Tuesday, 23 December 2014


I love Mexican food although it is not the most popular cuisine in London and there aren't as many Mexican restaurants around as I would like. I do love the burrito bar Tortilla or the more upmarket La Bodega Negra but I also am a big fan of cooking old el paso dishes like tacos or fajitas (a university stable).

My sister Kirsty was recently living near Taqueria in Notting Hill so I had to give it a go before she moved - I went with her and Arabella however it was mainly just me eating as Kirsty is vegan and Arabella was being fussy. I need to go back with Pascal so we can properly get stuck in!

For Arabella I ordered off the children's menu - she had cheese quesadillas.

These were super simple and just contained plain melted cheese - we were expecting something a bit more exciting so Arabella was not impressed. I added the avocado to them which made them more tasty.

We shared the "frijoles refritos" - the refried beans with crumbly cheese and this was absolutely delicious, we could have had one each and I would come back for this alone. This certainly made up for Arabella's quesadillas.

I had two tacos - the first one was the "choriqueso" - house made Mexican chorizo rolled inside brown cheese with onion and coriander.

This was pretty random in that it was a cheese tube and quite messy to eat but it tasted heavenly - very cheesy. I would have liked some guacamole with it but hadn't ordered any and was too hungry to wait!

I also ordered the "conchinita pibil" - slow cooked pork marinated in achiote and citrus juice, house pickled Scotch bonnet, pick pickled onions and coriander.

This was also very good but had quite a kick to it - I am not sure Pascal could have handled the spice!

I didn't order anything else even though I was very tempted by the garlicky mushroom tacos and the beer battered pollock ones.

It was super quick and very well priced and I left feeling satisfied. My sister and Arabella not so much but nothing some fruit and veg (my sister) and fruit pastilles (Arabella) couldn't fix. The restaurant is currently having a makeover and will reopen at the end of January 2015 - I definitely look forward to trying it again. It's definitely a quick lunch venue - nothing smart - but I find with Mexican, that is exactly what I want. 


139-143 Westbourne Grove
W11 2RS
Tel: 020 7229 4734
Email: info@taqueria.co.uk

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Monday, 22 December 2014


I had a dilemma last Friday night - I presumed that we would have no problem getting a table at our local Spanish restaurant Tendido Cuatro however they were fully booked and I had no idea where we should go instead. Thank goodness for the open table website - I managed to book us a table at Margaux, a French place on the Old Brompton road, I didn't know much about it but I remembered the Sunday Times giving it a good review a while back.

The menu at Margaux is full of French classic dishes and has a great wine list. The decor is very modern and urban (more New York than French) and it had a buzzy atmosphere and a mix of clientele from a local vicar to drunken ladies at their Christmas party in the private dining area.

Pascal and I both went for the seared foie gras with toasted brioche, apricot jam and port reduction. Seared foie gras is a favourite of ours - it's not the easiest to cook and they rarely have it in restaurants over here.

The foie gras was really good - lightly cooked on the outside but soft in the middle. I wasn't that keen on the toppings (I should have read the menu properly as I don't like sweet and savoury together) but the foie gras was delicious enough to eat on its own. I will definitely be having more of this when I next go to France. Other starters that appealed were the ravioli of prawns and saffron or the aubergine and burrata salad (next time)!

For mains I had the quintessentially French dish of beef bourguignon with creamy polenta. This was incredible. The meat was so tender, it literally fell apart and the polenta was very creamy and warming - a perfect accompaniment - I don't know why polenta isn't that popular in England as it tastes so very good and makes a nice change from the usual potato.

Pascal had the duck leg confit with cocoa, pear compote and blackberry. He normally does not like food and fruit together either but he changed his mind here as he loved his meal - the duck was cooked to perfection.

We weren't hungry for pudding however they had such a good cheese selection we had to tuck in - we shared 5 different cheeses with crackers and bread and it was like another meal in itself. All were amazing however a special mention has to be made about the truffle brillat savarin - it was out of this world and now my new favourite cheese.

A lovely meal with excellent, very quick service. It was expensive but the food was good quality, well presented and imaginative. To be honest I would go back for the cheese alone. I have a feeling this is going to be Pascal's new favourite - a home away from home!! The restaurant also offers some great value set menus and is becoming well known for it's weekend brunch.


150-152 Old Brompton Road
Tel: 020 7373 5753

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Sunday, 21 December 2014


The Chinese restaurant Mao Tai was a Fulham institution for 29 years and there was uproar amongst locals when it appeared to close….however luckily it was just being refurbished and rebranded. It's new name is Kozu, it is the brainchild of the original proprietor Mark Barnett and Nobuhisha Takahasi, a head sushi chef for Nobu in both Cape Town and London. The focus is now on Japanese cuisine and there is also a robata grill. The plush interior and cool bar remain very similar although the loos have had a fabulous upgrade!

Pascal and I do not eat Chinese regularly as we tend to get overexcited and order too much and then feel revoltingly ill, so we were very happy with the change. We originally went last summer and had a fabulous meal however I forgot to take photos of everything - I was too busy stuffing my face I expect! So before you think Pascal and I are compulsive eaters (you wouldn't be far wrong) this is a combination of two meals however we did order lots of the same things both times.

The menu contains many of my favourites. The first time we went we chose the soft shell crab tempura. This was good - I adore soft shell crab - although if I was going to be fussy, the batter could have been slightly lighter.

On the other hand the yuzu squid with a creamy yuzu dipping sauce was the best squid I have ever had - unbelievable. Pascal and I could have had a portion each - it was so light and tasty and the sauce was divine.

Both times we also had the salmon tartare with caviar umami jelly. This was very fresh and the salmon literally melted in your mouth. Not sure of the point of the jelly but it looked pretty with the gold leaf!

We also had the beef tataki with a spicy ponzu sauce. Once again we loved this - it had a little kick to it but the beef was incredibly tender and I loved the garlic chips.

My favourite is always the sushi rolls - I could eat them daily. We had the California maki and the shrimp tempura maki - both were absolutely excellent. I had to restrain myself from ordering more!

Whenever we go for Japanese Pascal's favourite is the chicken yakitori - in fact he won't even order in from Feng Sushi as they don't do them. Kozu, on the other hand, do them very well as they are served in a truffle sauce and I really recommend them.

I love the gyoza dumplings and I ordered the pork and ginger ones however they weren't the best and I was pretty disappointed especially as Mao Tai used to have the best dim sum. Maybe I will try the chicken or vegetable ones next time.

Now when we went for the first time in the summer we ordered chicken teriyaki, pork belly with spicy sweet miso and steamed rice. They were all good but nothing to write home about. Consequently we didn't order them again!

Instead we ordered the udon noodles with roast duck and Chinese mushrooms. I was expecting chow mien but this was more ramen.

It would be Arabella's idea of hell - mushrooms and duck, her two worst foods!! Even though it was extremely difficult to eat, it was surprisingly good. My brother adores ramen and super noodles and I can definitely see the connection between the two, I think I am a convert (as long as no one watches me spill it everywhere) although it's not my number 1.

I could have ordered more maki rolls but we decided to not overdo it - there is a pudding menu with creme brûlée and chocolate truffles but I was more interested in my malteser bunny waiting for me at home.

A very good meal, mostly excellent food all beautifully presented. It is expensive, so it's a meal for a special occasion but it is worth it especially as the service is faultless. Next time I go I will be ordering pretty much the same "starters" although increasing the maki roll intake tenfold (have I said that already?)!


58 New King's Road,
Tel: 020 7731 2520
Email: reservations@kozu.co.uk

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Saturday, 20 December 2014


Pascal and I had the most fantastic evening on Tuesday night - supper and then the theatre to see the Book of Mormon. It is outrageously rude and politically incorrect but hysterically funny - I would really recommend it….if you are not easily offended.

For supper beforehand we decided to go to Hawksmoor which has been on my list for donkey's years although I have always been put off by the prices - steak restaurants are always super expensive - but I would say this was definitely worth it. There are 5 Hawksmoor restaurants in London and one in Manchester.

According to the website, Hawksmoor travelled the world to find the perfect steak but actually it is from here in Britain. The menu offers lots of fish as well as meat and a good mix of starters (steak tartar, ribs, Caesar salad). I wanted the Bixham crab on toast with mayonnaise to begin with however they were unfortunately out of crab and lobster. Instead I had the roast scallops with white port and garlic.

These were delicious - big juicy scallops in a garlicy sauce - it reminded me of snails in garlic and I even ordered some bread and butter to mop up the sauce!

Pascal ordered the smoked salmon which came with a delicious herby cream cheese and brown bread. This was very tasty and fresh.

For mains we both had the 400g rib eye steak which we agreed is one of the best steaks we have ever had. It was so tender and full of flavour - I don't think I have ever tasted anything like it.

Being the little piglets that we are we each had our own portion of mac and cheese which was divine. Restaurants can so easily get this simple dish wrong but this was perfectly cheesy with a crispy topping.

We also shared a side of the English lettuce and herb salad which was very light and crisp - a perfect accompaniment to the steak and pasta.

I ordered the Stilton hollandaise as a sauce which was good but not very stiltony and a bit too creamy - next time I would go for the béarnaise although to be honest the steak was so good, it would be perfect without a sauce….which is something I never normally say!!

Even though I was so full I could barely breathe I had to try the salted caramel rolos which were literally mouthfuls of Heaven. I was a little put off by the dark chocolate as I am not really a fan but the rolos were utterly incredible.

A superb meal -  Hawksmoor definitely lived up to its reputation of being the best steak restaurant in London and I think has made it on to my list of my top favourite restaurants.  Great food, fantastic atmosphere, friendly efficient service and a really warming, comfortable decor - the kind of place you could stay all day. I can't wait to go back - the restaurant also offers a pre / post theatre dinner / set menu and a Sunday roast and a whole array of puddings that I can't wait to try!

5a Air Street
Tel: 020 7406 3980

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Monday, 15 December 2014


Pascal has been talking about cooking a vegetarian lasagne for about 4 years so we decided to take the bull by the horns and finally make one this weekend. I am feeling a bit down at the moment as Arabella has gone to my ex husband's for two weeks and I am missing her like crazy. Thank god for chocolate and TV!!

Anyway I searched through my numerous recipes and found this one in Fay Ripley's second book. Pascal was a little unsure as he was expecting a lasagne with vegetables such as aubergine and mushrooms rather than lentils and celery but like all Fay creations, it all worked well in the end. I did make a few alterations like using a cheese sauce as Pascal doesn't like white sauce and obviously adding more cheese!!

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

400g fresh spinach
1 x 300g pack of fresh lasagne (we did have 3 sheets left over)
2 x 125g ball mozzarella cheese
500ml cheese sauce

Lentil Sauce:
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stick, trimmed and finely chopped
Splash of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
150g red lentils, rinsed
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml vegetable or chicken stock
Around 250g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C fan / 200C  / gas mark 6.
To make the lentil sauce, heat some oil in a large pan and then fry the onion, celery and carrot for 5 minutes.

Then add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes.

Next pour in the lentils, tomato puree, tomatoes and stock and season well. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat, put the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While this is cooking, cook the spinach in a microwave or saucepan with a splash of water, for around 5 minutes. Then drain out the excess water - I always find it amazing how much it shrinks!!

To assemble the lasagne, spread 3 tablespoons of the lentil sauce into the base of an ovenproof dish - the one we used was around 20 x 25 cm according to Pascal's "hand measuring technique" - so that is a real guesstimate!

Then layer on the pasta.

Then 3 ladles of lentil sauce and cheese sauce. 

Spread over half the spinach.

Sprinkle 3 large handfuls of grated cheese.

Add the pasta again and then repeat the whole process until you have finished with all the ingredients. After my second layer of spinach and cheese, I added another layer of pasta.

Then I covered it with the remaining cheese sauce and tore over the mozzarella.

Finally bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes and then serve and enjoy.

Another successful recipe from Fay Ripley, this was surprisingly very good and way exceeded our expectations. I was thinking about what I was going to do with the 350g of red lentils I have left over - I now know I will be using them again to make this. Delicious and kid friendly, a real triumph! 

Randomly as I was reading the Sunday paper's after lunch, I saw a recipe in the Times from Jamie Oliver's new book for a vegetarian lasagne with aubergines, mushrooms, squash, courgettes etc, just like Pascal was imagining. It looked good, but this one looked better and easier ;-)