Restaurant 22, Cambridge

I haven’t found many exceptional restaurants in Cambridge, so when my chef friend alerted me to her new favourite, Restaurant 22, I was eager to try it.

Restaurant 22 on Chesterton Road has recently been taken over by Alexandra Olivier and Samuel Carter, a local Cambridge couple with lots of ambition and boundless talent.

Restaurant 22

The charming eatery is found in an elegantly restored Victorian townhouse nearby to the River Cam and Jesus Green.

Chef Samuel Carter has worked in some top kitchens across the country, including Maze in London and Hambleton Hall in Rutland, before settling at the helm of his own restaurant in Cambridge. At Restaurant 22 his regularly changing seasonal menu champions the produce from their Cambridgeshire neighbours.

Restaurant 22

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu when we visited for Saturday lunch. But first, we were treated to a few little snacks… my favourite of which was the whipped goats cheese, fig and almond macaron, a sweet and savoury delight. Then came the bread, pillowy soft brioche with salty whipped chicken fat and heavenly Guinness bread with rich and decadent Guinness butter… completely addictive.

Restaurant 22

Each course was thoughtful and immaculate, to start we had Wood pigeon with pear, celeriac and pine. This game dish was an assortment of comforting Autumnal flavours, beautifully cooked meat with velvety smooth celeriac puree and a wonderfully rich jus.

Restaurant 22Restaurant 22

For the next course we enjoyed Cornish mackerel with kohlrabi, lovage & apple and Jerusalem artichoke risotto. The fish course was fresh and vibrant cold dish, a brilliant contrast of flavours and textures. The risotto was completely different… a steaming hot bowl of deliciousness, with rustic woody flavours of artichoke and sage.

Restaurant 22

The main event was a beautiful plate of Mutton, prepared three ways. The different cuts of meat were paired with aromas of cumin, coriander and curry. Each element was wonderful, but together it was a real joy, I particularly loved the curried meatballs. The friendly restaurant team advised us on drinks, and we enjoyed interesting wines that matched well with the food.

Restaurant 22

After so many successful savoury courses I was concerned that the pastry section may not live up to expectations… but I didn’t need to worry as it was as spectacular as the earlier plates. On the menu it was listed simply as ‘Chocolate, coffee, mascarpone’, which instantly reminded me of tiramisu. A striped chocolate and coffee mousse structure was the most striking element on the plate, accompanied with dark chocolate crumb, coffee gel and burnt white chocolate ice-cream. It was a wonderfully balanced dish, and we demolished it in happy silence.

Restaurant 22

The meal concluded with a wooden box filled with sweet treats… chocolate fudge and fluffy marshmallows. I absolutely loved our meal at Restaurant 22 and can’t wait to return to try more of their culinary creations, definitely a new highlight on the Cambridge restaurant scene.

More information and book a table at Restaurant 22 here.

Things to do in Chicago

I had heard Chicago was a city for foodies and art lovers, but I did not expect to also find amazing architecture, charming neighbourhoods and interesting history here. It was brilliant spending four days in the ‘Windy City’ last week, exploring with the Choose Chicago tourist board and discovering the diverse and varied range of activities on offer. Wrapped up warm we ventured out on a river boat tour, ate our way round Chinatown and visited a classic blues bar for legendary late night music. Here are a few of my must-do favourites from the trip… though there is plenty more I’d like to go back for!

Chicago

To Stay

Chicago Athletic Association – This centrally located, historic hotel had years of restoration before its reopening in 2015. There are 241 luxury bedrooms along with a host of great facilities. Don’t miss Milk Room, a hidden eight-seat microbar with a carefully crafted cocktail menu made with only the rarest vintage spirits.

Chicago

To Eat

Lost Larson – Andersonville, a neighbourhood on Chicago’s north side, is known for its Swedish roots. Lost Larson draws on this heritage, a charming Swedish bakery and cafe with the best Cardamon buns in town.

Big Star – This lively Wicker Park hangout is the place to go in Chicago if you have a Mexican food craving. With tasty tacos and great margaritas, you will never fail to have a good time at Big Star.

Little Goat Diner – The ‘Goat’ eateries are top of every foodies ‘to try’ list. There are three venues to choose from, all in the Fulton Market district. Each has a slightly different menu but all have the same mission; to present bold vibrant flavours. I tried Little Goat Diner, a favourite for brunch and loved the quirky dish ‘Little Piggy went to China’ (sesame cheddar biscuit with sunny side eggs, sichuan pork sausage and chilli garlic chive sauce).

Doughnut Vault – If the quaint exterior doesn’t convince you in to Doughnut Vault the scent of sugary goodness will. The tiny bakery has limited stock of their freshly made donuts each day, and they close up when they’ve all sold out. Try the Buttermilk Old Fashioned.

Lao Sze Chuan – This beloved Chinese restaurant serves up irresistible Szechuan cuisine. Found in the centre of new Chinatown, the service is attentive and the prices reasonable. Order the Dry Chilli Chicken and the Garlic Eggplant.

Longman and Eagle – A brunch institution, Longman and Eagle is a hipster spot in Logan Square. The kitchen is known for its farm to table fare… opt for the waffles and fried chicken.

Stan’s Donuts – Stan’s Donuts has long been a favourite for donuts in its LA and California branches. The 50 year old donut company now have several branches in Chicago offering an endless range of donuts, in every flavour imaginable. There are vegan and gluten-free options too.

Dove’s Luncheonette – This easy-going Wicker Park diner is a great weekend brunch option. The interiors are classic and nostalgic and the menu is filled with American comfort food. Sit at the bar and soak up the atmosphere.

Lou Malnati’s – Chicago is known for its Deep Dish Pizza. There is lively debate about the ‘best’ establishment, but Lou Malnati’s features on every must try list. The high-edged pastry leaves plenty of space for layers of cheese, tomato sauce and toppings of choice. Filling, gooey and dangerously delicious.

Bang Bang Pie – For the ultimate afternoon treat head to Bang Bang Pie, where the wholesome pies and savoury dishes satisfy every appetite. The interiors are rustic chic and the service is among the friendliest in Chicago. Try a slice of the Key-Lime Pie or the Autumnal pumpkin pie.

Chicago

To Drink

Sawada – This is the first U.S. coffee shop from world renowned barista and latte art expert Hiroshi Sawada. The coffee is delicious and poured to perfection. Stop by the Fulton Market cafe for a donut and drink… Sawada are known for their matcha drinks, mixed with chocolate and coffee.

CC Ferns – A quaint coffee house in Humboldt Park. The vintage interiors make CC Ferns perfect for a cosy afternoon drink, and the venue is always filled with hipster locals. The cafe offers Doughnut Vault donuts and housemade croissants to accompany your coffee.

Intelligentsia Coffee – There are lots of branches of this failsafe speciality coffee brand in Chicago. The coffee is smooth and delicious, and it’s one of the only independent cafe options in Downtown Chicago… the perfect caffeine-kick to go while you go sightseeing.

Cindy’s Rooftop – The rooftop bar at the top of the Chicago Athletic Association, Cindy’s has a menu of great cocktails and the best panoramic views.

Four Letter Word – Heisner, Ria Neri, and Eylem Ozkaya opened their first coffee shop & roastery in Istanbul serving Turkish-style coffee and single-origin coffees from Central & South America. They have recently opened a second cafe in Logan Square in Chicago and serve some of the best coffee in town. (Opposite the brilliant neighbourhood restaurant, Cellar Door Provisions).

Lost Lake – A tropical tiki bar in Logan Square, Lost Lake is recognised as one of the best cocktail bars in Chicago. The menu pays homage to 80 years of exotic cocktail history, order a bourbon based ‘Hazy Lazy, Like, Kinda Crazy’.

Chicago

To Do

The Art Institute of Chicago – The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Grant Park, was founded in 1879 and is regarded as one of the finest art collections in the world. Wander round the many galleries exhibiting old masters and modern works while looking out for paintings by important artists such as Georges Seurat, Edward Hopper and Grant Wood.

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour – Chicago is known for its architecture around the world. This 75-minute boat tour is a great way to see 40 city landmarks, while listening to the expert guide explain the engineering and history behind some of the most prominent skyscrapers.

Buddy Guy’s Legends – This classic blues bar is famous in Chicago for its brilliant band line-up. Head to Buddy’s for the best blues music in town and New Orleans inspired grub.

Skydeck – Head up to the 103rd floor of the Skydeck to see incredible views of the whole city, 1,353 feet below. The building is the highest in the Western Hemisphere, if you are brave enough stand in the overhanging glass boxes for an even more immersive experience.

Chinatown tour – The Chicago Food Planet tours are fun and informative. We enjoyed a 3-hour tour of old and new Chinatown, with 5 tasting stops while also learning about the history of the area. For a more general neighbourhood tour I highly recommend ‘Chicago Greeter’, free tours run by enthusiastic volunteers.

Chicago

To Shop

Martha May Art Supplies & Beautiful Things – This little pink shop is found in the charming neighbourhood of Andersonville in the north of the Chicago. Named after owner Jean Cate’s pet dog Martha, this shop is carefully curated with lovely stationery, specialist art supplies and beautiful objects.

Bari Zaki – Bari Zaki is a wondrous emporium of wonderful stationery and creatively bound books. The shop also hosts bookbinding workshops for those keen to learn the skill.

Norcross & Scott – This lovely furniture and design store is found in Andersonville. The selective collection includes accessories from Tom Dixon, Bend Goods and Norcross & Scott’s own range.

Koval – Established in 2008, Koval is Chicago’s first distillery since the mid-1800s. All the Koval organic craft spirits are made from scratch, and the company is particularly well known for their whiskeys, though they also make vodka, gin and liqueurs. The simple packaging is very stylish, making a bottle of Koval a great gift to take home.

I visited Chicago as a guest of Choose Chicago, more information on the destination here.

The Best Food in Lima, Peru

Lima may not be prettiest city to visit in South America, but Peru’s capital is one of the world’s leading culinary destinations, thanks to the abundance of fresh produce and the unique culture of fusion cooking. This year Lima was the only place to receive two spots on the World’s 50 Best top ten list, testament to the exemplary standard of cooking and the skill showcased in the restaurants here. Alongside the fine dining establishments Lima has a range of wonderful casual restaurants, offering fresh seafood, comforting stews and, of course, ceviche and cocktails. Here are my favourite culinary discoveries from Lima, when I visited on a foodie pilgrimage last month…

Lima Food

Fine Dining

Central – Imaginative and innovative in every sense of the word, Central is a food experience you will remember forever. The restaurant is the brainchild of culinary mastermind Virgilio Martínez, and has recently moved to a new home in the Barranco district. In the 16 course tasting menu each plate is inspired by a different altitude and microcosm of Peru. I barely recognised any of the ingredients on the list, and loved learning about the country through this spectacular and delicious menu. Virgilio and team have also just opened a new restaurant called Mil, outside Cusco.

Maido – This smart and stylish restaurant is renowned for its unrivalled Nikkei cuisine. Immaculately balancing the flavours of Peru with the cooking techniques of Japan, Lima-born chef Tsumura studied in the US and Japan before returning to Peru to open Maido. Highlights from the tasting menu include a fish hotdog, dim sum with squid and sea snail cau-cau, and sea urchin rice. I fell in love with the 50 Hour Slow Cooked Beef with Chaufa Rice.

Astrid & Gaston – Founded by Gastón Acurio, Astrid & Gaston has always been at the forefront of the Lima destination dining scene. Currently the restaurant is found at the palatial Casa Moreyra, a grand building with several dining rooms, each decorated with striking modern art. Either enjoy an intricate tasting menu by Head Chef (and rising star) Juan David Ocampoor or choose from the extensive a la carte menu. I highly recommend sampling the Guinea Pig xiao-long-bao.

Lima Food

Cooking Class

Belmond Miraflores Park – This luxury hotel is the perfect place to learn a little more about Peruvian cuisine. One of the chefs will accompany you to the local Surquillo market for a tour of the produce and speciality ingredients. Once you’ve collected what you need you’ll head back to the hotel for a ceviche cooking class on the rooftop. We combined citrus, onions, chilli, herbs and corn to make the ceviche dressing before adding in the raw white fish and topping with vibrant toppings.

Guests of Miraflores Park are also invited to join the nightly Pisco Sour masterclass with Andre in Belo Bar. This free event is a great way to try your hand at cocktail making and taste a range of Piscos.

Lima Food

Local Restaurants

El Mercado – This lively, fun restaurant in the Miraflores district is only open for lunch, and is always full of locals and tourists feasting on their ceviche and BBQ dishes. We sat at the bar and feasted on Suckling pig tacos, goat and lime bean mash, and deliciously smoky barbecued octopus. The El Mercado team have a second restaraurant called Rafael, which receives equally glowing reviews.

Tragaluz – Tragaluz is the main restaurant in the upmarket Miraflores Park Hotel. Inside the smart but colourful restaurant is decorated with wild murals by Lima artist Mateo Liébana, or you can sit outside at a patio table and admire the views of the lush Parque Domodossola and the sea in the distance. The kitchen present elegant International and Peruvian food, highlights on the menu include the Tragaluz steak and the mini tacos.

Isolina – Isolina is a typical traditional taberna, and Chef José del Castillo aims to please with the ultimate Peruvian comfort food. The simple decor is cosy and atmospheric, set in a historic house in Barranco. We enjoyed the warming beef short rib stew with rice and beans washed down with homemade lemonade.

Lima Food

Sweet Treats

Ana Avellana – If you are in need of a sugar boost in Lima Ana Avellana is the place to go. The little cafe has a charming interior, with comfy sofas and a cake display that would make anyone hungry. Don’t miss the decadent cheesecake and the amazing chocolate chip cookies.

Lima Food

Breakfast / Brunch

El Pan De La Chola – This bakery is internationally renowned for making the best bread and pastries in town. The chic venue is found in Miraflores, a coffee shop and cafe that is popular with everyone in the neighborhood, from businessmen to fashionistas. We stopped by for breakfast on our first day in Lima and enjoyed Stumpy coffees (a bit bigger than a Cortado) and absolutely delicious croissant and pan au chocolats… flaky, buttery and irresistable. I’d also highly recommend the avocado on toast.

La Panetteria – This fantastic local bakery is in the heart of the bohemian Barranco district. The cute cafe serves good coffee and great breakfast and brunch. Stop by for a morning croissant or a sandwich at lunchtime.

Colonia & Co – Colonia & Co is a homely cafe that serves brunch plates and brilliant coffee. The small artistic space is a lovely place to spend the morning in Barranco, order a flat whites and the homemade brioche French toast.

Lima food

Coffee

Milimetrica Espresso Bar – Milimetrica opened in Lima in 2017, a coffee mecca for caffeine lovers. The cycling coffee shop, precisely weigh the beans to create a coffee that is to exacting standards. The tasty coffee beans are from Cajamarca, growing 1,800 meters above sea level. The two varieties they use are Caturra and Bourbon, which are both very fruity and fragrant.

Neira Cafe Lab – This speciality coffee shop in Miraflores is a project by barista Harryson Neira. The coffee lab uses high quality Peruvian beans to make it’s deliciously rich tropical tasting coffee. Stop by for an espresso or a pour over coffee.

Cafe Verde – Cafe Verde may not look like much from the outside, but this small corner shop cafe is definitely worth a visit. Husband and wife team (K.C and Tatiana) opened Café Verde in 2007 with the aim of exporting green coffee beans and championing an ecological ethos behind the coffee they sell. The coffee is creamy and addictive and the cafe has a relaxed feel.

I was a guest of Belmond Miraflores Park, more information and book a stay at the hotel here.