There are many layers to London’s beauty. One of them are the culinary journeys you can take without having to leave this fabulous city.

A few weeks ago while London was basking in the heat of the summer’s sun I visited Eneko; a new modern Basque restaurant nestled inside the elegant One Aldwych hotel.

While I chose a glass of Champagne to start our five-course brunch with, OH chose the G22 by Gorka Izagirre served exclusively at Eneko. This clean and complex wine was a delight to try so much so I had to order a glass for myself later on.

And while Little Man tucked into his kids’ menu …

OH and I started our brunch with the beautiful Traditional Talo, made of crispy corn talo, heritage tomatoes and basil emulsion. It was fresh on the palate and as tasty was it was picture perfect.

Next on the menu was the Cerdito Caliente “Hot Hog” which involved Iberico ham and mushroom duxelle in a Basque muffin. This probably wasn’t a dish I would have looked at ordering but upon taking the first bite it was one I enjoyed instantly and had no problem finishing.

The next course was a lighter and just as flavoursome Egg Yolks Tempura with creamy potatoes and confit vegetables while …

… the fourth course allowed for a choice between three dishes:

The Txuleta (below), which OH ordered. Organic Rhug Estate rib of beef and spring onion salad …

The duck breast with green Gernika peppers, which I enjoyed thoroughly …

… with some chips on the side.

And monkfish with garlic, chilli and parsley, which also sounded great.

The fifth and final dish on the Eneko’s brunch menu is the Torrija; a Basque vanilla sponge, with caramel crumble ice cream, which was so good and the perfect ending to this most wonderful meal.

While OH enjoyed his vanilla sponge dessert, I chose the rose marshmallow with strawberry sorbet – which isn’t on the set menu.

The whole experience at Eneko was such a pleasure. The friendly staff were fantastic especially with Little Man patiently sitting through our five courses (and some exploring thrown in). I’ve never taken an iPad to a restaurant or pulled my iPhone out to entertain so this was Little Man’s biggest restaurant challenge, which he excelled at. I was so impressed especially as it’s so easy to lose track of time with Eneko’s stylish and airy interior.

Eneko, 1 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ

*We were invited as guests of the restaurant but hand on heart Eneko’s weekend brunch menu is real treat. 

There’s a new’ish place on the King’s Road for meat lovers. Or more specifically, jamon fans. It’s called Casa Manolo and recently I paid a long overdue visit with Gary from The Foodaholic. With both of us living locally, it was the obvious choice for our first catch-up since our original meeting. Plus it was the latest Chelsea opening, which we both had to check out.

Casa Manola King's Road

Located halfway down the King’s Road, a few doors along from The Ivy Chelsea Garden and almost opposite Sydney street, Casa Manolo is a jamon and … Casa Manola King's Road

… and wine shop where you can also … Casa Manola King's Road

… pick up some cheese and wonderful anchovies as spotted by Gary. I can’t remember where they come from but if love anchovies (which I do), it’s worth stopping by to have a look.
Casa Manola King's Road

As well as the store, there are also stools which you can perch on to order something from the menu. To start with, I ordered a glass of Rioja which was gorgeous. Deep in body and rich in flavour. Casa Manola King's Road

And whilst we waited for our food, we were served a black pudding-esque amuse-bouche which I surprisingly enjoyed. Casa Manola King's Road

For our starters, Gary and I had some bread with tomato sauce. Needless to say with such a description, I was enjoying the conversation too much to scribble down the precise names of each dish. Apologies.Casa Manola King's Road

We also chose some jamon. It’d be very very wrong not to. And along with the wine, this was exactly what I wanted from the evening. Something light but satisfying in every way. Casa Manola King's Road

Gary had ordered the prawns dish for his main. Admittedly these weren’t identical to the Twitter snapshot making its rounds as I learned. But I tasted the sauce which had a lot more depth than your average garlic butter. It had substance and I loved it.Casa Manola King's Road

Me? I ordered the duck leg because as soon as we sat down I saw a man enjoying his dish and I simply asked for ‘whatever he’s having’. Casa Manola King's Road

The menu here is very simple and authentic. For the time you are sitting down you do feel as if you’ve walked in off the streets of Madrid. Casa Manola King's Road

But it’s not just the setting, the food and wine that make this place authentic. Most of the staff are also from Madrid and a lot of their charm is that they are new to London too. This just adds to the feeling that you could easily be wining and dining in Spain.

Casa Manolo, 187 King’s Road, London SW3 5EB. 
Chelsea Girl

Last week I was completely stuck for ideas on where to treat OH for Father’s Day. I’d already booked a fantastic place for his birthday which is next week and I was feeling perhaps I should go for an entirely different mood – something fun but yet still foodie. In the end an inspired moment lead me to book our tickets to Taste of London. After all with so much choice around, surely there’d be plenty for him to enjoy and then some, I thought.

Taste of LondonOf course when you arrive at Regent’s Park you find yourself spoilt for choice. The range of restaurants, retailers and drinks stands is enormous. And you either wing it and try as much as you can or you head straight for the ones you know you want to try.

Taste of LondonAs for me, I knew which stands I wanted to try because I like using Taste of London to test out restaurants I’ve been meaning to visit for a little taster.

One of my favourite dishes was by far José Pizarro’s octopus with creamy potato, pimentón and egg caviar. The octopus was cooked in a way I’d never tried before, melt in your mouth succulent. Just beautiful. So much so, I can’t believe I’ve not yet visited any of José Pizarro’s restaurants. Something I want to fix as soon as possible.

Taste of London

Another big win for both myself and OH were ROKA’s baby chicken with lemon, miso and soy as well as lamb cutlets with Korean spices.

Taste of LondonOur Little Man was along for the ride and even he gnawed away at the lamb as much as he could. ‘Spicy’ he yelled at one point before he kept on gnawing.

Taste of London

Another dish we tried was the award-winning Draper’s Arms pork belly with gooseberry, fennel and crackling. What struck me most was the surprising burst of flavours you don’t expect to go with pork as well as the array of colours when you dig in. I loved the gooseberry touch especially. 
Taste of London-7

Marcus Wareing’s Tredwell’s was also on the menu. The OH had the pulled pork slider which he remarked on its sweetness as a pleasant surprise.

Taste of London

… whilst I had the chicken liver mousse, bacon jam and toast. But I didn’t get to enjoy this as much as I could have because Little Man’s fingers were all over it. He wasn’t too keen on the mousse but of course he loved the toast, which he felt compelled to dip into the chicken liver more than a couple of times. All a bit messy in the end.

Taste of LondonNeither OH or I had anything sweet, which is so weird – for me, anyway. But we did enjoy a few drinks. Amongst them were Kold Cocktails’ mojito.

Taste of London

If you’re a regular at Duke of York’s Saturday Fine Food Market you may know Kold Cocktails very well.

Taste of London

They’ve been away for a couple of weeks because they’ve been at a few foodie events including this one. So I’m looking forward to seeing them back in Chelsea soon.

Another drink I enjoyed was the Chase Rhubarb Gin Fizz. I love Chase vodka and this was another refreshing drink I needed for this warm Sunday.

Taste of LondonAll in all Father’s Day was a success. And if today was anything to go by I think father and son already have a shared passion. They’re both true foodies, that’s for sure.

Chelsea Girl

I popped into Casa Brindisa in South Kensington recently. It had taken me so long to try this place out because in terms of local tapas, I don’t think you can get much better than the trio of Cambio de Tercio restaurants on Old Brompton Road.

But given Casa Brindisa’s close proximity to where we were when we decided to find somewhere to eat – pronto, we decided to give it a go … and we weren’t disappointed. 
Casa Brindisa

For drinks, I stuck to the Valenciso Reserva 2007 Rioja – just a responsible couple of glasses on a Sunday evening.
Casa Brindisa

And for our tapas dishes, we ordered the patatas bravas … Casa Brindisa

Garlic prawns with chilli … (It’s worth holding onto the dish when the prawns are finished to dip your bread into.)
Casa Brindisa

Octopus leg on garlic mash which was SO good. The freshness of the octopus and the flavours of this meaty dish made me very pleased we had decided to try this place.

Casa Brindisa

We also shared the chorizo on toast … Casa Brindisa

And finally, a chicken dish which was a lightly zesty alternative to the other dishes which had deeper flavours.

Casa BrindisaThe restaurant was packed and buzzy and no wonder why. The food is dependable and the wine recommendation hit the spot.

There are a few of these restaurants in London: Soho, Shoreditch and London Bridge, along with the South Kensington one. And if I fancied tapas again and was anywhere near the other locations, I would consider popping in.

Casa Brindisa, 7-9 Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2HE.

I LOVE olives! You probably know that if you’ve read about my favourite martini. So it was a great pleasure to accept an invitation from Olives From Spain and the Friday Food Club to attend their event last night.

Our host was Omar Allibhoy who you may know as the Head Chef at El Pirata de Tapas on Westbourne Grove. Trained at El Bulli under Ferran Adria and later at Gordan Ramsay’s Maze under Jason Atherton, Omar is also the ambassador for Olives From Spain.

Omar kicked off the night with a cooking demo, showing us how to make a couple of marinated olive dishes as well as a Spanish Omelette with chorizo and olives.

Omar showed us how to spice up our olive dishes and how omelettes don’t have to be plain. And I am very much inspired to try these dishes at home, which I will do soon.

The night continued with an olive inspired menu created by Omar. For starters we were served a salad which included sardines and artichokes, as well as olives of course.

To follow, we were served Spanish Omelette along with a chicken stew and sea bass dish.

And finally, we had black olive chocolate truffles for dessert. These truffles were surprisingly gooey but yet slightly textured because of the olives.

Every dish was so different and the variety of flavours proved how versatile olives can be. But whilst I am familiar with having olives in stews and salads, it has never crossed my mind to consider them in desserts or in an omelette.

For the record, the black olive chocolate truffles with a glass of Gran Barquero Pedro Ximénez are a wonderful match.

Thank you Olives From Spain and Omar for such a delightful evening. I am utterly inspired!

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