vienna :: naschmarkt & neni

31 October 2014

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I went away for a few days to Vienna (through my inevitably food-centric photos). I was over there visiting my sister who currently lives there, and it was a short but very sweet trip!

As I have been there a few times now, I didn't do much sightseeing - if I had had more time, I would have revisited the Belvedere museum and the Stadtpark for sure, but my few days there were mainly for catching up with my sister and a few lovely friends. And of course, what better way to chitchat and have a laugh than over good food?

I'll be writing about a few restaurants and cafés that I went to this time round, but before I get to that - today is all about Naschmarkt.

It's a well-known market that boasts over 100 stalls, selling everything from fruit to cheese to wine to deli goods. It's always buzzing, the smells wafting around make your mouth water and you get encouraged to try bites of whatever is on offer.

It's also a hub for a variety of restaurants offering different cuisines, including a favourite of ours, Neni. It's a go-to place for my sister and her friends, and I've been there a few times and it never disappoints. Israeli dishes, served up fresh and flavourful. We sat outside as it was completely packed, but under the strong heaters we were just about warm enough - it was worth it! (Even if it meant that our photos turned out a little red.)

No visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to Naschmarkt in my opinion, and if you go at this time of year, grab yourself a bottle or two of Stürm - a common seasonal drink in Austria and parts of Germany and Switzerland, it's wine in the early stages of fermentation. I think it tastes the closest to cider out of any other alcoholic drink I can think of, as it's almost fizzy, with a touch of sweetness and very refreshing. Sis and I took a bottle home and enjoyed it with some Modern Family, a winning combination if you ask me!

More to come on the highlights of my trip, but in the meantime - have you been to Vienna? Or any part of Austria?

e cooks :: courgette, herb & pancetta omelette

29 October 2014

This is one hearty omelette if there ever was one. I love eggs in any shape or form, but I'm always a little reluctant to order omelettes in restaurants - there have been one too many overcooked, dry, flavourless disappointments!

This one is a winner though. Very simple, very flexible, very delicious. E whipped these up recently and they were rich, decadent and perfect for a weekend brunch or lunch.

Incidentally, E makes superb scrambled eggs, and he uses this method. Just FYI!

I will probably always rank smoked salmon as the number one companion for eggs, and you could use it instead of the pancetta used in this recipe. Or sausages, or regular ham... anything goes.

Ingredients (for 2):
6 free range eggs
1 courgette
2 generous handfuls pancetta
1/2-3/4 cup grated gruyere, emmental or comte cheese
2 big spoonfuls crème fraîche
handful of chopped chives
handful of chopped parsley
salt & pepper

To make:
1) Whisk the eggs in a bowl, lightly season. Add the chopped herbs into the eggs, leaving a few parsley leaves for decoration.
2) Pan-fry the pancetta and zucchini (chopped) - separately or together, doesn't really matter.
3) Melt a generous blob of butter on medium heat in a frying pan. Add half of the zucchini and pancetta in the middle of the pan, sprinkle some cheese and top with a big spoonful of crème fraîche.
4) Be careful not to overcook the eggs - if you lift it up, it should be lightly golden but not dry. Fold over on either side, carefully flip it over onto a plate and serve. 

pont st. with zomato

27 October 2014

Last week, the lovely team at Zomato invited 20 bloggers to another of their foodie-central events, this time at the restaurant Pont St in Belgravia. When the exciting email I received mentioned a cooking demonstration by the head chef Sophie Michell (she is the youngest female Executive Chef in the UK and started building her career at the age of 15!), amongst great food, drinks and company, I was all in.

We started off with cocktails in the swanky bar of the Belgraves Hotel where the restaurant is situated - I went for the Lavender Mogul which was sweet but fresh and extremely drinkable. It was a good chance to catch up with a few familiar faces from the previous event I attended by Zomato, as well as meet some new ones. It's always nice to finally talk to the people behind the blogs I read regularly!

After a good bit of chitchatting, we were lead down to the maze-like kitchen downstairs where all the real work happens. Armed with our cameras and smartphones, we gathered around as the chef herself gave us a demo of how she makes fresh butternut squash ravioli, and a brave few tried their hand at it as well! (pictured below: Angie from Silverspoon London, Lucy from Diamondintheashes, Zoe from Love and Limoncello

That definitely whet our appetites for the dinner to follow! As we took our seats upstairs in the restaurant, we found these adorable and very useful packets with all the twitter handles of everyone at the dinner, the full menu, and wine and cocktail details. All made with love by the amazing Alexandra at Zomato!

It's safe to say that we were all impressed by the sheer variety and selection of the starters that were offered. We had sharing plates of pork belly, crudités, carpaccio, sliders, oysters, superfood salads - you name it, we had it. You can see more details of the food in the picture of the menu above.

We all chose a main course ahead of the event, and luckily at my end of the table we all took different ones - meaning we could all take turns photographing each other's dishes. I have to admit, it feels good to be amongst others who patiently take photos of their food before digging in!

Pictured below are Angie's tuna steak, Zoe's lemon sole, Aftab's (from Fresh and Fearless) chicken, and my dish, lobster pasta with bone marrow (not very photogenic unfortunately).

I thoroughly enjoyed my pick - they were generous with the lobster, and the pasta was very al dente which I definitely like.

We had been given so much food for the starter, that we were pretty stuffed by this point. However, we could't exactly leave without any dessert - of which, again, there was plenty.

Along with individual plates of madeleines with lemon curd, there were also platters of flourless chocolate cake, and salted caramel donuts with mini vanilla milkshakes. I am seriously regretting not trying the donuts as they looked so good, but I was up to my ears with food I could't manage!

I definitely stayed longer than I intended after the food was done and dusted, enjoying our wines and chatting away - it really is amazing how a love for food brings people together, and makes for such a great evening with people I would't have met had it not been for this little blog!

I've listed below just some of the blogs by the fellow foodies I got a chance to talk to at the event, and hopefully those that I missed I'll have a chance to see them again soon!

Thank you so much to Zomato for spoiling us rotten, and to Sophie Michell for a lovely evening and all that deliciousness. If you ever need any restaurant ideas or trustworthy reviews, head over to their site or download their app - I genuinely use it and love it.

Fellow Zomato-ers and bloggers:
Serena :: Into the F World
Anglea :: The Awkward Blog
Alexandra :: Where2dowhat