Month: December 2010

Favourite Bites of 2010: Part 3 (Best Meals)

I know I said that my roundup would take 3 parts, but I lied to myself and I lied to you. I did the exact same last year and it became a living nightmare. There is so much that I want to talk about and I don’t want to shut up so here we go again. Luckily, you’re not in the same room as me and you can escape, I just hope that maybe you want to read on ;) It’s not my fault really, so much happened in 2010 it was simply bursting, and I have so many recommendations, it would be terrible not to share them with you. In this post, I want to tell you about the best meals that I had throughout the year, and where I had them so that you can have them too.Again, these were my favourites, the ones that really stood out. Early in the year I had one of my best meals at Trinity in Clapham. Chef patron Adam Byatt runs one of my favourite restaurants …

Favourite Bites of 2010: Part 2 (Supper Clubs)

So that was Part 1 of my lovely 2010, and here is Part 2. Excitingly since I published it, The Telegraph have listed ELAG as one of the best food blogs with images and it popped up in another top 10, this time of London blogs, not just food! I am, of course, flattered and delighted. Each one is as thrilling as the first. Thank you for reading :) This portion of my round up is devoted to something that I found myself exploring more and more this year, supper clubs and pop-ups. This new dining format allows up-and-coming chefs and cooks to explore possibilities, test menus and have interesting evenings in unusual places. They sometimes simply allow people that love to cook for people that appreciate it to do just so. Prices are usually very affordable with lovely BYO drinks policies. Locations are often wonderful, sometimes bizarre. You might find yourself in someone’s living room, other times at a café in a park, and once I found myself in a Hackney furniture studio. I …

Favourite Bites of 2010: Part 1 (Recipes, Travel and Posh Lunch Club)

So, that’s it! 2010 is almost gone. It all feels a bit surreal really, the year seemed to both whizz by and at times go slowly, but one thing is for sure, there was a lot packed in. I’ve never been one for plans and resolutions, preferring to let life take its course and do things as they come up, but this year I promised myself two things: that I would travel a lot more (I have been promising and delivering poorly on that for a long time now) and that I would eat out more, and work a little less. 2009 was great but it was the year of the workaholic where I was concerned. I must confess that I had a few moments throughout the year where I faltered, its amost 4 years since I started writing this blog, and it takes so much of my time now, I sometimes wondered if it is worth the mammoth effort. Everytime I felt that way, something wonderful happened that lifted my spirits, and spurred me …

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas to you and yours! I wish you a very relaxing, festive and fun few days. I hope you have a lovely long meal planned. I am cook here (of course!) and we’re starting with Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Pickle and Frank’s Smoked Eel with Bacon & Greens. For mains we’re having 12 hour roast shoulder of pork with spiced apple sauce which I am staying up until 2am to start, fluffy roast spuds and veg. We’re finishing with candied clementines with chocolate sauce and cardamom & chilli chocolate truffles. I will post the recipes soon. Everybody else has a white Christmas but we’ve no snow here, just a big bright blue sky and crisp sea air. See this satellite pic? I am in the little green band at the bottom :)

Christmas Giveaway: Laura Santtini Easy Tasty Italian Book & Taste #5 Umami Paste Kit

This is a lovely and fun giveaway. I have a Laura Santtini Easy Tasty Italian & Taste #5 Umami Paste™ Kit to give away. The book is gorgeous and quirky, the paste took the media by storm earlier this year when announced. Add some to any dish that requires an umami punch and depth of flavour, it really works. Available exclusively from Waitrose, I have one set, and you just need to leave a comment to enter. The competition closes on Christmas Eve. Here’s the blurb: For a truly tasty Christmas, Waitrose has teamed up with flavour-expert Laura Santtini and created an inspired Christmas present or stocking filler for any in-the-know foodie or umami-enthusiast. Exclusive to Waitrose, the specially created kit contains a copy of Laura’s award winning first cookery book Easy Tasty Italian and a tube of her groundbreaking flavour bomb™, Taste #5 Umami Paste™. The kit provides the secrets behind umami with simple recipes showing how to make the most of the 5th taste sensation and a full size sample of the product …

Christmas Giveaway: Wonderful Chocolate from Chocolate by Trish

From Harvey Nic’s to Selfridge’s this next giveaway is very exciting. Chocolate by Trish are offering two bags of their luxury gorgeous cooking chocolate, one milk & one dark. It’s super stuff, as always, just leave a comment to enter. The competition closes on Christmas Eve. Should you win, or choose to indulge anyway, there are some wonderful recipes on her website which would be perfect for your festive table: http://www.chocolatebytrish.com/recipes Here’s the blurb: Renowned chocolate lover, author of the best-selling and award-winning Je veux du chocolat! (I want chocolate!), Trish Deseine unveiled her unashamedly gorgeous dark, milk and white cook’s chocolate range: Chocolate by Trish in Selfridges stores nationwide, this autumn. Trish has developed a fantastic range of chocolate ingredients that doesn’t compare to other cooking chocolate. The couverture offers incredible flavour that adds intensity to any dish. Made in France from the very best cocoa beans the Chocolate by Trish range benefits from a fabulous length and depth of flavour. Because each button is rich in cocoa butter, this wonderful cook’s ingredient melts …

A Recipe for Yellowman (aka Honeycomb, Cinder Toffee)

YELLOWMAN! How great is that? Yellowman? I love it. The quirky Irish decriptor for Honeycomb, or what the ‘merican folks call cinder toffee. Such fun to make, a joy to eat (for all except your fillings who will retreat to the back of your mouth for safety), and a really ace little Xmas present for those you love from your kitchen. But, wait! It’s not all fun and games. Making yellowman has it’s downsides. The first is the intense temperature, you need to heat the sugar & golden syrup to 150C to reach hard-crack stage, and you may burn yourself. Of course most of you won’t, but I did, and I have a nice cascade of blisters on my arm. The other, less described danger, is that you may find yourself wandering around your kitchen waving a jam thermometer with melted sugar spindles dripping off it, singing YELLOWMAN to the Elton John’s Rocket Man at the top of your voice. It was all worth it. Even the burn. It’s such fun to make. Once the …

Christmas Giveaway: Two Pasta Hampers from Pastificio dei Campi

**This competition is now closed but there are more live on the homepage** A Pasta Hamper is available through the Facebook Page. “Like” the page to be entered. Enter on Facebook :). I do think pasta is one of my favourite things to eat in this world. I wonder at those people who can do carb free. How and why would you do it? Pasta is the ultimate comfort food, and when you get the best it raises things an octave higher. Pastificio dei Campi is the pasta that I use in my kitchen. If that’s not enough of a recommendation, it’s the one used in Locanda Locatelli too. It costs more but everything about it is vastly superior. Pastificio dei Campi comes from Gragnano, a town in Southern Italy that is to pasta what parma is to ham. The pasta is finished by hand and gently passed through bronze dies before being slow dried at low temperatures creating gorgeous pasta. Each box of pasta can be traced back to what day that batch of …

Christmas Giveaway: A Meal for Two at The Ship, Wandsworth

Oh, I am nice to you, aren’t I? And if you think I am nice, spare a thought for The Ship, who have donated this fantastic prize for a Christmas Giveaway. The Ship? You know it. That lovely pub down by the river with that lovely beer garden. The food is award winning and delicious (home smoked duck breast with mini scotch egg and cumberland jelly or roast brace of pheasant currently feature), and they are lovely too. They also have Irish trad sessions once a week which I am told are well worth a visit. So, to win this voucher worth £50 for two, just leave a comment. I will draw a winner at random on Monday am. I do wish I could win this one too! http://www.theship.co.uk/

Christmas Giveaway: Fabulous Damien Allsop Chocolates

HO HO HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS! This is the first in a series of giveaways that I will be running over the next few days for you lovely, lovely readers. First up are some wonderful Damien Allsop chocolate – his gorgeous water ganaches. They really are terrific and use no cream. Not that you miss it, you really don’t. To enter, just comment. That’s it! Simple. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday at noon, and the chocolates will be sent by Damien that day :) Here’s the blurb. Damian Allsop’s avant-garde chocolates are created using a unique, water based (rather than cream based) recipe. During many years of tasting chocolate, Damian realised that the cream used in most chocolate recipes actually masks the true flavours of the ingredients, and following this epiphany, he reinvented all his recipes, to be based on water. The water based ganaches are presented in a box of three, each one a different flavour. In this box is pink grapefruit and rose; passionfruit and coffee and Brazil ganache. The …

A Brunch Classic: American Style Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

BRUNCH! Glorious brunch. Is there any better meal? I could write a book on brunch recipes, I’ve made so many. I utterly adore lazy weekend mornings, they’re possibly my favourite time. Still in pjs, mixing and stirring, weighing and baking, frying and sizzling. Making coffee, drinking coffee. The huge weekend papers. What’s not to love? This weekend, both brunches were the same. I rediscovered the joy of American Style Pancakes, those gorgeous pancakes that are fluffy and light, with crispy streaky bacon and ridiculous amounts of maple syrup. The sweet soft pancakes are gorgeous with the crispy salt bacon. The maple syrup is the magical cherry on top. The recipe is very easy, it’s all about 1’s. 100 ml flour, 100ml milk, 1 big pinch salt, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 heaped tsp baking flour 1 egg. I use Old Cotswold Legbar eggs which are large, so use a large egg to substitute if you can’t get them. They are deliciou though, seek them out if you can. This recipe will give you enough pancakes …

Preview: Christmas Lunch on the Orient Express

I do love train travel, and some film or other in the eighties planted an obsession with the Orient Express and a journey somewhere romantic on it in me. Train travel is my favourite way of getting anywhere (tube and London commuter lines being the very large and glaring exception). I had no idea that the Orient Express actually ran in London. Orient put me off really, I wasn’t expecting it to include Kent. However, day trips operate that take you out of London and back again,  often partnering with upmarket hotels ( like The Goring or The Ritz in London) so that you can extend your luxurious experience. I was invited to try the Christmas Lunch, a 4 and a half hour experience on a Pullman steam train, offering 5 course with champagne and wine. We were greeted by a very funny and entertaining group of actors, dressed Great Gatsby style, who travelled throughout the train singing and chatting throughout. Normally, I wouldn’t buy into this at all but in this setting it was …

Supper Club: Green Onions

So, where to next on our supper club adventure? The East End for Green Onions, one of the original supper clubs that has migrated through a number of incarnations. Starting in a one bedroom flat in Clapton and residing there for a year, it now pops up occasionally elsewhere. Sometimes, Claire, the brains behind the operation, delivers it by herself, and very well too. Other times she partners with chefs. Which is what she did last weekend. Green Onions was most recently was held in an artists/furniture makers studio in Hackney last weekend. Green Onions aim to spread the joy and delight of eating good seasonal British food to the good people of London Town and beyond. The room was buzzing when I arrived. I was LATE having spent what seemed like forever on a crossroads in the rain, twirling the map on my phone around hoping that it would at some point make sense. It never did. Nothing that a glass of toasty Mulled English Cider can’t fix. And it did. The menu was …

Supper Club: The Montpelier Basement in Bristol

Eating out is such a pleasure. Food always is, is it not? Having anyone cook for you is the loveliest thing in the world. The time, the care and effort and then the indulgence. Restaurants are lovely, well, they are when they are good. But sometimes they are just too formal. That is why I have come to love and spend more time at Supper Clubs. Supper Clubs have really come into their own this year. I have not been to anywhere near all that London is offering, but I have been to a few that would contest any good restaurant. Ben Greeno, who I visited earlier this year, delivers clever and deceptively spartan cuisine. Stolen recreates restaurant menus and do it very, very well. There are others too, which I shall blog about soon. The bottom line is, when they are good, they are very good. It’s not all about the food, the charming thing about these Supper Clubs is the ambience, fun and randomness you’re sure to get at every one. Better again, …

Bitesize: Green Onions Supper Club, First Young Turks Dinner & Towpath’s Tuscan Olive Oil Harvest Feast

Green Onions Supper Club Green Onions Supper Club is back for one night only, this Saturday night! From one half of the brilliant Shacklewell Nights duo, this special dinner will take place in a great Dalston loft space with a guest chef from an established and popular London restaurant, there is some last minute availability. The menu looks perfectly Wintry and delicious. Mulled English Cider Ribollita and Parmesan (Italian Winter Minestrone Soup) Pot Roast Pheasant, Cured Pig Cheeks and Tomato salsa (A Vegetarian alternative will be available ) Chocolate mouse cake with honeycomb £35 – BYO I’ve been to both Shacklewell & Green Onions and highly recomend it. Shacklwell is leading the game for me at the moment, deceptively simple and full flavoured food perfectly executed with a buzzy ambience – review due soon. Email greenonionguerillacooking@gmail.com to book. First Young Turks Dinner On Sunday 19th December 201o, an art gallery, a wine shop and three top chefs will come together to bring you The First Dinner from Young Turks. Young Turks is a three-way collaboration …