Tag Archives: Family

Sailing Away

19th July 2013

You might have heard already, but the weather’s been quite nice in England.  Last weekend, I jumped at the chance to get out of London and head towards the coast, in search of any kind of breeze.

My parents, along with some friends, had planned a little sailing trip – meet in Southampton, sail down to Lymington on Saturday and return on Sunday.

Sunshine, sea, sails…

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On Friday night we went to the Jolly Sailor in Bursledon, which is just outside Southampton.  It’s a pub that’s right on the water, with beautiful views.  To get there, you have to walk down a very long set of wooden steps, but it’s worth it.  Inside is cosy and welcoming, and they serve proper food.

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Sardines, butternut squash and onion croquettes, mezze board.

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Roast cod and chorizo salad, falafel and haloumi burger, fish and chips (with battered peas!)

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After dinner, I tucked into my cabin on the boat and went straight to sleep.  I always sleep really well on board – I love the sound and movement of the water!

The next morning we went for a spin in our friends’ power boat…

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and then returned to the yacht and prepared to set sail!

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Out into the Solent, and then away…

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Obviously I was hard at work…

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It’s the best spot!

We moored at Lymington Yacht Haven.

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Champagne on deck – before dinner at Haven Restaurant in the marina. 

The yummy mummies had their white skinnies on…

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I’m always scared the boats will fall off those big wooden stilts.

Luckily, we had the food to distract us, which was amazing.

Pan fried scallops with sweetcorn purée and curried pea fritter…

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Wood pigeon breast with rye bread and watercress salad with red wine dressing…

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Pan fried turbot fillet and Solent crab cakes

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I couldn’t stop raving about my main course: monkfish tail, with olive oil, mashed potatoes and clam sauce.  The clam sauce was a total dream, and went perfectly with the mash.

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All this, and a gorgeous view across the Isle of Wight – the clearest we’d ever seen it from here.

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Sunday dawned sunny (again!) and we made a relaxed passage back towards Southampton.  We anchored up for a long lunch – sunbathing and reading the papers.

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The skipper decided that swimming was on the agenda.  The sea… has not warmed up like everything else.  Let’s just say it was fairly refreshing.

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The sail home was calm, and I got the train back to London with salt in my hair, happy and tired.

What have you been up to in the sun?

The Vanilla Pod

9th July 2013

At the end of June my little sister A turned 21.  These days we seem to be all over the place, so getting the whole family around a table for a meal can be a challenge.

Between university, jobs and trips abroad we found an evening when everyone could be at home to celebrate.  

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We smartened up, toasted A with champagne, and then headed out for dinner.

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The restaurant is called The Vanilla Pod, and it’s in Marlow, tucked up against the River Thames.  It’s located in a refurbished town house, which used to be the home of T. S. Eliot.  The Vanilla Pod has been listed in the top 100 independent restaurants by the Good Food Guide 2013 and by the Sunday Times.

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There were eleven of us, so we fitted snugly into the upstairs dining room.  Wine was ordered, and we started on the warm bread that was brought to the table.  We each chose from a set menu that my parents had selected earlier in the week.

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An amuse-bouche of sweet potato soup arrived, which was seasoned with nutmeg.

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And then the real fun began…

I had Seared Lobster with Tomato Chutney to start.

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Those who didn’t have the lobster went for Smoked Duck Breast Salad with Portobello Mushroom Vinaigrette (no takers for Risotto of Ceps). 

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Which was exquisitely presented and tasted incredible.

In fact, all the starters disappeared rather quickly… luckily there was lots more on the way.  In honour of the summer, I went surf and turf – for my main course I chose Fillet Mignon of Beef with Oyster Mushrooms and Coffee Infused Celeriac. 

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Writing this out now is making my mouth water!

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The birthday girl had Gilt Head Sea Bream with Broken New Potatoes, Olive Sauce and Chorizo Sausage (I think she was probably making room for lots of cake later).

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And the prize for  ‘the dish I would have ordered if I could have had two mains’ is awarded to: Fillet of Lamb with Brioche and Orange Crumbs & Madeira Jus.

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That lamb is seriously beautiful.

To round off such wonderful food, the obvious choice was – cheese.  5 cheeses, to be more specific.  I’m sorry to say I can’t remember what they all were, except that one was from Crete and it was delicious. (Or was it Croatia…?  Note to self: less wine, more cheese note taking).

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L went for the Caramelized Vanilla Cream with Blackberry.

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Dragging myself away from the cheese, I did manage to get a picture of the Chocolate Taste, but only after D had started to battle it (to be fair, he is 9, and it was too good to be true).  Grandad’s had already completely gone.

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If you happen to find yourself in Marlow, do visit The Vanilla Pod – prices are more special occasion than everyday, but the food really is fantastic.

The website is here.

Happy Birthday A – I miss you!  (Try not to get too tanned).

Vanilla Pod on Urbanspoon

The BBQ

9th May 2013

The first Barbecue of the year.  There’s something magical about it, especially on a summery bank holiday weekend.

I went home to Buckinghamshire and while I cannot claim to be responsible for all of the beautiful food we had (thanks family!), I can share it with you.

 Get things kicked off with Pimms – lots of strawberries, apple, cucumber and mint.4

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My ultimate favourite (which I intend to blog about separately) comes next.  Hot crab dip is great to snack on while you prepare the rest of the food and get the barbie heated up.  Salty tortilla chips and cucumber sticks are perfect for dipping.

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The choices for the grill were – monkfish, chicken, sausages and steak.  So we sloshed together a marinade for the monkfish.  It’s made of olive oil, lime juice, coriander, and fresh chilli.

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The fish then gets popped into the marinade and left to soak up all the lovely flavours before cooking.

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Apply butter and garlic generously to some large Portobello mushrooms, which can be cooked up on the BBQ as well!

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There are always lots of pretty flowers dotted around the kitchen at home – I liked these tulips especially.

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Chop up tomatoes and spring onions to make a simple salad.

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Here’s another salad – leaves, peppers and feta cheese.

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Buy some ready to bake garlic bread from a supermarket, and serve it up when the meat and fish is sizzling on the grill.

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Now, I’m told by a barbeque expert I know (that’s you Daddy!), that perfect results are all about the timing.  Everything being cooked on the grill needs to be added in the right order to ensure it’s all ready at the same time.  For example, sausages take a lot longer to cook than fish.

Luckily, the responsibility for this task was not in my hands, but the hands of the expert.  And look how well it all turned out!  We just had to carve and dig in…

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Gorgeous fillet of beef, rare in the middle…

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And the chicken, and sausages, and of course the mushrooms.

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By the time we’d finished eating the sun was setting.

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We gave ourselves a little break and then it was pudding.

The colours of the berries matched the sky outside.

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My very clever mother had made this amazing chocolate cheesecake!

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All in all, a delicious evening.

Final thought for the day:

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