Time for an Italian salad

Fetter Lane

When the weather is hot and sunny and I am working in London, I usually prefer to have a salad for lunch rather than a hot lunch. Near the office there are plenty of places for lunch and lots have a wide choice of salads. I have enjoyed those from the Natural Kitchen where you choose from a selection. Another place I have had salad a few times is the branch of Coco di Mama which is close to the office. They have a wide choice of pasta dishes as well as salads.

I decided to have the Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad. This has crispy speck, bufala mozzarella, mixed Italian beans & quinoa, mango, avocado, pepper pearls, capers, pesto-harissa and pea shoots. It was quick and easy to pay and the service was warm and welcoming.

Sun-Sational Speck & Bufala Salad

It was a really tasty salad, it didn’t overdo the mixed leaves unlike some pre-packed salads I have had from other places. I like the use of mixed Italian beans in the salad which was something I do have at home, but not often seen before. The mango added colour an sweetness, as did the pepper pearls (with a hint of heat).I like pea shoots and these were really nice and added a distinctive flavour to the salad. I wasn’t enamoured with the buffalo mozzarella, and I didn’t think the crispy speck added anything to the salad, I would have preferred to have fresh speck. Having said that, these are minor criticisms, of what was a really tasty salad. Something I would certainly have again. As well as tasty food, they have great service, so a return visit is very likely.

Time for a salad box

Olive Grove

One place in St Nicholas Market I have not been to for ages is the Olive Grove salad bar. They do a lovely salad and tapas box which you can have either just as, or with lamb kofte, grilled chicken or halloumi.

I really like the choice of salads and tapas they have. Pulse power comprises a mix of pulses. They usually have a pasta salad and a potato salad. Should say that the potato salad is not your usual mayonnaise covered potatoes, this has none of that! They are very tasty as a result. I like the Greek salad they have too.They have a choice of different kinds of olives, stuffed vine leaves.

Overall if you are looking for salad I think Olive Grove is a great place to go for.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2018

This year I have written 35 blog posts.

Tenth post was over ten years old, Chorizo Frito al Vino which was my thoughts on cooking Chorizo sausage in wine.

Chorizo

Ninth place was also about Chorizo, this was about Sainsbury’s Cooking Chorizo. Having used cooking chorizo from Tesco, Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury, I much prefer using the chorizo from Tesco or Marks and Spencers.

The eighth most popular post on the blog was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

The number seven post was Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings. The post had a lot of thoughts about mushrooms.

The sixth most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions.

My fifth post was about retro chocolate. How many of these can you remember? Which were your favourites?

Retro Chocolate

Reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

Climbing two places, the third most popular post was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recipe.

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

In at number one Chilli Squid from Wagamama, maintaining it’s top position as the most popular post on the blog.. This post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches.

Salad time at Chilango

chilango

Since we moved our London office I have been missing the different kinds of places for lunch we had around Covent Garden and on The Strand. The new office on Fetter Lane has quite a wide choice of places to eat, though I’ve not had a lot of time to discover what is available.

On Fleet Street is Chilango, the queue looked quite long (which is usually a good sign) but it was moving quite fast.

I did quite fancy tacos, but they were’t on the menu, so in the end deciding against a burrito I went with a grilled steak salad box..

On top of the bed of lettuce I had some black eyed beans, grilled steak, tomato salsa grated cheese and sour cream. I could have had some added guacamole for £1.50, but I was too slow and before I could answer the box lid was closed and I was asked to pay!

I was impressed with the fresh flavours in the box and the different tastes and textures. A great light lunch with plenty of punch.

Carbon – charcoal grilled bavette steak

On a previous visit to London I found Carbon in Convent Garden, I was trying to find Wahaca when I chanced upon this eclectic charcoal grill. I said to myself the next time I need to buy lunch in London I am going to try it out. So the next time I was in London I did just that. I really like food cooked over a charcoal grill, I also really like freshly cooked ingredients for lunch too.

There was a queue, which in my experience is a good thing. There is a wide menu of stuff including lamb kofta, prawns, spiced lamb merguez sausage, or lemon and thyme seared halloumi.

In the end I went with the seared bavette steak. This was served with a chimichurri salsa, baked potato with cheese and a citrus tender leaf salad.

The Argentine from @carbonsoho charcoal grilled bavette steak with salad and a jacket potato.

I had quite high expectations about eating this and I wasn’t disappointed. The steak was perfect, I loved the chargrill, it was tender and full of flavour. The rest of the box was nice too. A nice mix of solid filling potato, light salad and piquant salsa.

Skimming over their Twitter feed I did like the sound of some of their specials. So the following day I went there again and the special was charcoal grilled leg of lamb with couscous and spiced vegetables. I thought to myself, yes please, alas many others had thought the same and they had sold out. Pity, maybe next time.

Chicken with Turmeric and Rosemary

I have recently been eating a lot more salad and the other day I was looking for something to have with my salad.

At my local Aldi in the specials section of the chilled products was a pack of chicken fillets that was “coated” in a turmeric and rosemary marinade. This sounded quite interesting and looked nice.

To cook them I put them on wooden skewers and grilled them under a hot grill.

Chicken with Turmeric and Rosemary

They looked nice, but lacked the intensity of flavour I had been expecting.

I served the chicken with a salad dressed with sliced radish, torn mozzarella, a seed mix, diced cucumber and avocado. I trickled the salad with extra virgin olive oil.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2017

This year I have written 37 blog posts. In 2016 I wrote 28 posts.

In the Birdcage

The tenth most popular post on the blog was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

Ninth place, was a reminder from 2013, that if I ever go to Frankie and Benny’s again, don’t order the pasta! I have never had pasta again at F&Bs.

The post as number eight was about Sainsbury’s Cooking Chorizo, Having used cooking chorizo from Tesco, Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury, I much prefer using the chorizo from Tesco or Marks and Spencers.

The number seven post was from ten years ago, Pasta in Tomato Sauce. A recipe for a very quick and easy dish with a lovely piquant tomato sauce.

Pasta in Tomato Sauce

Sixth post was about the Wagamama Pork Ribs I had in 2011.

Post number five for last twelve months was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recip.

Reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

The third most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions.

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

In at number one is Chilli Squid from Wagamama, climbing one place. This popular post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011 and the visit was the same one that I had the ribs.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches. Hopefully 2018 will see more posts and more people seeing those posts.

Tart and Salad

Having some time to kill in the Kelvinbridge area of Glasgow, I was looking for somewhere to have lunch.

Roots, Fruit and Vegetables

Roots, Fruit and Vegetables is a combination of cafe, deli and greengrocer. It looked very inviting and had a lot of character, maybe a little too hipster for some. The welcome was warm, friendly and open. I took my seat at a table and perused the menu.

There was a lovely choice of meals and snacks on the menu, but in the end I went with the savoury tart with salad.

Tart

This was an olive and manchego cheese tart served with some salad leaves and a choice of some delicious looking salads. I went with the orzo pasta salad with red onion and butternut squash.

In no time at all, I had in front of me a lovely generous plate of food. The tart was warm and a delicious combination of smooth cheese, crusty pastry and salty olives. The orzo salad was seasoned perfectly and the so called leaves included peppers and tomatoes and a little drizzle of dressing.

Overall a delicious meal and a perfect lunch.

Airside Small Plates

I am not a great fan of airport food, usually over priced, badly cooked and service can leave e a lot to be desired. I don’t know about you, but I try and avoid eating there if I can.

Having said all that I knew that for a variety of reasons that I would be eating at Glasgow Airport, so as you can imagine I had quite low expectations.

After waiting ages at one place and not getting served, I left and went to the Caledonia.

Not really wanting a sandwich and actually not really hungry decided to go with a couple of small plates and a side salad.

My first choice was the crab mayonnaise with flatbread soldiers. This was described as crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge.

crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge

The crab mayonnaise was nice, but only just about tasted of crab. The flat bread was toasted, but for some reason was covered in dry oregano.

My second choice was garlic prawns with flatbread. The menu describes this as king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread.

king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread

The prawns which I thought would be roasted came swimming in garlic butter, literally swimming, there was more melted butter than prawns. It came with flatbread too, and it was also covered in dry oregano.

The salad was small, consisting of salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing.

salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing

Overall it was something of a disappointment, and for the cost of each dish in excess of five pounds, I thought it was overpriced.

Going back to itsu

I haven’t been to itsu for a while now, since I stopped working in Oxford, I made quite a few visits there for sushi and pots of noodles. I haven’t been to the branch in London (too many other choices) however in December a new branch opened in Bristol.

As on my previous visit, there was a lot of choice and within the different types of food on offer lots of variation. I found it difficult to decide on what to have.

There is a big choice of salad and sushi in the fridges and then there are the hot options, pots of soup, rice, noodles or dumplings.

In the end I went with the Vietnam beef salad. This was roasted beef, hard boiled egg, spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning.

Vietnam beef (roasted), hard boiled egg (free range), spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning

It looked really nice and was well presented. I found the beef tender and actually quite tasty. The salad and rice was also really nice. The overall combination was delicious and I really enjoyed the salad.