Waterside dining at The Bothy in London’s Docklands

My summer exploration of London continues today with a visit to Docklands for lunch at The Bothy.

Canary Wharf is located on the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. From 1802 to 1939 this area was one of the busiest docks in the world. The name comes from a berth that was built in 1936 for fruit being imported in from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. Must admit I’ve always wondered about the Canary in Wharf. Mystery solved.

After the 1960s the port industry began to decline leading to all the docks being closed by 1980 and the whole area fell into disrepair. But not for long – as construction began in 1988 to convert the area into what is now a major business district and one of the UK’s two main financial centres. The first buildings were completed in 1988 and the main tower – One Canada Square – finished in 1991.

I worked in Docklands (South Quay to be exact) for the first time from the late eighties to the mid nineties and there was pretty much nothing going on. Well, a lot of construction and mess and noise. I used to get the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to work every day – it was computerised and driverless! Wow were we impressed with that – even though the system regularly broke down and commuting was somewhat hellish.

Through my London life I’ve worked in the area several times since and the opening of the new Jubilee Line on the Underground soon made getting to Canary Wharf way more fast and efficient. And the place grew and grew becoming a shiny new city on water.

Anyway, in a somewhat nostalgic frame of mind I decided today to get the DLR to my lunch at The Bothy. Not that I recognised anything – Docklands is very much still an ongoing project and it’s quite frankly nothing short of spectacular. A far cry from that hole in the ground I used to pass by on my daily commute. Once again London’s constant evolution never ceases to amaze me.

What’s on the menu

The Bothy is set in an enormous warehouse alongside West India Quay. It’s huge and beautifully done with the perfect summertime terrace and a stylishly decorated interior.

The menu offers a good selection of dishes using seasonal ingredients and there’s also a comprehensive cocktail list. Our waiter recommended we started off with Pina Coladas. And why not. Haven’t had one for a while – it felt like a real treat. And don’t they look fabulous, too. You can also get an idea of the expansiveness and style of the restaurant in the background.

The Bothy: Pina Coladas

Looking through our cocktails to the stunning warehouse space

Our waiter suggested we snacked on a plate of smoked almonds while me made our choices – a tasty mix of saltiness and smokiness.

The Bothy: smoked almonds

A beautiful bowl of smoky, salty almonds to get started

It’s asparagus season in the UK and I love this classic dish of asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

The Bothy: Asparagus and poached egg

An all-time favourite in greens and yellows

For my main course I went for the chargrilled tuna salad with green papaya, cucumber, peanuts and lime dressing. A zesty dish that’s just great for a warm summer’s day.

The Bothy: Asian tuna salad

Crunchy tuna salad with a zesty Asian dressing

My dining companion loves her steak so went for the sirloin which was served with chips and watercress. And a pepper sauce on the side.

The Bothy: steak and chips

Sirloin served with chips and a pepper sauce

There are several different versions of chips on the menu which I thought was a nice touch. And I tucked into the Roman fries – which were served with parmesan, truffle and rosemary. Such a wonderful combination.

The Bothy: Chips

Crispy chips with parmesan, rosemary and truffle

Dessert time and again we followed our waiter’s recommendation and went for a tipsy affrogato. Doesn’t that sound exotic. Espresso is poured over a dollop of ice-cream, followed by a tot of Kahlua liquor. A cross between a drink and a pud and another liquid memory that takes me back – love a bit of Kahlua!

The Bothy: affrogato

Light and creamy coffee dessert

Here’s the view across one area of tables. Love the general feel of the place with its rafters, brick walls and herbs on every table.

The Bothy: internal shot

The contemporary, warm and stylish Bothy

And then there’s the terrace. I can imagine it teeming on days the sun honours us with its presence.

The Bothy: Outdoor terrace

The expansive terrace is perfect for sunny summer days

How we would have loved a wonderful venue like this in my early Docklands days. We might never have returned to the office.

Today’s price point

Three courses costs us just under £70 without drinks or service.

Wine starts from £18 a bottle.

The Bothy is at 16 Hertsmere Road, West India Quay E14. The nearest station is West India Quay which is on the Dockland’s Light Railway. Or you can get the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf.

The London attacks

I’m very aware as I write this of the horrific attacks in London this weekend. I was in Borough Market a couple of days before they happened – and even had lunch in the restaurant where one of the murderers stabbed a woman. This makes it even more personal for me and I am so determined to live my life in this wonderful city, even if I do feel scared. My review of El Pastor in Borough Market and more thoughts coming soon so watch this space.

Competition: Win tickets to the Foodies Festival in Blackheath, London

How I love a good food festival. There’s always plenty to taste and a surprising amount to discover. And today I’m giving away five pairs of tickets to the Foodies Festival in London’s Blackheath, one of three in London this summer.

You’ll find a Street Food Avenue where you can feast – I’m heading straight there as I adore street food. You can also learn to bake, watch demos in the Chef’s Theatre, taste wine and listen to live music. There’s even a special area for kids to learn to cook. All while surrounded by loads of delicious foodie choices. One thing’s for sure, no one’s going to go hungry.

The prize

Five pairs of tickets valid for any of the days at the Blackheath Foodies Festival which is on July 7, 8 and 9 2017.

How to enter

1 Follow Foodies Festival on instagram by clicking here.

2 Answer the following question in the comment section of eatingcoventgarden.com

How many Foodies Festivals are being held in London this summer?

A Ten

B One

C Three

D Seven

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 25 June 2017 at midnight.

There will be five winners, each winning one pair of tickets.

The winners will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winners will be notified by email.

No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Recipe: Moroccan roast vegetables and lamb in my Big Easy barbecue

I’m loving my Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue. The more I experiment, the more I discover how versatile it is.

Today I’m going to make Moroccan-style roast vegetables – well it is a roaster after all.

It’s a simple dish. Just make sure your veg are cut in similar size pieces – except the little peppers which I kept whole. Then douse in olive oil and cumin and you’re ready to go.

I popped the roasting tray on the rack in the barbecue with the temperature on medium-high and checked them after 20 minutes – well it was my first effort roasting vegetables in my new acquisition.

In the end they need around 30 minutes – quicker than in a conventional oven. Once the veg had cooled, I added the fresh mint leaves and little knobs of soft goats’ cheese on top, squeezed the juice of a lemon evenly over and added a couple of slugs of olive oil. No need to transfer the veg to another dish – any excuse to save on the washing up.

I love cumin and it goes perfectly with these vegetables. And also with the delicious lamb chops we bought from our local butcher around the corner. I used the grill part of the Big Easy for them – cooking for about 5 minutes on each side until they were nicely striped on the outside but still medium-rare inside.

Moroccan Roast Vegetables

Serves 2

1 medium carrot

1 courgette

1 red onion

2 handfuls diced butternut

2 small peppers (I chose one red and one yellow for colour variation)

2 tsps cumin seeds

4 tbsps olive oil

2 tbsps goat’s cheese

A handful of fresh mint leaves

Chop up all the vegetables except for the small peppers.

Toss them in the olive oil and cumin seeds in a roasting dish.

Place the dish on the rack in the Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue with the temperature on medium-high.

Cook for about 30 mins, checking after 20.

Remove from the barbecue and leave to cool.

Sprinkle the mint leaves and goat’s cheese on top of the roast vegetables. Use a teaspoon to dot small pieces of the goat’s cheese over the vegetables. It adds a beautiful creaminess.

Squeeze over the juice of one lemon and add a drizzle of olive oil and you’re ready to serve.

Vibrant vegetables are spiced up before cooking

The final salad topped with mint and goat’s cheese

The lamb chops sizzling on the barbecue grill

Find out more about the Char-Broil range by clicking here.

Next week I’ll be pursuing my self-inflicted challenge to making the perfect (well, extremely good anyway) peri peri chicken. Could cooking it on the Big Easy be the secret to success?

Tasty breakfast ideas with Vita Coco coconut milk alternative

So today I’ve taken up the challenge to come up with a breakfast idea using Vita Coco – a coconut milk alternative which is great for those with dairy intolerances and tastes delicious, too.

Of course, while I was pondering it I came up with two ideas, so decided to share them both with you. One is a more healthy option – a satisfying ginger porridge. Or you could treat yourselves with my tasty cardamom pancakes.

I had the idea of using spices in my breakfast dishes as their health benefits are widely accepted and they add a tasty element of surprise – the perfect way to wake up your taste buds. Plus coconut and spices are wonderful partners.

Ginger porridge with pistachios, raspberries and honey

This ginger porridge has a real zing and ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects can help with muscle pain and soreness, it’s great for treating nausea and is even thought to help lower blood sugar. The pistachios add a nice crunch and the sharpness of the raspberries works wonderfully with the sweetness of the honey. A great way to start your day.

Serves 2

Ginger spiciness goes perfectly with raspberries and pistachios

The ingredients

80g Quaker oats

500ml Vita Coco coconut milk alternative

1 tsp ground ginger

A handful of shelled pistachios

10 raspberries

About 2 tbsps runny honey

The instructions

Pour the milk into a pan and add the ground ginger. Heat to a low simmer and add the oats. Stir until thick and creamy.

Split the porridge between two bowls and top with the pistachios, raspberries and honey.

Add a dash more of Vita Coco if you like your porridge a bit runnier.

Ingredients for a delicious porridge to start your day

Spicy pancakes with cardamom and vanilla

Pancakes always seem like a real breakfast treat. These are spiced up and sweetened with the addition of cardamom and vanilla. I love the taste of cardamom and it’s said to help with digestive problems as well as being a good detoxifier. Ayurvedic medicine swears by the tea as a means of fighting depression. And it’s really delicious in pancakes!

Serves 4

Fluffy pancakes with a touch of exotic spice

The ingredients

140g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

130ml Vita Coco coconut milk alternative

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten

2 tbsp melted butter or olive oil

The instructions

Mix the flour, baking powder, caster sugar and cardamom together in a bowl.

Mix together the milk, vanilla, egg and butter.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat with a fork until you have a smooth batter.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a small ladle of the batter. Wait until it begins to bubble, turn and cook until golden brown.

Continue until you’ve used all your batter.

Serve with blueberries.

This recipe is an entry into the Dairy Free Style Your Breakfast challenge with Vita Coco and Foodies100. See more great breakfast ideas at http://vitacoco.com/uk/


Recipe: Hot smoked salmon in my Big Easy barbecue

Okay summer still hasn’t really arrived in London – sometimes it never really does – but I am certainly not going to let that prevent me from getting out into my garden and lighting the barbecue. Especially now that I have my brand new Char-Broil Big Easy barbecue which has the power to roast, smoke and barbecue. You can read all about the UK’s first three-in-one smoker, roaster and grill in one package here and also discover some lovely roast chicken recipes to try out.

Today I’m getting more adventurous (as promised) and trying something for the first time. I’m going to hot smoke some lovely fresh salmon. First step is to make a marinade and give the salmon 2-3 hours to soak up the flavours.

Getting ready to marinate in front of my CharBroil Big Easy

Honey Jack Daniels marinated smoked salmon

Serves 2

The marinade

3 tbsps Honey Jack Daniels

2 tbsps brown sugar

2 tbsps soya sauce

1 tbsp dijon mustard

Mix all the ingredients and marinate one piece of filleted fresh salmon per person for 2-3 hours

Recipe: Hot smoked salmon

Give the salmon fillets time to absorb the flavours

While the salmon is marinating get your smoker ready. There is a pull out box on the side of the Char-Broil Big Easy where your wood chips go. You can buy a range of wood chips from many places. I got mine from smokingwoodchips.co.uk and today I’m using some of the plum chips.

Measure out the chips you need and soak in water for about half an hour. This is to ensure you get a lot of smoke for your cooking. Drain, spoon the chips into the smoker box and insert into the barbecue.

Light the barbecue and put it on to high. Leave for about 10 minutes or until you can see smoke start to appear.

Fold tin foil into sizes slightly bigger than the salmon, take the salmon fillets out of the marinade and place on the foil. Place on the rack inside the barbecue and cook for about 15 minutes – checking regularly.

The sugar and honey in the marinade will make the skin crispy and add some slight blackening, which I love. You’ll find that the salmon is beautifully flakey and moist inside.

Beautifully soft and flavoursome salmon with chilli corn and potatoes

Today I served the salmon with some Jersey Royal potatoes (they are in season after all) and lovely sweetcorn which I cooked on the grill section of the barbecue above the smoking rack. Plus I made a simple sour cream sauce. Here’s how.

Sour cream sauce

150ml sour cream

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsps chopped fresh dill

Mix all the ingredients at least three hours before serving and keep cool in the fridge. This amazing and simple sauce is wonderful with all kinds of fish – and tastes amazing on potatoes, too.

This sour cream and dill sauce goes perfectly with the smoked salmon

Sweet chilli barbecued sweetcorn

2 ears of corn

2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce

A few knobs of butter

Place each ear of sweetcorn on a piece of foil large enough to wrap it in.

Spread the sweet chilli sauce over the sweetcorn with a knife. Add a few knobs of butter to each parcel.

Wrap the corns up fairly tightly and place on the grill of the barbecue which is at the top above the smoking .

Put them in at the same time as the salmon and they will be perfect by the time your salmon is cooked.

 You can read all about the fabulous Char-Broil Big Easy – the UK’s first gas three-in-one barbecue at www.charbroil.eu 

And watch this space for more great alfresco cooking ideas. Next week I’m going to be roasting some vegetables Moroccan-style (yes, in the barbecue) to match with our delicious local lamb chops. My mouth’s already watering just thinking about it.


The taste of Portugal at Bar Douro

Time for some authentic Portuguese dishes at Bar Douro.

I’m having a bit of an exciting time discovering newly created parts of London! Sounds strange, but this City is constantly evolving and today when I walked from Waterloo Station in search of Flat Iron Square everything looked totally different from when I worked in the area a few years back. New buildings had popped up, old ones been demolished, whole streets were closed to construction work…let’s just say I ended up getting a little lost, it was like a brand new world!

Anyway, after some interesting meandering I arrived at the New Flat Iron Square. Wow! There’s a range of food stalls, bars, restaurants all nestling under the arches. The delicious aromas would have been enough to guide me there if I had really got completely lost. Today’s destination is Bar Douro where owner Max Graham has transported local culinary secrets from Portugal and matched them with a carefully chosen Portuguese wine list. He and his family have been making wine and port for two centuries in the Douro Valley (hence the name, I guess). I have spent very little time in Portugal (should do something about that really) so was delighted to learn more.

Bring on the Portuguese flavours

The menu’s all about sharing and there’s a mix of snacks and small plates. Patanisca de Bacalhau – salt cod fritters – were light and fluffy with a perfect crunch and just enough fishy flavour.

Tender salt cod fritters with their spicy dip

Gambas a giulho – garlic prawns came with heads and tails on but deshelled for easy munching. Beautifully luscious, this simple dish is one of my favourites. Love this plate too – that blue and white combo totally does it for me.

Bar Douro: garlic prawns

Tasty garlicky prawns to savour

The croquettes de Alheira – croquettes of smoked Portuguese sausage were cleverly presented on this beautiful tile. Alheira is traditionally made from any meat other than pork and has that beautiful smokey intensity, here all wrapped up in a crunchy little bundle. Must find some of these sausages as I think they’d make a great ingredient for cooking with.

Bar Douro: sausage croquettes

Smokey croquettes served on more blue and white

Then from the small plates section we went for the Prego no prato Bavette steak with confit egg. An exotic sounding and looking dish that also came with vibrant spinach puree and matchstick fries. A great combo of ingredients that was sadly served a bit too cold which took something of its deliciousness away.

Bar Douro: Bavette steak

Steak, egg and chips Portuguese style?

We sat at the stylish marble counter (something I seem to be doing a lot of these days), so could watch the chef’s preparations while we sipped on some delicious Portuguese rose.

Bar Douoro: rose wine

A touch of Portugal, with wine, in Southwark

The interior is modern and light-filled with those fabulously Portuguese blues and whites.

Bar Douro: the view

Looking down the counter

Bar Douro: outside

Look for the Bar Douro Sign on the wall and you’ve arrived

As I said there’s a world of food choices outside, too, and plenty of seating space. Perfect for a chilled summer lunch in the sun. I particularly like the look (and aromas) of this Vietnamese food truck.

Bar Douro: what's outside

Vietnamese offerings from the van outside

Today’s price point

And finally, we paid £33 for our four dishes. Wines start from £23 a bottle.

Bar Douro is at Arch 35B, Flat Iron Square, London SE1 1TD