Time for a German Breakfast

I was staying in Berlin 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 breakfast in the hotel and I did find it interesting what was on offer and what I could have. I had never had breakfast before at a German hotel.

So once I got my coffee and a (disappointing) orange juice, I headed to the service area to choose something for breakfast.

There was a kitchen that cooked omelettes and fried eggs to order. On the hot plates were Nuremberg sausage or Nürnberger Rostbratwurst. These were small grilled sausages with a distinctive flavour. There was also scrambled egg, which was nothing to shout about. I quite liked the cheese covered grilled tomato, the cheese certainly enhanced that tomato. The streaky bacon was overcooked for my liking. I guess if you like crispy bacon then you would enjoy this streaky bacon, personally I prefer my bacon cooked, but still soft. Though initially a little apprehensive, I did quite enjoy the mushrooms in a cream sauce. 

There was a wide range of breakfast items available. I did expect to see cheeses and cold meats, but was a little surprised to see fresh salad alongside. That felt a lot more like lunch than breakfast. Next to the salad was a lovely selection of fresh fruit. Elsewhere there was yoghurts and cereal.

I really loved the bread selection, as well as a range of bread rolls, there was a great range of loaves which you could cut slices from. There was white bread, seeded bread and wholemeal bread. Along with the bread was pastries and croissant.

There was also a pancake machine, which you could use to make your own pancakes, to which you could add maple syrup.

This was a splendid selection of breakfast items and I really enjoyed eating breakfast at the hotel. 

Greek Tzoumagias-Style Sausages

During the recent Greek week at Lidl I bought some Tzoumagias-Style Pork Sausages with Leek.

There are seven sausages and in the pack.

I cooked them simply in a warm frying pan until they were browned and hot all the way through.

These have a lovely meaty texture and some nice flavours. I have no idea how authentic these are, but I do like them.

These were better and much nicer that the sausage I recently had at The Real Greek.

Not as good as it was

Back in 2018 I made a few visits to The Real Greek in Cabot Circus and had some great food. Of course with lockdown, any early return visit was scuppered.

So recently I was in the Westfield Shopping Centre with my son and we decided, on my recommendation, the branch of The Real Greek they have there.

It was quite a hot day and it was rather warm in the restaurant. We looked over the menu and thought about what to eat. The menu has changed since I ate there four years ago, so some of the things I had enjoyed then, were no longer on the menu.

In the end we went with the fixed price Filoxenia Dinner Menu.

You make one choice from the four options.

For the first option, I went with the Greek flatbread, whilst my son had the crudités.

As for the second option, my son chose the Houmous and I went with the Santorini Fava.

From the hot meze options, I went with the Loukaniko Beef & Pork Sausage Skewer, and my son chose the Fried Kalamari.

For the final option we had chips and the Saffron Rice.

The Santorini Fava was something I haven’t had before, and is yellow lentils from Santorini, cooked and blended with herbs and spices, topped with a salsa of tomatoes, onions, capers and caper powder. 

It was nicely presented  and worked well with the flatbread.

The houmous was a blend of chickpeas, rich in tahini and spiced with cumin, topped with paprika and roasted red peppers. I had a taste and it was really nice. 

For the hot meze, the Kalamari was crisp squid rings served with lemon mayonnaise.

Compared to the grilled kalamari I had in 2018 this was a real disappointment. The previous dish was described as “Our own unique version, using the freshest squid and a sticky Greek honey and paprika marinade.”

The Real Greek describe the grilled kalamari as “Our own unique version, using the freshest squid and a sticky Greek honey and paprika marinade.”

My thoughts back then were:

I think you can tell a lot about a restaurant on how they cook squid. The dish looked interesting and not quite how I imagined. The squid was tender and tasty, the marinade wasn’t overpowering and enhanced the dish.

This time, what we go was, squid rings in a crispy coating. It could have been okay, however the squid hadn’t been cleaned properly before cooking and a couple of pieces still had the inedible membrane attached.

As for my Loukaniko, Beef & Pork Sausage Skewer, this was a traditional Greek sausage from Thrace, chargrilled and served on a bed of Greek Slaw.

Well it was, what it said it was. The sausages was tasty and I enjoyed the slaw.

This was a very different dish to the one I had in July 2018, then you got a lot more sausage.

Loukaniko beef and pork sausage

Overall I was to be honest quite disappointed with the whole experience. I don’t think I will be making a return visit anytime soon.

Merguez sausages with salad and flat bread

The title of this blog post really doesn’t do justice to the plate of food I bought from Kabylia at the Finzel Street Food market.

I was going to our office in Bristol more over the summer and one Wednesday in August I once more found myself in Bristol.

I popped out for a walk at lunchtime and it was nice to see the St Nicholas market bustling with people after seeing it a few months ago quite empty.

There were huge queues for Matina, Low & Slow, and the felafel place. I didn’t feel like queuing so I left the market and I popped to Finzel Reach market to see what was on sale.

There weren’t as many stalls as there was pre-pandemic and it isn’t as busy as it was on Fridays/

I decided to try Kabylia, the Algerian street food stand. 

Kabylia is a cultural, natural and historical region in northern Algeria. The Kabyle people are indigenous to Kabylia and speak the language known as Amazigh.

I had some Merguez sausages with a feta and pepper pickle, salad and flat bread. The sausages were reheated to order, placed on flat bread and then the salads were added.

Took it back to the office it was rather nice. The pickle was tasty, the salad was lovely and I enjoyed the flat bread. The Merguez sausages were a little soft, I prefer a meatier sausage and these weren’t quite to my liking, though they did taste right. Overall though it was a lovely plate of food which I did enjoy eating.

Overall I did enjoy something I wouldn’t have normally chosen.

Frankly it was rather disappointing

On visits to the Leather Lane market well before the Covid lockdown I had seen the Argentalia market stall a few times, but had not bought lunch there, though I did quite fancy the concept.

So on a recent visit a couple of months back, I had the opportunity to try out the stall. I went with the Argentalia Barbeque Box, which comes with Asado (ribs), Vacio (flap meat), Chorizo (sausage), Morcilla (black pudding), Pollo (chicken), Pork with chimichurri and variety of salads or fries.

This had the potential to be outstanding box of food, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

The salad was flat and insipid.

The fries were okay, but nothing special.

So what of the main attraction, the barbecued meat?

I think if the meat had actually been barbecued then this would have made the dish so much better than it was. The problem with the meat was that it was quite tough and chewy. It was almost braised, steamed rather than grilled.

I am not even sure I got everything on the list. 

Overall I was looking forward to a great box of barbecued meats, what I got was frankly rather disappointing.

Birthday Breakfast at the Brunello

I have been to the Brunello Lounge before on the seafront at Weston-super-Mare, though mainly for coffee. We did go there for a Christmas Eve breakfast back in December 2019 (though I didn’t write about it).

The Brunello Lounge is one of a range of lounges across the South West. They all have their own names, the one in Gloucester is the Portivo for example. They have a pretty eccentric decor, where we sat in the Brunello there was a huge soviet era painting of Lenin on the wall. I actually quite like the eccentricity of the decor.

We were celebrating a birthday, so we headed out to the Brunello Lounge. We were given a nice warm welcome and we looked over the menu. One of the things I like about the Brunello Lounge is that their gluten free menu is extensive and wide ranging. No limited choices here, the menu is nearly as wide at the “normal” menu.

We looked over, and we made our choices. I went with the muffin with bacon, sausage and a fried egg.

We placed our orders at the bar, gave our table number and waited.

We didn’t have to wait long and the breakfasts arrived.

They were eaten with gusto and I enjoyed my muffin. The sausages were excellent, but I found the bacon a little too salty, probably because it was slightly overcooked compared to how I like my bacon.

Everyone enjoyed their breakfasts.

That time I had a Smoke Catering BBQ Box

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.

Back in June 2017 I was working in Bristol and looking for a place to eat to have some lunch. I went to the Temple Quay Market which had a wide range of stalls from which to choose from.

In the end I chose the BBQ Box from Smoke Catering. I had really enjoyed the BBQ Box I had in March of that year. It was an easy choice to make as I liked the food.

The box contained homemade slaw, garlic mash and beans. On top of the box was some smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage. 

Smoke Catering BBQ Box - smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage

It was delicious. The mash was smooth and creamy with a hint of garlic, no bitterness or harshness. The slaw was fresh and crunchy. The beans spicy and full of flavour.  

The smoked beef brisket was tender and delicious, it was melt in the mouth. I like the tender beef and the crunch of the barbecued outside. I remember when I went to a barbecue restaurant in Glasgow and ordering smoked beef brisket and getting a little disappointed as that beef was dry and nothing like the beautifully flavoured and tender beef brisket from Smoke Catering.

The sausage was very meaty and tasty, the chilli enhanced the flavour and didn’t overpower.

I also enjoyed the smoked and pulled pork, which was tender and tasty, though I preferred the sausage and the beef.

Hopefully some time in the future I can get some more excellent food from Smoke Catering.

Better late than never…

Back in December 2019 I was staying at the Taplow House Hotel in Maidenhead. I had chose the hotel in the main as it was cheaper than some London hotels, also parking was available. 

I had not eaten at the hotel the evening, as It was late when I arrived at the hotel. I had left leaving for the hotel much later than I had planned. So I had eaten at home and when I arrived, it was basically make myself a cup of tea, read and then get some sleep. I had a really nice classic room.

I had to be in central London in the morning, so I wanted an early start. I got myself washed and dressed and went down to breakfast. However they weren’t quite ready, so I had to wait outside, as it took the staff ages to open the dining room for breakfast. 

Once in I was ready to place my breakfast order, but this didn’t happen very fast and then a little longer for it to arrive at my table. So I was a little rushed, but having said all that it was a really nice breakfast.

The bacon was nice and thick, the sausage was meaty and tasty. The fried bread was done right, but my poached egg was overcooked. I also enjoyed the mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding.

However I didn’t really enjoy the breakfast as much as I would like, as I was rushing. I much prefer a more relaxing breakfast.

I left the hotel about 30 minutes later than I wanted to, so I hit traffic on my way into London. It took me slightly longer as a result to get to the Westfield Centre, park and then catch the tube to central London for the event where I was presenting at an event. In the end I was just on time! I missed the start of the event, but was on time to present my piece and listen to some others as well.

Time for Reds

There was a time when I would travel for work, stay overnight and then go out and get something to eat.

Well I am not doing that now and don’t expect to be doing it for a while either. I have though still a few places to write about and review that I didn’t do so at the time. This is one such review.

Back in January when I could and did travel I was staying overnight in Leeds. I needed a place to eat. I rarely eat at the restaurants in the hotels, usually either they are very expensive and out of budget, or as was the case in Leeds, the hotel I was staying didn’t really have a proper restaurant, serving a few bar snack type meals only. The other thing I do find with hotel restaurants is that it can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to the quality of the food.

Around the corner from the hotel there was quite a choice of restaurants, this is so much easier these days with Google or Apple Maps which show the restaurant close to you.

I was checking the menus of a few nearby places, when I saw on their website, that Reds True Barbecue in Headingley had a 51% discount offer in January, if you pre-booked. So I decided I would go there to eat, the menu looked great as well. It was simple to book online and I walked down to the restaurant.

The outside looked very American to me, though I’ve never been to America and have thus never eaten at a proper American barbecue joint, and so have no frame of reference to what a real barbecue place is like. However if I was to say what I thought an American barbecue joint was like based on the films and TV programme I felt it looked like what I thought an American barbecue joint should look like.

Reds True Barbecue in Headingly in Leeds

Having walked through the door I was given a warm and friendly welcome. The place was crowded, considering it was a Tuesday night. Being in Headingley the clientele were quite young and I am guessing a fair few were students. Probably taking advantage of the 51% offer. I liked the look of the place, slightly industrial, wooden tables and American signs.

Though I had seen the menu online, I still took my time to have a good look over the menu choices. There were a range of starters, barbecue platters and to quote the menu, “things in bread” which had a range of burgers.

Having travelled up to Leeds during the day and missing lunch, I was quite hungry. I went with the barbecued three meats with two sides deal.

barbecued three meats with two sides

I chose the smoked brisket, the short rib and the sausage. For my sides I went with fries and onion rings. Though I was tempted by the chicken wings and the pork belly. To drink with the meal I ordered a bottle of Corona.

The food arrived pretty quickly and I was impressed with the look of the food and the portion size.

The sausages were really nice, meaty and spicy. The short rib was delicious and very tender. The brisket was nice, but I felt it was a little dry. I enjoyed both the sides, though I think on reflection I probably should have had some slaw alongside.

My meal should have cost £25, but with the 51% discount on food, in the end it was just £14.54 which was really good value.

Though I don’t expect to be going to Leeds anytime soon, I hope that I can because I think I would like to have a return visit to Reds for some more excellent barbecued food.

Time for some breakfast

So there I was at an event in London and needing to book a hotel for the night. Going through the booking system we use at work, there was a cheap hotel almost next door to the venue, well that made a lot of sense, so I booked it.

Well it was a very tired hotel, it was dated and in the end quite noisy as well. I did though have breakfast included.

The breakfast was limited in choice, but it wasn’t half bad.

breakfast

Well the coffee was plain awful, I wish I had tea, those knowing me, will realise that’s saying something. It should be said I rarely find outstanding coffee when I have breakfast in a hotel, but this was on another level entirely.

The breakfast itself was all hot (and you can’t always say that about the breakfast buffet at some hotels), the eggs were cooked perfectly to my liking, I liked the tomato and the sausages. I wasn’t too enamoured with the bacon, but it was okay. As for beans, I don’t really like beans, so won’t comment on that.

I enjoyed the toast and there was a good choice of jams.

Overall the hotel was somewhere I wouldn’t want to stay again. The breakfast though, wasn’t too bad for a hotel breakfast.