I ATE AT A FANCY HOTEL IN HOLBORN AND IT WAS GOOD, VERY GOOD.

Hello again.

 

Today I would like to talk you through my lunch plans on Tuesday of last week.

My lunch companion (and bill-payer, in every sense) was my father. The place you ask?

Holborn Dining Room and Delicatessen at the Rosewood Hotel.

I met my dad outside Holborn station, which is where he happened to have various meetings that day. Someone up there must have been looking down on me that particular Tuesday afternoon – because as we walked past Byron, Wasabi and Pizza Express, each filled with masses of city workers on their lunch breaks – the Rosewood Hotel appeared in the distance.

My dad suggested we go in, and I wasn’t going to say no.

My father, who is apparently a regular client at this establishment (?), informed me that the building used to be a bank headquarters. This fun fact is evident by the looks of the beautiful green marble columns up and down the restaurant. Here:

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I know i’m lame for posting a picture swiped from Google but i’m SETTING THE SCENE, OK?

Also this isn’t relevant to maybe anyone other than me, but all of the waitstaff in this place where wearing skirts/trousers made out of the exact same fabric that my school skirt was made from once upon a time. I know that means nothing to you, but imagine walking into a restaurant where everyone is wearing your old school uniform. It was weird.
It looks like this in case you were wondering:

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Yeah, I went to boarding school.

After spending a long time perusing the menu I settled on the fish special of the day.

Now, here’s the thing. I can’t remember exactly what this was – I know that it involved samphire and browned butter, and it looks to be topped with tiny little shrimp. It also looks sort of like a grenobloise (fish with capers, lemon and parsley), but there were none of those ingredients involved. I’ll be honest -when the waitress read out the menu I heard the words ‘browned butter’ and then everything went blurry and I felt faint with excitement. I love browned butter. I’m sorry.

This is what the dish looked like after I’d taken a fair few bites from it and remembered to photograph it for this ol’ food blog:

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The sides that you can see on the side of the plate are:

cabbage with thyme and bacon

steamed spinach

and the side you see photographed below would be the heirloom tomatoes & shallots:

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The fish was, as they say, cooked to perfection. Very, very, very moist and flavourful (thanks, browned butter). The samphire was delicious.

The cabbage and thyme worked so well together (who knew?) and this was one of those occasions where it was appropriate to add bacon. I know its 2017 and we (and buzzfeed) love to glorify bacon, but its not always the right time or place. Sometimes it just detracts from the flavours of the food you’re insisting on pairing with it. But not in this case.

The tomatoes were very good, albeit expensive for what they were. They were the kind of tomatoes that make you appreciate and remember the difference between a special type of heirloom tomato and, for example, a beef tomato. I forced myself to finish them all.

The steamed spinach was, well, steamed spinach.

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I enjoyed the fish so much that I ate every last scrap, resulting in this fish bone that looks like something straight out of a tom and jerry cartoon.

At this stage I was very much full and ready to down my glass of rosé (I know! I ordered rosé! Who am I!?) and call it a day.

But then I read the words ‘burnt custard’ on the dessert menu and was way too intrigued to refuse..

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As it turns out, ‘burnt custard’ is just a way of wording crème brûlée to make it sound more interesting. Well, it worked. And I enjoyed it a lot. It was nice, but then who wouldn’t enjoy custard that has literally been blazed with a blowtorch? A monster, that’s who.
I only managed to eat one of those little shortbread biscuits and that makes me really sad.

It was sort of rushed because my dad had to hurry off to a business meeting and I didn’t feel like sitting alone in the restaurant eating burnt custard with a glass of rosé.
Although, now that I think about it, I wish I had.

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THANK ME LATER: BINGING WITH BABISH

It is with immense pleasure that I introduce you to one of my finest internet discoveries of the last few months.

I’m talking about a YouTube channel that I just can’t stop watching. And recommending. And talking about. I’m kind of obsessed.

Binging With Babish is a YouTube channel where a man called Andrew films easy-to-follow cooking how-to’s based on dishes and recipes from various movies and TV shows.

Kevin’s famous chilli from ‘The Office’? He’s done that.

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The Big Kahuna burger from ‘Pulp Fiction’? He’s done that too.

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The incredibly decadent ‘Eggs Woodhouse’ from ‘Archer’? He’s done that, and it was INTERNET COOKING VIDEO CONTENT at it’s finest.

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Each episode uses the same format – after the super catchy intro,  a clip plays from the movie/TV scene in question so as to to give viewers a refresh of the famous dish that’s about to be recreated.

Then the cooking begins. And it is so.  Good. Every. Single. Time.

The production of each video is so well done. The filming is everything you’d want and need out of a cooking tutorial video and the editing is perfection. The continual commitment to using Ratatat as background music is a personal favourite aspect of mine and DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE INTRO SONG from Frasier.

‘Hey baby I hear the blues a-callin’, tossed salads and scrambled eggs’ – I’m sorry but does a better intro song for a cooking channel even exist? It just doesn’t. It can’t.

(My boyfriend is all too aware of how often that song gets stuck in my head. Sorry, dude.)

 

Have a wander on over to BingingWithBabish’s channel and have yourself the best lazy afternoon ever. Just make sure you have good food in the fridge for when you’re done watching – otherwise it’s just sad.

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You can thank me later.

I TRIED IT AT HOME: CHRISSY TEIGEN’S SPAGHETTI CACIO E PEPE

HI

It’s been a while, right? I can only apologise to the 3 of my IRL friends that might potentially read this post. Why don’t YOU try to work an unpaid internship for 6 months and try and commit to writing and running a groundbreaking food blog? I’m doing the best I can do.

Ok so to start off, let me introduce a new thing I want to start whereby I cook at home using cookbook recipes and then rate them for your viewing pleasure.

First up is a classic Italian pasta dish from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. I could write a whole host of positive adjectives right now to describe Chrissy, but I won’t. Just know that I love her. Like, a lot.

*at this point I would like to apologise for the quality of the images you are about to see. People with good taste or an eye for Art Direction should look away now. I’m trying to get back into writing this blog because even though it might not seem that way right now, I really do love doing it. And the best way to get started again is to just POST SOMETHING. ANYTHING. So apologies.*

In this post I’m going to be making Chrissy’s Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe. This recipe is super simple, easy and great for if you’re having one of those days where you just can’t be bothered to make an effort.

All you need is:

12 ounces of dried spaghetti

1/4 pound (3/4 cup) of pancetta or bacon, finely diced

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

4 big cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of chilli pepper flakes

1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus more for serving)

3 cups of baby arugula (or if you’re in the UK like I am, ROCKET. I didn’t actually use this much rocket in my own version because the friend I was cooking with is picky and annoying. Hi, Corrie!)

I have also made a slight alteration to this dish and added a reasonably-sized handful of fresh coriander, finely diced. This isn’t included in Chrissy’s original recipe though, so feel free to skip this step.

 

*After reviewing the pictures I have to insert into this post, I’ve come to the realisation that they are almost laughably uninformative and almost not worth using. But hey. Just know that I’m aware.*

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This pasta dish begins the way all good pasta dishes do: salt and boil a large pan of water, and cook your pasta until al dente. Reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water to use later on in the recipe. Please excuse the plethora of unrelated, embarrassingly British-looking products scattered around the surface. And my novelty oven glove.

While that’s simmering away, use this time to prep your other ingredients. AKA chop up some shit, dice some shit and grate some shit. Like this! :

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Once that’s done, it’s time to fry your bacon. I used bacon lardons for this.

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PLEASE DO NOT do what I did and use a super lightweight saucepan instead of a frying pan because your frying pan is currently being washed in the dishwasher and you don’t like opening it while the cycling is running. I know, it’s dark and loud and scary in there but you just have to face your fears and fish it out. Otherwise you’ll end up suffering like I did and I don’t want that for you.

The saucepan was unfortunately the opposite of non-stick which meant I had to deal with some bullshit when I was frying the lardons. I have since really had a vendetta against this saucepan and I refuse to use it again. Ugh.

Anyway, once your bacon has been crisped, add the olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes and black pepper and just leave it to become fragrant (about 1 min, according to Chrissy).

Now, walk away for a few minutes and return to find your garlic is starting to burn thanks to your choice of pan – I’m not just bad at cooking, i swear). Add the coriander, lemon juice and throw in the spaghetti.

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Once the spaghetti is in, toss it in the pan and promptly forget to take any pictures for your food blog until the meal has been plated because a) you’re a shitty person and b) cooking is stressful and the garlic is already kind of burnt, taking pictures for a blog is the last thing you need right now.

Now add the Parmigiano and toss, while adding that pasta water you reserved earlier a little bit at a time. Chrissy says this helps the cheese properly coat the pasta. I’m inclined to believe her.

Now throw in the rocket and allow it to wilt, around 1 minute. Serve in a nice white bowl while you watch the new episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, with lots of pepper, chilli flakes and cheese to taste.

The end result looked like this:

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THE FINAL SEAL OF APPROVAL

£££:
This was super cheap, and all ingredients should definitely be stocked at your local supermarket.

The Ease Factor:
Easy as pie. Easy like a Sunday Morning. SO EASY. This is the kinda thing you’re going to want to cook if you’re trying to impress someone but you’re shit at cooking.

Would I Try It Again:
I would absolutely try this again. It was delicious despite the garlic mishap and I didn’t want it to end. I posted a video of the end product plated up on my Snapchat story and three separate people wanted to know what it was and how I got it. AND THAT’S GOTTA COUNT FOR SOMETHING, RIGHT??

Stay tuned for more recipe tests from Cravings. Also @Chrissy, wanna be best friends?

YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER: PART 4

Ok, brace yourselves:

I hereby announce that this is the final installation of the Miami Food Diaries you’ve been following so closely.

I’m going to end these chronicles on a high note by dedicating this post to everybody’s favourite meal of the day: breakfast food.

 

You’ll be shocked to read that I actually remember the name of the establishment I’m about to write about. I found this place online after googling ‘best fried chicken in Miami’ on the day I was due to fly home.

The place is called Yardbird. Whether or not they actually serve the best fried chicken in Miami, I have no idea. But it was pretty damn good.

I believe I went to Yardbird on a Sunday at around 11am – prime brunch time.
The whole place was packed and there was a queue lined up outside the door (probably a good sign).

After a good hour wait (during which I found a TASCHEN book store that HAD A SALE ON), we were finally seated and I was practically salivating in excitement.

So, without further ado:

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I truly cannot express my joy when these devilled eggs were placed down in front of me. I have wanted to try these forever and ever and now here I was in Miami, being presented with an entire plate of them and they were TOPPED WITH SMOKED TROUT ROE.

The roe actually sort of ended up being a downfall because the smokey flavour was a little overpowering (and I do mean a little, because they were near perfect).

My only other fault would be maybe the yolk part could be creamier? But what do I know, I’d never even tried them before.

 

NEXT UP

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Shrimp and Grits with tomatoes, shredded bits of ham, red onions and topped with some kind of veal glaze.

This was my second time eating shrimp and grits, both during this trip and ever.

(I’ll get on to my first experience further down in this post.)

Yardbird’s version of shrimp and grits was – if my memory serves me right – pretty great.

I’m not well-versed in what shrimp and grits is typically supposed to be, and so I’m not sure if the shredded ham and red onions are standard BUT THEY SHOULD BE.

The glaze was sweet and tangy and the perfect contrast to the cheesy grits. I’ve read before that some people view grits as a comfort food and I can see why.

Last but not least:

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LOOK AT IT. THE WAFFLES. THE CHICKEN. THE MELON. IT ALL SOUNDS SO WRONG BUT IT ALL TASTES SO RIGHT.

Why do Americans do food so much better?

It’s because they’re willing to take risks.
Sometimes those risks pay off (see above picture), and sometimes those risks are just plain disgusting (marshmallow fluff? in a jar?? really??).

The little pot you see on the left is, of course, maple syrup. To the right there is a lil pot of a beautiful buffalo/honey glazey sauce.

I didn’t think I’d ever really want waffles and watermelon placed on the same plate buuuut it was actually a really nice, refreshing break inbetween bites of syrupy waffles and salty fried chicken (oh my god my mouth is watering while I type this and I’m basically making that Homer Simpson ughhhhh noise).

This little find was a great ending to a trip filled with perfect, highly calorific foods. You could even say that I am of the opinion that the chicken and waffles at Yardbird are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

 

As this post comes to a close, I want to give a special mention to possibly the best restaurant I visited in Miami:

Joe’s Stone Crab.

I’d read about this place over and over again on the internet, and after a bit of research I decided that I wasn’t leaving Miami without a visit.

Joe’s Stone Crab has been around since 1913 and started as a mere lunch counter on Miami Beach. Fast forward to today and it’s a highly-esteemed, much in-demand fully fledged restaurant. The next time I go to Miami (whenever that might be) I literally want to get a taxi straight from the airport to this restaurant.

The menu is exactly how you’d imagine it, typical upscale American restaurant food – various cuts of steak, baby back ribs, chopped livers, wedge salads, keylime pie and an extensive selection of seafood – most importantly, the crab.

This crab was the best, best, best crab I’ve ever tasted. We ordered giant crab legs which were served on a bed of ice. They were so fresh and, unlike most crustacean eating experiences, there was SO MUCH MEAT TO BE EATEN.

The shrimp and grits at Joe’s was one of the best side dishes I’ve ever eaten. I wish shrimp and grits was a thing in England.

The downside to this story, my friends, is that I left my phone in the hotel to charge on this particular night. That means no pictures – and for that I’m truly sorry.

I urge you to look past my lack of picture evidence and promise me that if you’re ever lucky enough to be in a 100 mile radius of Joe’s Stone Crab then GO THERE.

They don’t take reservations so get there early (around 7) and aim to go on a week day.
It’s so worth the wait though, I absolutely promise you.

 

And with that, the Miami Food Diaries has reached it’s end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this badly recollected series of personal food experiences that happened many months ago.

Bye!

YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER: PART 3

In Part 3 of this installation, we are going to be covering two tourist traps that fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.

You guessed it.. today we’re going to LITTLE HAVANA and THE VERSACE MANSION.

 

Little Havana is a neighbourhood in Miami that is presented to visitors as a little slice of Cuba right here in the US of A.

Many of the residents are Cuban, there are Cuban-style bars and restaurants, and a whole load of cigars for sale.

Obviously, I was most excited about sampling the food that the area had to offer – and I started the day off right:

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THAT, my friends, is a frozen BANANA dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. Call me simple, but I had never seen one of those before and I was really excited at this new, healthy alternative to ice cream. Plus, ya know.. it looks pretty.

My mom and I continued our day by walking up and down the streets of Little Havana and soaking up everything the area had to offer – which was, to be honest, just a lot of gift shops and cigars. I was interested in neither.

I did, however, go to a bar where I drank a really good Mojito and stole a few beer mats. I can’t remember the name of it but I can confirm that most of the bars looked the same so take your pick.

 

Now this is the part of the post where a little violin plays and the mood turns sombre.

You know when you’re on holiday (this always seems to happen on holiday) and you see a cafe or restaurant of some kind that seems kind of dingy on the surface, but is always just a front for a place that serves amazing, authentic, cheap food that the locals love?

You know what I mean?

Ok, so we found one of those type of places. We chose not to be apprehensive about the laminated menus written in Comic-Sans and the potentially dirty floors.

It was pretty empty, but it was way past lunch time. Ok, so there are grease-stained paper tablecloths – but that just means its authentic. It’s all part of the experience, trust me!

We sat down at this humble joint (I truly don’t remember the name, this happened literally 3 months ago) and ordered what I thought would be a variety of authentic Cuban food.

First up:

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Fried plantain with beef and friend plantain with shrimp. (The menu wasn’t particularly extensive.)

This was.. bad. The plantain cup tasted like nothing and so did the fillings.
I was so sad because I’m sure that if done well this would have tasted amazing.

This was my one chance to try fried plantain cups and I FUCKED UP. I hate myself.
The beef tasted like nothing, the shrimp was dry and tasted like nothing.

 

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On a brighter note, this chorizo was delicious and maybe some of the best i’ve eaten. It was super soft and had none of those annoying chewy bits that you get in normal supermarket chorizo. The pickles were ok.

and finally:

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Fried calamari. Is this Cuban? I don’t know but I ordered it anyway because I felt like it. This was also very average. The calamari tasted ok if you dipped the entire ring into that little pot of tomato salsa but does that signify good food? It does not.

So thats what you get for not utilising Trip Advisor boys and girls – vague misery and some dried up shrimp. Not an experience I wish to repeat.

 

AND NOW….from the average to the SUBLIME..

THE VERSACE MANSION.

I went to the Versace mansion in Miami. Does that make me a shitty person? I don’t care. It made me feel like a Real Housewife and I loved every single second of it because:

a) the cocktails at the Versace Mansion are insanely strong and I was DRUNK

and b) the food was.. the food was so good I get a lil tear in my eye when I think about it. Here’s what happened:

 

Ok. I googled the menu to be as accurate as possible because this meal deserves it. Here is my Versace starter:

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So, behold: Lobster with olives, green pea foam and spring onion gel. and caviar.

I can’t believe I got to the ripe old age of 21 to know that I liked my vegetables foamed. And gelled. But you live and learn.

Pea foam sounds pretentious and don’t get me wrong, it absolutely is.
It was also delicate and flavourful and complimented the equally-as-pretentious spring onion gel perfectly. I never thought I’d eat a lobster dish where my main focus wasn’t on the lobster but hey, here I am.

and here is my Versace main:

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This is a Wagyu Filet Mignon with truffle mash, asparagus and Bordelaise jus. And a giant prawn. Like, the biggest prawn ever.

This was basically the fanciest drunk food I, or anyone in the world, has ever eaten.

I distinctly remember the mash having a kind of overpowering truffle taste (which if fine if you love truffle like I love truffle) and I remember being able to cut the steak as if it were butter.

10/10, thank you very much. I’m sure if Gianni Versace were alive today he would get over the whole farce his previous home has become the second he sat down to a big bowl of vegetable foam.

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YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER: PART 2

welcome to part 2 of the Grubby Tomato Miami Food Diaries.

In today’s post we’re going to be covering…. AMERICAN CHAIN RESTAURANTS.

 

I’m passionate about many things, one of those things being American food chains*. I like reading about their menus online, I like reading stories about them on Reddit and not being able to relate and I like relentlessly talking about all of them every time I visit America until someone caves and says ok fine, lets go.

When I booked tickets to go to Miami the very first thing I did was google to see if there was a The Cheesecake Factory in the vicinity.

AND THERE WAS.

I took an Uber allll the way to somewhere called Dolphin Mall, which in hindsight is kind of ridiculous.

Until you remember that I got to go to The Cheesecake Factory, and then it all makes perfect sense.

Dolphin Mall was essentially a huge mall filled with various outlet stores for various brands. The Cheesecake Factory aside, I don’t recommend going. Although there was a Calvin Klein outlet where I bought loads of cheap underwear, the exact same underwear that they sell in Urban Outfitters for x2 the price.

*I have been to The Cheesecake factory only twice before. Two years prior to this trip, once in L.A (in Glendale) and once in San Francisco. One time was purely for cheesecake, the second time was for lunch. I can’t remember what I ate that day but it must have been good for me to keep talking about it years later.*

 

I arrived at The Cheesecake Factory very excited, and was seated in a booth across from a group of people that appeared to be having some kind of office party. I wish I could have an office party at The Cheesecake Factory.

Here is a very excited picture of me taken from my Snapchat:

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After getting over my initial shock and excitement, I cut the shit and ordered.
This is what I had:

 

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What you see here is a crab and artichoke dip with some crusty bread slices on the side.
It was everything I wanted it to be and more – really creamy and a decent amount of crab (which is a rarity, sadly.) and I could have eaten it with a spoon. In fact, I might have done that.

In the background you can see some breaded shrimp and some kind of spicy mayo. This was for my mum (shall I say mom? This is a post about Miami I guess). She ordered them thinking that it might be similar to P.F Chang’s dynamite shrimp (more on that later.) It wasn’t similar, but it was pretty damn good.

 

On to the mains:

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This is what I ordered. Fish Tacos.

I have never tried fish tacos but I’ve always wanted to. I’ve heard good things and I just thought you know what? We’re in Cheesecake Factory, there’s such a huge menu that I don’t know what to choose so I may as well try these tacos I’ve always wanted to try.

Do I regret that?.. Sorry but, yeah. Kinda.

It’s not that the tacos were bad. They were ok. They just weren’t.. that.. great. They just didn’t have a whole lot of flavour, there was a lot of breaded shit around the fish which I wasn’t expecting (NO DISRESPECT TO CHEESECAKE FACTORY I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEIR FISH TACOS WERE LIKE).

Look how determined I am to not bad-mouth Cheesecake Factory. Don’t I deserve some kind of voucher for that??

 

But.. yeah. They were ok. The beans on the side were pretty good, but still. I wouldn’t order them again.

Next up we have:

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My mom and I ordered this side of jalapeno and bacon creamed corn. I LOVE creamed corn and when I saw they did jalapenos I was thrilled. The creamed corn was where my average fish tacos were sort of atoned for except for the fact they were served in this little skillet and were super hot. I burnt my tongue and I’d probably do it again.

All in all, good, creamy, couldn’t taste the bacon but that didn’t bother me much. Would order again.

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So this is what my mom ordered. It is Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp and it was the best dish of the evening after the crab and artichoke dip. I can’t report fully because I tried a literal forkfull but I do remember it being really, really good and I was sad and jealous and had to restrain myself from reaching across the table and knocking the plate on to the floor out of spite.

Just joking, what kind of a monster would waste food like that?

This is the sad part of the post where I have to tell you that we didn’t eat any cheesecake. We were just too full and couldn’t manage it – a decision I regretted the entire 30 min uber ride home.

 

So where did we go next?

I have visited P.F Chang’s a few times before, once in LA but mostly in Dubai, which is a place I have been to a fair few times because I have family that live there.

My mom loves P.F Chang’s the way I love Cheesecake Factory – a whole lot.
And so, we got another uber to another obscure part of town that we would probably not visit if we weren’t just going there to at eat specific chain restaurants.

I really couldn’t tell you where this P.F Chang’s was located, but then does it matter? It’s a chain, you can find one in a multitude of places.

First up:

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Thats right, the fabled dynamite shrimp.

I’m gonna be real with you – I got too excited about eating the shrimp and I ate a few pieces before I remembered to take a picture. But there they are! You can still see them in iPhone HD. Stop complaining.

The dynamite shrimp were really awesome. I probably held up a better image of them in my mind because thats what you do when you like something but don’t have it for a long time so I can blame anyone for that but myself.

They were covered in a sticky, spicy mayo-esque type sauce. The batter still remained a nice amount of crispy. If you ever go there: order these.

 

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The lettuce wraps. My favourite P.F Chang’s dish. Once again, they slayed me.

I mean I know its only some chicken and onion and maybe some pork?? mixed with various seasonings and then wrapped in a leaf of lettuce but still, they really are amazing.

They give you so much filling that you end up running out of the lettuce and just eating it with a fork. Which is absolutely fine with me. I just love these. I love those weird white crispy things they put on the plate too. They taste like nothing but then they soak up all the lettuce wrap filling goodness. Loves it.

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Lastly, I had these street tacos, as they were called on the menu. I chose these because the filling was lobster and shrimp and I will never, ever resist something that involves lobster.

And they were pretty good! I’m not a huge fan of summer rolls, which is sort of what these reminded me of. But they tasted good, the sauce they used was tangy and sweet and delicious and all round, they get my approval.

 

And so marks the end of our American chain restaurant food stops. Before I go I would like to mention these Lays crisps that I ate while in Miami:

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I ate these whilst standing outside a CVS waiting for the rain to stop. As I think I’ve already mention on this blog, I fucking love pickles. I really do. I also love crisps. I once spent an entire evening on the crisps (chips) subreddit and from there researched all the different crisp flavours in all the different countries.

I found out they had PICKLE FLAVOURED CRISPS and I was overjoyed. At least for two minutes, and then I found out that you could order them on Amazon for something insane like £15. For one bag.

So imagine how happy I was when I saw these crips sitting there waiting for me in the snacks isle in an American food store that I don’t remember the name of. I was thrilled. And they tasted JUST LIKE DILL PICKLE. Very much recommend them. You’re welcome.

 

See you in part 3.

 

*Special mention to all the chain restaurants I haven’t visited yet – Olive Garden, Popeyes, Arby’s, Chick-fil-A. I’ll see you one day.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER – I ATE A SHIT TONNE OF FOOD IN MIAMI.

hi!

I’ve been talking about starting this blog for a long time. Since at least May 2016. This means that I have a pretty huge collection of food photos that I’ve taken at some point in the past ‘for my food blog!’.

Amongst those pictures are the ones that I took when I went to Miami for a week back in July, with the intention of posting about all the good, exclusively-American food I came across.

Now that I’ve stopped being such a lazy bitch and this food blog is up and running, babay! I decided it would be a real shame if those pictures never saw the light of day aka the internet.

This post goes out to everyone who is maybe going to visit Miami and wants to know what the deal is, or to the rest of you who are like me and find American food culture equal parts interesting and hunger pain-inducing. hereeee we go!

*these events took place long ago so please forgive me and my drug addled brain if we cannot remember exact locations/restaurant names. We’re DOING OUR BEST.

 

Visiting Miami: A Travel Guide

step 1: stumble into your hotel after a long-haul flight all the way from London. Check out the hotel room, turn on the TV and decide against going out in favour of staying in and ordering room service because THEY HAVE BRAVO ON THIS TV.

Order two starter portions of buffalo wings and two bottles of green juice, prepare to watch Real Housewives in bed followed by Watch What Happens Live like you truly deserve.

Eagerly wait for room service to arrive and when it does, realise that they add a crazy amount of tax in America and so you’ve effectively just paid about £60 – $70 – for pretty dry chicken wings and pre-bottled green juice. I’m not joking or exaggerating.

Fuck you Loews!

step 2: wake up the next morning bright and early, ready to take on the day in a new city. Realise it’s still only 8.30am. Head to the nearest McDonalds and gird your loins because you are about to experience AMERICAN MCDONALDS BREAKFAST!!

Now, there were a lot of options when it came to selecting a breakfast meal in Mcdonalds. Some of them the same as the UK, some of them not. I can’t remember specifics (sorry), and i’m not going to google it and then write it here like I did it from memory because THAT’S NOT AUTHENTIC.

One thing that does stand out in my mind is that they had large cups of orange juice with ice, as opposed to the bottled of Tropicana we get here in England. I preferred it.

That wasn’t a great description so for reference it looked like THIS:

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When it came to ordering I didn’t really know what I was doing or what I was looking for. All I knew was that I wanted it to be something that you can’t get in England.

So I ordered a McGriddle. Again, I didn’t know what that was, just that I’d never seen it before. I’m going to show you a picture now. Ready? Ok, here it is:

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That’s right. I ordered a sausage, egg and cheese McGriddle. A tasty wake up call if I ever saw one. I held it in my hands and felt it sitting all warm, soft and pretty beneath its waxy paper wrapper. I opened it up:

 

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SHE’S BEAUTIFUL!!!

Ok this picture was clearly taken after I’d had a couple of bites but LOOK AT THE LAYERS.

I swear to god you guys, my mouth is truly watering while I type this. I am pathetic but can you blame me??

 

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There’s the money shot. Oh god I need to eat something the second I’ve finished typing up this post. Look at the glistening sausage meat, the way that gross but also perfect american cheese has melted on to everything it’s touching. omg.

But but but.. I haven’t even told you the best part: THE MCGRIDDLE IS BASICALLY A PANCAKE SANDWICH. THAT BREADY LAYER IS PANCAKES AND.. STEADY YOURSELVES.. THE PANCAKES..ARE STUFFED.. WITH MAPLE SYRUP.

I’m just going to say that again – THE PANCAKES. ARE STUFFED. WITH MAPLE. SYRUP.

As you can probably imagine, the McGriddle was a work of art – a harmonious mix of sweet and salty. If you live in a country where they serve these at McDonalds breakfast I envy you. I want to be you.

If you’re going to visit a country where they serve these at McDonalds breakfast PLEASE GET ONE, you will not regret it. Also, if you want to place one in a vacuum pack bag and bring it back to England for me by way of thanks for showing you the light, thats fine too. Just leave a comment and we can decide on a mutual meeting place ☺

 

And thus, my Miami adventure had begun. At this point I have noticed that if I dedicate one single post to all the food I ate in Miami, you’re going to stop reading. Because there was a lot – and I have a lot to say. So I’m going to split these in to multiple parts – and once you’ve mentioned the McGriddle how do you top that?

On that note, see ya in the next one!!

 

 

 

I STOPPED EATING CARBS FOR 2 WEEKS AND THEN ATE MY BODY WEIGHT IN FRIED CHICKEN (AND I’D DO IT AGAIN)

A couple of weeks ago I made the executive (and arguably necessary) decision to go carb-free.

The reason? My decadent lifestyle of being a lazy lil bitch with a bad attitude who’s preferred activity is ordering countless Deliveroos and Just-Eats from the safety of a bed finally caught up with me. Over the course of the last year or so I’d managed to put on around a stone in weight.

While this is realistically fine and there are of course much, much bigger problems going on in the world, I decided that I wanted to do something about the sad, wistful feeling I felt whenever I struggled to fasten the clasps on my once-loose clothes.

So, with that in mind I stopped consuming any and all carbohydrates. This could also be referred to as the Keto diet.

I’m gonna break this down for you and deliver some cold, hard, facts that I (and pretty much all my friends) didn’t realise before starting this diet:

1) IF YOU ARE NOT EATING CARBS THEN YOU CANNOT EAT FRUIT.

Fruit is sugar, which is carbs. THIS INCLUDES FRUIT JUICE and, most heartbreaking of all THIS INCLUDES GREEN JUICE. GREEN JUICE IS A NO GO. 

2) BUTTER IS FINE, CHEESE IS FINE, IN FACT ALL FATS ARE FINE. FAT IS GOOD.

Fat gets a bad rep, probably because people (like me not so long ago) think that fat filled foods are destined to make you fat. Not true, fat is good. In fact, low-carb and high-fat is a property of the Keto diet. 

3) THE STUFF YOU THINK IS GOOD FOR YOU REALLY ISN’T THAT GOOD FOR.

Basically I’m bitter because if you’re not eating carbs, you can’t eat quinoa or any other       type of grain (maybe this seems obvious but I thought quinoa was fine. It isn’t.)

 

The other thing that I must tell you is:

PSA: NOT EATING CARBS ISN’T EVEN THAT HARD OR MISERABLE.

Ok, so it’s not super, crazy fun and I have purposely been avoiding any kind of ‘food porn’ style Instagram/snack aisles at the supermarket. Buuut with that being said, it hasn’t been terrible. If you’re a person that enjoys food/cooking/eating as much as I do, then you could probably see how it’s been kind of fun to come up with various non-carb based recipes each night.

What I’ve eaten each night has varied from Ratatouille (I altered the original recipe by adding streaky bacon, which I really, truly, highly recommend) to egg fried cauliflower rice.

The egg fried cauliflower rice was so good that it potentially deserves a post of it’s own. The sun-dried tomato and mozzarella stuffed chicken I made was real good too.

There have been some dark moments – I’m not going to go into detail about the night last week where I ate an entire packet of prosciutto ham in one sitting – but once you get over the initial terrible craving for spaghetti or just a big brownie, then eventually it becomes pretty easy, you end up feeling thinner than you have in about a year AND your black &Other Stories dress you’d given up wearing magically fits again.

 

However, as gushing as this has been about the benefits of low-carb/no-carb, I’m only human. A human that lives for fried food, specifically fried chicken. So what does this mean? CHEAT DAY.

I booked a table at Chick ‘N Sours a week before going, and believe me when I say that I thought about it/talked about it all week long.

I’ve been once before and it was sooo good dude, but for some unknown reason I’ve never been back since. Literally no reason for it other than I always think Dalston seems so far away from me, but I’ve since moved house and it seems more within my grasp. (That is literally bullshit, I’m just incredibly lazy.)

 

Even though a new restaurant has just opened in Covent Garden, I booked a table at the Dalston branch – mostly because my friend works there.

I arrived at 7pm, sat down and tried my best to control myself and not order every last thing the menu had to offer. I ordered:

1 June Bug (a pineapple sour cocktail which was really, really, really good.)

1 Bitter Kentucky (my boyfriend ordered this, I’m really not a whisky fan but even I enjoyed this)

1 Bun (a HUGE korean fried chicken burger in a perfect brioche bun with asian slaw and hot sauce and gochujang mayo)

1 House Fry (fried drumstick and chicken thigh, seaweed crack and pickled watermelon. Not for me, for my boyfriend. Could’ve eaten this too though)

2 portions of dripping fries

1 portion of house pickles

1 portion of cinnamon bun dough ice cream 

Ok let me tell you – EVERYTHING WAS SO GOOD. I WOULD LITERALLY GO THERE WEEKLY IF I COULD.

Before I start talking about the food I want to preface by saying that I am so sorry, I’m the worst food blogger ever: I only took one picture. Not even a good one. The trendy dim lighting coupled with my crazed need to eat everything on the table as soon as it was put down in front of me means that this is the one and only picture of the evening:

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(the Bun, aka the best asian inspired fried chicken burger I ever did eat)

It’s my first post, the lighting was dark and I was drunk – please don’t close the tab.

The fried chicken skin (skin? coating?) is everything you want it to be and more, just the right amount of salty and peppery and crunchy. It was perfect. The actual chicken itself is so moist and pure and made me really happy.

You can really taste the beef dripping on the dripping fries, which I’ve found is not always the case in other places. Pickles are one of my No.1 favourite things in the whole world so to have a whole plate filled with various thinly sliced pickled vegetables was a real pleasure. They were good, just the right amount of sweet and sour.

I was a huuuuge fan of the pickled watermelon, although I didn’t try the seaweed crack which i’m pretty sad about. Next time though!

The cinnamon ice cream was the perfect consistency, really creamy and came with crunchy cinnamon bits on top. It also had miso butterscotch drizzled on top, which tasted kinda like the stuff they drizzle on cinnamon buns BUT BETTER.

My aforementioned friend who works at Chick N Sours (hi, Cal!) also took it upon himself to very kindly make sure we were never short of drinks, and so began a crazy, steady stream of sour cocktails being delivered to our table every time a drink was finished.

It was truly just a really nice added bonus on top of what would already have been the best eating experience I’ve had in a long time.

The cocktails were all realllly really great, the kind of drink you keep drinking and then suddenly you realise it’s 12pm the next day, you’re lying on the floor halfway between your bedroom and bathroom and you’ve got a £46 receipt from Uber on your phone.
In the best way possible.

So as i’m sure you can imagine: drunk person x person who hasn’t eaten carbs in 2 weeks + fried chicken = best night ever.

I absolutely super, mega implore you to go to Chick N Sours at the first chance you get. The food is really good, the menu is interesting and all the staff are really lovely. Make sure to book a table in advance because it gets craaaazy busy. There was a queue going outside the door when I was there. Booking is important.

But seriously, go. Go right now. Take a sick day from work if that’s what it takes. GO. THERE. NOW.

 

 

*This post was not sponsored by my friend Cal, Chick N Sours or the Keto Diet. But I wish it was.