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A Postcard from Melbourne & Victoria

I am coming to the end of my time in Melbourne & Victoria, and it has been quite some time since I last posted anything. Mainly because I have been so busy, and because I have been having so much fun. Delicious fun. I have visited lots of great restaurants, had many breakfasts, sampled a lot of coffee, met friends, toured the wine regions, and tried a lot of wine.

It is my last morning already (woe), and as I pack and have my last breakfast, I wanted to share some pictures of the last 9 days with you.

London winter, be kind, I will see you very soon. But first, a wee stopover in Brunei.

I am in Melbourne on the #TourMelbourne blog trip, created and managed by iambassador with Tourism Victoriaand Visit Melbourne in partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines. All content is of my choosing, and I retain all editorial control.

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Hello Melbourne!

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia. A heartland for great food and drink, Melbourne is an exciting city for a food obsessive like me to visit. It has been at the top of my list for a long time. (Yes, that list, that long one).

I have been here for four days peering out through a jet lag fug and on my own personal brunch driven agenda. When you can’t sleep, the possibility of several great brunches on your doorstep, and all at 7am, is thrilling. Even through a brain that feels like it is currently powered by Angel Delight and 9V batteries (strawberry flavour, naturally). That also means that you can absolutely have another brunch at 12pm. (Hey! Don’t look at me. I didn’t make the rules). I have had many – some brilliant and very inspiring – and I have many more planned. Not just brunches, lunches and dinners too. There is so much to do, and eat, and drink.[Read more]

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Preview: Foxlow, St John St, London

foxlow-kitchen-chef

St John St is a busy street, and in a very good way. Home to St John’s restaurant (from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver), and also wine bar & restaurant Vinoteca (across the road), with Bistro Bruno Loubet (which I have eaten at 3 times but neglected to blog, a huge oversight), and The Zetter Townhouse around the corner (one of my favourite spots for drinks and bar snacks). There are lots more and I could type all day, but my point is, that this isn’t an area that has been crying out for great new restaurants. This hasn’t stopped the Hawksmoor team from taking a stab at it, and given their pedigree (I am a fan of their Hawksmoor steakhouses and bar), I was curious as to what they planned to deliver and how. I knew that this wasn’t going to be another Hawksmoor, but I was expecting it to be quite meaty. And so it was. In a very good way.[Read more]

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Raised Waffles with Beef Shin and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Raised Waffles with Beef and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Raised Waffles with Beef and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Do you like this? Huh? You do, don’t you? And it is a little confusing, isn’t it? Is that breakfast colliding with dinner? Just a bit, but as a flavour and texture combination, it is sensational.

Let me tell you how to spend a glorious weekend afternoon. Maybe one with the rain dragging outside, better again, a day with that horizontal rain that drives into your face and makes the outdoors utterly inhospitable. One of those days that is best approached in pyjamas and a big jumper, slippers and no desire to do anything but stay inside. A day, like this one, is a day for ragu.[Read more]

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Crisp and Fluffy Raised Waffles [Recipe]

Homemade Raised Waffles

Homemade Raised Waffles

So hopefully you have all got your waffle irons right now, and are ready for some waffle slinging action. I have another waffle recipe and it is a cracker.

The US and Europe have distinct culinary influences. I never heard of Julia Child until I was obsessed with cookbooks, well into adulthood, and foraging for inspiration amongst culinary bookshelves. I grew up with Darina Allen, and later other grand dames like Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey and Elizabeth David. In the US, Julia Child was the first port of culinary call for most, and similarly their different cultural influences point to different everyday recipes, which brings me neatly to the raised waffle, or waffle at all, in fact. [Read more]

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Movember: Getting my Mo On with a Cook Off [Video]

Remember , remember the Mo of November. Moustaches aren’t just for hipsters, you know.

Movember has swung round again, and while I can’t grow a moustache to support them – quiet down the back! – I did get involved in the #mofoodfight, a fun video cook off to generate interest in and awareness of Movember, and their new book Cook Like a Man: The Ultimate Cookbook for the Modern Gentleman (priced at a ridiculous £5.98 on Amazon right now, and a very reasonable £9.99 in the shops).

I dragged my carcass to a studio at way too early o’clock of a morning (hey! I am self employed, I don’t get up before 7am, you know), and it wasn’t long before I was cooking on camera with Pete Brown, maestro of beer and cider and all things in between.[Read more]

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Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup

Spelt and Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta and Maple Syrup

Spelt and Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta and Maple Syrup

Well, that was a mouthful wasn’t it? But a very tasty one, so I am ok with that. Welcome to the good ship waffle, folks. I am obsessed. I cannot get enough of them and instead of the usual 3 recipe tests, I find myself doing 5 or 6.

It is my 800th post today. That is 800 times over the last 6.5 years where I have sat down and written a missive, where I have planned a meal around it, photographed it, tried to find the best light in the room, wandered outside with my lunch and photographed it in the winter cold in the garden, rushed back in to eat it still warm, travelled to another country to write about it, hunted down something random in London because I needed it or because I needed you to try it. 800 moments of distraction, and joy. I am so happy that I decided to start this blog of mine, and that you like to read it makes me happier still. Every time.

Getting a recipe right is very important for me. When someone reads something here, and decides to make it at home, I want the experience to be joyful and perfect, and the resulting bite to be glorious. Whether that is a waffle or a big hunk of pork, a stew or a cake. I would hate to think that someone would go out and buy ingredients and then be upset with the results. So, I test everything, and try to explain everything as directly and simply as I can. These waffles went through six versions, not just because I wanted to eat them (and they were good at version 1), but I thought that I could improve on them each time. I love this recipe, the waffles are grounded and nutty, yet light. The citrus fluffy ricotta and the sweet rich maple syrup are a perfect play of sweet, sour and luxurious on top.

Spelt & Almond Waffles

Spelt & Almond Waffles

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When in Yokohama: Visit the Cup Noodle Museum (Really, Do!)

The Japanese love a museum. They especially love a food museum, and are particularly devoted to and proud of instant noodles, ramen and cup noodle, which were invented in Japan in 1958. This convenience food, which was introduced to the world by Momofuku Ando when he discovered that frying fresh (Chinese) noodles extruded the water and preserved them, is a national favourite, and it has spread throughout the world.

Nissin, the company that Momofuku founded, is still one of the leading producers today (and really, they are so much better than Pot Noodle, which was one of the companies to copy them). Now, instant noodles are eaten in the billions, being convenient and cheap, and very quick to prepare. In 2005, 86 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten around the world (according to The Economist).

The first ramen, chicken ramen, was on sale in the shops at 6 times the price of fresh udon. This is in firm contrast to today, where the prices are surely in reverse. The cup noodle followed in 1971, and then finally, in 2005 Momofuku developed space ramen for astronauts (when he was 95 years old – what a character!).

There are two Nissin noodle museums in Japan, the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka and the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama. Their mission is to inspire people to be creative, particularly in the face of adversity (their 6 rules are: discover something completely new, find hints in all sorts of places, nurture an idea, look at things from every angle, don’t just go with the status quo & finally, never give up). When you hear Momofuku’s background, this makes perfect sense.

Momofuku had a meandering path to success, an earlier business had gone bust, and failure to keep on top of his taxes landed him in jail. His response? “I came to understand that all of my failure — all of my shame — was like muscle added to my body.” He persevered and became one of the worlds most successful and creative business men. 

I went to the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama, how could I resist it? Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city and only half an hour by train from Tokyo. It is a very clean modern city built around a large port, rebuilt entirely after the Great Earthquake of 1923, only to be destroyed again by over thirty air raids during World War II. A busy port city, and one of the few parts of Japan directly exposed to western culture in the mid 20th century, Yokohama is responsible for the Japanese pasta fusion dishes that they are so fond of.

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