Monthly Archives: July 2013

Zoo Lates

29th July 2013

Do you remember the magic of the zoo as a child?  The weird and wonderful animals.. ice cream.. the penguins being fed?

Well, some clever noggin at ZSL (London Zoo) came up with the idea of combining that magic with Friday nights, alcohol, and pop-up food stalls.  So, every Friday in June and July London Zoo plays host to a bunch of adults that want to look at (and sometimes act like) the animals.

We met at the gate, near Regent’s Park – a big group of girls ready to ‘go wild’ (couldn’t resist, sorry).  

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Here are the photo and food highlights of the evening…

We started at the otters, which are my personal favourite – they make adorable little noises and hold hands when they’re floating.

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A met her animal soul mates – the lovely giraffes.

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We stopped for a beverage…

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And everybody got into the animal spirit of things.

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In the main open area at the centre of the zoo, you find all the food stalls, more bars, shops, even a merry-go-round.

I was delighted to discover a ‘tail shop’, and quickly embraced my inner fox.

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And J tried one on as well!

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When we were finished playing with the tails, we carried on exploring…

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Until it was time for food.  To be honest, they gave me too much choice and I couldn’t decide what I wanted!  There were pies, paella, tartiflette, wraps – the list continues.

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Some of the girls went for Anna Mae’s delicious Mac ‘n’ Cheese, which has been at a lot of events recently.  If you see them somewhere, definitely try it!  They have lots of different toppings.

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The rest of us had hot dogs – can’t go wrong with a hot dog.  These were from the Great British Sausage Company and they went down a treat.

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We ate our food sitting on the grass and listening to the music from the cabaret show (which was interesting).

Zoo Lates is sold out for this summer, but put it in your diary for next year.  You can find the details on the website.  Something a bit different from the average night out!  Make sure that you do what we did – if you book in a group of 10 people or more, tickets are half price, and this is good value considering usual entry to the zoo.

Final piece of advice – we weren’t sure what to expect – but it is very much a walk around the zoo, plus the fun extras.  Wear comfy shoes!

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Summer Salads, Spanish Omelette

24th July 2013

I am always happy when I get to tick recipes off my very long ‘to make’ list.  

I was meant to be meeting N and K for drinks last week, but given that every restaurant and bar with outside space in London is full to bursting at the moment, we made a last minute decision to cook at home.

I decided on two summery salads and a Spanish omelette – a light colourful dinner that we could eat in the garden.  

The first salad is a simplified version of Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate.  The second is a recipe I found on BBC Food.  And the omelette is a Jamie Oliver classic.  Here’s how to make them…

Chop red and yellow tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, red onion – and chuck it all in a serving dish.

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Drizzle the mixture with good olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Finally, garnish with pomegranate seeds and oregano leaves.  (Hint – you can buy pomegranate seeds packaged separately from Waitrose.  It’s way easier and quicker than getting them from the fruit yourself!)

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Easy to do, but it looks beautiful.

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Next salad up!

Lightly toast some almonds in a pan – this will only take a few minutes.

While the almonds are toasting, lay out some mixed salad leaves – ideally spinach, watercress and rocket (the bitter flavour will contrast well).  

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Chop up some crumbly feta…

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The almonds should be ready by now, so take them off the heat.

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More pomegranate seeds go on this salad as well, so make sure you have enough. Shake the feta, seeds and almonds onto the green leaves.  

This one also gets a dash of olive oil, but add some sesame oil too (just a little).  Season, and squeeze half a lemon over everything before tossing it.

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Last but not least – the omelette.  I wanted to add a bit of body to the meal, and this is a good option – not too carb heavy, but still satisfying.  

Boil a few potatoes until cooked, and then cut them roughly into slices/chunks.  While you’re waiting for the potatoes to boil, beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a fork.  I used ten eggs and this was plenty for four people as an accompaniment to the salads.

Cook the potato pieces and a bit of chorizo and onion in a large frying pan until they’re golden.  Add some fresh rosemary after a few minutes.  

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When the rosemary is crisp, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

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Cook on the hob for another minute or so, and then pop the frying pan into a preheated oven (about 200ºC).  When the omelette is cooked through in the middle, it’s ready.

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Take everything outside and serve with white wine (and in our case, Summer Fruits squash as well – why not hmm?!).

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A plate full of goodness…

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And what else to finish?  Strawberries, of course.

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It was a lovely girly evening of food, gossip… and snapchat.  Everyone loves a bit of snapchat.

Here are the original recipes if you want to browse:

  • Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate recipe
  • Leafy salad with feta and pomegranate recipe – BBC Food
  • Jamie Oliver’s Potato and Chorizo omelette recipe

Triple Pig

23rd July 2013

Down in Dorset a couple of weeks ago, I visited a very nice pub called The Stapleton Arms with O and his family.  

We started with strawberry mojitos…

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while snacking on fantastic pork pies…

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and home-made pork scratchings… (which came in little bags tied up with string).

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They brought us an amuse-bouche of asparagus soup in tiny teacups.

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O had a very photogenic burger –

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F had fish and chips (which looked beautiful as well).

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And I… had sausages.  Don’t get me wrong, they were great.  But I suddenly realised I’d had three helpings of pig.

Or as O’s sister described it – Triple Pig.  Dangerous.   

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I’d recommend the pub, the food is really good and the mojitos were excellent.  It’s tucked away in the countryside, so look it up if you happen to be passing nearby.