Time for another light lunch

Having visited Wahaca last week I said “I might not leave it so long next time.” Well rather than leave it a year, I left it less than a week.

Last week I was checking my e-mail when I got a special offer through from Wahaca offering me one from a choice of street food dishes for just one pound if I bought another. I used that special offer last week, but it’s a generic offer, so I could use it again this week. This time though I was at a different branch of Wahaca.

I was a bit more hungry this week, so decided to purchase just three dishes, two for full price and one for the offer price of a pound. So what of the food?

For the full price dishes, I first went with the chargrilled steak baja tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas. I had this last week and really enjoyed it, so decided to have it again.

chargrilled steak baja tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas

Though this was a delicious dish, I thought the version I had last week was so much better. The steak was chargrilled and sliced, but last week it was tender and rare, this time it was more medium. The salsas were tasty, not to spicy and complimented the steak nicely, however last week there had been a lot more salsa on the dish. So, yes it was a tasty dish, I think because I had high expectations I was slightly disappointed. I could have added grilled cheese for an extra fifty pence, but like last week I am glad I didn’t, because I don’t think it needs it. I do wonder why this is an extra?

I was tempted to have the buttermilk chicken baja tacos again, but I wanted to try out some new dishes. I went with some tacos, three soft corn tortillas, grilled & filled with grilled chicken & avocado with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

hree soft corn tortillas, grilled & filled with grilled chicken & avocado with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa

The chicken was slightly overcooked for my liking, but I did enjoy the tacos. A nice amount of spice and freshness in the avocado.

My final dish was the special offer one pound dish, a quesadillas, a flour tortilla, filled, folded & toasted with Trealy Farm chorizo with crushed sweet potato & cheese. This was spicy and tasty.

a flour tortilla, filled, folded & toasted with Trealy Farm chorizo with crushed sweet potato & cheese

The service was warm, friendly and excellent, the food service was quick and efficient. The experience reminded me again how much I enjoyed the Wahaca food.

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.

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.

Rusty Pizza

There are times when I want to eat pizza and then there are times I do not. Then there are times when I have no idea what I want to eat, I am hungry, but the choice on the menu is giving me a challenge on what to choose. It was the latter challenge when on a recent Saturday we decided to have lunch during a shopping trip to Bristol. We chose Zizzi in Cabot Circus in the main as we had some vouchers to use there, so at least that was a choice I didn’t have to make!

Though this is a modern shopping mall, and despite that, I do like the decor of Zizzi and the environment. The use of old cupboard doors on the walls for example add a really rustic, yet modern feel to the space. It was quite early for lunch when we arrived, but even so they had no four cover tables left, so we had two twos stuck together in a quieter part of the restaurant. Well I say quieter, there was a large table reserved for a party, which thankfully didn’t arrive until after we had finished and left.

The welcome was warm and we spent a little time looking over the menu. There were lots of things on the menu which took my fancy, but in the end I went with the Autumn Special: Smoky Chorizo & Wild Boar Rustica Pizza.

Smoky Chorizo & Wild Boar Rustica Pizza.

This stretched thin crust pizza was described as coming with smoked mozzarella, Trealy farm smoked chorizo salami, wild boar meatballs, sunblush tomatoes, grated riserva cheese, purple basil & chilli threads.

Alas I didn’t get the purple basil, just the regular green kind. I also didn’t read the menu so wasn’t sure what the threads were until I checked the website later, they were certainly not spicy.

I do like the rustica style of pizza from Zizzi. The crust was nice and the toppings were really tasty.

Sitting on the dock of the bay…

Sitting on the dock of the bay…

There is something really nice about having a wide choice of places to get your lunch and then sitting on the riverside in the sun, watching the world go by.

There is something extra special when that happens during what most people would call a winter month, when the norm is to run indoors and turn the central heating up.

There is something extra extra special when the food you are eating is perfection on a plate (well perfection in a box).

It was one of those days.

The Thursday market at Temple Quay is one of my favourite places for lunch. There is always an exciting and tempting range of places to get some delicious food. After the nightmare that was Doris (the storm) and the cancellation of the market the previous Thursday I was pleased to be able to go this week. As usual there was a wide choice, I did quite fancy the idea of the barbecue box from Low N Slow and the Jerk Chicken Wrap from Biblos looked very tempting. However I do make the point of checking out every stall to see what there is before making my final choice (okay virtually every time).

As I walked around and turned the corner there was the squid place, the one where I had the really nice squid a few months back. This was Audacious Squid who do a lovely dish of crispy squid. Well I enjoyed it last time, so guess who ordered the squid?

There were three dishes on the menu, the Sweet Chilli Squid (which I had last time), Smokey Chilli Squid (which was new) and a Squid Ink Bun with Crispy Squid.

I always try and have something new, so though I enjoyed the Sweet Chilli squid last time, I went with the Smokey Chilli Squid. This is cooked for you in front of you with care and passion. You can see the intensity of the chefs as they bring your dish together. They were cooking to order and dish after dish of freshly cooked squid was being served, then it was my turn and I got my box of squid.

Smokey Chilli Squid

The dish comprises freshly cooked crisp squid with ‘slaw, baby corn and picked vegetables. It looked fantastic, fresh salad, crispy squid, chorizo and the tantalising pickled vegetables.

Rather than take it back to the office, which is the norm for me, and as it was actually sunny and rather nice, I sat “on the dock of the bay” and ate my squid. Well is was in Harratz Place next to Temple Quay.

The sun was shining and it was really nice eating outside in March!

As for the squid, well this was delicious. The batter was crispy, the squid was tender, almost melt in the mouth. The slaw was crunchy and fresh. I really liked the pickled vegetables. I am not sure how smokey the smokey chilli was, but it was quite nice.

Overall it was a delicious dish of squid, it was perfection on a plate (well perfection in a box).

Well that was really tasty squid!

It was a Thursday and wanting lunch, well if you are in Bristol then the regular Temple Quay lunchtime market is really the place to be.

It was my intention to visit Low and Slow again after having a really nice lunch there a few months back. As I arrived (early) there was no queue, so I thought I would take the opportunity to check out what else was there at the market. There was a already a massive queue for the Thai stall, one day I might try it, but the queue always puts me off. The dumplings place had a queue and then I saw a new stall. It was called Crispy Squid!

Crispy Squid

Now, those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that I have a soft spot for squid. It also one thing that when cooked well cane great, however my usual experience is that it is done badly.

So though I really liked the idea of the squid I was slightly sceptical that it might not be nice.

However I decided that it was worth the chance, so I looked over the menu, there were two choices, sweet chilli squid or salt and pepper squid. Both choices were served with potato, chorizo and salad.

I took the plunge and asked for a portion of chilli squid for £6. The lads at the stall got cooking and the dish was freshly cooked to order in front of me.

I have to say it looked fantastic.

Crispy Squid

It also tasted fantastic!

The batter was wonderful and crips and the squid was beautifully tender. I really liked the combination of squid, potato and chorizo, very Spanish and really tasty. I did feel that it was a probably a little too salty for my taste and I think if I was to order it again I would ask to “hold the salt”. The reason I chose the sweet chilli squid as I thought the salt and pepper squid would be too salty!

Update: have since realised the stall was called Audacious Squid.

Another visit….

the view from Waterloo Bridge

Back in London for a meeting and needing a bit for lunch, I did consider where I should go for lunch, and if I should go somewhere new, but did like the idea of Wahaca again. It wasn’t that long since I had been, but I had really enjoyed that meal. So off I went, over Waterloo Bridge to the South Bank to partake in some Mexican street food. So once more I went to the Street Food section of the menu to make some choices.

I hadn’t had quesadillas before so chose one from the menu. These are large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella, chorizo and potato. This is British chorizo, made to a special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

Quesadillas Large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella and classic Mexican ingredients.  British chorizo, made to our own special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

The large tortilla is folded and then cut into two. I did initially think that I had been given the wrong dish, as I didn’t think there was much potato or chorizo in the dish. There was more in the second though. I did enjoy the quesadilla it was nice and spicy.

My other dish was the smoky tomato fideus. These were east coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese and topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat.

Smoky tomato fideus East coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese, topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat. #wahaca

This was a much larger dish than I thought it was going to be. When Wahaca recommend 2-3 dishes, I usually go with three, but if this is one of them, then I think you can get away with just two, even if you are hungry.

This is very much thin noodles in a tasty spicy tomato sauce. I liked the avocado and cheese. There was a nice topping of crab, which to my surprise was chilled and hadn’t had a chance to warm up. I did like this dish and it was full of flavour, and something I wouldn’t expect in an Mexican eatery.

For my third dish, I did order a dish I had before, and went once more with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa. They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole.

Tacos flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa with crisp grilled cheese

These were very generous filled with steak, more than I have had when I had these tacos before. These were delicious, I really enjoyed the chargrilled steak and the different textures and flavours.

The service was excellent, friendly, efficient and lots of smiles.

Did not meet expectations

paella

One of the regular stalls at the weekly Temple Quay meeting, but also the Wednesday street food market on Wine Street usually has a really large queue, so I often avoid it, due to time constraints. It usually serves beef chilli, stroganoff and paella. I have no idea of the stall name, as there isn’t one on the stall.

Having a little more time and quite liking the idea of the paella, I decided to join the queue. It did move quite quickly as the staff were quick and efficient at serving.

The paella was cooked on a large paella dish and contained chorizo, chicken, mussels, prawns and squid and was £6.00 a serving. The portion was provide in a plastic takeaway container and was given a garnish of fresh coriander and lemon.

I had quite high expectations about this dish, but alas I was to be somewhat disappointed.

The yellow of the dish came from turmeric, rather than the much more expensive saffron. I wasn’t too surprised by this, as this happens quite often. Even so I did like the flavour of the dish and felt it was very tasty. The dish though, I felt lacked enough of the core ingredients. It had one piece of chicken, two small prawns, a few pieces of squid, but plenty of mussels!

My main disappointment as a result is about value for money, was the dish worth the money I paid for it. I didn’t think it was worth the price and I don’t think I would try the dish or the stall again.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2015

Illy Coffee

So what food, drink and coffee blog posts were people reading this year? Interestingly none about coffee?

At number ten is an article entitled, Alba Ristorante Part Two. Back in 2008 when attending Handheld Learning, one evening we went to a local Italian next to the Barbican in London. I do remember the meal, it was delicious. This was a really nice upmarket Italian restaurant but with quite reasonable prices, especially for London.

The ninth most popular post was a Classic Heineken Advert from 1976.

Classic Heineken Advert from 1976

The eighth post was about cooking Chorizo, Cooking Chorizo. as was the seventh post Chorizo Frito al Vino.

The post at number six was about Basil & pine nut marguerite and a simple pasta recipe was at number five, Pasta in Tomato Sauce.

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

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

The second most popular post was one of the many on the blog about squid, this one was about the Chilli Squid from Wagamama.

The most popular post this year 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.

Well here’s raising a cup of coffee and wishing you all the best for 2016.


Time for a new pan

paella

I do quite like cooking paella, and though I’ve not talked about it for a while on the blog, it has made regular appearances on the dining table. One thing I have been thinking about for a while was buying a paella pan to cook it in. I have been using a regular frying pan, but the idea behind using a special paella pan, was to ensure a more authentic dish. This would be achieved by having a broader pan, the resulting paella would be shallower than using the regular frying pan. It would also ensure that I didn’t need to stir the paella, which I have been told now is something you don’t do with paella. So when I was out shopping in Bristol recently I treated myself to a new 40cm paella pan.

For my most recent paella and using the new pan for the first time, I took some diced onion, pepper, mushrooms and courgette. In addition I also threw in some diced chorizo to the pan. After heating a splash of olive oil in the pan, I fried the vegetables and chorizo until they were soft.

I use a variety of methods when adding flavour, from making my own seasoning mix using saffron and paprika, to using shop bought seasoning mixes or pastes. For this paella I used the Marks & Spencer’s paella paste, this contains saffron, but also gives the paella a rich fruity flavour. The paste was added to the pan and mixed with the cooked vegetables.

I then added the paella rice. It makes sense to use the right kind of rice when cooking paella, to ensure you get the right texture. This was coated with the rest of the ingredients and then I added some white wine, before adding the stock to cover all the ingredients.

This was then left to cook over a simmering heat for 30-40 minutes, and I didn’t stir. Though after 25 minutes I did add a little more stock to the pan.

In separate pans I cooked the chorizo and the squid. The chorizo I used was the cooking chorizo, sliced into 4-5mm slices. This was cooked off in a medium pan with a little olive oil. They certainly sweat oil out and this combined with the paprika can stain, so be careful. For this paella I used regular squid, this was scored with a sharp knife before been cooked just before serving in a hot frying pan.

The dish was then constructed, the cooked squid and chorizo was placed on top with chunks of lemon, then served.

Delicious, and went down well.