Friday, 26 August 2016

THE MEAT CO, WESTFIELD WHITE CITY

Sometimes along my little journey as a food blogger, I find a restaurant and I just get SO excited to tell people about it.

You'll have to forgive me though, it's been a while since I found a great steak place... and this one I found in the most unlikely of places: Westfield shopping centre.
Just outside the main shops, there's a row of restaurants where you can grab something to eat

It's got all the old favourites like the Real Greek and Wahaca but if you keep walking straight down towards Shepherd's Bush train station, you'll find The Meat Co.
It's a South African steak house with a real fine-dining feel. I've been told it's popular in the Middle East and as soon as you walk in, you can totally see why.

There's an understated elegance about the place, with an open plan dining room providing views right into the busy kitchen and the most incredible wall made completely from bottles of South African wine. It's luxurious but without being pretentious or stuffy. 
And the food? Oh let me tell you about the food.

The menu is heavy on the meat of course (what else were you expecting) with steaks the main attraction. There's also hanging skewers, huge burgers and the most impressive racks of ribs but first, there's bowls of green and black olives to ease you in to the carnivorous menu....  
Oh and little more meat. Chewy, salty biltong (a South African delicacy). Just try not to fill up as you'll want to save some room!
In terms of drinks, The Meat Co. offers an impressive list of wines from the vineyards of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch but I can personally vouch for the cocktails - the Pornstar martinis are incredible!
In the interest of tasting as much of the menu as possible, I'd recommend going with the sharing platter (£32.50) which gives you a taster of four starters including the sticky BBQ chicken wings...
Braised rib meat cigars which are easily my favourite. Crispy pastry packed tightly with shredded meat in a tangy, gravy like sauce. 
The bruschetta, again very tasty, and heaped generously with tomatoes, pesto, red onion and Parmesan....
and calamari. This was a little overcooked for me - I prefer a nice crisp batter but as this was just lightly coated it felt almost a little rubbery.
For the main course, there's lots on offer but as South Africa is so well known for its exceptional steaks, there was only choice for our main courses..

The British steaks are dry aged for up to 30 days to ensure the meat is tender. They're not cheap, in fact the steaks are some of the most expensive I've ever ordered but they are incredible. The 300g fillet comes in at £39 while the same weight rib-eye is £34...
If you're feeling flush then definitely go with the T-bone, it weighs a whopping 750g and cost an eye-watering £55 but was juicy, tender and cooked to perfection. 

Each steak comes cooked in a sticky house marinade, although you can ask for without, and a portion of chunky chips.
There's a whole host of sides on offer to though. We went all out and a whole selection including some delicious creamed spinach (£5)...
Crispy fried onions (£2.75)...
brocollini with chilli flakes (£5) the most incredible mushrooms absolutely swimming in garlic! (£5)
If you've got room for pudding, there's another sharing dish on offer which I'd definitely recommend. Three of us shared the Chef's tasting platter (£15) which was more than enough and gave a little taste of the whole menu. 

Among my favourites were the summer berry tiramisu and warm chocolate fondant but nothing came close to the Malva pudding: It's like the South African answer to Sticky Toffee pudding. 
Overall we had a brilliant time at The Meat Co. The quality of the food, wine and decor was exceptional as was the level of service provided by the friendly, knowledgeable and informative waiters.

With it being just steps away from Shepherds Bush station, it's definitely worth visiting of an evening and popping in to the pub down the road to really make a night of it...

The Meat Co 
Westfield London Shopping Centre, 
Ariel Way London, W12 7GA

* We dined as guests of Meat Co. 
All opinions are my own

 The Meat Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

CREATING YOUR DREAM KITCHEN SPACE

When I'm not at work, I spend the majority of my time in the kitchen. Whether I'm cooking, eating or making cups of tea.

It's my favourite room in the house and the one I obsessively scour Pinterest for decorating ideas

I bought my flat (almost) four years ago and the kitchen was one of the first rooms I decorated. We ripped the whole kitchen out and transformed my living room into an open plan kitchen/lounge, making my former kitchen into a bedroom.

Fast forward four years and while I still love my little cooking space, there's so many things I would love to re-do so I thought I would put together a post on what my dream kitchen would look like and some advice which I learnt from decorating the first time around.
For me, and lots of others judging by Instagram & Pinterest, the overall feel of the kitchen has to be light, white and airy, with just a few pops of colour.

When I moved in, I was really into black and grey, which is the look I've currently got in my flat but I adore my mum's kitchen (pictured above). Having lots of natural light and white surfaces makes such a difference when you're preparing food, especially if it's going to be photographed for the blog!

THE CENTRAL ISLAND
This has to be the feature of every dream kitchen. My kitchen has a lovely middle island which houses my induction hob, fridge and freezer and also doubles for a breakfast bar.

You don't need masses of spaces to have an island, as long as you have a good level of clearance between the wall and the units you should be okay. Bare in mind that the sink and oven will likely need to stay on a fixed wall and then you can plan which features can go on the island accordingly.

THE UNITS
I scoured loads of websites before deciding on which units to chose for my kitchen. PlumbTiles and Howdens are great places to try, with the latter being the place where I eventually found my kitchen.

Aesthetics are obviously a key factor in your decision but make sure your thinking about storage - it's pointless having a pretty kitchen if it's going to cluttered by pots and pans which you can't fit in the cupboards!
THE SINK
If I could change one thing in my kitchen it would be the kitchen sink.  I have a round basin which I went for to save on space but it can actually be a little tricky when coming to do the washing up! If I re-decorated, I would definitely opt for a larger basin, along with a hot water tap - so you don't need a kettle!

WORKTOPS
The big trend at the moment seems to be for marble worktops, which while an Instagram dream, aren't good for a working kitchen! Marble is soft so gets scratched very easily and as it's porous can also suffer from staining from things like red wine or strawberries! I much prefer granite surfaces which have a just a little sparkle. 

THE LITTLE EXTRAS
I've got a long list of  that I would fit my dream kitchen out with. A wine chiller, KitchenAid and a pantry are currently topping the list but simply having artificial flowers and little trinkets make all the difference in injecting some personality into your work-space. 
So there you have it, my guide to creating the perfect kitchen space. I'd love to hear how you've decorated your kitchens or what your dream kitchen looks like in the comments below!

* This post contains sponsored links 
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Thursday, 18 August 2016

HAWAIIAN SALMON POKE BOWL

You might remember a couple of weeks ago, I went to a masterclass with Robert Welch

You might also remember how I was raving on about how brilliant their knives are? Well the team kindly gave me a set to try out at home and I've fallen in love.

I wanted to create a recipe for you guys which showcases the skills of these super-sharp blades, so I thought what better recipe than one which literally translates as 'to slice': Poke.
Poke (pronounced Poh-keh) is a Hawaiian dish which has become increasingly popular here in the UK since the arrival of restaurants like Ahi Poke and Eat Poke.

It's a little like sushi and a little like a salad and it's so delicious. It's made by marinating raw chopped fish which you place on top of fresh rice and then build up with various toppings to suit your tastes.

I adore salmon so I've used thick chunks and paired it with creamy avocado, coriander, lime and radish to add a pop of colour and crunch.
The recipe requires lots of fine slicing and chopping so you'll need a good sharp knife which is where these Robert Welch knives really come into their own. 

The one I've found myself using most is the light-weight and ergonomically designed Signature Cooks knife. The blade is super-sharp which makes slicing through all the ingredients an absolute dream (and take half the time)! Believe me, once you've used a good set of knives, you'll understand the importance of investing!  

What you'll need (for one person)
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
A good pinch of chilli flakes
1 fillet of sushi grade salmon 
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 red onion
1-2 radishes (finely sliced)
1/2 avocado
1/2 lime
1/2 packet of basmati rice (I use microwaveable rice)
Coriander
What you'll need to do
1. Mix the soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and chilli flakes in a bowl and set to the side
2. Cut the salmon into cubes. Larger cubes are better for those who enjoy the taste of fish but if you're not keen, keep them smaller.
3. Finely slice the red onion and add with the salmon and garlic to the dressing and allow to marinate for 5 minutes.
4. Cook the rice as per the instructions on the packet. Once cooked, spoon into your serving bowl.
5. Arrange your marinated salmon, radish, lime and coriander on top of the rice
6. Peel and finely slice your avocado and arrange into a flower shape and add to the bowl
7. Spoon the remaining dressing over the salad and enjoy!

To celebrate one million sales, Robert Welch are running a competition in which you could have the chance to win the very same knife block which I received above.

The Signature Compact Knife Block comes complete with four Signature knives and a pair of scissors. Simply visit the competition page and fill in your details to win. Good luck! 

* This post was sponsored by Robert Welch
This post was shared on Honest Mum & A Mummy Too
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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

THE HINDS HEAD, BRAY

About 40 minutes outside of London and just a stone's throw from Windsor, you'll find the picturesque village of Bray.
Filled with 16th century Tudor houses and gardens of blossoming flowers, it's a perfect picture of rural Britain.
But nestled away amongst the sleepy cottages of the quaint old village lies some of the UK's best restaurants including the three Michelin starred The Waterside Inn and Heston infamous Fat Duck.
I was here to try the Hind's Head, Heston's Michelin starred pub, as part of my never ending birthday celebrations with my mum. 
The restaurant itself oozes character and charm. Housed within the original 15th century pub which has played host to Royals and States Men alike, the restaurant stays to its traditional roots with an informal setting, kitted out with dark oak beams, heavy red curtains and open fires.
Baskets of warm bread are delivered to your table as you take a look through the menu. It's a real mix of classic British dishes with a sprinkling of Heston's imagination to give each dishes a unique twist for which he's become so well known.My mum started with the goats curd salad (£8.75) topped with baby beetroot, cider poached pear and pumpkin seeds which helped to balance the flavours and give a lovely bite against the creamy cheese. While I went for the delicate tea-smoked salmon which came served on a thick slice of soda bread and topped with home-made sour cream butter and lightly pickled cucumber (£9.95).
Next came the main courses with comfort the order of the day. Heston is well known for crafting dishes which give a nod to cooking styles from years ago, as seen with the incredibly presented chicken, ham and leek pie (£19.95) came complete with pie bird in the centre to help the contents steam.
The pie was packed full of thick chunks of poached chicken, salty ham and a wonderfully thick sauce all encased in light but crispy pastry.
Inspired by my recent visit to Outlaw's, I chose to stick with fish and opted for the the whole filleted plaice (£22.50) which was just incredible. Perfectly cooked alongside girolles and shrimps, the flaky white fish was served in a light citrus sauce and once again cucumber which gave a real unexpected but delicious flavour.
Bowls of buttery carrots, jersey royals and greens helped to complete the dishes but there's also french fries and an interestingly named spinach salad with Lord of the Hundreds cheese, on offer - as I said this comfort food at its finest. Undeterred by the amount of food we'd already eaten, we had to take a look over the dessert menu and I promise you it's worth it. 

The strawberry tart was one of the prettiest desserts I've ever ordered and tasted just like summer served alongside a spoonful of elderflower sorbet...
The cheesecake (£8.95) though was the real star of the show. A wonderfully presented orb of thick cheesecake on a biscuit base with a raspberry filling which erupted as you cut your fork through the centre. Any dessert which comes served with a golden raspberry is always a winner for me.
We just about had room for coffees and truffles before heading out back out in to Bray high street to walk off our dinner...
The Hinds Head truly is a brilliant experience. It's Michelin quality food which is served in a really relaxed, informal setting which I personally love. I've always wanted to try the Fat Duck but the idea of parting with £250 per head is just ludicrous - especially when you know you have a lunch of this standard at half the cost!

The Hinds Head
High Street, Bray
SL6 2AB
The Hinds Head Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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