"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!"

Vegan Food Products That Everyone Needs To Try Once

Posted on Friday, 13th May 2016

When it comes to food, we all know what we like. Some of us have a sweet tooth and love desserts and baked goods. Whereas some of us prefer the taste of savory foods far more. Many of us probably eat too much of the foods we like and not enough of the foods that are good for us. This can leave our weekly meals feeling a little predictable and dull. Why not bring some excitement back to your taste buds and try some vegan products instead. Here are some tasty, fun and exciting products you are bound to love.

The Beast Burger

Instead of sticking to your usual ham or beef burger, why not give the Beast Burger by Beyond Meat a try. This 100% plant protein product is a healthier option that has fewer calories than a meat-based burger. It also boasts a number of benefits from having 23 grams of protein to containing plenty of antioxidants and iron. It is soy-free, gmo-free and gluten-free, which leaves you with a delicious and succulent tasting burger. If you love throwing family BBQ’s in the summer, this product could become a fast favorite. While also keeping everyone fit, lean and healthy. You can find these from most vegan food stores or from online retailers.

Many people don’t realise that Famous Amos Sandwich cookies are in fact vegan. They are an iconic brand that serves flavoursome cookies and baked goods. With flavours such as Vanilla, Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Macaroon, there’s bound to be a flavour that you enjoy. Bought by vegans and non-vegans alike, they are enjoyed by both young and old and make a brilliant snack. They are ideal for movie nights at home or trips to the local park. Or just as a treat after a long day at work.

Alternatively you could try vegan-friendly cookies from Trader Joe’s, Hampton Creek or Nature Valley instead. For Hampton Creek info and Nature Valley info, head to their respective websites to see what products they have on offer.

Cheezy Mac

If you’re trying to cut down on your cheese intake or remove dairy altogether, Daiya’s Cheezy Mac could be a fantastic solution. Daiya produces products that are dairy, lactose and gluten free. But full of calcium and protein. Their Cheezy Mac comes in three different flavors and creates a meal the whole family will enjoy. With it’s creamy, rich flavor, you’ll forget that it’s a substitute for the real thing. It’s convenient, healthy conscious and allergen free, as well as still tasting fantastic. Even if you like to cook your own mac and cheese, there’s no denying the benefits Cheezy Mac has. Daiya also produces other tasty products such as spreadable cheese, pizza, and dressings.

Mac and cheese - London Food Blog

Mac and cheese

Whether you are a fully fledged vegan or just looking for something new, these products are bound to appeal. You never know, they may become your new favorite snack or weekly treat. Look in vegan cookbooks and online to see what other vegan foods are waiting to be discovered.

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The Balcon

Posted on Monday, 9th May 2016

THE BALCON

The elegant Balcon restaurant at Sofitel St James is modeled on a traditional French brasserie and serves a French menu founded on classic principles, but with a modern twist. With its exquisite décor, The Balcon is ideal for lazy breakfasts, power lunches, intimate dinners or even a drink after work. What’s more The Balcon also serves afternoon tea. But if you are angling for afternoon tea at Sofitel St James, then I would thoroughly recommend the Rose Lounge at the hotel as it is a truly beautiful spot (you can read about their afternoon tea experience here).

But back to The Balcon. We began our leisurely lunch with a gorgeous starter of grilled scallops, pea tortellini and lobster sauce (£12). The scallops were nicely cooked and had a nice level of caramelisation on it. The tortellini was well made. But it was the lobster sauce which was the winning element of the dish. Offering a rich lobster flavour, It was creamy, decadent and showed off real class.

The Balcon - London Food Blog - Scallops

The Balcon – Scallops

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Tiradito and Pisco Bar, Madrid

Posted on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016

On a recent visit to Madrid, we visited Tiradito and Pisco bar, a Peruvian restaurant located on Conde Duque. Headed by Chef Omar Uribe, the menu was inspired by Chef Uribe’s life experiences including his childhood trips throughout the mountains, jungles and along the coasts of Peru. Chef Uribe also draws from his experiences from having worked with some of the best chefs in the world including the famed Peruvian chef Jamie Pesaque who previously cooked at the Three Michelin Starred El Celler de Can Roca and now owns a string of successful restaurants throughout the world. The food at Tiradito and Pisco Bar is unique as it incorporates the use of lesser known – at least to the European world – ingredients such as Amazonian fruits and vegetables.

The decor at Tiradito is lovely and light and is divided into two sections. On entering the restaurant there is a casual bar area serving killer pisco sours and small bites. Passing through the bar you enter the main dining room, a comfortable well-lit area with with wooden floors and tables with white tablecloths.

We began the meal with an amuse bouche of beef patacones, “Patacones la Lucha” (€8.90). These were fried plantain shells with Spanish spicy chorizo and sirloin sautéed on the wok with soy, aji amarillo chilli and sacha tomato (tree tomato). This was truly delicious. The beef was tender and tasty, and well flavoured by the freshness of the chilli and sweet tomato. The plantain shell was crispy and well made.

Tiradito - London Food Blog - Beef patacones

Tiradito – Beef patacones

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Zayane

Posted on Monday, 25th April 2016

ZAYANE

On the hip-and-happening strip that is Golborne Road is a new addition, Zayane, a modern Moroccan restaurant owned by Casablanca-born Meryem Mortell. With Zayane, the effervescent Meryem has brought her love of her homeland to life with a beautiful traditional Moroccan décor that is both attractive and welcoming. Think colours of oranges and blues, tea-lights in Moroccan styled brass candleholders and plush cushions. What’s more, on the night of our visit there was a singer on hand belting out soulful Middle Eastern tunes which were literally ‘music’ to our ears. Zayane was definitely not short on atmosphere!

The head chef is Chris Bower, previously of Michelin Starred Thackerays and The Ivy, and his remit was to combine the vibrancy of Moroccan cooking with modern cooking techniques and the use of seasonal British ingredients.

I visited Zayane as part of a bloggers’ dinner, and we were welcomed with a Zayane Passion, a passion fruit and vodka cocktail which was absolutely delicious. It was fresh and sweet with a hint of acidity and I would recommend this as a way to start the meal.

Zayane - London Food Blog - Zayane Passion

Zayane – The Zayane Passion

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Tsukiji Sushi Bar

Posted on Tuesday, 19th April 2016

TSUKIJI SUSHI

Tsukiji Sushi Restaurant is a contemporary sushi restaurant housed at the Westbury Hotel, a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of Mayfair which is also home to the One-Michelin starred restaurant Alyn Williams at The Westbury. Tsukiji is a sleek intimate affair which seats only 20, and boasts of clean lines, red woodwork and an open sushi counter. The menu by Head Chef Show Choong is a delightful fusion between traditional and modern, blending classic Japanese flavours with innovative touches to create inventive dishes such as salmon tartar with parmesan cheese.

Chef Show Choong sources organic and seasonal ingredients in his ever-evolving menu. But the true highlight at Tsukiji is the seafood, particularly the sashimi and nigirii which showcases the freshest seafood available. But there is also a varied list of tempting appetisers and grilled dishes, not to mention a selection of set menus ranging in price from £22.50 for a set lunch, to the Kyodosakusei Tokubetsu champagne menu priced at £395 for two. The drinks menu concise lists a carefully selected range of wines, champagne and sake.

We began our meal with some rock oysters (3 for £10.50) which were wonderfully fresh and made all the more delicious with a yuzu ponzu, jalapeno and truffle citrus soy. The dressing gave the oysters sweetness and acidity with a hint of heat.

Tsukiji Sushi - London Food Blog - Rock oysters

Tsukiji Sushi – London Food Blog – Rock oysters

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Barbecoa Butchery Class

Posted on Wednesday, 13th April 2016

We attended a butchery class at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa at One New Change.

The restaurant has a small section cornered off behind black curtain walls for such events. Dimly lit, with a few tables laid out and a shelved wall filled with a range of whisky bottles, we were drawn to a large table in the centre: a large chopping board, butcher’s knife and bone saw with a spotlight above, literally setting the stage for what was to come.

Whilst we eagerly waited, glasses of prosecco were served and there were portions of crispy pork crackling at each of the tables to whet the appetite. Moroccan spiced lamb puff pastries followed: rich and hearty lamb shoulder, smoked for 14hrs and densely packed into puff pastry. This was tender, flavoursome meat, complemented well by a zingy romesco dipping sauce.

Barbecoa - London Food Blog - Lamb puffs

Barbecoa – Lamb puffs

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London House

Posted on Tuesday, 5th April 2016

With London House, Gordon Ramsay ventured out of his usual central London locations to set up in Battersea. London House is a neighbourhood bar and restaurant and resonates with suburban chic. The restaurant overlooks the lovely Battersea Square and boasts of a décor that is modern and classy, yet intimate and welcoming. The menu offers a comprehensive range of modern British dishes, but also boasts of a cocktail lounge bar and a beautiful garden for al fresco drinking (and dining) for those who simply want a tipple.

I recently visited London House as part of a bloggers dinner, and the evening began with some tasty canapés of ham hock and Keen’s cheddar croquettes with mustard mayo and veal Scotch eggs with homemade piccalilli. Both were abundant with flavour, well seasoned and perfectly crisped.

Dinner consisted of three courses including some delectable sourdough bread to nibble on before our starter of Wye Valley asparagus with kale pesto, poached duck egg, wild garlic and hazelnuts. This was an accomplished dish, with each element being extremely well executed. The asparagus maintained a nice crunchiness and the kale pesto was alive with freshness. The poached egg was soft and runny, but had not been seasoned. The wild garlic and the hazelnuts were also lovely and added a nice dimension to the dish.

London House - London Food Blog - Bread basket

London House – Bread basket

London House - London Food Blog - Wye Valley asparagus

London House – Wye Valley asparagus

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Donostia – Visit #2

Posted on Tuesday, 29th March 2016

Donostia, a tapas restaurant has its roots steeped in the Basque region of Spain. It is a stylish little number, with dark wood floors providing a contrast to the restaurant’s long, sleek and white interior. Donostia rings with a comfortable and contemporary casualness, and has a menu that lists many temptations. Located on trendy Seymour Place, it is neighbours with its sister restaurant Lurra, which I also visited last year.

I first went to Donostia in 2012 and at the time I liked the experience, but felt that in certain areas the cooking could have been better. Visit number two, and this time around I felt like I couldn’t get enough.

A mini wagyu beef burger (£5.60) was flavoursome and very enjoyable. It was a teeny tiny thing, so not ideal for sharing. But it was packed with flavour and nicely fatty and juicy. The toasted bun was soft and sweet, and the crunchy purple potato crisps went nicely with it.

Donostia - London Food Blog - Mini wagyu burger

Donostia – Mini wagyu burger

A dish of skrei cod with arroz negro (£14.20) was a touch salty, but otherwise this was a stunning plate of food. I love skrei cod from Norway. It’s a beautiful delicate piece of fish that flakes ever so nicely, and is abundant with flavour. At Donostia, they did the fish proud as it was perfectly cooked. The arroz negro was also very tasty and deep with the flavour of the squid. It was nicely done, but as mentioned, a touch salty.

Donostia - London Food Blog - Skrei cod

Donostia – Skrei cod

We really enjoyed the foie gras (£5.60) with walnuts and PX vinegar served on a slice of toasted sourdough. The foie gras was unctuous and rich, and it paired really well with the sweet, slight acidity of the vinegar. The use of walnuts was a wonderful addition as it provided some crunchiness.

Donostia - London Food Blog - Foie gras

Donostia – Foie gras

I had a disappointing dessert experience at Donostia’s sister restaurant Lurra last year and so I initially had reservations about trying the dessert at Donostia. But despite that, I found myself to be really impressed with the torrija with mint ice cream (£5.20). Similar to a bread pudding where the brioche bread had been soaked in milk, there was a lovely lightness to the torrija, not to mention a beautiful creamy taste.

And the mint ice cream? Well I am not a big fan of mint ice cream. On most occasions I find the mint too overpowering. But here, the use of the mint was very well judged and perfectly delicate. The pairing of the two proved to be, surprisingly, an excellent choice. This is a special Easter dessert and so unfortunately will probably no longer be available.

Donostia - London Food Blog - Torrija

Donostia – Torrija

We were well satisfied with the quantify of food that we ordered, but easily could have eaten more. Everything was really delicious and far more accomplished than I remembered from before. Donostia is a sleek, well-tuned affair with excellent food. The service was also very good.

SUMMARY INFORMATION:
Likes

1) All of the food was delicious, particularly the skrei cod (even if it was a little salty).
2) I adored the torrija – it had a beautiful texture and flavour.

Dislikes:
1) The skrei cod was a little salty.

Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Prices: About £35 to £45 a head.

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

Square Meal

Donostia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato