Saturday, 30 May 2015

3 Amigos eat again


I love living in London, not least for the opportunities it gives to eat out in amazing places.
My sister Jo lives in central London in beautiful Primrose Hill and I am out in the burbs near the end of the Central line so I can hop in and out in 25 mins.
We are big foodies. 
As part of Jo's job she is always booking her boys and clients in for dinner. She knows what is hot, what is not, how long the reservation lists are and how to get a table at some of the best places in town. 
She treats Glen and I to a birthday experience meal every year and we have eaten in some truly amazing places and I've tried things I never would have dreamed of.
Places such as Maze (1* Gordon Ramsey/ Jason Atherton) 
Bar Boulud (Daniel Boulud) 
Marcus Wareing at The Berkley 2*
Le Gavroche ( 2* Michel Roux Jnr) 
The Pollen Street Social ( Jason Atherton) 
Texture ( 1* Aggi Sverrisson) 
The Ivy and La Petite maison to name a few.

But it isn't all about Michelin Stars, good food is good food whether it's the best Tapas in London @ Barrafina in Soho, food festivals like Taste in Hyde Park or standing in Borough Market with a dish Of new potatoes covered in Raclette and gherkins!
My horizons and tastebuds are constantly being expanded usually for the better but there have been a few misses such as the Oyster I tried and the snail. Trust me if Michel Roux Jnr can't make it palletable then no one can!
So imagine Jo's and I delight when a few weeks ago dropping leaflets as volunteers for London Pride March we stumbled across a fabulous restaurant that we never heard of before. Off the beaten track in Marylebone without much passing trade. We popped in for a nose and we're looking at the menu when a young chap came out from the kitchen and had a chat with us and explained the concept behind the restaurant.

Carousel invite Chefs from all around the world to come and share their food so they have a plethora of guest Chefs doing short residencies. Little did we know at the time but we were talking to Ollie Templeton who is one of the 4 founding members, all cousins and he was the next Chef in situ begining his residency the next day for 4 weeks.
Jo duly went home and did some research and booked us a table for 3 for lunch today on the last day of his residency.

The lunch menu is very reasonably priced at 2 courses £16.50 / 3 courses £21.50 
Ollie's culinary influences are from Spain where he grew up in the Andalucia region.

The starter was grilled Lamb Heart ( another 1st ), Raf Tomato, Manchego and wild thyme. The tomatoes were out of this world.
The main course was a Swaledale Pork chop, Aubergine Pilaf, with Churasco (a vibrant parsley sauce) Aubergine Pilaf was deliciously smokey and the pork sweet and succulent.
Pudding was Rice Pudding, Rhubarb Jam and Pistachio. Jo wasn't expecting it to be cold, it also had an ice cream on the top. Delicious! 

Each Chef designs their own cocktail which we started off with. 
Che Goose! vodka, Pineapple juice, Whey, Sugar cane with a chilli salt crust. Sort of like a Spanish Margherita and we had a lovely bottle of Verdichio with the meal. The staff were polite and chatty and we shall certainly be going back. 
The food spoke for itself and the menu was still being printed when we arrived. You can't get fresher than that!
It is a fabulous space, not at all pretentious. Light, airy and sparse. 2 long wooden communal dining tables. There is also a big basement and upstairs that can be hired out. They were setting up for a wedding party while we were there.
All in all a lovely way to spend a Saturday with 2 of my favourite people.

Carousel 71 Blandford Street, Marylebone, Lon W1U 8AB

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Coach trip - 50 Shades of Grey

So, the phone rings and my Mum asks "random I know but do you want to come on a coach trip?"

There is something about going on a coach trip that makes me feel like a child again. Memories of School trips and long car journeys. Singing silly songs and playing 'yellow car' which remains to this day and to my children's amusement the only game I get really competitive about.
So sweets and drinks for the journey packed and we arrive in Greenford at 8.15 to pick up the coach.
My sister Jo is so ridiculously excited that she arrived at Marylebone for her train over half an hour early....the shops weren't even open!

The trip has been organised by North Greenford Residents Association and is to the Vale of Evesham -  For an Asparagus experience! Not somewhere I had ever thought I'd be going and if you gave me a map and a couple of days I probably still couldn't tell you where it is other than in the Cotswolds where we went to the beautiful Barnsley House Spa a few years ago.
But hey, a day out with my Mum and Sister is never to be missed and I know in advance that I am in for a day of much giggling which is always good for the soul.
I had it all planned to make a break for the back seat of the bus to take up my old School day residency as Queen Bee, the best place to hold court with my friends, pull faces and blow kisses to the drivers behind and make general mischief. Unfortunately we had been allocated seats already so I had to remind myself that I am actually 45yrs not 14yrs! As it is it is 50 Shades of Grey and I may as well have been 14yrs old as Jo and I were the youngest on the coach by far.

The itinerary is to drive to the country park to meet our guide for the day and then on to the Fleece Inn which was built in 1400, became a public House in 1848 and stayed in the Byrd family until 1977 when it was left to the National Trust. We were given a talk by the owner about its colourful history, complete with ghost stories and the like. The fireplace has 3 white witch circles to stop evil spirits from entering but the pub is haunted by the last owner who likes to move things about.

Then on to the market town of Evesham for lunch where we got something from a lovely bakery and went and found a beautiful little sun trap down by the river Avon. We walked back to the coach eating a punnet of the sweetest English strawberries. Heaven in a punnet. Simple pleasures are sometimes the best.
We then enjoyed a short tour of the Vale villages before arriving at Revels Asparagus Farm where we stood in a field and had a short talk from the Farmer and bought goodies, green and purple asparagus amongst other things to take home. There was supposed to be a cookery demonstration but it had been canceled much to our disappointment. We then stopped off at Evesham Country Park and Garden Centre again to drop the guide back before setting home.

The people sat behind us were a constant source of entertainment and had obviously been hit hard with a stupid stick. They got louder and stupider as the day rolled on mainly because for them it was one long pub crawl. Some of the stuff they were coming out with was comedy gold but I suspect you would have to have been there. Jo and I only had to look at each other to be in fits, tears rolling.
The weather was glorious all day and with the sun streaming through the window we both had a 45 min snooze. 

The best part of the trip though was just spending time with my sister on the coach. We chatted and laughed and sometimes sat quiet. It is lovely to be with someone who you are such a part of that the silences are as comfortable as the laughter. She is my best friend.
She is very naughty though when she points to the man next to me and says  "look at his hairy ears!" which made me snort! 
She reminded me of the time we were on a coach up to Durham as teens visiting family and for some reason weren't sitting next to each other. She decided to launch a ham roll up the bus for me to catch....there was a problem right there as I am inherently clumsy but she threw it like a girl anyway and hit someone on the back of the head with it. We have coach trip form!
The best thing is tomorrow I get to do it all over again but by train not coach when I go to her house in Primrose Hill for the High St fair with friends and family. I am blessed.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

New adventures

Hello and welcome to my new adventure.
It was suggested that I write a blog of the weird and wonderful things that I get up to and as an outlet for some of my bubbling creativity.
So watch this space! My spelling is atrocious and I think faster than I can type so apologies in advance. I hope it will make you smile, think and laugh.