Happy Friday

October 28, 2011

Today is my last day at work for 3 months.

3 months off!

I am going on a MEGAmoon with my Husband.

I haven’t seen him for a whole month.

This weekend I will be hanging out with my Bristol crew as much as possible, and packing.

At some point I definitely need to pack!

Forgive me for this boastful post. I am a little excited.

(Gif spotted here on Swiss Miss)

The Ethicurian

October 27, 2011

So most of Bristol know and love this place already, it took me a little while longer to get out there…

I finally made me when Mum and I made a trip to Cornwall and I suggested we have breakfast here before hitting the road.

It was such a good idea, even if I do say so myself.

The cafe is in a beautiful walled garden just outside of Bristol.

This is view of a beautiful Somerset valley is one of my favourites, some friends have recently moved out this way and I absolutely love driving over the hill past the airport and into this valley.

So I was hoping to make another visit before I left to eat lunch so I could show you more than breakfast, make it a proper blog but alas there will be no second visit this year (sad face)

Seriously love it here. I am definitely going to visit in the spring when I return. I bet it’s lovely here in spring.

My Mum had eggs Florentine which she enjoyed very much, with a proper hollandaise, no gloopy sauce here.

I of course had the full english breakfast, the bacon and sausages were amazing (I need to find out where they get them from) and eggs perfect, and served on my favourite Marks Bread. Delicious, just enough to make me fall asleep in the car, all lovely and dozey. Sorry Mum.

It was quite large and I will admit I saved a sausage for later in my bag, it was even better cold, starving off my lunchtime hunger till even later.

Maybe I should have given the lovely dog my sausage. But I thought that would encourage bad customer bothering behaviour so I kept it for myself. Sorry Dog.

I am such a loser I even loved the toilets here, very cute mirrors and photographs in a little building outside.

They also have their very own orchard.

Where they make their own juice! We brought a few bottles for presents to our Cornwall friends.

A lovely outdoor area that I bet is a lovely place to spend a summer’s day.

There was a wedding here the night before, you can tell… there was a marquee still up (looks like a very pretty place to get wed) and a secret bottle of Jack Daniels we found in the bushes. (we left it there by the way, I hate Jack)

I would love to go to a wedding here.

Seriously let’s take another look at that view. I could never get used to that beautiful valley, even on a moody autumn day the view is amazing.

I love West Country I do.

So yes go visit! I haven’t even touched on the food and how they run their cafe… visit their website to find out more.

They have won awards too you know.

Check them out here; The Ethicurian and The Walled Garden

Quinta do Francês Vineyard

October 14, 2011

On a day when the rest of the family has gone off to find a beach the Husband and I decided to head into the countryside to check out a spa town in the mountains called Monchique (which was so lovely, but a little remote and felt very cut off from the world) and then on the way I was saying how it didn’t look like we were going to be able to check out any vineyards… then my Husband spotted a sign…

To Quinta do Francês, a vineyard with wine tastings, so we drove up to take a look.

This was the view off to one side of the valley, it was the only cloudy day we had the whole time we were there, and even then the sun broke through a lot and it was still warm.

These are the vines.

We had a little tour from one of the owners; run by a Husband and Wife team, he is French, she is Portuguese. He is a doctor and still practises I think and she runs the vineyard day-to-day.

They have been going since 2002 and producing wine since 2008, winning awards in their first year and most years since.

This is their cellar and producing building. I love its traditional look.


We had a tour of the small winery and Fátima explained their processes and how much wine they make etc, which was all so interesting. They have done so well in such a short time.

Then we had a little taste of the four wine they produce.

The white and rose they make using grapes they buy from others, the reds are their own grapes.

All of them were delicious.

They had to sell a vintage from 2009, which had won an award and a red from 2010 which was about half the price, more of an ‘everyday wine’

We got bottles of each to take home, and to give to my Father in Law who really appreciated a good red.

Check out these bottles! Good for a wedding don’t you think?

I didn’t know anything about Portuguese wine but learnt a little here, about the markets and that not much is exported and I did notice that good wine was really good value in the shops. We never spent more than £6 and a lot we bought was around £3-4 and it was all really great.

You should go visit! Or you can buy online – Quinta do Francês

Cauliflower Cheese

October 12, 2011

I have been craving this for weeks, and last weekend I worked a lot, so on Sunday with the wind blowing a gale outside and drizzle coming down so thick it was like fog, I finally got round to making it.

It is more than comfort to me, it’s a dish my Mum used to make a lot for me as a child and so I will always love it.

I found it hard to write my recipe though as I make my roux by eye and don’t measure anything!

How cute is my Emma Bridgewater dish? A present from my Mama!

You need;
1 large white cauliflower
50g flour; use whatever you have, I used a little buckwheat and a little plain but normally I would use wholemeal
50g butter
1-2 pints of milk – depending on how thick you want your sauce
150-200g cheddar – I use the strongest as I can get, you can totally use whatever you like here as well, a little bit of Stilton takes it to a whole other level.
2 tbsp double cream (not important)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-2 pinch’s of freshly grated nutmeg – to taste
sea salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C
Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water until just tender – 5-6 minutes. Don’t underdo it either – crunchy, al dente cauliflower is not right for this dish.) Drain thoroughly and put into your baking/serving dish.

2. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized pan. Spoon in the flour and stir, do not let it burn. Cook for 4-5 minutes to cook the flour off.
Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the milk, a few spoonfuls at a time at first, then increasing the flow as the sauce thins. Make sure you taste the sauce to check the flour has cooked.
Return to the heat and heat gently for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and creamy.
Keep stirring!

Then add in the cheese, cream, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.

3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, sprinkle over some more grated cheese (and breadcrumbs if you have them) and bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling!

I also grill mine for a further 3 minutes to get those delicious burnt edges.

I even had enough leftover for my lunch the next day.

No Solo Agua Beach Club

October 11, 2011

This is the sister restaurant/beach of the place I blogged yesterday, they are linked but are two separate places.

The beach venue is more of a casual party place I think.

It’s a great beach, very quiet.

Again there is a mix of tables, cabanas and sunloungers.

The menu is pretty much the same, but they also do more snacks and it is all a little more relaxed.

This was where we spent our last day in Portugal, and as I was driving to the airport there were no cocktails for me but I wasn’t left out as they made delicious smoothies here.

There so amazing.

Burgers!

We had to have another Caprese salad!

The chicken satay was amazing.

I loved it here too, burger and fries and smoothies. Delicious!

I had to try another flavour!

One again the club promoter in me so wanted to take it all up again and throw a party here, the dj booth was right in the middle of the tables with a small dance floor; what could me better than a party on the beach? Shall I do it?!

More profiteroles…

It was a great way to spend our last day, although because we were right on the beach with the sea breeze I fully got sunburnt, I was so careful all holiday and then on the last day fried my bottom!

No Solo Agua Club

We found this amazing  beach club on a day trip out that went quite badly at first!

We headed out to check out Portimão, a big town with beaches and shops. On arriving we realised it was a heavy tourist area, all high-rise hotels and apartments and tacky shops and bars.

We had a little walk along the main strip then headed back to the car and decided to try to find the marina.

I am so glad we did!

It was a world away from the main town, with all kinds of yachts! We all picked out our favourite.

Here is mine, an old fishing baot made up all pretty!

So we decided to stop for some lunch and spotted the No Solo Agua Club, we all immediately decided this was the place.

Anywhere with cabana’s is immediately a favourite of mine, there is just something about the idea of spending a day on one of this big beds in the sun by the sea that I love.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to use the pool on this day, but I could have happily spent the whole day and night here.

The club promoter in me so wanted to throw a party here, or at least go to one.

The food was pretty great too.

We had calamari… with a fresh tomato sauce

A Caprese salad; a huge stack of the juiciest tomatoes and the most amazing mozzarella I have had in a long time.

I ordered a sushi place, and I am not sure if it was the setting and the sunshine but this sushi was the best I have ever had (bearing in mind I have never been to Japan!) I think the freshness of the fish did it.

A seafood stew, in a kind of taco!

Roasted salmon…

Seabass (we’re all about the fish today)

We also made room for pudding, even in the heat.

Crème brûlée

A huge slab of tiramisu…

Massive profiteroles!

A very modern apple tart.

And a beautiful pannacotta.

We loved it here so much we decided to return on our last day, and sadly for us it was closed for a wedding (what a spot for it!), however they also have a more casual restaurant next door on the beach so we went there… and I’ll share that with you tomorrow!

If you are in the area go and spend a day here, it’s lovely. I imagine in high season it is the place to be but it was dead quiet in the pool when we were there, I am booking my ticket for next September now!

No Solo Agua Club

Dil Se

October 7, 2011

Dil Se is a vegetarian Indian restaurant at the very top of Gloucester Road that my friend Sarah discovered last year.

It is a set menu and for £12 you get a lot of food, Sarah raved about this place and one very WET Thursday we finally made it there together.

And to make it even better it is bring your own, although they do ask for a small corkage charge.

So for the set menu you get… popodoms and hula hoop-dums, weird but tasty colourful hoops for your…

Homemade mango chutney, and lime pickle (very hot) and the standard onion salad. All wonderful, I want that mango chutney in my cupboard.

The starter is the only course you choose, the Husband ordered this, but I cannot remember what it is! It was a kind of potato dish with coconut and pomegranate and was delicious. It was cold which was a surprise but I am definitely getting this next time!

Jim ordered what we shall called the Indian pizza, and said it was hot. I like this idea I might have to make an Indian pizza for the Boys soon.

And Sarah and I ordered the Dosa, a house speciality which was amazing. I love Dosa’s!

Then for your mains they just bring a selection of yummy dishes for you all to share. They did offer to bring more once we had finished and although stuffed we did ask for more of our favourites.

We are greedy.

There was a spicy aubergine curry, a paneer curry which was my favourite and my first taste of the Indian cheese.

A quite wet dhal, which I have been told is how dhal normally is, this was also fairly mild but delicious.

There was also a potato and pea dish which was another favourite and got gobbled up very quickly.

Then when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite they brought us some Indian sweets.

I have to admit I am not really into these but everyone else enjoyed them, and I did like the fake watermelon shapes, very cute.

I just had a scoop of banana ice cream. My favourite ice cream of all time.

Love our handwritten bill!

Thanks to Sarah and Jim for sharing a great little spot, I cannot wait to go back.

I really love it here, you really feel like you are eating freshly prepared, authentic food it is almost like you are in someones home. Go!

Dil Se