Eating in England — Part 4

I was quite surprised to find Bournemouth so cosmopolitan. We have easy access any kind of cuisine we want, many within walking distance, some a short drive away.

I’m so happy that Piers lives here because it is a very nice place to live in, being a beach resort town as well as a regional business centre. In a survey done in 2007, Bournemouth residents were found to be the happiest people in Britain.

Before coming here, I had thought I would be eating English food maybe 80% of the time. It turns out that we’re eating English food less than 10% of the time, mainly because English food is served in pubs and Piers doesn’t like going to pubs much because they can get pretty noisy.

And also because there’s so many other kinds of food to choose. Here’s a look at some of the “foreign” foods we’ve eaten recently.

 

 

Japanese

Nippon Inn

Nippon Inn
124 Charminster Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH8 8UT

 

The food in Nippon Inn is decent. I’m not blown away but I might go there again if taken by a Japanese food craving. The service is really pleasant; we had two friendly and cute Japanese girls serving us.

Piers’ ramen was tasty but it was mostly chicken stock and soy sauce. The tofu salad was really nice but that was largely to do with the sesame dressing which I think you can buy at the supermarket.

My sushi just passed the mark of edible because the tobiko sushi tasted a bit funny, like, I can’t describe it, it was all at once sweet, sour and salty.

I think, mostly, I was impressed by the cute origami that came with our bill.

 

Nippon Inn

 

Sushi

 

Ramen

 

 

Spanish

Tapas Plus

Tapas Plus
53 Bourne Avenue, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6DW

 

Tapas is a special cuisine of appetisers originating in Spain. It’s like a culture, spending hours in a restaurant, chatting with your friends, drinking wine and munching away on assorted appetisers until you’re full or tired. You don’t order any main courses.

I like this kind of meal, almost like going to a buffet where you get to eat many kinds of food in one sitting.

I like Tapas Plus mainly because of the garlic prawns. Not only is the marinade tasty (although too oily), some of the prawns are stuffed full of ebiko (prawn roe). Piers will not touch the roe, which is lucky for me cos I get them all! Bwahahaha. Tastiest prawns I ever had, although a bit small.

Other than that, I find the other tapas dishes just okay. Some are downright bland and boring while others are tasty enough but not anything I would crave.

Still, I quite enjoy going there for a meal with Piers. We’ve gone there twice, both times when we had two hours to kill before a movie.

 

Prawn roe

 

Tapas Plus

 

 

Greek

Romanzo

Romanzo Greek Taverna
87 Poole Road, Bournemouth BH4 9BB

 

This little Greek restaurant has a very homely feel with friendly service but I didn’t enjoy the main courses so much. The appetisers were great, though, so I would recommend ordering a selection of starters and skipping the mains, tapas style.

We had garlic prawns and garlic mushrooms for starters. They were excellent, tasting exactly the way garlic prawns and garlic mushrooms should taste.

For my main, I had a leg of lamb and Piers had some sort of stewed pork with rice. They looked pretty good but were quite bland in taste, with the meat being overcooked and dry.

 

Garlic prawns

 

Garlic mushrooms

 

Pork thingy with rice

 

Leg of lamb

 

 

Italian

Prezzo

Prezzo
58 Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 2BZ

 

Prezzo is a huge chain of Italian restaurants in the UK and the price is quite cheap for the standard of food (and the decor and ambience), with the main courses averaging £10 each.

Piers really enjoyed his spicy beef pizza. One of the most enjoyable pizzas he’s had, apparently. I found it a bit bland but then I only had a very small sampling. He said there were bits that were really tasty, and every bite was kind of different.

I was in a healthy mood that night, so ordered a pollo al funghi (chargrilled chicken breast with field mushrooms and baby spinach in a marsala wine sauce). The wine sauce was really tasty so that even though my chicken breast was overcooked and dry, I enjoyed my meal very much and would order the meal again.

 

Spicy beef pizza

 

Pollo al funghi

 

Green salad

 

Okay, that’s quite enough food for today.

More cuisines coming up soon!

Wining and dining in Paris

Dining in Paris is so expensive.

Having a bottle of wine in a Paris restaurant is as expensive as doing it in Singapore! Which is really crazy because I always thought we had the most ridiculous alcohol prices.

But what’s even more crazy is that, in Paris, a bottle at the supermarket costs €2 (S$3.50) while a bottle in a restaurant costs €25 (S$45) (stating the average lowest price in each case).

In our five days there, our food expenditure came up to about €400 (S$714) for two people. We ate two meals a day with snacking in between.

We did drink a lot of wine because you can’t go to Paris and not have wine, as ridiculous as the prices are.

Oh, and remember that you have to pay 15% tips everywhere. The prices I have listed in this post are before tips (unless otherwise stated).

Here’s a look at some of the stuff we ate.

 

Croque Monsieur / Croque Madame

For our very first meal, we had a traditional French snack of grilled ham and cheese sandwich because it was near dinnertime and we wanted to have space for a proper dinner.

It was really good. I’m sure you can imagine what it tastes like. Nothing very unique in the recipe. A Croque Madame is a Croque Monsieur with an egg, so I would recommend to always order the Madame, cos eggs make everything taste so much better!

 

Croque Monsieur

 

Croque Madame

 

At a Parisian cafe

 

 

Montmarte

Just a few minutes’ walk northeast of the Moulin Rouge is a nice area with many nice restaurants and cafes. I think it’s around the Rue de Abbesses in Montmarte. We went there for our first dinner and picked this restaurant nestled in its own little building.

It was a good choice because the food was quite tasty and they had a 3-course set meal for €23 (S$41) per person (drinks not included), with 6-8 options for each course. Quite cheap by Parisian restaurant standards.

With wine (and we only ordered a half bottle), our total bill came up to over €70 (S$124), including tips.

Something went wrong while I was downloading the photos into my Mac so I only have photos of the starters. Everything else was destroyed, urgh!

 

Tomato and mozzarella
Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella

 

Sardine pate with baguette
Sardine pate with baguette

 

French restaurant

 

Piers

 

Sheylara

 

 

Burgers

Many Parisian restaurants are small and don’t have big menus, so they’d have, like, one item for each kind of meat. They’d have beef, definitely, especially Steak Tartare Frites (raw beef and fries, eew!) and chicken and fish and lamb and veal and so on.

A very common item on the menu is a cheeseburger. It’s very funny to me. I saw it in so many restaurants. You’d have a whole list of different kinds of meat main courses and in the middle of the mix would always be a little cheeseburger, as if it belonged to the wining and dining family.

It’s very funny (and strange) because it’s always a cheeseburger and not any other burger.

Icanhascheezburger much?

I never tried any of them because I don’t really want to eat cheeseburgers in a French restaurant.

But Piers and I love burgers, so we had burgers at McDonalds (BAD IDEA) and also in a Mexican restaurant called Buffalo Grill. It wasn’t the wisest choice in the world but we were seduced by the juicy looking beef burger in a promotional poster.

 

Alaska burger

 

Salad and bread

 

Sheylara

 

Haha. Sulky face.
Hehe, narrow-eyed sulky face.

 

 

20 rue Bellechasse

One thing you have to know about restaurants and cafes in Paris is that the tables and chairs are packed so close you can hear every word of your neighbouring diners’ conversations without them having to raise their voices. I think it’s very disconcerting for tourists but I suppose you get used to it after a while.

Luckily, the French don’t talk very loudly.

But 20 rue Bellechasse really takes the cake. That’s the address of the restaurant junkie recommended me. It’s really called Le Vin de Bellechasse but he likes to call it 20 rue Bellechasse.

Anyway, it’s apparently a local favourite and one website said it’s an excellent choice for a visitor’s first evening in Paris. Junkie says eat steak tartare frites there but eew no thanks for me!

I was put off from the start cos when we walked in, we saw a long row of tables arranged tightly by a wall, canteen style.

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

When the waiter showed us to our table, he pulled one of the tables right out of the arrangement so that I could scoot inside and sit on the long sofa shared by the rest of the 10 tables. Once I was in, he pushed the table back into its slot and then replaced the outside chair.

So unglam! When I had to go to the toilet, Piers had to get up, put away his chair and pull out the table, then put everything back while I went off. Then when I came back, he had to do it all over again. Doh.

And I didn’t enjoy my dinner because I ordered medium lamb chops but they came almost rare so I almost gagged a few times. Piers had a tuna steak coated with sesame seeds which was quite tasty at first but grossed me out on my third taste. Cos the tuna is seared on the outside and rare on the inside.

I suppose if you like eating raw food, this is the place to go to!

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

Le Vin de Bellechasse

 

 

Another random restaurant

I suppose you can eat at affordable prices in Paris if you walk around more and compare restaurant prices. And don’t drink too much wine. I think a third of our food expenditure went to wine cos we always ordered whole or 2/3 bottles.

We did try to find cheaper places to eat at, so there was this one we came upon after visiting the Eiffel Tower one night. We were just walking randomly so I can’t remember where it was, sorry.

For €15 (S$23) you can have a two-course meal, choosing either a starter and main, or a main and dessert. The food wasn’t fantastic but it was satisfying enough.

But then, food always tastes better when you have good company, so always choose your dining companions wisely!

 

Beef steak

 

Hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise

 

Grilled chicken

 

Sheylara

 

Piers

 

 

Rue Mouffetard

This is a very nice area for restaurants and cafes, recommended by my reader Stephan. I’m not sure why but every other restaurant in this area serves cheese fondue. So strange, cos cheese fondue is Swiss, right?

Anyway, we liked the area very much, so we had wine at a cafe first, then later went for dinner at a random cosy-looking restaurant. It was hard to choose because there are so many nice-looking restaurants there.

But we made a very good choice! La Grange (I think 72 Rue Mouffetard) has significantly cheaper prices and the food is tasty!

We ordered so much! We each had a three-course dinner and, on top of that, shared a cheese fondue and a bottle of wine. We finished it all, miraculously!

 

La Grange

 

La Grange

 

Sheylara

 

Piers
Haha! Caught being anti-social!

 

French onion soup
French onion soup. I don’t like cheese in my soups!

 

Foie gras
Foie gras. I was disappointed it was a pate instead of a proper slice, but it was still tasty.

 

Bleu cheese steak
Three-cheese fondue. Nice!

 

Pepper steak
Bleu cheese steak. A bit overpowering the sauce.

 

Three cheese fondue
Pepper steak. Nice!

 

 

Baguettes

In France, one must, of course, eat baguettes. That’s a given! I would have liked to have eaten more, but there are only so many meals in a day!

I had a ham baguette sandwich at a baguette fast food outlet. So expensive! Just a small baguette (about six inches) with a few ham slices and a bit of butter, and it was €3.50 (S$6.20).

Cheaper than eating at a restaurant, though. No need to tip at fast-food outlets. =P

 

Ham baguette sandwich

 

 

Berthillon

Berthillon is a French luxury brand for ice cream and sorbet (lol, luxury ice cream). Recommended again by reader Stephan.

If you go to Île Saint-Louis, the little island in the River Seine, you’ll see loads of cafes selling Berthillon in cups or cones, AND THEY ALL HAVE LONG QUEUES. It’s really nuts!! Like Koi queues in Singapore!

Piers and I first went on a Sunday and decided not to brave the queues. Then we went again on Monday and the queues were shorter but still there. But I really wanted to try it so we found a takeaway place with the shortest queue.

I’m not very sure if we should have tried the main store or not, but if it’s the same brand, it should be alright anywhere, right?

I had a peach sorbet and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, of course, but I’m not really sure how much better it is than any other luxury ice cream to warrant the queues.

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

€4 (S$7) for two tiny scoops in a waffle cone.

I really like the peach sorbet, and the ice cream is really smooth and creamy. Well, okay, it’s good ice cream. I just wonder about the queues.

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Berthillon ice cream

 

Okay, enough food for the day.

SO HUNGRY NOW.

I really hate writing food posts. -_-“

Eating in England – Part 1

I must be honest and say that I think there’s no better food to be had in the world than in Singapore (and Malaysia). I mean, in terms of variety and taste.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the food anywhere else in the world; I really do enjoy eating in England.

It’s just that there’s something very special about chwee kueh and laksa and chicken rice and chilli crab. And economical bee hoon, lol. The food in Singapore is something that you never want to be too far from.

So the irony is that I’m eating a lot better here. I’m fattening up a bit, even. I wake up in the morning eager for breakfast, count the minutes till lunch, and salivate at the thought of a nice dinner at a nice restaurant.

In between that, I’m snacking on Twiglets, one of the best snacks ever.

 

Twiglets

 

The seasoning tastes a bit like Bovril, although more bitter and without the beefy taste. But it’s so good when combined with the crunchy wholegrain stuff inside.

It’s goes very well with red wine. Something Piers taught me. It seemed a bit silly to me initially to have cheap supermarket snacks with red wine, but it turned out to be so good.

 

Twiglets with red wine

 

Speaking of which, Piers also taught me to eat toasted English wholemeal muffins with Bovril. It was almost shocking how good it was.

I never usually like anything wholemeal, thinking of it as health food that I occasionally put up with to make myself feel better psychologically. So when Piers first suggested this to me, I was thinking, “Yeah, okay, I suppose Bovril with anything will be good.”

But it blew my mind how tasty it was, the subtle sweetness of the muffin complementing the tangy saltiness of the Bovril so perfectly. I couldn’t even taste any wholemeal.

You have to toast the muffin so it’s crispy on the outside but still soft and fluffy on the inside. Makes your taste buds explode!

 

Toasted English muffins with Bovril

 

Bovril

 

It doesn’t cost a lot to keep me happily fed in England!

But operating on normal human hours and eating regular meals is really wreaking havoc on my body. I know it’s supposed to be healthy but I’m getting fat!

What can I say about Klonopin? The drug is powerful, effective, fast acting. It removed anxiety, fear, tension, even the most severe panic attacks. I did not take it more than three days in a row, I was afraid of addiction. This drug is not available in every pharmacy, but I buy it on https://www.dentavacation.com/buy-klonopin/. Recommend to everyone!

Really have to do something about that soon!

Before I think of something, though, let me just do a quick gallery of food photos I haven’t yet posted on my blog. Let’s look at some of the stuff I’ve been eating in the last month here.

 

Big Mac

Big Mac

 

Sorry, I really can’t help the fact that Big Macs are one of my favourite things to eat in the world.

My first time to McDonald’s here was with Piers. He complained to me how Big Macs in England are horrible because they don’t line up the buns and ingredients properly so the burger is a huge mess. In the same breath, he praised Singapore Big Macs for being perfectly made.

That was a puzzling moment because the Big Mac I was looking at was nice and neat, while I always remember Singapore ones as being messy and all over the place.

Definitely, the ones here taste better. Buns are more crispy and there’s less sauce, which actually allows you to taste the meat better.

 

Beach breakfast

Eggs Benedict

 

I had eggs benedict at a beach restaurant called Urban Reef at Bournemouth Beach. That’s poached eggs with muffin, spinach, mushroom and Hollandaise sauce. It was so delicious I didn’t need ketchup or chilli sauce, which I usually like to eat with my eggs. Mushroom was very juicy! =)

Breakfasts in England are quite typical, I guess. You’d have something like that or a full English breakfast (with eggs, bacon, toast, sausages, etc).

 

Ploughman’s lunch

Ploughman's Lunch

 

This is supposedly a cultural icon in England, available in pubs. You get ingredients of a sandwich and you have to make it yourself.

The sandwich itself was normal. Just normal ham and normal bread and normal butter. But what made the dish special for me was the Branston Pickle, which is the black gunky stuff you see in the picture. It’s really purplish in real life. Just a bad picture.

It’s a variety of diced veges pickled in a special sauce. Tastes really good. Sour and tangy and sweet. Adds so much flavour to a normal sandwich!

 

Korean food

Kimchi stew

 

There’s a small Korean restaurant in Bournemouth called Happy House. The food is of quite high quality, comparable to the good Korean restaurants in Singapore. One of my favourite Korean dishes is kimchi stew and this place makes it really well. One of the best I’ve had, in fact. So hard to find good kimchi stew, even in Korea!

 

Korean food

 

Korean food

 

Korean food

 

Mexican food

Mexican food

 

My first dinner in London, I picked this Mexican restaurant cos it looked warm and cosy, even though I’m not a fan of Mexican food.

The food turned out to be mediocre but I didn’t mind so much. I do have a tendency to pick the wrong places for food just based on how it looks. But I did enjoy the ambience a lot and I feel that kind of makes up for it.

 

Mexican food

 

Mexican food

 

Mexican food

 

There are so many restaurants in England that have really warm, cosy, romantic ambiences you just feel so compelled to walk into them and sit down for a meal. Often, though, the food is just between mediocre and not bad.

But, like I said, I don’t really mind. I really love dining out. Whether the food is great or not, it’s a fun, social thing and like a mini adventure for me to look at the menu and cboose food and wine, then anticipate the arrival of my food.

Of course, eating home is nice, too, even if it’s not as glamorous. Especially if someone cooks for you and his cooking is so very tasty.

 

Mexican food

 

Yup. Enjoying eating in England very much.

More food reports coming up in Part 2!