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Fay’s Heavenly Deli

The latest addition to Trafalgar Road’s eateries is Fay’s Heavenly Deli at 149 Trafalgar Road. I’ve been there twice now and have had two excellent cooked breakfasts and a lovely hot chocolate.

Run by Fay and her husband, the deli is open seven days a week and serves hot and cold food for breakfast, lunch and even dinner from time to time – see their Facebook page for full opening times.

The inside is warmly decorated with old wooden chairs and tables and there are plans to open up the downstairs to accommodate more customers.




And here is the lovely breakfast, £5 including a drink and fresh bread, lovely jubbly. 🙂

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Wild Honey

I had lunch at Wild Honey in Mayfair last June, we went as the other half had a lovely time at Arbutus with his mum on Mother’s Day.

Arbutus is another ‘cheap’ but swanky restaurant set up by restauranteurs Anthony Demetre and Will Smith*. Arbutus was the first (2006), Wild Honey (2007) is the second and Les Deux Salons is the most recent (2010).

All three restaurants aim to provide excellent food and service at a lower price than you would expect for your Michelin star, Arbutus and Wild Honey have had one apiece for the past few years.

Demetre and Smith also want their diners to feel relaxed and have taken away some of the formality you would expect of an expensive restaurant. Fewer hovering staff, less formal presentation. To my mind it worked very well and the dark wood panelled interior of Wild Honey was warm and inviting.

To the food…

Poached egg, foam and asparagus, beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, yum yum yum.

Farinette and English snails with radishes and olives.

Very rich and extremely filling lamb! Plus lovely courgettes and pine nuts.

Cod and boneless crispy chicken wings with peas and radishes. Greatly loved!

Beautiful painting with hundreds of people dancing on an ice rink. Wild Honey had a makeover not long after our visit so I don’t think it is there anymore. 🙁

Amazing beautiful sweet wonderful fluffy and chewy pavlova with strawberries and vanilla cream. So so so brilliant!!!

Warm chocolate soup with milk sorbet, delicious so I am told.

Grand Marnier and cocktail for dessert. 😀

Naughty naked ladies in the loos! There were loads of them, how rude.

A splendid dinner was had, we felt relaxed and welcome, and a wee bit envious of the diners next to us who ate from the excellent looking cheese board right behind our table. If only we had had room…

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Total spend including drinks and service charge was £130.

*Caterer Search article on Demetre and Smith

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La Fourchette du Printemps

Visiting La Fourchette du Printemps was the highlight of my trip to Paris earlier this year. Even though it didn’t have a website (zut alors!), its Michelin star and the reviews were good enough to risk it. I even rang France and booked a table for two in advance, and I used French!

After a ten minute walk from Malesherbes Metro, north-west of the city centre, we found La Fourchette du Printemps on a quiet but smart residential street.

The interior was small and unassuming but beautifully presented. The waitress made us feel very welcome, and my basic French served us well as she was kind enough to explain each course in excellent English throughout the meal.

There was room for thirty or so covers but at 1pm on a Saturday there was only us and a table of six locals to serve. However, when I had tried to book for the evening the week before, the restaurant was fully booked. A excellent sign.

We decided to have the tasting menu as this is always exciting and full of variety. Zee French call this ‘Menu Dégustation’ and it consisted of two entrées, two plats and two desserts for €75 per person.

We also started the meal with a cocktail which was quite splendid as we hadn’t eaten at all that morning!

Refreshing cucumber and courgette starter with parmesan. It was lovely but unfortunately we can’t remember what the square base of the dish was at all!

Layered crab and avocado in a tomato sandwich, tightly packed and rich and beautiful. Heavenly fish.

Prawns and John Dory, St Pierre to the French, in a lightly curried foamy soup with peas, carrots and courgettes. This was amazing. It was so beautiful and I wanted more more more.

Lamb cutlet with jus served with a courgette heavy vegetable side topped with parmesan. The tenderly cooked lamb was seasoned wonderfully and I could have totally had another if not for all the previous courses!

Soft and marshmallow-y lemon meringue lightly blow-torched. The pièce de résistance! This was truly amazing and light and fluffy and gooey and lemon-tastic. I was so happy!

Two very clean plates!

Peanut macaroon, chocolate ice cream and caramel fondant served with vanilla cream = a very posh Snickers. Far too rich for me but it was still wonderful and the macaroon was soft and gooey inside, I’ve never had a macaroon that good.

So. So. So. Stuffed. So. So. So. Happy.

All the dishes arrived at a good pace and were perfectly cooked and presented throughout. Looking through the menu, each individual course was very well priced for the quality on offer. I would recommend this restaurant wholeheartedly.

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This is my last Parisien blog, but I would like to mention another restaurant I visited. Les Fables de la Fontaine is also Michelin starred and is situated near The Eiffel Tower.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the food myself but the other half would recommend it. I found the fish dishes quite underwhelming for the price and a little overcooked. However, the food isn’t bad, just not good enough to have earned a Michelin star >>> IMHO. :D.

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L’Artisan

French deli and cafe L’Artisan is one of my favourite ‘new’ finds. It isn’t particularly new to Trafalgar Road having been open since 2011, but it is new to my heart. :).

A friend of mine and her family were staying during the summer, and as Trafalgar Cafe isn’t open on a Sunday, I thought a French breakfast would be an excellent start to the day and a good excuse to finally visit this tiny but inviting deli.

We were in luck that day as there was just enough space for six of us plus a buggy. We took up half the shop but there was still space for another table of four.

Scrambled eggs, with mushrooms or ham and bacon, was the hot breakfast option and we were quickly served and seated with drinks whilst we waited for our breakfasts to be cooked. They all arrived about ten minutes later which was quite a reasonable wait time for five dishes.

My dish was the mushroom version and the mushrooms had been cooked in a creamy sauce which was absolutely divine. Also, the scrambled eggs were cooked perfectly – slightly runny and delicious. Heaven.

The ham and bacon version was enthusiastically eaten by my friend’s son and my my other half. A thumbs up all round and a slight pang of jealously from my other half because he wanted my mushroom and cream dish as well. :D.

The deli also sells French and Italian biscuits, conserves, cheese, meats and pasta as well as fresh baguettes, boules, croissants, pastries and tarts. Hot food and drinks can also be ordered to take out.

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Since visiting in the summer, the deli’s owner Joris Barbaray has sold L’Artisan to a local couple called Grace and Dustin Lauw. The Lauws are also French, hailing from Paris, but have been living in Greenwich for the past five years.

As regular customers at L’Artisan, they took an interest in running the deli when Barbaray decided to move on earlier this year. Speaking to Grace three weeks ago, she told me that Barbaray is to be a father and might be moving back to France to continue his cookery training. All good stuff. :).

Dustin has been working with Barbaray to learn all the dishes served at L’Artisan and to continue the business in the same way it has been run since last year. They do have plans for the deli but want to get everything in order for themselves before changing anything.

If you want to keep up to date with the amazing food at L’Artisan, do follow their Twitter account or like them on that there Facebook malarkey.

Good luck to Grace and Dustin, L’Artisan is a wonderful additional to my local high street. Hooray for the French!

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L’AOC

At the end of May I went to Paris for a few days with my other half. Whilst there we ate a lot of lovely rich and expensive French food. It was a wonderful trip!

This is the first of a few blogs showing the different restaurants we went to…

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On our first evening we looked for a restaurant near our hotel as we wanted to relax after walking about in the hot Parisien sun. Looking in our Lonely Planet guide, we found L’AOC ten minutes walk away. Located near the Seine and the beautiful Institut du Monde Arabe, L’AOC is a small and welcoming homely restaurant that is as French as France can be.

L’AOC stands for Appellation d’origine Contrôlée, a French concept indicating that an ingredient has been made to strict guidelines in order to protect a food product particular to a town or area. The restaurant specialises in this concept and the result is beautiful, rich, amazing and fattening! We were very happy!

Sam started with the most wonderful croustillant pied, three huge pigs trotters!

I had a frisee aux lardons salad with a perfectly cooked boiled egg and lovely vinaigrette. It was HUGE. I was stuffed before we even got to the main course!



Sam’s main was a massive entrecote normande rib eye steak with mashed potatoes and haricots vert. It was so huge he couldn’t cope with more than two-thirds of the dish. It was a beautiful piece of meat, gorgeous.

My main was confit de canard which was served with sautéed potatoes. It was again a huge dish and I couldn’t finish it all either! It was of course a tremendously cooked piece of duck and I was in heaven.

We felt very fat after that and could not even contemplate dessert! It was a magnificent dinner.

Also, the service was excellent and our rubbish French was rewarded with a lovely waiter who helped explain some of the menu we couldn’t quite understand. I was very proud to remember what ouefs were however! Hoorah for Key Stage 3 French lessons!

Our total food spend was €77 or €111.50 including drinks and water.

And as I like to say… if you can go… go! Paris is only a train ride away!

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Simplicity

During Open House 2011 I visited The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe for an amazing trip into the Thames tunnel’s original entrance.

Whilst wandering around the area I spotted a restaurant called Simplicity that looked pretty swish and smart but with decent prices. I vowed to go back and in May on my birthday I stamped my foot and demanded to go. :D.

This is what we had in typical photographic style…

Beautifully grilled king prawns with a lovely Marie Rose sauce, the salad was lightly dressed with a tasty vinaigrette, £9.25

Perfectly cooked duck on a crispy potato cake base. Veg was lovely as was the fruity sauce, £14.95

Huge epic sea bream with potatoes, pesto and cherry tomatoes, £14.75

Wonderfully cold pavlova with yummy yummy meringue, £6.55

Chocolate mousse heaven with ice cream and berries, £6.95

Window view

Specials board and open kitchen

Our total spend excluding a glass of Pinot Grigio, £6.50, and a jug of Pimms, £15, was £61.70. Considering the finesse of the food, the good service and the elegance of the interior, I thought this was a very good deal for a three-course meal for two.

Simplicity gets a big thumbs up from me!

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Bianco 43

In January I reviewed Bianco 43 Delivery, a new pizza delivery business in East Greenwich. Two months later one of the owners contacted me to offer me a free dinner for two at their restaurant in the centre of Greenwich to say thank you.

Obviously, I accepted. Free food?! What more could a girl want!

So, on a Tuesday night in March, the other half and I ventured into the tourist trap that is Greenwich town centre. Most of the restaurants around here are chains and the character of this area does suffer from bland and uninspiring food outlets. However, we still have the market (for now) and there are a number of independent restaurants that will hopefully stick around and encourage more locals to eat out.


On entering Bianco 43 I was impressed with the clean, fresh brightly painted interior. The scrubbed white wooden floor and pine tables gave the restaurant a wonderful mediterranean feel and the place felt homely instead of generic like Pizza Express.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the service immediately as we had to wait five minutes for our menus while the waiter chatted with various people. Most restaurants would give the menus to the customers as soon as they are seated, but in this case it did not happen which left me distracted and unable to relax. However, once our orders had been taken, our food and drink arrived quickly.

But, the waiter had got part of the order wrong and my boyfriend was given the pasta special instead of the pizza special he had requested. We decided not to say anything as we were having a free meal, but we had been looking forward to a pizza from the wood-fired oven. :s.

Hopefully he was just having a off night…


Sautéed fresh mussels with garlic and toasted focaccia bread, £7.90


Fried squid and courgettes served with tartare sauce, £8.90


Pappardelle with wild mushrooms and duck, £12.50


Pasta special, £13


Tiramisu, £4.90


Panna Cotta, £5.90

As to the food, it was very good and miles better than the takeaway we had eaten in January. The food was also served on beautiful mis-matched plates full of colour which added to the individual feel of the place. Everything arrived hot and perfectly cooked, and the portion sizes were just right. After three courses each we felt satisfied but not overly stuffed.

If Bianco 43 could shave a £1 or so off the starter and main prices I think they could bring in more passing customers as the Pizza Express across the road is undercutting Bianco 43 by a couple of pounds*. BUT, if you want really good Italian food then you should definitely choose Bianco 43 over Pizza Express’s yawn fest of food.

Thank you to Massimo for the excellent meal!

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*Since eating at Bianco 43 in March, a lunch offer has been introduced. All pizzas are £5.95, Monday to Friday until 4pm.

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Saturday Night at River Cottage

For my boyfriend’s 23rd birthday I took him on a surprise trip to Devon. We stayed in a B&B and spent Saturday Night at River Cottage.

River Cottage is a cooking programme fronted by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and it began in 1998 when he moved to Devon as part of a down-sizing experiment. Due to the success of the Channel 4 show, River Cottage has now become a large business with regular television programmes focusing on the on-going developments in Fearnley-Whittingstall’s life.

Two River Cottage canteens are now run by the River Cottage team, and the latest River Cottage incarnation, Park Farm, has its headquarters near Axminster where cooking and dinner events are held.

Sadly in February, Park Farm burnt down. Courses and events had to be cancelled but a temporary events space has now been built.

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This blog has been written because I wanted to record and mark the life of the Park Farm events barn. We has such a wonderful time that night, and I was quite upset to read about its destruction back in February.

I am very pleased to have photos from the evening to remember what it was like. I think the fire will change River Cottage, for the better I would imagine, onwards and upwards.

After meeting at the given point we were taken down the steep hill in a large truck pulled by a tractor. Magnificent!

We were then led into a yurt where we were given canapés and the finest Kingston Black Apple liqueur one could ask for. At 18% it was quite a tipple! I loved it! We also bought a bottle there and were delighted to find it the New Forest Cider stall at Borough Market in ‘ole London town a few months later.

After the warmth of the yurt we went back out into the February air and were led into the lovely barn. Long and narrow, it had two long scrubbed wood dining tables with a seating plan that lead us to our spots. All couples and groups were placed opposite each other to encourage us grumpy English types to interact.



We were encouraged to nosy about, look into the kitchen and see what the chefs we doing. We also had to go outside to use the composting toilets, brr!





After sitting down with the eighty other foodies we introduced ourselves and I wangled myself another glass of liqueur, and got given a large one! Weeeeeee!

Our head chef for the evening then came and explained all the dishes we were going to have and where the food came from.

We even got a band!

Artichoke soup with chorizo and soda bread.

Sea bream with potato croquette, watercress garnish and a paste of some sort. The other half thinks the croquette had something strong and cheesy in it but we can’t remember what it was at all, that is what happens when you write a blog two years after the event!

Slow roasted lamb, dauphinoise potato, honey roasted carrots and purple sprouting broccoli. Some of my favourite foods.

Oops. What was left of a lovely rhubarb pannacotta with sugary biscuits. I love love love pannacotta.

A wonderful night, he was very happy with his birthday present. River Cottage is a beautiful place… to get pissed and loose your camera in the taxi back to the B&B and then get it back. 🙂

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Meat Liquor

Last year I heard about this cool, hip and happening burger joint in town and decided to check. it. out.

Being neither cool, hip or happening I did feel a bit out of place with all the hipsters in the queue – some without socks (!!!), but the other half and I persevered and after a fifty minute wait in the queue outside we got a table.

We ordered fairly quickly but waited over an hour for our food. Tempers were fraying by the time the food came out at 9pm, but the wait was actually worth it. The food was amazing.

We were also given a discount due to the wait so that was very nice. I also found out afterwards that we had gone the day after Meat Liquor had opened which explained the nutty amount of customers and the service.

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We went back in February on a day off and I remembered to bring the camera this time.


We decided to get there before 5pm and this proved to be a good time to go as the queue was non-existant. We were given a table straight away and grabbed some cokes while we chose our food.




This is a man who wants a burger.


Luckily for him the food arrived quickly and we tucked into our buffalo wings, cheeseburgers, chill cheese fries and onion rings.


So much heavenly burger, I got halfway and had to give up. Doggie bags to the rescue!


We didn’t realise that we had ordered two lots of onion rings by accident. Oops. They are amazing. Huge slices of onion cooked in a wonderful batter. Beautiful.


Om nom nom. Don’t get in my way when I want to eat… or drink a Silver Angel (Finlandia Vodka shaken with peach and passion fruit, served straight up, topped with fizz).




Classy.


Ceiling art.

The queue at 6pm. Oh. My. God.

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This place is GREAT. The food is great, the low red lighting and slightly murky atmosphere invite you in, and the prices are pretty good for round the back of Oxford Street.

Our cheeseburgers were £6.50 each and a (large) portion of fries is £3.00. The burger and cocktail list is extensive and most importantly, the buffalo wings are AMAZING and tangy and moreish and delicious.

Next time we might go back just for wings and fries. Heaven on a tray.

Go.

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More information about Meat Liquor’s origins as The Meatwagon can be found in these reviews:

The Meatwagon, Peckham, Will Eat For Money

Meateasy, above the Goldsmiths Tavern, The Independent

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Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech

Perhaps the most famous place in Marrakech is the Djemaa el-Fna, a large open space in the Medina where tourists and locals congregate all day and night.

We were charmed by snakes, spoken to constantly by the orange juice sellers and I tried to ignore the attentions of the henna artists as we meandered about taking it all in. People and traffic intermingle and the square changes its purpose and intentions from day to night.

One evening I bought a tasty sweet biscuit from the many mothers and children selling them on little trays, and then the next day we were shopping for Christmas presents. This was the best find ever… I won’t say who we bought it for…

As the afternoon turns to evening tables and kitchens are set up, the smell of cooking fills the air – a nice contrast to the constant motorbike fumes, and people settle down to eat.








All the food stalls in the Djemma el-Fna are very cheap, and with an exchange rate of £1 to 13dh you cannot break the bank. We spent about 200dh for the two of us, and dined at Mohamad Ben Ali Safiani aka No. 22 twice.








We ordered a number of dishes including brochettes viande haché (grilled veg), olives, tagine au poulet (chicken), calamares (squid), crevettes (prawns) and some frites (fries stupid), all washed down with a nice bottle of Coke. Mmmmm.

Everything was cooked well and tasted fabulous, and it was just perfect to sit outside in the December air.


We came back the next night after a day trip to the Ouzoud Cascades. We were tired from the sun and the bus journey and it was great to just sit down and be fed immediately.




I had soup this time plus some more seafood. I think I had some lovely lamb kebabs but I don’t have documentary evidence so I could be wrong. 😉

Our two dinners were served with bread and two sauces, one fresh tomato one, and one spicy intense hot one. Yummy.


Oh, and here are some photos of the snakes.




Plus a photo taken from the bottom left of the square, taken on our last evening.


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