Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Pitcher and Piano - Nottingham

Last weekend I escaped the hustle and bustle of London and took the train to Nottingham to visit my friend A, who I don't see nearly as much as I'd like to. And this time I'm so glad I did.
I'm not going to go into the Halloween  festivities, or the amazing, cobbled-street town, but instead I'm going to introduce you to the Pitcher and Piano: A to told me that he was going to take me somewhere I've never been before: a bar in a church.

I thought he was joking.

He was not.

The ambiance as I'm sure you imagine was unique; I don't know if it was the archways, or the church windows, it just felt wonderfully different. Unfortunately we went on Sunday night so there wasn't much going on, but I do recommend you go on Saturday nights as they've got music and it turns more into the kind of bars we know and most of us love.

Nevertheless, if you can't go to Nottingham don't fret; there are other P&Ps all over the UK (with three in London!), and they also serve breakfast (which I regrettably missed), and light lunches for as low as £6.

For the one in Nottingham, which I highly recommend visiting (it's a bar in a church!), the address is:

    The Unitarian Church, High Pavement,
    Nottingham, NG1 1HN

    or call them on 0115 958 6081.

    I couldn't resist the odd Halloween photo! Happy Halloween everyone xx

    Friday, 12 October 2012

    If you love hot sauce...

    ...you'll love this. Okay, it's no secret that the foodies of the blogosphere have gone crazy about a particular kind of hot sauce: Sriracha.

     They've gone crazy about it for a good reason as well: it's a sweet, garlicky, tangy, spicy red hot sauce with a kick. What's not to love?!

    This is my favourite recipe to make your own sriracha, and I love it because it's dead easy, only five ingredients are needed, and it's one of those recipes that you do the minimum preparation, put your feet up and everything else is done as if by magic. Plus, I promise you that the taste will be even fresher and bolder than the bottled sauce you get from Tesco's.

    To make your taste buds happy, you'll need:
    - 1 pound of chillies. Don't go for the small, super hot ones even if you like your sauce hot. Choose some meaty ones, they'll be easier to handle and won't make your sauce inedible. Also, I highly recommend a visit to your local farmers' market to get these fresh instead of the packaged ones in the supermarket.
    - 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
    - 1 cup of white distilled vinegar
    - 1 tablespoon of salt
    - 2 tablespoons of agave nectar, or sugar, or honey or whatever sweetener floats your boat and you have in your cupboard.

    To make magic happen, roughly chop the chillies and put them in a container with the vinegar, salt and garlic. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can include the chilli seeds as well. Let the brine mellow the peppers for a day or two while you get on with your life.
    After the peppers have mellowed, pour everything in a pan, add the agave/sugar/honey, bring to the boil and then turn it down to a simmer for about five minutes. Turn the heat off, let the mixture come to room temperature, transfer to your blender and blitz away.
    When you see the vibrant red mixture jumping up and down your blender you know you've made it. Run through a strainer, pushing out as much pulp as possible, pour the sauce into jars and smile. You've made your own homemade rooster Sriracha.

    Concerning storage, this baby contains enough vinegar to last for decades if you keep it in the fridge. Alternatively, you can freeze it and when ready to serve, defrost it and give it a quick stir.

    Now what to do with it: use it with pretty much everything. That's what I do. Nevertheless, if you need some ideas, I love Kristen's Spicy Sriracha Butter:

    image via theendlessmeal.com
      these Sriracha-Cheese crackers:

    image via anoregoncottage.com

    Diana's Sriracha garlic wings:

    image via appetiteforchina.com

    and Cassie's Sriracha Sesame Ginger Popcorn:

    image via bakeyourday.net

    Eat and be merry :)

    Tuesday, 9 October 2012

    Pizza Metro - Notting Hill

    A friend of mine raved about this place for so long I felt I had to go but whenever I went to London something came up and back it went to my 'to do', or more likely to my 'to go' list. BH, who apparently knows me better than I originally thought, took me there last Friday night as a surprise.

    I expected one of the best pizzas in London. 
    Hell, the country.
    I got it at Pizza Metro. The place had a lovely warm, rustic feeling, the pizza was fantastic and by the amount of italian we heard in the two hours we were there, I think it's pretty safe to say that it is frequented by Italians, and Italians know their pizza.

    But the best thing was their wood fired pizza oven; it's authentic, it's beautiful, it's pizza as it should be made!

    We got one with authentic parma ham, rocket and cherry tomatoes, and another with olives, mushrooms and salami.The crust was really crispy as I like it (and as it should be!) and the toppings delicious.

    Playing hide and seek :)

     ...and this is whatever was left. Nothing much.

    Unfortunately our experience wasn't as nice as I had hoped. The service was... how should I put this nicely...
    I didn't mind that they set the cutlery on the table the wrong way round.
    I turned a blind eye at the grammatical mistakes and spelling inconsistencies in the menu (once a linguist, always a linguist).
    But there's no excuse for having to spend fifteen minutes waving my hand in the air just to grab your attention to order. And looking at someone else when I'm talking to you certainly shows really bad manners.

    Such a shame. Such great pizza, such bad service.

    Nevertheless, if you are willing to ignore the service (you've been warned!), you'll find them at:
    147-149 Notting Hill Gate
    London W11 3LF

    or call them at 0277278877

    PS: For those with an allergy to running-around, screaming young children, please take note that the place is also frequented by families with said children.

    First two pictures taken via pizzametropizza.com

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    Cafe Mercedes - Nicosia

    I don't know what went wrong on my first visit at Cafe Mercedes. Maybe it was because I had high hopes for it, being the younger sibling of Vila Mercedes in Athens. When my friend K called to make a reservation the lady on the phone said that for our reservation of eight, there would be a minimum charge of 80Euros. We didn't mind, we actually got excited that maybe this arrangement was in place because the place was so popular.

    Unfortunately I don't have many photos of the place because I wasn't intending on writing up a review, but after we left I simply had to.
    From the outside, in my humble opinion, it looks like a bar with a bad name, the kind you find in the seediest of neighborhoods in the old district of Nicosia. Not a very good first impression, however I kept my hopes up.

    Next, there was a guy at the door in charge for the face control. During this economic climate, when businesses in Cyprus close down in a rate of three per day, it's probably not the best time for face control, neither is the time to be too picky about who's willing to give you money.

    Nevertheless, we passed through the face control as well. Finally sitting down, the ambiance was nice. The music was okay, and the interior decoration classier than what it seemed from the outside. When it was the time to order at last, I was hungry (story of my life), so I asked for the food menu. Having a look at the menu, the list of dishes was quite limited, but I thought that this was a good thing; if they have a small menu maybe they would make great food. I chose a dish with chicken in a yogurt-based marinade, while my friend C ordered a salad, and the rest just got drinks.

    I would very much like to tell you how the chicken was, alas it never arrived. An hour and several reminders later I told the waitress to cancel the order. She said that the kitchen was busy, that's why they were behind. An hour's work behind? With a quick glance around I verified my suspicions; less than a dozen people were there for dinner, the rest were just for drinks. There's no excuse for such delay.

    To sum up, this was the first and last time I set foot there. I can understand some delay given that it was fairly new, but there's no excuse for the kitchen not to be able to deliver food within a reasonable time to a dozen people.

    The salad. The only dish which made it to our table.

    Just a quick note: While my friends had their drinks and I still waited patiently for my dinner, I wondered how they would accommodate their customers in terms of space in winter, since its large size was mainly because of the large patio. Remarkably, a friend of mine replied: 'we don't know if it's going to make it till winter'.


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