Ever since reading about ICI on the Brussels Kitchen and S Marks the Spot blogs, I’ve been curious to go there for lunch.  And yes, of course the food is amazing, the Assiette Mixte a very generous portion of  seasonal vegetables freshly prepared that morning (think tasty roast pumpkin and quinoa salad) and can be ordered vegeterian (with goat’s cheese) or with meat or chicken.  There is also a lunch menu that includes soup, salads and a freshly baked cake. But what is hard to describe is how cosy this place is, the benches full of cushions, the waiters so friendly and helpful. Definitely worth a detour but keep in mind it is best to book as from what we could see, this little place gets busy over the lunch hour.

PS If – like me – you’re too full after lunch to taste their amazing desserts, take a chocolate moelleux to go!

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I have finally joined Instagram come find me here…. be prepared for lots of images of yummy food in pretty bowls….

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I don’t think anyone who really knows us will be surprised by this diary of our trip to London.  Yes, we did some exhibitions (I highly recommend the Radical Geometry exhibition at the Royal Academy) and shopping (we liked Margaret Howell, Selfridges and Marylebone High street), but mainly we went to London to catch up with friends and enjoy the food… The highlights:

Dabbous

Intrigued by the accolades heaped upon chef Oliver Dabbous, we have been trying to eat at this restaurant in Whitfield Street ever since it opened (as we usually book our london trips 4 months in advance, this will give you an idea for how hard it is to get a table here).  We started off with some fabulous cocktails downstairs: the Sting & Police was a blend of pink peppercorn infused scotch shaken with lemon verbena and smoked black tea.  The day Christopher Ralm Left a concoction of americano, manuka honey, lemon verbena, orange blossom and mead.  The food that followed was mind blowingly tasty and fresh and served with delicious sourdough bread and smoked butter: peas and mint, a coddled egg nestled in straw with tiny pieces of mushroom, barbequed skate with cockles and scottish raspberries as dessert.  Remember: patience is a virtue, keep trying to book here people and if you have any connected friends, shamelessly use them!

Attendant

A coffee shop in an underground deserted public toilet definitely sounds weird but we liked the atmosphere and coffee here so much we even braved hurricane Bertha for a second visit.  The cold brewed coffee was very intense but refreshing and the salted caramel brownie out of this world good .

Lovage

Right next door to the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, Lovage offered the best juice menu we’ve ever seen (with roots and bulbs a close second).  I loved the Banana & soy shake which included tahini, dates, lucuma powder, pink rock salt and wildflower honey.

Ceviche

Peruvian food seems to be a new trend.  The ceviche and pisco sours were very good here. Do order the corncake as a side to mop up all the lovely juices.

Ostuni

Close to where our hosts live, this place is not only convenient but also offers great authentic italian food (with some very friendly waiters).

 

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This recipe for Bolognese sauce is perfect in more than one way.  Of course what you will get on your plate is a thick glossy deep red sauce that makes you want to lick your fingers.  Over the years I have tried many recipes that promised but couldnt quite deliver this.  It’s the result of simmering the most simple of ingredients for over four hours.  This then brings me to the other reason why I love this recipe so much: it is the perfect thing to start on a sunday after lunch.  The delicious aroma coming from your kitchen will make your mouth water all afternoon and – as you need to be at home to stir and top up the sauce from time to time – is the perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa with a good book.  I recommend The Goldfinch.  Of course you can serve the Bolognese with spaghetti but for a lighter version try courgette noodles, for this I use my new best friend in the kitchen, the spirelli.

 

Bolognese Sauce by Anne Burrell for the Food Network

1 large onion or 2 small, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
1.4 kg ground beef
470ml tomato paste
700ml hearty red wine
Water
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle
spaghetti or courgette noodles and grated Parmigiano Reggiano to serve

For the recipe click here

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I don’t know what the weather is like where you are but here  it feels like spring has arrived!  The herbs we planted on our balcony have gone completely mad and the giant rhubarb plant has finally sprouted a new leaf.  To use a surplus of flat leaf parsley, I made chimichurri.   This bright green pungent sauce tastes salty, herby and garlicky and is slightly addictive.  Before you know it you will find yourself slathering it on grilled steak or vegetables (you can also use it as a marinade), mixing a spoonful with eggs for a herby omelet or stirring some through a plate of pasta for a quick dinner.  It lifts all kinds of spring foods to a whole new level: small boiled potatoes, white asparagus and baby leeks are all amazing simply drizzled with this.  The recipe below is indicative, I’ve substituted herbs according to what is thriving on our balcony and no longer measure the exact quantities and the results have always been great.

 

Ingredients

30 gr flat leaf parsley ( a small bunch)

15 gr coriander

1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

a tiny squirt of harissa

2 tablespoons apple cider or other vinegar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

120 ml olive oil

 

Mix everything together in a food processor, I like to pulse it so it’s not too smooth. Then let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mix.

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Wow, tickets to the Kinfolk Summer event I’m hosting with Suzy sold out in just a few days!  I’m sorry we had to disappoint so many of you who couldn’t get hold of a ticket.  As a consolation, I wish I could invite you all over for dessert!

Chocolate pots de creme used to be one of my favourite recipes but after going sugarfree, I find the regular version too heavy and sweet.  My take on chocolate pots de creme is a layered affair that consists of a base of  this recipe which blends cashew nuts, almond milk, coconut oil, raw cacao and vanilla.  The original recipe also calls for maple syrup but I usually replace that with a teaspoon of rice syrup (you can get this at Delhaize).  Pour a thin layer of melted dark chocolate on top and let it cool in the fridge.

Note I say ‘thin’ layer here, for my first attempt I thought the more the better and poured a good 1 cm layer of chocolate on top which, once set, required a knife to cut through it…  The second time round, I poured a really thin layer that cracked at the tap of a spoon, bliss!  Finish with a dot of coconut cream or greek yoghurt.

I am absolutely obsessed with desserts in jars, I’m thinking mini peanut butter cups in jars next or how about the overnight chocolate coffee chia breakfast pudding?

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If like me caffeine makes you jittery but you just can’t face another cup of tea, I have the perfect afternoon drink for you!  A friend gave me this recipe ages ago so unfortunately I can’t give credit where it’s due.  Just one word to the wise: do not overdo it with the peppercorns as they give your brew quite a spicy kick!  As I haven’t got a teapot large enough, I pour my drink into a terracotta pitcher like this one and it seems to keep it warm for quite a long time.  This goes perfectly with the coconut almond butter chocolate chunk brownie from the scrawny WOD website.

 

5 – 10 cm ginger, sliced thinly

1/2 to 1 teaspoon white peppercorns

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon of honey or rice syrup

 

Boil 1 litre of water.  Take it off the heat then add all your ingredients and let it infuse for 15 minutes.  Strain and taste for sweetness.

 

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