April has been an insanely busy month for me, with a massive birthday celebration at Centre Parcs for a friend, plus a holiday to Manchester, a visit to London with my parents, and ongoing kitchen renovation. It’s been stressful but fun!
On Saturday, some of my friends and I went to The Fat Fig, a Greek restaurant in Southampton. I’d noticed it during a walk to check out a new ice cream parlour called Tooti’s and after researching it online, I found mostly glowing reviews. They offer an option on their menu called the ‘Fat Fig Meze Banquet’, which is decribed as ‘a feast, comprising of all dips, starters, a seafood course, finished with a meat platter’, priced at £18.95 per person. That seemed pretty good to me, so I booked the table and along we went! Inside, the restaurant’s decor is minimal, and the chairs and tables are canteen style – but the food, I assure you, is fantastic. Here’s what we had!
We started with some amazing houmous, tzatziki with fat chunks of cucumber and laced with mint, taramasalata, skorthalia – cold mashed potato with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, olives, and tabouleh – a zesty, juicy salad made of bulgar wheat, tomatoes and parsley, all accompanied by fluffy hot pitta bread.
Following that was haloumi and lounza, a grilled, supersalty cheese with a rubbery texture (actually, incredibly delicious despite it sounding like polystyrene) and griddled pork loin that tasted like smoked ham.
Then we had falafels – these, as I assume, most of the dishes, were homemade – piping hot and crispy with a spicy parsley and onion studded chickpea mash inside, accompanied by what I think was a tahini dip.
Following that came dolmathes and melinzanes together:
The dolmathes were vine leaves stuffed with rice, pork, herbs and spices, and topped with a fresh tomato sauce.
The melinzanes were possibly my favourite part of the meal, fried, smokey aubergine medallions topped with tomatoes, with a soft, rich interior surrounded by a crispy outer skin. I have a weakness for aubergine dishes!
Then came the chicken liver – cooked in onions with lemon and parsley. I did try this, and it was tasty, but unfortunately the smell reminded me too much of the food we gave our dogs when I was a kid, so I squeamishly skipped this one!
That was the starters dealt with, so then we moved onto the fish course. First up was a plate of hot calamari:
Then some fat king prawns covered with garlic butter, olive oil and parsley:
And finally maritha, breaded, deep fried white bait:
I’d never had white bait before, so I tried it out – it was incredibly delicious, although I do admit I removed the heads and scraped out the insides, which is not really proper white bait etiquette!
The second to last course was called Greek Village Salad – a classic Greek salad with the inclusion of iceberg lettuce. I’d never had it with lettuce before, and it had been wilted in the dressing which actually gave it an amazing texture and bags of flavour:
The chunks of Feta were generous, flaky and delicious, as was the dressing and the oregano sprinkled on the top.
The final course was souvlakia, meat skewers:
We had pork, chicken and sheftalies, homemade pork sausage. Honestly, the pork was slightly overcooked, but by this point we were pretty full and past caring!
The entire meal took around an hour and a half to eat, and we enjoyed everything with the exception of the chicken liver. Considering the price of most main courses at the restaurant is £10, our feast was very reasonably priced and I would love to go again some day! I highly recommend this for a special occasion if you’re on a budget and don’t want to go to a super fancy place – it has a sense of celebration and will certainly get you talking over the table!
Visit the Fat Fig’s website here, or call them on 02380 21 21 11. They are located at 5 Bedford Place, Southampton, SO15 2DB.
Yesterday was my fourth day on the vintage diet, and as it was my deadline day, it was hectic from start to finish.
As usual, I didn’t cook anything for breakfast beyond toast, and decided to morph the bacon into ham, and throw in some tomatoes to make a massive salad for lunch. The only veggies I had suitable for a salad were carrots (most of my veg is frozen – so much cheaper, easier and sometimes healthier than fresh!), so I cut ribbons out of them using a vegetable peeler, and added them to my bowl along with romaine lettuce, ham, tomatoes, some cheese, a tsp of olive oil and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
I didn’t drink the orange juice, the soup, or eat the grapefruit or the plums (or pears!), and by the time I got to dinner, I was in a pretty bad mood so I decided that you could interpret green beans as chips and went to the chip shop. Luckily, they only had a child’s portion of chips left (but it was still large enough to share and have some leftovers, eh?) so we had it with our Spanish omelette. Actually, really nice! Of course I didn’t take any photos – you think I’m going to totally incriminate myself on the internet? Look at that salad up there, that’s my online dieting legacy (seriously, though, it was really nice!).
Because of the ravenous anti-dieting monster I became yesterday, I didn’t do a calorie count, but if I did the numbers would have read XXX, as in TOXIC! I’m a lot less stressed today, and although I ate a breakfast biscuit instead of toast (REBEL, REBEL!), I’m going to try stick to the plan again – or rather, my mixed up, 2013 version of the plan, which involves moving everything around and messing all up.
Welcome to the future, it’s just total anarchy!
I don’t know about you, but making cauliflower and braised onions at lunch isn’t my idea of a relaxing break… I ended up dispensing with the orange for breakfast, and the sliced lamb for lunch (no idea where to get deli lamb from, in all honesty…). I then moved the cauliflower to dinner, and the cheese and biscuits to lunch. Are you keeping up? It’s getting a little bit complicated round these parts!
I very clumsily worked out the original calories of this plan as 287 for breakfast, 343 for lunch, and 421 for dinner – but that was before I worked out how to make the braised cauliflower and onions, so the end result for me ended up being higher even after I ditched the lamb and orange. (The end total was around 1050 calories.)
So, for breakfast, I had a scrambled egg on toast with tea, which was 247 calories. Lunch was three cream crackers, a slice of mature cheese, and a pear (delicious lunch, actually, I enjoyed that – shame it wasn’t all that filling), with a snack of vegetable cup-a-soup around mid afternoon. I was honestly so ravenous by then that I couldn’t give two figs whether it technically counted as ‘broth’ or not – the instructions specifically tell you not to eat thick soups, and this one had CROUTONS in it. Croutons. So that took me to a calorie count of around 318.
Dinner was about 463 calories, technically – although I did steal one of my husband’s potato croquettes which was 87 calories. Wow. (A potato waffle is only 100 or so!) I didn’t steam the fish, I fried it with some olive oil spray. Together with the peas and the braised cauliflower and onions, it was actually pretty tasty!
The braised cauliflower was awesome. I had only a vague idea about how you would go about making this dish, so I Googled it and adapted this recipe. I ended up sauteeing one small onion in a teaspoon of olive oil and 10g of butter until golden, then adding 400g of frozen cauliflower and 10g more butter, and frying until coloured in patches. Then, I added half a beef stock cube and water up to the halfway point of the veggies, and I simmered until the liquid was practically gone and the cauliflower was soft – and tasty! This serves two, by the way, but you can easily reheat it for another dinner. It ends up being around 185 calories a portion, because of the butter, which is terrible really (the cauliflower is only 50 calories for 200g!), but I imagine this is how it would have been made around the time the diet plan was created. Butter definitely plays a role in most of the diet plans I’ve seen from the ’50s. Hardship, right?
I am aware that this looks utterly replusive, but I assure you, it tasted delicious.
All in all, with my teas and coffees, today was just under 1300 calories. Usually I’d make sure to be doing plenty of exercise along with this, but unfortunately, my work schedule is nuts this week – and to be honest, I’d rather blog. Ha. With calorie counts like these, I’d imagine that there would be a weight loss of around 1lb in a week. I haven’t dared weigh myself since Christmas, to be honest – which isn’t helpful for measuring results, but I think the alternative would actually be soul destroying at this point. Maybe I should try to fit in some of these great little retro exercises I found in The Book of The Home II (1956). Do you think I could do them and type at the same time if I cheated a little on the arm movements…?
Well, it’s officially nearing the end of the summer, and that means that it’s our last chance to make use of some seasonal produce before… well, let’s not kid ourselves – pretty much everything from the summer is still available all winter round, albeit at a price. But my late summer favourites are strawberries, tomatoes and corn on the cob, and it’s now that these babies come into their own. All of these are on sale at supermarkets, but if you get yourself to a farmers’ market, you can get them even cheaper. Punnets of strawberries for a couple of quid, tubs of cherry tomatoes for 70p, I even bought five ears of corn for a pound a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a great recipe I found in a foodie magazine ages back, for a crispy crouton and spicy tomato salad. Although it’s called Panzanella in my recipe folder, panzanella is usually made with bread that’s a bit soggier than the stuff you’ll find here. This recipe gives you fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, drizzled with a spicy, garlicy dressing, and pepped up with crunchy, crispy croutons. It’s one of my favourites, and you can make it all year round thanks to the supermarkets. But why not make it now, when everything’s at its cheapest and best?
Recipe for Crispy Panzanella
- 2 large garlic cloves
- One red chilli
- Sea salt
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 200ml olive oil
- Small red onion
- 450g tomatoes
- Black olives
- Half a cucumber
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 red pepper
- 1 very small loaf, torn into small chunks
- Handful of basil leaves
- Turn the oven onto medium heat and drizzle some of the olive oil over your bread chunks. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and bake in the oven until crunchy and golden brown.
- Cut your salad ingredients (pepper, cucumber, tomato, onion).
- Crush the garlic and chilli together in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt until you get a pungent paste.
- Mix the vinegar, sugar and olive oil together, and whisk in your chili, garlic and sea salt.
- Mix together the dressing with the vegetables, and allow them to sit for around an hour.
- Wait until just before serving to pour the veggies and sauce over your croutons, to keep them crispy and fresh. Tear over the basil leaves and serve.