.: A whole new journey :.

I’ve always like September, because it’s the beginning of Autumn and the beginning of change. Love the Autumnal light and the change in colours. The rush from summer is gone and everything settles in a more quiet rhythm. New plans are drawn and everything suddenly feels cosier.

What I wasn’t really expecting was the change this September would bring me: my baby daughter! (As I write she’s sleeping quietly by my side). So I’ve just been embracing a whole new journey ahead. Both of us  learning about each other. Our 10 year story as a couple, now being reshaped as a family of 3. Any new parent would probably have this fear: what happens to our life once we have a baby? I certainly did. We loved going out, trying new restaurants, sleep long hours, do whatever we felt like in the moment and we’ve always enjoyed being together, so yes I was quite concern on the effect of our relationship. I know it’s still the beginning, but it’s bringing the best of us and we’re finding we can still be ourselves (as childish as we’ve always been).

This change will impact the blog too. We’ll be eating less out but going out into parks more than we did. We will miss the London city life and the nights out, but we’ll be exploring more around us. So I guess you’ll see a reflection of how much has changed and actually, how much everything can stay exactly the same.

It’s a brand new book with lots of blank pages to be filled in the journeys ahead🙂

.: Exploring Coffee – Nespresso Capsules :.

You know by now I’m crazy about coffee right? (I wonder if baby will be as crazy for coffee as I am, to be discovered later) And although I love to explore new coffee shops, like I’ve been doing around my area (you can read all about it here), I also like to have coffee at home, mostly for breakfast with milk and after lunch as an espresso.

Even though I intend to buy a professional coffee machine at some stage, I use a lot my nespresso. And ever since the patent for the capsules have expired, there are a lot more brands offering their own variety. You can even buy re-usable capsules (such as sealpod), so you can have any coffee as you fancy.

I always have a good Ristretto or Roma at home,

as well as the Vanillo and Caramelito for my morning capuccino, or also to use for cakes / puddings.

But I also like to try a few other options.

What I have tried:

Nicola – Rossio

I always have these at home for my Portuguese friends. Nicola for me is a perfect coffee for milk. It has the flavour of a good “galao” (our latte). You can only get them in Portugal or maybe in some of the Portuguese shops spread in UK.

Cru Capsules

This was the first capsule service I’ve subscribed and I’ve been keeping it ever since. (you can read the review here). I love the fact that the capsules are really consistent and they have really good packaging, not to mention the coffee quality which is really good. They are also really good value for money!

Pact Coffee 

I knew Pact already for their coffee offer, so when I’ve discovered they were doing a kickstarter campaign to release their nespresso compatible capsuled I had to give it a go. Although I’ve really enjoy the quality of the coffee, it felt too inconsistent. Not all the capsules would work correctly and the taste would be a bit of surprise. When it worked it was good though. Also in terms of packaging, they come in an open box, meaning once you open it you have no way of ensuring all the capsules are sealed in a better environment. They are working on a second release of their capsules, after working on all the feedback of the first bunch, so I’m expecting to try them again soon.

Cafe Pod

We found this one in Sainsburys the other day (£2 a box!), so we had to give it a go. We’ve bought the “supercharger”, so he could have a strong punch in the morning. While baby is inside I’ve been avoiding stronger coffees, so the review is based on his feedback

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He says it’s really easy to drink and it doesn’t feel as strong as it claims to be (again take this with a pinch of salt, since we’re used to really bitter and punchy coffee). From the smell, it tastes strong indeed. But we won’t try this one again most likely. Will try their other capsules though.

Taylors

I had seen this one at supermarkets and at amazon, so was quite curious to try. I’ve selected the Brazil variety.

It came out quite creamy, but the cream didn’t last enough. Also after having the first try, I’ve noticed it felt quite a smooth coffee, so I’ve added a bit of milk to my espresso and the flavour was really enhanced. Sounds it’s a good option for my morning capuccino.

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The best relationship ever: Coffee & Dark Chocolate:

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Have bought 2 other brands of capsules, but haven’t tried them yet. Do you use nespresso? Any favourite capsules apart from the branded ones?

.: A coffee week :.

Since I have been on holidays, waiting for baby to be born, I have been staying more often on my area (and that means Chiswich / Kew / Richmond), as I couldn’t risk to go that far (in case baby would decide to get out). But in a way that meant I could visit some of the places I had on my wishlist for a while, or revisit some places I really like.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the last few weeks is to finally catch up with my photos – you probably noticed the posts from Japan popping up recently when I went there in April. Also I’ve been writing and reading a lot more often. When home, I’ve been baking and cooking a lot more often than I ever did, being the carrot cake the winner of the week.

Apart from my daily meditation, I’ve also been doing a couple of hours detox, and by that I mean just not touching either my phone or my computer and spend more time in old-fashion pleasures such as a reading. A good way of doing that is to visit a cafe, order something nice and enjoy a book or if I feel inspired, just write – you can read some of those texts here and here.

Here’s some of the places I’ve been visiting recently:

Angie’s Little Food Shop, Chiswick 

This is a small food shop with a really good bakery selection. They are quite known for the brunch and the delicious salad options, but since I went after lunch was not that hungry. Having read the reviews though, I already knew what I wanted: the toasted banana bread with espresso butter. Such a good option I can tell you! Really tasty banana bread! Coffee was quite good as well

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They also sell their own ceramics, which are quite adorable (you can check the whole range here)

Angie's Little Food Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Outsider tart, Chiswick

This is not my first time here. It’s actually one of my favourite places to enjoy a good brownie/ cheesecake and write. On the weekends it’s really busy, as they have really good brunch options, but during the week it feels so quiet (my last review here). I’ve already tried the pancakes and they are absolutely delicious.

Photo from google

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I can’t be bored of this place. Love it every single time I go there.

You can also buy some really interesting groceries there

Photo from google

Including their own American Bakery book

(Also available on amazon)

Outsider Tart Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Muriels Kitchen, Richmond

I actually went to Muriel’s Kitchen the first time for their afternoon tea (you can read all about it here), and because I loved the scones so much I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be back again for more.

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Again, was positively impressed by the friendly staff. They really make you feel welcome! Just for that alone (and because they still have a lot of cakes for me to try) I’m sure I’ll be back.

Nikki’s Bakery, Chiswick

This was also one place on my wishlist for a while. Located in Chiswick High Road, it always felt like a lovely place to get a good cake and coffee. As I can’t have that much coffee, I ended up going for a tea instead. Having read the reviews in advance, I was planning for a Carrot Cake, but as they didn’t had it that day went for the lemon cake instead.

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The cake was really fresh and delicious, although I have to say the icing was a bit too sweet for me (note that I’m the type of person that always reduces the amount of sugar in any bakery recipes I do at home)

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It was a really good place to enjoy a bit of reading in a summer day. Love the china as well. Before going back home, I’ve bought one of their breads which was quite fresh and tasty.

Nikki's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What is your favourite place to go for a coffee and something sweet?

.: Kalamari @ Chiswick :.

If there is a food that reminds me of home that’s calamari. I love Octopus and Squid. It’s a shame that it’s so hard to get it here in UK and if you do it tends to be fried. Although I love fried calamari (our own version of fish and chips is fried Squid (choco frito)):

I prefer Mediterranean style. My grandma used to do a delicious stuffed calamari with rice and spinach inside. Or the fresh Octopus salad

Or the oven baked Octopus (with lots of garlic, olive oil and coriander). This is a thing from the heavens (the dish is called Polvo a Lagareiro).

Because I haven’t been in Portugal for a while now – last time I was there was in march – I found myself craving for this type of food. So we’ve decided that before baby decides to come out, we had to go to a Greek restaurant I had on my wishlist for ages: Kalamari. Normally, when people go to a greek restaurant they are thinking about the houmous, the grilled halloumi and tapas in general. But, as the name suggests, they actually have a few calamari dishes which I was really craving for.

Kalamari is conveniently located in the Chiswich High Road, in the boarder with Hammersmith. The restaurant has a classic greek decor and it wasn’t that busy at all (midweek dinner I guess). So we felt quite peaceful and relaxed

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I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed the family feeling. It’s not a pretentious place, but one where you would expect to get an honest meal.

We’ve started with the octopus salad – which to me it’s not as good as the portuguese version – but the octopus was really well cooked and the salad nicely seasoned. Ah, oh I was missing this type of food!

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Then we’ve both decided to go for the calamari dishes. He went for the calamari grilled steak and I went for the stuffed calamari (again reminding myself of my grandma’s dish)

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It was really nice! I still prefer my grandma’s version, but I just couldn’t stop smiling by the realisation how much honest good food is important for me. We were both stuffed, but I wanted something sweet, so we’ve decided to share an ice cream

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Which again was really fresh.

I left with a smile on my face for having enjoyed a dinner that remind me of home, and sometimes that’s all you need!

Kalamari Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Which food do you crave the most from your childhood?

 

.: Simple pleasures – Home Cooking :.

I have been doing a lot of cooking recently, since I’m still on holiday. For a while I was fancying some pizza (especially after writing my Childhood food memories post). Even though the temptation would be to visit Franco Manca I’ve decided to revive those memories and bake everything from the scratch.

This time decided to follow Gennaro’s Chloe Pizza recipe (from the family book available on amazon here). He has a similar recipe in the video below

In the video he cuts the dough in 4 part, whereas in the book for the same quantity he does it only twice. If you like thin crisp pizza, then 4 is the way to go (I’ve done it only twice).

Because I need to eat quite a lot of protein these days, mine has Vine Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and grilled chicken. I actually prefer a simple margherita with mushrooms on top.

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While the dough was resting I had time to prepare some ice cream. I’ve used 2 frozen bananas + frozen red fruits. Then I remembered that I still had a bit of nutella to top it up. The ice cream tastes like a banana & strawberry smoothie. Apart from the bit of nutella, there’s no added sugar. So guilt free ice cream

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I know it feels great to explore new restaurants, but sometimes all I crave is for home made food🙂 What do you like to cook at home?

.: Exploring Bibury :.

Bibury is one of those magical places in the Cotswolds that everyone should try to visit at least once. It feels like a travel back in time. It’s also considered one of the most charming villages in UK, and I can see why!

Photo from google

So it had been in my wishlist for a while. I had already visited a few other places in the Cotswolds (like Bourton on the water or the wildlife park), but not yet Bibury. So on our way from Wales back home, we had to stop over to explore it

First we’ve stopped at The Swan Hotel for lunch and we couldn’t resist a cottage pie. I love a good pie!

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Such a beautiful place isn’t it? Then our pie arrived. Really fresh vegetables and such a tasty and filling pie!

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After lunch we were ready for a walk in Bibury. Even if it was going to be a small walk (because the village itself is quite small), it was meant to be such a pleasant one

This place looks like out of a children’s fairy tale. Absolutely beautiful!

Have you been in Bibury before? What’s your favourite village in UK?

.: Childhood food memories:.

If there’s one thing I truly love that is food. It’s one of the main reasons why I like to explore around (and again you know my definition of exploring means both next door as well as travel away). I guess this is also a reflection of the country I grew up: Portugal. Food is part of our culture. It’s always a reason to gather friends and celebrate.

I was actually shocked by the fact that in London English people rarely invite others home and cook together a meal. From one hand I suspect that’s because of the lack of space, not everyone can afford to rent a flat, and a flat that allows some space for friends to come over. I recognise that. But after talking to a few guys at work, it’s simply not so much the culture either. When people want to see friends they will go mostly to a pub or a nice restaurant. I admit it’s way more convenient! The other thing that took me a while to guess used to was drinks after work: how can one stand hours standing and drinking and no food? Once I’ve finally learnt it, I’ve started to eat before going to the social drinks and not to stay that late so I could still grab a proper dinner.

One of the things I missed the most about living in Lisbon, is to gather friends around in my flat, have a meal together and some drinks too. I’ve started to do that over the last few years, but if I circle around my group of friends most of them are expats same as me! Although I love to try new restaurants (and London is such a paradise for that!!!) I find myself craving for the simplest foods and again that’s because at home we would eat simple. No fuss, just using ingredients from our backyard (which my granddad still maintains!). There was a point my grandma also had chickens and ducks, so I was spoiled with this amazing fresh food all around me. We would also go to the city and buy fish as it would arrive from the fisherman. And whatever my grandparents didn’t have they would exchange with the neighbours. They still do that and I find it’s absolutely beautiful! Oh, I feel that I’m being teleported back in time, to my own childhood memories.

Scrambled Eggs

So I was absolutely spoiled food-wise, mostly by my grandma and there was a point I was a bit picky with the food. On the days they would cook grilled sardines (which I hate since I remember even if I really love the smell), my grandma would always prepare scrambled eggs for us. And I can’t think of better scrambled eggs than those with fresh eggs! (probably those available since the morning from her chicken!) It’s no wonder scrambled eggs is one of my favourite brunches! My sister is crazy about them as I am. In the meantime I’ve upgraded her version by using chopped cherry tomato, but it still makes me smile as both of us would try to finish soup or whatever so we could then get our hands on the eggs!

Spaghetti Tomato

My grandma, my dad and me are crazy about spaghetti tomato. Seriously, if there’s a food I crave quite often this is it. And I mean, it’s literally just that, fresh pasta and tomato sauce using the tomatoes from our garden (which up to this point, I never found any better than those out there!) I could eat this every single day! She would then sparkle it with coriander… ah so delicious! My mom says I really love pasta because at the time she was pregnant of me she was working at an Italian restaurant and she would have access to delicious pasta, pizza, coffee and ice creams. I suspect she’s right because I crave all of that.

Pizza

And I’m not talking about any pizza, I’m talking about the memories of making pizza with my dad. We would prepare everything from the scratch, from the dough to our own sauce creations. We would do a mess in the kitchen and my mom would most likely complain about it, but it was so nice to spend a few hours together in the kitchen talking and preparing pizza. Later on, we’ve ended up using the hand-mixer to make it easier to prepare the dough (with the swirls)

Once I didn’t connected the “swirls” very well into the machine, so when the dough was almost ready, one of the swirls disconnected and went flying straight to the bin with the dough attached to it. We’ve giggled loads on how stupid that was and we had to restart. We had quite a late dinner that night. It still makes me giggle after all these years.

Bread and Olive Oil

I love love love bread. Crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I still remember the sound of the baker’s van as he would deliver fresh bread into our house every day. I would come running down the stairs and feast in the bread, either with butter or after lunch with olive oil. Let’s just say I was not very hungry at the main meals, because I couldn’t resist the bread! My favourite meal was the afternoon one (let’s call it afternoon tea). I would have a glass of fresh milk and 2 huge slices of bread with butter and cheese. Or in some of the festivals we would have access to the stone baked chorizo bread.

Oh so good! Give me bread, good olive oil and I’m happy.

Almond roll

Forget the Swiss roll, this is way way better! My grandma’s bakery is something that will always give me found memories. All her cakes are absolutely amazing, but I have a special place in my heart for her almond roll. In Algarve, most of our sweets have a link to almond, typically almond and eggs, and her roll… ahhh so moist and good! If we would go on a picnic, she would always prepare one. If it was someone’s birthday, she would do it as well. Oh yes, our birthday parties were legendary. I’m sure most of my friends would only come because they would have access to so many good cakes. We would have cakes for weeks around our birthdays. It’s quite silly that I have never attempted to prepare this one, maybe because I don’t want to spoil the memory. Maybe next time will try to skype with her so she can guide me through, as her recipe book is like Mary Berry’s instructions, it doesn’t say almost anything!!!

Coffee

I’m sure I’ve shared this a million times, but one of the things I crave the most if coffee. Anything coffee flavoured! My mom would give me a small cup full of milk and add a drop of coffee and I would delight on it. I’m not sure when I’ve started to drink espressos, but way before I had any cravings for wine. Every weekend we would always go out after lunch to a nearby cafe so my parents could have espresso and I would have my milk with coffee (and ice creams in summer time). It’s mostly after lunch that I miss a good strong espresso as it does help digest. And I just love the flavour🙂

Does food brings you back childhood memories? What was your favourite dish back then?