"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!"

Hotel Sorella and Radio Milano

Posted on Friday, 31st October 2014

Houston, Texas is a sprawling city that is home to plentiful eating and the famous NASA Space Centre. During the first two days of my visit to Houston I stayed at the luxurious Hotel Sorella, located in the vibrant CityCentre development which is home to a number of sophisticated retailers, plentiful dining options, commercial office buildings and luxury homes. The hotel is sleek and stylish and designed with custom made details such as a unique European Murano glass chandelier and graphite colored ceramic floors.

Hotel Sorella - Lobby

Hotel Sorella – Lobby

The rooms are comfortably appointed with those on the upper floors offering sweeping views across Houston. There is a well-equipped spa and fitness centre and a variety of meeting room options for the business traveller, including a 4,000-square-foot ballroom.

Hotel Sorella - Guestroom

Guestroom

For entertainment, the Monnalisa bar in the hotel serves specialty wines, cocktails and light bar food. The bar features an outdoor lounge area with sun loungers and an infinity pool overlooking the Citycentre plaza. Inside, the bar oozes a sexy ambience with a central fireplace as its focal point. It’s a gorgeous setting that attracts a chic clientele, especially on a Saturday night.

Hotel Sorella - Monnalisa bar & pool

Monnalisa bar & pool

Hotel Sorella’s in-house restaurant is Radio Milano, a contemporary fine-dining Italian venue by much celebrated Chef Jose Hernandez who previously cooked at the Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Fiamma in New York City. The food is refined and elegant, but also rustic and accessible.

Starters included an interesting dish of raw beet ribbons ($11) which was excellent. The bouncy crunchiness of the beets had been paired with some Blue Heron Texas goat’s cheese that provided a lovely counterpoint to the acidity of the beets. An arugula pesto added earthiness to the dish and there were also some caramelised walnuts for a sweet crunchy contrast.

Radio Milano - Beets with goat's cheese

Beets with goat’s cheese

Octopus (starter – $14, main – $25), cooked sous vide for 7 hours, was tender, yet firm. Accompanying the dish was some heavenly smoked potato gnocchi which were deliciously smoky. The gnocchi had been pan-fried with parmesan cheese that gave them a delicious parmesan crust. Finally, a (slightly salty) marinara sauce helped to bring the dish together with its rich tomato flavour.

Radio Milano - Octopus with gnocchi

Octopus with gnocchi

A dish of crab ravioli ($15) was an interesting take on the traditional pasta. A layer of fleshy sweet crab had been topped with a gelee pasta sheet of huckleberry. It was a surprising combination, but a delightfully successful one as the sweetness of the huckleberry added an elegant sweet touch to the crab.

Radio Milano - Crab with huckleberry gelee

Crab with huckleberry gelee

More traditional pasta dishes included fagotelli with butternut squash. The pasta parcels were well made and fat with a smooth and creamy filling. Also tasty was an excellent egg yolk and ricotta ravioli sat perched on top of an oxtail ragu. This was splendid dish, with the rich ragu combining beautifully with the runny yellow yolk of the ravioli.

Radio Milano - Fagotelli with butternut squash

Fagotelli with butternut squash

Meats included a pheasant accompanied by a wonderful celery root puree, a hearty potato cake deliciously flavoured with thyme, and a sweet apple mostarda that helped to lift the pheasant. Other meat options on the menu included a rustic choice of veal cheeks with creamy polenta and osso buco sauce and a hearty pork trio of chop, leg and porchetta.

Radio Milano - Pheasant

Pheasant

Radio Milano offers some great Italian cooking which is both rustic and smart. It’s fine dining, but accessible fine dining. It’s a wonderful dining option that completes the smart and luxurious Hotel Sorella. In Summary Hotel Sorella offers the complete package – fabulous food and wonderful accommodation. You never need step outside your hotel.

Food summary information:

Food rating: 4.5/5

Prices: $38 to $64 for three courses, excludes drinks and service.

Website: www.hotel-sorella-citycentre.com

Visit YorkPass – York

Posted on Wednesday, 29th October 2014

Note: Words by Foodpornnation and myself.

We spent three glorious days in York recently and wanted to share with you what we enjoyed most about this lovely city. York was built by the Romans in 71AD and captured by the Vikings in 866 AD. Rich in history, York has evolved into a quaint English city with beautiful boutique shops, delicious eateries and English pubs.

With our handy YorkPass we experienced York’s top attractions for the price of £49.30 for an adult. This is a 3 day pass which gives access to most of the key tourist sites in York. York is compact enough to make your way around by foot and the 3 day YorkPass is a perfectly affordable way to see it all but at the same time shave a substantial amount off the entry fees. The YorkPass gives you access to some 30 attractions including most of our personal favourites below. There are also 1 day passes or 2 day passes if you have less time.

York Minster is a must see while you are in York. It is the most impressive structure in York showcasing stunning examples of medieval stained glass windows. One stained glass window is larger than the centre court in Wimbledon! We would also highly recommend going up to the tower for lovely views of York, seeing the underground museum for the history of the Romans and taking the guided tour to take in the details of the building, timelines and history of York Minster. The hour will fly by! If you’re interested in experiencing the structure in it’s true form, return for Evensong for a real choir service lasting 45 minutes.

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Cafe No 8, York

Posted on Monday, 27th October 2014

On our last day in York we headed to Cafe No 8 for both breakfast and dinner. Located at No.8 Gillygate, the restaurant is a relaxed and friendly venue within close proximity to York Minster Cathedral and the many attractions of York. Cafe No 8 is also particularly appealing as its prices are great value for money. Our mini-Yorkshire breakfast was really satisfying and priced at a mere £5.95 (the full Yorkshire was £7.95). We opted for the scrambled eggs with our breakfast and were extremely impressed with how delicious the eggs were. Perfectly cooked, they were the height of creaminess. We easily could have ordered seconds.

Cafe No 8 - Yorkshire breakfast

Yorkshire breakfast

Dinner was also very reasonable priced with two courses for £19 and three courses for £23. For starters, a peppered mackerel on a slow cooked tomato and cucumber salad with salsa verde was refreshingly satisfying, particularly as the slow cooking of the tomatoes helped to intensify its lovely sweetness. The creamy chicken liver pate with chutney and sour dough proved to be delicious as the pate was rich, smooth and wonderfully tasty.

Cafe No 8 - Peppered mackerel

Peppered mackerel

Cafe No 8 - Chicken liver pate

Chicken liver pate

We really enjoyed a main of pan-fried seabass with its moist flesh and crispy skin. Accompanying the seabass was a hot smoked salmon and horseradish potato salad with fennel pesto which was also delicious on its own. But it was served cold, and a hot accompaniment would have probably worked better with the fish.

Cafe No 8 - Sea bass

Sea bass

Less successful was the game cottage pie of venison, rabbit and wild boar in red wine and juniper gravy and creamed potatoes. The meat was a little dry and the sauce was quite peppery and overpowering.

Cafe No 8 - Game pie

Game pie

Dessert of rhubarb and custard meringue was delectable with the combination of all the flavours dancing a merry dance on the tongue. The rhubarb held the right balance between sweetness and acidity and was delicious. There was also a topping of toasted flaked almonds that added a nice crunchiness to the dessert. A ‘No.8’ banoffee pie with maple roasted pecan nuts was also really enjoyable. The bananas were soft and delicious, and the toffee was thick and sweet.

Cafe No 8 - Desserts

Desserts

We thought highly of most of the dishes we tried at No.8 Café. There were some fine cooking skills on display and we couldn’t have been more thrilled with how reasonable the prices were, especially given the standard of the food. The restaurant was simply furnished but cozy, and with the good food and pleasant service, Cafe No 8 made for unbeatable value for both breakfast and dinner.

Summary Information:

Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: Dinner – two courses for £19 and three courses for £23, excludes drinks and service.

Website: http://www.cafe-no-8.co.uk/

Hudson’s – Cedar Court Grand Hotel, York

Posted on Saturday, 25th October 2014

Note: Words and pictures by Foodpornnation and myself.

Cedar Court Grand - Hudson's

Hudson’s

Located within the Cedar Court Hotel & Spa, Hudson’s offers up a no-nonsense approach to bistro dining, a dining experience that is relaxed and cosy but with a touch of elegance. The Hudson’s menu serves up a contrast of interesting tit bits versus the more traditional bistro favourites. You can take the unconventional vegetarian fish & chips (£15.95), the beetroot Carpaccio (£15.95) or perhaps a more comforting grilled steak.

To get to Hudson’s you first walk through the plush warm interiors of the Cedar Court Hotel & Spa before being welcomed into the warmth of the luscious Hudson’s dining room. It was elegant and plush and oozed a relaxed ambience. Hudson’s might be bistro dining – but smartly done with a fine dining feel.

The Chef’s special spare ribs (£7.50) came with it’s own warning sign. We were warned before ordering, not once, but twice by our waiter, that these were extremely hot. And even though they were hot, a brush of the accompanying maple syrup provided some sweet relief. These got our pick because they were a delectable, fall off the bone, lick the bone clean in one fell swoop type of eating.

Hudson's Cedar Court Grand - Spicy ribs

Spicy ribs

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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

Posted on Thursday, 23rd October 2014

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - The National Park

The National Park

Ox Pasture Hall

Ox Pasture Hall

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxury country house boutique hotel which we visited for one night as part of our three-day visit to Yorkshire. Located just on the outskirts of Scarborough, it immediately charmed us with its warmth, homeliness and rustic style. The hotel is set within 17 acres of gardens and grounds in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors National Park and was breathtakingly beautiful. With the grounds came a great sense of peace and tranquility that made for an incredibly relaxed and enjoyable stay.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel - The Gardens

The Gardens

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Yashin Ocean

Posted on Thursday, 16th October 2014

Yashin Ocean House, a modern Japanese restaurant located on Old Brompton Road, brings to London a head-to-tail type of dining similar to St John’s. Only here at Yashin Ocean the focus is seafood rather than meat. It’s a refreshing concept and beautifully done by chefs Yasuhiro Mineno, ex-head chef at Ubon by Nobu, Shinya Ikeda, ex-head chef at Yumi restaurant in London and Daniele Codini, a former chef de partie at The Fat Duck. The trio have conceived an inventive modern Japanese menu that not only brings head-to-tail ingredients of the sea world into the forefront, but combines it with glorious Western produce such as truffles and foie gras as well. The result is a lovely harmony of Eastern flavours with Western touches.

Dining at Yashin Ocean House was a pretty faultless experience with our first dish of unagi eel and summer truffle (£12) being particularly mesmerising. The eel was gorgeous and the truffle was fragrant and really enjoyable with the eel. Also delectable was the delicately smoked salmon caviar (£11.80) with a light soy dressing and a shaving of truffle.

Yashin Ocean - Unagi eel with truffle

Unagi eel with truffle

Yashin Ocean – Salmon caviar with truffle

Salmon caviar with truffle

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Cucina Asellina

Posted on Monday, 13th October 2014

Cucina Asellina

Cucina Asellina

Cucina Asellina is a modern Italian restaurant located in the five-star luxury Me Hotel on Aldwych. The décor is stylish with a contemporary feel, and as you first enter the restaurant you are greeted with a slinky looking bar. The cocktails were good and we could have happily drunk our way through a few of the tempting listings on the bar menu. The dining area itself is spaciously laid out and the perfectly pitched lighting serves the restaurant well, setting the tone for a sophisticated night out. Cucina Asellina is a stylish operation and is also well located for all of the theatre attractions of the West End.

As standard with most Italian restaurants, Cucina Asellina offers a variety of antipastas, pastas, pizzas and secondis. The menu makes for an attractive read and could easily tempt the diner into over ordering. And over order we did. An antipasta dish of frittura mista with calamari, whitebait and prawns (£12.50) – a personal favourite – was really tasty and came with a moreish and very crunchy batter. A courgette flower with mozzarella and anchovies (£6.75) was also appetising with its melted gooey filling, although the courgette itself was a little undercooked. Seared swordfish with shaved fennel, olive, Sicilian citrus and orange dressing (£11) was wonderful with the fresh fish pairing well alongside the citrus elements that provided a balanced and contrasting acidity.

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Wines To Serve At Different Dinner Occasions

Posted on Sunday, 12th October 2014

So you’re hosting a dinner party for a few friends. You’ve sent your invites out, confirmed the menu with everyone’s dietary requirements, sorted the playlist and cleaned the house from top to bottom. That’s everything right? Yes. But wait…what drinks are you going to provide?

Choosing the right wine, to serve at the right time, can really help add to the atmosphere and make a really good evening, become great. If you’re like me though and sometimes struggle to tell your Sauvignon Blancs from your Chardonnays then never fear as we have teamed up with Hard To Find Wines who have helped put together this handy little guide of what to serve and when.

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