Pret A Manger, London

There are a couple of different sandwich chains that are scattered all over London. I visited one called Pret A Manger for a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Royal Academy of Arts for their Real Van Gogh exhibit (which was one of the best special exhibits that I’ve seen in a long time, by the way).

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manger

It was really, really busy inside. And yes, they sell porridge for breakfast! I found the sign interesting but I never did try it for myself.

sandwich cooler

sandwich cooler

Pret serves a number of different sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, pastries, coffee, tea, etc. The line up was pretty long for the hot food but I grabbed a quick, ready-made sandwich instead. I had a plethora of options to choose from. Posh cheddar and pickle? Pole and line caught tuna? Crayfish and rocket (a.k.a. arugula)?

Baguette and drink

Baguette and drink

After much thought (and while sneaking photos of the sandwich cooler), I finally settled on the  Topside of Beef and Rocket on an Artisan Baguette as well as a Vanilla Bean and Honey Yoghurt drink. The baguette was filled with slices of medium-rare beef, English mustard, red onion, and peppery rocket. The yogurt drink (or should I spell it yoghurt) was made of yogurt, apple juice, honey and vanilla. You could even see vanilla bean flecks throughout the drink. Everything in the meal was fresh, preservative-free, and delicious.

And bonus, I even managed to snag a table once I paid for my meal!

Pret A Manger
Various locations throughout the UK, Hong Kong, and a few in the USA
www.pret.com

P.S. As I left I noticed the building across the street – Fortnum & Mason, a high-end grocery store, tea shop and department store that was founded in 1707. I didn’t have time go in and explore though, so unfortunately I only got a shot of the outside.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason

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Black bean and corn salad

Black bean and corn salad

Black bean and corn salad

A few years ago I did some research using my friend the Internet, looking for a fresh summer recipe. The one I used that day, and used many times since, surprised me because it was a recipe by Rachael Ray.

Now, I have never particularly liked watching Rachael Ray. Nothing really against her food but I find her way of speaking to be quite irritating. If the use of “evoo” and “yum-o” ever died I would be okay with that.

This dish is really tasty though, so if you don’t like Ray, don’t avoid this recipe just because of where it came from. And if you’re a fan of hers, if you haven’t tried this one yet I highly recommend it. It is a convenient dish that has relatively few ingredients – and even better usually ingredients that I have on hand at all times.

Black bean and corn salad
Adapted from the 30 Minute Meals tv show by Rachael Ray

Ingredients
1 can black beans (540 mL/19 oz), rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 small red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (this is pretty mild once mixed but add less if you don’t like it hot or more if you want it hotter)
2 tablespoons of lime juice (approximately juice of one lime)
2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl. Let the salad sit while the frozen corn defrosts, then stir again before serving. This is a great recipe to take to a bbq or party as the corn will keep your salad chilled as it defrosts.

Salsa fresca with a twist

It was a beautiful day on Saturday; the sun was shining and the weather was crisp but not freezing. I even opened the windows for a short time to let in some fresh air. If I didn’t know better I would swear that it feels like spring weather is coming soon! (Hard to tell with weather here… a few days ago it snowed, and then promptly melted the next day.)

To go along with the nice weather I made some fresh salsa inspired by a recipe that I was told came straight from a cook in Mexico. I have a doubt about the authenticity of that recipe though, as it includes celery and I’ve never seen a salsa recipe that includes celery. The vegetable does give the salsa a nice crunch. The other thing about this recipe that struck me was the large amount of green in it, as opposed to other salsas which are more about the tomato than the other flavours. It gives the salsa a really fresh taste. For my version of this salsa, I ended up adjusting the quantities of some ingredients and adding seasoning.

Salsa fresca with a twist

Salsa fresca with a twist

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