Mar 302011
 

If you need some help deciding which Easter eggs to buy this year, my recent Great Easter Egg Review should give you lots of chocolate for thought.

In the meantime, here’s a competition to give you the chance to enjoy some Easter eggxcess of your own!

Many producers and retailers kindly supplied Easter eggs for the review. However, whereas most provided one of each type of egg (which was all we needed), Tesco sent vendor packs (with 6+ eggs in a box) for each of 9 different Easter eggs (I chose to include only five in the review).

My house was so full of Easter eggs, I could have opened a shop!

Thankfully, Tesco responded positively to my request to sell most of the extra eggs to raise funds for charity. I sold most of them at work, which raised £97.50 for Comic Relief. The rest I sold at Danny’s Food Urchin Supper Club, which raised £37 for the Red Cross Japan fund. Thanks, Tesco, that’s a lovely £134.50 to good causes!

We also agreed that I would put a few aside to share with readers of Kavey Eats.

I’m offering one each of 9 Tesco Finest chocolate Easter egg products, as pictured.

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As I’ll be paying postage myself, this competition is open to UK mainland addresses only.

How to enter

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me about your favourite Easter chocolate memory. Please ensure you leave your email address* in the field provided or in the body of your comment. Entries without any means of contacting the winner will not be included in the draw.
  2. Enter on twitter by tweeting the following:
    I’d love to win lots of Easter eggs from www.kaveyeats.com #kaveyeatseastereggs

Details

  • One blog entry per person. One twitter entry per person.
  • The prize is a selection of 9 Tesco Finest Easter eggs, as pictured above. The prize cannot redeemed for cash.
  • The prize has been provided by Tesco and will be delivered by Kavey Eats.
  • The prize can be delivered to UK mainland addresses only.
  • The deadline for entries is midnight BST Saturday 2nd April 2011.
  • A winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter asked to provide a delivery address. If no response is received by Wednesday 6th April, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

*If you don’t have a secondary email address already and are nervous about sharing your main email address on the internet, why not set up a new free email account on hotmail, gmail or yahoo, that you can use to enter competitions like this?

 

Some months ago, I was asked if I’d like to attend a Chocolate Dinner cooked by Gü’s head chef (who leads their product development team), Fred Ponnavoy. Of course, I screeched “yes, please” as fast as I could and also suggested my very chocolatey friend Dom to come too.

Until nearer the time, we had no idea what the occasion was, what the format of the meal might be, where it would be held or even how many of us were attending. Even when we found out it would be held at Meghan Farren (Senior Brand Manager and Marketing Controller)’s flat we had no idea what to expect. It was exciting!

The day arrived and Dom and I made our way to a gorgeous penthouse flat in West London.

There, we discovered there would be just six of us sharing the evening – Fred and his sous chef in development, Jerome, Meghan and her husband, Ben and Dom and I.

Güdness Gracious Me!

Meghan and Ben weren’t yet home. Fred and Jerome, we quickly learned, had been there all afternoon, prepping and cooking the various elements for the meal!

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Of course, our first question was what the evening was about. And we were told about a challenge that Fred has been enjoying with his sous chef. Each came up with some challenge themes for meals they would then design and cook. Previous themes have included meals where everything had to be white, or raw. Hmmm!

When Gü’s PR people found out about the chocolate themed meal that was next out of the challenge hat, they suggested asking a couple of bloggers along as guests. And that was that! No big marketing project, no carefully crafted media campaign, just an internal challenge that we lucky two bloggers got a glimpse into for this one fine evening!

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Before long, Ben arrived home, shortly followed by Meghan, and she was quickly put to work making the simple but delicious cocktails with which we started our meal. Equal measures of chilled vodka and Crème de Cacao were shaken together and served over baby cacao pods (for decoration).

Cocktails in hand we were invited to enjoy the canapés.

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We had foie gras, that had been prepared and preserved by Jerome’s mother and kindly donated to our evening.

This was served with toast and an amazing spread made from caramelised shallots, passionfruit and milk chocolate.

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There were crunchy balls served on funky spoons – pistachio and hazelnut around a 70% ganache. A liberal pinch of salt meant this hit the perfect balance between sweet and savoury.

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How cute are these little cones?

Made from coriander seed, egg white and flour, they were filled with cocoa nibs at the bottom, then white chocolate and wasabi Chantilly cream, followed by a layer of tuna tartar and then topped with a tiny cocoa nib tuile.

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Our actual starter, after the generous round of canapés, was a lovely snail salad.

The snails were coated with a chocolate vinaigrette made with 85% Sao Tome chocolate, black rice vinegar, olive oil and seasoning. In the salad were roasted hazelnuts, bacon and mixed leaves and some wonderful pleurote du panicaut mushrooms, with a balsamic dressing.

I had not encountered this mushroom before, though I mistook it for a small cèpe , which it resembles. Its scientific name is Pleurotus eryngii but it’s also known as Pleurote du panicaut, Argouane, Kräuter Seitling and Oreille de chardon,

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Next up was the wonderful chocolate goulash, or Gü-lash, as Fred and Jerome gigglingly called it! Served with the lightest, fluffiest potato gnocchi I’ve had, the goulash was mindblowingly good. Really, really, really good. Amazingly good. Suddenly, I regretted eating so much of Jerome’s ma’s foie gras, the cute cones and nutty ganache balls, that lovely salad (not the mention the enormous lunch I stupidly had earlier in the day). I could barely finish half of my generous portion. If I’d been able to do so without anyone seeing, I’d have scraped the leftovers into my handbag for a midnight snack or breakfast!

The good news is that Fred has shared the recipe (below) and it’s one I shall be trying myself soon! In the original, he used dark Venezuelan criollo chocolate and Xocopili (tiny chilli and spiced pearls of chocolate by Valrhona) but he’s substituted those with dark chocolate plus the relevant spices, which makes it easier to recreate at home.

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If you thought the meal was nearly over, think again. Each time we asked Fred how many courses were left, no matter when we asked during the evening, he’d always answer “two, just two left”. The fibber!

Next came a kind of light soufflé of chocolate and whipped egg whites, served with Illy coffee ice-cream (straight out of the ice-cream churner, which lives in Meghan’s bedroom, by the way, kinky, no?) and a chocolate sauce. Madagascan, if you’re asking. I adore coffee ice-cream so I just loved this!

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Not a big dry wine drinker, I’d been steadily working my way through chocolate cocktails during the evening but couldn’t help but grin delightedly when this bottle of Saint-Croix-du-Mont was served. This appellationis opposite Sauternes, on the other side of the Garonne river, next to another favourite of mine, Loupiac, yet I had not come across it before; it shares the characteristics of it’s more famous neighbours with a wonderful balance of sweet and sharp. The colour was at the yellower end of the spectrum for dessert wines of the region – I don’t know if that’s a factor of age or simply individual vineyards.

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The next pudding was an assembly job and quite a work of art – a modern take on Poire Belle Helene. The pear was poached in beurre noisette (brown butter) and sugar syrup. Over the pear was a layer of cardamom and mascarpone cream. On that were some crunchy caramelised rice crispies. This was topped by a chocolate dome (made from 61% Togo chocolate). Once served, a hot chocolate sauce was poured over the dome to quickly melt it revealing the contents inside.

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Next came coffee and petits foursfinanciers (made with Peruvian chocolate), mini macarons (made with Ghanian chocolate) and some moulded miniature bars (of Madagascan chocolate). The financiers were the best – moist, delicious and with the solid bite of the chocolate disc on top. For me the macarons had the ratio of shell to filling wrong – too much filling to shell for my tastes. But of course, that’s me being picky, they were still very nice!

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To cleanse the palate, a final course, and the only one without any chocolate – a granita of grapefruit, sharp and refreshing.

What I needed more than a palate cleanser, was a bovine-style second stomach! I was full to bursting!

It really was a wonderful meal and wonderful evening.

I hope to relive just a little of it soon by making the delicious chocolate goulash recipe that Fred and Jerome developed.

 

Fred & Jerome’s Chocolate Gü-lash

Serves 4

Ingredients
1.2kg of diced beef (casserole)
3 sliced onions
2 sliced red pepper
2 sliced carrots
5 chopped garlic cloves
2 glass of red wine (strong like Merlot)
2 litre of beef stock
1 tsp. of hot paprika
2tsp of sweet paprika
Salt & pepper
4 tomatoes
3 tbsp. of flour
4 tbsp. of rapeseed oil
70g of dark chocolate (62%)
1 pinch of curry spice
1 pinch of chilli powder
1 pinch of ground cardamom

Method

  • Slowly cook in a pan the onions, garlic, red pepper & carrots together until they have softened using two tablespoon of oil, this should take approximately 15minutes. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
  • Pre heat the pan with the remaining oil and lightly caramelised the beef, add all the spices and the seasoning. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir well.
  • Add the red wine and reduce by 2/3, put the vegetables back in the pan & pour some of the beef stock to cover the meat.
  • Cook at the simmering point for at least 3 hours, if needed add more beef stock to keep the Gü-lash moist.
  • Check the seasoning and add the chocolate just before serving,stir well.
  • Enjoy with gnocchi & fresh parsley.

Thanks to Wild Card and for the invitation, to Fred, Jerome, Meghan and Ben for the wonderful evening and Dom at Chocablog for additional photographs.

 

I love bread.

There’s no need to elaborate on that, is there really? Because, I’m sure that most of you, if not quite all, feel the same. But I’m going to anyway!

Bread is a glorious thing.

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Freshly baked, with some salty butter and homemade jam. Bursting with delicious fillings of all kinds. Toasted and crunchy or covered in melted cheese. Eggy, dipped and fried. Filled with fruit and soaked in the juices for a pudding. Scooping up hummus, garlicky yoghurt and other dips. Made into pizza…

And it’s not difficult to make your own!

As a young teenager, I went through a phase of making bread from scratch. I had a favourite book – part of the St Michael cookery library, I think – which guided me through making loaves and buns. I had great fun kneading and plaiting and shaping and baking but, as is the way with kids and interests, I moved on to something else after a time.

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Fast forward a few years… Pete got interested in baking after a visit to stay with a friend in Scotland. Sheila introduced us to butteries (which really ought to be called lardies, given the ingredients) and was determined to recreate them when we got home. Butteries lead to biscuits, and then resumed interest in cakes (which he’d learned from his mum) and, eventually to bread.

We soon got a bread maker with points from our credit card – remember those schemes? But we quickly grew frustrated with the sameyness of all the loaves it produced, not to mention pulling the paddle out of the arse of every loaf we made!

We found an American recipe book recommending using the bread maker to mix, knead and rise the dough and then shaping by hand and transferring to the oven to bake. This gave a definite improvement over baking in the machine, but the bread still wasn’t as good as the best loaves to be found in good bakeries.

Pete moved on to making bread completely by hand, but was soon seduced by no-knead and low-knead techniques.

Dan said: “For years we used to say that it was important to knead in order to “develop the gluten”, but we now know this isn’t entirely true. High-speed dough mixing, the sort used in most commercial bakeries, or the ultra-high-speed Chorleywood process used to produce the well-known sliced brands, shows that the final elasticity and resilience in the dough can be increased by the amount of energy put into it. When dough is mixed relatively slowly by hand on a worktop, even by the most accomplished bakers, the changes that occur will be mostly due to the length of time since the water was first added, and the characteristics of and interactions between the ingredients. So you can knead the dough fast, slow, or even not at all, and end up with similar results.”

Dan Lepard can be credited with getting many Brits baking their own bread and my mum swears by many of his recipes (which are far more varied than just bread). His book, The Handmade Loaf, is a really great resource.

But no-knead (or very little knead) bread left me unsatisfied. It’s texture was too dense and it didn’t make my heart sing, like really great bread somehow does.

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Interestingly, Dan Lepard commented recently that “we’re all moving back towards slight kneading”.

Which is good as I’d already started pushing traditional kneading recipes in Pete’s direction.

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At just the right time, we received an invitation to review a 2-day bread-making course. Taught by Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery and held at Bedruthan Steps Hotel, older sister hotel to the Scarlet, which we visited a few months ago.

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Unlike the Scarlet, Bedruthan Steps is very much a family hotel. Rooms, public spaces, meals and activities are organised to help parents and children find their perfect balance of independence and family time and service is friendly and helpful.

Style-wise, Bedruthan isn’t sleek and sophisticated like the (much newer) Scarlet – its unique original architecture and design features have been heavily disguised in a series of later changes, resulting in a rather muddled and dated look. And much of the interior needs some love and attention provided by a similarly gifted designer as did for the Scarlet.

But that doesn’t take much away from the plus points such as a superb family swimming pool and spa area and an absolutely fabulous adult-only side with steam room, sauna and the biggest jacuzzi pool I’ve ever seen, all with views out to sea.

Bedruthan Steps has an old-fashioned charm which, coupled with an understanding of the needs of families (that has come from many, many years of experience), explains why it’s so popular. Childless couple that we are, we’d pick the Scarlet first, but we found many thoughtful touches that we knew would appeal hugely to our many friends with kids.

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The course was held in the small kitchen attached to an upstairs conference area. 9 of us came to learn from Tom Herbert, amongst our number were two food bloggers (myself and Niamh), a number of baking enthusiasts from almost beginners to very experienced, another baker Tom who also runs baking courses, and one of the three sisters who owns and runs the two hotels.

Over the course of two days we learned and made white bread, soda bread, sourdough, pancakes, challah and hot cross buns.

If you don’t think that sounds like very much for two days you’d be wrong!

Because, from the same white dough that we mixed and kneaded on starting the course we made plain white bread, seed bread, pita bread, pizza base, focaccia and small bread rolls. Our sourdoughs included plain, olive and fruit versions.

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In fact, one of the most important lessons we took away from the course was how extremely versatile the basic yeast dough and sourdough recipes could be when combined with a little imagination and experimentation.

The other key lesson, if you’re asking, was the ability to recognise when dough has been kneaded enough. That change in texture and elasticity, in the look and feel of what is almost a surface skin stretched taut over the rest, is hard to describe but easy to recognise once you’ve seen it not just once or twice but several times in the space of two days.

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Everyone got stuck in mixing, kneading, shaping and finishing the various breads we made. It was a physical course, but a fun and rewarding one.

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Throughout, Tom shared countless tips that would help us achieve great results back at home.

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So dedicated was Tom to the cause, and so eager were we, that we even returned to the kitchen shortly before midnight on day 1 to shape the risen sourdough into loaves which we then left for a second rise before baking them the next morning!

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One of the nicest things about the course was regularly seeing our hard work transformed into bread throughout the two days.

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One of the recipes that was far simpler than I realised was foccacia, which we made from the basic white dough.

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Tom also demonstrated using the basic white dough to make pizza bases. To our amazement, there was no dough stuck to the ceiling after this exercise!

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Tom started mixing sourdough in huge quantities, on a large work surface, before cutting it into smaller pieces for all of us to work individually. We mixed some of it with a mix of dried fruits and some with whole green and black olives.

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Last time I made hot cross buns they were really not cross buns as I was too lazy to cross them. This time, we did them properly, crossing them once they’d risen and then glazing them once baked.

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Challah is a little like brioche. Tom showed us how to plait and glaze our breads before decorating with black poppy seeds. I went a bit mad and tried a five strand plait (with instructions from Tom on how to do so). The plaiting worked but my finished challah was too long and uneven in width so I formed it into a heart shape. It looked marvellous when baked, if I say so myself!

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We finished the course exhausted but elated by how much we’d learned and achieved.

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And not only did we get to take home some of our mountain of bread, Tom also invited us to take pots of sourdough starter home with us – it’s a starter that’s been in continuous use for 55 years. Ours is thriving, and we’ve named him Levi the Levain.

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Since the course, Pete’s been making lots and lots of wonderful breads, both sourdoughs and yeast breads. They’ve been an absolute delight and we’ve been enjoying them plain, toasted, with cheese, with jam…

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Our next project is one Pete’s been talking about for a few years now, and that’s to grow our own wheat, harvest and mill it into flour and make it into bread. We always knew we’d only have space to grow enough wheat for a handful of loaves, though now we’ve got an allotment, we can expand that just a little.

To our surprise and delight, this long-held plan coincides with the Real Bread Campaign’s Bake Your Lawn project, encouraging children to “grow it, mill it, bake it, eat it”.

Wish us luck!


For more information about courses at Bedruthan Steps, contact the hotel directly.

Tom Herbert also runs courses at his family bakery, Hobbs House Bakery.

 

A pagan symbol of spring and rebirth adopted by early Christians to represent the resurrection of Jesus, Easter eggs haven’t always been chocolate. In many cultures hand-painted egg shells or hard-boiled eggs, carved wooden eggs and even elaborately crafted, bejewelled precious metal eggs are still commonly exchanged.

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Creative Commons images from Flickr by Boby Dimitrov, Tsheko and Else10

In the UK today, Easter eggs are more commonly of the chocolate variety and have become, for many of us, little more than a seasonal excuse to indulge in chocolate excess, whether or not we’ve given up chocolate for Lent!

I had such fun with my Great Christmas Pudding Taste Test last year that I was spurred on to hold a similar review of chocolate Easter eggs.

This time, I started organising much farther in advance, which gave me the time to approach a wide range of producers and suppliers to ask if they’d like to participate, and to send samples to be reviewed. With the exception of the Cadbury’s, Mars and Nestlé eggs, all the eggs were sent by producers and supermarkets.

To help me review the eggs, I invited several fellow chocolate-lovers, including some who really know their high-end chocolate. But I also took care to include reviewers who like middle-of-road chocolate and even one who thinks Galaxy is the epitome of tasty! I think, between us, we had a wide range of tastes.

On my review panel were myself and Pete, Becca, Chloe, Dom, Euwen, Jenn, Judith, Kate and Sarah (who also kindly hosted the review evening at her flat).

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Just some of the eggs laid out on the table at the start of the review evening

I created sheets asking my panel of reviewers to feedback on the Appearance and design of the eggs in their packaging.

Then we went on to judge them on Taste. This was done anonymously as far as possible, with Pete and myself taking the eggs into the kitchen, unpacking them, breaking them into pieces and serving them on numbered plates, 4 to 5 at a time. Of course, some eggs were very distinctive and impossible to disguise, but everyone did their best to give as objective a score as possible.

I asked my panellists to consider how the chocolate looked, how it felt to the touch, it’s smell, the snap, the mouthfeel and texture, the flavours they detected on tasting it including the aftertaste, how nice the additional flavours and fillings were, and how successful a combination they made.

Once we’d worked our way through all the eggs, starting with white chocolate, progressing through milk chocolate and ending with the dark chocolate eggs (and all taste scores were noted) I revealed the identities and prices of each egg (both the actual price and the price per 100 grams) and asked everyone to give a Value score that took into account their notes and scores for taste and added price into the equation.

Below, you can see the results for all three scores.

Hard-core chocolate lovers will probably be most interested in the Taste column, which ranks the eggs according to how much we liked them, irrespective of price. Canny shoppers may be more focused on the Value Score! Whilst Appearance is definitely important, especially when purchasing gifts, for me it’s the third score to consider when ranking the Easter eggs.

I’ve shared more detailed feedback on the top 12 eggs by Value and Taste, below.

Value (Taste + Price)

Taste

Appearance

1. Paul A Young Sea-Salted Caramel Egg

1. Paul A Young Sea-Salted Caramel Egg

1. Rococo Hand painted Japanese Bird Motif Egg With Chocolates

2. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge & Honeycomb

2. Rococo Hand painted Japanese Bird Motif Egg With Chocolates

2. Chococo Union Jack Egg (With Freeze Dried Fruit)

3. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Faberge Egg With Marc de Champagne Truffles

3. Chococo Honeycombe Egg

3. Chococo Deliciously Fruity Dark Egg

4. Divine Dark Chocolate Egg With Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts

4. Divine Dark Chocolate Egg With Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts

3. Chococo Honeycombe Egg

5. Rococo Hand painted Japanese Bird Motif Egg With Chocolates

5. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge & Honeycomb

5. Paul A Young Sea-Salted Caramel Egg

6. Chococo Honeycombe Egg

6. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Faberge Egg With Marc de Champagne Truffles

6. Artisan du Chocolat Wrapped Egg

7. Green & Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate Egg

7. Hotel Chocolat The Nibblatron Easter Eggsposé

7. Hotel Chocolat Purist Extra Thick Egg

8. Tesco Finest Belgian White Chocolate Egg With Madagascan Vanilla

8. Green & Blacks Organic Maya Gold Egg

8. Rococo Child’s Egg With Milk Chocolate Animals

9. Green & Blacks Organic Butterscotch Egg

9. Green & Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate Egg

9. Thorntons Chocolate Jubilee Egg

10. M & S White Chocolate & Raspberry Egg

10. Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70% Chocolate Egg

10. M & S The Collection Luxury Loaded Dark Chocolate Egg With Cranberry & Pecans

11. Green & Blacks Organic Maya Gold Egg

11. Chococo Union Jack Egg (With Freeze Dried Fruit)

11. M & S The Collection Milk Chocolate Half Egg With Milk, White & Dark Mini Eggs

12. Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70% Chocolate Egg

11. M & S White Chocolate & Raspberry Egg

12. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge & Honeycomb

13. Asda The Collection White Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova Egg

13. M & S The Collection Milk Chocolate Half Egg With Milk, White & Dark Mini Eggs

13. M & S White Chocolate & Raspberry Egg

14. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Honeycomb

14. Chococo Deliciously Fruity Dark Egg

14. Thorntons Continental Milk Egg

15. Tesco Finest Fairtrade Organic Round The World Milk Chocolate Egg

15. Hotel Chocolat Purist Extra Thick Egg

15. Artisan du Chocolat Bucket Egg

16. Thorntons Chocolate Jubilee Egg

16. M & S The Collection Luxury Loaded Dark Chocolate Egg With Cranberry & Pecans

16. Asda The Collection White Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova Egg

17. M & S The Collection Luxury Loaded Dark Chocolate Egg With Cranberry & Pecans

17. Green & Blacks Organic Butterscotch Egg

17. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Faberge Egg With Marc de Champagne Truffles

18. Chococo Union Jack Egg(With Freeze Dried Fruit)

18. Thorntons Continental Milk Egg

18. Artisan du Chocolat Mallow Bunny Egg

19. Chococo Deliciously Fruity Dark Egg

18. Thorntons Chocolate Jubilee Egg

18. Tesco Finest Belgian White Chocolate Egg With Madagascan Vanilla

20. Hotel Chocolat The Nibblatron Easter Eggsposé

20. Tesco Finest Belgian White Chocolate Egg With Madagascan Vanilla

20. Divine Dark Chocolate Egg With Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts

21. M & S The Collection Milk Chocolate Half Egg With Milk, White & Dark Mini Eggs

21. Tesco Finest Fairtrade Organic Round The World Milk Chocolate Egg

21. Divine Milk Chocolate Egg with Praline Mini Eggs

21. Mars Maltesers Milk Chocolate Egg

22. Artisan du Chocolat Bucket Egg

22. Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Belgian Milk Chocolate Spotty Egg

23. Artisan du Chocolat Wrapped Egg

23. Rococo Child’s Egg With Milk Chocolate Animals

22. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Honeycomb

24. Hotel Chocolat Purist Extra Thick Egg

24. Artisan du Chocolat Wrapped Egg

22. Tesco Finest Fairtrade Organic Round The World Milk Chocolate Egg

25. Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Belgian Milk Chocolate Spotty Egg

25. Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Honeycomb

25. Asda The Collection Milk Chocolate Fudge Egg

26. Divine Milk Chocolate Egg with Praline Mini Eggs

26. Asda The Collection White Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova Egg

26. Green & Blacks Organic Butterscotch Egg

27. Nestlé Smarties Milk Chocolate Egg

27. Artisan du Chocolat Mallow Bunny Egg

26. Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70% Chocolate Egg

28. Artisan du Chocolat Bucket Egg

28. Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Belgian Milk Chocolate Spotty Egg

26. Green & Blacks Organic Maya Gold Egg

28. Cadbury’s Crème Egg Milk Chocolate Egg

29. Nestlé Smarties Milk Chocolate Egg

29. Green & Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate Egg

30. Rococo Child’s Egg With Milk Chocolate Animals

30. Cadbury’s Crème Egg Milk Chocolate Egg

30. Hotel Chocolat The Nibblatron Easter Eggsposé

31. Asda The Collection Milk Chocolate Fudge Egg

31. Mars Maltesers Milk Chocolate Egg

31. Cadbury’s Crème Egg Milk Chocolate Egg

32. Artisan du Chocolat Mallow Bunny Egg

32. Divine Milk Chocolate Egg with Praline Mini Eggs

32. Nestlé Smarties Milk Chocolate Egg

* The Thorntons Continental Milk Egg has been excluded from this list, as we had the wrong price noted.

33. Asda The Collection Milk Chocolate Fudge Egg

33. Mars Maltesers Milk Chocolate Egg


Paul A Young Sea-Salted Caramel Egg

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I messed up the photo of this egg so this is a stock image. This year’s egg is the same design, sold with the same eggcup and spoon, but the chocolate has been dusted in gold

Ranking Value: 1
Ranking Taste: 1
Ranking Appearance: 5
Price: £18.95
Weight: 90-100 grams
Price / 100 grams: £18.95

Most of the tasting sheet comments about this egg were single word utterances along the lines of “yum”, “wow”, “nom”, “perfect” and “oh, my God!” Comments also mentioned that the balance between sweet and salty was just right, along with the choice of chocolate that encased the salted caramel, which was fruity, neither too bitter nor too sweet.

Most of the panel agreed that, even given it’s price, the egg was so very, very good that they still felt it was the one they’d most want to spend money on, hence we gave it a great score for value as well.


Rococo Hand-painted Japanese Bird Motif Egg With Chocolates

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Ranking Value: 5
Ranking Taste: 2
Ranking Appearance: 1
Price: £30
Weight: 220 grams
Price / 100 grams: £13.64

Even before opening the box, this got high marks for design, as the box and ribbon are elegant and colourful. We guessed that an open box would be displayed in the shops for buyers to see what they were buying.

Everyone thought the hand painted egg “beautiful” with “cool colours” painted on a double shell (white chocolate outside, milk inside). It was “gorgeous”.

The chocolate egg broke with a “hard snap” but it went down hill from there. The chocolate was described as “middle of the road”, “not very complex”, “not overly flavourful” and “a bit bland”. The comments “not amazing” and “inoffensive” were damning with faint praise. A couple commented that the “white [made] it a bit sweet” and there was an “odd”, “strange” taste that we speculated might be the food colouring used to paint the egg.

But, everything was turned around soon after. Inside the egg were a selection of “wonderful”, “lovely” chocolates that were “really nice”, “delicious”, “fab”. We “adored” them.

For most of us, we felt that the “chocolates were let down by the quality of the egg”, that it was “not a great egg but an amazing package” that was “awesometastic”.


Chococo Honeycombe Egg

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Ranking Value: 6
Ranking Taste: 3
Ranking Appearance: 3
Price: £12.95 including UK P&P
Weight: 175 grams
Price / 100 grams: £7.40

As with the other Chococo eggs, we liked the appearance and design of the egg, including the “beautiful gold flecks” on the outside.

The inside of the egg was embedded with a generous volume of large chunks of cinder toffee, colloquially known as honeycomb. Most panellists commented positively about the honeycomb, describing it as “proper looking”, “light”, “crunchy”, tasting “very honeyish”. One said it was “faintly Crunchie-esque”.

The “smooth” chocolate was “sweet” and “creamy”, with a “richer” mouthfeel. It had a decent “cocoa” hit – closer to dark chocolate than most of the other milks, with a real “depth” of flavour. Most felt it was “good chocolate” and many liked the “balance of flavours”, although some of us found it “very sweet”.

One panellist found a touch of bitterness in the aftertaste; another described it as “funny”.


Divine Dark Chocolate Egg With Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts (Fairtrade)

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Ranking Value: 4
Ranking Taste: 4
Ranking Appearance: 20
Price: £5
Weight: 140 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3.57

We were contradictory on the smell of this one with one finding the smell “rich”, another asking if it smelled “burnt” and one stating that it had “no aroma”. In the mouth a few of us found it “smooth” and several of us found it “greasy”. The “fatty” texture “coat[ed the] mouth”. The taste was described as “roasty”, “buttery” and “fruity” with “raisins” and “red fruits” specified. “Slightly acidic” but “not too sweet or too bitter”, it was “quite a nice, mellow dark chocolate”. Quite a few of us described it as “chocolaty” and “cocoa-y”.


Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Egg With Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge & Honeycomb

Easter Eggs-5993

Ranking Value: 2
Ranking Taste: 5
Ranking Appearance: 12
Price: £7 (2 for £10)
Weight: 300 grams
Price / 100 grams: £2.33 (£1.67 for 2)

This is the Easter egg that won the Good Housekeeping Institute’s review this year, though I didn’t reveal that to the panellists until the end, and most had not recognised it from the description.

First impressions were of a “solid” egg made of quite a “dark chocolate” and packed “full of stuff”. It had a “sharp” snap. In the mouth, some of us liked that there were both “crunchy and soft bits”, “lots going on but nice” with a pleasant “contrast of honeycomb and fudge bits”. The fudge and honeycomb chunks were interesting in both taste and texture. Several panellists commented that it was “nicely chocolaty” with “lots of fudgy bits but not horribly sweet”. The chocolate was found to be anything from “ok” to “good” to “actually really nice”. But there was a comment that the fudge was “not so good” and there was a “slightly plastic” aftertaste.

Overall, some liked the “variety – each mouthful is different” and loved that it came “with a whole sweet shop in it”. But a few disagreed, saying that “lumpy bumpy doesn’t make it fab” and asked to be given “something more interesting than sweets in sweet chocolate”. Said one, it “doesn’t come together for me”.


Tesco Finest Belgian Milk Chocolate Faberge Egg With Marc de Champagne Truffles

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Ranking Value: 3
Ranking Taste: 6
Ranking Appearance: 17
Price: £6
Weight: 220 grams
Price / 100 grams: £2.73

Although it ranked in the middle for appearance, the scores were all pretty decent – we liked the simple but elegant design of the packaging. The egg inside was “shiny”, “solid” and “smooth” in appearance. The “handmade look to frosted balls” was “tempting”.

The chocolate gave a “crisp”, “pleasant” snap and was “smooth” and “creamy” in the mouth though a single panellist said they found it “slightly gritty”. The chocolate itself was described as “nice and plain”, a “gentle, rounded” “decent chocolate” with a hint of “molasses”. Most found it “not too sweet”, though for a couple, it was “a touch sweet”. The aftertaste was “sweet” and “nutty”.

More of the panellists liked the “good boozy truffle things” than didn’t, describing them as having a “good texture” and “smooth filling” and the “heavily alcoholic tang to truffles” as ” very nice”. However, a couple found them “overly boozy” for their tastes.


Hotel Chocolat The Nibblatron Easter Eggsposé

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Ranking Value: 20
Ranking Taste: 7
Ranking Appearance: 30
Price: £14
Weight: 175 grams
Price / 100 grams: £8

Feelings about the design were almost universally negative though there were a couple of dissenters who loved the little robots.

The chocolate was described as “shiny” like a “pebble” with a decent snap. In the mouth it was “creamy” but “melt[ed] too fast”. One found it “smooth but fatty”. Many of the panellists felt it was “very sweet but nice flavour”, a “mild chocolaty sweetness” with a “very milky flavour”. Also detected were “molasses” and a “mild coffee taste”. But some didn’t like the taste at all. It had a “funny” aftertaste that one panellist described as “herbaceous”.

The robots were made from the same chocolate as the egg, which seemed “a bit pointless”.


Green & Blacks Organic Maya Gold Egg

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Ranking Value: 11
Ranking Taste: 8
Ranking Appearance: 28
Price: £5.59
Weight: 180 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3.11

This egg had a strong smell of “bitter citrus pith” and “Old Spice“. It had a “good snap”. For one, the mouthfeel was “too greasy”, for another it was “not smooth enough” but most seemed happy with it. On the taste front, it had a “nice”, “strong flavour” with “citrus, cinnamon, clove” that reminded some of “Christmas”. There was a “nice balance of orange and spices”. Some also commented on the fruity flavours and called it “posh orange chocolate”. It was “a nice change”. One found it “a little too sweet”. The aftertaste was like “pith but not too bitter” though for one of us, it left a “furry mouth” feeling.

A warning from one of the panellists, however, that “you really have to like cinnamon spice” to like this one!


Green & Blacks Organic Milk Chocolate Egg

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Ranking Value: 7
Ranking Taste: 9
Ranking Appearance: 29
Price: £5.59
Weight: 180 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3.11

There was quick appreciation for the “nice thick egg walls” and the chocolate was described as having a “nice snap”. Most didn’t make any comments on mouthfeel but one felt it was “slimy somehow”.

The flavour was alternatively described as “not great”, “molasses”, “strong cocoa”, “plain but good” and “British style”. It “”tasted like a Flake” and had a “rich cocoa powder type flavour”. But three panellists detected a burnt taste in the finish – they said it “start[ed] off quite well, deteriorates, burnt towards end”, that it had a “darker flavour but burnt aftertaste” and that it was “burnt, a bit like coffee”.

That said, it was one of the more highly rated milk chocolates.


Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70% Chocolate Egg

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Ranking Value: 12
Ranking Taste: 10
Ranking Appearance: 26
Price: £5.59
Weight: 180 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3.11

Comments on this egg were mixed. Some panellists appreciated the “fruity” taste of the chocolate. Several panellists disliked the “slightly grainy” texture and the “chalky” aftertaste. Some of the flavour notes were of “leather and wood”; a slightly “sour” taste, “sharp”. It reminded some of “tobacco”. For some, that “spicy”, “earthy” taste was very appealing.


Chococo Union Jack Egg (With Freeze Dried Fruit)

Easter Eggs-5997 Easter Eggs-5998

Ranking Value: 18
Ranking Taste: 11
Ranking Appearance: 2
Price: £12.95 including UK P&P
Weight: 175 grams
Price / 100 grams: £7.40

With it’s distinctive decoration, this was a very popular egg on the looks front. Everyone liked the design of both the packaging and the egg itself.

Having failed to read the description properly, Pete and I served it alongside the three white chocolate eggs, so there were some surprised reactions when we realised that there were two layers, a white chocolate outer layer over a milk chocolate inner.

Panellists detected aromas of “cream” and “sugary milk chocolate”. The snap was “good” (and solid, it was a hard egg to break into, let me tell you!) Comments about mouthfeel and texture were mixed: one found it “creamy”, another felt it had a “nice texture with the freeze dried fruit” and one panellist felt the “bits were not very nice in the mouth”. Panellists were divided about the taste. Some liked the “occasional bursts of fruit”, others found the overall taste too “sweet and sickly”. But the “layer of milk tempered the sweetness of the white” chocolate. The fruit flavours were “zingy”. One panellist mentioned an “oily” aftertaste.


Tesco Finest Belgian White Chocolate Egg With Madagascan Vanilla

Easter Eggs-5991

Ranking Value: 8
Ranking Taste: 20
Ranking Appearance: 18
Price: £3 (2 for £5)
Weight: 100 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3 (£2.50 for 2)

The chocolate had a green tinge, perhaps from the heavy vanilla seed flecking. The smell was not very strong, and certainly the vanilla didn’t seem to come through. But all those vanilla seeds resulted in a “gritty”, “sandy”, “grainy” texture for virtually all the panellists. And yet they didn’t impart as much vanilla flavour as expected, though some did come through. The flavour was also described as “soapy”, “sweet” and “strange at the back of the throat”.


M & S White Chocolate & Raspberry Egg

Easter Eggs-5980

Ranking Value: 10
Ranking Taste: 11
Ranking Appearance: 13
Price: £5.99
Weight: 155 grams
Price / 100 grams: £3.86

This egg was soft to the touch and melted a little too quickly, though panellists liked that it was a decent thickness. The dominant smell was sugar. Some found the chocolate itself “creamy” and “melty”, for others it was “claggy”, “oily” and “waxy” but the texture of the dried bits of raspberry didn’t appeal to everyone – someone mentioned that it felt like eating “raspberry pips” that “get between the teeth”. Others quite liked the crunch. The flavour of the raspberry came through more than one of the other white chocolate and raspberry egg reviewed. From the chocolate, some picked up hints of “vanilla”, others were overwhelmed by how “sugary” it was, one panellist was reminded of “Milkybar”. A “dusty” aftertaste was mentioned.

Easter Eggs-6103

So there you have it!

If you were wondering which easter egg to buy, I hope this will help you narrow it down a little!

Of course, although we did our best to be as rigorous and objective as we could, we were a pretty small panel and sometimes just one outlying score from a single panellist raised or lowered an egg’s average (and therefore it’s ranking) significantly. We gave each egg serious attention but at the same time, we had fun!

If we scored an egg from one of your favourite producers low, please don’t dismiss it out of hand.

We all have different likes and dislikes and, as the saying goes, one man’s food is another man’s poison!

To finish, some photographs of some of the other eggs in the review!

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Many thanks to the producers and supermarkets for gamely sending us their eggs to review and to all the panellists for their tasting, scoring and comments!

 

How many pages do you think have been written on pairing food and wine?

Google returns 2,140,000 results for “food and wine matching” and another 299,000 for “food and wine pairing”.

To my surprise, “food and beer matching” does even better with more than 37 million hits, though I strongly suspect a quirk of the search terms on that one.

But it seems far less people are talking about how to match food with soft drinks.

Given how many of us choose not to drink alcohol with every meal, this is a real shame, especially as the current availability of what I’d describe as grown up soft drinks means there’s far more choice than Coca Cola or fruit juice. (I’m not criticising either).

You might remember that Pete and I were sent a range of soft drinks from Luscombe to welcome us gently into the new year. Early in February, we arranged to meet Gabriel David, the owner of Luscombe Drinks, to find out more about the drinks and talk about matching them with food.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5695

Gabriel took us to the Duke of Cambridge pub – which we totally loved; a wonderful space, shabby chic style, great food and drink and friendly service and the UK’s first fully organic gastropub – so that we could experiment with matching some of the Luscombe drinks to a variety of foods. The pub didn’t stock the full Luscombe range, so we played with what we had, but some of the results really opened us both up to the potential of really, really good matches between food and soft drinks.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5697 DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5696

And of course, as Gabriel said, it’s far broader than encouraging you to try only Luscombe drinks with food.

There are more and more producers waking up to the fact that soft drinks aren’t just for kids and making non-alcoholic drinks to suit adult palates.

As someone who doesn’t drink beer and only enjoys dessert wine, I’ve been enjoying more sophisticated soft drinks with my meals for a while, revelling in the offerings of producers like Belvoir Fruit Farms, Bottlegreen (including Blossom Cottage), Pixley Berries, Thorncroft Drinks and Rocks Organic as well as supermarket own brand products. In fact, even the big soft drink brands have started introducing more adult-oriented products into their range.

And of course, there’s an increasingly wide range of top quality fresh fruit juices and smoothies available too.

My notes about the matches that worked best during our little lunch experiment are at the bottom of this post.

I challenge you!

matchingfoodsoftdrinkslogo

I’d really like to hear more about your favourite food and soft drinks matches.

For those of you who blog, would you consider writing a post about one or more pairings you’d like to share? Link back to this post in yours (with the logo above) and I’ll do a round up post linking to all your suggestions on Sunday 24th April. (Let me know about blog posts via email or comments).

For those of you who don’t blog, please do share your ideas in the comments.

You can give recipes for food and drink you think work well together or tell me about matches you’ve particularly enjoyed when eating out.

I’d really like to share some great ideas to help more of us enjoy good food without non-alcoholic drinks and I’m calling on you to help me!

My Matching Notes

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Here are my thoughts on the matches that worked best during our lunch.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5701

Pan fried pig’s liver with Jerusalem artichokes and balsamic red onion

Both apples and ginger are well known favourites with pork and we all agreed that the Ginger & Apple juice was the strongest match; the meaty pig’s liver was robust enough to balance out the strong flavours in the drink.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5704

Chicken liver pate with chutney, pickles and toast

The winner with this dish was very clearly the Elderflower Bubbly. Somehow, this pairing brought out both the elderflower and the chicken liver pate.

Other drinks proved decent matches, but not as quite as mutually improving.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5703

Smoked mackerel salad with beetroot and apple

We initially thought the Sicilian Lemonade or Lime Crush would be the most obvious choice, given the affinity of lemon and fish, especially oily fish. We were wrong, the citrus was too strong and didn’t work at all.

What we picked instead was the Elderflower Bubbly, which worked with the fish and enhanced the beetroot in particular.

DukeCambridgeLuscombe-5705

Cream of celeriac, mushroom and leek soup

None of us could find a great match for the soup in amongst the reduced range we had. Do let me know your suggestions. What do you think would work?

Mussels with chorizo and a dark ale sauce

No photo of this dish, I’m afraid, as we demolished it fairly quickly.

We each had a different favourite here. For me, the Lime Crush worked well against sweet mussels, spicy chorizo and beery sauce. The Ginger & Apple juice also worked.

Spaghetti with creamy mushroom, red onion sauce, ricotta and parmesan

The more acidic drinks didn’t work well against the cream in the sauce. Again, the Elderflower Bubbly worked well.

 

Mamta’s Kitchen celebrates its 10th anniversary in May 2011. During that time we’ve had over 6.9 million visits and we have over 1,400 recipes on the site, contributed by Mamta, family and friends and our readers.

apron1

For those of you who don’t know, Mamta is my mum. Pete and I designed the site and do all the maintenance and support. Mum is the driving force behind the content.

To celebrate this anniversary, we’re holding a fundraising all-day cookery class in Mamta’s own kitchen, with proceeds going to the Khushboo Welfare Society (see below).

For those who can’t make this date, we hope to offer additional dates soon.

Date: Saturday 14th May
Time: 10 am to approximately 8 pm
Location: Mamta’s Kitchen, Luton, Bedfordshire
Price: £95 per person

Included

  • Lassi and cumin biscuits on arrival
  • A light lunch that you will cook together
  • A tasty dinner that you will cook together
  • Wine and soft drinks with dinner
  • Tea, coffee and biscuits during the day
  • Printed recipes


Provisional Menu

These are the dishes we are planning to make during the day, however the exact menu will depend on availability of ingredients, so we may switch one or more dishes nearer the time.

  • Lunch: Mixed pakoras
  • Lunch: Paneer Cream Tikka
  • Lunch: A Mix of Indian salads
  • Break: Chai
  • Dinner: Meatball curry
  • Dinner: Spiced Fried Fish
  • Dinner: Stuffed Aubergines
  • Dinner: Urad Daal Khada Masala
  • Dinner: Matar Pulao (Pilaf)
  • Dinner: Rotis & Pooris
  • Dinner: Vermicelli Kheer

Of course, we have never run this kind of event before, so we’re making our best guess on how much we can cover in the time. We may not manage to make every dish but we’ll cover as much as we possibly can and we have reserve plans to ensure that dinner shall be a feast, regardless!

Additional Information

The class will start at 10 am and includes a drink and snack on arrival, lunch and dinner, drinks and snacks during the day, and wine and soft drinks with dinner. We’ll aim to sit down for dinner at around 6 pm so finish time will be approximately 8 pm.

We are limiting class size to 5 students. They will be joined for the meals by Mamta’s little helpers, Pete and Kavita and possibly one or two other family members for dinner.

As the class is being held in a domestic kitchen, with a single oven and stove top, students will be working together to create the dishes and will need to take turns to participate. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of hands on experience throughout the day.

The (Luton) address will be provided on confirmation of booking. Plenty of (free) parking is available. Alternatively, you can train to Luton station which is a short bus/ taxi ride from our house. We may be able to collect you from the station if we can coordinate arrival times.

We will donate at least £60 from each student’s fees to the Khushboo Welfare Society. If ingredients costs come in a little lower than budgeted, we’ll be able to better that.

Khushboo Welfare Society is a small, voluntary NGO in Gurgaon (near Delhi), which provides multidisciplinary education for the development and rehabilitation of children, adolescents and young adults with mental and multiple disabilities. This is something that is not widely available in India, even today.

Booking

Please email Kavey@mamtaskitchen.com for further information and to book your place.

 

Please visit my friend, MiMi’s blog to read about how you can help by donating to the Red Cross.

As MiMi points out, “Japan has asked for outside help, and for a country as proud as that to do so, they must be in severe need right now – faced as they are by earthquake, tsunami, nuclear emergency and an erupting volcano.”

Please consider donating what you can.

 

The BBC Good Food Show is the best known and biggest food and drinks exhibition in the UK. As this is it’s 20th year, I’m sure many of you will have visited once or more in the last couple of decades!

These days, there are summer and winter shows as well as a show in Scotland and the show has strong links to the successful TV show, Masterchef.

Print

Kavey Eats is happy to offer our readers the chance to win one of three pairs to tickets to visit the summer show at the NEC from June 15th to 19th 2011.

What can you do at the show?

  • Watch your favourite celebrity chefs cook live in the Summer Kitchen
  • Feel just a little bit of the pressure of Masterchef by participating in the live Masterchef Experience, as I did last year
  • Cheer and jeer in the nail-biting Masterchef cook-offs as past winners get competitive
  • Watch James Martin present Saturday Kitchen Live at the show, complete with the infamous Omelette Challenge
  • Browse and shop from some of Britain’s best producers at the FoodLoversBritain.Com Fair
  • And there are even more producers to visit in the Producers Village, a vast area of food and drink shopping
  • Be inspired to Grow Your Own fruit, vegetables and herbs and pick up tips from celebrity gardening experts such as Alan Titchmarsh, Monty Don and many more

And, how’s this for great value? Your ticket to the BBC Good Food Show Summer includes free entry (on the same day) to BBC Gardeners’ World Live

How to enter

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d most like to visit at the show. Please ensure you leave your email address* in the field provided or in the body of your comment. Entries without any means of contacting the winner will not be included in the draw.
  2. Enter on twitter by tweeting the following:
    I’d love to win a pair of tickets to BBC Good Food Show Summer from www.kaveyeats.com #kaveyeatsbbcgoodfood

Details

  • Each of the three prizes is a pair of entry tickets to the BBC Good Food Show Summer at the NEC in June 2011. The tickets are for general admission on any day excluding Saturday 18 June 2011 and include entry to the BBC Gardener’s World Live show on the same date.
  • The prize cannot redeemed for cash.
  • The prize is provided by BBC Haymarket Exhibitions and will be delivered by Kavey Eats.
  • Tickets are non refundable and non-exchangeable. Ticket terms and conditions apply.
  • The tickets can be delivered to UK residents only.
  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Monday 4th April 2011.
  • A winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter by Wednesday 6th April and asked to provide a delivery address. If no response is received by Friday 8th April, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

*If you don’t have a secondary email address already and are nervous about sharing your main email address on the internet, why not set up a new free email account on hotmail, gmail or yahoo, that you can use to enter competitions like this?


We are also offering three pairs of tickets to BBC Gardener’s World Live + BBC Good Food Show Summer on sister blog, A London Gardener. Enter there too and increase your chances of winning!

Mar 092011
 

There can be few people who’ve not heard of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, the project he established back in 2002 to help disadvantaged young men and women to train as professional chefs.

I’d heard of it too, but didn’t know a great deal about it until I was invited to visit Fifteen Cornwall earlier this year. Then I started to do some research.

Launched in London, the progress of the 15 inaugural apprentices was televised in the series, Jamie’s Kitchen, and followed by many viewers. Jamie lead, cajoled and occasionally shouted at his apprentices, promising those who succeeded a job in his new Fifteen restaurant. Five of the original fifteen have since launched successful cooking careers.

The original Fifteen restaurant (in the City, near the Barbican) is run by the Jamie Oliver Foundation, a charity established to “raise awareness of the importance of nutritious food and cooking and their impact on the lives of everyone, especially children and other vulnerable groups.”

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The apprentice programme combines college learning with placements that provide real-life experience, including 12 months in the Fifteen kitchen. The trainees learn from experts who teach them to respect the produce and equipment they use. As they learn to make the dishes on the menu, they hone their skills, grow their confidence and take on more responsibility.

Given the success of the original Fifteen, the Jamie and the Foundation are keen to expand the brand into a global social enterprise to inspire and help young people all over the world.

With that in mind, Fifteen Amsterdam opened in December 2004 and Fifteen Cornwall launched in May 2006.

Fifteen Cornwall is owned by the Cornwall Foundation of Promise (CFoP), a charity set up specifically to run the Fifteen training programme, in much the same way as the Jamie Oliver Foundation runs Fifteen London.

Just to make it clear, if it’s not already, all of the profits made from the Fifteen restaurants are ploughed straight back into the respective charities. They are run wholly for the benefit of helping people who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to forge careers in the restaurant industry.

It’s easy to dismiss them as vanity projects for Jamie Oliver, but I think this is a glib suggestion borne out of antipathy not to mention a lack of understanding of what Fifteen has achieved and continues to achieve.

“Having not been the brightest banana in the bunch myself, I realised that my biggest weapon in life was the determination, enthusiasm, hands-on and “actions speak louder than words” approach my father taught me, and I wanted to get this across to others, especially those interested in food.” ~ Jamie Oliver

So, on to our meal at Fifteen Cornwall…

I’ll be honest. Once I’d read more about Fifteen and understood what it was about, I wasn’t expecting a mind-blowing dining experience. I figured it would be decent, of course, but I jumped to the conclusion that the place was busy because it was a good cause and had Jamie Oliver’s name attached to to it.

I was happy to be wrong. We had very good meal indeed!

At lunch, Fifteen offers both an a la carte menu as well as a three course set price menu for £27. At the moment, a “Sicilian Season” special offer means that the lunch menu drops to £19.95 Mondays to Fridays until April 8th.

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In the evenings, only a 5 course tasting menu is available, priced at £58. Pete added the optional wine pairings at £44.

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I went for a homemade “cola”, an interesting drink with lots of herbal flavours, though not like any cola I’ve tried.

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The sommelier, Elly, was brilliant. Not only did she quickly pitch the information about her matches to the level of knowledge we had, she was hugely enthusiastic and clearly very keen to ensure that guests enjoyed the matches she proposed. Pete was really impressed with her choices and, in one case, she gave a small taster of an alternate match, and he could really taste how the two choices enhanced the flavours of the dish quite differently.

The waiting staff were very good too. Dressed in funky pink Asian-style dresses provided by a trendy fashion company, they were helpful in understanding the menu and attentive throughout our meal.

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To start: Mammole artichoke, pecorino and mint arancini

The little rice ball, served on an artichoke spoon, was piping hot, crunchy on then outside and with light, fluffy rice inside. Pete really enjoyed it but I just didn’t like the combination of pecorino cheese and mint at all.

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Insalata: 30 day aged Angus beef carpaccio, puntarelle alla Romana and new season Fontodi olive oil

Puntarelle, our waitress explained, is a chicory and anchovy salad. She also added that the salad was dressed with chilli, garlic, lemon and olive oil. The serving of carpaccio was very generous and Pete really enjoyed the different flavours of the beef, salad vegetables, anchovies and dressing.

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Insalata: Mozzarella di bufala, roasted Italian pear, Buttervilla’s funky leaves, toasted walnuts and aged balsamic

Mine was a classic salad elevated into something special by the quality of the ingredients; that mozzarella was meltingly milky, the pear and walnuts beautiful and the salad and very simple drizzling of oil and balsamic just right.

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Primi: Aged carnaroli risotto of Zucca Farm butternut squash, amaretti, Rosary goat’s cheese and sage

It shouldn’t be hard for an Italian restaurant to make a good risotto yet evidence has taught me that many fail. This risotto was excellent – richly flavoured and unctuous with perfectly cooked rice. The salty-sweet-savoury of butternut, amaretti, goat’s cheese and sage was superb.

The menu listed a Burgundy Chardonnay to match with the risotto but Elly suggested switching Pete to the New Zealand Pinot Noir she’d matched to my pasta in the menu. Having earlier ascertained that Pete favours reds, she explained that she’d initially chosen the same wine for both dishes but that would be boring on the menu so she’d gone with the Chardonnay for the rice, which also worked well with it during her tastings.

Pete was amazed that, with my duck pasta, the pinot noir was fruity and mellow and yet, with the sweet risotto, the acidity came through much more. It was a completely different wine with the two dishes!

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Primi: Cappelletti of slow cooked Grampound duck in a balsamic butter sauce with pecorino and good olive oil

I had watched some of the chefs making the cappelletti in the kitchen shortly after we arrived, so naturally, I wanted to try it.

This was a stand-out dish for me! The flavour and texture of the duck filling, the mouthfeel of the pasta, the mild bitterness of the leaves and the sheer genius of that simple balsamic butter sauce… I would never have thought such a simple dish could be so wonderful.

I seriously considered asking for another plate. I resisted only because we still had two courses to come.

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Secondi: Roast saddle of Bre Pen Farm lamb, pale aubergine caponata with chilli and mint dressing

Pete ordered this, but kindly shared a fair bit as it was a generous portion. This dish, more than any other, showcased the quality of the ingredients that Fifteen source (locally, as much as possible). I have seldom tasted lamb that tasted so much of itself; was so tender and delicious. The caponata beneath it was also excellent.

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Secondi: Crispy fillet of line caught sea bass, patate al forno, purple sprouting broccoli with mussels and clams in a herby tomato sauce

My fish dish was also very good. As I’d come to expect by this point, the fish was nicely cooked as was the PSB. The tomato, herbs, mussels and clams provided a simple, traditional accompaniment. This was a pleasure to eat.

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Formaggi: Exmoor blue, Danegeld and Cerney served with carta di musica and Fifteen’s fruity chutney

Good cheese. Tasty chutney. Thin, crunchy crispbread. What’s not to like?

The paired dessert wine, a Valpolicella from the Veneto, was an excellent match – sweet, musty, fruity.

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Dolci: Jack’s lovely Amedei chocolate, date and hazelnut pudding with mint ice cream and biscotti

The pudding was essentially a posh tiffin – rock solid, very cold and not especially lovely. The biscotti too was very hard and would have been better matched to coffee than the dessert. The best bit was the mint ice-cream (which tasted of the fresh herb rather than overpowering mint oil) and the sweet mint jelly drops decorating the plate. The chocolate pudding was the only off note of the meal for me but as I ordered a glass of Sauternes to have alongside it, I didn’t mind too much.

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The tasting menu includes tea or coffee. Ours was served with some moist, cakey bites which were so addictive we ate them before I even thought to take a picture!

Our meal was over, and it had been a good one. We look forward to returning again, and also to visiting Fifteen London, which is so much closer but we’ve not yet been.

Kavey Eats was invited to dine by Fifteen Cornwall. All drinks were paid on our own account.

Supporting Fifteen

Fifteen London invites you to donate money towards cooking books and stationery, chefs knives and whites, travel costs, living allowances and placements.

Fifteen Cornwall accepts donations via Justgiving or you can discuss donating money, goods or services by email.

 

I love my mum. She (and Pops) gave my sister and I the most amazing childhood and a great start in life. From them we learned to appreciate ourselves and others, we learned the importance of education and self-improvement, we learned about the big wide world and the amazing diversity that can be found within it, we learned to socialise and spend wonderful times with dear friends, we learned to appreciate good food from around the world…

From mum specifically, we learned how to be strong, successful women, balancing impressive careers with balanced home lives, we learned about cooking and hospitality and putting people at ease, we learned how to nurture plants – mum gave us our own little areas in the garden and helped us to grow our chosen flowers and vegetables.

Of course, like all mums, my ma does drive me potty sometimes with plenty of nagging about my messy house and my excess weight… but, that doesn’t detract (too much) from the rest! Even now, with my 40th birthday only months away, she and Pop still look out for my sister and I and always have our best interests at heart.

So, I have a lot to thank my mum for when it comes to Mothering Sunday, which falls on April 3rd this year.

I’m calling on Interflora to help me say thank you and remind her that I love her very much.

Interflora needs little introduction to most of us; many of us have turned to the international brand to send flowers for birthdays and anniversaries, to wish friends well in new homes or jobs, to send the message that we hope they feel better soon or even just to cheer them up on a rainy day. And many of us will surely turn to them again to send mothers day flowers and mothers day gifts. I’d suggest you also check out their other categories, as some of my favourite bouquets aren’t included in the mothers day listings.

As well as flowers, don’t forget that Interflora also offer a wide range of hampers including food and drink selections, personalised biscuits and cupcakes and even jars of sweets. I tried one of their hampers a couple of years back and found it pretty decent for the price. Certainly there are more luxurious hampers from suppliers such as Fortnum & Mason and Forman & Field, but of course, these are correspondingly more expensive!

My mum has the proverbial green fingers and she’s a fruit lover so I’ve chosen a beautiful azalea plant and a basket of fresh fruit to send her.

interflora2011mothersday azalea interflora2011mothersday fruitbasket

Competition

To share the love with my readers, I’m offering one reader a beautiful Interflora prize which you can have sent to anyone you like (including yourself) though I’d like to suggest you send it to your mum.

interflora2011mothersday amorehamper

The Amore Hamper (worth £55) comes in a wicker basket and includes a bottle of champagne, a milk chocolate love heart plaque, Belgian truffles, milk chocolate buttons and Scottish almond and vanilla biscuits.

How to enter

  1. Leave a comment on this post sharing something lovely about your mum – it could be a childhood memory, something special you learned from her, a funny saying or habit she has, a recipe she cooks for you…
    Please ensure you leave your email address* in the field provided or in the body of your comment. Entries without any means of contacting the winner will not be included in the draw.
  2. Enter on twitter by tweeting the following:
    I’d love to win an Interflora gift for my mum! Check out www.kaveyeats.com for details: #kaveyeatsinterfloramum

Details

  • The prize can be delivered to UK residents only. Non UK residents are welcome to enter, if they’d like to win the prize for delivery to a UK address.
  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Monday 21st March 2011.
  • The prize is an Interflora Amore Hamper. The prize cannot redeemed for cash. The prize will be provided and delivered by Interflora. Interflora reserve the right to offer a prize of similar/ greater value if the specified prize is out of stock.
  • A winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter by Tuesday 22 March and asked to provide a delivery address. If no response is received by Thursday 24 March, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

*If you don’t have a secondary email address already and are nervous about sharing your main email address on the internet, why not set up a new free email account on hotmail, gmail or yahoo, that you can use to enter competitions like this?

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