Si Signore, Brighton: Dinner

Another birthday celebration, another delightful dinner to look forward to. This time I drove down to Brighton to visit Si Signore in the North Laine, which I had never even seen before, much less visited.

Upon finding the place, in the centre of the street and surrounded by miniature Christmas trees and twinkling lights, we sat upstairs on a long table overlooking the North Laine in a charming, ramshackle building.

I ordered a mango juice, which was delicious, top quality juice and a Fiorentina pizza, which is my personal favourite and caught my eye the moment I opened the extensive menu.

You can see the evening menu here.

It was delicious, with the addition of green and black olives marinated in a chilli oil which elevated the usual spinach, nutmeg and egg topping. The egg had been thoroughly cooked, where usually I would expect it to still have a runny yolk. The pizza base was thin, but spongy and while I usually prefer a thin and crispy base, it was enough of a departure from the usual that it was enjoyable.

All very reasonably priced and I’m glad to have found a cute little spot for pizza in the future.

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Bills, Tunbridge Wells: Lunch

I headed down to Bills with the full intention of finally trying the hot cinnamon doughnuts, but alas, my dining partner and I were so hungry we were ordering lunch before we knew quite what was happening.

I opted for my favourite green smoothie, which comes bright green in a frosted glass adorned with pineapple and melon. I figured that was healthy enough (I got a large), to justify a huge dish of Butternut squash mac ‘n’ cheese.

Oh, is there anything better than mac ‘n’ cheese when the weather outside is frightful? I was all wrapped up warm in a huge print blanket cape and it seemed appropriate to continue the theme of self-indulgence with quantities of cheesy pasta, with spinach, butternut squash and pumpkin seeds for texture and taste.

 

You can check out the menu here.

Phew, it was a big dish though, well worth the £8.95 and kept me fuelled for the rest of the day.

We’ll be back, for doughnuts!

The Drapers Arms, Islington: Lunch

I hopped off the tube at Islington & Highbury, into the drizzle and made my way to a lovely pub, The Drapers Arms, about a fifteen minute walk. Open, airy and pleasant, the pub itself was a delight with high ceilings, diligent waitstaff and lots of natural light (even in November).

The birthday I was there to celebrate had a table in the corner, so I took my seat to await the other guests and sipped quantities of the iced water already on the table to bring my temperature down (unseasonably warm outside!)

With a long menu, initially it looked like there were many dishes to choose from, but if you have a restricted diet you may have a hard time of it. There was just the one vegetarian dish out of maybe ten main courses?

See the Menu here.

So, without further ado I ordered the Baked salsify with Tunworth, breadcrumbs and watercress. That is indeed the entire component of the dish – a large dish, one baked root with meltingly good cheese over the top, sides and possibly lining the dish too. Add breadcrumbs on top to give a golden colour and a handful of watercress leaves by the side, no more, no less. It could have done with less reliance on the rich flavour of the cheese, which becomes monotonous after a few bites, and more of the vegetable. It was almost as if, in order to charge £12.50 for the meal, the chef felt obliged to use at least six pounds worth of cheese. I would have preferred a hash of salsify, parsnip, sweet potato, butternut squash and onion, with a thin layer of golden, bubbly cheese and breadcrumbs on top and a more interesting salad with a sharp vinegary dressing.

For dessert, a Gingerbread pudding, whipped cream and oats intrigued me and was delicious. A very small portion, but just as a gingerbread pudding ought to be, with pouring cream rather than whipped and puffy, crisp oat clusters adding an alternate texture to the top.

The house rose was fine, dry and the cava was very much enjoyed by the party. Golden ale was on tap and the wait staff were happy to bring out water.

For what was on offer, the vegetarian food was priced to match the rather more adventurous carnivorous dishes.

Quick Lunch: Egg, Smashed Avocado & Toast

Oh man. This was good. So good I ate it all and licked the plate before I could snap a photo. That is one of the major reasons I could never be a food blogger. I need to eat my creation, immediately.

Impatience. It’s a curse.

Anyway, so I shall paint you a picture with words, which is more my forte anyway.

So:

Fresh, dense, savoury walnut bread sliced thinly and slathered in salted butter and mashed up garlic. Fried in a hot, hot pan while I smashed up a beautifully ripe avocado with lemon juice. I smeared the chunky avocado over the toast, then topped it with a lightly fried egg, sprinkled all over with herbs de Provence. Slash that yolk and let it run, everywhere! Glorious, garlicky, creamy, crunchy toasty goodness!

Lunchtime rocks.

Pesto Revelation

Wow. I think I just had a religious experience. Revolving around pesto.

What a revelation! In a twist of supermarket frustration (Must. Eat. NOW.) I ditched the weekly grocery shop in favour of grabbing the first, fast, cookable thing I could see. And that was fresh pasta and fresh pesto.

Now, usually, pesto is something I buy in a jar and store in the cupboard for those times when you’ve run out of food and do not have time to run to the store. It’s never really tasted of much to me, but it’s better than plain pasta, which sucks the life right out of me.

So, on this occasion I was planning to roast some multi-coloured cherry tomatoes to add a little sweetness (and health) to my meal, but gosh darn it, I was in a hunger grump. I was not going to take the time to roast anything.

I ended up chucking the steaming hot pasta in the fresh pesto and adding a healthy (read: huge) portion of pan fried halloumi. The whole thing took approx. three minutes and I gobbled it down. I may have burnt my tongue slightly. However, before I lost the tastebuds, you know what they were screaming?

WAHOOOOOO!

Now, they say hunger is the best garnish, but man oh man does fresh make all the difference. On one side, I can never go back. I’ve hereby lost a stand-by meal from my collection. Of course, *silver lining*, I have gained a whole new appreciation for pesto.

Oh the possibilities…now to successfully grow basil.

Temperature Drop Equals Baking

Bah! After a few last ditch balmy days, it appears the cooler weather has set in now – rain, grey and cold air for three days in a row!

I’m still hankering for Summer and not feeling Autumn at all yet. In an attempt to start feeling the vibes of the season, I’ve been getting back to baking now the oven can be turned on without causing a heatstroke incident.

I’ve been baking this One-Pot Bread recipe with great success! Absolutely loving how easy it was, although you have to put aside time to make the starter and prove the dough. The first time I tried it I ended up having to go to a meeting when I should have been popping it in the oven. The dough over-proved slightly, but that gave it a crumpet-like texture which was actually pretty good for breakfast at the weekend! I’m debating whether to try this French Toast Finger recipe using leftovers, ‘cos it looks tasty!

As well as various baking adventures, I refused to leave the house in the torrential rain yesterday to go for groceries, so had to get inventive with store cupboard bits and leftover veg for dinner. Worked pretty well actually. I was inspired by this picture from Pinterest to make what I’m calling a Mexican version of cottage pie – mixed beans, sweetcorn, carrot and onion making up the base and mashed sweet potato, whipped into creamy peaks making the top. Baked in the oven it managed to warm us up a treat!