Monday, 28 July 2014

Places To Eat In London: Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater

Sometimes where I like to eat does not have as much to do with the food that is on offer, but the atmosphere and location. Recently when I was on the hunt for somewhere to have a quick lunch meeting (which also doubled as a catch up with an old school friend) in Bayswater, I settled on Urban Meadow Cafe, just off Hyde Park and with a lovely outdoor terrace where I could sit with some work and a nice glass of rosé beforehand
Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater 5 Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater 2 Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater 4 Lunchtime Wine at Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater 3
The menu is light, fresh and Summery. It reminded me a lot of Los Angeles food, but also very English with the ingredients. Big fresh salads, small plates, vibrant ingredients. Just the sort of thing you want to be eating in this weather and with lots of choice. I was honestly torn between so much on there. 
Salad at Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater
Rosie opted to go down the salad route, and chose the Quinoa and Goats Cheese Salad with edamame beans, cherry tomato and a red wine vinegar dressing. It was light and fresh, though not something that either of us could not have really easily achieved at home. A nice dish paired with the atmosphere though, none the less.
Avocado On Toast at Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater Tomato Salad at Urban Meadow Cafe, Bayswater
I opted to go for the Avocado Toast on the 'Grazing' menu, and the tomato side salad. Both of them were not what I expected. I'd expected the avocado toast to be, well, avocado toast. However, while the crostini did make my fingers a little greasy and it was a lot more effort than I'd liked, my avocado-dish-ting was delicious. My tomato salad was also nice, and seasoned well with salt. However, I did have one massive problem with it. In London, in the middle of July there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a restaurant to not be serving up ripe tomatoes. They would have made this dish from an okay salad, which I could have done a better job myself on, to something truly enjoyable.
Urban Meadow Cafe Pastries
When we stepped inside to pay (the bill was very reasonable) I spotted the lines of pastries in the window; as the cafe is all day, I should think it would also make for a great breakfast meeting spot. We also noticed a table inside tucking into the most epic looking open sandwiches, which made us decide that we really, really made the wrong menu choices.

I know I use 'Places To Eat In London' mostly to write glowing reviews of places I'd love for you to discover, and that I don't write negative reviews. Regular readers will notice, however, that I do review a place that I've had an okay experience at if it has something I'd really recommend it for; Jackson & Rye in Soho, for example, I'd only push you in the direction of for the cocktails, cookies and desserts. So, why should you visit Urban Meadow Cafe? They have a fantastic patio area that is quiet during the lunch hour with no problem of getting a seat, they have good, reasonable house wine and there is reasonable food to graze on, in the shade if you wish. In London at the moment, what more can you ask for?

Have any of you been to Urban Meadow Cafe before, and can confirm my suspicion that the menu is very hit and miss? Also, I'd love to hear of any more places with outdoor seating areas you'd recommend in the city. I'd like to go right ahead here and throw Beagle in Hoxton into the mix here, The Boundary Rooftop (where I've only been for drinks but I'm desperate to eat) in Shoreditch, and that I really, really want to head outside at The Chiltern Firehouse and on the roof of Selfridges before the Summer is out. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Weekly Love: Week 133

Can it stop being too hot already? I've been bouncing back and forth between Kent (where I can at least open all the doors to try and tempt in some of the non-existant breeze) and London for meetings (where I can't.) Now is the moment where I become the next blogger to wax lyrical about Uber. I've had it for about a year, but it was not until a horrific Central Line trip on Tuesday evening did I decide that enough was enough and I was boycotting TFL until it cooled down a bit. Honestly, I was really impressed. You can request and track your driver on your phone, and they send you the number, photo and registration of who is picking you up. It is all paid direct from your account too. I had two lovely drivers on Wednesday, with air conditioning, and I was happily surprised at how reasonably it was priced. I'm working on getting a custom code for the blog, but if you don't use it yet and you use the code lt8pc when you sign up, you'll get £10 off of your first ride. Enjoy! 
Weekly Love 250714 [1]
1. Playing around with Rosie Ramsden's new book The Recipe Wheel. A full post about it to follow next week, but I can promise you it is full of lovely recipes around a really neat concept. | 2. Griddling spring onions/ salad onions on the barbecue is my new favourite thing. | 3. Outdoor late breakfast with avocado, fresh bread, fresh lime, sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and Waitrose Kitchen. | 4. Lunch at Urban Meadow Cafe in Bayswater. Full review to follow soon. | 5. Another review to follow soon, I had a late night in London on Tuesday night, so I stayed in this awesome little bolt-hole at the citizenM on Bankside. You could change the colour of your room with the in room tablet that also did the blinds, temperature and television. | 6. A screening of the 80's classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Pops Champagne ice lollies as the sun went down on the roof of Queen of Hoxton. More on that in a moment, but I may or may not have had 2 of these within the space of 12 hours when I was knocking around the Selfridges #destinationchristmas press preview the next day with Bess.

Frexinet Spanish Tapas Jamon
On Tuesday night the wonderful team at Frexienet invited me up onto the top of Queen Of Hoxton for delicious Spanish tapas, wine tasting, one too many bellinis and the premier of their #littlethings campaign video, followed by a screening of the 80's classic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which believe it or not I'd never seen. Obviously it was the food that really caught my attention, and I wish to proclaim that all food, from now until the end of the Summer should be eaten on sticks, on rooftops. I'd never actually heard of Frexienet before I was invited, but I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer flavour range of their Spanish Cava's - bottles to look out for. Head over to their Youtube channel to check out the short videos (that is totally me at the petrol pump!), and to Milly's (it was lovely to see you again!) Twitter page, where she also captured some great photos at the event, including of the really pretty garden party cocktails we also enjoyed, and the divine churros, strawberries and marshmallows I gorged myself on
Weekly Love 250714 [2]
7. If you head over to Great British Chef's you'll find my recipe for Lemon & Thyme Madeleines. | 8. My Skinny Sticky Storecupboard Barbecue Chicken griddling away for dinner. | 9. Working on upcoming projects outside Urban Meadow Cafe before my lunch meeting with a nice cold glass of rose. | 10. A delicious Chicken Liver Salad at The Red Lion in Stodmarsh, just outside of Canterbury for Sunday lunch. A whole group of us had a fantastic meal, though I think they need to work on making the portions a little smaller if they want people to be able to sample both starters and desserts! | 11. Slow cook roast, halved and topped with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, thyme and bashed garlic cloves for a couple of hours for a simple yet stunning Summer side dish. | 12. The sheer teamwork that was Kathryn, Edward, Elle and I made for these simply divine White Chocolate and Raspberry (that we picked) soufflés for Sunday night dessert. The recipe was a bit of a mash up, but it will follow once we've figured it out a bit better! Also, big love to Kathryn and Elle for your amazing Shepherds Pie, and to Eddie our wonderful sous chef! We really need to all cook together more.
Finally, can we take a moment to talk about For those of you who don't know, is a special Instagram plug in for website publishers like me to let you guys know where to buy the things I feature in my Instagrams, run by my affiliate network RewardStyle. I know I mostly post plates of food, but when I get a moment (and teach everyone around me to be better iPhone photographers!) I'm going to try and throw up a few outfit posts and a few more lifestyle snapshots on there. Just because I don't write about fashion and makeup here, doesn't mean that I'm still not totally into all of that stuff, (hey, just look at my Pinterest!) and I like making pretty pictures. Now, have just updated their publisher app so for the first time I can see how many of my Instagram followers use to get emails with shopping links sent to them whenever they like a shop-able picture in their feed. I was shocked to find that while over 1,300 of you amazing people follow me on Instagram, only 13 of you are signed up! So, if you'd like to receive updates from me, and some of the other awesome people you no doubt follow, step this way

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm in London this evening to help celebrate one of my best friends birthdays, then I'm off to Waitrose Cookery School tomorrow morning, which I'm rather excited about! 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Recipe: A Traditional French Pissaladière

So, I promised everyone sitting around the dinner table on Saturday night, a fair few of our friends who'd seen the photos on social media, plus a fair few of you online that I'd share the recipe for the Pissaladière onion and anchovy tart I served up as the main event at my Provincial themed dinner party. I was stupidly proud of it and happy with the way the recipe turned out at practically every stage of the cooking on Saturday morning, so luckily I snapped a few more snaps of it while it was a work in progress, and just before everyone arrived for pre-dinner pink bubbles and a bit of catch up gossip before descending on the dinner table.
Pissaladière 1 Pissaladière 2
I was recently asked what my desert island cookbook would be, and after some deliberation I landed on the French classic Larousse Gastronomique. I think this demonstrates how much French techniques is at the cornerstone of my cooking. Therefore, you can imagine that I have enough Pissaladière recipes kicking about. In the end, I went for the simplest one I had most of the ingredients for, in true French fashion. This recipe is not adapted at all, it is just shared outright with love and affection from Joanne Harris and Fran Warde's The French Kitchen, which is a lovely book I could cook forever from. A second desert island pick, if you will. 
Pissaladière 3 Pissaladière 4

  • 6 tbsp Olive Oil, plus a little bit extra for brushing on the tray & dough
  • 25g (2 scant tbsp) Unsalted (preferably French) Butter
  • Bunch of Thyme
  • 175g (6 oz) White Onions, very finely sliced (use a mandolin if you have one!)
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper 
  • 15g (1 tbsp) Dried Yeast (I use Allisons)
  • 120ml (4 floz) Tepid (not warm, but not cold either) Water
  • 1 tsp Golden Caster Sugar
  • 250g (9 oz) Strong Bread Flour
  • Sea Salt
  • Jar of Anchovies (I like Waitrose)
  • Jar of Pitted Black Olives (I like Crespo) 

First, get the onions cooking while you make the dough base. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil and the butter in a very large, heavy bottomed frying pan and add roughly half the time. When it is frothy, add the onions and stir to make sure they are all coated with oil and butter. Leave to cook down to caramelisation, but not browning over a medium to low heat for about an hour. Once they're cooked, season with salt and pepper and then set aside to cool. 

To make the dough, mix the yeast with the tepid water and sugar, and leave in a warm place for five minutes until the yeast goes frothy. Add to the flour and salt, and remaining 4 tbsp olive oil, and combine to form a dough. Knead on a floured surface for ten minutes to build up the gluten until the dough is elastic. Cover with cling film, or a wet tea towel to prevent a skin forming on the dough and leave to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This usually takes about an hour, but I've been finding my bread dough has been going much quicker in this heat. 

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees celsius (430 degrees fahrenheit). Knock the dough back a little (you can read more about bread making techniques here) on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a square that will reach with about half an inch around the edges of a non stick baking tray. Brush the tray with oil before placing the dough on it, and brush oil over the top of the dough, too. Spread over the onions, then decorate with anchovies, sliced down the middle with a sharp knife into thin strips made into a lattice pattern, and olives dropped into each diamond shape. Sprinkle over the remaining thyme and bake for 20 minutes until the dough is crisp and the onions have started to crisp up too. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pisalde 10Enjoy with a crisp, ice cold glass of French rose and a healthy dose of the fantastic sunshine we've been having in England at the moment. But please in the early evening, because the days are just too hot at the moment, and this is coming from me, the give who craves the West Coast weather and sunshine almost constantly. It is a different type of heat, which is bad in the countryside. Add the District Line into the mix, and it is unbearable!