Prawn Pad Thai Unithai Hove

Cheap eats in Brighton and Hove

On a budget? There are plenty of cheap eats in Brighton & Hove offering delicious grub at an affordable price. So take a look below for the very best value restaurants, pubs, cafes, food stalls and vans in town.

Cheap places to eat in Brighton & Hove:

Eating on the cheap, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality. You can dine at any of the below eateries for under £10 for a main course and a drink (with some way under that amount). Of course, you could always head to your local Weatherspoons and eat there for the same price…but you’d be missing out on these stunning local businesses.

Bear in mind that I’ve gone for the cheapest option in each of these, however in general I’ve only included places that offer a good range of cheap options. Eateries offering usually luxourious produce at a cheap price compared to the average are also highlighted – in case you want to enjoy the finer things in life on a budget.

 

E-Kagen

22-23 Sydney St, Brighton, BN1 4EN

E-Kagen Japanese Brighton

Good for: Authentic Japanese food, Ramen, Sushi & Sashimi.

Situated above Yum Yum Oriental Market, you could easily walk past this Japanese eatery and not know it was there. But when you wander up some narrow stairs you will find a quirky venue with an open kitchen and extensive menu of cheap Japanese delights, including unusual options like sea urchin. This place offers fantastic value for money even if you like the finer things in life – a sashimi platter comprising of salmon, tuna, eel and squid ( this might vary) costs just £12. However, when I’m on a shoestring budget I always opt for one of E-Kagen’s delicious ramen dishes, with my favourite being the very inexpensive Shoyu Ramen. I’ve eaten many times here and can also highly recommend the Age Tofu starter, Gyoza Dumplings, Tempura Prawns and Vegetables and the Miso Ramen. They also have an extremely reasonable lunch menu, although I have yet to try it. It’s worth noting that this little gem is only open on Friday (lunch and dinner), Saturday (lunch and dinner) and Sunday (lunch only).

Prices: 

  • Shoyu Ramen: £8
  • Pork Katsu Curry: £9
  • Vegetable & Prawn Tempura: £9
  • Mixed Sashimi: £12

Cheapest main meal and drink: Shoyu Ramen + Jasmine Tea = £10

Shoyu Ramen E-Kagen

 

The Regency

131 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2HH

The Regency restaurant Brighton

Good for: Fish & Chips, Seafood, Lobster

I’ve written before about my love of the Regency for it’s simple, no-frills approach to seafood. If you’re into all things fishy it’s also the perfect venue for a tasty meal on the cheap in informal, simplistic surroundings. Produce such as prawns and lobster are available at much cheaper prices than you’d find at other Brighton seafood establishments. Favourites of mine include the Grilled King Prawns in Garlic, Deep Fried Seafood Platter and Fried fillet of Plaice. All main meals are served with a choice of chips, new potatoes or salad, although I would highly recommend the chips every time. Also worth a mention, if you fancy a real treat, is the Extravaganza Shellfish Platter (hot) – this can easily be shared between two and includes a whole lobster thermidor, scallops, oysters parmiggano, king prawns, muscles and languistines for just £47.95.

Prices:

  • Grilled King Prawns in Garlic: £11.95
  • Fried Cod/Haddock/Plaice/Calamari and chips: £8.20
  • Deep Fried Seafood Platter: £9.95
  • Seafood Risotto: £9.50
  • Extravaganza Shellfish Platter (hot): £47.95

Cheapest main meal and drink: Fried Cod/Haddock/Plaice/Calamari/Whitebait & chips + soft drink = £10.40

Shellfish Extravaganza Platter Hot The Regency

 

Unithai

10 Church Rd, Hove, BN3 2FL

Good for: Thai, Takeaway, Lunch

This place is an absolute hidden gem. Located in the back of a specialty Thai foods shop on Church Road, this delightful little noodle bar offers delicious, cheap meals in fairly unique surroundings. The King Prawn Pad Thai is exceptionally tasty and at £7.65 extremely reasonable, given you’ll pay £10 and upwards for this in most of Brighton’s Thai restaurants. The prawns are large and there’s a decent amount of them – a big plus. My dining partner enjoys the bean curd masaman curry, which is extremely flavorsome without the overwhelming perfumed taste you sometimes get with masaman. And a complete steal at £8.50. However, there are even cheaper meals to be eaten here – Unithai does not currently have a website so I took some (quite ropey) photos of the menu.

Prices:

  • Chicken Kao Rad Kaeng (Thai Red Curry): £7.25
  • Tom Kha Gai (chicken and mushroom coconut soup): £5.95
  • Kuay-tiew Nam Moo Sab (noodle soup): £7.65

Cheapest main meal and drink: Most dishes with a bean curd option will come out at £6.95 plus a Jasmine Tea (£1.20) = £8.15

Prawn Pad Thai Unithai Hove

 

 

Chippy Chips

16 Kingsway, Hove, BN3 2WB

Chippy Chips Hove

Good for: Takeaway, Fish & Chips.

Brighton and Hove are over-saturated with chippies, which sadly has resulted in a large number of very mediocre and bad value outlets, particularly along the seafront. Chippy Chips is not one of them – generous fillets of fresh fish coated in light, crispy batter awaits you should you choose this small, unpretentious chippy, which is slightly set back from the seafront near Hove’s King Alfred Leisure Centre. The chips are also consistently excellent, traditional fat chip shop ones with generous lashings of salt and vinegar (should you want it). Although their usual prices are extremely reasonable, visit Chippy Chips on a Tuesday or a Thursday and you can get a portion of fish and chips for just £4.50 – that’s a cheap eat when compared to other chippies in Brighton, where prices can frequently get up to £8 or £9 for the same. Rather than eat in the premises, which can get quite crowded and noisy with people coming and going, head to the beach to enjoy your bargain fish and chips by the sea.

Prices:

  • Small Cod or Haddock: £3.70
  • Medium Cod or Haddock: £4.40
  • Large Cod or Haddock: £5.20

Cheapest main meal and drink: Tuesdays and Thursdays cod and chips + soft drink = £5.50

Chippy Chips Hove Cod

 

Si Signore

12 Sydney Street, North Laines, Brighton, BN1 4AN

Si Signore Restaurant Brighton

Good for: Pizza, pasta, BYOB

A restaurant in Brighton’s North Laines that is actually inexpensive? Si Signore offers reasonably-priced Italian food, which makes it the perfect place to head to with friends, family or for a nice lunch. Additionally, you can bring your own wine, which is definitely a plus if you are eating out on a budget. As well as being cheap, this little eatery offers very high-quality Italian food and you will be well looked after by the staff and the charming owner. I particularly enjoy the Spaghetti Frutti Di Mare, which is generous on the amount of seafood included and is served in a tasty homemade sauce. Their pizzas are also very good, but there’s also a range of meat, fish and salads dishes if carbs aren’t your thing.

Prices:

  • Spaghetti Frutti Di Mare: £9.95
  • Lassagne Al Forno/Verdi: £7.95
  • Most pizzas: £.795

Cheapest main meal and drink: Margarita Pizza + BYOB = £6.95

 

Burger Off

52 Brunswick St W, Hove, BN3 1EL

Burger Off Brighton

Good for: Takeaway, burgers.

Hidden down a small street just into Hove, Burger Off has become somewhat infamous for it’s XXX Hot Chilli Burger, understood to be the very spiciest in the country. But if you don’t fancy hospitalising yourself, this outlet’s offering of mouth-watering yet cheap burgers are well worth a try. I love their double blue cheese burger, which has some dill pickle in it to cut through all that rich sumptuousness. Their extensive menu also contains some exciting flavours like Caribbean (with banana & peanut butter), and Black & Blue (black pudding, bacon and blue cheese). If you have an appetite this cheeky little place is perfect for you. Just have a look at these stacked creations (taken from Burger Off’s Facebook page):

Burger Off Brighton Hove

Their chips and onion rings are also very tasty and affordable. Plus, Burger Off’s close proximity to the seafront makes it an ideal place to grab some lunch to enjoy on the beach. That said, on a rainy day eating on-site would be perfectly pleasant too as Burger Off kitted out their dining area with new seating earlier on in the year.

Prices:

  • Blue Cheese Burger: Single £3.70, Double £5.20.
  • Bacon Cheese Burger: Single £4.30, Double £5.80.
  • XXX Hot Chilli (you’ve been warned): Single £4.50, Double £6.00.

Cheapest main meal and drink: A plain single burger and chips is £4.20, but for something a bit more exciting (e.g. double cheeseburger) and chips/onion rings you’ll be looking at around £6.20.

 

Fato a Mano

65-67 Church Rd, Hove, BN3 2BD

Oh Fato’s! A Brighton institution, with one site on London Road and another on Church Road in Hove, Fato a Mano is a fantastic place to enjoy a tasty, fresh pizza. Both branches have received a fair bit of attention, with lots of write ups online, but in this case it really is deserved. All of their pizzas are made to order and cooked in a wood fired oven, below is a little video from them to whet your appetite.

Particularly tasty is their Rucola Prosciutto, a white pizza with rocket, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil. However, whether is a simple margarita or one of their extravagant calzones, satisfaction is pretty much guaranteed. Fato’s know what they’re good at, so they’ve made both of their outlets all about the pizza – although starters, sides and a couple of desserts are also available. They also offer gluten free and vegan options, so it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser.

Prices:

  • Margherita (tomato, basil, parmesan, mozzarella): £6.50
  • Napoletana (Tomato, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, oregano, basil): £8.50
  • Calzone Vegetariano (Artichokes, olives, courgettes, peppers, smoked ricotta, mozzarella): £9.50

Cheapest main meal and drink: Marinara (Tomato, garlic, oregano, basil – £5.50) + soft drink (£2.20) = £7.70. Add another £1 if you go for the Margherita because cheese is life.

 

Noodles Soup

37 West St, Brighton, BN1 2RE

Noodles Soup Brighton

Good for: Noodle Soup, Takeaway, Quick Lunch.

Noodles Soup is one of the few eateries located on Brighton’s West Street that offers very good value for money. The menu is absolutely massive with lots of appetisers to choose from and every conceivable ingredient combination in noodle soup format. Inside is fairly small and you may have to share a table or bar counter with other diners. It’s cheap and fast, so it’s perfect for a quick inexpensive lunch, with a pal or solo. It’s also really convenient for the Odeon Cinema, Brighton Station and Churchill Square. Some of my favourite dishes I’ve tried here include the mixed seafood with Singapore Laska Noodles Soup, Roast Duck with Nissin Noodles Soup and Beef Tendon with Noodles Soup. You get a choice of egg noodles. rice noodles, Ho Fun noodles or Japanese Udon noodles in your soup. A big plus for me personally is that their seafood dishes include whole crab legs, which I highly enjoy picking at.

Prices:

  • Mixed Seafood with Singapore Laska Noodles Soup: £7.95
  • Beef Tendon with Noodles Soup: £6.95
  • “One Bite Snack” Spring Rolls (appetiser): £3

Cheapest main meal and drink: There’s a huge range of noodle soups available at the lowest price of £6.95. This plus a soft drink you’re looking at around £9.

Mixed Seafood with Singapore Laksa noodles soup Brighton

 

Brighton Shellfish & Oyster Bar

The Fishing Quarter, 199 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN2 5WH

Brighton Shellfish and Oyster Bar

Good for: Oysters, Cockles, Seafood Rolls, Eating on the Beach, Lunch

Okay, maybe this one is a bit cheeky as it’s not a ‘restaurant’ per se, but it’s definitely worth a mention for those who enjoy the finer things in life. For at this unassuming little hut you can get half a dozen Carlingford Oysters for just £6.50. Most restaurant prices are easily double that, so this outlet provides a unique opportunity to enjoy oysters on the cheap. If you’re feeling really decadent you can opt for their finest Jersey Oysters, which will cost you £8.50 for six. Other offerings include fresh crab, crab mayo and prawns roll and a fresh filled lobster roll, topped with gherkin, mayonnaise, and cayenne pepper.

Prices:

  • Carlingford Oysters: £1.20 each or six for £6.50
  • Finest Jersey Oysters: £1.50 each or six for £8.50
  • Fresh Filled Lobster Roll: £6.75
  • Crab Mayo & Prawn Roll: £3.75

Cheapest main meal and drink: It really depends on how hungry you are but you can easily feed and water a ravenous person here for under £10.

 

Have you found any cheap eats in Brighton & Hove? comment below!

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The George Payne Veggie Burger

The George Payne, Hove

Situated in the residential Poet’s Corner in Hove, The George Payne is a quirky, family friendly pub with a varied food offering that caters for everyone.

 

Location and History

The George Payne Pub Hove

Opened in 2012 by tenants Zoe & Steve, the George Payne has been quick to establish itself as a neighbourhood pub that highly values the tight-knit local community. As a result they run a variety of events reflecting this including open mic nights, pub quizzes, street parties and more.

It’s location on Payne Avenue, with close proximity to Aldrington station and bus stops on Portland Road, means that despite it’s residential setting it’s very easy to get to. We drove – there is pay and display parking just outside which becomes free of charge after 8pm.

The George Payne Hove Interior

 

Drink

The George Payne boasts a particularly wide selection of ales and ciders, as well as a good offering of wines. My dining partner sometimes struggles to find a decent session ale in other pubs but here he enjoyed a couple of pints of Camden Pale Ale, which was available on tap. I opted for a glass (or two) of red wine – Spee Wah Deep River Shiraz from Australia – which was very nice. Drink prices are reasonable and what you’d expect in a neighbourhood pub of this kind.

The George Payne Hove Bar

 

Food

We were kindly invited by the assistant manager Hannah to come and try some of the food on one of their open mic nights. The menu is varied with a decent amount of vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options – it’s also the sort of place where I imagine they would be happy to adapt certain dishes should you have any other dietary requirements. Additionally there is a set menu that runs Monday-Friday from 12pm-7pm, with two courses for £14 and three for £18.

To start I had beef croquettes, served with caramelised onions and lettuce. They were well-made with a crispy coating on the outside, a generous amount of filling and the caramelised onions were soft and not overly-sweet. One of my bug bears about lettuce is when it’s served fridge cold and/or recently washed and therefore leaking water – fortunately neither was the case here and it was a great accompaniment. They were a great little starter and I really enjoyed them – apologies for my naff picture below (I was definitely hungry and rather eager to snaffle them asap).

Beef Croquettes The George Payne Hove

My dining partner ordered a baked Camembert with chutney and charred Rosemary bread. It was awesome – all the various bits were done well and I particularly liked the drizzle of herb-infused oil on top of the cheese. The Camembert itself was warm but not too hot – so you could dive straight in.

Baked Camembert The George Payne Hove

For the main course I decided to go with some classic pub grub and try the Butchers Sausage and Champ mash. I was delighted to see on arrival that the gravy was absolutely loaded with onions, which made it really thick and sumptuous. The sausages were meaty and the champ smooth and creamy. If I had any criticism it would be that there was so much of the mash that I didn’t manage to finish it all (I probably would have if I hadn’t had a starter). I’ve also since found out that this dish is gluten free as well.

Sausage and mash The George Payne Hove

My dining partner opted again for a vegetarian option – their garden vegetable and bean burger with aioli, served with fries. I had a taste (for research purposes, obviously) and the burger patty was flavoursome with some nice mild spices running through it, especially tasty with the extras he ordered (hallumi and cheddar cheese). He found it a massive plus that it was served with skinny fries and not chips – these were also seasoned well. And just look at the size of it!

The George Payne Veggie Burger

Does the George Payne offer value for money? I would say yes for a pub of this kind. The portion sizes are generous so you could easily feed a hungry person here on a main course alone – their set menu as also a great option if you are looking for a good feed on a budget. You can check out their prices and both types of menu here.

 

ambience

We had a really lovely night here. The open mic acts were varied – including a solo trumpeteer (?) – and the atmosphere is really warm and welcoming. I particularly liked the decor of the pub, with lots of little quirky nik naks around to make it feel homely. There is a real neighbourly, community vibe here which is nice to see when so many of these kinds of pubs are closing. The George Payne is both family and dog friendly, although this is obvious when you see certain touches around the premises, such as jars of sweets available behind the bar. Next time I visit I will definitely be trying their cheese board, which is comprised entirely of local cheeses including the famous Sussex Charmer.

The George Payne Hove Cheese Board

Overall, I would highly recommend a visit here for food to all kinds of parties, be it locals or visitors, couples, friends, families or solo diners. The George Payne’s home-cooked style of food perfect suits the cosy, home-from-home atmosphere in this lovely community pub.

 

Contact Details

Address: The George Payne, 18 Payne Ave, Hove, BN3 5HB

Phone: 01273 329563

Facebook:The George Payne

Twitter: @georgepaynehove

 

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dumplings

DIY Street Food Tour in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is often hailed for its amount of one, two and even three Michelin-starred restaurants, but many hidden gems are to be had within the city’s vibrant street food scene.

There’s no better part of HK to eat like the locals than the poorest district of the city – Sham Shui Po. I was tasked with putting together a DIY street food tour to take my family around this area, which heavy contrasts with the bright lights and skyscrapers typically associated with Hong Kong.

Sham Shiu Po Street Food Tour

Before embarking on this tour, you’ll need to get to Sham Shui Po. Fortunately, it has it’s own MTR stop on the Tsuen Wan Line (red), so it’s easily accessible from all other parts of the city. And your first food stop is just a 3 minute walk away!

Stop 1: Sin Xiang Yuan 新香園(堅記)

Address: 38 Kweilin Street

Recommended eat: Scrambled egg and beef sandwich

This extremely busy cafe is the perfect place to experience a traditional Hong Kong breakfast. As space is limited we shared with another party, who were really surprised we sought out the eatery, generally not frequented by tourists. We ordered a couple of scrambled egg and beef sandwiches, which I have read is a common breakfast dish here. It was delicious, the beef was really soft, the eggs were creamy and the massively thick wads of bread they seem to do all over HK are amazing toasted. The perfect start to our tour!

 

Stop 2: Hop Yik Tai 合益泰小食

Address: 121 Kweilin Street

Recommended eat: Cheung Fun

Just up the road from our first stop is a small shop selling Cheung Fun – traditional rice rolls. There was a queue of people waiting, despite there being no seating, everyone was either standing and eating in the street or took theirs elsewhere. The lady serving ran a slick operation – she had a long strand of the rolls and would cut them to size as you ordered, before lavishing a brown-orange coloured sauce on them. This was a sweet, peanut sauce which coated the soft rice rolls perfectly, topped off with a dusting of sesame seeds. It was really delicious and fantastically cheap – we paid 8 HKD for a bowl (around 80p).

Cheung Fun

 

Stop 3: Tim Ho Wan 添好运

Address: 9–11 Fuk Wing Street

Recommended eats: Char Siu, pork dumpling with shrimp

Without doubt this is the stop I was most looking forward to. For this little eatery not only serves the most banging barbecue pork buns (Char Siu) in town, but is in fact the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, and the only Michelin-starred in this neighbourhood. We had to queue for a while to get in, but as it was early in the day this only took a few minutes. We ordered a few dim sum including their famed crispy pork buns, chicken feet and some pork dumplings with shrimp. The filling of the Char Siu was unexpectedly sweet but still delicious. I also loved the texture of the pork and shrimp dumplings, as well as the taste. To be honest, the chicken feet weren’t for me. I tried chicken feet a couple of times during my stay in HK and didn’t really take to them – so I think this is just a personal preference. I would still highly recommend giving them a go!

STOP 4: Fresh juice stall

Address: Corner of Fuk Wing Street and Nam Cheong Street

Recommended drinks: Pretty much anything!

We stumbled across this stall between stops and it made for a very revitalising break from all the rich food we had been eating! The lady here will simply ask you to select a couple of fruit and vegetables, then she’ll juice them right in front of you. A particularly refreshing combo was carrot, celery and apple!

juice stall HK

Stop 5: Roast Goose King 烧鹅大皇

Address: 119 Fuk Wing Street

Recommended eats: Roast goose

This was what I looked forward to most when planned my visit to HK – some roast goose done in the traditional way! And this eatery, which proudly displays it’s speciality in it’s small shop window, did not disappoint. We paid 140HKD for half a roast goose (absolute bargain) and despite already feeling rather full my mum and I demolished the whole thing. Here it was served with a thick, sticky fruit sauce, which cut through the richness of the goose like an absolute dream. I would highly recommend anybody wanting to try an authentic goose to come here, as quite a few restaurants in HK will serve it in a refined, westernised way instead. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that – but for a taste of the real deal come to Sham Shui Po.

Roast Goose with fruit sauceRoast Goose King

Stop 6: Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong 公和荳品廠

Address: 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po

Recommended eats: Tofu pudding (hot or cold)

By our final stop we were absolutely stuffed but knew we could make room for some dessert. Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong is located close to exit B2 of Sham Shui Po station and so was an ideally situated end for our tour. On arrival the place seemed to be full, but one of the staff kindly showed us to a back room upstairs. As well as a few tables and a TV, there was also some washing hanging up and a view over the rest of the shop – it was a pretty interesting setting. This shop is renowned for its tofu dishes, so we decided to have two traditional tofu puddings – one served hot, and one cold. You get some brown sugar (it tasted different to ordinary brown sugar but I really couldn’t put my finger on what was different) to sprinkle on top, which I would highly recommend doing. I didn’t think I was a big tofu fan, but the hot pudding in particular was really tasty and quite light. I would definitely suggest this place for people who want an introduction to tofu – you won’t find anywhere better.

 

That brought us to the end of our DIY tour. As well as playing host to lots of delicious, authentic and traditional food, Sham Shui Po is without doubt the friendliest district I visited in Hong Kong. The people we met went out of their way to help us, whether we were struggling to order food or looking for other recommendations, and I would urge anyone who comes to HK to spend a bit of time in this very different part of the city. It is without doubt the best thing I did during my visit.

 

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Nasi Lemak

Street Food, Temples and Pasar Malams in Kuala Lumpur

If you’re into food – particularly Chinese, Indian or Malay – a trip to Malaysia’s capital is an absolute must! I stayed for three nights and in that time managed to get a real flavour of Kuala Lumpur’s culinary melting pot.

I was lucky enough to be staying with a local host, so I got loads of good insight regarding the best places to go and stuff my face. Kuala Lumpur is also remarkably cheap (if you eat local) – so there’s no excuse not to try everything you can get your greedy paws on.

Food Tour Malaysia

I arrived in KL at around 5pm and fortunately had arranged to spend my first night on one of Food Tour Malaysia‘s highly-acclaimed tours. Our guide Charles was so passionate about the food of KL and he took us to areas I never would’ve heard about, yet alone navigated my way to, for some proper local grub.

Our first stop was a semi-covered market with lots of small stalls – each selling a particular food they specialised in. Charles told us the idea was to have a walk around and then sit down and have whatever you liked the look of from the various stalls. We firstly tried the traditional Malay breakfast dish, Nasi Lemak, consisting of rice, spices and a boiled egg served wrapped in a banana leaf. We also had a little bowl of crispy bits to sprinkle over it which was anchovies and cashews I think. Alongside this we had some satay chicken skewers, beef skewers, Otak Otak (literally translates to ‘Brains Brains’ – a mackerel paste wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued) and burnt tofu – which I can only really describe as a sweet, treacly wad of delicious-ness.

Next we headed to Bansar for some authentic South Indian cuisine. Charles took us to a large restaurant called Devi’s Corner, which is apparently open all night, and we tucked into a variety of Indian delicacies – all served on a banana leaf. Perfect for sharing (if you feel like it). To be honest, I’ve actually forgotten what everything is technically called but there was a lovely fish curry sauce that had a slightly sour-hot note, a chicken curry sauce, some spicy chicken which literally blew my brains out but was very tasty and a variety of lovely puris.

Next Charles took us to a Pasar Malam (night market) in a local neighbourhood. This was really busy and there was not one tourist in sight, so I was sure we were onto a winner. Here we got to try the legendary durian fruit – which I had heard a lot about. As expected, it absolutely stank but actually tasted quite nice – despite repeating on me all evening. We also had these delicious wraps made fresh on one of the stalls filled with mince, onions and some other bits plus some amazing crispy waffle-pancakes filled with sweetcorn.

After a walk around Brickfields (Little India), our final stop was an unassuming Chinese cafe – Khong Lock Yuen. The three main nationalities in Kuala Lumpur are Chinese, South Indian and Malay so it was fitting to cover all three in our tour. Here we enjoyed a lovely broth of pork belly, served with chilli, garlic and rice. The combination of all four elements was delicious and the pork belly was extremely moist and tender.

This is the best thing I did during my time in Kuala Lumpur – it made for a fantastic introduction to the city’s food scene and also really helped me get my bearings regarding different popular areas for eating out. Charles was a great guide too and very informative when it came to the history of Kuala Lumpur and it’s food.

Vegetarian Buffet at dharma realm guan yin sagely monastery

After a wander around KL on the second day of my trip, I decided to visit a Chinese Buddhist temple recommended to me by my host – which is just a stone’s throw away from KLCC and the Petronas Towers. She said that, as well as being a beautiful and serene place to spend some time, there was an amazing canteen tucked away just behind it. The buffet is fully vegetarian and is extremely good value for money (my plate plus a lemongrass iced tea was 9 RM i.e. £1.60).

The quality of the food was absolutely amazing and the selection was massive. I can’t actually begin to go through what I ate as I sampled so many things, as you can see from the photo above. So you’ll just have to go to Kuala Lumpur and eat it yourself. Sorry (not sorry).

Pasar Malam, Little India

After my brief experience of a Pasar Malam with Food Tour Malaysia I knew I had to find another one if I could! Fortunately, on my last night, I went back to Brickfields and spotted one tucked away on my drive there. This one seemed to be less food-orientated and was frequented mostly by locals, in fact I don’t think I saw one tourist there (hipster traveller level = 1000). Eventually I did come to a small selection of food stalls. One was selling small Indian snacks and a very nice lady kindly explained to me what they were (I was obviously looking a bit lost). These small doughnuts were in fact savoury and came served with a spicy peanut sauce. They were delicious! I also got to try another pancake, this time a soft, fluffy version filled with sugar and corn.

Things to do in KL

Canopy Walk at KL Forest Eco Park

One of the oldest permanent forest reserves in Malaysia sits right at the heart of KL, near KL Tower and just a short walk from where I was staying. The 200m canopy walk is well worth doing and there’s lots of information available about the reserve and it’s wildlife. It’s also a great place to escape the hustle and bustle for an hour. And it’s free!

Go KL Free Bus

If you’re on a budget this is a great way to see the city and get your bearings when you arrive. In fact, I ended up using this more than I used the LTR. They’re pretty regular, just be prepared for a bit of a squeeze during busy hours!

KL Bird Park

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I love wildlife so a visit to the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary was a must for me. KL Bird Park is a nice way to spend a couple of hours (or even an afternoon if you go and check out the bird show). Loads of interesting species that I had never seen before and, in general, the birds seemed well-adjusted and happy. Entry is 69 RM for adults and 55 RM for children (up to 12 years old).

Dark Cave (Batu Caves)

To be honest, I had quite mixed feelings about my visit to the famous Batu Caves. It was sad to see the amount of pollution at this majestic landmark and I really disliked people teasing the monkeys, giving them plastic bags, junk food etc. However, about halfway up the steps to the shrines you can pay just 35 RM for an educational 40 minute tour of the Dark Cave – which is a conservation site. The guides are clued-up and passionate about the cave’s wildlife and geology – you’ll hear bats (and see lots of their droppings), see different types of rock formations and spot some creepy crawlies! Towards the end of our tour I spotted a long-legged millipede in a crevice (picture from Flickr above, ick!) – the cave is also home to the extremely rare trapdoor spider. All the profit from tours goes back into the conservation of the cave and it’s inhabitants. Please give it a visit!

Kuala Lumpur

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Vegetable Red Thai Curry

With winter approaching, tasty root vegetables like swede, pumpkin and squash are bang in season. With their firm, hearty texture these kinds of veg make a great centerpiece for meat-free curries. 

I’ve been making red thai curries for a while now and, whilst not necessarily 100% authentic, they’ve always gone down a treat with guests. Though I usually opt for pork, chicken or prawns in my curries I had a couple of vegetarian guests for dinner so thought I would have a crack at a tasty and suitably satisfying alternative.

Cost

You’re bound to have a lot of the ingredients in your pantry cupboard. The most expensive items are probably the squash and the aubergines. I receive a weekly veg box from Sussex-based Ashurst Organics, which is where I sourced these from – but in the shops you’d probably only be looking at a £3-4 for both. Approximate cost: £10

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

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For the curry paste:

  • 3 red chillis, de-seeded (unless you like it super spicy)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 bananas shallots
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, outer layer removed
  • The zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (optional – I found a recipe for vegan fish sauce if you want this to be strictly vegetarian, otherwise just omit it)
  • 2 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful of coriander stalks (optional – I love coriander but know a lot of people don’t!)

For the curry:

  • 2 medium aubergines/eggplants
  • About 500g of squash, peeled and choped into bitesize chunks
  • 8 – 10 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 3 handfuls of cashew nuts
  • Handful of coriander/cilantro
  • 6 or so baby sweetcorns
  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach

For the coriander Yogurt:

  • Pot of yogurt
  • Handful of coriander/cilantro

 

Method

  • Make the curry paste. Combine all the ingredients for the paste in a blender or food processor a few hours before you want to use it.
  • Aubergines can sometimes taste quite bitter. To prevent this, chop your aubergines into bitesized pieces and place in a colander a few hours before you want to make your curry. Sprinkle a very, very generous amount of salt so they are basically coated(don’t worry, you’ll rinse them later), place a plate on top of them and weigh down with heavy weights. Leave for a couple of hours – this extracts the bitter juices from the aubergines.
  • Rinse your aubergines and pat dry with kitchen towel or a (clean) tea-cloth. Heat about 3 tbsp of light oil (sunflower or vegetable) in a wok and fry the aubergine on both sides until they turn golden brown. Then remove from the oil.
  • Heat some oil in a wok and fry the curry paste for around 1 minute until fragrant, but keep it moving so it doesn’t catch and burn – then add the squash and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and the aubergines and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Add the baby sweetcorn, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the cashews and spinach and stir until the spinach has wilted. Season to taste with soy sauce, black pepper and – if you want a slightly more sour hit – tamarind paste.
  • Combine the yogurt and coriander to form the coriander yogurt, then serve everything with some boiled rice and top with extra cashews and coriander for a decorative effect.
  • Enjoy!

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The Greedy Spanish Adventure: Seville

What could be better to an insatiable food lover than a 10 day tour across the beautiful Spanish region of Andalusia? My adventure starts in it’s traditional but bustling capital city, Seville – the birthplace of tapas!

Choosing to visit Seville at the very end of August not only resulted in us being mocked by actual Spaniards back in the UK, but also meant the city was a little quieter than usual – as all the (sensible) locals head north during the summer months to escape the stifling heat. At the height of the day, temperatures can reach well over 40 degrees. However, I didn’t let that stop me from getting as my chops around as many culinary delights as humanely possible.

 

Bodega Siglo XVIII, Triana

Our hotel was located in the lively neighborhood of Triana, just across the bridge from all the main attractions the city has to offer. One reason for choosing this quite residential area as our base was it’s reputation for high-quality tapas bars frequented by Sevillians themselves. On our first night we took a stroll along the Canal de Alfonso XIII  and then headed further into Triana for some food.

You’ll find Bodega Siglo XVIII on Calle Pelay Correa – unlike many of the tapas bars we explored later, this place is large in size and pretty unmissable. The interior is decorated very traditionally and it’s a pleasure to soak up the historical ambiance whilst you enjoy their simple but outstandingly tasty food.

tapas

We ordered smoked anchovies with sweet roasted red pepper, goat cheese and honey and the ambiguously-titled Andalusian lamb. All three dishes arrived quickly and were presented thoughtfully, along with some bread. The anchovies and red pepper were a match made in heaven and combined worked very well with each others’ contrasting flavours. The Andalusian lamb was not what I expected, as it seemed to be a round of minced lamb with a sort of skin around the outside. It was extremely flavoursome and it’s always refreshing to try something new! My weakness for goat cheese has been well documented, especially in sweet concoctions, so the cheese and honey combo was right up my street. The mini-toasts it came with were extremely crispy and delicate.

This lovely Bodega was a fantastic first taste of Seville, and got me really excited for what else we’d get to try over the coming days.

 

Mercado lonja de barranco

Located just across the bridge from the more rustic Triana Mercado, this is a relatively new development that for a long time was a derelict building before being sympathetically restored to it’s former glory. This is considered a rather upmarket dining venue, which attracts young professionals on their lunch breaks and, of course, tourists. Not dissimilar to the famous Altringcham Market in the UK , Lonja de barranco is essentially a high-end food court, with multiple producers, restaurants and street food stalls all in one place.

We said that we were just going to have a look around and not buy anything, but of course we couldn’t help getting a couple of nibbles just to see us through. From a chacutarie stall I bought Chicharron Sevilla – which translates as “Seville pork rind”. It might not sound very appetising, but these little morsels of slow-cooked and dried pork were a delight. Ours were cooked with garlic and rolled in spices (paprika was in there somewhere I think) and – even though the texture took a couple of bites to get used to – we snuffled the lot pretty quickly. My travel companion went for a spinach and ricotta empanada from a bakery stall. The pastry was thin with a generous amount of filling and we could’ve easily sampled more of the offerings on show.

I imagine this is a great place to bring friends for lunch if you can’t agree on what type of food you all fancy. Although not as cheap as some of the tapas available across the bridge in Triana, it still is good value and allows you to take a break with a glass of wine, watching the world go by.

 

Devour Seville Food Tour

For our final night in Seville, I decided to book us onto a tour I’ve seen highly recommended in several places. We met on Plaza Nueva with our guide Michaela, who promised us an authentic taste of Seville – from classic tapas to the more modern take on Spanish food influenced by other cultures.

Taberna Álvaro Peregil

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Our first destination was the second oldest tapas bar in Seville, predated only by the very famous El Rinconcillo. You could very easily walk past Tabenra Alvaro Peregil – located on Calle Mateos Gagos – and not notice, were it not for the small bar tables and groups of people gathered outside. This place is tiny and extremely unpretentious in its decor – keeping to a simple, traditionally Spanish style with a bar at the back of the premises and room for about four bar tables inside. This bar is one of the only that serves the traditional Vina de Naranja – Seville Orange Wine. One of only two products made with Seville oranges (the other being marmalade), this comes in a small sherry glass and tastes quite like a port. It went down very well with food we had:

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  • Chiccarones from Cadiz: Similar to the pork we had at Lonja de Barranco, though this one was not dusted in spices but slow-cooked, sliced thiny and served cold.
  • Aged manchego sheep milk cheese.

Casa Morales

Our next foodie destination was just a 5 minutes’ walk away on Calle de Mateos Gago. A previous Bodega, the interior of Casa Morales was lined with enormous vats and packed full with people, mostly locals.  Here we got to try different sherries – one being a Manzanilla sherry and  other a Amontillado – to go with our tapas:

  • Bacalao and salmorejo montaditos – raw cod drizzled with the very popular salmorejo, a tomato-based puree similar to gaspatcho.
  • Jamón ibérico de bellota – one of Spain’s most famous exports. The bellota variety is considered the very highest quality as the pigs are fed on acorns.
  • Chorizo on bread was also served, though it was extremely soft and delicate – unlike any other chorizo I’ve had before!

Enrique Becerra

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Whilst the previous two venues had been authentic tastes of the traditional Sevillian tapas bar, this final destination took us somewhat forward in time to a more modern style of classic tapas being championed and paired with other, non-Spanish influences. Enrique Becerra is a large, traditionally decorated venue whose North-African influence comes through a treat in the delicious food they serve. We enjoyed several different wines, including our first and only Rioja of the tour, which were paired with each tapas that came out:

  • Olives, served with Mioro (DO Condado de Huelva) – a white wine from the nearby region of Huelva.
  • More bacalao (cod), this time in a pastry parcel and served with a Barbazul (VT de Cadiz).
  • Tuna with salmorejo.
  • Morrocan style lamb, served with rice and a Calros Serres Rioja.
  • Some sort of meat in sauce, the details of which I was too drunk with wine to remember.
  • Tocino de cielo – which is a Spanish sweet flan – paired with a Cream Sherry.

I’m so delighted to have done this tour. Michaela’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the local area and it’s history was fantastic and something we would not have benefitted from during our short 2 night stay otherwise. Devour also run tours in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona – should I be visiting any of these places I will definitely be booking onto another tour!

Triana Market

Mercado de triana

On the day of our departure from Seville, I was up bright and early to go and check out the Mercado de Triana. Over 150 years old, this traditional market is the go-to for locals grabbing their weekly essentials and enjoying some traditional tapas while they do so. As I went so early in the morning very few of the tapas bars were open, but I got to browse some absolutely fantastic-looking local produce from a variety of vendors.

In the end I bought a tin of anchovies and a couple of pinchos from a delicatessen stall. Each one comprised of a large olive, an artichoke and a slice of sweet red pepper, wrapped in a sardine and skewered together with a cocktail stick. I thought that this, along with some fresh bread, would make for a fantastic little snack on the bus back to Malaga. I was absolutely right – they were banging.

Other Things to do in Seville

It might be hard to believe, but I wasn’t stuffing my face for the whole trip. Here’s some other things we did:

Plaza de España

This historic square is one of the main attractions of Seville and is truly magnificent. We hired a boat and paddled around the canal, then had a wander in the shady Parque de Maria Luisa to escape the heat.

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La Terraza de EME

This was a fabulous bar we went to after our tapas tour which has a fantastic view of the Catedral de Sevilla. Cocktails are decent although predictably quite expensive, but it’s a nice way to end the day.

Metropol Parasol

We didn’t actually go to see this as we ran out of time but it was strongly recommended by our tapas tour guide Michaela. A weird, mushroom-like structure that caused a lot of controversy when it was constructed.

 

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Max Strummer

Du riechst so gut: A Taste of Berlin

Last weekend I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Germany’s bustling capital. With its fascinating history and rich arts scene, Berlin and its varied neighborhoods allow keen foodies to uncover all sorts of hidden gems.

Like our own London, Berlin has become a melting pot of different cultures – so a vast array of cuisines from across the globe have a strong presence in this sprawling metropolis. I got stuck right in but, of course, was keen to also sample some traditional German delicacies.

street food berlin

Max und moritz      Miss Saigon

Restaurant Bastard      Burgermeister

Badeschiff

Max und Moritz

This charming eatery is located on Oranienstraße – which is a long street featuring loads of cafes, restaurants and bars in the trendy district of Kreuzberg. Despite the sheer volume of places to eat here, Max Und Moritz stands out as a proudly and traditionally German dining venue – the restaurant’s name in fact is taken from a 19th century German story by Wilhelm Busch. The decor is simple but elegant and the menu lists a variety of traditional treats including Berliner Eisbein – pickled pork foot – and Bollenfleisch – a lamb stew. It gets very busy and we were lucky as walk-ins to get a table at all – even though it was past 10pm when we arrived.

German beer is cherished around the globe, so we ordered a couple of glasses of Berliner Weissbier, a refreshing and not too gassy lager, which really hit the spot on a warm summer’s night. We only had a main course, and I had a massive hankering for some schnitzel – which actually originates from Veinna, Austria – but is done incredibly well by the Germans.

My dining companion and I both ordered the size ‘small’ and I’m very glad I did because it was enormous – I dread to think what sort of a beast the larger size is! It came with roasted potatoes and a very pleasant side salad that comprised of leaves, red and white cabbage, beetroot, tomatoes and a lovely dressing.

Prices were extremely reasonable, with our Wiener Schnitzel’s coming in at €13 each. If you come to Berlin and want a range of traditional dishes to choose from, Max Und Moritz is the perfect place.

Miss Saigon

As I previously touched upon, Berlin’s population boosts a rich variety of ethnicities and cultures – which means extremely good-quality and authentic food from any corner of the world can be found here. We had read in The Guardian about Miss Saigon – a family-run Vietnamese restaurant, once again in Kreuzberg. You could easily walk past it and not know, as it’s tucked away on the corner of Skalitzer Str. and Manteuffelstraße, hidden by trees. Upon entry, however, the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and we were quickly seated at a vacant table.

To drink I opted for one of their cocktails – a rum-based Saigon Dream – which tasted not disimilar from a pina colada. My dining companion ordered a Vietnamese beer which – typical of many Asian lagers – was light, refreshing and served very cold.

Miss Saigon Starter

We spent ages browsing the quite extensive menu which included classics such as Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup), as well as plenty of tempting dishes I had never heard of before. One thing this restaurant seems big on is surf n’ turf, and many of the starters were a combination of shrimp and chicken or pork. I finally selected the traditional paper rice rolls, filled with minced pork and shrimp and my fellow diner went for the deep fried crab and chicken rice balls. Both came thoughtfully presented on the same plate, which I thought was really nice. My rolls were delicious, especially when combined with the fiery chilli dip that came alongside it – I suppose they were probably the Vietnamese equivalent of Dim Sum. My dining companion’s rice balls were excellent – very crispy on the outside and lushciously moist and soft in the middle. The flavour of crab still came through very well despite being combined with chicken.

Before our starters arrived we were served a complimentary vegetable broth – which was really tasty and flavorsome. Plus, I love free stuff – so I thought it was a lovely touch!

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For our main course I settled on spicy pork belly, barbecued on wood and served with noodles. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as the pork was in fact thinly sliced and served in a bowl on top of the noodles. The flavour was very unique – I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it before – extremely smokey and deep with the heat from chilli sitting nicely in the background. It’s not one of those taste combinations you could eat forever – I just about managed to finish what was in my bowl – but I put that down to the fact is was so unusual and new to me. My fellow diner choose very well again and went for another surf n’ turf option – this time shrimp and chicken pancakes. These were medium-sized little packages, wrapped into a semi-circle and bursting with filling. I was surprised when I saw it wasn’t served with rice or noodles – but apparently after you ate all six on the plate there was no need for anything else as they were very filling. I managed to blag a taste and they were absolutely delicious.

We were too full for dessert, but apparently Miss Saigon is famous for its milkshakes and we saw a lot of people tucking into them as we left. All in all, this little eatery provides an authentic taste of Vietnam with good service and a warm, cozy ambience.

Restaurant Bastard

Our last morning in Berlin, and after walking up and down Oranienstraße for about half an hour looking for somewhere that served waffles, we changed our strategy and instead turned to the internet for nearby recommendations. Although the name was what first grabbed us, the reviews of Restaurant Bastard promised a lovely place for brunch that many locals visited – so off we went.

Located near Görlitze Park, the restaurant was absolutely bustling with people which is always a good sign – especially as it was away from any busy streets or attractions. We had to wait 10 minutes for a table to become free, so we were starving by the time we ordered.

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The venue itself is unapologetically shabby chic – the stars of the show here are the food, freshly made juices and excellent coffee. We had two lattes whilst we browsed the menu and they were the creamiest, loveliest things you could imagine.

Food-wise, I abandoned my want for a sweet breakfast (although pancakes were on the menu) and opted for what was called a Max Strummer – two fried eggs, bacon, cheese and salad on bread. The salad was well thought out and had all sorts in it – like baby radishes and pea shoots – rather than being an afterthought as is so often the case with other cafes. All of the different elements perfectly complemented each other when combined and the eggs were extremely runny and rich. I was very happy indeed and proceeded to finish the whole lot.

My dining partner went for a more minimalistic approach with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. I got a little taste and it was very good – the portion sizes were also decent value for money.

Burgermeister

Everyday, we crossed the bridge over from our hotel in Friedrichshain over to Kreuzberg (although I believe the whole area is being merged and rebranded Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg) and walked past a small, green hut underneath the train tracks called Burgermeister. We noticed that from around 11:30am until gone 11pm the limited seating outside would be packed and all afternoon/evening a long queue leading to the hut’s kitchen would be present.

Our final meal in Berlin had to be here, we decided, and we went at around 4:30pm to increase our chances of getting a seat.

burgermeister

Burgermeister have obviously cracked the formula to running an extremely successful eating venue. They have one thing – burgers in this case – that they do incredibly well, so they offer around 7 different varieties of burger, including a chicken and a vegetarian option. People come up to the till to order and are given a ticket with a number. When that number appears on the counter next to the kitchen they come and get their food. It’s a slick operation and the only waiting staff required is one elderly gentleman, who collects and recycles bottles from the tables. When the seating is at full-capacity, many take their food away and eat it on one of the parks and green spaces within a five minute walk of Burgermeister.

We both decided on the Hausmeista which contained burger, mushroom, bacon, cheese and the usual other burger garnishes. I had fries and my companion opted for cheesy fries, which I became quite envious of. This was not your normal cheddar but, in fact, the dirty packaged sort of cheese that is bright yellow and probably incredibly bad for you, but amazingly delicious. The burgers came packaged in very neat branded holders that kept them upright and made them easy to take to your table.

I must says the burger I had there stands out as one of the best I’ve ever eaten. The bun, which I think was brioche, wasn’t too thick and the filling was extremely generous. The meat component itself was so juicy and had a lovely charred flavour from the cooking as well. This is an absolutely perfect place to go at anytime of the day – a must-visit for any trip of Berlin.

Street Food

Berliners love their street food – the amount of stalls, huts and pop-ups you pass when exploring the city is testament to that. Here’s a few German snacks to get your teeth into:

Bratwurst

Large, curved, sausagey – what’s not to love? Probably the culinary symbol of Germany and the ultimate street food. Made usually from veal, pork or beef and often served with a bread roll and mustard. You can get one of these beauties on pretty much any corner in Berlin but I noticed there were a lot of Bratwurst stalls in the area around the Brandenburg Gate. I bought one from a stall just outside the S-Bahn entrance of the Berlin Warschauer Straße station in Friedrichshain. Unfortunately I was in desperate need and wolfed it down before I got a picture – find below a general stock image. Sorry not sorry.

bratwurst

Riesen Bockwurst

Another massive sausage – differing from the Bratwurst both in size (it’s larger) and in the way it’s cooked. Whereas Bratwurst is often flame grilled or pan fried, Riesen Bockwurst is simmered in water. I got to sample one at the airport en route back to the UK – several sausages were kept in a steamy container proudly on display. You had a choice of bread or potatoes to accompany it, along with the obligatory mustard. Lush.

Kebabs

They might not be traditionally German, but the kebab is without doubt one of Berlin’s favorite meaty treats and you’ll find several kebab outlets on most busy streets. This is mostly owing to Berlin’s large Turkish population and of course the fact that kebabs are absolutely banging. For the best of the best head to the southeastern side of Kreuzberg which has the biggest concentration of kebab eateries.

kebab queue kreuzberg

Currywurst

How could you possibly improve the traditional Bratwurst other than by covering it with ketchup and curry powder, served with chips? There’s a nice little outlet just before the bridge between Friedrichshain and Kruezberg (on the Friedrichshain side under the train tracks) that specialises in this German delicacy.

 

What Else?

When I wasn’t eating, I actually managed to do some other things. Here are my recommendations:

KAYAK BERLIN

We did the West Berlin tour and it was such a unique way to see the city. A 3 hour tour costs 33 euros, which is pretty reasonable.

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Wrangelkiez/Alt-Treptow

Such a cool area that I wish we had more time to explore, particularly at night. Walk through Wrangelkiez and cross the bridge of the first canal, just next to the petrol station you will find the entrance to some lovely riverside restaurants and cafes!

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In Alt-Treptower you will also find Badeschiff, a beach-style venue with bars, food, deck chairs and a pool on top of the River Spree! I would love to do the area around Berlin Arena and Treptow Art Center again at night – although it looks fairly inactive during the day I have a strong suspicion that’s when the area really comes alive.

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SPY MUSEUM

If you’re a fan of all things espionage this is your place! Went in here on a bit of a whim but the history of spies through the ages, collection of nifty (and often fatal) gadgets and James Bond exhibition makes for a wicked experience. And there’s a laser game. A LASER GAME.

 

I was sad when my Berlin adventure ended but fortunately I don’t have to wait long for my next foodie adventure. Watch this space because in the next month I’m doing a tour of Andalucia including Seville and Grenada, as well as Ibiza!

 

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Glouglou and Les Halles Castellane, Montpellier

For my last night in Montpellier I headed once again to the Old Town, this time to Rue du Pila St Gély – the home of wine-loving eatery Glouglou. The following morning I went hunting for a special type of goat cheese at a market near Comedy Place.

After my experiences at Petit Bistro and Le Grillardin the bar had been set very high, so I was determined to round off my trip to Montpelier with another heavenly eating experience.

Glouglou

Glouglou sits on a fairly bustling street, just away from a tram track and main road. The inside of the restaurant is very fitting for a bar à vin, it’s curved stone ceiling giving the venue an intimate, cellar-esque feel. It was too nice an evening to sit inside, so out I went to enjoy the ambiance and do a spot of people watching on one of the several tables outside.

As a result of disproportionately stuffing my face all week I wasn’t really that hungry and decided a main course and a glass of wine would be enough for me. Glouglou has a really innovative and fun system for their wine – instead of receiving a menu, you are given a card (about the size of a bank card). Then the waiter explains you go inside the restaurant to what can only be described as a wine vending machine and insert your card, then make your selection. Helpfully there are 3 sizes to choose from, starting with a ‘taster’ option (about 5 sips of wine). So in the space of one night you could potentially try several different types plus no need to attract a member of staff’s attention if you want a refill, just help yourself!

When it came to the food I felt like trying something new and noticed that sweetbreads where on the menu. I, unlike many, really like offal so I thought there was no better time to give them a go. The term ‘sweetbreads’ usually refers to the thymus or the pancreas of an animal, mostly calves or (as in my case) lamb. A lot of people are icked out by this, but really in 2016 Britain we’ve forgotten what a luxury prime cuts of meat were not so long ago – these days we can pick and choose whatever part of whatever species at our convenience. This, however, has made us really wasteful, unadventurous and fussy, and my feeling is that we owe it to the animal whose life has been sacrificed for our dinner to eat (or at least try) everything that comes from it . Anyway, rant over. But, seriously, we should all be eating more offal. Because it’s banging. And cheap.

Back to my Glouglou sweetbreads. They came in a cassoulet containing mushrooms, carrots etc with the obligatory basket of bread. The gravy of the casserole was deep, rich and flavoursome – you can see just by looking at the picture below what a nice shine it had too. The sweetbreads themselves were not as strong in taste as I was expecting – more similar to kidneys rather than liver and would probably be a great introduction to offal for someone who is not used to it.  All in all I was pleased with my dinner and used the lovely spongy-textured bread to wipe the dish clean.

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Glouglou is a great little bistro and is an excellent place to go with a few friends, whether it’s to eat or exploit their very clever self-service wine system!

 

Les Halles Castellane

My final morning in Montpellier consisted of me waking up extremely early to go on the hunt for a particular type of goat cheese at one of Montpellier’s main markets. I got my first taste for cheese produced in this way in the beautiful rural region of Dordogne, which is located between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees. Ash was originally used to protect the surface of young cheeses, but since it’s been discovered that it also improves surface moulds and how they grow. Spread thickly on a water cracker with a little spoonful of chutney or cherry jam, it’s quite literally the dream so I was keen to find it whilst I was in France.

Les Halles Castellane is Montpellier’s main covered market and is fairly large in size. Unfortunately as I went so early a lot of the stalls were still closed but I did get to have a nose around – producers there included greengrocers, winemakers, butchers, bakeries and, of course, cheese mongers.

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On approaching the cheese counter, I saw what I wanted straight away and the kind lady at the stall was able to confirm it was goats cheese. It came in a small but perfectly formed portion – which was great as it meant it would keep for that little bit longer. A portion like this cost me just under 6 euros – in the picture on the right-hand side below is the oval-shaped cheese in the bottom centre.

In typical, dozy Greedy B fashion, I left the cheese in the fridge at a friend’s London-based flat before I even got a chance to taste it! Quelle tragique! So I’ll have to come back and edit this post once I’ve reclaimed it, if it hasn’t been snuffled already.

Montpellier was an absolutely wonderful experience and I was so lucky to enjoy this historic and culturally rich part of France as part of a work trip. I tried to make the most of the gorgeous food whilst I was there, and even got to do some sight-seeing! Here’s to more French adventures – hopefully very, very soon!

 

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BBQ Idea: Mushroom and halloumi burger with tomato and coriander relish

It’s pretty unusual for me to make vegetarian food, but seeing as I had some halloumi in the fridge I thought I would get inventive and make something I could take to a beach BBQ.

To make life easier prepare the relish and slice up the cheese at home before venturing out. I was quite pleased with the end result of this, considering it was a bit of an improvisation – although it’s perhaps not the prettiest thing to look at!

Cost

The most expensive item was the halloumi at £2.50ish for a block followed by the houmous at £1.20 a pot – this is only to spread on the burger rolls, so you can void it if you wish. Approximate cost: £5.50

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

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For the relish:

  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Big handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the Burger:

  • 1 block of halloumi (sliced into eight)
  • 4 large flat/portobello mushrooms
  • 8 dollops of houmous
  • Handful of spinach
  • 4 burger buns

 

Method

  • Prepare your relish at home. De-seed and chop the tomatoes into very small squares – keep the tomato seeds as you can use them in dishes like curried goat in addition to chopped tomatoes.
  • Mix the tomatoes, spring onions, garlic, cumin and olive oil in a bowl. Then add the coriander and lime juice.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To give yourself less work during cooking, you can prepare the other ingredients by slicing the halloumi and spreading the houmous on the burger buns at home.
  • On a BBQ, cook the mushrooms for about 4 minutes each side. You may want to bring some oil along to baste them in during cooking to keep them moist and stop them sticking (I improvised and used cava).

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  • When you turn over the mushrooms, put the halloumi on the BBQ and cook for two minutes on each side.
  • Construct your burger by placing the mushroom and two bits of halloumi within the houmous-slathered burger bun – then top with the relish and a few leaves of spinach.

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Le Petit Bistrot, Montpellier

After seeing this eatery raved about on TripAdvisor (at time of writing it’s the number 2 restaurant in Montpellier), I knew I just had to try and get a table at this little gem, which is run entirely by the owner, whose name I’ve since found out is Nicolas.

When I arrived at Le Petit Bistrot, I was delighted to see a few free tables outside, but when I asked the owner informed me that he was fully booked for the whole night – sacré bleu! He then mentioned that there was one, very small table right next to the kitchen inside but warned me it would get really warm and stuffy as he was cooking. But I would not be deterred and was dead-set on eating here – especially if it meant I got to see all the dishes going out.

So I was seated at my little table and the first thing that struck me was how absolutely tiny the whole place was. Le Petit Bistrot seats, at full capacity, about 12 people at a time and the kitchen is equally petit. Behind the mirror in the picture below I think there are a few hobs and a microwave, so we’re talking about a cooking space smaller than most domestic kitchens. And when I said the owner ran everything, I meant it. It was amazing to see him juggling pouring drinks, cooking, washing up, serving food and dealing with bill payments in such an unfazed manner – it’s understandable that he shuts the bistro at the weekend because he must be knackered!

MAIN COURSE

Nicolas really took the time to explain to me (and every other customer) exactly how he made each dish on offer. There are three main courses to choose from and, if you like the sound of all of them, you can have a Gormound Bistro – which is a platter comprised of smaller portions of the three options. It won’t surprise you at all that this is what I opted for. My main course briefly consisted of:

  • Duck, fried with duck fat and slowly cooked, sandwiched between two layers of fluffy, creamy mashed potato.
  • Pan-fried chicken, served with a little glass of ratatouille topped with goat’s cream cheese – which can be served hot or  cold (he recommended cold, so that’s what I did).
  • Lentils, which are fried in duck fat, shallots and lardons – topped with two scallops.

All of this was served with a basket of bread, and a medium bodied red wine (he wanted to find out exactly what sort of red wine I liked and based what he served me on that). Where do I begin? The duck and mashed potato was like the best Shepard’s Pie you’ve ever had, creamy and rich with the flavour of the duck enhanced by the fat used in the cooking process. The chicken breast was moist and delicious, especially with a sprinkle of the stuff pictured below, which is a mild chilli powder mixed with other spices (another recommendation from the owner). The cold ratatouille was absolutely divine on bread and the richness of the goat’s cream cheese was cut through by the acidity of the tomatoes and veg. My favourite element of the whole plate was the lentils and scallops – firstly, because the scallops were cooked perfectly and secondly was because I have never tasted more delicious lentils in my life. Combined they went perfectly together and on bread the lentils were fantastic on their own.

Chili seasoning

DESSERT

After tasting how good all three dishes of the main course were, I knew I had to have dessert. And at just 6 euros for the Gourmond Dessert I figured it was good value for money too. On my dessert platter were three French classics: Chocolate Fondue, Creme Brûlée and a white peach crumble.

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All were executed to perfection, especially the oozing chocolate fondue. Was also lovely seeing my Creme Brûlée torched in front of my own eyes, which formed a hard top that nicely cracked when attacked with a spoon. The creamy goodness underneath was heavenly and strong with vanilla. Also served with this was an espresso – my first one ever (if you exclude the odd – well, quite frequent – espresso martini). I’ve always assumed I wouldn’t like it but, in fact, with a teaspoon of sugar it’s a very nice way to round off a meal!

All in all I had a fantastic night at the Le Petit Bistrot – with the added benefit of being able to chat to the chef all evening. He gave me loads of tips about cooking and made time to chat to me despite the fact he was clearly run off his feet! If I ever find myself in Montpellier again, I’ll be sure to ring ahead and book a table at this lovely little eatery. – especially as in the 2 hours I was there the owner turned away about 6 groups of people.

Le Petit Bistrot offers amazing value for money and an intimate setting to enjoy tasty, home-cooked food – elevated to a higher level by classy presentation and amazing ingredients. If you’re visiting Montpellier, you simply must spend an evening in this delightful little eatery.

Le Petit Bistrot

My Montpellier adventure didn’t stop there – I also had a wonderful meal in a slightly larger restaurant in the Old Town, a wine bar in the north of the Old Town and enjoyed loads of the historic sights! For more stuff like this follow me on Facebook!