Thursday, 10 December 2009


Cherry Jam in Notting Hill is a cool boutique bar and nightclub that attracts A-list stars as well as up-for-it party goers. Whilst it attracts a well dressed crowd, the venue is refreshingly unpretentious. Celebrity guests have included Kate Moss, Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller and Gorillaz. Private alcoves, booths and tables can be reserved at weekends with whole venue hire available during the week. I am there already.

Monday, 7 December 2009


The latest in a series of well deserved awards is Surrey’s ‘Best Pub for a Cosy Winter Lunch’ for The Talbot Inn, High Street, Ripley.

Ranging from historic hostelries to Michelin-starred inns, Surrey is spoilt for choice when it comes to great pubs. After compiling a list of ’15 of the Best Surrey Pubs for a Cosy Winter Lunch’ with the help of many contributors and industry contacts, Surrey Life magazine polled readers on line to find a winner.

The Talbot Inn at High Street, Ripley, pulled into a clear lead, gathering 7,595 votes in just three weeks, with the results announced today, Monday 7 December. General Manager Paul Dixon said: ‘Everyone at The Talbot Inn would like to thank all those who showed their support and voted for us in the Surrey Life’s poll for ‘Best Surrey Pub for a Cosy Winter Lunch’. We are simply overjoyed’.

This is the second recognition in less than six months for its standard of food. Earlier this year The Talbot Inn was awarded its first AA rosette for ‘an excellent restaurant that stands out in their local area’.

Since opening, The Talbot Inn has been causing a stir for the high quality of its food, based on seasonal, locally sourced produce, all freshly prepared. The skilled kitchen team produces food that is described as ‘simply sensational’. Modern British seasonal dishes such as its now famous Pan roasted Cornish scallops, currently offered with Spiced pork belly, pak choi and coriander & chili dressing, and its delicious Roasted rump of local lamb with ratatouille tart, confit garlic mash & olive sauce feature on the menu, alongside many pub classics such as Conisbee’s pork and leek sausages, Savoy cabbage & bacon with mashed potatoes.

The award reflects the outstanding food offer from The Talbot inn, and its philosophy of bringing top quality food into the more informal surroundings of a pub not only sets them apart but demonstrates how favourably the offer is received by its customers.

The Talbot Inn is at High Street, Ripley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6BB Tel: 01483 225188.

Friday, 27 November 2009


This is a little Hom-age to the Master of the Wok, Ken Hom, OBE. The celebration for his award could not have been more magical. It started in Paris where the British Ambassador invited him to the Embassy to receive his OBE. A splendid building, and the former house of Marie Antoinette as I understand it, it was the perfect setting for the ceremony and the first of many glasses of good champagne. Ken then jetted to London, where he has many friends and close associates, for the reception. Shanghai Blues, a rather swish resturant in central London, was the perfect venue for the reception. Here, Ken welcomed a host of celebrities, starting wtih Cherie Blair, who was so nice to talk to and very friendly, and her lovely mother Gale Booth, then Ainsley Harriott, Angus Deayton, June Whitfield, Antonio Carluccio, himself an OBE, Rosemary Shrager...and more. Even Fay Maschler was able to come, and that meant a lot to Ken. The first two canapes were from Ken's own range of new foods for Tesco, the duck spring roll and the sesame prawn toast, then we tucked into Shanghai Blues' own canapes. Please join me in sending Ken your congratulations, this is a real achievement. Well done Ken!

Thursday, 19 November 2009


When I read that Aqua was going to open in London, I knew it was already too late to approach them to do their PR - anyway it helps if you are American in order to bag their PR - enough said. So the next best thing was to eat there. Decisions decisions. Aqua Nueva or Aqua Kyoto? Both sounded appealing, so the first visit was to Aqua Nueva, the Spanish Aqua. Again the choice here was restaurant or tapas counter? It was the restaurant this time. I did dislike being given a two hour slot to finish a meal though , when the place was busy but there were plenty of empty tables, and I was not well pleased to be sat in the back part of the restaurant, which is very bright, and very narrow, because most of the area is taken up by the tapas counter. I would have much preferred the larger room at the front, with its subdued lighting and more relaxed atmosphere.

Still, I was in great company, and that was important. Sharing a meal with someone who truly appreciates good food and wine makes all the difference. Service was checkered but pleasant, but let's concentrate on the food. This is a good restaurant, I liked the menu, lots of very assertive flavours and unusual choices, such as roe deer and partridge, well executed. If they lacked the wow factor, there was no reason to complain either. This is very Modern Spanish, in fact, it's more European with a nod to Spain, but nevertheless I liked it. Scallops were juicy and the gutsy mushroom gravy went well with them. Duck breast was cooked to my liking and for this I thank the kitchen - I do hate it when a chef imposes that the meat must be cooked rare 'otherwise it will spoil'. Good desserts - try the Ganduja with white chocolate ice cream, and dont worry, it's small enough not to pile on the calories. Prices are OK too. The wine list was not interesting in the least, and not very Spanish either. So I was pleased to find a red Jumilla 2003 at £23, which ended up being the same wine the waiter would later recommend. This is stunning for the price, velvety and full bodied, with a kick at the end, from a very good vintage. Unless you want to blow £150 in a bottle of Brunello (which is a wine for meditation, which needs to be open well in advance, and should be sipped rather than drank in a noisy restaurant) then go for the Jumilla. But with the dessert, a list of sweet wines was presented, with suggestions of what to drink with what. The best PX was out of stock, so we settled for the house Pedro Ximenes, still excellent, and at £6 a glass, a real snip.

A word of advice: stay away from the champagne cocktails and stick to a glass of champagne or other drink. The rose champagne cocktail was a sickly concoction of rose syrup which ruined a perfectly good glass of champagne and was topped with dry roses pot-pourri style - ghastly! I did not try the ginger champagne cocktail, and perhaps just as well......

Next time it's the tapas counter - and I will be ordering a plate of Pata Negra, even at £18 a plate I still think it's good value for this superlatively fine and melt in the mouth ham.

Friday, 13 November 2009


What do you do when you are stuck at Gatwick airport, and have to kill quite a few hours? Treating yourself to the lounge is quite a good idea, as it is an oasis of calm, but if you want to eat something, the choice of restaurants is rather grim. So if you find yourself at Gatwick North (great fun at the moment, once you are there you dont wnat to move as the train is not operating and there is a bus replacement service) here is my suggestion. Walk to the Premier Inn (dont bother with the £2.50 bus, each way!), it's literally a five minute walk, and sit yourself down in the restaurant. This popular little hotspot needs booking, would you believe, as it gets very popular, especially in the evening. I was amazed at the quality of the food and how hard they try. OK, we are not talking Michelin star here, but the Cajun prawns were really tasty, and the portion was plentiful for a starter, and so was the salmon fillet served with very fresh vegetables for the main. The surprise was that this two course dinner was £9.90! What more can you ask for? The succulent lamb from the a la carte was £13 as a main course, and this too was tender, well cooked, and rather delicious. If you are hungry, you want to eat a proper meal without spending a lot, this is a little secret place worth checking out. What's more, you get a breath of fresh air by leaving the stuffy airport for a while! Check it out

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I have just found this great jingle on the Spaghetti House website it's really funny, they have turned the 12 days of Christmas in what 'my mama gave to me', you have to listen to it, it will put a smile on your face. And whilst you are at it, read the menu, they have this great idea for Christmas, La Tavolata, which is basically a sharing table with lots of food brought to the table, and everyone shares from it. It's a fun way of eating, and it's very good value at £17.95 per person. I am going to have a go as it is not all pasta, there are lots of really good dishes on the selection.


There is this great new menu until the end of November at The Lambert Arms in Aston Rowant, which is on the border of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. So you live in that part of the country or fancy travelling for an hour out of grimy London and breathe some fresh air, this is the place to come. The menu is just £10 for two courses with dishes such as Chestnut mushroom risotto with chives and parmesan, Cornish mussels, Slow cooked ducks leg with fondant potatoes and broad beans, and lots of other tempting dishes. Or you can have three courses for £15. I know the place, it's really great, that's why I am recommending it. And if you have some extra time, why not try the spa, have a massage or a little treat like a manicure, you will come back to London feeling a million dollar, no need to rush, and you will feel like you have had a weekend away.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


La Braccesca is an estate in Tuscany which belongs to the Antinori wine producing family. With a warmer climate and a local grape called Prugnolo - which is a variant of Snagiovese - their Vino Nobile offes a richer, headier experience than Chianti to the north of Tuscany. The wines here have been made for at least 1,200 years but Antinori came relatively late to the region, in 1990. What I really like from here is the superb single-vinyeard Santa Pia, which is a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, exceptionally good, with depth of flavour, smooth and heady. Find it because it's worth it. You can buy it by the case from Berkmann's Wine Cellars and make sure you get the 2004 vintage. It's not cheap though, at about £20 per bottle but it's a real investment.


Sometimes I am tempted to buy foods which are reduced and too good to pass up upon. It was the case with some lovely Gressingham duck breast fillets, which I bought sometimes ago and froze. Out they came of the freezer on a Monday morning, and since I was enjoying one of those rare nights in, I decided to cook them in the evening. I believe simple is best. When the ingredients are good, why mess about with them? Took all the skin off, heated up some very good extra virgin olive oil and quickly seared the breast. Added a splash of brandy, a splash of worcester sauce, a good splash of red wine, and a dash of organic stock. Oh, yes, and some Provencal herbs. Cooked for about 30 minutes, and it was absolutely juicy and tender. Cooked some mixed vegetables in the microwave (oh yes, I do use the microwave when I have to) and then tossed the cooked veggies into the pan where the duck had cooked. They mopped up all the remaining juices and I had a really great meal. Maybe I will suggest it to one of my lovely chefs....

Monday, 9 November 2009


There is nothing better than crack open a really good bottle of wine when it's raining outside, it's Friday night and you dont fancy going out. That bottle you have been saving deserves to be gotten out right now. That's how I came to open one of my treasures, Cupio 2005, an intense red from Le Marche region, one of my favourite Italian regions for unusual wines. A great Rosso Conero made exclusively from the Montepulciano grape, this wine is intense yet very elegant, full bodied and velvety with a very long finish. Unfortunately it's not yet available in the UK, which is why drinking it was a bit of a sacrilege, but it was worth every sip. In fact, it was so good and satisfying that I recorcked it with my vacuvin and finished it on Sunday. It was still perfect.
Until the next bottle comes along......


Well, who would have thought that Harvey Nic would be so good for Sunday lunch? Seeing a world of informally dressed people rather than the D&G clad ladies one sees during the week, was a pleasant surprise. And yes, you could actually get a drink at the bar rather than elbowing your way through. Champagne was flowing everywhere (really - where is this recession?) . Anyway, the lunch was very good. Carpaccio of Angus beef was tender and succulent with a horseradish foam a la Blumethal (so good, wish there was more foam) and the halibut was great too, so was the sea bream. Two course lunch including a bloody mary or a bellini for £19.50 which seems good value, but beware - there is a hefty 12.5 percent service charge on top, a small cup of coffee is £3 and the wine list is among the most expensive in London. Harvey Nic are really missing a trick - they should allow customers to choose from their copious 'bin ends' in the wine department next door, and serve that wine at retail price. But if you want a recommendation from their current list, the Picpoul de Pinet, a little known white wine from the Languedoc, light and delicate but very elegant, was fairly good value at £21.50. Still, thebill came to over £90 with no dessert and no bottled water. Hello??!!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009


Yes, it's time to celebrate. I have organised a fab wine tasting dinner at the all new Pescatori restuarant in Charlotte Street on Monday 30 November. The restaurant is not new as such, but the chef is, the menu is, and it's really good.
If you have come to my dinners before, you know that they are great value and that are attended by lovely people too.
This one on 30 November will offer four great wines from the Antinori estate, and three courses to include Cacciucco, the Tuscan speciality from the sea town of Livorno, where the dish originates from. It's like a bouillebaisse, full of flavour, using fish and seafood, it's just a fantastic dish. Couple this with the best Peppoli Chianti Classico (the one you dream of) and you have a food and drink pairing beyond comparison.
hope you will come. find out more on


Just found a great new cup of coffee at Tossed, it's fairtrade, it's organic, and it's delicious. Can't get enough of it.

Also they now have these great Teapigs - funnily shaped teabags, but full of flavour. Wish they had the liquorice one, i tasted it somewhere and really liked it .

More later.



A new kind of breakfast ‘on the go’ which is indulgent and filling yet healthy and low in calories, is coming to Tossed, the next generation of healthy eating venues springing up around London. With the cooler Autumn weather, a ‘good for you’ breakfast is just what your body needs to feel and stay energised during the day.

Succulent, lean bacon and other toasted baps, tasty porridge, healthy muffins and cakes, luxury freshly roasted Arabica coffees and herbal teas turn breakfast into a feast fit for a king to give you a head start for the day.

The Classic Bacon Bap is delectable and guilt free, made with succulent lean bacon and contains 50 percent less fat than other baps. The Mushroom, Spinach and Scrambled Egg Bap is a great brain food to kick start the day, packed with foods full of iron, protein and energy, whilst the Ham and Egg Bap is the perfect protein fix to keep hunger at bay until lunchtime. Priced at £2.50 each, and with a vegetarian option at £2.25, they make proper breakfast an affordable treat.

For those craving a morning sweetness fix, as well as healthy sugar-free cookies, sweetened with fruit juice and made with low GI (glycemic index) whole wheat flour and no diary product, there are also indulgent cakes and muffins with a difference. These contain no animal products, are also log GI and low in Fat, and provide a wheat free option using spelt instead. Cookies, cakes and muffins are just £1.95 each.

Together with a new luxury range of gourmet coffees and teas, using organic, Fair Trade, 100 percent pure Arabica beans roasted to order and whole leaf organic tea temples for a fresher brew, Tossed is taking breakfast to a whole new level. Indulgence meets health not only in a porridge bowl, but also in a bap or cake.

What’s more, Tossed is launching two new loyalty cards, where with just four hot drink purchases the fifth is absolutely free, and with just four breakfast purchases, the fifth is also free.

Tossed are located at: 101 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2N 4AZ Tel:0207 240 3599; 10 Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, W2 6EZ Tel:020 7289 2516; Monsoon H/O, The Yellow Building, Notting Hill Village, 1 Nicholas Road W11 4AN Tel:020 7243 4103; 31-33 Baker Street, W1J 8EJ, Tel:020 7486 8555; Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GE Tel: 020 8740 9613. On-line order service and office delivery available.

Friday, 2 October 2009


Hello there, I have been a bit slack this month with my blog postings, it just happens from time to time. But I am back in full swing as I have lots of new wines to tell you about and lots of restaurant news.

For a start, here is a reminder that on Monday 5 October there is a wine tasting event at the super Modern Scandinavian restaurant Madsen in South Kensington. See how well classic European wines complement modern scandinavian cuisine, and relish the new tastes on show, in a really fab atmosphere. You will love it. More details on or drop me a line via the blog. It's a great event!

Monday, 7 September 2009

All Pizza and Pasta Dishes £5 at Spaghetti House

It seems that it's party time for Spaghetti House as they are celebrating 54 years in business this week 7 - 13 September. The first restaurant to open in Goodge Street just off Tottenham Court Road is offering all pizza and pasta dishes at just £5 this week. For some dishes, it's less than half the price. Really good food, and the pizza are stone baked so they are nice and crispy and full of flavour. My favourite pasta is The Linguine with King Parawns white wine, garlice, chilli and wild rocket, it's a meal in itself. This offer is available right through the day so if you are around, it's really worth going, even more worth taking a detour to Goodge Street.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Make a note: New Scandinavian Food and Wine Event

MONDAY 5 OCTOBER 2009 – MADSEN 20 Old Brompton Road London SW7 3DL (tube, South Kensington) – in front of the Lamborghini Showroom

Those who came to the first dinner here in February were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the leading edge European style of cuisine of this restaurant, coupled with some great wines. Since then, Madsen has gone on to winning its first AA Rosette, and every restaurant critic has awarded it high scores: 8/10 from the Guardian, 3 stars from the Standard, 4 stars from Metro and so on. So we return to enjoy the warm hospitality of owner Charlotte Kruse Madsen, more gorgeous dishes and new wines. Traditional and modern cuisine combine for flavour and freshness, coupled with an all-European wine list (company’s ethics are impressive, they like to save on wine miles, there are no patio heaters just warm Scandinavian blankets and menus are printed on recycled paper). I am showing the unusual dry Thessaurum Zibibbo 2007 from Sicily, a fresh and zesty Chardonnay, a Tempranillo from Spain which will leave you open mouthed and a really good French Cabernet. This event is meant to show how well classic European wines accompany modern Scandinavian food. Three course meal, one glass each of four different wines, service, VAT and wine commentary. Great convivial company free of charge!
Please book soon as spaces are going fast.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Out and About Spotting Celebrities and Dining

The latest Spaghetti House at Westfield London has become the centre of attention with celebrities visiting regularly, and increasing every week.
Spotted there were former Chelsea manager Avram Grant and former Chelsea players Jason Cundy and Ken Monkou.
The Spaghetti House manager told me that there are also celebrities from Eastenders visiting, but he was not able to tell me who they were....... never mind, just go there. If there are no celebrities when you visit, the food is an even better reason to go. Try Olive Ascolane, my absolute favourite, stuffed olives from Le Marche region, then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Yum....this is a restaurant worth making a note of.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Too Early for Christmas Pudding?

I spotted a great recipe for Christmas pudding, as it's not too early to start thinking about it, especially if you are making your own. This is from a very talented chef I met at the Talbot Inn in Ripley, Ian Richards, really nice guy. See what you think.

Recipe of the month by The Talbot Inn head chef, Ian Richards

Christmas PuddingYes... already! We like ours to mature for at least four months.
Ingredients:225g plain flour (sieved)
1 tsp of backing powder
225g white bread crumbs
225g suet100g ground almonds

1500g dark soft brown sugar
1 tsp of mixed spice 1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
175g of prunes
175g grated carrots
750g of mixed raisins and currants

250g of mixed peel
2 x apples1 lemon zest and juice
1 orange zest and juice
5 x eggs150ml of dark rum

34 tbsp of treacle
4 tbsp of golden syrup
300ml stout (Guinness)1.

Add mix one and two together.
Then add in mix three.
Leave the pudding to stand for one week.
Add more spice if desired (to taste).
Steam for 6 hours then leave to cool.
Leave to mature for at least four months before serving.

Kräftskiva - The Swedish Tradition of Crayfish Parties

Have you heard about this?

Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party is a traditional summertime eating and drinking celebration in Sweden. Crayfish parties are generally held during August, a tradition that started because crayfish harvesting in Sweden was, for most of the 20th century, by law limited to late summer. The celebrations are now a vital part of Swedish summer where dining is usually outdoors and customary party accessories are comical paper hats, paper lanterns and bibs.

Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the 16th century. For a long while, only the aristocracy partook of these delicacies, but in the last 100 years, crayfish became a national delicacy and all Swedes began celebrating the occasion. In the mid-19th century, people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today. The very few who have private access, of course, catch their own crayfish. The little creatures are night animals, so fishing has to be done after dark. They are caught in wire traps and the bait is often rotten or raw fish.

A traditional Kräftskiva

The preparation of the crayfish involves the crayfish being boiled in salt water and seasoned with fresh dill — preferably “crown dill” harvested after the plant has flowered — then served cold and eaten with the fingers. Bread, mushroom pies, strong Västerbotten cheese, salads, and other dishes are served buffet-style. Akvavit and other kinds of snaps are served, as well as beer. At Madsen we stock two kinds of Aalborg Akavavit and the Swedish OP Anderson.You eat crayfish cold, with your fingers, and sucking noisily to extract the juices is perfectly acceptable behaviour!

Well, I am going to sample this at Madsen Scandinavian restaurant. Anyone wants to join me?

Party from August 19 to September 14, 2009. It's £29.75 and includes seven menu items, not just the crayfish, such as handmade smoked salmon canapes, dil marinated crayfish, Swedish Vasterbotten Cheese, New potatoes and mixed leaves, Seasonal mushroom quiche.

Best enjoyed with a shot of O.P. Anderson or Skåne Akvavit, not to forget the refreshing Nils Oscar beer from Nyköping.

Get Some Instant Sunshine

If like me you are fed up with the lack of sun, I have found the instant remedy to make you feel a whole lot more cheerful. Someone told me about BeauBronz, which was launched at Harvey Nichols and now it's available at some new spas around the country, like the one at the Lambert Arms. They offer the 'holistic tannin cycle' whic his a three step process of an exfoliating spray, natujral tanning solution and a hydrating tan lock. It causes the skin to darken naturally rather than giving it a coat of colour therefore it lasts much longer than conventional spray tans. At The Lambert Arms they do it for just £35 and it takes 30 minutes. And then you can enjoy a complimentary cocktail in the bar next door! How good is that? Here is the telephone number in case you want to get more information, and it's worth doing it! 01844 351496.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A great recipe for Pannacotta

I spotted this recipe from John Rimmer, head chef at The Lambert Arms in Aston Rowant. It's for Strawberry Pannacotta and it's delicious. Hope you like it. Great for dinner parties. Yum.

Serves: 8-10 people
Ingredients: 1 litre double cream100ml semi-skimmed milk4 gelatine leaves400g strawberries2 tsp caster sugar10 x 150ml moulds or ramekins
1. Purée strawberries with sugar in a food processor, pass through a fine colander, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes in the fridge.
2. Slowly bring cream and milk to the boil, take off and add gelatine leaves, slowly mix for 5 minutes.
3. When gelatine has dissolved, pass the cream mix through a fine colander, leave to cool at room temperature.
4. Add strawberry mix (purée), mix well until smooth. You may need to add a little more sugar to taste.
5. Pour mixture into the moulds or ramekins. Leave in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set.
6. Once set, gently place the mould or ramekin into hot water to loosen the Panacotta. Tip upside down to release from the mould.
7. Serve with vanilla ice cream and fresh mint.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sample Scandinavia With A Smushi

Smushi is the latest word in stylish light lunches. Think smorgasbord, just smaller. Think tapas, just bigger. About three smushi are just right, but a demanding stomach might need five - trouble is, they are so good you want to eat them all anyway. Right now you can have two smushi such as Large prawns with hardboiled egg or dill marinated herring, slices of eggs and fresh tomatoes, a Pariser Bof, which is a Danish style beef burger, and a Danish beer all for £9.75.

I found Madsen at South Kensington, right opposite the Lamborghini showroom, and the delightful Charlotte Kruse Madsen always welcomes you with a smile.

Monday, 3 August 2009


Just heard on the grapevine...celebrity chef Ken Hom has just received a top prize from Korea TV for the new DVD Insight on Asia - The Noodle Road, which he presents. This is a first ever for a documentary, usually a drama series wins. The average audience was 10 million+ during the airing of the programme - not bad for a country with 45 million inhabitants.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Trend: Taralli and Prosecco at Spaghetti House

The latest trend to hit London restaurants is a new savoury snack: Taralli. Those lucky enough to have been invited to dinner at my place will have savoured these on many occasions, as I love them and always bring some back with me from Italy. Originating from Puglia, they are similar to pretzels but much nicer, and are simply made with the best OO flour and olive oil, no yest, then baked. Typical are taralli with wild fennel seeds, and the newest versions include chilli, but I like just the plain natural flavour.Spaghetti House (11 restaurants in London including the gorgeous one at Westfield) are now serving Taralli and Prosecco for £3.95. This is a great way of having a drink but not on an empty stomach, and it's much better for you. It's going to be a hit.I think you will fall in love with Taralli!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Paul Heathcote
One of the north's most high-profile chefs, Paul Heathcote opened his flagship Longridge Restaurant in 1990 and built it up to two-Michelin-star status. The Heathcotes group now extends to a dozen restaurants across Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Lancashire and Cheshire and includes his Olive Press chain of Italian restaurants and a flourishing outside catering business. Heathcotes took the award for best use of technology at this year’s Catey Awards. Paul has teamed up with Sugarvine to answer your cookery questions:Ask Paul Heathcote your question

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Giant Cup Cake in Covent Garden 16 July

Giant Cupcake in Covent Garden, 16 July. What is predicted to be the world's largest cupcake will be towering over visitors to The Covent Garden Real Food Market. Designed by Culinary Olympic winner Michelle Wibowo, the delicious, cream-covered mega-cupcake will measure 2 meters by 1.25 meters and will be able to feed around 2000 people. If you fancy a piece of cake, head down after 1pm where they'll be giving away free slices!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Great Competition to Win Meals for a Year

I found this great competition on the BBC Good Food website - then go to competitions. Win Spaghetti House meals for a year. That means that once a month two people can go and have a meal at one of 11 Spaghetti House in London, from Fitzrovia to Westfield, and then go back to their favourite one. Worth entering I would have thought! Love the new Olive Ascolane, this speciality from Le Marche region, basically huge green olives, stuffed with a meat mixture, then fried and served hot. So tasty, great with good glass of wine.

Friday, 10 July 2009

A Cheeky wine for the Weekend

Having just been to the Definitive Italian Wine Tasting, I have discovered so many new wines I dont know where to start. It's interesting to see how trends are developing in the wine world. A couple of years ago Pinot Grigio was all the rage. I predict that soon it will be the turn of Falanghina. Originally from Campania, where the volcanic soil contributes to the minerality of this autoctonos grape, Falanghina, both the name of the grape and the wine, is now found in the Abruzzi e Molise regions, as well as in the Lazio region - although the taste difference is quite noticeable. I like Falanghina DOC Rami di Majo Morante, from Molise. The 2007 vintage is particularly successful. Alessio di Majo strives to produce the best quality possible at a price that is extremely affordable to the consumer. TO ensure consistent high quality, he has hired renowned oenologist Riccardo Cottarella as a consultant. Falanghina is typically perfumed with just-cut lime aromas, it is medium bodied and delivers fresh peach and paricot flavours with good citrus spine. Find a bottle for the weekend in a good wine store, Oddbins will have a good one if not the one above, and try Waitrose too. Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Horse & Groom Scoops Wiltshire Pub/Restaurant Award

I recently found this gorgeous place in Wiltshire, a proper 'pub' with great food, so I was not surprised to see that they had just won an award. Read this.

The Horse & Groom in Charlton, nr Malmesbury, Wiltshire has scooped the Wiltshire Pub/Restaurant award in the 2009 Wiltshire Life awards, celebrating the people that make Wiltshire great.

The awards, set up by the magazine to recognise excellence in several different categories to put this ‘magnificent county even more firmly on the map’, were presented by Malmesbury writer and broadcaster Penny Junor, perhaps best known for her writing on the royals. The grand surroundings of the Earl of Pembroke’s home, Wilton House, near Salisbury, provided the ideal setting for the presentations.

The Wiltshire Pub/Restaurant award went to The Horse & Groom because they judges said ‘they have a clear passion for food and drink’. ‘

The chef is Paul Nicholson. He was previously at the Michelin-starred Bath Priory Hotel. His food is seductive and includes Diver caught scallops, fresh linguini, hand picked Portland crab & Saffron fish sauce; Cornish lamb, roasted garlic mash and baby vegetables in a piquant wine & rosemary sauce; and Warm poached figs in puff pastry with honey mascarpone. A rare treat is the Charlton bar, with its flagstone floor and roaring log fires in winter, where lunch is surprisingly affordable and very good.

Solidly elegant, this striking 16th century coaching inn, built in Cotswold stone with a secret walled garden where to enjoy fine wines, epitomises what a good country pub should offer: a warm welcome to visitors and locals alike, relaxed, comfortable interiors, award-winning food and a picturesque rural location. It's also listed in the 2009 Michelin Eating Out in Pubs and in the Restaurant Guide, and it was the 2008 AA 'Pick of Pubs'. Not bad.

Tossed Serves Healthy Food to the Stars

Tossed is becoming a celebrity hot-spot. Just today, David Hasselhoff of Baywatch fame, who is currently in London, popped into Tossed St Martin's Lane WC2 to buy a freshly tossed main course salad meal. He is obviously looking after that Baywatch body!.

Not long ago, the car of business tycoon Sir Philip Greene pulled out outside Tossed St Martin's Lane, because his daughter demanded a Tossed salad.

Tossed St Martin's Lane also get regular breakfast orders from nearby Capital Radio DJ's - especially from Johnny and Lisa.

Also today former football manager and player Dennis Wise was at Tossed Westfield enjoying the food there.

Food is delicious at Tossed, really big portions, really tasty, and all dishes display the calorie content, as well as protein, fat, sugar, salt and carbohydrate content. Not that Tossed adds any salt or sugar to its dishes, and carbs are slow releasing for maximum energy. Great stuff.

Tossed Founder Gets Acorn Award

This is someone worth looking out for!

Vincent Mckevitt, founder of Tossed, the fast casual healthy eating group, has been recognised as one of the top 30 hospitality figures by Caterer & Hotelkeeper, the respected catering trade publication and the inceptor of the ‘Acorn Awards’.

Started in 1986 to recognise the 30 hospitality figures under the age of 30 that represent tomorrow’s leading lights, the Acorn Awards have spotted the likes of Marco Pierre White, Gary Rhodes and Marcus Wearing, all of whom rose to celebrity chef fame, yet in 23 years only 690 people have received an Acorn.

Over the past four years since founding Tossed in 2005, Mckevitt has opened seven units, created 100 jobs and has been picked as ‘the one to watch’ for hospitality in The Observer’s ‘Future 500’ list. After graduating with a first-class degree in business administration, Mckevitt spent time researching the salad bar market in California and New York before opening the first Tossed. On a mission to educate the world that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, the Acorn award is an accolade to his business acumen when he spotted a gap in the market for taking healthy eating on- the-go to a whole new level. Tossed specialises in freshly tossed-to-order salads, as well as wraps, soups and other healthy and nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared foods, with the emphasis on health and indulgence. By changing salads from their side dish status to that of ‘big and tasty’ main meals, low in fat, with no added salt, made with free range eggs and organic or farm-assured meats, packing in superfoods and protein, using low GI carbs and low in calories, Tossed has changed people’s perception of what healthy eating is all about. Fruit smoothies alone provide 100 percent of the daily fruit intake in one hit. And the price point defies the credit crunch anytime. Company ethics are impressive too.

On receiving his 2009 Acorn, Mckevitt said: ‘It is a great feeling to be recognised within the industry and to meet so many of the people who have shaped and are shaping the way we eat. I have put my all in building Tossed and I firmly believe that the concept will grow. I like healthy food at a decent price and this is what we offer’. The 2009 Acorns were presented at a ceremony held at luxury hotel operator Von Essen’s Lower Slaughter Manor, Gloucestershire. Bright stars from catering sectors to include airport catering, pubs, hotels food service and in-store restaurants were among the winners.

New Spaghetti House at Westfield London

The latest Spaghetti House is located in 'The Loft', directly above the bustling communal dining area overlooking 'The Atrium' and just below the cinema complex opening in late summer. The restaurant has a 'contemporary retro' style first seen at the flagship restaurant in Goodge Street W1 in 1955, an eye-catching high seating counter leads you into the main restaurant boasting an impressive 'temperature controlled' wine display, with a combination of red leather banquette, booth seating, iconic Italian images and a unique Italian music profile; our latest restaurant promises a stylish continental ambiance. Theatre is provided by the chefs in the open kitchen preparing famous pasta dishes to order whilst pizzas are served from the flame fired oven. The menu offers sharing appetisers, classic dishes using the Lavarini family recipes and many new updated regional dishes such as Scottadita d'agnello ai carciofi e limone grilled lamb cutlets & lemon marinated artichokes. The menu offers something for everyone. Families are welcomed with the 'Menu per Bambini' for children under 10 together with a children's activity book to keep them amused! Food is great. Worth giving it a try if you haven't done so already. You may wanto to check

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Great New Wine Found

I have just found a great new wine, Domaine La Bussole Pinot Noir Vin de Pays Doc, 2007. It comes from teh area which encompasses Languedoc and Roussillon. Pinot nois is a very elegant grape wherever it is grown and this one does not disappoint. It has a deep red colour and a fruity note, with ripe strawberries and secondary aromas of sous-bois and mint. It has a smooth but firm tanning. The importers are Cave du Pyrenees. The amazing thing is that it has all the elegance of a Pinot Noir, without the price tag. I have also found it on the wine list at Bradley's Restaurant, NW3.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Wine Tasting on Monday 6 July

MONDAY 6 JULY 2009 – BRADLEY’S 25 WINCHESTER ROAD LONDON NW3 (nearest tube: Swiss Cottage)
I have enlisted the help of chef-patron Simon Bradley to create a taste of a ‘French Summer’ – whatever the weather. Simon will delight us with a delicious menu of summer specialities, matched by some great wines from the vineyards of Southern France. Taste the famed Mazul, a sparkling wine made in the champagne style, which will be served with mouth-watering canapés in the walled garden (according to the weather) before sitting down to a three-course dinner and three more wines. As Bradley’s is updating its wine list with new imports right now, I will soon let you know the new wine choices. This event includes three courses, a glass each of four different wines, canapés beforehand, coffee, service, VAT. For more information go to

Join us to meet friends old and new and to discover a few new gems from the vineyards of Southern France. Please book soon. Looking forward to seeing you all.

The Great Ken Hom awarded with OBE

The celebrity chef Ken Hom has been awarded with an honorary OBE for services to culinary arts. A well deserved award for someone who put Chinese cuisine on the map and who celebrates 25 years since his first television show. Well done Ken.