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

Halloween soup

This post is my entry into the 1st Edition Tiendeo cooking competition  for Seasonal Recipes! Find out more about them at: http://www.tiendeo.co.uk/Winchester.

I’m a big kid and will always carve a pumpkin on Halloween night, despite living in a place where we don’t even get trick or treaters. I just love doing it, how often do you have an excuse to carve a face into a vegetable?! Even though I’m not all that good at pumpkin artistry I still attempt it every year…

Image

This year’s attempt!

My other tradition for Halloween night is to use some of the pumpkin flesh to make a batch of soup, something I also loving doing. Soups are so simple but often so satisfyingly tasty. Here’s a snap shot of this year’s Halloween soup, served with toasted pine nuts, buttered granary bread and a side of garlic stuffed mushrooms…

Image

This year’s Halloween soup

It was a really tasty soup, if I do say so myself! It was lovely and thick, perfect for the wintery weather we’ve been having. For anyone who’s interested in recreating my Halloween soup, here’s a rough recipe….

Ingredients:

  • Roasted pumpkin and/or Butternut squash (I used both)
  • Roasted pepper (I used an orange one – mainly for the colour, red or yellow would be fine too)
  • Carrots and Parnships steamed in butter
  • Chopped red onion sweated in butter
  • A clove or two of chopped garlic
  • Chicken Stock
  • Low fat/single pouring cream
  • Garlic Salt
  • Mixed herbs
  • Toasted pine nuts for garnish

As you can imagine with soup, you essentially just chop and blend the ingredients in a food processor and add a little cream to taste. I kept the consistency fairly thick so that the pine nuts would float on top nicely.

So that was my Halloween. Hope everyone else had a good one and that the trick or treaters were fewer than expected – leaving you with a plentiful supply of sweets!

xXx

5:2 Favourites

Like many other people I’m following the 5:2 way of life, eating only 500 calories on two non-consecutive days each week. It’s flexible, achievable and seems to be working out well. You can actually feel relatively satisfied on 500 calories, you just need to pick the right things to eat – in fact it’s amazing how many pleasant things you can consume really. In this post I thought I’d share a few of my favourite things to eat on a fast day.

There are some mega low-cal recipes and meals you can prepare for dinner but for now I’m focusing on satisfying snacks and the type of things you might eat at your desk.

It’s no secret that I love popcorn, so a bag of sea-salted Proper Corn at 87 calories makes me so happy! It’s a decent sized bag too (not like those healthy crisps you get in tiny bags!)

image

My love of cheese is also well documented, so these little Cathedral City Minis at 50 calories per piece are a deliciously creamy treat on a fast day.

image

Okay, so it’s maybe not the freshest foodstuff but at 96 calories Ainsley Harriot’s Thai Chicken & Lemongrass soup is perfect for keeping in your desk drawer. I’ve tried many an instant soup and this definitely the most flavorful and tasty. Warm and fragrant, it really hits the spot sometimes.

image

Fage Total strained 0% Greek Yoghurts are a yummy fast day win. They have about 140 calories, so a few more than some of the other fat free yoghurts out there – but the pot is bigger! The thick consistency makes me feel like I’m enjoying a full fat cream-like dessert. The plain variety is excellent with a few berries for breakfast.

image

Jimmy’s Skinny Iced Coffee is a lovely fast day pick-me-up, it feels just like drinking some kind of full-fat frappe from a coffee shop but is only 36 calories per 100ml.

image

Lastly, you can’t beat a boiled egg for simplicity and keeping you feeling full! If you can just bear to go without the soldiers, a boiled egg only sets you back about 70 calories.

image

These are just a few of my go-to fast day foods that are quick to grab and enjoy during busy days and in the office. If you’re a 5:2 dieter I’d love to know what yours are…do tell.

I do have a few light and low calorie dinner suggestions to share as well but I’ll save these for a future post.

Right, time to get fasting after a bit of bank holiday excess! 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!

How many is too many roast potatoes?

Well for a family of four, the answer is this many…

image

A huge plate full of my dad's amazing roast potatoes

These are my dad’s famous Christmas Day roast potatoes and fabulous though they were, I think this was the first year we didn’t manage to polish them all off! The remaining roasties didn’t go to waste though, they went very well in sandwiches and with cold meats the next day. I’m also a big fan of using them for a soup, along with the rest of the left overs from the big day and creating a lovely thick ‘roast dinner soup’. I love hearing about what other people do with their Christmas Day left overs – any unusual recipes…do let me know!

The big day itself was a wonderful occasion spent with my family, eating, drinking, gift giving and generally being merry. And aside from some transportation issues with a bit of bird cage/smart car drama, I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas.

Thank you to my amazing family for a brilliant day, for welcoming my crazy parrot into your home and for all the fabulous gifts I received! A special shout out goes out to my Dad and his sublime Christmas Dinner – excellent as always!

xXx

image

The festive spread

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).

 

La Dolce Vita…Lakeside!

There has been a little lapse in FoodTeaLife entries of late and it’s because of a wonderful holiday to Italy – the beautiful area of Lake Garda to be precise. We soaked up the sunshine, took in the stunning views, swam in the crystal clear lake, ambled through the medieval streets and generally enjoyed all of the nation’s famous foodie delights. From gelato, to pizza, pasta, tiramisu, grappa and limoncello – we indulged in all of Italy’s classics! The region’s local wines had to be sampled too – all of which proved to be delightful and left us wondering why you never find these wonderful wines back home?

Probably the best summary I can give of the trip is a visual one…so feast your eyes….

The 16th century castle at the entrance to the medieval town

The castle even has its own moat filled with lake water

A proper olden days castle with battlements and it’s own moat, does it get much more fairytale-esque? Well I think it does, take a look at these photos of the castle at it’s most magical…

The castle in the dead of night…mysterious and mythical

Waiting for Rapunzel to appear…

Not only was the castle lovely to gaze upon from the outside, but once inside it provided some breathtaking views of the lake and the old town of Sermione…

There were spectacular views to take in everywhere you looked from the old fashioned streets to the lake itself….

Looking out over the lake

Sirmione is made up of quaint little streets like this one

And now of course on to the foodie highlights of the trip…

A classic Italian stone baked Margarita pizza

Spaghetti with clams – delicious!

Another pasta classic…carbonara

Grilled shellfish with garlic

Soup of mussels and clams

On to the desserts…

Duo of desserts – the one on the left is a miniature tiramisu!

A table tree of petit fours!

And to wash it all down with…

Limoncello for the ladies

Grappa for the gentlemen

And an interesting local cocktail…I can’t be a 100% sure of its ingredients, but I believe Campari and Presseco are two major components!

Colourful cocktail

All in all a most fabulous foodie adventure and very relaxing trip – a huge thank you to my second family for a wonderful time xxx

Previous Older Entries