Food

In Which Sophie Eats: Jamie’s Italian.

So for my birthday, I wanted to celebrate with my friends from home when everyone was back for the holidays and what better way to celebrate moving away from teenager years than some delicious (and rather sophisticated) cocktails? And of course, me being me, there had to be some food involved!

The logical choice for a good mix of tasty cocktails and scrumptious food in a good atmosphere was Jamie’s Italian. I’ve been a big Jamie Oliver fan for a long time, his cookbooks are great and I love his personality on TV, it made sense that I would then love his restaurants. Plus those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know how much I adore pasta…

Jamie’s Italian has spread of restaurants of across Great Britain as well as some in Australia, Ireland, Singapore and Dubai so if you live in any of these countries and you haven’t been before I would definitely recommend trying it. There is a good choice of dishes from the pasta and risotto to fish dishes and very meaty dishes, it’s Italian food but with a typical Jamie Oliver twist.

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Florence Fizz – Limoncello, pomegranate juice, elderflower cordial & Prosecco

My cocktail was a lovely fruity, lemony, fizzy blend and went down a treat. We’d also definitely recommend the Bramble and the Pear & Rosemary Martini, which some of the others had and looked delish.

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It was awkward lighting for photos of people so I haven’t many but here are some of my gorgeous friends and one of me and Tom, you can see a little of the decor which I really like, and whilst the lighting wasn’t conducive to clearly focused photos, it made for a really relaxed atmosphere.

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Prawn Linguine – Fried garlicky prawns, shaved fennel, tomatoes, chilli & rocket

After our cocktails we moved onto food, and obviously I chose a pasta dish. One of the things I really like about Jamie’s Italian is that you can have a small or a regular portion of most of the pasta dishes and if you’re like me and you a) don’t have a massive appetite, and b) like to save room for dessert, it’s a great idea! So I decided to have the prawn linguine. The tomatoes which make up the sauce of the dish were lovely and fresh, there was just the right balance of chilli and garlic and I was really impressed by the generous number of prawns on the plate. Overall it was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Having mentioned the small portions allowing room for dessert, it follows that I had something sweet to finish off my meal!

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Poached Winter Fruits – With vanilla frozen yoghurt & smashed honeycomb

This had a really good flavour but I was a little disappointed with it. I guess I just expected the poached fruit to be hot and therefore be a nice contrast to the frozen yogurt, however the fruit was cold (and consequently a little hard). I was still nice though, if the fruit had been hot and there had been more honeycomb sprinkled on top it would have been a great dish.

I had a fantastic evening with my friends, the cocktails started the evening brilliantly, the food was great and the service was also really good, and I still go on being a big fan of Jamie Oliver’s!

Sophie x

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In Which Sophie Eats : Côte.

Tuesday was my sister’s birthday. In my family we have a tradition of going to the restaurant for everyone’s birthdays and of course Alice got to pick where she wanted to go. She chose Côte, a French style restaurant with food inspired by Paris bistros sold at affordable prices. It’s a lovely restaurant with attentive, friendly waiters (they moved us to a window table because we were originally at an isolated table in a corner), simple decor, a relaxing atmosphere and a decent menu.

The Good Food Guide 2011 described Côte as having “Robust French flavours, cheery continental vibes and brilliant value for money“.

Being a French style restaurant they specialise in meat and fish so perhaps not the ideal choice for vegetarians although they do have a couple of meat and fish free lighter options. It’s a great place to eat with a group of friends or to go for an after work meal. They have a decent selections of wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks and you can even treat yourself to a rather indulgent Kir Royale before your meal.

There is a definite theme with my meal – I went down the fishy, breadcrumbed, tartare route…

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Calamari – Breadcrumbed squid sautéed in garlic, lemon, parsley and butter with tartare sauce

To start I went with the calamari because it is one of my absolute favourite dishes to eat in a restaurant and I was pleased I did. Sometimes calamari is a bit of a risk as, cooked badly, it can be somewhat rubbery and bland but this was lovely and the homemade tartare sauce was perfectly balanced. I polished off the entire thing!

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Cod Goujons – Breadcrumbed slices of cod fillet with frites and tartare sauce 

For my main course I chose the cod goujons which are essentially like posh fish fingers. These were excellent, the breadcrumb coating was really light, the fish inside was wonderfully cooked and came apart with my fork. The chips are just how I like them, perfectly golden, thin, and crispy. My advice for this dish is to order a vegetable side to accompany it, I went for the green salad, as to my taste it needs something fresh to go with it. Otherwise a great (if a little filling!) dish.

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Lemon Sorbet

Those of you who know me quite well will know that I have a major sweet tooth, certainly never let it be said that I am not a dessert kind of girl! However, after two delicious courses I was feeling pretty full so I opted for the light, refreshing option of sorbet. There’s not much to say about this other than it was the perfect way to finish off a delicious meal and meant that I left the restaurant without the taste of fish in my mouth.

All together I really enjoyed all of my food. If you are more of a meat lover than a fish person, my sister, her boyfriend, and my father all went with the sirloin steak, it looked and tasted really good (I stole a bite of Alice’s steak) and they would all definitely recommend it. We all had a lovely time celebrating Alice’s birthday with fantastic company and brilliant food and I would 100% recommend Côte if you like French cuisine and are looking for a relaxing meal at a reasonable price. My sister and I now have plans to try out their breakfast menu in the near future!

Have you ever eaten at Côte?
Are you a fan of French cuisine?

Sophie x

Life Lately #3.

Happy Sunday and Happy St Patrick’s Day to any Irish folk out there!

I thought I’d come back with another Instagram round-up post to show you what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks. I adore my camera and I love how wonderful the photos turn out when I use it but Instagram is just fantastic for snapping quick photos throughout my week and I really like being able to share them with people straight away.

In the past few weeks I’ve been to visit Tom a couple of times, I’ve been out with my uni friends, sorted out my house for next year (so exciting!), written another essay – this time on the endings of Great Expectations and Ruth, been to the hospital, been shopping (oops), eaten a lot of delicious food, been to the theatre, baked a cake… I am developing an addiction to hot chocolates and I already have a lipstick and nail varnish addiction. It feels good to have my essay done, hopefully I’ll do well in it! Visiting Tom is always lovely, it’s the perfect time for me to relax with him and forget about all the stresses of daily life.

So here is my life in photos for the last few weeks (it’s pretty food heavy!):

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These just smell of spring | Chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding | Pancake day!

 

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Taramasalata love | Hot chocolate and almond croissant (the best kind) | Lasagna lunch

 

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Brunch in London | Film night pizza in front of The Hobbit | Snowdrops heralding the spring

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Daffodils | A spot of afternoon baking | Dressed for a neon themed birthday night out!

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Afternoon tea with Grandpa | Romeo and Juliet at the theatre | Breakfast

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Favourite speedy pasta | Pink | Orzo in a wok

 

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Feeding my addiction 😉 | Eggs for Sunday brunch | Essay writing with Poppy

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Delicious avocado on toast | Cheeky rhubarb and vanilla ice cream | Mini Revlon haul

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More… | The loveliest cafe – Notes in Covent Garden | Spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes and red onions

I only have one more week of lectures before a three-week break for Easter and I have to say I absolutely can’t wait, lately I’ve been so tired that the holidays sound like a God-send! This Tuesday it’s my sister’s 17th birthday and I am baking her a triple layer chocolate cake with caramel buttercream (if all goes to plan anyway!). We’re going out for dinner too which should be fun. Then on Sunday Tom is coming back for a week’s holiday, the following Tuesday (the 26th) is my birthday 🙂 I have plans with friends for cocktails and dinner which I’m so looking forward too, I haven’t seen some of them in months. Then on the 28th Tom and I are celebrating our five year anniversary which feels amazing and somewhat astounding too!

What have you been doing in the past few weeks?
Do you have any time off at Easter? Any holiday plans?

Sophie x

 

 

 

Life Lately.

Wow. Things have been so busy for me for the past couple of weeks. I have an insanely long pile of reading to do, I have a presentation to write and give next week (ahh!) and I have an essay to write for next month. Oh dear…

Luckily I have lots of great stuff going on too so I’m just about managing to keep my head above the water. Tom is coming to visit this weekend and we haven’t seen each other in three weeks so it’ll be lovely to be reunited and be able to spend some time together. I went to see Les Mis (again) last night with a friend and we both cried (again), it’s such a moving film, each song is so rousing that you can’t help but get emotionally involved with the story. If you haven’t seen it yet I definitely recommend it, even if musicals aren’t really your thing, my mother isn’t keen on musicals and she loved it. My most exciting piece of news is that I am going to be moving out in September! For those of you that don’t know, I transferred to a uni closer to home this year so that I could live at home to make life easier for me because of my condition. However I’m going to get the best of both worlds in my final year, I’ll be in my hometown which I find easier to get around, I’ll be close to home, but I’ll get to live with friends and experience the typical student life. I’m really excited to make the move and get on with my life with my uni friends 🙂

I thought I’d do a photo recap of life lately, with everything going on I’ve not had much time to stop and blog or take proper photos so here is an Instagram summary of the past week or so!

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My current addiction: hot chocolate | Roast chicken Sunday dinner | Starting the morning well

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Pasta, my saviour | Floral beauty | More chocolatey goodness of the drinkable sort

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Last week’s baking fun | Homemade pizza | Fresh lunch

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Sunday lunch – chicken and mushroom pie | Heavy reading | A fruity start to the day

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Smile | Sunlit tulips | Healthy dips for lunch

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Cooking dinner for the family | Quinoa, courgettes, red peppers and onions | Sleepyheads

What have you been doing lately?
How is 2013 shaping up for you now that we’re in February?

Sophie x

Currently…

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Reading…

So much! I have an absurd amount of reading to do for my course at the moment, it’s really difficult to keep up. At this point in time I am working my way through George Eliot’s Adam Bede which is good but hard going – it’s almost 600 pages long. I’m also reading Thomas More’s Utopia as well as rereading Jane Austen’s Persuasion and dipping into some poetry from the Romantic era. Phew! So I’m afraid I’m not reading anything for leisure at the moment, I just don’t have the time.

Listening to… 

I recently discovered The Lumineers thanks to my sister, Alice, and I’ve been really enjoying their songs, especially Ho Hey. I’ve also been listening to soundtracks quite a lot lately because I find it difficult to work whilst listening to music with vocals. My favourite is undoubtedly the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack composed by Dario Marianelli, it is just so beautiful. If I sit and listen to it I can picture every scene and it definitely evokes an emotional response from me.

Watching…

I haven’t been watching loads of TV recently because some of my favourite programs have just finished. I am loving Africa with David Attenborough although the last episode is this week. The footage of the animals in their natural settings is simply amazing and it’s fascinating to watch. I also love a bit of New Girl and Vampire Diaries for some light entertainment to distract me from my work 😉 Plus a new series of Food & Drink has started (this week’s episode is on BBC iplayer) and it’s presented by Michel Roux Jnr so it’s extra good in my opinion!

Drinking…

Heaps of hot chocolates! They are my go-to drink at this time of the year when it’s so cold and often wet. My favourite way to make them when I particularly need cheering up is with a spoonful of nutella and then cream and mini marshmallows on top. So so comforting.

Dreaming of…

The summer. I’m always like this at this time of the year, I long for blue skies, sunshine,  picnics, holidays… I want to be able to go outside without having to bundle up in multiple layers of knitted clothing, and to sit in the park and read without feeling like my nose and fingers are frozen stiff. I’m dreaming of ice cream cones at the seaside in June, of picnicking by the river in July, of cocktails under a parasol in the balmy evenings of August…

Loving…

My new NARS blush in Douceur which is just lovely dusted onto the apples of my cheeks. I’m also loving having the time to experiment a little more with cooking, last week I made pizza, this week I’m going to try a new dish of courgettes and quinoa. I love spending time in the kitchen cooking dinner for me and my family, cooking can be creative, fun, and I find it rather therapeutic.

What are your currently-s?

Sophie x

Homemade is Best.

Being an English literature student means that I do not have a very heavy timetable in terms of contact hours. I am actually in uni for classes for around a dozen hours a week so the rest of the time I decide how I space out my work. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of work to do on top of my reasonably light timetable – reading, note taking, essays… My timetable has its pros and cons: I have an awful day on Friday starting at 9am and finishing at 6pm, but I do get Wednesdays off!

So today I thought it would be fun to make the most of having the day and create something. And create I did. I’m not really a crafts kind of person, not unless they are for Christmas. I am, however, a baking kind of person, and my father being away and my mother quite busy I decided to make dinner. What kind of dinner can you bake?

Pizza.

I haven’t made pizza since I was a child and I made it with my mother and sister in the holidays as a fun activity. I used a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and it was so simple and easy to follow. This isn’t the exact same recipe but the section for the dough is the same so follow this and then just choose your own toppings. To make the sauce I just fried two finely chopped cloves of garlic in a glug of olive oil and then added a tin of chopped tomatoes. Then I spread the tomato sauce on the bases, then I sliced some mozzarella and arranged it over the top of it. Personally I love to add fresh rocket on top once the pizza is out of the oven, in the summer fresh basil is equally good.

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Have you ever made your own pizza?
What are your favourite pizza toppings?

Sophie x

Life Lately.

Having had a week mostly by myself with plenty of time to catch up on sleep and relax, I have to say that I needed this extra week off. I hope everyone who is back at work aren’t finding going back after the holidays too difficult, I imagine you’ve been looking forward to the weekend!

This week I had a lovely evening with my sister at one of our favourite eateries… (can you guess where?)

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Wagamama! (Of course)

Alice had the Chicken Katsu Curry which was absolutely delicious, I loved the breadcrumbs on the chicken.

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Isn’t my little sister (who is actually taller than me!) pretty?

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I went for a dish I haven’t tried before called Yasai Yaki Soba and it was fantastic. It’s a vegetarian noodle dish full of vegetables and lovely flavours. I’m glad that I pushed myself away from my comfort zone and the dish I always get, this was definitely worth trying! If you live in the UK you should definitely check Wagamama out 🙂

The rest of my week has been pretty calm. I’ve spent my days doing chores, baking, reading, writing and watching nature programs on my laptop. All the whilst cuddled up with Poppy obviously, she makes for the best company.

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This is more or less what my days have looked like this week.

I’m currently reading Adam Bede by George Eliot and so far I much prefer it to Middlemarch. So far this January I’ve read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Artful by Ali Smith. I have plans to write mini reviews of the books I read before term starts, sound good?

Tomorrow is my Father’s birthday and I have a fantastic present for him, can’t wait till he opens it! We’re about to go out for lunch with my Grandfather to celebrate and then tomorrow evening my Father has picked his favourite meal for dinner – steak with peppercorn sauce and chips. So lots more good food to be had…

Have a great weekend lovely people!

Sophie x