London: New York Italian at Hai Cenato?

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Jason Atherton’s empire continues to grow and the latest restaurant to open was this New York-y Italian restaurant in the new Nova development by Victoria. It’s in goof company with Rail House Café, Aster, Franco Manca etc. nearby.

The first time I came was early one Sunday evening with my friends Helen and Pete and their son Eddie. We’d had a lovely Sunday afternoon exploring the Natural History Museum, had eclairs and coffee at wonderful Maitre Choux and a walk to Buckingham Palacea and were happy to sit down and tuck into some food just as the skies opened.

Hai Cenato? (means ‘Have you had dinner?’ in Italian) certainly feels New York-y with it’s high ceilings, long bar counter, sketched portraits and cosy feel. It’s nice but relaxes and the menu echoes that with pasta dishes, rosso and bianca pizzas and meats from the grill.  and modern yet cosy interior.

They also have a kids menu and children eat free on Sundays, which is a nice touch.

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Eddie chose a pasta with tomato sauce and plenty of grated parmesan from the kids menu  and was very pleased with his choice.

Helen and I both chose the corzetti pasta with bolognese sauce sage, browned butter and grated Berkswell cheese. It was absolutely delicious and felt very indulgent. The sauce was really rich and could have done with a bit more pasta because of the richness but it was a nice size portion. We also shared a side of amazing crushed potatoes that soaked up the last of my bolognese.

Pete chose a lovely vibrant green risotto with oeas, broad beans and crab that was just perfectly executed.

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We were certainly full after our main courses but still fancied pudding and after a quick browse on the (excellent) dessert menu I chose the brioche with salted caramel ice cream. I just love salted caramel and expected a dainty dessert, perfect to finish off my meal but instead I got a large (burger size) brioche bun and THREE scoops of salted caramel ice cream (insert surprised emoji here). The flavour combination was spot on of course but the portion size ridiculous, especially after such starchy food as pasta or pizza.

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Helen’s chocolate and coffee fondant with creme fraiche, puffed rice and caramel was more the size we had expected and absolutely delicious!

We had a lovely dinner here, but also experienced some (I hope they are) teething problems like slow service and I got poured a flat glass of prosecco which just shouldn’t have left the bar and it took ages to get a new one. It’s not the end of the world of course, but I expect an overall smooth and lovely experience when I go to a restaurant, especially when it’s a quiet evening.

I went back last week with my friend Nick for pizza and a glass of wine and the service was a lot better (i.e. smooth) and the place buzzing with people. Oh, and the pizza? DIVINE!

Hai Cenato?, 2 Sir Simon Milton Square, London SW1E 5DJ

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Recipe: Sloe gin spritz

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Happy Valentine’s day, dear readers!

It seems like the perfect day to share this sloe gin spritz recipe with you. Don’t we all need a drink on Valentine’s day?! Either to celebrate or commiserate?

I made sloe gin last year (very British, I know!) using this method and wanted to use it in a drink a little more exciting than a sloe gin & t, so I was very pleased to find this sloe gin spritz recipe in an issue of Bon Appetit.

Sloe gin, 70 cl

1 bottle (70 cl) gin 

500 g ripe sloe berries (pick them after the first frost) 

Simple syrup:

100 ml caster sugar

100 ml water

Freeze the berries. Defrost and mix with the gin in a large jar/bottle. Seal the jar and keep in a dark place for 3 months. Shake/stir it once a week or so.  

After three months, sieve the mixture and remove the berries. Bring the simple syrup to the boil and let it cool. Add syrup to the gin after taste. Done! 

 

Sloe gin spritzer, per glass

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recept.

4 parts prosecco

1 part sloe gin, either homemade or bought 

soda water

Mix prosecco and sloe gin in a glass (with or without ice). Fill up with soda water. Decorate with frozen raspberries or a sprig of mint. B

Cape Cod: Canteen in Provincetown

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On this unplanned US trip I trusted Google to help us find places to eat in Cape Cod. In P-town, one of the places I found was Canteen, and as we walked past it approximately two minutes after having stepped out of the car we decided it was a great place for lunch.

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I, not surprisingly, made sure to get my (first) lobster fix for the day and decided on a lovely lobster roll. I also got a glass of frosé but it was too sweet for my liking.

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Sinead had prosecco instead, and a lovely salad with quinoa and chicken.

This laid-back place is perfect for a quick bite while wandering around town. The food was really nice and fresh and the staff super friendly.

Canteen, 225 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657

This year’s Christmas drinks party

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I had some of the girls over for Christmas drinks the first Saturday in December and it was so much fun! Last year I had a larger gathering with both girls and boys, but this year I just didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare something big, but rather than not organising anything at all I preferred to scale it down. I do hope I have more time and energy last year for a proper Christmas party with lots of canapés, but I’m not making any promises.

To start with we had prosecco (and quite a lot of it!) and savoury canapés, starting with warm crisps with browned butter, grated comté, lemon juice and cress. I love these so so much! I know it’s making crisps even unhealthier, but it is so worth it. I mentioned the browned butter right?!

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Thereafter I put out a little DIY project with crostinis. I had a large bag filled with crostinis and three jars on a silver tray with different spreads to put on top; bean spread with sage, hot smoked salmon spread (the girls favourite!) and a new version of chicken liver parfait (recipe to follow soon) and cornichons.

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After that I passed around a board of prosciutto parcels filled with cream cheese mixed with chopped sunblush tomatoes. It’s the easiest recipe ever (three ingredients!) but always goes down well.

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We then moved on to the hot food. First up were these puff pastry squares with mushrooms, grated cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. IMG_7468

Then the mini Janssons frestelse that all my London friends adore! Janssons frestelse is like a creamy potato bake (with grated potato) with anchovies. It sounds rather odd I know, but everyone who’s ever tried it loves it, I promise!

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Having finished the savoury canapés it was time for the sweets and glögg! I put it all out on the table at once to people cook pick and choose. The rocky road I made this year is probably the best one yet (recipe to follow), mainly because it has honeycomb in it and it really works!! I also tried to pretty them pieces up with snowflakes (which I tend to use on everything this time of year!) and edible glitter.

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I also served gingerbread with blue cheese, but this time I substituted Stilton for St Agur, which works even better.

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I also made these mini saffron pannacottas that I like to make every year – I’m so lucky my friends are happy to eat! 

 

 

Brunch at Avenue, St James’s

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Several Saturdays ago I met up with Sinead for a very lazy (and late) brunch at 2.30pm in the afternoon, a time that suits me perfectly when there’s unlimited prosecco.

Although brunch is almost a religion in the US and even more popular in my native Sweden than in the UK, London brunches are becoming increasingly popular. We went back to Avenue, where we had dinner a few weeks previously as we thought it would be a fun place for brunch, and it definitely was.

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The other guests were in high spirits (maybe even literally due to that free-flowing prosecco) when we arrived and it was a mixture of smaller parties, hen dos and larger gatherings. It’s table service here (no buffets) and you can choose from the menu and then pay a set price for two or three dishes. We both started off with eggs (as it was at least my first meal of the day), I had eggs benedict and Sinead eggs florentine. Both really nice, although my slice, I mean slab, of ham was the biggest I’ve ever seen.  After the savoury start we continued with amazing waffles with berries and yoghurt.

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And then finishes off our brunch with something very sweet; an chocolate and vanilla icecream sundae. Really nice as well!

We really enjoyed our brunch here and the restaurant is perfect for that type of meal. But if I’m going to be picky (and I usually am) I would have liked some more fruit with the waffle and I still think they need to change the lights (or completely do up) the ladies room!

Avenue, 7-9 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1EE