"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!"

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/

Rudie’s Dalston

Posted on Tuesday, 12th December 2017

Rudie’s Dalston

Winter is here and there’s nothing better than a bit of spice on your plate to warm you up. So Elika (Instagram: @Sunny_Elika) and I headed to Rudie’s in Dalson after work one evening, starving, but filled with excitement for the Jamaican feast that laid ahead of us. Jerk chicken is one of our go-to dishes at food markets, and so we were more than ready to give Rudie’s a try. It was a chilly night, and as we entered Rudie’s we were greeted by some Jamaican tunes and kindly staff that warmed us up on the spot. We got in early enough to get a window table so that as we drank our Mai Tai (£7.50) and Jamaican Mule (£7.50) we were able to watch the world of Dalston go by. If you are a fan of rum, then the Jamaican Mule will not disappoint, and the Mai Tai will make you feel like the sun is blowing you kisses by the beach.

Rudie’s takes Jamaican food to another level, offering a more refined and contemporary approach to the more traditional Jamaican experience of jerk and spicy BBQ. We kicked off with the Peppered Shrimp (£8.50) for starters which was not for the faint of heart. We had been appropriately warned that these were hot, and this dish lived up to its reputation. The sauce was spicy and bold and served the plump juicy prawns very well. And although fiery, the intense, rich flavour of the dish was entirely worth the risk of the burn on your tongue. Topped with some avocado, this helped to balance out the heat of the dish.

Rudie’s Jamaican Patties (beef £6) proved to be love at first smell, offering up a comforting and delicious aroma of homemade food that we found difficult to resist. The pastry on the patties was flaky, and the moist beef filling contained a hint of Jamaican curry which was wonderfully delicious. For those feeling less adventurous and looking for a more familiar option, we would recommend the Crispy Calamari (£7.50) which had been battered and deep fried in polenta. These were tender and crispy and had been sprinkled with a delicious jerk seasoning.

Rudie's Dalston - London Food Blog - Starters

Rudie’s Dalston – Starters

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Ginza Onodera – Teppanyaki experience

Posted on Tuesday, 24th October 2017

GINZA ONODERA

I recently attended a bloggers’ event at Ginza Onodera, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant in Mayfair where we were treated to a masterclass in teppan cooking. Previously Matsuri, it re-opened as Ginza Onodera in March 2017 following a major £2.5m refurbishment. As Ginza Onodera, it is now part of the world-renowned Onodera Group, which includes sites in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Shanghai, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. 


Teppanyaki refers to a style of Japanese cooking that uses an iron griddle to cook food, with teppan meaning iron, and yaki meaning grill. The teppan grill at Ginza Onodera was state of the art, allowing for even cooking throughout the central part of the grill, and on hand to show us how to teppan grill were Head chef Ryosuke Kishi and Teppan chef Marvin Gatus.

Seated around the teppan grill in a private dining room, we were firstly treated to a Seasonal Zensai, three bite sized mouthfuls of fresh seafood deliciousness. Starting with the top left in a clockwise direction, we had the kampachi carpaccio with yuzu, pomegranate truffle, shimesaba mackerel with marinated rice vinegar and kelp, and scallops kobujime with a wasabi herb dressing. The kampachi was wonderful, singing with an interesting mixture of acidity, sweetness and aromatic truffle. The vinegar offered a balance with the oily mackerel, and the scallop was just lovely with a tinge of wasabi kick and fresh aromatic herbs including some delightful shiso.

Ginza Onodera - London food blog - The zensai

Ginza Onodera -The zensai

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Arthur Hooper’s

Posted on Monday, 9th October 2017

Arthur Hooper’s

Arthur Hooper’s is a relatively new addition to London Bridge and a stone’s throw away from the already vibrant food scene at Borough Market. Given that it is in an already competitive dining area full of crowd pleasers, Arthur Hooper’s does well to make its mark. In days gone by, it was once owned by a greengrocer, Arthur Hooper, hence its name.

Arthur Hooper's - London Food Blog

Arthur Hooper’s

Historically significant, the interior, designed by local London Bridge design studio Buster+Punch, features a rough jewel box concept, drawing on inspiration from the historic markets and cobbled nearby streets. Finishing touches include crafted steel caged light fittings, a custom hexagonal concrete floor and artworks by acclaimed artists Matt Small and Dan Hillier. There is a mixture of high tables and stools, “wrap around column” tables as well as quieter tables along an imposing steel-caged, back-lit bottle shelved wall. In all, the ambience is relaxed and casual.

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VOC

Posted on Wednesday, 4th October 2017

VOC

VOC is a cocktail bar with a distinctive character. Located in Varnishers Yard, a slightly darkened courtyard with a buzzy atmosphere and funky wall art, VOC is within walking distance from King’s Cross station. As for the bar itself, the interior echoes the image of an old Punch House with its heavy wooden paneling, brass elements and illustrious candles, and encourages guests to slow down and linger.

VOC is named after Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company) which was known in centuries past for its strong monopoly over the spice trading routes between Europe and Asia. And thus, VOC draws inspiration from the history of the spice trade for its cocktail menu.

The intention behind the VOC cocktail menu is to create a cosmopolitan menu in keeping with the décor, yet simultaneously evoking the spirit of a bygone by reviving forgotten cocktail recipes. Some of these involved ageing cocktails in wax sealed bottles and oak casks to ensure the richness required to create authentic experiences. Thus the creative and intriguing cocktails are decidedly VOC’s main draw.

Cocktails include Voc Blazer (£8), scotch whisky thrown ablaze with honey, vanilla bitters, orange oils and apricot brandy, and Dirk Hartog Decanter (£15), smoked Ron Zacapa 23,with Pedro Ximinez sherry and honey.

Voc - London Food Blog - Cocktails of Raspberry Shrub & South Sea Mountain

Voc – Cocktails of Raspberry Shrub & South Sea Mountain

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Jenius Social – Mexican Tapas Cooking class

Posted on Saturday, 23rd September 2017

Jenius Social is a dynamic events space situated at a walking distance from Holloway Road and Highbury & Islington. The founder, Jennifer Yong, came up with the concept by fusing two of her favourite things: food and socialising. Reading this, we knew this would be our kind of place.

Jenius Social - Cookery School

Jenius Social

Andrew Clements, head chef at Jenius Social, lead the class. An original graduate of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, he was charismatic and knowledgeable. The conversation flowed easily throughout the evening, from learning about his career to date, to picking up a few knife skills in between recipes.

Jenius Social - London Food Blog - Andrew & knife skills

Jenius Social – Andrew & knife skills

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