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When I recently went on a city break to Bruges, I have to admit to being slightly disappointed with the typical Belgium cuisine. Maybe it just wasn't really my thing. So anyway, we were wandering round the city looking for somewhere to eat for out evening meal, when we found Assiete Blanche.
Assiete Blanche is a French restaurant located right in the centre of Bruges, (although Bruges isn't very big so it wouldn't be a long way no matter where you were in the city). Inside the restaurant, we were instantly greeted and shown to our table. One of the lovely things about the restaurant was that the tables were quite spread out, so you felt you had your own space, and could talk without the people at the neighbouring tables hearing you. It was stylishly decorated, with quiet, non intrusive music playing in the background.
We were given our menus, which were in both French and Flemish, and the lady who had greeted us, who appeared to be the owner, offered to translate into English if we needed it. We all ordered the set menu, which cost 36 Euros per person, and consisted of three courses. For each course there was an option of two or three different dishes.
While we were waiting for the first course, we were offered a variety of different types of warm, freshly baked bread, which was lovely. We then received two varieties of canapés; one was black pudding with apple, and the other was a mascarpone and pistachio ball. Both were delicious, and this is the first time I've tried black pudding, so I was very impressed!
The first course of our meal was brown shrimp with asparagus and a poached egg. This was absolutely wonderful; it's a treat to have brown shrimps as they are so expensive over here, but in Bruges they seem to be much less pricey. The flavours and textures of the dish were fabulous, and it was presented beautifully.
The main course was steak with a mushroom, chips and truffle oil. The steak was perfectly done, and the chips were very tasty, however, as this was a posh meal, naturally, we didn't get a huge pile of chips, we got four, which I thought was a little on the mean side as I quickly ran out and so was left eating half a steak on its own. Although, the steak was so delicious I was quite happy to eat it on its own, and it was a divine dish.
For pudding, I had a summer fruits jelly with mint and mascarpone. (The other option was Irish coffee which apparently was very good.) I usually don't go for jellies but this was fantastic. It tasted very fresh and the mint meant that it was a very good palate cleanser. The jelly was packed with fruit and the balance between sweet and sour was perfect. It was the ultimate end to a beautiful meal.
The service in the restaurant wasn't the fastest I've ever experienced, but as I wasn't in any rush, and was in good company, this didn't bother me at all. However, if you don't like to hang around at all between courses you may have got slightly irritated. It was worth the wait though, as like I said, the food was spectacular. There were two people doing front of house, and both of them were no less than exceptional; they made our evening truly delightful.
Assiete Blanche is quite expensive, but eating out in Bruges is expensive wherever you go. You have to expect to pay a lot, but it is worth it, as it cost nearly the same amount to eat in a very bad restaurant as it did to eat here. Sometimes it's better, if you are on holiday, just to go that peculiar creature, the whole hog.
I highly recommend Assiete Blanche to anyone visiting Bruges. It was the best meal we had, and although it serves French rather than traditional Belgium cuisine, I think it's better to eat what you enjoy, and it has to be said, the French know how to cook.
This is a fairly basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but to be honest, sometimes simple is best. The recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare, and then 10-15 minutes to cook, so it's very quick, and good if you need something quickly or last minute.
These cookies really are crowd pleasers; whether selling them at a charity cake sale, or just handing them out (if you're just a really nice person!) you can guarantee that you will never be left with any to take back home.
The cookies themselves are moist and soft, and not over sickly, which I think is important as I don't like things which are too sweet. As you bite into it, you are rewarded with a lovely chocolaty taste as you encounter the chocolate chips spread throughout the cookie. If you mix the cookie dough well enough, the chips should spread evenly throughout the cookie, so you get some with every mouthful, which is heavenly!
You can make this using whatever kind of chocolate chips you want; I usually use white chocolate chunks, as I prefer them to the milk chocolate ones, but both are nice, and mixing the two together is lovely too. I've never tried using dark chocolate chips, as I don't like dark chocolate that much, but I would imagine that they would work very well, especially if you like something less sickly than white or milk chocolate. You can also add other things, for example dried cranberries with the white chocolate chips, or nuts of some kind. Adding extras like these not only create an interesting flavour, but also give the cookies more texture, if you like something with a bit more of a bite.
So, the recipe:
8oz soft cooking margarine
8oz caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 lb plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 packs chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
Mix the margarine, sugar and syrup in a bowl.
Add the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips, and mix thoroughly.
Form into balls, place on a baking tray and press down lightly.
Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Once cooked, place on a cooling rack until cool.
I love eating these cookies while they're still warm, as they're very soft and lovely. As they cool they do harden, but not excessively and they'll keep for a few days, not that they're ever around for that long...
You can also keep the dough in the fridge, and cook it later, so you can have a constant supply of freshly baked cookies!
This recipe will make quite a lot of cookies, depending on how big you like them. I usually make mine quite small, so usually get around 25 cookies from one batch.
Enjoy the cookies!
This is a wonderful recipe which is very easy to make, and also very diverse; I've made this just for myself for lunch, and have also served it at dinner parties, and it's always been a huge success. One of the great things about it is that it takes literally 10 minutes to make (although you have to leave it in the fridge for at least a few hours if not half a day to solidify slightly) so if you want to serve it at a dinner party, you can make it that morning and just leave it in the fridge until you want it.
If I've serving this to other people (usually as a starter), I usually put the pâté in small white ramekin dishes, with a slice of lemon on top, and a mixed salad on the side of each plate. I then usually make a basket of bread and toast (brown is much nicer for this) in the middle of the table so people can just help themselves.
An added bonus of this pâté is that it's very good for you! Mackerel is an oily fish, and oily fish are a good source of Omega 3, which is a very important part of our diet. It is supposed to reduce risks of heart disease, as well as helping other health problems. Of course, you could just take cod liver oil, and I know you can get it in capsules now so it's not so disgusting, but wouldn't you rather get your Omega 3 from food you enjoy? This is a very good website highlighting the health benefits Omega 3 if anyone's interested, as I'm not going to include it all here.
The pâté itself is very creamy and has a lovely texture. The flavour of the smoked mackerel is strong, so obviously if you don't like the flavour, I wouldn't make it, but personally I think it's lovely, and If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend that you do! The lemon adds a wonderful tang to it, and creates a burst of flavour in your mouth, and makes you want to eat more and more!
So anyway, here's the recipe:
3-4 smoked mackerel fillets (weighing about 10oz/ 275g in total)
4oz /110g ricotta
5fl oz/ 150ml soured cream
Juice of ½ large lemon, plus extra if needed
Whole nutmeg (optional)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1. Skin the mackerel filets. This should be no trouble as the skin peels away very easily.
2. Place the fish in the bowl of a food processor, and add the ricotta soured cream, lemon juice, and the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Blend until completely smooth. (You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl half way though)
4. Now taste and add any more seasoning or lemon juice to taste. (I tend to add more lemon juice as I like it really tangy.)
5. Put in dish/ramekins, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to chill.
All the ingredients for this recipe are very easy to get hold of from most supermarkets. I usually buy the vacuum packed smoked mackerel from Waitrose or Asda, and it's always been delicious. Quite often they come peppered, this doesn't matter; you just need to be aware to add less pepper later on.
This serves about 6 as a starter or 3-4 for lunch, as you would tend to want more.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy!
~~Leek and Potato Soup~~
Soup is one of my favourite things to eat during the winter, or any time at all actually. It is so easy to make, is very cheap, and fills me up. Not to mention it's very good for you. What more could you want? Soup lasts for a few days once made, or you can freeze it and just defrost is whenever you want, as it lasts for ages if frozen. I have to admit to being quite a snob when it comes to soup; I've been brought up on homemade soup, made with REAL chicken stock (none of that stock cube nonsense!) and nothing else will do. Woe betide anyone who even thinks about tinned soup around me...
When it comes to the stock, you are, of course free to use whatever sort you like. Personally, I never use anything but chicken stock (trust me, cubes DO taste different) but as I said, I've been spoilt, and many people can't taste the difference. I wouldn't use vegetable stock unless you are a vegetarian, as it doesn't have as much flavour. Bear in mind that if you are using homemade stock, you need to add more salt than if you are using cubes, as cubes are much more salty. I really do recommend that you use homemade chicken stock but this is a review about soup, and not about which stock is best, so I'll leave the matter here, and you can do what you want.
So onto the soup; this is my favourite soup recipe, and had been passed on from my Grandma, to my mum, and then to me, so it really is tried and tested. It's creamy and thick but not so thick you could stand a spoon in it, because there is little I hate more than overly thick soup. This recipe will make 4-6 bowls of soup, and it really is fabulous; it makes everything better!
4 Large leeks, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 oz (50g) butter
1 ½ pints (850ml) chicken/vegetable stock
10 fl oz (275ml) milk
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons snipped fresh chives or chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons cream or crème fraiche
1. Prepare and wash the veg. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the veg. Season, the sweat the veg on a gentle heat with a lid on for about 15 minutes.
2. Add the stock and milk, bring to simmering point, cover and let the soup simmer gently for a further 20 minutes.
3. Blend the soup, and add seasoning to taste.
4. Serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of parsley/chives.
I'm really hoping that people share my views on stock; let me know if you do!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the soup!
Around April last year, I was at athletics training just like any other week, I had been feeling some discomfort in my knee for a few weeks preciously, but I didn't really think anything of it, simply passing it off as standard strain. Then, as part of the warm up I dodged to one side, and felt my knee lock, and as my body continued in one direction, my knee felt like it moved in the opposite direction. I heard a faint pop, and then, not surprisingly, I fell over, with a stabbing pain in my knee.
As it happened, there was a phyiso at the track that night, so I was carted over to her, where she briefly looked at my knee, and put an ice pack on it. She came to the conclusion, much to my relief, that I probably hadn't done anything serious, as my knee had not yet swelled up. However, by the next morning, it had swelled up to about double the normal size and so I went to see a consultant knee surgeon. I had an MRI scan, where it was confirmed that I had torn my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), and had a meniscal tear.
The ACL is one of the major ligaments in the knee. It connects the back of the femur (thigh bone) to the front of the tibia (shin bone). Its role is to prevent the forward movement of the tibia from underneath the femur. It is a common sports related injury, and is often done when twisting or turning sharply. It is often seen in a combination with a medial meniscus tear, which is a tear to cartilage disk which acts as a cushion between the femur and the tibia.
The ACL will not fix itself, and it is essential for intensive or competitive sport, or sport which involves a lot of sharp twisting and turning. If the patient doesn't intend to do sport like this, it is not always necessary to reconstruct the ACL, as the knee will strengthen with time, and it is possible to do sport without it. If the ligament is reconstructed, the broken ligament is removed, and a new ligament is substituted in its place (called a graft). This is usually either the Patella Tendon or the Hamstring Tendon which has been pulled down to replace the torn ligament.
I had my ACL reconstructed, which involved two days in hospital. One I woke up from the operation, the pain was not too bad as I had a nerve block put in my leg, so I couldn't feel it, however once this wore off, my knee was very stiff and painful to move. A physio came to show me exercises to help regain the movement in my knee after the operation, and the following week was spent on crutches, while constantly trying to keep moving the knee to get the movement back as quickly as possible.
Once I could walk without the crutches, I started having regular physio, and followed a special ACL reconstruction program. The program lasts nine months to a year; the idea being that you work up to more and more activities and sport, so that by six months most non contact sports can be played (although probably not very competitively), and by nine months to a year, contact sports and sports such as netball which involve twisting and turning. It's a long and boring process but hopefully a worthwhile one.
The one positive side of an injury like this is that I found I had a lot of spare time on my hands, as I wasn't doing any sport, so I started to find other things to do, including athletics coaching, and volunteering. So it's not 100% bad, maybe just 90%. But I'm not one for moping, and I'm determined to make the most of this unfortunate situation, after all, there's not really a great deal I can do about it, so I'm just working on strengthening the knee, and enjoying the new opportunities it has opened up before I hopefully return to full sport.
Having read the Twilight saga, and having placed them on a pedestal that no book has been on since Harry Potter, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the Film. However, as well as being excited, I prepared myself for it to not live up to the book. And it was a good thing I did, or I would have been disappointed. It was a good film, but no film could ever capture the emotion that was present in the book.
Of course, a large part of my eagerness to see the Twilight film was due to its gorgeous star, Robert Patterson, who plays Edward Cullen, alongside and Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan. And this part definitely did live up to my expectations! The film is probably aimed primarily at teenagers, but I see no reason why adults wouldn't enjoy it just as much.
Twilight is basically the story of an ordinary girl (Bella Swan) who moves to a town near Seattle to live with her Father, where she falls in love with a vampire (Edward Cullen). The story follows her and uncovers the highs and lows of having a supernatural boyfriend with various events and occurrences. If I were to explain the story further and do it justice, it would take me days, but it is a brilliant story, so I recommend it.
But onto the film; as I said, I think it was ok, there were various things which I thought could have been better, but there was no major faults.
The biggest disappointment for me was amount that was missed out from the book. I didn't feel that the characters in the film had much of a connection with the viewers, as it excluded much of the history of the Cullen family(the family of vampires) which is vital to gain an emotional connection with them. I felt that I wouldn't have understood what was going on if I hadn't read the book, but then again, maybe I would have just been less picky. I found that in the film they added in scenes which didn't occur in the books, and took out ones that did. I didn't really see the point of this, and it certainly didn't add anything to the film. Of course, I understand that they have to cut the book when making the film, but I just felt they should have prioritised which scenes they were going to use more. For example, an awful lot of the film seemed to be Bella and Edward running in the forest and climbing in trees-It's good but not important. Having said that, they parts of the film which did have some action were done very well, and deserve much praise.
The film lasts for two hours, and I must say it seemed to wiz by. However, I didn't feel that very much had happened in the film. The story is supposed to take place over quite a long period of time, yet the film seemed to jump from beginning to end very quickly; one minute Bella and Edward were meeting for the first time, and the next they were dancing at the school prom in the final scene, with very little going on in between.
Robert Patterson, who is English, puts on an American accent in the film. Personally, I think he would have been better off sticking with his English one, as it felt slightly forced, as if he had to think about it. I'm sure many people will disagree with me, but I felt this lost the fluidity of the speech which Edward should have.
I think they could have made more of the film, but I understand that if they had included everything in the jam packed book it would have been a 10 hour film. The book had so much going on; every page something new and exciting happened, so it is not surprising that the film seemed to be lacking. Lots of scenes were missed out which are not crucial to the story line but add to the overall understanding and emotional connection.
On a positive note, the music in the film was phenomenal, and really brought the film together. The music, especially 'Bella's Lullaby' made up for the lack of emotional connection between the characters and the viewers.
The acting was fantastic, and the emotion given out by the actors, especially Robert Patterson (Edward) and Kristen Stewart (Bella). The connection between the two of them was astounding. The whole cast was brilliant, and they all seemed to understand their character perfectly. It was incredible to watch.
The special effects in the film were good, and quite amusing, if a little fake. Some effects were better than others, but overall I thought they were perfectly adequate.
As I had prepared myself for the film not to live up to the book, I was not disappointed, however, i was disappointed as I had been hoping that I would be proved wrong, and it would blow me away, but sadly it didn't.
Having said that, I will of course be buying the DVD, and will be rushing to the cinema when the other films in the saga are released! It's definitely worth seeing, but don't expect too much. The book is a hundred times better.
This review seems very negative, but that is just my being pedantic, and also comparing it to the book. The film as a whole was very enjoyable, and I highly recommend it.
I said Hotel Chocolat was heaven in chocolate form; well this is heaven in doughnut form! I generally avoid going to Krispy kreme, given that a) they are ridiculously expensive, and b) ridiculously fattening. But sometimes the temptation is too great, and I simply have to visit.
Krispy Kreme if you don't know is an American doughnut company. They have shops around the UK as well, and also sell their doughnuts in some shops such as Tesco and Selfridges. They are made daily, so are always fresh and are the lightest, most delicious doughnuts I've ever tasted. Some people find them very sickly and can't eat more than one at a time, but sadly I'm not like that, and I can happily devour somewhere in the region of four doughnuts before starting to feel queasy. This is unusual for me as I'm not a huge fan of most doughnuts, as I find they sit in my stomach for far longer than is strictly acceptable, but Krispy kreme doughnuts are in a completely different league to any other doughnut I've ever tasted.
Krispy Kreme sell 15 different varieties of doughnuts, from their signature original glazed doughnuts to the 'chocolate dream cake'- this doughnut is filled with chocolate cream, with chocolate icing on top, then sprinkled with chocolate curls. Wow. I can feel myself putting on weight just thinking about it.
The calorie count of the doughnuts is less than I expected, but it is by no means small. In one original glazed doughnut, there are 200 calories, and, gulp, 12 grams of fat. Hmm. Although not of this saturates; only (only!!) 3 grams saturates. The filled doughnuts contain more along the lines of 300-400 calories and 15-21 grams of fat- 4 to 5 grams saturates.
But anyway, let's just ignore the unhealthiness of these doughnuts for a moment. Personally I think the original glazed are by far the best, the other varieties look tempting, but I think they're far to sickly, even for me, and I wasn't tempted to buy them again, I just stick to the original. However, if you like sickly things, you will love the filled or iced doughnuts. They do taste good, just not my cup of tea. As you bite into the original doughnut, apart from dropping bits of white glaze onto your black trousers (which is very annoying as it just seems to smear when you try and brush it off) the experience is entirely fabulous. The doughnuts are so light; they seem to melt in your mouth, they're sweet, but not too sickly, and of course the smell is just heaven! The only problem is they slip down so easily, you'll want another, and at £1.10 each, this could end up being very expensive. The £1.10 is I think the price for the original, and this goes up to £1.35 for the other varieties, but these prices may have changed slightly. You can also buy boxes of 12 for about £9, which is still pricey, and even I can't eat 12 doughnuts, but good to share. They also often give out promotional vouchers, where if you buy one box, you get one free in certain months.
If you go into one of the Krispy Kreme cafes, they always seem to offer you coffee/any other drinks. The variety of coffee is fairly typical, but the one time I had a cappuccino with my doughnut it seemed to be more foam than coffee. To be honest, it's better to get the doughnuts to take away, and buy a coffee elsewhere. Although, I must admit, the sofas in the Oxford branch of Krispy kreme are incredibly comfortable! The staff have always been very friendly, although a little fake, but who really cares.
So overall, if you haven't tried them, you must, even if you don't like ordinary doughnuts, you may be surprised! They are only really for a treat, but what a treat they are!
G and D's; what a place! G and D's cafes are based in oxford, and there are two cafes in the centre; one on Little Clarendon Street and one in St Aldates, opposite Christchurch and one on the Cowley Road. They specialise in the sale of homemade ice cream, made using natural ingredients.
Although it's famous for its delicious ice cream, the G and D's cafes offer a variety of different food and drink, including bagels, pizza bagels, baked goods such as cookies, brownies, flapjacks, pastries... the list goes on. Also on their menu are Sundaes and salads. They also have a large breakfast menu, including eggs, bacon, bagels, waffles etc, all made to order. Their drinks, other than the usual coffee, tea, etc, include a 'Mad cow coffee', and a 'Holy Cow', which are coffee with ice cream, and hot chocolate with ice cream respectively. Their extensive cold drink selection includes ice cream shakes, ice cream floats, and smoothies.
Here are a couple of examples of the items on the menu with prices:
Brownie sundae--- £4.50
A Homemade fudge brownie with one flavour of ice cream, covered in sauce, whipped cream, and a topping.
Bacon and Brie-- £4.20
Sun dried tomato and swiss--£3.90
Tuna and sweetcorn---£3.90
The ice cream flavours change regularly, but the constant flavours include banana, chocolate, strawberry, and regularly changing ones include mint aero, baileys, dime bar crunch, Oxford blue (blueberry). These is always a sorbet as well in varying flavours. For one scoop of ice cream, the cost is £1.95, for two, £2.95, and for three, £3.65. I know this isn't cheap, but bearing in mind the quality of the ice cream, and the monstrous size of the scoop, I think It's well worth it!
The ice cream is full of flavour, creamy, and very Moorish, and the bagels are always very fresh, and made to order. Everything is made in one of the Oxford cafes, so it is guaranteed to be fresh and local.
The cafes themselves are fabulous; it's a treat to go there. Although sometimes they can be very busy, it's all part of the atmosphere. It can be quite loud, but it's buzzing; there is a permanently cheerful feel to the place. The cafes are quite small, but there are usually ample tables to sit at, and you never feel rushed once you've sat down. You're free to spend all day there if you wish! During university time, the cafes open at 8am and close at midnight, seven days a week, which is wonderful if you ever find yourself with time to kill at a ridiculous hour. It also means that if you go in late evening, you are not rushed to leave, so they can shut. However, at some points over the Christmas period they close early, but there are always signs up telling you about this, so it's not usually a problem.
The staff in the cafes are always wonderfully friendly and helpful. If you go into one of their cafes, you can feel your mood rise instantly! So overall, a very positive experience.
www.gdcafe.com is their website which has their full menu and more information about them on it. Well worth a look.
Mmm... sandwiches are one of my favourite foods. They're cheap, filling, tasty, quick and easy; what more could you want? I must say, I am fairly unoriginal when it comes to sandwiches. I often see delicious looking recipes for yummy healthy sandwiches in magazines, and think I must try them one day, but to be honest, when I want a sandwich, I want to be able to make it with what's in the house, as I don't generally keep sundried tomatoes, olives, feta cheese etc in the fridge. And by the time I get to a supermarket, I've completely forgotten about buying the ingredients for said sandwich.
So here are a few of my favourite sandwiches...
1. Cheese and onion toasted sandwich
Butter two pieces of white bread (it tastes so much better than brown for this sandwich). Grate (slices of cheese doesn't melt as well) a reasonable amount of cheese onto the unbuttered side of bread, and add some sliced onion (or tomato if you wish). Put the other piece of bread on top (buttered side up). So you should have both buttered sides facing outwards. Put this in a frying pan on a low heat for about 2 minutes on the first side, and 30 seconds to a minute on the second side, as the pan is hotter, but keep checking it. Once the bread is golden brown, and the cheese is melted, it's ready to eat!
This sandwich is delicious and very easy. It's not the healthiest but hey, when it tastes this good, who cares?
2. Bacon and avocado sandwich.
For this sandwich, any bread will do. My favourite is sourdough bread, or a baguette, but if I don't have either of those, I usually use white bread. Cook the bacon as you normally would, and slice up half an avocado. Assemble and voila. Perfection!
Another delicious sandwich, Brie is also completely yummy instead of the avocado.
Other favourites include any cold roast meat in a sandwich; these need some kind of sauce with them as they're often quire dry. I like chicken with lettuce and mango chutney, lamb with mint jelly, and beef with mustard or horseradish- the traditional combinations really.
The sandwich I eat most often is probably is the simple ham salad, because I usually have those ingredients in the house, it's also delicious with balsamic onions though. I think this is the all time classic, even better if you use home cooked ham. It's the easiest to put together, and never fails to satisfy!
All that talking about food is making be hungry...
The Bangkok House is a wonderful Thai restaurant in Oxford. It is very easy to get to, as it's about a five minute walk from the city centre.
It's a fairly expensive restaurant; it will cost somewhere around £20 a head including drinks, but it's worth it, as I can't fault anything about it. I've been many times over the years and it's always been consistently brilliant.
The menu is extensive, offering a range of delicious Thai food. Last time I ate there, we had one of four set menus, which included starters and a main course. The set menus are shared, the minimum number of people is two for most of the menus. The starter was a platter of mixed starters, including chicken satays, beef satays, spring rolls, prawn rolls, prawn toast, and fishcakes. Each set menu has a different selection of these starters. The main course was a variety of dishes, served with rice. These include sweet and sour pork, Thai red/green curry, sweet and sour prawns, and various chicken and beef dishes. Again, each menu has a different selection of these dishes. You can also have any of these dishes individually in the main menu.
The puddings are equally as fabulous. There is a large selection including bananas in hot coconut milk, sticky rice with mango, banana split, strawberry mouse, along with numerous others. When I've been, I've had the sticky rice with mango and the bananas in coconut milk. Both are delicious, and the nice thing about them is that they're small enough so you don't order them and then only eat half of them, as that often happens to me if they're too big, but they any little gap that may remain after the main course perfectly!
The food is absolutely wonderful. It comes quickly and is always piping hot. The flavours are strong and there is a variety of spicy and mild foods so there is something for everyone. There is always plenty, if anything too much food, so you certainly won't still be hungry at the end.
The service there is very good. We ordered very quickly and our first course arrived within 10 minutes. The staff were very friendly and attentive, but not constantly hovering over you, which I like.
The atmosphere of the whole place is fabulous, and it's all decorated beautifully. There is quite a busy road outside but I've never found that a problem.
Overall, a lovely restaurant, I think one of the best in oxford. I've never been disappointed by it.
Rice crispy cakes are some of the easiest things to make. They take 5 minutes, and the results are fabulous. They're perfect for parties, cake sales, or just eating when you feel like it!
These are my favourite two recipes:
****Chocolate rice crispy cakes****
1tbs golden syrup
1tbs caster sugar
Rice crispies (around 3 cups)
Melt all the ingredients in a pan on a low heat.
Once melted take off the heat and add rice crispies- as many as you want depending on how chocolaty you like them, but probably around 3 cups, and stir until there is no chocolaty mix left on the bottom of the pan.
Put into cake cases.
Leave to cool.
This recipe makes approximately 12 cakes. It can also be made with cornflakes, although it is more difficult to get them completely coated with chocolate, whereas the rice crispies always end up with a smooth, shiny finish. I often make these cakes if I'm craving something chocolaty, but don't have any chocolate in the house, as these require only ingredients that you are likely to have in the house anyway. They work well as Easter 'nests' as well, just add a chocolate mini egg or two to each cake. Perfect! Brilliant little cakes- I'd give them 10/10 every time!
***Mars bar rice crispy cakes***
4 Mars bars
4 cups rice crispies. (These one's don't work as well with cornflakes.)
Chop up butter and mars bars into chunks and heat in the microwave until melted.
Add rice crispies and stir well, until all the crispies are coated with the mix.
Press into greased tins and leave in fridge to cool and harden. (Will take a couple of hours to cool.)
These are probably my favourite rice crispy cakes. They're gooey and delicious-but quite rich, you will want to eat lots but you shouldn't as they'll make you feel quite sick! They're very simple to make, don't be put off it the mars and butter mix looks lumpy- as soon as you put the crispies in it's fine. It's also very easy to remember how to make them, as the quantities are all '4'. The mix will fill two 8 inch sandwich tins, so plenty to feast on! They're stickier than the chocolate crispy cakes above, and tend to melt slightly if left out of the fridge for too long, but if you originally leave them in the fridge overnight to cool, they should last most of the day without getting too sticky.
Two magnificent ways to eat your rice crispies! Hope you enjoy them!
Cakes really are one of life's most wonderful things. I've never yet met anyone who doesn't at all like cakes, although I suppose some people must. I myself don't eat a huge amount of cake, but when I do eat it, it really does make the world a better place.
Although I don't eat a huge amount of cake, I often make it for other, more dedicated cake fans, as I like to get other people's opinions of my creations. And also, because I just love making cakes! It's relaxing, non difficult, and of course, the aroma that wafts out of the oven as the cake cooks is utter paradise!
**Chocolate Fudge Cake**
This is my absolute favourite cake, maybe that's just because I'm a chocolate fanatic... but it really is good! It's relatively simple, although seems to have quite a lot of ingredients. It's a light and fluffy, moist, chocolaty piece of heaven! You will want to eat the whole thing. Once made, it will last for a fair time, but it's best eaten within a few days, as the longer you leave it the more it dries out. Personally, I always put something on top of the icing, like chocolate buttons or pieces of twirl or flake chocolate, just to make it extra special! This cake also works very well as cupcakes-Individual cakes don't get dry as quickly as a big cake. One batch of mix will make about 30 cupcakes. You just have to be careful not to overfill the cases as they will rise a lot. It's quite a rich mix so a cup cake is a good size. It's always a very popular birthday cake, and even more so as an 'I hate Monday' cake. It's amazing how many new friends you'll acquire when armed with this cake...
6oz plain Flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
5oz Caster sugar
2tbsp black treacle
2 eggs, beaten
5fl oz sunflower oil
5fl oz milk
1.Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of Soda and sugar into a large bowl. Add treacle, eggs, oil and milk. Beat well for at least 2 minutes until mixture is smooth.
2.Divide mixture between two 8 inch greased and base lined sandwich tins. Bake at gas mark 3 for 30-35 mins /170° for 30 mins, or until well risen and cake springs back when pressed gently with fingertips.
3.Stand in tin for two minutes then turn out. Remove lining paper and cool on a wire rack.
For the Icing:
6oz plain chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
Melt all the ingredients in a pan on a low heat until mixture is smooth and glossy. Leave to cool before spreading on cake.
This is enough Icing to put in between the two layers of cake and on the top.
I highly recommend trying this cake. You won't regret it!
What Women Want is a romantic comedy which asks the question of what the world would be like if men could read womens' minds. It is from the viewpoint of one man who acquires this ability. It is a highly entertaining film, aimed mostly, but not exclusively, at teenagers and women of most ages. It's diversity allows it to be enjoyed by many different people.
Nick marshal (Mel Gibson) is a successful advertising exec who has the world and its women at his fingertips. Or so he likes to think. The world of advertising is fast becoming a woman's world and slick talking, chauvinistic, womanising nick is out of touch. Along comes Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt). Darcy is hired by the ad agency for the position nick himself wanted, in a bid to win new clients from the undiscovered women's market.
Nick's problems are just beginning; to his dismay, a series of bizarre accidents allows nick to hear the thoughts of all the women around him. After seeing a psychiatrist, he decides to use his new power to his advantage, both personally and professionally.
The thing I love about this film, it that unlike so many romantic comedies, it actually has a different and interesting storyline. So many films now all seem to be variations of the same thing, but this film is thought provoking, as well as very funny. This film touches on the concept that men never know what women want, and women rarely enlighten them! By enabling Nick to hear the thought's of Women, it shows both the advantages and the disadvantages of this particular talent.
The acting is very good throughout the film, and the music just rounds it off wonderfully. It lasts for about two hours, and never gets boring! It's rated a 12 certificate.
Ahh, holidays! Just looking at that photo fills me with longing! I love going on holiday and everything about it; the culture, the food, the people, the weather, but most of all, the sense of relaxation, having nothing you have to do or worry about. Of course, on such holidays it is of the upmost importance that your suitcase is packed suitably.
Of course, the most important things you must take on holiday with you include your passport, E111 card, money tickets, etc, etc. However, once these items are out of the way, my essentials are as follows. (This is for a standard beach type holiday).
1. A gorgeous bikini. If you're going to be lying on a beach all day, you have to be dressed appropriately. And if people are going to be wandering past you, you have to look, but more importantly, feel, great.
2. Flip-flops. What's a beach holiday without flip-flops?! So easy to slip on and off, will dry in a matter of minutes if wet, and keeps your feet of the burning sand.
3. A good book. Or five. Another thing I love about holidays is being able to lie in the sun and read a book without the thought that you really should be doing something more useful, so I take to opportunity to read as many as possible. This summer I read a book called 'the girls of Riyadh', which was highly enjoyable.
4. Sunglasses. Obviously really. How will you be able to enjoy the beautiful surroundings if you can't see for the sun?
5. An evening outfit. Something smart casual, but very chic. A diverse number that can be transformed from 'dinner out' to 'bars and clubs' in a flash.
6. A Day outfit. Personally, I can't beat a tank top and short-ish summery skirt with those wonderful things, flip-flops! It can be worn day after day, without showing signs of wear.
7. Sun cream. No-one likes lobster pink skin. Also, you can spot a Brit a mile off because of the peeling skin and terrible tan lines, let's sort it out, it's giving us a bad reputation! So lots of sun cream to build up that golden tan gradually, and we'll be fitting in with the locals in no time!
8. Shampoo and conditioner.(And toiletries in general). With all that salt water, this is essential. Holidays are fabulous, but they can leave your hair in a state. A bit (or lots) of conditioner will sort it out in no time!
9. Camera. What's a holiday without photos! I love taking photos, and spend a large proportion of my time on holiday with the camera glued in my hand. They'll never be as good as the real thing, but you might as well try to preserve the experience!
10. Phrasebook. Very useful if travelling to a country where English is not the spoken language. Of course, a lot of people in Spain/France/Italy speak English anyway, but I feel that, if travelling to their country, an effort should be made to speak their language. It's only polite, really.
So there's my top ten! It's a pity I can't stick to that list- I always end up with considerably more!
10 things I hate about you. What an absolutely brilliant teen film! In the last few days I have watched it so many times; it's one of those films I never seem to get bored of. Of course, that could just be from the increase in my heart rate after hearing Heath Ledger speak in his gorgeous voice, or seeing his dazzling smile, or... well whenever he comes on the screen really.
On his first day at a new school, Cameron instantly falls for Bianca, the beautiful girl of his dreams. The problem is that, Bianca is not allowed to date until her bad tempered, completely un-dateable older sister, kat, also dates. To solve this problem, Cameron finds the one guy in the school who could possibly be a match for kat: a mysterious boy with a nasty reputation of his own. (Heath Ledger)
This film is based on a modern day version of Shakespeare's 'the Taming of the Shrew'. The theme of Shakespeare is present throughout the whole film, although not always directly, which keeps a vaguely intelligent atmosphere throughout the play.
What I love most about this film is that it is very easy going; it's not the most intellectually challenging film you'll ever see but that's part of the point. It's a light hearted romantic comedy that you don't have to concentrate too hard on. Perfect. It's very much aimed at teenagers, but because it's based on 'the Taming of the Shrew', it does actually have a reasonable storyline. It's Shakespeare but in a much more youth friendly, lively form.
With a great-if slightly dated- soundtrack, this film really is a feel good film, guaranteed to make you smile.