Monday, March 31, 2014

Meal Planning Monday 2014 - week 14

A busy week and one that I know is going to be terrible on the diet front! We have a double celebration for my boyfriend's birthday and I'm off to Paris for work for two days (I love my job!). As well as meals out the office is just a few doors down from Laduree, home of the most amazing macarons!


breakfast yogurt

lunch chicken sandwich

Dinner prawn linguine for me, chicken fajitas for the other half


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch baked potato with prawns

Dinner takeaway for my boyfriend's birthday followed by chocolate cake


Breakfast either toast at home or I will take a cereal bar with me as I'm off to Paris

Lunch probably a sandwich on the Eurostar

Dinner in a Parisian restaurant


Breakfast at a breakfast briefing so whatever is provided

Lunch probably a sandwich or in a cafe on the way back to the gare du nord

Dinner back home but later than usual so I will want something quick for dinner and will probably have pasta if my boyfriend has already eaten or something from the freezer with chips if he hasn't eaten by the time I get home (he doesn't really like pasta in its own)


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch ryvita with cream cheese

Dinner spaghetti bolognese


Breakfast yogurt

Lunch soup and fresh bread

Dinner out at the cinema for my boyfriend's birthday and he wants to eat at Nando's


Brunch bacon sandwich for him, tuna melt bagel for me

Afternoon having my boyfriend's family over for his birthday so I'm making another chocolate cake and serving some snack food

Dinner will depend what we ate in the afternoon, we could just have something like beans on toast for dinner

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Restaurant review: Wagamama

Restaurant name: Wagamama

Location: Mansion House, London

Description: Casual Japanese-style dining. You sit on long benches - often sharing tables with strangers - and have a paper placemat on which the waiter scribbles the number of your order. Dishes range from huge bowls of soup and noodles to salads and bento boxes; there's also a nice range of fresh juices to drink.

Reason for visit: Lunch with work colleagues when our manager came over from America - he likes this kind of food and it was a chain he had never been to before. It's also quite cheap and quick.

I ate: Chicken katsu curry - chicken goujons in breadcrumbs with a spicy curry sauce and a mound of rice, £9.50. I had a very nice fresh juice with it from the seasonal menu that was printed on my paper placemat.

My companions ate: Kare lomen - ramen noodles with chicken - £10.25 and wagamama pad thai with chicken and prawns, £9.75.

The food was: Very good; Wagamama is a successful and popular chain and with good reason. The portions are large and filling but this never seems like 'heavy' food. My only complaint is that I find it impossible to eat any of the soup-based noodle dishes (which are full of broth) without sloshing it all down myself, which is why I often tend to stick to things like the chicken katsu curry!

The atmosphere/service was: Very low key and casual, and the service is fast. They let you know that they will bring dishes when they are ready - so you have side dishes rather than starters - but it meant that most of our group had finished their main courses before one of our friends received hers. We pointed that out to the waiter who apologised, but there was no reason given for the delay to her meal, which was the same kind of food that everyone else was eating. I also noticed when we left that there was quite a queue outside, but a lot of empty seats inside, which I didn't understand.

Price range/value for money: It seemed a little more expensive than I remember, but I hadn't been to a Wagamama for years and I expect prices are lower outside of central London. Even so, the portions are large and the prices are good value. Green tea is free of charge which makes a nice change from water and can keep the cost of a meal very low.

Would I recommend it? Yes, it's a good place for lunch or a quick dinner, with plenty of healthy options and it's not very expensive.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Atelier des Chefs - Cook, Eat and Run

I enjoy cookery lessons and had a great time when I went to the Atelier des Chefs near St Paul's for my boyfriend's birthday; we had a private lesson making burgers and potato wedges. I worked near to the venue so when I knew I was leaving my job back in February, I decided to go there one last time. As well as 60 and 90 minute evening courses, they run a lunchtime session called "cook, eat and run". The idea is that you spend thirty minutes learning to prepare a dish, then you can either sit down and eat it or take it back to the office with you - so the whole thing fits neatly into a lunchbreak (as long as you work nearby!). Best of all, the whole thing - the lesson, and the meal that you get to eat - only costs £15.

The classes each focus on cooking one dish, so I had a look at the calendar and chose a date that suited me but also a meal that I liked the sound of. I chose a French dish of chicken with tarragon and creme fraiche.

When I arrived, there was only one other person there and we were waiting for one more. While we were waiting, the chef asked if we fancied making a chocolate brownie dessert, so of course we said yes! He had some melted chocolate and we whipped it up with the other ingredients and he poured the mixture into a tin which went into the oven, and that was that.

When the third person had arrived, we started the lesson. We each had a space on the workstation with bowls of ingredients, including mushrooms and fresh tarragon. The mushrooms had to be washed and sliced, the tarragon chopped and some onion chopped as well.

We tossed the chicken pieces in some oil - these big tongs were a particularly good tool for the job and I bought myself some similar ones afterwards.

The chicken is then griddled at a high temperature until it is cooked

We had some sliced potatoes which had been parboiled; these were added to a large frying pan along with the chicken, the onion, the creme fraiche and finally the tarragon.

It was a simple recipe but really very tasty. We served our own portions and sat down to eat.

The chef then took the chocolate brownies out of the oven, which he had made in a muffin tin. The brownies were chewy on the outside and almost runny on the inside - more like a chocolate fondant than a brownie. Absolutely delicious!

We were charged extra for the drinks we had with the meal and I didn't realise we were also going to be charged for the dessert as well; I thought we had been allowed to make it as a bonus to kill time while we were waiting for someone to turn up. On the other hand I didn't really mind paying a few pounds for such a delicious dessert! The class is extremely good value, at only £15 for the lesson and the food - you would pay at least that for the food alone in a pub or cafe as it was really good quality. I no longer work so close to the Atelier des Chefs location but I'm really not that far away so I hope to go again at some point. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a cookery course in London.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Restaurant Review - The Ramblers Rest, Coulsdon

Restaurant name: The Ramblers Rest

Location: Coulsdon, Surrey

Description: Traditional pub with roaring fire and excellent restaurant area

Reason for visit: I've been here many times with my boyfriend and his family, and we went recently for dinner with my parents and his mum when my folks came to visit. It's not far from where I live, and on this particular occasion there was an England rugby match and I wanted a pub that wouldn't be showing the game!

I ate: Ale battered haddock, frites, minted pea purée & homemade tartare sauce £11.95

My companions ate: Three of us (the ladies) had the fish and chips, while my dad and my boyfriend had the West Country beef burger, £11.95 (other toppings extra).

The food was: The fish and chips was lovely - pretty much what you would expect. I liked that the chips were chunky (rather than fries)and served in little metal buckets. The burgers were pronounced good; the toppings you can choose from include cheese and bacon but also lobster tail! I may have to try that in a burger next time...

The atmosphere/service was: Good, the restaurant was quite busy and we did have to wait a little while but overall I like the atmosphere here, it's a sort of upmarket yet laid back country pub.

Price range/value for money: A little on the pricey end, particularly if you have cheese and bacon in your burger as that comes to £13.45, but the portions are large and the food is good.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I've been here quite a few times and really like it.