Category Archives: Celebrity Chefs

Show Time!

This past year or so has been a bit of a whirlwind… a move from London to North Norfolk, buying my first house and becoming pregnant with my first baby! So excuse the lack of blog posts – I hope my twittering has kept you up to date with my food finding activities!

So… I’m now in the midst of the busy but brilliant ‘show time’, where the BBC Good Food Shows comes to life in Scotland, London and Birmingham. While at the shows I look after the Producers Bursary Award winners, the BBC Good Food Champions area and also get involved in other fun bits like interviewing celebrity chefs in the VIP lounge and the show’s official blogging community too.

I first visited a BBC Good Food Show back in 2006 and after visiting I wanted so much to work on the shows! So the following year there I was at my first BBC Good Food Show in London, so the show taking place this week at Olympia is very close to my heart.

If you’re visiting any of the shows I hope you have an amazing time, if not there’s still time to book tickets to the London and NEC Shows! Hope to see you there! Keep up to date with show news by following me on twitter – @katytruss

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Show Preview – BBC Good Food Show Scotland 18 – 20 Oct

I’ve been super busy preparing for this year’s BBC Good Food Show Scotland, which takes place this weekend (18 – 20 October) at Glasgow’s SECC. After a radio interview last week, where I talked through all the things I was looking forward to at the show, I’m so excited about seeing it all come together.

Show Team

Last year was brilliant, you can see from our happy faces in the picture above! Here is a quick run through of some of the fabulous things you’ll find at this year’s show!

Good Food Show Champions – this is my hand-picked selection of producers that I think deserve to be noticed! From Spencerfield Spirits with their top 50 best food product in the country (elderflower gin) to The Brownie Bar’s amazing range of brownies, hunks of parmesan from Emilia and Christmas turkeys and rolls/ cobs/ baps from Kelly Turkey Farms there’s a great range of delicious treats to be found!

Producers Bursary Award Winners – don’t miss this amazing selection of producers: The Little Herb Farm, St Andrews Brewing Company, The Wee Pie Company and The Wee Tea Company. They’ve all won an award based on excellent products to attend the show – give them support by trying and buying their fantastic produce!

Book Signing – I’ve helped manage the queues for big celebrities in the past (Nigella Lawson is the most beautiful person in real life and Gordon Ramsay made me blush!) but W H Smith have this set up brilliantly (Sadly no need for my help anymore!). If you want your book signed I’d suggest getting there early, or at least ask the staff to find out how it all works.

Supertheatre – every advance ticket holder gets a free seat in this amazing theatre, where the top chefs entertain by cooking live. I think the mistakes are the best bits, so keep a close eye – they don’t have editors to hide behind when it’s live!!

Love Food Hate Waste Theatre – a great line up on this theatre with demonstrations of recipes aimed at using up leftovers and reducing waste.

Good Food Kitchen – delicious dishes from the Good Food recipe collection, it’s where I’ll be having my lunch and breakfasts!

Scotland Regional Village – lots of producers from across the regions of Scotland. Don’t miss Crystal’s Shortbread (oh it melts in the mouth!) and Ramsay of Carluke’s range of meat (amazing bacon, haggis and black pudding!).

Great British Bake Off Village – a small selection of baking accessories, baked goods and anything else baking related! Say hello to Mo from Mo’s Cookie Dough who launched her business at the show last year.

Many, many more fabulous food and drink producers, gadgets, kitchen equipment, bigger brands with samples, etc, etc… Bring cash as there’s lots to buy to fill your cupboards and stock up for Christmas too.

Gosh – isn’t there a lot to look forward to! If you haven’t got your tickets yet you can save 15% right up until Sunday with my discount code (KT15) either online or by phone. I hope to see some of you there!

Oh, and if you’d rather attend the Birmingham Show at the NEC you can save 20% until the 29th October using code KT20!

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Macarons and More – Tim Kinnaird’s Beautiful Shop

You might remember the brilliant Tim Kinnaird from MasterChef a few years back? The one with Tim, Alex and Dhruv Baker in the final three and Dhruv ended up winning? Well, after the show, Tim went on to develop his own patisserie business, Macarons & More and recently realised his dream by opening his very own shop, by the same name, in the Royal Arcade, right in the centre of the fine city of Norwich.

Shop Front

Macarons

In addition to the fabulous selection of macarons you will find the ‘more’ which certainly exceeds expectations! You’ll find flavoured marshmallows, meringues, pastries, bread, amazing brownies, hot chocolate, nut brittle and lots more! You can also buy a fantastic coffee or tea to drink in or take away to compliment your sweet goods.

Marshmallows

I dare you to resist the gold and silver brownies…

Brownies

Artisan bread comes from a brilliant local baker.

Breads

The shop displays and windows are beautiful, inspirational and made to make your mouth water!

Macarons and More Window

Favours

Window Display

My selection of macarons were the perfect chewy texture, full of flavour and gorgeous to look at. After much deliberation I went for peanut butter and jam which is a classic combination but utterly perfect in a macaron, salted caramel which was buttery, creamy and slightly salty and cappuccino which had a great coffee kick to it.

Macarons

If you can’t get yourself to Norwich, you can buy online or find Tim’s Macarons & More at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2013, handily overlooking the MasterChef theatre!

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BBC Good Food Show Summer 2013 Highlights

I’ve just about recovered from the BBC Good Food Show Summer – as ever it was an awesome show, with well over 100,000 food and gardening lovers coming through the doors! I’m still buzzing with inspiration after meeting so many fantastic producers, chefs, bloggers and food lovers during the show. Here are a few of my highlights, I’m afraid I was having too much fun to take many photos so you will have to use your imagination for some of it!

Backstage snacking

As part of the show team I get backstage access so on Emily Cloke‘s birthday we took some Ooo Meringues behind the Belling stage and ate them with the lovely Simon Diss… then along came Rachel Allen who is even more beautiful and lovely in real life as she looks on the TV!

Katy Truss and Emily Cloke

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Brompton Cookery School AKA Marcus Bean’s new gaff!

Earlier this month I was invited to the launch of the lovely Marcus Bean’s new cookery school and B&B – Brompton Cookery School and Bed and Breakfast. It is a beautiful farm conversion nestled into the stunning Shropshire countryside, with bed and breakfast accommodation, state of the art cookery school, kitchen gardens and incredible views across the surrounding National Trust estate. Of course, all this made so much better by Marcus Bean and his beautiful family at the helm, after recently purchasing the business.

Marcus Bean

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Purnell’s Bistro and Ginger’s Bar

Any discerning food lover will have heard of Glynn Purnell, Birmingham’s celebrated food hero and chef owner of Michelin starred and multi-award winning restaurant Purnell’s. I’ve always wanted to dine there, but haven’t yet had the chance, so I was delighted that the first BBC Good Food Show bloggers lunch was to be held at Purnell’s little sister restaurant Purnell’s Bistro which is also the home of Ginger’s Bar.

We were treated to a cocktail masterclass with the undivided attention of a rather charming bar man. He led us through 6 different cocktails, giving us tips, techniques, unique flavour ideas and some flashy flairing too!

This one was rather intriguing – the Lamb Provencal… made with lamb fat infused rum, cranberry and rosemary – almost like fruity, cold gravy but much nicer than it sounds!

The bar tender had lots of special ingredients tucked away behind the bar, from herb infused spirits and fruity mixes to this sticky almond syrup.

We took our cocktails with us to our table where three courses of specially selected dishes were served.

I love butter, so was delighted to see they had their own delicious ‘home-whipped’ butter to be served with home-baked bread.

I started with the butternut squash veloute and ravioli which was packed with flavour, rich and creamy.

Our lovely bar man then supplied us with another refreshing cocktail to cleanse our palettes before the next course.

I couldn’t resist the slow braised beef with shallots and creamed spinach, it was as tasty and flavourful as it looks here.

Desserts included a seasonal crumble with ice cream or chocolate torte with red currant sorbet and caramelised hazelnuts.

We were very well looked after and it is clear that customer service is very important. Prices are great value and although advertised as a ‘bistro’ it certainly felt special and would be perfect for a celebration or special occasion. The bistro gives Glynn fans a taste of his expert cooking, while offering honest (read hefty) portions, a more relaxed dining experience and prices that wont break the bank.

I loved it, but do still want to visit Purnell’s… I’ll start saving now! Have you been to either restaurant? If so, what did you think?

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The Michel and Monica Experience

Imagine being able to cook up close and personal with your favourite celebrity chef… well, I got to live the dream at Cactus Kitchens where I had a day cookery course with none other than Michel Roux Junior and Monica Galetti! It was truly an experience I will be telling the grand children about and I’m so excited to share it with you here.

Cactus Kitchens are based in Clapham, just of the high street. The recently renovated building is stunning and the kitchen has been designed to the highest quality specification. We were told Michel Roux helped with the design so it’s not surprising! The kitchen is actually above the Saturday Kitchen television studio, so as you go in you can see where James Martin et al spend their Saturday mornings!

There are 12 workstations and the demonstration area, where everyone sits very close to watch the chef cook the dish, giving you tips and the opportunity to ask lots of questions too. As it’s so relaxed and informal, if you want to get up to see something up close you just hop off your stool and take a peek.

Your  own workstation is kitted out with everything you need, even Global Knives! You face another student on the opposite workstation, so it’s nice to chat to them and discuss the dishes and laugh when things go wrong!

Our first course was a celeriac and crayfish gratin, almost like a quiche filling but in a little ramekin dish instead. The basic recipe is eggs, cream, fish, spices and vegetables (celery and celeriac) but it got me thinking about all the different things you can put into this dish. It is also served at room temperature, and can be refrigerated first, so it makes the perfect dinner party starter!

The main was a fish stew with chorizo – another great dinner party dish as you can prepare the stew in advance (ingredients as seen below plus flour, white wine, stock and spices). Once you are ready to serve, you place the fish into the pan, turn off the heat and let it cook through the residual heat.

We used sustainable, budget friendly pollack, then sprinkled it with saffron.

The final dish not only looks impressive but tastes delicious too!

Dessert was this beautiful rhubarb upside down cake. I loved making it so much that I made it for my family the following weekend!

Made with perfectly pink forced rhubarb which is in season now.

I hate washing up, so one of the nicest things about the course is the luxury of people clearing up after you!

The whole day had been perfectly planned out with wines chosen by the Saturday Kitchen experts to go with our lunch and dishes that we had cooked. I only wished I wasn’t driving so I could have had more… and more of the delicious champagne we were served too!!

The Many Faces of Monica Galetti

Monica always gets caught out on MasterChef: The Professionals as her facial expressions give her away as she watches people cook. We got a taste of this on the course as she cooked in front of us and answered our questions… Add in your own captions here!

I love this picture, it really shows Monica’s warm, friendly side. This really shone through on the course as she talked about her young daughter and home life, showing a side you would never get to see on the TV!

At the end, after eating the fruits of our learning and labour, we had the chance to sit and chat with Michel and Monica. They were more than happy to sign your apron (a great souvenir from the day!) or cook books and have pictures taken too!

There are a range of chefs you can choose from for the courses (FYI they aren’t cheap) and as you can see from my coverage here, you really get quality time with the chefs and are in the most luxurious surroundings. The ability level required for the course wasn’t particularly high, although if you were a really good cook you could still get a lot from the tips and support from both the celebrity chefs and the brilliant gentleman (oh gosh I’ve forgotten his name!) who heads up the kitchens there, who really knows his stuff. There are enough people there to help if you get stuck, and to make you drinks when you want them too. Oh, and you get a lunch (with wine) with the chefs and get to take any leftovers home to impress your loved ones! As you can tell, I had a really good time!

Take a look at the Cactus Kitchens Website for more details on the courses, and let me know if you have been or are planning to go on one!

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BBC Good Food Show London – back and better than ever!

The BBC Good Food Show London was back in the Capital last weekend, and although hard work, was a truly awesome Show! Thanks to all that visited, exhibited and worked to make the show brilliant and better than ever before! In this post I’m giving a few sneaky pre show pictures, a few of my shopping highlights and a run through of the areas that I look after at the shows – where you will find all the lovely, speciality artisan producers!

So to begin… the show in choux! Brand new company Choux London impressed us with this gorgeously edible homage to the BBC Good Food Show, along with their fabulous filled choux buns. My favourites were salted caramel and peanut butter flavours.

I often wonder if visitors know how much work goes into putting our shows together… not just the year building up to the show (we’re already working on the 2013 show!) but in the days before the show opens. Below are a few sneaky pre show insights which might surprise you!

Thursday 1130 – MasterChef Demonstration Pod half way to being built.

Thursday 1300 – Getting our (well, show manager Paul Patterson!) hands dirty cleaning a stand roof! As you can see lots of stands still just empty shells at this stage.

Thursday 1730 – meeting with Custom Creams for a liquid nitrogen powered ice cream making demonstration!

I love show opening – we usually have one of our celebrities open the show by cutting ribbon with giant scissors. Below is James Martin on the Saturday, don’t his white trousers make our pink carpet look bright?!

It’s great to see thousands of food lovers all under one roof, and I must admit, Olympia is definitely my favourite venue in terms of how beautiful the structure is. When the sun goes down there are some amazing colours coming in through that huge domed window!

Here is a bit more about the areas of the show that I look after and am very proud of!

The Producers’ Village

This is our collection of nearly 100 small artisan producers, which we have scoured the country to find – from charcuterie to choux, truffles to turkey, fish to fudge there should have been something to please most foodies!  The smell of aromatic coffee wafts from the Jaccs Gourmet Coffee stand, where you could find all sorts of beans and flavours of coffee. Mortons Turkeys came all the way from North Norfolk (very near my home town!) and were sampling their delicately smoked duck and taking orders for Christmas turkeys at the show – I’m planning to visit the farm when I’m back home for Christmas!

I always make sure I buy some Calabrian (Italian region) delicacies from De Calabria before the end of the show. Giuseppe is a real character, “an arteest” as he would put it, and is a wonderful addition to the show – he brings the most deliciously vibrant green olive oils, wild honey and herbs, n’duja, chilli products, sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses, salamis, even chick peas (I bet you didn’t know they grew like this?!)!

Joe and Sephs launched their gourmet popcorn company at our show 2 years ago and they never cease to amaze me. True to their nick name of the Willy Wonka of the popcorn world, their black pepper, chilli and caramel is magical as you get the caramel first, then a black pepper hit, and then seconds later the chilli starts to build… and then you just want more (and more!). Other flavours include madras curry, brandy butter, goats cheese (not for me but others love it), mince pie and vanilla cheese cake. If you haven’t tried before then you must, you won’t regret it!

I shouldn’t have favourites, but Karantania Deli had to be one of the most attractive stands at the show – a tree decorated with chocolate salami twinkled away between piles of irresistible pastries, breads and cakes and bottles of bubbly, chocolate liqueur and other Slovenian delights. I love it when producers make an effort with their stands like this!

I sometimes come across oyster virgins trying their first at the Shows… love ’em or hate ’em literally thousands get shucked and knocked back at the shows!

David here, from Real Organic Foods, created his company through a passion for food and by noticing a gap in the market for organic foods that actually tasted good. Definitely worth a try!

I was sure to take advantage of the bargain olive oil from Candiasoil – beautiful bottles and delicious single estate oils from Crete, the perfect stocking filler for a foodie!

New to the show this year was The Pelagonia Range – Macedonian mezze products like pumpkin jam, roasted peppers and other delicious dips.

Bursary Winners

Our bursary award winners did us proud and every one of them loved using the show as a springboard to put their products in front of thousands of influential food lovers. We had amazing African sauces from Bim’s Kitchen, savoury seaweed seasonings from Mara Seaweed, delicious drinks from Norfolk Cordials, seasonal pestos from Well Seasoned, hand made and indulgent marshmallows from Patchett’s Confectionery and authentic Indian fresh chutney from the Maha Partnership. Take a look at how they got to the show here.

Good Food Champions!

A brand new addition to the show this year, my way of highlighting some of the most outstanding producers at the shows. This year at London, visitors will have been able to try 2 of the top 50 best foods which were from The Exquisite Range and Momo Cha Fine Teas. I was delighted that Gelupo were there, the gelato sister of famous Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo – I tried their fresh mint choc chip and dark chocolate sorbets, which were incredible! Pistachio Rosebrought their beautiful range of Indian inspired baked goods. Olive Branch sold their olive oils and intriguing olive oil jam, while next door the Artisan Smokehouse presented their range of smoked fish, meat, cheeses, oils, herbs and spices! Joanna from Edible Ornamentals, another one of our Good Food Champions, giving an interview for the BBC You Tube team:

Now, there are so many other things I could write about here… but I could go on forever! Look out for my highlights of the BBC Good Food Show Winter, which opens at the NEC next week on the 28th November, or perhaps I will see you there?!

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The Dessert Deli Cookbook – Food Find of the Week

My latest food find, which I know really isn’t a food, is Laura Amos’s eagerly anticipated debut recipe book – The Dessert Deli Cook Book. Finally it is on sale and fans of her desserts will now be able to recreate her delicious delights at home. I’m rather excited about being mentioned in the credits – Laura is a great friend and I loved brainstorming ideas, recipes and formats for the book over roast dinners and afternoon ciders!

From her signature chocolate mousse with honeycomb to her fabulous flapjacks there is a great selection of desserts, cakes, treats and a special Christmas section too! Laura gives great tips on ingredients, equipment and tweaking recipes to make them your own. I love the photography which helps to guide on how your finished recipe should look and watch out, it will certainly make your mouth water!

You can either buy directly from Laura at one of her markets (follow her on twitter to find our where she is), get a signed copy from the publishers , find in good book shops, or get a bargain price online from Amazon! I will be certainly be buying a few of these for Christmas presents this year.

Have you got your hands on The Dessert Deli Cook Book yet? If so, have you tried any of the recipes? I can’t wait to get baking!

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BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2012 – My Highlights

Last weekend I was up in Glasgow for the BBC Good Food Show Scotland. I think most will agree it was one of the best shows yet with a great celebrity chef line up, including the lovely Hairy Bikers, and an even better selection of speciality, artisan and passionate producers from across Scotland, the British Isles and the world!

It’s our London show next week (9th -11th at Olympia) so I’m super busy getting ready for that… but here is a quick run down of my highlights in pictures. Just click on the post title if you can’t see the images!

The show started with a bang as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry opened the show – after the ribbon was cut thousands of food lovers burst into the show to start their fabulous food experience! It’s a great sight to see, and always gives me goosebumps as the show officially comes to life.

Borders Biscuits were asking visitors to decide whether their new Christmas spiced biscuit should be put into mainstream production. We put our deciding token into the ‘Oh Goodness they’re yummy’ box!

The lovely Kate from Gower Cottage dishing out her amazing brownies…

Whole Foods Market Glasgow were sampling and selling sourdough loaves, giant meringues and Prosecco!

Have you tried Boozeberries liqueurs? Fresh berries inside gorgeous Irish artisan fruit liqueurs… I’m going to be buying some at the London Show for adding something special to sparkling wine at Christmas.

A quick break for delicious fresh cream filled meringues and scones from the Dancing Goat!

Mo and her Cookie Dough! Morag was one of our bursary winners and did a brilliant job of making the most of the opportunity to appear at the show!

Mr Puddledub Buffalo giving out advice on how to cook his fresh buffalo meat.

A quick stop backstage led me to bump into the Hairy Bikers – Si and Dave look great after their dieting and I must say Si looked like a rock star with his skinny jeans!

What is your Christmas meat of choice? A Taste of Galloway were sampling their succulent goose, which is a lovely luxurious way to celebrate at Christmas.

The Champagne Bar was a welcome addition to the show…

We paid a visit to have a well deserved glass of champagne at the end of the day on Saturday – cheers!

We even had a shark!

Only a lucky few of us get to go up and work at our Scotland Show – so the team back in Teddington were delighted that we brought back a range of flavours from the wonderful Ochil Fudge Pantry!

 

I think my highest highlight was walking Mary Berry around the Producers’ Village before the show opened, she was so enthusiastic and interested in the producers and produce!

And now its on to the next one – London is next week, and then our flagship show at the NEC is on the 28th Nov – 2nd Dec. See you there?!

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Pre-Show Madness

I can’t believe our Scotland Show opens in just three days! Three weeks later it will be our London Show at Olympia and then the biggie at the NEC at the end of November. I always try to get organised before the shows but they just seem to sneak up on me.

I wanted to take a breather to tell you whats going on at the shows that I’m excited about…

Great British Bake Off – sessions on the Super Theatres at Scotland and London and its very own theatre at the Winter NEC Show! Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at all shows, winner at London and NEC and finalists and others at the NEC!!! Will definitely be hanging out backstage to snaffle some tasters!

Good Food Champions – brand new area of the shows that I introduced based on my desire to highlight some of the best producers at the show. From oils to ethical veal, liqueurs to scotch eggs, smoked fish to fresh venison you are sure to find something to get your mouth-watering!

Producers Bursary Award Winners – all of them small, outstanding producers and brand new to the BBC Good Food Shows so go and show them your support. Look out for fresh cookie dough in Scotland, crystalized edible fresh flowers and foraged ingredients in Birmingham and natural seaweed seasonings in London. Take a look at our tasting day here.

World Cheese Awards – nearly 3000 cheeses all out on display is an incredible sight. I always make sure I’m hanging around this area of the show when they announce the winners (Wednesday afternoon). Two years ago Philip from the Cornish Cheese Company won supreme champion and it brought tears to my eyes seeing him win. It was also pretty fun watching him get through bottles of champagne in the bar that evening!

BBC Food and Farming Awards – held at the show on the Wednesday afternoon, I’m making time to watch the awards ceremony this year as the shortlist of nominations is so exciting! You can add a theatre seat to your booking if you have tickets for the Wednesday.

Right, back to work… hope to see you at the shows and please just ask if you want to know more about any of the exciting stuff going on at the shows!

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Aalto Restaurant, inspired by Marcus Wareing @ Hotel La Tour, Birmingham

With Birmingham being crowned as the Food Capital of Britain by Olive Magazine, I was embarrassed to realise that the range of food I had experienced in Birmingham spread little further than the NEC outlets and buffet at the on site hotel! I was invited up to visit a brand new independent city centre hotel, whose restaurant had been inspired by the brilliant Marcus Wareing, so I happily accepted and had a lovely lunch at Aalto restaurant at Hotel La Tour.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, so arrived early. There were many local businesses, and members of the local press, that had been invited and the bar area was full of people who seemed to know each other. I distracted myself from my awkwardness with a refreshing lemony cocktail and kept the canapé waiters talking for as long as reasonably possible.

Finally it was time to take to our seats, leading me to wonder/ worry about who I might be seated with… to my delight I was seated up at the chefs table along with some local journalists and the lovely Managing Director Jane. It meant I had a view right into the kitchen and an army of friendly staff to talk me through the dishes and keep my wine glasses filled (I was glad I took the train!!).

The menu gave us a taster of what the restaurant has to offer – head chef Alex Penhaligon and his team have worked closely with Marcus Wareing and local producers to deliver a great value, top quality seasonal menu.

We started with leek soup with a Jersey royal foam – served in a shot glass I found it hard to resist swooping my finger round the glass for last of the delicious soup clinging to the glass (I did resist by the way).

We were then given a little cocktail as a palette cleanser between courses. It was strong with a gingery citrus hit.

Next came salty bacon olives balanced with fresh peas and broad beans – I’m pretty sure the ‘olives’ were from Trealy Farm, a brilliant local charcuterie producer.

For the main course came tweed kettle salmon with a fennel on the side and a herb and nutmeg crust. Not only was it beautiful on the plate but delicious too.

The highlight of the meal was the dessert, a Jaffa cake pudding, which was served with the chocolate sauce separately. Marcus Wareing a two Michelin starred chef came and poured the sauce over my pudding himself! I blushed, but thanked him very much. I think chocolate and orange are perfect together so loved the pudding.

After the lovely dinner, we had a chance to talk to Marcus, and Alex the head chef. I was impressed by Alex’s passion and enthusiasm and had a great chat about local producers, I’m going to keep in touch and recommend some of my favourites. Marcus was charming and told me how his relationship with the hotel works – Alex and his team trained and experimented  in Marcus’ own kitchens and are welcome their any time. He works closely with them on their menus, to help inspire and develop ideas. This way of working helps to deliver Michelin starred quality but with affordable prices – something we are all looking for these days.

I’m so glad I got to experience a bit of the Birmingham food scene, but it has made me hungry to try more of it. Whats your favourite Birmingham eaterie? I’d love to know so I can start planning my next trip!

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Dingley Dell Flying Visit at The Victoria

Down on the Dingley Dell farm live some of the luckiest pigs around… they are destined to fly into the hands of some of the most magical chefs in the land! On Wednesday night I had one of the best food experiences of my life – the Dingley Dell Flying Visit at The Victoria.

Dingley Dell supply some of the best chefs, and restaurants, in the country with amazing pork from Suffolk. Mark Hayward’s exciting concept of Flying Feasts brings some of these award-winning, pioneering chefs together, to cook up the most delicious piggy based feasts and to celebrate the glory of the Dingley Dell pig. Not only do you get a wonderful tasting menu, but a complete food experience taking the pig from farm to your fork. I watched a butchery demonstration, video footage of the happy pigs on the farm,  a live video stream directly into the kitchen to watch my food being prepared and then a talk on the dishes from the chefs themselves!

And now for the amazing menu…

Paul Foster – Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk

Pigs trotter carpaccio, charred broccoli, smoked garlic, peanut and burnt onion

Mark Poynton – Alimentum, Cambridge

Pork rillette, braised jowl, acorn praline, pineapple and chickweed

Madeline Bonvini-Hamel and Ross Pike – The British Larder, Suffolk

Crispy pig’s head, ham hock scotch egg, salsify & cauliflower & shallot piccalilli, nasturtium leaves

One more, so you can see how good the scotch egg looks!!

Paul Merrett – The Victoria, London

Asian Dingley Dell Pork: 12 hour belly vindaloo with coconut sambal, jungle style cheeks with soured mango noodles, dim sum with blood orange and fennel

William Curley – Patissier Chocolatier, Richmond

Amedei dark chocolate entremet centred with a smoked bacon caramel served with apricot compote & lemon thyme ice-cream

The tasting menu was absolutely delicious. Highlights for me were the jungle cheeks with mango noodles, crispy pigs head and the salty bacon with the dessert. I loved meeting Mark Hayward, the proud farmer of Dingley Dell pork and all the amazing chefs listed above. Mark and I are putting our heads together to see if we can bring the Flying Feasts to one of the BBC Good Food Shows which would be incredible! Stay tuned!

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Wiveton Hall Café – North Norfolk

Along the beautiful North Norfolk coast is an unassuming fruit farm alongside a grand hall, farm shop and café, the Wiveton Hall Cafe. Delia Smith recently said it’s the best eaterie in the world, but more importantly my friend Ben Pert is one of the head chefs and my dad has just joined his kitchen team as a sous chef! I took advantage of my Easter weekend with family back in Norfolk and had a wonderful lunch at this uncomplicated, beautiful cafe on Easter Sunday.

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Introducing my Food Find of the Week

I have decided to introduce a new element to this blog, a weekly post dedicated to my ‘Food Find of the Week’. I regularly meet wonderful producers, retailers and food lovers, and find new products, books, cool shops and places to eat and drink –  it seems a shame not to share my favourites here on my blog, and by going weekly I have no excuses but to post!

I speak to a mix of well established, popular producers that you may already know and people who may just be in the development stages of their business – I love asking questions about why they came to do what they do, why their products are so great and whether there is anything new in the pipeline.

Look out for my ‘Food Find of the Week’ on Wednesday!

Oh, and just in case you thought any differently, please be assured that I will only write about things I genuinely love/ like/ am excited about on this blog.

 

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Jacobs Ladder Burger – London’s Best?

I’ve seen Jacobs Ladder at a few markets but never had one of their burgers. After a chat with Philip Lowery, director of the Real Food Festivals and Markets, I was desperate to try one. He claimed they were possibly the best burgers in London, and a claim like that meant I had to try one! I was possibly the coldest I have ever been after a day wandering around Borough Market and the Real Food Market, but decided to wait for my burger loving boyfriend to buy one!

Lets start with the bread, a key component of a good burger. I was delighted to find the sesame topped buns were from St Johns, not having ever tried any of their baked goods (yes, I have heard about the custard doughnuts!). I was super impressed by the trademark pig stamped onto the paper wrapping the buns as my excitement about trying the burger increased.

Perhaps the meat should have come first, but the bread really did impress me… and the meat was kept inside a cool box too and generally raw burgers don’t look that pretty! So the meat is organic, from their own biodynamic and organic farms in Kent and Sussex. Which basically means its from animals that have led happy lives, are fed good, healthy food and converted into meat in nice, as humanely as possible ways.

As our burgers got closer to perfection, Steve, (entertaining and knowledgable) popped our buns on to toast and asked if we wanted cheese – yes please! Cheddar isn’t good enough for this burger, only the delicious Stichelton would do, and it went perfectly with it.

The cheese was scooped straight out of the truckle onto the burger…

Rocket and ketchup? Heinz of course…

And it was ready (our mouths were watering at this point!).

It certainly lived up to expectations – soft, charred bun, fresh, peppery rocket, creamy, buttery cheese and a really meaty burger.

We liked them so much that we bought the raw ingredients so we could recreate them at home for friends. I must say, they were nicer at home as we could make them nice and rare – and it wasn’t -3 degrees!

Have you tried a Jacobs Ladder Burger? Are they a contender for best burger in London?

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Celebrating at Michael Caine’s Abode, Chester

In order to celebrate my sister’s graduation, in Chester, we booked a table at Michael Caine’s restaurant Abode. I’ve always liked the look of Michael’s cooking and was confident that it would be a great place to visit. We had set our hearts on the tasting menu and didn’t even get swayed by the special MasterChef menu. It was a special occasion, so we started with champagne cocktails in the bar and spent a bit more on wine to match the tasting menu.

We began by sitting in the bar with a celebratory cocktail, with a huge picture of the beautiful Debbie Harry looking over us. Cheers and congratulations to my sister Abbie who graduated with a degree in Government Studies!

The glasses were set at the table, ready for our wines to match every course.

The bread was amazing – brought to the table warm and crusty with salty, creamy butter.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Truffle Soup – this was brought to the table in a small cup, a few squares of artichoke and a little truffle   arranged inside.

Along came our waiter with a steaming jug of liquid – poured carefully into our little cups. It was so deliciously creamy, rich and truffley good that we all looked around at each other grinning. If the soup was this good, how amazing would the other courses be?!

‘Wow’ would sum up our reaction to the Citrus Cured Salmon that came next. It was almost heavenly as the salmon melted in our mouths.

Then came the gorgeous braised halibut served with squash and cumin puree, pickled baby onions and a yoghurt and pumpkin seed cracker. This was probably my favourite dish, with so many different tastes and textures.

The main course was a duo of Lake District farmers pork – a seared loin and a braised shoulder. Both were cooked perfectly and the celeriac puree, red cabbage and apple complimented it perfectly.

The cheese course which was a sliver of Garstang Blue with pear and perry chutney and toasted hazelnut bread on the side. Just the right amount of an amazing cheese.

The next course lightened things up a little – a fromage frais mousse with blueberry jelly and lemon granite. A sprinkle of popping candy really made the dish special, we all loved it!

Hot chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream was next, again an amazing dish… Problem was that at this point I had been keeping up with the boys and had drunk all the wine that had come with each course. Things had started to get a little fuzzy!

My sister’s boyfriend has a rather severe nut allergy and I cannot praise the way Abode’s staff dealt with this any more highly. At every point where there was either nut or chocolate in a dish, they prepared and brought out separately, his very own alternative. In his 37 years of living with the inconvenience, he has never felt more at ease, or more cared for in a restaurant. My memory from here rather hazy, I have no idea what this dessert was, but it looked very pretty!

We then had coffees and teas accompanied by petits fours – home-made fudge, marshmallows and raisin cakes. My sister tried the cake first and her reaction made me so excited to try it that in my haste I dropped it in my tea (absolutely nothing to do with my slight drunkenness). It was still delicious!

John had his very own special nut free cake brought out in its own little basket. He loved it!

We concluded it was one of the best meals we had all had… and then I fell asleep in the taxi and got carried to bed!



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Baking at River Cottage HQ

One of my 30th Birthday gifts (from my lovely sister) was a baking day at the River Cottage. We stayed in Axminster for the weekend, had a wonderful meal at the River Cottage Canteen, and made the most of being by the seaside by including a fossil hunting expedition. The baking day was full on, with a great mix of learning, watching, making, socialising and lots of eating!

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Pigging out at The Pigs

Yesterday, my Dad treated my boyfriend and I to lunch at The Pigs in Edgefield, Norfolk. We all loved it and concluded that it could possibly be the perfect pub.  I love the cook book library out the back, being able to see into the kitchen (and when looking into the kitchen I could see them making their own bread) and mostly because you can bring in your home-grown/ caught/ shot produce and exchange it for beer and food credits! We had the full works – starting with ‘iffits’ (Norfolk tapas), hearty mains, warming desserts all washed down with local beer and ice-cold white wine.

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BBC Good Food Show – The Lovely Bits and My Highlights

There was so much going on at the BBC Good Food Show Winter this year that I’m pretty certain I missed a lot of it! With 13 theatres at the show, featuring the Great British Bake Off, Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef and the very best line up of chefs possible, there was just too many places to be at the same time! So what was I doing if I wasn’t watching the chefs?! Well, I was in my element in the Producers’ Village – tasting, talking, learning and loving every minute of it! This blog gives a little  some of my personal highlights from the show.

‘Pizza Time!’ I loved getting this text message from Tim Croft from Paddy’s Hooked on Fish – he had a deal with Amy and Chris from The Northern Dough Co (delicious frozen pizza dough) on the stand opposite… he provided the Queenie scallops, and they provided the dough, tomato sauce and cheese. Scallop pizza. I’m so glad he shared. Amazing with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon!

I always stop and consider my audience before pronouncing the word chorizo. Obviously its a spanish product, so perhaps you should pronounce as the Spanish do, which is chor-ith-o. I feel a bit of a twit saying it like that, so I usually go with chor-itz-o or chor-ise-o. I came across Ana, from Flavours of Spain, (who knows more about chorizo than anyone I know) teaching one of our visitors how to pronounce it the Spanish way. This photo catches it perfectly, don’t you think?!

I didn’t get round to eating any, but don’t these oysters from Rossmore look great!?

I almost bought this Moorlands Cheesemaker’s cheese making kit for my sister, but after asking a few strategic questions to find out if it would be a hit, we concluded that it would all be a little too smelly for her. If my flat wasn’t the size of an average person’s lounge then I would have bought one for myself.

Judy Goodman and her family rear wonderful geese – just look at the lovely way they are presented in the picture below. Goodman’s Geese are Jamie Oliver’s favourites and I can certainly vouch for them after having one at the centre of my  Christmas table for the past few years. If you haven’t tried goose then its a must – so much more luxurious than turkey.

I was very excited to taste the World Cheese Awards World Champion (we hosted the World Cheese Awards and the results were announced on the Wednesday of the show) which was a 10 month Ossau Iraty made by farmhouse producer Fromagerie Agour. I was also delighted that the Cornish Cheese Company came second overall (they were supreme champions last year). I’ve got some in my fridge to take home for the Christmas cheese board.

The World Cheese Awards judging is a spectacular occasion – over 2,500 cheeses all laid out to be judged by the ‘who’s who’ of the cheese world. Favouring Blur over Oasis back in the day, meant that seeing Alex James (from Blur) and his floppy hair perusing over the cheeses did make me go a little weak at the knees!

Beautiful freshly ground spices from Spice Boys London – it was their first BBC Good Food Show and I’m sure you will agree a great addition to the show.

I was delighted with the all round success of Simon Diss at the show – host of the Magimix Theatre. It was his first time presenting at the BBC Good Food Show and we all agreed that he was brilliant! Look out for him at future shows and follow him on twitter (@simondiss). His estate up in Cumbria also rears delicious Geese and Turkeys for Christmas, has an award winning farm shop and sounds rather idyllic – The Cowran Estate.

Now, this is a little bit embarrassing, but I featured on some of our show graphics this year at the Winter Show. It was a welcome to the Producers’ Village message (my area of the show) with a few of my highlights on it. Rather embarrassing when I had to walk past, but I’m still pretty proud of it (and so is my Dad)!


Anyway, I could go on and on, but thats enough for now… I would love to find out what I missed though – what were your highlights?


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