Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Malta, Days 3 & 4

So, now that we’re finally settled, it’s time to re-cap days three and four in magnificent Malta. Wednesday was a visit to the beautiful Blue Grotto in the morning (a place that came highly recommended by my grandmother and my late grandfather), followed by an evening of family fun with Sylvana & Joe and a night out in Paceville (pronounced Pah-tchay-ville).  We spent Thursday exploring the capital city of Valletta, followed by our last supper, courtesy of Teddy & Angela.

Wednesday’s weather made for a perfect sight-seeing day. Though a ferry to the Blue Grotto wasn’t really on the agenda (it was too blustery), we had an amazing view and got some great shots of the water from above — the area was seriously fantastic; definitely a must-see for anyone in Malta!


After our Blue Grotto trip, we checked out some other old (3500 years-plus) temples and got a pretty sweet glimpse of the island of Filfla (you can see it in the background)! It’s super tiny and uninhabited — it looks like a big rock floating in the water <3.

Our dinner on Wednesday was super delish & entirely too much fun with two kiddos running around.

For one of the first times since my grandpa passed away, I was reminded of how much I miss seeing him and talking with him. I felt an urge around day two to call him and use my newly-acquired Maltese skills and suddenly remembered that he wasn’t there anymore… definitely made me a bit sad, but it was nice being able to see where he was born and where his family came from.

After our dinner and family time, we headed out for a far-too-late night in Paceville, courtesy of one Paul Sebastian (aka best tour guide ever). After getting home at around 230A and enjoying three qaghaq tal-ghasel, I felt I had done my work in annihilating my poor family’s kitchen.

We hit up Valletta on Day 4 and it definitely ties with Mdina for being the cutest city! There are so many fun shops there and loads of cute cafes & eateries (and gorgeous views)! We had a seriously delish lunch at Cafe Jubilee before departing. Paul had mentioned the Maltese chain earlier and it definitely lived up to expectations — good food and totally affordable!

Missing the sunshiney days and happy people of Malta already!

To see the whole Malta album, click here!

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Does Food Here Really Suck?

I was perusing the aisles of Sainsbury’s on my way home from class yesterday and starting filling my mini basket up with groceries for the week when I realized that I have fallen into a routine. There are some things that I absolutely love here; my go-to items, if you will. All, in all, I find that aside from produce being a little lackluster, some of the stuff here is actually pretty great! My new favorite things:

1. Cauldron Mushroom Burgers: Pure deliciousness. I was slightly afraid that the British grocery chains wouldn’t be as accommodating for vegetarians, but I discovered quite the opposite! The Cauldron Mushroom Burgers are absolutely ahhh-mazing! I could seriously eat them every day without question. They were out of stock yesterday and I could nearly feel tears welling in my eyes.

VegPot

2. Innocent Veg Pots: I’ve never seen these bad boys in the US, but they’re probably one of my most favorite inventions ever. They’re perfect for students because they take 4 minutes to microwave and I managed to snag two for 5 pounds yesterday! They’re really low-fat and low cal (most are under 300 calories) + they have three servings of veggies and are pure amazement. The Moroccan Giant Cous Cous is one of my faves!

Hot Chocolate3. Options Mint Madness Hot Chocolate: Hot chocolate is the ultimate comfort for me, but real hot chocolate is way too sugary and has too many calories for me to actually enjoy. Swiss Miss has their low-calorie stuff (25 calories per pack), but it just tastes like brown water and splenda. Options Mint Madness hot chocolate is amazing and it’s only 34 calories per serving. They actually sell their stuff in individual packets (the only way you can purchase it at Sainsbury’s) and I think the lady thinks I’m crazy because I purchase between 5 and 7 every single time I’m in. Yes, they’re THAT good.

4. Cauldron Marinated Tofu Pieces: Delish! I’m always wary of marinated tofu because the flavors can be a little off, but these guys have it down pat! A little salty, but they work well in recipes or mixed into stir-fry! Mmmm.

Fruit n Fiber

5. Kellogg’s Fruit n’ Fibre Cereal: It’s really weird seeing the Kellogg’s name on cereals I’ve never heard  of, but this Fruit n’ Fiber cereal is actually legit! I was a bit thrown off the first time I tried it since the fruit part of the equation constitutes dried fruits and raisins, but it’s actually quite delish with a bit of soy milk (which Brits refer to as soya milk…hmmmm.)

5. Hummous. I love all things chickpea, so the fact that hummous is ridiculously prevalent and inexpensive here pretty much makes my life. I can snag them for 1 pound each at Marks & Spencer (low cal versions, too) or I can get them 2 for 1.50 at Sainsbury’s (no low-cal that I’ve seen as of yet). Absolutely delicious with carrot batons!

Most of the food has actually been pretty good here. Granted the fruit isn’t quite as fresh, ripe or juicy as we’re used to/spoiled with in California, but for the most part, I have found some awesome things to stock my fridge and pantry with!

Anyone have any other amazing British goodies that they’re loving?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Brick Lane Brouhaha.

I have recently noticed that despite living in London for a little over a month now, my scope of London is very narrow. I live within about a one mile radius of my flat. Since everything is within walking distance from me (think Marks & Spencer, Top Shop, H&M, Zara, Mango, Aldo, cool restaurants, etc. all within 0.5 miles), I have very little need to venture outside of the WC1/WC2/W1/SW1 area. I have literally never been outside of any of those postcodes (except Canterbury) since I’ve moved to London! So, today, my flatmate and I have decided to broaden our horizons and hit up Brick Lane in the East End. Brick Lane is near Spitalfields, and is home to a huge Bangaldeshi community and has some amazing food, jewelry, clothing, art and vintage pieces.

You can feel like you’ve been now; welcome to the pictorial guide of our journey from the West End down to Brick Lane:

West End

1) Me, very excited & getting ready to leave my magnificent, opulent flat in the West End.

Road

High Holborn

2) A snapshot of High Holborn, the road we travel to get down to the Tube Station. Clearly a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Holborn Station

3) Good old High Holborn Tube Station, our nearby hub of love. Much better than Covent Garden’s tube station (which is the same distance from my flat), since CG’s gets overly crowded with tourist action on the weekends!

Liverpool Station

4) Liverpool Street Station — stepping foot on East End soil for the first time and getting ready to head to Brick Lane!

Food Stalls

Sunday Up Market

5) Old Spitalfields Market & the Sunday Up Market contain stall after stall of amazing ethnic foods, clothing, jewelry and arts & crafts.

Food Stalls

We ended up grabbing lunch at Rainforest Creations in Old Spitalfields Market — amazing, super healthy food. For £5 you can grab an overfilled wrap of goodness and snag some seating nearby that’s perfect for people watching. Today’s sunshine-y weather was perfect for enjoying some hummus and lentil action.

Rainforest Creations

We spent time just exploring and checking out vintage-y shops all down Brick Lane. The feel is 100% different from that of the West End/theatre area. It’s much more edgy and a bit seedy, but it adds to the overall appeal of the area. If a picture is worth a thousand words, some of these photos may help illustrate:

Caution Sign

Dirty Dicks

Art?

Street Music

Next on my list of my places to venture? Camden!

Hope everyone’s weekend was fantastic! I’m enjoying the extra hour thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Gonna take a power nap.

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Things I Miss: An Ode to the US.

If I could have snagged a glimpse into the future to see what I should have brought on my trip across the pond, I think that the space in my luggage would have been better allocated. I’ve had to call up the fam to have a few necessary items shipped over. Although the UK is much like the US in terms of grocery stores and offerings, there are a few items that I love (and miss!) that I can only find in the US. If you’re planning a move to Europe, here are a few things that you should consider bringing for a taste of home:

1. Deodorant. I had assumed that I could purchase my Secret solid here, but I searched to no avail. The only thing that Boots seems to carry is the anti-perspirant spray and a couple of old-school Ban roll-ons. No Secret or Degree in sight!

PB

2. Peanut Butter. Once in a while I love an english muffin (another item I can’t find here… such a misnomer!) with peanut butter and banana. Unfortunately, the peanut butter here literally tastes like crushed unsweetened peanuts mixed with butter; no good. If you’re a PB lover (or even a PB liker!) consider bringing a tub of Skippy. Don’t underestimate the power of good peanut butter!

Fiber One... *tear*

3. Fiber One Bars. You probably saw the previous post wherein I showcased the six boxes of Fiber One bars that my parents sent from the States — that’s no joke! I love to carry healthy bars to snack on and so far the only ones I’ve been able to find over here are Special K and Atkins. They’re alright, but they’re no FiberOne!

4. Orbit White Peppermint. I chew gum like it’s going out of style and the only gum that I keep handy is Orbit White (Peppermint flavor). The old-school stick gum weirds me out and every other Orbit White knock-off is mediocre. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a place that carries my beloved gum…

Any other Americans have things that wish they would have brought?

PS. If anyone knows where I can find any of the above items, please leave me a comment & let me know!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

New Toy.

Crock Pot

Whilst shopping at Argos for a coffee maker a few days back, my eyes landed upon a mini 3L crockpot in the kitchen section. I quickly began daydreaming about the days when I owned a slow cooker… I was a champion at making (meatless) chicken tortilla soup and veggie pots of goodness. As luck would have it, Argos’ basic crockpot (not an investment piece) was a mere £7.50. Now that I have this bad boy in my kitchen, it’s calling my name. For anyone looking to save some cash and make super simple meals at home, here are some awesome (and inexpensive!) recipes that I’ve run across:


Crock Pot Curried Rice & Lentils
{courtesy of Jolinda Hackett}

Ingredients:
1 cup rice
1 tbsp curry powder
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup lentils
2 vegetarian bouillon cubes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 onion, diced

Preparation:

Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Makes four servings.

Nutritional information:
Calories: 309, Total Carbohydrates: 6.4g, Dietary Fiber: 9.0g, Protein: 14.6g


Sweet Crock Pot Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

2 butternut squash
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins

  • Preparation:

Peel squash and remove the seeds. Place the squash in the crock pot or slow cooker, then add remaining ingredients on top. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.


Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups seitan, cut into pieces {non vegetarians can use real meat!}
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 3/4 cups rice

Preparation:

Combine all the ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.


Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large carrots
2 large celery stalks
2 onions
2 400g cans low sodium chicken broth
5 cups water
200g egg noodles (or any other variety of pasta)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
½ tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preparation:

Cut carrots, celery, and onions into small pieces and place into slow cooker.
Cut chicken into one-inch pieces and add. Add broth, water, bay leaf, and all of the spices to the slow cooker.
Set the slow cooker on low, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 hours.
When soup is almost done, boil noodles in separate pot until they are al-dente (slightly firm).
Drain noodles and add to slow cooker.
Set slow cooker on medium and cook for thirty minutes or until noodles are tender.

Super easy & cheap! I’m gonna see what’s up with the Curried Rice & Lentils tomorrow night!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

The Garrick — my new favorite place.

The Garrick

So, I’ve decided that I’ve mentally placed a claim on this joint. The Garrick is officially my most favorite place on campus. For anyone that hasn’t experienced its glory yet, it’s a super clean, inexpensive cafe on campus that serves loads of food: sandwiches, salads, muffins, yogurt, breakfast bites and a variety of coffees and teas to keep your brain functioning properly. You can easily grab lunch and a coffee for under £5, plus it’s a seriously great place to congregate. For being such a small campus, I was surprised to find out that there are a load of on-campus eateries including a couple of student pubs. Although there are six or so other joints, I have probably been to The Garrick every day that I’ve been on campus, either to grab my caffeine fix or to plug in and do some work. If you want to find me on campus Monday through Wednesday during non-class hours, that’s probably where I’ll be! Note: The tomato & mozzarella sandwich (heated up) at lunch is delish!

Anyone else loving on this joint?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Marks & Spencer > Sainsbury’s, and Other Observations.

Before I get into the amazingness that is Marks & Spencer, I should probably start by re-capping last night’s events. On Sunday evening, whilst fighting off some jet lag and caffeine withdrawals, going out and socializing wasn’t number one on my list. Thusly, Alex and I discussed organizing a little get together to take place last night, wherein we could actually meet all of our facebook friends. As one H. Joe Puentes put it, “What good are facebook friends if you never get to actually meet them?” I think in this case, that point was supremely valid. Our ‘little get-together’ of six or seven people ended up being a good 20+ LSEers who ended up joining the party. We ended up hitting up The Prince of Wales pub on Drury once more and enjoyed every second of it! Meeting everyone that we had been talking with for months was super fun, and the mix of personalities ended up making for an eventful (and hilarious) night. After seeing the close of the Prince of Wales for the evening, we headed across the street to finish up our night.

Prince of Wales PubMia, Alex & I at the Prince of Wales pub!

O'Neills, Drury Lane

Now, if I would have thought things through more clearly, I would have determined that hanging out until 130A and drinking on an empty stomach would not be conducive to waking up at 630A to head to the Sports Centre for an induction. As fate would have it, my alarm didn’t go off at 630A and instead I slept until 845A. Oops. Luckily, they were able to get me in at 1130A and I got a good solid mid-day workout in before heading out for the day.

I topped up my Oyster card (which I’m borderline obsessed with) and hit the tube station to take a ride down to Oxford Street. A friend from my complex and I hit up O2, Primark (to get some basic necessities at a ridiculously amazing price), H&M, Selfridges and Marks & Spencer. First let me say, if you’re ever in the area, Selfridges & Co. is the most amazing, brilliant place ever. If there were a heaven for shoppers, this would be it. It smells like amazing shopping when you walk in — the floors are white marble and the building screams ‘handbags here cost more than your education.’ Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth checking out.

Selfridge & Co.{This picture doesn’t do Selfridges justice!}

The Marks & Spencer hub is on Oxford Street as well and it has helped my official transformation to London life. I thought I was going to have to live on pre-packaged Sainsbury’s/mediocre 3 bean salad for life. Instead, we found the most amazing grocery shopping at Marks & Spencer and realized that we could actually stock a kitchen and cook! I’m planning on making another trip down there for some basics later in the week. Fortunately, M&S has a branch in Covent Garden, about five minutes from my place.

Lessons from the last 24 hours:

1. Marks & Spencer is 23498294 times better than Sainsbury’s
2. Multiple pints of apple cider + jet lag + lack of food & caffeine = a bad combination
3. Hanging out with people definitely moves the acclimation process along a thousand times faster than normal
4. Dressing in layers is key. The tube is about a million degrees when everyone and their mom is riding it during rush hour. Uncomfortably hot.
5. Sitting at Hyde Park with a pre-packaged M&S lunch and intelligent conversation is actually an enjoyable way to pass time.

6. Pret a Manger (a cafe-ish joint in London) is not pronounced ‘Prett a Man-jer.’ It’s pronounced ‘Pret a Man-zsay’ (with a French accent.) Pret a Manger is French for “ready to eat” … who knew?

I definitely need to pack for Germany tomorrow — I’ll be leaving for Oktoberfest Thursday afternoon! Craziness!

Signature Stamp - Shannon