, wholegrain mustard, coney island mustard, several different bbq sauces, tabasco, mayo, wipes, unlimited free coffee (wish they did water too)…all very impressive!!

I went for frenchies mustard, bernaise sauce and pickles (this always makes me chuckle as I would always pick them out of a McDonalds burger as a child but now think they make a burger)!!!

It is all freshly cooked so it is not fast fast food (the people next to me complained about waiting too long) but it was no more than 10 minutes)!! And then it arrived…

Yum! Huge portion of chips - thin and crispy just how I like them but not salty enough but that wasn't a problem. Even though I love salad, I don't like it in a burger so I promptly removed that and replaced it with gerkins….and wow…a very good, impressive burger. Meaty, cooked medium and so still pink inside, an amazingly soft bun, salty bacon, good american cheese and then I added my favourite frenchies mustard. It was messy but worth it and I ate every late bite.

In conclusion (as my old school essays used to say) it was a damn good burger and fries - I prefer shake shack and five guys, but this is a close third…way better than byron, hache and honky tonk!! I will be back...

So where is your best burger??

Tommi's Burger Joint

342 Kings Road
Tel: 020 7349 0691

Tommi's Burger Joint on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Thursday, 20 March 2014


I think neighbourhood restaurants and cafes are really important in creating a village community. Of course I visit chains like Pizza Express or Wagamama and they are good in that you know what you are getting and are generally consistent, but they lack the charm of local places. Of course some of these can be terrible but thankfully that is not the case with Poppy's Place.

Wednesday was a big day for Arabella as she had her first ever ballet exam. She was so so excited and had been counting down the days for months. I was amazed by the seriousness of it all - 4 girls at a time, no teacher in the room, not a strand of hair out of place and they had to memorise every single dance. I was far more nervous than Arabella who adored the whole experience. I couldn't resist a picture!!

Anyway she had to miss some school (much to her delight) and after the exam we decided to grab a quick lunch before she returned to her lessons. I had read about Poppy's Place in one of the free property magazines that always come through our door and it looked gorgeous - a shabby chic vintage setting, a fresh simple healthy menu and delicious coffees and treats. 

It is run by Scarlett Guess who comes from a family of restaurateurs and whose brother has opened up Chop Shop in Haymarket which I am desperate to try. Poppy's Place follows a "farm to table" concept and is somewhere to go for all day dining and the restaurant / cafe is delightful - I couldn't resist taking of photo of our table flowers.

There is plenty to choose from on the menu - breakfast includes full English, baps with sausage, egg or bacon, homemade granola, buttermilk pancakes, croissants and eggs and more.

Lunch includes salads such as lentil, beetroot and goat's cheese, baps like chorizo, rocket and red pepper or a croque monsieur toastie. They had a burger, steak sandwich and mac and cheese as specials which sounded very tempting, in fact it all did and I was torn at what to order.

In the evening it becomes a candlelit, romantic and intimate restaurant, and the focus is on steak with unlimited fries (bring it on)!

They also had a well priced children's menu offering mac and cheese, chicken, sausages as well as a fish finger sandwich.

Arabella, the pasta fanatic, went for mac and cheese.

This was absolutely delicious - my only complaint being it wasn't big enough, I was only allowed a small bite to taste. I would definitely have this here - cheesy and flavoursome!

To be different from Arabella, I went for smashed avocado on toast with chorizo (you could have bacon or egg instead of the chorizo if you fancied or all three).

Once again, so yummy - a large portion of avocado with I think coriander on top and a squeeze of lime. The chorizo complemented the avocado perfectly and it all tasted so fresh. Being the piglet that I am….I could definitely have squeezed in another sausage!!

The waiter was very attentive and everything was served with a huge smile - nothing was too much trouble.

Unfortunately we could not linger as school beckoned, poor Arabella had been eyeing up the brownie slabs on the counter which looked incredibly moreish. I know for sure we will be back for breakfast, lunch, supper and coffee and cake…I can't wait to be a local at our new local. I give it a big thumbs up!!

Poppy's Place

255 Munster Road
Tel: 020 7920 6420

Square Meal
Poppy's Place on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


As I have mentioned on this before I love Pinterest, I have about 60 different boards of everything and nothing and there are still thousand more things I need to "pin". You won't be surprised to hear that my favourite search is the food and drink one and as a wannabe American I am overjoyed by such recipes like Pizza Spaghetti Bake or Cheeseburger Casserole or Reece's Chocolate Peanut Butter Magic Bars. The list of yummy things is unbelievable! The only bummer is I don't understand the measurements i.e. cups and nor can I buy all the ingredients…onion powder anyone?!

My recipe tonight was from Pinterest - the picture of the Shrimp Tacos looked so fresh and delicious and while I didn't manage to buy all the ingredients, I don't think it mattered and like with my Rainbow Pasta Salad I had to improvise - I had to make my own pico de gallo and I left out the spices - I have no idea what Sriracha is?!

I love Mexican food and I think the Old El Paso kits are fantastic - I remember at uni it was a very very popular meal and we would go to town making sure we had every condiment & sauce (but nothing homemade).  My fajita would be so packed to the brim you couldn't close it!! I still love all the kits but they are not exactly healthy with all my extras…hopefully these are slightly better!

Ingredients for 2 people:

12 Cherry Tomatoes
Half a small red onion
A handful of coriander (or cilantro as they call it across the pond)
Half a lime
2 tortillas
14 jumbo prepared prawns
Half an avocado
2 tbsp of coleslaw
2 tsp of sour cream
Salt & pepper
Half a tsp Sriracha (or another hot sauce depending on how HOT you like it) I don't so didn't.
Jalapenos peppers (once again this depends on how HOT you like it) I don't….so didn't

First things first you need to make the pico de gallo - this is basically salsa and you could buy it ready made but I assure you it is much more delicious and healthier to make it….plus it doesn't take long.

Cut the tomatoes into eighths - you could use bigger tomatoes, I just had the small ones in the fridge so used them.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Finally cut up the the coriander, (I always thought I didn't like coriander but I blatantly do)! After this you could add chopped jalapenos if you want to.

Mix all together in a bowl and add some salt and pepper to taste.

Next add a good squeeze of lime and mix.

It doesn't matter if you make too much, you can use it with many things - such as sauté it and put over scrambled eggs, add it to a toasted tortilla with melted cheese, use it as a dip with crisps or serve it with a freshly cooked tuna steak etc.

Anyway back to this recipe. Once the pico de gallo is made, then slice the avocado.

You will also need to cook the tortilla - I dry fried for 15 seconds but you can oven cook or microwave, just read the packet's instructions.

Finally start layering on the ingredients. A spoonful of coleslaw.

7 Prawns.

A couple of slices of avocado.

The pico de gallo.

And finally a drizzle of sour cream (mixed with the hot sauce if you are using it). 

Then wrap and eat!!

Being the piglet that I am, it was packed to the brim so wasn't the easiest and prettiest thing to eat but it was very tasty. However I did feel something was missing though….

Cheese!! My addiction!! Maybe I felt it needed cheese as there were no chillis or anything but for me, it added that little something extra that made the recipe go from very good to excellent. If fact I liked it so much I am going to have it again tomorrow. It felt very fresh and summery - just a shame our weather no longer feels like that. A definitely step up from my university efforts!!