Sunday, 30 March 2008

30.03.08: Pork vindaloo

Our favourite sacrilegious curry for Sunday: He lovingly basted and stirred up the pork vindaloo from the latest Waitrose freebie mag. Spinach, sweetfire beetroot, and avo salad put in its cool two cents' worth of nourishment on the side.

SHE SAYS: All praise that Bombay Authentics Vindaloo Luxury Curry Sauce! I don't care if it is a slight cheat, it's deeply tasty, and almost as hot as it promises to be. The rice was oh-so-nice, with plenty of cinammon lilt to offset the heavy (yet heavenly) curry vibe.

HE SAYS: Although I used loin of pork instead of pork fillet, it still turned out pretty good. The meat was a little drier than last time, but I reserved some of the sauce to pour over at the end, which made it a little saucier than the last go-round. I did enjoy the spicy kick.

29.03.08: A vegan wedding feast

He managed to discreetly snap a pic of the plate of fare at the vegan wedding reception honouring a good friend and her equally lovely spousal unit: spiced rice, crispy veg patty, a slice of spanakopita, veggie tagine, salad and roast Chantenay carrots. (Not pictured: the starter salad, also with special veg patty, but different.)

HE SAYS: I enjoyed the meal as much as the wedding. Just cuz it's vegan don't mean it ain't tasty! The tagine had a great, smoky roast vegetable flavour, and the veg patty was crispy on the outside, herby and tender inside.

SHE SAYS: I think I did more drinking than eating for once, but I did good justice to my plate, too. The tagine had a rich, sweet flavour, and I savoured both the spanakopita and the veg patty. The carrots had a subtle spice to them that made me peek hopefully back at the table for seconds, but alas, it was time for speeches and champagne.

28.03.08: Chickpeas with rice and egg

He cooked up something fast and filling for Friday: Nigella's chickpeas with rocket and sherry, over rice with a soft egg on top. Special guest star in the mix: plum tomatoes.

SHE SAYS: Really can't go wrong with this one. The tomatoes were a nice addition, but not quite as stunning as when they were pan-grilled with balsamic vinegar and spooned on top. Vegetarian comfort food, fo' sho'.

HE SAYS: A quick, tasty dinner; the tomatoes gave it a little varition, colour, and sweetness. A yummy, nutriionally virtuous dinner.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

27.03.08: Black bnz

It's another easy favourite for a busy week: Her black beans and brown rice plus ho-made salsa, with a simple salad of spinach and pear.

HE SAYS: I love dem beans! I don't tire of them. Thought this batch had the right spice and heat mixed with the creamy avo and citrusy salsa. It was a delight, but I was really hongry, hombre, which may have influenced my taste buds. The salad with the ripe pears, splashed with a little balsamic vinegar, just added to the flava-flav. I was in heaven!

SHE SAYS: Not bad, but not brilliant. I'm not sure what's missing...also we put two bell peppers in this time, and I think only one, if any at all, is the limit. Filling and relatively easy to throw together when it's getting late. Note to self: green onions in the salsa work a treat.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

26.03.08: Lemon chicken nite

Lemon chicken, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

SHE SAYS: Truthfully, we enjoy lemon-saltiness to an almost indecent degree, and tonite's meal tickled that fancy for me just fine. Green beans and potatoes were perfectly tender-crisp, and the chicken had a v. satisfying crunch as well as excellent lemon flavour. Only one 'pick: no lemon- juice-and-olive-oil 'sauce' left to spoon over the chicken, which can get a teeny bit dry (He drained off the liquid near the end to help the potats roast faster). But that's a v. minor sidenote on an otherwise luscious dinner.

HE SAYS: What She said. Plus the salad with the added pear and my favourite, radishes, was extremely delishymo
(a googlewhackblatt!)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

25.03.08: Red prawn and mango curry

Look familiar? She made our favourite curry, courtesy of Nigella, plus a little avo-apple salad action on the side.

HE SAYS: It was mighty nice! The spices were pitch-perfect, and the shrimp were still a little tender. Although the mango was a little underripe and the rice was a tiny, tiny bit firm, it did not diminish the awesome taste sensation. Hallelujah!

SHE SAYS: This one never fails to leave me feeling far more content than when I first sat down at the table. Good ratio of fish sauce to hot curry paste - I'm easily icked out by too much fish sauce. Very pleased that my curry turned out thick instead of soupy; I stuck to the half-can rec for the coconut milk. Not so pleased with Tesco for selling me a pack of underripe mango!

Monday, 24 March 2008

24.03.08: Lemon sole, Indian ratatouille, and chickpea rice

She topped pan-fried lemon sole with sauteed shiitakes; rustled up a stew of okra, aubergine and peppers in an improvised garam masala tomato sauce; heated up leftover chickpeas and rice; and refreshed last nite's salad with radishes and leftover sweet chili dressing.

SHE SAYS: A tad bit healthier than last nite. The sole was very fresh, but it was a pretty limp frying attempt, with any semblance of crust peeling off in the pan despite generous application of peanut oil. We think our big Tefal nonstick pan has had its day; everything is starting to stick in the centre of it. My Indian ratatouille, as He named it, was quite good - next time I'll remember to buy fresh ginger. It was esp nice to have some okra, and I would have used only okra for this dish if I could buy it in affordable quantity. Chickpeas from Wednesday were holding steady!

HE SAYS: Lemon sole had a very nice, delicate flavour, and was complemented by the rich ratatouille. It's been a long time since I had any okra, and I enjoyed not only the taste, but the unique gooey texture. Nice to have some radishes in the salad, and the chickpeas were great even after a few days in the fridge.

23.03.08: Pork roast with colourful veg and sweet-chili dressed salad

Something special for Easter: His decadent apricot-and-sausage-stuffed pork with red wine reduction gravy; Thursday's leftover carrots roasted in the pan; virtuous steamed choi sum with ginger; and 2nd-to-last batch of the red cabbage.

As if that weren't enough, He was inspired by Her recent food sleuthing to recreate the mmm-worthy salad dressing from Itsu: She figured it would work with fish sauce, pepper jelly, and mirin - and if She's wrong, we don't wanna be right,

HE SAYS: An easy and delicious set-it-and-forget-it special. With the carrots already pre-cooked, the red cabbage defrosted and ready to go and a generous glug or two of red wine added to the gravy it turned out to be a nice lazy Sunday night dinner with a boozy twist. Yum! Agree with Her, it's Meal o' the Year.

SHE SAYS: I'm going to stake my claim right now: this is Meal o' The Year. I know, it's only March, so this declaration can be a little demotivating, but honestly, this one had it all: fresh, sweet, intensely savoury and tender, mildly bitter and light, deeply sweet-roasted, tangy, meltingly tender, crackling crunchy, crispy and tart...what more could you want? I lingered over the fall-apart pork with its heavenly gravy as long as was decently possible, and made sure to polish off all of it before attempting the
rest of the plate. V. pleased He mixed up the sweet chili dressing - it reminds me of the nuoc mam sauce from Pho Tau Bay's vermicelli salads.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

22.03.08: Pancake breakfast for dinner

Seduced by the sudden appearance of Bisquick in Waitrose, He mixed up some pancakes with crushed pecans, adding some thinly sliced banana along the way and drizzling the stacks with maple syrup. Chipolatas provided one savoury counterpoint, while tomatoes-on-the-vine got the balsamic vinegar treatment and mingled with some leftover chickpeas to second that savoury motion.

SHE SAYS: I suspect the directions for 'American-style pancakes' were developed for crepes, even though the box offered separate directions for those. The batter was way too thin, and although adding more mix improved it, the pancakes just didn't fluff up - they remained dense and doughy. Shame, b/c the buttery banana pecan flavour was excellent. The chipolatas were excellent as usual, and the chickpea combo was a delightful discovery; the dark rich taste of the balsamic tomatoes set off the bright cumin seed and sherry flavours in a very moreish manner!

HE SAYS: Agree with Her about the dense pancakes, must find better from-scratch recipe before attempting again. Sausages were nice if a little dry from keeping them warm in the oven but were brought back to life with lashings of maple syrup. The chickpea/tomato portion of the programme was inspired and sure to return to our plates in the near future.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

21.03:08: Out to Won Kei

It's hard not to go to Won Kei after a long afternoon in the West End. And it would be hard to consider any other Chinese restaurant in the area, despite the many options available. Fun fact: He tried to commandeer a small empty table, only to be shooed over to a big round one where two people were already digging into some noodles. She had a chuckle - no one can breach the immutable laws of Won Kei: You will eat elbow-to-elbow, or else! And you will drink jasmine tea from a tin pot, and you will like it!

Our own immutable laws of Won Kei include: You will order the choi sum. You will spoon fiery chili flakes in oil over selected parts of the plate throughout the meal. And you will, of course, share.

HE SAYS: Having ordered Singapore Fried Noodles probably for the last hundred times I've eaten here I thought it was about time to explore other options on the menu. The cold duck and pork over hot rice hit the spot but I think secretly we both wish we had a plate of the delicious lemon chicken each to ourselves to devour, m-m-mmmm.

SHE SAYS: Be it ever so humble, Won Kei feels like home. I feel all the strain of the bags I'm inevitably carrying fall away the minute I sit down. The choi sum was as perfect as ever - mildy bitter, and subtly flavoured with the grated, steamed ginger.
I plumped for the lemon chicken, which is the best I've ever had anywhere - suitably artificial, but not too sweet, and the breadcrumbed chicken slices were crispy and tender.

20.03.08: Quorn, carrots, and lemony spinach-artichoke supreme

A switcheroo of a Thursday night dinner: we were going to have black bnz, but She rebelled, and cooked up some lemon-pepper quorn fillets, then topped them with Lloyd Grossman's wild mushroom sauce. While roasting up some carrots Jamie-style (thyme, olive oil, red wine vinegar, S&P), She devised a new way to bring spinach and artichoke hearts into tastebud-tingling harmony. A little leftover salad from last nite was refreshed with more leaves, some grapes, and the last shavings of manchego.

SHE SAYS: I just couldn't face more legumes, as I had a variant of them for lunch, on top of chickpeas last nite! Quorn and sauce were delish - I didn't add anything to the sauce since we had so many other veggies on the go. Carrots were virtuous and filling, though not as tasty as other times I've used this recipe (possibly I put in too many carrots and not enough seasoning.) The real excitement of the evening, however, was my healthyish spinach supreme. I was craving a big creamy pile o' spinach, but didn't want to drown it in fat. And the Lemony Spinach Artichoke Supreme was born:

splash olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 a preserved lemon, chopped into small bits
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
500g bag fresh spinach
1/2 tsp dried dill

Saute the garlic and lemon in the oil over medium heat for a minute or two. Add the artichoke hearts and saute for a couple minutes more, letting them soak up the flavour. Begin adding handfuls of the spinach, stir in, and cover to let spinach wilt. Repeat until all the spinach is wilted, them sprinkle in the dill. Now eat it while it's hot and enjoy the tangy, guilt-free goodness!

HE SAYS: The quorn with the tomato sauce turned out nicely rich and tangy, and the spinach was also a very tasty treat. Agree with Her that the carrots could've been cooked a little longer. The leftover salad with the Manchego cheese did also please and overall it was lovely Thursday nite nosh.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

19.03.08: Chickpeas with sherry, rocket and egg

Protein galore: Nigella's chickpeas with sherry take the suggested option of an egg on top and get the North African treatment with a swirl of Her ho-made harissa, while salad with avo and granny smith apple does its bit to tart things up. (He also put some leftover spiced rice from Sunday into the mix for his portion.)

HE SAYS: A light and healthy meal with uncomplicated flavours was what I was craving, and that's what I got. I'm enjoying the new addition of the boiled egg, though soft-boiled would have been better. It's hard to resist splashing on some Crystal to give it some pep. The salad was also a hit and I added some balsamic vinegar, which intensified the zing of the apple.

SHE SAYS: A little disappointed in my hard-berled egg - last time, the egg demonstrated the perfect ratio of firm to gooey. Never mind, the fragrant cumin seeds and velvety chickpeas more than made up for it, and it all nicely filled in the corners even without rice. Can't get enough of the granny smiths
at the mo'; I suspect they have a couple more appearances to make this very week.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

18.03.08: Persian lambchops

Inspired by some lucky finds in a little Persia of Putney, She developed a spice marinade for grilled lambchops including a pulverized whole dried lime, cumin, turmeric, chili flakes, fenugreek, kosher salt, pepper and olive oil. Saffron brown basmati rice studded with barberries plus purple sprouting broccoli sauteed in the chop drippings filled in the plate, while a salad of manchego shavings, granny smith apple slices and mixed leaves waited crisply nearby.

SHE SAYS: The chops had excellent flavour, though next time I won't be so shy with the dried lime - I was afraid more than a tablespoon might make the marinade too sour. I don't know when I'll learn that I just don't care for saffron - even the delight of the tarty little barberries didn't offset my disappointment. The broccoli had the texture of asparagus and the taste of mustard greens (not to mention the spiced pan juices) - a distinct brocca pleasure. The refreshing apple slivers played off the nutty manchego perfectly...a nifty salad combination.

HE SAYS: Loved the lambchops, cooked perfectly with a pink centre and seasoned well. Thought the broccoli was very nice sauteed instead of traditionally boiled to death. I think I like the rice more than She did; the saffron reminded me to look into cooking up some paella soon. Enjoyed the salad, the apples were crisp and zingy, and the manchego cheese was very moreish.

17. 03. 08: Grilled swordfish and roasted pepper pasta

She conjured up this tasty meal of swordfish grilled with lemon salt and rosemary, coupled with spelt penna pasta in an improvised tomato, grilled peppers, and haricot beans sauce, plus a mixed-leaf avocado salad to finish.

HE SAYS: It's been a while since we ate swordfish. I enjoy the subtle taste with its nice and meaty consistency especially in combination with the delicious pasta sauce. Certainly makes a great breather from salmon steaks which are a little similar.

SHE SAYS: It's the fish that tastes like chicken! The lemon salt gave it a nice tang, but swordfish is so easy to overcook - I'm thinking it might benefit from poaching next time. Piling three home-roasted peppers into the sauce made it more-ish, and the beans made it hearty - I'll definitely try it again, maybe with some aubergine in the mix.

16.03.08: Pork vindaloo w/ fragrant rice

A quick flick thru the latest Waitrose Seasons freebie mag produced this easy-peasy gem: baked fillet of pork with store bought curry sauce and brown basmati rice with cinnamon, onion, curry leaves and black onion seeds. She rounded this off with a simple salad of mixed leaves and balsamic beetroot to boot.

SHE SAYS: This has to be the most blasphemous curry ever: pork? in an Indian curry? But it was so delicious, I can't bring myself to care. The bottled sauce was surprisingly complex, and hot hot hot - again, not complaining. The spiced rice alone would be a pleasure in any meal. A fine segue into Sunday evening, and not too demanding.

HE SAYS: Well it can't be too authentic! Indian and pork are two words you don't often see in the same sentence let alone bowl but still this one worked a treat for me. The sauce is a good cheat in a hurry: not too sweet like many ready-made sauces and just the right heat. The rice was indeed fragrant and tasty, making a nice coupling with the sauce. The pork fillet was cooked perfectly and is a much leaner alternative to other more common cuts. I didn't enjoy the balsamic beetroot in the salad as much as the sweetfire variety, but small complaint to an otherwise great meal.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

15.03.08: Out to Nando's

When you're feeling cheap, easy and kinda hot on a Saturday night, there's only one place to go: chicken czar Nando's.

SHE SAYS: I find it hard to believe this is our first time at Nando's this year; it's just too easy. My usual medium-spice 1/4 chick with grilled corn (and its little pat of butter) hit the spot. Gotta love that flame-grilled flava-flav. Well, it's healthier, than say, Popeyes...

HE SAYS: Enjoyed my hot-spiced 1/2 chicken with chips and corn. Chicken was tender; chips were ok, nothing special; and the corn was juicy, too. But the real reason to love Nando's is that they brought the word 'spatchcocked' into the general lexcion of Britain.

Friday, 14 March 2008

14.03.08: Omelettes and bagels and salad, oh my

Convenience food in your own home: we each made an omelette at different times to fuel up a Friday nite that took us in different directions.

HE SAYS: A quickie but a goodie. A smoked salmon omelette with some fresh spinach on top of bagel turned out
pretty satisfing. I used most of the rest of the single cream from Thursday to make my omlette that bit more decadent but didn't notice any significant difference from leaving it out. Waitrose plain bagels are indeed far superior to any other British supermarket's offerings, I think.

SHE SAYS: I'm no good at flipping omelettes these days, but I like to think my simple spinach omlelette resembles an elegant rag pile - the ropa vieja of eggs, if you will. I'm almost convinced spinach omelettes are tastier without cheese - you get the full flavour and texture of the spinach while enjoying the fluffy comfort of the egg all the more (I had a similar revelation the last time, too). Now, my improvised salad is another story: its deep yet delicate flavours must give full credit to the nutty manchego cheese that harmonised with this sweet membrillo dressing, though the toasted pine nuts and avo certainly did their bit to make me go mmmm.

13.03.08: Magic lentils and salad

A meal we love to take for granted: the coconut dal stirred into spinach and brown rice, paired with salad, avo and cherry tomatoes (all left from last nite's salad supplies).

SHE SAYS: Amazing the difference the proper curry powder can make. This dish def. requires mild, or korma, curry powder
, which is a lighter, brighter yellow than other kinds. It just really pulls all the subtle flavours together. Always leaves me wanting more.

HE SAYS: This was a really nice batch of lentils, no overpowering, musty curry powder overload and a really nice creamy consistency. Have I mentioned I love coconut milk? It bears repeating, if so. Salad was not fancy but still enjoyable with the just-ripe avos that tasted like buttah.

12.03.08: Sherried pork chops and mushrooms

He prepared a somewhat decadent midweek feast of herby, sherried pork chops and mushrooms finished with single cream; potatoes roasted in duck fat; steamed sugarsnap peas; and simple cherry tomato and mixed-leaf salad.

SHE SAYS: The herby sherried mushrooms and onions gave a luscious dimension to the nicely browned chops. Crispy roast potatoes will never do me wrong, and the
perfectly al dente snap peas balanced it all out with virtuous veggie goodness. Snips of Her ho-made preserved lemons raised the salad to yum level - an inspired touch.

HE SAYS: Once again deglazing the pan come up trumps. Have to thank Cooksister for her great recipe, will def. try again but perhaps with a little more single cream at the end. The slow roasted potatoes needed quite a bit of babysitting what with the consistent basting, but it was worth the effort: crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the centre. Loved the preserved lemons in the salad too, so salty, tangy and generally fab.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

11.03.08: Thai green curry with chicken

Haven't had this in a long while, ever since we discovered Nigella's red prawn and mango curry, but our first night back called for comfort matched with simplicity: Her improvised green Thai curry with aubergine, tricolour peppers, lemongrass, straw mushrooms and poached chicken, served over brown rice and finished with a simple salad of avo, lime-infused beetroot, and mixed leaves.

SHE SAYS: This is an usually an easy one to throw together, but the chicken, from Waitrose, of all places, was off two days before its date! I was hopping mad. He managed to get our money back, plus a new pack of chicken, but with the nite slipping away, I had to quickly boil the chicken rather than poach it, so it was toughish rather than tender as it would have been. Still, the spicy, hearty mix of veg and grain and protein did me good. This was the first outing for our green curry paste, and I can highly recommend it.

HE SAYS: Did really fancy this after getting home, very tasty and filling. The green curry is less sweet then red but perhaps with more complex flavors. The added lemon grass gave it the proper Thai taste and I love the way the aubergine sort of melts to add a thickener to the soup. The giant straw mushrooms are always fun to eat, gripping them between ya teeth and popping them like a balloon. I thinks this may be on a heavier rotation now we have rediscovered it.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

10.03.08: Out to Eckstein

You can't see it, but the name Eckstein is etched at the top of some of the main windows of this pleasant caff that was catty-corner to our hostel. Our waiter patiently translated every item on the evening menu, saving us the vertiginous task of glancing from menu to guidebook (and repeat).

HE SAYS: German comfort food, perhaps? Very tasty pork in sherry sauce with zucchini plus Hollandaise sauce and very German and yummy krünter-spätzle and salad. Apart from the delish pork the krünter-spätzle with it's not-quite-pasta, not-quite-noodle qualities stole the show.

SHE SAYS: My gebackenes aubergineschnitzel auf ratatouille mit feta and bulghur dazu salat really couldn't go far wrong - who doesn't like a giant piece of meaty aubergine fried up crisp and light - or two? The so-called ratatouille was more like a puddle of veggie soup, though, and the feta was oddly smooth and creamy...I suspect a substitution. The bulgher salad was wholesome and blameless. Altogether a decent goodbye meal, if not a great one. Overall, I think Berlin is better for drinking than eating, but given more time I'm sure we would find more to love.

09.03.08: Out to Massai

We celebrated our last supper as a travelling trio in Massai, a restaurant we thought was Ethiopian but turned out to have much broader African influences. We each ordered an entree and decided to share the guly guma, plantains atop black-eyed peas and coconut milk.

Along with the guly they brought us a salad of sorts that we couldn't identify, but ate happily nonetheless. On to the entrees...

SHE SAYS: The black-eyed peas in the guly were like little rocks, but the plaintains were the tenderest I've had. My bumya - lamb with okra, berbere sauce, onion, garlic and ginger - was also tender, v. tasty, and quite hearty with the accompanying white rice. Will definitely be thinking about making some nice tangy berbere sauce of my own in future. The restaurant was welcoming and comfy, but I was expecting more of a funky, informal, low-floor-table experience.

HE SAYS: My Zebhi Derho - roast chicken in Eritrean berbere sauce with onion, garlic and ginger - was rich and satisfying. Chicken was tender but the portion was a little small, the sauce was citrus-sy and more-ish and I could have done with some extra bread to clean the plate. Felt the décor a little trite and theme restaurant-like, but the service was friendly and unfussy.

MISS INFORMATION SAYS: This was fun. I agree with Her that I was expecting something more in line with a floor-level, big-plate-sharing, communal feast, but the food did not disappoint. We all agreed our appetizer's black-eyed pea component was a little tough. But the coconut-milk dressing put me in a forgiving mood. My Kifonatata (lamb in a spicy, rich spinach, onion, ginger sauce) was bursting with flavor, although I think it was the least of what we ordered; for some reason my lamb was not as tender as that featured in the Bamya dish, and the Berbere was truly to die for. Must mention the Fufu - ordered out of intrigue. Basically a rice substitute, akin to grits, maybe a little more rubbery. No real flavor, but great for soaking up that sauce! I would be remiss in my reviewer duties if I did not give props to the mango beer! A powerful-sweet accompaniment that held its own against the intense sauces!

PS: Many thanks to Miss Information for the photos, since our camera conked out!

08.03.08: Out to Mas y Mas

A nice long trek through Mitte and Kreuzberg eventually led our ravenous trio to Mas y Mas, a tapas joint that seduced us with its massive house platter of all tapas - the 'mas y mas', of course: chorizo bites, chorizo done pig-in-blanket style, olives, feta, cheese, stuffed peppers, and fried everything (cheese, razor clams, fish croquettes, seafood empanadas...well, you can see for youself).

HE SAYS: Definitely the worst meal we had on our trip,
We chose the restaurant over others on our search for its ambience, low lighting and cosy seating and were not disappointed on that front, but the food turned out more like greasy-deep fried bar snacks then anything resembling authentic tapas. Enjoyed the chorizo skewer-looking bites but it's very hard to make chorizo taste bland however you try.

I kind of knew we were in trouble when our waitress brought out 'the dips'. But I was practically faint, so at first I dived into the platter with a good heart. It quickly became clear that they'd raided the freezer and plugged in the deep fryer; the fried mozzarella sticks would not be out of place in any campus cafeteria. However, the wine was superb and they let us sit on the table for 4.5 hours. And I certainly ate my share.

MISS INFORMATION SAYS: I concur: a very disappointing meal, comparable to bad bar food or baby showers catered by Costco. We were hoodwinked by the warm atmosphere of tiled walls and candlelight. While it was a great environment for lingering over wine and great stories, this was nothing like the tapas we had come to expect from living in New Orleans (where the decadent small plates at Vega are delightful flavor explorations!). I had hoped that Berlin -- being closer to Spain than New Orleans -- might give a more authentic (albeit German) twist to our baseline, but instead it ended up being a global-corporate-institutional near-food experience. My meal on Lufthansa was better.

07.03.08: Out to Brecht Haus

For most of our Berlin dinners, He and She were joined by excellent dining partner and savvy traveller Miss Information. Our adventures began at historic yet artfully modern Kellerrestaurant im Brecht Haus, where He and She both plumped for the hearty weiner schnitzel + sauteed potatoes + salad...

...which came with thin slices of nicely chilled cucumber in dill and vinegar that we shared 'round...

...while Miss Information judiciously selected the spatzle with pork and saurkraut.

SHE SAYS: This hearty fare was so welcome after a l-o-n-g day of travelling and exploring, not to mention happy visiting and catching up with Miss Information. It also provided lots of fuel for the long nite still ahead! My schnitzel was less nicely browned than the one pictured, but it was still pretty good, and I ate all but, say, a sixth of it, which I tithed to His plate. The potatoes were crisp-edged and creamy in the middle, and that cucumber accompaniment was superbly zingy, cool, and herby. Sehr gut!

HE SAYS: Thought the weiner schnitzel was tasty, the coating was light and crunchy. The potatoes were also crispity-crunchety, browned very nicely, and the cucumber salad served as a refreshing palate cleanser. The portions were very generous, as you can see. The service was a little sluggish, but the atmosphere was casual, cosy and welcoming - a nice find for our first nite in Berlin. Das ist, über was ich spreche, Willis!

MISS INFORMATION SAYS: This special spaetzle was the perfect hearty meal for the coolish March weather, and went quite well with my regional pilsner. These dense and flavorful mini dumplings had a tender-firm consistency without being slimy, suggesting they were recently fresh-made rather than from dried (although I never confirmed). Tossed with bits of smoky bacon and a rich, mild cheese, the ample mound of pasta had a core of piquant, warm sauerkraut, providing a complementary tang to the otherwise heavy ingredients. The portion was so large I simply couldn't finish. If I hadn't been travelling, I would've repurposed the leftovers for next-day's lunch. But with a limited amount of Berliner food adventures to be had, I could not see wasting a meal time on repeats!

06.03.08: Roast chicken and salad

A painless pre-flight meal: Readymade fancy roast chicken from Waitrose, pulled off the bone to add substance to a pile of spinach and baby plum tomatoes perked up with some leftover pepper-jelly dressing.

HE SAYS: A quick and easy solution, and a tasty one at that. The rotisserie chickens are a good and cheap option for when you need to add some protein, pronto.

SHE SAYS: The fancy roast chicken is always great value, and I fell on this with a good appetite, though after a while I was chickened out. The spinach was still quite fresh - lately spinach seems to hold up remarkably well, even after a week - and the tomatoes were surprisingly sweet-tart and tasty.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Out to Berlin

He and She are off on a brief adventure to Berlin, but we're still taking notes...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

05.03.08: Black bnz and beet-apple salad

He made the black bnz tonite, and, along with the usual add-ons of homemade salsa and avo, a treat dollop of creme fraiche left from Saturday nite took top honours. A crunchy salad of spinach, sweetfire beetroot, radish apple rounded out the evening.

SHE SAYS: Beans were nicely flavoured, if a bit spicier than usual, and v. satisfying. Rice needed a little more cooking time. Adding the apple to the salad was an inspired touch, but I thought the different, fancy brand of beetroot we bought was not as good as the bog-standard one.

HE SAYS: Beans were pretty good, though a little too hot in my opinion, but the creme fraiche definitely helped cool them down a bit. I agree the rice was a little undercooked. Salad was simple, but the apple made it more tangy and interesting than usual.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

04.03.08: Lemon chicken and mozzarella salad

He prepared it, She watched the's the Hungry Man dinner with a citrus kick: our fave lemon chicken returns. And it's not alone.

Special guest star Caprese salad puts in an appearance (His idea, Her execution).

HE SAYS: Mmm-mm good! Just like my momma didn't make. This chicken dish is in heavy rotation at the mo', more out of pleasure than habit. There was less juice in the pan, which helped the chicken and the potatoes crisp up nicely. The salad also hit the spot - who doesn't like fresh mozzarella? Spotted the lowfat version in the store, but mozzarella is already a lesser offender in the fat dept. than most cheeses, so why sacrifice flava-flav?

SHE SAYS: I always looove lemon chicken nite. Completely agree about the fresh mozzarella, and I would add that even the cheapo store-brand is delishy over here. Only prob is tomatoes can be watery this far out of season, but t
he salad was still v. refreshing and made a nice change from our usual combos.

Monday, 3 March 2008

03.03.08: Quorn, veggie sauce, and pepper-jelly salad

Lemon-pepper quorn patties smothered with sauteed onion, aubergine, red and yellow peppers, a couple of bottled pasta sauces, fresh basil and a few shavings of grana padano. You can't see it, but the avo, tomato, radish and mixed-leaf salad has a sweet pepper-jelly dressing on top.

HE SAYS: The quorn cutlets were very nice. The sauce with the veggies was filling and tasty, and the salad was made all the better with sweet pepper jelly.

SHE SAYS: Quorn and sauce were v. satisfying, as always. The dressing was a little disappointing; mixing the jelly with olive oil produced a less-than-delicious result, could be the Spanish extra-virgin oil has too strong a grassy taste for this dressing. Next time I would just dilute a couple of tablespoons of the jelly with a bit of water and pour it straight on.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

02.03.08: Sausages and banana bread??

We had a huge Mothering Sunday lunch at Banners, and by the rules o' the blog, we cannot disclose details of any meal but dinner. (Shame, because it was awfully nice. And we saw some celebrities. But we digress...)

He bought some special apple, sage and pork sausages on a whim yesterday, thinking we may have breakfast for dinner tonite, but we were still kind of stuffed (see above). So he cooked them up alone for us to nibble on. However...

...we also had some overripe bananas in the bowl, and that means banana bread, this time using up some storecupboard dried cherries plus crushed pecans and orange zest.

SHE SAYS: The sausages had big pieces of apple in them, extremely more-ish. We'll def. have those again. Warm banana bread gives off possibly the best scent in the world - I almost prefer sniffing it to eating it. Almost. The cherries added a slightly juicy, tangy touch, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy them. Next time I think I'll add lemon zest, too.

HE SAYS: These bangers were the best. The banana bread was a success, but could have done with a touch more sugar. Still, the addition of the cherries and pecans made it more indulgent than usual, and there ain't nothin' wrong with that.

01.03.08: Pork piccata with roast potatoes and a speshy salad

A decadent Saturday night special: He made a pork piccata, including creme fraiche, capers and white wine, adapting the recipe from Ramsay's Fast Food, while She roasted potatoes in duck fat and plopped a delicious sweet potato, green bean and goat cheese salad from Mei (a tiny cake cafe in Putney on Upper Richmond Road) in a bowl with a few extra salad leaves.

HE SAYS: Gotta start with the sauce: dee-lish! Could have done with a few pieces of bread to mop up. The pork cutlets were a good substitute for veal - I would have used it, but Waitrose was closed, and they're the only ones who sell it around here. It takes a while to get them golden brown, but it was worth making the extra effort. Did I mention the sauce? The white wine, capers and creme fraiche...what a combo. Anytime a sauce requires you to deglaze the pan with wine and scrape up all the remnants, you know you're in for a treat.

Enjoyed the salad for the sweet potatoes and green beans, but although I like feta, I didn't like this cheese - too goaty. The roasty potatoes were tasty as usual, and seemed very fancy with the duck fat infused with five-spice. Would pay top dollah for this meal.

SHE SAYS: The sauce was divine - we licked not only the plates, but the pan AND the spatula. Pork was a perfect substitute for veal, and certainly cheaper. The duck fat endowed the potatoes with that unbeatable crispiness, and I was happy to discover Mei's salad was as yummy as it was gorgeous. Agree the cheese was v. goaty, but I like that.

29.02.08: Roast veggie pasta and salad

She improvised a sauce for the intriguing spelt penne pasta by roasting an aubergine, red peppers, portobello mushrooms and courgettes, then piling it all in a pan with a can of cherry tomatoes, some leftover pesto, a few good dollops of Her ho-made harissa, and half a bag of fresh spinach. A sprinkling of chopped fresh basil and slivers of grana padano topped the main dish, while spinach and Sweetfire beetroot salad ultimately finished the plate.

SHE SAYS: Not bad at all, though for all of those ingredients, the one that really pulled it all together was the harissa. I think I'll just have to make it once every couple of months forever - the minty-spicy-salty combination is incredibly rewarding. V. pleased with the spelt pasta: compared to normal pasta, there's far less of a bloat-boat effect, and the taste and texture are indistinguishable from 'regular'.

Top tip: if ever you decide to make harissa, add a tablespoon of dried mint. I've not seen one recipe on the web yet that calls for this, but it's positively essential to make it mmm-worthy (good old Medina Kitchen!).

HE SAYS: Very nice, spelt pasta was better than whole wheat pasta and tastier than corn pasta. The sauce was a success with the roasted veg and the harissa added the necessary punch.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

28.02.08: Out to GBK

A bit of a break at the late end of a long Thursday: burgers, salad and chunky chips at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

HE SAYS: I had a cheeseburger, which was cooked nicely. A pretty tasty meal, in a pinch - definitely a step up from fast food, and GBK is not pretentious like some other, overpriced nouveau burger joints. The chips were pretty good, not sure if they're frozen or not, though. Made good use of free wine coupon!

SHE SAYS: Quite pleased with the Greek Lamb burger topped with hummus, cucumber raita, fresh chilli sauce & salad - it was med-rare and tasty. I wouldn't have minded having something more simply dressed, but the 'plain' GBK burger (and lots of their offerings) come with a sugary relish that tends to overwhlem. Another thing in GBK's favour: their mixed leaf salad is always incredibly fresh, with generous variations of rocket, baby spinach and other baby leaves. And like Him, I rather enjoyed the free glass of vino.