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And that’s it folks…

And, that’s it folks.  No more crazy early mornings filled with  intense baking sessions, vats of soup and spiced bramley apples. No more frenetic tweeting of mes petits désastres. No more waking to the intense  savouriness that is the smell of  kilos of slow roasting pork, wading through the aroma and the sleepiness down the stairs, and opening the oven to a rush of steam and porky goodness. The draining of the fat and the crisping of the crackling. Dipping my hand into the meaty cavern and pulling out the tender shreds of juicy meat.

That’s it The last week is down. A snow filled Wednesday, but cheery to the end and committed to the market, we carried on. We went out with a bang. Yeterday at market was a fantastically busy day and a perfect day to go out on.

The night before, I was exhausted, and really not in the mind for cooking. On the way home from work, I stopped at Selfirdge’s, knowing they had Brindisa chorizo which I wanted for my stew. Sadly, I was too late for Brindisa itself. Then  a quick pit stop in Covent Garden to collect my enormous stock pot, which I had loaned to Denise of The Wine Sleuth, who had taken my place at the market for the previous two days while I was at work, selling her Spicy Tortilla Soup and toasties. Finally, a quick stop in King’s Cross, to see a visiting friend from Tokyo.

By the time I got home, lugging pots, chorizo, kilos of Bramley apples, and what was left of me, I had no energy to cook.  But I had to. That pork ain’t going to slow roast itself. So, in I went, preheated the oven to 220, prepared the pork, put it in the oven, and went to wait the 20 minutes before turning it down to allow it to roast gently. Perfect, no?

No. I fell asleep. I was so very tired, and it was only for half an hour or so, but that was enough to destroy that precious crackling. Luckily I had some extra meat in the fridge, so I could start again. Although, I felt terrible, guilty and annoyed. What a *waste* of lovely meat. I could save the inner portion for my own use later, but I would not be selling it at market.

I decided against boiling the soaked dried chickpeas for the stew, as clearly, I could not be trusted to stay awake, and left this for the morning, setting the alarm a little earlier to fit it in. I went to bed annoyed and, ironically, unable to sleep, worried that I would not have enough food for Saturday, or the time to prepare it

Roll on the morning. I am tired, and it is very cold, I’ve had very little sleep. A peer out the window reveals a carpet of snow on the roof tops.  Shivering, I proceeded down the stairs, by now loathing that porky fragrance.  I sorted out the pork, boiled up the chickpeas and started the stew; sauteeing onions, garlic, chorizo, paprika and adding several good glugs of good red wine, before adding the tomatoes and the chickpeas. Things were smelling good. Bay leaves for extra fragrance, and then it was  time to start the spiced apple, peeling all of those apples, how I’ve come to dread it! Some time later, they’re bubbling in the pot,their sturdy mass  slowly giving way to the water, the spices and the sugar, and transforming to the sweet and spicy condiment that would nestle next to the pork, conspiratorial in their bread blanket later that afternoon.

All done, it’s time to turn my attention to me, and get ready. Bolstering myself with layer after layer, fleece socks over wooly tights, thermals under polo necks under jumpers. Time to call the cab, and collect the bread, get to Covent Garden and set up the market.

At the market it’s busy, and things are looking good. I set up, ask my neighbouring Argentinian stallholder to make me a quick coffee (as that is what he does), and, lastly, as always, I reveal the pork. I’ve come to learn that once this is exposed, I get busy, and there really is no time to do anything else.

It’s the last day, and it’s nearing Christmas. There’s a lovely atmophere. Lots of smiles, is it me or the mulled wine? I expect the latter. It’s lots of fun, and non-stop for 3 hours. I am desperate for a break and a bowl of my lovely Chorizo and Chickpea stew, for I have not eaten since I got up. A girl cannot live on coffee alone.  In the end I have to steal bites in between customers, and in the end consume most of it cold. But who can complain, when everyone is enjoying what I am serving? It makes me very happy.

Several hours later, the pork is gone, and I am relieved. The stew follows shortly after, and friends arrive. We chatter, and indulge in some Bisol Jeio Prosecco. We eat gorgeous shot sized desserts from The Dessert Deli, chocolate mousse and panacotta, and follow with chocolate marshmallows from Sugar Grain. We’re indulgent and we’re having lots of fun. It must be Christmas.

It’s time to pack up! Hooray, it’s been a long day.  I hate this bit normally, but I have lots of helpers, and swiftly, the stall is deconstructed, the wash up is done, everything is put away and it’s time for dinner and wine at Terroirs.

And that’s it. No more market until mid February 2010. Hopefully, I’ll be back. Market days are rumoured to be Fridays and Saturdays next year, which hopefully is true, as I can no longer do Thursdays and I want to continue and explore further. Who knows, maybe I will learn to drive, get some equipment, try new things. I really, really want to.

It’s been a fun 5 months. 5 whole months! I can’t believe it either. Getting out there, cooking, trying new recipes, selling my food, seeing what people like, talking to people about my recipes and getting tips from them. I’ll miss the regulars, I never would have imagined that I would have lunch time queues. Most of all I’ll miss the camraderie with my neighbouring stallholders. Even in Wednesday’s snow, people were smiling, and that helped me smile too.

End of a chapter, but not of an era. Bring on 2010 and it’s culinary adventures.

PS. Photos are from my iphone, forgive the poor quality.

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It must be time for a market update?

Isn’t it just! I have now been at the market for 15 weeks. 15 WEEKS!  That’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? It’s time for an update.

Life has been rather busy, I don’t exaggerate. Nor do I seek sympathy as it was good busy. Isn’t it good to be busy? However, the downside of this busy-ness is that normal service of recipes and randomness on this blog wasn’t possible. Mainly because I didn’t have much time to cook, and if I did, I didn’t have time to write about it. Then there was the sad day that my lovely DSLR camera was appropriated by someone else. I do have a tiny point and shoot but it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me and sadly, nay stupidly, it wasn’t insured, and I am not yet in a position to replace it. I miss the sharpness, the focus, the colours and the depth. I miss my camera.

So, after all that guff,  how has the market been? I’ve been diligently baking those blaas, week after week. Thursday 5am after Thursday 5am. Blaa after blaa. Trayful after trayful. Ovenload after ovenload. I’ve managed to increase my output, although this is not down to me, this is down to the hardest working member of the team, my trusty KMix.

Some months ago, the folks at Kenwood asked if I would like to try one. At this stage my wrists ached, my fingers sobbed, but dedicated as ever, I persevered with the bread. Aren’t I just the martyr?! All jest aside, it was very important to me that I make it and that I prove that I could. It seems silly now, but that was what I was thinking. Back to the trusty KMix. I knew that I needed a mixer for the bread, but I had yet to purchase. So, after a little internet research, I could only say yes, as it looked perfect for the Thursday morning bake offs for the stall.

So this gorgeous, sturdy piece of equipment graces my kitchen counter in a glorious red, and every Thursday morning churns and kneads. The yeast gurgles by the warm oven in snug anticipation. Its companion, a peppercorn blender, awaits its load on the weeks I have time to do a soup.

Testament to it’s sturdiness, was the morning when I, excited and over eager, loaded it to the max, nay beyond the max, and left it mix unsupervised in the corner on the table. I missed it slowly vibrate to the side of the table, and cascade to the floor.

SHRIEK! I plugged it out, picked it up, and, mildly panicked. Peevishly, I plugged it back in and attempted to turn it on once more. Unphased, it recommenced its job, and I, impressed with my hardest worker, returned to my soup.

Now, however, I must reconsider. The market is 2 days a week since mid-November, Thursdays and Fridays, and I can’t continue to bake the bread two days in a row and maintain my sanity. I want to do something different and I can’t help but feel that all of the time and enery the KMix and I put into the bread, could be spent trying new things and enjoying the adventure.

People love the pork and spiced apple sandwich, and they come back week after week for it (which is amazing – thank you). The slow roast lamb and aubergine relish is also a go-er, and I usually offer both. I know that if I make them, I will sell them, and this is a very important factor. If I don’t sell my produce, well then, it’s game over. But, at the risk of a strop, I also want to take risks and try new things and some old favourites. I want to try the salt beef from October again, I want to make more of the black bean chilli from November, the delicious spiced chickpea and feta salad with pomegranate molasses dressing, some more smoked salmon.  I want to have several things on offer every time. Choice and colour, variety and vigour. The problem is, there’s only me to do it, and in order to deliver something must be sacrificed.

So, what to do? Why not be normal and buy the bread from a good source like other people do? Well now, I hate to be normal, it sounds so dull, but it does make sense. Why has it taken me until now to consider it?  I’ve bought in before for the Soho Market with those gorgeous bagels from Carmelli’s in Golders Green in October. I’ve bought bread from Sally Clarkes one day where I just couldn’t bake. They were great! So, the decision has been made, and I feel liberated, and quite excited for the next few weeks.

So, what to expect? Soup, meatballs, maybe savoury muffins! I intend to burrow around my cookbooks and savoury inclinations, and dig out some new recipes, and bring them to you at the stall. I will be back to write about them.

So, until then, I’ll get back to my research and see you soon!

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Covent Garden Real Food Market Update: Week 6

At last, a week where everything went smoothIy, I was beginning to lose hope. I was most pleased with my produce for last weeks market. Overnight slow roast shoulder of pork was delectably tender with a gorgeous crispy crackling. I upped the spicing on the apple relish slightly, and enjoyed the extra kick nestling in the unctous pork. I made many blaas, those fluffy Waterford bread rolls, I’m definitely getting that recipe down now.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder & Blaas

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder & Blaas

Blaas

Blaas

With regard to the rest, the sausage rolls were the most perfect yet, looking uniform and less like distant reformed relatives. The beetroot tartlets ( recipe here) revealed themselves, almost by accident, pretty pink and juicy with a light goat’s cheese blanket. The new addition on the wine front  – Bisol Rose – went down a treat.

Chorizo & Pork Rolls

Beetroot Tarts

Beetroot, tomato, goat's cheese & mint tartlets

All perfect so far. Unfortunately, the market was quiet last week. It’s impossible to predict how these things will go. It’s almost safe to say that my level of organisation or otherwise serves as a good barometer for the busyness of the market or not. When I am organised, it’s quiet, when I am disorganised, we sell out early and there’s nothing left. Go figure. Regardless, overall the day worked well, and I was happy at the end of it.

How long more can it continue? Good question! It seems the options are I ramp it up and do another market on other days buffering my diminished income, and making it a realistic prospect, or I retire quietly and gracefully while the going is good, and get back to work. I am really not sure which way it will go right now, but I’ll be at the market once more this week, menu details tbc.

Bisol Rose Prosecco

Bisol Rose Prosecco

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The art of the tart and making an impression

Another week has gone by, and we’ve spent another Thursday at the market. This week started with a bang with me spectacularly locking myself out of my house whilst signing for some post. I wasn’t even wearing shoes, just a dress, whose hemline was too north of the knee, to feel anything but freezing and ill prepared for the situation.

I have a tricky relationship with my postman at best. He has told me off for “neglecting” my post. I explained I work(ed) for a living. Sheesh. So, you can imagine how we both felt when the door slammed behind me with me standing in my porch with nothing on my feet, bare legs, no phone, no keys, no wallet, and I don’t know anyone’s number.

No neighbours were in, I was well and truly stuck. Even if they were in, I am much shorter than the fences at either side of my garden. The postman, now transitioned from sworn enemy to personal hero, persuaded an elderly Caribbean neighbour two doors down of the severity of the situation and she allowed him to climb over her fence so that we could get at the one next to my garden. No small feat, the man is my height (= short). The relief when he opened the door and let me in, the poor guy was horribly stressed. I resumed my task of menu planning at the kitchen table whilst telling the twitterati my woes, wondering if it was too early to have a stiff drink to calm my nerves. It was.

Back to the task at hand! Prep was very busy this week as I changed the menu, so there was no blog post in advance. I was too busy standing in the center of a very hot kitchen wondering if I could possibly fall asleep on my feet, and how long for? I was feeling on the verge of a Rip van Winkle style coma following another extremely early start.

I did really enjoy the prep this time though, it was nice to have the variety. As much as I love brown Irish soda bread, if I had to bake another loaf, there may have been a soda shaped hole in my kitchen window or I may have just hit myself over the head with one to make the pain end.

For once, we had good weather. Actual sunshine and lots of it. We also had the fabulous company of fellow blogger Kavey of KaveyEats, who had a wonderful selection of condiments, jam tarts, jellies, nuts and jam tarts. You can read more about it on Kavey’s blog.

This week, I focussed on tarts, and quite by accident produced an entirely vegetarian range! All open, and savoury, with one exception, a sweet filo tart with blackberry, ricotta, mint & honey. All original recipes, I shall have to scrawl them down and share them. I enjoyed this little tart adventure with sweet foray, and will make more for next week. People seemed to like them too, and that is what this is all about after all!

I made 4 types of savoury tarts and two types of rolls. I reverted to puff pastry this week, filling the rolls with spinach, ricotta and roast butternut squash and spiced burnt aubergine with chilli, ricotta and roast tomato. The tart fillings were roast beetroot, goats cheese & mint; roast pumpkin, spinach and gorgonzola; spiced burnt aubergine with ricotta, chilli, feta & parsley and roast tomato, courgette and parmesan. All washed down with one of my favourite proseccos from Bisol: Bisol Jeio.

Not content with starting with a bang, I ensured that I finished with one also, with a spectacular fall in front of lots of people at the market whilst running to get some bread. The stunned stall holder, on the phone, stopped and said “Sorry, a girl has just gone flying through the air and is now lying on the ground. Are you ok?!”. I blame the cobbles. Others blame the prosecco.

All’s well that ends well, everyone was so shocked all we could do was laugh, and somehow I managed to gather a couple of impressive bruises on my left shoulder and right knee. I literally landed with a thud.

The verdict? We’re getting there, and I am still really enjoying it. I love making the food, and it’s great to meet readers, fellow bloggers & twitterers. Thanks to everyone that came and supported us.

We’ll be there weekly for the foreseeable future. Next week there’ll be more tarts, something sweet and one of my favourites – CHORIZO! Details as they evolve.

Thanks so much for all of your support and I look forward to meeting more of you, and cooking lots more food. I love it!

Ill stick with the cooking, I suck as a signwriter!

I'll stick with the cooking, I suck as a signwriter!

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Covent Garden Real Food Market: the groundwork

There’s been time to digest (literally) and to kick back and have a glass of prosecco or two and to think about our stall at the Covent Garden Real Food Market last week. It was a lot of work, but more importantly it was a lot of fun, and a real pleasure to be involved and meet so many lovely and interesting people.

When I was first approached about this earlier this year, I was really keen and full of ideas. Working as I do as a contractor in New Media, there is some flexibility in my job, and I thought I might be free at that point and might have all the time in the world to think, organise and prepare. To come up with some dishes, new and old favourites. I had to do it.

I could only commit to doing it once realistically, as at that stage, caught in the middle of a recession as the rest of the world was (for it is not only about I!), I just didn’t know what my situation would be like, so I chose a date, and settled on that. Of course life has a habit of conspiring against plans, and some things happened which meant that I just didn’t have the time I wanted to do this the way I wanted. My lovely first niece was born, and I would be in Ireland for her christening for 4 days the weekend before the stall. I was also finishing a contract, and tying up all of the loose ends, so I couldn’t take more than a day off, and that was the day of the stall itself.

What to do? I really didn’t know. I approached Denise from The Wine Sleuth and asked her if she would be interested in partnering. We had spoken previously about doing a pop-up bar but it just hadn’t happened yet. She was keen and I was happy. But, still, what to do?

The most important thing was that we offered quality and something to be proud of. I also wanted to contribute and not just be a vessel to promote food products that I like. But I had no time! Time for compromise and thinking laterally.

I thought that it would be lovely if the food were Irish. People always slate Irish food or claim that the cuisine doesn’t exist, which might have been a fair claim in the time of impoverished occupied Ireland, but even then, there was a peasant cuisine, and a good one too. Now, the Irish food scene has a sturdy back bone and lots to offer. We have some superb quality produce, from dairy to meat to fish, oatmeal to flour. Industry is on a smaller scale and produce is generally excellent.

A perfect example of this high quality produce is an artisan one from Cork - Frank Hederman’s smoked salmon. I’ve long been a fan and love it when I go home on homemade soda bread and cucumber pickle. Oh, well, why don’t I do that?! Done.

I called Frank and arranged to visit and purchase some of his lovely fish. He was open to it and very helpful, and provided me with a box perfect for hand luggage (once you’re not flying Ryan Air!), which many Irish eyes queried as I walked past. I could see the internal commentary – WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! I smiled surreptitiously, and kept my glorious cargo by my side.

I was tired when we got in, spilling a whole bottle of sparkling water on the tube and thinking – argh! the fish! – thankfully it was untouched, the same could not be said for my clothes, but I didn’t care about that. Is the fish ok? Yes? Well, that’s fine then.

Roll on tube delays, little sleep and work the next morning. Home late, and a long day again the next day. Cut to me in the supermarket at 9pm on Wednesday night, the night before the market, buying my bodyweight in cucumbers, wholemeal and plain flour, cider vinegar, sugar and milk. I’d brought my wheels, a two wheel suitcase, drawing much confused attention from the cashier. Are you going on.. er.. holiday? No, I chuckled, but I need to get this stuff home.

And I did. I started slicing cucumbers with my mandoline, but the slices were too thick, so I commenced by hand, watching Sex & the City repeats and consoling myself with some wine as I went. 3 cucumbers. Getting there. 5. Only 5? 5 more?

Maybe I can do just 8? No, do 10. Argh! The torture.

Once complete, I felt relieved and congratulated myself with another glass of wine… Time to heat some cider vinegar with some sugar and salt, just enough to dissolve it, then cool, pour over the cucumbers, and leave to pickle in the fridge over night.

It’s 12am. Surely time for bed now? No, for I was wired. I’m a night owl anyway, and feeling invincible I surveyed by pickled kingdom, had a further tipple, and set off to bed at 1.30am, with the alarm set for 5am to commence soda bread baking.

Now soda bread is surprisingly easy. An old peasant bread, there was no time for aerating or fussing, just mix it all up, and bake it. Divided in four so that it could be quartered to eat in the fields, pricking a hole in each quarter to let the fairies out (yes, really). Cooked on a high heat for 20 minutes and then reduced for 20-25 minutes, you can tell it’s cooked if when you knock on it when turned upside down, it sounds hollow.

So, knock, knock, knock, any fairies there?! Eight loaves later, I surveyed the next batch and thought, I can’t do it. I can’t make another bread, let the fairies out, knock and see if they’re home, and repeat. So, I made a batch of scones, which had no fairies in or out, and finished.

9.30 am. Eeeek! Time to shower after all that baking and run to the market. I hadn’t factored in a number of things. Soda bread is heavy. Very, very  heavy. 9 loaves is bloody ridiculous. My wheels, as I said, are on a case, and I hadn’t the foresight to organise transport thinking that all would be ok. I am invincible, remember? And very, very strong. More problems, butter melts next to hot bread, I discovered this pretty quickly, and my departing and arrival stations both had steps. Bugger.

I am never one to give up, so with one big case, a beach bag (yes!) and a big canvas bag full of my wares, I made my way to Covent Garden to collect the prosecco, which was being delivered that day by the lovely people from Bibendum, who despite knowing me, agreed to my suggestion of meeting the courier on a street corner. Believe it or not, it worked out. Dan is a star for organising and trusting me despite all signs that he shouldn’t. I am one happy customer, and I will be buying from them again.

Time to setup. I whip out my new tablecloth, and borrow some markers, lay out our wares, and scribble our menu. It’s a gorgeous day, the sun is hot, people are smiling, and we are good to go.

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Covent Garden Market Stall – almost there!

Frank Hederman at his market stall in Cork

And… breathe! Tomorrow is d-day for our Covent Garden Market Stall, sharing with you Londoners the wonder that is Bisol prosecco and Frank Hederman smoked salmon. Both are fantastic products and we’ll be selling them at really fair prices, so that you can try them and judge for yourself. I’ll be making cucumber pickle into the wee hours after work tonight and up at 5am tomorrow baking soda bread (and maybe soda scones?). On Frank’s recommendation I will also be serving the salmon with red onion and capers as they are a good match.

Setting up this stall has been no small feat but it has been a great experience. I loved calling around to Frank’s smokery in Belvelly, Cork. If he could bottle that smell he could retire. Such an interesting man too, a true artisan with loads of information to share. My mother proclaimed en route that she wouldn’t be eating smoked salmon as she couldn’t bear it, yet when Frank offered, and she reticently accepted (based on the smell alone), I caught her sneaking seconds when she got an opportunity. After dropping me at the airport she went home happily with her own packet of smoked salmon, stopping on the way for soda bread, which she gifted to my sister who was very happy indeed.

Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon and Pickled Cucumber

In Frank’s own words (from the Irish Independent):

How do I know it’s done? Well, this is what I do: I feel the fish through my fingers — imagine the inside of a salmon, the upper front. I put my thumb on the orange bit at the front and feel it at the back, at the skinniest part. I move my finger and go, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ It’s an instinct thing. There’s no law to these things. So when the fish is ready, the fish is ready, and when it’s not ready, it ain’t. You leave it until it is ready.

One journalist very kindly said that saying Frank Hederman smokes fish is a bit like saying Mr Steinway makes pianos.

We use beechwood chips, which we have specifically made for us in the UK. The size of the chip dictates the temperature at which it burns, which then, in turn, gives you the smoke that you desire. I suppose you could say that it’s bespoke timber. The curing process is the salting. We’re not Indians in pioneering America and we’re not trying to feed families for the winter. We add flavour, like Lea & Perrins or Colman’s do. When I was starting out, one very clever man told me: “Do not, under any circumstances, smoke volumes of anything. Smoke high value, low volume.” So we did that and it makes a lot of sense.

From the very beginning, we’ve been a low-volume producer, but a very high-quality one, and we have stuck to that rigidly. The Irish market is actually a very small part of what we do. The bulk of it goes to London. We supply all of Selfridges, we do the food halls, the Wonder Bar, the Oyster Bar and all the big restaurants, such as Richard Corrigan’s. We did the Queen’s birthday two years ago.

As for the prosecco, I’ve met Roberto from Bisol before, he’s a real character with a fantastic joie de vivre and lots of knowledge on his favourite topic – prosecco. Some tasting notes from him:

The wine is a straw yellow with a fine, bubbly mousse. On the nose it is fresh as a Spring morning, with hints of rich fruit and wild flowers. Taste it and you’ll experience an explosion of apples and pears. It’s round, generous and will leave you wanting more.

He’s going to join his tomorrow, so do come along, and join in the fun!

It’s rare to get an opportunity to taste and indulge these lovely products  in an informal setting and we’re delighted to offer it.

I am off to work for the day now, I suspect a high coffee intake lies ahead once I get home and get cracking on this enormous to do list!

So, see you tomorrow I hope!

Where: Covent Garden

When: 6 August from 12 noon to 8pm

Price: Bisol Prosecco at £3 per glass. Open sandwich of Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon on homemade soda bread £3.50.

An absolute steal, I am sure you will agree!

You can read my partner in crime, Denise’s details here. She has also got a video interview with Roberto from Bisol which you should definitely check out. Thanks, Denise!

Also check out the NY times on Frank Hederman’s Salmon “Mr. Hederman smokes fish, which is a little like saying Steinway makes pianos.”

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The Girl & the Sleuth

Bisol
Announcing some exciting real world news.

Denise of The Wine Sleuth & I will be manning our very own stall in Covent Garden Summer Market next Thursday 6th August. We’ve been talking about doing a pop up bar for a while, so when Covent Garden asked if we were interested in holding a stall in their Summer market, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

This is actually happening in real life/off the blog/real people/real food & drink  and not just photographs! We’ll be serving some gorgeous prosecco from the talented people at Bisol, masters of their craft producing prosecco since 1542. We are going to match this with smoked salmon from Frank Hederman, my favourite smoked salmon in the world. Heston Blumenthal is also a fan. It will be accompanied by my homemade brown Irish soda bread and homemade cucumber pickle. Traditional, Irish and utterly delicious.

Sadly, we could only do it once, as we both work full time, but we are very excited, so do come down and say hello and join us for a tipple and some lovely Irish grub next week from 12pm to 8pm. We promise tasty food and drink and lots of fun.

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Covent Garden Night Market

Covent Garden Night Market

Covent Garden Night Market

Covent Garden Night Market is back again for the month of August, every Thursday and Friday. Like last year, expect lots of lovely food stalls with the added extra of a kitchen theatre hosting celebrity chefs like the Hairy Bikers and Fergus Henderson.

I had an opportunity to go last week with fellow bloggers including: Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie, Helen of Food Stories, Ros of Living to Eat, Krista of Londonelicious, Chris of Londonist, and, Alex of The Princess and the Recipe
. It was really lovely to meet them, having interacted online for so long and we had a fabulous evening.

First stop was the hungry bikers at the kitchen theatre, unfortunately I was too late to see Cyrus from Cafe Spice Namaste. They were very entertaining as always, cooking up seared scallops and salmon, a Tuscan style beef salad and a dessert of zabaglione. It looked fabulous, and by the time it was over I was really hungry and keen to explore and eat.

There was lots on offer, so much choice, I was torn wanting the Rainha Santa hog roast, some of the sporeboy’s risotto and something from the Jewish Deli. And that’s only what I’d spotted on arriving. The Jewish Deli won out in the end and I had some chicken schnitzel. It was very good. After this, chocolate from Melt, cupcakes from Lavender Bakery (absolutely gorgeous – check out Michelle’s blog here) and it was all polished off with some champagne from McManus Oysters, I was too full for the Oyster’s themselves by now. Ooooh, decadent!

I didn’t stop there, I brought loads home including tea from teapigs (including a chilli tea, which is really interesting, physically warm but also the flavour and mild heat of the chilli – try it!), coffee beans, spicy tuscan sausage… and lots more. The sausage was quite special, I am looking forward to getting some more this week.

It’s well worth a trip, highly recommended.

Upcoming Kitchen Theatre Demonstrations:

22nd August: Willie Harcourt-Cooze – the modern day Willie Wonka, famed for his 100% pure Venezuelan Black chocolate

29th August: Fergus Henderson – head chef of St John restaurant and famous for his book and philosophy of ‘Nose to Tail Eating’

Also blogged at Trustedplaces.com