Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Budapest: wine with a side of Goulash

If I could sum up my experience of Hungarian cuisine is that they like to eat a lot of meals consisting of meat and potatoes, so naturally us Brits get on well when we visit.

My first taste of these staple foods was at the International Budapest Wine Festival, held in the grounds of Buda Castle. Upon arrival, we were issued with our very own crystal tasting glass, and, more importantly (and quite frankly the most amazing invention ever), a glass holding bag which hangs around your neck. I know, amazing right?!

With our wine glasses proudly hung around our necks, we proceeded to roam around the grounds of the castle with our tokens purchased at the gate, scanning for what we thought was a half decent wine... let's be honest - it was a wine festival, we would hardly be served a glass of Lambrini. However with neither of us really speaking Hungarian, we were more trying to familiarise ourselves and work out what the Hungarian word "most" meant...

We soon got into the swing of things and after a couple of glasses of wine, we decided it was probably best to get some food in our bellies, and what was on offer? A whole lot of meat and potatoes, and some pickles on the side.

The dish we chose to devour was paprika potatoes with Hungarian spiced sausage. Again the language barrier stepped in here, as apparently this dish wasn't listed on the menu, and despite hours of googling I am unable to give this dish a name.

This humble dish provided us with succulent pieces of pork, slices of spicy sausage, softened peppers and onions and gorgeous fluffy paprika potatoes - every mouthful bursting with mouth watering flavour. This dish although simple, met all my needs and gave a home cooked feeling with a Hungarian taste.

A trip to Budapest would not have been right without tasting their national dish: Goulash! Again featuring the staples: potatoes and meat. It was on our last day that we decided to try this traditional dish and we could not have found a better restaurant: Bonnie Restro Comics. Set on the corner of a street in Pest, you can sit back in the sun to enjoy a nice lemon beer whilst you wait for your soup and plenty of crusty bread to go with. It was tasty as promised and more. Gorgeous tender pieces of beef in a soup of potato, carrot and paprika, which even in the heat of the afternoon sun went down far too well.

Finally there was one last traditional Hungarian cuisine to try: Kürtőskalács, or stove cake. It is a Hungarian pastry, cooked by wrapping the dough around rolling pin style spits over a wood flame until they have turned a beautiful golden colour, and then coated in your chosen topping. It was a delight to watch them be cooked and then hurry away to the nearest bench and unwrap this spiral cake bit-by-bit, tasting the sweet cake with the consistency of a bread, it is one Hungarian treat that you have to try. Although be warned, it is very filling and sweet so probably best to share!

For anyone who isn't always so brave at trying a new cuisine, Hungarian cuisine is definitely one to try. It gives you that home cooked warming feeling with a Hungarian twist. Definite comfort food, and one I will be recreating in my kitchen at home!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

(Most translates quite simply as now, just in case you were wondering).

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Chilli & Coconut Thai Noodle Soup with Lemon Roasted Chicken

I have never attempted to make any kind of soup in my life and a Thai noodle soup probably isn't the usual place to start, but somehow I made it work and it tasted so so soooooo good!

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts
Juice of half a lemon
1 tin of coconut milk
1 chicken stock cube
1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp lemongrass (I used lemongrass from a jar!)
2 spring onions, sliced into 1/2 cm discs
1/2 small red chilli, sliced into fine rings
1/2 small green chilli, sliced into fine rings
Juice of 1 lime
Selection of stir fry veg (Pak choi is great in this dish!)
150g rice noodles
2 tsp fish sauce
Coriander for garnish
Olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees
2. Place the chicken onto a baking tray and rub with a little olive oil, season with cracked black pepper and salt, followed by the juice of half a lemon - this is now ready for the oven and will take 25-30 minutes until cooked
3. Meanwhile, pour the coconut milk into a saucepan and using the empty can make up the chicken stock and pour that in too
4. Add half of the chopped ginger to the saucepan along with the lemongrass and bring to the boil. Once it has boiled, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes
5. After 10 minutes add in the juice of 1 lime and the red and green chilli, leaving a few pieces of each to add on top at the end, leave to simmer for 5 more minutes
6. Stir fry the veg with olive oil and the other half of the ginger and stir fry for 4-5 minutes
7. Add in the rice noodles and the fish sauce and cook for a further 2-3 minutes
8. Place the noodles and veg into a bowl, and take the chicken out of the oven slicing it into 1 1/2 cm thick pieces, and place on top of the noodles and veg
9. Pour over the soup
10. Garnish with the spare red and green chilli and some coriander 

Enjoy :)

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bibimbap Soho - my first taste of Korean food.

This tasty little restaurant is located down Greek Street in Soho. A fantastic central location perfect for a quick bite before going out or for a break from shopping.

And that's just its convenience.

Experiencing my first meal at Bibimbap Soho wouldn't have been right without trying the signature Korean dish: Bibimbap. My chosen dish to devour was chilli chicken complete with a fried egg on top. Served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, as soon as the dish hits your table you are presented with delicious fragrances of garlic and chilli combined with the chicken, rice and vegetables. I wasn't sure of the best way to tackle this dish or that I'd even manage to finish it (but of course I did), but quickly learnt that mixing the ingredients with  your chopsticks is vital to avoid the rice sticking to the hot bowl and that the crispy rice even adds to the flavour and textures.

If that hasn't wetted your appetite enough, throw in a side portion of Jap Chae (pan fried glass noodles with vegetables, seasame and soy sauce), a bottle of Hite (lush Korean beer), very affordable prices and I guarantee you won't be able to say no!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Quirky sushi restaurant in an unlikely location

I have always thought that all cusines should adopt the Yo! Sushi's conveyor belt way of eating. Having your food paraded in front of you before eating is every foodies dream, it's food for the eyes. And now I can officially say that I have been to Britain's original conveyor belt sushi restaurant: Moshi Moshi.

I first heard about this restaurant on a BBC Two's The Fisherman's Apprentice, featuring marine biologist Monty Hall learning the ropes of being a fisherman with the locals at Cadgwith Cove, Cornwall. Moshi Moshi was featured within the show as it is one of very few restaurants who help support sustainable fishing by using whatever has been fished that day.

So, after spending four days in Cadgwith it only seemed right to finish with a meal at Moshi Moshi, Liverpool Street station. Now normally you wouldn't think, "hmmm where should I go to dinner? Oh I know - at a station", but honestly with its quirky interior designed by a leading Japanese restaurant designer, suspended above the railway tracks - there is something truely special about it and the station makes the atmosphere.

If you need to restrict the amount you eat and feel your eyes may be bigger than your stomach, you can opt to sit in one of the pods as we did - and have yourselves a bit of privacy! The menu offers a wide range of Japanese dishes: sushi, tempura, soups, hot dishes and rice. Intrigued by the sustainable fishing, we decided to go for the "Seasonal Platter" which featured the Cornish catch of the day, a white fish in a light batter. Everything was beautifully made and served swiftly but without overloading us with all of the dishes at once.

But it's not all good. There is one downside: it's only open Monday - Friday. But maybe if we all make regular visits they might reconsider their opening hours?

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Proof of never judge a book by it's cover...

Whenever I say I live in Brixton to anyone who is familiar with the area, they are never short of places to recommend to visit: bars, restaurants and clubs.

The truth is anyone who judges Brixton and gives the typical "oh it's a bit rough there" hasn't visited it recently or ever lived there. I could go on and rant about how Brixton is a great place to live, but this is a food blog! If you want proof, try visiting Brixton Village or the numerous gigs at the o2, Electric Brixton, Hootanannys etc...!

One restuarant in Brixton, which from the outside looks like a kebab shop/cafe, is one great example of the diversity in Brixton, and that I am shocked that after nearly a year of living here that it was my first visit! The restaurant in question is Asmara a delightful Eritrean restaurant on Coldharbour Lane.

Several people had already raved about this place, so I can't exactly say we discovered it, but I cannot big it up enough. We decided to have the platter for two, which came out on a huge plate which had four what looked like pancakes, but were actually something called Injera (yeast-risen flatbread with a spongy texture). The waiter then came out with a serving dish with several compartments and served these on top of the Injera. These consisted of a variety of meat stews (and a boiled egg!), including chicken, mince beef and tripe (I wouldn't normally... but it was chopped up finely so I could hardly tell!)

All of this you ate with your hands using torn off pieces of Injera. It was absolutely goregeous! And the waiter was so attentive, he made sure we were happy, served in a swift, speedy manner and even noticed when we were running out of Injera and brought over some more at no extra cost!

After our meal we decided to have coffee, which began with a coffee ceremony. This is a common Eritrean tradition, where the coffee beans are roasted and brought out for all of the customers to smell (amazing!). We were then presented with two small, handleless cups and a pottery jug containing the coffee with horsehair in the end to stop the coffee grounds from coming out when poured. The coffee smelt amazing, but at first the smell that first hit our senses was the burning frankincense which came out with the coffee, which is also an Eritrean tradition. The coffee was so fragrant and I could have drank more had it not been a Sunday night and I was worried that I would never be able to sleep!

Overall an amazing experience with gorgeous food, fragrant coffee and friendly, attentive service.

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x