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Eurovision Feast!

Whether you’re a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest or not, it brings with it an unrivalled opportunity for a themed feast! Last year my sister hosted a spectacular Eurovision party where a ‘traditional’ dish or drink was consumed during every Country’s song – in real time! It was a fantastic night full of delicious food and lots to drink too. I’ve included some of the highlights here – there’s still time to host your own tonight, or why not record it and save for another night?

Fingers crossed for more than nil points for the GB entry tonight!!

German Bratwursts and Mustard

German Bratwursts and Mustard

 

Belgian Chips and Mayo

Belgian Chips and Mayo

 

Estonian Rye Bread

Estonian Rye Bread

Spanish Patatas Bravas and Chorizo

Spanish Patatas Bravas and Chorizo

Blueberries from Finland

Blueberries from Finland

Lithuanian Beetroot Soup

Lithuanian Beetroot Soup

Italian Pizza

Italian Pizza

Greek Dips and Pitta Bread

Greek Dips and Pitta Bread

Chicken Kievs from Ukraine

Chicken Kievs from Ukraine

Romanian Doughnuts

Romanian Doughnuts

Russian Potato Salad

Russian Potato Salad

Irish Spiced Mutton Shoulder

Irish Spiced Mutton Shoulder

Slovakian Kebabs

Slovakian Kebabs

Do let me know if you create your own Eurovision Feast, would love to see the results!

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BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award Winners 2013/14

I’m delighted to announce the winners of the BBC Good Food Show Bursary Scheme for this year. After months of accepting applications, carefully reading through, sorting through hundreds of samples and finally tasting them all at the BBC Good Food kitchens we’ve selected the deserving winners and here they are!

BBC Good Food Show Scotland – Glasgow, 18 – 20 October, SECC

BBC Good Food Show London – Olympia, 15 – 17 November

BBC Good Food Show Winter, 27 Nov – 2 December, NEC

BBC Good Food Show Summer, 11 – 15 June 2014, NEC

Don’t forget to visit them at the shows and show your support by buying from these outstanding British producers!

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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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Crabs, homemade mayo and a new life by the seaside!

Last month I took a big life step and moved back from London to my home town of Cromer, North Norfolk. It’s something I’ve always thought about doing, so when my boyfriend Jamie got offered a job at the largest (maybe only) employer in his industry in Norwich, we decided to go for it! Luckily I’m still able to do work for the BBC Good Food Shows, but it does now mean I have time to develop my own business and build on my knowledge and expertise… it’s all still under development but keep an eye on www.fabulousfoodfinds.co.uk!

If you didn’t know, Cromer is well-known for its crabs. They are brown crabs, smaller and sweeter than those found on the south coast and are renowned for their delicate flavour. You may have heard about the ‘Keep it Cromer’ campaign last year, when Youngs Seafood were threatening to close down the Cromer Crab Company’s factory and move the processing plant to Humberside. Despite support from local hero Stephen Fry, the Keep it Cromer campaign failed… making over 230 people jobless, and losing the town’s biggest private employer. The Cromer crab industry has quickly returned to the cottage industry it once was, stripping the likes of Waitrose’s shelves of the delicious Cromer crabs, as they are unable to supply large multiples on a national scale. So in short, your best chance of eating a Cromer crab is now by visiting Cromer and the surrounding area. It’s rather beautiful round here!

Cromer

Anyway, back to the crab sandwiches and mayo! Now that I live so close to my family, I invited my sister and Grandparents over for lunch during my self prescribed hour lunch break. With the weather being so cold, the crabs have been hiding under the mud at the bottom of the sea… apparently they don’t come out until the water temperature hits 7 degrees, so thankfully this warmer weather means the local fisherman have been catching. Davies’ Fish Shop on Garden Street had a good range of sizes, so I bought a ready dressed one for each of us at £3.50 each (they range between £2.50 and £5 for dressed crabs).

IMG_7504

I decided to make my own mayonnaise to go with the ready dressed crabs and took the advice of Felicity Cloake who suggests how to make the perfect mayonnaise on the Guardian Word of Mouth blog. The only thing I did differently to her recipe was use only rapeseed oil (from Norfolk of course!) which was from Yare Valley Rapeseed Oil and gave it an almost nutty flavour, and gorgeous yellow colour.

My mayonnaise sadly split, so on the advice of my dad (Geoff the Chef) I cracked a fresh egg yolk into a new bowl, whisked it up and gradually added the split mixture. It blended perfectly. I also added a crushed clove of garlic which was more than enough for a strong garlic flavour.

Since I’d spent far too long hand whisking the mayonnaise, I decided we would have DIY crab sandwiches and set the table up with salad, crusty rolls, butter, dressed crabs and my homemade mayonnaise.

 

I must say, it was a splendid lunch and my Grandparents and sister loved it. The mayonnaise went so well with the crab, and I am rather partial to a slightly over cooked crusty white roll too… with lots of butter. Here’s to the first crab of many more to come!

Oh, and if you’re a crab fan, try to come up for the Cromer and Sheringham Crab and Lobster Festival which is on 17th – 19th May. I’m volunteering this year so give me a wave if you see me!

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Salone del Gusto 2012

The Salone del Gusto is an incredible gathering of food and people; organised by ‘Slow Food‘, it runs on the principles of a good, clean and fair approach to food. Back in October, my MD and I took a flying visit to Turin to experience Salone del Gusto and see if there is anything we could learn from the event and of course do a spot of shopping and eating too!

We were led from massive meat displays to towers of cheese, from interactive workshops to lecture theatres, street food to circus food – we totally immersed ourselves in the world of Slow Food and the food of the world.

The Street Food area was extremely popular and after a review of everything on offer we decided to share a fritto misto, which was incredible!

There are huge halls dedicated to the different regions of Italy, and from large companies to small artisans you could taste your way around the Country, trying and buying some of the most amazing, exciting and delicious produce available. Below is a quick walk around the highlights of the regions:

Chillis galore…

Lots of nduja (soft, spicy salami) in the Calabria regional area…

You could even buy nduja warmers!

One man and his boar…

Wall of ham…

Pasta growing on trees…

In the centre of these nests of hay lay delicious cheeses…

I was intrigued by a crowd around one stand and was pleased to find them selling arancini balls – this one was filled with beef ragu and mozzarella and was packed full of flavour.

Beautiful jars of peppers…

Pasta making lessons…

A caper tree and lots of caper products…

Rather special giant onions…

We then went on to visit the world food area, where representatives, and their produce were showcasing their wares.

Pit fermented cabbages from Germany…

Beautifully branded spanish canned fish…

Biscuit heaven (we stopped here for a coffee and a biscuit)…

Happy lady from Thailand proudly showing off her rice…

Snails and snail caviar from Vienna…

We had to try the snail caviar, which were like little bursting pearls of saltiness.

Black honey bread from Vienna…

We were there to experience everything we could, so when we heard about a Michelin starred dinner, in a big top with circus entertainment we made a beeline to get ourselves tickets. We were delighted that after waiting in the rain there were tickets left to the event, and at only 22 euros thought we were on to a winner! Sadly for me, two of the courses had a strong goats cheese as their main ingredient – I’m not one to be too fussy, but with two pungent anchovies laying on top of a goaty risotto I was gutted not to be able to eat it. I really don’t like goats cheese.

Dessert was very exciting, and based around vegetables sweetened with what we concluded must have been sugar beet. It was pretty and deliciously absorbing and as we ate tension mounted as one of the circus acts climbed higher and higher on her trapeze… the result was rather shocking and to keep it brief we didn’t get a chance to finish our dessert and decided not to mix circus and food at our shows!!

I hope you have enjoyed this whirlwind tour of the Salone del Gusto – take a look at my Flikr page if you would like to see more images. Did you go to the show? If so, what were your highlights?

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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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Food Find of the Week – Findlater’s Fine Foods

I was in my local Waitrose on Saturday, looking for lunch, and spotted Findlater’s Fine Foods‘ Chicken Liver pate on their shelves. Having featured at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland and at the NEC in the past I was already familiar with their delicious range, but I’d just only ever had little tasters! So I bought a pot, along with a crusty baguette and hurried home to devour it.

It was so good that I had to make it my Food Find of the Week!

The chicken liver pate, with brandy and port, is delicious, so creamy, rich, smooth and full of flavour, without being too ‘livery’. With salty butter and crusty bread, it is the perfect picnic piece!

Find out more about the history Findlater’s Fine Food on their website, and be prepared for your mouth to water over the rest of their range – venison pate with pancetta and whisky, roast salmon pate with cracked black pepper, lemon and lime or even a meat free avocado and cashew nut pate with mango and chilli.

Well deserving of my Food Find of the Week, and great to find some quality Scottish produce south of the border! Let me know if you have tried it, and what you think of it.

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