Port Tasting @ Cockburn Winery – Porto, Portugal

While I was in Portugal with my family over the Christmas Break at the start of the year we stopped in at Cockburn’s Winery in Porto for a spot of port tasting and a winery tour before we left the city. The winery is located at the top of a hill that is quite steep – but one well worth walking back along to see some stunning views of the city on the other side of the river as you work your way back to the bridge.

The tour price included a tasting and was only a few Euros per person. We began with a guided tour of their winery and cellar facilities, followed by a short video on the winery and the family that run it before ending with a tasting of their Ruby and Tawny ports. It was quite impressive to see so many tanks and barrels filled with port, especially for someone like me who had never really given port the time of day prior to my trip to Porto. I have to say after my time in Porto I was wrong about port and it definitely has a time and place to be enjoyed along with all other wines!

Both ports were delicious. I had a slight preference for the Ruby due to it begin the lighter of the two however I am sure that was biased by my novice palate being that this was my first port tasting. I would happily drink either one again with some cheese and perhaps even as a spritzer on a hot summers day by the Duoro River should I ever return to Porto, something I do hope will happen again in my lifetime as it was a wonderful city to visit. Should you want read more about my time in Porto you can do so at my travel blog EuropeTravelandTeach. I would happily recommend this winery as a stop while in Porto.

Address: R. Serpa Pinto 346, 4400-307 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Restaurante ConTenedor – Seville, Spain

While in Seville over my Christmas break with my family we went to  Restaurante ConTenedor (Facebook link here). The restaurant came highly recommended from the lady running reception where we were staying while in Seville. We arrived ‘early’ by Spanish standards to an empty restaurant, by the time we left a few hours later after 9pm the place was packed and it was quite clearly a favourite with the locals.

We started with a mixed meat, cheese and bread platter along with a local wine while we decided what to order from the daily menu. The wine we selected came at the recommendation of the waitress. We ordered a Spanish red, it was a light to medium bodied red that was a little young but still held it’s own. It paired well across all of our dishes being just rich enough to pair with my ragu while not too heavy for the other lighter dishes.

I ended up selecting the fresh pasta with beef ragu, which was a very rich and tasty dish that I struggled to finish but did so in the end as I did not want to waste a single bite. My sister the Lamb with peaches and a pumpkin puree, by the end of the meal the plate was almost clean and receiving rave reviews of how the flavours worked perfectly together given the interesting combination. Mum ordered the Duck dish and enjoyed it, initially the duck was a little too rare for her liking but the kitchen was happy to cook it for a little longer to bring it to medium-well for her and with that sorted she had no complaints. Dad order the Calimari and black rice dish, he too enjoyed it but preferred some of our dishes more having ordered this dish out of curiosity and intrigue rather than a great love of the ingredients and combination of them.

For desert I bowed out feeling quite full from the starter and the very rich pasta dish. My sister ordered the apple cheesecake, which I sampled a bite and wished I had enough space to order myself a slice as it was heavenly! Mum had the chocolate fondant which was recommended to us by the lady at reception, and with good reason as the bite of it that I had made me even more envious that I had filled up so much with the previous course. Dad went for a light yoghurt to end the meal as he was feeling quite full himself. The restaurant was also lovely in that they comp all tea and coffee ordered with desert, a nice touch that we appreciated as this can often lead to an expensive final course if you order a few with desert and chatting after the meal.

Further reviews of Restaurante ConTenedor can be found on trip advisor here.

London Burgers: Byron Burgers

When I first moved to London one of the meals that I came to miss from back home was my favourite burger joints of Missy Moos and Flipside (you can read my reviews of their burgers here and here). And after recovering from a severe infection I decided that enough was enough and set out to begin exploring the burger haunts of London. Thus I was introduced to burgers in London with Byron Burgers.

The layout of the Byron restaurant was interesting with the interior decorated and set out to mimic an old-style American diner. The restaurant also featured table service which was pleasant and professional at the Hammersmith location. We were greeted at the door and seated within seconds of entering and given ample time to peruse the menu.

While their menu is not extensive they cover the range of basic burger combinations. In the end I settled for the Cheese, which came with the description of ‘choose from mature Cheddar, American, smoked Cheddar, Monterey Jack, blue cheese or Emmenthal. Served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise.’ I opted for a classic cheddar to see what it was all about.

The meat patty was nice, of a good thickness. The vegetables were all fresh and good amounts used. The sauce was not overdone and the bun was fresh. However I was not overly sold and the burger felt it was too safe, missing that ‘wow’ factor that the burgers patties back home had. I had nothing against it and polished the entire thing off but did not feel the need to rush back for another one as I did with Flipside and Missy Moos.

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Burger Verdict: Not bad, but not mind blowing either… 

6/10
Byron on Urbanspoon

Pizza by the meter @ Sartori Restaurant

I went to Sartori to celebrate my friend A’s birthday earlier this year. It was to be a delicious and very filling night!

The range of pizza options is more than enough to satisfy everyone and you can order a few different options of pizza toppings if you do order the pizza by the meter so it is near impossible to not please the entire crowd. I do not know what toppings I ended up trying as I think we ordered almost every one across the numerous meters of pizza that the group ordered. Even stuffed to the brim with all the pizza I found some room to split a desert with a fellow diner and it was not a mistake!

The atmosphere of the restaurant was inviting and while crowded made for a great night out with friends both new and old. And the tables are well set up for the long slabs of pizza, with plenty of room for plates and drinks with the pizzas occupying the elevated center spot on the table.

Overall I highly recommend this place and with it’s central location it makes for a great meal out in London whether as the highlight of the night or as a pre-show meal.
Sartori on Urbanspoon

London Pub Meal

When I first arrived in London I caught up with a friend from back home and he suggested that we go to a pub for dinner as we had quite a few months of catching up to do. We ended up checking out one of the two larger chains of pubs in London – the one we ended up going to was a William Morris.

As we were planning to spend a while in the pub catching up I ended up ordering a pitcher of a cocktail to try out and settled on the ‘Woo Woo’ (£9.69) which contained ‘Archers peach schnapps, Smirnoff vodka, cranberry juice’ and was a very easy to drink cocktail.

For dinner I ordered the chicken and bacon pasta (£6.79). The pasta was as expected for the price – a little over cooked, flavours were a little lacking but overall it was edible and did the job of being food for dinner.

While the meal did nothing to inspire me for the price I could not complain and the drinks were very cheap too. I would probably head back again but only for the prices and with good company.

Lunch @ Mr Greek, Toronto

My last day in Canada was spent with my extended family having lunch at Mr Greek. I ordered the Greek Style Chicken Penne which was ‘Marinated fire-grilled chicken fillet, roasted pepper, fresh basil and pennon a light garlic cream sauce with a side or garlic bread‘ ($13.95). The dish came with a choice of sauces between the garlic sauce that I picked, a rose sauce or a fresh homemade zesty tomato sauce. The meal was very filling due to it’s size and the flavours balanced out nicely.

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Greek Style Chicken Penne ($13.95)

We spent a while in the restaurant as it was our last meal together before I had to head back to London. The waitstaff were wonderful and not pushy at all with us remaining for a few hours. I would happily go back to this restaurant as I would love to try their Gyro’s which looked amazing!

Mr. Greek on Urbanspoon

Recipe: One Pot Pasta

This is a recipe that I was introduced to by my dad and have made many times since. It is such a simple recipe to make and very versatile. Matha Stewart has a recipe called one-pan pasta that I used as inspiration the first time I made this dish. Since then I have created this dish depending on the content of my fridge and pantry.

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Step 1: brown onions and garlic with some oil in the pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Garlic cloves thinly sliced (to personal taste).

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Step 2: Add all the ingredients in and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta
  •  Tin of diced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Stock
  • Optional ingredients from fridge or pantry – In this batch I added asparagus, green beans, kidney beans and ham.

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After 20 minutes the liquid will have been absorbed or boiled off you will end up with a flavoursome pasta dish. A trick I like to use is to cut out the salt in the dish and use stock instead of water for added flavour.

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And voila the finished product!

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