Thursday, August 28, 2014

A La Petite Chaise

36 Rue de Grenelle
Paris, France

K and J were in Paris so I nipped over for a day to see them (justifying it as cheaper than a flight to LA). Obviously if you're in Paris you should try to eat well - using David Lebovitz as our guide, we ended up at A La Petite Chaise, which is a very old, very classic French restaurant. Charming old fashioned waiters, a decor that looks like it could have been unchanged from when it opened in the 1860s, and a menu that reads like you'd expect. Escargot, French onion soup, and for me, an avocado and citrus salad (my slight nod at trying not to have a heart attach). I made up for that starter with the duck breast main, which was executed well and came with a lovely puck of dauphinoise potato. Creme brulee to end, with an appropriately shattering caramel top - though I should point out that the portion was absolutely enormous and I was sadly unable to finish, which disappointed our waiter. K picked out a great wine (though I can't recall exactly what it was) and it made for the perfect three hour dinner after a long day of walking.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Waterfront

Middleton Rd 
Hartlepool Harbour
TS24 0UG

I'm not usually one to frequent harbourside chippies but when I found myself in Hartlepool with a colleague and a couple of spare hours before our train home, we took advantage of the sunny weather to have a few pints and enjoy the local delicacies. Both of us were up for getting some authentic fish and chips up north, and this takeaway seemed to be doing brisk business, even at the early hour of 4pm. We both had a small cod and chips (only £4.50!), though my colleague also got thick brown gravy poured over his portion. He loved the oniony gravy - I was very happy to keep my fish and chips as crisp as possible. Unsurprisingly it was absolutely delicious - flaky, pearly white chunks of cod that fell apart with the gentle prod of a plastic fork, with a shatteringly thin batter - and even the chips, which looked fresh cut and came in irregular sizes, were as crunchy as they should be on the outside, and full of fluffy potato goodness on the inside. Perhaps it's for the best that this is quite a trip to make - otherwise I might be upping my fish and chip consumption by an astonishing amount.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

I am having a blast with these quick pasta dishes - ever since I learned that a block of cream cheese (or soft cheese, as they call it over here) is a great "sauce" for pasta, I've been throwing it in with various ingredients to great success (or at least to A's approval, which is basically the same thing). Today's recipe follows this theme.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta
Serves 4


500g dried pasta (I like fusilli for this)
1 container cream cheese / soft cheese
250g mushrooms (I used plain old white mushrooms but I'm sure any would work)
250g sausage (I went with a plain British pork sausage)
handful of parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1. Boil the pasta according to the package directions in well salted water. Drain, reserving a little pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, cook the sausages and then dice into small pieces. Reserve any fat that remains in the pan from the sausages.

3. Slice the mushrooms and cook them in the sausage pan, adding salt and pepper to taste.

4. Mix pasta, sausage, mushrooms and cream cheese in pot, adding a little reserved pasta water if the sauce needs loosening.

5. Serve, adding parsley on top and additional pepper if desired.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The De Beauvoir Arms

113 Southgate Rd
N1 3JS

The De Beauvoir Arms is one of our many incredible local pubs - it was something else when we moved to this neighborhood but I love the new incarnation. Sunny and bright inside, with plenty of outdoor picnic tables for good weather, it serves really satisfying pub grub and some small tapas style dishes as well, so I can always find something I want to eat. Great for vegetarians and pescetarians as well, which means we visit quite often with A's mum. The menu changes every day, so sometimes when you have something really nice it's sad to not be able to just order it again, but some things do repeat regularly. This picture is from a Sunday lunch with a group of eight adults, one baby. I had the spring chicken roast, while A went for the lamb - both were fabulous (I stole a bit of the cauliflower cheese that came with the lamb) and if you know me, you know how much I adore deconstructing small birds. It was perfectly cooked, full of chickeny juices and plenty of veg. I usually don't have the patience to make Sunday roasts myself as there are a few too many components for a meal just for me and A - so it is great to know that aside from the Drapers, this pub around the corner can also satisfy all Sunday roast needs.