Le Bistrot, Aix en Provence, France

The weekend that we were in Aix, the city was overflowing with an extra several thousand people, there either to perform in the Half Ironman or cheer someone on. To top it off, many of the restaurants were for some reason closed on the Saturday night (?!). We got on Trip Advisor and were able to book something that looked okay… and were pleasantly surprised!

List of things not to be missed in Aix en Provence! And the menu… very cool, as each dish has a fun name… usually a French expression. Less funny was listening to the poor waiter explain the menu in English to some American girls, three times…

Finally, I went for the pate de campagne, served with a huge vat of cornichons, and Andre had the foie gras. Then, I had the special of the day, the curried monkfish with rice, while he had the beef.  All delicious, in a very charming setting… and a huge cheese trolley for the end of the meal – I would definitely come back and try some of their other dishes!

Murger Han, Mayfair

A chilly May day, I am craving Asian noodles, as there were strangely absent at the birthday lunch I’d been to at Min Jiang on the Saturday. I had passed Murger Han the previous week as I was walking through Mayfair, and thought that a place almost entirely dedicated to Chinese noodles would be a pretty good choice for the next day I was craving noodles!

The restaurant is quite simple, with chili oil and soy sauce placed on every table (and cute panda chopstick holders).

I started with some vegetable gyoza (nicely pan-fried and crunchy inside) but wish I hadn’t… with the noodles, it turned out to be way too much food!

Then, the Biang Biang noodles, served with pork, chili oil, spring onion, tomato and egg… the tomato was softly braised with the pork and egg (I think the eggy omelette was cooked in some kind of flavourful broth, and was borderline runny still… oh my, it was so tasty!) Underneath the noodles was a lot of chili oil and chili, which, mixed together with all of the ingredients, made the whole dish spicy and delicious.

There are a number of other noodle dishes here, including with some cold noodle dishes, along with their famous murger (which is essentially a pork sandwich that kind of looks like their version of a burger…), there are many new things for me to try out!

Preserved Lemons

 

I love making chicken tagine, and the recipe calls for preserved lemons (this is the recipe that I use, it’s relatively easy and you don’t need a tagine dish to make it.)

This weekend, it was cold and rainy out, so I decided to finally make a jar of preserved lemons, as I have been telling myself I would do for the past year or so.

I used a recipe from SimplyRecipes.com, as it was the most simple (no chilis or spices).

Ingredients: 8-10 unwaxed lemons, extra lemon juice if needed*, 1/2 cup of kosher salt – sterilized jar

1. Pour 2 TB of salt into the bottom of the jar.

2. Cut the lemons. Cut any stem off, then cut 1/4 of an inch off of both ends of the lemon. Slice the lemon lengthwise

IMG_1715

Other ideas for preserved lemons… on top of fishes or chicken – on top of quinoa or couscous salads – in a pasta or risotto – in stews… lots of ways to use them!

* This is important. I ended up using the juice of an additional 4 lemons to cover the lemons in the jar.

Townsman, Boston

A chilly Monday in Boston, and I’m lucky enough to meet up with a recent London to Boston transplant, an ex client who has recently become a client again. It’s been a good six months since I’ve seen Allen, so I’m looking forward to catching up again!

I’ve seen a few bits and pieces about Townsman, so I was excited to check it out… and it’s the perfect place for lunch!

We started with some of the crispy brussel sprouts, which were amazing, they had definitely been fried in oil and they were delicious. Flavourful and crispy… this was my favourite part of lunch!

IMG_0281

Then, we shared six oysters – they gave us a mix of three, one kind which were called Ichabods, and the rest, which I couldn’t remember at all! They were all good, with a mix from milky to briny. The side sauces were a hot sauce, with some chives and grated horseradish, and a mignonette, which tasted like it had chunks of beet in it.

IMG_0282

Then, our mains. Allen went for the fried chicken sandwich, which was stuffed with dill and green pickle, along with a Ranch dressing. He said that the chicken didn’t have tons of taste (hence his ordering additional Ranch dressing) but that the chicken was perfectly fried.

I had some of his home-made chips and can attest that they were delicious. The fries, he described as potato with paprika on it. Meh.

IMG_0283

I got the chicken pot pie, which was mini, with good chunks of chicken, veggies, and a nice, crispy crust on top. Very good. The salad on the side, unfortunately, was over-salted to the point that I couldn’t force down more than a few bites. Shame.

IMG_0284

So overall? Not great. Fine, with lots of interesting dishes, but with a few bits that weren’t seasoned enough or too much, it won’t be my top pick. There are enough other places on my list for Boston to try next!

Ban Song Thai, Zurich

Off to Zurich for work overnight, I was tired by the end of the day and wanted some comfort food.. and luckily, there was a Thai restaurant with good reviews a few blocks from my hotel. When I walked in, I knew that it had been the right choice, as the restaurant was packed.

I started with the crispy prawns, which were served with a vinegar-y cucumber salad and sweet chilli sauce… they were crispy in the light filo dough and nicely cooked.

img_9782

Then, the pad thai. Yum. It was really delicious, once that the sprouts and peanut was mixed in, and the funny thing? I haven’t had chicken this tasty in ages. For the first time in a long time, I could actually taste the chicken in this dish… and it was really good. So even though the dish was huge, I managed to hoover it down…

img_9783Would I come back here? Definitely.

L’Osteria, Luxembourg

A day of meetings in Luxembourg, and my father was in meetings from breakfast to dinner, so I was on my own! As it was pretty cold out, I was craving Italian food, and figured that Osteria would be perfect.

img_9252

It has a nice terrace for those warmer days…

And a nice, modern decoration indoors.

img_9253

They start by giving you a piece of foccacia… which was ok, as the tomato sauce was cold… but it did taste sufficiently¬†of olive oil to make it interesting…

img_9254

Given the weather, I started with a courgette soup, which really hit the spot… though it was a bit overloaded with croutons, that were soggy by the time I got to them.

img_9255

Then, my main dish, tagliatelle with proscuitto, arugula and cherry tomatoes, in a pesto sauce. Well, so the pesto sauce was more of a cream pesto sauce… but pretty good. As they hadn’t cut the ham up, it was a bit hard to mix up with the rest of the dish… but the overall flavours were great. I ate about a third of the plate, as between the cream and the huge amount of pasta (after having soup), it was a bit much… but definitely good comfort food on a cold day!

img_9256

Crate Cafe, Canggu, Bali

Ah, the holidays… two weeks in Bali was heavenly!

The majority of the time, we stayed in Canggu, near Seminyak, and spent the days (trying to) surf, paddle boarding, biking, and sitting around reading…

The food at the place we were staying, the Chillhouse, was pretty delicious, but every now and then, it was nice to venture out and try some of the other cafes nearby. Canggue has a large Australian population, so many of these cafes came with very healthy food… your typical avocado toast joint.

Our favourite was a place called Crate Cafe, owned by an Australian lady, with a lot of concrete in the stark walls, and a boisterous, fun kitchen staff! This is also the only place in Canggu that now serves their water from glass bottles instead of plastic… doing their part to stop all of the trash that you find on the beaches and in the water!

The menu is quite comprehensive, with almost anything you might want, including delicious juices and coffees…

img_9566

I went for the Peas Please everytime we went… poached eggs with spinach, peas, other sauteed greens and pesto on toast. It was so simple and amazing.

Andre tried a few different dishes, from the fruit and granola bowls to the Brekkie Plate that works like a healthier English breakfast…

img_9567

Here he is finishing off my Peas Please… with the ends of an iced cappucino.

Since we can’t exactly go back all the time, I’ve taken a picture of the menu to recreate some of these dishes at home…