"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Where’s Best To Eat: France or Spain?

Posted on Monday, 9th July 2018

Where’s Best To Eat: France or Spain?

Herbs - London Food Blog

Herbs


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Whilst Italy is often cited as the mecca for foodies, both France and Spain are similarly high up on the list of worldwide cuisines. If you’re thinking about taking a trip and are torn between these neighbours then this list that reveals three of the best from each country should tempt your tastebuds and help you work out which is best for you, on a purely gastronomic level.

Of course, both have great wine though the culture is very different. In Spain, the prices tend to be lower and the attitude is a lot more relaxed – the French would probably argue, too relaxed… whereas in France, service is more of a fine art and the dining scene has more formality to it than the friendliness of the many tapas bars throughout Spain.

When most people think of french food they imagine the menu of Les Gourmets des Ternes with treats such as snails, frogs legs and foie gras, whereas Spain is a lot more varied – in the North, you can find almost Hungarian style game stews whereas in the South it tends to be much more mediterranean with the traditional seafood paellas and barbecued fish.

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Wellbourne Brasserie

Posted on Monday, 2nd July 2018

Wellbourne Brasserie, located in the heart of White City Place, features a unique all-day dining menu designed by head chefs Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy. Formerly Head Chef and Senior Sous Chef of Dabbous, respectively, Gibbens has also worked at Launceston Place and two Michelin-started venues such as Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, The Square and The Vineyard in Berkshire, and it was at Launceston Place where the pair first met.

The all-day menu begins with breakfast choices, moving onto lunch and then dinner, with the dinner options proving to be simple yet refined. The Brasserie and Bar area collectively accommodates about 70 covers, but it was the al fresco terrace area which worked a treat on a sunny summer’s evening. But the location itself in White City Place is somewhat off the beaten track and slightly hidden away, so it feels more like a neighbourhood spot than a venue that can be easily reached after a bout of shopping at Westfield’s.

We went for dinner and began our meal with a trio of vol-au-vents. Seemingly a dish from the past, it happened to be one of the specialties of the house and were filled with contemporary fillings such as broad beans, ewe’s cheese & mint; salted cod brandade and pulled lamb shoulder with violet mustard. All the fillings were delicious and were encased in a perfectly flaky pastry (1 for £2.5, 2 for £4.5 or 3 for £6).

Wellbourne Brassiere - London Food Blog - Vol-au-vents

Wellbourne Brassiere – Vol-au-vents

The list of starters was quite compelling and there was a huge temptation to try more than one each. We ordered three to share. First was the chicken liver parfait with toast, grape chutney and white balsamic (£7). The presentation was tasteful and the parfait itself was velvety and creamy. The white balsamic jelly layered on top of the parfait was however slightly overpowering against the parfait so perhaps the grape chutney alone would have been enough to complete the combination as the acidity element of the dish.

Wellbourne Brasserie - London Food Blog - The starters

Wellbourne Brasserie -
The starters

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Five food cities every foodie should have on her bucket list

Posted on Sunday, 13th May 2018

If you are planning to visit America soon, you should allow your taste to influence your choice of location. Whether you love BBQ dishes or Mexican infused cuisine, America’s multicultural cities will offer you great culinary adventures. While there are fantastic award-winning restaurants in every part of the US, we have created a list of places you should visit as a true foodie.

1. Ontario, CA
Lanark County in California is the home of traditional maple syrup. If you love sweet things, you should check out Ontario, CA, where you will find traditional recipes and plenty of bakeries and pastry shops. In case you arrive in Ontario in the late summer or early autumn, you can try a traditional corn on the cob, and buy them by the dozen on the street. Cheddar cheese also has a tradition in Ontario, and you can even visit the Wilton Cheese Factory for a tasting tour.

2. Seattle

Seattle - London Food Blog

New England Clam Chowder


Image via flickr

When visiting Seattle, there are certain dishes you should try. The city is famous for its artisan chocolate shops, and sweet toothed travelers can find something to take home with them for sure. Bubble tea is another specialty that is fun and refreshing on a hot day in the sun. To add a twist to your fast food experience, you need to check out what garlic fries are about, and sample them in one of the local burger joints.

3. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston has its own signature flavors. Try the Boston Cream Pie, generally only available as a whole, but some cake shops offer it by the slice. Seafood lovers can try the Clam Chowder, a sauce-filled seafood dish that is generally served with some fries, crackers, or fresh bread. Fried clam is also a local specialty, as well as the Maine Lobster Roll.

4. New Orleans

Caribbean broiled oysters at the Crazy Lobster

Caribbean broiled oysters at the Crazy Lobster


Image via flickr

New Orleans has a great seafood tradition, and you can find some of the best chargrilled oysters here. They come with breadcrumbs, melted butter, and herbs. A great choice for a quick bite or street food is Po’Boys; French bread filled with seafood, beef, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Originally created as a fast dish for streetcar workers on strike, it is one of the most popular fast foods in New Orleans and one of the traditional dishes to check out in America while on a visit.

5. San Francisco
To make the most out of your visit to San Francisco and spend your night indulging in local specialties, after seeing all the sites, you should try Apple Fritters, or sweet pastry, traditional Bloody Mary on nights out, and the super Burritos of San Francisco. Sample some of the best cheesecakes of the region. If you want something really local head to one of the seafood restaurants and try the special local seafood cocktails. Fancy something new for breakfast? Sample the special cinnamon toasts.

When you visit any country, you should start off with a list of dishes you would like to try while there. The above list of cities provides you with an overview of why it is worth to visit if you are a foodie.

Note: This is a collaborative post.

New To The Asian Culture? Don’t Travel Before You Read This

Posted on Thursday, 3rd May 2018

Where have you planned your next holiday? If you’re bored of always visiting the same places, you might be tempted into exploring somewhere new and exciting, somewhere like Asia. If you’re not familiar with the various Asian cultures – and by which we automatically discount any knowledge coming from sushi or Chinese takeaway, or from your preferred Kung Fu show – you need to get a little head up before you go. Asia is a vast continent with plenty of exciting destinations. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ve listed eight different countries and the key information you need to know to make the most of your visit. There are, of course, many more places to see and people to meet in Asia, but they will be the object of a next article! For now, these are the top things you need to know before visiting Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia.

Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha

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Foods To Check Out In America

Posted on Monday, 2nd April 2018

Food is something the USA has a lot of, and there’s so many specialist chefs and restaurants out there that can craft dishes to your heart’s desire. You see, when it comes to finding good food to eat, America has done well to collect some of the best cuisines of the world all in a state radius of each other. So if you’re looking for something to chow down that’s tasty and new, why not head out anywhere West to find exactly what you’re looking for? If you need some tips on where to start, here’s a quick list for you.

Pizza - London Food Blog

Pizza

The Pizza

This is a relatively simple dish to start off with. Everything that goes into it when you’re out and about in the US of A means every state has their own spin on the dish. One of the best places to head to when you’re determined to try some of the best flavour combos out there, as well as all the toppings you’ve only dreamt of getting from your local takeaway, is Michigan.

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Gung-Ho For Pho! A Brief Food Guide To Vietnam

Posted on Wednesday, 28th February 2018

A Pho-to

A Pho-to

If you’re looking for a new adventure with food, that extends beyond the traditional Mexican tapas you find in your out of town shopping village, it’s time to get Eastern with your flavours! Vietnam is a country that isn’t just beautiful to look at, it’s food is delicious and fragrant. But if you are unsure where to begin, let’s have a look at some of the most traditional Vietnamese delicacies.

Pho
The most famous noodle dish in Vietnam, comprised of noodles and vegetables with your meat of choice (but usually beef or chicken), it’s the best place to start. But, you can easily make your own pho at home, just follow this recipe:

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-quick-Vietnamese-beef-pho-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn/.

But for the traditional sit down experience, with the herbs native to Vietnam, such as Vietnamese coriander and sawtooth herb, you’ve got to go there yourself.

Banh Cuon
Directly translated as “rice cakes”, these are similar to spring rolls in texture and style. As rice is such a constant in Vietnam, you could combine your journey with an up close experience of where the most important ingredient in Vietnamese food comes from,

https://www.gadventures.com//destinations/asia/Vietnam/

gives you the opportunity to explore the rice paddies of Vietnam up close and personal so you can witness the work that goes into creating this essential component. This is particularly popular throughout Saigon, but when you’re looking for a dish that contains the staple ingredient, this is one of the best. Mix it up with some minced pork, as well as mushrooms and shrimp, and you’ve got a beautiful item of food.

Bun Mam
This is one for the nasally strong, as it’s got quite a whiffy smell, but it’s a fantastic Vietnamese noodle dish that has to be experienced. This dark colored soup is prepared with fermented fish sauce, as well as rice vermicelli noodles, and meats like prawns, pork, and squid are all piled on top. If you’re looking for a dish that is partially sweet as well as savory, this dish, usually sweetened with sugar and tamarind juice, ticks all the boxes.

Cao Lau
This is quite a mixture of cultures. While with thick noodles are similar in texture to the Japanese udon noodle, the pork brings an element of China to the dish, but the broth is distinctly Vietnamese. You can only find this dish in the town of Hoi An, where the authentic dish is made with water from the well in Ba Le.

Banh Khot
It’s not all about broth and noodles, this Vietnamese pancake is a quaint little addition to any menu. Crunchy in texture, the spring onions, mung beans, and shrimp filling contrasts well with the coconut milk exterior. You won’t have maple syrup on your pancakes ever again after you’ve tried these little delicacies!

Ca Phe Trung
And yes, there are sweet dishes to consume! This egg coffee is classed as a drink, but it’s so soft and meringue-like, this beautiful drink satisfies any sweet treats, but is a wonderful alternative to the typical cup of coffee, especially for those that don’t drink the caffeinated beverage.

Note: This is a collaborative post.

Filling A Restaurant-Worthy Pantry In Your Own Home

Posted on Wednesday, 17th January 2018

If you love your food, then it’s likely that some of your favorite restaurants also serve as your own benchmark for what makes great food. If you want to reach the lofty heights of your favorite dining experiences, then you need more than talent. You have to be willing to invest in your ingredients and to pick them wisely, too.

Freshness counts

Freshness counts

Freshness
For your health’s sake, as well as your taste buds’, you have to do away with the reliance on processed food. Whole foods have much more flavor, much more nutritional content, and much more potential for different meals. Shopping seasonally will help keep things a lot more cost-effective and there are plenty of stores that offer deliveries of ingredients that might not be as easy to find in your local market, like fresh crab. Otherwise, you’re never cooking a meal with just the ingredients you want, you’re cooking with flavorings, preservatives, and much higher salt contents than you would have if you bought fresh.

Versatility

Now we’ve established they should be fresh, what kinds of ingredients should you choose? You might be inclined to go for the most exclusive, specific options possible, but there’s a lot more value to be found, in fact, in the simpler, more versatile ingredients. Any aspiring chef will know that your skill can be summed up in how many ways you can cook an egg. But you can also learn a lot by exploring the different tastes and textures you can achieve with Greek yogurt, parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes and other incredibly versatile ingredients.

Flavour
Just as versatile is the rack of spices and herbs that any chef worth their salt (or parsley or paprika or thyme) should have. If you want to learn as much about taste as possible, you need to learn the differences that even a pinch of the right flavorings can have. Just the change from one herb to another can make is enough to vastly expand your repertoire of meals. Learn what goes with what, how to measure a more pungent spice compared to the subtler flavors, and how certain flavorings have specific requirements, such as how cilantro can very easily go bitter when overcooked.

Options
Whether you’re a vegetarian, cooking for vegetarians, or just looking to cut down your weekly food budget from time to time, having a few alternatives to the meat base of a meal can help vary your recipes a lot. Roasted cauliflower, wild rice, nuts, and beans make it perfectly easy to achieve those savory flavors that most people associate with meat and meat alone. No meat alternative offers a one-to-one comparison with meat, of course, but it can be pretty refreshing to learn that not all your meals have to include animal products to have both the taste and the filling factor.

You don’t have to fill your fridge with only the most expensive items to create truly quality meals. There are priorities higher than price. With the focuses above in mind, you should be one more step to creating restaurant-worthy food.

Note: A guest post

The Stag and Huntsman

Posted on Monday, 18th December 2017

The Stag and Huntsman

The Stag and Huntsman is a 300-year-old pub which has been converted into a fine restaurant and a country inn in what is apparently Britain’s most photographed and filmed village, Hambleden. It is a beautiful, beautiful village, located between Marlow and Henley, and is littered with quaint country cottages and surrounded by rolling fields and lush green hills. The Stag and Huntsman offers rooms, but as Hambleden is just under an hour’s drive away from London, it can also easily make for a day’s getaway, away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke.

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog

The Stag and Huntsman, Hambleden

The Stag and Huntsman is an impeccably run venue and offers an almost picture perfect balance between quaint and modern, refined and relaxed, helped in no small part by a most welcoming and friendly host, Marius, the manager. The Stag and Huntsman is decidedly a smart place, yet the kind that doesn’t make you uncomfortable should you pop over in casual clothes. The furniture and the colour scheme of the interiors is the right amount of cleverly calculated with a relieving touch of haphazard. The building is a historic pub, extended and refurbished such that there is almost a warren-like layout. This was rather entertaining – a sort of life size puzzle set up to test your intellectual capacity to find exits and entrances. As we wandered around the establishment, we would occasionally catch glimpses of the cooks busily poring over what would be our meal for the night.

The food that we tried was delicious, the kind of country pub dining that sets out to satisfy – hearty and comforting, precisely executed and cooked with confidence. The duck liver parfait (£8) was rich and strong, and a far cry from the effete fluffy concoctions that are sometimes peddled to diners in London with too much cream and not enough flavour. The seared scallops (£12) were daringly matched with black pudding and apple and further enhanced with some squash puree.

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - Duck liver parfait

The Stag and Huntsman – Duck liver parfait

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - Scallops

The Stag and Huntsman – Scallops

The pigeon breast (£7) was seared to perfection with a welcoming blush of pink on the inside and perched daintily on top of an artichoke. A dab of creamed beetroot and some creamed Jerusalem artichoke introduced a timely wintry touch.

The combinations of ingredients were well thought through. Moving onto the mains, the crispy seared bream fillet (£18) with creamy grilled peppers, lush romesco sauce, and fragrant roasted almond flakes proved to be a veritable fandango of flavours. However the fish itself seemed to lack that luscious vibrant quality usually offered by very fresh fish. It was a little lacklustre but the accompaniments were fabulous.

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - Sea bream

The Stag and Huntsman – Sea bream

The 10oz ribeye steak (£22) was cooked medium-rare and oozed with the flavour of well reared meat, and was generously studded with grilled organic plum tomatoes. The red wine jus (£3) was well reduced yet still allowing the original wine’s nose to be discernible, no mean feat by any means. The seasonal vegetables (£4) had been just ever so gently steamed, with a delightful crunch and their bright colours still on show. The side of hand cut chips (£4) were chunky and rustic.

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - Rib eye

The Stag and Huntsman -
Rib eye

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - Sides

The Stag and Huntsman – Sides

The bread was the common wholemeal variety, so little disappointing considering the strength of the rest of the food. We thought a strong, good sourdough would have worked really well here.

A dessert of raspberry panna cotta (£8) was a joy to eat, with wonderfully prepared laywer of raspberry tea jelly, pistachio crumb and granite. Yum!

We stayed the night and our room was upstairs – a bridal suite with a spacious bathroom containing his and hers and an old-fashioned bathtub and quaint antique furniture. The room was impeccably clean and smelt wonderfully fresh. The heating was so powerful, you would not need to wear pyjamas to walk around in the middle of winter. It didn’t contain the softest of bedding, but the room still offered a charming overnight experience.

The Stag and Huntsmans - London Food Blog - The bathroom

The Stag and Huntsmans The bathroom

In the morning, we spent over an hour savouring our full English breakfast. We requested a change from the usual boring baked beans with avocado, and the standard fried or scrambled eggs with eggs benedict. And the staff duly obliged! The homemade hollandaise was a delight and truly delicious. Overall the breakfast was wonderful. What a treat!

The Stag and Huntsman - London Food Blog - A modified English breakfast

The Stag and Huntsman – A modified English breakfast

We had arrived on a Saturday late afternoon so there hadn’t been enough light for us to peruse the outdoor garden.
In the morning our eyes were treated to the sight of a very pleasant garden at the back of the pub with English white cast-iron garden furniture. There was also a crab apple tree with bright scarlet fruit ringed by yellow leaves serving as a backdrop in the high blue sky. This garden would no doubt make for a wonderful spot for afternoon beers in the middle of the summer.

The service The Stag and Huntsman was excellent: genuinely friendly, tactfully watchful, yet not obtrusive at all. The staff genuinely looked as if they loved what they were doing and as a result they offered up the perfect balance between efficiency, watchfulness, friendliness and reserve.

We really had a nice stay at The Stag and Huntsman. The overall experience of dinner, bed and breakfast was truly enjoyable and charming.

Note: Co-written with Artour (Instagram: @Niftynoshing)

Likes:

1) The entire venue was a delight.
2) The food was delicious and well executed
3) Hambleden itself is worth a visit.


Dislikes:

1) The fish dish was the weakest link.


Food rating:
3.75/5
Service rating: 4/5

Price: About £30 to £40 a head for food, excludes drinks and service. For room rates, check with the venue directly.

Website: http://www.thestagandhuntsman.co.uk/