My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

James Villa Holidays got in touch recently to invite me to share my favourite holiday dish. I was struggling to think of whether I actually had one that I could pin down, but then I saw that they have villas at destinations across the Mediterranean, one of which is in Fuertaventura.

Ah memories!

In my early twenties I went on a girly holiday to Fuertaventura and because we couldn’t afford much we went self catering, which ended up being a lot more fun than we originally thought! We’d get up in the morning and head to the local supermarket to pick up fresh ingredients, overfilling our baskets with goodies because we all lived with our parents at the time and hadn’t quite sussed out that it’s best to take a list.

Sun Loungers and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

After a day at the beach relaxing on sun loungers, talking about boys and reading chick lit, we’d head back to the apartment and cook together.

It was during our Mediterranean adventure that I first discovered sun-dried tomatoes and fell in love with the sharp, sweet, juicy taste. We used them as pizza toppings, on posh cheese and toast and in sandwiches. To this day whenever I see sun-dried tomatoes I smile at the memories of that holiday and have to pick some up.

My Holiday Dish

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Of course that was quite a while ago now and my cooking has come on a bit since then, so I thought I’d share an easy recipe using those lovely sun-dried tomatoes as well as other mediterranean vegetables as a tribute to that holiday abroad! It’s a breeze to prepare, doesn’t take long to cook and yet looks quite impressive and tastes delicious!

The leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, which work well hot or cold.

Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Tart with Mediterranean Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/2 courgette
4 sun dried tomatoes
3 normal tomatoes (preferably from the vine)
4 tbsps low fat cream cheese
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsps parmigiano reggiano or parmesan cheese
1 puff pastry sheet
Dried oregano
Rocket (to serve)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Slice the courgette into discs, as thin as you can, and do the same with the vine tomatoes. Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Gently toss the courgette in the olive oil until they’re all coated, then fry them in a large non stick pan on either side until lightly browned. It’s best to do this in two batches so that you can keep them spread out.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Line a tray with baking paper, then lightly grease it. Roll the pastry sheet out, then score a line 1 cm from the edge to make a border.

Next, mix the cream cheese, milk and sun dried tomatoes together, then grate in half of the cheese. Mix it all together and spread it onto the pastry inside the border. Layer on the courgette, then the tomatoes, and sprinkle the orgegano over.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Season with salt and pepper, then bake it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Finally grate over the rest of the cheese, top with rocket and drizzle over a little more olive oil.

My Holiday Dish _Sun-Dried Tomato Mediterranean Tart Recipe

Best served in the garden with a glass of something chilled! (Sun loungers optional).

I hope you enjoy my holiday dish, what’s yours?

LovedByLaura

*This post is written in collaboration with James Villas, who have shared their own holiday dishes over on their blog which you can find here: James Villas Blog. I’ve got my eye on the recipe for Prawns with Sherry and Chorizo!

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Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

When I was a teenager the magazines I read were full of articles declaring that to look like a supermodel I needed to cut out the carbs. It took me a long time to work out that eating pasta and potatoes as part of a balanced diet is absolutely fine… the trick is simply knowing when to stop! Thus when an opportunity arose to attend an intimate dinner party showcasing some of the great things you can do with Jersey Royal New Potatoes I jumped at the chance.

…did I mention that it was hosted by none other than Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy’s Farm? Yep, Jimmy and Jersey Royal collaborating to host a dinner party: foodie heaven!

I arrived at the Food At 52 culinary school and was greeted by none other than Jimmy himself. Soon I was having a drink with a group of fellow foodies as we listened to Jimmy talk passionately about why he supports the use of homegrown produce.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 5

It’s quite simple really. Why buy potatoes grown halfway around the world when we have local farmers producing the freshest, most delicious potatoes right on our doorstep in the British Isles? Jersey Royals are in fact often referred to as the champagne of the potato world.

To begin our Jersey odyssey we were served canapes of the most adorably delicate little new potatoes. Add basil pesto, chimichurri and chive crème fraiche dips to the mix and they proved to be extremely moorish.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Heading downstairs we found a long table beautifully laid out for us with fresh flowers and sparkling dinnerware.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Enticing cooking smells wafted through from the open kitchen. As we talked the night away plate after plate of beautiful food arrived.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Our starter was a stunning Jersey Royal Spring Vegetable Frittata which was so fresh and light and delicately balanced that I’m pretty sure I made moaning noises in appreciation as I tucked in.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Next came a sausage pastie but *in my best Marks and Spencers voice* not just any pastie, a Jersey Royal cheese, onion and sausage pastie! It was meaty, it was hearty, the pastry was short and just the right amount of crumbly. It was accompanied by a quick tomato jam and halloumi and rosemary skewers which I’m going to have to recreate at home.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 16

Our final course of the evening was a cheeseboard full of Jersey produce including Brie, Camembert and one of their most genius creations: Jersey Black Butter.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

Any description I try and give here just doesn’t do it justice, so I’ll simply tell you that it’s a bit like a chutney with a decadent spiced apple sweetness to it. Think of Christmas preserved in a jar. Oh and you can get it in the supermarket now – do it!

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party 23

If all of that wasn’t enough, before we left we were offered some of Sue’s salted fudge, which turned out to be very similar to my most favourite of sweet treats, Scottish Tablet. It’s an insanely pure sugar hit that may be too sweet for some, but I just loved it.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

I think the funniest moment though was when we were chatting to Jimmy and one of the girls went to show him her Instagram feed. As he watched her open the app it became apparent that the last thing she’d loaded was his Instagram. Basically he saw his face, all over her phone! “Well that’s not awkward at all!” said Jimmy. It was hilarious. Pretty sure that could have been me… everyone goes for a little Instagram stalk before meeting people don’t they? 😉

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

It’s experiences like this dinner party that make me very thankful to have started writing my blog. Not only did I get to eat some sensational food but I also learned about Jersey’s history and got to meet some of it’s proud inhabitants. We even got treated to a goodie bag full of the wonderful produce that we’d tried that evening so that we could carry on the enjoyment at home.

Jimmys Farm Jersey Royals Dinner Party

I’ve been hankering after a trip to France for a while now but having seen what the beautiful island of Jersey has to offer,  I think I might have found a new place to dream about.

This post is not sponsored but I did enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Jersey Royal team. You can find out more about Jersey Royal New Potatoes here .

LovedByLaura

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A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I was invited to a cocktail tasting in London a few weeks back so N and I decided to stop over in the city. The cocktail bar was in Farringdon, an area I’d discovered on our last escape to the city when we stayed at a gorgeously romantic hotel called The Rookery (review here). We could have stayed there again but I like go somewhere different each time I travel so this time we decided to try the Malmaison London hotel.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I wasn’t actually planning to write about it on here since it was such a whistle-stop stay, but I fell so completely in love with the place that I took a tonne of photos and couldn’t help but share my find with you, so here we are!

The Malmaison London Hotel

The entrance to the hotel is rather discreet so when our Maps navigation delivered us successfully to the entrance we somehow decided it wasn’t the right place. We promptly retraced our steps, only to end up back at the same place 15 minutes later with me regretting having worn my heels for the journey! Luckily it’s got a pretty seating area outside so I was able to take a load off whilst N found our booking information.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

We noted that there was some building work going on in the green opposite the hotel but once inside we couldn’t hear it and the general area was quietly nestled down a side street.

The big reception area had funky brightly coloured chairs, a union jack rug on the floor, glossy black surfaces and tulips all around. We were soon checked in and on our way up to the fourth floor to find our room.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Club Room

I’d opted for a Club Room because London hotel rooms can be quite small and my ‘Laura logic’ had set in. This is the part of me that tells myself that since I’m already paying a small fortune for the room an extra £30 wouldn’t hurt. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so big though – it was split into two sections connected by a hallway, with the first section being a lounge area.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Across the corridor was a spacious bedroom with a beautiful Eames chair, a plush throw on the bed and a second flatscreen tv. In fact the whole place was so aesthetically pleasing that I could have done a little happy dance. I resisted the urge to Instagram everything in sight. (Actually no I didn’t, although I did manage to not post every single one all at once).

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

I love exploring hotel rooms and looking in the doors and cupboards for hidden treats and special touches. I couldn’t help smiling at the little details throughout this one. The door keycard said “Stick with me I’ll get you places” and the breakfast room service sign advised “unless you’re wheeling my bed downstairs I’ll eat in here”.

One thing that can make or break a hotel room for me is the bathroom and I was pleased to find that ours was spotless with a large walk in shower complete with a rainfall showerhead, a heated towel rail and a huge sink. Even the bathroom toiletries made me laugh.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

Posh Sandwiches and Trashy TV

We were starving but short for time so we ordered room service. No matter where I am, if I see fish finger sandwiches on the menu I have to order them. These were some of the poshest sarnies I’ve eaten with chunky breaded pieces of fish and lashings of tartare sauce and ketchup. N polished off a BLT.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

When we got back from the cocktail tasting (which I’ll post about later this week!) we decided that the best way to end the day would be to watch trashy tv in our very plush bed, so we ordered drinks up to the room. It was actually really nice not to rush around as we usually always try and cram 101 things into our stay. This time we chucked the itinerary out of the window and enjoyed mastering the relaxing art of doing nothing.

Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar

The next day we had a lie in and were so slow at getting ready that it was close to lunch before we checked out, so we headed downstairs to Malmaison’s restaurant, Chez Mal Brasserie and Bar.

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

The price of the meals was a bit steep and I debated whether I could justify £11 on a plate of tomato, basil and mozzarella pasta, but when it arrived I had to admit that it was bloody good and tasted freshly made! N opted for a burger… he always does! I asked him for his review of the food: “Yeah, it’s nice.”

A short stay at the Malmaison London Hotel

The Verdict

All in all we had a great stay. If you’re going to pay upwards of £200 for a nice hotel room then the extra touches count and this place certainly delivered. I think it’s rightly rated as a 4 star hotel as it doesn’t reach the all out decadent luxury of a 5 star, but it’s got everything you need.

Since I tend to get rather overexcited about things I asked N what he thought of the hotel so that I could give you all a balanced review: “Yeah, it’s nice.” he said. Men. I think if we stayed at Buckingham Palace I’d get the same response.

Please note that this post is not sponsored or written in collaboration with the hotel, I just thought it was worth sharing after a lovely stay!

Malmaison London Hotel

Nearest tube: Farringdon, 5 minute walk

Address: 18-21 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AH

Visit the website: Malmaison London

Do you enjoy mini hotel breaks? Let me know if you have any recommendations!

LovedByLaura

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Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Travel Supermarket recently put together a list of the 12 most unusual and unique places to stay in the UK including a Wizard’s Treehouse (which I really want to stay in one day) and a giant pineapple! In keeping with the theme they invited N and I to stay at a quirky hotel of our choosing and we picked The Rookery in Clerkenwell.

The hotel is a leisurely two minute stroll from Farrindgon Tube station, itself just one tube stop from Kings Cross. As we trundled our case along the quiet road it was hard to believe that we were a stone’s throw from one of London’s busiest modern transport hubs. We found The Rookery tucked discreetly around the corner from the main street on Peter’s Lane.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

It’s a boutique hotel converted from 18th century houses and as soon as I laid eyes on it I fell a little bit in love; it’s so full of character and olde worlde charm – completely different to our usual London boltholes.

Inside we were warmly greeted and checked in, then given a little tour of the place before being shown to our room.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*


The Room

What a room! I would describe it for you, but since I took a million pictures I’ll let them do the talking…

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

It’s a bit of a stunner isn’t it?

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

I’m usually a fan of modern country chic, but the glossy dark wooden panelling, Georgian four poster bed and all the other period details made this feel very special.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

The room, a Superior Double, was incredibly spacious. Our only negative was the lack of in room amenities. For the price point I’d expect complimentary hot drink facilities but we had to make do with a chargeable mini bar and room service, plus breakfast was an additional charge. It’s worth noting that the surrounding streets are full of takeaways, corner shops and restaurants though so you can always nip up the road to pick up the incidentals.

This gripe aside, even the bathroom had a feeling of grandeur, though thankfully the lady in the corner politely averts her eyes whilst you’re on the throne!

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Some of the rooms have restored roll top baths, but I was more than happy with the luxurious walk in shower in ours complete with a waterfall showerhead and REN toiletries.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

If you’re looking for ultra modern rooms and perfect white interiors then this isn’t the place for you. It’s got uneven ceilings, crooked corners and warmly painted walls in traditional colours. I loved it though, for all it’s nooks and crannies to explore and pretty details to admire.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

My favourite discovery was the most important resident of the house, Lady Grey. She appeared from the library (oh yes – this place has a library!) and graciously allowed me make a cooing fuss of her, whilst N rolled his eyes and muttered something about me and flipping cats.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Downstairs is an honesty bar. You simply serve your own drinks and then fill in what you’ve taken so that it can be charged to your room…

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

…and there are plenty of cosy seating areas to enjoy your drinks in.

It wasn’t cold enough for a log fire during our stay, more’s the pity.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*


Afternoon Tea and Wicked

Once we’d unpacked we headed to St James Park for a delicious afternoon tea (look out for more on this in my next post!) and then on to the theatre for the evening showing of Wicked.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Our tickets were in Band A of the stalls. We’d gone for the best seats that we could afford, but were still pleasantly surprised to be shown to the 3rd row from the front, as we hadn’t realised they’d be THAT good!

in hindsight, I think that we might have actually been a little bit TOO close as it was sometimes hard to follow the action on stage because of the angles without having to crane my neck (a bit like sitting on the front row of the cinema). However we were so close that we could see every facial expression of the cast and all of the details on the downright amazing costumes, so it was still a fantastic experience.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Without wanting to give any of the story away, if you like modern fairy tales, humour, Frozen and shoes you are going to love Wicked!

We didn’t get back to Farringdon until the early hours and found the area to be more alive at night than during the day, with some noisy types in the street below us who weren’t at all concerned about keeping their voices down. I am usually a light, restless sleeper but I managed to drift off immediately and get a straight 8 hours sleep which is almost unheard of for me. The bed was blissfully comfortable thanks to the crisp duvet and pillows.

Breakfast In Bed

The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, but you can order room service meals. We opted for breakfast in bed the next morning.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

It was a pricey £11.95 a head and the menu is quite limited, but the portions were very generous and it meant that we could laze around until midday checkout and wake up slowly.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

N had the biggest cup of coffee known to man and a bacon ciabatta sandwich, whilst I opted for a bagel with lashings of cream cheese, smoked salmon and lemon juice. Perfect.

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Can we just take a moment to admire the lemon in a muslin cloth? It allows you to squeeze the juice out without pips falling into your food – genius!

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*

Soon all that was left to do was pack our bags and say a fond farewell. What a weekend!

Quirky London | A Weekend Getaway at The Rookery*


Final Thoughts

Owing to it’s sumptuous styling and wow factor rooms I think The Rookery is perfect for a romantic weekend away. It’s advertised at £240 a night but when I searched on Travel Supermarket I found some Saturdays priced at £195, so make sure you do a price comparison to get the best deal!

I’d like to say a massive thanks to Travel Supermarket who provided our complimentary stay, but rest assured that all views expressed in this post are my honest and truthful opinion. (You can read more about this on my disclaimer page here.)

What do you think of the hotel? Do you have any recommendations for unusual places to visit?

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Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Back in December over cocktails Fran and I were discussing places we wanted to visit in 2016. Sketch turned out to be top of both of our wishlists so we got ridiculously overexcited and decided there and then to go for a January Afternoon Tea.

99 Conduit Street

Fast forward weeks of anticipation (heightened more so by reading some lovely reviews from fellow bloggers!) and I arrived into London after a refreshingly leisurely journey. I met Fran in Mayfair and we headed to 9 Conduit Street.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

The exterior is discreet and unassuming, but all that changes as you step through the black curtained doorway. Like entering Narnia through the wardrobe, it’s like being transported to another time, or place.

Opulent grandeur of guilded ceilings and rooms of flocked wallpaper are juxtaposed with abstract modern art and quirky, sometimes very odd touches which somehow all come together to make an interior which I found completely mesmerising.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch
Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

The Gallery (aka The Pink Room)

We checked in our coats and were led through to the Gallery. It’s also known as The Pink Room for reasons that soon become clear.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

As soon as I walked in I broke into a big smile. It feels like the room has a big sense of humour, but the art deco styling, gold lamps, stunning ceiling and small elegant touches make it an eclectic mix that somehow meshes beautifully.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

The room is full of drawings from the artist David Shrigley which are wonderfully weird and wacky. If it wasn’t so busy in there I would have loved to explore more of the artwork around the room.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

…even the crockery entertained us!

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

We ordered the champagne and watched as it was expertly poured from on high into wide and shallow glasses. I need to learn how to do this. Actually I also need those glasses!

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Afternoon Tea

It wasn’t long before the food arrived.

Neither Fran or I like egg sandwiches so these were substituted for extra coronation chicken and cucumber sandwiches at our request. All of the finger sandwiches were beautifully balanced and a nice two bite portion size.

 

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Included were the daintiest paninis I’ve ever seen, individually wrapped in paper and tied with ribbon. The Comté cheese filling was so light and creamy that I ended up ordering an extra helping.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Fresh scones were brought to the table wrapped in a crisp white cloth to keep them warm, along with fig and raspberry jams and clotted cream.

We were feeling quite full at this point but it would have been a travesty to leave all of the pastries. Luckily we always have so much to catch up on in our little get-togethers that we chatted away until we felt ready for round two!

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

My favourite was the passionfruit tarlet which had a crispy crunchy short pastry and a zingy fresh filling to cleanse the palate.

The Famed Egg Pod Toilets

I wouldn’t normally mention the toilets of an establishment but these are all part of the experience! I pushed through a discreet door and found myself somewhere altogether different.

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

As I climbed the staircase I could see stained glass ceilings and instead of toilet cubicles: giant egg pods!

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

We couldn’t resist playing around a little bit, can you blame us in a place as fun as this?

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch
Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

I’ve since heard that they sometimes play barnyard sounds and have geese sat on top of the eggs – I only wish I could have seen that too!

Quirky London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

If you want a traditional afternoon tea then maybe this one isn’t for you, but if you want something quirky and fun and don’t mind paying for the experience, I can wholeheartedly recommend Sketch!

Sketch London

Location: 9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG (the side street opposite to Hamleys, nr Regent Street)
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus. 
Cost: £45 for traditional afternoon tea | £57 to £61 for the Champagne version. However note that:

  • A discretionary 12.5% service charge is automatically added to the bill.
  • We were offered water upon arrival and noticed that £4.50 was added to the bill for this, so be aware that it’s not complimentary!

Please support my blog by voting for me in the Lifestyle + Food and Drink categories of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

VOTE HERE!

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