26 May 2016

Flour & Ash – Bristol

Flour & Ash was the first place I ate when I moved to Bristol, and because memories are more vivid when there's food involved, I like to think this was one of the more poignant moments in my life. But even if you aren't sharing a pizza and a bottle of wine with your mum, crying at the prospect of leaving home (for the second time) to live in a city not even an hour away from home, I promise you're going to love Flour & Ash.

It's simple – in the kitchen is a massive wood-fired oven in which hand-stretched sourdough pizzas are cooked to charred, chewy, crispy perfection. Paired with the most incredible toppings and unusual combinations are pizzas unlike anything else you'll taste in the UK. I'm not exaggerating. Pizza is Flour & Ash's thing, and ice cream is the only dessert on the menu – but we'll get to that later.

On this particular evening I was out with my mum and dad (no tears this time). My dad ordered the prawns and my mum and I the polenta chips to start. The polenta chips – with truffle & parmesan – were crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, light and rich all at the same time and put Jamie's Italian offering to shame. I could eat a whole plate of these for dinner and die happy. But we ordered pizza, of course.

What's great about Flour & Ash is that they have vegan and tomato-free options, and Mum's leek & pancetta pizza was a creamy bechamel number which was just out-of-this-world delicious. These are a lot richer than the tomato sauce pizzas, bu irresistable in their indulgence. I picked the spicy chorizo pizza which had this fresh, creamy cheese on top – not unlike buffalo mozzarella – and it was one of my favourites to date. It was very spicy so I had to save some and take it home with me, but it tasted even better cold the next day.

Sourdough is the kind of bread that I could just eat and eat and eat. It's deliciously moreish and paired with the toppings make the best pizza I've ever had outside of Italy. Their ice cream – at £3 a flavour – is also fantastic, with quirky flavours such as cardamom, basil, bayleaf, and blackcurrant sorbet, to name a few. What's more – they do a £9 deal before 6.30pm every day, including lunchtimes. Flour & Ash has got the art of authentic Italian food spot on, and along with the fantastic service and warm atmosphere, it's got to be one of the best. I've yet to find a better offering, anyway.


12 May 2016

Sticks & Broth – Bristol

Ramen in Bristol – it's a thing. I'm not sure how long Sticks & Broth has been around but I sure wish I'd found it sooner. It is my absolute favourite place to go out for lunch in the city centre and for the price (£6.50 menu between 12 and 4!) it is unbeatable for authentic Japanese food.

My good friend Elly came to visit me agggges ago and I knew she'd love Sticks & Broth as much as I do – we both lost our ramen virginities when we visited Bone Daddies last year.

The house ramen is my favourite, but recently I've been loving their curry don; japanese curry sauce, rice & salad with either katsu chicken or grilled tofu. I had the katsu chicken and it came with a generous helping of my favourite pickled ginger. If you love that stuff as much as I do there's a bowl of it on the table for you to go crazy over, as well as your very own garlic and crusher,
I also had a Fentiman's rose lemonade – this is the best soft drink in the world IMO and it pairs especially well with Japanese food.

Sticks & Broth takes the top spot for best katsu curry in Bristol, too – and I've tried a lot of katsu curries. The chicken was crispy, the rice sticky and the sauce perfect in flavour and spice. Every time I finish a bowl of curry don I want another one, but then the afternoon slump hits me and I'm ready for a nap :)

It's easy to get lured in by the plethora of chains in Bristol city centre, but there are so many hidden gems among these streets and Sticks & Broth is one you should seek out. You'll pay less, eat more and enjoy a much more authentic experience – I think, anyway.


5 May 2016

New York Savoury Bites

When eating in New York there can be no ifs or buts, no eliminations – we had to go all out and make the most of it. As a result we ate some of the best food we'd tasted in our lives. Forget the sugar, fat, calories, salt – for five days we ate exactly what we wanted when we wanted, which meant cupcakes and doughnuts for breakfast and cookies and crisps for dinner at 11 o'clock at night. Holidays are for treats, and these were some I'll never forget. What's better than that? Not a whole lot, I've decided.

PJ Clarke's – 44 West 63rd Street

Unpretentious, good quality American food in a relaxed environment – that's PJ Clarke's in a nutshell. Here New Yorkers enjoy casual mid-week lunches, complete with cocktails, and we tried our best to fit in. But really, we weren't subtle about soaking up every second of our visit to PJ Clarke's – it was a real treat. Slightly more expensive than your standard gastro pub, PJ Clarke's would probably be the place to go for a Birthday lunch or some other celebration – but nonetheless, we loved our authentic American eating experience and our sandwiches were some of the best we had ever had.

I chose the turkey club 'banh mi' – which came with cucumber, pickled carrots (my new favourite thing), coriander and chili mayo (yum!!) – and Jess had the stacked corned beef Reuben with homemade 'white kraut and swiss'. Both came with crisps and were $19 each plus tax and tips. Pricey, but when in Rome...

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina – Located in Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave

My mum insisted we go to Chelsea Market – it had been the highlight of her visit to New York last summer – so we made time to fit it into our trip, and I'm so glad we did. This market is a must-visit for any foodie. But I warn you now, you'll be stuck choosing what to eat for a long time.

I went back to the first restaurant I passed in the market's entrance – Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina. There was so much pasta, I just couldn't help myself.

I had the wild mushroom girasoli with pesto, Parmesan and mixed vegetables on the recommendation of the guy behind the counter – what friendly people live in New York!

I got a green juice (sooo good) to match my green pasta and sat out on the street with Jess, enjoying the February sunshine while eating my fantastic lunch.

Black Tap529 Broome Street, Soho

This blog is turning into quite a lengthy one, but stay with me. Jess and I queued for 1 hour and 45 minutes for a table at Black Tap, yep, that burger and milkshake place the world's gone mad for on Instagram

But really, for cheese like that I'd wait all day. And as if our ah-mazin burgers weren't enough, we got a sweet and salty shake to share for afters.

Pretty epic.

So, we ate all the cream, most of the m&ms, had a bite each of the pretzel stick, and drank, perhaps, a fifth of the actual milkshake. It was sweet, it was salty, it was everything we ever dreamed of, but we were defeated. Hats off to the guys and gals drinking (eating?) entire milkshakes to themselves.

Vanessa's Dumplings220 East 14th Street

Last but not least is the cheapest of our savoury bites, and with our bubble tea, multicoloured dumplings and pork sesame pancakes came a big dollop of New York drama. While eating we got absorbed in a nearby girl's conversation with her friend. She was telling him all about her new boyfriend, but it was obvious the guy she was telling wasn't interested. We tried not to be obvious about it, but once we got sucked in we couldn't not listen. Finding cafes and restaurants where locals meet friends for a gossip is so exciting and different, so authentic, that I just wanted to stay here all day and listen to more conversations. It felt like we'd found the real New York.

As for the food – well, the pork sesame pancake was the star of the show at just $2.99! We watched them make our dumplings – it was $5.49 for eight – two veggie, two chicken, two shrimp and two pork, and $2.99 for bubble tea. I couldn't believe how much we got for how little we paid and it was all great, but if you go for just one thing, you've got to get the sesame pancake sandwich – these are just the bomb diggity.

Like what you've seen? Then check out my NYC sweet treats and top brunch spots! I'm hoping to visit New York again one day and discover even more fantastic food and drink, but until then I'll just enjoy the memories from my most recent visit – which was, unashamedly, dominated by food.

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