Cat Prestipino

I had heard not so good things about Caravan on Exmouth Market (over-priced, average food, bad service)- but I completely disagree. My experience there was great!

I met a friend for dinner on a Saturday night. The atmosphere was happy, buzzy and busy but not so busy that you couldn’t move and people were falling over you. The lighting added to the effect, being low but not so low that you couldn’t see anything. I was shown to our table almost straight away and within 10 minutes had my aperitif cocktail (a Caravan Cranberry Iced Tea since I was off alcohol).

Well, I’ve done it again. I’m having people over for lunch on Sunday. It’s just I’m not quite sure how many people.

This is a surprisingly frequent thing that I do. I blame my mother who always had an open door policy to friends coming by the house.

So, I’m having Sunday lunch for 3… or potentially 5… could quite possibly be 7. Again, not sure. So I need a recipe that will cover 3 without looking like ridiculously too much or 7 without leaving anyone hungry.

I don’t want to do a roast because my kitchen is not perfect for entertaining and towards the end of a roast, you need to spend time in the kitchen. I don’t want to do that. I want to be with my guests.

Perhaps a stew? It is still stew weather but then I worry about stews being overcooked, and they need to be served with mash. That requires me to go back to the kitchen.

Decisions… decisions…

Dinner with my friend, Miss A. She chose, based on a friend’s recommendation. The Cow – it’s a good name for a pub.

I’ll see you at the Cow!

I like that but I like the pub even better.

The downstairs and upstairs couldn’t be more different. My friend was running late so I started with a drink downstairs in the pub to start. It was loud, buzzy and it was only Wednesday night!

Upstairs is a different story. Quiet, intimate and like walking into Paris. As soon as I arrive, the staff seat me and bring over delicious home-made bread, focaccia, olives and radishes. The waitress knew about the wine list and provided a small free glass of her recommendation for tasting (which we ended up taking a bottle of).

The menu differed to what was listed on the website – but I think this is a good sign since everything on the menu was seasonal and fresh. The waitress knew the menu and could easily talk about the dishes – something hard to find in London. She could talk competently about the chef and the type of cuisine he liked to make.

I chose the mussels marinere’ with a side of savoy cabbage. My friend, Miss A, chose the venison – something she’d never tried before. The mussels were fresh and beautifully prepared. There were none that had to be left. The venison was delicious, although perhaps slightly more cooked than I would have liked it. All three dishes was flavourful and fulling (you could get away with the entree’ size mussels as a main).

For dessert I had the cheese plate, which was priced the same as the other desserts and gave four very generous portions of cheese and a delicious chutney. Miss A had the whipped chocolate which wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too bitter. Again, a very generous portion.

In summary…

Pub – definitely your buzzy local, good vibe and lots of fun

Restaurant – a bit like walking into a local French bistro. Good for chat up with old friends or a date. Ambience was quiet and intimate. Food was excellent and reasonably priced.

The Cow Pub

89 Westbourne Park Road

London W2 5QH

“What should I cook?” is an age old question – and one I find I am asked continuously…

Cat – my in-laws are coming around tonight and I need to make an impression. What should I cook?

I lied, Cat. I told the girl I was seeing that I could cook and she’s coming round to dinner tonight. Help!

Cat – I have 30 minutes in between getting home from work and a dinner party for six. What should I cook?

To my friends, I seem to be font of cooking knowledge. Recipes for every occasion and a solution for every culinary problem. Hell, I’ve even thrown the odd master class or two.

In August 2010, I went to the Greek Islands by myself.

I spent two glorious weeks doing exactly what I wanted and inevitably, this lead to my philosophical side considering what I actually wanted to do with my life and I realised I treasured my position as my little group’s “domestic goddess”.

This website comes to you (with a little help from my friends) to answer all their questions, forever, online. Every time I have to prepare a menu for a friend, every time I host a dinner party, every time I face a culinary challenge I want to make sure that it’s recorded somewhere. As every food critic says, we’ve lost the sense of tradition and community around food so let’s consider this our food community.

Of course, I love eating out as well. I’ve spent most of my life working in marketing and during that time I have developed  a wealth of knowledge about different restaurants for every different situation. This blog will also serve to share that knowledge with you.

To keep our little community going, please blog your favourite recipes, your favourite restaurants, how the recipe went, what touch did you add. Food is like a language – always changing.

This is our food community. Let’s make it tasty.