I have been wanting this salad for weeks, I finally spotted some figs at Waitrose last week and went for it…

Not a recipe more of a shopping list type post…

You need;
A slice of tasty bread, I used sourdough, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 10 minutes at a low heat
A good large slice of goats cheese, again backed at a low heat for 5 minutes
Figs, 1 per person, baked, you guessed it, on a low heat for 5-10 minutes
Salad leaves, I like baby leaves.

Plus great olive oil and honey, seat salt and black pepper. I also added some plus tomatoes.

That’s it… so great, the gooey cheese and warm figs with the sweet honey is just a classic combination I love.

It’s also great with blue cheese.

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So we ate some great sushi in Thailand and some amazing sushi in Australia, and admittedly I have never been to Japan but in LA they have taken sushi and made it their own. We ate some ridiculous sushi on our first night at Ozumo which was at the top of a mall in Santa Monica.

Mall food in the US is not our mall food… for a start it was between Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s in Santa Monica Place and it’s a food court full of proper restaurants, and due to people driving most places malls are where you start, as the parking is great.

The restaurant itself is a very glamorous place.

 We started with miso soup and edamame beans… of course…

And some deep-fried squid, again we cannot resist squid. Ever.

The sushi was so pretty… and oh so light.

We picked the house speciality first; Ozumo; which is Maine lobster, mango, jalapeno, and cilantro (coriander) wrapped in tuna with spicy sesame yuzu aioli

I loved their sashimi menu, so exotic, anything you could want was on here.

Then I picked the Shacho which was grilled unagi and cucumber roll topped with crab salad, tuna, avocado and spicy mayo with sweet soy, this was amazing. I have never seen anything like it.

And although we were pretty full at this point we had to try this; the O Rainbow which are California rolls wrapped with soy paper topped with salmon, albacore, unagi, tuna, hamachi, shrimp and spicy scallop… it looked great.

So sushi in LA rocks, it’s made to be light and is the skinny starlets food of choice for a reason, we ate tons of the stuff (and besides the fried squid) all of it was super low fat, low calorie and healthy.

Whats not to love? Now we just need Bristol to catch up!

Ozumo – Santa Monica Place, Los Angeles

animal, Los Angeles

July 26, 2012

So to LA, a place I was very excited to visit. A place I did endless research on, as a blogger I read a lot of other blogs a lot of which hail from this town. However when we were in LA, and we realised how difficult it was going to be to visit all these spots we kind of didn’t… and just explored instead.

The one place I did not let slip was animal, having been recommended by East Side Bride, as the one place you have to go I booked us in when we were in Australia.

My husband was always laughing at me for this, and hates hype so thought it was never going to live up to my expectations. But it really did.

It an unassuming front, in a very cool neighbourhood (that I wish we had found a day earlier, we left the next morning) but the buzz around it was unmistakable.

While we were there countless people dropped by hoping to get in, you really have to book quite far in advance to eat here, they do have 4 seats at the bar too which are for walk-ins but they were full the whole time, you’d have to get lucky.

I loved the menu, (reminds me very much of Flinty Red) just the ingredients are listed and is a sharing plates idea… we had a ton of questions and as always in the US our server was amazing and answered all of them with knowledge.

We started with the chicken liver toast, my husband hates pate but even he enjoyed this. The flavour was insane and that ‘jelly’ on top was tart with the smooth pate. Amazing start.

I also picked the baby kale, pecorino, lemon chilli vinaigrette and breadcrumbs for some greens, but I really loved this salad. Kale is plentiful is California I saw it on so many menus normally served raw with some citrus it’s so fresh and full of flavour. I really need to seek out some good kale now I am home.

A pick from my husband; crispy pigs head with pickled vegetable aioli. Now we are at animal, it is all about the meat but I have to say I was a bit scared of ordering a few things that he wanted… pigs head got through because I had seen it served like this at a restaurant I had worked at… so I just had to not think about what I was eating and get through it.

As soon as I tasted it I forgot. Amazing tender meat and the veggies were great too. We wanted another.

Another pick from me; not meat, it sounded too good, ricotta gnocchi, mikes liver sauce, black trumpet, green garlic.

My H still won’t believe me but it was one of my favourite dishes of the night. I love gnocchi anyway and this was the best I have ever had.

A little peek at the restaurant; very trendy as my H put it… I liked it, very plain but stylish (as were the diners, I saw a lot of louboutins!)

So the next pick was steak; this was the knife we were given. I felt like Crocodile Dundee, this is a knife!

Flat iron (onglet I think) sunchoke hash, truffle parmesan fondue.

This was insane, for a lean steak it was so tender and had so much flavour. Real good meat; the reason you come here. The fondue on top? Beautiful. Man I wish I could have this for breakfast!

The one thing East Side Bride said I had to get (repeatedly on the blog and then on twitter) was the loco moco; foie gras loco moco, quail egg, spam, hamburger.

We had decided on the way over not to get this, both of us feeling a bit squeamish about the foie gras, but having eaten all of the above and feeling like we could possibly fit one more thing in we decided we had to try it, everything else had been so amazing that since this was supposed to be the best thing we couldn’t leave without trying it.

It was so good. We both loved it.

It really was the best thing we ate (along with the gnocchi)

We finished with berries, vanilla custard, lavender crumble, opal basil. A dish so pretty I could barely eat it, and a kind of simple delicious too, much-needed after all the decadence of the meal.

So I guess you can tell I loved animal, definitely lived up to my hype, and huge thanks to East Side Bride for the recommendation… if you are going to LA she has this awesome guide right here

animal – Los Angeles

animal now have a sister restaurant; Son of a Gun, which I think is all about seafood and fish… wish I had know about this!

My last recommendation for New Zealand… Foxglove in Wellington was somewhere we spotted on our first night in town where we had some really great food, then I insisted we came back here on our last day to drink rose on the balcony day beds.

I am so tired in this photo, no make up just my trusty hat.

 I loved the glamorous sign on the side of the building. It’s what hooked me in for sure.

All the decor is cool, the terrace outside… 

 The beautiful green tiles on the bar…

 I loved these brass lamps… hung around record shelving on the stairs.

We drank some Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough with our meal, and later drove past this very vineyard on our trip through.

We ate handcut agria chips with smoked tomato mayo, these were pretty special.

Crispy wasabi salt and pepper calamari with coriander alioli, if squid is on the menu we cannot go without, this was beautiful although we couldn’t really taste the wasabi.

These were my favourite, goats cheese and mozzarella balls centred with apple and manuka honey which you had to squeeze into the ball before you ate it. So fun.

We just ate bar bites, it was late and we had just flown in, but the full on restaurant looked amazing so book in and have a blow out meal then go and sit on the beds upstairs on the deck and look at the stars.

Perfect.

Foxglove – Wellington, New Zealand

One of my must do’s in New Zealand was to visit some vineyards, which I think we could have done more of but since you have to drive everywhere and once you’ve seen some really good ones… it’s more about tasting some great wine then seeing as many as possible.

So on our last day on the south island instead of rushing around trying to see a few different ones, since we couldn’t drink much or buy any wine we decided to go for a blow out lunch instead.

We chose to go to Highfield as the hostel owner said the food was amazing and the setting beautiful, plus the wine is great.

Perfect.

I loved that just beyond the bathrooms you could go onto a viewing platform and check out the wine.

We walked through a small but perfectly formed shop and a lovely dining room straight outside to the patio. 

A beautiful place to eat lunch. 

 The only problem was chosing what to have. I wanted everything. Salmon, rabbit croquettes and cheese. Yes.


Pork belly and beef and local seafood. Yes.

Luckily they have a platter, which had a selection of… everything. Sold. 

Chardonnay or Sauvignon…

 

The perfect setting. At this point I was so gutted to be leaving. Who wouldn’t want this to be on your doorstep? 

 
We ordered a bottle of Chardonnay, my favourite. It was beautiful. We each had a glass with lunch and took the rest back to enjoy with dinner.
 

And then we absolutely stuffed our faces with amazing olive oil, bread and crackers… 

…a Vietnamese style chicken salad, pork belly, marinated beef, mussels, fish, little mini tarts, mini tastes of the soup, dips, fruit, olives and cheese.
 

Big picky lunches like this, in the sunshine with Chardonnay is possibly my favourite way to eat. Tasting lots of little bits is so satisfying.

And somehow we even found room for this delight… a rich chocolate cake with raspberry compote served with mint chocolate chip. Loved this flavour combination.

We even saved a few crumbs for the this little guy, my the birds in New Zealand are cheeky, and very brave.

We loved Highfield and highly recommend you stop here to eat not just taste the wine.

Highfield – Marlborough, New Zealand

This place… 

Is amazing. 

We stayed here for two nights towards the end of our time in New Zealand, read more about it here and about the lodge here.

They make a good cappuccino…

And perfect eggs…  Bacon or smoked salmon… who knew we were in the middle of no-where.

 

On our final morning I ordered french toast with berries and caramelised bananas, have you ever heard of a more decadent breakfast?

 

After our big long bush walk we treated ourselves to a blow out meal in the sunshine.

 

 

My husband ate fish chowder, thick and gloopy and filled with local fish with bacon and a poached egg. Again so decadent.

 

I ate delicious locally caught fish with a beautiful tomato salsa and olive oil potatoes.

 

We finished with a home-made lemon tart and a glass of Sauterne. Perfect.

 
Furneaux Lodge – The Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand 

See more about this leg of the trip here and more about Furneaux Lodge here

You all know I love Lahloo Tea… and it’s Pantry so I won’t go on too much in this post (but seriously have you been yet?)

But I do love them even more after they invited me to their new menu tasting evening…

 

Until recently I pretty much always had the same thing at the Pantry, sometimes wavering to try a new cake, but on my last trip for my God-daughters birthday we all had afternoon tea and it was great, of course. It’s quite different to the normal sandwiches and scones combo so is great if you’ve been there done that.

On this evening they had made cocktails with their tea… my Husband drank bloody mary’s made with their Smoky tea all night…

While I drank rum punch made with White Whisper tea (I think!), delicious. They also served a non-alcoholic cocktail made with Snow Jewel tea.

 

We sat and mingled and the lovely Lahloo lady’s brought round bits and pieces to try.

Our favourite; the rarebit with tomato jam. We ate quite a few of these.

 

A lovely courgette and Homewoods Cheese frittata.

Another one of my favourite, why I didn’t eat more of these I don’t know… homemade jammy dodgers. 100 times better than the ‘real’ thing.

 

Rose and pistachio marshmallows. You should all know how I feel about anything rose by now. (Love)

And so you can see how lovely the set afternoon tea is here is the spread from my Go-daughters birthday…

Artichoke Mousse, Herb Pancake filled with Homewood Cheese’s Ewe’s (such a great idea) and Old Spot Sausage Roll with the tomato jam again. These are the don dadda of sausage rolls. I ate lots of these on both occasions.

 And the sweet stuff! A mini Raspberry and Earl Grey Tart, Lemon Posset (a favourite of mine) with a Matcha biscuit and more of those perfectly soft marshmallows.

All little bites and perfectly formed, and all incorporating their amazing tea. You will leave satisfied not stuffed to the brim.

Their tea menu will be changing monthly, and I will be going back in August for their Matcha menu for sure, it my new obsession.

Lahloo Pantry – Clifton Village, Bristol

Once again thank you for the invitation, any time you need more menus tasted I’ll be there in a flash!