The new Zizzi summer menu: a preview

You probably know Zizzi. As restaurant chains go it hasn’t reached one-on-every-corner Pizza Express fame, but it’s certainly reached the one-in-every-sizeable-town milepost. I’ve eaten there many times. Like most reasonably-priced restaurant chains, it’s never been spectacular, but it’s been great for a quick bite with friends or a late supper after a film. I can’t say I’ve ever gone out of my way to eat at Zizzi for the menu before.

 

However, last night my average opinion of Zizzi was quashed and usurped by a significantly higher one. I was kindly invited to a special preview of the new Zizzi summer menu. A glance at the menu I was presented with on arrival warranted a level of scepticism. Could this run-of-the-mill chain really pull of Venetian tapas?

Three, ok seven, canapés later I was already eating more than my words. The Arancini (risotto balls) were melt-in-the-mouth divine and the mushroom bruschetta was as good as you’d find in small-town Italy.

For the next course I sampled the goat’s cheese salad, topped with butternut squash, lentils and mint, followed by an asparagus and ricotta masterpiece. As the title of this blog suggests, I’m not a natural salad fan, but the combination of flavours in these two unique dishes meant I would happily opt for a salad as a main.

Next came the real fun. Zizzi have finally solved the problems for fickle foodies everywhere with their new pizza meets calzone masterpiece, which I’m oh-so-cleverly dubbed the pizzone. My waning appetite at this point in the evening prevented me from gorging on the entire pizzone but I was in awe of the dish long after I left.

Just as I thought I would struggle with desert, the gelatos came out, with flavours in Latte, cream, chocolate and pistachio. And for the final trick? They were served on mini donuts. A delightfully creative end to an evening of fine dining, and not bad for a run-of-the-mill high street chain.

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Colonic irrigation: part I

When you tell people you’ve had colonic irrigation they react in one of two ways. Those in the first category promptly rearrange their facial features, signalling their disapproval of the over-share and their strong desire to be excluded from any future sharing of the intimate nature.

But those in the second category can’t wait to hear all about it, because secretly, they too would like nothing better than to have all their toxins removed via their back exit.

I went to Margie Finchell on the recommendation of a friend. Margie’s been in the business for 25 years and counts the London fashion crowd and a number of celebrities among her clients. You’ll be hard pressed to get any names out of her though, as she tells me in her New York twang – “Dahhling, I don’t see diamonds and pearls. All I see is poo”.

And once inside her clinic I feel like I’m in LA, as she casts her eyes over a list of my daily food intake with a furrowed brow. “My gaaad you eat alotta carbs don’t you? You must be bloated all the time!” I smile nervously, sucking in my stomach and cursing myself for not lying to her about the Big Mac I’d consumed only hours before.

“Here’s what you should be eating”, she says, handing me a list of food you’re more likely to find in the forest than in Tesco’s. Needless to say junk food is cast aside, as are the majority of carbohydrates, alcohol and my beloved Diet Coke addiction. “Stick to my list for a week and you’ll feel so good you won’t want to go back to that junk.” I promise her I’ll do my best.

Minutes later I’m stripped of the clothes below my waist and I’m about to stripped of my dignity as Margie rolls me onto one side to being proceedings.

Once the tube is in I begin to relax a little as she explains exactly what she is doing. One tube is feeding water into my colon, building up enough pressure to flush out all the toxins, which go out the other tube. Margie’s even kind enough to strategically place a mirror, allowing me to see exactly what is going out – once I take a peek I can’t tear myself away and I spend the next 45 minutes with eyes glued to the tube.

During the session Margie sporadically rolls me onto my back to massage my stomach to make the process more productive. Despite all my inhibitions I feel incredibly relaxed, Classic FM plays out the Official Royal Wedding Soundtrack in the background and I contemplate the prospect of being toxin-free.

Just as I start to think I might actually be enjoying myself, it’s all over. I do exactly as Margie tells me as I hold a napkin up to my behind and make the oh-so-elegant dash across the room to the toilet to get rid of the excess water.

“Try to get home quickly dahhling, there’ll be some excess water up there” Margie warns me as I dress myself and step out onto the wide West London pavement. I brace myself for the hour long tube ride home.

As for the health and diet benefits, I shall have to wait and see how I feel a week from now. But there’s certainly a spring in my step as I make my way back to the tube – or maybe that’s the excess water.

To book a session with Margie Finchell visit http://www.londoncolonics.net/

a decision of colonic proportions

Colonic Irrigation. It’s hard to say the words out loud without conjuring up images of tubes and compromising positions.

But is this the stuff of A list skeletons who’ll do anything for a flat stomach, or is this toxin-busting goodness ritual having something of a renaissance?

On the recommendation of a friend who has recently felt the benefits of the colonic in a big way, I’m going further than no glut has gone before. Yes, I’m taking to the tube.

While the weight loss benefits of colonic have been widely discussed, the internal impact is often skimmed over. According the many (pricey) clinics offering the service, your post colonic body can count a reduced risk of bowel cancer, a stronger immune system and healthier gut, among its improvements.  Plus, the quirkiest (and priciest) of the clinics even promise to increase relaxation, improve your sleep pattern and generally put you at ease with the world.

No modest set of promises I think you’ll agree. But which of these can we count on and which were born of overoptimistic pr?

Watch this space for the biggest over-share of my journalistic career…

No pain, no gain

Today, adding her two cents, Talia Lapidus, on why exercise is the secret to being gluttonous.

My relationship with food is like a friend who you love to hate. Some days l ignore the incessant pang in my brain telling me I mustn’t get fat, and I’ll eat whatever I want. Other days, food is the enemy and fat and carbs are the devil.

Until now I’ve never been asked to qualify my relationship with food, and I never realised how much time I dedicate to thinking about food, talking about food, preparing food, watching food –  Come Dine With Me, I don’t literally watch food.

Like any typical student, when I first went to university I gorged myself on kebabs and greasy pizzas. And not just because I was lazy and didn’t know how to cook anything but pasta, but because it tasted damn good.

These days I like to think my taste buds have matured. I’ll opt for a tasty risotto over a greasy takeaway and if I can’t pronounce something on a menu, I’ll probably order it.

But my enjoyment of food is peppered with that voice in my head telling me not to get fat.

So for me, the only answer is exercise. I’ll go for a run or work out in the gym about four times a week and I’ve just started training for a half marathon in October.

I feel better when I exercise. It makes it ok if I’ve had a bad day at work and want to turn to the chocolate for comfort. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. I go to the gym to get thinner but exercise leaves me feeling starving. So I eat more. Somehow it all feels worth it though. And as my super-fit mother loves to tell me, it’s all about keeping your insides healthy and ‘one day my bones will thank me!’

So while it’s sweaty, huffy and hellish, exercise is my saviour. Not because it makes me feel good but because it lets me eat what I want, guilt free.

I might need reminding of that on marathon day…

 By Talia Lapidus

@talialapidus

Let’s talk about food

Yesterday we had Jess on why being skinny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Today, Helen Stuart, on ratatouille, self-love and why you won’t catch her lusting after a pair of J brands. 

Oliver had it right when he sang ‘Food, glorious food.’ Much like the author of this blog, I love food in all its forms. A Cadbury’s Twirl with a cup of tea pleases me just as much as a fancy four course dinner. In fact, probably more so.

I’ve always been this way and as a result of my appetite and distaste for any exercise that causes blotching and sweating, I am not the sveltest of ladies. But, unlike the vast majority of women, I am not prepared to sacrifice one of my biggest passions in life in order to conform.

In addition to my large appetite for food, I also devour magazines. Glossies, weeklies, women’s, men’s, fashion and celebrity tat – I love them all. Thus it saddens me to see the dreaded ‘d’ word appear in all of them. The idea that we collectively need to lose weight has become pervasive in our popular. Granted, obesity is a growing problem, but you rarely see the ‘Healthy Joints and No Creaking NHS diet’ – as Gok wouldn’t say, it’s all about the lack of body confidence.

Yes, I’d look awful in skinny jeans and a bikini just isn’t going to happen, but who’s to say I’m unhealthy. A healthy diet is a balanced diet which fulfils all your nutritional needs. And you know what? Sometimes those needs call for a bar of chocolate or a glass of wine, just as sometimes you need a big plate of salad and a detox juice (we’ve all had one of those weekends).

Sure I eat a lot, and sometimes – like most twenty-somethings – I eat crap. But I also eat well. I love nothing more than a cracking ratatouille with chunks of fresh baguette, or a large plate of salad, drizzled in a fine mist of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But let’s face it, that will never cure a hangover.

We all need to be taught from a young age – whether by parents, teachers or youth workers – that we need food to live. It’s easy to eat healthily. Have everything – in moderation – and eat as much as you need to feel full and energised.

I used to think people who had eating disorders just took diets to extremes. Unfortunately, in my first two years at university, I witnessed a close friend succumb to a disorder and it was then that I realised – it’s all in the mind. For the people who suffer from these mental illnesses, it’s not about being thin. It’s not about eating or weighing less. It’s not about eating (or not eating) specific foods. It’s about control.

This is why we all need to address our minds before we address our tummies. Establish a balanced relationship with food, indulge in a little self-love (the other kind, get your minds out of the gutter!) and eat. It really is as simple as that.

By Helen Stuart 

If you liked this, read more from Helen on her blog Bonnets and Bustles. 

Skinny Love

If the notorious thin-ite Kate Moss is to be believed, being skinny feels better than any food tastes. The natuarally slim Jess Neale has her say.

Food glorious food, as the song goes, and I’m lucky enough to enjoy that sentiment and not have to worry about my weight. But having your cake and eating it isn’t quite what you’d think.

I’ve always been naturally slim and don’t get me wrong, I love the relationship I can have with food. But what if I want to put on a bit of weight? It’s not just a case of eating all the pies. Unfortunately for me that only results in a bloated alien belly protruding from my slim frame.

I love my food, but it’s all in moderation and despite having the advantage of eating what I like, I make the conscious choice not to just scoff junk food all day. I still need a healthy outlook on eating otherwise my arteries would be clogged up and my face would become a pizza!

What many people don’t realise is that it can be hurtful to judge someone on their size; even if they are slim. As much as the media hype up being skinny making you happy it doesn’t always seem that way. Growing up it was especially hard, when seemingly jealous girls took their anguish out on me by bullying me about my weight. “Oh my God look at her she’s like a stick insect,” they’d say. Or, “ergh I can fit my fingers around her wrist.” And the worst, “you look anorexic.”

As I’ve grown up, I’ve accepted myself for who I am and I strongly uphold the belief that being skinny does not feel better than food tastes. Even if I was not blessed with a metabolism as fast as Usain Bolt I would never desire to see food as the enemy.

By Jess Neale

Is Renee bringing sexy back?


This picture of Renée Zellweger had me reaching for the Bridget Jones box set in despair.

Renée, who famously ate all the pies in preparation for her role as the lovably plump Bridge, was pictured showing off her now tiny frame at the Met Gala in New York last night.

Posing for cameras in her backless Carolina Herrera gown with the hand-on-hip-head-swivel down to a tee, Renée looked positively chuffed with herself. As well she might- in her Bridget days a dress like that would have showed off more back fat than a podgy camel.

But looking at her jutting back bones, I long for the curves of her Bridget days.

When she piled on the pounds for a role, we applauded her. The press loved to report that she was having the time of her life putting on the weight; feasting on burgers and ice cream. And we lapped it up. Because there’s nothing we love more than a celebrity getting fat. And even better, she did it for a role. What admirable dedication to her art.

But then just when we thought we’d found a celeb whose body image we could applaud, there she was at the Bridget Jones premiere, skinny as a pringle once again.

So lesson leant. You can gain weight in the name of your career, just make sure you lose it again pronto. And if you can find a backless Herrera number to prove you’re back fat free, all the better.

diary of a fad addict

Jemima Johnson-Gilbert’s been battling her gluttony for years with the infamous fad diet. But does the diet that promises you everything ever work?

Will I ever be thin? I would love to be thin. I dream about being thin. I read about being thin. I have spent the last 10 years of my life planning on being thin.

It started at a young age. The first diet I ever tried involved apples, lots of them.  I was inspired by an anorexic at school. She was obviously better at dieting than me. She ate a lot of apples. Her fingers were green. She used to sit on her tuck box eating apples with one hand and playing with a sharp knife with the other. She’s stab the knife between her fingers, getting quicker and quicker each time she moved the knife. She was very careful not to stab herself, clearly not into self-mutilation. She ate apples for years. I ate apples for a day. Then I got hungry.

I moved on to a more nutritional option. This was called the Special K diet. I ate Special K all day. Sometimes I ate it with milk. Sometimes I ate it dry. I was never without that cardboard box.  It became my security blanket. No wonder I didn’t lose weight.

During my university years diets were put on hold. I was hungover six days out of seven and hang overs don’t like salad. Hang overs like whatever is in the vending machine, or only requires boiling water to cook. Baggy jumpers hid the evidence. I was having too much fun to care.

But then I met a nice boy. I didn’t want to show him the bulge. I found a guaranteed way to shift the pounds. My answer was the Tomato and Egg diet. I was lured by false promises. I did’nt lose 5kg in five days. I did’nt even make it to day five. I ate a tomato and an egg for breakfast. By lunch I’d caved in. I’d stuck to it for three whole hours, surely I deserved a reward?

The worse was the nothing –but- liquids diet. I actually paid for this one. I found a clinic participating, trudged along, got weighed and measured. And given my instructions- I was only allowed to drink milkshakes. Or that’s what they said. But the little white packet of dust that they handed over would have Ronald MacDonald quaking in his over-sized clown boots. As a treat I was allowed a flapjack. I suppose it was a flapjack if by flapjack you mean solid dust held together by air. I managed not to faint for four days. It was a miracle.

The latest was the Dukan diet. Celebrities love it, apparently. Sadly my stomach did not. I ate nothing but meat for days on end. I lost 5kgs in five days. Finally I was going to be thin. I could picture the summer bikini body. I was going to be a goddess.  Wasn’t I?  I thought I could control myself. I thought I could have just one naughty day. I couldn’t.

It’s not that I don’t have the right mentality.  I make mental preparations. I plan on Sundays to start again on Mondays. I fantasise about a flat stomach. I envisage the clothes I’ll buy.  I write a plan of what I’ll eat. I talk about it until I am blue in the face. Where am I going wrong?

I saw a picture of Gwenyth Paltrow in a magazine yesterday. She is very thin. I hear she does the macrobiotic diet…

By Jemima Johnson-Gilbert

Cymru Cuisine

                                                            You’ll be pleased to hear my absence from the blogosphere has all been in the name of research. Last week I, much like the rest of the country, took advantage of the forth coming nuptials and the opportunity for a get-away they have created, by skipping the country.

Skipping being the operative word, as I didn’t land very far away. While others jetted off to distant lands, I spent a delightful few days just 270 miles away, on the west coast of Wales in Pembrokeshire.

And surprisingly enough, amid all the pub grub and gluttony that long coastal walks necessitate, I stumbled across some cuisine that really was worth writing home about.

First a word on some local delights. Beef and Ale pie is a favourite in these parts and you’ll be hard pushed to find a pub without it. After reviewing several different recipes –as is the arduous task of the tireless food blogger – this one was my favourite. This hearty feast can be found at the The Castle in Little Haven – extra points were awarded for thickness of pie crust and quantity of gravy (I reiterate, I’m a tough palate to please).

Unsurprisingly Welsh Cakes are big in these parts. They are hobnob sized cakes with a centre of sultanas and raisins. But despite holidaying regularly in these parts, I’ve never before discovered Welsh Cake ice-cream. Yes, cake flavoured ice-cream. Is there anything more gluttonous? (I hope not as it makes for great blogging,) The ice cream was Joe’s, a brand worth promoting not only for the innovative flavouring but for the quality of taste; ice-cream so creamy it makes Häagen Daz taste like Viennetta. And this favour was no exception; a vanilla-y base with a hint of nutmeg. Unfortunately Joe’s is a Welsh brand and so you’ll have to cross the Severn to sample it for yourself.

My final recommendation can only really be described as bragging, as the meal was home cooked by locals who are unlikely to knock up a repeat at the request of any strangers knocking on their door. It was a perfectly executed paella. But, being Wales and all, there was a twist to this Spanish classic. And while the Spaniards litter their dishes with the fresh seafood they have on their doorstep, the Welsh too make use of the ingredients of their back yard. Literally. This was chicken and rabbit paella, from burrow to plate in just a few hours. While I struggled with the odd flashback of the rabbit-littered bliss of my childhood, the rabbit meat was a great paella compliment and I thoroughly enjoyed sampling the welsh take on this Spanish staple.

weighing in on weigh-cations

This piece in The Daily Mail last week – the source of the majority of my leads, obvs – got me thinking about the lengths we go to be skinny. The women who go on these “starvation vacations” – or if you’d rather coin my clever little word for them, “weigh-cations” – are not necessarily the most extreme dieters around. There are plenty of women living off nothing but water and air everyday and calling it not “detox”, but “lunch”.

But these weigh-cation women (see, it’s a great word) are taking dieting to the extreme in that they are willing to part with a hefty sum of cash for the privilege of being deprived sustenance.

Is it because they don’t trust themselves to do it properly alone? Or have the really bought into the schpiel of some clever PR girl who has convinced them off all the joys of being toxin-free? Either way I agree with The Mail (so sue me). This is a weird trend and the fact that these trips are being tied in a pretty “detox” bow makes it all the weirder.

While the concept of the fat camp is no new thing, it seems to have morphed from something for middle-American overweight teens to well, the rest of us. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before shelling out pounds to lose pounds becomes the dieting norm. Watch this space (before it gets too skinny and disappears…)