Tag Archives: Salad

Villandry – Bicester Village

I love nothing better than browsing the shops of Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and no visit is complete without going somewhere for a bite to eat.  On this occasion our place to eat was Villandry.

Villandry is a spacious restaurant with ample seating for such a large shopping village although you may have to queue at peak dining times.  The menu is extremely varied and all sorts of diners are catered for.


Grandma Gourmand doesn’t have a huge appetite at lunchtime. I obviously don’t get my greedy tendencies from her. She opted for the Roasted baby beetroot & goats cheese salad (£10.20) with watercress, fresh orange, pine nuts dressed with orange & mustard dressing.  Goats Cheese is a particular favourite of Grandma Gourmand, she is rather partial to it and thought that the flavour combination of the salad was just perfect, she even went as far to say it was one of the nicest salads she had eaten in the UK.


A creature of habit, I went for the Classic 8oz 100% beef burger dressed with lettuce and tomato relish (£12.95).  The coleslaw was divine, that’s the only way to describe it, I could have quite happily eaten a bowlful.  The chips were a nice accompaniment but if I’m honest the burger was so big I didn’t really need the chips.

I’ve never actually been able to have a dessert at Villandry as I’m always too full after my main meal but the ones I have seen really do look delicious, next time I’ll have to try a smaller main so I can indulge.

Villandry is situated at 26b-c Pingle Drive, Bicester

Opening hours are: Sunday – Friday 9am – 10pm Saturday  8.30am– 10pm

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Frankie and Benny’s – Leamington Spa

Frankie & Benny’s is a Gourmand family favourite which combines the best of popular American food with traditional Italian dishes.

Lunch menus are available Monday – Friday, 11am until 5pm, you get 3 menus to choose from the main menu, lunch value menu and the specials menu. The lunch menu has over 30 dishes to choose from, 1 course will cost you £5.95, 2 courses £8.25 and 3 courses £9.25

The Specials Menu is available all day Sunday – Friday, and 2 courses costs £10.95 or you can get 3 courses for £13.20.


Frankie and Benny’s needs no introduction, it provides good value and very tasty food which is prepared consistently well, no matter where in the country you go. Lets get straight to it, I can’t resist the Warm dough sticks and dips, they are delicious and have a great texture and springy consistency. Everytime I order them they have a really familiar and homely oven baked taste which makes my mouth water with anticipation.


Mr Gourmand goes through strange phases of thinking he should eat more healthy, so if there is a salad on the menu, more often than not he orders one. On this occasion he went for the mozzarella and tomato salad platter which comes with a light creamy mozzarella, sliced beef tomato, marinated olives and warm garlic dough balls. This was served with fresh watercress, olive oil and seasoned with cracked black pepper. I’m not sure how healthy this is, but he feels less guilty by ordering it so at least its good in his mind. He enjoyed it very much and again as a testament to the quality and consistency provided by Frankie and Benny’s, has ordered this on a few occasions and never been let down.


For a main course I went for the tried and tested crispy chicken burger, with fries and coleslaw. Although this is simple combination, it really can’t be beaten for taste and value, and always hits the mark. The crispy chicken is succulent without being too dry, and the chips and coleslaw provide a nice fallback in between burger bites. If I was being very critical I think chips should be either an american fry, or homemade thick cut chip, but it’s not the end of the world, I still eat them!

chicken salad

Mr Gourmand really was pushing the healthy side of the menu on this day and went for a Caesar Salad with crispy baby gem lettuce leaves, anchovy fillets and tomato, and drizzled with Frankie and Benny’s own caesar dressing, all topped of with Grana Padano. Really nice, very crispy and fresh salad with a gorgeous dressing, and the mixture of soft salad, chicken, crispy croutons and anchovies is so good that I may even order this one myself next time we return!

garlic bread

Ok ok, call us greedy but what can I say, the table next to us received their garlic bread just as the waitress took back our menus, Mr Gourmand couldn’t resist, our order was read back with the addition of a garlic bread side, it just looked and smelled so good. Guess what, it tasted a s good as it looked, yum.

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What’s In My Bag For Comic Relief? Day 4

This year to raise awareness about Comic Relief I will be running a week long food focused blog post and vlog posts! Today is Day 4!
I have been provided with an exclusive Emma Bridgewater bag for life to base my ‘What’s in My Bag’ blog post around.
This year Emma Bridgewater has created an exclusive new homeware range for Red Nose Day 2013, available from HomeSense and TK Maxx stores throughout the UK.
The money raised from the range will be spent by Comic Relief to help people living incredibly tough lives across Africa and here in the UK.
The bag for life costs £9.99 with at least £4 going to Comic Relief which I’m sure you will agree is a massive donation and will help so many people out via this fantastic cause.
For more information please visit www.tkmaxx.com or www.homesense.com
If the bag isn’t your cup of tea there are so many other items you can purchase knowing that a good percentage of the sale price is going to help not only people in our own country but those in Africa.

Day 4


Spring Salad


After a few days of heavy eating sometimes it’s good to give your stomach a little rest, I know that most of the ingredients that go into a salad are full of water and people find them a little bland but I think that with a few flavourful additions you can turn a boring watery salad into something amazing!

My favourite salad consists of Cucumber, baby pea shoots, peppers, vine tomatoes, olives, cucumber, cress, cos lettuce, avocado and radish.

Please note I didn’t eat this whole bowl on my own, it served two of us!

* My Emma Bridgewater bag was provided free of charge for review purposes, this has not affected my opinion of Emma Bridgewater, TK MAXX or Comic Relief, as always my review is honest and impartial *
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Gourmet Garden Blog Cook Off

I recently received a Gourmet Garden product pack so I could enter the Blog Off / Cook Off competition which challenges the blogging community to show off their culinary skills and create fabulous dishes with Gourmet Garden. Even the most mundane every day recipe can be livened up with herbs and spices. If my dish is good enough I might make it through to the London cook off final in early 2013 for a chance to win a trip to Australia and £3,000 fee to become a 12-month ambassador for Gourmet Garden.

Rather than just cook one dish I decided to cook a 3 course meal for my family and let them decide which recipe used the herbs and spices the best and this would be my competition entry.

My first dish was Thai Prawn Salad, this dish used the Thai spices and Coriander provided. (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Thai Prawn Salad

My second dish and entry to the competition is a Chilli Chicken Pizza, this dish used the Chilli, Garlic and Basil provided.

Chilli chicken Pizza


I used 3 Teaspoons of the Gourmet Garden Chilli to marinade my Chicken

Chilli Chicken

The Chicken was marinated for 6 hours before use so it could soak in the flavour and heat from the Chilli.


Two teaspoons of Garlic and One teaspoon of Basil was added to 200g of Tinned Tomato to make the pizza base sauce

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Dough

Ingredients to Make my Pizza Dough:

175g Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon dried yeast

1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon Olive Oil


Preheat oven to 220°C and preheat baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the olive oil and pour in 120 ml of warm water. Mix to a dough using a wooden spoon and finish off by using your hands. Transfer the dough to a flat work surface.

Knead the dough for 3 minutes and until it is springy and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough until it looks as though it has doubled in size.

Place the dough on to a work surface that has been sprinkled generously with flour to prevent it from sticking. Knock all the air out of the dough and knead it for a couple of seconds to begin shaping it into a ball. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a shape that fits your baking tray.

Using a thick oven glove, very carefully lift the baking sheet out of the oven and oil with a pastry brush. Lift the pizza base on to the baking sheet and cover with your topping

Bake the pizza on a high shelf for 10-12 minutes.

I used a light covering of my Tomato sauce, Chilli Chicken, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Mozzarella Cheese and finished off with a sprinkle of Oregano.

My final dish which came in close second to the Pizza was a Sticky Toffee Pudding cake, this dish used the ginger provided.  (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

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Brie and Watercress Quiche

Homemade Quiche is a Gourmand family favourite, my pastry skills do leave a lot to be desired.  I am determined to improve in the future!

As a small child, Mini Gourmand would always be willing to try new things but it seems that with age comes a fussy nature and often a refusal to try things that she assumes she won’t like.

One way to combat a fussy child I have found is to disguise items with other stronger tasting foods which works 9 times out of 10!

I lined my baking tin with my pastry, filled with baking paper and baking beans and blind bakes for 15 minutes.  The pastry case was left to cool while I prepared the filling.


1 thinly sliced onion

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

100g Watercress (Washed)

200g Creme Fraiche

2 Eggs

150g Brie

Cook the onion in the oil on a low heat until soft and golden, Stir in the watercress until wilted.  Leave the mixture to cool.

Chop the brie into small cubes and place over the bottom of the pastry case.

Whisk the Creme Fraiche and eggs in a bowl and season well, add the onion and watercress to the liquid and pour into the pastry case.

Bake in a preheated oven 180C for 30 minutes until set.

I sliced some new potatoes to make fritters and served the Quiche with a green salad.

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Simple Supper

Some days call for a simple supper with fresh flavours to cleanse the soul (well not really!)

After a week of chocolate, cakes and fried foods a simple salad of noodles, baby leaves, radish, onion, mint, coriander and prawns cooked in soy and chilli really does make everything better.

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