Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Missing Blogmas Day 11 Post: The Food of Prague

So in the stress of trying to catch up with the posts I missed in Prague and writing two a day for the last week, I forgot to post this one, so I'm having to go back on my word about my last Prague post, because it's actually this one (sorry). 

When you think of Prague, it's beer and fairytale buildings that come to mind. At least that's how it was for me. I asked as many people who'd been to Prague as I could about the food, but no one really had anything to say, which was strange considering I loved it so much I wanted to dedicate a post to it. 

I was so pleasantly surprised with the variety, the flavours and the combinations and I just wanted to stay until I'd tried every dish possible. 

From street food to traditional stews and back-street cafe treats, this post will have you salivating. 

Street Food

When doing my Prague research, I'd read that the place to find the staple street food was the hot dog stands, and I instantly thought of New York hotdogs. You know, the ones that are pretty grim but everyone says you have to try at least once. Well I couldn't have been more wrong. These were proper bratwurst sausages wrapped in the traditional rohlik (long bread roll). This was the first thing we ate upon landing in Prague, and it filled us right up. 

That cute little swirly roll-thing up there is called a Trdelnik. It's made from rolled dough which is very similar to that which makes a pretzel, wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and sometimes walnuts. These were everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Every second stall at the Christmas market was selling them, and you couldn't walk down a single street without coming across a shop dedicated to selling only them. Having tried one though I can understand why. They're so moreish and will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth. 

Staromacek Restaurant 

Tucked down one of the backstreets of Old Town was this cosy, little place. A lot of the restaurants around Old Town are quite touristy and don't offer a lot of authentic Czech cuisine, and they're not cheap either. This place was packed and the menu was both authentic and reasonable. Kurtis ordered 'Meat on a Pin' not knowing what to expect. When the above showed up, we were the centre of the whole restaurants attention. That's one fancy kebab. 

I ordered pork stuffed with ham, leeks and Roquefort cheese. It was so scrummy but didn't really look that appealing to the eye, so I thought I'd leave the yummy ingredients to speak for themselves. 

Kolonial Restaurant

This was my favourite meal of the entire trip. After a good 5 hours of sight-seeing on the coldest day (-4) we were starving and desperate for somewhere warm and something to eat. We weren't picky. But we were so lucky to stumble across this gem in the Jewish Quarter. It's actually a cycling restaurant, as you can tell by the quirky decor. Random, yes, but it'll definitely stay with me. I loved how they'd used bike parts to make up dinner themed artwork on the walls, and the hanging bike chains above the bar. 

For starter we ordered the cheeseboard. We weren't aware however that as you progressed up the board, the stronger the cheeses got. That 3rd cheese, OH MY LORD. I love my cheeses but that was stronger than I could handle. It tasted amazing, but was definitely best in moderation. It also made me fingers smell like feet. I loved their take on a classic cheese on toast, with spring onions and sweet chilli, and the jar contained Camembert with garlic. 

For main, I had the classic, traditional goulash in a bread bowl, and Kurtis had Babicino "Hoopla Popl"which was cubes of roasted potato dumplings with homemade boned duck, smoked pork flank and white cabbage. 

As hungry as I was, there's no way I could have finished mine, even though it was the tastiest thing I had out there. Just like the British beef stew really, but containing caraway seeds and both sweet and smoked paprika, giving it a warm, spiced taste.  

I only had a spoonful of Kurtis' but the rabbit (which I'd never had before) was so good, and the dumblings were just like gnocci, but with a crispy outside.  

This is definitely one meal I won't ever forget. 

Christmas Market and Cafes

The best thing about the Christmas markets for me is the variety of food and sweet treats on offer. From roasted nuts and marzipan in every flavour you can imagine to hog roasts and giant rounds of cheese, it's no place for anyone on a diet. The spectacle itself is a feast for the eyes. 

As you'll know I love baking, and I'm so interested in cakes from different countries. I can't quite remember the name of the swirly pastry packed full of cream, but it was hella tasty. 

The last cake is honey cake (Medovnik) , and you can buy it from any cafe in Prague. It's butter, nut and honey heaven. 

As you can see, we well and truly embraced the food of  Prague, and I can't wait to go back and try even more food! 


Friday, 7 November 2014

Dishoom London: The Trendy, Budget Friendly Indian Restaurant

Today I thought I'd share with you one of my favourite restaurants: Dishoom

Finding somewhere to eat in London is always a stressful endeavor. We all love to explore something new when we go to London, yet so many of us fall into the disappointing trap of sticking to the old and familiar. But I myself will admit it's hard to find a balance between the generic, uninspiring chains and pretentious rip-off gimmicks.

You can spend hours trawling through review sites, and never really find what you're looking for, and I honestly believe the best way of finding out about new places is word of mouth. I'd seen a few people on Facebook talking about this restaurant, so when me and the boyfriend were in London in the Summer for our anniversary, we decided to check it out.

I loved it so much, that when in London on Tuesday with my best friend, I just had to take her there, 

The first thing you'll encounter when going to Dishoom, both in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, is the queues. I see queues to a restaurant as a good indication of how popular the place is. Whether it's lunchtime, a weekday evening or the weekend, there will be queues. But trust me when I say they go down pretty quickly and it's worth the wait. You'll be served samples of they're non-alcoholic beverages in the meantime though: the hot chai is delicious. 

If there's room, they'll send you to wait at the bar with a buzzer until your table is ready. Make the most of this and check out their cocktail menu: all their cocktails feature an Indian twist and are made right in front of you. I would recommend the Chaihito: A mojito with chai spices. Embrace the atmosphere, and before you know it your table will be ready. 

The second thing I'd suggest you take in whilst you're there is the decor. I fell in love with it instantly. I'd describe the interior design as following a strong 1920s Bombay direction, with dark woods, coppers, pastels and monochrome. Vintage Indian portraits and paraphernalia deck the walls, and the whole venue has an exotic yet homely vibe. 

 FOOD. Let's talk about the food. I swear I'm addicted to Indian food. It's my cuisine of choice, so I've tasted a fare few curries in my time. The first time I went, I tried their Dishoom Calamari to start. Being Greek, I've had so many variations of Calamari, but this was by far the most interesting. I don't know what spices they put into the batter, but they made it quite sweet, which was then combated by garlic and chilli. Delicious. 

This time round, me and George (the bestie) got the Chicken Ruby Curry and the Mattar Paneer Curry. I'd tried the Chicken Ruby before after being told by the waiter that it was the best thing on their menu, so I had to get it again. 

Both these curries are soooo flavoursome, they'll put your local curry house to shame. The bowls you can see in the picture look small, but I could barely finish mine. The sauces are rich and fragrant in both. The chicken melts like butter in the mouth, whilst the paneer is creamy and soft and soaks up all the flavours of the sauce. We had a bowl of rice and a plain naan with these. The rice is fluffy, and the naan is thin and crispy and lightly brushed with butter. 

This seems like a really cliche Indian meal, but the subtle twists in flavours and the execution of simple things like the naan bread mean it's set way above your normal curry and rice. To top that off, this entire meal came to £11 EACH!! 

I'm sure you'll admit, for one of the trendiest, most popular restaurants in LONDON, whose food is something you'll forever crave after your first visit, that is an absolutely steal!!. 


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Meat Liquor

Happy Thursday people!!
Now this post is going to be a little bit different. 
Two of my other big passions are food and books. In fact I'd go as far as saying they're my obsessions. 
I would love at some point for this blog to be more lifestyle focused, with restaurant/foodie posts and literature reviews/rants (if a plot twist really irks me) among my fashion and beauty posts. So two weeks ago I went to a restaurant that I've been wanting to go to for months, and you've probably heard about it by now. I loved it so much, that I thought I'd make it my first lifestyle food post. If it goes down well, then I'll create a separate page for this kind of thing! 

The hype over Meat Liquor has grown a lot in recent months. I heard about it almost a year ago, but since then I've seen so many pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my friend's Man vs Food sized trays of greasy delights that when two weeks ago, me, my boyfriend and my friends from uni decided to have a little reunion in London, I suggested we make Meat Liquor our watering hole for the evening. 

Arriving a bit early, me and my boyfriend were sure we were on the wrong street. I'd created in my head an image of a slightly garish, stereotypical American diner with neon signs, but a venue of such was nowhere to be found. Instead, the first floor of a very unassuming and reserved concrete car park that we had walked past without a second of acknowledgement happened to be what we were looking for. 

The closer we got, the more we noticed the queue of people before had looked like a group of London office workers taking a fag break. Upon meeting up with another friend, we found out that the restaurant wouldn't let us in to be seated until the entire group was present. This basically helps them reduce waiting times, so we chilled at a nearby pub for a bit.

Once our entire group had arrived, a man at the door took the name of a member of the group, and how many of us there were, and told us to wait at the bar. The first thing that will take you by surprise upon entering Meat Liquor is how dark it is (hense the reddish tinge to all my photos. Flash wasn’t too flattering either), and from reading other reviews, for some people it is a major down point. For me, I love the dark. No matter how sunny it is outside I’ll never open my curtains, so I felt right at home. It’s not pitch black, but the lighting is very dim, and has a reddish tinge that adds to the grungy slaughterhouse-esque decor (look out for the blood stained plastic curtain).

Waiting at the bar, we scoured the Liquor menu, which consists of some scrumptious concoctions. I had the Louisiana Jam, which is Southern Comfort, apricot jam, lemon juice and mint. These are the dangerous kinds of cocktails where you can’t taste the alcohol and you’re half-cut before you’ve even been seated. For central London, Meat Liquor’s cocktails are reasonably priced, with the majority at £7.50, however they do vary in size.

 Once we’d been seated, everyone started looking at the menu, but having known about this place for ages and drooled over pictures of their food, I already knew what I was having. I’d heard Adam from Man vs Food (I’m sure you’ve realised by now I’m obsessed with this show) go on and on about Philli Cheese Steak, so when I saw that Meat Liquor did a Philli Cheese Steak sandwhich, I was sold. Me and the boyfriend also shared a side of cheesy fries. Whilst everyone else spent ages choosing their mix of cheese drenched mains and sides, I sat back and took in the awesome atmosphere, with the sound of American vintage rock music drowning out the buzzing, lively conversations between friends trying sips and forkfuls of each other’s meat and liquor.

As filling as the meal was, I couldn’t get enough. I’ve had cheesy fries before, but nothing was on par with these ones. The chips were so crispy with just the right amount of salt, and the cheese was ridiculously stringy. As for the sandwich, it was the texture more than anything that made me fall in love. It was so soft and gooey and succulent that every time I sank my teeth into it, I just wanted to leave them there.  My favourite thing about it was the pool of soft cheese that ran all the way through the bottom of the hot dog bun. This is definitely not the place for calorie counters.

You’d think that after all that food, there’s no way we had room for dessert. But when we saw the chocolate and peanut butter sundae on the menu, we thought it would only be right. So we got two and shared it between five of us. Honestly, it wasn’t anything amazing, just a typical sundae, but it tasted so good after all the salt, meat and cheese we’d consumed. But it’s definitely the mains you should go there for, not the desserts. 

I'd love to hear what you guys think about this post. I would really like to expand the blog to feature more lifestyle posts, so some feedback would really be appreciated. 

Steph x x x

*All photos taken by myself and Chloe Alexander