175g self raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
175g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
2tsp instant espresso powder
50g chopped walnuts
1tsp instant espresso powder
1tbsp golden caster sugar
Pre-heat the oven at 170oC.
Lightly grease the sides of two 18inch sandwich tins and line the base with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. If you can sift from a height then this will add in extra air into the mixture. Then add the sugar, eggs, butter and espresso powder. If you have a free standing mixer then that’s great, but I used an electric hand mixer on a low speed for a few minutes until all the ingredients are evenly combined. You don’t want to over mix as this will make the cake on the dense side, and whilst it’s not going to be as light as a fluffy sponge, I do like it to be moist and fairly light.
Add the chopped walnut, using a metal spoon to fold in gently.
Spoon your mixture into both sandwich tins, dividing as equally as possible. Place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for at least 20 minutes or until the surface of the cake springs back when you press it gently.
When ready, leave to cool for five minutes in the tins before turning both out onto wire racks. Don’t forget to peel off the baking parchment (which I did once!). The cakes need to cool completely before icing which can take at least 20 minutes or more.
To ice the cake, add the mascarpone to a mixing bowl, along with milk, using a wooden spoon to mix and loosen the mascarpone. All brand of mascarpone vary, so you may need less or more milk, but basically it needs to be easily spreadable. Then you can add the coffee and the sugar, mixing very well (feel free to adjust according to taste). Bare in mind though the more coffee you add the more bitter the icing will be, so you may want to counteract with sugar.
I iced my cake with a palette knife, spreading evenly on top of one cake that I decided would be the base. Then placing the other cake on top, icing the surface of that with a generous amount. You can use whole walnuts to decorate the top into portion slices as well, though it’s entirely optional.
The Crab and Lobster is what I like to think of as a ‘little hidden gem’. Hidden that is to the general London/City folk that don’t go boating on the Isle of White every holiday chance they get. It masquerades as the local pub but serves fresh seafood on a daily basis. Coupled with a few pints, you can imagine that this place can get mighty busy.
The gist: In terms of concept, layout and food, there’s nothing particularly different to this seafood shack, except it’s not a shack. The menu offers an array of dishes but a large section is devoted to the plethora of seafood they have on offer. If you’re not a seafood lover, then there is no point in coming here.
Halfway through the seafood platter I realised I forgot to take a photo.
Empty shells of what remained of lunch.
The best way to sample the shellfish on offer here is the Seafood Platter. It included half a grilled lobster, scampi, crabmeat and cheese bake, mussles, shrimp, prawns and scallops. All of which were cooked to a very satisfactory level. Though the star of the plate had to be the crab meat and cheese bake. This little gem was packed full of that rich, crab flavour and the cheese wasn’t over bearing (though it looked it at first). The whole plate was worth that alone, but still carried a £32 price tag. Personally, I was sufficiently full if not a bit beyond that, so you certainly get your money’s worth without a doubt.
Someone else on our table had the Seafood Grill, which was a more modest alternative and had a fillet of seabass and salmon on there too. Either way, there are plenty of options to satisfy, though I wouldn’t opt for the desserts. The creme brule was incredibly disappointing, too sweet, especially with the baileys in the custard which wasn’t mentioned in the description at all. That said, the Eton Mess was a lot more appealing - fresh strawberries, whipped cream and crushed meringue - massive portion however, so unless you had something small, finishing it wouldn’t have been achievable.
Food: 4/5 for seafood only, the dessert really let it down
Price: £££ for the seafood platter, a bottle of water and a dessert, two people billed at £83 which for lunch may be considered steep
Overall: 4/5 nice cosy atmosphere, decent service and the fact that you get to book makes it easier to get a table during the busy times
Let’s cut right to the chase. Being half Filipino, one of the things I don’t expect to find in London is a trendy Filipino restaurant. To me, that kind of food is what my mum would cook. It evokes a sense of homeyness, warmth and even nostalgia. Traditionally there’s a lot of fish, rice and meat stewed for a very long time.
So when I heard of a new, ‘trendy’ meriendas Filipino style place to eat, well, I was there with bells on. The word restaurant may be a little lost on this place, better referred to as a ‘tea lounge’ for it is actually being put on the map for their bubble tea - more on that later.
Generally there were some recognisable favourites such as Adobo, Shanghai Springrolls and Turon to name but a few. There was also a confusing mix of Chicken Teriyaki and Calamari, both of which are not distinctively Filipino nor were they seasoned so.
The gist: Much like ordering tapas, Lakwatsa’s menu is based on meriendas style ordering. The selection is small with the idea of ordering several dishes to share.
The Adobo Rice Balls were what I was looking forward to the most and in turn, was most disappointed by. If you were to have adobo, it’s usually a hearty portion of chicken or pork stew. Very saucy with flavours that are distinctive of bayleaf and peppercorn and served with a lot of rice.
Whilst the chicken inside the sticky rice balls was indeed quite flavourful and carried the very distinctive ‘adobo’ taste, the rice arrived a bit on the dry side. And the dipping sauce (without which the whole concept of chicken adobo would be long gone) failed to bring the dish together. In fact what tended to happen when you dipped the balls into the sauce? The rice of course, fell apart.
As far as I was concerned, the star of the entire menu was the bubble tea. Hands down a step above Bubbleology, especially for the milky teas. In fact, they don’t give you the option to have a non-milky bubble tea, and rightly so. I opted for the watermelon milky tea which hit the spot perfectly. If it was made with powder you sure as hell couldn’t taste it, as it was just that refreshing.
Overall, it makes a comfortable place to be if you’re passing by or at the very least, for the bubble tea to go. I’m unconvinced that it’s worth going out of your way for, especially if you’re actually really hungry.
Booking: Whilst not actually able to ‘book’ per say, you can call up ahead to check if there’s availability. Otherwise, it’s quite a small venue so do be prepared to wait - max about 15 minutes.
Food: 3/5 Several of the dishes were disappointing, but the bubble tea and desserts pulled it back
Price: £ Each dish is very reasonably priced, and for three people we billed at £25
Overall: 3/5 Certainly a casual and ‘trendy’ atmosphere to be in, service wasn’t unpleasant and you can enjoy your time without pressure of needing to leave quickly once you’re done eating
So yes, I’m a little late to the game with Burger and Lobster, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a reiteration of why it’s doing so bloody well right now.
The gist: There’s only three things on the menu at Burger and Lobster - a whole lobster, lobster in a toasted brioche and a rather large burger. All three are £20 flat and come with sides and condiments.
Most people seem to go for the lobster, and rightly so. For £20, a burger isn’t what I want to be spending my money on. The whole lobster is 1.5 lbs, perfectly cooked then finished on a grill if you like. The other lobster option is a whole lobster, meat only, stuffed in a toasted brioche and seasoned with Japanese mayo. Both are equally satisfying, but bare in mind that the whole lobster is quite filling, so adding the brioche may make the meal feel a bit heavy.
This is one of the few places where a seriously simple menu is seriously effective. There is little room for error, and everything is executed really well.
Booking: You can’t actually book at any of the Burger and Lobster restaurants, with the exception of the Dean Street venue if you’re a party of 6+. And it gets seriously busy, so either turn up a little earlier than you’d actually like to eat, or be prepared to wait for up to an hour.
Food: 5/5 Simple, effective and worth the money
Price: ££ Minimum £20 per head without alcohol
Overall: 5/5 The lack of being able to book doesn’t bother me, and the wait is worth it for decent food before a night out
The world of latte art is a growing and increasingly creative bubble, sprouting from the skills of the humble barista. It used to be that we were quite satisfied with just a really good quality coffee, be it a latte, cappuccino or an espresso – to each their own. And whilst that still is the case, our expectations have evolved. Our cappuccinos must be ‘dry’, the froth must be creamy with minimal bubbles and if the milk could be ‘skinny’ then that would be great.
On top of that, now our lattes are decorated with the very best coffee art we don’t know whether to drink it or hang it up on the wall.
Don’t get me wrong, I love art. I’m an ‘art lover’ as they say. But I’ve spent a good portion of my art loving years being trained not to touch the art, much less press my lips against it and drink it. And not mocking the great skill that goes into it, because there is definite skill needed, what does the decor actually change? Does the fact that my coffee now has a swan on it make it taste different to the one that has a leaf? Or a heart? Do I really want my coffee to smile back at me?
Some people might. And personally, if my coffee HAS to have art, I’d much prefer it be kept simple. I do my best to not be a coffee snob and keep my drink simple, so if we could keep the coffee art to a minimum, that would be greatly appreciated. Or else I may very well have to order the skinny, dry, decaf, hazelnut latte just to be a pain in the ass as a way of seeking ‘latte art’ vengeance.
Woe upon any barista who dare waste my precious minutes decorating my coffee with a smiley face.
The perfect crumpet is the definition of personal preference. And thus the perfect crumpet recipe is entirely subjective. Personally I like my crumpets light, crisp and fluffy, but always with many little holes for that perfect butter absorption. If I can have them fairly big as well, then that’s a definite plus. I especially do not like dense crumpets. Full stop.
So when I came across a crumpet recipe in Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to bake’ book, it seemed fairly straightforward. It’s a batter that gets left to leaven then cooked on a heavy set frying pan or flat griddle. Perfect.
The first three attempts with this particular recipe produced a deceptively raw crumpet, despite several variations in the temperature and length of the cooking time. The recipe itself was also remarkably different to quite a few others out there. It used a single flour type and the water was added in equal quantities to the milk right from the start. The result was that, even though the batter ended up with many bubbles, it was too liquid and thus ultimately too dense to cook through.
So, after much research into other recipes and many trial and errors, I’ve decided that the following recipe produces the best crumpet (according to my taste). I’d like to note that I chose to go with a recipe that had bicarbonate of soda, though you can opt out as other recipes keep yeast as the only raising agent. That said, I didn’t have much success with those recipes either, as the internal structure of the crumpet wasn’t as light and honeycombed as I’d like it.
175g strong white bread flour
175g plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
14g yeast (I used fresh yeast but you can use instant)
350ml warm milk
150ml – 200ml tepid water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
Combine both flours into a bowl, then in a jug add the milk, sugar and yeast. It is imperative that the milk isn’t hot – blood temperature is ideal – so as not to kill the yeast. Stir it well and leave for a few minutes before adding to the flour. Beat well with a wooden spoon for at least 5 minutes, until the batter is fairly smooth but somewhat elastic. Cover with cling film and leave for an hour.
When it’s ready, the batter should have doubled in size and possible have collapsed back as well. Then in a jug, add 150ml of tepid water, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix well before adding to the batter, then beat into the batter until everything is thoroughly and evenly combined. You may need to add a bit more of the remaining water so that the batter is of ‘dropping consistency’ but add too much and it risks becoming too liquid to cook through. Cover again and leave for another 20 minutes.
To cook, heat your pan to a medium heat and grease your crumpet rings with the oil, either using a dipping cloth or a small brush. Place into the pan and wait until the rings are hot before adding about a tablespoon of the batter in each ring. You want to make sure you only fill to half way and not completely to the top. The crumpets should then take about 8 – 10 minutes, forming bubbles on the top that will burst and then the surface should set. It’s at this point you can remove the rings then turn over for a minute before removing. I tend to leave them a little less than a minute, as I only want a slight colour, but keeping them reasonably pale.
For months now I’ve planned and plotted to start another blog that focuses more on what I wanted this blog to be about. Food. Travel. And the links in between. Every week I’m cooking, baking, going out to some amazing places to eat but then for a while I stopped. And because of this I filled this blog with various other tidbits, and then doubted what I originally wanted. How many food bloggers are actually out there? Too many. Did I want to be another one of them? Mmm…debatable.
But on a personal level, not a great deal goes on in terms of what one could share. On a foodie level on the other hand, well, it’s endless. Also, I currently work n the food industry on the content/editorial front, as well as just having spent several months in a travel guide. I adore both, I don’t do much else on a hobby basis ENOUGH to really talk about, so why the hell not bring the focus back and share what I know. Or what I’m trying to know so to speak.
So basically, this blog is reforming to what it should have always been. I may most likely create another side blog, to fit things that don’t fit here, but I figure that’s what twitter is for. That’s how short those will be!
Reasons why to be a nurse in Stockholm
Nurses here can do more technical things than in other places. Like drawing blood.
Yeah because in Norway, I know they can't. And that's what I like about being a nurse here. You get to do stuff like that and I want to do that. Draw blood and put like...tubes into your nose. Fun stuff like that. I definitely want to do that.
Guy 1 and Guy 2 laugh
So have you seen a dead body yet?
Götgatan is exactly the kind of street, the kind of place I would rarely find myself in London, at least not these days. It was, however, exactly the kind of place I wanted to be when I was immersed in art, music and the creative possibilities of my life were endless. So it’s strange in a way to find myself here, exactly where I thought I would be about 8 years ago and so out of place 8 years later.
It could be a mild stint of paranoia, but I swear people glance in my direction, asses the way I’m dressed and know immediately I should be passing through for I am completely not meant to be here. They would probably die of shock to learn that I currently live here and have been for the past few months. Ha! to them.
In a cafe called Tully’s, I sit with a laptop and observe the snow that hasn’t stopped falling since the wee hours of the morning. And avert my gaze from the students, the freelancers, the part-time workers and general crowd of Södermalm that mingle all around me. Even the waitress at the counter has to give me a brief over view before taking my order.
Well, if I can be assessed, then I can also assess in return.
Students pretend to work over a single laptop - I don’t speak Swedish so even if they are really working I wouldn’t know. But I doubt it. Two guys make faces and gestures as though they were in deep discussion of the Edifice and musing over the philosophies of Confucius.
In a corner someone is sketching. The sketchbook itself is small and his medium of choice is a ball point pen. He seems an unlikely candidate, which is an unfair judgement but as I am being scrutinised for my style and sense of place - fair is fair.
There is a girl, somewhere between a pink and a peach dress with a fine black floral print, mismatched with a hideous cerulean coloured jumper that looks like it’s seen the inside of a washing machine far too often that it should probably be looking at the inside of an incinerator instead. Individually I imagine there’s some saving grace to them - personality and confidence can save anything. But together, the dress and jumper combo aren’t doing her and her figure any favours.
But here, in the safety of Tully’s, wearing exactly that means she fits in here more than I do. The fact that I’ve ordered a cappuccino than a refillable black filter coffee is already speaking volumes. You.Do.Not.Belong.Here.
Well tough shit really. The coffee may not be great, but the coffee chain across the road is full, this place has an upholstered bench by the window and I haven’t paid more than SEK 23 for my coffee. I’m not budging.