Tuesday, 31 August 2010

London Town

More holidays! This time 6 days in London. Had breakfast at the hotel (mmmm, more pancakes, maple syrup and bacon, while being intently watched by a couple of Italian women, in both disgust and fascination!) so tended to eat lunch quite late and then had a quick tea as we had a play to attend every night! Phew, needed a holiday to recover from the holiday!! But we saw Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act!!! Woo! Not to mention Jeff Goldblum and Meera Syal in 2 other plays. I'll start with our visit to the Southbank. We weren't hungry till we reached the Tate Modern so we decided to have a go in their restaurant. What a good choice. A bit expensive but completely delicious. My mum had the Cornish crab with mimosa dressing and sourdough toast, as seen below. We didn't realise it would be a whole crab so it was a lovely surprise when it arrived at our table. The drink was an apple and honey iced tea which was equally lovely.

I chose the cured Iberico meat plate with pork rilette, Catalan tomato bread, caper berries and sweet guindilla, with an apple, mint and ginger cooler which was incredibly fiery!! The meats, as I knew they would be, were yummy and there was plenty of it. I felt a little short-changed by the little mound of rilettes but actually there was plenty as it was so rich. The Catalan bread was gorgeous but wow did that garlic stay with me for the rest of the afternoon!! And as for caper berries, I've wanted to try some for a while as I love capers but I'm not so sure about all the crunchy seeds inside. Think I'll stick with pretty little capers! Each dish was £9.95, I think the crab was probably better value but then I know how expensive Iberico meat can be. It was a good treat meal and the staff were really nice.

One tea consisted of a slice of tarte fromage blanc and a puff pastry tart with salmon and spinach from Paul's. A taste of Paul's in Paris just wasn't enough for me. I wish we had a Paul's in Manchester, their food is quick and delicious and the choice of bread from there is great. Had to have a bacon fougasse as I'm quite sure it's the law when passing one of their bakeries! They do bread making classes which I'm sure would be really good to attend.

Salmon and spinach puff pastry tart:

Another favourite in London is Wasabi. I think there are quite a few branches there but they haven't filtered through the rest of the country. They have a really nice selection of individual sushi so you can make your own choice according to what you fancy at the time. Makes it a good time to try out different flavours without the commitment of a whole dish. Wasabi also make gorgeous broth soups with different meats and seafoods.

Can't quite remember the kinds I picked but I know there was a katsu chicken one and a salmon and mango one. All very nice anyway!

I'd been on the lookout for some diner food for the whole trip and had written a few addresses down (blame my obsession with Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) but we were never in the right place at the right meal time. I finally got some on the way home outside Euston station at Ed's Diner.

I loved the look of the place and everyone seemed very happy with their order, just a shame it took an age for them to acknowledge me as I wanted to order something to take-away. Grrrr. That put me right off, I was obviously standing right there but oh well. Eventually my order was taken, a classic burger and some fries.

The burger was very nice. I have to admit I prefer the flavour of the meat from my Paris McDonalds trip (shock horror) but you could tell it was good quality, and there was the very welcome addition of pickle, my favourite bit of a burger. Not sure I'd go out of my way to eat here again next time I'm around but it was ok. Didn't like the fries very much as they were really thick and I strangely don't like the taste of potato that much so I like them nice and thin!!

But on to the most important part of this entry - the thorough cupcake testing!

Tried out 4 different cupcake eateries to try and find the best place. First up was Lola's, purchased in Topshop on Oxford Street where they have a little stand for the summer. Got a peanut butter one for my mum and a red velvet for me.
Cute box. The peanut butter one got the big thumbs up and the red velvet was light and had a really nice flavour. A good example of a tasty cupcake. £2.25 which is a bit much but worth it.

Next was Ella's Bakehouse in Covent Garden. A tiny little shop which used to be another brand of cupcake last year. I'd been looking forward to trying out this shop as I'd read great things about them.

Boo, major disappointment. Another peanut butter one and I chose a 'designer cupcake' flavour - maltesers. Should have been wonderful but it was so heavy and I could only really taste maltesers when I ate the one of the top. And at £2.75? Not again. Lola's winning so far. Peanut butter the same heavy texture, at least it was cheaper.

Third was the one I had the highest hope for - the Hummingbird Bakery. Not the friendliest and most helpful of staff but hey, you get your cupcakes and you leave.

Got another red velvet as I wanted to compare with Lola's, and my mum chose the violet special of the day - so pretty and a much more exciting option compared to the two previous bakeries.

The violet had most of its flavour in the little violet pieces of top but the cake was really light and the frosting wasn't too sweet. My red velvet was absolutely gorgeous. Just enough chocolate to make it taste rich, the colour was beautiful, light as anything in texture and I really like cream cheese frosting. The winner thus far but Lola's isn't too far behind at all. The packaging is the prettiest too! £2 I think but can't quite remember.
Lastly - Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden. There wasn't a massive choice and there were no labels on the cakes so you had to ask what each flavour was, not great. I wanted an unusual flavour to end my trip with but there was nothing that took my fancy, a rose one would have been nice. So I ended up with nothing but my mum thought it would be wise to try out another peanut butter concoction!
Another heavy texture. The frosting I'm told was nice and a nice amount of peanut butter in the cake itself but it didn't compare to Lola's or Hummingbird Bakery. Disappointing.

So final placements are:

1. Hummingbird Bakery


3.Primrose Bakery

4. Ella's Bakehouse


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