German Pasta

I was staying in Berlin in December, for a few days attending a conference. The last time I had been to Germany was in 1985 staying for a couple of days in Munich on the way back from a camp in Yugoslavia. This was my first visit to Berlin and the first visit to a unified Germany. I was staying at the NH Collection Mitte ‘Checkpoint Charlie” in the heart of what was East Berlin. I had various meals and snacks while I was there in Berlin.

I did feel a little guilty going to an Italian restaurant while staying in Germany, but when you realise that Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain’s restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle, it certainly has some German food credentials.

The service was simple, in that you ordered from a screen, took a buzzer, and then collected your food from the kitchen. I had started with soup, after finishing that, I then went back to the screen to order some pasta.

I ordered the linguine with beef tenderloin, shrimp, lobster sauce, carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, spring onions, basil, brandy. I liked how you could use the type of pasta in your dish and add extras if needed (such as cheese).

The pasta was perfectly cooked and the rest of the dish was very tasty, though I didn’t really taste the lobster in the lobster sauce. 

It was certainly an interesting pasta dish and I enjoyed it. In some ways it was a strange combination of ingredients, though you often have prawns and steak together as a surf and turf. Would I have it again, probably.

What should I have?

I enjoyed my last visit to Bills on Baker Street in July. So it was with some anticipation we headed there for dinner on a visit to London. Bills has an interesting dining environment, the different branches seem familiar, but different at the same time. The Baker Street branch appears to be smaller than other Bills I have been to.

Upon entering we were given a warm welcome, we had booked, and were shown to our table. One of the things I have found with Bills is that the menu changes quite often, so even though you may think, well I have that next time I visit, sometimes those very things disappear. So it does make, making a choice that little bit harder.

I was expecting to see the set menu we had in July, but it had changed already. It had gone up by two pounds and had lost the steak and chicken dishes we had had back then. So after reviewing what was on the set menu, we looked at the main menu.

While the rest of the table went with steak and chips, I wanted something different.

I was tempted by the chargrilled lamb rump. However having had an outstanding lamb rump in 2018 from the (now sadly closed) Cattle & Co in Euston, I knew I would have high expectations. The menu description of marinated lamb rump steaks I knew I might be disappointed. The sound of the Black & Gold Burger was quite tempting.

Chargrilled beef patty topped with cheese & truffle fondue, 24 carat gold flakes & grated black truffle. Served with rosemary salted fries.

As was the description of the Triple Truffle Shuffle Burger from the specials menu.

Topped with truffle mac & cheese, white truffle oil & dusted with freshly grated truffle. Served with rosemary fries

However I didn’t really fancy a burger, having only had one the other day in Harwell.

In the end I went with a dish I had been tempted to before on previous visits to Bills, which was the Lobster & Seafood Linguine.

Lobster & Seafood Linguine

Lobster, king prawn & squid in a rich tomato & chilli cream sauce with lemon oil.

The dish was nicely presented.

There was a nice lot of seafood in the pasta dish, which meant as you ate the dish you kept finding prawns, squid and lobster on your fork. Some places I have eaten this kind of dish, you get a meagre amount of seafood. I wasn’t overly impressed with the lobster, which either lacked flavour or was overpowered by the sauce. If it wasn’t there I don’t think I would have missed it, which was a pity.

I did enjoy the dish, I liked the cherry tomatoes with the pasta. Though I think it wouldn’t be something I would order again, if it was still on the menu. It didn’t blow me away. 

As for the rest of the table, well they all went with chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries.

chargrilled 8oz sirloin steak with rosemary fries

They all enjoyed their dishes, but they did say I cooked a better steak.

Service was excellent, efficient and friendly. 

Overall we had a really nice meal.

Puttanesca Linguine

Tomato Linguine

I didn’t buy it, but was quite impressed with the Lloyd Grossman Puttanesca tomato sauce. It tasted fresh and you could certainly taste the chilli, olives and even a hint of anchovies in the sauce, as well as the tomatoes.

Generally I am not a fan of prepared sauces, they often taste processed and too salty. However as I am not the only person who cooks in the house, sometimes they prefer the convenience of a jar of sauce. This one though we quite liked.

For the dish in the photograph I first cooked off some diced chicken breast before adding some diced onion, red pepper and courgette. I cooked this for a further five minutes before adding some chopped mushrooms.

Once the linguine was cooked, I added the sauce to the pan with the chicken, onions, pepper, courgette and mushrooms and heated it through.

I then tossed the linguine with the sauce before serving with some freshly grated parmesan.

According to Italian tradition I should have used spaghetti, but we didn’t have that in the house and I actually prefer linguine myself.



I like pasta dishes and this was a quick and easy recipe. I took some linguine pasta and cooked it for ten minutes in boiling water. I never add salt or oil and never have a problem with cooking time, flavour or pasta sticking together.

When the pasta was cooked, I drained and then immediately added a beaten egg, creme frache and grated parmesan cheese. This was then served with a little freshly ground black pepper.

Spicy Linguine

Though I am calling this spicy, it isn’t that spicy, you could of course make it more spicy, if you like your food really spicy.

What I do like about this recipe is that it is very quick and easy.

In a large pan of boiling water cook some linguine. I use De Cecco Linguine as it cooks well, tastes great and works with a range of sauces.

Whilst the linguine is cooking (takes 10-11 minutes) in a large frying pan I cook off some onions and pancetta, to which I then add slices of cooking chorizo.

I ensure that the chorizo is cooked before removing from the heat. There will be a fair bit of fat cooked off from the chorizo and the pancetta, so you might want to drain off this before adding the contents of the pan to the cooked linguine.

Once the lingine is cooked, drain and add half a jar of red pesto and the cooked onion, chorizo and pancetta.


You could add red pepper to add some more spice and chilli if you want heat too.

Linguine with pesto, green beans and rocket

I wanted something quick and easy to cook, I decided to cook linguine.

I took a large pan of boiling water and placed the linguine to cook. I also in another pan cooked some sliced green beans.

When the linguine was cooked, I drained it and added a splash of olive oil. I then stirred in some pesto, pine nuts, the rocket and the cooked green beans.

Though nice on its own, I served mine with some chargrilled pork steaks.

Linguine with pesto

Needed a quick supper tonight, so cooked some really nice linguine pasta. Once it was cooked I tossed it in olive oil and added a couple of teaspoons of pesto. Tossed again and served with some freshly grated parmesan.

Simple, quick, yet delicious.

Creamy Linguine

This is a nice pasta dish that is quick and easy to make.

In a large frying pan, fry off some pancetta and half a finely chopped onion.

Then add some mushrooms and freshly chopped parsley.

When nearly cooked, add half a tub of creme frache.

Cream sauce

For the pasta  used a fresh egg and spinach linguine.

fresh egg and spinach linguine

It only takes a couple of minutes to cook, mix with the sauce and then serve with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and ground black pepper.

Linguine with mushrooms, cream and saffron

In an pan of boiling water add the linguine. This will take 11 minutes to cook, but check the packaging to be sure. No need to add salt or oil to the boiling water.

In a pan, heat some olive oil.

Add some cubed pancetta and a finely chopped onion,

Cook until the onion has softened.

Add some sliced mushrooms.

Once the mushrooms are cooked (how long this takes depends on the size of the pan, how hot it is and the quantity of ingredients) add creme frache and a few strands of saffron.

Stir on a low heat until the saffron has imparted a golden tinge to the cream mixture.

You could use cream instead of creme frache, I use creme frache as I like the flavour. You don’t need to use saffron, but it adds a wonderful flavour as well as colour to the dish.

Once the linguine is cooked, drain, add the cream mixture, a handful of grated parmesan, a good twist or two of ground black pepper.

Stir well and serve.