Mozzarella with tomatoes and pesto

I was in London and staying at the Fox and Goose close to Hangar Lane. This is a Fullers Hotel and is part of the same chain at Drayton Court, which I have also stayed at.  The restaurant is in the older part of the hotel, as the hotel bit is now a new build at the back.

When I was staying at the Drayton Court Hotel I had some excellent meals. The Fox and Goose had a slightly different menu than the Drayton Court, but there were similarities. 

For my starter I went with the Laverstoke Park Farm Mozzarella with Isle of Wight tomatoes and pine nut pesto.

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the amount of lettuce was surprising.

The mozzarella was nice and fresh, and I also liked the pesto. 

There was some heritage tomatoes, but it was also a little too chilled for my liking. As a result it wasn’t as flavoursome as I think it could have been. I certainly felt the tomatoes lacked flavour.

Chargrilled Lamb Shish Kebab

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had 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 just plain forget to write up the meal. 

So this is quite a long wait for this review which was four years ago in May 2017 It was a beautiful sunny day in Bristol and during my lunch break I popped out for a walk and went down to the Temple Quay street food market.

There were lots of choices and lots of people queuing. One of the challenges of the Temple Quay street food market is deciding what to choose. In the end the smell of the charcoal grill and the menu on MurrayMays van was very tempting.

The Lamb Shish kebab was £6.50 which is a more than I usually spend for lunch (well it was back then in 2017). However it sounded so good. It was charcoal grilled marinated salt marsh lamb leg, smokey babaganoush, wild garlic, pesto and preserved lemon. The kebab was served with a house salad, flatbread and dukkah pomegranate.

It looked great, despite the big preserved chilli on top, which in the end I didn’t eat.

The lamb was tender and had so much flavour. I really liked the flavour that the charcoal grilled process added. The accompaniments were excellent and a nice mix of taste and textures.

Despite really enjoying the dish, and having a similar dish in October 2017 as well, I don’t think I have made a return visit to the MurrayMays van. Sometimes I think this is because I fancy something else, or the queue for the van looks too long. However I also noticed on return visits that the  Lamb Shish kebab wasn’t on the menu, and the other menu items didn’t appeal. However now as we ease lockdown and I expect to be in Bristol quite a lot more now, I think I will search out the MurrayMays van and have another kebab for my lunch.

We waited a day…

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, restaurants from the 12th April were allowed to open for outside eating only. To be honest I wasn’t that excited about this, however with my birthday on the 13th we made the decision to go out to eat to celebrate. Last year on my birthday we were in the full lockdown and there was very little we could go and do, so had a lovely celebration at home and we had a fish supper with stir fry. So this year we were thinking could we do something different and could we go out to eat. 

We booked a table at Zizzi at Cabot Circus in Bristol. This is “outside” but is in many ways under some kind of cover as well. So if it did rain, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on the experience. We did wrap up warm though.

We had a warm if slightly confused welcome from the manager and we were shown to our table.

The paper disposable menus provided a wide choice, but I did quite fancy pizza so I went with the Rustica Primavera which has goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes & super green pesto.

It looked great when it arrived.

Rustica Primavera

I really liked the freshness of the spinach, rocket and fresh pesto on the pizza. Though I like goat’s cheese, I actually think that I might prefer this pizza without it. The dough base was nice, and as it was stretched some areas were thin and cripsy, whilst other parts of the pizza were thick and doughy. I liked the olives and artichokes along with the tomatoes and peppers.

I have had this pizza before, and enjoyed it back then too.

Overall a very tasty pizza.

Nice Pizza

To celebrate a birthday we decided to end up at Zizzi in Cabot Circus. The place was busy, and we had to wait about ten minutes for a table. Well to say the place was busy, was a bit of a poor description. There were plenty of free tables, but I think they were short-staffed, so couldn’t serve all the tables, or cook the food. Regardless of the reason, there were empty tables, and we were shown to our (small) table.

The welcome was warm and friendly and it was easy to order our food. Our dietary requirements were taken care of and we pursued the menu.

I went with the Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket.

Rustica Primavera, which is their stretched pizza with goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes, super green pesto & rocket

The pizza was cooked well and there was an abundance of toppings, even so I would have liked a but more artichoke. The pesto was nice, and I quite like fresh rocket on my pizza, I feel I am eating something healthier than it actually is.

I really enjoyed my pizza, there is something consistent about the quality of the food and the service at Zizzi, which means I go there a lot, more than other chains. Having said that, looking over the blog, I realise not only am I going to Zizzi a lot, I am also basically eating the same pizza each time I go.

Time for a tasty pizza (again)

It was a nice pizza

Rusty Pizza

I think it’s time for a change, not just from Zizzi, but also from pizza.

Trofie Pasta

It’s surprising how many different pasta shapes there are and how different they can “taste”. Some shapes work better with thick sauces, others with thinner style sauces.

Trofie pasta is quite a weird style for pasta, but I do enjoy eating it, and find it goes well with pesto.

This was a fresh Trofie pasta, a Pizza Express brand that only takes a few minutes to cook. I have bought dried Trofie before, but have been pleased with the Pizza Express fresh Trofie pasta.

I used a jar of pesto and added some toasted pine nuts. To toast pine nuts I use a heavy frying pan, add NO oil and heat on the hob. I then add the pine nuts until they are toasted, not too brown and be careful you don’t burn them.

I find pine nuts quite expensive, usually paying £2.50 for a small bag, but I really do like them in pasta with pesto. They also work well in salads.

Overall a quick and easy, but very tasty pasta dish.

Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts

Fancying a salad for lunch I found this Mozzarella, Tomato & Pesto Salad with Rocket & Pine Nuts in Sainsbury’s.

Pesto Pasta with Mozzarella and Tomato

It was quite nice. The pesto wasn’t overpowering, there was enough to cover the pasta and there were ample pine nuts too. The pasta was the right texture, the sunblush tomatoes were nice and the mozzarella was fine.

Overall it was a nice packaged salad and certainly much nicer than a sandwich.

Simple Pesto Pasta Salad

I do quite like pasta based salads which are basically can be best described as cold pasta! Though there is a little more work required than just letting cooked pasta going cold…

For this salad I cooked some fusilli pasta twists and after they had cooked, I immersed them in cold water. Iced cold water would be better, but I had no ice, so just plain cold water would do. This is for two reasons, firstly to make the pasta cold, ready for the salad, secondly to stop the cooking process. If you just cooked the pasta an let it go cold, it would go all soggy as it continued to cook after you drained it. So even if you intend to eat your pasta salad later, still plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking process. Just as an aside this is often how restaurants “cook” pasta. They cook the pasta until just about done, before plunging the pasta into ice cold water. They can then finish the cooking of the pasta when needed and it will only take a minute to finish the pasta before adding a sauce.

So with the cooked pasta I added a couple of spoonfuls of basil pesto and some chicken.

Mixed and served.

You could add some fresh basil leaves to up the basil flavour. Another option would be to add some cooked spinach.

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.

Jamie Oliver, I do like your Pesto

Last week I mentioned how disappointed I was with Jamie Oliver’s Italian Sausages. Well this time I was trying out his pesto.

To be honest I was a lot more impressed.

Unlike other pesto I have used, this had a lovely smooth flavour, you could taste the basil, you could taste (and feel) the pine nuts, the parmesan was not overpowering as it sometimes can be in pesto and the olive oil was subtle without the harshness of cheap oil you find in some cheap pesto.

It worked well with the linguine I had.

I will be buying it again.

Jamie Oliver, I do like your Pesto!

Basil & pine nut margherite

If you are looking for an interesting pasta starter than the basil & pine nut margherite fresh pasta from Sainsbury’s Taste the difference range could be a good choice.

The egg and spinach flower shaped filled pasta is stuffed with a basil and pine nut filling (a bit like pesto).

Cooking in just a few minutes I served mine with a quick sauce made from creme frache and parmesan cheese, then adding some freshly ground black pepper.