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.

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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 – when we covered it on Flavour it definitely stirred up some emotions and much excitement in the studio.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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
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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.

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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
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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).

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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
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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.

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Dream Journal

#2

Telling ya, it’s these pyjamas. Or maybe it’s the fact that I watched Stardust before going to bed and then read Game of Thrones before falling asleep while thinking about my trip to Barcelona in a week. But I’m going to go with the pyjama theory.

Now to fully appreciate my dream, here’s a little back story:

In the north of Spain there are large amounts of mountains and valleys and when I was younger, the roads were not as great as they are now – they were old roads winding around these said mountains, twists and turns and the constant fear of falling off the side of the mountain. I don’t get motion sickness but on these roads, even I couldn’t help but get a little queasy.

So, last night I dreamt of these hills. I was in a car with my padre and madre and my dad was driving. We started out in Madrid and it was super hot and there was just dust and desert-y and then everything was futuristic – straight outta that Kylie Minogue video from 2001, can’t remember the song – and suddenly we were on these super crazy windy roads, just like the ones in those mountains in Northern Spain, but they were on stilts and my dad was going super fast in this (really awesome) Mini Cooper and then all of a sudden I open the door to vomit because the turns are making my stomach just really unhappy and just tumble out and roll and roll (very much like in that one scene in The Princess Bride) and then I’m in these valley villages that look like super quirky lovely little villages that you seen in old films about Greece or Italy. And all of a sudden I’m in totally different clothes straight out of the Ren Fair (obviously, it makes perfect sense to dream Ruth) and I’m walking around this village and decide to head into the tea shop when I walk through a door into a palace and there’s a beautiful masked ball where I’m provided with a mask and start dancing and then I’m taken away and on this council and then I woke up.

What could this mean universe? That I’m on a whirlwind ride through life and destined for greatness?

Yeah, I think so too.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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LIFEventures

Back to buisness

Oh hi, my name is Ruth and I’m a neglectful blogger. But it’s a new year, and you know what? I WILL STOP THIS NEGLECTFUL NONSENSE.

To be perfectly fair, this has been mostly due to being rather busy/not travelling somewhere entirely new/laziness/not really cooking so much in the last couple of months. And if you pay attention, this is a food/travel blog and without the cooking, the eating and the traveling, then there’s not so much to write about then is there?

Except there is… I do eat out lot and I HAVE been to some places, just none of them new to me (but new to YOU, dear readers,  because I realise I actually have yet to write about some of my dear old haunts)

Anyways – this is just a quick hello to re-introduce myself back into the blogosphere and to give a little taster of what’s to come with a mini photo diary of the past 9 odd months or so (except if you follow me on Twitter, in which case you’ve already seen half of these…if not all)

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Pictures are mine, all mine so don’t use without permission/accreditation por favor. 

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