Month: February 2012

A Postcard from South Africa

It has been a crazy two weeks, hence the silence here. From Amsterdam to Den Haag and back to London. Then to Capetown in South Africa. Now I am in LA waiting to board the remaining leg of my flight to New Zealand where I will spend a week exploring food and drink there. So, watch this space! Lots to catch up on so I will be writing at a frenetic pace this week. For now, I will leave you with some highlights from my South Africa trip.

corkese

Recipe: Spaghetti Corkese (Spaghetti with Black Pudding & Tomato Sauce)

Spaghetti Cork-ese! Say it aloud in a terrible Italian accent. It sounds good, doesn’t it? All jokes aside, a few years ago I was in my kitchen looking at a stash of black pudding that I had brought back from Ireland and thinking about how well the deep earthy flavour of the black pudding goes with fresh zingy tomatoes and I thought – OOOOOF – ding ding ding – that would be an ace pasta sauce. Italians avert your eyes but everyone else keep reading, for this is delicious. So, it is simple and takes less time than a proper bolognese, but you are rewarded with a rich depth of flavour that takes hours ordinarily. The richness of the black pudding adds instant ooomph, the chilli a little zing, and when you roast the sauce as I do here, it crumbles and each little chunk bathes in a tiny bath of tomato with a piquant tiny vinegar hit with a little sugar to tone it down a bit. When they caress the spaghetti it is …

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s OK, Really. (And a Recipe for Heart Shaped Pancakes)

Valentine’s Day prompts a myriad of extreme reactions. Unhappy singletons proclaim abandonment by the rest of the world and some of those entangled demand to be showered with attention and proposals. But what of all us normal people? So many of us silently looking on. Life is short I say, and only as sweet as you make it, so as a single gal (and happy to be so) I made my Valentine’s Day a little special by wheeling out my ever so gorgeous heart shaped pancake pan. Light, fluffy, a little sweet and a little tart, what more could complete your Valentine’s? A glass of wine, yes. Perfect. Happy Valentine’s! Recipe and more over on iVillage.

A Postcard from a Snowy Crisp Amsterdam and Den Haag

I made it to Holland. There was a 4 am start and a trudge through the snow. I sleepily dragged my polka dotted suitcase behind worried it would be a waste of time and energy, but when we got to St Pancras we were delighted to see that the snow hadn’t affected the Eurostar. A 4 hour train journey with a stop in Brussels in the middle, and we were in Amsterdam. Eurostar are running a campaign at the end of this month to advertise their route to Amsterdam, and asked me if I would like to participate by going and photographing 5 things for them to use in their campaign on the London Underground. 5 things of my choice, of course. I used to live in Amsterdam and I love it here, so I jumped at the excuse to come back. I adore train travel too. I was delighted to see the canals frozen with locals ice skating on them, this happens rarely and I had never seen it. Lots of pop up gluhwein …

Valrhona Chocolate Masterclass & Recipe for Chocolate & Sea Salted Caramel Tart

There is lots of heavy snow outside my window again. One trip cancelled in a week is annoying, but a second would be horrendous. I am off to Amsterdam in the morning – I hope – please pray readers that London transport will be a little less wimpy. As I look out the window I am thinking wistfully back to chocolate marshmallows, sea salted caramel and chocolate tarts, early grey chocolate truffles, perfect hot chocolate and a mouse shaped Easter egg crafted from iconic Valrhona chocolate. I still have some chocolate leftover from a recent Valrhona masterclass, and I must rush to my room and make something with it. It will help to defeat this bitter weather. Valrhona have started running their covetted cooking classes in London, and I was one of the privileged few allowed to attend a preview. Valrhona is highly respected in the world of chocolate and graces the menus of the finest restaurants. Their courses for chefs have been running for years in France, and they have recently developed a one …

Proper BBQ Now in London Town: Pitt Cue Co

Proper BBQ is something that London has thought it has, but really hasn’t, for some time. We used to have proper BBQ once.  Bubba’s Arkansas BBQ Pit in old Spittalfields was a proper down and dirty BBQ which resided in the corner until 2007, next to The Spitz. This was pre-sanitisation of Spittalifields, before they removed Bubba’s and the lovely pub and music venue next door. Then arrives Tom, a young ambitious chap with a huge affection for BBQ and the passion to start his own food truck. Based on his experiences travelling through the US looking for the best BBQ, and recipes and ideas he has gathered, the truck was a huge success. The day I visited I had sausage with kimchee and a pickle back (more on that later). They were so popular that day, and every other day, that everything else had sold out before I arrived. I intended to go back but failed, but was advised not to worry, that they would be back soon and in a permanent location. Yeehaw! Pitt …

Recipe: Spiced Rich Goulash with Csipetke Dumplings

On Saturday evening I should have been in Milan, planning exploits related to the large Italian food fair, Identita Golose. Instead, I found myself trapped in London, delayed by an unreliable train. I missed my flight by a minute, and British Airways said that they could put me on the next flight for £269 (!). As it turned out, snow had started to fall, so there wasn’t much chance of me getting there anyway. That’s life. I found myself instead of being in Milan, eating a chicken milanese in the airport, where I waited for hours to see if I could go. I returned home a little dejected and thought, well I can try tomorrow and if that fails, I will make the best of my time and cook something delicious. Which I did when I inevitably resigned myself to staying at home. There was snow everywhere by the time I got home that night. Lots of impromptu snowball fights by drunk folks on their way home from the pub, and lopsided snowmen birthed to …