Polpo Soho - London

This was the perfect end to a spring day.
We went to London to visit the Chocolate festival, the weather was beautiful and the city buzzing because of the first warm spring day.
On our way to the underground we passed by Polpo in Soho to see if there was a long line waiting for dinner. Much to our luck the lovely lady told us it was only going to be a 30 minute wait for a table.
We drank our aperitif at the bar and had look trough the menu.
The dishes listed are classic Italian, served in 'Cicheti' small plates much like tapas.
B. and I like the concept of small plates, that way we can taste a lot of different things in one evening. Deciding between dishes is always very hard so now you don't have to choose, unless you want them all of course... We did, but decided to come back instead of ordering the whole menu in one go.

Polpo is housed in the ground flour of a 18th century building just around the corner of Carnaby street. The interior is rustic but still feels modern, it's casual and atmospheric.
We enjoyed the food, we had Arancini as a nibble and a few different things to share. The Mortadella, gorgonzola & pickled radicchio pizetta was our favourite. The dough had a lot of flavour and the fattiness of the Mortadella was delicious with the slightly sour pickled radicchio. 
The Brown crab and zucchini orecchiette had a decent amount of crab in it and tasted lovely and fresh. The only thing I was disapointed by was the beetroot & hazelnut salad, I wished it was raw beetroot but it was cooked. I personally don't like eating big lumps of cooked beetroot and I feel the dish could have been better with raw beetroot. But perhaps it's just me.
Finished of with a chocolate salami and strong coffee we were ready for the journey back to Sussex.

We enjoyed our time at Polpo, perfect after a day in London when you want a relaxed dinner and good value for money. The music might have been a bit too loud and I noticed the couple next to us pointing out the same matter.
You can book a table for lunch but if you want to go in the evening, it can be a wait.
We were lucky as we didn't have to wait too long and for people like us who didn't have dinner reservations this really comes in handy.

41 Beak Street

*This is not a sponsored review, all food and drink was payed for by ourselves.

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Sticky Lemon Curd Cake by Charlotte White

Guest post*

Today I would like to introduce you to Charlotte, a 50s loving girl like myself and a baker of fabulous special occasion cakes. Charlotte and I met in februari when we were both modelling pretty dresses for my dear friend Sassy and her epic shoot in Birmingham (wanna see? you'll find it here).
She is sharing with us her 'Sticky lemon curd cake' and the story of how she became to be a professional cake designer.

picture by Carla Thomas                                                picture by Rockabetty Studios

If I could go back in time ten years to tell myself that I would be baking for a living in 2012, I doubt very much that the cocky little film student would believe me. I was studying with the intention to be a film producer 'when I grew up' and my baking was limited to delicious treats for our student parties. Honestly, I think that these were probably the most civilised student parties ever - our house was always filled with baked goods whenever we had guests, perhaps as a little something sweet to mask the taste of that cheap student alcohol. When we needed to raise funds for our final year documentary, I made fudge and sold it on campus; when we were away shooting on location, I baked cakes for the student crew. It never crossed my mind that this was a potential career. I had just always baked.

Asparagus ribbons and pomegranate pearls salad

Spring is finally here.
The trees are parading their lovely blossoms and the days are starting to get longer again.
The thing I love most about spring are the colors, the vibrant green of the new leaves on the trees and plants. The scent of flowers and the snow of blossoms when the wind blows through the trees.
I enjoy sitting in the garden enjoying the first rays of sun, wearing a warm jumper and big scarf. I'm reading a cookbook and the leaves of the Magnolia flowers are tumbling down on the pages of my book like bookmarks pointing out delicious recipes.
It's quite chilly, apart from the blossoms the branches of the trees are still bare and showing off their slender forms.
I run inside with rosy cheeks and try to create spring on a plate.
The first green, the first flowers.

This dish is spring for me, welcoming one of my favourite veg: the green asparagus.
Green asparagus aren't easy to come by where I' from. Mostly they are imported from Peru so I can only buy them the few times I can find them from local farms. There are loads of white asparagus, but I crave for the green ones. Asparagus grow red berries which are poisonous so here we have the pomegranate pearls to accompany the asparagus in color and in taste giving some acidity to the dish.

What do you need (serves 2-4)
1 bunch of green asparagus
half a cucumber
half a pomegranate
a bunch of Rucola
a handful of parmesan shavings
some good quality olive oil

Use your mandolin or hand slicer to create ribbons from the asparagus.
You can use a knife, but try to slice it as thinly as possible.
Slice the cucumber into thin discs.
Wash you Rucola and arrange on a plate.
Remove the pearls from the pomegranate.

Boil salted water and blanch the asparagus, have a bowl with cold water standing by.
Remove the asparagus after you counted slowly to 10.
Add to the cold water to stop them cooking.
Arrange the slices of cucumber over the Rucola.
Dry the ribbons with some kitchen paper and arrange over the cucumber.
Sprinkle the pomegranate pearls over the dish.
Add the parmesan shavings
Drizzle some nice olive oil over the salad.
All done!

Lovely with a dry but flowery white wine.


Next week I have a guest post for you!

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Pasta with Haak or Collard Greens

I had never seen this type of kale before and to be honest, I had to do some research.
'Haak' or 'Collard greens' is a leafy green vegetable from mustard – cabbage family. 
They are native to the Mediterranean region but I bought them in Kent.
The leaves look like outer cabbage leaves but darker in color and sometimes almost black. The aroma and taste is something between cabbage and mustard leaves and the leaves do not get very soft after cooking like spinach leaves tend to do.

'Haak' or 'Collard greens' are also very nutritious, a 1 cup portion of cooked collard greens has about 50 calories. It is an excellent source of vitamins C, A, and K. This same serving will provide a good source of calcium, fiber, and beta-carotene, as well as vitamin E. Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, 'Haak' or 'Collard greens' are beneficial for supporting the immune system. 

the paste

The taste does take some getting used to but after you do, you will enjoy the warm mustardy flavour. I made the leaves into a pesto-like paste and mixed them with parmesan. The parmesan softens the mustard flavour a bit and the Ricotta gives the greens a sweeter touch.