All posts filed under: Random

Project: BACON – 29 hours to go | 93% funded | So close

RIGHT. Right now there are probably two particular strains of reader: – excited ones that are hopeful / nervous about Project: BACON (you have been in touch, so I know :) – some who are so over Project: BACON (although I must say even my vegetarian and vegan readers have been terrifically supportive and helpful in spreading the word). The good news is there is only ONE DAY LEFT. One day! Not there yet, there is 7% left to go, just under £1,500 and only 30 hours to raise it. Normal service will resume soon. There won’t be much further mention of Project: BACON on here from the end of this week. After that all bacon communications will be filtered solely through The Bacon Post, a weekly missive for Kickstarter supporters with exclusive new recipes (you can get this by signing up to any reward level on Kickstarter, including just for The Bacon Post at £3). So quick recap – adopts cheerleading pose with pom poms (very sleepily). If you want Project: BACON as a …

Project: BACON – 54 hours to go – 22% to fund

*updated Monday am* SQUUEEE! Nearly there! And I should really be in bed as it is almost midnight on a Sunday and I have to hot foot it to a radio studio tomorrow in the very early morning, but I can’t let this slip at any point now. I have been so careful to be tender about this and not be in your face but this is the final push, and so here I am. I have to be. I am nearly there, but I still might not make it. If you want to see this book, if you want to cook from it, if you want to read it and try out those crazy bacon recipes (in the best possible way) you have 2 days to buy it or it just won’t happen. And I am not exaggerating at all. This has been a fantastically interesting process, and hopefully it is only the beginning. I am so glad I did it this way. I am really tired, bone tired if I am honest, but I …

Announcing Bacon Masterclasses for the Autumn: Book Now for Early Bird Rates

NEW BACON MASTERCLASSES FOR SEPTEMBER THROUGH TO DECEMBER New classes! Huzzah. A wonderful new cookery school in central London, Aveqia, has approached me to teach my Bacon Masterclasses there. The school is very central, based near Farringdon and is beautiful. The original school is in Sweden and the same elegant Scandinavian design has been used here, and as you would expect, it is a thoughtfully designed and very useful space. Those Swedes know what they are doing. On arrival there is a bar, before going to the teaching space with lots of room to cook and also to eat after. This is why I love it, the kitchen is large and spacious with lots of room and all the kit I could need, even a paco jet for making maple bacon, bourbon & vanilla ice cream. After we can all sit down at a large communal & very sociable space to eat and indulge in some bacon bloody marys. The classes will be hosted on Saturdays only, and I am expanding the class concept to …

Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet

Many years ago, pre blog, when I was just a normal mildly obsessive individual idling on the streets, I had three passions: food, travel & music. Other stuff too, of course but the core directions I would find myself moving in centred around those. I read more music blogs than food blogs when I first started (which seems bizarre I would agree) but I always loved live music, finding great new music to listen to, and this was the best place to do this. Even as my life became increasingly centred on food, I still went to music festivals and gigs and always, almost without fail, despaired at the food there. Bring on Wilderness, one of a new breed of festivals that takes food very seriously. Not just by inviting some of London’s best restaurants but also enabling them them to create sumptuous feasts. In the centre of the festival site, there is a large restaurant area with a banquet tent which hosted lunches and dinners from Ottolenghi, Polpo & Hix. Surrounding this was St John …

Project Bacon Update: 40% funded, 6 Days to Go & New Reward Level on Kickstarter

So, you are all keeping me waiting, right? Not kicking in until the very end because I don’t need you to? Well, I do. Project: BACON is only at 40% funded with 6 days to go. I have deliberately been very quiet about it as I didn’t want to annoy everyone. I was also quietly hoping that it might just happen, but that is not how life works. So, basically, here it is: I am not going to write this book unless it is supported on Kickstarter, so if you want it, get involved. All you need to do is buy the book upfront, in digital or hardback, you can now even get some bacon stuff posted to you (see below), and you can book a class for you and your friends, all on that fabulous Kickstarter space. I promise that the book will be awesome, I get giddy just thinking of jumping on that magical bacon brick road. I have an ace designer, editor and photographer just waiting for me to say that we …

Project:BACON Update

So, I did it, and I put it out there. It was scary. What if people didn’t want my bacon book as much as me? It is a very public and nerve wracking way of exploring interest in your work, and the good news is that you and others support it (20% of the funding so far has been direct from the Kickstarter community who discovered it on there, amazingly). PHEW. It is exactly one week since I put Project:BACON on Kickstarter and it is funded by 27% as I type. This is fantastic, but I am still a fair way off with just 3 weeks to go. So, I need you to jump on board. Here is another low down, briefly, as my last post was (well) wordy. Go figure. So – Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform. I am basically asking you to buy my next book in advance to allow me to write and publish it myself. WHY? I am a prince certified project manager (I never thought I would type that here) …

Announcing! Project: BACON. A New Book. With Your Help.

I have been asked many times about my next book. I have been thinking about it quite intensely for some time but never quite had the answer (until now). I have been speaking to many authors about their experiences over the last two years. I have met some really inspiring people that have self published their own books and have produced something that is entirely theirs and that they are proud of.  And not because they have failed in the traditional route, but for them, this was a much better option, giving them more control over the output and the book that hit the shelves. Once I decide to self publish, I decided not to pitch this book to a publisher at all. So it is not that I have pitched it and failed, I want to be very clear about that. Combined with the very positive & enthusing experiences that I have had with meeting brilliant self published authors, I know the people that I want to work with to produce my book. I am …

A Fun Evening at Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Summer Party

I popped along to the filming of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Summer Party, his live youtube show filmed in London. Irish food blogger, author & TV bod Donal Skehan was in town to cook on it, and there were some other Youtube characters involved too. I have to announce my ignorance here, I had no idea who any of the others were, save Donal and Crumbs & Doilies (I had a neighbouring food stall to them in Covent Garden some years ago). The Youtube food landscape is completely different to the blogosphere, and I am only beginning to explore it. It was a really fun evening, and also an education. I have been talking about starting a Youtube channel for – oh – three years now, so my curiosity spurred me along. I love video. It is lively, engaging, fun and a great way of sharing stories of people and places. With food & travel, and travelling as much as I do, there is so much that I could do here, and I feel sad …

Competition: Win a Holiday to the Canary Islands

A rare competition from me this morning, sponsored by Canary Islands Tourism. Best of luck!  Lets face it, the British and Irish summer is hardly reliable, so if you are looking for a break with almost guaranteed sun this year, the holiday specialists at Shineagain.com are offering a chance to win seven sunny getaways in the Canary Islands. Part of Spain but located very close to mainland Africa, this archipelago enjoys balmy temperatures throughout the year. Some islands are known for their lively and family friendly resorts but others offer peace, nature and unique national parks. The holiday will include flights, accommodation, transfers (or car hire depending on what you choose) and other tasty extras including a sailing excursion, guided walks, a diving experience and lunch at some gorgeously located dining spots. How to enter: Choose from one of these island destinations: La Gomera – For nature La Palma – For picturesque scenery Fuerteventura – For beaches Lanzarote –  For volcanic landscapes Tenerife – For a bit of everything El Hierro – The meridian island …

Recipe for Kroppkakor (Potato & Pork Dumplings) from Ninnis in Öland, Sweden

I am sitting here indoors looking out at the summer sun. It is gorgeous. The only mild frustration being an idiot wasp who keeps flying in through my window, only to get stuck and freak out, buzzing frantically for at least five minutes every time. Initially I was helping him out with paper, but I have given up now and am trying to tune him out. My garden in the mornings is like the cast of Despicable Me. The squeaky over enthused baby birds chirping randomness into the air from way too early in the morning. But it is summer, and it is sunny, and I will forgive these creatures their annoying habits. I am sure I annoy them too with my open windows and untended garden. However, I must remind them that I am the one paying rent here. This time last week I was in Öland, making midsummer head dresses and eating dumplings, washing it all down with aquavit. It was a gorgeous day and is now a lovely memory. The dumplings are …

Burger Monday (on a Wednesday) at Shake Shack in London

I got a sneak peak of the new Shake Shack in London yesterday evening, via Daniel Young of Young and Foodish and his terrific Burger Monday. I am not a burger obsessive by any means, but I appreciate good food (natch) and when a friend brought me to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Gardens, NYC, I didn’t have very high expectations. A burger is a burger, right? Right. Well, not really. I loved it. For the simplicity, the size of the burger, the flavour, moisture, sticky cheese slipping over the edge and the the lovely potato bun. It was a good solid burger, and I went back the next day. It became a favourite. Now, they have come to London,  the burgers are made from 100% Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef, the SmokeShack (my favourite) features British free-range Wiltshire cure smoked bacon and the concretes (frozen custard blended at high speed, a rich elegant ice cream) include Paul A Young chocolate and St John Bakery products. I focussed on the burgers last night, there is only so much that …

Posh Lunch Club at Pizarro

To refresh your memories and to introduce new readers, Posh Lunch Club is all about finding the best fine lunches at bargain prices. So set menus, and all that jazz. Mainly in London but also anywhere that I might find myself. Which is a lot of places, at times. I have a long list to hit in London, and will be focussing on that for the next few months. I love Posh Lunch Club because it makes London restaurants so accessible. I really believe that you don’t need to have a lot of money to eat well, either at home or out on the town. When I first moved to London and existed on a pittance, I took advantage of the amazing ingredients available to me and taught myself to cook more, as I couldn’t eat out that much. Now I can, but I still relish a bargainous and delicious discovery. Posh Lunch Club isn’t a real club. I have had requests to join but sometimes there is only one member – just me on …

A Postcard from Småland and Öland

A gorgeous rural weekend can be enough to heal the fractures imparted on the soul by urban living. I love city life but it does take as much as it gives and increasingly I find I need to retreat from it, just for a bit. I did that last weekend with a trip to Sweden with their annual Culinary Acadamy, this year to Småland and Öland in Southern Sweden. Rural and pretty with sweeping forests peppered with mirror lakes, Småland is in the South East tip and Öland is a long narrow island cosied up next to it, flat and dotted with old unused windmills scattered among wheat fields.  Wild foods abounded, I gleefully picked wild strawberries at every opportunity when walking through meadows and fields. I bet it is amazing in the Autumn when the blueberries & lingonberries rear their heads amid carpets of mushrooms too. We spent a few days travelling around meeting producers, trying local foods, learning local recipes and eating at some of the local restaurants. For a small area there …

RECIPE: Toad in the Hole

I never even heard of toad in the hole as a child. I may have heard it referred to but I always thought that it referred to Toad of Toad Hall of The Wind in the Willows. I was quite surprised to discover it was a joyous and simple concoction of sausages roasted in Yorkshire batter. Delicious! This is super easy to prepare at home and I am sharing the recipe with you today very quickly, because I really think you need to make it. I have also made this with the cocktail cooking chorizo sausages from Brindisa in a muffin tray. They were so cute I half wanted to tuck them up in bed instead of eating them. For this, I used common or garden proper pork sausages. That taste of pork and just that. I am not liking the trend of sticking all types of things in sausages. Some things are best left simple (unless they are very good and then I am ok with that). This makes enough for 2 with 2 …

My Favourite London Places to Eat (my Top 10 London Restaurants, if you will)

I have a shortlist of must eat places that I visit every time I am back in town. Places that offer comfort, deliciousness and that make me feel right at home. Bowls of loveliness and pies of joy, spicy fabulous curries and fatty fabulous seekh kebabs. This is not a list of anything specific, like my favourite fine dining or cheap eats, but a list of the places that I think about when I travel and head straight for when I get back. I always promise that I will share these, but I never do. (I don’t know why, I suspect it is because I find things like this a bit of a Sophie’s Choice). There are restaurants that I love that aren’t on here as they are more occasion type places for me (L’Anima, Racine & The Ledbury, for example). They are centred around Soho, and in South London where I live, but these are places that I travelled to before I lived here from the North and East and are destinations for me. …

Eat Like a Girl Named As One of the Top Travel Experts on Twitter (for food, of course)

When people hear what I do, their reaction is almost always “WOW! You have the best job”. And I might do. It has perks, and it also has pitfalls. My enthusiasm for my journey has compromised my waistline and sometimes my head. Have you ever been so exhausted after a big meal that you had to go to bed, only to repeat it again the next day and the day after? It seems a nonsense complaint and terrible in so many regards, but this is my reality. I am really not complaining at all. I am starting to reign it all in. I eat out less than I did (but still a lot more than is normal). I walk a lot more (my phone is also a pedometer and it is like a tiny tyrant ticking away in my pocket). But, I will never fully control it, for where is the fun in that? I love it, from tucking in to BBQ pig tail in Barbados, to goose webs in Beijing. I will continue to …

Hunting Down the Waterford Blaa in Newfoundland (and a recipe for you to make it at home)

Do I need to reintroduce you to the blaa? I probably do. The humble bread roll from Waterford, it is fluffy, square and white with a flour crust, and we are a little obsessed with it. It is thought that it came to Waterford with the Huguenots who called it blanc (because it was a simple white roll), but with our accent and a little time to erode it, it became a blaa. It is a simple bread, slightly sweet with a little sugar and fluffy with a little butter. Allowed to rise slowly, it is the perfect vehicle for our traditional (and my favourite) chicken and stuffing sandwich. Also, for the occasional tayto (cheese & onion) crisp sandwich with butter to cushion the crisp. There used to be 60 bakeries in Waterford that baked the blaa, and it never really left it. You never used to see the blaa anywhere else. This has changed recently, in no small part due to the efforts of the remaining bakers, now only 4, who are trying to …

A BBQ in Halifax & a Recipe for Foil Wrapped Halibut with Garlic, Oregano & Lemon

A quick post for you today with a few photos. I am in Halifax now, staying with a fond old friend. When we both lived in London we often met over food and wine. Things are not much different now. We had planned a large dinner with her family, lots of dishes using the best of local produce. I was going to make my bacon fudge. Five minutes into cooking the propane went out. We had no cooker and oven. What to do? It became a BBQ. Not one dish that we had planned could be made on the BBQ so: Cajun prawns with grits became lemon & chill prawn skewers. The grits can wait for another session. Halibut with chorizo, breadcrumb and herb crust became two dishes. Chorizo (the soft fresh cooking kind), tomato & pecorino koftes perched like little spicy torpedoes on the edge of the grill. Oregano, garlic and lemon woke the halibut from its slumber. We portioned it and put put each in an individual foil parcel with a simple marinade. The halibut …

A Postcard from Niagara

I am working backwards, feeling slightly justified as I am still in Canada, even if I am writing about it the wrong way round. But hey, you have come to expect that now, haven’t you?! I am a mite passionate about wine. I love the stuff, and I love to visit vineyards, do tastings, and explore the wine culture of any country I visit that has one. I am in awe, and worried for, people that can deny themselves wine and/or pasta. Why? Just, why? Life is short, bring the joy, and buckets of wine and shovel loads of (great) pasta. Carbonara or tagliatelle with ragu for me please! With a gutsy delicious wine. Several Canadian provences make wine, and I have visited a few, the Okanagan, Nova Scotia and Niagara. My trip to Toronto was short, just 3 days, and I devoted one of these to a trip to Niagara for a little explore. Niagara (famous for the falls) is also a well established wine region, producing some excellent wines including ice wine. I visited …

A Postcard from Newfoundland & Labrador

I say Newfoundland & Labrador, on this trip I just went to Newfoundland, but lets say the whole thing, if only so I can say that that this is where the labrador dog comes from (they were originally the St. John’s water dog) and also, there is a Newfoundland dog too. And it has webbed feet. Webbed feet! Not just that but a water resistant coat. I saw fantastic over the top puffins, with their crazy orange lipstick. A MOOSE!, some eagles but no whales or icebergs so I will be back. Not just for the wildlife, I loved it there. It is like a quirky mirror of Ireland on the other side of the Atlantic, but everything is much bigger (N&L is almost the size of Japan but with a population approximately 248 times smaller), and the people there are some of the calmest and most laid back that I have ever met. This is the place to go and detox from the big city. This isn’t a wildlife blog though, so what of …