Taste Of London 2014 – What Were You Eating?

Food, music, alcohol and a warm evening in the park – doesn’t that sound like the perfect pass time?

Then the Taste of London Festival would have been absolute utopia for you!

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As some of you already know, I was lucky enough to attend the festival a couple of weeks ago. I shared the evening with my other half, Jeff, at Regents Park and (of course) I took lots of photos to fill you all in!

If you don’t know what ToL is, it’s an annual food festival where most of the top restaurants in London get to showcase their food for a fraction of what you would pay at their restaurants; it’s a way of promoting their businesses and attracting new clientele.

Sake No Hanna

Our first foody stop was Sake No Hanna, a modern Japanese restaurant that’s based in Mayfair. We had the Corn-fed chicken Kuwayaki with 7 spice sauce, unfortunately it sounded far more spectacular than it was.

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Although it tasted nice and the chicken was succulent, it was literally a bowl of diced chicken thighs. I understand that the stands are just giving tasters of their dishes but I wanted to get a feel for what a complete dish would be, like I did and like you will see, from the other stalls. Unfortunately we weren’t hugely impressed and won’t be paying them a visit at the restaurant.

Jeff Rating: 3/5

Bleeding Heart

Next we visited Bleeding Heart, a collection of authentic French restaurants tucked away in Central London. I attended the event as a guest of the suppliers Urban Merchants  who supply these brilliant bites of France in the centre of London.

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Urban Merchants are a company that supply the finest ingredients such as Foie Gras, truffles and more not only to restaurants such as Bleeding Heart but also to your front door. They’re a great company that are making fine ingredients accessible – check them out for birthday or Christmas gifts for your foody friends!  Attila from UM sent Jeff and myself to Julien, the restaurants head chef, who treated us to lobster risotto provençale served with parmesan tuile as well as braised beef cheeks bourguignon.

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I have never tasted dishes as delicate and well balanced as these. It’s a well known fact that French cuisine is all about classic flavours and technique paired with quality ingredients and boy does Bleeding Heart live by that mantra. Eating the risotto was like eating silk, it was wonderfully creamy and the lobster was sweet and plump while the braised beef cheeks were melt in the mouth soft and packed a punch with it’s rich reduction and smooth mashed potato. This is the best French food I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve been to France!). Jeff and myself have already planned a visit to one of their restaurants near Farringdon.

Jeff Rating – Risotto: 4/5 (for someone who hates shellfish that’s mind blowing! I gave it a 5)

Jeff Rating – Beef: 5/5

Lindt

After this we found ourselves at the Lindt tent where we met a chocolatier hand crafting almond and white chocolate truffles. You know we had some, you would too, and of course they were absolutely mind blowing – I mean it’s Lindt!

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So we spent some money buying gifts for our friends and colleagues because everyone likes some Swiss chocolate once in a while!

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Mortimers Orchard

We worked up a thirst with all this eating so we stopped at Mortimers Orchard cider bar for a drink.

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I’m not big on cider but this cider was so sweet it almost tasted like apple juice, which can be quite dangerous so bare that in mind whilst drinking. We drank our refreshing pints while sitting in their ridiculously comfortable outdoor chairs, listening to all of the latest hits on their inappropriately loud sound system (we loved it.).

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Meat Liquor 

We finished our evening with 2 classic burgers from Meat Liquor, a burger bar with various London branches.

IMG_0486We’d heard great things about this place but were sadly disappointed. We weren’t sure if was simply the speed and quantity they were having to churn out on the day but our burgers were pretty average. Despite the ingredients being undeniably good quality,the taste was bland and not hugely appetising. We are tempted to give the actual restaurant a go seeming as SO many people have told us it’s amazing, so we might give it a second chance.

Jeff Rating: 2/5

Overall I had a spectacular evening, we spent 3 hours walking around eating both full dishes and free samples. I got talking to all sorts of cool people with interesting products and innovative ideas. I’d recommend the event to absolutely anyone, even if you’re not a foody like myself we all enjoy food and evenings in the park so give it a go! I promise you won’t regret it.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to Attila from Urban Merchants for having me and giving me the chance to have such a great experience there.

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Taste Of London Food Festival – Who’s Going!?

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Really quick one!

I’m going to the Taste of London Food Festival in Regent’s Park tomorrow and was wondering if any of my foody followers were going?

If you are let me know, leave a comment or tweet me or whatever interwebby communication takes your fancy. We could meet up and stuff our faces together or even do a collab post!

Hope to see some of you there ❤

Twitter:@maddisonhucks

Facebook: PurelyMad

Email: mhucks@hotmail.co.uk

P.S. Excuse my cyclopsness in the pic – I’m just about to go to bed and no one wants to see my nekid face, trust me.

Dumpling Soup and Chilli Beef – New Culture Revolution

Don’t you love when you find a new little gem of a restaurant? Today I popped into a hugely understated one that, I kid you not, I have walked past at least 50 times. It’s called New Culture Revolution.

The outside is very plain and inside minimalist which makes it easy to pass by without a second thought. But today, after a few hours of strolling round the Angel with my Mum, I popped in purely on impulse.To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

The table placement is a humble plain white sheet of paper, a napkin and some chopstick and the only condiments are salt, pepper and soya sauce. Which, in my opinion, shows the confidence they have in the flavour of their food. IMG_0251

We ordered off of the lunch menu meaning we got a main dish for £5.30 and a side from their selection for £2.50 – once I saw the size of the bowls the food I realised this was extremely good value for money! They have a vast choice and a good range of meat, poultry, seafood and vegetarian dishes – which I think is always nice.

I ordered pork dumplings and noodles in chicken broth with spring veg with a side of fried pork dumplings for us to share.

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My soup tasted beautifully fresh and clean, there was no greasy residue and my vegetables were cooked just enough to leave them crisp. The noodles used were Udon which meant they absorbed the flavour of the stock and the dumplings (in both the soup and the side) had been freshly made and the pork filling seasoned so well they needed no added salt or pepper. They pride themselves on striking the perfect balance of flavours, so with the dumplings came a sour, almost vinegar dip which I have my sneaking suspicions it contained fish sauce – all the same the balance was certainly struck.

My Mum ordered chilli beef and spring veg on Udon noodles and a side of salt and pepper chicken to share.

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The beef was tender and succulent and the veg, again, left crisp and flavoursome. The noodles were tender and silky which can be difficult with Udon, they have a habit of becoming claggy and a chore to eat. There was just enough heat for the chilli to be noticeable but still pleasant and the dish harboured that previously mentioned flavour balance with a subtle sweetness in the sauce. The chicken wings were surprisingly moist. Almost every time I order salt and pepper chicken I love the flavour but it’s been fried for so long that it’s as tough as old boots. This was light, non greasy and juicy and the side of sweet and sour chilli dip was just what it needed.

With our meal totalling at £15.60, our bowls being big enough to swim in and not needing to eat again until the next day, (baring in mind we ate this at 2.30pm) I’ll be heading back there very soon!

If you’re ever in the Angel, Islington area then pop in – don’t be put off by it’s simplicity, trust me the flavours are far from simple. If you’re elsewhere in London, I found out they have a few other locations that you can check out on their website.

Let me know where your favourite Chinese restaurant is!

Bravas Tapas – When Spanish Food Meets London’s Docks

I recently had the chance to visit a restaurant called Bravas Tapas on a spontaneous day out with my family. It’s a Spanish Tapas restaurant in St Katherine Docks, which is a scenic gem of an area just a stones throw away from the ever trendy Shoreditch High Street in East London.

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The restaurant is brand new, I believe it’s been open just over a month but you’d never know from its seamless, friendly service and laid back atmosphere. We were greeted at the door and seated at a spacious table by their floor to ceiling windows (on some very well cushioned seats might I add). The decor is bright and modern with a rustic edge and it’s al fresco seating over looks the docks.

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It’s hard to find places to dine in London that let you relax and take your time but here it’s actually encouraged. We weren’t sure what we wanted to try so our waitress took the time to go through the menu and recommended we pick 2 dishes each, we were then told we were welcome to order more later if we wanted to. I thought this was a wonderful service; it made us feel welcome and showed us that our comfort was their main priority, not turnover.

The food was truly a manifestation of contemporary London living meeting traditional Spanish cuisine. Our chef for the evening was the lovely Victor Garvey who was kind enough to have a chat with me while I took some pictures of his creations. He takes well know Spanish tapas dishes and gives them a genius modern twist; with everything from patatas bravas with whipped aliolo to quail wrapped in pork belly. We enjoyed absolutely every dish we tried, so much so that we actually ordered two rounds!

Here are a few pictures of the dishes we devoured:

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(My first ever attempt at oysters..they’re surprisingly delicious)

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Our personal favourite dishes were the crispy foie gras stuffed quail wrapped in pork belly and the moorish spiced lamb chops with rosemary alioli. The lamb was left pink and was succulent and tender.

If you don’t feel like sitting down for a full meal they’re happy for customers to come in for a few drinks, they have a cosy bar set up with an amazing mixologist to whip up all of your favourites.

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 They do an array of wines and beers and well as cocktails and of course the famous Sangria! I was pleased to hear they also do virgin cocktails which I happily guzzled at the end of my meal.

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Bravas Tapas is the epitome of an all encompassing dining experience. The atmosphere of a restaurant is such an important aspect of you’re experience and it’s often overlooked, but not here. They’ve created a culinary haven that feeds you great food, gives you wonderful service and provides good company in it’s staff. Bravas Tapas would be perfect for anything from birthdays and celebrations to casual catch ups with your friend, they’ll make sure you’re treated well whatever the occasion. We stayed for almost 3 hours and we weren’t made to feel rushed at any point.

The one and only thing that I’d say needs improving is the price, it’s quite expensive considering the small amounts you get (seeming as it’s tapas). But in all honesty it’s on par with most restaurants in London in terms of pricing so I guess that’s more of a general gripe I have with the city being so expensive.

I give Bravas:

Food: 5/5

Comfort: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Price: 3.5/5 (4/5 if you’re splitting the bill between a few of you)

I’d highly recommend this restaurant and I’ll be visiting again soon!

Check them out of Facebook, Twitter or on their website.

And don’t forget to like my Facebook page while you’re there!

Social Media Madness!

Hello hello everyone!

I just wanted to write a really quick post letting you all know I’ve updated my social media so it’s easier to keep up to date with my blog, I know a lot of my readers aren’t wordpress users.

So if you want all the low down:

Like my Facebook – facebook.com/purelymad

Follow my Twitter – @maddisonhucks

Follow me on Bloglovin – <a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12141003/?claim=qf673b7fue4″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Whatever suits you best!

I also wanted to say a big thank you for helping me grow this little community in my cosy corner of the internet x

Colossal Steaks and Succulent Salmon

I’m procrastinating again…

I’m a week away from exams and it’s safe to say I’m freaking out – but rather than doing the sensible thing and revising all of this:

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I’m pretending it doesn’t exist. Hooray for logic!

One of the goals I want to achieve from blogging 201 is to develop a weekly feature for my blog. Although I want this to primarily be a lifestyle blog, I do have a really strong interest in food (as a lot of you have probably noticed). So I was thinking of starting something along the lines of ‘Foody Friday’.

That can be the working title for now – let me know if you like it or post some suggestions I can use for something more catchy!

It’ll be a range of posts from recipes and photography, to reviews of places I’ve eaten or simply what I’ve been stuffing my face with that week. What do you think? Sound like something you guys would like to see?

Let’s give it a go – today I thought I’d show you some of the ridiculous pieces of meat that pass through my house with my Dad and Brother being butchers. This is a T-Bone my Dad had for dinner today. Yes  it’s bigger than my head. It was so huge he needed a side plate for his chips. (It was definitely a treat, he doesn’t eat this much meat everyday so don’t worry my health conscious friends!):

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Excuse the rushed photography – you don’t want to keep a steak lover away from this for too long!

We’re very lucky to be able to eat things like this…but it’s just too much meat for me. I opted for the lighter option of salmon with lemon and dill, baby potatoes and green beans:

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I don’t eat salmon often, but when I do, I can’t understand why I don’t eat it every week. It’s so versatile and I’m always completely satisfied at the end of the meal. For all of you who aren’t into ‘fishy’ fish, give salmon a go; it’s subtle and absorbs other flavours really well. You can season it however you like and the flavour of fish won’t be over powering…if it is don’t eat it – it’s probably bad and you don’t want to eat bad fish. Trust me.

Let me know if you like the idea of Foody Friday’s and also what adventures you and your tummy have been on recently!

Outsmarting The Big Companies!

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Okay so I’ve had a series of events getting in the way of my posting every other day commitment.

I’m taking part in Blogging 201 – for those who don’t know what this is it’s basically daily tasks given to us by the lovely people of WordPress to help us to develop, re-brand and just make a general success of our blogs. As I’m still a blogging newbie I thought it’d be a good place to start. The first few tasks have asked me to focus on what I want to achieve with my blog and gotten me to make it more, well, me! So I’ve been concentrating on that and I’m very happy with what I have so far, however after hours of scrolling through themes I haven’t been in a great mind set for writing posts..sorry!

THEN I went on a night out at the amazing Funky Buddha nightclub in Mayfair to celebrate my friend Paul’s birthday (I will be posting about it!). After a canepe reception and a few too many drinks I lost my camera. I’m not the brightest sometimes and didn’t back up the photo’s I had on my memory card – so all the photography I’d done in preparation for my posts has been lost.

SO while I wait for my new one to arrive, here’s a quick post about my favourite breakfast inspired by Pret A Manger. I don’t know if they have these all over the world or just the UK but it’s basically a coffee shop that sells lots of sandwiches and soups etc with natural ingredients. I love their Greek Yoghurt and Honey Pot – it’s self explanatory, honey and yoghurt topped with granola. So rather than spending almost £3 on their tiny pots of perfection I decided to start making my own.

I use:

1 tablespoon honey of your choice

2 tablespoons 0% fat greek yohurt

1/2 handful of granola of your choice

And I can honestly say, it’s just as good as the one from the shop. Enjoy!

Pizza For The Hopeless Baker

The last time I attempted to make pizza from scratch it was more like a dry loaf of bread with cremated cheese. Baking is NOT my forte, it’s all too very precise. I prefer throwing things in a pan and tasting as I go until I’m happy.

So if that sounds a bit like you – this recipe is perfect! Well..I’m calling it a recipe; it’s more just stacking as many ingredients as your hungry tummy desire and sticking it in the oven.

Sound good? Let’s go!

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Ingredients (serves 3-4):

2 small, pre-cooked, chicken breasts

1 – 2 balls of fresh mozzarella

6 tablespoons tomato puree

1/4 red, green and yellow bell pepper (capsicum)

Pepperoni – as much as preferred

2 small baguettes

Cheddar (optional) – as much as preferred

All ingredients are customisable to your taste, so let’s get creative!

Step 1: Shred chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and slice peppers into thin strips.

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Step 2: Cut your baguettes in half length ways.

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Step 3: Spread you tomato puree liberally along the soft side of the baguette.Image

(Action shot!)

Step 4: Add all of your loose toppings until your heart is content.

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Step 5: Top with mozzarella (and cheddar if you’re using it).

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Step 6: Pop it in the oven at 180 Celsius or 356 Fahrenheit for 15 – 20 mins or until your cheese is gooey and glorious.

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Step 7: Cut into pieces and serve with a salad of your choice (because we’re healthy, right?)

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Then all that’s left to do is kick your feet up and enjoy. If you’re feeling extra cheeky then follow it up with your favourite desert – I chose Swiss chocolate and caramel cheesecake!

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Hooray for  edible glitter!

Hotel Chocolat Dipping Adventure

 Today I finally opened my last remaining Christmas present: my Hotel Chocolat Dipping Adventure.

I’ve been waiting for a good time to delve into this delicious delight and today was the day. Guess what the special event was!? ….It was going to go out of date haha.

So I shamelessly stuffed my face with a sharing platter that, although it says for 2, could easily feed 4-6 people. The ‘dipping adventure’ includes milk chocolate and white chocolate dipping pots, chocolate almond biscuits, bread sticks, marshmallows and gianduja balls with 4 pairs of bamboo tongs to keep your hands nice and clean – they’re so thoughtful! I added the grapes to make me feel better about the calorific scoffing that was about to take place.

Here are some pictures so you can share a little of my sugary bliss.

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I’d recommend this as a gift for any of you’re chocolate loving friends or to serve after a dinner party to share with your guest. The chocolate pots needed about 3 minutes in the microwave (in 1 minute bursts, you don’t want to burn your glorious glutton satisfier!). At £18 it’s definitely a treat, however the whole box is such high quality and absolutely delicious it’s worth every penny. I’d happily eat each element without the chocolate dip but hey if the option’s there, why not!?

 If you haven’t heard of Hotel Chocolat, you can check them out here, they do a huge range of really interesting and unusual chocolates. All of their cocoa is ethically sourced which you can read about here and their concepts are original. There really is something for everyone!

My Japanese Cuisine Adventure! – Roka Canary

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I was gone for a minute but now I’m back with another fabulous food filled post!

We decided to take my wonderful Mum for a meal at Roka Canary – a Japanese restaurant in Canary Wharf serving sushi and robatayaki – to celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day. Robatayaki is a method of cooking, a bit like barbecuing, with the most phenomenal marinades and spices.

I’d like to start off by thanking Jose, one of the head chefs there, who my Dad supplies with produce. He really looked after us and showed us the world of sushi the right way. We’d all tried a few bits here and there but nothing like we had that night. Brace yourselves guys, these pictures are pretty damn special…

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We ordered 5 small dishes for sharing to start, these were:

Soft shell crab maki rolls (fish wrapped in sticky rice and seaweed), salmon maki rolls, yellowtail tuna sashimi (raw fish sliced very thin), salmon sashimi and tempura prawns (it sounds a lot but there was 4 us of and they’re not huge dishes). The tuna sashimi and prawns were first to arrive at the table.

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As we tucked in to our delicious seafood delicacies, much to our confusion, waiting staff started to gather around our table. Then this bad boy appeared through the kitchen doors…

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As a thank you to my Dad for the service he provides, Jose whipped up this stunning platter for us. It included the rest of the dishes we had order plus an array of nigiri (thicker fish on top of sticky rice) and other varieties of maki and sashimi arranged around an impressive ice sculpture. We were shocked to say the least, but very grateful for such a lovely gesture. The taste was spectacular, never have I eaten anything so fresh with such well balanced flavours.

Our mains followed, we ordered: ribs, lamb cutlets, beef fillet and chicken to share with a side of sweet potato and asparagus. Of course all marinated and spiced with their respective sprinkles of culinary magic dust. Unfortunately I only managed to get pictures of the ribs and lamb (my fingers got too ribby to safely hold my camera after that!)

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And this was followed by a desert of almond creme brulee with cherry blossom ice cream and a sesame tuiles.

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(They painted flowers on my ice cream stick thing!!)

Needless to say everything was perfectly cooked and ridiculously delicious. Another huge contributing factor to our experience was their service. Every member of staff was personable, attentive and happy to explain anything we didn’t understand (which was a lot seeming as we’re sushi noobs). As soon as they saw an empty dish or glass on our table they were quickly and quietly removed to make space for whatever was coming next.

My OOTD was as follows:

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Blazer: Topshop, Blouse: River Island, Jeans: River Island, Shoes: M&S, Bag: Accessorise

This evening was a real treat for us and I can’t say enough about how fabulous it was. I highly recommend it if you want a special night out. Even if you’re not a fan of sushi their menu is vast and there will 100% be something for you to enjoy. They have 3 restaurants in London – Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street and Mayfair.

Check them out on their website http://www.rokarestaurant.com/ or on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rokalondon