All posts tagged: Food

The BCKT (Bacon, Crispy Kale & Tomato Sandwich)

I have been in Toronto for almost a week and I have learned a few things. Happily this trip coincided with fiddlehead season, again, so that was a treat. And I now see that everyone in Toronto is even more obsessed with kale than they were before. Green kale, purple kale, cavolo nero, baby kale for salads and kale juices (offensive, sorry, I tried and it was like drinking bile. Might work with some apple?). There are kale cookbooks, the Indian restaurant I am sitting at right now in Toronto airport has a kale salad but with an Indian twist. It is endless, and that is good, infernal stomach rotting juice aside, for kale, generally, is a very good thing. Especially when crispy. (Mmmmm, crispy!* Now there is a word that polarises as much as kale. But I like crispy, even if incorrect and so I shall keep using it). So, you all know I love bacon. I mean who doesn’t, at least who doesn’t that doesn’t have religious objections to it? I have never …

A Postcard from Brunei – Starting in Bandar Seri Begawan (Traditional Foods, Night Market, Monkeys, the Water Village and a Croc!)

Greetings from a very sleepy corner of the universe. I thought that travelling back west from Melbourne would be easy peasy, but it turns out that, well, it is a bit tricky. Perhaps only if you get up at 4am to climb 850 steps into the Brunei jungle, when what you normally do is busy but not all that active. For whatever reason, my legs hate me and sleep is evasive. Terrified by my clear lack of fitness, I now think of the gym. But then swiftly of making marshmallows. Ahem. Or is that Amen? We stopped off at Brunei on the way back from Melbourne. Brunei is one of the worlds smallest and also wealthiest countries, tucked away on the north coast of Borneo. Brunei is surrounded by Malaysia and has a similar food culture, with its own unique twists. Food and wine lovers, take note: Brunei is a dry country. You are allowed to bring in two bottles of wine (and must declare them, excess will be confiscated and I should know, it …

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.

Shopping in Paris

When in Paris: Food, Wine & Cookware Shops (so that you can bring the flavours of Paris home)

How to bring back Paris with you to London? You can’t very well shove the eiffel tower in your handbag (and why would you want to?) but there is lots of Parisian deliciousness that you can bring to your front door. What we perceive as luxury – great patisserie, brilliant lacquered duck confit in jars, (dare I say it) foie gras, great wine – are all everyday in France. Not to mention the petite copper canele moulds, gorgeous pans, staub pots, and all of the divinity that a Parisian cookware shop can involve. Here is my guide for the shops that you mustn’t miss when in Paris. It is not an exhaustive list, but these are the places that I hit when I visit, and I add to it all the time. If you have any that I have not listed, please leave details in the comments below. FOOD & WINE  G Detou I found G Detou by accident. Aiming for the nearby metro station, I spied this shop with gorgeous tins stacked high beneath …

Sausage and Sage Frankanara - via a ropey photo from my phone

Recipe: Sausage and Sage Frankenara

It is not my intention to wind up the purists (well, occasionally it is) or the grammar police (cough), but sometimes I do. I consider myself a bit of a purist too, and I am both intolerant and intolerable about some things, but then sometimes, I veer so wildly off course and discover a delicious, happy and impure ending, that I can’t help but embrace it with joy. That is where I found myself this evening. I have had a bit of a traumatic week (which I will fill you in on another time), and I am in Ireland, away from home (even though it is home, and that is confusing). I had bought sausages on arrival (I love Irish sausages and always have them when I am home), and I was starving. I was looking out the kitchen window at the driving rain and the grey sky but also at my sisters herb garden and the wild enormous sage bush. I thought of the sausages and ooh-eeee wouldn’t they be lovely together? Then I …

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 …

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 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 …

New Zealand: A Day in Wanaka Cooking with Annabel Langbein

One of the problems with doing what you love and writing about it – and believe me there are a few – is that sometimes you are so consumed doing things, it is difficult to find the time to write about it. Take my trip to New Zealand this time last year. Only 8 days, too brief, but packed with brilliant and inspiring things. So many, that while I was there, I was so busy *doing* that there was very little time to write. I did manage two postcards, here and here, before moving on to Hong Kong (and doing so much doing there too, that I have yet to write about that also, which is ridiculous, as I booked a stopover in Hong Kong so that I could relax and slow down for a bit). I was watching Saturday Kitchen this morning through jet lag goggles, when I spied lovely Annabel Langbein cooking, and was immediately transported to cooking with her in her kitchen in Wanaka, New Zealand, last year. Annabel Langbein is a …

Eating Osaka: Okonomiyaki, the pain of finding it and the joy of eating it

I have mentioned my lack of a sense of direction, coupled with no knowledge of the language and being thrown into what feels like a maze, finding my first meal was difficult. I thought I should start with okonomiyaki. I knew where I wanted to go, Mizuno. I was told it was one of the best and research supported this. I bounded out of the underground full of enthusiasm, spent a few minutes under my plastic clear umbrella in the rain turning my map around and then asked for help and followed it. Lost again. I saw two girls and asked them. They were Japanese tourists and effectively, I thought ran away, but they came back two minutes later with a girl from a sock shop nearby (who still had a lot of socks in her hand) who spoke a little English. More map twirling. Then she brought me to the shop and 3 of her colleagues helped us twirl the map. One wanted to send me one way, another the other. In the end …

A Postcard from Osaka

Greetings from Osaka, folks! 15 minutes from Kyoto on the Shinkansen (bullet train), it is a world away. Kyoto is all low (ish) buildings, gorgeous old houses and narrow streets. Geishas wander, lots of people wear kimonos, and there is a feeling of an old world ever present here. There is, of course, a very modern portion, but there is a cap on how high buildings can be. A quick journey on the Shinkansen brings Osaka, bigger, bustling, higher, brighter and a lot more ostentatious. Japan’s third largest city by population, it is busy but it is gentle by western standards, everyone is very polite and super helpful. Tucked in between enormous buildings are small alleys bursting with okonomiyaki joints and noodle bars. It is charming and delicious. I spent two days and nights there, a lot of it getting lost, but I do love getting lost sometimes, unless I am hungry, then that is a nightmare and I feel violent (mainly towards myself). I mistook the loop line for an actual loop and a …

Recipe: Spaghetti with Tomato, Calabrian Chilli, Rosemary & Kale

I found myself down an unfamiliar January cul de sac yesterday evening. Already in the midst of a Spring clean (my hoarding demands it) and with my eyes and mind firmly planted on a tin of pork sausages confit in goose fat in my cupboard, I found myself wander as I cleaned, towards the bag of kale in the fridge. I love kale, I find it fiercely underrated and viewed as the cheap relation to the swisher (and also delicious but more expensive) cavolo nero. However, I had determined that after the horror of spring cleaning I wanted indulgence. Goose fat preserved sausages seemed more my thing. I went with the kale though, to kill the craving, I was beginning to obsess. The cleaning had demanded freshness and vibrance instead. Spaghetti is frowned upon by dieters but ponder this: (good) pasta cooked al dente is low GI. When I say good, I mean pasta that is made with great flour that is high in protein, made properly using bronze dies and not teflon so that …

Eating Buenos Aires: Pizza, Fugazzetta & Empanadas at El Cuartito

So you’re in Buenos Aires. Well, you’ve got to eat like a Porteño and go get yourself some pizza. You weren’t expecting that now, were you? El Cuartito has been making pizza in downtown Buenos Aires since 1934. Not just any ole pizza, they serve the pizza peculiar to Buenos Aires, the fugazzetta (or fugazza con queso). Why pizza? There was a huge influx of Italian immigrants, particularly from Genoa in the 19th and 20th centuries to Argentina. Now, 25 million Argentines are of Italian descent (that is up to 60% of the total population). So, this naturally has had an enormous influence. There are Italian restaurants and pizzerias all over Buenos Aires, and El Cuartito is one of the old standards. Why go? It’s brusque, big and noisy and fun. Bustling and joyful, I loved it. Eat at the counter or queue for a table. Either way, you will be having a proper local experience. The fugazetta is a slightly insane extremely rich deep cheese and onion pizza. If you eat a whole one …

Parliamentary Waffle House – Mine’s a Labour/Lib Dem Cocktail!

Bompass & Parr have struck gold again. Not content with jellymongering and providing fantastic jellies for restaurants and funerals (true!), creating giant cocktails that you can row across and other magical and surreal food experiences, they have moved into the world of waffles and have established the Parliamentary Waffle House. The video says it all realy. So much fun. Please ignore and forgive the very shaky start! I was laughing very hard. It launched last night with a screening of the live televised debate followed by a Waffle Eating Competition (in the video above)  and was tremendous fun. The menu lists three types of waffles, one associated with each party, and three types of beer plus tongue-in-cheek Prescott Punch made with Courvoisier. I had a Labour waffle with raspberries and vanilla ice cream. I just couldn’t bring myself to order Conservative, even if it’s only a waffle. The waffles were perfectly delicious and the porter light with a tingle. I loved it so much, I am going back and have booked a couple of tickets …

Cornish Pasta at Fifteen, Cornwall

Cornish Pasta? You mean pasty? No? Pasta?! Yes folks! Cornish Pasta. I’ve just spent a wonderful weekend at Watergate Bay in Cornwall, in fact I am still here, but I had to tell you about this before I left. Fifteen Cornwall, as part of its policy of sourcing 80% of it’s products from Cornwall, has worked with local farmer Charlie Watson Smyth, who has grown, tended to and harvested Cornwall’s first commercially used durum wheat. Six tonnes of this wheat, stone ground in Cornwall, is going to be made into authentic Cornish pasta. Exciting and innovative, isn’t it? So supportive of local industry too. I was at Fifteen Cornwall yesterday and watched a student make pasta from it. I’ve got a packet in my suitcase to cook when I get home. I’ll let you know how it is. I’ve had a terrific food soaked weeked of fabulous and local food, foraging on the beach, farmer’s marketing and all of it was topped off with the tasting menu at Fifteen. How sad I am to leave! …

January in food and frolics: the roundup

It seemed like January was never-ending, truly a bottomless pit of rushing to work while skidding on ice and low heavy skies. Skies that were so heavy, I felt like chicken licken, and wanted to roar to the world “The sky is falling in!”. But then, it was gone. Gone! Just like that. And suddenly it was February. How can that be? To stay so long, then leave so quickly. My sense of time is distorted, and now what do I do that I no longer have January to blame for everything? As much as I proclaimed the misery of it all, the heart wrenching, grey boredom that January cruelly bestows on me, there were some culinary moments that may make my best of 2010. Some really fun and utterly delicious adventures. An evening where I was demolished not by January, but by vodka and my own lack of sense, some time in the kitchen with Francesco Mazzei, a Bisol cookoff, a very good pie crafted by my own fair hands, and a new way …

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. …

A Little Cookery Course

A friend recently asked if I would consider running a cookery course for his wife’s birthday. She loves food, but doesn’t like to cook so much, and likes the kind of food that I make. I was very flattered but, I’ve not formally done anything like this before so was a little reticent to begin. When I was in university, a flatmate used to follow me around the kitchen with a notebook and pen following my culinary movements. It used to drive me crazy, but we’re still friends :) I worried for this reason, that, perhaps I haven’t the right temperament. A  birthday present is a very big deal after all. I agreed, but insisted that no finances would change hands. I had been asked to do this before but hadn’t explored it due to time constraints. I thought it was worth a try. If it worked well, I’d consider doing it again, and if it didn’t, we’d hopefully at the very least have a nice meal and some good wines. Once we agreed on …

Spiced duck legs with pancetta & coriander potatoes

I do like spice, especially when it’s on some crisped skin. Chicken, pork crackling, duck… the fat on skin lends itself wonderfully to spicing, adding some flavour, and, should you choose it, heat, to the crispy skin with the unctous fat underneath. Swoon. Last night I found myself at a loose end, mentally at least. Nothing agreed with me. What  to do? Out, in? In, out? I wanted to go out but I didn’t want to leave the house. I was tired but I was restless. I decided to stay in. I wanted wine, but I didn’t have any. I didn’t want to go out to get any. I had a half bottle of fino. Not quite the sleepy red that I had in mind but I do love fino, so that will do. What to eat? I had duck legs and pork belly in the fridge. I couldn’t decide and I wanted both. So both it was. Until I realised that it was 10.30pm and the pork belly still wasn’t in the oven, plus …

The Girl & the Sleuth

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 …