A Travelling Foodie- Saving Money and Eating Well

Gluten Free, Other Adventures

Travelling is by no means a cheap experience, but there are many things you can do to stick to a budget, whilst having fun and eating well. I would love to share some tips and tricks I found on my recent travels.

Travelling is incredibly different depending on your destination, so travelling in Bali, exploring South America and heading down under in Australia will introduce many different opportunities in terms of food and a foodie adventure.

At the beginning of January I began travelling down the East Coast of Australia, beginning my journey in Cairns, and finishing down in Sydney. Myself and two friends travelled, by bus, a total of 3115km, stopping at 13 different locations on route for 4 weeks. With so much to offer, we wanted to save our money for the day trips and exploring, so we had to come up with a plan for the cheapest eating and drinking.

Here are some things I found along the way, and I will definitely use in the future:

  • Look for hostels that offer free breakfast- A quick search on Hostelworld brings up lots of different hostel options, and sometimes this can be daunting, but by narrowing down your search it can make the job easier. In many cases, we found that hostels with free breakfasts weren’t in fact more expensive than those that didn’t, and this was such an easy way to reduce costs. However, I must admit, that many hostels don’t provide gluten free breakfast options for free, and I had to sort my own brekkie out. The other girls were able to make the most of toast and spreads, cereals and sometimes fruit and yoghurt too.
Cheap Breakfast with a Brekkie Voucher!
  • Don’t fancy free breakfast? Head to the supermarket!- So, if like me, you can’t eat what’s on offer, you can still eat at a low cost. A trip to the supermarket in each location allowed me to buy big bulk sachets of flavoured porridge and top this with fresh fruit that was on offer at the time. Although, during the trip I had decided apricot flavour should be avoided, I became very fond of apple and cinnamon. These big boxes cost less than $5 and oats have slow releasing energy too- keeping me fuller for longer.
  • Packed lunches are your friend!- The thought of packed lunches may take you back to school, but you can do a lot better than cucumber sandwiches and a chocolate bar. Grab a plastic container from the supermarket- ours were from Woolies and only cost around $3- and your lunchbox potential is limitless (well not quite). A big pack of rolls, ham, cheese and salad will not break the bank, and, although grabbing something whilst you’re out seems easier, you can get a lot more for your money if you buy from the supermarket. Cereal bars will be your saving grace- I wish I had counted how many I ate!
  • Sharing is caring!- Group meals are great for many reasons. I find cooking relaxing, so after a long day of trekking, cycling, surfing or even a trip to the shops, I love to rewind by making a big meal. Making your own food not only means that you can have a great social experience, but it also saves money and allows you to control exactly what you’re eating. Even as a solo traveller, making a big meal means leftovers, so if you’re staying in one place for a few nights, a big curry or pasta dish is a great idea. With a whole veggie meal costing around $7, or a meat one around $10/12, this creates about 4 portions which gives you so much for your money. However tempting a Dominos seems, a big veggie stir fry will save your pocket and your waistline. Tinned food, for example mixed beans, rice packets and stir fry/curry sauces make cooking quick and easy!
  • Do your research! – Food deals and happy hours occur everywhere, and are the great chance to get out and about without breaking the bank! I LOVE eating out, and drinking and exploring bars and restaurants, but when travelling, I have to be sensible. Checking with hostels about local restaurant deals, and by having a quick check on Google, you will be loads of choices. Taco evenings are a great option, and many Mexicans also do drinks deals too. Some hostels may even put on dinners, we were able to have all you can eat tacos for $7- including GF corn tortillas. Happy hours can save you pennies on house beers and wine, and many hostels offer wristbands for nights out and free drinks at local clubs and pubs. A frequent check at the local supermarkets for ready meals and snacks in the reduced section mean you can save money and put it elsewhere- e.g on beers!

These are some of my tips as a travelling foodie, specifically in Australia. It can be simple to save money, eat well and have fun whilst exploring the most amazing places. Just remember to be wise, plan and enjoy everything that comes your way!

Osteria Oggi- Gluten free pasta so good, you wouldn’t know it was gluten free

Adelaide Eats, Gluten Free, Meat Eater, Restaurant Reviews

As a huge lover of all things Italian: pizza, pasta, bruschetta, cheese, lasagne and most of all garlic bread… the list goes on, becoming gluten free was a huge struggle for me. With gluten free alternatives always being at an extra cost, I have begun to avoid Italian food all together. There are alternatives in the supermarkets, but nothing comes close to the real deal, and most of the time I end up being disappointed. 

With this being said, Mum and I decided we needed to find a great Italian restaurant in Adelaide before we move on with our Australian adventure. There were actually a few restaurants in the pipeline, but we chose Osteria Oggi. I have read about this restaurant numerous times, with raving reviews and beautiful pictures, but without a menu on their website, I have always been nervous about progressing. All it took was one simple call to discover they in fact have plenty of gluten free options, including PASTA, and with this, we were sold. 

We visited Osteria Oggi at lunchtime today and were both very excited. We had only had a light breakfast, ready to indulge in a buttery, herby Italian feast. The restaurant is in the main business district, surrounded by sandwich and coffee shops, we almost walked past it- if it wasn’t for trusty Google Maps. The entrance to the restaurant is light, with a long bar and casual dining tables, however, when you walk through to the back, it opens up into a beautiful restaurant with high ceilings, seating booths and long communal dining tables. 

There was freshly baked bread on the bar, along with amazing smells of cheese, cured meats and the main attraction, pasta, filling the air. After ordering drinks to start, an Aperol spritz for myself, and a prosecco for Mum, to our surprise, we were told that there was only a tasting menu due to the proximity to Christmas. I was slightly nervous as I like to see the ingredients of meals to try and identify hidden allergens, but I had to put my trust in the staff and food preparation in the kitchen. 

Our waitress was clued up on intolerances and put my mind at ease, letting us know our set menu would be completely gluten free. We chose a three-course set, although there was also an option for five courses too. In the end, we were pleased with our decision, as we both ended up pretty stuffed. 

With our drinks, we were given bread and olives. The bread was from the freshly baked loafs on the bar, served with delicious oil. Although this was not gluten free, Mum assured me it was delicious- nothing like rubbing it in hey?! I did munch my way through most of the green olives though, they were also very tasty.

Our first plate was a king fish carpaccio with grapefruit and radish. The fish, native to South Australia, was incredibly flavoursome and paired perfectly with the slightly sharp flavours of the grapefruit. The radish added texture to the dish, which otherwise, melted in your mouth. I was really pleasantly surprised by this and would definitely order it again if I saw it on another menu. 

The second plate was not quite to my liking, but it required a lot of cooking skill and smelled amazing. The base of the dish was a cheese flan, which is very similar to a soufflé, topped with meaty, rich Bolognese. The Bolognese was delicious, and I did have a couple of big spoons of this, leaving the flan to Mum. She loved it. 

Following the cheese flan, we were bought an orange and fennel salad as a palette cleanser, before our mains arrived. The salad had a balsamic glaze with fresh basil and pine nuts, along with radicchio lettuce and ricotta cheese. The sweet perfectly balanced with the tangy balsamic, and the soft ricotta was subtle but delicious.  

There was a short wait between these dishes and the pasta, which was actually well received, as we needed some breathing time, and maybe some time to have another wine or two. This also gave us time to take in our surroundings, and mainly spy on what the other tables were eating. Large parties were sharing four or five different types of pastas, others with plates of cured meats and cheese. 

Eventually it was our turn, with 2 plates of sausage pasta placed in front of us. One with gluten free rigatoni pasta, and Mum’s with curly pasta. I am pretty sure ‘curly pasta’ is the specific Italian name! Along with the pasta and sausage, there was also more fennel, chilli and a lot of delicious rich butter. Although this meal may have not been good on the hips, it was certainly a treat for the taste buds. It took me back to previous Italian holidays with Mum and Dad. 

The gluten free pasta was delicious, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell it apart from any other pasta they were serving, in terms of appearance. Mum said there was little to no difference in the taste either. All the pasta is made daily in house, and you could tell it was amazing quality. If I could buy bags and bags direct from the kitchen, I certainly would.

The food was rustic and relaxed, whilst also being incredibly stylish, an amazing combination. This description can also be extended to the dining experience as a whole. The staff were calm, yet also attentive, making our time at Osteria Oggi enjoyable to say the least. 

Sadly, our only grumble was that there wasn’t any tiramisu soft serve ice cream for pudding. However, after all the carbs, maybe we didn’t really need ice cream too?! This won’t be stopping me from returning, I can’t wait to try the full menu after Christmas. 

Roxie’s Garden Bar and Eatery- A Hidden Gem

Adelaide Eats, Gluten Free, Meat Eater, Restaurant Reviews, Veggie Dishes

It isn’t often I write a restaurant review anymore, however, after a trip to Roxie’s today, I felt inspired to do so. 

Set slightly further afield than the main streets of Adelaide’s CBD, we came across Roxie’s purely by chance, on our way back from Flinders Street Christmas Market. I must say, a Christmas market in 25+ degree weather is very weird, but it meant we were looking for somewhere in the sun for a bit of lunch. 

Roxie’s was like a Mediterranean tardis- unassuming from the outside, but once you’re through the gate it’s a tropical garden with amazing character and atmosphere. 

To our surprise we were the only people there, however, this did mean we got full pick of all the seating options. High tables, benches, stools, chairs, in the sun, in the shade, everything you could imagine. 

The food and drinks are ordered separately, and after a quick scan on the menu, we placed a food order, followed by drinks. Although the menu wasn’t extensive, there were delicious choices, and intriguing pairings of ingredients. Which, I guess, is why I have been inspired to write this blog; the food excited me.

To drink we opted for something refreshing… and alcoholic. I haven’t been drinking since I had my wisdom teeth out, so I eased back in gently with a Pimms spritz; fruity and delicious! Mum chose an Australian Riesling, perfect on a hot sunny day. 

Now onto the main attraction… the food. We selected three plates to share. Mum chose the Croquetas from the tapas section of the menu, which both looked, and smelled, amazing- but sadly they weren’t gluten free. The croquetas were served with delicious aoli too, which I did try! 

Croquetas

Along with the croquetas, we ordered a broccoli dish from the grill section, and the special pizza with a gluten free base. The broccoli, for me, was the best dish! With a super garlicy sauce, almonds, hazelnuts, egg and herbs, it was crunchy and delicious, with a smoky finish from the grill. I was unsure about the egg, but it worked so well with the other ingredients, a really clever dish. 

The pizza special was crispy and just the right amount of greasy. The toppings were mortadella ham, green olives and mozzarella. I do normally like my pizzas to have the tomato element, but I really didn’t notice it missing. I took a couple of slices we had leftover to have as a snack as we walked around Adelaide Zoo. 

If the food, drink, atmosphere and surroundings aren’t selling points enough, the staff were also great. Both behind the bar and in the kitchen, the staff were amazingly friendly, helpful and chatty, and really added to our dining experience. I imagine Roxie’s gets super busy, and it seems a great location for a summer party, or a casual beer after work. 

Like I have said, everything was great, and I will certainly be returning. It is definitely worth veering off from the usual track, away from Hindley Street and Rundle Mall. 

My Fijian Foodie Experience

Gluten Free, Other Adventures

After a hectic, busy and lively semester at Flinders University I was well in need of a holiday. I am not very good at relaxing, and love keeping busy and experiencing everything a destination has to offer, so Poppy and myself booked a guided tour around Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island. I was so looking forward to the sun, sand and of course, delicious food!

For me, the excitement of going on holiday is mostly fuelled by experiencing new food and culture, alongside relaxing and tanning obviously. However, food sparks the most delight and subsequently I put a lot of time and effort into research local cafes, bars and cheap eats. I do my absolute upmost to eat locally and taste traditional delicacies as much as possible. As soon as I booked my Fiji trip, my search for eateries began, whilst also trying to familiarise myself with Fijian culture.

Since becoming gluten free, this excitement is slightly dampened by nervousness around finding things I can actually eat. Although I did struggle in Fiji, I tried to not let it impact my time, and I did my best to make the most out of what was available- with a little help from my travel companions and tour guide Mike.

Poppy, Mike our guide, and Myself

To summarise my experiences in Fiji, I decided to write a little blog including a selection of my best pictures and highlighting my great finds and delicious treats.

I began my foodie adventure in Nadi, staying at a beautiful hostel right on the beach. Although the food here wasn’t amazing, there were a few other places to choose from, with wide ranges of dishes, including some gluten free options! This was also our first introduction to Bounty Fijian dark rum, which came premixed with cola. Averaging at around £3, this was delicious and a lovely way to cool off after a hot day, looking out onto the sunset.

At Bamboo Cafe, just down the beach, both Poppy and myself tried a local fish ceviche with pineapple salsa and cassava crisps. Cassava is a Fijian root vegetable, like a potato, which I was able to try cooked in a number of ways throughout my trip. The sweet salsa was a great accompaniment to the salty fish, and although we both decided not to have the coconut sauce, I am sure this would have tasted great too.

Ceviche and Cassava Crisps

Coconut seemed to be present in most dishes, and as we looked up into the huge palm trees surrounding the hostel, we understood why. Coconuts are in high supply in the tropical climate, and are, therefore, a solid base for Fijian cooking. Sadly, neither myself nor Poppy love coconut, but in small doses, I actually found it to be delicious.

I also returned to the Bamboo Café for a couple breakfasts, including a delicious porridge and fruit medley, served with cinnamon toast. I didn’t eat the cinnamon toast as it wasn’t GF, but I saved it for Poppy and she said it was delicious. The porridge was part of a traveller’s breakfast bundle, costing FJ$10 which included a hot drink. This equates to only around £4, a real bargain for the amount of food we got!

Traveller’s Breakfast Bundle

Our first stop was to Robinson Crusoe Island, where we have local Fijian buffet food. It was really delicious, and there were lots of salads, vegetable dishes and meat options to choose from. Sweet potatoes were cooking in a traditional method called lovo. Lovo involves cooking ingredients under hot coals in the ground, like a makeshift BBQ. Meat, vegetables and fish can be cooked in this method, and are wrapped in banana leaves during cooking. The potatoes had a delicious smoky BBQ flavour.

I did feel restricted during my time away, due to my gluten free requirements, but my lovely guide tried very hard to find tasty things for me to eat. Curries and rice were a great option, and I had a couple of very delicious, filling meals from local cafes. Vegetable curries and dhal were very cheap, costing around FJ$2 per pot, with rice only costing FJ$1. With this equalling just over £1, it was great value for money. There is a lot of curry in Fiji due to the large number of Indian settlers, contributing to Fiji’s wide and varied culture.

Fried rice was also a common snack for me, with a variety of fillings, including chicken, veggies and fresh fish from the coast! After a great recommendation from Poppy, I brought my lunchbox with me on the trip, which meant I was able to save leftover food and spend less money on meals. I really recommend this for travellers, especially if hostels provide free bread/fruit for breakfast. It is a simple way to save money! 

Whilst we explored new and beautiful areas on the main island, we came across many food markets. Fresh produce, grown locally by Fijian farmers was not only cheap, but delicious. The pineapples, mangos and bananas made the air smell sweet, along with jackfruit and a wide range of vegetables. With lots of travel, fresh fruit was a great natural pick-me-up, full of sweet juices. A bunch of 8 bananas cost around FJ$2, as did a plate of 4 mangos. I love food markets, and try to visit as many as possible throughout my travels, I thrive from the hustle and bustle, along with the friendly locals and great bargains. 

Throughout our tour of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, I was lucky enough to be invited to eat with a village, along with the rest of the travel group. This included a traditional Kava ceremony, which involves tasting a cup of local drink, brewed and made by hand from a Kava plant root. Kava is a type of pepper plant, and its juice is said to have medicinal purposes, including relaxing muscles before childbirth- however, I just found it made my mouth a little numb.

The local food we ate in the village included chicken, cassava, plantain, fried vegetables, spinach and coconut and many more lovely dishes. I even took my lunchbox and filled it so I could have my seconds for dinner. It made it even more special as it was cooked by the local women, they were all incredibly talented, I would happily have them cook for me every day- I am sure they could teach me a lot!

Not only were all the savoury dishes delicious, I also enjoyed my fair share of sweet treats too. In the heat, aside from a fresh bottle of bounty rum and cola, nothing was better than a smoothie or milkshake. At Smugglers Cove hostel in Nadi, they had a range of smoothes that were so refreshing and tasty. In my opinion, nothing beats a banana smoothie, even though the berry and tropical options sounded great too! A small smoothie cost FJ$4, which was just the perfect amount for a mid-morning refreshment in the 30+ degree sun. 

Ice-creams were also incredibly tempting in the midday sun, and I did succumb to buying a Magnum during one of the bus journeys. With a different range than we have in the UK, it would’ve been rude not to try at least one! Both Poppy and myself opted to a honeycomb Magnum, which was very similar to a crunchy ice cream in the UK. it was delicious- I definitely recommend. 

I am incredibly lucky to have visited such a beautiful country, and learn about new cultures and experience new ways of life. The Fijian culture is open and welcoming and we experienced nothing but heartfelt acceptance. I truly feel like I lived like a local. 

Now I am back in Oz, I am hoping to continue with my Australian cooking blogs, uncovering amazing places to eat during my upcoming travels!

Melbourne Foodie Experiences- Hardware Societe and Much More!

Gluten Free, Other Adventures, Restaurant Reviews

As soon as I have booked a holiday- and, perhaps, even before- I begin to trawl through blogs, google searches and social media to try and find some hidden gems for eating and drinking. My trip to Melbourne was no exception to this. I have had a list on my phone for weeks of cafes, bakeries, coffee shops, fancy restaurants, hawker centres and street vendors. The only problem was I only had 3 full days… how do you eat EVERYWHERE in 3 days?! Sadly, the answer is you don’t, well unless you have a very big wallet and a never-ending stomach. Although my list was as long as my arm, I did manage to tick off quite a few places, and I am saving the rest for my next trip with my Mum.

I won’t go into all the boring details, tracing my exact steps over the past few days, but I will share with you some great places I found- including one very special brunch café called Hardware Societe.

On Thursday morning, our attempt to grab a cup of coffee and some toast seemed to be slightly thwarted, with all of the cafes on my list being full to the brim with people in smart suits, carrying fancy briefcases and wearing designer shoes. However, despite the first few cafes being chocka block, including Patricia coffee shop- renowned for amazing coffee- I remembered somewhere we had walked past only a couple of days before.

I had read about the Hardware Societe online and only found it by chance on our street art tour. There was a queue out the door and a huge rooster with a sign saying, “Please wait to be seated”. Both of these factors caught my eye as you can imagine, so when we found ourselves wandering round, getting slightly hangry, I thought it would be a good place to try next- and it was.

M6NyKg2iRa6E3e4xSvVMqAWe were lucky to get a table as it was full to the brim, and although we sat on a big shared table we had loads of room. The staff were immediately lovely and accommodating and I felt so comfortable. The space was decked out with funky lighting, butterfly wallpaper and bold colours, it was eye catching yet also very homely. I really felt excited to be there, which only flourished when I read through the menu.

The first page included an Anthony Bourdain quote, which, once again, only made my excitement grow. We ordered a selection of coffees, including an oat milk latte for myself. The waitress was very knowledgable about dietary intolerances and showed me the info about gluten free options- of which there were many, with only a $1 for GF bread.


I am SO pleased there was gluten free bread because the table was decked out with a jam tree. This is as good as it sounds! The jam tree consisted of a variety of Bon Mamam jams, including cherry, strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, apricot and finally… caramel. A jar of pure caramel.  Needless to say my healthy eating went out the window for brunch.
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The only problem I had was deciding what to choose. There was a wide selection of breads, porridge, muesli, veggie dishes, meat dishes, fish dishes… I could go on! I opted for chorizo baked eggs with GF toast. Not only did everything look and smell amazing, it also came out very quick, which was a huge plus point at this point of the morning. I can’t actually explain in words how great the eggs were. The yolks were perfectly runny, with chorizo, potato, peppers, a crispy cheese top and aioli, finished off with delicious toasted almonds. A M A Z I N G!

Everyone else ordered a selection of breads and Soph got salmon baked eggs, which looked just as good as mine!


The price for this breakfast was also extremely reasonable, I would have even paid more! With all of this in mind we returned again for our breakfast this morning before we headed off to the airport.  This time I opted for the GF toast, so I could try all of the jams, my favourites were rhubarb and raspberry. Somehow, I even managed to avoid the caramel (only because there was none on our table).

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Deco!

I’ve blabbed on a bit now about this amazing café, so you get the gist… it was brilliant. I really recommend giving it a visit, if only just for a coffee. Its right in the CBD and close to the shops, a perfect pre-shopping fuel!

I did go to a few other places whilst I was in Melbourne too, below is a little list!

Breakfast/Food

  • Operator 25- CBD
    Great breakfast and coffee with GF options. Amazing building that was the first telephone exchange building in Melbourne- full of character.

  • Long Story Short- Brunswick
    Delicious breakfast choices, smoothies and coffees. Bright and airy with lovely staff.

  • Mollies Bar & Diner- East Melbourne
    Big portions, reasonable drink prices, very fun drag bingo on a Wednesday! Cool outdoor area too.
  • Kilda Pier Kiosk- St. Kilda
    Great selection of soft drinks and some fun frozen alcohol slushies! Amazing views at the end of the pier, lovely staff.

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Bar/Drinks

  • La Di Da- CBD
    Good for drinks before dinner or before a night out. Really funky location and décor. 
  • Transit Bar- CBD
    Great happy hour from 5-6pm, $5 base spirits, draft beer and house wine. Perfect for watching the sunset, heated outdoor area too.

  • Storyville- CBD
    Alice in Wonderland themed bar with dry ice cocktails and colour changing drinks. Cool music and décor but slightly $$ for drinks!

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Tea for Two!

My weekly shop at Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide Eats

Food shopping since I have been in Australia has mainly consisted of constantly trying to work out the exchange rate, desperately remembering ingredients and figuring out how to carry everything home on the bus. I decided I had to make a change, become more organised with both my time and money, and stop eating like a pig. My morning today began with a lovely trip to Adelaide Central Market to buy my ingredients for the week (and a bit more) ahead.

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Creating a meal plan not only allows you to be precise with your shopping list, but it reduces food waste and also saves money. My budget here has to be slightly higher than at home, but I will include the AUD as well as the GBP conversion.

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Meal Plan

I found it surprising here how expensive veg and fresh produce was in supermarkets as Australia is very self-sufficient in terms of production, however, to my surprise, I found much better deals at the central market.

The Central Market has over 70 traders ranging from fruit, to nuts, to seafood and bakery items, along with lovely cafes and eateries. The market also has a mission to operate sustainably whilst producing a cultural shopping experience- which I think is better than a huge supermarket. Also, the market had free tastes… winner winner chicken dinner. I purchased quite a few items from Chinese stalls as well as Australian; I feel I had a good mix of culture.

Going to the market was great because I was able to chop and change some of my ingredients depending on what was in season, and on offer. I swapped my normal chestnut mushrooms for enoki mushrooms, which will be great for stir-fries. Also, one of the stalls was selling curry dhal mix which you make by just adding water- really easy and perfect for these chilly Australian evenings, but not something I had thought of purchasing before.

I must add I did have to go to a supermarket for a few bits after my market haul, mainly for tinned tomatoes, tuna and GF bread rolls. Below you can see the extent of my purchases. Although I didn’t keep track exactly of how much I was spending, the overall trip cost around $55, equivalent to just over £30, which is not too bad for over a week’s shopping I don’t think.

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Food Haul!

fullsizeoutput_217e.jpegMy meal plan started yesterday with leftover sausage bake for lunch, and chicken pasta after lacrosse (I got back quite late, so I needed something quick and filling). For today’s lunch I also had my feta salad, and this evening after the gym I will make barramundi, peas and rice with a garlic, lemon mayo.

Throughout the rest of the week I will be uploading short recipes of the meals I make.  I have to keep everything quite simple here because I don’t have a selection of amazing utensils, dishes and cooking equipment like I had in Brighton. However, this is good because all of the meals I make will be easy and quick- perfect after work, Uni or school.

Watch this space x

 

 

A Foodie Day in London…

Meat Eater, Other Adventures

For the last of Jack’s birthday celebrations I had planned for us to go to London to see a show, and luckily this also gave us the opportunity to go on a new foodie adventure! The weather was really on our side and we arrived in London at about 1pm. The heat when we got off the train made it feel like we were stepping off a plane somewhere far more exotic than London Bridge.

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Borough Market!

The food journey began in Borough Market. I love it there, all of the amazing smells, the bright colours, the food samples- what’s not to love? The only issue I have every time I go is what to choose to eat?! Yesterday my choice was slightly easier as we had already booked a table for an early theatre supper in Covent Garden, so I knew I didn’t want to be too full.

We wandered around, scoping out the food stalls and checking our options. We tasted amazing cheese, bread and oils, which fuelled our search, and after a few laps I decided on a falafel wrap. Jack was saving himself for dinner so had a few bites of my wrap to keep him going.

Borough Market was far quieter than when I have been before, mainly full of business men and women in fancy work wear- not what I would want to be wearing in 26-degree heat! However, this meant there weren’t any long queues and we were able to find a pavement in the sun to perch on. The falafel was delicious and the salad accompanying it was fresh and tangy. I have no complaints I loved every mouthful, and I think Jack liked his nibbles too.

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Falafel!

After my first Aperol Spritz of the year, and Jack’s first pint of the day, we headed off to Brixton to meet up with a friend that works in a beautiful bar called Canova Hall. The drinks list was plentiful, with gins distilled in house, a wide range of cocktails and lots of beers to try too. The space was large and light and had a great atmosphere. I went for an Apples and Pears Collins which came in a glass bigger than my head- trust me I am not complaining though. The cocktail was fresh and perfect for a summers day.

After our second round of drinks it was time to head to Covent Garden to Maxwell’s Bar and Grill for our table reservations. Booking at 4.30 we managed to time this miraculously well, qualifying for both happy our and the theatre menu.

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Maxwell’s Bar!

As I had already started on the cocktails I thought it would be a shame to stop… so my first drink was a killer zombie. Served in a large Tahiti Tiki glass with a burnt orange and crushed ice, the mix of rums and liquors was a great start to my meal. Jack also followed me on the cocktail route, starting with the watermelon martini. Somehow, he always picks flavours that I don’t like, maybe he’s scared I’ll drink it all otherwise!

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Wings, goujons and cocktails!

The theatre menu turned out being a really good deal at £11.95 for two courses. With 4 starters to choose from and 6 mains there were dishes we both liked. I started with the crispy cod goujons followed by the Maxwell’s old timer burger. Jack’s
choices were BBQ wings and ribs for his main- meat on meat!

The food was really tasty and even though the wings ended up being a lot messier than anticipated, after 2 or 3 wet towels to clear up sticky BBQ sauce we were ready for our mains. I chose to have my burger cooked medium rare and it was cooked to perfection. Still pink in the middle, it oozed with meaty juices that were soaked up in the light brioche bun. The gherkins were my fav bit! Jack’s ribs, once again very messy, were dripping in glaze and he really enjoyed them too. The fries were thin and perfectly salted and the apple coleslaw was fresh and fruity.

Although there was the option to add a pudding on, and they sounded great, we were both too full up, and instead chose another cocktail. This time I went for whiskey, having a tall Jack Daniel’s based drink and Jack kept it fruity with a lychee gin cocktail.

The food and drinks were really good, and the staff were also really accommodating and helpful. I would definitely recommend anyone who loves meat, lovely cocktails and ginormous milkshakes to give Maxwell’s a try.

Before we were due to go to the theatre we had time for one last stop… for ice cream. I must say at this point, about 30 mins had passed since we had left Maxwell’s and watching the street performers in Covent Garden flipping around had made me work up an appetite for ice cream. There were loads of shops around the main square selling sweet treats, but I decided to try Venchi. The storefront was luxurious, covered in gold, and the queue out the door could only mean good things- delicious ice cream. I only had one scoop, a tasty salted toffee flavour in a small tub. As it is central it was quite expensive, but I didn’t mind treating myself a little after a great day.

We truly did eat and drink our way around London yesterday and I am so pleased I was able to try lots of new things and go to new places. I think I will have to wait a little until my next trip as the price of alcohol is a lot and I am not made of money!!!

Brighton Foodies Fair!

Brighton Foodie Treats, Meat Eater

Brighton Foodies Fair had popped up on my Facebook timeline a few weeks ago, and on inspection I decided that £16 was a little too pricy for my current budget. I was super disappointed, so when I found tickets on the Wriggle app for £10 I decided it was worth the money and bought one for myself and Jack.

After following the page and seeing all of the stalls begin to pop up and start advertising I was really starting to get excited- along with the 18 degrees weather predictions too! On the day the weather was even better, at a scorching 21 degrees- it was bliss.

I had never been to Hove Lawns before and the walk down was lovely. The sun rays were beating down on us and I even saw a few new restaurants to add to my list of Brighton eateries I must try.

We got there slightly later than I had planned so I was a bit worried there would be queues, but with the wriggle tickers we were able to enter straight away. I was immediately excited, looking around at the bars, food tents and stalls. We began our systematic walk around the whole fair, scouting out all of the food and drink before making our lunchtime choices.

The first stall we came across was decked out with chilli sauce and pickles- right up my street. I did have to give most of them a try, even the super spicy ones, which, I must admit, were maybe even a bit too adventurous for me! All of the staff on the stalls were so friendly and chatty which really enhanced our experience too.

As we wandered around we spent the first hour or so sampling: gin, whisky, tequila, cake, olives, cheese, cold meats, chilli jam, peanut butter and so much more- everything you could imagine really- as well as lathering up with sun cream as to avoid the sun burn that a lot of people became subject to.

Although I did spend a lot of the day yearning to buy bits and bobs, I am almost happy I didn’t take a lot of cash with me as I imagine I would’ve left with bags full of goodies, especially gin.

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Oysters!

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The big moment!

I really wanted to make the most of the day, trying new dishes and ingredients and when I saw an oyster stand I thought that maybe instead of ME trying something new, it could be Jack’s turn. As we stood at the oyster stall I had flashbacks to the time I tried to eat one on a holiday in Cyprus, with tried being the appropriate word. I know some people love them… but I do not. Maybe spurred on by my doubt, Jack decided he would sample one. The oyster man suggested chewing the oyster before swallowing so Jack could get all of the flavour. With a squeeze of lemon Jack gulped it down. I think it was safe to say he wouldn’t be having oysters again, and although he did put on a good front at the stall, it wasn’t until later that he admitted that they perhaps weren’t his favourite dish!

Luckily there were so many other tasty treats the hint of salty sea was quickly washed away by fresh cider and cured meat.

In between our wandering it became the perfect opportunity to stop for a refreshing beverage. I started off with a long island iced tea cocktail and jack tasted some local lager. After this I was treated to a delicious Pimms, full of fruit, and Jack moved onto a different lager. We sat in the sun and watched a few live bands, all of which really set the scene. The atmosphere was great, and everyone really seemed to be having a good time. Even when Jack accidentally sat on the lady behind him, whilst he was trying to get comfy on the grass, she didn’t seem to mind!

When it was time for lunch, we had looked around a few times, but the decision was a really tough one! Although I was attracted to the souvlaki and calamari stalls I knew I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit, so we continued to wander.

Now… lunch… decisions decisions. I had finally chosen that I was going to sample some Nigerian food, which is not a cuisine I know a great deal about. I was really intrigued and the smells wafting from the amazingly decorated stall sealed the deal for me. For a really reasonable £7.50 I chose a little bit of everything. I say it was decent because the plate was really big, and I ended up getting Jack to help me finish it off.

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Delicious!

1525551720387On my plate was rice, a chicken drumstick, some green veggies I think were spinach (I am not 100% sure I wish I had asked) and plantain, which was honestly the best plantain I have ever had. The food stall was called Flavors of Africa, and as they’re punchline says, I really did feel the afro taste! The spicy chilli sauce that I drizzled on was so good too, I wish I could’ve taken some home. The flavours offered deep heat, as well as sweetness from the plantain and a crunch from the rice. I was so full by the end, but I couldn’t put my fork down! I was also really impressed that they weren’t using plastic like a lot of the stalls were!

 

Jack chose calamari and chips, and luckily for me he gave me a little piece of calamari that I drizzled in garlic mayo- it was delicious. The batter wasn’t too thick or heavy and it wasn’t too greasy either. The squid itself was silky and not at all chewy, it was so easy to eat, I reckon I could have eaten around 4 portions!!

Although there were so many sweet stands I couldn’t eat another thing by the time pudding came around. The huge milkshakes, gooey brownies and even deep-fried Oreo doughnuts couldn’t tempt me. I wish now I’d got some bits to take away however I only would’ve had to work it all off at the gym!

There were tents dotted around that held host to local chefs and TV competition winners, for example the 2017 GBBO winner and this year’s Masterchef champion. I did see that a chilli eating competition was scheduled at 6pm but sadly we didn’t stay that late! Although we didn’t sit and watch any full talks it was interesting drifting in and out throughout our day.

We spent around 4 hours at the food fair in total and it was honestly a lovely way to spend a summers day. I would definitely go again, and I think that it was £10 well spent! Maybe next time I will save a few more pennies and splash out on some extravagant cocktails or a watering can full of Pimms!

Street Thai- Brighton

Brighton Foodie Treats

Now that the sun has finally began to shine in Brighton- better late than never- I am trying to find as many lovely places that combine both great food and the opportunity to catch some rays. After finding myself with a free Saturday afternoon, I knew this would be a great opportunity to go on the hunt for a sun-lit restaurant balcony.

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Street Thai!

Street Thai was actually a suggestion by my friend Lara, and after weaving through Brighton’s lanes we found the location. In a pretty square with a water fountain, Street Thai has both an inside seating area, and a more secret outside balcony. From the ground floor you would have no idea about the tables that looked out from above.

After selecting a table, one we hoped would catch the sun for the longest, we started to look at the menu. The food was authentic Thai street food and every dish sounded great. Under each optoin was a brief description and a spice scale, which was perfect for me, not the most educated about Thai cuisine.

 

 

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Set Menu!

I noticed on our way in there was a set-menu offer which I thought I would try. Two courses for £10 or three for £12.50, a real bargain! The smells coming from the kitchen were making me really hungry at this point, and although we were spoilt for choice, we managed to come to a decision quite quickly.

The drinks list was also jam packed, with a range of beer, cocktails and really affordable wine. A bottle of white for £14… I couldn’t say no.

Even with the set menu I still had a tough decision to make, but finally I went for the Som Tam for starter and the Goong Phad Pong Kari for my main. In simpler terms, this was a spicy papaya salad and a yellow prawn curry.

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Cheeky seagull eyeing up my wine!

Lara was still slightly indecisive and asked the opinion of our really helpful waiter, who was more than willing to offer advice and further explanations of the dishes on offer. In the end she opted for a chicken stir-fry, after being assured that it wasn’t too spicy.
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Just after we had poured ourselves our first glass of wine the food arrived. I was amazed how quickly it got to our table, but like I said, I was so hungry and therefore I am certainly not complaining.


On a hot day the papaya salad was really refreshing, and the chillies added a really nice heat, not too hot at all, just right. The portion was also a great size as I was still ready to devour my prawn curry. Lara’s stir fry was vibrant in colour and smell and did make me slightly envious- maybe I’ll try it next time.

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Papaya Salad!

My curry was creamy, and full of flavour, and the sticky rice absorbed all of the sauce. The prawns were cooked perfectly, not too rubbery, just the perfect amount of bite. Although nearing the end I did feel myself becoming quite full, I honestly couldn’t put my spoon down, I wanted to finish every mouthful.

After the amazing ingredients and flavours in my 2 courses, I couldn’t eat another thing, and therefore decided to just finish off my wine for pudding instead.

All in all, this restaurant was really great value with lovely staff, delicious food and a really appealing location in the heart of Brighton. I would recommend Street Thai to everyone; there is something on the menu for every taste I am certain!

Hare and Hounds- Brighton

Brighton Foodie Treats

As I was feeling rather lazy this Saturday lunchtime I wanted to find somewhere relatively close that Jack and I could pop to for lunch. Only a short walk from my house are a few pubs on Preston Circus and I have been meaning to try them for a while. Although I have drank in the Hare and Hounds before I’ve never sampled its yummy menu.

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The Hare and Hounds!

The pub itself is full of character. Large windows let in huge amounts of natural light to tall tables and benches, with quieter booths and smaller tables dotted around too. We chose to sit in a cosy booth, which sadly didn’t have the best light for photos, but the seats were very comfy. There is also a really nice outside area, with wooden benches and heaters and, in summer, a lot of greenery; great for a big crowd.

There were loads of different types of beers on tap, which, although not that important to me, I can imagine brings in a lot of drinkers. I know they change their kegs every week too, so there is something for everyone. On this occasion we stuck to soft drinks, I went for a lime soda and Jack a diet coke- we are wild!

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Beers! (pic from website)

After a tough morning at the gym, by lunchtime I was really hungry and I recon I could’ve ordered anything from the menu, it all looked so good. From wings, to nachos, to fish and chips and even a selection of ciabattas, I was spoilt for choice. After careful consideration I opted for the marinated chicken kebab with sweet potato fries- I do love a chicken kebab. Jack was umming and arring between a few options too, but in the end, he chose a buttermilk chicken burger.

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My Yummy Kebab!

We were thankful when our food arrived, as all the other dishes that were carried past us made our mouths water. We didn’t have to wait long which was a relief, as every time the kitchen bell rang our heads shot round in anticipation.

The portions were a really good size for the price we paid, especially good for Brighton, and I was amazed by all of the colours on my plate. The marinated chicken sat on a type of flatbread- which was really tasty alone- along with a selection of relishes, salad, beetroot hummus and yoghurt sauce. There were loads of pickles too, my favourite! The sweet potato fries were crunchy and sweet and were a great accompaniment to the yoghurt and hummus.

Although I didn’t manage to finish the whole plate, I gave it a very good go and however tempting it was to pick it up with my hands, I somehow managed to stay quite lady-like using my knife and fork!

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Stacked to the Brim!

Similarly to my kebab, Jack’s burger was massive too. It was fully loaded with: bacon, cheese, guacamole, salad and even a hash brown. They had even jazzed up the ketchup, mixing it with bloody Mary. Jack got pickles in his too, meaning even more for me!

Like myself, Jack gave his best efforts to finish is stacked burger and fries and we both really really enjoyed our meals.

With a soft drink and a main it cost us about £13 each, which like I said for Brighton, I don’t think is too bad. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the pub had a really nice buzz from the wide range of customers that filled its walls. 10/10 recommend!!!