Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jamie Oliver Is In My House

A Series of Kitchen Events: Part 1

So I got my hands on Jamie Oliver.  Yes folks, THE Jamie Oliver.  He currently resides in my kitchen.  Waiting patiently for me.  Never pushing, never nagging.  Just waiting for me to open it up and watch it make my life easier for me.

This is Jamie in my kitchen.  Preparing a delicious meal. To my family.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back to Reality

Hi folks. Sorry for the hiatus - I was away for the past week and honestly, the blog was a distant memory. Now that I'm back to insanity reality I thought what better way to reminisce on a wonderful trip than to blog about it.
My husband and I went to London for 5 nights.  I don't frequent the city much so I am not familiar with all the in places. So asking some friends who do, we had a total of about 50 recommendations to see/eat/visit.

And let me tell you - it was lovely.  The weather was beautiful (11 to 16C), showers were at a minimum, and tourists where at a bearable amount.

Because I have a LOT to rant about, I have sectioned this post into categories so feel free to skip anything that is irrelevant to you (although I hope you don't).

Where We Stayed
We stayed at The Millennium Knightsbridge.  The hotel's location was perfection and that's about it.  It's on Sloane Street which is really the definition of shopping.  All the luxury boutiques are there and on one end is Sloane Square, the other end is Knightsbridge. I would definitely NOT recommend you stay at that hotel.  The service is terrible, slow, and inconsistent.  Housekeeping did a terrible job - they would take 2 bathrobes and replace it with one.  One night they took 1 bathrobe, kept 1 wet one and put in a new one.  So we came home to 1 damp robe and a fresh one.  We were out of tissue for 2 nights.  And shower caps were a scarcity.  Apparently, the hotel is the preferred choice for Khaleejis in the summer and I can see why - the location (again) is like no other.  The underground station is a brisk 5 minute walk.


Where We Had Breakfast
Some of the memorable breakfast places are Laduree at Harrods, Pret A Manger (scattered throughout the city), and Cote on Sloane Square.  I know this may sound disappointing to some (there are a ton of places to have breakfast at) but this is what we fancied (how English of me - fancied).  One place we wanted to go to but apparently only open for brunch was Tom's Kitchen.  I heard rave reviews about it.

The french toast at Laduree was to-die-for.  And almost anything you pick up from Pret is guaranteed delicious.  At Cote, we had egg in a crepe and it was so damn delicious we craved it every day we were there. 



Where We Had Lunch
One of my favorite sandwiches EVER is the Salt Beef in Selfridges.  Oh. My. God. So simple and yet so delectable - it has a slather of mustard, some juicy pink slices of salt beef, and a side of sour gherkin, sandwiched between 2 fluffy slices of grainy bread.  A must if you are in London.  An absolute must.

We also had lunch at Burger & Lobster.  We ate at the Mayfair restaurant but you can find other locations here.  The concept here is pretty simple - they have 3 different dishes.  A burger, a lobster roll or a lobster.  All with a side of fries and salad.  All dishes are 20 pounds each.

I opted for the lobster roll and what a wise decision I made. The meat was so chunky, so fresh, so delicious.  A hint of lemon, a non-guilty amount of mayo and some chopped chives.  The brioche it is served in is fresh from the oven and the fries are crisp. The restaurant is casual, the ambiance bustling, and the service was great.  We loved it.

Another burger joint we checked out was Patty & Bun (on James Street).  This burger was so juicy the juice dripped down the sides of my hands and onto the table.  The fries were flavorful and the music took me back to a time where.....well.  The music was awesome.  The menu is simple and that's really what you need for a good burger place.


Some of Our Favorite Places to Dine in
By dinnertime, we were so famished that we honestly did not have the mind nor energy to take a photo.  So please excuse the lack of.

We went to a place called Zefi's on Walton St. - which we walked to from our hotel.  It's a lounge/restuarant where they have ready-to-serve food.  The salads looked so good and tasted even better.  The concept is pretty different and you get to pick what you eat, they warm it and serve - that simple.  I heard the cheesecake is amazing but unfortunately we found out after we devoured our coffee cake.  The picture below is the remains of a salad (sorry).

Sumosan  was the restaurant that gifted us with the best meal in our entire trip. The lobster salad was the best I've ever had - ever.
 

The spicy tuna roll (far right) was so tender, so delicious, so perfect I wanted to dry-freeze some and take them home.  The fish-to-rice ratio was hefty so we really got to taste the fish.  You will also note in the picture below that we reached our fuel goal of walking so we really indulged in our dinner (score!).
 

The chocolate fondant is out of this world.  This edible mesh looks divine and I'm sure it tastes divine too, the chocolate oozing out of this dessert is sinful.  A beautiful ending to a wonderful dinner.
  
Touristy Stuff We Did
We did a lot of walking.  A lot.  So much that we did not gain any weight from all the food we devoured.

We drank a lot of coffee.  And just lounged.  And walked some more.

We rode on the London Eye and it's a great photo-op for those of you who want to take some great shots of the city.  We made sure the sky was clear that day.  We opted for the fast-track option (which is only about 5 pounds more than the normal ticket) and we were up in no time.


We heard about Bicester Village, which is a premium outlet mall approximately 40 minutes by train. The train ride was smooth and pleasant. We headed to Marleybone station and got on the train (railway) and it takes you straight to the village.  Shuttle buses (free of charge) pick you up from the station and drop you to the village (about 5 minutes away).
 

To say we took a scenic route is an understatement.  I had a magazine with me to read but honestly the views were captivating that I did not need to do any reading.


The outlet is spacious, clean, very organized, and most importantly - open-air.  The shopping is great but honestly I was disappointed at two things: first, they didn't carry my shoe size :( and second, the prices are not that much cheaper than what you would find online.  So we did manage to buy a few steals but I did not go crazy as I hoped I would (my husband is thrilled).
 


I keep hearing about Ottolenghi and even have their cookbooks so I figured it has to be a place I visit. The food is guaranteed to take a trip from your mouth and straight to your hips.  I did not care.  I mean, LOOK AT IT!

Delicious treats, mouth-watering bites - all available for you to enjoy on the go or on their limited seating.

All in all, it was a trip of walking, scenery, good food, and some shopping.  It was rejuvenating trip - and a much needed one. 

Tips:
  • Uggs are your best friend.  They have them for men too so guys don't miss out.
  • Make sure an umbrella is with you - always.
  • We prebooked our taxi on greentomatocar - an eco-friendly car company that were punctual and professional.  They have an app on the Appstore and booking them was so easy.  It cost us 52 pounds from airport to hotel.  AAAAND they offer free wifi in the car.  How cool is that?
  • Don't be a snob and use the underground/train.  It is more efficient than having to wait for a taxi.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Melt - A modern eatery

I recently paid a visit to a new restaurant called Melt.  Located on the busy street of West Riffa, this place stood out.  The signage was pretty, the building clean, and the outdoor  seating was of good quality - the attention to detail was evident.

The road is under some ridiculous construction so getting there was a pain, but my husband managed to go around the building and parked at the back.

Initially we had wanted to dine al fresco, but as we were walking to the restaurant, we noticed the street noise, the obnoxious drivers revving their engines, and the construction site - all of which discouraged us from our initial dining intent.
Outside dining area


We walked in and noticed quite a lot of people - some were flipping through the menus and some were ordering at the till.  There was seating upstairs but we decided to just order takeaway.

We flipped through the menu and I must say I was impressed.  Expecting to see the usual subs, wraps and burgers - this place put some serious thought into the dishes they served and they all sounded exquisite.

My husband and I settled for (sharing) the melt-down burger (3 or 4 cheeses), edamame taboula, coriander garlic fries, fajita shawarma and the Fererro Rocher Cheesecake and 2 drinks.  The order was handled extremely well - the guy who took our order was familiar with the menu and we were done in less than a minute.  The bill was a bit on the highside - around BD14.  The quinoa salad was 3.4, burger was 3.4, shawarma was 1.5 and the rest on the fries, drinks and dessert.  I was half expecting to wait a long time for our order (since they have just opened) but it was was ready in about 10 minutes - great kitchen management.

We ate at home so the food wasn't as warm as I would like it to be.  So, here's my take on our dinner:


The fries were heavenly.  They were cold and still tasted good so I can only imagine how delicious they would taste hot.

The fajita shawarma was delicious - pricey but delicious (BD1.5).  Slightly spicy with some guacamole - it was really good. 

The burger was disappointing.  The meat (and you can tell from the picture here) was overcooked and dry, the meat actually crumbled as I took a bite, and the bread was a bit stale.  The three cheeses were really good and I can tell they were of good quality.  Again, this burger cost BD3.4 which is way above your average price.  I would have liked to be asked how I like my burger and maybe it would have turned out to my liking (I like my burgers medium).

The salad was DELICIOUS.  It had perfectly cooked quinoa, beetroot and crunchy edamame.  The dressing was tangy and refreshing, and the ingredients used really complimented each other.  One recommendation would be chop the beetroot into smaller pieces so that they blend nicely with the other vegetables. This is a salad I will definitely order again (it was BD3.4).


Last but not least the dessert.  Two heavenly bites of smooth cheesecake with the undeniable taste of Fererro Rocher.  These were a beautiful end to our dinner.

All in all, I will definitely go to Melt again.  Wishing them all the best.  Support this Bahraini business folks.


Contact info:
Instagram: @melt_bh
Call them on +973 17499900 
FourSquare click here
Location: Sh. Hamad Avenue, West Riffa.