Baked Camembert

Baked Camembert

I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant.

I’ve alway liked the idea of baked camembert, but have never had it, not in a restaurant, or bought to cook at home.

Seeing it on the menu, I did think why not. The baked camembert was done with honey, rosemary and garlic, served with sourdough bread.

I was a little surprised when it arrived, I don’t know why, but I thought I would have been served a mini camembert, but this was a normal sized one. It came with two warm freshly baked large sourdough bread sticks.

I do like camembert, but this was my first experience of a baked camembert. I really enjoyed it, I liked the addition of honey, garlic, and rosemary. The bread was excellent, and was perfect for dipping into the hot melted cheese.

I could have done with more bread, but then I think I would have been full as a result, and I had it as a starter. Though I ate all the bread, I couldn’t finish all the cheese. Probably better shared than eaten by one.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch the other day. I took two slices of sourdough bread, to which I added slices of Emmental and Mozzarella cheese.

I put my frying pan on a low to medium heat. I added some sunflower oil, I placed the sandwich in the frying pan, then put a lid on the pan.

The plan is that you melt the cheese before the sandwich finishes browning on both sides. When I first tried to do this, I had a lovely crust on the bread, but the cheese hadn’t melted. I found a lower cooking heat and a lid, would melt the cheese and you would have a lovely crust.

Rocket’s Burger

I was over in Dublin for an event, and having arrived late to my hotel, I decided I wanted a quick lunch, but didn’t really have the time to head into the city centre or even looking around. I could have eaten in the hotel, but I thought it was a little bit pricey.

After a quick browse around the area I decided to try out Rocket’s and have a burger and fries. The look and feel, the menu and the concept reminded me of Five Guys in the UK.

There was a lot of choice of different burgers, but in the end I went with a cheeseburger with fries, and a coke. After placing my order I took a seat and my burger was served to me at my table, which is always nice.

Burger

It was a good burger, tasty and nice toppings, you could also taste the cheese. The burger had a good meaty beefy flavour and I liked the sauce it was dressed with. I did feel that it was a bit thrown together, but that does seem to be the norm with this kind of burger though. I had a similar experience recently at 1885 Burgers in Harwell. As a result it can be quite challenging to eat, without making a mess. Can I be the only person who eats a burger with a knife and fork now and again?

fries

The fries were okay as was the drink. 

Would I go again? Well I think it’s unlikely I will be in Dublin in that location again for sometime, so I would have a burger there, but I don’t think that will happen in the foreseeable future.

Manky Cheese

I bought some brie from Aldi and when I got home I put it in the fridge. 

The next day I opened the pack and wasn’t impressed by the sight and smell of the brie. It was brown and smelt really bad.

It had been obviously badly stored at some point before it hit the shelves at my local Aldi.

I really should have taken it back for a refund, but didn’t. Partly as I no longer had the receipt, wasn’t going that way, and in the main as the cheese smelt really bad, now it was open!

So I won’t be buying brie from Aldi again anytime soon.

Time for Tacos at Wahaca

The last time I went to Wahaca it was just before lockdown. In May 2022 I was up in London for an event with my son, and afterwards we decided to get something to eat. Our first choice was Bills in Victoria, but they were full. So, I suggested that we head to Oxford Circus and go to Wahaca. We caught a tube across London.

We arrived to find there was a bit of a wait for a table, well it was a Friday evening in London, not too surprising. We decided that we would wait. It wasn’t too long before a table was free, we sat down and looked over the menu.

We chose six dishes, the one we started with, was the Mexico City nachos which I discussed here and was the highlight of our meal.

We also had three plates of tacos.

We had the grilled chicken and avocado tacos with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa, served in two soft corn tortillas.

I have had these before, the chicken for me was slightly overcooked, but the flavours were excellent. I like the addition of the guacamole to the spicy chicken.

There was also the chargrilled steak & cheese tacos, chargrilled bavette steak with grilled cheese, chipotle and avocado salsas, in two soft corn tortillas.

Another dish I have had before, these were very tasty. Though I think I have had better ones before. The steak was nice and tender and the salsas added a contrast of flavours and textures. Never see the point of the grilled cheese, preferred it when it was an option and I could choose not to have it.

Our final choice of tacos were the buttermilk chicken tacos, this was crispy fried chicken, with pink pickled onions and spiced mayo, in two soft flour tortillas.

I have had these before also. The chicken was overcooked and dry, but I liked the pink pickled onions. 

Overall these were nice tacos, not the best I’ve had, but certainly they were tasty.

Time for Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit

We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.

Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.

I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.

I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.

Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.

Gluten Free Cauliflower Cheese

I have in the past really enjoyed the truffled cauliflower cheese from M&S, however as before, it seems to have disappeared from the shelves at M&S.

For a recent Sunday lunch I decided that I would make my own cauliflower cheese, which would be gluten free.

I didn’t really follow a recipe, as partly I didn’t want to make too much, also not sure how appropriate recipes are when using gluten free ingredients.

I first made a cheese sauce, this was done by melting butter in a pan and then adding a similar amount of gluten free plain flour to make a roux. To this I added some milk to make a sauce. What I have found is that gluten free flour can thicken quite a lot, so don’t add too much. This is then cooked over a low heat to blend and thicken.

Once the sauce starts to thicken enough, I added greater cheddar cheese. I use a mature cheddar as I like a strong cheese flavour. I find you don’t want the sauce too thick, as cooking in the oven will thicken the sauce even more.

In an ovenproof dish I place the cauliflower florets, trying to ensure that they are all of a similar size. This is then covered in the cheese sauce and then place extra grated cheese on top.

Echoing the M&S dish, I added some small cubes of gluten free bread to add crunch.

This was then cooked in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Cheese and Ham Toasted Sourdough Sandwich

Made myself a cheese and ham toasted sandwich for lunch. I took two slices of sourdough bread and I lightly buttered one slice, to which I added some grated cheddar. I added a slice of Spanish Serrano ham.

In previous versions of my toasted sandwich I have used Gouda cheese and Emmental cheese as well. I used cheddar this time, as that was all we had in the fridge.

I put my frying pan on a low to medium heat. I added some sunflower oil, I placed the sandwich in the frying pan, then put a lid on the pan.

The plan is that you melt the cheese before the sandwich finishes browning on both sides. When I first tried to do this, I had a lovely crust on the bread, but the cheese hadn’t melted. I found a lower cooking heat and a lid, would melt the cheese and you would have a lovely crust.

Delicious.

Made myself a grilled cheese sandwich

grilled cheese sandwich

As a child I would often eat cheese on toast, these days not so much. Back then we even had a Breville sandwich toaster, which was a bit of a fad in the 1980s, but you can still buy them today.

I remember when a panini was something you would only find in Italy, then they were available everywhere.

These days I will avoid having sandwiches for lunch, and I can’t remember the last time I had a panini. One thing I have had a few times are toasted sandwiches, usually cheese and mushroom.

The other day we were up at the Mall and I needed a break to rest, so we decided to get some coffee and a quick snack. We eventually decided on the Soho Coffee Company, not one of my first choices for coffee, but it wasn’t too crowded. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to eat, I didn’t really want a cake, nor did I want a sandwich, so in the end I chose the mushroom & swiss cheese sourdough toastie. This was described as roasted mushrooms with garlic & black pepper. Swiss cheese & SOHO toastie sauce. Topped with even more Swiss cheese for extra ooziness! Though when it arrived I think the topping of Swiss cheese had been missed off. Still it was rather nice, crunchy bread, melted cheese and nice mushrooms.

So at home and wanting some lunch, I did think about what I wanted and I thought to myself I might create my own grilled cheese toastie. 

I had some M&S San Francisco sourdough bread, which I added some butter to the inside, a slice of Gouda (I had no Swiss cheese), some grated cheddar cheese and a slice of Serrano ham. 

In a frying pan I added some olive oil and some butter and once the butter was melted I added the (what was then) sourdough sandwich. I put a lid on the frying pan, so that the heat would be retained and melt the cheese. I then removed the lid so that the final part of cooking would crisp up the bread.

This was then put on a plate and served. The bread was lovely and crunchy on the outside, but still soft on the inside. The cheese had melted and was oozing out of the sandwich and the ham added an element of saltiness.

It was really nice, so much so I did think about making myself another one, but I resisted temptation.

Conference Dining

As part of my job I will often attend events and conferences. Sometimes these will be in hotels and other times they are in dedicated conference centres. I usually have lunch, which usually defaults to some kind of buffet lunch. For some events and conferences I stay over and that means having dinner. Over the years I have had some very disappointing meals, I remember one conference dinner in Sheffield Town Hall which was really quite awful. It comprised an over-cooked chicken breast wrapped in a rasher of bacon, served with soggy tasteless vegetables. Other times I have had some outstanding food.

In September I was attending an “away day” at the Ashorne Hill Conference Centre near to Leamington Spa.

It was a lunchtime to lunchtime event, so there was dinner in the evening.

What I did like was that we could choose from a menu and so we didn’t all need to have the same food.

For my start I chose the crispy chilli beef.

crispy chilli beef

Well this was disappointing as it wasn’t crispy chilli beef, well not like other times I have eaten crispy chilli beef. It was rather chewy and the sauce didn’t really work and certainly could have had more chilli.

For my main I went with the chicken, something I wouldn’t usually choose, but it was served on a bed of wild mushrooms.

chicken

The chicken was tender, moist and full of flavour.

For dessert I went with cheese and biscuits.

cheese and biscuits

This was a nice selection of cheese, nice chutney and a selection of biscuits and bread.

Overall it was a meal I enjoyed, but certainly not one of the best conference dinners I have had.