Category Archives: Celebrity Chefs

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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BBC Good Food Show Scotland – Highlights

I am recovering today from a particularly brilliant BBC Good Food Show Scotland – I worked hard and played hard and hope that anyone that either visited, demonstrated or exhibited had as good a time as I did! From kippers to karaoke this blog is going to cover my personal highlights – please do add your own to the comments section.

The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse brought their traditional kipper smokers, and mounds of kippers and smoked meat, fish and game. You can order ‘kippers by post’ on their website.

We don’t do stand awards… but if we did my winner would be Crabbies, it was magical!

Although I don’t like whisky, I think one of the most innovative products we have at all our shows is the Whisky Tasting Company‘s tasting sets – perfect if you want to try whisky but not buy full bottles of each (especially the expensive ones!).

Really good smoked salmon from Rennie’s Smokehouse.
Mojito Jelly from Trotter’s Independent Condiments – tangy and tasty.
The Commonwealth Orchard‘s beautiful apple display.
Just Slate‘s gorgeous slate cake stand.
The Truckle Cheese Company‘s range seems to grow every time I see them! Make sure you try their chocolate cheese if you see them!
 
Luponde Tea‘s delicious teas ready to sample. 
Super shiny knives from Hammer Stahl Cutlery.
Gorgeous cupcakes from Truly Scrumptious.
Iron Brew Sorbet from S. Luca Ice Cream. 

Miss Tunnocks (Caramel Wafers) took a tour of the show – that dress is made out of wafer wrappers!
The Rachel’s Organic team enjoying a few drinks at our exhibitor party.
The team went to a lovely Italian restaurant on the Saturday night – Fratelli Sarti, on Bath Street. From there it went downhill with a rather fun karaoke session! We were all very proud of the show this year and hope all our visitors enjoyed!
 
So, countdown now begins for our next show – MasterChef Live, hope to see you there!

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