Monthly Archives: November 2009

Buddah Bar: food, cocktails and MUSIC! (-60 weeks)

Another amazing place, finally here in London too, is the Buddah Bar. It opened not so long ago in Embankment, near the river and it’s always packed… now i will tell you why.

Basically the secret is great food, cool ambient, amazing cocktails and fantastic music all night long. We went there just to stay few hours all girls and instead between some wine, some cocktails and the music we couldn’t go away anymore.

They serve food in all little portions and we ate a particular kind of spring rolls served with sweet and sour sauce that was very good, but especially we drunk a CHILLI MOJITO and an ELEMENTAL cocktail (peach based)  beautiful to see but absolutely fantastic to drink. The music is a mix of arab, indian and latin music at the beginnig of the night, to get then more disco around twelve. It’s of course a bit expensive but it’s a very nice place for a full night out.

W the big Buddah!

PS. Mamy con Anna e le ragazze ci siamo dedicate una serata fuori un po’ sopra le righe e siamo andate in questo locale molto conosciuto che sta’ proprio vicino al fiume. Si chiama Buddah Bar perche’ ha un grosso Buddah all’interno e l’ambiente e’ un po’ una fusione di culture asiatiche e arabe. E’ un posto molto curato e famoso ovunque per la musica che mettono: insomma una volta entrata e’ difficile andarsene. Hai visto che bei cocktails?

Spaghetti alla carbonara… also in Holland!

Recipe 119: This is so much a classic, that it’s a dish we cook often when we want to eat a good and quick plate of pasta. In fact in my recent trip to Holland, on my last day we ate at home and we cooked spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Of course i first tried all the Dutch specialties , but a nice plate of pasta is very difficult to beat!

However if you pass for Holland you will need to try the fresh made dutch waffles, the Gouda cheese, you need to eat out and try one of their mix-asiatic dishes (their colonies in Asia have created a nice mix food culture), the special queen Wilhelmina’s peppermints (but i can suggest you these very good gums too, also if the name is not really inviting) and finally you need to try one of the FEBO’s specialties and you can’t avoid that considering there are so many FEBO and in the weekend everyone goes around with french fries and junk food.

But let’s comeback to the recipe of the pasta. The ingredients for 2 people are: 250 gr spaghetti – 2 fresh eggs – 1 onion – 75 gr pancetta – Parmesan (better if you can find Pecorino cheese) – salt – pepper. Very easy!!!

Cut the onion in little pieces and put it in a pan with a bit of oil. If you want you can also give more taste to the oil adding a little piece of garlic that you can cook and then remove (Consider that the real Carbonara is just with oil and garlic, but if you put onion too, the taste will be even better).

Then add the pancetta and in the meantime put the Spaghetti in hot salty water. Wait a bit for the pancetta to cook and in the meantime you can grate the Parmesan or  Pecorino cheese (depending if you like a stronger flavor). Put the 2 eggs in a little container and mix a bit until you reach a worm yellow color. No comments about his portable colander!

At this point when the pasta is ready (and still just a bit hard) drain it and place it back in the sauce pan with the pancetta and onion, Parmesan or Pecorino, mix all and then add also the 2 eggs, without put anything on the gas. This is the secret of this pasta. You don’t need any cream, but just the eggs will give the necessary creamy consistence to the dish.

When ready just serve with some more Parmesan and black pepper.

Buon appetito!!!

PS. Mamy questa e’ la carbonara che abbiamo fatto con Carlo prima che prendessi il volo. Avevamo una fame e devo dire che lui e’ stato bravissimo. La cottura era perfetta ed immagina che c’aveva anche il pecorino! Che buono!Chi la batte la carbonara? Invece prima ho parlato di alcuni prodotti tipici danesi, che a dire la verita’ non sono moltissimi, ma buoni, specialmente i waffles.

Gaucho: argentinian meat in London! (-61 weeks)

Finally after more than one year that i wanted to try it, a friend of mine from Italy brought me to Gaucho. He loves meat and remembering some bad experience he had in London, i suggested him to go there: everyone knows is a good restaurant, a bit expensive but the meat it’s really worth the money!!!!

So we went in the one in Piccadilly and it ‘s a really nice place to stay: on three floors, with candles lights and a horse printed style everywhere, you will have an amazing service, with your personal waitress explaining the meat cut, suggesting and taking care of you! Our waitress was brazilian, but she was speaking and amazing italian too and was really funny and professional.

Arriving at the table you will find already a little starter with normal bread, butter, a typical sauce but, the thing i loved the most was a little cheese bread too good to leave it there. After it, we ordered some red wine and the meat. Between all the different cut and types of cut, i choose a fillet of 250gr (the smallest) and i also asked for a special side order “humitas”, made of mashed corn. The meat was just delicious and they bring you that with 4 different sauces: mushrooms, mustard, something like peppercorn gravy and the best one, a Bernaise sauce. Of course i don’t know the name of that and all the ingredients in those, but they were all very good! The mashed corn had a really particular taste, never tried before and it was served in 2 little portions , rolled in corn husks. Really tasty and beautifully presented. Of course there was the possibility to try also some nice looking dessert, but i prefered to have just a coffee to close the meal. Maybe next time…. So for a gooood meat in London, go safe with Gaucho!

PS. Mamy con un mio amico di passaggio a Londra e che va pazzo per la carne, siamo andati in una catena di ristornati argentini qui a Londra…non ti dico che carne che fanno. Un po’ costoso il posto, ma ne valeva proprio la pena. Ho mangiato un filetto che si scioglieva in bocca e poi ce l’hanno portato con delle salsine ed un contorno di puree di mais particolarissimo!

English pie in our Wilmo!!!!!

And because is friday… i present you our “local office pub”: The Wilmington… for us just Wilmo!  This is a quite big pub with lots of space inside and also if is always packed, we like it because it’s very cosy and all the people working there are very nice. So, on top of the fact that it’s the place were we use to have parties, weekly drinks, leaving dues and all the rest, with the time someone discovered it’s also a very nice place to have lunch…especially on friday.

In the menu there are the classic burgers, soups and english pub dishes, but what makes the place so famous in our office are its amazing English Pies!

nat english pie

I have to admit i never had one before just because i can’t stand the meat inside these pies…they seems so heavy and strong taste that i was never interested in trying them, but here everyone was speaking so much about these pies that i had to give a try… just delicious!

My happiness was to find there a vegetarian pie too, with goat cheese and sweet potatoes… it’s the best! I than tried a bit of the porky one, that was good too, but nothing to do with the VEG one. The combination of sweet potatoes and cheese is just perfect and the pastry of the pies is fabulous, not heavy, not salty or hard… it was just right.

my english pie

I don’t know if you have never tried and english pie, but if you come to England i suggest you to go for these, avoiding the well known fish and chips or baked potatoes! It’s worth it and for lunch, it’s just perfect!

PS. Mamy queste te le devo far provare la prossima volta che venite. Invece delle solite patate che ci prendevamo, vi porto in quest’altro pub per farvi assaggiare le english pies, delle tipiche tortine rustiche inglesi. Invece di riempirle con uova, verdure e formaggio, qui le fanno con la carne e nei modi piu’ strani. Dal maiale con i pezzettini di mele, alla carne di manzo con le cipolle carammellate o con il pollo. A me quelle con la carne non fanno impazzire, ma questa vegetariana che ho provato era buonissima: formaggio di capra e patate dolci ( che pensa a me solitamente non piacciono) ed era un accostamento fantastico. E poi la pasta della tortina e’ meravigliosa. Viene fame solo a vederle in foto!

Will Burger King save our diet?

Which is the biggest enemy of the diet? the sweet or salty snacks and the fried food sold in the street. Never like in London you can see so many take away shops and people eating this food in the street, on the tube, in the buses and even ordering them at home!

And for how much you can try to put attention and to avoid it, there will always be the occasion in which you will have to raise a white flag to them… and it’s a classic especially in this city, where everyone drink without eating anything. After work you go to drink straight away… and at the end you are so hungry you could eat whatever is in front of you.

Solution? Burger King is trying to help with this! Some week ago, after a party, i was really convinced to come back home to cook something. My friends weren’t thinking the same and we stopped in Burger King. Surprise surprise, they made a “light” Sandwich to help all of us with the diet.

The Piri Piri Chicken sandwich is made of 3 chargrilled chicken strips, iceberg lettuce, red onion, reduced fat mayonnaise and piri piri sauce on bread baguette or sesame seeds bun. This reach an amount of 336-356 calories depending on the bread and it’s quite fulfilling.

Considering that a plate of pasta of pasta (80gr.) with tomato sauce and Parmesan is around 450 cal, this sandwich is not so bad. Ok, the fact to eat this kind of food for quality and ingredients is not the best, but at least you can limit the damages without big privations. The other alternative it could be the normal basic burger (275 cal.) or the simple cheese burger (320 cal.) but they are so little and without great taste that are not an amazing solution: you can risk to eat more arriving at home!

So, if you have one of this night where you have drunk quite a lot and you can’t wait to arrive home to eat, maybe this could be an idea to remain alive without taking a massive quantity of calories on top, and without renouncing to another little pleasure. What do you think?

PS. Mamy oggi mi sono dedicata a suggerire un nuovo panino “light” che hanno creato in una di queste catene tipo Mc Donald. Non che sia fan di questi posti, anzi! ma talvolta quando si esce senza mangiare e si beve un po’, e’ inevitabile fermarsi in posti del genere. E dato che qui di negozietti per il pesce fritto e fastfood, ce ne sono un sacco, meglio andare sul sicuro con una scelta ragionevolmente leggera. Il problema e’ resistere alle patatine fritte! argh!

Finocchi al latte – milky fennels

Recipe 120: Always eating the same kind of vegetables cooked in the same way…it’s a bit boring. If you agree with it, try these milky fennels and maybe you will have a new dish to add to your healthy diet. I’m also sure it’s a tasty side order for simple meat dishes and a clever solution for children because i use to loved it when i was little and i didn’t like uncooked fennels and vegetables in general.

To cook these fennels you will need: 1 or 2 fennels for person – some milk – nutmeg – salt – Parmesan and then if you want to put together some pork, you will just need some oil and rosemary or mustard and honey, depending by what you like the most.

The recipe is very easy: clean the fennels cutting all the green parts and taking off the first layer. Cut them in pieces and boil them. When they are tender, strain them and put them in a pan with just some milk.

Add some salt and nutmeg if you like it and wait until they become very tender and they absorb the majority of the milk. If you want to serve them as a side order with some pork, you can start to cook the meat now. You can try pork with rosemary or with a mix of a bit of mustard and honey, if you like these ingredients.

When the pork is cooked and the fennels are very tender, you can serve them adding just some Parmesan to the fennels. This is the final touch. Buon appetito!

PS: Mamy che abbinamento che abbiamo fatto tra finocchi e carne di maiale. I finocchi erano buonissimi e hanno convinto anche Nat che solitamente non li mangia ed era un bel po’ titubante. Lei invece ha cucinato il maiale, a me con il rosmarino fresco e per lei con una salsina che fa lei con mostarda e miele… ancora non ne sono convinta perche’ il gusto e’ un po’ particolare per me, ma con questa carne penso stia bene.

Gnocchi gorgonzola e salvia (-62 weeks)

gnocchi 1

Recipe 121: A real classic recipe, super quick, good and very easy to realize is Gnocchi with Butter and Sage. In this case I decided to slightly change the ingredients to make it a bit more tasty (considering the Gnocchi are from London) but without the butter.

So here are the ingredients you will need for 2 people: 400gr potatoes gnocchi – olive oil – 1 onion (i used a red one) – 80gr Gorgonzola – a bit of milk – 1 glass white wine – some sage leaves – Parmesan – nutmeg – salt and pepper.

Gnocchi 2

Normally i would just put some butter in a pan with the sage leaves in pieces and i would add the gnocchi after. Try this if you have some fresh italian gnocchi.

Instead for this recipe you have to cut the onion and put it in a pan with some olive oil. When cooked add some white wine and wait until evaporated. In the meantime cut the gorgonzola and the sage in pieces. At this point, add the cheese, the sage and some milk, and on a low fire, let the gorgonzola melt slowly. When the ingredients are become a cream, close the fire and just add some nutmeg and salt if needed.

gnocchi 3

In a big saucepan, put a good quantity of water and let it boil with salt. Then put the gnocchi in the water and after maximum 2 minutes, when they finish to come up, take them off the fire and drain them. Finally just add them to the sauce and mix until all the gnocchi are covered by the cream.

Put them in plates with a bit of Parmesan and pepper if you want.

The dish is done! Enjoy!

gnocchi 4

PS. Mamy questa e’ la prima volta che cambio questa ricetta, ma sono talmente rimasta male dal sapore degli gnocchi le altre volte che li ho fatti solo burro e salvia, che questa volta ho deciso di aggiungerci anche un po’ di gorgonzola… e ci sta proprio benissimo. Lo so e’ pesante in ogni modo, ma almeno sa anche di qualcosa.

Mexican food in the City: Wahaca!

wahaca 1Finally, after months of preparation and suspense, the mexican food is now in the CITY: Wahaca has opened a new restaurant in Canary Wharf and I’ve been to see the new place and to try some new recipes.

Wahaca is an “easy” mexican restaurant, because is made for the UK and this means all the menu is easy to understand. You have lots of little dishes to start with and a big variety of main courses you can choose from, but everything is done following the most real mexican way and trying to be cheaper than any other traditional mexican restaurant in London.

But let’s speak about food!

Being in 4 we started ordering a “Wahaca selection”, a mix of some of the best starters they offer in the menu. Some tacos, with beef, fish (the best ones) or pork, quesadillas, tostadas and a little pot with green rice and black beans absolutely amazing.
wahaca 2

As a main course i tried to stay light so… salad. But i have to specify that this contains also meat and rice and just to make it better, it’s served in a fried corn pastry (i don’t know in which other way i can describe it). Very tasty! Some of us took burrito, fish tacos but they serve also a nice soup with homemade tortilla chips, that i suggest as a lighter solution. To drink i have decided to avoid beers (for once) and to try the hibiscus water, a delicious sweet and light red juice very refreshing (especially after the hot sauces you can find there).I love it!

Just to have a taste also of the mexican desserts, we couldn’t go away without churros y chocolate, spicy chocolate ice cream and mango sorbet, my favorite.
wahaca 3

The place is very colorful and nice: lots of graffiti in the inside and the design lights coming down from the ceiling, create a really cosy ambiance. The best part, by the way, are the iron curtains that, composing colorful designs in all the restaurant, give the sensation to be in a mexican market.

Wahaca it’s a little bright place in the grey London!

wahaca 4

PS. Mamy hai visto che carino il nuovo ristorante dove sta Julio? E’ coloratissimo e nonostante sia in piena aria di uffici, all’interno e’ molto accogliente. Poi ho assaggiato dei nuovi piatti che non avevo provato le altre volte e devo dire buonissimi! ho assaggiato i tacos con il pesce, una nuova quesadilla che fanno li, che e’ un piatto simile ad una piadina ma ripiena di una crema di funghi fantastica e poi ho chiesto un’insalata e me l’hanno portata in un cestino di pane di mais croccante buonissimo. Veramente particolare!

Peas… the italian way !

Recipe 122: Today i give you a super easy recipe to eat vegetables in a new way and they are perfect when you have guests….everyone likes peas.

You will need for 3 people: 400 – 500 gr frozen peas (depends by what you are going to serve with them) – 1 onion – 70gr pancetta and 1 vegetable stock.

Piselli con pancetta 1

If you will use frozen peas, you will need to start boiling them. In the meantime, cut the onion and put it in a pan with some olive oil.

After a bit add the pancetta and let everything cook.When the peas are ready, put them too in the pan. In another saucepan place some boiling water and a vegetable stock to create the “brodo”. When this will be ready, add it to the peas, little by little and let them cook.

Piselli con pancetta 2

When they will be soft and the green will be less bright, the peas will be ready to be eaten.

Buon appetito!

PS: questo e’ un classico che non vedevo l’ora di cucinare. Peccato che il guanciale non ce l’abbiamo…veramente non l’ho neanche cercato, ma non dubito sia difficile da trovare. Con la carne e le patate ci stavano veramente deliziosi. Papa’ non sei piu’ il solo a mangiarteli!!!!

Portafogli deliziosi – Delicious wallets

portafogli 1

Recipe 123: This is a dish that i love but it was quite hard to prepare because here in London is very difficult to find veal’s meat. I was especially looking for a particular cut of the veal, very tender and a bit expensive but absolutely delicious, the one called “top round” i think. However at the end i bought some escalopes, but they cut them very thin and pressed them a bit.

Ingredients for 3-4 people: 4 veal escalopes – 4/6 ham slices – 4 good slices of Emmental cheese – 50gr butter – some black pitted olives – some sage leaves – salt – one vegetable stock – 1 glass of dry white wine and, very important, some toothpicks.

Portafogli 2

This dish is very simple: you just need to place the ham the cheese and the black olive (if you like them) on the veal, as shown in the pictures and then you close each piece of meat with 2 or 3 toothpicks an some sage leaves. The secret is just to close them properly, creating almost a triangle, so nothing can come out while you are cooking them.

portafogli deliziosi 3

Put in a pan the 50gr butter and let it melt. Then place the meat in the pan, put some salt and pepper and cook it a bit. In the meantime prepare some boiling water in a little saucepan and add the vegetable stock to create the “brodo’.

When the meat is a bit colored, add the glass of wine and when it’s all evaporated, start to use the brodo: you will add it bit by bit every few minutes, to let the meat cook and to create a nice sauce in the same time. You can also cover the pan if you want. The fire don’t have to be too strong but just enough to cook the meat without burn it. The meat will cook in 15-20 minutes.

Serve in a plate with the sauce on top and with some vegetables.

Enjoy!

PS. Mamy, qui la carne di vitella la vendono solo in posti super specializzati. E poi la fesa o noce di vitello e’ proprio inesistente, non sai quanti macellai ho girato! Alla fine ho preso delle fettine, che erano buone ma non tenerissime come la tua. Comunque il piatto e’ venuto buonissimo e poi con tutto questo tempo senza mangiare carne di vitella… ci siamo leccati i baffi! Ho messo le olive nere nella ricetta invece dei carciofini perche’ come sai non sono un’amante dei sottaceti, e diciamo che il sapore delle olive di qui non e’ fortissimo percio’ non si sentiva tanto la differenza, ma giusto il necessario.