Sunday, 19 October 2014

Eggs, Bacon & Jimmy Chew

Jimmy Chew gets very excited when it's time for a trip in the car. With the exception of the dreaded vet, when that car door opens he knows he's normally being taken somewhere new and exceedingly sniffable. Alex had a rare day off work so we decided to take Jimmy with us for some brunch in Crouch End.

I'd love for Jimmy to be a therapy dog one day. It's impossible not to notice the big smiles he brings to so many faces when I take him out. He is such a friendly, gentle-natured boy and people just adore him. So why not put this to good use? I could take him into hospitals and old people's homes for cuddles! Everyone's a winner! But first I need to train him not to lick...that could take a little time.

We spotted a busy little cafe called Beam along the high street. It had tables outside and a decent breakfast menu so we settled there for some food.

Introducing Alex's fry up! How delicious and non-greasy does this look?

Alex was impressed. 

My smoked salmon obsession continued but this time it was accompanied by pleasingly moist scrambled egg (it's a huge bugbear of mine when it's over-cooked) and yummy grilled halloumi cheese. Three of my favourite things coming together to make one lovely, fresh breakfast. 

Appetite satisfied, it was off to Priory Park for a long walk in the autumn sun. A lazy Thursday with my two favourite people (well, person and pup) lay ahead; we had no real plans. 

Don't you just love days like that?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Salmon & Champagne ❤

I've never had a big list of foods that I didn't like. I've always thought of myself as a reasonably unfussy eater. Take me to any restaurant in any country and there will no doubt be an abundance of things I'm happy to eat. Having said that, one of the items I would always mention as lower down in my 'delicious food' list was smoked salmon. I was never a big fan of the stuff and have spent most of my thirty-three years avoiding it. Then suddenly - about two months ago - being on a low carb diet lead me to order scrambled eggs & smoked salmon as a starter course whilst dining at Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden. And my goodness, it was delicious! I walked away that day a convert and appreciator of all things smoked salmon.

It's for this reason that visiting new opening Salmontini made perfect sense! Plus I got to catch up with my blogger buddy Angie of Silverpoon London.

Located in the heart of London's Belgravia, Salmontini launched officially only yesterday. With run-away successes already in Dubai, Lebanon and Jeddah, this is the first UK branch and a very welcome addition to the restaurant scene it is too. 

Inside it's bright, spacious and very elegant.

In typical fashion, the first thing Angie and I did was consult the champagne list. Salmon and champagne must be up there with some of the world's most enjoyable pairings; port & cheese, pancakes & syrup, Ant & Dec...

The menu was as tempting as I'd hoped it would be. Whilst the signature dish is unsurprisingly the home-made smoked Scottish salmon, there are many other options available including sushi, fish & chips, chicken, lamb and Angus beef. 

But Angie and I were going fish all the way! We ordered some starters to share; the crispy salmon salad, salmon tartare and sashimi. 

I'd already expected the standard to be high at Salmontini and I wasn't disappointed; all three of the dishes screamed quality with every mouthful. The tartare in particular was so soft and flavoursome, a little salty and sweet at the same time. With our bubbles on the side and fantastic company to boot, this was turning into one hell of a nice lunch!

My main course was beautiful. Just look at that photo! Ricotta stuffed salmon fillet with chive sauce served with perfectly al-dente broccoli. 

This was the sort of meal I would quite happily eat every day. Healthy, delicious but with that lovely sauce and creamy cheese keeping the dish alive and exciting. The salmon was succulent and cooked perfectly. A winner of a dish.

Angie adores her sushi and even though I'm not as much of a lover as she, I had to admit that her dish looked amazing! If I was able to eat rice, I'd have given it a try!

Before we knew it, two and a half hours had already passed us by. What a fabulous ladies lunch! I would definitely recommend Salmonita, particularly to you salmon and fish fans. The quality is there in abundance and the service was impressive too. Although I didn't think there was anything particularly mind-blowingly experimental on the menu, the food is fresh, lovingly prepared and of the highest quality. Also, it's the perfect restaurant for those of you on a bit of a detox! (perhaps just leave out those bubbles...!).

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Champagne At City Social

This is my two-hundred and seventy-second blog post. I would bookmark this particular entry as significant because it's the first one I've written where my photographs were not taken by one of my two beloved digital cameras. For the first time, ladies and gentlemen, I committed the ultimate blogger faux pas and forgot my camera! Boo me. I ended up calling upon my substandard iPhone camera to help me out. I therefore beg your forgiveness for the lower quality pictures you are about to witness...

Despite my camera predicament, I decided to go ahead and write this post because I would very highly recommend the place I visited. I had planned a glamorous evening of champagne and panoramic views at the City Social Bar. I felt it was just the night for a LBD, a #selfie and my beloved Louboutins.

It was the praise in Angie's post that inspired me to book my table. We didn't want to eat out, just enjoy some bubbles somewhere alluring and exciting. 

You'll find City Social on the twenty-fourth floor of Tower 42, near Liverpool Street. Inside it's very dimly lit (it continued getting dimmer as the night progressed!), vibrant and boasts some inevitably impressive views over London. I'd requested a table next to the window which the bar had kindly fulfilled. 

The champagne was poured so Mary and I settled in for our catch up. Dance music played in the background but not ridiculously loudly like so many other bars. I couldn't have hoped for a nicer atmosphere.

The service was faultless too. Our waiter was so friendly, always there to re-fill the drinks and recommending me his personal favourite rum to try with my Diet Coke! 

We had already eaten so didn't indulge in the albeit tempting menu but we did eyeball some of the other tables' choices as they arrived; the goat's cheese churros with truffle honey and "KFC" grilled chicken dishes both looked particularly mouth-watering! 

There's no doubt that I'll be back to visit again sometime soon. The place is fabulous! Only next time I'll have to give the food a try and - hopefully - remember my damn camera!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Date Night In Church

Last Thursday was date night. It was an evening Alex and I had been looking forward to for some time, not only because we got to spend some precious time together during Alex's busy NFL season but also because we had tickets to see one of our favourite singers live; Jessie Ware.

There aren't many recording artists I love these days but Jessie's last album, Devotion, was played to death in our household. Her silky-smooth voice is so packed with emotion and her song-writing is amazing. If you think you don't know any of her songs, the chances are you'll recognise this one.

Because the gig was in a church in the middle of Hackney and not close to anywhere decent to eat at all, we decided to have dinner at our favourite local restaurant St James in Crouch End.  I really love this place. I've been numerous times and it's never disappointed me. It's open and airy in summer, cosy in the winter. The mouth-watering menu is seasonal, varied and always changing. Not only that, it can be a bit of a celebrity haunt too!

For starters, Alex ordered the Cajun spiced chicken satay with ginger, lime and peppercorn and I went for the crispy endive salad with Roquefort cheese, walnut, pear and herb & pomegranate dressing. Oh, and topped with some garlic tiger prawns, just for the hell of it!

My salad could have done with a bit more of the creamy blue cheese (when is there ever enough cheese?) but it was otherwise delicious as usual. 

We shared the Chateaubriand, medium rare. A juicy, wondrous slab of beef cut into slices and accompanied by dressed rocket, home-made fries, tomato and button mushrooms. I ordered some extra veggies too. A carb-shunners feast! Well, if you reject the fries...

Then it was onwards from St James to St John's. Unsurprisingly, I'd never been to see a music gig in a place of worship before but apparently St John's of Hackney hold such events regularly!

Alex and I took a pew on the balcony overlooking the stage. 

The show was excellent and Jessie's vocals were as gorgeous as ever. We decided to move downstairs after half an hour as the acoustics in this echoey hall weren't great up high but once downstairs, all was well and we were even able to have a romantic little dance.

I would definitely log that one as a successful date