An Update on the Nespresso Machine

A while ago, I updated you on what felt like the highly decadent step of buying a Nespresso machine. And the irony of making this purchase on a camping holiday.

Nespresso capsules

Delicious Nespresso capsules

But I really have to add some more information in hindsight:

I love it.

I have not purchased a commuter coffee since. When I worked form home the other day, instead of worrying about whether a trip out for a cappuccino was taking too much time out of work, I just pressed a couple of buttons. I actively missed it when we spent 2 weeks in France lately and each morning I respond to my alarm with the thought of, at least I get a nespresso shortly.

Also fabulous is the decaf range, restoring my ability to have a good coffee after a good evening meal. And look at this amazing crema.

Espresso shot from a Nespresso machine

Crema that I day dream about

There are limits to my new love. I still refer to which ‘choice of coffee’, rather than which ‘grand cru’.

I also complained at Nepsresso’s presumption that it could improve my palate. And I would like to point out that my palate is exactly the same as it was, thank you very much. This of course is not due to the fact that I just don’t have the metabolism to queue up espresso’s and compare their relative high notes, but because I am a coffee shop blogger, and I would not admit to deficiencies in palate.

Oh, and to the gentleman on twitter who pointed out that I should not hold back from Clooney bashing on the mention of Nespresso because ‘I am not on his radar’ so I shouldn’t worry about being mean. Errr, duh! I’m Blackheath coffee shops, how would I not be on his radar?

Yes I do want a cobra

A review of eating at the Royal Nepalese, Westcombe Park

Now you might have noticed that I don’t review a lot of takeaways on this blog. This is partially because often by the time I grab a takeaway (rather than cook) I am pretty fed up and not really ready to voice opinion beyond, ‘smells great’, ‘yes I do want a cobra,’ and ‘we should have bought ice cream, shouldn’t we?’. In fact, the only curry I have ever reviewed on here was Everest Inn – and even then I felt out of my depth. The fact is, I eat more cake than curry. Even as I say that, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t happily rebalance the divide.

However I have to say that after a little trawling through the local curry shops, I have landed on a place that I can whole-heartedly recommend Royal Nepalese near Westcombe Park Station.

I have found that it is easy to find a blast your ears out curry; and easy to find an elegantly perfumed curry, but not easy to find one that quite achieves a good kick of hot, whilst being backed up with genuine depth of flavour.

We ordered..Lamb Gorkhali (coriander, mint, green chilli and yogurt) described as ‘hot’ and throughout the meal as ‘that green stuff’. We used it to supplement the other dishes with heat. My favourite flavour in the whole meal.
Vegetable jalfrezi, (ordered for the vegetable part … to justify the cream and butter.)
Royal Mismass Karahi, which despite being described as medium heat, did not compare to the Gorkhali
And well spotted, that was 3 dishes between 2 people. This didn’t prevent us ordering naan and basmati rice. Sometimes I am a bit cynical about naan, that it is just extra stodgy, but this naan was excellent, strangely dry and reminiscent of a good pastry.
Service was quick and smart. I watched stuff on iplayer at the same time as eating. I should have bought ice cream, though.

As an aside, if you love curry as much as me, but also prefer to cook, or watch the waistline, I can totally recommend Jamie Oliver’s curry paste recipes, that I normally fry up if I have left over coriander and freeze to be mixed up quickly with whatever I fancy later down the line. They are not quite Royal Nepalese, but they are certainly enjoyable.

Just because I don’t like his Italian, doesn’t mean that I dont’t have anything nice to say about him. I’m a balanced blogger, me.

http://www.royalnepalese.com

2-4 station crescent
Blackheath, London
SE3 7EQ
tel:(0208)269 0505/ (0208)269 0553
email:info@royalnepalese.com

The last coffee shop in Blackheath

Morden’s, Tranquil Vale Blackheath SE3.
(Not strictly a coffee shop, but this was the angle I was reviewing from)

Morden’s has had day time patisserie and coffee advertised outside of it for ages. The last time I attempted to go in, I was tweeted not to do it, that Morden’s was the most trashy place in the village, but I committed to unbias and ploughed ahead anyway, after all, it was only for coffee.

It should be borne in mind for the duration of this review, that it mostly sells cocktails and wine.

Metal outdoor table and chairs

Morden’s definitely looks pretty enough and its garden outside is a very secret garden, ignoring the advert for it on the road outside. It advertises coffee and patisserie during the day. Soooo my thing. And the garden is really pretty, just they could do with clearing the bird poo off the seats a bit more often.

On ordering a cappuccino, the waiter asked for a reminder as to what exactly constituted a cappuccino. Three cappuccinos arrived… None of them quite the same as the others. To the credit of the gentlemen I was with they made sure that I had the one where the foam on the sides was tinted with the caramel colours of coffee. The others were with the wiped out grey of dirty dish water. All came accompanied by plastic teaspoons.

And l the patisserie? Well, they had muffins. Not only were they muffins, the ultimate insult to cake, but they were prewrapped muffins.

Picture of capuccino

You and I have talked about this before.

Only one of the party was prepared I stay put, so we forced ourselves to finish the frothy dishwater and encamped next door to Tziagno’s which ins bursting in options for unusual cakes.

Greenery on an arch

Pretty outside

Look Morden’s, I am imploring you here. I know you are a wine bar, not a coffee shop, but there is lack of custom in Blackheath to warm your funky seats and fill your secret garden. IF you offer good cake and coffee… Source it locally? Buzz me if you ever change and I will update the blog.

The fact is, I believe that Morden’s is the last coffee shop that I have not reviewed in the whole village.
Where do I go from here? Will I never buy a coffee again?

7-9 Montpelier Vale, London
020 8852 0492

Fish confusion

A review of L’Insolite, Collioure, France (definitely not SE3)

I have an announcement to make. It is official that seiche is in fact cuttlefish, not squid as most of Collioure will tell you. The second and most important part of this announcement is that Cuttlefish is delicious. Probably the best food going.

These confusions stated in June in L’Insolite, a small, nearly last in row beachfront restaurant at which we thought: looks adequate, just landed, too tired to think. We could translate everything on the menu except seiche. And when told this was squid we ordered straight away.

Trees and fountains in Perpignan

If this sounds very ignorant, I would point out the similarities in appearance of cuttlefish and squid when prepared in a certain manner, both white and ententacled.

What arrived was delicious, simply executed with a salad and a half baked potato it was unforgettable, and left me trawling London for the past year searching for anything so good and failing (with the now closed Villa Moura being the only place to come close, despite a fair fortune being spent on fish).

So needless to say, on my first night back in Collioure, I headed for the self same restaurant arming myself with google translate for the French for squid. This turned out, not unreasonably, to be calarmi. Did you know that all along?

Collioure on the mediterranean

Unusually overcast, but source of great cuttlefist

Stunningly disappointed not to find this on the menu, I opted for the the seiche because the picture of it (now there are pictures) looked like squid, but the English menu described this as cuttlefish. I thought cuttlefish looked like prawns. You great it in London sandwich shops. Oh, apparently that’s crayfish,

I ordered in French only out of politeness, the waiter’s English was flawless, and he replied (in English) ah! Squid! This left us even more flummoxed while we secretly googled under the table, and decided that someone must have told him that this was squid when they saw it, but it was infact cuttlefish (although the word also related to a type of Asian squid) See I’m not so dumb..

All the fish eaters on the table were very content despite some nervousness with the menu. This was a wonder, sea front affordable meal. Followed by a paddle in the sea that you could still see the bottom of in the dark.

Pyranees mountains in summer

Local gorgeous view

They have pre-wrapped muffins. Hmmm. Moving on….

A a review of the Pavillion cafe in Greenwich. Park SE10

BBQ, jazz, beautiful park…. What could be better? That was why the very first free Friday I had in my diary between May and August was going to take up the offer by the Pavillion in the Park of such things, with the Laban students playing the jazz.

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So many hot, but booked up, Friday evenings passed. I thought…. I can’t wait for my musically sun drenched evening, and finally the date arrived, shortly after autumn, at the beginning of August.

The BBQ was moved indoors. Ie. it was a very expensive grill. And you could see a grey sky through the windows.

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The location and design of the Pavillion are beautiful.

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We sat on the first floor where you are sitting high up with the conkers. Although you can’t see the jazz from here, seeing jazz tends not to be the purpose of it (with the exception of Pollock – Jackson, duh!)

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The BBQ menu is slight- but it has something for vegetarians too. Plus there are pizzas which looked gorgeous. And (did I mention?) it is a bit disappointing to eat inside

There are however a disappointing lack of cakes here. They have pre-wrapped muffins. Hmmm. Moving on…. Sadly the smell of baking pizza keeps making you think of cake and look at the pre-wrapped muffins again. Nope. Still not tempted There is icecream, but it’s cold. Oh, and the ice cream window closed by 7pm.

The actual delivery of my hot dog sausage in baguette was a little befuddled. They hadn’t so much as buttered the baguette, or offered any dressing. On request, it took them a while to rustle up any dressings. So it was alright. Would have been better in sunlight.

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We took blankets to a bench overlooking London. That bit was very nice.

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Thirty versions of tea implies GOOD things

A review of Peyton and Byrne, Greenwich SE10

Peyton and Bryne is one of those places you have to come back to. It’s just got too much to choose from. You feel like a kid in a sweetie shop (do kids say they feel like grown ups in a coffee shop?) too much choice of pastry, so much light and air (set off by large retro wallpaper and wood). This is the fusion version of the coffee shop: English French, pastry, cupcake, scone, bar.

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Hence opening a large space in Greenwich centre is progress for us grow ups, as most of the other Peyton’s and Byrnes appear to be in galleries and museums. Oh, you thought I was interested in Monet, no darling, I’m not really cultured, I just haven’t sampled all the p&b tarts yet. We start can going for country walks again when I’ve reached the stawberry and balsamic, but not if they extend the range, mind.

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Weaker points were the plastic cutlery, requiring plastic wrestling on the delicacy in question.

Here’s what we eventually settled on:

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That thing on the right is apple crumble. This stacking of mostly creamy type constituent and err.. crumble seems to be a French interpretation of English Classic.

I had my reservations about the caramel dark chocolate bomb on the left. The dark chocolate was good, a kind of devil’s food cake sponge and it melted in the mouth. The supposedly oozing caramel hardly oozed though. I think it was too cold, or maybe that was compared to the 30 degree day. Regular readers will know that this constitutes a good review of a chocolate cake by my standards. My only advise would be, don’t eat it on a full stomach

Having advised you of the important food here (cake) I can no go back and tell you that the sausage roll was nice, but lacked a couple of things available elsewhere in Blackheath (Greenwich borough): The pastry is better at Boulangerie Jade, and the sausage is better at Hand Made Food.

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Tea was a bit wrong here.

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Yes I am a coffee shop blogger, but i frequently order tea at them. 30 versions of tea implies GOOD things. However it arrives in a small mug, (the more expensive – but pretty- teapots are hardly bigger) and when you’ve ordered Lapsang Souchong it should taste of something. Well actually it should taste warm and smokey, but ‘something’ would have been progress.

I’m not sure if this isn’t about quality control though, since the ever so tempting sounding marmalade dark chocolate (this is a combination I experiment with a lot, more recently in ice cream form) tasted of dark chocolate only, but the elderflower dark chocolate was full of flavour.

You can see I ordered a lot in this trip. It came to a not too bad £18 and included an unreviewed loaf of bread. But really I was just being thorough for the sake of the blog.

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Hoping that I remained anonymous, A review of Jamie’s Italian Deli

I admit, I slaughtered Jamie’s Italian in my last review. Even Italian friends told me they thought about going there and changed their minds after my review. So it was with some trepidation that I ventured in last week, hoping that I remained anonymous and was not about to be chased out, Why did I return, you ask? Well, OBVIOUSLY because there were some really good looking cakes in the window and my last review was not about cake. Let’s separate things. Let’s say that this review is about the deli at Jamie’s Italian. My last review was of the restaurant that constitutes Jamie’s Italian. And believe me, I stand by it.

Here are are the good looking cakes:

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By going in the ‘other’ (non restaurant entrance) this is what you are faced by: Actually quite tempting, fell for the whole, 3 cakes between 2 people isn’t that bad thing, even when following focaccia. Focaccia was really great, oily and be speckled with olives.

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But the cakes are kicked by the local competition. The lemon tart was so-so (that’s in the ‘cosi cosi’ way, not the ‘Soooo’ way) lemony- no real sting? And the plum tart was really an almond tart, that wouldn’t want to be disrupted by the sourness of a plum, but without the amazing things that a dedicated almond tart could be.

This, however is a nice environment. You just have to let yourself forget you know it is inauthentic chain decor. And don’t pity the poor homemade pasta for how it is about to be cooked. This isn’t too hard, it is pleasant on the eye.

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