Halloween Food Pinspiration

If you didn't know (where have you been?) it's Halloween tomorrow, and as it falls on a Friday you have a whole weekend to celebrate one of the most fun holidays of the year. I've been scouring Pinterest for some fun Halloween-inspired recipes so you don't have to. So why not take a crack at making some of these fabulous recipes at home to fuel your horror movie marathons - everyone does that right? It's not just me, surely... Click on the titles to go to the recipes. Enjoy!

Alien Chest-Buster Macaron

alienchestbustermacaron

 

Shattered Glass Cupcakes 

shatteredglasscupcakes

Cream Cheese Brain Dip

cheesebrain

Monster Donuts

Monster donuts

Witches Fingers

Witches Fingers

Spooky Spaghetti

spooky spaghetti

Cheese Broom Sticks

heese Broom Sticks

And Finally.....

halloweenfood

Girl vs Food Klaxon: The Wurst Is Yet To Come...

It's been a while since I posted anything Girl vs Food related (mainly due to the expanding waistline it brought with it), but it is my pleasure to announce that Herman Ze German will be opening a new venue in Fitzrovia very soon (hooray!) - with a pun like that as their placeholder, I can tell it's going to be popular. wurst

To celebrate, and to stave off hunger while wurst-lovers wait until it's open, I've brought along a lovely hotdog infographic to whet your appetites...

hotdoginfographiclarge

Girl vs Food: Chocolate Edition

On Thursday I was lucky enough to go along to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington for a 'Chocolate Extravanganza Meal' with my AMV Pulse team to celebrate National Chocolate Week (8th - 14th October). The evening consisted of a welcome chocolate cocktail (or Chocktail - like it!) before a chocolate demonstration involving: how to temper chocolate, how to make your own Easter Eggs, truffle-making and chocolate decoration tips, followed by a tasting session.

After that we were seated in the dining room for an almighty meal consisting of four different desserts (containing different types of chocolate, varying in sweetness), all washed down with two delicious cocktails.

ImageOur amazing Chocktails containing: Creme de Cacao, White Rum, Cherry Brandy, Chocolate and Milk.

ImageOne of the fabulous displays of intricate chocolate decorations - some of which were made during the demonstration.

ImageFirst batch of tasting: three different types of chocolate, varying in sweetness and percentage. White was the winner for me!

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Some of the chocolates made each day by the hotel. From left to right: milk chocolate truffle, dark chocolate with cherry fondant, milk chocolate with caramel, white chocolate truffle.

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Chef demonstrating how to temper chocolate properly, on a marble surface.

ImageTruffle making demonstration.

ImageThe menu - I've never seen so much chocolate in one place...

ImagePaul and Naomi from team Pulse - we're never far away from our phones or Twitter...

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Dark chocolate cake with hazelnut flake and orange mascarpone.

ImageWhite chocolate and coffee tart with marbled chocolate ice cream.

ImageMilk chocolate parfait with rasberry and chocolate macaroon.

ImageHot chocolate pot with warm cherry bakewell.

ImageGreen Woodpecker.

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September special cocktail - can't remember the name of it, but it was already October!

Girl vs Food: Red Dog Saloon

I first heard about Red Dog Saloon when someone at work came in raving about a new, authentic American BBQ place that had just opened up near Old Street. Not one to miss out on anything, I was keen to get down there and find out what all the fuss was about myself, but not before reading up some interesting reviews and articles online (the Evening Standard even did a piece on it where two reporters undertook one of the food challenges, comparing it to an episode of Man vs Food).

The reviews were glowing, the hype was ever-increasing, it was time to get over there and throw myself into the Red Dog experience - TO THE SALOON!

Some of you may be familiar with the challenges on offer at Red Dog Saloon, but for those that aren't, here's a run down:

 

The Hot Wings Challenge
You simply need to finish them - they come in three different flavours:
  • BW1 – Mildest (still probably scorching hot)
  • BWNapalm – Medium (burns through metal)
  • Armageddon – Hotter than the sun?

 

Out of the two times I've visited, I've only seen 2 people take on the challenge - both failed.

 

The Devastator Challenge
You must eat the following in one sitting:
  • A Devastator burger (3x 6oz patties, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers of applewood smoked bacon and 6 slices of American cheese)
  • A portion of French fries
  • A pot of Coleslaw
  • A milkshake

 

Sound easy? Try doing it in 10 minutes. If you manage it you win a tshirt and the respect of everyone in the restaurant that night - fail and your mugshot goes on the wall of shame.

 

Needless to say I didn't go for one of the challenges (not straight away, you gotta ease yourself in with these things - plus if I fail, I won't be able to show my face there again). I did get a little over-excited though and, along with my two friends, ordered the following (which seemed like a really good idea at the time!):
  • Wing sampler x 1 (A selection of 12 wings in the following flavours: original buffalo, bar-b-q, and sweet & spicy mustard glaze)
  • A 'Punisher' burger x 3 (6oz beef patty with 16 hour smoked pork butt, applewood smoked bacon and American cheese)
  • French fries x 1

 

 

Now, I know what you're thinking - one portion of fries between three? Yes, they are pretty big sides, and when you see the burgers come out you wish you hadn't ordered any fries. Not to be outdone, we plumped for the Devastator's equally brutal little sister, the Punisher...

 

 

It certainly lives up to it's name, lulling you into a false sense of security when during consumption, deceptively making you feel arrogant that you're 'not even that full', only to come back with a vengeance an hour later, punishing your insides good and proper (in the nicest possible way - a bit like that good ache you get when you over-exercise).

 

Onto the drinks - I haven't tried any of the Saloon cocktails (yet - I'll be going back for more soon!), but I have tried their milkshakes. Their Peanut Butter & Banana shake is perfection and their Oreo shake has huge cookie chunks in, so technically it's more of a dessert really...

 

Only last weekend I went for a second visit to induct my little sister to this awesome eatery, when she came down to London for the weekend. She ordered the Blue Cheese & Bacon burger and practically inhaled it, so it must have been good - if you need it, here's photographic evidence of Courtney and I thoroughly enjoying ourselves (pre and during burger):

 

 

 

So to sum up, you should make Red Dog Saloon your number 1 choice for burgers (and I've heard they do some mean ribs too) and your next endeavour as you get delicious food, excellent service, and a great atmosphere all for a reasonable price!

 

Girl vs Food: Meat Market

Having heard on the grapevine that this was the equivalent to Meat Liquor's retro little sister, I as keen to check it out. Located in Jubilee Market Hall in Covent Garden via a side door on Tavistock street, Meat Market is a narrow balcony area set over the market with a very fast food feel to it. From the moment you step foot in the door, you can feel the clock ticking - these guys want you in and out as quickly as possible; they have a one-way system, you order and pay as you walk through then find a seat (I dread to think what it would be like when busy, luckily it was fairly quiet when we went), even the music is high tempo to hurry you along when eating.

Like a lot of London gourmet burger joints the rule here is no reservations - it's first come first served, and be prepared to queue. Crazily, on their website it states that they don't serve burgers on Bank Holidays - I don't know if this means they're closed, but if not and they're not serving burgers, then they might as well be closed (confusing).

The menu apparently changes on quite a regular basis - when I went (just this week), there were only 3 burger options and the rest was a mixture of sides, drinks and shakes - not a whole lot to choose from really considering two of the burgers were almost identical (The Black Palace Burger and the Double Bubble).

When you order and pay they ask for your name (how very Starbucks of them) and print it on your bill. Now, this should make the whole experience feel more friendly and personal, surely? It's not quite the case when they shout your name over the grating tannoy then slam your order on the table when you fail to collect it within 5 seconds...

When the food arrived (and it was 'fast', you can't knock them for their speed), the packaging was very much like anything you'd find in Burger King or McDonald's, which would be fine if they didn't charge gourmet burger prices - a Dead Hippie Burger (pictured below), fries and a 'hard beige shake' (that's a vanilla milkshake with bourbon to you) will set you back £16! That wouldn't be so bad if you didn't feel like you were being rushed to force it all down your neck and be out of the door within 15 minutes, or if the quality of the food wasn't so bad...

Thanks to my recent burger adventures, I think I'm becoming a bit of a snob/ connoisseur - you realise when you hear yourself verbally critiquing what you're eating Adam-Richman style, like you're on talking to camera for your own Man vs Food episode. Once you hit that point, there's no turning back - you are a hardcore foodie of the burger variety, the bar has been set, and you will forever be disappointed with sub-par burgers and feel compelled to blog about them.

You can see from the picture that they don't use the shiny burger buns that seem to hold everything together by magic (this is exactly what I'm talking about - snob), and that this one - and I suspect every burger from there - happened to be swimming in grease, makes for an interesting eating experience. Another clever challenge against the clock - eat the burger before it disintegrates into a soggy, horrible mess. Our group managed it, just - but it wasn't fun!

To add insult to injury, the chips (sorry 'fries') were liberally covered in salt, and my 'hard' beige shake was not only tiny but also decidedly 'soft' - if there was any trace of Bourbon in there I'd be surprised. The lack of alcohol situation was soon rectified with some potent cocktails at Jewel just up the road - which seemed to take the edge off the less than pleasurable Meat Market experience.

I'll be honest, I'd have enjoyed a McDonald's meal more (and would have been able to buy three for that price!). But hey, you've got to try these things out. It is definitely my least favourite of all the London Burger joints I've sampled so far - let's hope the next place fares better...

Overall - no great shakes (literally)

Girl vs Food - ep. 1

I was recently introduced to the epic Man vs Food (thanks to my awesome friend Lauren) - a programme where each week, food lover Adam Richman travels the US to try out some of the biggest and best oversized restaurant specials in order to set new records and generally feel good about himself for clearing his plate, no matter how high it was piled to start off with. I know how he feels. The main problem with watching his show on a regular basis (which seems to be on every day on Dave) is that it always makes me really hungry, despite the fact that he fails a lot of the challenges set and makes himself quite ill. Mind you, I knew I wasn't quite right when I first watched Supersize Me - I'm pretty sure that was designed to put people off fast food (those that overdo it, anyway) but the first thing I did after it finished? Headed straight to McDonald's!

This Adam Richman guy sure knows his stuff and you only have to watch him for 30 seconds to see how passionate he is about food. After moving down to London and being introduced to the delights of Meat Liquor, Bodean's and the like, and then experiencing the incomparable barbecued meats of Texas, I realised that I am someone who definitely appreciates a good meal - as well as being curious when it comes to vast quanitites of food or giant portions. I don't know what it is about it, but it just fascinates me. I can trace this back to my first and only (although I'm determined that's not the end of it) attempt at making giant confectionary. Allow me to introduce my embarrassing internet debut on PIMP THAT SNACK:

Then came the Hellraiser marathon night at a friend's place, where I ordered the biggest takeaway pizza available with all the toppings (to share with my fella). Here's a picture of the beast (well, the box it came in) that is the Romino's 18 inch Special (touted as 'The biggest pizza in town!'):

We got through most of it (left around 3 slices I think), but man did I feel bad for not polishing it off.

Next up came the first, real Girl vs Food challenge. The occasion was Davo's Birthday, the place? Ciao Bella in Bloomsbury, the food?

THE CALZONE CHALLENGE - sounds pretty standard right? Davo's best mate, a regular at the restaurant dared me to order the Calzone, warning me that it would be bigger than my own head - looking at the price (which seemed very reasonable for something  that could possibly dwarf my head) I confidently ordered the tame sounding dish and didn't think any more of it...

...That was, until it arrived

!!!

My face must have been a picture - never in my life had I seen anything quite so ridiculously huge for one person to eat. I was then very aware that everyone at the table was staring at this Italian monstrosity and then at me with very distinctive 'there's no way she's going to eat all that!' looks. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I quietened down, quickly planned a strategy in my head and set to work on the beast.

I was in the Cal-zone - I hardly spoke to anyone during the course of the meal; finishing this bad boy off was going to require all of my concentration. I knew the closer I got to finishing it, the more people were talking about it until the last few forkfuls inspired cheers and claps from the table to spur me on!

So surprised was the owner of the restaurant that someone of my size could finish such a huge dish (with no help whatsoever!) that my sheer determination was rewarded with an Easter Egg - how lovely!!

Amazingly, after all that I still had room for a Panna Cotta dessert! :)

Keep an eye out for my next Girl vs Food challenge and let me know if you have any suggestions! Also, if you're near the Bloomsbury area, check out Ciao Bella, a lovely, family-run authentic Italian restaurant with great food - not all monstrously huge portions either! I'll definitely be heading back there again.