Recipe: fabulous lemon spaghetti

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Right now we have normal Spring weather in London (as one would expect in May), but when I made this lemony pasta for the book club girls we had summer temperatures in April (!). If it hadn’t been so windy, I would have liked to eat outside but indoors had to do.

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Because of the nice weather I wanted to make something summery, but more filling than a salad, so when my colleague suggested this River Café recipe I had a hunch it would be perfect.

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And it was!

Looking at the ingredients list it might seem like a heavy dish but the acidity from the lemon makes it appear as light as air (well almost). It’s so fresh and really tastes of summer. So much so that it’s easy to dream of Mediterranean holidays…

But back to London and reality. The pasta went down a treat (everybody had seconds) and Mary-Louise even asked for the recipe. She has since reported back that she made it twice in one weekend and that it works just as well with the pasta shape bucatini. Thank you M-L!

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Lemon spaghetti with Parmesan and basil, serves 6

Adapted from River Café’s recipe.

250 g spaghetti

juice of 3-4 lemons, preferably Amalfi lemons

150 ml olive oil

150 g Parmesan, freshly grated

2 handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and finely chopped

finely grated lemon zest 

Cook the spaghetti in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly and return to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil, then stir in the Parmesan; it will melt into the mixture, making it thick and creamy. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add more lemon juice to taste.

Add the sauce to the spaghetti and shake the pan so that each strand of pasta is coated with the cheese. Finally, stir in the chopped basil and some grated lemon zest.

 

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Theatre, cinema and a chilled weekend

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Last week was a short work week, as the Monday was a bank holiday, but it felt longer somehow. Why is that always the case after a long weekend!?

As I was tired I stayed in on Tuesday, unpacked the last bits from the weekend and just took it easy.

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But on Wednesday I went to the National Theatre (about time after having lived in London for ten years…) to see Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was very dramatic and very, very good!

Before the play we had dinner at one of the restaurants in the theatre. Very convenient, rather than rushing from place to place and nice food.

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Thursday was another quiet evening at home, and I enjoyed every second. Friday I went to the cinema and saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was cute and very British (about half the cast were previously in Downton Abbey) but not amazing, much as I expected.

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Saturday and Sunday were very chilled, and as the weather was rubbish I thoroughly enjoyed staying indoors with scented candles, nice food and binge watching Madam Secretary. Sometimes I really crave some down time and that’s exactly what I needed this weekend. Now I feel ready to tackle another busy week!

Seville: classic tapas

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For me, it’s just as important exploring the classics as the contemporary, regardless of field. It applies to books, music and of course gastronomy.

Some of the restaurants I tried in Seville are modern and fun, although still with it’s roots in the classic stuff, and even though I absolutely adore that style of cooking I sometimes prefer something old school with less fuss.

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Casa Placido isn’t particularly fancy but instead it has tonnes of charm and classic good food. The dark wooden furniture and the tiled walls are ageless and makes you feel at home in an instant.

I sat down and ordered an excellent glass of Albarino, but I feel I probably should have dipped my toe in the many sherries on offer. Next time. The plate of Jamon Iberico was very generous and the excellent ham went down a treat.

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The tortilla serving was even more generous and very nice too!

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There were lots of other nice things on the menu, but this was what I was craving; simple classic food. A nice contrast to the more elaborate dinners I enjoyed elsewhere in the city.

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Casa Plácido,  Calle Mesón del Moro, 5, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

Bank holiday weekend in Stockholm!

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The beginning of last week was pretty rubbish; I was ill and the weather was horrible in London.

I felt better on Tuesday and saw The Ferryman play after work. It was really amazing! Before the theatre we had a quick burger at Café Monico next door.

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Wednesday I met up with a friend at Champagne + Fromage in Covent Garden, where neither of us had been before. We had some lovely champagne and a charcuterie and cheese board.

Thursday I packed for the bank holiday weekend in Stockholm as we left straight after work on Friday. Dinner was on board a plane but I made up for it the following days with lots of nice food!

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My friend Carina hosted a lovely brunch on the Saturday, with eggs and bacon, salmon and BBQ followed by rosé and fika on the balcony. After brunch we walked around town taking in the beauty of it. Stockholm is definitely prettiest in the sunshine, with the sun reflections in the water.

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We saw the cherry blossoms in Kungsträdgården, walked around Gamla Stan (Old Town), past City Hall and back towards Vasastan.

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In the evening we had a lovely dinner at Hillenberg and then a drink and awesome people-watching at Riche.

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On Sunday we had brunch at Mr Cake, and it was just as fabulous as I had imagined it to be! (Full post to come).

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After brunch we went out to Täby, one of the suburbs and stayed with my friend Linus and his family. We had fika in the woods, a lovely dinner and lots of quality time.

On Monday it was lunch at my fave Rolfs Kök and then drinks with Carina at Tranan before heading to the airport!

Such a lovely weekend, with great company, good food and the best weather!

Seville: modern architecture and modern tapas

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Most buildings in Seville’s city centre are old and charming, which is why this modern structure offers such a beautiful contrast.

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Although built as recently as 2005, I find it puzzling how this amazing and grand wooden structure fit into the (rather snug) space it’s in. But it works. I find the Metropol Parasol both intriguing and obvious at the same time.

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To match this modern piece of architectural art I thought some equally modern tapas were in order (even though I ordered some of the classics, but in an updated version).

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Not far away from the wooden structure you find Perro Viejo, a modern tapas bar with a cosy interior and interesting menu. It’s popular so I recommend booking in advance (I did) and bear in mind that the portions are very generous when you order.

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As in most restaurant, the olives and bread arrive quickly at the table, so you can munch away while you study the menu. I had a nice glass of cava as well. I mean, when in Rome Spain…

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I didn’t think I ordered much, but with the large portion sizes it turned into quite the feast!

First up, a generous portion of delicious patatas bravas. A classic yes, but exquisite when done well.

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The Russian salad with prawns was absolutely delicious (and probably enough for four people to share). Creamy yet fresh at the same time!

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The Jamon Iberico croquetas were divine too; very soft and again, large.

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The tartar of Iberico pork may not be for everyone (because, raw pork) but I trust the restaurants to serve good meat, and this type of pork is more similar to beef in some ways; it’s darker and has lots more flavour than regular pigs. Delicious!

After testing myself while in Rome for a weekend a few years ago, I got used to dining solo. Without a book or any armour (apart from some food snaps on my phone or camera), I’m comfortable eating alone, and in my own company in general. But it proves tricky to order in tapas restaurants were the portion sizes are this generous. That is by no means any criticism of Perro Viejo, just an observation on eating solo. So round up your friends (or at least grab a random person off the street) and enjoy these tapas the way they are meant to be eaten; shared. 

Perro Viejo, Calle Arguijo, 3, 41003 Sevilla, Spain

Seville: modern tapas with exotic elements

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Some days in Seville were lovely and warm with 23C and sunshine. Those days were spent relaxing by the pool, enjoying the sun on my skin and a good book. So in the evening I would get ready for a stroll around town and a nice dinner.

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One such evening I made my way to El Pintón and was extremely lucky to snag a table outside without a reservation. After I got that table they turned away so many people. So make sure to book in advance.

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This place is different to the usual tapas bars around town. They do serve tapas at El Pintón but always at a table, so there is no busy bar area to hang out in. Instead it’s a civilised affair with only table service.

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A concept I was perfectly happy with. Just like I was happy to watch the world go by while sipping an excellent glass of cava.

But I had food too, of course. First a lovely egg dish with truffle. A combination I love. Add to that some crunch and a smooth potato créme. Mmm…

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Next up was the calamari sandwich with lemon aioli. Simple but lovely! And the squid was the most tender I’ve ever had.

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My last dish here (I wish I could have had more, but the portions were rather generous as you can see) was a recommendation from my friendly waiter; presa Ibérica tataki with sweet potato purée and pistachio sauce. The meat was exquisite and so so tender and the sweet but mellow flavours worked so well with the pork.

This; dining on excellent food al fresco, is partly what holidays are about for me. Pure joy!

El Pintón, Calle Francos 42, 41004 Sevilla, Spain

All the food; both home cooking and eating out!

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Last week was rather full on, but in the best possible way! Monday I mainly prepped for the day after when I had my friends Gaby and Ro over for dinner after work. For once I wasn’t rushed and it was such a nice feeling. We started with nibbles; obviously Jamon Iberico and saucisson from Spain, nice olives and my homemade dill hummus with pitta chips.

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Then I served trout fillets with dilly new potatoes and a lovely sauce for fish and finished the dinner off with dulce de leche pannacotta. Gaby also brought a selection of canelés from Babelle that were amazing!

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My childhood friend Therése arrived from Sweden on Thursday evening and we had dinner together at mine while chatting away. I made a selection of tapas including the Jamon Iberico and saucisson, Nocellara olives (our favourite!), Manchego and Ossau Iraty cheese, padron peppers, calamari and my asparagus with wild garlic mayonnaise.

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On Friday we met after work and had a speedy but delicious dinner at Barrafina Drury Lane before going to the theatre around the corner to see 42nd Street.

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Saturday was lovely and sunny, so we put our sunglasses on and went shopping in Chelsea where we also had lunch. A pit stop at home to change and we were off to dinner. We had amazing sushi that I will tell you all about later and finished the evening with champagne at Kettner’s Townhouse.

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Therése’s last full day here we went back to an old favourite for lunch; La Fromagerie in Marylebone. The food, the cheese and the ambience is just a winning combination.

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In the evening I made us a nice chicken salad and we had ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for pudding. It was such a lovely weekend and I’m so grateful my friends make the effort to visit me while living abroad!