PB Travels… Tromso – Snowshoeing in a Storm

Today we met a real life superwoman.  So post breakfast (avo on toast, how can you go wrong), yogurt and a hot cup of tea, we wandered outside the hotel to wait for our pick up.

Activity of the day: Snowshoe hill walking. Weather: heavy overnight snowfall, and it was still falling. Magda from Tromso Outdoor showed up on time, all smiles and positivity.  We drove out to Kvaloya again, seems like this is the activity island.  The weather was very cold, thankfully it had stopped (for the moment), long enough for her to give us a mini tutorial on show shoes wearing, walking – and the fact that you should definitely not walk backward in them.  We were 5 females excluding Magda – my gang of three and 2 other ladies.

The snow was up to a foot deep in places, so we definitely used our snowshoes to make our way through the snow.  It was a very enjoyable, calm walk, with enough stops and regular check-ups from Magda to ensure we were all OK.

Two thirds the way up was when everything changed.  We were basically attacked by the snow – there was a total whiteout, we couldn’t see more than five feet ahead of us, snow hitting us from all directions, the wind pushing us over.  We had to stop. That is when Magda the superwoman kicked in. She made sure we were all OK, fed us (yes, more lefse, but this time she had jammie dodgers for me – whoo!) and that hot, sweet Ribena.

Before Whiteout
After Whiteout

We basically had to stay put while the snow and wind settled down a bit – in the meantime Magda showed us all these exercises to keep warm – which was handy since one of the girls was complaining about ‘her fingers feeling funny’ arrrggghh!  We couldn’t make it up to the top of our mini mountain so Magda decided to take us back down.  But with those blizzardy conditions and it starting to get dark (it was 1pm), we took the scenic route through this mini wood to shield us from the wind and snow.

And we all made it in one piece down to the van – got in, got warm, only to discover that it was stuck in the snow! The adventure was not over yet! So once again, super Magda got out of the car, completely calm and collected, and tried to shovel our way out.  Unfortunately there had been so much snow – which meant we all had to get out and use our feet and hands and whatever else to make a path through the snow to the main road – in pitch darkness.  Fun and games – it took an hour – but we did it. Go girl power! and go Magda – one of the best guides I’ve seen!

Back at the hotel, we didn’t have much time to relax as we had an escape room to look forward to. There are a few of these in London, I’ve been to one near Bank station and it was brilliant.

This one was just as good – Arctic Escape (the northern most escape room, we were told).  We spent an hour solving the puzzle in John Winter’s room – and thanks to S, escaped with 6 minutes to spare.  Strongly recommend this if you’re in Tromso!

Suitably charged and ready for some food, we looked at our list of recommendations from the lovely Norwegian girls we met on the Vulkana, and down the road from Arctic Escape was Bardus Bistro. A beautiful, cosy space and a short menu.

Mains were approximately £30 each.  Not cheap for me, but as I’ve mentioned before, we quickly realised Tromso isn’t cheap, and decent restaurants meant shelling out a bit more.  Once again, there was nothing on the menu for me, but I was told there is a vegan risotto – so yes please!  What arrived was this beautiful plate of pearl barley, butternut squash, celery, mushrooms, lingonberries and dill. What a stunning combination – I enjoyed every mouthful, from beginning to end.

The girls ordered fish-y dishes, they enjoyed them too:

It was so filling, there was no room for dessert – but I did order an espresso – that came with a square of dark chocolate. Sorted. Seriously good coffee after the crappy coffee I’d been drinking.

A wonderful meal, couldn’t ask for a better way to end the day – the most adventurous so far!

PB Travels… Tromso – Hiking and Fjords

Since we were in Tromso for just a week, we planned our itinerary to ensure that we do at least one activity a day, and today’s was supposed to be cross country skiing.  I say supposed – because as the keen amongst you may have figured out – it didn’t happen.  Reason: no snow.  No Snow?!?!? We’re in the Arctic Circle! Apparently everything is a month late, so there hasn’t been much snow because it has been warmer than usual at this time of the year.  Yes. Warmer than usual.  This meant that our activity turned into a snow hike.

So after a late breakfast and a leisurely morning, we waited for our guide, Michael from Tromso Outdoor.

It turned out the only people booked in were the three of us – private tour…perfect!  This is the place you need to go to for a number of tours, but more importantly, ski and snow gear – everything – that you can hire for very reasonable prices.  Definitely worth looking into when you’re planning your visit.

We drove out to Kvaloya, the Whale Island and found a suitable snowy hill to hike up – crampons, hiking poles and all.  The views were magical – both on the drive and hike.

So utterly breath taking and I enjoyed every single minute of it – so calming and peaceful.  We made it back to the car where a hot drink was waiting for us – which was essentially hot Ribena, exactly what was needed after a long hike.  The girls also got to have some Lefse, which was the standard snack on the Tromso Outdoor tours – essentially a bready pancake sandwiched with a buttery nutmeg mixture.  Obviously off limits for me, I came equipped with my current favourite, a Primal Pantry Cashew and Almond bar.

We got back to the hotel, changed into our robes and off to the sauna on the top floor for a bit of muscle loosening action – which we needed more than we realised!

Being a Sunday, we were told that there were literally only 4 restaurants and coffee shops open in Tromso – so we decided to go one that was open as we didn’t want to eat in the restaurant.  We found Aungarden, which was sadly a slaughterhouse in a previous lifetime.

It had a relatively simple menu, and literally nothing that I could eat.  However, as I was realising, Tromso is very accommodating and when I asked if I could have a veggie salad – there was no problem in getting one 🙂

Crisp lettuce, fried potatoes, fresh tomatoes… and a single asparagus.

Most enjoyable, and exactly what I needed, although I could have done with more asparagus!

The next day was another activity, M & I were off to see the famous Norwegian fjords and S was off Husky Sledging.  Breakfast was more or less the same, literally nothing to write home about.  We were booked on the Fjord tour with Enjoy The Arctic and we were picked up by our slightly crazy guide Anna.  So being in the Arctic, we went from not having enough snow to ski to a proper snow blizzard – so much so that Anna was convinced that we’ll drive to Kvaloya, hang around for 20 min and drive back.  She was wrong! What I also realised about being in the Arctic, is how quickly the weather changes! It suddenly cleared up and we were left with relatively clear skies! Result.

 The scenery was nothing short of magical – it was literally like being in another world – I think the daylight – or the ‘sun doesn’t rise above the horizon’ light had a lot to do with it.

We spent the morning driving, stopping for photos, driving to another fjord, repeat.  The views were just stunning – breathtaking.  When we got to kattfjord, Anna started squealing – why? Whales!!  We saw a massive pod of orcas!!  Apparently seeing so many, so close to the shore is very rare – she called it the viewing of the season – and who are we to complain!

Next stop – a frozen lake that we had a snowball fight on – or rather, where I attacked M slap bang in the face with a snowball (sorry! forgivve meee! ;).  Fight aside, at the risk of sounding like a broken record – the views! Standing on a frozen lake, surrounded by mountains was very humbling

and exhilarating!

Penultimate stop – Summaroy, or the summer island.  Apparently this is the place that people hang out in the summer, have picnics, swim in the sea, because it gets to a balmy 15 degrees!  Now if you look at these photos, you might think you’re on some tropical beach (replace clouds with blue skies).

It might have looked like that, but the gale force arctic winds stopped it from feeling anywhere close to that.

                    

Don’t be fooled, that wasn’t surf on the beach – it was snow!  This is the first time I’ve seen that combo!

Final stop –  another beach, where Anna attempted to light a fire and cook our snack.  Hot dogs in wraps for the meat eaters, along with a stick of dried reindeer meat, which M dutifully informed looked and tasted like pepperami.  For me – a vegan burger, which, in that cold and after 4 hours of sightseeing was very welcome.

Talking about cold – I donned a thermal suit on top of all my layers and my salopettes and my ski jacket – I was the Michelin (wo)Man!!! Getting the thermal suit on could actually be a separate blog post on it’s own, but I’ll spare myself the pain of that. haha!

After the meal, the snow started again, and we endured a scary ride back to our hotel – driving like maniac on icy roads was our final adventure experience for the day – thank you Anna!
We were all exhausted, so we nipped into Pastafabrikken, which was literally a minute’s walk from our hotel.
It is one of those Scandi cool places in terms of decor and style, and I knew that with an Italian-esque menu, there would be something I would find to eat.
My bowl of veggie soup arrived with a load of crusty bread. For £11, it was absolutely delicious, packed with lots of vegetables – and one of the cheaper meals we had!
Another fine day in Tromso, this one full of mind numbingly (is that a word? It is in my world!) beautiful nature, breathtaking sceneries, adventure and a hot bowl of soup! Thank you Universe!!

PB Travels… Tromso – Spa, City Walk and Lights!

OK. Now this day was epic.  I would recommend this activity to everyone who visits Tromso, even the locals love it.  We were staying in the Radisson Blu, which was a brilliant choice as it was the pickup point for almost all activities, and pretty central.  Come to think of it, I can’ think of a hotel that won’t be pretty central 🙂  Breakfast was included, and if you eat everything, then there was a lot of variety.  For me, breakfast virtually every day was cereal with fruit (they had soya milk – win!)

Or roasted tomatoes on toast (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).  Over the week I did supplement it with my handy pip and nut peanut and almond butter squeezies, along with some supermarkets bought Alpro soya yogurts and avocado.

And the bread. Oh. The. Bread.  Different kinds, rye, wheat, nuts, seeds, unidentified ingredients, but all so good.  First activity of the day (as per our customised itinerary, thank you M) was on the Vulkana for.. wait for it… a spa day! on a boat!

So we boarded what looked like a normal fishing boat.. if you can call having a hamam, sauna and hot tub normal!

You can just see the wooden tub at the back of the boat – but look inside – chill out zone!

There was also another seating place upstairs that worked as a dining place…

The views from the hot tub were amazing.  The sun never rises above the horizon at this time of the year, and this means that the sky looks amazing – pink and blue on one side, orange and yellow on the other… stunning!

We spent 2 hours alternating between the hot tub and the sauna.   I must say it was very surreal sitting in a hot tub with a woolly hat, and then drying off in the sauna.

The crew was relaxed, looked after us but mainly left us to our own devices.  Halfway through they wandered over and asked very casually if any of us fancied a dip in the Norwegian Sea?  Erm, yes we did!   There was a ladder off the side of the boat and just taking off my fluffy gown gave me the shivers.  So before I had time to change my mind, I took the plunge.

I was okay for literally 2 seconds – and I even swam around – another 5 seconds and then that was it.  Pins and needles, toes and fingers were getting numb and that was it.  I was swearing all the way back up the ladder (only to distract myself from freezing!).  It took me 10 whole minutes in an overheated sauna.  I thought I was crazy but S went in after me – and then she warmed up and jumped in the sea again!! Impressive.

After warming ourselves up, we joined the other guests for lunch.  There was fish stew for everyone else, and I was given a giant sandwich – that amazing bread, and stuffed with veggies and loads of avocado.
No complaints here.  We had lunch with 5 other Norwegian girls who recoiled in horror when we told them we went to Peppes.. and they were so LOVELY, they gave us recommendations on decent restaurants and coffee shops, and more importantly, the ones to avoid – we definitely referred to that list!  I so recommend Vulkana – oodles of fun!
Next activity – walking tour of Tromso.  It was 2.5 hrs long and very entertaining.  We walked around the city centre (not very big, but beautiful), the Polar Museum, one of the Town Square where there was a Christmas Market.

Christmas Tree – Tromso Style
Weather – at 6pm

Next stop – NORTHERN LIGHTS, third activity of the day.  After a quick stop at the hotel so that we could layer up even more (I felt like the Michelin (wo)Man all through this holiday), we got picked up from the hotel at 6.30pm.  Our guide was Markus from Explore the Arctic was very helpful – a whizz with sorting out SLR settings and had the loveliest Norwegian accent, which I instantly became obsessed with.. and which M and I then tried to copy (unsuccessfully) for the rest of the holiday 🙂

We drove for about an hour and a half before we stopped – to be honest we didn’t have the best conditions to see the lights and to be honest, I was expecting them to be as vivid as all the photographs I’ve seen – they weren’t to the human eye, but on camera – wow wow wow.

 

 

 

We stopped at some point for a hot meal – Markus and the (superman) driver built a campfire sans gloves (!!!!), and dished out cups of hot coffee (yes), hot chocolate (no) and hot tea (no), accompanied by a veggie pasta soup-y stew.
We got to the hotel around 1am – knackered after a very long day but very happy.

PB Travels… Hello Tromso!

And so it begins – the first of my holiday travels, and the first cold holiday I’ve been on.  I will exclude going to Toronto in February earlier this year, because that was work related – but it was still terribly cold for a sun child like me.  Niagara Falls in Winter – stunning!

So before going to Tromso, I went shopping for ski pants, salopettes, base layers, heat techs from uniqlo (which I would definitely recommend for layering up).  Once done, there wasn’t much to do other then get to Tromso and start having fun with my two friends, who I’ve known for over 10 years – S & M (hahaha).  There is a direct flight from Gatwick – just under 4 hours, but with the usual delays, by the time we got to Tromso, waited for a cab and checked into the hotel (thankfully only 15 minutes from the airport), it was almost 10pm.

We thought we’d grab a pizza – something quick that will hit the spot.  Well, we were wrong on both counts.  First piece of advice – never go to Peppes Pizza!! Never ever!

It took us about an hour to order, another hour to get our food (almost midnight at this point), and the food was horrible.  I had to wait a bit longer because I got a cheesy pizza and it took a while to get a cheese free pizza.  I could have lived with all of that… including the warm avocado on the pizza and how it looked…

And that is where it stopped.  The pizza was terrible, the two saving graces were M’s salad with giant spinach leaves and crunchy bacon, and this apple juice. 

My meal came to about £20 (25% tax), but we know Norway is expensive (definitely not the place for a budget holiday).  I think what got me wound up was that I paid that much money for a grim meal. Day 1 over, bring on the proper holiday!

So since I’ll be doing more of this travelling lark next year, I realised I need to up my blogging game in that I will have to blog on the go – not to worry… I have a month to figure it out.. but before that… more about Tromso!

PB Eats… in Soho

Sabbatical time is approaching! I’m taking some time off work to rest, relax and of course, eat and travel 🙂 I’m not going to begin my travels properly until January next year, and I will be blogging all about it.  So for now, I’m focusing on catching up on all the stuff I say I can’t do because I don’t have time – paperwork, de-cluttering, organising.. and did I mention resting and relaxing?

I was in Soho for a whole day last week – appointments, shopping, meeting friends for coffee.  I walked around, taking in the Christmas decorations (a bit too early? Definitely!).

My favourite ones were down Carnaby Street – one word affirmations scattered everywhere – brilliant!

Before I knew it – it was lunch time.  Spoilt for choice I decided to try a place that I had walked past on previous occasions, but never been.  Keu! on Poland Street, basically a fast food Vietnamese restaurant.  I toured Vietnam for 2 weeks with my brothers and I loved loved loved the food.  All the curries, the rice bowls, the spring rolls, oh the spring rolls.  I think I had them with every meal (erm, bar breakfast!).  I obviously wasn’t walking into this place expecting a taste of Vietnam, but what I liked is they tried to make it look like a restaurant in Vietnam.

I ordered my meal and drink, paid at the counter – very quickly with no issues – and went to perch on a bar stool facing the world go by.  My drink came in a couple of minutes – I went for a lemonade, just what I needed after walking around for a couple of hours.

I waited about five minutes until my mains arrived, entertained myself by watching Asian Provocateur in the meantime. Romesh Ranganathan is so so funny – both in these series and live.  Back to the meal – I went for the only veggie/vegan rice bowl I could see on the menu – Com Chay.  This was described as a smokey aubergine stew with tofu, mushrooms and tofu broth.  What arrived was a massive bowl filled to the brim with rice and veggies and tofu.

Close up? OK – here it is:

The first few mouthfuls (bar the gigantic pieces of garlic) were delicious.  Luscious pieces of tofu, firm yet delicate aubergine – no trace of the smokiness though – mushrooms, herbs, spring onions all added to the initial yumminess.  But it did become a bit one dimensional after a while – there was A LOT of rice and I did have to pimp it up with a bit of soy sauce and some chillies pickled in vinegar.  I ended up eating only 1/2 of it – it was waaay too much food – and I wanted to be in a position to look forward to dinner.  So will I come back? Nope, not really.

After a bit more (essential) shopping, off I went to dinner to meet my friends who I will be going to Tromso with.  We’re off in just over a week – and that was what the essential shopping was for – making sure I have enough long johns to keep me warm :).  We met at Aqua Kyoto, just behind Oxford Circus station.   I love the decor of this place – all dark wood and beautiful crockery.

Now this isn’t a cheap restaurant – but who said I was going a la carte?  My friend saw an offer – £29 for 3 courses and a cocktail, and it being Japanese cuisine, although full of raw fish, I knew I would be OK with options.  The last time I was here we had a terrific meal off the same set menu – and the service was excellent.  Repeat performance this time? Yes, on the food for me, bit of a hit and miss with the meaty main (hair in a dish, argh!)

I didn’t take a picture of the set menu (and I can’t find it anywhere online) but there were three options for starters – sushi, sashimi or veggie tempura.  Mains were a mushroom rice, and two other meaty options (obviously didn’t look).  There was only one option for dessert – a pumpkin chawanmushi with a pear sorbet.  I chose my veggie options, and asked for just sorbet for dessert.

My tempura starter arrived and was thoughtfully served with a bonito free dipping sauce (arigato!) even without me asking. Well, they did ask when they were taking orders if anyone had any allergies…

Benefits of your friends not drinking Christmas cocktails? More for me! Saying that, there was so much ice in the glass, any effects of the alcohol were virtually non-existent! My tempura was excellent – and a reminder why I love this restaurant.  It wasn’t the usual tempura of button mushroom and baby corn. Oh no sireee! Here we had pumpkin, seaweed and shiso leaf – all hot and crispy. Yum!

My main of Mushroom rice was just as beautifully presented.  Didn’t look like there was much in there, but I was wrong – it was more than enough.

So many different textures and flavours – and multi-dimensional from start to finish!  It was essentially a mushroom risotto with more mushrooms, butternut squash puree, more shiso leaves, cubes of silken tofu (not sure what the sprinkles were, but I know they weren’t cheesy or fishy).  What a beautiful dish – and it left me in a happy place – full, but enough room for dessert.

For dessert I was expecting a couple of scoops of pear sorbet, but instead I got passion fruit sorbet and sour cherry sorbet on a chilled plate – pretty!  Perfect refreshing end to a lovely meal.

I do love this place, but to be honest the set menu changes often enough for me to stick to it instead of a la carte-ing it, and I will definitely be back.

PB Eats… Gujarati, Ghanaian, Thai

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love living in London.  I eat so many different kinds of cuisines everyday, all easily accessible, and all delicious! First stop this week was an early dinner at Chawalla, one of my go to places for Gujarati food in East London.  It is a vegetarian restaurant, and there is so much variety, from snacks to street food.  We started off with mogo, also known as cassava, a childhood staple.  It is usually boiled, fried and then eaten as they are, dipped in a mixture of salt, lemon and chilli powder. Or coated in a sauce.

Soft, crispy mogo, spicy tomato sauce, whats not to like?  Mains were channa puri – one of my favourite combos, whether made the Gujarati way or the Punjabi way.

A bowlful of sweet, spicy chickpeas in a thick sauce, 3 puris – deep fried, fluffed up flatbreads and an obligatory salad.  This meal had the right combination of textures and flavours.  Yummy.  A definite return restaurant 🙂

One of the other lunch time meals I had this week was Ghanaian food.  Now I thought it would be meat heavy, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a few vegetarian and vegan options on the menu at Chop Pot.  It is opposite Liverpool Street station, had few places to sit down and eat, and virtually everyone was there for a takeaway, including me.

I love peanuts, and when I saw the spicy pepper soup with spinach, I know that is what I was going to order.

It turned out to be a thick, smooth, creamy soup with a good taste of peanut, a massive (good) kick of chilli, a few bits of spinach and a lot of what I think was palm oil – you can even see it floating on the top.  It was a tasty soup, but I found it very heavy. Going back and sitting at my desk for the rest of the afternoon didn’t help.  If you have this soup, make sure it is followed by a long power walk!

Sunday night dinner was a girly affair – mum, sister and I went out for Thai at our favourite Thai place – Elephant Royale in Gants Hill.

We’ve been coming here for almost two decades now, and the food was always consistently good.  Unfortunately due to a combination of surly staff, terrible service and the consistency of the food virtually disappearing, visits in the last two years were down to nil.  But I’m happy to say that there has been a change in the entire management team, staff and chefs – and we’re (well, they’re) back in business!  What did we order?

Crispy spring rolls, stuffed with glass noodles and veggies – delish!

Thai Green curry, loaded with veggies, tofu and a wonderfully rich sauce.  There was also a hint of turmeric in there – added this wonderful depth of flavour…

Coconut Rice – this was the best part of the meal – plump rice, full of coconut…and sugar.  It went perfectly with the curry, and also served as dessert.. haha!

Green papaya salad, sans dried shrimp and fish sauce but loaded with everything else.  Refreshing and perfectly complimentary with everything else.   Thank you Elephant Royale!

So this concludes the highlights of the week, stay tuned for more eats – I’m ready if you are! 🙂

PB Eats… Shoryu

One of my most favourite cuisines is Japanese.  I used to think it is limited to sushi and sashimi, and I thought after stopping seafood I might as well have struck Japanese food off my list. But two trips to Japan later, on a vegetarian diet – wow!  The variety! The flavours! Back on my list 🙂 Ramen took off in London a good few years ago, but it was always off limits as they were – and still are – pork based soups on the menu.  Until Shoryu came along – and introduced a soy milk ramen, the ‘White Natural’.

Not meat or fish based, but a stock made with soy milk, miso, konbu and shitake.  Whooo!  This ramen bowl was full of tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and seaweed.  We also got to choose the firmness of the noodles – from standard (my choice) to extra firm (no thank you).

Stunningly good, full of flavour and texture.  The noodles had the perfect bite and this bowl was the perfect dish – I loved it.  I also ordered a side to share – mainly because it sounded very intriguing on the menu – “Black sesame tofu with sweet miso sauce and tenderstem broccoli”.  I love black sesame – both in sweet and savoury dishes and definitely wanted to give this a try.

What arrived was a jet black block of tofu with a single, sorry excuse of broccoli – would make sense to leave it out!  This was so utterly delicious – the texture was more of a set pudding than tofu, with a hint of tofu, a hint of black sesame and that thick, rich miso sauce.

Since we had room for dessert (isn’t there always room for dessert) we decided to browse the dessert menu.  There was only one dairy free dessert – sorbet, but this time I was excited. The flavours – umeshu (plum wine), yuzu (my favourite flavour in the world) and chocolate and wasabi.  I went for the first two, accompanied with a cup of oolong tea.

This was turning to be the perfect meal. I got a cup with two giant balls of sorbet – both white.

Both flavours – the umeshu and yuzu were utterly delicious, but I did hit my limit once I finished.  My friend enjoyed her dessert as much as I enjoyed mine – she ordered the yuzu cheesecake and a matcha tea.

I absolutely loved Shoryu – I have never had a bad experience here – neither with the food or with the service.  And even though my options here are limited – well, there is only 1 main – it is consistently good, and I will keep going back!

PB Eats…in a week

I’ve been eating a lot over these past few weeks.  I’m planning to take a break from work for a few months – no 9 – 5, no meetings, no tube in the mornings – just want to travel and eat :).  So this means lots of lunches with work mates, I’ve been going out virtually every lunch time.   No fancy restaurants, but a lot of food.  Started off with good old Wagamama and my standard staples – it is either the Itame or the Yasai Yaki Udon.  I also ordered gyoza and added most of the gyoza dipping sauce to the udon – result = full of flavour.
Next meal of the week was in Camino , a popular tapas restaurant, where I’ve always had consistently good food.  I started off with some plump, juicy, grassy olives. They were fat and full of flavour – just how I like them.  I ordered my favourite dish, but forgot to take a picture of it – pan con tomate.  Nice, crispy bread, fresh, juicy sweet tomatoes with a slight kick of acidity.

I ordered a couple more dishes, the Patatas Bravas without the aioli, and this really interesting aubergine dish.

Some of the potatoes were soft, while others harder and crunchy – variety is nice, but here there were just a bit too many extremes of texture to make it enjoyable, and to be honest, I would have liked the bravas sauce to be a bit spicier.

I thoroughly enjoyed this dish – 4 baby aubergines, stuffed with a mixture of tomato, onion, coriander and mint, dressed with a ‘mojo verde’, a garlicy, cuminy coriander sauce.  Soft, flavourful and fresh.  I’d eat it again.  Next lunch time meal – Nando’s! I had a veggie wrap (hold the yoghurt) and decided to go for the macho peas.

Always ordering off menu and more, you can see from my sticker what I ended up with – hot, veggie, extra avocado, extra mushroom and there was even a special label. Why thank you 🙂  Always delicious, dipped in the medium sauce and the wild herb sauce.

I ended the week with dinner at Rocket.  Now here was one place where I was really limited in terms of options.  So when in doubt, I go for the dependable menu item – Pizza!  Thankfully the server was so accommodating and said she’ll put an order through for any pizza toppings I want – yay!  This base was similar to Franco Manca – chewy and totally moreish.

I went for mushrooms, peppers spinach and basil.  It was tasty but it was ginormous, and I couldn’t finish the whole thing. Obviously, because I wanted some sorbet 🙂 There were three options – mango, blackcurrant and lemon.  I chose mango (I will always choose mango 🙂 and blackcurrant.

The mango sorbet was creamy and not too sweet.  The blackcurrant sorbet was horrible.  Sickly sweet, icy, crystallised. Eugh.  I left it all.  I also didn’t get why they sprinkled copious amounts of icing sugar all over! Noooo!!

So that was a lot of eating out, and it is set to continue… Not that I’m complaining 🙂 🙂

PB Eats… Northbank Restaurant

Hello! It’s been a few days since my last post – life has been manic at the moment, and food wise, well, I’ve been eating the same old staples, so nothing new to report – until now.  Well, until last Thursday.  I met up with a very good friend in a restaurant that she suggested – Northbank restaurant, on the banks of the Thames – but had never been to herself.  I had a look at the menus and lo and behold – virtually nothing for me to eat.  So I emailed the restaurant, and a lovely woman called Elena responded and basically wrote ‘come on down, we’ll sort you out’.  The views walking to the restaurant were stunning-good old end of summer weather.

The restaurant itself was beautiful – Elena was there to greet us and took us to one of the booths – perfect for 2 people.  The waitresses were absolutely wonderful, polite without being intrusive and thoughtful from start to end.  I basically had a set menu with 1 option for each course.  The starter was described as ‘mung bean salad’ and the mains were a ‘pea risotto’. Dessert – fruit salad with sorbet. The deal was 2 courses with a glass of prosecco for £22.50, not bad at all.

A couple of rolls of bread kicked off our dinner.  They came with butter, and without me asking, they brought out a little jar of earthy, grassy olive oil for me.   Warm crusty rolls dipped in olive oil.  So far, so good.

Before the starter, the chef sent out a little amuse bouche – the same one for both me and my omni friend.
As soon as I had this little bite to eat, I knew I was going to have a good meal.  This cupful had a combination of fennel shavings, pea shoots, carrot, orange and a touch of molasses.  What a combination – I could have had this as a salad on its own.  When my starter came out, once again, I was impressed.  Expecting a few dodgy mung bean shoots, I got this beautiful salad.
Oh My Word.  Yes, the salad did have the shoots, but there were also three types of pickled radishes, rocket, pea shoots, and.. and… and… roasted, puffed rice. What a revelation.  They added an almost smoky barbequed flavour to the dish.  Each mouthful was different – lots of textures, lots of flavours and I enjoyed it down to the last mouthful.  My mains arrived and it was a vision in shades of green.
Plump, well cooked rice, wonderful pea flavour, whole peas, topped with deep fried kale leaves.  It tasted like an old fashioned risotto, and boy, I savoured every mouthful.  All in all, it was such a tasty meal, nice big portions, flavourful – I was very happy and didn’t even want to think about dessert (shock horror!) – this meal hit the spot for me.  We walked to St Paul’s and the walk was just as lovely as the food.
I do love London at night!  All in all, another delicious meal, and with service like that, another reason to come back to Northbank Restaurant!

PB Eats… Oi Hanoi

I’m now going to tell you about my go to meal in London.  This could possibly be the nicest dish I eat..and I plan to continue to do so for a long time.   Oi Hanoi is a couple of minutes walk away from Aldgate East station, run by a wonderful Australian, Dave.  I remember my first visit, looking at the menu, and seeing a good amount of veggie and vegan options.  Vegan Pho! Vegan Summer Rolls! Vegan Curry! Love Asian food from all over – and it is usually dairy free!!

I had the vegan curry, and that is when the love affair developed with the dish.  It is the dish I always come back to.  It is shockingly reasonable, and what you get is excellent amazing quality and value for money.  Order at the counter, choose your seat and wait in anticipation.

 Oi Hanoi serves free tea with meals, although there is an option to buy some cool drinks too – almost all the Fentimans range and aloe drinks. But when I went last week, as usual, i always stick to the tea.  It’s about the food baby!

I decided to stick to the usual, having not had it for a few weeks, ordered the Ca Ri or the Oi Hanoi Curry – Chay, with organic tofu and veggies.  And as usual, I asked for it with rice and to be extra saucy, oo er..

A massive hill of brown rice, beautiful brown curry, subtle with spice but with a serious depth of flavour.  Green beans, big chunks of mushrooms, elastic, soft tofu and tender potatoes.  The curry comes with a large wedge of lemon and a handful of herbs – holy basil and mint. This time, a few vegan spring rolls were strewn across the top.  Here’s a close up:
 Each mouthful was different – textures, flavours, taste – but consistently delicious down to the last mouthful.   So so recommend this place.  I took 3 omnivores with me this time and for some reason, they also ordered this curry, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is definitely worth a visit!