Christmas cake, Caviar and Champagne.. what’s not to love?

The diet is most well and truly over and I’m back to full–on luxury indulgence which is fortuitous as it’s also coinciding with the festive season. Happily I’m eating again well over eating, and loving it. On a recent press trip out to Austria somebody commented rather rudely’ I’ve never met such a petite woman who could put away so much cheese and beer’. Really! How rude..

I can’t help it though, there’s no stop button well until the ‘New Year, New Me’ regime kicks in again. I’d made a promise to myself at the start of the diet that I’d treat myself and long suffering friends to a long lunch somewhere fabulous with food that was a combination of comfort, deeply satisfying and indulgent.  I found myself back on the welcoming doorstep of Angelus restaurant in West London, ready to dive into a divine plate of Orkney scallops, succulent rabbit and a long awaited and much anticipated ‘assiette of dessert’ which involved a memorable Clementine and Vodka soufflé, salted caramel tart with homemade ice-cream. It didn’t disappoint.. that was nearly a month ago and since then I’ve been indulging in a non-stop sugar fix.

French Fine Wine

French Fine Wine

Foie gras - Creme Brulee

Foie gras – Creme Brulee

Not a huge lover of traditional fruit Christmas cake I jumped at the chance to taste test some of Maison Blanc’s Christmas Patisserie range and offering of beautifully designed festive themed cakes made with woodland theme <a href="http://www.maisonblanc.co.uk/”>http://www.maisonblanc.co.uk/ at their Fulham rd store.  Naturally I had to try all of the patisserie on offer, my favourite was the Pistachio woodland cake featuring cute toadstools. It’s indulgent yes, but it’s fun, especially for children and a great alternative to a full English afternoon tea. You can either chose 1 or 2 mini cakes an exquisite chocolate ‘Buche de Noel’ log or some of the Christmas Cupcake range are also really fun and with fresh cream and light vanilla flavoured sponges, much better than Christmas cake anyday.

There’s a limit however, even for me as to how much sugar you can have in a week, so moving over to the savoury side of my tastebuds. On a more savoury note but no less indulgent I was sent some Caviar by the London Classic Caviar company along with a Mother of pearl teaspoon and given explicit instructions on how to taste the densely packed Caviar pearls.

Caviar Classic London .. package perfection

Caviar Classic London .. package perfection

The Caviar is beautifully dense, grey, shiny in appearance and densely packed. As soon as I put a spoon into mouth .. hmm it has a deliciously creamy texture with a slight hint of fish but not overpowering in anyway and a nutty aftertaste. We sip some Champagne and then taste with blinis and creme fraiche and wow it’s a great little amuse bouche if you’re looking for something special to offer guests over the festive period or New Year’s. www.caviarclassic-london.com

A perfect London Summer evening at Angelus Restaurant, Bathhurst Street

My love affair with London continues, there is always a new street to explore or new restaurant to discover and I may have just found one of my favourite restaurants in London in this place. My supper at Angelus restaurant, on Friday was one of those special London evenings; where the company, the food, the ambience and setting all came together to make a perfect summer evening.

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Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus restaurant and bar is tucked away on Bathurst Street in an unassuming but historical part of London, not far from Notting Hill and Lancaster Gate area. We’re immediately greeted by a beautiful young French girl, who asked if we’d like to sit in or out, we opted to start our evening sitting outside on the little terrace and soak up the summer evening and London atmosphere.

A hidden corner of effortless indulgence, the warmth and energy Angelus is renowned for is personified as you enter the restaurant, and meet the fabulous founder Thierry Tomasin, and ex-Gavroche Head Sommelier for 20 years and his staff. Far more than a stunning interior and mouth-watering cuisine, Angelus has become a beloved secret spot in London.

A little bit of history..
Formally a pub and covert meeting place for political figures such as Winston Churchill, Angelus boasts elegant Art-Nouveau interiors which have been cleverly incorporated into the original architecture of this early 19th century building. Named after the Angelus Bell, this “brasserie de luxe” is located in one of London’s last working mews.
My plan for the evening had been not to over indulge or drink as I’m into week 1 of a new training and diet session (my blog – Diary of a WBFF newbie – taylorspr.wordpress.com) which is for a challenge I’ve scarily decided to attempt in November. However, the plan went out the window for several reasons, some of which are listed above, A) the menu was simply too tempting to say no to a glass of wine with dinner, and B) the other reason was boy issues.. so I felt I should take some solace in my favourite French cuisine.

Thierry Tomasin, the owner was also convincing with his charming French accent and easy manner, his pitch being a “Salesman of Pleasure” that we girls should be indulged! Not going to argue with that, what an excellent way to twist mine and my companion’s arm.

The Girls on Friday Night

The Girls on Friday Night


Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

The menu is seasonal French cuisine, bistro cooking from the heart and we had the option of choosing from the summer á la carte menu or anything from the brunch menu, there was quite a lot to choose from a mixture of classic French cuisine dishes and specials.

We decided on two entrees from the á la carte menu:
• A divine Light Maroilles Cheese soufflé with walnut crust, fresh endive, sliced green apple and Parmesan consommé
• English Pea and Broad Bean Velouté, with a poached Sussex farm duck egg, with grilled Romanesque cauliflower florets

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg


I like to try slightly different and unusual dishes from time to time for my reviews, it keeps it fresh in my approach and is also a great way to widen the palate and be open to new experiences and tastes. We both opted for fairly light entrée dishes – the Velouté is a light vibrant green which tastes of spring garden vegetables, I carefully broke into the poached egg and it was a lovely bright yellow runny egg, just as it should be. The Cheese Soufflé was divine the small mouthful I tasted with a beautifully balanced and light Parmesan consommé. Thierry attended to us with his passion for food & wine and the restaurant shining through, and I knew we were going to be well looked after. The wine list is superb, with a heavy nod to French wines, but as a French restaurant I would expect nothing less. There are also some good quality new world wines on the list just in case you’re averse. We however, in an effort to be good opted for a glass of wine and Thierry, who was the Head Sommelier at Le Gavroche working under Chef Michel Roux, recommended the Marsanne Viognier, a light white wine with some complexity and minerality and also some floral notes. It was delicious and needless to say we didn’t just have one glass!

Main dishes:
• Seared Monkfish with green olives, shellfish and wild rice with baby fennel
• Roasted whole pigeon D’Anjou with peach and pink pepper puree, and crumbled black pudding

For our main plat we decided to move into the restaurant as it was getting a little chilly and I also wanted to savour and soak up the atmosphere of this lovely restaurant. It was fairly full and we were given a little table for two, not to close to our neighbours, so we were able to relax a little more. The interior has a very French, dare I say Parisian feel to it and it’s absolutely charming. I certainly felt as if I’d been transported to France for the evening and adored the dark wood tables, art deco lights and flooring which added to the ambience.

I chose the fish option of the Monkfish, light, yet meaty and succulent with an array of green and black olives delicately presented over the seared monkfish stuffed with shellfish, perfect for a warm summer evening. We remained on the same white wine as it matched our dishes well, my companion opted for the roasted whole pigeon with a peach and pink pepper puree and black pudding, also very good and a contrast to the fish. Meaty and rare (very rare) well we were practically in France at this point (she could have opted for a light red wine with this meat, but decided to stay on white). Our only suggestion would be to have some more vegetables with the plats or some further vegetable options as side dishes would have been good.

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

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The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef's Table

The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef’s Table

With the diet well and truly out of the window and my cheat meal taking on epic proportions, we threw caution to the wind and allowed our host Thierry, to suggest the dessert, which he thought we’d love and he was right!

Dessert:
• A shared plate of Apricot soufflé with apricot homemade apricot and lemon-thyme sorbet, homemade elderflower yoghurt with honeycomb, white chocolate ice-cream and summer berry pavlova with carpaccio of nectarine and strawberry coulis.

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"Salesman of Pleasure" Dessert Plate

“Salesman of Pleasure” Dessert Plate


Wines:
• Glass of Pink Champagne
• White wine – Marsanne Viognier – Domaine de la Cessane, 2012
• Dessert wine – Jurancon, Uruolat – Charles Hours, 2012

Angelus prides itself on an easy gastronomic menu and contemporary approach to the French classics. Its talented kitchen team has created a menu of elegant but unpretentious food that can be enjoyed for any occasion. One of the City’s last remaining secret spots, Thierry’s Gallic passion, combined with award-winning cuisine and a formidable wine list make Angelus a regular treat, to be enjoyed with friends and good company.
http://www.angelusrestaurant.co.uk

This is definitely a firm favourite now for me, and depending on if you want to have a two course lunch or dinner it is has a great variable menu with lunch starting at £22 for two courses in central London, is pretty great and at these standards an exception to the rule.

Dinner a la carte – for two with wine, entrees, plats, dessert was approx. £47.00 per person.

Value rating: Excellent
Atmosphere: Excellent
Food Quality: Excellent