Native, Neal’s Yard

What better way to start the week than with a new restaurant to get you dreaming about next weekend already?

I mean, it is just 3.5 days away! #GodBless4DayWeeks

The sun seems to finally have found its way to London, taking a stroll into Covent Garden one of the very best things to do!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Wandering the cobbled streets is the best way to build up an appetite.

Once you’re good & hungry, make your way to Neal’s Yard colourful hidden courtyard, marvel at how truly adorable it is, then get yourself a table at Native.

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

A greenery-adorned, garden-in-the-basement table, that is!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

The menu is short, simple and changes pretty regularly.

Depending on how many people you are / how hungry you are, you might even be able to try it all!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Things started off on a high with the Pigeon Kebab with beet hummus and harissa.

An Eastern-Europe-meets-the-Middle-East kind of dish and an absolute success!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Followed by an Easter special of Rabbit dumplings with wild garlic and pickled walnuts.

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

So simple, yet elegant and perfectly balanced and probably my favourite of all dishes.

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

For mains, we shared Goat cutlets with cauliflower puree, roast carrot and wild garlic.

A nice, comforting dish that could only have been improved by a couple of extra spoonfuls of that delicious, zingy herb dressing!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

All washed down with glass after glass of Native’s homemade Elderflower cordial.

Fresh, subtle and elegant, it’s something truly special and you must make sure to try it on your visit!

Native, Neal's Yard | Cake + Whisky

Just like the brilliant honeycomb-adorned Truffles.

Slightly salted, very rich and 100% decadent, they are what chocolate dreams are made of.

 

A truly exceptional ending to a lovely lunch and one you should definitely experience for yourself!

If you’re after seasonal food at its very best and a side of wandering in the spring sunshine, you really couldn’t do better!

Find Native online and make sure you book a table as it’s teeny-tiny (but oh so adorable!)

Native3 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H   Native  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Native, Neal’s Yard

Brunch at Chinese Laundry

There are so many things to like about the  Easter weekend.

Mainly chocolate, I’ll admit to that.

But also, 4-day weekend!

Which means twice as many days for brunch!

But there’s only that many Eggs Benny even a brunch lover like me can eat in a row…

Luckily, I know just the place to mix things up a little!

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Chinese Laundry is a casual dinning room inspired by 80s Chinese family life and food.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Which you can clearly see as soon as you pass the door.

So very kitsh yet totally Pinterest-worthy.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

The menu focuses on the fewer known delicacies from Northern Mainland China, with a couple of clever Anglo-Chinese fusion dishes thrown in as well.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

We started off with some Jasmine tea (when in China…)

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

And a tall glass of salty lemonade.

Yes, salty. Apparently, salty drinks are a big thing around Asia.

And quite a nice one, I must admit!

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

The menu is short and sweet and pretty much impossible to choose from.

So we just went with ‘one of each’. Almost.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Starting with the Laundry Full.

Looks like a British brekkie, but sure doesn’t taste like one!

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

With braised beef loumei, tea egg, king oyster mushroom, peanut loumei, pickles, crispy bacon and milky little buns, it’s so much lighter than the traditional breakfast and the perfect trompe l’oeil!

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Dumplings had to be ordered (they are one the traditional dish for brunch in China after all), so Dumplings Stir Fry it was!

With heaps of garlic, crispy bacon, peanuts, fresh herbs and a creamy sweet pepper sauce, Chinese Laundry’s dumplings certainly didn’t disappoint.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

But the star of the brunch was the Egg Cong You Bing (Crispy scallion pancake).

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Flaky pancakes, oozy egg and a bit more of that lovely homemade sweet pepper sauce, that’s all my brunch dreams on a plate.

Brunch at Chinese Laundry | Cake + Whisky

Oh, and they give you the cutest milk-flavoured bunny-stamped sweets as well.

Just one more reason to make sure you hop by Chinese Laundry this weekend!
Chinese Laundry, 107 Upper St, Islington, N1 1QN  Chinese Laundry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunch at Chinese Laundry

Kohlrabi, Blood Orange & Mozzarella Salad

There are very few things that makes me happier than the fact that Spring is well and truly sprung. Except maybe for how truly stunning the fruit and vegetables’ stalls at my local market have been looking lately.

So stunning in fact that I fel in the trap of getting a bit of everything without thinking too much about what I’d do with it.

Which has resulted in revising old favourites, as well as a few unlikely experiments. Some of them more succesful than others.

But the best discovery was this simple, colourful and super seasonal Kohlrabi, blood orange and mozzarella salad.

Kohlrabi, blood orange & mozzarella salad | Cake + Whisky

It’s quickly become a favourite of mine for a fresh and vitamin-full lunch, and I believe it’d do wonders served alongside some roast chicken and would be a great addition to any Spring table.

Kohlrabi, blood orange & mozzarella salad | Cake + Whisky

Kohlrabi, Blood Orange & Mozzarella Salad (serves 1)

Ingredients: 1 small kohlrabi, 1 blood orange, 1/2 ball of mozzarella, olive oil, black pepper, sea salt flakes

1. Peel the kohlrabi and slice very thinly (using a mandoline if you have one)

2. Using a sharp knife, cut away the peel and pith from the orange, exposing the flesh, then cut into thin slices.

3. Shred the mozzarella into bite-size bits.

4. Combine all three ingredients on a plate. Season with some good quality olive oil, a pinch of sea salt flakes and some cracked black pepper and serve immediately.

Kohlrabi, Blood Orange & Mozzarella Salad

Russell James ‘The Raw Chef’ Pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf

You know I’m not usually one for diet or substitute anything. And yet, after a rather sinful start to last week, I was looking to redeem myself and strongly considered eating nothing but salad for the next few days.

But then I got invited to The Raw Chef’s latest pop-up restaurant… and I’m not going to lie, that was a much more exciting way to get my greens in!

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

The gorgeous Green Room of newly opened Tiny Leaf was the perfect setting for a night full of nature-filled discoveries.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

The Raw Chef, Russell James, discovered raw food on a trip to Thailand back in 2004 and has since made it his mission to make raw food accessible everyday.

For his latest pop-up restaurant, he teamed up with natural drinks wizard Michael Isted of The Herball, who designed invigorating and revitalising drinks to match Russell’s wonderful raw creations.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

Not only are the drinks actually doing you good, but they’re also incredibly tasty and beautiful.

Just look at that Crystal Botanical Water (Rose Quarz and Clear Quarz with Rosa damanesca & Boswellia sacra)!

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

Jun (fermented green tea with raw honey, botanical extracts & crystal essences)

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

Turmeric + (Wild harvested sea buckthorn, guggulsterones, piperine, ginger, long pepper, black pepper, withanolides, turmeric, vegetable glycerine, citrus, bitter, orange flower, sparkling water)

A stunning little number that one!

And a perfect pairing to the surprising dishes on offer.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

First course of the night was Tree Nut Cheese Plate with Lychee Ceviche.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

A cheese hater but nut lover’s (=me)dream came true!

A Cauliflower & smoked cashew soured creat with dehydrated parsnip chips and coriander emulsion followed (and I was so busy oh-ing and ah-ing that I complitely forgot to take any picture…)

Luckily, I didn’t make the same mistake with the main course.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

Brazil nut sea veg croquettes with tartar sauce.

But my absolute favourite thing at The Raw Chef’s pop-up (and one that could convince me to look more into raw food in the future) was the stunning dessert.

Russell James 'The Raw Chef' pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf | Cake + Whisky

Ishikawa matcha cheesecake with cacao soil and mango jam.

Made with cashew nuts and coco butter, this cheese-free cheesecake (!!) was one of the absolute best I’ve ever had (and so much lighter than the real deal!). very much going to try my hands at making something similar very soon (I’ll probably start with some sort of version of Russell’s own recipe).

All in all a brilliant introduction to raw food and a fascinating evening. Unfortunately, the pop-up restaurant is now closed, but I highly recommend that you keep an eye on the Raw chef’s website for upcoming events (and try some of his recipe in the meantime!)

 

Russell James ‘The Raw Chef’ Pop-up restaurant at Tiny Leaf

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa

I must admit I’m a bit of a Jamie Oliver fan-girl: the books, the TV shows, the YouTube channels, the food… I love it all. And yet, I had never been to any of Jamie’s restaurants. Shocking, I know.

So when a lil’ email popped into my mailbox, inviting me to an exclusive butchery masterclass at fire-and-meat focused Barbecoa, I was very excited to say the least!

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Located just behind St Paul’s Cathedral, Barbecoa is a beautiful restaurant.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

There’s a beautiful bar, a gigantic, open kitchen, lushious dark wood and gorgeous views. That I obviously didn’t take any picture of. #BadBlogger

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

And then there’s an entire wall worth of whiskies… Way to make this girl fall in love, well played Barbecoa!

We started things off with a glass of bubbly and some nibbles.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Crispy pork crackling with thyme and apple ketchup (I bet you can’t have just one!)

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Moroccan-spiced lamb pasties (so selicate and delicious!)

Before moving on to the main event, the Plat de Resistance if you will…

(vegetarians friends, look away now!)

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

A man, a lamb and a rather dramatic setting for a butchery masterclass!

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Barbecoa butchers all of its meat in-house and regularly runs butchery masterclasses.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

One of the restaurant’s award-winning butchers will guide you through the process of breaking down an animal and all the steps until it reaches the plate.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

From breaking down the animal…

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

… to tips on how to best choose, prep and cook meat at home…

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

… and some of the trade’s best kept secrets, it’s the perfect event for those like me who love to take a peak behind the restaurant scene’s curtains.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Or well, any meat lover, really!

But there’s much more to Barbecoa than just meat…

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Including magicians/bartenders playing with fire to craft the most delicious cocktails.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Best of them all is the Barbecoa Blazer (Blazed Apple & Cinnamon Evan Williams, Orange, Cherries, Aromatic Bitters)

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Basically a whisky version of the best mulled wine you’ll ever be able to put your hands on. #BringWinterBack #justkidding

What more could you possibly need to make it the best night ever?

More nibbles? Oh, go on then!

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

The cutest little mushroom and carpaccio rolls with bearnaise sauce.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Homemade taramasala on plain and squid ink crackers.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Mind-blowingly good beef short rib croquettes with ‘nduja mayo and daikon pickles.

So good. Someone please send a box full of those to my desk.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Adorable chicken wing drumlets with yoghurt & lemon zest. Another winner.

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa | Cake + Whisky

Topping it all of with refreshing little shoters of rhubarb sorbet. The perfect way to balance of a rather rich meal (canapés are a legit meal, right?)

Barbecoa definitely lived up to its reputation of cathedral of meat & fire and the perfect introduction to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire. Now I simply can’t wait to discover more!

Want to become a master in lamb chopping yourself? More info on Barbecoa’s website

Or you know, just pop in for a cheeky cocktail or two. I bet you won’t find a better place in the City!

Butchery Masterclass at Barbecoa

Leeks Carbonara

With the sun out and the lovely weather, you’d think my brain would sync. with my stomach and agree on weather appropriate cravings.

But noooooo, that’d be far too easy. Instead, I’ve been craving very non-bikini-friendly things, namely mozzarella dippers and pasta carbonara.

Leeks carbonara: a healthy, Spring-y take on everyone's favourite / Cake + Whisky

The Italian classic is one of my all-times favourite dishes and one I can hardly say no to.

And on my way back from the farmers’ market last Sunday, I simply couldn’t choose between cooking with some of the lovely vegetables I just got, or cave in and make a nice bowl of spaghetti carbonara.

Leeks carbonara: a healthy, Spring-y take on everyone's favourite / Cake + Whisky

You guessed it, I ended up not choosing and made leeks carbonara: a lighter, fresher version of the classic that’s just as satisfying as the real deal (but with one sneaky portion of your five a day in it!)

The perfect dish to celebrate the arrival of Spring!

Leeks carbonara: a healthy, Spring-y take on everyone's favourite / Cake + Whisky

Leeks carbonara (serves 2)

Ingredients: half the amount of pasta you’d usually make when cooking spaghetti carbonara, 1 big leek (or 2 small ones), 100g lardons (or pancetta), 2 tsp crème fraîche (I KNOW carbonara doesn’t have cream in it, but this veggie-heavy version works better with some!), handful grated parmesan, 2 egg yolk, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper

1.  Cook your pasta according to packaging instructions. Strain and share into two bowls.

2. Wash your leeks and cut them lengthwise into thin stripes.

3. Crack your eggs and separate the yolk from the white.

4. Heat up a big frying pan. Cook the lardons until nice and crispy. Remove from the pan.

5.In the same frying pan, cook your leeks in a little bit of olive oil until tender (about 10 min). Remove from the stove, season with sea salt and black pepper and add on top of the pasta.

6. Place the lardons back in the frying pan, add the cream and cook for a couple of minute. Pour on top of the leeks. Sprinkle with parmesan and add an egg yolk on top of each bowl. Serve immediately.

Leeks Carbonara

Taco feast at Taqueria

I have a serious case of wanderlusting. At the moment, the idea of a beach holiday in a warm, sunny place (with a side of cocktails, guacamole and naps under the palm trees) sounds like the absolute dream.

But since this is London and I won’t have a holiday for quite some time still, I settled for the next best thing: a taco feast at Taqueria.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Serving up London’s best Mexican food, the place is packed every evening.

But on a rather late lunch date, it was much more of an intimate affair.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Filled with light, repurposed wooden chairs and a very well-stocked bar, the restaurant itself is an absolute gem.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Faced with an impressive number dishes to choose from, we decided to go for a bit of everything and share, tapas style.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

We tucked in hungrily!

Starting (as all good stories do) with guacamole.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Creamy, zingy and served with super crunchy totopos, it’s the sort of guac’ that’d fix even the strongest of wanderlust cases.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Roadside chicken tacos (charcoal grilled chicken, scotch bonnet mayonnaise, lettuce, árbol tomatillo salsa).

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Delightfully spicy and well worth a little close-up!

As soon as we’d finish a plate, a new one would miraculously appear in its place. Pretty much like eating at Hogwarts, just a little spicier!

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Carnitas tacos (slow cooked pork, salsa verde, pickled jalapeño, onion, coriander).

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

And the best of all, fish tacos (cod deep fried in cider batter, chipotle mayonnaise, avocado cream, cabbage).

 

We washed it all down with various tequila cocktails.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

My favourite being the Paloma.

A mix of tequila and ting grapefruit soda with a salt rim.

We were almost too stuffed for pudding, but just about managed to squeeze in some ice cream.

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + Whisky

Taco feast at Taqueria, Notting Hill | Cake + WhiskyTo be fair, the Super Duper Scooper (vanilla ice cream covered in cajeta (Mexico’s answer to salted caramel…) and chocolate sauce) would have been difficult to resist, and I’m rather gald we didn’t even try!

 

Punchy flavours in every dish, great cocktails, fun & buzzy atmosphere in the evening, and a quieter, almost romantic vibe at lunchtime. You really can’t go wrong at Taqueria.

A little holiday at home.

Booking info and menus for you to pick & mex(ico) from on the website.

Taqueria, 141-145 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RS  Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco feast at Taqueria