High Tea at the Athenaeum Hotel, London

Christmas season and I have a client in town that wants to meet over high tea… how fun! So, starving myself at lunch, I head over to check out the different options… the Atheneum Hotel’s tea room is not especially charming (it’s a regular restaurant, and a very hotel-looking one), but it has four different types of tea menus.

As neither of us are feeling excited about the sweets on the menu, we choose the Gentleman’s Tea, which comes with cheddar scones and savouries (sausage roll, Scotch egg and a rarebit on toast) instead of cakes. You also get a shot of whiskey on the side…

And it was delicious. We started off with thin toasts (on the top) with an anchovy paste. Then, the cheddar scones, which had bacon bits on them…

On the bottom row, there was a ham and grain mustard sandwich, another (that I didn’t touch as it looks like cheese and chutney), a smoked salmon ball on a crisp (pretty good, though it almost needed a little salt!) and an egg salad bun that was too creamy looking for me to try.

But the best was the warm food nearby… the sausage roll (lots of sausage and not too much pastry dough… flaky with very tasty sausage), the Scotch egg (okay, as it had already been sitting out for a bit, it wasn’t very warm… and sadly, the sausage was not as good as in its neighbouring sausage roll!) and the rarebit on a crumpet… SO good. Melted cheese on the delicate crumpet, this somehow came out tasting very delicate and perfectly cheesy.

Then, Dang and his colleague had their whiskies… not being a fan, I refrained! They offered us additional sandwiches to top us up, but as I couldn’t even finish the first round, it felt a bit much… but what a fun change to a traditional high tea… if I could have this every time, I would pass on the sweets and go for the savoury!

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Sarona Market and Taizu, Tel Aviv

The next day of meetings, I got an amazing view of Tel Aviv from up high… apparently you stop appreciating this once you’ve seen it every day!

For my second meeting, I had a lunch next to Sarona Market (at a place called Claro, which was delicious). As I had a bit of time, I popped into Sarona Market, a food stall and market, and walked around… it reminded me of the Time Out Market in Lisbon, and had about as many choices!

That evening, I was craving Asian food (as I typically do during a work trip) and went to try Taizu, which had received very good reviews, both for its trendiness and interesting food combinations. The menu is an Israeli interpretation on South East Asian seafood… I was up for trying it! And I’m so glad I did…

The first few bits were tasters, the first one, the size of two fingers… a salmon, tuna and yellowtail tartare in a baked rice paper cone, with a soy cream, sesame seeds and fish row on top. Tiny, but good.

Then, the betel shrimp, that was a large prawn served in a betel leaf along with raw onion, peanut, coriander, and a spicy sauce. This was good, but served in a large spoon and quite difficult to eat.

Then, the shanghai dumplings, their iteration of soup dumplings, also served on a spoon to catch the broth once you bit into them.

So, these were amazing, but had practically no broth in them…. They had veal cheeks inside, which tasted like short rib that had been braised for hours… it was amazing.With a beef broth, pistachio masala and pommegranate, wow. Topped with a piece of ginger and chili, it was almost perfect, though I wish they had served them with a little vinegar.

And finally, as a main, the crab curry with rice noodles and a Chinese donut. I didn’t really know what to expect with this dish, but it was SUCH a good choice.

So, it put the dish together, you serve some of the curry into the lettuce cups, which already include the noodles and peanuts, along with some basil… YUM. Apart from the curry dripping out the lettuce and all over my fingers…

Then, the Chinese donut was essentially just a piece of bread, but meant to sop up the rest of the curry once you ran out of lettuce cups. Genius. The dish was interactive and fun, but also just very good!

And finally, I tried a dessert… their mango dessert is the one they are best-known for, and while mango isn’t my thing, I decided to try it anyway… and was so glad that I did, as it was incredible…

The mango ball itself was pretty cool, with a semi-hard shell outside filled with a mango custard inside.

It is laid on a puree of sweet potato, whose savoury/sweet taste gives a bit of a different texture and combination, contrasting the sweet mango. Along with this, you have several bits to roll your purees and custards in: cubes of passion fruit marmelade fruit paste, crunchy rice flakes, and rounds of white chocolate, and a saffron crumble. This was SUCH a great combination, with so many different flavours and textures… it reminded me of the complexity of my dessert at Zafferano’s in Sardegna this summer, which had a similar number of different bits and pieces on the plate.

Overall, a quite impressive restaurant, with a good mix of Asian flavours and western ones, for some pretty exciting combinations… I will definitely be back the next time I’m in Tel Aviv and try a few more of their dishes (as well as a few repeats).

Momofuku, Toronto, Canada

A quick day trip to Toronto from New York… I had a meeting on the 70th floor of the tallest building in Toronto… check out the views!

As the weather was slightly chilly, I felt like having soup for lunch… and came across a branch of Momofuku, David Chang’s famous Korean/Japanese restaurant chain, along the way… and popped on in.

And I have to say, business is GOOD. It was a Friday afternoon and the three-story restaurant was absolutely packed! I got a seat at the bar, so got to watch the guys working in the kitchen…

and all of the delicious ingredients they were adding to the rice bowls and noodle soups!

I went for their (most popular, which made me feel pretty boring) pork tonkatsu ramen, served with big, juicy slices of pork belly and some brisket as well… slices of fish ball, a poached egg (on the right), some seaweed, and a spicy sauce…

I was worried that, as the bowl was not mostly full, I would still be hungry afterwards…  but resisted ordering something on the side.. and you know what? I’m glad I waited, because this was more than enough to eat! Springy noodles, flavoured broth and big, thick pieces of pork… Yum!

British Airways – New Club World food

I’d read that British Airways was cutting costs on most things (you now get a food bar instead of a second meal at the end of a long-haul flight, and have to pay for food in economy on short-haul flights) but was upgrading their service in Club World, so I was excited to check this out…

There is now a larger tray, with a bread/butter/olive oil side dish…

And now, instead of choosing your appetiser from the menu, they bring a trolley around and you can check what it actually looks like before partaking…

I went for the mozzarella with tomato carpaccio, which was drizzled with olive oil and balsamic dressing in front of me. I have to say, the piece of mozzarella was huge, but delicious.

Then, I went for the artichoke ravioli, which was served with roast artichokes, roast cherry tomatoes, and a sage and butter sauce. It was nothing to write home about, but decent…

So? The atmosphere was slightly nicer, with the meal taking a bit longer to serve, but feeling much more civilised (and closer to the First Class meal than before). I’ll be back for more!

Constanzer Wirthaus, Constance, Germany

After our very rainy day in the Austrian Alps, we decided to spend the next day on Lake Constance, as the weather looked like it would be much better there… and it was!

On our way, we drove through Switzerland, through beautiful, rolling fields and charming Swiss houses. On the way, we found a pumpkin sale on the side of the road…

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As we drove in Konstanz, we wanted to find a restaurant overlooking the river to have lunch… and the Warthaus, which claimed to be a large beer hall/ restaurant, was such a restaurant, with good reviews to boot!

So we parked ourselves and got a table outside….

We started with a mixed salad. I love mixed salads in Switzerland and Austria, with all sorts of different veggies mixed in and a creamy dressing… It turns out they’re exactly the same in Germany 🙂

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Andre went for the weiner schnitzel, served with potato salad… and once again, it was spot on.

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I went a bit more exotic and went for the ox-tail with onions and peppers in a tangy sauce and herbed butter… with roasted potatoes in a delicious crust. How was it? Okay. The best part was the deliciously roast potatoes, that tasted as they had been roasted several times.. crunchy on the outside and really soft inside… topped with that herb butter… mmm. The rest of the dish was fine.

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Then, we napped by the lake as our feathered friends walked by…

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What a beautiful day on the lake, after much chillier weather in Austria earlier in the weekend!

Bistro Rosa, St Helier, Jersey

A day in Jersey for work… what a beautiful island! As you are landing, you see large patches of different green, and lots of swimming pools next to large houses!

Then, into town for the meetings, I had some time in between and headed to the fish market for lunch (we’re on an island, after all…)

Bistro Rosa was the first place on the left when you walk into the market, and looked the best of all the choices.

The atmosphere is low-key, the kitchen is visible, and the waiter speaks perfect French… what else could you ask for?!

I had a salad to start, as the seafood lunches seemed pretty substantial…

And then the half lobster with scallops in butter and garlic… YUM. I also got a medley of steamed cauliflower and broccoli on the side… this was the perfect meal, especially as I got to use the fresh bread to sop up the butter and garlic in the plate once I was done!

Would I come back? Definitely. There was a great-looking lunch prix fixe and many other fish and seafood dishes that I would love to try!

Taco Tuesdays!

Sometimes, eating healthfully at home gets boring, so we need to mix it up a bit! That’s where Taco Tuesdays come in… they’re really a general term for fajita, taco, anything mildly similar…

This Tuesday, we bought some big spelt wraps at Whole Foods, as the regular corn tortilla wraps weren’t available. And they were pretty crappy, they fell apart as soon as you bent them slightly (important to have a wrap that can bend without ripping, when you’re wrapping your food!)

But anyway. Dinner turned out very good, regardless!

We went for two proteins, prawns cooked in taco seasoning and bavette in a chili and garlic sauce. After smoking out the kitchen and our lungs, Andre left the beef to sit for five minutes, before delicately slicing it.

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As the weather was still good, we were obviously going to sit outside… but had too many bits and pieces to put them all on the table… so we put the most important, the prawns, beef, guacamole and salsa, on the table, and the rest on a side table.
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What else did we have? Sauteed onions and peppers (what you would typically put in your fajita), some Greek yogurt (sometimes we use this to cool the spicy dishes down… or add Siracha to it for a little creamy spice!), some shredded lettuce, some coriander, and a roast corn/mushroom mix.

Of all the bits and pieces, I’d say that the winners this week were definitely the steak and the corn/mushroom mix.

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Check out my “taco,” it’s not like I even put too much food into the wrap and that’s why it broke apart… psh. But what a delicious dinner!

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