Belated Review of Rick Stein Winchester

Well, it’s been so long since my first visit to Rick Stein’s new restaurant in Winchester that I’ve actually been back a second time to enjoy it. In case there’s any of you still wondering about whether or not to book a table I’m finally getting around blogging about my recent visits.

Myself and the OH are big fish and seafood fans so, it’s fair to say we were excited about this new restaurant. My first thoughts were how different it looked from Jamie Oliver’s Union Jack’s that had previously occupied the site and even more radically different from the days when it was a Pizza Hut! It is hard to believe it’s the same space, it’s such a cool, calm and welcoming layout. There is comfy seating by the doors if you need to wait for a table, or if like me you like to sit and have a drink before your meal. I found this a lovely area to sit and sip a bellini, they had other classic cocktails on the list too (which I’m sure I’ll try on my next visit!).

The menu is simple but exciting I found, I could have easily enjoyed anything from it but on my first visit a settled on a classic fish soup served with rouille and parmesan. I just love these kinds of fish soups that you get on a Mediterranean holiday and this one didn’t disappoint. There’s something very satisfying about customising your soup by adding lots of cheese and garlicky rouille! A word of warning, it was very filling by the time I’d had bread too. I could have easily eaten it as a main course!

Crisp Garlic Bread Croutons, Rouille and Parmesan

Crisp Garlic Bread Croutons, Rouille and Parmesan

IMAG1110

Delicious rich fish and shellfish soup

I opted for the filled of hake for my main served with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce. It certainly was a sizeable fillet of fish (or maybe it just seemed that way after polishing off my soup and extra bread!), everything on the plate was light and delicately flavoured. It was just delicious and a clean plate was left behind.

Fillet of Hake with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce

Fillet of Hake with spring onion mash and soy butter sauce

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, as did my dining companion, I was incredibly full though (my own greedy fault!). So I remembered this on my next visit and opted for a lighter prawn and crab cocktail to start with, which was lovely, although I did look longingly at other diners enjoying the soup!

On my second visit they had a special main course of a Lobster Thermidor, which I couldn’t resist (it’s lobster and there’s cheese after all!!). This was a good size and not too huge – just right for me.

The special - Lobster Thermidor

The special – Lobster Thermidor

My dining companion on the other hand did not go for something so small…

Fruits de Mer

Fruits de Mer

A rather large seafood platter, featuring a huge crab! It was thoroughly enjoyed and I did help out a little of course – so yes the whole thing was demolished.

I must also mention the sides, they were so good and probably partly why I filled up so much on my first visit! In particular the roast pumpkin with chilli oil was just gorgeous – I could eat a whole plate of it.

So there you have it, my experience at Rick Stein Winchester. After visiting a few times, you can’t accuse me of not being thorough with my reviews! I really enjoyed the food, the wine, cocktails and the atmosphere so would recommend it to anyone who likes fish and seafood. There are couple of non-fishy and veggie courses for those you who don’t do fish but really the fish is the main attraction here.

Have you been? Let me know what you thought if so.

xXx

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Fabulous Frozen Food from COOK

Recently I was lucky enough to be sent some frozen ready meals from COOK – creators of ‘remarkable food for your freezer’. I was intrigued and immediately visited their website where I learnt that COOK chefs simply prepare tasty meals using the same ingredients and technology that you would at home, freeze them and deliver. So simple – but what a brilliant business idea! It reminds me of how mums’ send students off to uni with a hearty homemade lasagne for the freezer and I liked that, it’s just a lovely concept I think.

What appealed to me was the fact the meals from COOK really were homemade and not full of numerous, nasty ingredients that you can’t understand.

I was thrilled to be offered some samples to try, after a good browse I settled on some of the OMG Pots – a range of  smaller meals with less than 400 calories and 14g of fat each. With dishes like Prawn Tom Yum, Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Japanese Salmon they sounded delicious and seemed ideal for a fast day dinner or tasty lunch on a normal day. Needless to say I was very excited on a wet and windy Tuesday to receive this package full of scrummy sounding meals….

A bundle of frozen meals from COOK

A bundle of frozen meals from COOK

That evening I sampled the Moroccan Spiced Chicken and served up the Chicken Pad Thai to my other half Tom. We both really enjoyed our dishes, what I liked was how full of flavour my dish was. I’m a fan of anything Moroccan spiced and this didn’t disappoint. It was warming, tasted fresh and yes, home-cooked. It being under 375 calories was a nice bonus too! Tom polished off the Pad Thai pretty quickly, so that was a definite winner as well. I will add, these are quite small meals and probably more suited to lunch than an evening meal but for a quick, light dinner they would be perfect.

I couldn’t believe how simple it all was to have a nice,  nutritious, homemade meal. I just popped them in the microwave and ping, done!

Terrible photo! But the Moroccan Chicken really was lovely

Terrible photo! But the Moroccan Chicken really was lovely

It’s not just healthy, light meals on offer from COOK either, there’s a whole range of tempting sounding meals from classic fish pie, to curries, family meals and food for entertaining. I’m certainly going to be trying out a few of the other dishes! Whilst I do enjoy my attempts at cooking from scratch, it isn’t something that’s possible every night of the week and it’s great to have a nutritious, natural option in the freezer for these occasions. And for people who live alone, I think COOK meals are a simply a fantastic idea – no need for gross supermarket ready meals that costs a bomb, look nothing like the picture and are full of unrecognisable ingredients!

If you’d like to find out more about COOK and the meals they offer visit there website: www.cookfood.net.

Thanks to the guys at COOK for the samples and introducing me to the range!

Magnificent Meze and More in Cyprus

It’s been a little quiet lately on FoodTeaLife and it’s in part due to a wonderful trip to Cyprus, lucky me! The other contributing factor was the dieting in the lead up to my time away, which left me with few yummy foodie things to write about (any one see my post on fast day foods?!). Thankfully the foodie drought is well and truly over now and this post is packed with delicious highlights from Cyprus.

Okay, apologies in advance for some of the terrible photography in this post – clearly I enjoyed a little too much of the lovely local wine every night!

On the subject of the local wine, here they are…

vasilikon2008 vasilikon_red

Both from the Vasilikon Winery in Pathos, Cyprus – it’s fair to say many many bottles of both the white Vasilikon and the red Methy (a Cabernet Sauvignonwere consumed! It left us all wondering why don’t we get more lovely wines like this over in the UK?! I’m not going to get all wine notes here but they were both so very pleasant and very reasonably priced for being so enjoyable.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, right by the coast, so naturally plenty of fish and seafood featured in the holiday diet, including two separate fish meze nights! Meze (as anyone who’s seen Come Dine With Me will know) is a selection of small dishes often including pitta and salad, what I didn’t realise was that it doesn’t all come together (like it does on Come Dine With Me!) but continuously, course after course! The word literally means ‘small dishes’ and it’s a style of eating that features many different courses, but each course contains just a little of each item, enough to have a taste. Well, even though they are ‘small dishes’ – it soon gets pretty filling, especially if you gorge on salad and pitta bread in between courses! Here’s just a small selection of the dishes included in our fish meze…

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

King Prawns

Terribly out of focus but delicious king prawns

Sardines

Sardines

white fish mezze

White fish

As you can imagine as all of these dishes (and more) kept coming our table got pretty chaotic…

Messy meze!

Messy meze!

Every inch of the table was packed with plates of fish, seafood, salad and pitta…which of course meant you just had to keep on eating to free up some space! Heavenly though it all was, it has certainly not done my waistline any favours – so worth it though! The fish was cooked so well, with just a little olive oil and lemon, simple but lovely.

I couldn’t let the week pass without indulging in a little traditional moussaka either…

mmm...moussaka

mmm…moussaka

Of course I had to sample one of the local desserts too…

Baklava

Baklava!

I do love Baklava! It’s little rolls of filo pastry with a deliciously sweet, cinnamony, nutty filling – so good with ice cream!

Our hotel (the Amathus Beach) was lovely too – check out these little delights left in our room most days…

free fizz, petit fours and canapes!

free fizz, petit fours and canapés!

The cocktails served at the hotel were absolutely delightful – we sampled many of these too of course…

Holiday classic - a pina colada

Pina Colada, a holiday classic!

All in all it was one beautiful, delicious, laughter-filled week in sunshine. A huge thank you to my extended family for the magical trip!

amathus 2

Fun in sun

Amathus

And relax…

xXx

Alpine Adventures in Saas Fee

In my last post I excitedly explained I was heading off to the Swiss Alps for a spot of skiing, gluhwein and excessive cheese consumption…and what a wonderful week it was. I’m now back in the UK now and very much missing the Swiss scenery and mountain air, so naturally this post is all about the alpine adventures and foodie delights I enjoyed whilst in Saas Fee.

I’m actually not that much of a skier – not a proper one anyway. You probably won’t find me elegantly gliding down a black run, but I do enjoy a lovely run through the trees where you can stop to take in the views and get a few photos…

mountains1

mountains2

moutains3

Saas Fee was lovely resort with excellent skiing for those like me who prefer a more gentle pace! And as you can see the mountain scenery was simply stunning and the conditions were virtually perfect! We were so lucky, we even timed it right too – a lot of the time the slopes were empty…

empty2

empty1

empty slope 1

The town it’s self was lovely too, with some great restaurants (more on them later) and incredibly friendly, helpful people. When you’re not going to be skiing all-day-every-day, having a nice town to explore (and souvenir shop!) is really important.

saasfee

Of course there’s the all important Apres Ski to consider too…I’m not so into some of the euro music type bars you tend to find in ski resorts, this is more my scene…

hot choc

swiss beer

Luckily our hotel had cosy sofas and a fireplace to sit around and relax with a hot chocolate…and possibly a few alcoholic beverages too.

I can’t believe I’ve actually got this far into the entry without talking about the food! Obviously you’ve got to enjoy a fondue or two whilst you’re in the Alps…rather than the classic cheese, here’s a meat fondue we enjoyed…

fondue meat

You cook your meat in hot oil, or hot red wine stock and then dip it into one of the many accompanying sauces, yummy, although I’ll always prefer a cheese fondue. Luckily I got my fill of cheese at our hotel’s raclette night, where portion after portion of heavenly, gooey, molten cheese was consumed! There was also a cheese course every night in the hotel and of course, when in Europe, there’s cheese for breakfast too!

Not content with that I also enjoyed a traditional Swiss rösti, a national dish made mainly with potatoes…this one in particular also had cheese, onions and cured meats…

rosti

A major foodie highlight of the trip has to be out visit to Fletschhorn, a Michelin star restaurant and hotel up in the Alpine forest, it was an amazing experience from start to finish. The place is totally isolated up in the trees and is a little way outside of the main part of Saas Fee, so a driver comes to pick you up (in an electro buggy as Saas Fee is totally car free) and you head deeper and deeper into the forest, anticipation building as you gaze out of the window wondering what awaits you. It all feels very mysterious as you arrive and step inside, it’s a fairly small but really cosy and you just get a feeling that you’re somewhere special.

The food was fabulous, the menu was in French and German so I only understood the basics but the staff were able to explain everything perfectly, there were some really interesting dishes on the menu and a lot that I wished I could have tried. After much deliberation I opted for a winter vegetable quiche with goats cheese to start and some red mullet for my main and I have to say both were absolutely delicious, as were the lovely extras that came compliments of the chef…

To the best of my memory this little extra was a tempura prawn with a kind of curried, pumpkin seed velouté - it was heavenly!

To the best of my memory this little extra was a tempura prawn with a kind of curried, pumpkin seed velouté – it was heavenly!

quiche

The winter vegetable quiche with goats cheese

My main course of red mullet

My main course of red mullet

There was also an amazing tea menu - I opted for 'Casablanca Tea'

There was also an amazing tea menu – I opted for ‘Casablanca Tea’

 

Delightful little petit fours, compliments of the chef

Delightful little petit fours, compliments of the chef

At the end of the experience I was even given a little surprise gift to take home too!

Inside was a yummy little cake!

Inside the mysterious box was a yummy little cake!

All in all it was a just a fabulous trip, with fantastic food and wine, lovely people and lots of fun, I feel very lucky – if you’ve been at all tempted to consider a last minute ski trip at all then I’d definitely recommend Saas Fee.

Thanks to my travelling companions Tom and Joe for a great time!

Healthy Seafood Lasagne

Here’s a very rough recipe for a hearty, but fairly healthy dinner I made earlier in the week. It’s a seafood lasagne!

Ingredients:

Tinned tomatoes
Reduced fat cream cheese
Mixed seafood (I used prawns, scallops, mussels and shrimps)
Creme fraiche
Dill (I used dried)
Lasagne sheets (I just used the standard shop bought variety)
Reduced fat cheddar cheese
Parsley (optional for a topping/garnish)

So all did was to fry the garlic in a little olive oil and add in the tinned tomatoes, followed by the cream cheese (about half of small tub) and mix them together. The sauce was a little pink in colour, but it tastes great. Once the sauce seemed thick enough I added the seafood in and made sure it was all well mixed.

Setting that mixture to one side, I then added some of the remaining cream cheese to the creme fraiche and mixed some dried dill. For extra creaminess you can add in a little ricotta here too

After that it was a simple case of layering the seafood mixture in baking dish, covering with lasagne sheets and repeating this to end up with a covering of lasagne sheets on the top. I then covered the top with the creme fraiche mixture and finished with a topping of the reduced fat cheddar and some chopped parsley.

Here’s the resulting dish straight out of the oven…

image

My reduced fat seafood lasagne

Try Sakura – Winchester’s First Teppanyaki Restaurant

Winchester folks have you noticed that Cellar Peking has gone? Remember the Chinese restaurant on Jewry Street down all those steps? Well it’s no more and in it’s place is Sakura, a Japanese restaurant serving teppanyaki. I was lucky enough to try it out last weekend and it was excellent.

Firstly the whole place has been completely refurbished, with a contemporary Asian themed interior and of course a central teppanyaki griddle. If you have not experienced teppanyaki before, it essentially involves watching an amazingly skilful chef cook your food in front of you on a flat top grill, while you sit around the grill and enjoy the whole theatrical foodie experience. Meats, vegetables and rice are all prepared on the grill top and it’s great fun, as well as very tasty.

On the menu, there’s also sushi, sashimi, salads and soups as well as set menus incorporating a little of everything. I was impressed to see Sake and cocktails on the drinks menu too.

Sake!

A mojito had to be sampled of course

The sushi menu

On to the food! We started off with some mixed sushi which was delicious and beautifully presented. We followed this with teppanyaki steak, king prawns and scallops to share – we finished the lot!  The ingredients were fresh and cooked to perfection.

Teppanyaki steak and vegetables

The staff were excellent too, helpful and ready to explain anything we didn’t understand on the menu. The restaurant itself was very quiet, although it was a Sunday and I think as more people find out about what a hidden gem the place is the atmosphere will certainly pick up. All in all I’m very much looking forward to going back and sampling more of the menu!

Dinner of teppanyaki steak, prawns and scallops being devoured!

If you haven’t been I recommend you try it out, the number is 01962 864178 (there’s no website set up for the place as yet, so contact details are a little hard to come by).

 

Exciting News for South Coast Seafood lovers!

A while back I said I’d have some exciting local foodie news to share…well here it is, brace yourself seafood lovers this is really cool!

Love fish? Then read on…

If like me you love the sound of fresh locally caught fish and seafood, but aren’t quite sure how or where to get it…well get ready because that’s about to change  thanks to South East Seafood! Working in partnership with the south coast’s fishing community, South East Seafood has launched Local Catch, a revolutionary new smart phone app and website designed to connect you direct to your local fisherman’s catch of the day.

Local Catch – the brand new app for local seafood fans

The launch of Local Catch means anyone on the south coast (that’s Winchester folks too!) can register to receive alerts about their local catch of the day direct to their smart phone, tablet or computer. Whether it’s crab, lobster, bream or bass, the south coast’s fishermen and the fishmongers, restaurants and cafes they supply will all be uploading details of their freshest catches, along with their exact location every day. All you have to do is pop along to your local fishmonger, or meet your local fishermen directly and you’ll be guaranteed fresh local fish and seafood, the day it’s caught.

A Hamble fisherman uploads his catch of the day

To ensure you really make the most of your fish, Local Catch gives you access to a whole range of recipes, inspiration and ideas, as well as cooking tips and videos on the preparation of various fish and seafood dishes. So whether you’re making bouillabaisse, bisque, crab cakes or chowder you can be sure your fish supper will be the freshest around!

Lobster Linguine, just one of the great recipes you’ll find on the Local Catch app

In addition to guaranteeing you fresh fish that’s 100% local, the launch of Local Catch also means a fairer price for the fishermen of the south coast – it’s really a win win, lovely fresh fish and a better detail for the local fishing community. All in all it’s fantastic news for seafood lovers around the Hampshire/West Sussex areas…I’m personally encouraging all my South Coast friends to download Local Catch – let’s get behind it and start to revolutionise the way we get our fish!

A Hayling Island Fisherman uploads his catch of the day

It’s not just local residents who can benefit from the app either,  local chefs can get involved too. The South Coast’s chefs, restaurants, pubs, cafes, delis and fishmongers can all use Local Catch too – they simply need to register in the same way as members of the public would, but once they’ve purchased from their local fishermen they are then able to send out an alert that lets people in the local area know they’ve got fresh, locally caught seafood on the menu.

Fresh fish on the menu – always a winner with me!

Local Catch is really simple to use and free to download now for Android devices (iPhone version coming soon!). It’s  just as easy to use Local Catch on your computer too. Simply log on to www.localcatch.co.uk to sign up and find out the catch of the day.

What are you waiting for fellow Hampshire folks? Get downloading!

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