Monthly Archives: July 2012

A rainy food filled afternoon picnic

Yummy lunch

So Friday afternoon we had planned to have a work picnic in St James’s Park, everyone was to bring food and games along. Friday morning dawned, and like most days in our English summer this year, it was, surprise, surprise, raining. This meant that we had to resort to our contingency picnic plan, an indoor picnic style street party in the penthouse of our office, which ended up being quite fun.

Most people brought in home made sweet and savoury dishes and the spread was pretty impressive. It was almost too much for us to deal with and Monday morning will see the fridge still well stocked with leftovers.

My Grandmother’s German Potato Salad

Never one to buy food to bring along, I slaved away in the kitchen on Thursday evening making a potato salad, my grandmother’s divine German  recipe, and shortbread biscuits. I have to admit, it was my first time making both recipes, so I was very much hoping they would work out.

Potato’s for the potato salad

Luckily for me and my colleagues, both turned out exceptionally well if I may say so myself. I was worried about the potato salad dressing as the ratio of ingredients can be tricky to get right, but it turned out to be quite straightforward. When my grandmother used to visit us in Ireland my sister and I repeatedly requested that she make her potato salad, she always obliged and also always complained that the Irish potato’s were too floury. Critiquing the Irish on their potato’s is usually a pretty dangerous move but as far as we were concerned it tasted just as good as when she made it in Germany and we weren’t really offended at all.

Dressing for potato salad

It is very simple to make, boil the potato’s. While they are simmering away, prepare the dressing to which you add vegetable oil, white wine or cider vinegar, diced shallots, vegetable stock, seasoning and I added chives and gherkins. Once the potato’s are boiled – not too soft though – remove the skin, cut into cubes and while they are still warm, pour the dressing over, mix well and leave to soak and cool in the fridge. The end result was delicious! Trust me if you’re a potato salad fan and usually eat the British mayonnaise potato salad – I do indulge in it myself on occasion – you’ll be a big fan of this version.

Shortbread biscuits

Next up was the shortbread biscuits, which were ridiculously easy to make. Ever since the trip to Edinburgh, my liking for shortbread has been re kindled, I’d totally forgotten how deliciously indulgent shortbread was and what a fan I was. Basically all you need is soft butter, sugar and flour. Cream the butter and sugar together, then slowly add in  the flour until you have a dough. Roll it out on a flat surface and cut the dough into circles or fingers, whichever you prefer. Leave them in the fridge for 20 minutes and then cook the biscuits in the oven for the same period of time, or until slightly golden, and voilà it’s that simple

So all in all, we had a dry, fun afternoon eating and playing games and more importantly, I’ve added two new delicious recipes to my growing collection.

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Castles,whisky and rain in picturesque Edinburgh

View from Edinburgh castle

Not exactly the quintessential summer long weekend trip – but then the weather wasn’t exactly traditionally summer – so Edinburgh was the perfect choice for a long weekend getaway. Filled with visiting, castles, palaces and royal ships, drinking Scottish whisky, gin and cocktails and eating among other delights, sumptuous shortbread and Scottish salmon  – no haggis I’m afraid to say, I couldn’t even stomach the though of it – it was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of London.

Rice pancakes

After a five hour train journey – it was pretty tedious – we were both gagging for a drink and pretty hungry. A few potent cocktails later – never a good idea before eating – we decided it was time for some food. So we trekked down the Royal Mile to David Bann, Edinburgh’s award winning vegetarian restaurant.

Dark chocolate souffle

I’m not sure if the cocktails had anything to do with it but the food was really delicious. For starters I had the homemade hummus with freshly baked bread which was gorgeous, for my main course I had the rice pancake with spicy potato, cauliflower, chick peas and cashews and for the all important dessert we shared the dark chocolate soufflé which was totally divine.

The next morning after a lie in we wondered down to Holyrood Palace where we did

Chapel in Holyrood Palace

the first of a number of guided tours. Not totally up-to-speed on English, never mind Scottish history, I spent a pleasant hour or two being educated on the palace, the history and that of Mary, Queen of Scots and her dramatic story, it was fascinating.

Our following port of call included another walk along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.

Claive Vidiz Scottish whisky collection

Unfortunately the guided tour was not as efficient or enjoyable as the one at the palace, but it did have a great view of the city. After that it was high time to sample some of the famed Scottish whisky. We stopped by The Scottish Whisky Experience which is conveniently right by the castle. After a revolving barrel ride, we got an education on Scottish whisky and the various regions and their distinct flavours. Our overly enthusiastic – she really was a bit over the top – Canadian guide put on quite a show for us, after which we were finally allowed to taste the whisky of our choice while viewing the hugely impressive Claive Vidiz collection of Scottish Whisky. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many bottles in one place and not one was opened!

We decided that was enough sightseeing for one day and the next morning, with a few hours to kill before our train back to London, we decided to take a trip to see the Royal Brittania. For an Irish lass I had a pretty intense few days of British history.

Royal Yacht Brittania

Although I must say the ship was very impressive and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, which we aptly concluded with – I had to have tea and a fruit scone, it was only fitting – in the yachts tea room, which was served on Wedgwood china and with silver cutlery.

The train back to London was once again long, and unfortunately I hadn’t brought the worlds most stimulating book along and was at a slight loss of what to do with myself for the whole journey. However, that said and despite the rain it was a great trip, short but sweet!

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Yummy Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Street Feast London’s first night in Dalston

Street Feast London in Dalston

A sunny evening in London, the start of the weekend and street food, honestly what more can you want! Well maybe a beer wouldn’t go astray … Which is exactly what I did today after work, I went to Street Feast London‘s first night in Dalston, where there were 16 different traders selling food from all around the world.

It was a long day and between going to work and a five hour client meeting I’d already been half way across London. However, that didn’t deter me from trekking all the way across London from West Kensington to Dalston Junction to check out the first night of Street Feast London in Dalston.

I arrived at the open air allotment quite early, just as the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was still pretty quite, with only a few people milling around and a few of the stalls, including Homeslice, were still setting up.

Anna Maes Mac ‘n’ Cheese stall

I took a look around getting hungrier by the minute as I passed the stalls, tantalised by the delicious smells of all the different flavours. There was a jerk chicken station, exotic flavours from Barbados, Korean Kimchi, hot dogs,

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Mexican street food, divine looking pizza and Molly Bakes cupcakes, that I tried very hard to resist, to name but a few of the traders there.

It wasn’t really a hard choice for me – although I did want to try everything. Anna Mae‘s pimped up Mac ‘n’ Cheese stall just looked too damn tasty. There was a giant wok filled to the top with Mac ‘n’ Cheese, my idea of street food heaven. I’m a big fan of Mac ‘n’ Cheese and have my own special recipe with sun dried tomatoes, ricotta, wholegrain mustard and melted mozzarella to top it off, which I’m particularly partial to. I ordered the Spicy Juan which was served with red jalapeños, fresh coriander and a dollop of yoghurt on top. It was absolutely delicous and the generous portion was well worth the £5.50 I paid for it.

Spicy Juan

My visit was fleeting as I really just wanted to check it out and appease my hunger. But I’ll certainly go back another Friday evening – probably a bit later in the evening next time – and with friends when I have more time to eat, have a few beers and enjoy the atmosphere. The place was filling up when I left, the dedicated foodies trekking across London to enjoy London’s latest street food festival.

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