"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!"

Häagen-Dazs – The Craft of Real Ice Cream

Posted on Tuesday, 29th July 2014

Häagen-Dazs Choc choc chip

Häagen-Dazs Choc choc chip

Last week Häagen-Dazs organised an exclusive event to celebrate the craft of real ice cream, which was hosted by the lovely Masterchef winner Natalie Coleman, and Mecca Ibrahim of Great British Chefs. We were treated to a selection of especially created savoury canapés including a delicious prawn wonton with sweet chilli, smoked trout with pickled cucumber, and a wonderful fig, mascarpone, basil and balsamic dressing.

Prawn wonton with sweet chilli

Prawn wonton with sweet chilli

Smoked trout with pickled cucumber

Smoked trout with pickled cucumber

Fig, mascarpone & basil

Fig, mascarpone & basil

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5&33 Restaurant – Art-Otel Amsterdam

Posted on Sunday, 27th July 2014

To round off our recent Amsterdam visit, we had a really pleasant meal at the quirkily named 5&33, in-house restaurant of the Art-Otel, the hotel where we chose to call home for two nights while in Amsterdam.

The Art’Otel is located in the heart of Amsterdam and only minutes away from Amsterdam Central Station. Given its great location, Art-Otel was well placed for the many attractions of Amsterdam such as the Royal Palace, the canals, the Jordaan district, Dam square and many other popular attractions. But it wasn’t just the location that was great, but also the hotel’s innovative art house design. The Art’Otel offers a slick, contemporary experience, and it’s funky décor saw the Art’Otel win the Best Hotel Design 2013 Award by VENUEZ magazine, one of Netherlands’ leading hospitality magazines.

Art'Otel - Our bedroom

Art’Otel – Our arty bedroom

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Walk on the Wild Side at Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

Posted on Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore is hosting a five-day pop-up event at its stunning venue in Nine Elms on the South Bank called ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. The event is being run by The Radical Dining Society, an outfit that organises culinary adventures for foodie thrill seekers. Walk On The Wild Side runs from July 22 to 26 and features a seven course-tasting menu of foraged food and Harvey Nichols Own Label Champagne and wines. The menu is based around a theme of wild flowers and gardens and draws its inspiration from the linear park that will wrap around The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore, stretching from Vauxhall to Battersea Park.

In charge of proceedings is Chef Toby Cartwright who began his career at Coworth Park under 2 Michelin star chef John Campbell. As diners feast away, DJ Tony from Raffles nightclub will entertain guests by spinning some cool Ibiza tracks. And all this is set against the backdrop of The Embassy Gardens, a rooftop location that offers lovely views of the Thames and the emerging Nine Elms district.

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Yamazato – One Star Michelin Japanese Restaurant, Amsterdam

Posted on Tuesday, 22nd July 2014

After a sumptuous dinner at &Samhoud Places, we followed this up with another lovely meat at Yamazato Restaurant which located in The Hotel Okura in Amsterdam. Yamazato is famous for its authentic Japanese haute cuisine, and in fact Yamazato was the first traditional Japanese restaurant to be awarded a one Michelin star in Europe. The restaurant is best known for its kaiseki menu, a multi-course Japanese menu that draws upon seasonal ingredients and a collection of skills and techniques in its preparation. But Yamazato also offers a wonderful variety of classical Japanese dishes from the a la carte menu, a selection of sashimi and sushi, and a more moderately priced lunch menu.

Decorated in a 15th and 16th-century Sukiya style, the décor at Yamazato embodies the essence of a classical Japanese fine dining restaurant. The waitresses were all dressed in kimonos and well trained in the art of fine Japanese hospitality. Surrounding the restaurant is a Japanese garden, beautifully landscaped to exude a sense of calm and serenity. The décor, the lovely service and the garden all went hand in hand in to create a harmonious dining experience.

Yamazato - The Garden

The Garden

We started with a selection of sushi and sashimi, all of which were priced per piece. The sweet shrimp (€5) and scallop (€6) were heavenly, particularly the scallop which had been served with some fragrant shiso. The scallops were fat and juicy and delectably sweet.

Yamazato - Sushi

Sushi

In fact all the sashimi that we tried – yellowtail (€6), toro fatty tuna (€7), sea bream (€5), salmon (€4) and mackerel (€4) – were also excellent. The fish were of the finest quality, had been perfectly sliced and oozed with flavour.

Yamazato - Sashimi

Yamazato – Sashimi

The prawns in a dish of prawn tempura (€28) were as sweet as they come and wonderfully firm in texture. But the batter was a little disappointing. Although it was light, it wasn’t as crunchy as one might have expected and it consequently let the dish down.

Yamazato - Tempura

Tempura

Eel steak with kabayaki sauce (€32) had been perfectly cooked and oozed with softness and flavour. The sauce, similar to a sweet soya sauce, had been expertly prepared and was very authentic. However, I would have preferred a touch more sauce to give this dish more flavour.

Yamazato - Eel

Eel

Grilled fillet mignon with a teriyaki sauce (€42) was heavenly. The fillet was gloriously tasty and incredibly tender and had been cooked to the requested medium rare to maintain its succulence. The teriyaki sauce was also wonderful and light.

Yamazato - Fillet mignon

Fillet mignon

For dessert we tried a soup of sweet red beans and rice cakes (€8.50) served warm, as well as portion of red bean, grean tea and sake ice cream. The soup was not too sweet and the rice cakes were gooey and light, and the ice creams proved to be creamy and smooth.

Yamazato - Desserts

Desserts

There’s good Japanese and then there’s refined Japanese, and Yamazato fell into the latter camp. In some respects it was a simple meal. But it was the outstanding quality of the produce treated with a sophisticated and delicate touch that made all the difference. Furthermore, the serene setting went a long way in creating an authentic Japanese dining experience. The highlights included the wonderful sushi and sashimi and the excellent fillet mignon. We found the tempura to be disappointing but we would still go to Yamazato again for its sublime sushi. Yamazato wasn’t cheap, but there is a very reasonably priced €50 lunch menu.

Summary Information:

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

Prices:
Tasting menus: From €75 to €115.
Lunch menu: €50
A la carte: About €100 a head.
Excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.okura.nl/yamazato/

&Samhoud Places – Two Star Michelin Restaurant, Amsterdam

Posted on Thursday, 17th July 2014

My recent weekend visit to Amsterdam saw me enjoying two days of glorious sunshine, a really pleasant stay at the Art’Otel Amsterdam and visits to a couple of Michelin Restaurants, one of which was &Samhoud Places, a two Michelin starred restaurant in Amsterdam headed by Israeli-born Executive Chef Moshik Roth. Roth’s career started from humble beginnings, as that of a pizzeria manager. But his career took a turn when he embarked on apprenticeships at De Librije and Zwethheul, both of which now hold three and two Michelin stars respectively. Today, Chef Roth is considered to be one of the leading molecular chefs in The Netherlands.

&Samhoud Places is a collaboration between Roth and entrepreneur Salem Samhoud, hence the name. The restaurant is located in Oosterdokseiland, the Eastern Dock Island which is located east of Amsterdam Central Railway Station. &Samhoud Places spans two floors, the first floor being where the Michelin restaurant is situated. The ground floor is a more casual eatery offering street food.

We decided to go on Roth’s full Michelin gastronomic journey, electing to take the nine-course degustation menu (€195.50). Being situated on the Eastern Docks, the restaurant offers views of the waterways. But should you get a bar seat surrounding the open plan kitchen like we did, then you will get a chance to watch the chefs beavering away at work.

&Samhoud Places - Chefs at work

&Samhoud Places – Chefs at work

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Easy Homemade Low Fat Mac and Cheese With Three Fusion Variations

Posted on Tuesday, 15th July 2014

While most people are familiar with this classic comfort food from boxed versions that combine pre-packaged cheese powders with plenty of butter, making lower calorie mac using fresh, low fat cheeses is a lot easier than you might think. Making your mac from scratch also makes it easy to prepare some incredible variations that will feed your craving while tickling your taste buds.

A Basic Guide to Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

The three basic stages for making homemade macaroni and cheese include: cooking your pasta, preparing a cheese sauce, combining everything (along with some bread crumbs and extra shredded cheese), then briefly baking in a casserole or other oven-safe dish. For no-frills mac your basic ingredients for an 8-serving recipe are:

• 2 cups dry pasta
• 3 Tbsp. flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups low fat milk
• 8 oz. shredded low fat cheese, divided (about 2 cups)
• 2 oz. Neufchatel cheese
• 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
• Cooking spray

To prep the pasta, simply cook to an al dente finish, thoroughly drain, and set aside. At this point you will also want to coat your baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350˚F.

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Brasserie Chavot

Posted on Wednesday, 9th July 2014

Chef Eric Chavot is best known for his ten-year stint at the two-Michelin starred restaurant at The Capital Hotel where he offered some of the finest French haute cuisine to be had in London. The French born chef trained with some of the most famous names in the culinary world including the likes of Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. He also worked with Marco Pierre White before venturing out on his own with The Capital.

The Capital Restaurant closed in 2009 after which Chef Chavot left for a two year sojourn in The US. But he came back, opening his self-named Brasserie Chavot in The Westbury Hotel in 2013. It’s a world away from the formality of The Capital. Instead of carpeted floors and white linen tablecloths there has been a move towards tiled floors and banquette seating for a more relaxed feel. It’s still a glamorous looking venue nevertheless, with great accoustics to soften the hum of noise from the conversation of other diners.

The menu at Brasserie Chavot may be less complex then his fine dining days at The Capital, but it still bears Chavot’s trademark of classic French cooking and it was enough to see him win a Michelin star in 2014. We started our meal with a scallop ceviche (£13.50) which showcased scallops of the highest quality. Thinly sliced, they were absolutely glorious with a soft texture and a sweet wonderful flavour. The lemon dressing with basil worked well with the scallops although it was a touch acidic in parts.

Brasserie Chavot - Ceviche of scallops

Ceviche of scallops

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Meet the Makers – At Hix Selfridges

Posted on Sunday, 6th July 2014

Over eight weeks of summer, Selfridges will be running a ‘Meet the Makers’ event to showcase the heros and producers behind the fabulous food found at Selfridges. It is a celebration of the Selfridge’s foodie artisans, and as part of the occasion there will be walking tours of the confectionery and food halls as well as tantalising daily demonstrations by top chefs. And to kick the ‘Meet the Makers’ Celebration off, Mark Mix hosted a ‘Meet the Makers’ dinner at his restaurant in Selfridges, Hix Restaurant and Champagne Bar last week. It was an opportunity to meet his ‘Makers’, the people who supply him with his great British produce.

The menu started with Hix’s De Beauvoir smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ with Corrigan’s soda bread, a starter which can be found throughout his restaurants. I have had this salmon before and adore the sweetness of the cure and the gentle smokiness of the fish. The smoked salmon had its origins in Hix’s former East London home, back in the days when Hix use to home cure, hence the name given to this dish. The bread is from a recipe by the king of Irish, Richard Corrigan.

Hix Selfridges - 'Hix cured' smoked salmon

‘Hix cured’ smoked salmon

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