I'm in Rome! It was a last minute trip because I never feel like I've seen enough of Europe. Carpe diem, right?! :-D (Especially if we might not be in Europe soon... :-O )
I haven't ever properly been to Rome so if you have any recommendations please reply to let me know! I've hit up a few of the recommendations I've received so far and am currently full of pizza, pasta and tiramisu and very happy.
Here are some of the delicious things I've tried in London in the past few weeks. There's quite a lot of pasta in the list here which might explain why I chose Rome for a last minute mini-adventure - I can't wait for more!
1. Ox Cheek Baked Potato at Hawksmoor in Borough. The roasted celeriac main with pickled mushrooms was also outstanding. This was my first and very belated visit to Hawksmoor (it's mostly about the meat and I don't eat a lot of meat) and I will definitely be going back again. It was outstanding. They really seem to care about their ingredients and, after chatting to one of their staff during the Academy of Chocolate judging last week, their staff too. Warning: you will need several visits to figure out how much to order to fit dessert, too.
2. Delica Squash & Ricotta Tortellini at Cleveland Arms. This is a gorgeous pub nearish to Paddington Station. Exactly what you want from an English pub: dark and elaborate decor, warm and welcoming staff, a dog or two under the tables and seats you can sink into. The menu is short but everything we tried (all the vegetarian things) was perfect, especially the tortellini. The rhubarb, apple and ginger crumble was delicious and comforting, too.
* I went as the guest of a friend who was invited so my meal was complimentary but came with no obligation to talk about it.
3. Bread with Ricotta & Parmesan at Sorella. I could just say EVERYTHING at Sorella. I went with three women for lunch and we tried a fair chunk of their menu and it was all exceptional. It's a must-visit. The bread is moist and heavenly, it's hard not to fill up on it. I was also particularly impressed with the starter of Ricotta & Parmesan which seemed to have something like marmite in it, too (I forgot to ask). So ridiculously fresh and high quality The mushroom tagliatelle is also a must-order.
4. Falafel with Beetroot at Lighthaus Cafe. This was my second visit to Lighthaus. It's not the easiest to get to but on a sunny day it's close to some nice walks which my friend and I made the most of this fool's spring we've been enjoying. There was more beetroot than I needed in this meal but it was still wonderful. The food really feels like it's prepared with love here - the cakes and coffee are also excellent.
5. Butternut Squash & Wild Mushroom Tagliatelle at Tracks E7. This is a local of mine that I actually haven't been back to since they first started serving food, but we returned because this dish was recommended by local friends and rightly so. The tagliatelle was more like long pici but this was a totally delicious dish.
6. Oden at Cube in Mayfair. I was invited to the press launch last night of the hideaway bar beneath the small sushi and sashimi restaurant. It was like stepping into Japan. I would highly recommend this for a drink and light meal with a date. Like authentic Japanese food the flavours and textures are unusual and quite subtle but I love them. Oden is basically dashi with street food - boiled konjak, fish cakes (the rubbery kind), egg, mooli and sausage - and a pot of mustard to dip them into. It's really well priced for Mayfair and they'll keep topping up your dashi. It's only being served until the end of March. The sake list is superb as well.
I tasted a LOT of delicious truffles during five sessions of Academy of Chocolate Awards judging last week but unfortunately can't tell you about any of them yet! I managed to squeeze in more sweet things before and since though!
1. This week only (until Sunday) you can get some of the best hot chocolate in town for just £1.86 at the Fairtrade pop up at 202 Kingsland Road. Please go if you can. All of the money goes to support female cocoa farmers in Africa and the exhibit is really eye-opening. Most cocoa farmers receive just 74p a day and they need £1.86 a day to survive. This is what Fairtrade ensures they are paid but so many (mainly larger) chocolate companies are not making enough effort to ensure their supply is sustainable and ethical.
2. I met with the lovely husband and wife behind Kad Kakao in Bangkok who were visiting London and tried some of their bean-to-bar chocolate. I particularly loved their bar with shiso seeds - a little like having a black sesame crunch!
3. After trying the Filth Burgers with the PR last week, Felicity (@felicityspector) and I stopped in to Lyle's next door to have their Rhubarb Rice Pudding. I've had it before and loved it. They also brought their Meyer Lemon dessert with meringue and preserved lemon and - despite the meringue - it was tangy and refreshing and wonderful.
4. A friend invited me to breakfast at the new Kings Road cafe, Matcha & Beyond. I love matcha and the care that went into all of the food and drinks here is really obvious. My favourite was their ultra-rich chocolate dessert with a matcha white chocolate melt-in-the-middle centre.
5. I went back to Bruno's Bakes & Coffee after trying Emilia's Pasta new branch in Aldgate (yes, more pasta!) and wanted - again - to buy everything. My favourite of the three things I bought was this chocolate mousse pie topped with coffee cream. Another place to visit soon as he might not be in London much longer.
6. I stopped into Kanella & Co, a coffee shop in Dulwich, whilst I was doing research for a bakery tour and was convinced to take home the last slice of their version of bougatsa - layers of filo pastry and custard. I warmed it in the oven that evening and devoured it quickly. It was ulta-comforting and not too sweet. It's the only sweet thing they make in-house and they have a chocolate and hazelnut version coming soon which I am keen to go back for.
Sorry for the lack of links in the post. The internet connection in this hotel is terrible and it's already nearly 11pm!
Do send me any Rome suggestions and I'll report back after my trip with my highlights!