Month: April 2010

A Boat Trip on the Thames & Dinner at The Old Brewery, Greenwich

I was so looking forward to a lovely boat trip down the Thames. It’s one of my favourite London things to do (along with a trip to the top of Parliament Hill on a sunny day, a Primrose Hill picnic, a stroll along a sunny South Bank, a glass of wine in the membership bar of the Tate and a myriad of quirky and delicious things that you can do in this lovely city – I must write about them someday). Anyway, I was looking forward to the boat trip, until work intervened. I wasn’t going to make it in time. So I took the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and endeavoured to catch up with the rest of the crew a little later than planned. The Docklands Light Railway, half train, half rollercoaster, is quite the piece of public transport. At one point I expected everyone to raise their arms as we ascended/descended a hill through a tunnel. It’s utterly bizarre as there is no driver at the front, which can be nerve wracking. A …

Two Competitions! Gorgeous Mugs from Cornishware & Real Food Festival Tickets

I am in the throes of moving house and disconnected from this world with little cooking or dining out going on. So, what am I doing here? Well, I have two lovely competitions for you and I am running them both today. The first prize is a set of gorgeous cheerful mugs from Cornishware that retail at £40 a box. You have a choice of his mugs or hers mugs. Being a her I prefer the colours of that set naturellement, who can resist a sunny yellow cup? But you boys can go for the more demure set if you so choose. I remember those lovely blue striped mugs from my childhood, where they graced my grandmothers table. Fond nostalgia! I am sure you have your own associations too. The second prize – or rather four prizes – is 4 pairs of tickets for the Real Food Festival worth £30 each, which will be in London on the weekend of 7th-10th May. Bringing together top chefs such as Raymond Blanc, Giorgio Locatelli, Willie Harcourt-Cooze, Thomasina Miers …

Recipe: To Dal, Daal, Dhal, or Dahl, that is the question

I hate confusing spellings and names. Why the world can’t agree to spell and name everything the way I do, I just don’t know. University was a high point of this, not only can’t the US and UK agree on spellings, they give the same thing different words at times: adrenaline meet epinephrine. Oh! We look the same? Well, you are the same. The very same, but people like to call you different things.  Gah! It haunts me still in my world of cookery. Sichuan or Szechuan? I’ve seen both in print from reputable sources. What’s haunting me today is the most perplexing of all: Dal, Daal, Dhal, or Dahl? Again, all are online and in print. These last two we can only blame ourselves for. We can’t seem to agree how these words should appear in English. I want someone to tell me! Do you know? For now, I am sticking with dal, I’ve been told that the correct pronunciation is with a long a. So daaaal could be our new spelling. However you …

Parliamentary Waffle House – Mine’s a Labour/Lib Dem Cocktail!

Bompass & Parr have struck gold again. Not content with jellymongering and providing fantastic jellies for restaurants and funerals (true!), creating giant cocktails that you can row across and other magical and surreal food experiences, they have moved into the world of waffles and have established the Parliamentary Waffle House. The video says it all realy. So much fun. Please ignore and forgive the very shaky start! I was laughing very hard. It launched last night with a screening of the live televised debate followed by a Waffle Eating Competition (in the video above)  and was tremendous fun. The menu lists three types of waffles, one associated with each party, and three types of beer plus tongue-in-cheek Prescott Punch made with Courvoisier. I had a Labour waffle with raspberries and vanilla ice cream. I just couldn’t bring myself to order Conservative, even if it’s only a waffle. The waffles were perfectly delicious and the porter light with a tingle. I loved it so much, I am going back and have booked a couple of tickets …

Steak Frites Tasting at Racine

Do you ever take yourself too seriously? Give a situation too much gravitas, or get really wound up over something stupid? Then something happens which puts everything in perspective and makes you laugh at the inanity of it all? I find myself in this situation occasionally, and hilariously recently. Picture the scene when recently en route to Racine in Knightsbridge for the Steak Frites tasting evening, I got trapped underground courtesy of the central line. For 40 minutes a fake bouyant promise was issued over the tannoy “the central line is currently suspended but will be on the move soon”. After 40 minutes, fit to burst with frustration, I left and made my way using a hodge podge of buses and tubes. Arriving exactly 40 minutes late and very flustered, I burst into Racine, trying to appear as calm as possible, and announced quietly to the maitre d’ that I was here for Steak Frites. Steak Frites? Yes, steak frites, it’s on here tonight. Steak Frites? Yes, it’s a group thing, in a private room …

A Magical Evening: Providores & Prudence Pop-Up at the Sipsmith Distillery

Not much escapes me in the world of food, but lately there’s been so much going on that I’ve missed a number of things. You may wonder how I could fit much more in, the answer is I don’t know, but I will try relentlessly. That’s the joy of living in London, it’s absolutely bursting with great things to do. One day, whilst idling on twitter, which I am wont to do, I spied mention of a pop-up restaurant at the Sipsmith distillery. Not just any pop-up, for there is many an “any” pop-up these days, the restaurant in question would be none other than one of my favourites, The Providores, a London institution run by chef-owner, Peter Gordon. I’ve blogged about The Providores before (Turkish Eggs and Tapas Room). It’s a fusion restaurant, but don’t turn your head, it’s done really well. Accompanied by a lovely room and a great wine list featuring many interesting and delicious NZ wines, I can’t and don’t go there often enough. I just had to go to this. …

A Weekend in Watergate Bay: Dinner at Fifteen Cornwall

Fifteen is a very impressive place. Another one of Jamie Oliver’s socially enterprising projects, Fifteen started in London, a restaurant established with two purposes: serving good Italian food and training kids with difficult backgrounds and limited hope for the future, as chefs. This presents many problems. Lots of these kids are quite traumatised and struggle with routine and authority. It has been very successful despite this, and on the back of that first TV show and book, there are now many troubled kids that have become trained chefs and work in the industry. Lots of chefs with potential that we may hear more about in the future. The London restaurant is also successful (although it gets mixed reviews, some love it, some not so much) and is now an international brand and charity with restaurants/academies in Cornwall, Melbourne and Amsterdam. I find this interesting for many reasons. It’s a lovely twist on using food to nurture, not only providing diners with food, Fifteen provides the trainees with direction, focus, and a passion for and knowledge …