Category Archives: Eating Out

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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The Midlands’ Best Street Food!

I’ve been delighted to be involved in the BBC Good Food Show‘s search for the Midland’s Best Street Food, and so excited that the winners have now been announced! I haven’t yet tried food from any of these amazing sounding vendors so am really looking forward to lunching with them at the upcoming Summer Show! They were all mystery shopped by the BBC Good Food Shows’ Midlands Blogger Community, so we know they are of the highest quality in terms of product, service, use of fresh, local ingredients and creativity.

And the winners are…

Ross and Ross – Slow Roasted locally sourced lamb and homemade Salsa Verde, from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Fresh Roots – Vegetarian and Vegan World Food, from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Jabberwocky – Gourmet Toasties, from Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Squisito Deli– Italian food made using fresh local ingredients, from Rugby, Warwickshire

So that’s four days of lunches sorted! I cannot wait to meet them and find out more about what they do. Look out for them outside of the halls amongst the RHS show gardens, you may just see me there!

Oh, and if you would like 15% off tickets just quote KT15 either on the phone or in the promotional code box!

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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 Gunton Arms

The Gunton Arms is a relatively new addition to the North Norfolk pub scene, having opened in late 2011. I remember when the previously named Elderton Lodge was closed down for refurbishment and the rumours that flew around about what would replace it (a Londoner, an art dealer, someone to do with Mark Hix – I was excited!). I visited last Christmas and had an amazing meal with lots of wine so we booked early for a lunch with friends the weekend after Christmas. I hadn’t realised, but the pub actually won the Michelin guide’s pub of the year for 2012 – excellent news for them, not so great for us having to plan ahead to book a table!

The owner is an art dealer, and this is certainly reflected in the interior decorations. I’ve heard that there has been some local controversy over some of the art but I think it adds to the character of the pub, and the experience too. A trip to the ladies toilets will either leave you in the privacy of hyacinths or horses and a bare-chested, and rather overweight lady – choose your cubicle wisely! If you are an art lover, you will find a vast range of original pieces including work from Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.

Starters were difficult to choose from, with a great selection. My sister went for their Loch Duart home smoked salmon, which was presented beautifully. It had a perfect texture – soft in the mouth, but still firm and dry. The smoke was strong and unique but didn’t overpower the flavour of the salmon.

I went for the duck egg with lobster and seashore vegetables, which I loved. When I visited before I had a similar dish but with brown shrimp rather than the lobster, either way, the duck egg yolk acts like a rich, creamy sauce to lubricate the dish and for me was the ultimate seasonal starter.

Smoked Gressingham duck with walnut and blackcurrant looked great and was very much enjoyed.

Ham hock terrine was served in a generous portion with home-made piccalilli.

The roast beef was by far the best roast dinner I’d eaten in 2012 – made even better by the intensely rich roast garlic bread sauce (Delia’s bread sauce will never be the same again) which accompanied the chicken but was happily served with the beef too. My boyfriend made the mistake of being lured in by the crispy belly pork with chorizo and chickpea stew on the specials board, and spent the entire meal voicing his dismay at his poor menu choice and accompanying food envy. The beef was cooked just as I wanted, tender and full of flavour, the yorkshire was crispy while retaining a bit of stodge at the bottom, roast potatoes just right, parsnips caramelised to perfection and vegetables lightly buttered and supplied in abundance. Oh and a jug of excellent extra gravy too!

We couldn’t resist dessert. The sticky toffee pudding looked like a work of art and delivered everything you want from this classic dessert, along with a light, milky ice cream to contrast against the sticky, treacley richness.

My choice, the Amedei chocolate mousse, was HUGE but great – it was rich while not too bitter, creamy yet still fresh and was the perfect way of showcasing the quality of Tuscan Amedei chocolate.

 

My sister went for the buttermilk pudding with Somerset cherries in eau de vie. The cherries on their own blow your socks off (there were a couple of cherry casualties), but when eaten with the milky pudding they worked in perfect harmony with each other to make a fruity, boozy and creamy pudding.

The interior of The Gunton Arms is welcoming, like a home away from home (perhaps without some of the more outrageous art and stuffed animals) and luxuriously furnished with an eclectic mix of solid wood, leather, animal heads and the aforementioned art. We ate in the ‘grill room’ where a huge fire-place is used to not only warm the room, but also to cook some of the meat based dishes on the menu.

The view from the lodge is incredibly beautiful, with deer scattered across the surrounding fields. The perfect place to take a long walk in wellies, followed by a well deserved indulgent meal. They have 8 bedrooms, which I’m sure are beautifully decorated, so would be a great place to stay too.

The meal wasn’t cheap, at around £40 per head for a 3 course lunch with a couple of drinks each and tip, but with the quality of food and drink, the luxurious and beautiful surroundings and superb service, we were left feeling full, happy and looking forward to returning.  They also have a well priced bar menu, with enticing items like red deer dogs and venison sausage rolls – so will definitely be back when next in Norfolk to try some of the bar snacks too!

Have you been to The Gunton Arms? If so what did you think? If not, does this post make you want to visit?

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Food Find of the Week – Fortnum and Mason’s Knickerbocker Glory

A visit to Fortnum and Mason is an essential pre-Christmas activity for me. I love the gorgeous Christmas windows, the impressively ornate architecture, the luxury and the unrivalled quality of products and service. I met up with my best friend on Tuesday to do a spot of shopping and to treat ourselves to a special dinner before we went our separate ways for Christmas.

Before I tell you more about my food find of the week, their fabulous Knickerbocker Glory, let me show you some of the Christmassy displays in the shop – I forgot to take pictures of the windows!

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Exclusive Emma Bridgewater Designs

 

I booked a table in the Fountain restaurant, which is on the ground floor of the store. It is beautifully decorated and the service makes you feel very special!

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I really like the ‘Savouries’ section of the menu, which is basically a brunch menu with things like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, omelette Arnold Bennett and even lobster Benedict, which you can have at any time of day. Isn’t it the height of luxury when you can have brunch for dinner?!

I went for the pan-fried halibut, with tempura cod cheek served with caponata and a creamy sauce. It was delicious, and was even better with their ‘like chip shop chips but more posh’ chips and bread basket.

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And so to the Knickerbocker Glory, which apparently they have been serving since 1955! I’m not surprised it’s still on the menu – it was impressive and soooooo good. With fresh strawberries in sauce at the bottom, layered with the best strawberry ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, fresh vanilla flavoured whipped cream, more strawberry sauce and finally topped with Italian meringue which has been gently toasted on top.

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It wasn’t cheap at £12 but it’s definitely a sharing sized portion! I know it’s not particularly Christmassy but it is the perfect refresher to a posh shopping trip round Fortnum and Mason! Let me know if you have tried before, or if I’ve inspire you to give it a go!

 

 

 

 

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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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Savouring Santorini

I hadn’t always wanted to go to Santorini, but after stumbling across it on a last minute holiday search, seeing the pictures and reading all about it, my heart was set. Even though it meant lowering our standards in terms of the accommodation (bad reviews and no air conditioning) in order to be able to afford to go, I just had to go and my poor boyfriend didn’t get much of a say in the matter!

He soon got over it, and we had an AMAZING time – it  truly must be one of the most beautiful places in the world (I haven’t been that many places to compare though)… we fell in love with the scenery, people and the food! Yammas to Santorini!

Oia… where the streets are paved with gold (well marble, but doesn’t it look like gold on this picture?!)… It’s definitely the most beautiful man made part of the island. People in the know where white, the buildings are white and built into the cliffs… a truly stunning and magical place. It’s also an expensive place, so before we went we decided not to eat there, just watch the sunset and go back to good value Perissa where we were staying. Its a popular place, and lots (and lots) of people want to watch the ‘magical’ sunset… we didn’t like being squished up against everyone else so as soon as we saw the perfect seat looking out onto the sunset we decided that we could afford to have a meal. 125 Euros later (compare to 30/40 euros for same in Perissa) we had watched an amazing sunset and had an average meal. Great experience though, and I would recommend anyone to visit.

We took our sunset seats while the sun was still high…

The highlight of the meal was the mixed mezze starter with halloumi, sausage, pastries, meatballs, prawns, pitta, hoummous, taramasalata, stuffed vine leaves and salad.

A glass of Vinsanto (Santorini’s sweet dessert wine) finished off our meal as we watch the beautiful Oia sunset.

 We took a trip to the Santo Wines Winery, which is a cooperative for local wine growers. We were too hot to stay long but had a look at the vines, the view and had a good look around the air conditioned shop. Grapes grown in Santorini are grown on special vines that shelter from the island’s strong winds by growing close to the ground. ‘Village wine’ can be bought very cheaply by the litre in supermarkets and by the carafe in restaurants. It is quite acidic but lovely in moderation!

Ancient Akrotiri is over 3,500 years old, a city evacuated before Santorini suffered the most spectacular of volcanic eruptions, with ash from the explosion found so far away as California and those in the UK able to hear its blast. Lava flowed through the streets of the impressively advanced metropolis, preserving its streets, houses, even it’s drainage systems. Taking a tour of the climate controlled archeological site is awe inspiring, and apparently they have only uncovered a very small part of the buried city.

After our tour of ancient Akrotiri, we walked down to the seafront, where we found a lovely row of fish tavernas – perfect timing as we were hungry for lunch. We picked the one furthest along the coastline, where the seating area jutted out into the sea and octopus legs were strung up to dry in the sun.

We couldn’t work out if the octopus was on the menu so went for a few safer different dishes to share. We started with calamari which was so fresh, crispy and tender.

Tomato balls, or fritters, are a santorini speciality. You may have heard of Santorini cherry tomatoes which are awaiting PDO status… I’ve had ‘Santini’ tomatoes from M&S which I think have been grown to mimic the sweet, full flavoured Santorini cherry tomatoes. We tried a few different versions of these delicious tomato balls, and armed with a few tips from our hotel owner Sandy, I’m going to have a go at making my own. Watch out for a future post when I have time!

The old lady serving us brought us out this little aubergine based dish, as a free little extra. We made lots of effort to speak greek so I think we was thanking us with food – we were happy to accept, it was delicious!

We had quite a few greek salads over the week, this one particularly generous with feta. We also had a few Santorini salads which use the native cherry tomatoes, their special sweet cucumbers and caper leaves, another local speciality.

While on the subject of local specialities, we also tried Santorini’s fava beans, which do have official PDO status. They are served like hummus, but have the texture of dahl – we tried two versions which were both delicious.

The food in Santorini was delicious, great value and inspiring… but the scenery, buildings and views were incredible. Here are a few of my favourite pictures, if you want to see more take a look at my flikr page.

Have you been to Santorini? If not, does this post make you want to go?

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