FOODventures, LIFEventures, TRAVELventures

Been too busy eating chickpeas…

19227743_119358821995058_3492176597719449600_n.jpg

Two years ago (almost to the day, spooky) I abandoned this little blog. I didn’t mean to, no reason why – too busy eating chickpeas¬†I guess…

I’m back though, and have left the over saturated food blog land of Cambridge, where I chose to focus more on Flavour and impart my food love that way (check it out, the team are still doing great work!) and moved to the even more over saturated food blog land of BARCELONA. I told you I’d come for a visit and just not come back one day…okay it wasn’t that romantic or simple, there was a lot of planning involved but lets stick the the romantic vision of a holiday gone permanent eh?

I’ve already increased my waistline from too much damn good eating, so lets give that some purpose. Adventures to come!

Standard
FOODventures

Chickpeas are clearly an obsession, also THE FUTURE

At the risk of definitively becoming The Chickpea Girl, and this blog becoming The Chickpea Blog – I’m starting a little project, chickpea recipes around the world.

I was chatting with my mother recently and she thought it would be a good idea to start a project on 100 chickpea recipes (because I’m always complaining on how I need a little more direction/structure with this/always eating chickpeas) and then I thought, why not try mixing it with the travel aspect of my blog? SO, I’m starting this feature next week – any ideas or recipes I should be checking out?

Also, I’m headed to Paris for 36 hours end of this month, WHERE CAN I FIND CHICKPEAS? Or any other suggestions on what to do in 36 hours (+ or – chickpea consumption) would be mucho appreciated.

Standard
FOODventures, TRAVELventures

cambridge pt1: the pint shop

So I’ve been awful again and have failed to do this once a week. I’ve been busy eating and documenting SO it’s okay, all in the name of research! Anyway, I’m back with many food stories to tell.

There’s no better time to be in Cambridge than now I think. Seriously guys, it’s great – hard on the wallet and the waistline, but never more exciting for the food oriented (or foodies if you will, but I hatehatehate that word, more on that another day.)¬†I don’t even care about my dwindling overdraft or the fact that I needed to buy new jeans in a bigger size (that’s how self actualised I’ve become) because what matters is that my tummy is full of deliciousness….but I’m totally going for a run after I write this.

There are SO MANY things to talk about re: the Cambridge food revolution so will continue this little tangent over the next few weeks. Today I choose the Pint Shop. Mostly because I have some sweet pictures, I went there the other day and am dying for one of their sexy scotch eggs. No lie, they are sexy as hell.

Tell me this isn't sexy.

Tell me this isn’t sexy.

The Pint Shop opened last November and never have we been so excited Рwhen we covered it on Flavour it definitely stirred up some emotions and much excitement in the studio.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

I’m there often enough, with some big love for the beautiful board of beers (seriously, BIG LOVE. It may be my most favourite blackboard, ever.) but I think what’s best is the service and knowledge of the staff – ¬†everyone behind that bar knows what they’re on about (and enthusiastic about it!) and that’s just a rare gem. A friend and I went somewhere else and asked ¬†about the beers and were met with a despondent shrug – which you know, whatever, that’s fine I guess, but if you’re gonna have a bar full of unique and interesting beers… dudes, know your shit yeah? They also have whiskeys and some excellent gin, one made especially by the Cambridge Gin Company. If that doesn’t say legit drinking establishment, I really don’t know what does.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Not only does this place have some sexy beers, it has sexy food. Those scotch eggs you see (and above, AND the featured image…why yes, in case there was any doubt, I DID love the scotch eggs) are pretty amazing. But this little bar of snackage is not all they have available. The Pint Shop is a proper restaurant too. Up the stairs you can get some serious cooking, but I have yet to actually go (because I’m a poor food blogger you see…also, quite happy with just some beer and a scotch egg, I’m cheap date.) However, I have heard nothing but good things – I sent my parents on their anniversary dinner there and they came back pretty content and with zero complaints. Which let me tell you, is as rare as a unicorn, they will always find a bone to pick if it’s a recommendation from me. One bad movie recommendation¬†many moons ago has ruined my stamp of approval forever it seems. So head over to their site to see what they have on. Their motto after all is MEAT. BREAD. BEER. three of the most beautiful words in the English language. To top off all of this amazing food and beer situation, it’s a beautiful space – simple and rustic but not rustic in the undone “we forgot to sand this, but it’s okay it’s¬†rustic” kind of way but the understated let’s not overdo this way. SO GO. Eat some food, drink some beers, tell me all about it. My goal is to try as many as I can, so I’ll probably see you in there.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Standard
FOODventures

& more chickpeas please

My obsession with chickpeas is truly endless. Will I ever tire of them? Probably not. They’re perfect.

Here’s a beautiful little salad from Green Kitchen Stories that I tweaked to my own liking, perfecto for a little lunch or dinner. I present to you the Chickpea Za’atar salad:

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

We mentioned Zatar in this episode of Flavour¬†and I can’t get enough of it, seriously lifted the aubergine and made what really could have been a boring salad into something summery and exotic. I also have a deep love of aubergines (something I’ll come back to in the next few weeks – have been craving an eggplant parmiggiana sandwich for moons…I tried wording that¬†with aubergine, I swear but this is the one¬†time eggplant works better, I swear.) so trying it with a new spice was exciting and wonderful. Kind of like when you start dating again after being in a boring relationship and a whole new world is introduced.

So, you will need:

Two beautiful aubergines

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Za’atar (the green) and Sumac (the red)

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Roasted red peppers (yes, this time I used a jar mostly because I love the oil they use in this for a dressing BUT roasting them and using THOSE oils is wonderful too.)

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Feta – or any other soft goats cheese, I just love the sharpness of feta and it’s my personal favourite cheese.

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Prepped and ready chickpeas (this includes canned because they are as prepped and ready for 80p as you can get) however feel free to click the picture below to see how to do it from scratch.

20140422-212858.jpg

Dice the aubergines and coat liberally in olive oil and the spices and then whack into the oven for about 40 minutes or until they look browned and beautiful.

20140429-152005.jpg

Then of course, once that’s done it’s off to just whack it all into a bowl together, top off with the feta and some¬†greenery, usually parsley, but I used spinach (because I had a craving) and happy days! The original recipe calls for tomatoes, but I didn’t have any so used the roasted red peppers HOWEVER I tried it the next day with both the peppers and some tomatoes and it was pretty sexy, so would also recommend that, but if you’re Gwyneth Paltrow and have decided tomatoes are bad for you (say WHAT?!) then this is just right.

Happy eating!

Standard
FOODventures, TRAVELventures

samovar tea house

Once upon a time I thought Ely was terribly boring and there was nothing interesting about it. When my family first moved here, I was still living in London, so to me – ever the city girl – Ely¬†was entirely too¬†small¬†(even though it’s really not.) But much like Cambridge, there’s been a change in the air. It’s no longer just families and old people about but younger folk are trickling in, bought out by Cambridge’s rising prices in rent/buying.

That can only mean one thing, fun things are on their way.

There’s of course long standing places to go such as the Peakcocks tea rooms, the river, an excellent antiques emporium (aka, Ruth’s favourite place on earth), the cathedral amongst many other things, but I always felt it was a bit lacking in places for the younger folk that were not still in school (i.e 20-30 somethings like myself). In the past year or two though, we welcomed a beautiful new boutique hotel, a new food and drink festival that happened this weekend past, a pop up deli/feast and my favourite tea house ever, Samovar Tea House and gallery.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Down the hill past the high street and market area where there used to be a bead shop (who needs a bead shop?) is the sweetest tea house in all the land. Boasting loads of teas, many of which are unique to Samovar – lovely specialty blends, cakes (some gluten free for those inclined) and breads it’s a beautiful¬†little mecca with a gallery that is rarely the same when I go in.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

It’s everything I ever really want in a cafe ¬†– tonnes and tonnes of great and different teas so you’re never bored, books, comfy couches and a really chilled out vibe, it almost doesn’t feel like you’re in England. They hold little events, a sci-fi book club (uh, yeah, AWESOME) you can buy the art on the walls, but I think most importantly, they know their shit. Speaking to Marta, one of the co-owners, everything about the teas is just in her head and she’s more than happy to help with explaining anything. It’s important that they love tea the way they do, because then this small, beautiful, gem of a place wouldn’t be so perfect. When I was last there, I had a chance to try the Moroccan Chai, specially blended for EAT Cambridge – a mix of green tea, Samovar Chai blend, Moroccan mint and cinnamon – resulting in a wonderful and delicately spiced tea. You get a full pot plus some extra water on the side to top it up which essentially means you can have at least four cups of tea (if not more) and each is different due to teas¬†brewing process (also, you can sit there for ages with a good book and not even worry the whole time about making sure you drink your tea super slowly.) None of this standard¬†bag, milk, mug, done.¬†situation – tea is¬†an art, and Samovar is Van Gogh.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetI chatted with Marta form Samovar for my radio show, Flavour which you can listen to the episode by clicking the picture below:

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 14.42.57

Standard
FOODventures

toast + avocado = beautiful

I’m trying super hard to be healthier but the trying is not in what to eat – I actually love healthy food, all the veggies and fruits and oats and all those things – LOVE THEM. However, it’s the NOT eating of things that I find really difficult. There are some brownies on the kitchen counter right now calling my name and it’s taking everything I’ve got not to eat them. SO, I’m going to talk about my favourite healthy lunches in an attempt to distract myself from chocolatey fudgey caramely goodness in the kitchen.

Avocado toast. My favourite things – bread and avocados, together as one. They are just so perfect, and together nothing short of awesome. Designer toasts seem to be a thing lately too, I’ve seen avocado toast in various cafes around town for upwards of ¬£5 which is ridiculous (…although I am totally guilty of buying some, on several occasions because I love it that much) amongst other fancy toasts like banana, peanut butter and and honey or strawberry and nutella and other such nice toast related combinations. But the best is avocado, it’s great for lunch, dinner or a very large snack (seriously, it’s surprisingly filling.) It’s delicious, creamy AND it’s good for you filled with all sorts of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and other such health related things.

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 preset

Listen,¬†I know it’s super easy to make toast and this isn’t really a recipe, but I thought I’d share one of my favourite things to eat. I love making mine from a big fat grande mange baguette (sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t, I won’t lie this time it was bought from the bakery up the road, more on bread another day maybe) sprinkle a bit of olive oil on it and whack it on the pan to toast up. WAY better than the toaster, especially if this is for lunch or dinner.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

What makes this really sing is adding some nice spices to it – my favourite is dukkah (pictured in pot) a middle eastern blend of spices and roasted chickpeas in this one but of course, like many things, there are plenty of variations. I imagine sumac would be super on this as well!

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 preset

I’ve made this many ways, not just with tomato but always with avocado, in fact yesterday, I had just this but with tuna and roasted pepper and it was seriously sexy. So use your imagination, this is nothing more than some lunchtime suggestion and clearly is open to all sorts of combinations, I mean it’s toast after all, you can do anything with toast (isn’t that just great?! Toast is so good.) Happy eating homies!

Standard
FOODventures

Ch-ch-chickpeas

Today I decided to make some crispy chickpeas, a favourite snack AND it’s healthy (a rarity for me snack wise…or in general). They’re nice and versatile and you can flavour them any which way you damn well please, which is fun. They even beat crisps. Sometimes.

I’m boring (or classic?) though and just went with a chilli/garlic/salt combo. You can use the canned – it’s faster and less time consuming, but I prefer to have the dried ones just because I feel they taste a bit nicer and weirdly, I like the process of it.

Soak overnight

20140422-212726.jpg

Rinse, boil for an hour and then (you can skip the first two with canned!) layout on the pan – put on chosen spices, olive oil and salt.

20140422-212858.jpg

20140422-212913.jpg

Whack it in the oven on 120 for about 45 mins until nice and browned (I like mine properly charred, but as with most things, it’s up to taste – the important thing is that they get CRUNCHY. AND SEXY. If you use the nice golden ones a guide that’s the ideal colour for optimum crunch, any less and it’ll be too soft.

20140422-212924.jpg

Munch away homies!

Standard
FOODventures, TRAVELventures

In which I wax lyrical once more about Barcelona

I’m a little bit in love/obsessed with Barcelona. I keep going back and I keep needing to go back. Thankfully, I do have friends there making it way too¬†easy to go back on a whim or maybe it’s simply the pull of the blue and orange tones of¬†that beaut of a city that is just too much. Or maybe it’s the way of life? Beach, food, music and friends, how can anyone say no?

I will move there, soon enough I’ll go there for a weekend and just decide to stay – it’s not unheard of…

ANYWAYS.

I was naughty…I didn’t take as many pictures of food as I had intended. In fact, I only really took a picture of one of my meals…it was damn good too. I think for the most part it was a sudden onset of shyness in being in such local places, and also in large part to a deep impatience to eat what’s in front of me. You know…don’t let your food get cold and all…important stuff.

Since there are not many pictures of food, I’ll just have to describe it because guys, you need to go. And you need to eat.

DO IT.

EL MUNDIAL

El Mundial for proper tapas and Catalan feel – it was my favourite of the trip too, I had aubregine chips with honey and they were just heaven in my mouth, along with some grilled clams in a white wine sauce type thing where the juices were just so good and thank god for bread to soak up!¬†It was just super, I ate there¬†three times in a week. Also get the pimentos de padron – they are lovely and salty and wonderful – you can get this anywhere and even do them at home (we found some in Waitrose – from Spain and it’s a a favourite snack in Casa Reyes) but it’s worth ordering, along with some chipirones – crunchy squid bits. Don’t be intimidated by the tentacles. DO IT. Its a narrow place with a long bar and marble tables to the side and genuinely just looks old school, reminded me of the kind of places my family used to drag me to as a kid. Quite frankly the opening hours are seemingly sporadic, I walked by it daily (often a few times a day since my friend lives next door) and sometimes it was open, and sometimes it was not, but maybe it was me who was sporadically walking by.

Plaza Sant Agusti Vell, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

MOSQUITO
20140410-212215.jpg

Not spanish tapas BUT still a great place is Mosquito which does “exotic tapas” so dumplings and other delicious asian food like Pho and crispy friend duck amongst other things. The¬†beautiful dumplings and amazing crispy duck breast with plum sauce were¬†my favourite. So much so that I’m thinking about it right now and I actually physically miss it. If you do go, get the duck – it’s the 2nd option that’s 7.60 because they don’t specify it just says duck 1 and duck 2 (or if you get the catalan menu like my friend and I did and had to decipher what the hell was what -we learned that duck is Anec, so get the anec) Below is the menu in Catalan: feel free to just order the same, it was sexy.

photo

Also get the coconut tapioca for dessert, it was grand. There’s a great array of craft beer as well which is so nice to see – craft beer revolution is world wide, HOORAY. There’s always a queue as well but it goes quickly and its vastly worth it. Seriously. GO.

Carrer dels Carders, 46, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

ESPAI MESCLADIS
Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset
Espai Mescladis is lovely for lunch – I had a great lentil soup and a chicken empanada and some artesian beer but what’s best is the actual space, it’s mostly inside a courtyard and good atmosphere – takes ages to order though so don’t¬†go hungry. My lunch¬†didn’t photograph well and I was pretty hungry, so again, apologies for lack of food pictures. However, the food is not the only attraction – it’s just such a lovely space worthy of just a glass of artesian cola or a coffee and a good book (I sat there for hours, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves).

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset
Carrer dels Carders, 35, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

LA CANDELA
La Candela was also very lovely for a sit down dinner or lunch, I had a great white bean and tuna thing but their menu changes daily – they have a cute little narrow place but also some tables outside and the staff are pretty nice. I took my laptop there to work a few days and it became a firm favourite .
Placa de Sant Pere, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

LA XANPANERIYA
269167_10150251728884738_509769737_7401749_4160989_n
I’ve already told you about this. But to reiterate.

GO THERE, EAT THINGS & DRINK CAVA.
Carrer de la Reina Cristina

A little photo diary from the rest of my trip…because Barcelona is beautiful and I can’t get enough of it.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Standard
FOODventures, TRAVELventures

Sneak peek: Barcelona

I’m a regular visitor to Barcelona as it’s pretty cheap/quick to get there from London AND I’ve got friends to visit there, which is as perfect an excuse to go again and again if there ever was one. Even though there are a great deal of other places to visit and people to see, Barca always feels fresh and new to me so never truly feel guilty for going there over anywhere else. It’s a brilliant city break with the ocean – I mean really, can it get more perfect? Food, ocean, city life. Trifecta of AWESOME.

IMG_5507

I’m headed back in a few weeks time and will report back with a definitive guide of where to go and what to eat (the more I go, the more I learn, you see?) because this time I actually have the monies to eat out and have more time than usual. Here’s a sneaky peek with my ultimate Barcelona recommendation (seriously, if anyone mentions they are going, I immediately mention this little slice of heaven…sometimes I just mention it, just because).

The Xampaneria

IMG_5494

This gem of a place was discovered on my first visit to Barcelona – the cava is cheap AND lovely. That little glass really gives potency to the phrase “small and mighty” because I have never not stumbled out of that place and that’s only after one or two, let alone half a bottle if you stay in there long enough. You can even buy by the bottle in the bar itself during the day time to drink it there or take it home!

269167_10150251728884738_509769737_7401749_4160989_n

You have two options, rosat or normal – the rosat is sweeter and lighter than the normal cava which is drier and tastes more of the grapes. We always get the rosat, but thats mainly because my friends have massive sweet tooths. The best part is that you have¬†to order a tapa or a sandwich, so no eating on an empty stomach (wise) and it’s also delicious. There’s chorizo, cheese, croquettas (and we all know about my deep obsession with croquettas/croquettes), sandwiches with chorizo, morcilla and all sorts of other delicious meats. It’s a minuscule place, so get there early before you have to squeeze through crowds of people and elbow your way to the bar.

261412_10150251728809738_509769737_7401747_3755866_n

Standard
FOODventures

Lemon Coconut Cake

I really should have finished my application for the Great British Bake Off 2013, I’ve really outdone myself with this cake, as has Waitrose with its recipe skills – sadly, I have a hard time not being too lazy to fill out applications. Born out of boredom, a need for a cake for a little get together with some family friends and what seems like an inherited sense of laziness (mi madre didn’t want to go and buy a cake) we thought we would make this little beauty.

IMG_5139

And frankly I am so glad we did. It was spongy, it was coconutty and lemony, it was creamy, it was simple and it was just pretty beautiful. I keep saying to people I don’t normally like cakes and while I think at one point in my life this was really true, I think the tides have turned. However, the surprise I get every time I do like a cake, I think will never wane. Maybe it was years of bad store bought cakes in school and friends birthdays that made me think I didn’t like cake? WHO KNOWS. This cake, whether I actually like cake or not, is a damn winner anyways. Unless you dislike coconut and lemon…in which case, this is quite obviously not the cake for you. Or is it?! When it was mentioned that it was a coconut cake, one of the ladies made a face like she was sucking on a lemon and said “coconut wasn’t her favourite” (the face really said, giiiirl I hate coconut)¬†and she ate a big slice and then had seconds. So maybe try it? It was good.

Anyways, recipe! HERE. NOW! YAY!

This takes about 50-55 minutes

YOU WILL NEED: 

125g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (be careful to not get any of the pith in there!)
100ml coconut cream
4 medium eggs
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g desiccated coconut (I took some coconut liberties and added a wee bit more – probably around 80g)

For le filling:

170ml double cream
60ml coconut cream
2 tbsp lemon curd

WHAT TO DO:

1. Preheat the oven to 180ňöC, gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of two 18cm round sandwich cake tins with baking parchment paper.

2. Rub in the lemon zest with the sugar with your fingers until pretty much incorporated and super fragrant. Place the butter in a large bowl and using an electric whisk, beat together with the sugar and lemon zest until light and pale. Gradually whisk in the coconut cream and eggs adding a little flour to prevent it curdling. Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and the desiccated coconut and fold until well combined. Divide the mixture equally between the tins, levelling the surfaces. Bake for 25‚Äď30 minutes until golden. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

3. For the filling, whip the cream to soft peaks with the coconut cream and then swirl through the lemon curd. Sandwich between the cakes (I added a thin layer of lemon curd as well, but I really like lemon) and then sift some icing sugar on top, about a tsp or 3 if you’re like myself. A lovely idea we had was to put a piece of lace on top and THEN sift that icing sugar on, but we did not find any lace. Still though, a nice idea for someone else.

Bangin.

Standard