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Food Spotlight

Bringing Indian Cooking To Your Kitchen

Last week, I hosted my ideal dinner party. A cook bringing the food and your guests cooking for themselves. That takes singing for your supper to a whole new level, doesn’t it! We had a great evening being taught to cook Indian cuisine by the lovely Nidhi who runs Meri Rasoi cooking school. She hosts private classes or you can go to her beautiful home for a lesson in Raynes Park. (Win a £100 voucher towards your own class over on Instagram!)

Nidhi

Nidhi’s culinary journey began almost twelve years ago with the genesis of ‘Meri Rasoi’, which means ‘My Kitchen’! Despite being away from India all these years, she was always inspired to cook Indian food from scratch for her family and friends, as some of the best ingredients are easily available in London.

 

When it came to eating out I noticed an alarming lack of authenticity and understanding of real Indian food. There were thousands of Indian takeaways and restaurants but the dishes on offer were generally rich and spicy and unlike what we eat on a daily basis.

 

The British love for Indian cuisine and their willingness to experiment was clear to her from my early days here and with this in mind, she started ‘Meri Rasoi’ as an endeavour to introduce authentic Indian food in British kitchens. The plan was simple – easy to prepare food that could be built into weekly meal plans to provide a nutritious and healthy variety to the entire family.

 

Nidhi family

 

Nidhi believes that food should be fresh, healthy and simple to make and she loves inspiring people to cook from scratch and show them that Indian cooking is not always time consuming or ridiculously spicy.

 

I do this through cookery classes run out of my kitchen or privately in the comfort of your home. Indian cooking is also a very communal affair and I run various private events for people and team building workshops with schools, corporates and other organisations centred around Indian food and cooking.

 

Her classes are fun and interactive and appeal to complete beginners as well as serious food enthusiasts. It was an eye opener to realise cooking Indian food from scratch is not as hard as it looks once you know how!

Beginners

 

We were the complete beginners although my friend Chloe in the pic above seemed to know a bit more than us – hence the directing! 🙂

The classes are aimed at giving you an opportunity to learn not only how to cook delicious home cooked Indian food but also to use spices confidently, which she brings along from amazing suppliers. (She will tell you where to buy various items.)

Check out the gorgeous fresh ingredients and the beautiful spices.

 

I loved how she hung in paneer on my kitchen sink. That’s something I haven’t ever seen!

 

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Studious students with their lovely aprons – that they were able to take home!

Cooking

Nidhi does everything so well. She is patient (even when people aren’t listening!) and doesn’t cut any corners.  The only thing I had to do was set the table.

Table setting

 

We were totally delighted by our efforts when we finally got to eat! I just about served up the rice with no spillages, despite a few glasses of wine in…

Serving Rice

It was so delicious, especially the Chicken Tandoori – I won’t be able to have a takeaway ever again!

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What a fun evening. Nidhi is a fountain of knowledge and so generous at imparting it.

Take a peak at her favourites…

Restaurant : Cinnamon club at The Old Westminster Library.

“I love their modern take on traditional Indian classics. The last meal we enjoyed there was on our anniversary and included tandoori chicken in pistachio korma, garlic naan crumble and Bombay style vegetables with cumin pao (bread).”

If you want to enjoy food as if you were sitting in the foothills of the Himalayas, then do visit the New Asian Tandoori restaurant in Southall – Roxy. A bit rustic and my favourite dishes there are lamb bhuna, sarson ka saag (fresh mustard leaves cooked with spices) and makki ki roti (Punjabi flatbread made of maize flour) washed down with a glass of chilled mango lassi.”

Some of her other favourite restaurants include Thai Square in Putney, Barnes Depot and Bam Bou in Fitzrovia.

Hotel : Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kerala (India)

“Our last family holiday in India was in Kerala and we stayed at the Kumarakom Lake Resort which has the most breathtaking setting against the Keralan backwaters. The resort offers a selection of Ayurvedic treatments and massages which combined with yoga and carefully prepared meals is the ultimate mind and body detox.”

Holiday Destination : Kerala (India) and Rio (Brazil)

“They are two places that stole my heart the very first time I visited them. Kerala known as ‘Gods own Country’ is truly the most tranquil place I have visited within India. Everything about it from food, lagoons, mountains, tea, wildlife and serene beaches make it a travellers paradise.

If you are ever travelling to Rio you must also visit ‘Buzios’, a fishing village which is known as one of the 10 most beautiful areas in the world. We enjoyed a 3 week holiday in Rio when I was pregnant with our second child and it is definitely a place I want to visit again.”

Website : Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

Shop : Good Earth

“This is an India based luxury retail store with an organic cafe has to be my top choice. I love browsing their wide selection of homeware, decoration and kitchen products with each design being truly unique and narrating a story of a particular tradition or culture in Asia. They do have international delivery available but I cant wait for them to open a store here in London!!”

Parenting Tip

“I feel in today’s day and age, it is the parents responsibility to simplify their children’s life given there is so much pressure to produce super humans who are the best at everything. We try and instil in our kids that it is important to take time out to reflect and also let the mind wander which we feel opens the door to new ideas and endless possibilities. We love the outdoors and make it a point to spend time with nature on a regular basis. I bond with them through cooking and my husband is a star at entertaining them with his funny stories – they’ve even written a book together called the ‘monster in a hole’ and are currently looking for a publisher :)”

I highly recommend you Book a course with Nidhi either at her beautiful home in Southfields or put together a group like I did at your own home! Email her for more information!

She is also giving away a £100 voucher toward a cooking lesson or course, so head over to Instagram and enter.

Bon apetite!

Meri Rasoi

Food

Quick, Nutritious Kids Breakfasts with Cooking Them Healthy

Breakfast, as the first meal of the day (many say the most important of all the meals), is often rushed, unrelaxing and can be repetitive.  Porridge again anyone? The Cooking them Healthy girls, Georgie and Jo, with almost (one due soon!) 6 children between them, are passionate about providing simple, delicious & nutritious recipes that work well in the context of busy family life.

Their website is my default destination when I need a quick bit of inspo for kids meals, so I am delighted to hand over the reins to them to give you some ideas!

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When The London Mummy asked us for our top tips on how to boost fruit intake at breakfast we were more than happy to provide our favourite fruity suggestions. One key foodie rule when feeding families is to always try to include protein at breakfast (and all meals) as this helps to slow down the release of sugar and helps to keep little tummies feeling fuller for longer. Sugary cereals can leave children feeling hungry by mid-morning, not helpful to sustain a busy morning at school. Protein supports growth and repair in little bodies, maintains energy levels and should be included at each meal & snack. Good sources for breakfast include eggs, nuts, seeds and both natural and Greek yogurt.

See below for our favourite fruity breakfast recipes :-

Breakfast Muffins

We like to grate fruit (and veg such as carrots) into our muffins which boosts the nutritional content and adds natural sweetness, we well as helping to keep them nice and moist. Muffins also freeze brilliantly so are perfect to have on hand when time is short. Try our Pear & Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins, you won’t be disappointed.

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Porridge with Fruit Compote

Porridge oats are a rich source of soluble fibre, helping support healthy tummies, as well as providing a source of Beta Glucans which are helpful for a health immune system. Compotes are quick & easy to make using either seasonal or frozen fruit. Our Immune Boosting Porridge would make the ideal breakfast for the whole family, and our Rhubarb & Strawberry Compote makes a perfect topping for porridge, or try with natural yogurt and some of our Amazing Granola.

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Fruit Crumble

Crumble is more often considered a pudding, but when combining very few nutritious ingredients, there is no reason it can’t be served at breakfast with some delicious Greek or Coconut Yogurt. Our crumbles contain a combination of oats, ground almonds, fruit and no refined sugar. The oats & almonds provide a protein hit, and if you keep some crumble mix handy in the freezer, you can add it to any seasonal or frozen fruit. Our Roasted Nectarines with Crumble Toppingare a big hit in our house, at any time of the day! If you’re looking for a gluten free breakfast option, our Buckwheat Crumble Topping is brilliant to keep on hand in the freezer.

Fruit crumble

Smoothies

Smoothies can be a great option when we you short of time as they are both quick to make and portable. It is easy to up the sugar content of smoothies so ensure you have a base of protein (natural or Greek yogurt) and add nuts & seeds (if tolerated of course) . You can also add a scoop of high quality protein powder to boost your smoothies, either whey or a vegan protein, to help keep those sugar levels balances and tummies happy until lunchtime. Smoothies can also be a great way to hide a helping of green vegetables so try adding a handful of spinach or kale to your breakfast smoothie – we can almost guarantee it will go unnoticed! Try our delicious Berry Smoothie.

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I think half term is as good a time as any to get the kids cooking. It’s cold outside, immune system may be a bit down so why not rustle up something healthy together  – a sure fire way to get them to eat it if they have helped.

For loads of other recipes, check out their crammed and useful website!

www.cookingthemhealthy.com

PS Check out my new pages on The London Mummy!! What’s On, Notices and Shop! x

Events Food Places

Hassle Free Dinner Parties at Wyld Cookery School

On Tuesday evening we had a wonderful evening with Fran and her team at Wyld Cookery School in Wandsworth. We were invited to their ‘Hassle Free Dinner Parties’ evening which was the final instalment of the 4 week Wyld Cookery Club Evening Course, that also covers Asian Adventures, 30 Minute Meals and One Pot Wonders.

We were greeted with a glass of top plonk (or bottled beer much my husbands delight!) and given the outline and menu for the evening to have a look at before we got cracking.

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We were introduced to the rest of the group who despite having spent the last 3 weeks together were friendly and inclusive. There was a mix of ages and both men and women.

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Fran who started up the school 2 years ago gave a brief introduction on the order of the evening.  Starting with a demonstration, then time to cook yourself and finished off with a lovely sit down meal of the goodies you have just cooked.

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Fran is a cool chick who made the evening fun and VERY informative. She made the demo’s lively and her patience with all the questions and inability to follow recipe’s was pretty impressive!

After the wonderful demo, we cracked on and had a go at cooking Chicken With Mild Mushrooms.

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Check out the Hazelnut and Meringue cake.

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Alex rolling his roulade – check out the pinky!

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Fran was so generous with her tips and I felt of wave of inspiration after having felt so stale in the kitchen for the last few (6) years.

  • Chop the stalks if your beans in the bag
  • Use banana shaped shallots – much easier to chop
  • Whack in a whole crushed garlic (without peeling) to your butter to make garlic butter.
  • Use grease proof paper rather than tinfoil to cook meat (I did wonder why my sausages always stuck to the foil!)
  • Use portobello mushrooms or an alternative but never the cheap white closed cup mushrooms that have no flavour.
  • Stock Pots are a game changer.
  • Soak your dried wild mushrooms for 20 minutes and then, to avoid getting gritty bits in your dish, either strain the liquid through a muslin or discard the last inch of juice – this is especially important when cooking a risotto
  • Always fry your chicken thigh skin down to crisp it up and you don’t need fat – there is enough on the skin.
  • Icing sugar is a the best way to sweeten cream, not caster sugar.

Oh I could go on! You may know alot of this but I have never been to a cooking school and now have a bit of a bug to more.

I reckon the only way to learn properly is by doing and I highly recommend the friendly relaxed and informative way like Wyld Cookery School conducts their courses.

They also only first class ingredients and you also get to take supper home for the next night so it is super duper bang for your buck.

My highlight was the supper at end and also learning to make hollandaise sauce! Who would have thought!

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The next evening course starts on March 21st so book yourself in or give it to someone close to you as a gift. What a great Valentine’s Day present and you will reap the rewards!

There are also some great courses for youngsters.

Wyld Seasonaire 

They also do a Gap Year Course to become a chalet boy/girl.

A no-nonsense, intensive two-week cookery course to give you everything you need to make the most of your Ski Job.

Wyld Essentials 

They are approved D of E provider for the who need to complete their Duke of Edinburgh award.

The course runs Monday to Friday with a maximum of 14 students. They enjoy lunch together every day, with breakfast on Fridays and on their first Thursday night they host a ‘Supper Party’ for their invited guests at the school. The hours are Monday 9.30am – 4.30pm and Tuesday to Friday have a 9am start!

 

The Wyld Essentials Cookery Course

There is also a course to get students culinary ready before they go their own way.

This is the ideal cookery course for anyone about to go to college, university, leaving halls of residence or simply leaving home and left to fend for themselves. The Wyld Essentials Cookery Course is a fun and hand’s on programme which will show you how to flip a dinner party on a budget, create a killer roast and smash a lasagna. Boiled, roasted, baked or steamed like everything we do, we cut out the nonsense and get into the detail that will leave you armed with a solid menu repertoire and confidence to tackle most recipes you put your hand to.

 

The Wyld Cookery School 

Activities Days Out Family Life Food

Review of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

Restaurants that really welcome children? Few & far between. I am always on the hunt for fun, relaxed & reasonable restaurants to take the kiddies where we won’t be looked upon like we have taken a bunch of leprechaun’s into the restaurant. So when newly opened Bubba Gump Shrimp Co asked us to come and visit them, we were delighted to.

After arriving in the West End slightly early, we killed some time Lillywhites for old times sake (which I might add is still pretty cheap despite being in the centre of tourist mecca).  After that brief interlude of looking at junior cricket bats (I am outnumbered) we headed to the restaurant, where we found the neon lights of Bubba’s pretty easily.

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It is a stone’s throw from Piccadilly tube, based in the classic Trocadero. Be warned there is a shop at the entrance though.  We say in advance ‘Just so you know, this is a treat in itself. We are not buying anything extra,’  which now seems to do the trick if they know ahead of time.

The restaurant is a tribute to the film ‘Forrest Gump’ and features a menu of comfort food from the American South that reflects the film’s setting in Alabama. Shrimp is of course the specialty but there’s something to delight everyone on the menu.

After an excitable wait downstairs, we were led upstairs past all the original memorabilia.

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I especially liked all the words of wisdoms that were sporadically placed over the walls in amongst costume’s and prop displays.

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We were given a booth opposite the a large TV that aired rolling repeats of all the Tom Hanks movies he had been in.

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We had Forrest Gump which was fun.

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First things first, we ordered drinks. Not usually one for cocktails – I entered the spirit of things and went for their Alabama Southern Punch. That definitely chilled me out!

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We ordered their signature dishes such as ‘After The Storm – Bucket of Boat Trash’ and ‘Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp’ which were vast and delicious.

The kids had the ‘Bus Bench Burger & Hubba Bubba Popcorn Shrimp which kept them quiet for a considerable amount of time.

For pudding, I ordered Chocolate Chip Cookie Sunday. It was basically the size of my face and I thought there is no way I will be able to eat it all… Will leave it your imagine whether I did or not! ha

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The children’s pudding was pretty unbeatable. Move over Build a Bear, this was ‘Build Your Own Sundae!’  A trio of toppings and a mountain of ice cream.

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We had a great time and will definitely head back for a special occasion. If you are looking for a fun place to take the family one weekend, I highly recommend Bubba’s.

Not only is it an education in deep South American history (!) it is relaxed – you want have to be shhhhing them every 5 seconds! (or is that just me!), easy to get to and pretty reasonable.

Make sure you book though as it is very popular!

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co 

13 Coventry Street, London W1D 7AB

0203 7 635 288

Days Out Family Life Food

My Thyme Away With Nestle Breakfast Cereals

Sitting at my computer with the rain pummeling down, it feels like a distant memory that I was actually away for 3 days only a week ago. And what a 3 days it was. Firstly, it was lovely to go away independently of family (!) and secondly to a beautiful place (the spelling of Thyme in the title is not a typo).  I was accompanied by fantastic group of other bloggers from around the world to learn about Nutrition, Food Styling & Photography with Nestle Breakfast Cereals.

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NUTRITION

Our time started with a talk on Nutrition by Constanza on the importance of breakfast – especially for growing children.

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It was a wonderful insight to things I didn’t know and facts that I had ‘forgotten’.

  • Nutrients missed at breakfast, such as calcium, fibre and certain vitamins and minerals, cannot be made up later in the day.

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  • A balanced breakfast should represent around 20%-25% of total daily calorie intake (although can vary with different National dietary requirements)

A well balanced breakfast should consist of –

  1. Some dairy
  2. A piece of fruit
  3. A glass of water for hydration (tea or coffee is ok!)
  4. A wholegrain based food
  5. An source of protein (or if that is too much at breakfast, a bit of protein mid morning)

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What does 1 serving of wholegrain look like?

  • a 30g bowl of wholegrain breakfast cereal
  • 1 medium slice of wholemeal bread
  • 2 whole wheat crackers
  • 2-3 cups of plain pop corn

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We each had to describe our breakfast routine – let me tell you, mine was the least glamorous!

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The other perception that I had of breakfast cereal was that it is full of sugar. Not so! There is no more than 9 grams od sugar per serving which is a lot less than I thought there was.

The other great thing to note is that there is more wholegrain than any other ingredient in their cereals (you know the boxes with the green banner across the to?)

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DECONSTRUCTED RECIPE MAKING

Next up, we cloaked ourselves in an apron and set to work making a breakfast recipe with the same ingredients that make up Nestle Breakfast Cereals.

I chose Smiley Oat Cookies which are the basis for Cheerios.

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Straight from the oven.

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I even took them home and they got the massive thumbs up!  Next we learnt how to style them for a photo for a recipe book for example.

FOOD STYLING

I didn’t really have a clue and the first thing I did was pack it all onto a tray with a few raspberries and it looked like I was whacking it down for kids tea.

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So under the careful guidance of Lou I was given a few tips. This goes for products & flat lays as well.

  • Natural light. Move your product into the light.
  • If there are shadows, bounce them off with a piece of silver card.
  • Reflect the recipe with the accessories. (I.e there no raspberries and blueberries in the Oat Biscuit recipe so why include them in the photo!)
  • Brush oil on the biscuits to make them shine.
  • You don’t have to include everything in the photo. You can zoom in.

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Lou & the photographer Ellis at work.

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After a bit of tinkering,  this is what we came up with – my first ever food photo!

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COMPETITION TIME

On the last day, we had to make a Nestle Cereal. From scratch. Ouch. It was between these three.

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Then the winner would be picked from who took the best photo.

Guess which one I chose – Cheerios!  (I was told it was the simplest to make but it wasn’t easy – the piping was a killer).

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Once the Cheerios had been double baked with a coating of honey glaze, I left them to cool and got started on sourcing the props I wanted.

Here is a little video of me in action. [embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4nsngou_E[/embedyt]

There is no way to share this without sounding boastful, but for purposes of recounting my story it would be weird not to tell you – I actually won!

Collecting my prize – a Polaroid camera.  (Can you see my genuine look of delight – I haven’t one anything for years!)

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Here was my shot. I am sure it was the lime matching the Nestle logo…

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Here are some of the other photos.  Hearts from bananas – cute!

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The lovely team. From Mexico, Poland, Romania, Indonesia and the UK!

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Relaying my few days to the cameras.  Need to turn the enthusiasm…

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All these wonderful events and classes were interlaced with delicious meals cooked on site at Thyme.

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I whole heartedly recommend it away for a weekend away. They also host a cooking school and cookery lessons!

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Follow Nestle Breakfast Cereals on Instagram!

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Food

Date Night : Island Grill Restaurant

Based in the heart of Bayswater on the edge of Hyde Park, Island Grill Restaurant is attached to the Lancaster London Hotel.

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It is a cosmopolitan restaurant perfectly suited to those who are looking for good hearty London cuisine with a varied menu suited to both men and women.

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With its mahogany interiors and low lighting, it is a great restaurant to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist mecca of central London and if you get a window table a fun place to people watch.

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It is famous for its cheese board and the steak was top notch. The winter salad also hit the spot.

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There is a good kids menu too, so if you have them in tow it is family friendly that welcomes little ones.

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Ratings 

Ambience : 3 The low lighting and candles on the table make this a good evening venue. During the day it is down to personal preference, but I have never been too keen on mahogany tables and brown chairs, but if that’s your thing…

Service : 4 The waiters were so nice and attentive.

Value : 4 Considering it is a central London location, with the generous  portions all reasonably priced, it is good value for money.

Taste : 4 Perfect for those on the Atkins Diet – the Grill menu is superb, our steak was tender and tasty.  Lots of varied cuts to choose from.

Overall : 4 Despite no particular ‘novelty factor’ which we usually go for, it is a great central London restaurant, perfect as a pit stop before or after the theatre in particular.

Island Grill Restaurant

 

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Activities Food Places

Mummy & Mini Tea, Urban Meadow Cafe

Last Sunday the kids had a fab time at the Princess Diana Memorial playground in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park.  A little tip if you are heading there –  I didn’t realise you weren’t allowed in the playground without kids with you, so after letting the rest of them go on ahead (I was taking photos…) I was stumped when they wouldn’t let me in! Don’t make the same mistake…

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Once we were reunited and the tummies started rumbling, we hopped across Bayswater Road (lots of pay and display parking btw) to Urban Meadow Cafe for a special family afternoon tea that they are currently offering, Mummy & Mini Tea.

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Urban Meadow is a cafe/bistro attached to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel. The entrance is spacious and there are lots of outdoor tables as Urban Meadow attracts a lot of dog walkers and there are heaters and water bowl for your fury friend. Here is a little video.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pskMkek7ISY[/embedyt]

 

We were greeted by friendly staff who showed us to our table and gave us the Mummy & Mini Tea menu. The interiors are slightly American Diner meets Daylesford!

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We ordered 2 adult teas and 3 children’s. The food arrived quickly so there was little time to crack on with the craft packs that they gave the children – not that they minded when they saw the cupcakes! To our delight we were each given a small wicker basket with our tea in, including scones and clotted cream!

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It was a tasty as it looks and everyone likes food served a novel way! What a lovely way to finish off the weekend.

 

Rating 0-5

Ambience : 3 It wasn’t very busy as it was their quietest time of day and they were clearing tables before the rush of dinner guests, so the atmosphere wasn’t electric.

Service : 4 At the beginning the service was a bit slow, but once the kids started kicking off and there were a few tuts from the other patrons, the service hotted up and we were served like kings!

Value : 4 All fed for £30. Not bad! There was so much food it doubled up as the kids tea.

Taste : 4 Soft & tasty sandwiches & large selection of specialist teas.

Overall : 4 It is a great place if you are in the area.  Next time you are in Hyde Park and fancy something to eat, don’t go to the cafe’s in the park #ripoff, head to Urban Meadow Cafe. It is a lovely family outing or also a great place to go with friends (or your dog) midweek. We will definitely visit again!

urbanmeadowcafe.com

 

Food

Date Night : Zizou Tagine, Balham

When it comes to date night, if we don’t plan, we drive around wondering where to go and invariably end up at a favourite.

However, I love a recommendation and trying somewhere new, so we were delighted to be invited to Zizou Tagine in the heart of Balham.  This was one date night we knew what we were going and couldn’t wait!

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We arrived at Zizou Tagine, to an authentic entrance with the embroidered Moroccan straw bags lining the heavy set Moroccan style door. You can see my debut YouTube clip off of me outside about to go in here.  (Don’t laugh – I am just learning, it took a few takes!)

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMiCRPTpPzA[/embedyt]

It was like stepping into a restaurant in Jemaa el-Fnaa. We were greeted with a warm welcome by the manager (who was the manager at Momo’s in the West End for 5 years) and showed to our table in the corner.

The lighting was low and colourful and the tables low with genuine Moroccan wares dotted around.

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One of the great things about this restaurant, is it’s Bring Your Own, so no searching a wine menu for your old favourite – just bring it with you.

We started with lots of small sharing plates. A highlight was the honey coated bitesize beetroot plate and aubergine dip.

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We were gently advised not too eat too much as we had plenty more to try on the next course. We went with the manager’s recommendation of trying the Lamb Barkouk Tagine (prunes) and the Chicken Djaj Tagine (with lemon and olives) accompanied by cous cous and Moroccan bread. Yummmmmy.

We finished with Moroccan sweets and the most delicious mint tea. I am usually adverse to anything ‘herbal’ but it was sensational.

Compliments to the chefs!  Loved the open kitchen.

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At the weekends, the downstairs is open too.

If you are a loss and want to branch away from your usual haunts – you won’t go wrong going to Zizou Tagine! We are thinking of taking the kids back one weekend to give them a different cullinary experience…

 

Rating 0-5

Ambience : 5  This is a great place in the evening, especially as the nights draw in.

Service :  4 We didn’t feel rushed but they were attentive when we needed them.

Value : 4 Very reasonable and the BYO is a good way to keep the cost down.

Taste : 4 If you like Moroccan, you will love it!

Overall 4/5

zizoutagine.com