29 April 2014

Discovering Tostaditas - Chotto Matte

When my fellow blogger and food lover Angie invited me along to the exclusive launch of a tostadita bar at one of London's hottest new restaurants, Chotto Matte, I eagerly accepted. Admittedly, I had no idea what on earth a tostadita was but based on the fact that the menu was devised by executive chef Jordan Sclare - previously of Buddah Bar, NOBU, Gordon Ramsay and The Savoy - I concluded it was going to be something rather tasty.

You'll find the venue on Frith Street in Soho. The atmosphere is buzzy, the clientèle cool and the interior design stunning. Tokyo-based graffiti pro Houxo Que was commissioned as resident artist and his work is funky and stylish. It's already attracting a celebrity following; the paps were waiting outside ready to snap glamour girl Casey Bachelor of Celebrity Big Brother fame and Danielle from The Only Way Is Essex as they arrived to join the party.

Chotto Matte serves Nikkei cuisine - a fascinating combination of Japanese and Peruvian food. Examples of dishes from the main restaurant menu include barbecued pork belly with nashi pear salsa and grilled baby chicken with spicy pomegranate salsa. But tonight, it was all about those tostaditas.

A tostadita is essentially a fried tortilla with a topping. One of my favourites of the evening was the shrimp and lobster with yuzu crème fraiche. They were presented like a mini pizzas, perfect for sharing. At the start of the evening we were given a delightful glass of refreshing sparkling sake then, as each tostadita plate arrived, we enjoyed an accompanying cocktail. I loved the Flor de Manzana - mango vodka, sake, passion fruit,elderflower, lime and apple. Just delicious.

It was a fantastic night and was so nice catching up with Angie, CatherineLaura and Melanie. We were truly spoilt by chef Jordan and owner Kurt Zdesar. Plus I even got a spin of the decks with Kiss FM's Dixon Brothers! Anything the Duchess of Cambridge can do...

Here are the pictures!

Chotto Matte
11-13 Frith Street
London, W1D 4RB

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27 April 2014

Cakes & Quiches

It's been a busy but enjoyable couple of days baking.

This Little Miss Sunshine cake was for the younger sister of the little girl I made the Cinderella cake for last week. Their Mum wanted a figure 1 shaped red velvet cake with a bright sunshine theme to reflect how baby India brightens everyone's day with her constant smiles. I thought the Little Miss Sunshine character would be perfect accompanied by some sugarpaste flowers and colourful buttercream.

The cake began life like this...

And finished up like this, around 5 hours later

I love the combination of red and yellow and I thought the cute green wafer butterfly added an extra dash of colour. Georgia text me when she received the cake to say how happy she was with it so that was great!

Here are a few pictures of other bits and pieces I baked for India's 1st birthday party (apologies if you're hungry!)

All boxed up and ready to go!

If you'd like me to share any of the recipes, just drop me a line and I'll be pleased to.

I hope you all had a great weekend!

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26 April 2014

Easter In Chelsea

It was Easter Sunday. I'd been over at Mary's house in Woking that afternoon, sipping a glass of champagne and watching The Hangover for the millionth time, all in celebration of next week's trip to Sin City ('Hangover Day', as we call it, has become a bit of a tradition).

But later on, we headed back into London. I'd heard about the 'Easter Bunny Blackout Party' at Maggie's - an 80's boutique nightclub in Chelsea that I've been meaning to visit for ages. I'd got us on the guest list, put on my dancing shoes and a night of classic tunes from my childhood awaited.

But first, it was over to The Jam Tree on King's Road for a cocktail or two.

I'd heard good things about The Jam Tree. It's popular with the locals and I think it's appeared on Made In Chelsea a few times (not that that necessarily makes it good!). I liked it there instantly. It's bright, buzzy but relaxed at the same time. And they allow dogs! I love a pub that allows dogs! If only I'd known I could have treated Jimmy Chew to a gin and tonic.

The cocktails are pretty awesome. Reading down the list is a bit like choosing your sweets at a Pick 'n' Mix. I fell in love with the naughty but nice Jammy Dodger (top picture) which is butterscotch Schnapps, Frangelico and Chambord shaken with double cream and raspberry jam. But even more importantly, they have a cocktail menu that boasts nine different types of Bloody Mary! Nine! The devil in me wants to test them all.

This dog's drink of choice must be apple cider.

It may have gone 9pm but we decided it wasn't too late for a bit of food. Mary had the cod and prawn fish cakes with a perfectly runny poached egg and parsley sauce.

I had the vegetarian tart of Devon blue (when do I ever resist blue cheese?), wild mushroom purée, spinach, rocket and cobnut salad. I was impressed; it tasted fresh and was really very tasty. Good pub grub indeed!

I don't go to nightclubs particularly often these days (well, unless I'm on holiday) but if I do, I like to get there early - when they're a little bit empty. We had arrived at Maggie's by 10.30pm. 

By 10.45pm, our faces were painted and we were covered from head to toe in glow sticks. Embrace the retro fun! We danced to the likes of Rick Astley and Spandau Ballet until our feet couldn't take much more.

This had been one happy Easter!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

The Jam Tree
541 King's Road
London SW6 2EB

329 Fulham Road
London SW10 9QL

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23 April 2014

Cartizze Bar

It was Good Friday evening and by all accounts, London was pretty dead. I think everyone headed out of town for the long weekend to visit relatives or bask in the sunshine somewhere warmer. Either way, Ellie and I weren't going to let that affect our night out. We headed to the cobbled streets of Lancashire Court in Mayfair to visit a luxurious new cocktail bar.

Cartizze is easy to miss. Unlike its sister over the street, Mews of Mayfair, it's not all open entrances and outside seating. The windows are reflective so you can see out but can't see in and the doors are kept closed. Of course it's all intentional; the owners want Cartizze to be a relaxed and intimate retreat from the bustling streets outside.

Inside the decor is fabulous. Soft lilac and blue leather stools are combined with elegant gold and marbled tables. There's a cosy Marquina fireplace in the back lounge which is burning in all weathers. Ellie and I couldn't get over how stunning the crystal glasses, decanters and even the water jugs were. We commented upon them and were informed how these 1920's to 1950's antiques were sourced from vintage markets across London and Italy.

As we cast our eyes over the menu, we nibbled on some truffle infused salted peanuts. It was clear that nothing here was going to be ordinary!

The cocktail list was created by super-mixologist Richard Woods and uses Italian influences to create some delicate and delicious combinations such as the signature Olive Oil Gin Fizz (gin, lemon, lemon sugar, olive oil, egg white and prosecco), Rhubarb (rhubarb liqueur, fresh rhubarb and prosecco) and Amor Y Amargo (Amaretto, Cynar, apricot liqueur, lemon, egg white, vanilla sugar and prosecco). It was very apparent how much love goes into their making. They looked beautiful and tasted wonderful.

You may have noticed those sliders above left. They were the hand dived Orkey Isles scallops with smoked pancetta in brioche buns served on a hot rock. And they were amazing. My first experience of a scallop burger, I must admit!

We also had the yummy San Daniele ham wrapped figs coated with truffle honey and roquette. 

The menu includes a small, hand-selected choice of wines and champagnes, plenty of whiskies, gin, brandy, rum and - incredibly - privately sourced spirits dating back to the 1800's! I bet that's cheap!

You can easily whittle away a few hours in this bar then wonder where they went, just like we did! We had a lovely experience here and it's the perfect place for world class drinks and a catch up with friends or colleagues. There aren't too many bars in Mayfair where you can relax in a stylish atmosphere and actually hear yourself speak!

I must also mention the superbly friendly and informative service we received from everyone working there. Cartizze is a real gem that I probably should have tried to keep to myself...but it's just too great not to share! 

If you fancy heading down, email tables@cartizzebar.com in advance to reserve a table. They only allow around 60 people in at a time to keep it intimate so if you have a booking you won't be disappointed :)

Cartizze Bar
4 Lancashire Court
New Bond Street
London W1S 1EY

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