Food

Food for Friends

Have I mentioned that my favourite restaurant in Brighton is SIX? No? I tell everyone to eat there, and I make all my friends eat there with me!

Our last trip to the UK coincided with SIX becoming sister restaurant to Food for Friends, the self-proclaimed original Brighton vegetarian restaurant, established in 1981 (I wasn’t a vegetarian yet then – well, I was only three).

*side note: the first time I showed signs of leaning towards vegetarianism was at the age of four, when I made the connection between those cute lambs in the fields, and the lamb at the dinner table. I believe I refused lamb on my plate from that point forward. Not at all precocious.

As soon as I saw the news, I couldn’t wait to visit. I had dined at Food for Friends before, but that was years ago and I was past due another experience there. And I had the ideal celebration: dinner with Arijus’s mother and sister, and meeting his mother’s new beau! A family affair, lovely.

Incidentally, I discovered half way through the meal that Eric (the beau) is a vegetarian. Serendipity!

On our arrival, we were directed to The Snug, a super cute, private table, tucked away from the main areas of seating. I actually love the whole restaurant layout; the building is gorgeous from the outside, and the seating areas are broken up. So, even if you’re not in The Snug, you still get a fairly intimate dining experience.

For our starter, we decided on a sharing platter, so we could try lots of delicious things. We added an order of the mirin marinated crispy tofu at the recommendation of our lovely server. I’m not usually into sharing food, but I’m starting to see the value of it when it means I can try more than one item on the menu.

I mean, how gorge?!

For mains, Arijus and I inadvertently ordered the same: portabello mushrooms, which we were informed was their signature dish. Spoiler: it deserves that title! The mushrooms and goat’s cheese are served with quinoa (yum!), green beans and a potato gratin. I’m hungry again just thinking about it.

*another side note (sorry, not sorry): someone recently said that grated potato (rosti style) is boring. I’m sorry, WHAT? Potato, in any form, is so far from boring, but is, in fact, so incredibly comforting, satisfying and divine … yeah, I could go on.

Eric had the curry, which he praised highly. Vida had the pea, mint and feta arancino, and she really enjoyed it (let’s face it, who doesn’t love arancini? But also, yay, as she can be hard to please!). Ieva went for the burger and was very happy.

Not gonna lie, we were all pretty stuffed by that point. Did I mention the yummy cocktails and wine *hic*?

BUT, Ieva and I have a deal, no meal is complete without dessert! We shared the chocolate & avocado mousse and we were blown away.

Look at that presentation!

Everybody was highly satisfied. The food was scrumptious and beautifully presented, the staff were friendly and efficient. Another fabulous Brighton dining experience, and venue that I would highly recommend to everyone – especially those silly meat eaters* that claim they have to have meat on their plate for it to be a proper meal! (Don’t get me started :P)

*not all meat-eaters are silly, only the ones who insist there is no other way to eat.

Indonesian day

Oh, hey! My crazy year has had me all stop-start on this blogging situation, but I’m going to catch you all up from where we left off earlier this summer! Because I HAVE to tell you everything in order; it’s been all sorts of amazing, scary, fabulous, difficult. So, let’s cue that wibbly wobbly visual thing they used to do in TV shows back in the 90’s when you were being taken back to the past …

Where were we …? Oh yes, when Mads and Lucy visited me in Den Haag! It was so good, I can’t wait for their next visit, but I digress.

After our delicious lunch in Zebedeus, we walked round to the main part of Grote Kerk. This part of the building is still in use as a church. The Indonesian Embassy were hosting a Batik exhibition and fashion show. Batik is an age old tradition, found across several Asian countries, which involves using wax to create patterns on cloth, before dying. It is most developed in Java, Indonesia, where it is believed that the art of Batik predates written record. This art form has a long and complex history; one which my mother, born and raised in Java, promotes and helps to help preserve, through her charity work. She is particularly focused on reintroducing batik tulis as a skill to young women, so that they can not only continue to pass this down the generations, but also find work for themselves and be financially independent.

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The awesome displays were open throughout the afternoon, and followed by a fashion show in the evening. Sadly, we were too full to appreciate the traditional Indonesian snacks that were on offer, but I did help myself to a glass of wine. It would’ve been rude not to!

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There was a large display of batik from Java, but we saw batik from other parts of Indonesia too. The batik with the gold is from Bali (my spiritual home, but we can talk about that another time).

 

We stayed to see the first half of the fashion show, which showcased Indonesian designers who use traditional batik fabrics to create their pieces. Some were modern, some traditional. It was really interesting, but we were sat behind a few rows, so didn’t get any good pics. My favourite thing was the fashion show opened with traditional Balinese dancing, which I adore (and briefly studied, when I was about five years old!) and I was delighted that Lucy and Mads got to experience a little of that.

We snuck out at the interval (we did excuse ourselves in advance!) to meet Arijus and Ronique at our favourite Indonesian restaurant, Warung Bude Kati.

Needless to say, we stuffed our faces, choosing a rijsstaffel so that our visiting friends could enjoy a variety of dishes. Thinking I may need to do a separate post in the future about Indonesian food, and the Dutch/Indonesian connection! Some really interesting history there.

Another great day! I’ve been really enjoying discovering Den Haag with friends. More soon!

Ciao xx

 

To market, I go!

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We finally went to De Haagse Markt. Despite visiting The Hague every month for the past six months, I had yet to go!

I love food shopping in interesting shops or markets! Even foreign supermarkets are exciting to me, because of all the different brands and produce. So far, in The Hague, we’ve found a hippy supermarket called Ekoplaza, which is all organic. Lovely, but not cheap. And an Asian supermarket that makes me feel so at home! As if I’m back in Indonesia. Even better, they stock both South East Asian ingredients AND Asian/Indian. Double happiness!

Back to De Haags Markt. We went on a Saturday, in the afternoon. If you don’t like crowds, I do not recommend this day or time! I struggled, and was exhausted afterwards.

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I can’t tell you how many times my feet were run over by those bloody granny shopping trolley bags, or buggies (I’m more forgiving of buggies).

But, it was totally worth it! We had fun looking around. We went for groceries, but half the market is clothing and electronics. It’s pretty crazy.

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The cherries were incredible. Huge, and extremely delicious.

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That’s our sweet friend Christina. The fishmongers looked amazing. Unfortunately, we hit a learning curve with the fish buying. Only realised when we got home, of course. Things you don’t think about if you usually buy your fish in the supermarket: asking for 750g of sea bass, but you mean fillets and he weighs the whole fish, guts it, then gives you the head, spine etc! And how to spot less than fresh fish 🙁 We bought tuna, and again, on getting home, realised he’d sold us less than fresh fillets. I could tell they weren’t that fresh (we have a reliable fishmonger in Brighton), but did some research to confirm.

As I said, a learning curve, and I’ll be more prepared next time! The genetically instilled Britishness in me doesn’t help; it’s just so hard to tell people what you want without being apologetic or feeling like you’re overstepping!

 

 

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Plantain! Pisang goreng plans ahoy!

It was a great experience though. The baker was excellent, as was the lovely lady we bought cherry tomatoes and a huge pineapple from. I’m sure we’ll be heading back for occasional bits and pieces. And I’ll know which sellers to watch out for next time!

A perfectly lovely day

Yesterday, (Saturday) we had visitors. My dear friend Jay and his family came to the seaside. I don’t like to think about how long I’ve known Jay, as it makes me feel old but in case you’re curious we met at University in 1997. Jeez Louise. Anyway, we didn’t become friends until after the first year and I like to tease him that it was because he had really long, straight black hair but when he cut it short before our second year started he obviously looked more like friend material to me. To cut (ha ha) a long and frankly boring story short, we’ve remained very good friends over the years and I consider him family, as supported by his label of ‘brother’ on my Facebook page. Because, as we all know, it’s not official until it’s on Facebook, right?!

Now he has an adorable nearly two year old called Noah, which makes our get togethers even more fun.

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Brighton was on form yesterday and we had a gorgeous day. Which was good really, as all of us had had a totally rubbish morning. Poor Noah was under the weather and he let his parents share his pain by waking before 6am and crying pretty much non stop on the two hour drive down here. Arijus and I had rowed about everything and nothing. And I realised as I told them why we weren’t ready (even though they were an hour late) how grateful I am to have friends in my life who I didn’t need to make up some lame excuse for.

We went to the marina for lunch and ate at Pizza Express. That particular branch does seem to have made quite an effort with their customer service of late as the waiters and management are very attentive! Noah finally settled down and we managed a lovely two hour lunch – pretty good going for a poorly bubba. Nami and I set the world to rights with a few rants and felt better immediately. It’s possible her beer and my cocktail helped too.

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We then headed into town and wandered down to the beach. Arijus was distracted by the Brighton & Hove speed trial on Marine Drive so we left him to go and look at cool cars and sat on the beach for a bit.

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That’s me and Jay and Noah. Not my best angle, I apologise. Hmm..might try and dig up an old photo of Jay and me just for kicks. Whilst on the beach we all (Noah being the exception) giggled at a couple, probably roughly our age, who seemed unable to stop kissing. Seriously do not think they came up for air. Then we ruminated about how long it had been since we were in that rose tinted romance stage with our respective partners!

By this time some of us were peckish again so we headed to Pho, one of my favourite restaurants for a light dinner. We bumped into my brother there (he also lives in Brighton) having dinner with his friends and when Nami introduced Noah to Oli, Noah held his hand out to shake hands! Really adorable. Another trick of his which I found too cute for words was the way he lifts his drink to clink yours when someone says ‘cheers’!

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After such a long and relaxing day one little snot bundle had to go home, sadly. Looking at these photos really hi-lights what an angel he was as he was pretty grumpy and yet we have all these sweet pictures of him smiling!

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Noah had a go on my piano. No doubt he has loads of burgeoning musical potential and he enjoyed himself immensely! Not entirely sure how Nami managed to avoid the camera all day! We’ll remedy that next time.

All in all a perfectly lovely day (from about 1pm onwards).

Food, glorious food!

Je suis une gourmande! I apologise. The word just looks better in French. I also love musicals, as you may note from the title of this post, but I digress. I love food, and I love to eat well. I love to cook and bake and this is something I share with the love of my life, so we are happy cooking and eating together.

Tonight I made nasi goreng for dinner. It’s an Indonesian dish, which basically uses up left over rice and veg. Although I made it with fresh rice, it is better if you have day old rice. It’s one of my ‘throw it together’ dishes, so I basically work from a love of a dish I’ve been eating since I was teeny tiny. When I cook and eat this dish, it reminds me of my other home.

My guide to making it is based on about 4-6 portions. Adjust the amounts to suit your needs.

Ingredients:

roughly 100g rice – white, brown, whatever takes your fancy.

vegetables

chilli

garlic

wok oil

sesame oil

soy sauce

eggs

 

 

Method:

Start with cooking your rice, unless, as stated above, you have day old rice. Then just hop on to the next bit.

Gather together any veg you have lying around in the fridge. My favourites are carrots, spring onions, red pepper, peas, Chinese leaf and purple sprouting broccoli (when it’s in season) but pretty much anything will do. Oh, and don’t forget the chilli. Unless you don’t like chilli. Chop everything pretty small. Heat a glug of wok oil in a pan and about a teaspoon of sesame oil.

Fry the spring onions with the chilli for a couple of minutes. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed. Give the mix another few minutes then add all the chopped veg. If adding frozen peas I keep those until last as they don’t need as long. Give it a stir now and then. You want the veg cooked through but it’s nice to have a bit of crunch to your carrots and broccoli. I usually push it around for about 10 minutes. Don’t forget the peas!

Now, this is a good point to add some protein, if you want to. As I’m a pescetarian (irritating, isn’t it, when people have variations or levels of vegetarianism?!) I like to add prawns at this point, or some chopped up Quorn frankfurters go really well. However, if you eat meat then chicken works. In Indonesia it is quite tricky for me to get a dish of nasi goreng without some form of meat in.

Once your protein is cooked through, chuck in the rice and mix everything well. Now I add dark soy sauce, or ideally kecap manis, if I can find any decent stuff. That reminds me, I need to get down to the Chinese supermarket and get the decent stuff. I also have some Indonesian seasoning sauce that my mother once left behind after a visit and lots of her delicious Indonesian cooking. But you’ll do fine without that.

Finally, decide if you want a fried egg on top or if you want to make it more egg fried rice and mix the egg in. This evening I mixed the egg in. Just make a well in the centre of your pan of ricey veg, whisk some eggs and pour them in. Let them start to cook and give them a stir before starting to mix it into the ricey veg. I didn’t take a picture of tonight’s dinner so you get to see one I made before with the fried egg on top. It’s all good.

Serve it up!  Arijus loves to add sweet chilli sauce or tabasco. It looks pretty with coriander on top.

Nasi goreng

Nasi goreng