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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Café La Divina

Café La Divina is a great little place on Upper Street in Angel. It does simple Italian food for a great price. They also accept Taste Cards which can get you 50% off the bill - even better! 
It's all cosy and warmly lit (hence the slight red glow on the pictures), and always fairly busy which is a great sign. 

I had missed lunch, so was about ready to eat my sleeve when we got there, so I dived straight in to fresh bread with cheese and roasted vegetables and a little bowl of olives. 
I was in a meaty mood, so ordered a wonderful beef carpaccio (thin slices of raw beef) with fresh parmesan and rocket, and Tomasz had stuffed mushrooms, drowned in garlic butter and oozing with cheese. 



We then followed up with big fat garlicy prawns (you can imagine what it was like kissing Tomasz after all this garlic!) and tender lamb cutlets in a rich wine reduction, roast potatoes and steamed vegetables. The presentation isn't anything particularly special, but with a relaxed restaurant like this, flavour is mostly what we were looking for. It didn't disappoint. 





I don't normally have a three course meal on a week day, but this decadent Death By Chocolate Cake was too gooey and delicious to turn down. I was stuffed, but ate the whole thing anyway... ahem cue my next post about emotional eating! 
All in all, Café La Divina is ideal for a weekday supper. It delivers good,tasty food without spending a fortune. (Our 3 course meal with extra bread, olives and wine came to £64).
Check out their menu here.

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Natural History Museum

Yesterday we decided to be all cultural (kind of) and take a trip to The Natural History Museum. It was pretty busy, so we only stayed for a few hours before heading off for a drink in South Kensington. 

 There are lots of stuffed animals, which is a little depressing, but they do look amazing. 



The building is beautiful and entry is free, so you can wander around for as long as you like. If you have kids it's a great and stimulating way to keep them entertained for a few hours (we saw many tired looking parents with glazed expressions as the enthusiastic tour guides showed them around). 

Gunther von Hagen's latest exhibit 'Animal Inside Out' is also showing (the artist who did the bodyworlds work). It's all a bit gruesome as he uses the plastination method to preserve his subjects - which in this case are animals). The result is fascinating, but very grim.  
The dinosaur section is always popular - if you go at the weekend like we did you will have to queue, and crowds can make it a bit frustrating but it's still great to act like a kid again pressing buttons which make noises...



We did a bit of people watching on the pavement with a lovely hot chocolate and pastry at Paul before heading back home to curl up and watch X Factor. 


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Italian ciabatta

I went to the shops to ferret around for some of my favourite ingredients and came out with prosciutto ham, buffalo mozzarella, a fresh and warm ciabatta roll, pesto (jarred, I couldn't be arsed to make my own) and vine - ripened tomatoes. These are some of the simplest but best ingredients for whipping up something tasty - in my case a mega sandwich.

You will need: 
Serves 1
4-6 slices prosciutto ham
Ball of buffalo mozzarella (you will need about half per person if you like it cheesy like me!)
1 ciabatta roll
Pesto - several tablespoons
1 large, ripe tomato 
Drizzle of olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves as garnish
Black pepper
Patience to let the cheese melt in the oven!

Start by baking your ciabatta for 10 minutes or so until slightly crispy. Then slice in half (mind your fingers!) and spread a good layer of pesto on top. 
Load up the halves of your sandwich with ham... I sort of used the whole packet (well, it wouldn't keep...)
Slice up your cheese and pile that on too, with a bit of fresh black pepper and some slices of those soft, sweet tomatoes.


Pop back into the oven for another 10 - 15 minutes (or until the mozzarella is starting to melt) and serve with a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Magic. Are you a sandwich fan? I'd love some inspiration for my next one!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Elysée

Last week my work colleagues and I went out for a lovely lunch for Roz's birthday. Elysée is a Greek restaurant close to our work on Percy street and the food is always fabulous. 
It's a family-run place, and the staff are always helpful and utterly charming. No request is a bother for them and they make you feel extremely taken care of. 

We had a lot of picky bits to share (which is the best way with food I think, then you get to sample everything). We started with grilled halloumi cheese, deep fried crispy calamari and warm pittas.  

They then brought out a fresh greek salad, stuffed vine leaves (Dolmades) with mushroom and parsley, and meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. We were getting quite full by this point, but we had to make space for the hot chicken and lamb skewers (Souvlaki) with cous cous and a wonderful stuffed aubergine with minced lamb and béchamel sauce (Papoutsakia). 



The Greek
The birthday girl!



Because we had our lovely Greek Art Director with us, we even got free watermelon which was a perfect crisp and juicy pallet cleanser. 



Elysée isn't too bad price-wise either, especially for the centre of London. We found the eight dishes for four of us more than enough (Morgan didn't eat) and the bread keeps coming. 
Their website is here - have a peruse at their a la carte menu to see all the other yummy things they serve. 

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