Artisan coffee in Watford? Viento Coffee Company

I almost named this blog “Diary of a Suburban Housewife”, except a)that name was taken and b)I’m not a housewife (well not for now, H). Just kidding. I moved to Watford when H and I got married and H has made it clear, despite my ongoing protests, that if he is to wake up daily at 5am to catch the markets opening that we will be here, in close proximity to a station that can zap it into Euston, until I get my way forever more.

Seriously, however, I have been, as I think many have, seriously excited at the amount of movement in Watford right now, especially at how certain areas are completely renovating themselves.You can imagine my surprise when on my way to the station one day, I came across this pretty little mosaic…

DSC00041.JPG

So when I saw it again the next day, I just had to step inside.

Viento migrated to Watford from, erm, Farringdon and has been making a mark with commuters ever since. It’s conveniently nestled a few minutes walk from the Junction (or, as its known in these parts, Watford J) and very popular with commuters.

I like coffee, but I’m not a coffee-snob. Caffeine is caffeine, whether it comes from a Nescafe  bottle or an IV-drip. But I can describe myself as an iced latte expert, having ordered some that have tasted like dishwater and on the other end of the scale, those that set you up for the day. Viento’s iced latte is everything you want in one – creamy, bold coffee, strong caffeine jolt.

Fully settled in, we chose a brownie and lemon cake. The brownie was seriously the gooey-est, chocolatey mess I’ve ever come across, and I mean that in a good way. The mark of a good brownie is its squidge factor, which this one seriously scored on.

The best thing about Viento is the atmosphere and what they’ve managed to do with the place.  For those of you that know St Albans Road, its undergoing some serious work and I for one am loving that every month a new eaterie crops up, but this one has really made the space its own.

If I had one qualm with Viento it is that they could do so much more with the menu to bring the brunch crowd in. I for one would love a place a few minutes away that does a mean avocado on toast and eggs multi-ways. I get that coffee is and always will be their forte, but there is a serious gap in the market for brunch in Watford (I’m going to make it my mission to explore the best options on the blog) and Viento is good enough to fill it. Give AMT a miss and pop in for a coffee on your next commute and you’ll see what I mean.

Viento Coffee Company

DSC00042

DSC00027DSC00030DSC00031DSC00035DSC00038

Advertisements

Chilli paneer that’s good enough for the in-laws

Does anyone remember Sakoni’s  hakka noodles? They were the stuff Ealing Road trips were made of. I remember my first taste of Indo-Chinese food a long while ago, before it made its way to countless menus. It was so new and exotic at one point, the paneer they served up with so much soy sauce, so much MSG, so soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Soon, chilli paneer became something you could easily re-create at home. An Indian dish you can make in 20 mins with things you already have in your kitchen. I’ve always loved paneer – when I was little, my mum would slip me plain, fried paneer before she put it in its sauce, and even now, when I stir fry the main ingredient, I always sneak a few plain pieces in for myself.

This chilli paneer recipe is in no way new, but I promise you it is easy, and multi-purpose. You can take it to dinner parties, pot-luck gatherings, make it as a quick and easy weeknight dish, feed it to kids…and, it’s so fool-proof, you can make it for your in-laws. I like it a little healthier so we can have it more often, so I won’t be double frying these in cornflour, but I think most people like it that way nowadays anyway and this in no way compromises on taste.

H isn’t a fan of paneer. He’s a die-hard meat eater and won’t touch paneer shak (curry) but he actually asks for this. I took it to one of the first times I met his parents and he’s had it on his request list ever since. That’s how I know a recipe is worth sharing.

Mmm…paneer. So soft and bouncy.

DSC00062

To feed four hungry mouths (who can take chill) you will need:

Two blocks paneer, cut into cubes

1/4 cup soy sauce (I use light soy, go for the normal one if you want a heavier taste)

1/4 cup ketchup

1/2-3/4 teaspoons chilli powder

2 small green chillies

1 heaped tablespoon garlic and ginger paste

1 onion (red or white)

2 fresh tomatoes

2 peppers

Coriander/dhana (for dressing)

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons oil

Method:

Heat the oil in a wok. Once heated, add the chopped paneer. Let it cook until it starts to brown. Remove the browned paneer from the pan (don’t take the oil with it; you can re-use that for the rest of the ingredients) and place on a separate dish covered in tissue to mop up the excess oil.

Return to your wok. Add the green chilli, onion, peppers and garlic-ginger paste. Once the onions are translucent, add in your peppers and chopped tomatoes. Cook for another few minutes – the tomatoes should start to melt into the onions and the pepper should go soft. Add the paneer back in to the wok, followed by the soy, ketchup and chilli powder. Mix all ingredients to ensure everything gets a good coating of soy-ketchup and cook for another five – seven minutes.

I usually make this an hour in advance – I find letting it sit lets all the spice, ginger and soy meld into each other, but whatever you do, serve it super-hot.

DSC00058

The Italian roadtrip part deux: Florence & Pisa

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Lake Maggiore was breathtaking but I always knew Florence would be the main event. We had planned it as an early anniversary getaway – a few days eating all the gelato, fresh pasta and burrata in the land is my romantic ideal.

The morning after a beautiful ceremony, we raced to Florence in our tiny rented Fiat (when in Rome). After dumping our bags in the Hotel David and taking them up on their offer to have some wine and antipasti in their courtyard, we walked into the melee of Italians getting ready to settle in to watch the Germany v Italy match.

Florence is no doubt crowded, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty. The Cathedral and Ponte Vecchio are musts and in my eyes the Gucci Museo is too, but that’s probably debatable dependent on who you ask. Gucci is having a serious moment right now, and I couldn’t resist seeing some vintage logo action and some Tom Ford nostalgia. It’s a fashion itch you need to scratch if you are in the founding city itself. Husband didn’t agree, but i think he appreciated the beauty of the museum at least; it is right in the heart of Florence and just a few minutes walk from the Duomo.

Pisa is such an easy trip from Florence, especially if you have hired a car. It had been on my bucket list, but let’s call it the “B” category one – the one that it wouldn’t matter *that* much if you hadn’t got to it. I’m so glad we took a few hours out to do it, however – it’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Whatever happens, don’t make a schedule or plan your days too much – just walk around and absorb. You’re in Italy!

ponte vecchio sunset florence florence ponte vecchio florence bridge florence duomo cathedral florence at night florence duomo cathedral hotel david florence courtyard gucci museum florence tom ford leaning tower of pisa pisa leaning tower

Like this? Bookmark me for more!

The Italian roadtrip: Lake Maggiore to Florence and Pisa

After both starting new jobs, his in the city and mine in the most suburban place I’ve ever worked, a break in Lake Maggiore was more than welcome. We were there for the wedding of some close friends and we have to thank them for introducing us to Lake Como’s peaceful little sister. It’s a sleepy town where the locals shout at each other across the streets and you can walk from one end to the other in less than 30 minutes – after the craziness of London, that’s my kind of town.

lake maggiore como

hotel splendid view

lake maggiore como

lake maggiore