Category Archives: Eating Out

Afternoon Tea at The Langham

Afternoon tea is a wonderful thing, if you haven’t been for a proper afternoon tea then I would highly recommend it. Prices range from £15 – £45 depending on where you go, but a great website to find one to suit your budget is www.afternoontea.co.uk. I have been to a few different places, including the Ritz, but the very best I found was at The Langham. Although expensive, it was a delightful experience, and the food was amazing.

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Fresh Pretzels and a Walk in the Park

I got up very early this morning to go and take pictures of the beautiful hazy sunshine coming up over Bushy Park (near Hampton Court). It dawned on me that in my world 8am on a Saturday was early, but in reality, this seemed to be a normal waking time – there were about 50 cars in the car park and I was expecting to be the first there!

After a little walk in the park my boyfriend and I drove into Kingston, where we were to get breakfast, a few bits from the market and then straight home, before it got too busy. I remembered an interesting stall on the market a few weeks back and suggested pretzels for breakfast. Why Knot?

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Time for (Heston’s) Dinner

Back in April I treated, and surprised, my boyfriend to Heston Blumenthal’s then brand new restaurant Dinner. It was amazing, and I can’t believe its taken this long for me to write about it!

Dinner is Heston’s London restaurant, hosted in the rather grand Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. It is “inspired by historic British gastronomy”, headed up by Ashley Palmer Watts and was one of the best dining experiences I have ever had (and probably the most expensive!).

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The Italian Butcher – Cooking at La Cucina Caldesi

Back in August I visited La Cucina Caldesi to try Giancarlo Caldesi’s Italian Butcher Cookery Course. I was promised meat, meat and more meat and it sounded great! I hadn’t ever been to a cookery lesson or course before, so I was really excited and unsure what to expect from the day.

I arrived early at their Marylebone cookery school, and was greeted with coffee and biscotti by the very friendly, and very Italian, cookery assistants. Giancarlo then appeared, unfortunately with a limp after falling from a ladder, with a cheeky smile on his face despite his obvious discomfort. He is one of the most enthusiastic, charming and funny men I have ever met and it was a pleasure to watch him teach and share his passion for food.

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Ludlow Food Festival 2011

The Ludlow Food Festival is probably one of the most successful regional food festivals in the UK. The organiser’s strict policy to ensure all exhibitors are from the Ludlow Marches area means you are sure to find genuine local produce and meet passionate artisans from the area. As suggested in my previous post, the passion for food that shines through in the town is what, I believe, makes the Ludlow Food Festival the huge success that it is.

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Ludlow – Around the Town During the Festival

Ludlow is a beautiful little foodie town on the Welsh borders in Shropshire. Just looking round the town makes you realise why the Ludlow Food Festival is so successful – there is obviously a lot of passion and commitment both from producers and the townsfolk that buy it. There are butchers, bakers and probably candlestick makers – so many independent shops, cafes and restaurants line the streets of Ludlow.

 

One of my favourites is Price and Sons, a craft bakery headed up by the very talented Peter Cook. They always come up with a new bread for the Food Festival’s popular bread trail, I particularly like their pear and perry sourdough loaf.

 

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Spoilt Rotten

I’ve been spoilt rotten so far, and it’s not even my birthday yet! I turn 30 this Sunday which is rather scary. I’m sure I must have lost a couple of years somewhere…

My first surprise was this beautiful birthday cake made by the lovely Laura at The Dessert Deli. It was chocolate, Cointreau and raspberry and was absolutely delicious.

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Retro Campers and a White Horse

Last week I made my annual trip back home to North Norfolk for the Cromer Carnival. For a whole week the town celebrates with a parade full of fancy floats, a beer tent, a fancy dress ball, karaoke, bingo, awesome fireworks, street food and we even get a visit from the Red Arrows! Cromer gets pretty busy for the week but it’s definitely worth a visit – my favourite part is sitting in the sunken gardens on the cliff top with cider and hog roast, waiting for the parade to arrive. After the parade we walk up along the cliff top (picture below) to the carnival field, where the beer tent and band awaits!

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Nottingham – Concrete Lace, Scotch Eggs and a Marvellous Deli

I spent 3 fun-filled years at university in Nottingham and last weekend went back for a visit. I wish I could say that I went back to visit all my favourite foodie haunts but to be honest my budget and interest in food was rather different then to how it is now. So, I left my friend to guide me round the gastronomic highlights and also consulted the mighty twitter too.

First stop – The Kean’s Head. The lure of their scotch egg, as recommended by @simonhjohnson, was too strong to resist. The pub itself wasn’t particularly impressive, although if I liked beer then I would have been in my element – there were many to choose from!

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The Bath House – Happy Memories in Cromer

Just like at the end of the Titanic, when the movie flashes back to the golden good times of the glorious ship, my mind often flashes back to the days when my Grandparents owned a wonderful pub and B&B on the seafront in Cromer, Norfolk. Just like the way Rose’s memory takes us along the decks of the ship with the friendly faces of the staff greeting her, I think back to the bar, kitchen, halls and bedrooms of The Bath House, along with the various bar staff, waiters and waitresses and of course my Grandparent’s welcoming faces.

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Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival – Best Bits

Although the restaurants at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival were awesome, I realised while writing this second post that what I liked most about it were the other bits! A mini farmers market, Mussel Men, giant fruit on forks, the WI, sparkly brownies, music, crumpets and strumpets!

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Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival – My Pick of the Restaurants

I was delighted to have the chance to visit Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival down on Clapham Common on Saturday. I took my best friend and we had a wonderful day in the sun, filled with amazing food, bubbly drinks and great entertainment and music.

There is so much to report from the Big Feastival that I’m splitting the day into two posts, starting first with the restaurants. We made the most of the opportunity to try both the local, and the well-known restaurants by sampling our way through their taster plates…

Popcorn Shrimp by Redhook was cooked to order, so was hot, crispy, juicy and full of flavour. I took an extra one home for my boyfriend to try as it was so good!

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Pop up BBC Good Food Show at Westfield London!

Over the last couple of weeks the team have been busy getting things ready for our first ever pop up event at Westfield London. We have brought together some of the very best MasterChef and BBC Good Food Show talent for our Cookery Theatre and have gathered a selection of the most popular producers and retailers too. Continue reading

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The Perfect Hamburger? Five Guys Give it a Go

I asked my little brother, who lives in Florida, where the best place to get burgers from was – he immediately replied with Five Guys. I hadn’t ever heard of them, and he hadn’t got round to trying them, so it was an eating experience that we had to put on our holiday to do list. I checked the website and was happy to see that there was an outlet up at the Florida Mall, so lunch was planned for our big shopping trip!

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Gator Bites!

On the very last day of our Florida holiday, before packing up and leaving for the airport, we distracted ourselves with a visit to Gatorland which, as one might guess, is dedicated to Florida’s famous alligators. Its one of the smaller attractions in Kissimmee and is well priced too at around $15 for a ticket (compare that to $90 to see Mickey Mouse!). I like that the real Florida shines through here – a little rough around the edges, faded neon colours, red necked gator wrestlers and authentic(ish) Floridian cuisine.

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The Holiday of Half a Dozen Birthday Celebrations

Apologies for my lack of posts recently, I have been in sunny Florida, celebrating my little brother Harry’s 21st Birthday. He has lived there since he was just 2 years old, when I also lived out there, but for various reasons he stayed and I returned to my beloved England. My Mum, Sister and I, along with all our partners arranged a 2 week holiday out there to celebrate this important birthday with him, and of course to be part of his first legal round of drinks!

This could be a very long blog post if I tried to cover the whole holiday, so I will dedicate this one to the most important part – my brother and his birthday celebrations. We managed to get about 7 different groups of serving staff to bring him cake and sing Happy Birthday to him in their restaurants over the holiday, and gained a couple of birthday hats too!

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Easter Treats

Easter is a great opportunity to eat, drink and be merry – I have been back in North Norfolk (West Runton to be precise) staying with my sister and have certainly made the most of it this year. So, while I sip on a cup of tea and nibble on the ear of my chocolate bunny, I will recount some of the highlights…

My sister had been warned by her local council that she needed to clear her allotment and start using it, which is fair enough due to there being such a high demand for allotments these days. She has been focusing on fitting her new kitchen, so the allotment has taken a back seat over the past year. So Good Friday was spent turning her allotment from this:

To this wonderful, tidy allotment ready for planting fruit and vegetables for the year ahead:

Its a lovely place to be, with the sun so warm and view out over the North Sea. Obviously there were a few hot cross buns here and there and scampi and chips as a treat for lunch over in our local pub garden. I love the feeling of being really hungry after exhausting work – the food always seems to taste better too.

On Saturday my boyfriend and brother and law went fly fishing for trout. The lake was nearby to a lovely farm shop (Groveland) so I picked up some lovely meat from their butchery for a BBQ and spent a small fortune on bits and pieces from the farm shop too. The catch of the day was a 2.5 lb rainbow trout, which we put on the BBQ stuffed with lemon and onions.

While waiting for the boys to return my sister and I had some wonderful Norfolk asparagus, bought fresh from the farm shop, which we dry fried, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped into melted butter.

I rewarded the boys with some aptly named ‘Sunshiny Beer’ from the Norfolk Square Brewery, which was refreshing after their long day in the sun. I don’t like beer so much, so didn’t try it, but my boyfriend thought it tasted very malty, sweet with a slight hint of honey.

On Easter Sunday we invited over my Grandparents for a roast which we had planned to eat outside in the sun. Unfortunately the cruel North Sea decided to cast its cold foggy shadow over West Runton so we were forced inside, but it was lovely all the same. We had a huge roast chicken that my sister had bought recently at the Aylsham farmers market, with fresh vegetables, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and some seriously good gravy.

I was on dessert duty and had been inspired by Raymond Blanc and his kitchen secrets to make meringues, so I made a huge Pavlova, some lime and lemon curd with the leftover yolks, whipped up some cream and then topped it with fresh raspberries. I must say it did impress and really tasted delicious.

The research and preparations…

I adapted a lemon curd recipe from an american website, as it was the first I saw that used the yolks of the eggs only. I had a mixture of lemons and limes so replaced some of the lemon zest and juice with limes. It was easy to make and really tart and creamy.

I used Raymond Blanc’s recipe for the Pavlova, which I think worked really well.

I whipped up some double cream and filled the hollow I had created in the centre of the meringue, crisscrossed the lemon and lime curd across the top (this could look neater if done using a piping bag) and then placed a raspberry onto each of the crosses. I was really pleased with the finished the result, and think it makes an easy (especially if you buy the meringue and curd!) and impressive summery dessert.

This last bit didn’t last too long!

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Spring Forward

Finally, the clocks have gone forward and it seems that Summer really is just around the corner. This winter has seemed to last an age and has been particularly harsh in many senses of the word, especially the bitterly cold weather. Summer for me means taking advantage of any opportunities to mix fresh air and food – ice cream on the beach, BBQs, fishing trips, food festivals, picnics and garden feasts.

A few family birthdays fall over the Summer months and my mum always impresses with her fabulous cakes. The one below is particularly summery, with fresh strawberries and raspberries and crystalized violets too.

I have already started as I mean to go on, and had a rather chilly BBQ a few weeks ago. It was the first one my boyfriend and I have had in our new house, where we have a lovely little patio area. We have a wonderful fish monger who is just a couple of doors along from us. He smelt the charcoal from our BBQ and shouted over the fence that he would get something for us… A few minutes later he returned with a bag with two thick swordfish steaks marinating in olive oil and herbs and passed them over our wall. Lucky us!

I love picnics and take advantage of any opportunities to have them. One of my favourites was last year where the highlight of a trip down to Dorset was a spot of fly fishing, accompanied of course, by a picnic. It was a gloriously sunny day and we drank lovely wine and elderflower presse which we kept in the lake to keep cool.

Ice Cream is my favourite foodstuff over the Summer – the best I’ve ever tasted is from Scoop, who have branches in Soho and Covent Garden. Last week I had a meeting in Covent Garden, so treated myself to two scoops of Scoop! I chose two flavours – Menta (with peppermint from Pancalieri, Piedmont) and Noccoila (with Tonda Gentile hazelnuts from Piedmont) and I think I was treated to quite a generous serving!

If you visit the Covent Garden parlour I would recommend taking a short walk to Neals Yard, which is one of my favourite places in London. It is so pretty and Neals Yard Dairy is just round the corner so you can buy great artisan cheese at the same time!

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The Sweet Life (La Dolce Vita)

I spent the day on Friday visiting La Dolce Vita, a show with an aim of bringing a taste of Italian lifestyle to London. I had a great time meeting Italian producers and sampling a mouth-watering array of cured meats, cheeses, olive oil and other regional specialities.

The Italians really do know how to present their products, I think it’s down to them being so passionate, and so proud of what they do. A stall selling a variety goods, but mostly pasta, piled flour and filled it with fresh eggs to demonstrate the simplicity of the ingredients and encourage engagement too – the stand was certainly one of the busiest in the show.

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Eating in the Mountains

At the beginning of February I spent a wonderful week in the French Alpes, snowboarding in La Plagne. There were blue skies everyday, lots of sun, aching bodies and LOTS to eat and drink.

Here are a couple of the highlights:

Hamburger Savoyade – soft bun, medium rare burger, tartiflette style mix of potato, onion cream and bacon and topped with a generous wedge of reblochon cheese. With chips. And lots of bread. All accompanied by a couple of glasses of white wine to make me snowboard that little bit faster!

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