Pizza

Date night at Stef’s Oregano

I wrote about my visit to Stef’s Oregano in my roundup post but the meal was so good I thought it justified it's own post too! I'm always a bit stuck for restaurant recommendations whenever someone asks me so I'm trying to build up a bit of a list for myself. I found out about Stef's after a really quick Google for 'food places in Islington'. We had a walk down towards Angel and looked in at a few menus on the way. Stef's stood out to us though as it was just off the main road and seemed welcoming. The biggest issue I had with the meal was the fact that I wanted to try EVERYTHING on the menu. And I mean everything. We took a bazillion years to decide what we actually wanted and even then, we shared each course so we could try double. 

Stef’s Oregano

We started off with a giant bottle of beer - something I'd not noticed on any other menu before. It was quite fun and tasted good too. We were torn between Salsiccia Toscana (a spicy sausage thing), Fungi Misti (garlic and white wine wild mushrooms) and any of the bruschettas. We eventually picked Crostini al Crudo and a started portion of the seafood linguine (which is usually a main). We had a bottle of the Pinot Grigio alongside it too.

Stef’s Oregano

For main we had a spinach, ham and ricotta calzone and the Paesana pizza (anchovies, ham, capers and olives). The food was wonderful and exactly what we wanted. I can't remember the last time we'd been out for a proper Italian (as opposed to grabbing a quick pizza in a pub). Oh, and I should mention the service too, our waiter was really nice and thoughtful. He brought us extra sauce for the calzone when we ran out and even used the table next to us for our wine and water when we ran out of space. All the staff there seemed really happy to be there and that's something that makes a massive difference to my meal. I think Italian is my favourite food to go out for and Stef’s Oregano may just by my new favourite local!

Thai Square food and wine

Munching my way through the set menu at Thai Square

The other week I found myself sat surrounded by delicious food in front of my sister in law, catching up over a bottle of wine. Every time we grab a drink or dinner together we always say the standard 'let's do it again' line. Except we don't; does anyone really stick to that line? That's why, when I got asked to check out Thai Square, I knew exactly who to take with me, India, the person who introduced me to Thai food. It was the ultimate taste test.

Thai Square cocktails

As we arrived the staff welcomed us with beaming smiles and sat us down at our table with some cocktails. Then the food started to arrive, and boy was there a lot of food. We sampled all of the goodies on Thai Square Platinum set menu which included two starters - aromatic duck rolls followed by Hoi Shell Rad Gang Kiew (thai green scallops). I love duck rolls, in fact, I would have been perfectly happy if the entire meal was just duck rolls. Did I mention that I love duck rolls? Okay good.The scallops were the perfect dish to distract me from the tasty tasty duck rolls. I love scallops but have never had them in thai green sauce before, it was, interesting.

Duck and scallops

Next up was the mains. We had Green Prawn Curry, Phed Makhem (duck with a tamarind sauce), Stir Fried prawns and Scallops and Weeping Tiger (marinated beef in a secret chilli sauce). Don't forget the sides too! These were egg fried noodles and vegetables, pak choi in a special sauce and steamed jasmine rice. All together that's a lot of food. But a lot of good food.

Thai Square food

I love meals where you can take bits of everything and just share it all. Dinner is so much more fun when you get to taste little bits of everything. That's exactly what we did. Except then we kept eating, and eating, and eating until we were a long way past full but everything was just so damn tasty! We'd worked through everything on the set menu of four courses which for £36.50 each is pretty good value.

In fact I could tell all of the above by the note that I left myself on the way home saying: Thai food = good food!

Thai Square

Brighton

My May Highlights

Wow, how is it June already? Where did May go? I mean seriously?! Did someone knock me out for half of the year? I feel like it’s been a grotty winter and then BOOM over the past few weeks the sunshine has been making an (unfashionable late) appearance.

As I did in April I thought I’d share my May highlights with you. Because it makes me feel damn proud and happy to look back at the fun things I've done.

Gin Garden

Charlie and I headed down to The Gun in Canary Wharf one evening to check out the opening of their gin garden. As promised there was a lot of gin and other drinks. The garden looked like good fun with grass floor and lawn games. It would have been perfect to sit and have an evening tipple or two (or three) in the sunshine. Except it wasn’t sunny. It was actually bitterly cold. Damn British weather! I’m hoping head back when it’s a little warmer so I can chill out watching the view.

Gin garden

Brighton weekend

I had a bit of a spontaneous night out in Brighton with my cousin Sarah (if you haven’t checked out her Instagram DO IT, the food she posts will make you start eating all sorts of healthy things). The night was anything but healthy with a whole lot of gin and sweet potato crisps and falafel. Although the morning was my favourite part. After catching only a few hours sleep we both headed down to the beach to sit and watch the waves. After, we walked around the lanes and grabbed a smoothie from Guaranaco. It was pretty early so the rest of Brighton hadn’t woken up, it felt like we had the town to ourselves, free to explore.

Harry Potter at the Royal Albert Hall

I have to admit something. Now this may come as a shock but I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan. And by that I mean I don’t know what house I’m in, I get 0 in any quiz you ask me and haven’t read all of the books. When I was younger I loved the books but I lost interest as I got older and never really made the effort to stay into it. Okay, big reveal over. I headed to the Royal Albert Hall to watch Harry Potter but what I got was a lot more. I knew about the orchestra playing the music live but it was such a cool experience. I was genuinely amazed at how good they were. Even the choir who were oooohing and ahhhhhing at the right sections - it didn’t even sound like humans making those noises! It sounded exactly like the film.

Harry Potter

Eat off the menu

I was invited for dinner with Charley and a bunch of bloggers the other week. We all met at Zayane which is a Moroccan restaurant in Notting Hill. The reason we were there was to try out the food but also to learn more about Eat of the Menu. This was started by Alex and aims to scour the city to find the secret dishes served by top restaurants which aren’t on the menu. Each dish has a story behind it and we tried the Zayane’s British twist on a Moroccan classic which was a Bakoula salad with red olives, tomatoes and cod.

Sushi making

More food! Last week Charlie and I headed off to Murakumi in Covent Garden for a sushi making lesson. The head chef, Rey Sabinos, taught us how to roll California rolls and make Nigiri. I love making sushi but this was my first proper lesson so I picked up a few tips - mainly how to make the rolls square (like this lil cutie). I’ve been meaning to share a post around sushi making so watch this space!

Sushi

Brighton (again) and Southend

Alongside all of that we’ve finally managed to finish decorating our bedroom (post to come!). We spend most weeknights last week putting our bed back together and putting up wardrobes. We decided to celebrate by getting out of the house and going for a day trip to sunny Brighton. Except it wasn’t sunny at all. In fact it was bloody freezing!

Our luck didn’t change much the next day when we went to Southend to see Charlie’s grandpa for dinner. As soon as we stepped off the train the sky turned into what I can only presume was an attempt at an apocalypse! Still, it was nice to escape London and get out in the fresh air.

Meditation

Meditation isn’t all zen-like hippy shit

Meditation isn’t all zen-like hippy shit. It’s actually very useful for your mind, mental health and focus. It’s something everyone should have a go at once or twice. I started looking into meditation for probably the same reason you did, it became fashionable and I thought ‘what the hell is this? Do I have to sit crossed legged up a mountain or something?!’. After a friend recommended me to the Headspace app, I used it a few times, felt good and then got bored. I think I worked through all ten recommended sessions but I didn't do them back to back like you're supposed to. Taking ten minutes out of my day was just too much - yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds but that was my thinking. And this is precisely the reason why you should meditate. This year I’ve been using the Calm app to give me guided meditation sessions and it’s made a big difference to my mind.

Relaxing sea

But firstly, what is meditation?

Wikipedia states that meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realise some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.

This is quite interesting as I’ve never actually looked up the definition before. For me I’d say meditation is a state of calm and relaxing which trains your mind to focus on the present moment. It can help your mind become more positive and focussed as you train to recognise when stress and negativity are trying to take over. It makes you turn off from the past and not worry about the future, it encourages you to be in the present moment and live in it, enjoy it.

How does it help?

Taking five or ten minutes of meditation each morning before going to work helps focus my mind on the tasks I have to do that day. Before I started meditating I’d have a million and one things running through my head and would very easily get distracted. Now, I can zone out from all of those thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. If a thought crops up about something I should do, I simply write it on a post-it to think about later. 

It’s also really enjoyable to do. A few times I’ve lit some incense, turned my lights onto blue and sat there silently for a while concentrating on my breathing. I’ve made my own little zen world (okay, maybe this is turning it more into the hippy-shit I mentioned it not being earlier). Thoughts come and go but my focus is on sitting still and enjoying the moment. When my life is pretty much rushing around from one thing to another, this chills me out and gives me time and space to zone out. 

Whatever big or small reason you have for trying out meditation for the first time is, just give it a go. if you’re eating healthily and going to the gym then you’re training your body. Why not take some time and train your mind too? One thing to remember whenever you meditate is that some days will be better than others. There’s some mornings when I sit there thinking about how I can’t concentrate and how I’m not turning off all the thoughts buzzing around my brain. This is fine too. Accept that this isn’t the best meditation session you’ve ever had and be okay with that. After all, at least you took the time out and that’s still better for you than nothing. 

Calm photo