Wednesday 25 December 2013

Christmas relaxation - part 2

Christmas is the time of year that every foodie loves. Why? Food, food and more food with no guilt or very little at least.

I started my day with my eyes and tummy set on these two friends.

But some exercise is needed between courses. So I started my day with a walk into the nearest town Scorton. 

The walk was along beautiful countryside and I met some of Dolly's friends along the way. I sent them all her love.

All this walking I was beginning to build up an appetite but the inn along route wasn't quite what I had in mind for a nice lunch. 

So we carried on through the wind and rain. I was pleased when in the distance I saw...

Scorton is a picturesque  quintessentially village, with warm and friendly people.

The need to get out of the horrible rain was paramount so we ventured into The
Barn. Pleased to share this wasn't an old shack but a lovely garden centre with cafe onsite.

I settled for something nice and warming.

The dessert was as good as the main. 

It was true to its Devonshire routes.

Loads of cream followed by lashings of jam. Yummy.

Contented we set back off home to walk off all the food we had eaten. 

I decided to catch my own Christmas dinner but as I couldn't even shoot a clay pigeon the turkey had nothing to worry about. 

After all the preparation, Christmas is finally here and like a small child I am mightily excited. 

Merry Christmas everyone. 

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Christmas relaxation - part 1

Work has been a little manic of late so the opportunity for some relaxation, fresh air, walks and laughter with family was very much needed. 

So we packed up the car and headed for Lancashire. Our new home was Badger Lodge a wooden retreat on a 24 acre lake at Cleveley Mere.

A welcome party came to meet us ...

Inside the lodge the panoramic views of the lake blew the tensions away. 

The Christmas tree waiting for our arrival was beautiful too. 
After we unpacked, fresh air was very much called for.

We wrapped up warm and headed out...

The views around the lake were breathtaking.

I even found some friends on route...

Dolly was a friendly thing.

I love living in London but I am a Country girl at heart. This is my mode of transport whilst on holiday. 

More adventures tomorrow, all this fresh air has made me peckish.

What plans do you have for Christmas? Share in the comments below. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas. 

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg

Saturday 14 December 2013

Sunday 8 December 2013


I have visited a few Gordon Ramsay's restaurants over the years and my experiences have always been positive, with wonderful food and exceptional service

My first encounter was Gordon Ramsay's in Chelsea, serving French cuisine at its absolute best. So good in fact that I am salivating at the thought of it now. The service is out of this world and I can truly see how it was awarded Three Michelin stars. Head chef Clare Smyth is the only female chef in the UK to hold this amazing accolade. 

My second Ramsay experience was Pétrus under the talented watchful eye of Marcus Wareing.Yes, Yes we all know how it ended but not every story is defined my its ending. The food was carefully crafted and very deserving of its two Michelin stars. 

Marcus Wareing during a busy service was happy to chat away about how the food was made. I could have happily listened to him for hours.  

Maze was my third Ramsay experience and again this was a memorable dinning experience with great food and service.

So when I heard on the grape vine that Gordon Ramsay was launching a new dinning venture Union Street Café you could say I was a little bit excited.

There has been lots of media hype about Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant Union Street Café. In part because his partner for the new launch David Beckham pulled out weeks before the opening. But that was probably a wise choice not all footballers can be top chefs. 

The restaurant is located between Union Street and Great Suffolk Street in an old Warehouse. On entering the restaurant we are greeted warmly by friendly staff and Shakespeare's second cousin who has had a reincarnation

The restaurant itself has a distinctly Brooklyn feel. All seating in the restaurant has a perfect view of the comings and goings of the busy bar and the chefs cooking your food in the elevated kitchen which has a commanding position on diners. 

Now I may have mentioned this before, I love Italian cuisine, you could even say I am ever so slightly obsessed so I am really looking forward to reviewing the menu. 

This love however does not extend to a restaurant writing the entire menu in Italian just for the sake of it. When staff have to explain the menu to a majority of its guest this is just self indulgent and egotistical. 

The same arrogance I am pleased to say does not extend to the knowledgeable sommelier. Thought has gone into the pairing of wines with every stage of the menu and the food being served. We order a nice bottle of Kerner Abbazzi di Novacella from Germany (£42). 

Once we have been educated on the food menu we opt to share Antipasti, Buffalo mozzarella, Parma ham and Zucca (£9).

The oldies are the best Parma ham and parmigiano reggiano cheese (£12).  Both starters are really delicious.

For my main I decided to opt for Rigatoni Venison and Peckeroni (£14). While my partner opts for Linguine, clams, mussels and chilli(£14).

For me pasta is one of those meals that in my view is a signature dish in any Italian restaurant, if done well it can make a restaurant but if done badly can break your relationship.

The linguine, clams, mussels and chilli I am pleased to report is nice with the right amount of Chilli to add to the dish without overpowering it. It is not however to the standard of other London Italian's which are superior. 

Sadly the same cannot be said for the Rigatoni Venison and Peckeroni. I have never been in a restaurant in which I have wanted to spit out the food in a very undignified and unladylike manor. This however was seriously fowl. The venison and pasta was overpowered by a phenomenal amount of salt. 
Three mouthfuls and I was done.

A passing waiter asked how the food was and whilst I toyed with the idea of not owning up, I decided that honesty was better than having to eat my way through the entire dish. 

What followed is an absolute first. The waiter said that he would get the chef to taste it to see if he agreed that it was over seasoned. All I can say is thank god Gordon Ramsay himself was not sitting at that table. 

Since when is this the response you give. I am further educated that my pallet knows nothing, when the waiter returns to tell me that the chef says that the Venison is how it is meant to taste. I am infuriated. 

How I would have liked to have marched up to the ivory tower of the kitchen looking down on the peasants and made him eat a whole bowl of his own food. I am not sure he would have felt so arrogant then. 

All I can say to Gordon is send down Maitre D' Jean-Claude Breton your waiting staff could really do with an education of their own. 

I am kindly offered something else and opt for Cod with chickpeas (£18). I am pleased to report that this is much better and has a lovely balance of chickpea, ham hock and artichoke. 

The fact that my partner has finished his main meal before my replacement has arrived really did unfortunately ruin our meal. 

The additional insult on receiving the bill that they have charged me for my meal and the roasted potatoes that are sitting cold on the table from my previous meal is not really acceptable and certainly not what you expect from a restaurant of this calibre

The dessert choice of artisan cheeses (£12) with a glass of Port and Chocolate and amaretto (£7) went some way to end the meal on a slightly sweater note. 

Overall a very disappointing meal and with much better Gordon Ramsay offerings at hand I most definitely would not bother with Union Street Café again. Save yourself the £147.53 and eat somewhere else.  

The main restaurant has the ambiance of a school dinning room with excessive noise and staff literally looking down on you all the time. For me Union Street has been designed with the staff in mind and not the customers. It is for these reasons I wouldn't go back. 

Union Street Café
On the Corner of Great Suffolk Street & Union Street
(47-51 Great Suffolk Street)

020 7592 7977 

Square Meal Union Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg

Thursday 5 December 2013