Strada Panton Street

Strada Panton Street

writer's block and broken lenses

Being a blogger is pretty damn amazing sometimes. I'm not going to lie. Being a part of Bangarang is even better. When we were invited to go to Strada on Panton Street (courtesy of Erica) for their re-opening/we've decorated-ness, I obviously had to say yes... Italian is pretty much one of my favourite types of food and I don't think I had ever been to Strada before... Why the hell not?

When we got there, we expected a tasting menu, like so many other events we have been to before, but oh my... were we wrong...

We had the chance to order anything we wanted off the menu and the waiting staff treated us like absolute Queens. We are Queens, but still.

From the second I arrived to join Little Miss Katy and Erica, I was immediately offered a glass of prosecco and got the ball rolling with our pre-starters of garlic bread and tomato and pesto bread.

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When it came to the wine side of things, not only did we not realise we could have wine, but we also had no idea what to order. Our hostess (Sophie, she was an absolute legend) for the evening clearly knew the menu inside out which was amazing as it meant we definitely had something we would enjoy for once. I have been burnt too many times when ordering wine in a restaurant...

Erica and Claire went for white while Katy and I tackled the red. Not going to lie, I scoffed internally when we were given the usual spiel of how you can 'definitely taste chocolate' knowing that you don't put chocolate into wine. HOWEVER. The lady knew her shit. You could actually taste chocolate. I ended up ordering an extra glass that was the size of my face for when the bottle was gone... #Standard

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Aware I have already used this picture... but whatever
Being thee greedy buggers we are, and not really understanding the concept of 'eyes bigger than your belly', we were undecided even on starters so it felt like we ordered pretty much everything. Exaggeration but it was six starters is definitely more than enough for four people. We had two portions of Caprece (avocado, mozzarella and tomato salad), mushroom and truffle bruschetta, two portions of crispy squid and two portions of arancini - these are little fried rice balls and I'm pretty sure they are heaven in ball shape.

I can be quite funny when it comes to food. I have an irrational fear of seafood which I'm slowly getting over (I can't have prawns anywhere near me) but was a big brave girl and tried the squid. I was surprised that I actually liked it, it wasn't chewy and had a lovely flavour. I couldn't exactly eat a whole one to myself but well done to Strada for actually making me like it, even if it was just a little bit.

Another glass of wine down and it was on to the mains

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While we were all taking these pictures, the waiter (while opening another bottle of wine) joked that our food would taste much nicer while it was still hot... #LOL

I am a nightmare in restaurants because I never know what I want and tend to just see what I say when my order is taken and deal with it. It's not very often when I regret my choice but that definitely happened at Strada. Our hostess recommended the pumpkin ravioli, two of my favourite things. When I went on holiday to Italy as a teenager, I LIVED off ravioli and gelato... HOWEVER, I also really wanted the chicken and mushrooms... and Claire was undecided too so we ended up ordering a different meal each so we can taste a bit of everything. I avoided Erica's seafood linguine, because sea food, but trusted her judgement on how amazing it was.

My chicken and mushrooms was delicious, I can't really describe how lovely the sauce was but I kept dipping things in it because it was so good. THAT PUMPKIN RAVIOLI THOUGH. It was topped with amaretti biscuits in a sage butter sauce. It was divine and I really wish I had it. At some point it became a little too rich for Katy because butter, but the rest of us were there to help. Like the good humans we are.

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Another glass of wine later...

DESSERTS. Despite the fact I had to undo the button of my jeans (classy chick), everyone knows that your dessert belly is separate from your normal belly... FACT

Wanting something a little refreshing after all the richness and the fact I still had wine, I went for a mixture of lemon and mango sorbet. Simple pleasures but always wonderful. Erica had the tiramisu, there was cheesecake involved too. A lot of desserts. Obviously we couldn't eat it all but we did try and I had to proceed to undo the zip on my jeans too. Thank god for long t-shirts.

It's easy to go into a chain restaurant and just expect standard food and standard service, that didn't happen at Strada. As people who go to restaurants often to review, we're used to a certain level of service but Strada went above and beyond, giving us the V.VI.P treatment. BUT, looking around the restaurant during our visit, it wasn't just us. Every table was being treated wonderfully and receiving brilliant service and all the food came out of the kitchen looking beautiful, not just ours. A couple of times I did think that we were just being treated so well because we were there to review but it was clear that the staff at Strada really do look after each and every customer to a high standard so I told the cynic in me to shut the hell up. I will DEFINITELY be going back to Strada.

TL;DR Strada is awesome, the staff are awesome, the food is awesome and you should never underestimate how much Bangarang can eat and drink!

Many, many thanks to Sophie and the rest of her team at Strada. You treated us so well and gave us one hell of a night.

*Disclaimer: We were invited to dine at Strada but if I didn't like the scenario, I wouldn't write about it. All ramblings are my own.

Books to read again as a grown up

Books to read again as a grown up

writer's block and broken lenses

I am an avid reader. I always have a book in my bag and I'm one of those people who will happily go back to books over and over again. I don't really juggle books like some people can but if there is a particular book I'm struggling with for some reason or another, I'll go back to an old favourite to get back into the 'swing of things'.

Ever since I was little, I have read a lot. For a long time I was happier to be up in my room reading than outside with actual people. So much so that my parents would TELL me to go out. A tad odd, really.

I've always found books the best way to escape. Whether I am stressed or sad there are a bunch of books that are guaranteed to make me feel better and, oddly, a lot of them are from my childhood. They're not necessarily 'kids books', mostly because I don't really agree with the phrase unless you're reading Spot the Dog or something (which is awesome). To a lot of outsiders, they SEEM to be kids books; whether that's down to illustrations or the element of sheer fantasy in some of them (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter haters), I just don't think they really are KIDS books.

With that mini rant, kind of thing over, here's a bunch of my favourite books that I read as a child and just LOVE going back to.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

This is pretty much a given... it is me after all.

Now, I don't for one second believe that Harry Potter are children's books, not only have I already said this (it's important, yo) but recently I also had to stop myself from threatening to hit someone in the face with my hard back copy of The Order of the Phoenix just for saying they are only for kids.


However! Saying that, they are books that GROW and age with the audience and I WAS a child when I started reading them. There is something so innocent and magical (LOL! WIZARDS) about the first one that, when I'm sad, It's always the first book I go to... and inevitably binge read the other six.


This one is in here because I actually reread it for the first time as a grown up very recently. I loved the movie as a child and have always been torn between which Roald Dahl story I love the most, The BFG or James and the Giant Peach.

The BFG never failed to make me laugh when I was younger and I was so happy to discover that it still made me grin from ear to ear. I even amused myself by thinking in the backwards way of the BFG for a bit, purely because it made my tube journey more entertaining...

Little Women

I think I first read this as I was approaching my teenage years... I think. It is now one of those books that I go back to and read every year without fail. It just never gets old.

As a grown up, I still get irritated by Amy, in awe of Jo, and Beth... well, just like Joey in Friends, I always want to put the book in the freezer for a bit.

I will NEVER be emotionally stable enough to handle the Beth scenario.

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Anything by Terry Pratchett

If you want to read something that will genuinely make you laugh out loud, Terry Pratchett is always the answer.

When I was growing up, my aunt had a massive picture of Discworld, on top of four elephants on the back of the great A'Tuin. It always made me smile and a love for the Discworld grew from there and the very moment my aunt lent me a copy of The Colour of Magic.

Note: This looks pretty much the same as the one my aunt had, I found it on Tumblr but there are so many versions/uploads that I have no idea who to credit. 
Now, if you have youngish children and are looking for new book ideas, the Discword novels aren't really for them until they get to around 12 in my opinion. Some of the humour may be lost as they are predominantly adult driven (with some naughty bits sometimes),

My favourites are the Death series which... obviously feature Death/the Grim Reaper/ Taker of souls. It's nice seeing Death being given an innocent and curious personality along with the power of HIS GREAT BOOMING VOICE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Just pick up Reaper Man and guaranteed you'll love it, If not, I'll eat my hat.

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The Wind in the Willows

The biggest regret of my life? Accidentally giving away the copy I have had since childhood to the charity shop. It had my name written in it and everything. I passed the charity shop, saw it in the window for a grand total of £3. When I got back to the charity shop when it was open, it had gone. Such heartbreak.

There are little things about this book that seem to come back to me at random points. Making (and drinking a lot of) mulled wine always makes me think of Rat and Mr Mole drinking their after a day of adventures, tweet jackets make me think of Mr Toad and all his shenanigans... and the same goes for yellow cars. It's strange to think that a book still affects the way I think sometimes even though it's 20 odd years later.

This was such a difficult list to put together. From the beginning I told myself I'd only do a 'Top 5' but now I already regret not putting a bunch of things in there. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Garden and Peter Pan are three that come to mind but I couldn't exactly list ALL THE BOOKS IN THE WORLD! So there we have it.

What are your favourite books to read again as an adult?