16 Thoughts I had about food in America

FoodTeaLife has been more than a little quiet lately, I could blame wedding planning, career changes and time abroad but it’s mainly that I’ve also been busy researching and thinking a lot more about nutrition lately…but that’s a whole other blog post.

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For now, I’ve just got back from America (a Californian road trip with a stop in Las Vegas) and of course, I thought about food a lot. The differences both positive and negative amused and intrigued me, so here goes…my thoughts about food while in America:-

  1. Coffee with cream in it?! What? That sounds SO ridiculously indulgent, yet it seems so everyday in the US. It seemed wrong but I have to say I soon got into it and kind of enjoyed it. Also, good coffee seems much more widespread over there. The UK has some catching up to to do on the good coffee front.
  2. On the other hand…the tea situation is pretty dire. No-one drinks it at breakfast like the Brits do and when you ask for milk you sometimes get hot milk, SO WRONG! Plus, why is it called ‘hot tea’, surely it’s just Tea or it’s iced tea? Tea is always hot unless otherwise stated isn’t it? I’m a tea fiend so this probably got me to me more than it should.tea solves
  3. Avocados, Avocados…Avocados everywhere! Woohoo! I LOVE avocados and ate one virtually every day whilst in the US, they’re grown in California so that may explain their abundance on menus. While avocados are pretty popular in the UK too, there are plenty of cafes that don’t offer some kind avo-centred dish, but happily this was not the case in the US.
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Breakfast of my dreams in LA, beautiful avocado toast!

4. Damn…the pies! Talk about pie porn! Sweet dessert pies, like Key Lime Pie were epic looking. The one slice I did have while out there was delicious.

5. Oooh so much amazing Mexican cuisine, so delicious and I’m in guacamole heaven…uh-oh, ate too many black beans, my tummy will not thank me for this.

6. Is In-N-Out Burger really that different to McDonald’s? I don’t get it.

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7. What exactly is a pound cake?

8. Wow sourdough is popular out here! Is that because all the other bread is sooo sweet? Either way I’m happy it’s an option.

9. The cheese situation is not great…what’s with all the liquid orange ‘cheese’? Yet the butter here is delicious…how does that work? Sort it out America. It made me realise just how spoilt for cheese choice we are in Europe.

10. Is bacon always crispy here? Would American’s be disgusted by the classic British Bacon Butty?

11. Ahh the international language of Subway, the same across the continents. I’m fluent in Subway and got a lovely fresh salad bowl whilst out on the road, on our way to Vegas. Although, American subway has banana peppers and fresh coriander in the salad options, we need these in UK (pretty sure my local branch doesn’t offer these).

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12. California’s got good wine.

13. Actual molten butter on popcorn….what?! I am a huge fan of popcorn (the lightly salted kind). It’s a cinema must for me. So when we went to ‘the movies’ in LA and I was offered buttered popcorn, it seemed like a classic American thing to try! It was good at first, but soon became not good (shouldn’t have got a large). What’s wrong with just sweet or salted?

14. Ooh Fever Tree mixers are out here too, how great (although there did not seem to be any in Vegas though). I always judge a bar or pub if it doesn’t have a good tonic like Fever Tree.

15. Dam nachos are epic out here!

16. Loving all the free and regular water top ups in restaurants, I can never get enough water, so this is amazing! The ‘soda’ tops ups are not so good though, have seen people drink two or three cokes with a lunch because of this…nobody needs that much sugar!

As you can see, I thought about food rather a lot. We had an absolutely amazing trip, full of adventures but right now I’m happy to be home in the land of good cups of tea and smaller portions.

I’m sure there’s plenty of things US visitors would find weird and wonderful about eating and drinking in the UK too (probably our tea obsession would factor highly!).

xXx

 

New Restaurant Review: Fish Tale Winchester

Winchester has a great new restaurant that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times recently. Situated where the Terracotta/Charles House used to be at the bottom of town (I like to refer to this as the hip end of town), is Fish Tale Bar and Grill.

As the name suggests it’s all about fish and seafood, so it’s right up myself and the boy’s culinary street. Prawns, fish and seafood are all firm favourites of ours, so we couldn’t wait to try it out.

When you step inside it’s got a lovely contemporary feel and looks nothing like the former Chinese restaurant that it once was. We found the cheerful staff to be super-attentive to which was really nice. Anyway, I’m sure you’re more interested in the food, so here goes.

We both felt something like light to begin with and there were some good choices to accommodate this, I opted for lobster consommé and my dining companion chose smoked salmon with asparagus and hollandaise sauce.

Delicious smoked salmon starter

Delicious smoked salmon starter

The lovely lobster consomme with some garlic toast and a tastylobster dumpling

The lovely lobster consommé with some garlic toast and a tasty lobster dumpling

For our main courses we didn’t choose quite such light options…

A sizeable surf and turf for Tom

A sizeable surf and turf for him

Sensational lobster burger for me!

And a sensational lobster burger for me!

We thoroughly enjoyed our main courses, I especially loved the lobster burger which came in a soft bun with bacon and crème fraiche. We both absolutely devoured our meals, so much so that there wasn’t any room for dessert!

I’ve been back since and enjoyed the pan fried salmon and the lobster thermidor, both very tasty. I plan to try something different each time I go until I’ve tried the whole menu!

There were some nice wines and fizz to choose from too, including one of my favourites Laurent Perrier Rose. And on my last visit we tried a Rose wine from a vineyard in Devon. Plenty to choose from to accompany all the great fishy dishes on the menu.

All in all, I give Fish Tale a firm thumbs up. It’s casual and relaxed yet has a refined edge to it, a pleasant place to spend an evening. The food’s good and there are a few choices for veggies and those who don’t do fish too.

Give it a try and perhaps I’ll see you in there next time!

Ladies lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Pop Up Diner

My sister and I do enjoy an occasional ladies day out, usually involving the theatre, a little Pimms and some good food – and so our most recent outing to see The Book of Mormon was no exception.

There’s something so exciting about taking the day off work to have some fun – it feels like such a treat! And what better way to celebrate our day of freedom than a little bit of Pimms O’clock whilst journeying to London!

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Cheers!

Once in London we made our way to Jamie Oliver’s new pop-up diner on Shaftesbury Avenue for a spot of lunch.

What a fabulous place! Full of quirky dinosaur decor, including a giant T-Rex, it just looked like fun from the moment we stepped inside!

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The menu was great too, there were hearty salads, burgers, ribs, chicken in a basket and lots more classic dishes, all with an interesting twist. Something that stood out as particularly intriguing was Jamie’s avocado fries…I simply had to try some with my burger.

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The famous avocado fries….

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They were really good, strange at first but very moorish! There was a delicious coating to the fries which seemed to include fennel seeds making them incredibly flavoursome. And so with a squeeze of lime over my avocado fries they were soon demolished. The chicken burger was excellent too and I loved the retro way it all came served on a tray.

We indulged in a little liquid dessert, choosing a cocktail each from the tempting menu…

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I’ve talked about the brilliance of The Book of Mormon in a previous FoodTeaLife post, so I won’t go on about it again, other than to say it’s still very funny the second time round! I’ll end by passing on a huge recommendation for Jamie Oliver’s diner, it’s only there for a limited time so make sure you check it out if you’re in London any time soon.

Thanks to my fabulous sister for the best day out in ages! Xx

Mormons, Lobsters and London…

I can’t tell you how excited I’ve been about seeing Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical, The Book of Mormon! I’d booked the tickets waaay back in November as a special treat for Tom and at last the weekend had finally arrived!

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To make a real occasion out of the day (I don’t do London all that often) we went for a spot of lunch first. We headed to the Burger & Lobster – nearby restaurant serving you guessed it…burger or lobster. There’s only three choices on the menu so all are done really well, there was a choice of lobster with a salad and fries, a burger with bacon and cheese and a lobster roll. I opted for the lobster roll, which was to die for, I’d eat it again right now if that were possible! The lobster roll was actually toasted brioche bread, with cold lobster in a lemon mayonnaise, accompanied by salad and fries…so good!

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Lobster Roll - delicious!

Here’s a look at the other two dishes on the menu…

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Burger at Burger & Lobster

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Lobster and chips, a classic!

Being as it was a special occasion, I enjoyed a few lunchtime cocktails too. Here’s a Winter in the City, a vodka based cocktail with cranberry, elderflower…and I forget what else…it somehow tasted like an iced mulled wine, if you can imagine that tasting good.

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Winter in the City - beautiful and delicious

A few wines were also enjoyed at lunch and then a few more at the theatre too…so it did end up little messy that evening, but lots of fun. The show was fantastically funny, Trey Parker and Matt Stone at their best. Highly offensive but totally getting away with it, by being so on the mark and amusing. There were actually points when my theatre companions had tears of laughter in their eyes! It’s hard to conceive of how a musical about Mormons could be so brilliant, but like South Park and Team America, it just somehow is. If you enjoyed Team America you’ll enjoy The Book of Mormon for sure, definitely worth the trip to London!

My weekend in food

It occurred to me that I do my most interesting eating at the weekends, whether I’m out and about or attempting to create a little of my own kitchen magic. So I thought I’d start to report of my weekend nourishments, foodie moments and culinary catastrophes…and as it’s a Sunday, I’m starting now …

Friday’s used to be all about going out for me, but now I long for the opportunity to stay in and cook something lovely, possibly watch a film and wash it all down with a glass (or bottle!) of something equally lovely. So this Friday saw me and Tom creating that most indulgent of comfort meals, home-made burgers. The nearby shop stocks local minced beef, which I blended together with finely diced red onion and a few herbs and spices. Isle of Wight cherry tomatoes helped me make a salsa to spread on a lovely wholemeal bun, with salad and cheese…oh and a little extra indulgence, garlic mushrooms! I wish the film we watched had been as good as the burgers…

The Saturday was more of a wishful, food wanting day. As I wandered into Winchester, with the Christmas lights on the famous Christmas market now open, the city was absolutely crammed, with everyone of its eating establishments packed out with people – but I did manage to squeeze a quick visit to the newly opened Caracoli – an excellent coffee shop with amazing foods. I am big fan of it’s well-established Alresford branch, so popped into to the new Winchester to store to pick up one of their artisan scotch eggs as a treat for Tom.

Saturday night saw us catching up with a few friends in The Bridge at Shawford, where the boys enjoyed a rich winter special of pheasant with sweet potato mash and I had a rather nice piece of salmon. What was also great was the interesting selection of beverages behind the bar including Kopperberg fruit ciders and Liefmans fruit beer – just right for the walk between The Bridge and The Bugle Inn!

I’d like to say that night ended quietly there, and not that we ended walking home at 5.30am…but, we did, and that about brings me up to date on weekend food, aside from this morning’s bacon and mushroom sandwich (hangover heaven).

What’s next…well Tom’s pushing for a Rimjhim’s King Prawn Coconut Curry – we’ll see.

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-Update, he’s just brought me a cup of Earl Grey – love him.