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Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs recipe – a guilt free kebab

Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs ingredients

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 3 teaspoons Baharat spice mix
  • 3 cloves garlic finely grated
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 50g dried apricot chopped into small chunks

Instructions

  1. I prefer to have my onions and or shallots browned before adding to burgers or meatballs to add a slight sweetness and take the harshness out of them.
  2. Chop the shallot and add to a hot pan with some oil to brown for a few minutes. Add the grated garlic to the onions and cook for a further minute mixing into the onions.
  3. Take off the pan and add to a bowl with the lamb mince.
  4. Add the Baharat spice mix and the chopped apricots to the bowl of mince then use your hands to mix the ingredients to make sure everything is equally combined.
  5. I prefer little meatballs that cook quicker rather than big meatballs that take ages to cook and end up being too dry so tear little chunks of the mix and roll into small meatballs. I made around 20 meatballs with mine so aim for around the same.
  6. I sometimes fry meatballs but it means you have to keep turning them so they don’t burn. I cook most of my meat in an airfryer these days as it cooks through nicely, is a lot quicker than the oven and they still have a nice crisp to them.
  7. Mine took around 10-15 minutes in the air fryer on around 190C.

Baharat and apricot lamb meatballs recipe

To enjoy as a guilt free kebab

  1. Shred some red cabbage
  2. Julienne 1 carrot
  3. Chop 4 spring onions
  4. Slice 2 large tomatoes
  5. Add to a bowl and squeeze a whole lemon over the mixture, season with salt and pepper.
  6. Make a quick mint yogurt mixing a couple of spoons of greek or natural yogurt with two teaspoons mint sauce, salt and pepper.
  7. Add some of the salad mix, a couple of meatballs to a toasted pitta and spoon some of the mint yogurt and if you’re feeling a bit of heat a few drops of your favourite chilli sauce and or a smudge of hummous.

Italian sausage pasta recipe

Italian sausage pasta ingredients

  • 4 Italian sausages, skin removed and rolled into little meatballs (I got mine from Cardiff Indoor Market)
  • 3 cloves of garlic grated finely
  • 8 field mushrooms or 1 large cut finely
  • 1 large shallot cut finely
  • 8 leaves Cavolo Nero
  • ½ tub of Ricotta cheese
  • Enough spaghetti for 2 (I’ll leave that baffling science to you)
  • Grated Parmesan for seasoning at the end
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • White Truffle oil

Instructions

  1. Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  2. Cut the sausages and squeeze out the mixture from the skin and roll into little meatballs
  3. Chop the shallot and mushrooms finely.
  4. Grate the garlic
  5. Cut either side of the stalks of the Cavolo Nero just leaving the leaves then slice into small strips
  6. Add the Spagetti to the water and cook to packet instructions usually around 8 minutes depending on brand and whether you use fresh. Cook for a minute less to leave a bit of bit to the pasta. I used a hollow spaghetti, which was thicker than normal spaghetti.
  7. Add the mini Italian sausage meatballs to the pan with some olive oil to brown. After 4-5 minutes on medium to high heat, add the shallots and mushrooms and add a little butter or oil to the pan so they don’t stick.
  8. Cook for a further 2 minutes then add the Cavolo Nero to the pan whilst mixing to combine. Add the garlic to the pan stir it into the other ingredients making sure it doesn’t burn. Make sure the meatballs have cooked through but the Italian sausage does sometimes have a slight pink hue compared to your British banger. Just make sure it’s boiling in the middle.
  9. Reserve some of the starchy pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  10. Add the spaghetti to the pan and toss a little with the rest of the pan. Add the Ricotta cheese and a little of the pasta water to thin the cheese and help it coat the pasta. Keep tossing the mixture and stirring to make sure everything has a nice even coating of Ricotta but add a little more water if needed.
  11. Divide into two bowls. Grate some fresh Parmesan on top, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper to taste and if you like a little drizzle of white truffle oil. I got my little bottle hand sized bottle from M & S.

Tuck in!

Mac n Cheese Recipe

Mac n cheese ingredients

  • 400g elbow or macaroni pasta
  • 250g of mixed cheese (I used up leftovers from 5 different cheeses from xmas including smoked, brie, mature cheddar and parmesan)
  • 1 leek thinly sliced
  • 100g good quality bacon
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder or 2 teaspoons of ready mixed English or wholegrain depending on taste
  • 750ml whole milk
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • Plain Flour
  • Real butter
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Optional

Panko Breadcrumbs to give extra crunch in the oven.

Instructions

  1. Add the pasta to boiling salted water and cook for a minute or two less than the packet says. Drain and add a few nobs of butter to the pan of drained pasta to coat it and stop it absorbing too much of the cheese sauce and becoming bloated later on.
  2. Chop the bacon into chunks and cook in the oven for around 10 minutes to brown slightly along with the sliced leeks then remove to cool.
  3. Make a roux by adding a couple of nobs of butter to a warm pan with a about 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to mix. Cook for around a minute and start adding the milk gradually a bit at a time for it to thicken. Keep on a medium heat to warm the milk and for the roux to thicken for a few minutes.
  4. The mixture will go from light to really start thickening very fast so take it off the heat when it starts to thicken and keep stirring. Add the mustard and cheese to the mixture and keep stirring to combine. I added a teaspoon of mild chilli powder at this point too along with some salt and pepper.
  5. Taste the mixture and play around adding a bit more milk if it’s too thick, more cheese if not cheesy enough, or whatever else you want to give it a kick.
  6. Add the cooled pasta to the cheese sauce mix and stir to make sure it’s evenly coated. Empty into a casserole dish, level out and sprinkle with more cheese. Scatter bacon and spring onion and the breadcrumbs if using these.
  7. Either bake straight away in the oven on around 180C for around 20 mins or refrigerate and use later or the day after.

Healthy Pizza Recipe

Spicy tomato sauce

  • 1 tin plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic finely grated
  • 1 medium chilli finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Couple of stalks of fresh thyme (or dried if you haven’t got any fresh)
  • 1/4 jarred roasted pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

passata recipe

Pizza ingredients

This is totally up to you depending on whether you’re going out to buy or just want to use up what you have in the fridge but here is what I used as toppings on mine.

  • Your choice of flatbread or wrap. I used 7 seeded
  • 1 Courgette cut into ribbons
  • 100g salami
  • 8 mushrooms sliced
  • 200g chopped cooked beef leftover from a Sunday Roast
  • 3/4 jarred roasted pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 a small red onion sliced

Cheese

I finely grated parmesan on top but you could use standard cheddar or mozerella if you aren’t cutting calories.

You can also use dollops of cream cheese or ricotta as an alternative too

Instructions

  1. Fry 1/2 diced red onion in a few squirts of fry light for a minute or two on medium to high so they start to go transluscent but we don’t want to brown. Add the finely grated garlic and however much of the chilli you want depending how hot you want it for a minute and stiring into the onions. You could also skip on the seeds to make it a bit milder too.
  2. You can either pour the plum tomato into your hands and crush into the pan or give them a bash with a wooden spoon in the pan to break them up a bit. Slice the roasted pepper and add to the pan of onions, garlic, chilli and tomatoes.
  3. Turn down the heat a bit to low to medium. Add the dried oregano and tear the small leaves off the thyme stalks or use dried if you have that to hand and give a stir.
  4. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  5. Leave on a low heat for around 20 minutes, stiring occasionally so it doesn’t burn or stick to the pan.
  6. I cut ribbons of courgette with a potato peeler then added to a bowl with the chopped beef, drizzled with olive oil and grated a clove of garlic finely, added salt and pepper and mixed to combine but this is optional.
  7. Get a round flat pan such as a baking stone or pizza stone. If using a metal pan warm on the hob for a minute or two then spray with fry light so it doesn’t stick.
  8. Turn the grill up to high to warm.
  9. Place one wrap or flat bread onto the pan or pizza stone. Take a couple of spoons of the tomato and spread to make sure it goes to the ends but don’t put too much as the bread will get too soggy and break.
  10. Assembly with a mixture of your toppings, again not making it too overcrowded as they won’t cook or get soggy.
  11. Top with your preferred cheese and put the grill as close as possible for around 5 minutes making sure the wrap doesn’t burn and whatever toppings you have are cooked enough.
  12. Remove from the grill, slide onto a plate, leave to cool for a minute or two and i ate by folding in half and eating like a folded crispy taco.

Smoking Goat Restaurant Review Shoreditch London

I’d stumbled on Smoking Goat the week before in London when coming out of Dishoom for an afternoon beer and didn’t have chance to see what they did there.As we were in the neighbourhood walking back from training and with no prior plans we thought we would pop in and see what they had cooking for supper.

This was around 8pm on a Tuesday evening, which if it was Cardiff that’s all you would see was tumbleweed. This however was London and Tuesday or not it was packed out. We asked for a table but were told it would be 45 minute wait.

We put our name down and wandered around the corner to see if we would have anymore luck at Dishoom but that was even worse with them qeueuing to get in outside. Beer o’clock it was then till our table was ready so we nipped across the road for a swift pint at Shoreditch Box park.

kitchen smoking goat bar shoreditch

Time was up and we headed back to the restaurant and were swiftly seated. The restaurant was shrouded in darkness illuminated by beacons of light from the hot coal fired stoves along with dimly lit lights dotted around the venue. Not having had a chance to ponder over the menu, I ordered a Scooner of Beavertown Neck Oil to quence my thirst whilst giving the menu a once over.

The Food

The menu is a take on Thai Street Food with a drinking food section for snacking on with a you’re favourite hopped beverage.

The list included:

  • Chicken heart skewer
  • Barbecue Tamworth skewer
  • Cornish Octopus skewer
  • Northern Thai beef sausage
  • Steamed Menai Oyster
  • Roasted Chilli
  • Northern Thai Beef Sausage
  • Cornish Cockles Naam Jim
  • Chilli Fish Sauce Wings
  • Cured Monkfish, Young Ginger
  • Northern Duck Laab

I would of gone all out on at least half the items on the above menu but I was out with work so I pretended to be normal for the outing so we only went for the Northern Thai Beef Sausage and the Northern Duck Laab.

Having visited Thailand a few years back on the way home from Oz I was stupid enough to travel without my jabs so I was gutted I couldn’t make the most of the street food found on the side of the road out there although I did try one thing and that was a garlic sausage.

Bloody hell was it intense! I can still taste the overpowering roundhouse kick of garlic now but this Thai sausage cut into bitesized slices was a bit less punchy on the garlic side but god damn delicious none the less. We ordered two for the table of 4 where I’d wished I’d had one for myself.

northern duck laab smoking goat bar shoreditch

The Northern Duck Laab came with a health warning when ordering. Well not so much a health warning but I was made aware that it was the hottest thing on the menu and not for the faint hearted. A few of the other group seemed keen to try as they said they liked spicy food so we took a punt. I’d never heard of a Laab before but seemed to consist of ground meat with what i could only describe as half and half with sliced chillies, it was ferocious!

On the first bite you have a hit of fragrant meaty nuggets, crunchy texture and quite nutty flavour. I couldn’t work out if it was ground rice or chilli seeds I was chewing on but it didn’t take long for the powerful heat to tear through from my shoulders and up the back of my head and then came the sweats and sniffles. It came with a side bowl of spiced vinegar from what I could gather, so I gave a little dousing over the rice to try and tame it as best I could.

Everyone else bowed out after a spoonfull or two so I took one for the team and went at it alone putting on a brave face. Don’t get me wrong the dish was tasty as hell but it didn’t half pack a punch on the spice-o-meter.

Up next was the mains and not been here before we thought we would order one main each and share a couple of bowls of rice. How wrong were we. The waitress laughed when we read out the 5 mains between 4 of us. Fair play to her though she could of just taken the order but she assured us that the portions were very generous, which saved us a couple of quid.

barbeque goat massaman smoking goat shoreditch london

We went for one of the Barbecue Goat Turmeric Massaman as a couple of the group had never tried goat and seeing that it was in the name of the restaurant how could you not. We opted for 2 portions of the smoked brisket drunken noodles and some bowls of jasmine rice and lardo fried rice.

I grabbed the goat dish as soon as it hit the table, which gave absolutely no resistance to my fork when pulling at it. The flesh was so tender. Sadly in a rush I forgot to spoon some of the curry sauce it was steeped in and by the time the others had finished sharing it out there wasn’t any left. The curry flavoured with fermented shrimp paste, lemongrass, tamarind and a kick from thai spices. The goat was soft and gently spiced and on the other end of the spectrum compared to the lab in terms of heat but was very welcomed. Even though it had been cooked low and slow judging by the texture but it could of been a tad warmer when it was served as it was a little cold by the time it reached us.

smoked brisket drunken noodles smoking goat shoreditch

As it was pretty dark in the restaurant I couldn’t quite see what I was spooning onto my plate when it came to the brisket drunken noodles. I’d bagged myself a decent portion it seemed but I don’t think I managed to  get a single shred of the beef but what I did have was spot on with lingering flavours of holy basil and wild ginger.

I struggled on with the plate of Duck laab into the mains so sprinkled the remnants on my lardo fried rice not to waste it. The lardo rice was a healthy portion of fried rice with chunks of house cured back and belly of Tamworth pig fat nestled amongst the the fragrant rice with side of hot nam prik chilli dip. This was packed full of flavour and liked the dip so you could season to taste. The left over laab added an extra kick of heat too.

empty plates at smoking goat bar shoreditch

The Verdict

I really enjoyed my first visit to Smoking Goat as I love a bit of Thai but it was unlike anything you would or what i’ve found in and around Cardiff with more of a street food late night Thai canteen vibe to it. I couldn’t get over how cheap it was not only for London considering I’d had a takeaway in Cardiff for two for more than we spent per person here and I was still hungry with that. The portion sizes are very generous and mains only around £13 and more than enough for one person. We shared 3 mains and that was plenty with some rice.

I’d definitely have a stab at a few more starters or the drinking food if i went again.

Would I go again? Too right! It was a welcome change to what I’d been eating at the time and everything was fragrant, tender and a good kick of heat if you like that. With a drink each a couple of starters, 3 mains and rice it came to just £20 each for 4 of us. I’d spend more than that on a takeaway for myself at my local Indian or Thai takeaway let alone dine in and eat.

Address: 64 Shoreditch High St, London, E1 6JJ

Pork and Turkey Meatballs Thai Red Curry Recipe

Thai Pork and Turkey Meatballs Ingredients

  • 250g turkey mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (I used a Malaysian Curry mix)
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemongrass
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 thai chilli grated or chopped finely
  • 1 small shallot grated or chopped finely
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger grated finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander chopped finely

Optional

  • You can add a little almond flour or ground almonds to the mix to help bind or give extra nuttiness and protein.

thai turkey meatball ingredients

thai turkey meatballs

Instructions

  1. Drop everything into a large bowl and mix with your hands to combine fully. Tear small chunks of the seasoned meat and make little balls. I made them smaller than I normally would make with normal beef meatballs as the turkey is quite lean and tends to dry out if overcooked so this meant they cooked quicker.
  2. You can either fry in a pan or I cooked for around 12-15 minutes in an airfryer on 180C. You want a bit of browning but it’s ok if they aren’t cooked through fully as I added the meatballs to the pan for a few minutes at the end to add the juices to the sauce and for the meatballs to absorb some of the sauce.

Red Thai Curry Ingredients

  1. 1 large shallot sliced thinly
  2. 3 garlic cloves grated finely
  3. 1 thumb size piece of ginger grated finely
  4. Fish Sauce
  5. 1 Tin of coconut milk or if going healthy sub for Yogurt or mixture of fat free yogurt and 100ml vegetable stock
  6. Bag fresh beansprouts
  7. 1 carrot julienned or ribbons
  8. 100g green beans
  9. 1 red pepper sliced thinly
  10. Thai red curry paste. I used two shots of M & S Thai Red Curry Paste
  11. Bunch fresh coriander
  12. Juice of 1 lime

Optional

  • Extra chilli if you like it hotter
  • Peanuts
  • Bamboo shoots

thai red curry recipe

Instruction

  1. Add the sliced shallots to a hot pan and use either coconut oil or frylight so it doesn’t burn. Cook for a few minutes till the onion goes translucent.
  2. Add the grated garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the thai curry paste and stir and cook out for 30 seconds making sure not to burn.
  3. The you can add either the coconut milk, yogurt and or stock depending on whether you are counting calories and stir to combine.
  4. Add the beans, beansprouts and peppers and carrots to the pan of curry. I like to have my veg crunchy in a curry but if you prefer to cook them a little first in a pan, remove from pan then do the onions, garlic, ginger and return after the paste that’s up to you.
  5. Add a teaspoon of palm sugar, lime juice and a good shake of the fish sauce to season. You could sub for honey or brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar.
  6. Cook away for 5-10 minutes on medium heat to cook the veg to desired crunch or mush depending on preference.
  7. Add the cooked or nearly cooked meatballs to the pan of sauce and vegetables a few minutes from the end so they are coated and absorb some of the sauce.
  8. Garnish with a handful of chopped fresh coriander.
  9. Serve with a bowl of noodles of choice or rice. I opted for wholegrain rice as I’m trying to be a bit healthier these days. Sprinkle with a little more coriander, maybe thinly sliced chilli if you’re feeling brave, a wedge of lime and maybe some peanuts if you like too.

This made about 30 little meatballs and was enough for 4 meals.

Korean Beef Short Rib and Asian Slaw

Korean Beef Short Rib Ingredients

  • 2 ribs of beef
  • 4 cloves of garlic squashed with palm of the hand
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger sliced
  • 4 spring onions chopped
  • 1 chinese pear pureed or grated

These measurements below were rough and didn’t use any measuring devices

  • 60ml light soy sauce
  • 30ml water
  • 30ml rice wine / mirin
  • Drizzle sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons gochujang sauce
  • 1 teaspoon gochugarw red pepper flakes

Asian Slaw Ingredients

1 medium kolrabi, peeled and julienned
¼ cucumber cut into battons
2 carrots julienned
4 leaves of Chinese lettuce washed and sliced
2 spring onions sliced thinly
Bunch fresh coriander
1 lime
light soy sauce
toasted sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients for the beef ribs marinade apart from the ribs in a casserole dish and mix.
  2. I browned the ribs on all sides in a hot pan to sear, then added to the casserole dish of marinade. Turn around or pour over the mixture so it’s coated.
  3. Either put the casserole lid on or wrap in foil to steam as it’s cooking. I cooked my two ribs on 150C for around 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile make the Asian slaw by chopping and julienning the veg and adding to a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lime, a glug of soy sauce and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil in a little jar. Stir and pour over the salad.
  5. I took out, turned the ribs over and cooked for an additional 30 minutes on 220C with the foil back on till it was soft and tender.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Take a pile of the slaw and place on a plate. Top with the rib of beef and spoon over a bit of the resting juices in the dish.
  8. Scatter with thinly sliced chilli, chopped fresh coriander and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Soy, Peanut and Sriracha Steak Udon Recipe

The choice is yours here but I made mine the night before to have for lunch cold in work as I thought it made a nice change to a hot noodle soup that I always pebble dash my white shirt with. You could have this warm too if you prefer.

Noodles

  • 1 round of Udon noodles
  • 2 leaves of savoy cabbage
  • 1 handfull of kale or 3 leaves of cavello nero
  • 1/3 red onion or one shallot
  • 3 slices of roast beef torn or chopped into chunks

Spicy Soy Dressing

  • ½ a large or 1 garlic clove grated with a fine grater
  • ½ a centimetre chunk of fresh ginger grated with a fine grater
  • 5 teaspoons of light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil dessert spoon
  • ½ teaspoon of LGM or Lao Gan Ma chicken flavour chilli oil with tofu sauce (Or 1 teaspoon of standard chilli sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Two pinches of brown sugar

Instructions

  1. Place the cabbage leaves in one layer of a bamboo steamer and the kale in the other layer.
  2. Depending if you want to stop the raw onion overpowering the dish you can add the onions to the steamer for a few minutes too.
  3. Place the udon noodles in salted water and cook to packet instructions. Mine took 7 minutes on boil.
  4. Place the bamboo steamer on top of the sauce pan of noodles to steam in the same water as the noodles to save time and washing up.
  5. Add all of the ingredients of the soy dressing into a small jar and stir to combine or a small sealable container to take with you if eating cold on the go.
  6. Once the noodles are cooked, remove the bamboo steamer and take each layer of to stop the veg cooking and to leave them cool.
  7. Rinse the noodles in cold water to stop them overcooking and sticking to each other.
    Slice the steamed cabbage and kale if not already done so.
  8. Place the cold noodles in a tupperware box, top with the cooked and shredded veg and beef.
  9. Place in the fridge until you want to eat. When you’re feeling peckish you might want to use a bigger bowl and place the contents of the noodle box into the bowl, drizzle over the dressing and use chopsticks or two forks to toss and combine the dressing into the noodle contents.
  10. Sprinkle with a few more sesame seeds if desired.

The Marram Grass Restaurant Review Anglesey

The Isle of Anglesey culinary offerings are on the up of late. Not only have they represented North Wales in Great British menu on BBC but they also have more Michelin Stars than the countries capital, which was awarded to Sosban in Menai. We will come to that in the near future as I had to book 6 months in advance and won’t be dinning there till April.

Not content with having to wait until April for some fine dining we managed to book into Anglesey’s other well documented eating establishment Marram Grass. Not your average restaurant and you would be forgiven thinking you’re more likely to see a greasy spoon on the site from the roadside as the restaurant is within a shed situated on a caravan site in the village of Newborough.

The outside of The Marram Grass Restaurant in Anglesey

I think this adds to the charm of the restaurant and sticks two fingers up to some of the more pretentious venues showing them you can muster up excellent plates of food and people will travel for it no matter how expensive the chandeliers are or how man thousand year old oak trees have been chopped down in order to make the tables.

The restaurant has been transformed inside though and looks nothing like it does on the outside.

Inside The Marram Grass Restaurant in Anglesey

Seeing as we were up in Anglesey between Christmas and New Year without any plans we thought we would swing by for some lunch. We probably would of struggled getting a table ringing up a few days before normally but seeing that the majority of people on the island had two weeks’ worth of food shopping spilling out of the fridge we were lucky.

The Food

My favourite thing to do before and after booking a restaurant is to mull over the menu deliberating so I don’t take hours when I’m there but The Marram Grass serves only the freshest, in season produce and is constantly changing the menu so it was a complete surprise as to what we would have on the day.

Seeing as it was way past the acceptable hour of drinking for Christmas we ordered a bottle of white whilst we pondered over the menu, which were very reasonably priced I have to admit.

I did however think the price on the main courses was a lot steeper than I thought they would be considering it’s a café essentially, it’s location on a caravan park and we were dining for lunch. Mains on the menu ranged from £19 for fish of the day up to a hefty £35 for the Welsh Black beef, black cabbage, Portobello mushroom and textures of onion.

Not your typical pub or restaurant you would usually find on a campsite then but they did have fish and chips on the daily special at a much more reasonable £14. I thought this was handy for people who wanted to sample the place if they were staying on the camp but didn’t want to spend too much.

My body aching for anything other than turkey and a 12 cheese variety cheeseboard I was happy with pretty much everything on there today and luckily the menu wasn’t too expansive so I didn’t take too long to decide.

As we were due to go shooting later in the day (clays the real thing) I thought I’d get in the mood with a bit of game with the daily special of Pheasant and puy lentils for starter. Llio is mad for her soup at the moment so she opted for the crown prince squash, curried raisins with homemade sourdough and Hafod butter.

Treacle bread at The Marram Grass

We were presented with some fresh treacle bread and butter before the starters came. I’d never tried such bread before and was a good mix of sweet and savoury, which tasted equally as good with a good slather of butter.

As usual we fought over who was having what for mains as we usually prefer the same one but like to have a try of more than one dish. Llio opted for the lamb whereas I went for a pork fest, which included pork fillet, pork belly a crackling bon bon, pipped potatoes and a carrot puree.

Pheasant starter at The Marram Grass

The Pheasant was a really hearty dish for a starter with a decent sized portion of meat, well-seasoned puy lentils and chunks of tomatoes. Not too much going on with the plate to let the main ingredients do their thing.

Soup at The Marram Grass

Llio’s soup was a great big bowl of winter lovliness with freshly baked dunkable, buttery sourdough but I’d go for a portion of meat on my plate every time.

Pork main course at The Marram Grass

My main was pretty epic to look at and more than made up for on the palate. A good selection of different cuts of pork and different textures to balance it out as I love a good crunch to my forkful of food. Silky smooth mash and sweet carrot puree pebbled with slithers of spring onion and oodles of rich gravy splayed over the meaty morsels.

Lamb main at The Marram Grass

The lamb served perfectly pink on a bed of green lentil cassoulet and trio of celeriac with salt baked, puree and remoulade. The flavours packed a punch but I think my mains topped it with more little nuggets of goodies to feed on. The pork was £6 cheaper at £22 compared to £28 for the lamb, which I thought was a little steep for lunch.

I hadn’t committed to dessert yet but on mention of the saffron and yuzu panna cotta on the specials board I was sold. I’ve got a little obsession with the powerful Asian citrus fruit lately and keep a bottle to hand in the fridge to give an extra zing to dishes sweet or savoury so if it’s ever on the menu in something it’s usually top of the list by default. Llio was left a little full after all the bread with the dishes so I had to go it alone.

Yuzu panna cotta dessert at The Marram Grass

I loved the different combination of flavours and textures going on with the dessert from the wobbly citrusy burst of yuzu in the panna cotta to the scattering of crumbly chocolate bits and the sticky, chewy pastry esque shards of jolting from the chocolate filled parcels too. Sweet, citrusy chocolatey, soft, chewy, crunchy it had it all. I bloody hate a bowl of the same thing to plough on through I’ll be honest.

The Verdict

I couldn’t fault anything we were served and the service was excellent and very attentive although we were one of only two tables dinning at the time. Very friendly and helpful though none the less.The food was excellent all round, I liked the rustic vibe going on inside and the wine was very reasonably priced.
Price wise I thought it was a little steep for location and it being a café / bistro. Even though the food was lovely, we were dinning for lunch and I can’t say I’ve spent around £100 for lunch that often apart from special occasions.

Bill at The Marram Grass

Dinning in the evening I wouldn’t have any qualms at all but it would have been nice to have a few more reasonably priced lunch menu options. I couldn’t really see many of the clientele of the caravan site being able to afford to feed a family of 5 or 6 on the off chance when they couldn’t be bothered to cook on the gas stove for lunch, as it would be close to £250-£300. Well I can’t speak for everyone, but I know my family or mum at least wouldn’t be forking out that much for one meal for us.

Would I go back again? I wouldn’t go back for lunch for the price we paid, well not just a random lunch out. I would go back for an evening meal for a birthday or special occasion when up north or even to sample the tasting menu though.

I noticed on social media that the Liverpudlian brothers, Liam and Ellis Barrie who run the Marram Grass have announced they are building luxury appartments on the site just yesterday too so there are a few new things coming and the site will be changing dramatically in the near future and I hope them all the best on the new venture.

Hawksmoor sharing breakfast review – Guildhall London

I’ve been dying to try the Hawksmoor breakfast for about 2 years now after seeing a pic on I think it was the Mr Hyde newsletter about the best breakfasts in the big smoke.

Hawksmoor if you’ve not had the chance to visit is a chain of Steak Houses and cocktail bars originating in Spitafields in London and named after the 17th century English Baroque Architect Christopher Hawksmoor. He happened to design the epic Christ Church around the corner from the first restaurant in Spitafields.

Their steaks are now legendary in London and afar but one of their venues tucked away in the cities banking district of Guildhall opens up early not for steak but a gargantuan breakfast platter for discerning ravished diners.

Ok so they do the usual too but I only had eyes for one dish (maybe two) and that was the sharing breakfast. Sadly the restaurant is only open Monday to Friday and stops serving breakfast around 10.30am and I only usually venture up to London on the weekend, hence the delay in getting my greedy chops through the door.

I decided to bite the bullet, travel up and book a hotel in London just so I could end this constant inner yearning for the early morning meat fest. Staying around the corner from Tower Bridge we decided to add a bit more excitement to the trip to the Hawksmoor Guildhall and have top gear esque battle across London (well all 1.5 miles) through rush hour with me on foot and Llio via London cabbies arch nemesis Uber. Armed with a fully charged iPhone and google maps at the ready we both said our farewells at the exit to the hotel and headed our separate ways in search of the restaurant.

Being a total stranger to this neck of the woods in London I was totally reliant on the power of google and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of finding somewhere whilst on foot you will know too well how much of a pain in the ass it is changing arrow direction in a heart beat and sending you around in circles.

Anyway 20 odd minutes later my power walk had turned to a limp from unbroken in Chelsea boots and sounding like I’d smoked 20 wood bines before leaving the hotel I was close to the X on the map. No sight of Llio and no expectant sign outside a building I seemed to walk past my intended finish point. I circled back, checking the walls for hidden clues to the venue where I saw the other half toddling up the bottom of the street. I was adamant I’d do a Topgear favourite walking into the bar thinking I’d won whilst Clarkson peers out over a newspaper with his drink so I was quite impressed my lard arse had steam rolled through the masses quicker than the pristine pimped out Mercedes.

The Venue

After a bit of ribbing and boasting about my triumph over man vs technology the we headed down into the bowels of the restaurant in the basement. The décor was classic gentleman’s club with panelled wood walls, burgundy leathered seats emanating ever so slightly more style than my much acquainted weathered greasy spoon or Wetherspoons for that matter that I’ve had to resort to, to satisfy my lusting for fried and griddled porky favourites.

Being around 9am there were only one or two other tables taken as most of the usual clientele were now busy behind their desks punching numbers. I didn’t need long with the menu, having digested every ingredient from each course in my brain over the two longs years I’ve had to wait. This was the only time a lobster benedict was going to be outshone on a breakfast menu.

Hawksmoor Guildhall London

The Food

I was in little deliberation about what to order although I was still unsure if I could bare to part with half the sharing breakfast. I waned to temptation and we ordered the breakfast for two, which comprised of:

  • smoked bacon chop
  • sausages, (made with pork, beef, & mutton)
  • black pudding
  • short-rib bubble & squeak
  • grilled bone marrow
  • trotter baked beans
  • fried eggs
  • grilled mushrooms
  • roast tomatoes
  • HP gravy
  • unlimited toast

Just in case that wasn’t enough and because I didn’t know when I’d be in the vicinity on a midweek morning I went full greedy bastard and ordered a side of lobster benedict.

Seeing as it was now gone 9am and a reasonable time to start on the alcohol I opted for the Bloody Mary No.7 from the Anti-fogmatics menu, which in American Folklore it was said a dram of liquor in the morning would ward off the effects of fog and dampness.

I’d only ever had a Bloody Mary once before in my life and that didn’t quite end as I expected on a flight from Sydney to Bangkok, which shortly followed by a viewing of 127 hours on the on flight entertainment.
If you aren’t aware of said film it involves a guy who gets stuck in the dessert with his hand caught in a rock. The only way to survive was to saw his hand off with a small knife. Needless to say the air pressure, close up of the mutilation and choice of sound effects of the film sent me to the lav’s to wash my face in cold water till the hot flush subsided.

Many years have passed since that turbulent event and I was now mentally prepared for my re-acquaintance with the Bloody Mary, The No.7 at Hawksmoor had been injected with steroids however compared to your standard affair with Horseradish-infused gin, tomato juice, Hawksmoor spice mix, a splash of Kernel export India porter.

I was toying with the idea of a corpse reviver No.2 but absinthe at whatever past 9 in the morning was a push even for me. The other half had a coffee.

Bloody Mary No. 47 at Hawksmoor Guildhall

The drinks came out first and boy did the Bloody Mary pack a punch. If the sprint across East London on foot to try and beat an Uber taxi didn’t wake me up the spicy potent concoction did. A pepper and salt rimmed glass of devils blood with heaps of spice and healthy measure of alcohol content. The London based Kernel Brewery’s Indian Porter floating on top made a nice little addition too.

It wasn’t long before the platter fit for Henry VIII arrived. It was a good job we had a booth style table or we would of struggled on a table for two with all the extras.
We took turns to decant the meaty cauldron onto our plates equally and sawing through the bacon crisp bacon chop.

The fried eggs some of the most intense orange I’ve seen and perfectly cooked glistening under the light instead of a frazzled dried out mess you sometimes get with a breakfast losing any sight of liquid amber.
I couldn’t fault any of the items on the breakfast. This was no standard breakfast though with each item shown love and attention. Not just Heinz or Costco 5kg tubs of baked beans but trotter beans, not just some left over cabbage and potato thrown together there were short-rib bubble and squeak so everything was taken up a notch.

sharing breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall

The grilled bone marrow was a little ineluctable towering over the side of the bowl and guarding the contents beneath. I’d only tried marrow once but was in a starter of beef carpaccio with little nuggets dolloped around the plate and that was a while ago. I was keen to give it another go but it wasn’t really my cup of tea and wouldn’t rush back. It was like a fatty gloop somewhat like a soft gristle that melted on the tongue, which would I imagine give the most intense rich gravy but straight in the mouth with a fork is a little step too far for my palate.

Gravy should be a staple on any breakfast from now on if you ask me. I’d had it once with a ham hock hash at Cosy Club in Cardiff but this was something else. You can imagine all the juiced, fat and stock water they’ve got at their disposal at Hawksmoor and licked with HP, which I think should be banned normally with breakfast but it just added to the richness of the mahogany tinted liquor.

Lobster Benedict at Hawksmoor Guildhall

Not forgetting what would normally be the star of the show the Lobster Benedict. Luscious slathers of silky hollandaise coated the meaty morsels of lobster flesh mixed with gooey golden yolks of the delicate poached eggs. This decadent (side) dish was to die for but to set me up for the day I would have needed something a bit extra, so I’m glad it was only to sample with the sharing breakfast.

The Verdict

Ok so £80 is not your average bill at a greasy spoon for a breakfast but this was the epitome of grandeur to start the day off and smack in the middle of the epicentre of the city surrounded by the highest earners in the UK.

Did I enjoy it? Yes it was bloody lovely. Would I go back? You bet I would although I probably won’t take the piss as much next time and I’d love to visit in the evening to sample one of their legendary steaks, which I’ve been told by a well-known source they are some of the best in London.
The cocktail menu doesn’t sound too bad either.