London: wonderful afternoon tea at Berners Tavern!

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When my friend Therése came to visit in April we had a really lovely weekend with shopping, dinner in and amazing sushi out. And the last day we went all out with a trip to the V&A and the dreamy Dior exhibition followed by a wonderful afternoon tea at Berners Tavern, that I will tell you all about now, and some beauty shopping in Liberty’s. Such a perfect girlie day!

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As we walked into Berners Tavern we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the dining room with its pretty chandeliers and amazing ceilings and picture covered walls, which felt both grand and relaxed at the same time.

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We sat down at our table and immediately admired the china (you may know I have a thing for blue and white china!) and were greeted by our lovely waiter explaining the menu in details with us.

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What I really like about an afternoon tea, is of course all the goodies, but also the ceremony around it; the nice china, the silverware, the pouring of the tea and just letting everything take its time.

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With the napkin in my lap I once again admired the china pattern when our kind waiter told me it was especially made for the restaurant, and the pattern is made up of the chandeliers in the ceiling that are originals from when the building was first built. Isn’t that amazing?! I love the attention to detail.

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Just as much attention to detail had been put into the sandwiches, scones and sweet treats for the afternoon tea. Such a stunning spread!

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The savoury spread from left to right; chicken and mushroom mini baguette; smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill sandwich and savoury scone with mild goat’s cheese and herbs. All delicious!!

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The scones were also perfect and came with and without raisins and we got individual silver pots of clotted cream and jam!

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The sweets were gorgeous too! From left to right; strawberry macaron with creamy ginger filling (my favourite!); chocolate and yuzu tart and a creamy raspberry and meringue cake.

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Just look how beautiful the sandwiches are close up! Love that the chefs take such care in the presentation.

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The same goes for the sweets; they were like little works of art! Our whole afternoon here was puree perfection from the service to the tea refills to the food and ambiance. Berners Tavern definitely have that little extra that makes it feel like a special place without being stuffy at all. We could just relax and chat away – which we do so well!

Berners Tavern, 10 Berners St, London W1T 3NP

Nights in, lots of cooking and Fleetwood Mac concert!

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As I’m writing this I’m listening to Fleetwood Mac and reminiscing about Sunday’s lovely concert, but first things first – let’s start from the beginning.

Last Monday was a real write off, as I was ill in bed the whole day, either with a stomach virus but more likely food poisoning from the burger I had the night before. Luckily it was over quickly but takes its toll on you. I couldn’t do much at all, but Madam Secretary kept me company while I was just willing for my body to get better. In the evening I felt a little better and managed a shower which felt like a huge achievement (and the only thing I had accomplished that day) and late in the evening I felt well enough to eat again. And ordered pizza. Maybe not standard procedure but it worked for me. My body was screaming for carbs and fat and I ate it slowly. It worked and I felt so much better afterwards!

Tuesday morning I was still drained but could work from home and took it easy in general. Dinner was the leftover pizza from the night before.

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Wednesday evening I made a simple supper of store-bought mushroom ravioli topped with fried mushrooms, heaps of parmesan and a little brown butter. So yummy and a perfect shortcut without compromising on quality.

On the Thursday I went to The New Forest for work. It rained (of course!) but seeing the semi wild animals always cheers me up!

Friday night we had a cosy night in, and it was lovely to see my boyfriend again after he’d been away on a trip. I made an easy three course meal for us which we drank with prosecco while chatting away. After dinner we watched Billions and US open.

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On Saturday we had a cooked breakfast consisting of duck eggs (to change it up), toast, pancetta and orange juice. I spent most of the day in the kitchen baking and cooking.

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In the evening we had lots of nice tapas, and watched the 3D film Gravity, which was super tense but also really good!

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On Sunday we slept in, had another nice breakfast and then went round to my boyfriend’s sister and her family for a quick visit before we went back home to eat a late lunch (tapas leftovers) before heading to Wembley and the Fleetwood Mac concert! It was brilliant and we had such a nice time!

Recipe: weeknight almost poke bowl

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If you read my weeklies you know I partly live on poke bowl. Both take away ones but most often my homemade almost-poke-bowl. Until now I’ve linked to this post, because the idea is roughly the same but the presentation is different, so I thought it was about time my probably most-cooked dish gets its own post.

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In my opinion (and probably most peoples’) a proper poke bowl, consists of sushi rice and raw fish with various toppings. But as sushi rice takes a long time to make and raw fish isn’t readily available I’ve reworked the dish so it’s easy to do on a weeknight. (Puritans, look away now.)

Enter basmati rice (jasmin rice would work too, but avoid long grain) that you can literally just add to a pan of water and boil. Much simpler than sushi rice. And frozen raw prawns. I heat them, from the freezer, in some oil in a frying pan and they turn pink (i.e.) cooked in seconds. Add to that what vegetables I have at hand, but I would pick up avocado, coriander and cucumber on the way home as for the those are the most important ones. I always have a jar of mayo and one of gochujang in the fridge. Mix the two together and add some salt and you’re ready to go.

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Weeknight almost poke bowl, serves 1

1 portion basmati rice, cooked according to the instructions on the box 

80 g frozen raw prawns 

1 tbsp oil for frying 

1 tsp lime zest 

salt and pepper

1/2 avokado, diced or sliced

5 cm cucumber, diced

chopped coriander

other vegetables such as radishes, spring onions and tomatoes, chopped 

50 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a pinch of  salt 

1 lime wedge

Mix mayonnaise and Gochujang, season with salt and put aside. Heat up a small frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the prawns (straight from the freezer) in the oil until they turn pink (doesn’t take long). Remove from the heat and add the lime zest. Add salt and pepper. 

Drain the rice and add it to a bowl. Add the vegetables, prawns and gochujang mayo. Lastly add the coriander, squeeze over some lime juice and sprinkle with salt. 

Recipe: caprese salad with burrata

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If you follow me, you know I have one strong obsession at the moment – burrata! I think it’s partly because it’s tomato season and burrata go so well with tomatoes. The creaminess of the cheese is the perfect contrast to the sweet and slightly acidic tomatoes.

One of the best – and easiest – ways to combine the two is in a simple caprese salad. All you need is four ingredients (good quality tomatoes, burrata, basil and a decent olive) and salt and pepper.

It’s perfect for lunch with some bread, as a casual al fresco starter with rosé or as part of a buffet or on little skewers as a canapé. The possibilities are endless.

Caprese salad with burrata, serves 2

2 large tomatoes, sliced (or the corresponding amount of cherry tomatoes, halved), at room temperature

1 small burrata, at room temperature

approx 10 basil leaves

2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

Divide the tomato slices between two plates. Tear the burrata into pieces and divide between the plates. Scatter with basil (I like to keep the leaves whole). Season. Drizzle generously with olive oil and serve straight away, maybe with some nice crusty bread. 

 

Nights in, gyros and cinema

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Last week wasn’t the best. But it started off well with eggs for breakfast (love a cooked breakfast on the Monday, it makes the weekend seem longer).

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In the evening I stayed in, made myself a nice salad and garlic bread for dinner and watched Chernobyl, which is amazing and scary in equal measures. Highly recommend it!

On Tuesday I woke up with a terrible headache and it didn’t lift all day despite what I did. So I watched a film in bed (Frost/Nixon) and had an early night hoping sleep spilld help.

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Unfortunately it didn’t go away, so I took it easy the following evenings too. Watched Sex and the City in bed and ordered gyros (have finally found a good place!). I did the exact same on Thursday night (even ordered the same food) but finally started to feel a bit better then so could also read How to Dress that I bought a while ago.

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I finally felt better on Friday and ventured outside to get some fresh air and to go to the cinema. I saw Late Night with Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, which was nice and lighthearted but still had a little depth.

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On Saturday I had a lie-in, read Vogue and really enjoyed just having time off, no plans and that I was feeling better. I did some errands and went to the cinema again, this time watching Booksmart, which was nice and entertaining!

I took it easy on Sunday too, as I felt my body needed some more rest. The last few weeks (maybe longer) has been quite full-on with weekends away and lots of plans and as I slowed down this week my body told me to stop. It’s just so annoying I got a terrible headache already after I had started to slow down, but maybe it was too little too late. Even though I find it really difficult to find that balance I do try and I’m slowly getting better at it, even though I often fail, but I used to push on even more so in a way I also have to be proud of how far I’ve come. I still have far to go, and achieving balance while living in a city like London with things to do all the time might be near impossible, but I’d still like to try.

Recipe: shrimp rolls

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I sometimes wish I could summer in Cape Cod every year, partly because it’s a gorgeous part of the world, but mainly because of the seafood.

When I was there three years ago I had lobster rolls and baked oysters and clam bakes galore!

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And although I LOVE lobster rolls, it somehow feels a bit frivolous making them in Northern Europe where it isn’t as abundant as on the East Coast of the US. So I usually save lobster for special occasions, either just served with garlic butter or perhaps a’la Thermidor.

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Instead I prefer to use prawns* (cold-water ones) that we do have in abundance in the seas around us prepared the same way (which is actually also common in the States, lobster isn’t readily available everywhere there either) – which is my new weekend favourite. I made it one Saturday night as an easy to prepare supper after a day out and about, because it really is speedy and easy to make, but still elevated enough for the weekend.

*But the term shrimp roll sounds better somehow. 

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Shrimp rolls, serves 2 as a main course

I’m not a fan of celery, which is often an ingredient in lobster and shrimp rolls, so here I have substituted it with small pieces of cucumber for crunch.

4 brioche hotdog buns

1-2 tbsp butter

300 g peeled cold water prawns, peeled

1 batch mayonnaise

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

1 tbsp dill, finely chopped

1-2 tsp paprika powder

1/4 lemon, the juice

5 cm cucumber, peeled and diced small

To serve:

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped 

1 tsk paprika powder

2 lemon wedges

potato wedges

ketchup and mayonnaise for the potatoes (or another dip of your choice) 

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Drain the prawns in a colander or sieve. Make the mayonnaise and add paprika powder and lemon juice. Mix in the cucumber, prawns, chives and dill. Add salt and pepper. 

Divide the butter between the hotdog buns and spread it out in the cut. Toast the buns in the oven until golden, approx ca 3-5 minuter. 

Fill the buns with the prawn mixture. Top with paprika powder and chopped chives. Serve with potato wedges, lemon wedges, ketchup and mayonnaise.

 

London: vegetarian lunch at The Gate

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A Sunday in April when the rain was hanging over London like a thick grey blanket, we were meeting up with friends for lunch and to watch The Boat Race. It seemed like all of London was out this day to cheer on the rowers, despite the weather, so the pubs where we thought we would meet were all full and certainly not appropriate for our friend’s baby.

But somebody thought of this vegetarian place nearby, that I hadn’t even heard of, and that’s where they were gathered when we arrived, a bit late. It wasn’t really were we (five carnivores and a baby) expected to have lunch; I think we were all thinking about a nice meaty pub roast, but we were all very happy with the choice in the end.

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Personally I like vegetarian food, and cook it quite a lot at home (without even continuously thinking about that the food I sometimes cook IS vegetarian, I just like nice food) but I am a little bit limited to what vegetables I can eat, due to my stomach condition, so I was a little worried before I had browsed the menu. But luckily The Gate is all about nice upscale vegetarian food instead of super healthy vegetarian food (that’s the category I struggle with) so there was plenty I could have.

I really liked the starters, and ended up having three of them! Two to share with my boyfriend as we couldn’t decide which starters to have, and then a third as my main course because I can never resist aubergine at a restaurant!

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The first two starters; onion quite (top photo) and the mushroom Wellington (middle photo) were both great. Nice pastry, nice filling and certainly not too healthy!

The aubergine (above) was just as sticky and gooey as I had hoped so I was very content with my choices and too full for pudding. Instead we headed to the river and shared some rosé in the rain.

I think was my first visit to a completely vegetarian restaurant, and I really enjoyed it! It was a nice restaurant in general (i.e. nice atmosphere, staff etc.) that just happened to be vegetarian. And I’m sure my veggie friends would love it here, where they can have EVERYTHING on the menu!

The Gate, 51 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith, London W6 9QL