Category Archives: Eating Out

Cattlegrid – New Kingston Restaurant

Kingston is the nearest ‘big town’ to me in Hampton Court. I don’t know it very well, and usually struggle to find a nice place to eat… other than low standard, high priced chain restaurants. I was really excited last year when Byron burger opened down by the river, and I must say their burgers are bang on for what I want from a burger with their charred buns and juicy beef patties… anyway, back to this post! Cattlegrid recently opened in the ‘Rotunda’, opposite the station and near the cinema – a sensible place for a new restaurant!

I visited on their very first night, and despite a slight grill problem after two professional rugby teams came in ordering full racks of ribs for starters followed by huge steaks and more ribs… a proper baptism of fire, the food was delicious, service top notch and atmosphere buzzing.

I started with chicken wings, which are made in the proper American style buffalo wing way; hot, sour and buttery chilli sauce coated over big crispy wings. Definitely the best I’ve had in the UK!

I had the ribs for main course which fell off the bone and were smothered in a sticky, spicy, sweet BBQ sauce – really, really good and served with rather tasty skin on chips too.

We didn’t stay for dessert, but I will definitely be back again to try more from the menu. Welcome to Kingston Cattlegrid, I will certainly be seeing you soon!

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Brockley Market – My Highlights

I recently took a trip down to the much talked about Brockley Market and was really impressed! Created by a local photographer (Toby Allen) with a passion for food, dedication to succeed and the ability to spot an opportunity to create a new market to benefit his local community. I had a lovely time there, great producers, great street food and space to either sit or stand around and eat. Here is a quick run down of my highlights.

Amazing looking stand and food from Mike and Ollie, must try on my next visit.

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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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Filed under Celebrity Chefs, Cook Books, Cookery Schools, Eating Out, Food Festivals, Foodstuffs, Kitchen Things, Markets, Producers, Recipes, Restaurants, Shopping, Sweet Things, TV

The Cheese and Wine Company

A few years ago I met my colleague’s dad Steve Parker at one of the BBC Good Food Shows and we excitedly talked in-depth about his dream to open a cheese and wine shop that would host tastings too. 18 months ago Steve opened The Cheese and Wine Company in Hampton, and I am embarrassed to say that it has taken me this long to pay him a visit (sorry Steve!). I was really impressed with the place, firstly as a brilliant fine food shop but even more with the way he has created a destination for foodies to come to taste, buy, eat, learn and share their passion.

The shop is a cheese/ wine/ food lover’s dream – a wall of wine, an open fridge with a diverse range of cheeses, fresh bread, a selection of speciality and artisan produce and an enormous table in the room next door to host meals and tasting events. One thing that Steve made clear was that they didn’t just sell cheese and wine, but the stories behind the produce and experiences too – The Cheese and Wine Company is about tasting, learning and sharing and having fun whilst doing so.

Steve and his team really know their stuff about cheese – the fridge is divided into different types of cheese, from the recognisable to the unusual. As a result of Steve encouraging tasting in his shop, customers are able to try things they wouldn’t normally dare to, and this exploration can lead to finding some great new cheeses that you wouldn’t ever normally buy. I’m sure we are all guilty of choosing cheeses we know we are going to like!

With wines to suit most budgets and tastes, and helpful advice on what and how to choose the best wines, it’s a perfect place to buy wine whether you know your stuff or don’t have much of a clue.

The shop is also filled with other artisan produce such as chutney, biscuits, flavoured salts, fresh bread, oils, vinegar and a few sweet things too!

I was particularly intrigued by this bottle of olive oil, which is from Steve’s brothers farm in France, La Ferme du Bon Dieu. He produces this cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Provencal verdale olives – exclusively available from The Cheese and Wine Shop! 
The second room is dedicated to tastings, events and meals where a huge shared table is surrounded by cosy corners, bookshelves and interesting cheesy paraphernalia.

 

 

Steve talked us through some of the cheeses, cutting off small pieces for us to try. Norwegian brown cheese (made with condensed milk) was a little too weird for me but we tried some amazing cheeses too. We bought Halloumi for tonight’s dinner, a creamy wedge of Soumaintrain from Saint-Simeon and a bottle of Doppio Passo (Italian primitivo wine) which came highly recommended. I can’t wait to return for one of the tastings or themed evenings, I doubt I will be able to miss the hot cheese night on Thursday when he is serving fondue alongside fine wines without a corkage fee! Check out his website for more information about his produce and events or to buy online – although its definitely worth the trip to Hampton for!

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