So on this day two years ago….

On this day two years ago I was in London for various meetings. Over lunch I went for a walk around Covent Garden and enjoyed looking at the Christmas decorations. Since 2015 when  I started working at my current organisation I would go to London quite frequently and in December it is really nice to see the different ways in which they decorate Covent Garden and other places around London.

Covent Garden

Of course since the Covid-19 lockdown I’ve not been to work or meetings in London since March.

However back to 2018, so I headed towards Kimchee on the Strand to get some lunch. Since my previous visit a few months earlier they have changed dramatically how they sell and serve food. Before you would pick things up from the hot and cold units and then either (as I usually did) take it back to the office or there were tables you could eat at. However now there was a big kitchen area, you would place your order, get a buzzer thingy and wait until the food was cooked to order. I quite like getting freshly cooked food, so was happy to wait.

I ordered the Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi and the Pa Jeon. I then had to wait for my order. Deopbap Chicken Bulgogi was Korean BBQ Chicken in a rice bowl.

The grilled chicken marinated in a blend of ginger, dark soy and garlic, was coated in a sauce and served on a bed of rice and salad. It was quite tasty, but not really barbecued chicken. It was just okay and nothing special and at nearly nine pounds I thought it was overpriced and wasn’t value for money.

I really liked the sound of the Seafood Pa Jeon, a Korean savoury pancake. Pajeon is a variety of jeon with scallion as its prominent ingredient, as pa means scallion. It is a Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, scallions, and often other ingredients depending on the variety.

However the end result was a greasy stodgy undercooked pancake with no real flavour. I couldn’t actually finish it. I certainly won’t be going again.

On a later visit to London in 2019 I found that the branch of Kimchee had closed down. I wasn’t too surprised as the essence of what they had which worked was lost, as well as the downturn in the quality of the food as well as more expensive dishes. It also took longer to get served and I am sure that had an impact on those wanting to pick something up quickly and head back to their workplace.

Quick lunch in Cardiff

Last November I was attending some meetings in Cardiff, after they were over I was walking back to the car park to get my car and drive home. I realised I was hungry and decided to get something to eat.

Cardiff has quite a bit of choice of places to eat, but I didn’t really have the time to look round find somewhere so in the end I chose Barburrito.

I’ve had Barburrito tacos before at Paddington and Bristol Airport, so it was something I knew I liked.

I had three Barburrito tacos with pork and chicken. You also get a handful of tortilla chips and salsa. I like how you have some choice over which salads and extras you get with your tacos.

Though I always think with Barburrito that the meat is generally overcooked, however I did enjoy my tacos and the salad and toppings tasted very fresh.

Wahaca revisited

Now as we enter a second lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal.

Back in December 2019 I was heading South of the river in London for an event where I was delivering a presentation. With time for lunch I headed off to Wahaca on the Southbank. This was the branch where I had first eaten food from Wahaca back in August 2016. Then I had really enjoyed the fresh delicious food and thought at the time that I would really like to go again. Since then I have been quite a few times, however I hadn’t been to the Southbank restaurant for a fair few years.

The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.

I went with three dishes from the street food menu.

The Ancho Chicken Tacos was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

These were very nice, I enjoyed the spiciness of the accompaniments and the fresh tender chicken..

On previous visits I have gone with the steak tacos, though this time I went with the slow cooked beef brisket tacos.

The beef was beautifully tender and I liked the accompanying pickles on top.

My third dish was the delicious crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

I’ve had these before and these were really nice. The florets were larger than other times I’ve had this dish, but this didn’t make a difference, it was a delicious plate of food.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal and thought all the dishes were delicious.

Time for a Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

Sometimes I cook and sometimes I just buy stuff I can heat from chilled or frozen. Often it’s time, sometimes convenience, othertimes it’s because I like it.

I really quite like the Buttermilk Chicken Thigh Burgers from Aldi. You get two in a box.

Buttermilk Chicken Burger

These are baked the oven. I served mine in a brioche roll with cheese. The chicken is moist and tender and the seasoned breadcrumb is nice crunchy and tasty.

They are quite large so will fill the bun easily. I have noticed that they are a little inconsistent in size when I have bought them, but in some ways that I quite like, it feels a more natural product.

Spicy Crunchy Chicken Bites

These were an attempt to make my own version of the Santa Maria Colombian Crunchy Chicken Bites that we usually have. I had to make my own, as I was unable to get hold of a pack of the Colombian Crunchy Chicken Bites Seasoned Corn Coating.

The end result wasn’t quite the same, however they were very tasty and enjoyed by all.

The method I used was to take some chicken thighs and slice them into equally sized strips.

These were then coated in gluten free flour, before then been coated in an egg mix and finally coated in a mix of gluten free breadcrumbs, cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper.

You could fry these, however I baked mine in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

They go well with sour cream and wrapped in mini tortillas.

Colombian Crunchy Chicken Bites Seasoned Corn Coating

I like this packet for making crunchy chicken bites.

A mild blend for light, oven-baked, crunchy, gluten free bites. Use our simple blend to make delicious Colombian-inspired crunchy chicken bites in your oven. We use corn, instead of wheat, to get that extra crispiness which is loved by adults and kids alike, making it perfect for a family night in. Buen provecho!

What I also like about this pack is that it is gluten-free.

The process is nice and simple, I take some chicken thighs and cut them into strips which are placed in a bowl, to which I add some sunflower oil and the contents of the pack. This is mixed together and then the chicken is placed on a baking tray. I usually line the tray with baking parchment.

The chicken strips are then cooked in the oven.

What you get a crunchy spicy chicken. I like to eat them in a wrap with some sour cream and pea shoots. 

However I am now having real trouble finding it in my local supermarkets, Morrisons no longer sell it, my local Waitrose had it on special for a while, but now it’s no longer on the shelves. In theory it’s available at Asda, but I have never seen it at my nearest branch. So as a result I have been looking at making my own version using spices and gluten free breadcrumbs.

Time for some Chicken Fajitas

Alongside my steak fajitas I made some chicken fajitas as well.

Chicken Fajitas

I make versions of this dish quite often, but the method is pretty much the same. With the chicken I prefer to use chicken thighs. These I cut into strips. I then added sliced onion and pepper to the chicken before adding some fajita seasoning.

This chicken, onion and pepper mix is then cooked in a hot frying pan until the chicken is cooked through. I finished off the dish with some chopped fresh coriander.

The fajitas I serve with warm tortilla wraps, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. I also like to add some pea shoots into the mix as well and thinly sliced radishes.

Gluten Free Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

I made these spicy crispy chicken strips to accompany an asian inspired meal I was cooking.

Gluten Free Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

I cut some chicken thighs into strips and then coated them in a homemade batter. The batter was made from gluten free self raising flour, mixed with a single egg and flavoured with salt and pepper, and Schwartz Japanese 7 Spice Yakitori Seasoning. The aim was to coat the chicken with the batter, ensure the batter is thick enough to coat the chicken, but not too thick so that there is a thick layer of batter on the chicken.

The chicken strips are then shallow fried in batches in hot oil. After draining on kitchen paper, I finished them off in the oven.

I served them with sweet chilli sauce.

Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce

This is a Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce chicken dish I made recently.

I am a bit of a fan of the Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen range of sauces and spices. Though I like to make my own sauces, sometimes for speed and ease I use ready made sauces such as the Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce. They are also useful when you don’t want to buy all the ingredients to make a sauce like this one, or only want to make a smaller portion as part of a wider range of dishes. I sometimes use the sauces for inspiration for cooking my own sauces.

The Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce is a tasty sauce and is one of my favourites from the range.

Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce

A creamy sauce made with coconut cream, lime juice & chillies. Venezuelan Coconut & Lime Sauce has its roots in the Zulian region, in the north of Venezuela by the Caribbean Sea, where coconut palms grow. This fresh, tangy, coconut cooking sauce brings you a real taste of the tropics.

I generally cook some chicken with onions and pepper before adding the sauce and heating it through., I added some chopped coriander and served the dish with rice.

Chipolatas on the Barbecue

One of the nice things I have enjoyed when self-catering at a Eurocamp in France is the gas barbecue that is outside every caravan. Something I have never experienced in the UK (maybe it rains too much).

One of the advantages of the barbecue is that you can avoid using the oven or grill in the caravan which can heat up the living area considerably, which when it is hot anyhow, makes it very uncomfortable.

On the first evening of our recent holiday to France, we popped to the local campsite shop for some quick extra supplies (we had brought some basics with us, as well as enough food for the first meal). However as we had time we thought we might get some French food for the evening meal.

I picked up a pack of Chipolatas sausages, which I grilled on the barbecue.

These were really nice, meaty, tasty and delicious. We had these quite a few times over the holiday.

Over the week, as well as Chipolatas I also did Merguez sausages, lemon chicken and some nice peppered rump steaks.

Most of the time we had these with salad, though I did cook Pommes Rissolées a couple of times, and also made a (gluten free) pasta salad as well.

The only challenge was on the final evening, though I regularly cleaned the griddle part of the barbecue, the bottom part did have too much grease on it, so we had some flames which resulted in certain pieces of food getting somewhat charred! When we go again I will clean this part of the barbecue as well.

Part of the (new) housekeeping agreement with Eurocamp, as well as emptying the fridge and doing the washing up, you also had to clean the barbecue.

Knowing this in advance, I did bring some metal scouring pads and cloths for this purpose. It came up okay, but having some proper cleaning spray or similar would have been useful. However I got there in the end.

I really enjoyed cooking on the barbecue during the week, it was quick to light up and made catering much quicker and easier.