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 …

Posh Lunch Club at Racine

Friends were visiting from Ireland recently and staying in Knightsbridge. As always happens these days, recommendations were requested, and I had one must visit for them in the area – Racine. I couldn’t get through to them, and when I finally did they announced that they had already happened upon it and loved it. High praise from two Francophiles indeed. I was delighted that they had had a chance to try it, I feel now that everyone should. Racine is a classic French restaurant that serves very elegant, well executed food. Henry Harris is at the helm, with impeccable credentials having trained at Hilaire with Simon Hopkinson. I’ve eaten there a few times now and have never been disappointed. Each dish delivers what you expect and more. It’s classic French food, rich but not heavy with excellent sourcing of ingredients that are cooked in perfect harmony. I went here for Posh Lunch Club but for the first time fell off of the horse. Posh Lunch Club is about fine dining at bargain prices, only from …

A Weekend at Watergate Bay Cornwall, in Pictures

Watergate Bay, Cornwall in Pictures The sunshine this weekend prompted thoughts of a lovely weekend stay in Cornwall recently that I teased you about briefly with mentions of homemade pasta at Fifteen Cornwall and foraging trips, lovely dinners and lunches and a long gorgeous beach. I had a food-filled and very busy weekend, so it will take more than one post to cover it. I’ll start with a photographic summary and then devolve into the details. Cornwall is a beautiful county with lush green countryside and lengthy coastline, a bit of a trek from London (it’s as far as Scotland), so for my brief weekend visit, it warranted a flight. I was visiting Watergate Bay, a short hop from Newquay airport (5 minutes or so in a taxi), not that you would even notice, as the airplanes that fly in there are on the small side, and don’t make any infernal racket. I arrived early on Friday evening, and dropped my bags at the apartment that would be my home for the weekend. I was …

Recipe: Home Cured Salmon

Continuing with the fishy theme from my last post, this next post is also a recipe from the Tante Marie Seafood Cookery Course that I recently attended. This home cured salmon was swift and gratifying, the prep is super quick, and then it’s just a matter of waiting. The taste and textures tells of an altogether more complex process, but it’s the science behind the curing that does all of the work. It relies as always on high quality ingredients, so source good salmon, the best you can afford. I think that I will be rolling this out for the summer picnic season. It would be perfect, especially with a nice cold glass of prosecco. Let’s hope it’s soon! The clocks have changed and these glimmers of sunshine tease me so. Home Cured Salmon Ingredients: 750g piece middle cut salmon fillet Cure mixture for salmon: 1tbsp coriander seeds 2tbsp juniper berries 1tbsp fennel seeds 1tbsp pink peppercorns 225g sea salt 375g granulated sugar Method: Place the pink peppercorns, coriander, juniper and fennel seeds, in a …

Tante Marie Seafood Course & a Recipe for Pan Fried Scallops with Sesame Dressing & Courgette Spaghetti

Counting fingers, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 white ones and 1 blue one. A blue one? Yes folks, clumsy as ever, on my first morning at a Seafood Cookery Course, on the very first task, I cut my finger open whilst chopping a carrot. A carrot! Gah! I’ve chopped carrots lots of times before. Why now? For shame. This so called enthusiast and obsessive cook sliced her finger open on the first morning of the course. Nothing to worry about though, I stayed calm in the face of my finger going numb, for fear of further embarrassment, and Mrs. H had my finger sorted in no time at all, until it was shiny and new and bright, bright blue with a spangly and enormous blue kitchen plaster. What am I rambling about? Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Seafood Cookery Course at the Tante Marie Cookery School in Woking, a cookery school with a fine pedigree that has been open for the last 50 years. Endorsed by el Gordo himself, I was invited there to do …

Best of the Blogs in The Times

I woke up groggy this morning, and started my morning ritual of peeping my arm out from under the duvet where I am otherwise mummified, seeking my iPhone, where I quickly check twitter before contemplating getting up and showering. This is a protracted ritual for I am highly distractable and wont to get out of bed. This morning I had a lovely message from a fellow twitterer, suggesting I buy The Times, as they had listed me in “Best of the Blogs” in their weekly food supplement “The Table”. How lovely! But I was still in bed and I really wanted to see it. No better firecracker to get you to haul your carcass out the door! I purchased my copy, noted an article on homemade stocks to study later, and a few other nice pieces (it’s worth a purchase), and there I saw my little corner, and very nice it is too. So, thank you Nick Wyke and other Times food people! You made my day. If you’ve just come here from the Times …

Posh Lunch Club at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

Another day, another Posh Lunch Club. This, my friends, is why none of my clothes fit me right now. I wish I was exaggerating! How can I go about continuing my lifestyle as savoury cookie monster, without putting on weight, or going to the gym? No purging either please. There has got to be an answer. Answers in a comment. This lunch date was at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, one of the Galvin brothers numerous outposts in London. I ate at sister restaurant Galvin La Chapelle last year and really enjoyed the well executed and elegant French food. I was very much looking forward to (belatedly) trying the Bistrot. It has been recommended to me by many people for years. I was meeting fellow blogger and good friend, Sig of Scandilicious for lunch. I arrived first, and was immediately taken by the authentic Parisian buzz, high ceilings, low lit and low lamps, mirrors lining the walls, and lots of diners chattering surrounded by hues of brown and cream. It was a very elegant space with …

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! Today’s post is something different. A little video from a recent trip to Thornton’s chocolate factory, and the manufacture of their Easter Bunny and some chocolates. It’s short and fun and contains spinning chocolate Easter bunnies! Enjoy it.

Posh Lunch Club at Terroirs

I have several bad habits, who doesn’t? One is not writing about some of my favourite places. It occured to me recently, and I wondered why. I suspect that it’s part not wanting to taint a lovely dining/wine-ing experience by dissecting it for a review, and part confident that I will be there again soon and I can review it then. A little greedy bit of me may not want to share, I like this part less than you do. So, I’ve decided to write a list of these places, and start ticking them off. The first one that I will review is Terroirs in Charing Cross, for no reason other than that I was meeting a visiting friend and wine blogger (Vaguely Vinous) there, and I love it. It had the makings of a perfect afternoon. Terroirs is a natural wine bar and restaurant in Charing Cross, French in character offering a vast selection of natural/biodynamic wines, and a great food selection. It’s bright with lots of light, and is always busy. It’s always …