Latest Posts

VIDEO: Cooking Salt Aged Steaks Japanese Style & Tempura Prawn and Vegetables (In Partnership with Marks & Spencer)

A few weeks ago I met up with Marks & Spencer’s experts Tom (M&S Buyer of Beef, Lamb & Game) & John (M&S Food Innovations Chef) to cook some of their award winning salt aged sirloin beef, Japanese style with some tempura prawn and vegetables.

We had a great afternoon and made some terrific food that was uncomplicated and really delicious (yes, I said delicious, it was), using ingredients that are available in your local Marks & Spencer (yes, even those Japanese ingredients). I think you will like these recipes a lot, they are deceptively easy and impressive. Perfect for a crowd or a weekday evening. Check out the presentation too, I am so stealing that idea. Thanks, John!

The recipes are fairly straight forward. You can see how John puts together the steak (and how easy and impressive it is) in the video. I will share the tempura recipe with you now, but take a look at the video too to see how easy it is and also to see how golden you want it.

Enjoy!

RECIPE: Prawn & Vegetable Tempura
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New Cooking Classes: Handmade Pasta Class & Feast Available to Book Now

So you know all of that fresh hand made and hand rolled pasta that I have been obsessing over? And the new classes that I promised? Well, here they are! I am scheduling 3 (small) classes only, and they are longer than normal too, running for a full day so that we can cover a lot of pasta ground. They are in Lambeth in central London this time, in a lovely kitchen that has a great prep area and dining area. As with all my classes, this is very sociable, and the price includes wine and a proper pasta feast.

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Busiate, Malloreddus & Orecchiette

Handmade pasta is such a joy, and once you get the hang of it, very easy and speedy. It tastes much better than most you have had too. I am very excited to share everything I have learned and to feast with you.

The class incorporates lots of my Italian travels, and some classic pasta dishes that you know (Tagliatelle with Ragu from Emilia Romagna) and some you might not (Malloreddus with Sausage Ragu from Sardinia). We will make 8 pasta shapes in total & 8 dishes incorporating them all. You will learn how to make all of the sauces too. We will finish with a pasta feast, and you can take the rest home, of course.

  1. Tagliatelle (Bologna – served as is traditional with ragu)
  2. Tortelli (Parma – Tortelli d’Erbetta, a fresh egg pasta dough stuffed with ricotta & greens in a butter sauce)
  3. Garganelli – (Emilia Romagna – served in a prosciutto & pea sauce)
  4. Passatelli (Emilia Romagna – a pasta made of egg, breadcrumbs, nutmeg & parmesan, served in chicken broth)
  5. Malloreddus (Sardinia – served with a sausage ragu)
  6. Orecchiette (Puglia – served with broccoli and anchovies)
  7. Busiate (Sicily – served with Trapanese Pesto)
  8. Spaghetti alla Chitarra (Roman style in a classic carbonara with guanciale)

Sounds good, eh?

Places are limited to just 12 per class. Book now on PayPal (links below), or contact me by email (niamh at eatlikeagirl dot com), to arrange a direct payment. Classes run from 10.30am to 4.30pm and include hands on tuition, lunch & wine.

Note: this is obviously not a vegetarian class, but if vegetarians are interested, I can look at adapting it. Just email me.

Please see Terms & Conditions at the end of the page before booking.

Full Day Handmade Pasta Class on Saturday 18th October 10.30am – 4.30pmbook this class now on PayPal

Full Day Handmade Pasta Class on Saturday 8th November 10.30am – 4.30pm – book this class now on PayPal

Full Day Handmade Pasta Class on Saturday 29th November 10.30am – 4.30pm – book this class now on PayPal

Reviews of previous classes:

Comfort & Spice Class Review from AT Culture / Diary of a Food Perve

Bacon Masterclass Review from Simply Splendiferous (with lovely watercolour illustrations too!)

Bacon Master Class – Gastronomical Heights

Foodycat: Bacon Masterclass with Eat Like A Girl

Terms & Conditions

Ticket dates are not transferable – once you book / commit to a particular date, you are tied to that date. These classes are very expensive to run, deliberately small and are only profitable with a full attendance. I have had terrible problems with people changing dates multiple times and then cancelling and demanding refunds. If you can no longer make the date I can try and help you find someone to buy it from you, or if there is a waiting list, sell it to someone on that list.

If the classes don’t sell enough to meet my costs, I reserve the right to cancel the class, with a full refund, at a weeks notice. I am confident that this won’t happen with these classes, but it is best that I say so, just in case.

Thank you and sorry to be painful about this, but I have learned the hard way.

Meatopia London & Josh Ozersky’s Dirty Steaks

Meatopia rolled into town again last weekend. A US food institution and brainchild of food writer Josh Ozersky, this was their second year in London. Meatopia gathers the best chefs, butchers, artisans, evangelists and burgerati and has them cook over fire – and only fire – for the weekend at Tobacco Dock. Only the best naturally raised and ethically sourced meat is used.

Chefs this year came from all over the UK, the US, Singapore & Brazil. Mixed in with all of this was an American Whisky Bar, some pretty raucous live music and dancing. Lots of fun & great food. Here are my highlights and your guide on how to cook Dirty Steaks at home.

(Some of) the burgers of Meatopia – Fred Smith’s Dream Burger (made with 60% Welsh wagyu short rib beef and chuck); the MeisterShack Burger from Mark Rosati of Shake Shack; 60 day aged beef burger with American cheese & bacon in a traditional sesame seed bun from Zan Kaufman of Bleecker Burger.

Charlie Carroll / Flatiron’s Whole Spit Roast Dexter, served in a yorkshire pudding with fresh horseradish cream.

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Cruising with Atul Kochar and P&O Cruises (7 Nights, 4 Countries, 6 Ports & 4 Seas)

Cruises. What are your thoughts on those? I had a few. Namely that they weren’t for independent travellers and were very prescribed (they can be), that I would go crazy stuck on a boat with limited options and that they were generally for much older people. What if the food was rubbish? And I would be stuck with it for a week! Right? Right. I love the sea, boats, and I adore slow travel, but cruising seemed a little too package holiday for me.

I have had opportunities to go on and review cruises before, but I have not accepted, primarily because of this. My arm was twisted by the dual impact of friends who told me that I was being very narrow minded, and an opportunity to go on a cruise with London based Michelin starred Indian chef, Atul Kochar. Atul would be teaching a masterclass in his on board restaurant, East, and also leading a market tour in Kotor in Montonegro, a new country for me but one I have wanted to visit.

VENICE (PORT)

We started in Venice. I was pretty slammed with work so I just flew on the day, but it is possible to go in before and spend some more time there. I wanted to explore Venice (can you believe I have never been?), but the sky was weeping, and I almost was too, I was so tired. You know how it can be before you go away anywhere? There is so much work that needs to be done before you can leave. So I relaxed in my new room, a comfortable deluxe with a balcony. Well, I say relaxed, I will be honest with you, I watched Caddyshack. I love that film. I instantly forget whatever is bothering me.

Leaving Venice.

The captain announced that we would soon be on our way, so I went to the balcony, and watched Venice as we slowly passed by. So beautiful, more so than I had imagined. I watched the canals wiggle through, and bridges stretch over. The rain was gone, the sky was streaking pink and the seagulls were very keen for us to know that they were there. It was joyful.

THE GLASS HOUSE 

Dinner at The Glass House, sunset, a dock and the outdoor deck.

From there, to the The Glass House, a wine bar and restaurant. The list (designed by Olly Smith) was impressive. There are 32 wines with many available by the glass, served from enomatics. I immediately spotted some wines that I really enjoy: Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment from Santorini (which I had discovered at Grace Santorini last year, and obsessed on since). There was also the Velvet Devil Merlot from Charles Smith in Washington State (I had had that at on of my favourite meals this year, at the Lockart). I started with a Niagaran favourite, a Peller Ice Wine Cuvée, available by the glass for just £3.85 (which is a bargain).

ATUL KOCHAR MASTERCLASS & DINING AT EAST

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Home Fried Potato Hoops with Parmesan, Cumin and Chilli, Nominated for the Red Woman of the Year & Kate Bush, Before the Dawn

Home fried potato hoops with parmesan, cumin & chilli.

Home fried potato hoops with parmesan, cumin & chilli.

Well, this week has been pretty good. I was nominated for the Red Woman of the Year yesterday. It was my second time being nominated, and I was really honoured to be included among such brilliant and inspiring women. It was awarded last night to a very deserving Deliciously Ella in the blogger category. Ella has achieved so much at the tender age of 23, and all in an effort to manage a debilitating illness. The result? Success (she no longer requires her medication as the result of her very healthy diet), a beautiful health food blog, a recipe app and a book on the way. She is self taught too. Thomasina Miers, food writer and restaurateur (Wahaca) and Laura Bates of Everyday Sexism, two women that I hugely admire, were recognised too. Good on Red for recognising these women, and also for illustrating their achievements so that they can inspire those coming behind them. You can see all of the winners on the Red website, and in the magazine soon too, I am sure.

I spent last night at Kate Bush’s new mesmerising show, Before the Dawn. You got tickets?! Yes, I was one of the lucky few to secure tickets, I made sure I wouldn’t miss out, and had 2 friends try for me (one succeeded so I am going twice!). I myself had two browsers and five tabs open in each, so I managed to get some too. She, too, is an inspiration. I am a lifelong fan (I heard Wuthering Heights when I was 3, and have been hooked since) and I was so thrilled to be there. The whole audience was so engaged and committed to her every note and move and she got several standing ovations throughout the show. It was the best gig of my life, but so much more. It was theatre, it was drama, it was fantasy, it was powerful and tender. It was all encompassing. After 3 hours, I didn’t want it to end. If you can at all, go. Read More

Caramelised Onion, Coconut & Egg Curry

Caramelised Onion, Egg & Coconut Curry

Caramelised Onion, Egg & Coconut Curry

Shall we talk again about another much maligned dish? And more than that, a breakfast concept that some love and others think is bonkers. Even though over a billion people eat it! I am talking about Egg Curry and curry for breakfast (or any manner of spiced breakfast at that).

People, you are really missing out if you have not tried both of these things. It is my mission to open your eyes to it. Why is egg in curry even a funny thing? Eggs in curry are rich, light & gorgeous and curry makes the perfect breakfast (curry being a general term for over a thousand diverse dishes).

I often use leftover curry or make a simple curry fresh to poach eggs in (a la huevos rancheros, but Indian style). I love spice for breakfast when I am in Asia, and often at home too. A meaty congee (chicken or pork) pepped with chilli oil, nuts and tofu is a perfect start (would you like a congee recipe too?). One of my favourites was one I had in a small town outside Bangkok on the street. There was a queue of people, so I joined, and shortly after was eating a divine bowl of pork and pumpkin congee with shreds of deep fried tofu. All for less than £1.

Breakfast congee in Hong Kong

Breakfast congee in Hong Kong

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Pasta e Fagioli

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You know that food you love? The one that is so everyday, common place, so simple, but so very good. You make it all the time, and eat it joyfully. It rescues you from every grey day, every brain cloud. It is perfect and it knows how to tackle your mood. It totally gets you. But, that amazing dish itself is misunderstood. Often because it is not made right, not faithfully, or with love and care.

Pasta e Fagioli is one of those dishes. Carbs and beans? CARBS AND BEANS?! Why is everyone so harsh about the carbs these days? They are delicious, and soothing, and yes, I do eat too much of them, but how can I not? They are pasta, sourdough bread, udon noodles. All of the most delicious things that soothe my week. I eat well, I don’t eat processed food (except for occasional crisp and haribo based lapses), I feel no guilt. Why should I? Carbs are ok folks. Just relax and enjoy your dinner. Life is hard enough without removing the carbs from it.

If people only knew how good Pasta e Fagioli could be, they would put down their carb warrior shields immediately, grab a spoon and eat it. With gusto! They might even ask for seconds. (They will). The simplicity and gorgeousness of leftover home made egg dough pasta scraps (maltaglati – literally misshapen), rendered tensile and silken by a last minute addition to a luscious fresh borlotti bean, tomato, herb and pancetta broth, that has been brewed slowly and gently, teasing out the umami from the pancetta, the sweet pop of fruit from the tomato and the aroma of herbs finished with gentle chilli heat. Read More

A Weekend in Rome & Where to Eat & Drink There (In Partnership with O2 Travel)

 

Despite four visits, Rome continues to surprise and remains one of my favourite cities to return to. It is utterly charming, from the free running nasones (water fountains, they translate as noses!) to the many fountains.  I always see new things, stay in new places, and discover great places to eat & drink. Well, that is why we go isn’t it? For carbonara, gelato, porchetta, Roman pizza, and that is just the start. I have my favourites, of course, that I return to all the time, but on this occasion, as I was there with O2 Travel to road test their internet and app, I used these to explore further. Read More

Peach, Almond & Bourbon Pie, an Update on Sponsored Content & Project Bacon

Forgive the photo - it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Forgive the photo – it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Well, hello folks. Greetings from the Tyrrhenian Sea. I am on a short cruise checking out the offerings of Indian chef Atul Kochar on the P&O Ventura cruise ship. I was in two minds about cruises. In hindsight, for someone who loves boats, ferries and slow travel, this seems a little daft. You know when you sometimes just get an idea in your head? Anyway, while not actually on holiday (I have freelance work to do, and I am finishing Project Bacon), I am loving the lull of it all, punctuated with the pop of activity when we dock at a port. It suits my binary speed setting. I love to be busy buzzing around checking out new things and new eats, but when I am not, and when I can, I love to relax, read, watch films, and drink wine.

It comes at the end of a crazy week. I spoke at a great new blogging festival Blogstock, which I really enjoyed. It was on Food Blogging 101, and when I get time, I will put together a summary for you. It is all from my point of view, and relating to my experience of course, but hopefully it will be useful for you.

From Blogstock I headed to Wilderness, dragging a small red suitcase, and a red shopping trolley full of waffle makers for my Sunday Bacon Club there. A Wilderness Victorinox tent on my shoulder. A big one, I wanted to almost stand up this year. By the time I made it via trains and buses, I was fit only for a glass of wine. Happily, my favourite Morito was there to provide one.

Sunday Bacon Club went well, despite the torrential rain. We were at capacity with 36 people, which was exciting. I need to arrange some more in London and elsewhere soon. I came back to London to meetings with M&S, who I spent my last day in London filming with and cooking lots of steak and tempura. I will share that soon. I have had much worse Tuesdays.

[Photos from Corfu – which surprised me and taught me – again – not to judge in advance]

Which leads me tidily to an update on sponsored content. You were all so supportive when I announced it, and I was so grateful for that. I had thought long and hard about it but, ultimately, I really care about what you think, it is very important to me. I have done just a few bits to feel my way, and figure out how it can all work here. Most importantly, I chose sponsors carefully, and the key is that the creative is all mine.

So far, the result has been more recipes (like for my Irish Beef recipe work, which I loved doing), and travel content (my next piece  will be guide for you on Rome which includes some of my very favourite places, sponsored by O2 Travel).  The money raised through all of my sponsored work will help to support me, and allow me to focus more energy here. I am also going to be re-investing in the blog. It needs a thorough reorganisation and redesign, and I want to invest in better technology, software, and camera and video kit. The aim is more content, some of it supported by brands, but always with my creative. Once things settle after the summer, sponsored work will always be buffered by lots of my own meanderings. It will support them, giving me more time to write in the end. Read More

Homemade Malloreddus (Gnocchetti Sardi) with Bacon, Peas, Chilli, Courgette & Parmesan

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Fresh pasta is such a faff, right? You always want to do it but the stuff you get in the shop is just as good, right? I mean, who has that much time?

All of the above assumptions are incorrect. Fresh pasta is really quite straightforward and it is so much better (unless you are spending a lot of money on your dried pasta). It takes time but a lot of that time the dough is just resting and waiting for you. You make the dough – which depends on the pasta type, generally dough in the North is made with 00 pasta flour and eggs, and with water and semolina flour (a coarser grind of durum wheat) in the South – this usually takes 5 – 10 minutes. You let it rest as you have just beaten it about the place and it needs to unwind. Then you roll and shape it. Even hand rolling tagliatelle does not take that long, but some of the smaller shapes are super speedy, with practice.  Of course this is a generalisation, but I use it just to give you an idea.

The peculiarly named malloreddus (it originates from the Latin mallolous, meaning small morsel, however, every time I say or read it I see malodour, anyone else?!) originates in Sardinia. It was traditionally shaped on wicker baskets, now more commonly using a grooved piece of class called a ciuliri or a gnocchi ridger. I have a gnocchi ridger so I use that (I bought mine at Sous Chef for just £4), but I have seen people use sushi mats too online. Read More

Grilled Peaches with Cardamom Cream, Bourbon Caramel and Brioche Hazelnut Crumb

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I started out making a peach pie. Shortcrust pastry, homemade with butter, some bourbon, lots of lovely ripe peaches. No, that is not entirely true, I started out working on BBQ recipes, and I was diverted by peaches towards a pie. Then I thought of the BBQ and the peach, and how they should combine.

Those peaches looked so good, so juicy, so ripe. My mind started to wander, no, sprint, to grilled peaches with bourbon caramel. YES, I had to do that. But something was needed in between that succulent peach and rich caramel. Cardamom cream? I love spice and a little cardamom is gorgeous with a peach, and also good with bourbon. I had just bought brioche buns at the bakers, so I was now starting to cement the recipe with the idea of brioche bread crumbs and coarse chopped hazelnuts crisped in butter, just on top. That bourbon could join some sugar in a caramel. And there we have a gorgeous succulent juicy grown up dessert.

I abandoned the pie. Briefly.

Caramel is very easy. You just need to take care and ensure that you don’t burn it or yourself. Disclosure: I burned my first one because I was distracted and I have made many many caramels over the years. It happens, but caramel is so easy, so don’t let it put you off. All you do is bring the sugar gently to caramel, when it is amber, add some cream, and then bourbon and boom – you are done. The cardamom cream is a simple whipped cream with toasted crushed cardamom seeds in it. The crumb speaks for itself.

Ready? This is a perfect summer dessert, even snack? It is mainly fruit anyway, right?!

Enjoy.  Read More

Four Beef Recipes for BBQs in All Weathers (In Partnership with Grasstronomy / Irish Beef)

In the photos: Stout, Bacon & Beef Burger, Firey Beef Koftes, Low & Slow Spiced Ribs with Bourbon and Coffee Glaze, Miso Steak – recipes after the jump.

Irish Beef commissioned me to come up with 4 beef recipes, any that I liked, I just had to use the BBQ. The BBQ that I used is a fairly basic one, so these recipes should be good for all of you too. The grill can be moved up and down but that is all the heat control that I have.

Growing up in Ireland, the concept of free range was alien to me. Everything just was free range, and there was no need to declare it. There were cows in the field in front of and behind my house. Bullocks, too. Lots of dairy and beef farming, and also lots of potatoes.  Grass fed cattle work for their food, resulting in a leaner meat too. All of that lovely rain which we moan about but tourists love (for the first few days anyway) gives us terrific pasture. Our soil is rich too.

This is a lovely island we live on but we are on the wrong side of the Atlantic for consistently good weather. So, for a BBQ in all weathers, I have come up with four recipes: Stout, Bacon & Beef Burger, Firey Beef Koftes, Low & Slow Spiced Ribs with Bourbon and Coffee Glaze and Miso Steak.

If you fancy winning a Weber BBQ (I know, I do!), take a look at the Grasstronomy Facebook page and enter there. You can learn lots more about Irish beef there too.

Enjoy!

Recipes follow. Read More

Kimchee, Kale & Cheddar Curd Quesadilla

Kale, Kimchi & Cheddar Curd Quesadilla

Kale, Kimchi & Cheddar Curd Quesadilla

I started to write this morning, but it was so moany and so dull, I had to stop myself. I mean, who wants to read that? I had fallen into a little pit of self pity. Woe is me, I couldn’t sleep last night, my tum was so poorly, I still have some of my book to do (panic! stress!) and so much work to finish. I am SO-VERY-TIRED.

And then I thought, pull yourself together, life is very short, and it isn’t much fun down this tiny shallow pit of not even proper despair, now is it? Especially when you are despairing because you are busy doing what you love to do? I don’t understand myself sometimes.

Right.

So I dragged my carcass to the kitchen and made myself a banana, raw honey and bee pollen smoothie (all whizzed with milk & a little yogurt, simple as that). Very worthy and I hoped, redeeming. I sipped away and thought, right! Lets get on with it.

I have an extensive cookbook collection – nay, huge – one that has got me into trouble because it becomes invasive, but I adore it and so I will fight for it. My favourites at the moment are Indian, Mexican and Italian books. Those cuisines remind me of summer, passionate places that make brilliant food (the secret ingredient is love, etc!). I particularly can’t get enough of three of the Grand Dames of cuisine – Diane Kennedy, Madhur Jaffrey and Claudia Roden. Such a pleasure to read, I don’t even need to go into my kitchen. I savour every bite with every word.

Today, I thought I would make use of my impulse purchased wildly expensive courgette flowers (zucchini blossoms if you are in the US), and make Diane Kennedy’s quesadillas containing them. Yes, definitely. I even contemplated making some queso blanco to go with them. I lined up a recipe, then binned that, before I thought about going to Peckham to buy some from the Gringa Dairy (it is very good). Then I got a hold of myself and told myself to calm down and get on with it. I was deep in procrastination now too. Read More

Corn with Lime & Chilli Butter and Feta

Corn with Lime & Chilli Butter and Feta

Corn with Lime & Chilli Butter and Feta

This morning something joyful, simple and full of flavour. I was thinking about corn, how wonderful it is and quick, and remembering how I had had corn in some Mexican restaurants. With a fresh tangy crumbled cheese on top, and of course, a kick.

I am working on a whole slew of BBQ recipes this week, and some sides are warranted, so let us start here. Working with what we have, instead of a Mexican cotija cheese, I use feta. Feta, a Greek cheese, is protected, and can only be called feta if it is the traditional cheese produced in specific areas of Greece from sheep’s milk, or sheep and goat’s. You, of course, know it, and it is widely available in supermarkets. The real stuff is aged for a minimum of 3 months resulting in a salty firm & crumbly cheese with a bit of a tang. Imitators pale by comparison and sometimes taste odd, but there are some fantastic British & Irish sheep’s cheese you can use too. Like Irish Knockalara (from my home county of Waterford).

Corn, well that is simple enough. Buy whole corn that is fresh and still luscious and moist, not dry. Preferably with the green husks still on as they keep it nice and fresh. Good juicy limes and a fresh bouncy chilli. As hot as you like, I went for a fresh jalapeno. Read More

Ras El Hanout Prawn Kebabs with Cous Cous & Chilli Tomato Sauce

Harissa Prawns with Tomato Chilli Sauce and Cous Cous

Ras El Hanout Prawns with Tomato Chilli Sauce and Cous Cous

It is hot. It is muggy. I know we aren’t supposed to complain, but hey, I have no air con and I work from home. I do love the bright light and long evenings, and firing up the BBQ, though. For the first time in 12 / 13 years in London, I have a little garden (same one as last year, but I am still rejoicing in it).

Summer has been busy, in a good way. I have had work related travel, travel related work, and lots of recipe development to get on with. Project Bacon is nearly there. I had forgotten how traumatic writing a book can be, or I thought that the second would be easier. Right now, I am the bottleneck and I have to finish it and let it go. I have a fabulous team who are waiting for me too, and have other projects that they are juggling.

Project: Bacon means a lot to me. It is a very personal project that will be a limited edition, firstly. So, it is special. There will be a digital one but right now the only hardback versions are available for pre-orders only (I need to get Shopstarter to change the date but you can still order there, if you want to). I love cooking, especially for friends and I want this book to inspire you to do the same. I want it to be different, brilliant and fun and I want it to send you rushing to your kitchens. I aspire for your faces to be joyful when you taste the results, and for you to want to share everything. Bacon is the ultimate seasoning, and while amazing on its own, it really brings some cakes, drinks and sweets to life too. It also contains a whole selection of bacon condiments, which are fun and utter flavour bombs too. Read More

Cheese Making at Azienda Zootecnica Facenna in Puglia

Blessed are the cheese makers :)

Blessed are the Facenna cheese makers :)

Tucked away behind a barrage of windy roads lies a small holding. On it, an old two storey house, battered with years and the breeze that besieges its hilltop position. Up some external stairs, there is a little one room apartment. A bed in the corner, windows looking around, a small kitchen and a table. There is no electricity. Below, an old living room with a large fireplace above which cow bells hang on collars of all sizes for the newest calves to the largest bull.

Outside the house, overlooking, is a field full of cows. These are Podolica cows, native to Southern Italy. Large working beasts. Beautiful. In front, and to the right of the house, a long shed. In here there are pigs and piglets. Lots of them. Then calves to the left of them and right beside the house, still milk fed by their mothers. Overlooking, literally, balancing on a stony hedge because they are not satisfied with their massive field, some goats. Peeking in. A cat supervises from the top of the stairs and a puppy is running around beside himself. Because puppies always are, aren’t they?

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Where (and What) to Eat in Northern & Central Puglia

When I visited Puglia, I was surprised to discover that locals consider it under the radar. Ok, I am food obsessed, but I have known about Puglia’s food reputation for years, and have long wanted to visit. I thought that everyone did! (And I think that food bods do). Who could resist the lure of the home of burrata and orecchiette, and all of that lovely fish?

When I arrived in Bari, I was surprised to see very few tourists. There were lots of locals embracing their city, tiny toddlers whizzing around, stumbling on foot, and older siblings speeding by on bicycles (ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling!). Nonnis and Nonnas sitting outside their houses chattering, perched on stools. Young couples ambling by, deep in romance. A wedding. A random guy shaving his legs in the middle of the street. Bari has character, and lots of them living there too. I was charmed.

Where we have corner shops, Bari (and Puglia generally) has salumerias. Small shops rich with meaty bounty, bulbous waxy cheeses dangle from the ceiling (cacciovallo), towers of foccacia blink (a specialty of Bari too) and there is fresh hand made orecchiette and cavatelli to take home. They will make you a sandwich with whatever you fancy too.

I used Bari as a base and travelled to Barletta, Tranni, Apricena & Polignano a Mare. A cosy four day trip and so easy from London with direct flights. Bari is a small city, with a population of approximately 320,000, a perfect antidote to London when in need of a break. I also visited a farm and a dairy, but more on that in my next post.

This is not a definitive list, and I intend to go back, so if you have any tips for me, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you!

BARI

When in Puglia, generally, you must have orecchiette, but particularly so in Bari. Try it first with pomodoro (tomato sauce) and caccioricotta (also called ricotta dura, a harder saltier ricotta). Foccacia is also king, and the best in Bari is said to be in the old city at Panificio Fiore (Strada Palazzo di Citta’ 38, Bari) – sadly I didn’t make this, but I had an excellent one from a downtown salumeria (the gorgeous Salumeria Nino).

Osteria delle Travi

A friendly family run restaurant in the old city, you can get excellent renditions of the local fare here – orecchiette with pomodori, fritture di pesce (with excellent local Adriatic fish) and braciole (a traditional horsemeat dish).

Osteria delle Travi, Largo Chyurlia 12, 70122 Bari

Ristorante La Cecchina

Located in the town square in the old town, and the perfect location to witness the local hustle bustle, try the wholewheat orecchiette with tomato and burrata and the excellent seafood pasta, and fritture de pesce as above.

Ristorante La Cecchina, Piazza Mercantile, 31, 70121 Bari

Sgagliozze, street food

The best sgagliozze in Bari is said to be cooked by Maria delle Sgagliozze (Maria of the Sgagliozze) outside of her house downtown. I didn’t find her on my trip, but there are plenty of others to sample. I found one as I turned a street corner and peered inside a shop, over a large pot of boiling extra virgin olive oil. Within were long bars of polenta, which had been air dried for up to 3 days, so that they are rendered perfectly crisp when fried, and then served with lots of sea salt. The Bari version of chips (dare I say better?), lots of people make it, just look out for ladies behind big pots on street corners. You can’t miss it. (I paid €1 for 6 too).

The Fish Market

Located on the lungomare, just opposite Piazza Eroi del Mare, this is where the fishermen pull up in their small fishing boats and sell their wares. A great place to try the Puglian tradition of eating raw fish, sample sea urchin (I promise that it is rich, buttery & divine), mussels, or octopus which the fishermen tenderise by the water by beating it with a large wooden paddle (it is dead at the time, naturally).

Salumeria Nino

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I don’t know if Salumeria Nino is the best Salumeria in Bari, I hazard there are many excellent ones, but I was charmed by it and went to stock up on treats to bring home. I highly recommend a visit.

Salumeria Nino, Via Vallisa 30, Bari

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Next Stop: Puglia & #WeAreInPuglia

Next stop: Puglia. This, I am very excited about. Puglia has a rich culinary heritage and diverse wine culture (I have been told there are 24 types of wine that I need to try – ok then!). It is the heel and spur, if Italy was a boot, and has lots of fresh seafood from its long Adriatic coastline. Orecchiete, burrata, friselli, taralli, pizzette, puccia and lots of other joys pepper too.

I am here for four nights to explore, indulge in the food scene and to broadcast all about it from Puglia to Dublin, live. Yes! If in Dublin, be sure to pop down to the roadshow at the Puglia Village on George’s Dock. Running until Tuesday 15th July there will be live music, wine tasting, cooking demos, food samples, and it is all free. They want to share the Puglia love.

I will be broadcasting to the Puglia Village on George’s Dock at 1pm and 4pm on Friday (tomorrow) and 11.30am and 1pm on Saturday. You can only catch this at the Puglia Village so make sure you get on down there if you can. If you can’t, or are not in Dublin, don’t worry, I will be sharing lots here too. You can also follow it all by tracking #WeAreInPuglia on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.

(Pics above are from my first few hours in Bari – nice, eh?!)

I am in Puglia for #WeAreInPuglia, a collaboration between iAmbassador and the Tourism Board of Puglia supporting the #WeAreInPuglia European road show, sponsored by the Tourism Board of Puglia. All editorial is mine, as always.

Brazilian Pastel with Beef & Cheese (In Association with Magimix)

Pastels with Beef and Cheese

Pastels with Beef and Cheese

I was more surprised than anyone when I started getting very involved with the World Cup Columbia vs Brazil match last weekend. I was out with some friends and when one spotted it she yelled “Niamh, what the hell is going on?!”.

I didn’t know.

I figured that this must be a very good game if it had managed to suck me into it. Or I was having a mini stroke? You see, I don’t really get football, nor do I watch it, normally. I never have. That goes for most sports. There are exceptions – the Olympics, for example, especially when they were on in London, limited amounts of tennis, that kind of thing – but when everyone you know is watching the World Cup, you want to be involved, right? Somehow? Well, we can do the snacks!

4200XL Satin 18434Magimix challenged me to come up with a Brazilian recipe using their kit (a Magimix 4200XL), so that was a good start. I already have a Magimix, battered from love and use and melted on the side as I placed it too near the cookers gas flames when I moved flat, but it still chugs away perfectly, and is one of my most treasured pieces of kitchen equipment. It is compact and speedy and it chops, grates, slices and kneads. Essentially, it does everything that I don’t want to do or can’t do when I am rushing. Which is a lot. I quite like the serenity of chopping and slicing and kneading when I have time, but more often than not Mr Magimix does it. It is more patient with kneading than I am, and it makes great pastry, as my super warm hands destroy it when I allow my paws to do it (I believe that that might be my super crap super power).

Ok! A snack challenge. The game was on for me. A game I could enjoy, finally!

I have never been to Brazil – a big black mark right there – but I know food, and I am already familiar with a lot of Brazilian specialities. I wanted something that would be a great snack, that would taste great, and that would have the right amount of challenge to be different and delicious, but not be too challenging to prepare. I whittled it down to about five things, the others will probably appear here in the near future.

I opted for home made (from scratch, natch) pastels with beef and cheese. Pastels appear to be the Brazilian version of the empanada. Maybe it is the other way around? I don’t know which came first, most South American countries have something similar. It seems fitting that the Brazilian snack that you cook for the final could also double as an Argentinian snack (sorry Brazil, I wanted you to win too). You can pretend, or to be authentic change the filling a little (no cheese, add eggs and olives to approximate my favourite empanadas from Mendoza, still one of the best things that I have ever eaten), and use lard in the pastry in place of oil. Remove the vodka too.

I always try to make wrappers myself, whether for pastel, empanada, dumplings, spring rolls or any other little parcel of gorgeousness wrapped in something crisp or steamed. It is always worth the effort, as you get a far superior result and lots more satisfaction. I love the geekery of it, getting down to the nitty gritty and understanding where the recipe came from. Also, it is not always possible to source wrappers if you don’t live in an urban centre, or a particular country, so I always like to provide a recipe for those of you that can’t, as well as for myself.

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