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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Best of the Fringe Festival's Street Food

It's August, the Fringe Festival is in full swing which means the city is full of pop-ups. When it comes to the Festival, I'm all about the street food. I love street food pop-ups during the festival because it's the quickest way to grab a bite before a show in the evening. Check out my guide to my favourite street food that have popped up this Festival season. 


Assembly Festival


I'm starting off with the George Square area as it is is my go-to for street food every year. And this year they've really outdone themselves. This area is the heart of the Festival action and really does have food for almost anyone.

Unami Spice Girl at the Assembly Food Festival launch party

Unami Spice Girl and Spice Boy – With not one but two stalls at this year's festival, Unami Spice Girl and Spice Boy are where you'll find street food with a kick. At Spice Girl you'll find classics like Quesadillas and Nachos to something a little different like Malaysian Rendang. I haven't yet had the chance to properly visit them this year, but have at past food festivals and love their Chicken Satay Skewers. Spice Boy is a new addition serving up jerk chicken, beef or halloumi served in buns, wraps or even on fries. Spice Girl is located outside of Assembly Festival, and Spice Boy is round the corner towards Underbelly.

Alanda's – You'll find Alanda's all over the festival this year and they are an absolute classic for a cheeky pre-show chippy. But it's not all just battered cod, they also serve up a variety of sea food. Alanda's is located just outside the Assembly Festival but they also have a Sea Food Grill on George Street this year. To top it all off, Alanda's has an excellent Gelateria inside the Assembly Festival serving up delicious gelato... if the weather is ever going to be warm enough for it.

Covfefe...?

Also outside the Assembly you'll find Cargo Burger and Spud (which sells poutine but it's not amazing and not real poutine because it's just cheese, not cheese curds), the Crepe and Waffle House, the best named coffee stand there ever was Covfefe, and a few others. 

Chick + Pea's Halloumi Fries and Paddle and Peel's pizza

Chick + Pea – Halloumi lovers rejoice, Chick + Pea have a stall set up in the Assembly Festival. If you haven't tried their halloumi fries you are sorely missing out. They also sell really great falafel and I'm super keen to try out their hummus.

Dumplings from We sell dumplings

Also inside the Assembly Festival you'll find pizza from Paddle and Peel, asian street food at Pad BKK, super affordable crispy dumplings at We sell dumplings, the aptly named Aporkalypse (I do love a pun) and a whole lot more! Stay away from the Mac and Cheese and Toastie stand in the Assembly though, the food is not good. If you're looking for mac and cheese or a toastie... GO TO THE CHEESY TOAST SHACK (keep reading to hear more about them)...



Underbelly


Did you really go to the Fringe if you didn't take a picture with the purple cow at Underbelly? At least while you're there check out these great food stands in and outside Underbelly at George Square.

The Mac Shack's classic 

The Mac Shack – The Mac Shack is comfort food at its finest. On a classic Scottish rainy day there's nothing better. The Mac Shack's mac and cheese comes with a variety of toppings, with even the classic being topped with crunchy onions. The mac and cheese itself has a great little mustardy, tangy taste to it. Definitely a solid choice if you're fending off a multiple-festival-night-bender-hangover.

Mimi's Cake Cabin – Always a great spot for those that like a sweet treat. Mimi's cake cabin serves up a selection of their usual offering including traybakes, brownies and cupcakes. Alongside this they serve Luca's ice cream and you can even combine the two into amazing Cake Sundaes!

Within Underbelly you'll find Pizza Geeks (also found in their usual spot in Malones on the Mall), Shrimpwreck, Babu Bombay Kitchen and a few other food stands. I've yet to try these but have seen some pictures on Instagram so not going to lie I'm keen to soon, so keep an eye out on my Instagram.


Gilded Balloon


There isn't much inside the Gilded Balloon this year except for bars and a burger and pizza stand. But don't worry there's some really great ones just outside.

Mac and cheese AND pulled pork toastie from the Cheesy Toast Shack

The Cheesy Toast Shack – I think this has to be my favourite food stand at the Fringe this year, if you know my love of cheese you'll understand why. These are super indulgent toasties in an array of meaty or veggie options. The mac and cheese toastie is the ultimate cheat day food, carbs on carbs on cheese. How could you top that? How about add some pulled pork on there (this wasn't on their official menu, but they're happy to do it for you). They use a variety of different cheese and toppings, I can't wait to head back and try the camembert and mushroom one. You'll find the Cheesy Toasty Shack just outside the Gilded Balloon, I repeated OUTSIDE THE GILDED BALLOON! It is not the one in the Assembly, don't bother with that one.

Salted caramel brownie creme brulee from the Crema Caravan and a s'mores crepe from the Crepe Shack

The Crema Caravan – What's better than creme brulee? Creme brulee covered in more goodies of course! Crema Caravan serve up delicious creme brulees with amazing toppings from brownies to strawberries, adding that extra indulgence to your dessert. I for one think they are far superior to the next door Krispy Kreme hut, but hey each to their own!

The Crepe Shack – I'm a big fan of the Crepe Shack despite being quite critical of crepes (sorry but I grew up in France I can't help it!). There are a few stands across the festival offering crepes, but this one is my favourite because they push the boat out a bit further with their toppings. Don't worry, the staples (aka Nutella) are still there but they also offer fun things like s'mores crepes. They also do savoury crepes (which I love) with really unique toppings like camembert, pastrami and caramelised onions!


Edinburgh Cocktail Festival


Pina colada in a pineapple at the Edinburgh Cocktail Festival

The Edinburgh Cocktail Festival has joined forces with the Food and Flea Market and can be found just off the Royal Mile. The perfect place for drinks alongside a bite to eat. The drinks here are definitely a bit pricey for what you get but something a little different from the usual pints. Yes, I did buy the Pina Colada in the pineapple for £9, I'm a sucker for gimmicks. 

Salted caramel gelato sandwiched between two peanut and choc chip cookies at Moopie Gelato

The Food and Flea Market has some great food there including barnacles&bones, Knights Kitchen, Röst and others. Barnacles&bones is one of my favourites, their crab in homemade lemon mayo on chips is insanely good. On my most recent visit, I stopped by the new Moopie Gelato stand for an amazing gelato sandwich (it was sandwiched between chocolate and peanut cookies... just saying). 


Surely there can't be more?

Peach and thyme soda float and soft serve with sprinkles at Kitsch Soda pop-up

But there actually is! Alongside Alanda's Sea Food Grill on George street you'll find Harajuku Kitchen's famous gyoza a staple in the Edinburgh street food scene. This year at the Pleasance there's more street food than before, including some really good tacos. Round the side of Bedlam Theatre you'll find something a little different... soda floats! Kitsch Soda have a pop-up serving up their unique craft sodas (including Peach and Thyme) into floats with soft serve from Mossgiel Family Farm. A nice change if you want a pre-show drink but don't want alcohol.

Is there anything I've missed out or should get trying now? (Surely not...) Do let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 4 August 2017

El Cartel, Thistle Street


El Cartel is by far my favourite place for Mexican food in Edinburgh.

That's all I really need to open with. If you haven't yet heard of the magnificence of El Cartel you've been living under a rock. If you've heard of it and haven't managed to get yourself a table, now that I understand. El Cartel is absolutely tiny and doesn't take bookings, so it's luck or a lot of hanging around that will get you a table. Your best chance of getting a table is either being super early for dinner or heading there on a weekday. Put your name down on the waiting list and head to Bon Vivant for a drink or two, it's definitely worth the wait. Once you're in there you'll get to enjoy the quality food with pretty decent music to top it off.

The food at El Cartel is Mexican street food so they come in fairly small portions. While you are expected to usually order more than one plate of food, I would say the portions at El Cartel are larger than your ordinary tapas. I'd usually recommend ordering 2-3 plates each, which is pretty filling and that's coming from someone who can put away a lot of food (normally when tapas places recommend 2-3 plates I scoff at them and order way more). The last time I went my friends and I ordered so much food that they advised us to stop ordering... That being said we finished it all and it was one of my proudest moments (is that sad...?!).

(The famous guacamole is an integral part to any El Cartel feast)
El Cartel definitely takes the crown for best guacamole in Edinburgh (although my friends will attest that my own guac is pretty impressive... El Cartel I challenge you to a duel... just kidding I would lose). Their Guacamole National is topped with cheese, pomegranate and spring onion. The sweetness of the pomegranate is something I'd never have previously associated with guac (I'm not even sure I normally like pomegranate) but it goes perfectly. The guacamole comes with plantain crisps instead of tortilla chips, which again offer just a touch of sweetness. The guacamole is the dish I recommend the most... it really isn't a trip to El Cartel without their famous dip.

(The frozen margaritas and the sadly no longer with us mushroom quesadillas)

So what else do I recommend you order? Their frozen margaritas. These are again some of the nicest frozen margaritas in town and come in a variety of flavours that change all the time. I love a good fruity margarita, on my last visit there was a delicious strawberry one on the menu.

The menu is split into 'Tacos' and 'Antojitos' and while it's not the biggest menu in the world, it is definitely a case of quality over quantity. The taco fillings are a mix of everyone's favourites such as cod, steak and duck tacos to some pretty unique toppings such as purple sprouting broccoli, shredded ox and plantain. So whether you like to stick to the classics or push the boat out there's a taco for you. For such a small menu there's also a decent amount of veggie options.

They change up a couple things on the menu every now and then. On a recent visit I noticed that they no longer serve my favourite quesadillas which were filled with cheese and mushrooms and topped with peanuts. (El Cartel if you read this bring them back!) Instead the quesadillas are now stuffed with chorizo, sweet potato, soft cheese, fennel and salsa verde. Still delicious but I was more of a fan of the mushroom ones. They also serve ribs, wings and jalapeño bombers if tacos and quesadillas aren't your thing. I've yet to try them but I'm keen to next time I'm back in.

When friends from outside of Edinburgh ask me where to go for food, El Cartel is one of the first places I recommend. It has a small, quality menu of street food alongside a great vibe and great margaritas. Perfect place for a meal out with your friends (maybe a drunk one... the margaritas are small but boy do they pack a punch).


Don't believe me? Check out their menu for yourself here.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Foodie Guide to the Cote D'Azur

Antibes Marina

I grew up in the South of France near Nice and head back down that way at least once (or twice... or whenever I get the chance) a year. What I love most about this region of France is the diversity of all the towns and cities that are all a reasonable distance away from one another. In just a week you can visit a ton of different places - including day-trips to two (technically) other countries.

This is going to be a little different from my usual posts as I'm going to go through some of my top recommendations of places to go and things to do... but don't worry I'll be throwing in food tips as well.

Just a little warning, I love the South of France a little too much, it has such a special place in my heart, so apologies for how gushy and biased this might be. I also can't go on too long about each place or this will be the longest post ever, so you're going to have to take my word for it and check these towns and cities yourself.


So where should you go?

Nice beach

Nice... 


Nice is honestly on par with Edinburgh as my favourite city. This is where you're likely to fly into and a great base for exploring the Cote D'Azur as it has great public transport links. The Chateau hill is undoubtedly the best place to see the beautiful coastline view. A must visit is the old town and the Cours Saleya, markets are held here and there is a line of restaurants on both sides. I think I've eaten at them all at some point in time and they are all great choices for lunch or dinner.

Grasse... 

A lovely town in-land that is definitely worth a visit. This is the perfume capital of France and home to so many museums and factories, the tours of which make for a great daytime activity. 

This year there was a random Snapchat sponsored ferris wheel in Cannes, but hey it offered great views and was free!

Cannes... 

It's an obvious one and not personally one of my favourites but worth visiting once in your life. Wander through the streets feeling like a star, admiring the beautiful seafront. Keep in mind that Cannes is quite expensive for food and drink and unless you're purposely there for celeb-spotting I wouldn't visit in May it's far too busy (when the Film Festival is on). 

Antibes Marina

Antibes... 

I love Antibes, it's a great place to visit. The marina is lovely to walk around (although they've now closed off the super yacht section so I can't window shop anymore... how rude) and there are some great little independent restaurants to eat at.

Theoule-sur-Mer... 

Theoule-sur-Mer is a bit further along west but my top recommendation for a beach day. It is a beautiful sandy beach with rocky cliffs to jump off. It's not as big of a tourist destination so the beach is a bit quieter than some of the major cities.


Vence... 

This is a great place to rent a villa, it's up in the mountains so feels quiet and remote but with great access to all the places you'll want to visit. Being up in the mountains there are great views down to the sea. There is a charming little old town called St-Paul-de-Vence worth a visit nearby. I personally love Vence because I visit one of my best friend's houses and she has this insane infinity pool.


Monaco... 

Another obvious one but it's a really interesting place to visit - it's the second smallest country by area in the world. I'd honestly avoid Monaco in May unless you're a die-hard Grand Prix fan as it's just insanely busy. Be prepared to spend a bit more money here and wear proper shoes if you want allowed in to the Casino!

My dad in front of Bono's house in Eze, Strawberry mojito on the Villefranche port

Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer... 

Both of these seafront towns on the way to Monaco from Nice are simply stunning. Set on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea, the views are honestly breath-taking. If you're a fan of U2 you can walk right up to Bono's house in Eze, and in Villefranche you can literally eat lunch right on the port inches from the boats.

Italy... 

While you're in the Cote D'Azur you can actually hop on a train or drive over to Italy... If you're staying in Nice you're not far from the border. If you really wanted you could hit three countries in a day: France, Monaco, Italy.



Top things to eat when you're in the South of France:



Pizza... 

Whether it's as a takeaway or sitting down for a meal, pizzas in France are insanely good. Think Italian-style but with French ingredients. Make sure you look out for the words 'feu de bois' to make sure you're getting the most authentic type of pizza (cooked in a wood-fire oven... yes there are even little food vans with these ovens). Look out for 'blanche' pizzas... these are some of my favourites. Instead of the usual tomato sauce base these have a white sauce topped with cheese and a variety of great toppings and are super delicious. Other favourites? Quatre fromage (four cheese) DUH!

Seafood and Fish... 

Set on the coast you know you're going to get the freshest fish and seafood across the Cote D'Azur. Most restaurants on the beach or on the port usually have a lot of fish and seafood options on their menus. Of course the one you have to try is moules (aka mussels), these are so fresh down in the South of France. Moules, frites is the quintessential South of France food and come with a variety of sauces (personally I like them with a good white wine sauce).



Baguette and pastries... 

Visit a boulangerie at least once... if not every morning. Baguettes actually come in many shapes and sizes, but my favourites are those 'a l'ancienne' which are crunchier on the outside (but still soft inside) and usually end in a peak. While at the boulangerie you have to grab some croissants and pain au chocolat. They are far superior in their home country, perfectly flaky and buttery. Don't cheat with the supermarket ones they are not as good as the fresh ones straight from the bakery.

Cheese... 

This is an obvious one but honestly necessary. Even if you're not staying in self-catering accommodation you need to find a way to spend at least one night just buying a whole bunch of cheese and a couple baguettes accompanying it with a good red wine. Despite being a bit of a cheese connoisseur I couldn't tell you the names of any of the cheeses I pick up on holiday other than the usual favourites (brie, camembert, etc). What we usually do is just pick blindly, you honestly can rarely go wrong. Even a simple goats cheese makes for a great dip with some sweet chilli sauce. I hate to admit but the saying 'the stinkier, the better' is definitely true, but warning you may stink out your fridge for days. 

Meat... 

In my opinion the French cook their meat to perfection but if you prefer your meat fully cooked then order it 'bien cuit' (but this is pretty blasphemous). If you want to experience meat at its finest order it 'a point'. Duck is one of my favourite meats and not enough people order it rare, it is honestly delicious that way. 


Crepes... 

Duh... I don't think I need to explain that you need to get yourself a fresh crepe at least once... and smother that boy in Nutella. I'm also a massive fan of savoury crepes, also often known as galettes. These can come filled with ham, cheese, egg, veg or meat and are absolutely delicious. Great for an easy lunch option.


Gelato... 

Being so close to the Italian border we get GREAT gelato here. And it comes in the best flavours. Whether you want to go all out or be a little healthier there's plenty of flavours from fruits to Nutella. That's right Nutella gelato. My go-to order is one boule pistachio, one boule Nutella - always a winner. You find so many flavours inspired by your favourite chocolates including Kinder and Ferrero Rocher. My favourite gelato place is Fenocchio's and has two branches in the old town of Nice - they have the most flavours I've ever seen.


Top things to drink in France? 

WINE DUH LOTS OF IT!

The wine in France makes me not drink wine when I get back to the UK. It's honestly that much better. And it's cheap. So cheap. Even boxed wine is delicious. One of my favourite reds I tried on my most recent trip was simply named Languedoc (2016) and was the smoothest red I've had in a while. In terms of rose I prefer the 'gris' (grey) type of rose, and always gravitate towards them. You can spend anywhere from a few euros to hundreds of euros on wine in France and it will be superior to the wine we get here regardless. 


So that's it, my completely and utterly unbiased guide to the South of France. If you're planning on jetting down to the South at any time and want to ask me any questions feel free to contact me on my social media or by email, I'm ALWAYS happy to talk about France.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Wee Buddha, Jamaica Street

After a particularly tough Body Pump session at the gym I decided to reward myself with a whole lot of food (it's pretty obvious why I can't lose weight despite going to the gym 4 times a week right...?). My friend had been recommending Wee Buddha to me for a while so I dragged her to it last Sunday.

When I saw the menu I got super excited. There's nothing I love more in this foodie world than tapas or small bites... whatever you want to call them. As an absolute greedy guts I find it so hard to pick just one thing off a menu. I see so many things I want to try so when a menu gives me the option to have a lot of small plates, I'm all for it. Wee Buddha's menu is a combination of bowls (mainly noodle dishes) and small dishes. You could either order one small dish as a starter and a bowl as a main, or you can, like me, order a bunch of little dishes. So here's a low-down on the ones I tried.

Cantonese seasoned chips, satay pork belly and veggie gyozas
My friend and I shared the veggie gyozas, which were super soft and delicious. You get a fair few of them as well, so for a small plate/starter size they certainly aren't stingy.

The next dish I chose was the satay pork belly, which was really tasty. Now I'm a big fan of satay it is straight up my favourite sauce. So I was a little disappointed that they were more marinated in a satay sauce than covered in one. What I'm trying to say is that I would have loved more sauce. That being said the skewers were delicious and the pork belly was nice and fatty.

Pad thai wings
I also ordered pad thai wings which were insanely good. I'm not really that big on wings, I'd very rarely order it off a menu, but I was super intrigued by them being covered in one of my other favourite sauces. (Side note: Wee Buddha is you wanna make some satay wings I'd be SO DOWN FOR THAT!) Unlike the pork belly, these were drenched in sauce, which I actually didn't expect but was pleasantly surprised with. The sauce was so good, a little sweet, a little tangy. I was so full by this point but couldn't leave a wing uneaten. They were super crispy on the outside with juicy meat on the inside. I highly recommend ordering the wings if you go here, they also come in sweet siracha, garlic and chilli or k-wing sauce (not entirely sure what the last sauce is to be honest!).

Cantonese seasoned chips
And finally, the pièce de résistance... the cantonese seasoned chips. Oh. My. God. Were. These. Good. I don't think I ever want to try another chip again in my life. The chips are a must order at Wee Buddha. You know when you order a takeaway and you get salt and chilli chips? The cantonese seasoned chips are similar but EVEN BETTER. The seasoning is so good and not too spicy, so don't worry if you don't like spice. On top of that the actual chips are my ideal, not too skinny, not too thick, perfectly crispy with tons of those little super crispy ones. So good. If you've looked at the above picture and not decided to go to Wee Buddha and order the seasoned chips you're straight up crazy.

Another reason I love the option of small bites/plates/tapas style is that your meal can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. The small bites range in price from £3.20 to £7.90, so if you're a greedy guts like me you might need to order tap water because you'll be spending a lot, but if you have restraint you can easily pop in for a small, cheap meal. If I wasn't up for pigging out, I'd be happy with just the chips and wings!

Wee Buddha is an absolute hidden gem, tucked away on Jamaica Street in Stockbridge. Alongside the asian tapas-style food there's a great selection of beers and cocktails at the bar, and it makes a cute little place for a drink. Although I can imagine I wouldn't be able to resist ordering the chips even if I was only going in for an asian beer! I'm definitely going to be heading back to Wee Buddha soon, I'm dying to try their salt and spicy squid, so look out for more pics on my Instagram.


Check out Wee Buddha's food and drink menu for yourself over on their website!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Afternoon tea at Patisserie Maxime, Queensferry Street

My flatmate and I decided to treat ourselves to an itison voucher for afternoon tea with prosecco voucher at Patisserie Maxime. And boy does this place put on a nice looking afternoon tea!


First of all let's talk about the presentation. I don't think I've seen such an elaborate cake stand in my life. Three tiers of planks of wood held together like a tree, topped with (fake) grass! It was certainly unique and really made it stand out.

In terms of the savouries they were for the most part okay, but nothing absolutely amazing or stand-out. There were the classic sandwich toppings of egg mayo and ham, cheese and pickle on a more French-style bread. There was also an omelette on a crunchy, crouton-like bread which was quite nice. The salmon and avocado mousse was pretty disappointing as it sounded right up my street, but in the end it had very little flavour. 


Now for the best bit... the cakes and pastries! We had one full-sized fruit scone each which was a nice surprise as afternoon teas tend to provide you with those mini scones and it just leaves you wanting a real one. The scone itself was nice but sadly was only accompanied by butter and jam... who doesn't want clotted cream on their scone especially in an afternoon tea setting.

The middle tier was probably the best one. There were two pastries each a chocolate twist and a cranberry twist (which was quite unique and very delicious), there was a fruity mousse which I could give or take, a pistachio chou and a macaron each. I was a little disappointed that neither macaron had a particular taste/flavour. The top tier included a mini raspberry tart which was delicious and a little pistachio cake. Overall my favourites were the pastries and the raspberry tart.

I wasn't particularly blown away by the food but the whole look of the Afternoon Tea was impressive and it would make for a great treat for a mother or grandmother. The prosecco was really decent and you get your usual tea (or coffee) as well. Considering we got a great deal, I wasn't at all disappointed as you get so much food and it's really good value. 

Check out their website for yourself here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

L'Appetite Foodie's Cheesy Veggie Lasagne


I try to eat as healthy as possible during the week so I can, in the wise words of Donna and Tom, 'treat yoself' on the weekends (if you don't get that reference... I don't get you). This lasagne is one of my favourite things to make when I'm trying to eat healthier as it totally disguises all the veggies (although if you want to be even healthier try not to use as much cheese as I do!). Now as a general rule I don't really measure things out so I'm sorry there are no exact measurements but it means you can make your mince as tomato-y and garlic-y as you want and your cheese sauce as cheesy as you want. So read on to find out how I make my super cheesy all veggie lasagne!

Ingredients:



1 x bag of Quorn mince (optional - can also use meat if you'd prefer!)
1 x white onion
Half a courgette
Approx 4-6 closed cup mushrooms
1 x bag of Spinach (optional)
Olive oil
2 x cans of chopped tomatoes
1 x tomato puree
3-5 cloves of garlic
Butternut squash lasagne sheets (I've only ever found them in Sainsbury's but you can also try thinly slicing a butternut squash yourself!)
Butter
Flour
Almond milk (optional - use the milk of your choice!)
1 x bag of grated mature cheddar cheese (pre-grated for the lazies like me)
Parmesan cheese
Mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to season

Step 1: Making the mince!



Start by chopping up your onions, mushrooms and courgette into as big or small chunks as you like. The veg choices are optional, you can add whatever veg you like as this is your chance to disguise i all within the mince. Next brown off the onions, mushrooms and courgette in a big pan with one or two crushed cloves of garlic and a splash of olive oil. Now you want to add your chosen mince. As I'm doing an all veggie lasagne I'm using Quorn mince. The Quorn doesn't take too long as you're essentially just defrosting it. Once the Quorn is cooked I add in another clove of garlic and some of the tomato puree, just enough to cover the mince a bit - I don't know if this adds any flavour but I like to think it does! I then add in two tins of chopped tomatoes. You might need to add in a bit of water if the mince isn't saucy enough, maybe half of the one of the tins worth of water. I then add one more crushed clove of garlic, lots of mixed herbs and the rest of the tomato puree. I like to just keep tasting my mince sauce while I make it, I tend to add a bit more garlic, salt, pepper and mixed herbs as I go. Just keep tasting it until you get it to your desired taste. Once I'm happy with it I leave it to simmer on a really low heat.

Step 2: Get cheesy!

This is my favourite bit... making the cheese sauce! At this point I start preheating the oven to about 180-200C (depending how hot your oven is or just a guesstimate between the two if like me your oven's numbers have been rubbed off...) If you've never made a classic cheese sauce, here's a link to an actual recipe because like I said I don't really use measurements.

I start by melting down a really big tablespoon of butter or two, depending how much sauce I want to make. You melt that down on a normal heat then pop it down to low. Start gradually adding plain flour to the melted butter until the butter and flour start to come together into a little almost dough like ball. That's when you start adding the milk. You don't need to use almond milk, it's just the only kind of milk I currently buy and it works perfectly fine. My diet plan is to use healthy alternatives for everything but the cheese so you can guiltlessly make it as cheesy as you want! If I'm cutting down on dairy I'd rather cut the real milk out not the cheese! Good plan right?

Anyway you want to gradually add in milk just a little at the time. Keep doing this to turn the paste into a thick sauce. The reason I don't know the measurements here is it can be different every time, it just depends how thick I want the sauce. If you add too much at once you'll end up with a super lumpy sauce, so be patient! Once you have your desired consistency add in the cheese! I usually add about 75% of a pack of grated cheese (such exact measurements) and I season with pepper. Again just keep tasting it until it is as cheesy as you like! And don't eat half the sauce while tasting like I do...

Step 3: Assemble!



Now it's time to assemble everything! I start with a layer of mince meat (sometimes when I want to add even more greens in I will layer spinach leaves on top of the mince at this point) and flattening it out across the bottom of my oven dish then add on a layer of cheese sauce. Don't make your layers too thick or you'll run out of the goods after just a couple layers! Then I add the butternut squash sheets where your pasta sheets would normally go.

TOP TIP: Sainsbury's also sell courgette lasagne sheets but I've found these do not hold once cooked the way the butternut squash ones do! I made a lasagne with the courgette once and it just totally fell apart! In my experience, the butternut squash sheets tend to hold together similarly to pasta. This lasagne works great when it is left to cool and reheated as leftovers - it really holds its shape well then.

Then repeat for as many layers as you can! If you've got a large dish you'll probably only manage three layers, you might get more out of a smaller, deeper dish. I managed three layers. I like to make sure the top layer is the thickest layer of cheese sauce! I then top the last layer of cheese sauce with extra grated cheese and some Parmesan. I usually use the crumbled up kind of Parmesan but they only had the flakes so this particularly lasagne turned out super cheesy (you know I ain't complaining about that!).

Step 4: Pop it in the oven!

Put the lasagne carefully in the oven. Now I again do not know exactly how long I cook it for, I just go back through and check on how crispy the top layer is and poke a knife through to see if the butternut squash has softened. You will definitely know when it is ready. As a guideline I would say 45-50 minutes but definitely just keep checking on it as the heat of your oven can cook things much faster or slower than others. And voila you're done!


This is one of my favourite recipes as it is comfort food that doesn't make me feel as heavy as ordinary lasagne does. It's also a great way of hiding a bunch of veggies if you feel like you're not eating enough. I usually serve it with a simple salad or a whole bunch of broccoli. I love making a huge batch of it and freezing or keeping the rest in the fridge for later in the week. They reheat really well and hold their lasagne shape better after being chilled.

Hope you enjoyed the 'recipe' and do let me know if you make it yourself!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Foodie Travels: London


Last weekend I headed through to London for the weekend to see some friends who thankfully tagged along with me on some foodie adventures (kudos to them for putting up with me taking 500+ pics of our food before allowing anyone to eat). I ate at some really great places, so if you're heading down anytime soon, you need to check some of these out. Here is the low-down on all the food (and drink) I ate over the weekend!

GRIND - EXMOUTH MARKET

Pancakes with blueberries and coconut cream... with a side of bacon
My friends love Grind because they do bottomless prosecco to go along with their amazing brunch menu. We didn’t go for the bottomless prosecco that morning because we had so many plans for the rest of the day that we didn’t want to be half drunk for, but normally for £12 you get your prosecco topped up endlessly within a 2 hour window – a pretty good idea for a lazy Sunday! I ordered the pancakes with blueberries and coconut cream with a cheeky side of bacon. These pancakes were really unique and different from the standard buttermilk pancakes you usually tend to get for brunch. They were really thick and cakey making them super delicious and filling. They were just a hint fruity as well which actually complimented the salty, perfectly crispy bacon I ordered on the side. I also got a matcha latte which was nice and strong, how I like it when I’ve got a long day of eating and drinking ahead of me. I also absolutely loved the décor here, really simple and clean with stunning marble tables and an amazing neon sign with the motto I definitely live by: ‘Don’t just stare at it, eat it’. Check out Grind's menu on their website the food is so good you'll certainly be doing more than staring at it.

The motto I live by

CROSSTOWN DOUGHNUTS - SOHO

Seven Berry Doughnut
This doughnut shop has a really unique selection of flavours – like kiwi and green apple and beetroot lemon-thyme. I opted for Matcha and my friend went for Seven Berry. Mine was not only a matcha flavoured doughnut but also covered in lovely sweet matcha icing. I’ve always wondered why some places spell doughnuts D-O-N-U-T-S and others D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T-S but Crosstown have finally given me the answer as their delicious doughnuts are definitely on the doughy side. They are almost like cake in texture and actually pretty thick (I couldn’t even take a proper bite out of one… I posted a picture on Instagram with a bite taken out but that was actually after several bites!). I definitely recommend Crosstown if you’re looking for a pit-stop snack. I brought mine into the cinema with me (cheeky) and it was a great mid-day snack. We got our Crosstown Doughnuts from Soho but they also are available all across London. Check out their website to see more of their fun and unique flavour combos.

When your friends catch you taking pics of your food
CAMINO - BANKSIDE

Just a few of our tapas selection
We spent the rest of the day at the cinema watching Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (if you haven't seen it yet you need to for Baby Groot alone) and then headed off for some tapas and wine. We thought after a day of brunch and doughnuts, tapas would be a good way of being able to pick at a few things. Me and my friend ordered a few plates to share including the black pudding, cheese fritters, patatas bravas, croquettes, calamari and the prawns. The highlights for me were the cheese fritters which came with a slightly sweet and tangy tomato chutney and the croquettes. Oh man the croquettes are good, they are filled with potato, cheese and Serrano ham. I highly recommend them - although don't share they are tiny! Camino would make a great place for drinks and nibbles as well as they offer both cheese and ham platters and have a great wine menu. We went to the one in Bankside, but there are plenty dotted around London, check out their website for more details

VAGABOND WINES - VICTORIA

Can't beat a glass of red wine
I LOVE THIS PLACE! Definitely highly recommended if you love wine and you love controlling your intake of wine. We went to the new one in Victoria which was a good choice because it was pretty empty for a Saturday night. How it works is you get a card, top it up then use it to purchase your wine. You pay a £5 deposit for the card and then top up as much as you like. My friends kept their cards but I made sure to use all the money off mine then returned it to get my deposit back, since I wouldn’t be back for a while. There are a selection of wines at the middle of the bar from reds to whites to rosé. All you do is pop your glass under the tap (remember to do this!!! Or you’ll end up with wine down the drain), insert your card into the slot at the end of the row, then press a button and your chosen wine is poured straight into your glass. It’s a great way to try out new wines as you’re given the option of a taster sized measure, a regular glass or a large glass, priced accordingly. Most of the taster sized measures are around the £1-2 mark so you won’t feel like you’ve wasted money if you pick a wine you don’t like. The Vagabond in Victoria had a pretty decent selection and it was really great trying out a few different wines. There are also Vagabond wine bars all over London, check their website for one near you.

CEREAL KILLER CAFE - CAMDEN MARKET

The Frooty One
We initially planned to go to Camden Market for the Cheese Festival, however, the Cheese Festival had created some RIDICULOUS queues. I was pretty annoyed at the whole event to be honest, from what I'd heard of it it seemed to be the same stalls that are normally at Camden but hidden behind barriers and with a whole lot more people (gathered for the gimmick of the festival). I follow quite a few of the cheese related street food vendors on Instagram so I know most of them do Camden Market regardless of the festival (including the pasta tossed in the cheese wheel, the mac and cheese and the newly opened cheese bar). But because of the following the Festival had drummed up, it was impossible to get in without waiting in a queue for several hours. So despite my love for cheese and thus utter disappointment we passed on spending a day waiting in a queue (and that was just the queue to get in, let alone for actual food).

But at least this left the Cereal Killer Cafe, located within Camden Market, nice and empty (while it does fit the dairy theme, I don't think they decided to try selling cheese cereal for the festival). The decor in here is what is most impressive. If you were a kid in the 90's you'll appreciate this place, it is like someone took your childhood, turned it up full blast and exploded it all over a café. My favourite part were the single beds lined up as benches to sit on, adorned in a variety of 90's bedsheets including Taz and the Power Rangers. After you order your food you are given a VHS case of an epic 90's movie (we had Jumanji) so they know who to bring your order out to.


The menu is literally as you'd expect... all cereal. You can just straight up order a bowl of Lucky Charms or Rice Krispies... whatever you want! My friend ordered a bowl of what we called in France 'Smacks' aka Sugar Puffs because she hadn't had them since she was a kid. I wanted something a little more extravagant... are you even remotely surprised? While I was tempted by their cereal cocktails (a mixture of different cereals and sweets) I opted for a sweet beverage. You have the choice of loaded hot chocolates or milkshakes, decorated with sweets and cereals. I went for the 'Frooty One' a strawberry milkshake topped with whipped cream and what I believe are Fruity Pebbles? Think if a Unicorn swallowed an entire box of Corn Flakes then pooped them out all and they were covered in rainbows and magic... that's Fruity Pebbles. As overly sweet it was... I did really enjoy it! It went down a treat surrounded by walls decorated with my childhood. If you're a cereal fan as I am myself, it's definitely worth a visit even just to see the place!


HOMESLICE - COVENT GARDEN

20inches of heaven
If you're looking for good pizza and a lot of it you need to go looking for Homeslice hidden in Neal's Yard in Covent Garden. The place is small so you'll probably need to wait for a table (by table I mean share a bench with a bunch of strangers because all good pizza places make you sit at a bench with strangers) but the pizza is worth it. All their pizzas are 20inch and cooked as they should be in a wood fire oven. Their pizza toppings are pretty out there and unique and every time something caught our eye on the menu something in the list sounded a bit off. In the end we went for half margarita and half mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seed and chilli. The mushroom side was SO good. It was tangy from the mushrooms, sweet from the ricotta, a little crunchy from the pumpkin seeds and had a bit of spice from the chilli. So good I think I could eat a whole 20inches of that pizza to myself. They also serve pizza by the slice if you're not a big fatty like me and deliver! I know where I'd be getting my pizzas if I lived in London.

So that's it! There are still so many places I want to try out in London but I sadly did not have the time or belly space. I love going down to London for a little weekend away so I will definitely be back soon to tick a few more places off my foodie bucket list - so stay tuned!

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