Friday, 30 May 2014

Weekly Love: Week 130

I'm a bit listener of podcasts, but I don't have many that I actually subscribe to. The top of my playlist is always the latest episode of The Joy The Baker Podcast, but recently I've really been loving a new podcast called Elise Gets Crafty. Every week Elise sits down to chat with a creative running their own business about their different strategies. Some of my favourites so far have been episode 006 where she chats with Amy from Lemon & Raspberry about creating an affiliate programme for your small business, and episode 008 where she sits down with Emma and Elsie from A Beautiful Mess to talk how they manage their team. For anyone in anything small, independent and creative Elise Gets Crafty really is a must listen, and this is coming from someone who loves to listen to podcasts, but does not actually subscribe to many at all!
Weekly Love 300514[1]
1. A little Instagram outfit post before a chilled weekend pub lunch with my parents. My skirt is Milly for Banana Republic skirt from last years collaboration, but what I really wanted to show you (again!) is this fantastically versatile chambray shirt I've been practically living in c/o Banana Republic. Mine is petite, and it fits perfectly. | 2. Grilling some steaks to kick off this years barbecue season. | 3. The Tarte aux Fraises avec crème pâtissière Mummy and I made for family Sunday lunch; we were rather proud of it! | 4. Evening swims before bed. | 5. So, it tuns out that my Marinated Mozzarella is amazing tossed with salad greens. | 6. One of the little luxuries I always enjoy are my L'Occitane deliveries. In my last one I had my new favourite bubble bath, Lavande, my usual Lemon Verbena shower gel refill, and a new bath ball to try. Because I ordered online on a certain day with a code from their newsletter, I got a big 500ml Ultra Rich Shea Butter Hand & Body Wash which I've been using in the shower, and is rather indulgent.

Leftover Bread & Tomato Soup
Last week was British Tomato Week, and to celebrate my second recipe of the month over on the Borough Market Blog was this surprisingly summery Leftover Bread and Tomato Soup topped off with lots of fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. I've used so many different things to thicken my tomato soups over the years, and leftover bread that would otherwise be thrown away has proven itself to be far the best option. Also in this recipe, I've shared my great, quick an easy alternative of how to replace tinned tomatoes for fresh in recipes. 
Weekly Love 300514[2]
7. Celebrating my Mummy's birthday with champagne at Wallett's Court. | 8. The stand out dish from her birthday dinner, poached egg with local asparagus and pea shoots. | 9. Beautiful evening skies over Ballaugh Shore, Isle of Man. | 10. Enjoying the first cucumbers of the year from the Pilgrims Nook greenhouse. | 11. Family walks on Ballaugh Shore. | 12. The beautiful roses my Dad gave Mummy for her 26th birthday blooming up the side of our house.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? Sherin is coming to stay with me here in the countryside over the weekend, and along with Kathryn I'm looking forward to some girl time and a nice long country pub lunch!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Family Time on Ballaugh Shore, Isle Of Man

It is funny, because this blog is such an integral part of my life, that there are things that to me that still feel totally separate, and it would not even occur to me to write about. While I love writing about the different places I travel to, it has never occurred to me (past the odd Instagrams of sunsets) to do a post on the Isle of Man before. The Isle of Man, for those of you who don't know, is a little island in the middle of the Irish sea, that has the worlds oldest continuous parliament, and is the home to the world famous TT motorcycle race.
Ballaugh Shore

Monday, 26 May 2014

Recipe: Fruit Salad with Rose Syrup, Greek Yogurt & Pistachios

Not so much a direct recipe post with exact measures and ingredients today, more of an idea that works really well with a few of your favourites, and makes either an impressive but very easy dessert for a casual supper, or a special little treat just for you. When I was in the kitchen last month with Tonia Buxton and the guys from Total Yogurt we made Anarocrema, a fantastic little dessert made with fruit, yogurt and Anari cheese, all flavoured with a little rose water or orange blossom water, and garnished with chopped nuts and honey. This is my paired down version where you can keep most of the fixings in the store cupboard so you can whip sometime up at the last minute or jazz up your usual yogurt and fruit combo on a whim. 
Rose Syrup Fruit Salad 1 East India Company Rose Syrup
While I do love working with orange blossom and rose water is is rather easy to overdo it, and past cooking sweet things they are not really multi purpose ingredients. The guys at The East India Company were kind enough to send me a bottle of their Rose Syrup Cordial to play around with for some Summer cocktails, but after some experimentation I found it was a much better substitute for rosewater in flavouring fruit salads.
Summer Fruit Salad
Just pour it a teaspoon at a time over freshly cut Summer fruits (I like strawberries, raspberries (though I did not have any the day I photographed this!), chunks of mouthwateringly ripe cantaloupe melon and blueberries), and gently fold it into the fruit until it is all coated and you've achieved the desired level of perfume.
Rose Syrup Fruit Salad 3 Rose Syrup Fruit Salad 4
Fill the bottom of your bowl or glass with Greek Yogurt. I like to use Total 0% in everything (I like the lighter taste, and it makes me feel a little bit more virtuous!) then top it off with your syrup coated fruit. Remember to pour any syrup that has been left behind into the bowl too. The syrup will cling to the fruit, but it will also run down into the yogurt as you eat and flavour that too. Top the whole thing off with pistachios, roughly chopped. I like them for the colour, but you could get equally as delicious results from using toasted almonds.
Rose Syrup Fruit Salad 2
So, a very simple recipe that is not really a recipe. I love dishes like this you can just throw together with what you've got, and not really having to worry in advance about the details. Do any of you guys have any recipes that are not really recipes like this that you're able to throw together at a moments notice? 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Hotel Chocolat's Boozy Summer Cocktail Truffles

There is nothing I like more than a good box of boozy chocolate truffles, so when I heard about my favourite chocolatier Hotel Chocolat's new, Brazilian (in honour of the World Cup) and Cuban offerings in beautiful, flag themed packaging, and they offered to send me a few to try, how was I to say no? Someone has to tell you all if they are worth treating yourself to, right? Sampling chocolate truffles is such a hardship, after all. 
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Brazil's national cocktail, apparently is the Caipirinha, made with cachaça (a hard liquor made from sugar cane), sugar and lime. Hotel Chocolat's truffle version which they've made with lime and tequila are very dark and very potent. Like a deeper, more sophisticated margarita in chocolate form. They may have not been my favourite from the selection, but they are still fantastic, and in their slim box I think both a box of these of their Mojito counterparts would make a great alternative hostess gift this Summer. (Spoiler alert to anyone who invites me over for dinner! But equally people, it is a gift I'd love to receive too! Hint hint.) 
My favourites, as I just mentioned are Cuba's national cocktail: the Mojito. These white truffles are equally, if not more so potent than the Caipirinha's, and while I've never had one to compare, I've had more than my fair share of Mojitos recently so I can tell you that these perfectly capture the flavour and kick of the very best of Mojitos; no watered down imitations. Don't you hate those? 
From their Summer collection Hotel Chocolat were also kind enough to send over their Tropical Cocktails truffle selection box, which was nice for a little variety. I can wholeheartedly recommended all of these truffles as well (I loved the 'Hurricane' which is a blend of dark Jamaican rum with Valencian orange and passion fruit). However, I have a suspicion that they contain a little less alcohol than the solo truffles (if that is the sort of thing that bothers you!) as this selection also features a Caipirinha truffle, but maybe it was just my taste team and I, but we felt that it tasted a little less potent.

When Hotel Chocolat also offered me some chocolate to give away to you guys, I did think about offering these wonderfully boozy truffles, but then I'd have to make the giveaway over 18's only, and I did not want to spoil the fun, so instead for one lucky UK based reader Hotel Chocolat are offering their Summer Sleekster Selection. I love Hotel Chocolat Sleekster boxes as they are always so elegant and provide a great selection. This Summer edition is also packed through of their fruity chocolates, which are among my personal favourites from them every year.

To enter to win all you have to do is Retweet this competition Tweet, and follow both myself (@makingmewonder) and Hotel Chocolat UK (@HotelChocolat) on Twitter before 5pm on the 30th May. I'll announce the winner shortly afterwards. Good luck everyone! And for my international readers, I'll try to get a worldwide giveaway going soon!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Places To Eat In London: Tower Brasserie, Tower Hill

Today I want to tell you about a London hidden gem I discovered last week. The team behind the Tower Brasserie at Guomans Tower Hotel asked me a few weeks ago if I wanted to grab a friend (or in this case, my Mummy as I felt it had been too long since our last mother daughter trip to the city!) and come along to try a special tasting edition of their menu to get a bit of a feel for what they do. Usually when I'm invited along to a restaurant I try to say yes as I like to give lots of different types of places a go, but so far I have not enjoyed a place I've eaten on the house at enough to want to share it with you. Until last week, that is. 
Tower Brasserie Table View

Monday, 19 May 2014

What To Do With Leftover Bread: Panzanella Salad

This month over on the Borough Market Blog for Love Your Market fortnight I put together a pair of posts with some of my tips for saving money and avoiding waste by shopping at your local market for fresh produce instead of at the supermarket (click through to read some of my hints, tips and market stories), as well as my two monthly recipes: Panzanella Salad and Italian Bread & Tomato Soup (coming soon!) My Panzanella is something I've been making and working on ever since September when I started living alone again, because while I wanted to make or buy fresh loaves for recipes, there was no way I could eat a whole one by myself before it started to go stale, so it is a recipe I really want to shared here with you guys also. 
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Sometimes when I'm just putting a bit of red onion raw in a salad I leave it be, but when it is one of the stars of the show I sometimes find that raw onion can have a bit too much bite and stick on your breath. To take the edge off a little, plunge your onion pieces into a bowl of cold water for five minutes, then pat dry. You'll keep the flavour without the onion heat. This tip comes to me via Florence Knight, who I have a lot to thank for the process behind my Panzanella; I started working from her recipe, but I've changed it so many times over the past 9 months to suit both my personal tastes and what I tend to have leftover in my fridge.
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These measurements serve two as a small plate, but one big bowl as a main meal for a greedy person for a filling lunch, which is exactly what I do! Honestly, if you're a little short of most things like the onion, tomatoes, basil or bread, or you have a bit too much of them it really does not matter. This dish is all about making sure the end of your loaf does not go to waste.

  • The end 1/4 to 1/3 of a stale loaf
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Large Handfuls Ripe Tomatoes, different sizes and roughly chopped
  • Small Handful Fresh Basil, torn
  • 1 tsp Nonpareilles Capers
  • 2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar (I swear by Aspall's)
  • Large Pinch Golden Caster Sugar 

Roughly tear the bread into large bite sized chunks and spread across a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil before grilling for 5-10 minutes, until the chunks have started to crisp up and turn golden. Meanwhile, slice the onion and soak it in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. This takes some of the tang out of the onions, while still retaining their kick and flavour. Toss the bread pieces, chopped tomato, basil, capers, onion, sugar, red wine vinegar and another good glug of oil together in a large bowl. Leave for the vinegar and tomato juices to seep into the bread before serving at room temperature.

What are your favourite uses for leftover stale bread? Alternatively, everyone has their own different versions of Panzanella; I'd love to hear how you make yours! 

Friday, 16 May 2014

Weekly Love: Week 129 + 10% Off Your Stay At Pilgrims Nook

I spent the sunny Bank Holiday weekend in London, and as I was feeling all sunshine I finally got around to starting the final season of Californication, one of my favourite shows. I always thought it was great, but the final two seasons will always have a special place in my heart because so many people think Los Angeles is like how you see it on television, and some of it is, but Californication is the closest I've seen to real life LA on screen. It is also shot in my favourite neighbourhood, Venice, and the scenes on Abbot Kinney and shot in Local 1205, (go for the pressed juice in mason jars!) help too. If I ever did want to move back to the city, the area around Rose Avenue or the canals is where I'd want to be. 
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1. Mai Tai pitcher on a sunny Sunday afternoon on The Boundary Terrace rooftop. | 2. Donuts from my favourite Dum Dum Donutterie at Boxpark in Shoreditch (blackcurrant and white chocolate flavour) and Italian sodas in the sunshine with Kristabel. | 3. Carpets of daisies and buttercups in the fields. | 4. Beautiful blooms in my favourite colour I sneakily snapped from the person sitting next to me outside Beagle in Hoxton, no doubt from Columbia Road Flower Market. | 5. Cold pizza supper made for me by the Fundi Pizza guys. | 6. Early evening sunshine illuminating the Old Bailey.

Potato-Salad-with-Smoked-Salmon-Creme-Fraiche1 National Sandwich Week 1
On the Borough Market blog for my second recipe of April (which went online at the beginning of this month instead) I've shared a potato salad recipe that I could literally eat forever, and actually amounts to a real guilty pleasure, hot or cold. Think freshly caught salmon sort-of-poached in white wine, and flaked together with oozings of Neal's Yard Dairy Crème Fraîche (I love this stuff so much that I literally eat it out the tub with a teaspoon while I'm cooking!), and plenty of fresh lemon and dill. Click through for this masterpiece. And yes, I just called something I produced myself a masterpiece, I'm just that proud of it!

Alternatively, if you're looking for something more traditional for a lunchtime, this week is actually National Sandwich Week. The guys over at Great British Chefs asked me if I wanted to put together a sandwich recipe to celebrate, and I thought it would a a great challenge for my weekend. I'm not really a sandwich person. I eat a fair few of them, but really for convenient and always just with some sort of meat, salad, tomato and cucumber. I never really order them either; the only really great sandwich I've ever had out was at The Sycamore Kitchen in La Brea, Los Angeles. So, after a lot of experimentation and brainstorming, click through for my recipe for my Leftover Roast Chicken-Homemade Avocado Mayo Sandwich. I'm particularly proud of the mayo; avocado has enough natural mayo to hold up mayo without the addition of any oil.
Weekly Love 160514[2]
7. Munching on 'Chocolate Crackle', my favourite Metcalfes Skinny Topcorn flavour (c/o) while I waited for my Sunday chicken to roast. First time I'd ever roasted a chicken before, and I was rather proud of the results! | 8. Shooting Hotel Chocolat's new Summer cocktail truffle range for an upcoming feature and giveaway. | 9. Bank Holiday cocktails in the sunshine outside Beagle in Hoxton. | 10. A Sunday night Dishoom feast. | 11. My new favourite quick sunshine sip between meetings is Leon's Peach White Tea. | 12. Working with fresh elderflowers for the very first time, for an upcoming Borough Market feature.

The Squire at Pilgrims Nook Holiday Cottages
As the title of this post advertised, the luxury holiday cottages company I help run in Kent is now offering 10% off of your stay for all Rachel Phipps readers. If you'd like to book a holiday, or you just have any questions just drop me an email directly and remember to mention that you are a Rachel Phipps reader. You can find out more about Pilgrims Nook, the local area where we are based and look at lots of pictures over on our website.

In other news, how many of you take part in Twitter chats? I've never really taken part in one so this is going to be a big learning curve for me, but I'm taking part in my agency Glam's #GLAMGETSVEGGIE chat on Monday, 3pm. You can find out more over on the Glam website, but it would be great to talk all things veggie food wise with some familiar faces, so if you're free it would be great if you guys could join in too!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm just planning on having a quiet one at home, getting a bit of cooking done (apparently we're going to get some sunshine here in Kent so we can break out the barbecue for some steaks?) and work on some upcoming projects. I also might head out canvassing ahead of the European Elections on Thursday, which is also my Mummy's birthday. It does not matter who you vote for, but it is important that you do turn up to vote! 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Recipe: Fattouch with Radishes & Sumac

Today, I'm going to tell you about the worst restaurant I've eaten in in London. I'm not going to tell you what it is called, but it is in Fulham and the meal was frankly bizarre. It took the waiter, at the table side about 5 minutes to work out how to use his cork screw to open our bottle of wine. The pair of us shared a couple of small dishes. I had initially decided to let the wine incident slide (we were there for review purposes), but when our first dish, hummus with barely toasted pitta for dipping arrived and he proceeded to explain to us what exactly hummus was. In the middle of West London. We were both trying our best to keep straight faces. 
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One of the dishes that came to the table I did rather like, the cold rice vine leaf wrapped parcels which were nice, savoury and spiced, and while the hot mini sausages were swimming in oil, I don't think they were too bad either. The big platter of barbecued meats, however, I would not touch because I was unsure looking at it if it was cooked properly. We were also presented with a Fattouch. I picked out the tomato and cucumber pieces from around the overly greasy shards of fried pitta and scratchy dried herbs in the dressing, and considered that under different circumstances, Fattouch would probably be a dish that I'd be a big fan of. 
This was in January. Fast forward to last month when I was sitting out in front of the French house with my mother, I reading The Kitchen Diaries II, and she a compendium of some of Country Living's recently published recipes through the seasons. Every so often she'd show me something, and we'd ponder if it would be something good to make as a dish to feed the whole family. One of these recipes was for a Fattouch, with an addition that I'd never seen before of sliced radishes. We grow radishes at home, and they are one of the early things we have already started enjoying, along with salad leaves so it seemed like the perfect recipe for us. 
I made this bowl, which just about fed the three of us alongside a bit of French cheese (odd combination I know, you can blame my father for that one!) for a light lunch before a roast chicken supper, but I'd say it would serve four people as a side salad alongside grilled meats and some fresh bread or barbecued courgettes, or two people as a lunch time salad. I've adapted the original recipe quite a bit, because I wanted it to be a bit lighter on the oil and red onion, and much heavier on the sumac. 

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Sumac
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Roughly Chopped Mint
  • 1 tbsp Roughly Chopped Flatleaf Parsley 
  • 1/2 English Cucumber, cubed
  • 150g Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Bunch Radishes, thinly sliced 
  • 2 Large Wholemeal Pitta Breads
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper 

First, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk up 2 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 tsp sumac, the herbs and a good pinch of sea salt. Next, prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and radishes and toss them into a large bowl. Split the pittas in half using the hollow in the middle and roughly tear them into pieces. Heat a large frying pan with 1/2 tbsp oil over a high heat and add the pitta. Toss while they fry, keeping a close eye on them until all of the oil is absorbed and they are crispy and golden. Remove the pan from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over 1/2 tsp sumac and toss until the spice is coating the pieces. Pour the dressing over the salad vegetables and toss well. Add the pitta pieces and toss lightly, and serve immediately to prevent the pitta getting too soggy with dressing. 

If you like this sort of thing, another similar recipe I've done is my Baby Spinach, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad which has the same wholemeal pitta and sumac croutons in, but done with butter in the pan as well as oil for a bit of extra indulgence. If you're looking for another salad to serve alongside this one as part of a spread, in spite of the name, flavour wise my Asian Butter Bean Salad would be a great pairing, and on the protein side of things, my Moroccan Chicken Goujons with Yogurt & Mint Dip would go great with both the Fattouch and everything else I've just listed. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Places To Eat In London: Andina, Shoreditch

Over the long Bank Holiday, after spending all of Saturday at The Fable with Izy, my friend Jon and I met for a fantastic Peruvian lunch at Andina which has been on my 'list' since it opened (lots of raw fish for me, I adore ceviche, and lots of meat for him!) before heading up to the rooftop terrace at The Boundary for a pitcher of Mai Tai's (it is amazing up there, I felt like I was back in Los Angeles, how had I not been there before?), then onto Beagle to sit out in the sunshine for more cocktails, then onto Dishoom for dinner. The whole weekend was my celebration for finishing university, and I ate entirely too much and put away way too many pineapple and rum based cocktails in the sunshine. While I did not take many photos as I just wanted to relax, I was sure to document lunch as it was pretty amazing; Andina is somewhere in East London you must visit! 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Life Update: So, What's Happening Next?

Last Friday I handed in my dissertation. For the first time in 19 years I am no longer in full time education. I finished writing and editing last week in France, and while I’ve been looking forward to finishing for ages so I can get on with the next stage of my life, I can confess to feeling a bit shell shocked once it was finished.
Blogging Outside
We opened a bottle of champagne, and I spent the next day curled up on the sofa finishing my book, walking through the Brittany countryside and just sitting outside the house watching the sun go down with a glass of wine, just taking a moment for it to all sink in before I move onto what’s next. 

First, I want to thank everyone for their support. You’ve all been great, both in the comments section and on social media keeping me going with my writing, and checking to see how I’ve been getting on; I hope all of you who are also working on your dissertations and final essays at the moment whom I’ve been trading word counts with are nearing the finish line too! Also, thanks to all of the amazing PR's who have been keeping me going my sending me things like chocolate biscuits and energy smoothies to review as study snacks! 

I also want to thank every single one of you, if you’ve been reading my blog for five weeks or five years for being there through everything, from my boarding school dormitory, to living by myself in London for the first time, across the pond to Los Angeles and back, and for everything in-between. Everything I’ve got today, down to this blog is all because of you all. The only way I can think of to truly express my gratitude is to just keep writing.

So, what is happening next for me? I decided a few months ago that staying in London did not really make sense. I’ve looked into so many different jobs, and so many different career paths that meant I’d be able to stay in the city, but with the high speed train link, I realised that it takes me less time to get from my home in the countryside to London, than it does to get from one side of London to the other on the District Line! So, while I won’t physically be living in London, not much is really going to change. I’ll still be around the city all the time; especially writing my ‘Places To Eat In London’ column; ‘The List’ still has 142 entries of restaurants, bars and cafes I want to try on it, and it is growing faster than I can work my way through it! 

I’m going to be living in the Kentish countryside, and I’m going to be dedicating a lot more time to my role as head of the PR and Marketing at Pilgrims Nook Holiday Cottages, the luxury holiday cottage company I helped found with my parents, where we are just starting our third year of business. All of the big plans we have over there are going to build up into some very exciting things I personally have planned for the next few years, and I am so excited to get stuck into. That’s all I’m going to say for now, but watch this space!

The one thing I have not mentioned yet is what is going to happen to this blog. Well, along with my freelance food writing which I’m hoping to expand past what I already enjoy doing for Borough Market and Great British Chefs, I’m going to be taking my blogging full time. I know it sounds like I’ll still have a job with the cottages, but the way some of that is going to evolve along with the plans I have for this site to grow, the plan is once it is all set up for everything to come together, with this site at the centre. 

Honestly, not much is going to change around here, but the things that are going to change are going to change for the better. I’m exploring new media options to expand into, and I have a few new projects I’ve already started work on that I can’t wait to share with you, but again I’m not going to tell you about just quite yet! As the blog will be taking up even more of my life now (if that is even possible!) I’m going to start sharing a few more personal posts again so you can read a bit more about my everyday life; I’ve tried a few of those recently and thanks so much for the positive response I’ve had!

I’m also going to be traveling a lot more, now for the first time I really have the freedom to do so. I’ve already got some exciting trips booked in for this Summer, but I’m already looking towards the Autumn where I want to start traveling specifically to write articles, both freelance and for the site. I’ve already got my eye on the next city I want to break into with my ‘Places To Eat In’ posts past London, Los Angeles and Canterbury, and obviously, probably not this year but hopefully in 2015 I need to see Los Angeles again; I miss the weather, food and beaches in Southern California too much, and there were so may places I did not get to eat at during my last (10 month) trip!

So thanks for coming along for the ride, and as I’m starting to work on lots of new things around here, it would be really grateful for me if you could give me any feedback you can manage, either in the comments section, by email or Twitter of what sort of thing you’d like to see here, and what sort of posts you really love and you’d like me to be doing even more of. Equally, if there has been something around here that you don’t really think is working, I’d love to hear about that too. Also, to any PR’s for food or travel brands, or any editors looking for food or travel writers, I’m now free to chat about anything you have coming up the pipeline that you think I should know about.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Places To Eat In London: The Fable, The City

An alternative title to this post could be 'the time that Izy and I spend just over 7 hours sitting in a pretty awesome restaurant called The Fable in the bit between St. Paul's and Chancery Lane'. Izy being the wonderful and super talented photographer and maker of all things sweet behind the blog Top With Cinnamon. If you're not already reading her blog, there is something wrong with you. Anyway, so what started off as a pretty normal Saturday brunch to talk the business of food blogging over a full English, waffles, a Bloody Mary and a latte turned into some fantastic mojitos and a great duck flatbread. I love Bank Holidays.
London Market Breakfast

Monday, 5 May 2014

Recipe: Leftover Croissant Pudding

A little something from my French kitchen today. Ever since I first saw a recipe for ‘Baked milk, croissant and vanilla pudding’ in the October issue of Waitrose Kitchen I’ve been working on perfecting my version of an English bread pudding, but made with leftover French croissants every time I visit Brittany.
Croissant Pudding 1

Friday, 2 May 2014

What To Do In London This Weekend: Campo Viejo Streets Of Spain Food & Wine Festival, Southbank

A bonus post today, because if I share with you what I got up to this afternoon, the rest of you won't miss out on it over what is due to be a beautifully sunny three day Bank Holiday Weekend. Do you remember last month I partnered up with Campo Viejo to bring you my recipe for Classic Sangria and to give away a case of their Rioja? From 12am to 10pm today, through to Monday they are holding the second annual Streets Of Spain food and wine festival on Southbank bringing together some amazing vendors from across London and Spain. Obviously I spent the afternoon sampling taking a wine blending class and stuffing my face with all types of goodness. Let us start with a few savoury nibbles, move onto wine, then go for dessert, shall we?
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While the day supposedly had a Spanish theme, everything just looked so good and as it is basically Cinco de Mayo (that is the Spanish language at least, and I count anything avocado as good Cinco de Mayo fayre!) I started with one of each of the Sopaiplla's from Rica Rica. I'm basically game for anything topped with avocado and salsa. While the chicken was lovely, I really want to give a shout out to the pork, made special by the cider jelly. A great starter.
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For my main I went for what has to be one of the best cebiche/ ceviche's (second only to the scallops at Lima) I've ever had. The sweet potato wedge had warm spices. The seabass was sweet and tender. The red onions added a little bite, and the liquid it had been 'cooked' in was like nectar. The sauce over the top was oh so spicy, but not too much to handle, and the little flecks of coriander added little bursts of flavour. The cooked corn pieces added a nice crunch, and all together it was all perfectly balanced and totally amazing. One of the best things I've had in ages, and something you simply have to try. You can find it at the stall that is also selling barbecue meats!
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Heading inside and through the indoor bar (there are plenty dotted about with a selection of drinks, sangria and Campo Viejo) I attended one of the wine blending classes which you can book into, that was simply fascinating. Most of the wine we drink is a blend of several grapes stored in separate barrels. All dolled up in lab coats we first tasted the base wines, worked on making some suggested blends so we could see how they complimented each other, and then mixed up our own to our own personal preference to take home with us. I can't wait to crack open my bottle, and I also can't believe that I drink so much blended wine without knowing how exactly they balance the flavours.
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Also going on at Streets Of Spain this weekend is the biggest wine/ colour/ sensory experiment ever done which is being run by Oxford Professor of Experimental Psychology Charles Spence. What he is looking at is how sounds and colour effect the taste of wine (like how environment makes the wine you were enjoying in Provence not taste as great once you're home). You step into the Colour Lab (which is free to take part in) and you're handed your glass of wine. After a fun experiment to test how sensitive your tastebuds are, you drink along with the colour changes, and the change in flavour is truly astounding.

After I'd taken part in the experiment I got the chance to sit down with Professor Spence to chat about his experiment and how his research got started. My biggest takeaway from our fascinating discussion was how much we don't really think about factors other than ingredients and cooking in how we taste. How your food looks, the sounds in the restaurant you're eating in, the decor, environment, plates, cutlery, service, all alter your mood and perspective, and therefore how your food tastes. Just think about that for a moment. 
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I was very excited to see that Gelupo had a stand at the event, I've never seen them at anything street food related before, but I've been meaning to pop into their shop for their famous gelato in Soho for what seems like forever. It took me a while to ponder the flavours (salted caramel was so rich and creamy, pistachio had the most pure and refined flavour of any pistachio ice cream I'd ever had before, and the bitter chocolate sorbet was so rich and clean), but I finally went for the unusual Blood Orange. Rich, oh so creamy and bright.
I have absolutly no idea what these were at the sweet and cake stall, but that is what you call skill!
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Ever since Street Feast Europe last Summer I've had a massive thing for ice cream trucks, so as well as getting excited over the offerings from Gelupo, I had to check out what Sorbitium Ices had on offer too. Katie, my contact from Campo Viejo had excitedly showed me her cone of Sorbitum's special Campo Viejo Berry Sorbet they'd blended for the festival, so I had to try a scoop before heading home. Light, sweet and refreshing, at first it tastes like any other berry sorbet but then you get the more complex flavours of the wine. A must to either finish your day off, or to cleanse your palette after something very spicy; the cebiche perhaps?

Make sure you head down to Southbank sometime this weekend to check it all out, I promise you you won't regret it! To keep up with all the deliciousness, and to scope out some more exciting things to eat and drink that I have not included here (there was so much deliciousness!) be sure to check out the #streetsofspain hashtag on Instagram.