Monday, 28 May 2007

Roasted Pork Fillet with New Potatoes

2 pieces pork fillet
1 pack prosciuttio
5 long charlotte potatoes
1 small onion
1/2 pint veg stock
2 sprigs thyme

Slice the potaoes thinly and line a small roasting pan

Slice the onion and scatter over the potatoes

Cut the fillet into 3/4 pieces appx 1 inch thick, wrap in prosciuttio, use a cocktail stick to pin in place if needed

Place the parcels on top of the potaoes and pour on stock to just cover the potatoes, scatter over the thyme and roast at 190o for 80-90 minutes until cooked through

We had gently cooked spinach on the side which was yum!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Fragrant Roast Lamb

1 x half leg of lamb (preferably from butchers) (or more just scale accordingly!)

2 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp ground cardamon pods (the bits inside!)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil (or as needed)

Make the marinade and make several slits in he lamb, rub into the slits and smear all over, leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 24 hours, roast to your liking (pref pink!!!)

"Was blinking gorgeous! The lamb was beautifully tender and didnt need any gravy or anything with it! Made it for mothers day 2007 and went down very well! Bought it from Natural Meats in Staines, was the best lamb I have ever eaten!

**Authors note on 6/12/07 - this has seriously become my favorite way of serving roast lamb and has been made this way at least 5 or so times since published!! Has been voted for boxing day lunch year already!!

However, what suprises me is when I desribe this recipe some people are like 'hmm doesnt sound my cup of tea' etc - but I pursuade you to try this method!! Even the 'dubious' and 'fussy' have been converted! Trust me - the marinade only boosts the meat and does not overtake, merely complements!**

Coffee Break

Random diary..

17/08/07 - Went to my favourite butchers today and bought a lovely 1/2 leg of lamb (for tomorrow), some nice thick slices of smoked bacon (for monday!) and 8 cumberland sausages (for dinner tonight with mash and lashings of onion gravy!)

Have a busy evening ahead, need to make the dearest's birthday cake (chocolate and coconut!) and also marinade my lamb (doing that lovely fragrant lamb again) and start on tomorrows dessert! In my head I am imagining pannacotta + dark chocolate + orange...mmm... We have guests tomorrow and apart from above am also planning to do cauliflower & parmesan soup with stick like croutons as a starter.. wish me luck!!

10/08/07: Far too long since I have been on! Unfortunately things still very busy at work and has sapped my foodie mojo somewhat!! Am trying to get it back but is difficult after a long and draining day :( Good news is that we are off to Corfu at the end of the month so hopefully lots of lovely fresh fish and relaxation!!

Have made some good dishes though including steak and kidney pie which was yummy! Also used baby courgettes recently, to much success! Simply topped and tailed then halved down the middle and pan fried in a little mild olive oil and bit of butter mmmmm

I do think its time to invest in a proper hand mixer, like the dualit one but as it comes in at nigh on £50 smackers, I start fantasising about a kenwood chef...must say no..must say noooo...

Also bought some new knives by Richardson Sheffield, just need to get a sharpening tool to keep them good!

Bad news is that due to the off-on wet then sunny weather my balcony is rather barren! All my basil has fried and the lettuces, coriander and strawberries have given up the ghost :(


24/05/07: Long time since been on unfortunately!! Been extremely busy at work as well as having a bout of food poisoning last week hasn't helped my appetite! Decided to rectify it today and making chicken pie from scratch including the pastry!! .... off now to start!


28/05/07: Weather awful outside!! Have made my favourite Banana Bread from the Avoca Cafe Cook book but replaced the pecans with choc chips mmmmmmm. My boss told me it should be made illegal it was that good!

Have made sausage casserole for tea, just waiting for the other half to come home and eat!

26/05/07: Made pannacotta from Waitrose site today, was lovely but very sweet!! Also made lamb saag as receommended by Rick Stein, was gorgeous and definately make again!

25/05/07 - Today is a good day. For my lunch I have salad ...and...gorgeous little meatballs made from my favourite sausagemeat! I had a little wedge in the freezer which I defrosted, sliced into three rounds then grilled, then quartered them. My lunchbox is screaming eat me but I must must resist till lunchtime!


24/05/07 - I am making a concentrated effort now on my blog and am quite impressed with myself... However I keep looking on other sites and want to add so much more...but where do I stop! Work is quiet so is allowing me to be on here a lot lot more than is probably healthy but ho-hum!

Just realised whilst attempting to eat my orange, I should have bought that nifty little orange penknife from Lakelands now. I have managed to get orange juice everywhere, at least the office smells nicer than normal now!!10772

Tonight I thought I would cheat for my tea tonight after spotting an attractive looking Bighams Thai Chicken Curry in Waitrose..looked great...smelt great...sadly not so great in the taste department :( .....just felt like it was missing something..heres a picture of it:

Squashed Tomato Pasta

Serves 2

Very easy and great if you happen to have a glut of home grown tomatoes! This is not a winter dish and should be made when the tomatoes are screaming to be eaten and at the height of summer.

About 8-10 tomatoes, will depend on their size but mine were a bit bigger than baby plum tomatoes, my variety was Totem..
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbsp chili infused olive oil
1/2 tsp dried italian herbs - or fresh basil or oregano
200g pasta shapes, linguine is nice with this

1) Boil pasta according to instructions, when there is about 5 mins left on their cooking time, heat the oil in a small frying pan / skillet

2) Crush the garlic and halve the tomatoes, place the tomatoes cut side down in the oil and the garlic, let it cook without touching until the tomatoes start to collapse on themselves, now bash them would a wooden fork or suitable implement but keep the shape - you dont want puree! add the herbs and cook for one more minute

3) Drain pasta and mix together, serve immediately!

Is nice with a bit of cheeky parmesan scattered on as well :)

Quick Spinach Pasta

Serves 2

200g farfalle or pasta shapes of choice
1 bag fresh spinach
1 small pot low fat creme fraiche
2 tbsp parmesan
1 egg - optional just adds a bit of creaminess

1) Boil the pasta according to instructions

2) When the pasta is almost cooked, wilt the spinach in a pan in a little bit of water, drain well and keep in the sieve / colander

3) Mix the egg and creme fraiche together and warm through in the spinach pan, add the parmesan and stir, season to taste, add the spinach to the creme mix and drain the pasta, mix together quickly and serve!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Mini Roasties

Quantity of Good white potatoes, pref king edward or similar hard variety maybe about 500g for 3-4 people?
Apx 4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

1) Peel the potatoes and dice into 1cm or smaller chunks

2) Heat half the oil and salt in a roasting pan

3) Par-boil the potatoes for about 7-8 minutes, drain well **Edited 17/12/07 - if you have a fan oven scrap this stage!!)**and return to the pan, coat in remaining oil and place carefully into the hot roasting pan
4) Cook for about 45 minutes or until crispy and browning

Yummdiddlydumpcious and a favourite of mr anneskitchen!

Mint Raita

250 ml Natural Yoghurt
1 heaped tbsp Mint leaves
Pinch Sea Salt
Pinch Black pepper
Pinch freshly ground coriander seed
2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

1) Chop/ tear mint

2) In a mini chopper or blender add all the ingredients and pulse for 15- 20 seconds until mixed

Great for dipping poppadums in!

Photo Area

A modified tesco ham and mushroom pizza - I added red pepper, danish blue cheese and chilli oil - was lush!!

A surprise from a recent batch of leeks:

Kind of a miscellaneous area! Rest of the best appear in Flickr

Meat Sauce Moutain - stockpiling the Freezer!

A glamourous shot of the fruit bowl:

Oxtail Stew:

Spices being ground for the curry:

Lovely Lamb and Spinach Curry with pilau rice

Vanilla Pannacotta:

Spinach Mountain:

Picture of some flapjacks:

And a Pea and Salami Risotto:

My first lettuce leaves in 2007!

Home grown Basil!

My new french milk jug! Reminds me of a computer game character for some strange reason..ah I know! Was mario world perhaps...

Kitchen Kit

A list of my favourite pieces and why...

Silicon Whisk, Ikea - Is excellent as flexible so fits into bowls and pans neatly, cleans well and also being silicon doesnt melt regardless what it endures!

Large Stainless Steel Colander, Ikea - Great as catches everything and perfect for rice etc,

Hard Anodized Select Saucepans, Meyer
I love these as much as I think I will love my future children! They are excellent quality, clean brilliantly no matter what gets thrown their way! Hard wearing and heat up quickly and efficiently. Worth every single penny!

Oven Gloves -Now, I went through a lot of gloves before finding the 'One'. Introducing Lakelands Coolskin Gauntlets!!1800_10774 Really are good, no burns and you can hold a hot dish for at least 20 seconds before it gets uncomfortable.

Cake Tin liners from Lakeland are a god send! Have been using the pre-cut circles with success and a spring in my step but am awaiting a delivery of the full liners!5550_5551 lazy but worth every penny! Yes they have now arrived and waiting now to use them!!

Ordered also from Lakeland some non-scratch tongs (my new tongs are great!) and a egg thingy you place in a pan to see when they are soft, medium or hard boiled as its one of the things I suck at! (is perfect and really works!) Also ordered a vegetable mat for the fridge (seems to be doing the trick veggies keeping for ages!!.. )

Egg Slicer
Out of the several odd gadgets I love my egg slicer! My favourite way is to slice the egg long ways, then turn on its side so you have strips as such, then mix with a little salad cream and lots of black pepper mmmm

My Wish List !

A silver kenwood chef!! Have been admiring for aggggeees but just cant justify £350 on a mixer :( sooo want one though!! I NOW HAVE ONE!!! IS NOT TITANIUM BUT IT WAS FREE CAN YOU BELIEVE!!! :-)

Some new shiny knives, been looking at Global ones and quite keen... Have settled for some cheaper ones from Richardson Sheffield!

A bigger kitchen and a gas oven! (I can dream!) *Edited: Now have big kitchen and fan oven so almost there!!*

Recommended Restaurants

This is a shorter list of places I have been to but not done a review / remember enough detail!

Palm Suite, Iver
On Saturday I had a need to be over in Iver for an early afternoon appointment and needing lunch popped into Palm Suite with my dad and had a great lunch, especially as he was paying!! We both have similar tastes and both started with the tempura prawns, which were light, crispy, fresh and tasted great. We both then had sea bass with a prawn and chive butter served with new potatoes and green beans which was also perfectly fresh and melted in your mouth. We somehow managed desserts, dad opting for the summer pudding with clotted cream that I forgot to nab some of and I had three scoops of delicious ice-cream - I chose pistachio, hazlenut and vanilla bean - all delish! It doesnt have the most obvious of locations but is worth checking out if you are in the area.

Edited Mar 2009 - Still good, only popped in for a light bite whilst in area and still a charming little restaurant with friendly staff.

Bar163, Chertsey, KT16
The staff are so friendly in here, regardless of how busy they are it makes it a pleasure to eat, drink and be merry! I went on satuday 12/7 with a girly friend and had a great relaxing time, we shared a giant plate of light as air nachos topped with salsa, creamy guacamole and sour cream which was delicious and for mains I had home made salmon fishcakes that were lovely and fresh, just needed a wee pinch more kick in the red pepper sauce that accompanied them and they would have been perfect.

Also went back on last Friday 17/10/08 - had a great meal as always! They did seem to have some new staff in and service was friendly but a little slow, however they deducted off the total quite a chunk so worked out good value! I had lovely fresh bread and oil to nibble on then went with the veggie option of baked aubergine stuffed with veggie chilli, with creamed fennel on the side and sour cream, it was honestly utterly gorgeous, one of the best 'v' options I've tried! Somehow I also managed to eat a whole cheeseboard of brie, stilton and cheddar, with lots of lovely jacobs crackers and a wonderful sticky relish. The only real downside was that I had ordered mussels to be later told they were not at the best :( however my chilli was gorgeous so no real hardship!

Taipan, Uxbridge, UB
This is a buffet place but don't let the word 'buffet' put you off! We ate here in March 2008 and was very pleasantly surprised, service was faultless and efficient and the food was a lovely change from the usual buffet options. One of my favourites was the onion rings - they were coated in a tempura style batter and as light as air, also the spicy pork was delicious and tender. Is a reasonable £14 on weeknights and includes dessert, I had lime jelly and toffee banana - lush!! Definately a return trip next time I am over that way! (which happens to be tonight! 22/04/08)

Ko Gu Ryo, Staines, Middlesex - Korean
Fabulous place! Must book nowadays as packed of an evening!
Recommend the Seafood Pancake is wonderful and not like what it sounds!
Also the king prawns to start with are gorgeous and have a lovely lighter than air batter on them! Service is good, very polite staff who take time to explain any dishes you are unsure on. About £30 per head inc drinks. Best to order a selection of dishes as they bring them out in strange orders! The BBQ on the table is cute and meat from it is lovely, must be tried!

Anglers Retreat, Staines, Middlesex - British and European
This is half a pub half a restaurant, both sides serving different food.. Recommend the restaurant, has a Fish based menu and the Sea Bass I had last time was perfect - only thing I didnt like was their Sunday Lunch, generous portions but the beef was a little bit tough on our visit :(

London Hong Kong, Harmondsworth, Middlesex - Upmarket Chinese & Peking
We visited about a year ago and was quite possibly the best and most expensive chinese I have eaten! Came to £95 for two of us but that was three courses, appetizers and wine.
Service was very polite and efficient. Food excellent! We had perfectly cooked Honey bbq Duck breast, which melted in your mouth, also tried Scallops for the first time then and were lovely, served en shell, with tiny slivers of mushroom surrounding the scallop and dressed with a fiery ginger sauce! Mains we had various dishes including squid, chicken and beef, thoroughly greedy!! I was stuffed so didnt have dessert but they bought out a little plate of chilled fruits which was lovely.

Croutons for Soup

Not for the salt conscious person ;-)

Makes 32 croutons

2 slices of bread
Few tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp celery salt

Pre-heat oven to 200o

1) Cut the bread into cubes depending what size you want, 1cm will give you about 16 cubes!

2) In a bowl combine the salt and oil, dip the bread in and coat, place on a baking tray for about 12 mins till crispy and starting to brown


Cauliflower, Parmesan and Bacon Soup

Serves 3-4

Rich and comforting winter food! Is very filling and a meal in itself!

1 large cauliflower head
1.5 pints stock, either chicken or veggie
s&p - lots of p!
2-3 bacon rashers, pref smoked
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp creme fraiche (not end of world if you dont have any!)
4 tbsp parmesan freshly grated

1) Remove the florets and put to one side, then dice the cauli stalks and inner leaves

2) Fry the diced onion in about the butter & olive oil for about 4 minutes

3) Then add the garlic, snip in the bacon and cook for about 3 more mins

4) Then add all the cauli stalks chopped up small and cook for 2 more mins

5) Add the stock and simmer for around 8-10 mins, then add rest of cauliflower florets for around 15-20 mins till softened, remove from heat and blitz in the pan or in a food processor. Season to taste and stir in 2/3 of the parmesan and a dollop of creme fraiche and serve!

once in the bowl, sprinkle over remaining parmesan as required!

Perfect with crispy croutons!

Broccoli and Boursin Soup

Serves 3-4


1 head broccoli
1 small onion
1 pint of veg (or chicken for non-veggies) stock made fresh or from a cube
1 clove garlic
2 pats of boursin / about 2 level tbsp
1 tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
s&p to taste

1) Cut the florets off the broccoli and put to one side, finely chop all of the stalks, dice the onion and crush the garlic

2) Make up stock / warm through

3) In a large pan heat the butter and olive oil, add the onion and fry for 4 mins until starting to soften, add the garlic and diced stalks, mix well and cook for 5 mins covered

4) Add the stock and cook for about 12 mins until stalks softened, then add the florets and cook for 5 mins more

5) Remove from heat and either blitz with a hand blender or transfer to a food processor and whizz until smooth, season to taste and stir in the boursin, allow to melt then mix, serve immediately!

Is great for using broccoli that is slightly past its best! Can be done with frozen broccoli just allow to thaw and add extra broccoli as you need the stalky bits! Is yummy and a lovely green colour! Have made this many times and just realised never posted it!

Mini Minty Meatballs

These go great with picnicky foods and best served cold (that is of course providing you do not eat them all first!) Have made these twice and each time gone down extremely well!

Approx quantities - Makes 30 roughly...

250g Really good seasoned pork sausagement - I always use one from the Butchers and is superb - skip all the supermarket ones!
8-10 Fresh mint leaves
1 egg*
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
Plain flour for dusting

1) Firstly lay out 1-2 trays and cover with foil and prepare a bowl of hot soapy water

2) Finely shred the mint leaves and mix everything in a bowl (exc flour) *note: you may not need all the egg, just enough to bind

3) Flour your hands and using a teaspoon take about 2/3 tsp of the mix and roll into a ball, dust in flour and place on tray, repeat with remainder, does take quite a while but is worth it!

4) When they are all ready you can either chill / freeze until needed or cook straightaway

5) To cook, take a large saute pan / lidded frying pan and heat 2 tbsp veg oil, add the meatballs carefully keeping apart, will take about 15 mins to cook, keep turning so that they brown all over, then drain on kitchen paper

Serve with other mixed dishes for a casual evening meal or picnic

Monday, 21 May 2007

Lidl's Stores

Thought would make a list of our must haves from Lidl's


Smoked ham and cheese 'sausages' (remind me of Kabanos) - Really nice for nibbling on straight from the pack! lovely meaty flavour

Roasted Red Peppers (in a jar)- great for antipasti and shredding into various dishes!

Passata - Very good value and always have a keen supply, about 27p

Par-bake Ciabatta rolls - great for when we have company and only 99p for about 15 rolls!

Serrano Ham and Prosciuttio - Both very good and reasonably priced

Tortellinis - either spinach & ricotta or prosciuttio - good value at 65p and a staple in the fridge as keep for about 4 weeks

Sea Salt with built in grinder - bargain at about 60p!

Mascarpone - much cheaper than tescos and just as good, think was around 89p a tub last time

Caramel Cappuchino - great as in a tin! Nice tasting as well. (my male boss has also become strangely addicted to this stuff as well!)

Shrimp Cocktail (chiller cabinet) - Small prawns but in a nice sauce and perfect with jacket pots and salad! (strangely also nice with nachos dipped in.....)

Maple & Pecan cereal - so so good and a nice treat for breakfast! (or anytime!)

'Animation' Nuts & Crisp choc bars - Very gorgeous and individually wrapped so very handy. Permananent supply in my desk draw! Nice ratio of crisp to choc. mmm

Sirius Choco-Cornflake Cereal bars - Probably too sweet for some but I love these, nice plain choccy cornflakes dipped in a white choc base!

Cleaning Products:

Adritt Wipes - 80 large wipes in 3 different scents, good cleaning power, surfaces dry quickly after and no residue

W5 Shower Cleaner - Very good, huge bottle and no grimy residue after

W5 Cream Cleaner - very good, also large sized bottle and cleans brilliantly

Kitchen Towel (blue packaging) - Strong and absorbent, would never switch, bargain at £1.29 for four rolls! **Edited 17/12/07 - now £1.49 but still good!**


South East Austrailian Chardonnay - not seen it recently but used to be brilliant value at £3.99 - crisp and dry, exactly how I like my white wine!

Valdepenas - approx £2.79 - great little red bargain, fruity and dry, my kinda wine!

Montelpulciano D'Abruzzo - Had a few iffy bottles but 8 times out of 10 a nice fruity & dry red to go with meaty dishes. On average £2.79 a bottle!


One of the things I love about Lidl's is the weekly specials! we have had some really nice bits at great prices. Most recently picked up 3 pretty garden candles for £1.50! Similar ones sell in Homebase for double the price and thats just for one!

Also picked up the index tabs (post-it version are about £4.00) for only 99p a while back! Brilliant for bookmarking recipes in magazines!

They have now also launched a recipe website which looks good!


Recommendations from Friends and BBC Food Members:

ReynardDargent :

Smoked salmon

Also the sausages that come in a two part blister pack (about 8-10 slightly longer, but no thicker, than a finger sausages in each pack) are always a hit. They look a bit anaemic and grey when raw but colour up nicely when cooked and have always been a hit at BBQs and even when cooking for fussy godchildren etc (always a tough test)

Cotton wool is fantastic and their W5 foaming bathroom cleaner spray is as good as anything else on the market. Also their cream hand soap is great and they come in a variety of nice smells including 'sweet orange' and 'asia flair'

Yoghurty Chicken - Part Deux!

Made this yesterday (20/05/07) was nice but for myself would like a bit more spice but people eating it not curry fans :( As it uses no extra fat it renders it lower fat in my eyes!

Selection of chicken pieces - I used 1 large breast & two whole legs
1 large pot natural yoghurt
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed

Night before:

In a fridge proof container, mix the marinade together, add the chicken and coat well, refridgerate until needed

Remove chicken from the fridge about 30 mins before intending to cook

Pre-heat oven to 200o, transfer the chicken to a ovenproof dish (unless of course the previous dish oven proof - gosh I love pyrex!) and place uncovered in the lower part of the oven, cook for about an hour or until juices run clear

Served this with the spiced potatoes and broccoli (Oh and baked beans for the other half! :-))

The leftovers were very nice for lunch the following day!

Spiced Potatoes

Made these yesterday to accompany a chicken dish, didnt weigh anything but will guess!

Allow 2-3 small to medium sized potatoes per person, must have used about 10 yesterday
2 tsp cumin seed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic halved

Chop the potatoes into 1cm chunks (skin on, just remove any rough bits) and boil for about 8 mins until just softening

Heat 1tbsp of oil in a large roasting pan

Drain potatoes well and return to saucepan, add remaining oil and sea salt, mix well and tip carefully onto the pre-heated pan, sprinkle over the cumin and garlic and place in the oven, allow about 1hr - 1hr 15 (my oven is electric and slow so you may need less time!)

Turn every 15-20 mins so that all sides crispen


Were very nice and all went depsite planning to have some for my lunch today...The cumin gave the potatoes a nice scent and went perfectly with the chicken

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Tuna, Spinach and Tomato Lasagne

Serves 3-4 (note this doubles easily)
Prep time 10 mins
Cooking time 45 mins

Very easy & quick to assemble.


1 large tub low fat creme fraiche (or 2 small)
1 pack dried lasagne sheets
apx 10 blocks of frozen spinach or 1 bag fresh
3 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tin tuna steak in brine or oil
2 tbsp grated cheddar
1 carton plain passata (sieved tomatoes)
black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried italian herbs
6 tsp milk*

1) (this bit depends on which type of spinach you have) If frozen solid put the spinach in a saucepan and cover with boiling water, bring to boil and cook for 5 mins or until all defrosted, empty into a colander/ sieve and drain for a few minutes, squeezing out excess water or if planning in advance and using frozen you can just defrost overnight and then drain well OR for fresh wilt in a pan and drain well

2) Prepare about 9-10 lasagne sheets by running under tap to moisten, you may need to trim to fit your dish! (I normally keep them in a bowl of water as easier to trim)

3) Drain the tuna and fork into a bowl, add 4/5 of the creme fraiche and 1/2 the parmesan and all the cheddar, mix well and season with the herbs and black pepper

4) Return the spinach to the saucepan and add the carton of passta, warm through gently and season well with the black pepper, put to one side

5) Assembly: Place 2-3 of the damp lasagne sheets in the bottom of your dish, cover with 1/2 the spinach mix and smooth out, now cover in 1/3 of the tuna mix, then place 2nd layer of lasagne sheets, make one spinach layer using remainder and cover in lasagne sheets, then use up remaining tuna mix (I reserved some for my lunch today!) cover with lasagne sheets snugly and smooth over remaining creme fraiche, top with remaining parmesan and a pinch of seasoning, bake at 170o for 30-35 mins or brown and bubbling

6) If the top sheets look a bit dry drizzle over the milk and return to the oven for 5 more mins.

*Edited 09.01.08, made this again last night and was so much better in the new oven! Had forgotten just how easy and quick this was to make and will definately be eating more of this now!!*

Friday, 11 May 2007

Review of La Rucola, Denham, Middx

We visited on 10th May 2007 to celebrate mine and my dads birthday and had a great time. The pictures on their website do not really do it any justice!

The location is slightly odd and unless you have been recommended (like us) you would not even know it was there! However once inside, it is a large restaurant, tastefully decorated and good lighting, the tables are nicely spaced out and there is plenty of room on the tables.

Service was impecable from start to finish, attentive when needed and occasional casual walks by the waiter past our table ensured we had everything we required.

Dad chose a white wine to start from Tuscany, which I believe was the 'VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMGNANO - Teruzzi e Puthod'. Very enjoyable, dry and with the tang of similar Pinot Grigio type of grape but nicer! Did end up having two bottles at £18 each, which was quite reasonable I thought.

The menu had plenty of choices, including seafood and various meats.

I chose to start:

Crespelle Di Vitella E Parmigiano Gratinate
a fresh mince of veal with parmesan wrapped in pancakes, baked au gratin

Was yummy and the sauce was gorgeous and tomatoey!

Branzino Grigliato Al Rosmarino
grilled seabass with olive oil and rosemary

The seabass came out whole but luckily the waiter offered to fillet it for me! was lovely and tender and despite smelling of the rosemary it was only very slightly scented and delicious

To go with the mains they bought out perfect home made large potato wedges, green beans, broccoli and carrots - and the most delish courgettes! They were cut into 'chips' then coated in a very light salty batter and deep fried, we polished the bowl of in seconds! Highly recommended!

Rest of the group ordered:


Calamari Saltati
sauteed baby squid

Proscuitto Di Parma Con Melone
thin slices of Parma ham with melon slices

Carpaccio Di Tonno
thin slices of smoked tuna on a bed of rocket salad with pine kernels

Mains were:

Bistecca Di Manzo Al Pepe Nero
sirloin steak in a black pepper sauce

Costolette Di Agnello Alle Erbe Di Rosmarino
lamb cutlets with a fresh rosemary sauce

Battuta Di Vitello Paillard
tender grilled veal scallop sprinkled with a light olive oil dressing

All were lovely!

Desserts were great as well, they had a sweet trolley which made me drool! I had the tiramisu, lovely and light

Also ordered was fresh cappuchino cake mmmmm, amaretto cake that was lush and a passionfruit and carrot cake which was yummy

Came to £165 for four of us, which is a little expensive but considering what we had and the great service was happy to pay.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Review of Volare, Ashford Middx

We went here last week for a friends birthday for the 1st time

And so we begin...

This relatively new Italian Restaurant is located upstairs above some shops near Ashford Station, we were greeted politely and shown immediately to the table and asked if we wanted any drinks, advised we would look at list and could we have a few minutes. The place is cosy and brightly painted yet quite dark inside.

After perusing the menu for a few minutes the waiter returned and took our drink orders, 1 bottle of the cabernet sauvignon 2005 (ended up being 3 bottles...) and a bottle of still water. Wine was lovely and very drinkable

The menu was quite pricey considering the location and we decided orignally to skip the starters but then decided on the set menu. I had whitebait (ok, nothing special), 2 of our party had the tomato soup, which was lovely and fresh tasting, the other party just had garlic bread, which was pizza shaped and quite nice but lacking garlic I thought - but I am a garlic-o-holic!

For Mains, I had the white fish fillet with seafood, very disapointing when my plate came, had a one small coley fillet (slightly tough and boring), 2 mussels and 2 teeny clams in a slightly garlicy yet bland sauce. Also ordered was a spaghetti bolognese, quite authentic looking but not not to my taste, pasta with bacon and onions, which was nice but a bit plain, also my other half ordered the chicken with tomatoes, came out as a very small butterfly of chicken in a watery tomato sauce, not very attractive to say the least! On the side (and we are not sure which dish it was supposed to be with) was a dish of sliced carrots, fried sliced potatoes and hard cauliflower. The whole of the main courses screamed brown carpets and 1980's to me! and not in a funky kinda retro way either!

Desserts were the saving grace for me! I had the caffe semifreddo and enjoyed every mouthful, was like being attacked by an angry and cold espresso machine!! Also ordered was a strawberry cheesecake and some other ice creams. Judging by the pre-printed and laminated dessert menu, all of the desserts were bought in, like so many other places sadly nowadays.

We also had coffees, I had a lovely espresso and the boys had cappuchinos. (I was slightly buzzing by the end with all the caffeine!)

The next bit slightly narked me when the bill arrived, the waiter asked at the end of the meal if we would like a liqueur, to which we ordered baileys, now normally at every other place I frequent this tends to be on the house, imagine our shock when the bill had 4 x £3 'baileys' on!

Total bill was just over £100, which is fair enough for 4 people with wine but personally I would not go back, service was polite and efficient but found the food just too boring and very overpriced for what it was. Everyone else quite liked it but for me was very disapointing.

Tangy Tzatziki

Needs to be made in advance!

1 cucumber
1/2 tub nat yoghurt
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp lime juice
s&p to taste

1) Peel the cucumber
2) quarter into four long strips and slice away the seeds
3) Grate the cucumber finely and place in a bowl on top of a clean tea towel
4) leave to drain for up to 2 hours then squeeze out any excess water
5) Place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix well, leave to stand for a little while before serving

Yoghurty Chicken

Tonight I thought would try something different as had 1/2 a tub of low fat natural yoghurt are the results!

2 chicken breasts, cubed into about 9-12 cubes per breast
1/2 big tub low fat natural yoghurt
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
s&p to taste
1 tsp dried coriander leaf

Mix the marinade together and coat chicken well, marinade for 24 hours

Lay out onto a roasting tray and bake at elec 200o for 25-30 mins until cooked through

Verdict: Very mild (rather surprisingly) but nicely tangy with the lemon in, definately make again and would make a nice picnic meat.

Served it with home made red pepper houmous, tzatziki and roasted veg couscous and mini pittas for dipping
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