Inspired by annual restaurant roundups from fellow bloggers, many of which have resulted in yet more additions to my ever-burgeoning restaurant wish list, I thought I’d share some of my highlights from eating out in 2011.

Follow links to read the full reviews for each restaurant.

 

Best Starter (Joint Winners)

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Now and then I talk about ordering a much-loved starter again for dessert. It’s not often I do it. But we both loved the Warm Flan of Foie Gras Bordelaise at Club Gascon‘s 13th birthday so much, we actually did order a second one later in the same meal. It’s a light but incredibly rich savoury custard packed full of foie gras flavour in a slightly sweet red wine reduction sauce. So fabulous we grinned at each other over every single mouthful.

 

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Souffle Suissesse at Chez Roux in Inverness is described as Albert Roux’s twice baked floating soufflé with Mull cheddar and Gruyère cheese.  It’s one of the best cheese dishes I’ve ever eaten. So light I dreamt I was eating a cloud, it was served in a cheese sauce that packed so much cheese flavour it was cheesier than solid cheese! And yet, thin and light, not thick and oily and gloopy. Truly a delightful dish.

 

Best Lamb

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I’ve dined in a fair few hotel restaurants this past year. My meal at the Waldorf Astoria London Syon Park’s restaurant The Capability stands out, in good part because of one truly magnificent dish. My hay baked Cornish mixed lamb with pan haggerty and green sauce included slow baked belly, fried tongue, sweetbread, cutlet and kidney all of which were perfectly cooked, as was the cheesy, pan haggerty, something I’d not had before. The two sauces, a fresh and vibrant green herb sauce and a sinfully rich reduced wine and stock sauce, were also excellent.

 

Best Seafood

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I’ve enjoyed the enormous Hot Roasted Shells platter at Bistro du Vin twice, once at the Clerkenwell branch, and again at the Soho property. Served on a platter, but unlike the traditional fruits de mer, grilled under the Josper and served hot. It’s a feast of epic proportions and I loved every messy, juice-spurting moment of it!

Sadly, it seems to have been taken off both menus, which is hugely disappointing.

 

Best Vegetarian Dish

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Everything we ate at The Mall Tavern was fabulous – it’s not for nothing I call Jesse Dunford Wood a nutter genius. But, to my surprise, it was his red-wine poached eggs with chestnuts, cipollini onions and mushrooms on smoked mashed potatoes which really blew me away.

Also in the running was the Braised Crispy Bean Curd in Brown Sauce at Pearl Liang.

 

Best Burger

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My Lucky Chip Sheen burger was fantastically good – juicy, full of flavour and very satisfying. Well worth the journey, the cold winter weather and the outdoor seating.

Also enjoyed during the year were a few visits to ThaT Burger, just before it closed its doors and the ever popular Byron.

 

Best Sweets

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image courtesy of Chancery Court

I’ve not blogged this one yet, but I can’t not include the patisseries which form part of the help-yourself chocolate afternoon tea served in The Lounge, at Chancery Court. Sandwiches, scones and tea are served to your table but the rest of the sweet goodies are laid out for your delectation. As well as two chocolate fountains with fruit or marshmallows to dip, there are cakes, brownies, cookies and meringues, chocolate coated nuts and then the rather fantastic patisseries. The only word for these is magnificent and the Blackforest gateaux (a light reinterpretation of the classic cake), raspberry chocolate macaroon stack, the coffee panna cotta with baileys profiterole and the one that tasted like an extremely posh jaffa cake are firmly embedded in my mind.

 

Best Never-had-it-before Experience

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Pumpkin koroke (croquettes) don’t, on the face of it, sound that appealing even to someone who likes bread-crumbed deep-fried things and sweet soft pumpkin flesh. But having ordered them once, at Sushi Japan, they’re now the item I most often start dreaming about, and which prompt our regular return visits.

 

Best Sharing Plates

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I can’t round up the year without mentioning the wonderful platters of Parma ham and Parmesan cheese served as part of every meal the group enjoyed during my visit to Parma and the surrounding region. Also in the photos above is culatello, another delicious local product.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my roundup of some of my favourite eats of 2011. I can’t wait to get my teeth into 2012!

 

I’m a natural born collector. As a child I collected stamps, coins, mugs, rubbers and key rings, to name just a few. Our family holidays took us around the world, which allowed me to find great variety, both at home and abroad and I took my collections seriously, taking time and care to choose new additions.

Today, the stamp and coin collections have long since been passed on through the family. The rubbers were discarded. Only a few of the key rings were kept, though I still regret the loss of the rest.

A lot of the mugs are still in the kitchen cupboard. I can’t bear to get rid of the “I’m A Mug From Luton”, though the text is faded almost to nothing, after 25+ years through the dishwasher. Perhaps it’s because the slogan describes me as well as it does the mug?

As I left childhood behind, I stopped collecting. But I missed it. Sometimes, I indulged in retail therapy trips where the urge to buy would result in spending £40 or more on clothes and books and magazines I didn’t really want or need. An article eulogising egg cups caught my attention. The author found such joy in the immense variety of design and shape of objects made for a single, simple task and I was immediately nodding in agreement. There and then I decided to start a new collection, part of me consciously thinking that I could satisfy those occasional urges to buy something new by spending just a few pounds at most. In those early days, prices were often in pence, as initial egg cups were found in charity shops and car boot sales.

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Today, I own far too many egg cups and have over 100 sitting in a box to sell on Ebay (when I get a round tuit).

But the ones I display (on a chaotic and far-too-full living room shelving unit) give me great pleasure. The kind of pleasure only another collector can really understand.

So when I read Allegra McEvedy’s book, Bought, Borrowed & Stolen: Recipes & Knives From A Travelling Chef, I immediately felt a kinship – a warmth that comes from the shared personality disorder of the collecting mindset!

In her introduction, Allegra describes her knife buying as gathering, explaining that she hesitates to use the word ‘collect’ as that implies that her knives are not for use and she certainly uses hers! Don’t worry Allegra, I use my egg cups too, though given that I don’t eat boiled eggs and soldiers that often, it’s a slow cycle. And I confess, some just aren’t as practical at holding eggs as others…

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The magpie in me appreciates the rather striking turquoise cloth binding with shiny gold foil print. It’s an unusual design and I like it.

Inside, the book is divided into 19 chapters by country (though the USA is represented by two cities, New York and San Francisco). Each is introduced by a country fact file sharing basics such as geography, population, religion plus a short sharp summary of the cuisine, top five favourite ingredients and most famous dish. Next comes the travel memoir page, where Allegra talks about her experiences visiting the country. I enjoyed these personal memories, though a single page for each means they’re little more than a snapshot.

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Next, my favourite part of the book, the introduction to the knife that Allegra bought back from that country. Reading about how she found and came to own each knife, what memories it holds, how she uses it now… I can really feel her affection for each item in her collection.

There’s her Pine Forest Picnic Knife from Turkey, Win’s Special Burmese Machete from Burma, a Suction Free Chef’s Knife from San Francisco, the Pig Leg Boner from Brazil, the Lemon Wood Pastry Slicer from Morocco, Lorenzi’s Ceramica from Italy, Balisong from The Philippines, the Grenadine Scrimshaw, the Oaxacan Whacker from Mexico and several more.

I find the collection fascinating!

The collection of recipes is equally diverse, and I find some more appealing than others. There are many I find interesting to read about but which don’t tempt me at all to make them.

Also, I think it would be accurate to describe most of these recipes as influenced by her travels rather than authentic, something that’s been confirmed by friends from a couple of the countries represented.

Probably the biggest let down for me is the food photography. Whilst I appreciate the idea of simply presenting the food, rather than filling half the shot with styling props and unused ingredients, I find the photographs in this book lifeless and sometimes actually off-putting. Certainly, they don’t do the job of making me salivate and feel an urge to make the recipe.

That said, what I do like is the sheer spread of cuisines, ingredients and types of dishes covered. It’s a fun book for someone who wants to dip their toes into the pool of international cooking and wants a wide spread of recipes to choose from.

The recipe I chose to try is from Malawi, a simple ginger and garlic fried dish.

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Nsomba Zokazinga Ndi Ginja Komanso Anyezi

(Ginger & Garlic Fried Fish)

Serves 2

Ingredients
50 grams ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
0.5 teaspoon paprika
5 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 portion-sized fish such as red bream, about 700 grams each once gutted and scaled
Approximately 750 ml light oil for frying
limes, to serve
salt and pepper

Note: I bought Corsican bream, which were expensive, about £13.50 for two.
Note: I omitted the chilles, for personal taste.
Note: I substituted cider vinegar for white wine vinegar, as that’s what I had in stock.
Note: I used considerably less oil for shallow frying.

Method

  • In a blender, blitz up the ginger, chillies, garlic, spring onions, paprika and a teaspoon of salt with the groundnut oil and vinegar.

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  • Make some deep diagonal cuts across both sides of each fish – about 5 cuts along each side.

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  • Put about half a teaspoon of ginger paste into each slit and smear the rest on the skin and in the cavity.

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  • Pour oil to the depth of about 1.5 centimetres into a frying pan large enough to hold both fish and shallow fry on medium high – the oil should be hot enough to make the fish fizzle when it goes in.

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  • Fry the fish fast for about 5-6 minutes on each side until golden.

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  • Serve straight away, with rice, salad and lime quarters.

We really enjoyed this simple dish, the flavours of the paste were balanced and full on yet didn’t overwhelm the beautiful fish. It was also very quick and simple to make.

With thanks to Octopus for the review copy.


Allegra McEvedy’s Bought, Borrowed & Stolen is currently available from Amazon for £11 (RRP £25).

 

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Pete and Kavey wish all the readers of Kavey Eats & Pete Drinks a very merry Christmas!

 

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When I was invited to take part in the Grey Poupon cooking challenge, I immediately remembered the intriguing recipe for Cackalacky Spare Ribs that I’d read in my recently acquired book, The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers.

As Grey Poupon was originally an American-owned brand (born back in 1777) Cackalacky seemed doubly appropriate. (These days Grey Poupon UK is a separate entity, their mustard still produced in Dijon, the spiritual home of mustard).

With Google at my fingertips, I quickly learned that Cackalacky is a nickname for Carolina, USA and for many things originating in the two states, North and South, though the origins of the word are a mystery.

In food terms, Cackalacky is a condiment variously described as a “hot mustard sauce”, a “mustard BBQ sauce” or simply a “spice sauce”. Recipes vary hugely, but what they all have at their core is the use of yellow mustard. Many recipes also include sweet potato; for acidity there’s a choice of cider vinegar or lime juice; for sweetness some recipes turn to molasses, others to honey and still others to brown sugar; some add onions and garlic, some don’t; and then there’s a whole range of spices.

Although I took the book as my original inspiration, I had some way to go in developing my own recipe.

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For a start, I wanted to switch from pork spare ribs to beautiful British beef. I decided on a bone in rib of Hereford beef, to be roasted whole. This was first rubbed with a sugar spice mix based on Summers’ rib rub, a few hours before cooking. I also took her advice to baste the beef with some of my Cackalacky sauce five minutes before the end of its cooking time.

However, when it came to the recipe for Cackalacky sauce, I struck out on my own, taking elements from several very varied recipes I found, and hoping my own creation would work. Instead of sweet potato, I decided to use apples, still seasonal in the UK. Of course, Grey Poupon mustard would have a starring role. And I decided on my own combination and amounts of sugar, honey, herbs, spices and vinegar.

I recently enjoyed a lovely potato and parsnip mash when eating out, and felt the soft, sweet and earthy flavours would be perfect against the spiced beef and sweet-sour mustard sauce. Again, very seasonal for a British winter.

Lastly, one of my favourite winter greens, some Savoy cabbage, just shredded and lightly boiled.

I’m not very experienced at developing my own recipes, it’s something I’m still very nervous about. So I was truly delighted when my Cackalacky and accompaniments came together beautifully. This is definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

Feel free to try this with other meats too – my swap from pork ribs to a roasting joint of beef worked really well.

 

Kavey’s Cackalacky Roast Rib of Beef

Ingredients
Bone in rib of beef
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
1 cup Cackalacky sauce (see below)

Note: My rib of beef was a single rib join weighing 1.3 kilos. Adjust volumes of spice rub if your joint is significantly larger or smaller.

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  • Combine sugar and spice ingredients thoroughly and rub into the surface of the meat. Use your hands!

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  • Leave the meat in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

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  • Roast the meat according to your preferred temperature and times and the size of the joint. Set your alarm for 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time.I tried a new method, pre-heating the oven to 230 C, cooking the beef at that temperature for 15 minutes and then turning down to 190 C for the rest of the cooking time. However, the result was cooked more than we prefer, and next time we’ll stick to our normal temperatures and times, for medium rare.

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  • Five minutes before the beef is due to finish cooking, take it out of the oven and baste generously on all surfaces with Cackalacky sauce. Return to the oven.

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  • After the final five minutes, remove from the oven, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes.

 

Kavey’s Cackalacky BBQ Sauce

Ingredients
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 teaspoon cooking oil
6 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
4 heaped tablespoons Grey Poupon yellow mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Note: As I was combining elements from several different recipes to create my own, I wasn’t sure how much sauce to make. I initially made exactly half the above amount, realising as soon as I’d finished that I hadn’t made enough to both baste the beef and serve as a condiment. I immediately made the recipe again, exactly the same way. The amounts above are for the total volume I made.

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  • Heat the cooking oil in a pan and add the diced apples. Cook until the apples start to take on a little colour.

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  • Add the dark muscovado sugar and stir on a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and coats the apples.

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  • Add the cider vinegar and water and bring to a simmer.

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  • After a few minutes test the softness of the apples. I used a potato masher to break them down more quickly.

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  • Add the oregano, thyme, black pepper and cayenne pepper and stir, then cover and cook on a medium heat.

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  • Once the apples have softened completely, stir in the mustard.

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  • Add the honey and mix in well.

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  • Transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Season with salt and check for taste. At this stage, you could adjust sweetness or acidity by adding a little honey or vinegar, if you wish. I was happy with the taste, so didn’t adjust mine.

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Parsnip & Potato Puree

Ingredients
Equal quantities of potatoes and parsnips, by weight
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
A splash of double cream, to loosen

  • Peel and chop the potatoes and parsnips and boil till soft.
  • Transfer to a food processor.
  • Add salt and pepper and a splash of cream.

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  • Blitz until smooth. Adjust seasoning and add more cream if required.

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Although the beef was cooked medium-well rather than my intended medium-rare, the quality of the beef meant it was still delicious and I loved the combination of flavours from the spice rub and the Cackalacky sauce. The mellow sweetness of the parsnip and potato puree worked very well against the sharp mustardy flavours. And the cabbage, carefully not overcooked, gave a lovely freshness and crunch to the plate.

This is very different to anything else in my normal cooking repertoire but has been a fun and successful exploration. If you try making it yourself, do let me know how you get on!

Dec 182011
 

I probably wouldn’t have considered The Rib Room had I not been invited to dine there.

It’s situated in a marble and gold bling Knightsbridge hotel. It’s expensive. It’s full of people who are at least as bling as the hotel and have pockets deep enough to stay there.

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I’m not very bling. And I’m certainly not flash with the cash.

And yet my friend and I enjoyed a lovely meal there; somewhat to my surprise, if I’m honest. Certainly, as posh hotel restaurants go, the team are doing more than just going through the motions though the experience of a fellow food blogger suggests they need to do a much better job of sourcing their steaks, especially given the name of the restaurant.

So why did I go? As I stated in my comment on Chris’ blog post, I usually accept restaurant review invitations only if it’s the kind of place I’d normally visit on my own. This clearly doesn’t fit and I’m definitely not the normal target audience. However, I found the menu really attractive, with a great range of British ingredients and dishes, several of which sounded great, on paper.

And frankly, I was in the mood for being cossetted. Having visited a fair number of low or no-service restaurants lately, the idea of being looked after by a team of well-trained professionals appealed.

And that’s how it was. My friend and I chose very well, we enjoyed all our dishes and we felt well looked after by the staff.

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We started with a drink at the bar, where I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer choice of cocktails in the list. Helpful barman Paolo came to the rescue, advising on choices and making up two delicious drinks, a Half Cut Passion for me and a Sipsmith G&T with vanilla for Matt.

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Between watching Paolo make our drinks and settling in, we had a good look around the restaurant. The Martin Brudnizki interior is a pleasant space, with a leaning towards art deco styling. It’s a good balance of modern and traditional. Slatted window blinds let in bright stripes of light; huge mirrors reflect it around the room. It’s not a look to set the world on fire, but has a comfortable if clichéd understated elegance.

Having booked for an early lunch, we had the pick of the room and were seated on a corner banquette. Stripes of rare winter sunshine flooded in through slatted shutters.

In an odd nod to modernism, given the old-school styling, the wine list came on an iPad. The main advantage over a printed list was that one could search by region or type of wine or a number of other categories. I guess it would also be easier to update to reflect new additions and sold out choices… The disadvantage was that I managed to exit the wine list program by accident and couldn’t work out how to relaunch it. That left me feeling pretty flustered, but Mac-savvy Matt quickly worked it out.

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Bread was good and was served early enough that we could enjoy it whilst reading the menu. I dislike places that serve it only a moment before the starters come out.

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I chose a starter of beef tartare (£16/ 32), which was prepared to order at the table. Ivan, our helpful waiter, showed me the prepped beef and ingredients and asked exactly how what I wanted. It took a fair bit of time for him to mix everything up, so diners wanting to get on with their meal might prefer to ask for it to be mixed and plated in the kitchen instead, but we were in no rush and enjoyed the spectacle.

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The finished tartare was exactly as I’d requested. With all the added ingredients from gherkins and capers to garlic and shallots to herbs, a beaten egg, Tabasco and a splash of calvados, the overall flavour was pretty decent and for me the soft texture of the meat was pleasant, though I know many would prefer the meat to be chopped rather than minced.

Matt chose the pressed foie gras with dandelion and fig salad (£15). The foie gras itself was excellent, firm but yielding and nicely complimented by the salad. It was served with soft, toasted brioche, as expected. The decorative painted square of strawberry coulis was sufficiently generous to also contribute to the eating of the dish; a nice change from the current trend of painted smears which look more like dirty skid marks.

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As we were sharing our starters, we also enjoyed a glass each of Sauternes, having asked enthusiastic sommelier Marcelo to make a choice of dessert wine for us. The 2002 Chateau Suduiraut he chose had the same honeyed flavours that I so loved in the 2001 and 2002 Yquems I enjoyed at Bob Bob Ricard last year. But at £28 a glass it was much pricier than BBR, as was the rest of the wine list.

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When it came to choosing mains, we deliberately avoided the steaks. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.

I chose the breast of Loomswood duck, honey crusted drum stick, pear, parsnip puree, shaved chestnuts and fig sauce (£28). Jay Rayner recently described what I believe was the same dish as “a big plate of blah, an essay on the finer points of dull” but that doesn’t equate to my plate at all. In fact, mine was good enough that I made a mental note to find out more about Loomswood Farm, turns out it’s the home of Gressingham Foods, who created their breed by crossing Wild Mallard with Pekin. Personally, I found the meat not only tender but also flavoursome, with a pleasant hint of the gaminess of wild duck. I’ve been to many restaurants where the texture of their duck is wonderful but the flavour rather lacking. The drum stick was less successful than the breast meat and I couldn’t pick up any honey sweetness at all. The pears and figs provided some pleasant sweetness. About the slivers of chestnut I’ll concede Rayner’s “blah” as they added nothing at all. The meaty fig gravy was excellent.

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Having never had partridge before, Matt opted for the whole roast Suffolk partridge, crispy bread sauce, black pudding, Savoy cabbage, grape jus (£29). The partridge was very nicely cooked. The black pudding was lovely – rich and strong and solid – yet, to my surprise, didn’t overwhelm the partridge. I rather liked the soft croquette with bread sauce inside, though we weren’t sure what to expect from the menu description. And the vegetables and gravy were excellent.

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Eschewing the iPad wine list, Matt turned to Marcelo again. His recommendation of a glass of Louis Latour Domaine Latour Aloxe-Corton Cote de Beaune 2007 was a great match for the partridge, both wine and poultry holding their own against each other.

On the side we ordered roast potatoes with rosemary and garlic (which, in Matt’s words were “fucking awesome”) and sautéed spinach with shallots, which was decent.

On to desserts…

The menu advised me to allow 15 minutes for my apple crumble soufflé, apple and custard sauce (£8.50), which gave plenty of time to relax between courses. On arrival, Ivan punctured the neatly flat surface and poured in a little of the apple sauce followed by the custard. The soufflé was delicious, with a strong apple flavour, though no obvious crumble flavour or texture. This was a simple dish, certainly in the eating if not the cooking.

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Matt’s macerated oranges, vanilla bean ice cream, praline sauce, honeycomb (£8.50) was definitely the winning dessert. It was beautifully presented. The combination of tastes and textures worked very well together. The flavours really sang out! I particularly loved the praline sauce which is not something I’ve encountered before, but would like to enjoy again.

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Full enough to fancy an afternoon nap, instead we ordered coffee and tea, which were served with a tray of beautiful chocolates.

My Moroccan-style mint tea (black tea and fresh leaves combined) was an ideal digestif. Matt, a real coffee connoisseur, judged his espresso extremely good indeed, with very good flavour and a perfect crema.

I’m quite fussy about my chocolate. I can honestly say, hand on heart, these were some of the most delicious chocolates I’ve enjoyed, and certainly the best I’ve ever been served in any restaurant, in my memory!

The shells were so thin, I’m surprised they didn’t break open to the touch and the fillings were silky smooth, and packed a fantastically fresh flavour punch. Inside the white chocolate shell was a passion fruit centre. The dark chocolate contained a very good salted caramel. And my favourite was the sugared milk chocolate shell with its banana and rum deliciousness.

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I was keen to know whether these delights were made in house or bought in; the restaurant manager (also called Paolo) explained that they get the empty shells in from a chocolatier and fill them in house through tiny holes in each sphere.

After the chocolates, Ivan wheeled over the brandy trolley but we’d reached our limit and declined.

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All in all we had a very pleasant meal, and it made a nice change to be looked after by professionally trained staff, offering an old-school style of service with a modern friendly face.

My problem is that, even for such a nice experience (and we clearly fared better than others who’ve recently reviewed the place), I really can’t justify the prices. Our bill, with just 3 glasses of wine between us, came to a whopping £240 before service (which is added to the bill at 12.5%). At £135 per person, this is double what I think would be reasonable, given the stiff competition from hundreds of fantastic restaurants across the capital.

The Rib Room is aimed squarely at locals and hotel guests who are wealthy enough not to bat an eyelid at the prices, and probably sign the bill without even looking at it.

But my current bank balance is more in line with Lucky Chip than The Rib Room and I know there are many places I can find fantastic food at a fraction of the price.

 

Regular readers will notice how gorgeous all the photographs are. That’s because they were taken by my talented friend, Matt Gibson. Thanks, Matt!

Kavey Eats dined as a guest of The Rib Room.

The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

The first time I made chicken liver paté, I was quite nervous. A food friend encouraged me by sharing their recipe, and I was amazed at the ease and tastiness of the result, not to mention how inexpensive it was. Since that time, I developed my own version, a chicken liver and port paté that I make fairly often.

But for some time, I’ve been thinking about a non-alcoholic version that wouldn’t pale in comparison with its boozy sibling.

When Russell Hobbs set the theme for week 3’s cookery challenge as “Blended Fruitiness”, my personal paté challenge popped into mind. Although I regularly use a blender to make smoothies, shakes and soups I use it most often to make chicken liver paté.

Incorporating fruit would surely give me a way to add an extra flavour dimension to take the place of the port? I ruled fresh fruit out straight away – it struck me that the concentrated sweet flavours of dried fruits would work much better here.

To my surprise, I could find no existing recipes for such a paté, whether I searched on dates or prunes, raisins or figs, cranberries or apricots.

I decided to experiment, and the result is as delicious as I could have hoped for!

This is a soft, spreadable paté; not the terrine kind you can cut into slices and lift out of the dish. For that reason, I recommend that you make it in a large, shallow dish for an informal dinner, encouraging everyone to dive in and spoon a dollop onto their plates, or in individual ramekins for a more formal presentation.


Video Recipe

Kavey’s Chicken Liver & Apricot Paté

Ingredients
400 grams chicken livers, cleaned, each liver cut into 2-3 pieces
150 grams butter
1 medium to large onion, diced or sliced
Thyme, fresh or dried, to taste
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or crushed
Salt & pepper, to taste
150 grams soft dried apricots
Optional
Clarified butter to cover

Method

  • Melt half the butter into a large pan and gently fry the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic. Keep the heat low and stir regularly, to avoid colouring.
  • Once the onions are soft, transfer into the blender and set aside.
  • In the other half of the butter, fry the livers and thyme over reasonably high heat for about 3 minute until the livers have stiffened and browned. They should be pale pink inside but no dark (raw) pink should remain.
    Transfer the livers and butter into the blender with the onions.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Add salt and pepper, and 100 grams of whole dried apricots and blend again until smooth.
  • Taste to check seasoning, add more if required.
  • Chop the remaining 50 grams of dried apricots finely and stir into the blended pate, making sure they are evenly distributed.
  • Transfer the paté into individual ramekins or a single larger dish.
  • Leave to cool, transferring to the fridge once the initial heat has dissipated.
  • Optional: Clarify some butter (melt and remove impurities) before pouring or spooning very gently over the surface of the paté, to a depth of 2-3 mm. Return to fridge for butter to set solid.
  • Serve cold, with toasted bread or brioche and a sweet jam or chutney.

Notes

  • This paté benefits from being left overnight in the fridge before serving.
  • If the surface is covered in butter, it will last a few days in the fridge.
  • It freezes very well, just allow it to defrost for several hours in the fridge before serving.
 

Pete loves Bath Ales‘ beers. You may have seen his brewery tour-at-home blog post over at his new blog, or when it was originally posted, here.

But I’m not much of a beer drinker at all. For me it’s all about the cute Bath Ales hare logo and the friendly Bath Ales team. I’ve interacted with them on twitter for ages, and finally met some of them in person when we visited Bath this summer.

And the food; it’s always about the food. (Remember our visit to the Bath Ales Graze Bar & Chophouse, in Bristol?)

So when I heard tell of a range of food products making use of Bath Ales beers, I perked up. More meerkat than hare, admittedly, but definitely perky!

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Bath Ales have put together a seasonal gift hamper including a bottle of Festivity (their winter porter), a pint glass and keyring (both with that lovely hare logo), a jar of Castellano’s Dark Side pâté, a jar of Kitchen Garden‘s Barnstormer chutney, some Sharpham Park spelt and oat biscuits and a bar of Gem beer soap. A hamper cost £24.95 + £6 delivery (£5 for Bristol and Bath postcodes).

I was sent a hamper to review, and a weekend visit to a friend’s seemed the perfect opportunity to delve in.

The Festivity porter disappeared very quickly indeed, though all is not lost as last week, I ordered 30 bottles from Waitrose, who are currently selling Bath Ales beers for a stonkingly good 3 for £5 special offer. Different branches stock different beers from the Bath Ales range, so I had to phone around to find a convenient branch for the Festivity but given the delight on Pete’s face, it was definitely worth the effort!

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The Castellano’s Dark Side pâté didn’t wow. There was nothing wrong with the flavour, though we all found it bland with no hint of beer. But the main problem was that it was dry.

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The Kitchen Garden’s Barnstormer chutney, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful. In just 2 lunches, the three of us pretty much polished it off! I’d definitely buy this chutney again, and am certainly tempted to try others from their range.

The good news is that Bath Ales have offered a second hamper as a competition prize for one lucky Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes delivery within the UK and will be sent out after the competition closes, in January.

 

How to enter

You can enter the competition in 2 ways.

Entry 1 – Sign up to the Bath Ales newsletter
Sign up to the Bath Ales monthly newsletter, by emailing your First Name, Last Name and Email address to me at Kavey Eats. I will pass these along to Bath Ales once the competition closes.

The newsletter is full of information about their ales, brewery and pubs and also includes subscriber-only offers and competitions. Bath Ales never pass subscriber details on to any other company and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Please complete your entry by leaving a comment below, including the email address you emailed me from.

Entry 2 – Tweet
Tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I’d love to win the @bathales Festivity Seasonal Hamper from www.kaveyeats.com #kaveyeatsfestivityhamper

Please complete your entry by leaving a comment below, including your twitter ID.

Rules & Details

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Saturday 31 December 2011.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • One entry per method per person.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for cash.
  • The prize includes delivery, and can be delivered to UK mainland addresses only.
  • The prize is offered and will be delivered directly by Bath Ales.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter and asked to provide a delivery address. If no response is received by the end of Saturday 7 January 2012, 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?

Thanks to Bath Ales for allowing me to preview their seasonal hamper and for providing this lovely prize.

 

Having already decided to visit the London Fields Brewery for their open day, and have a meander around nearby Broadway Market, I was reminded by a twitter friend that Lucky Chip was right between the two.

Result! A perfect trio of food and drink experiences for our Saturday day trip.

 

Lucky Chip

Lucky Chip is a relatively recent addition to the London burger scene (such a thing exists, believe me) and I’ve been salivating over blog reviews and tweets for the last few months.

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Located in London Fields’ Netil Market, Lucky Chip describes itself as an “American Night Lunch Wagon” and serves a short sweet range of burgers, hot dogs and hand-cut fries. That translates to an upmarket burger van, serving cooked-to-order food made with top quality ingredients, such as meat from The Ginger Pig.

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We arrived shortly before they opened at 12.30 and joined near the front of a quick-growing queue, straining our necks to peer at the menu and watching the team get ready to open.

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Before too long we placed our orders and were invited to take a seat at one of the outdoor tables; our burgers would take about 20 minutes (based on the number of orders ahead of us) and would be brought to us at our table. Great service for an outdoor burger van!

The market itself is small and at first, I dismissed the stalls without much attention. But a post-burger walk around revealed a small number of great stalls, particularly tempting for lovers of ’60s and ’70s retro crockery. I nearly walked away with a retro set of four egg cups but balked at the price. Maybe next time!

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All three of us ordered burgers – a single with cheese (£6), an El Chappo (£7.5) and a Sheen (£7.5) . Also on the permanent burger menu are the Eastwood ((£6.5) and the Selleck (£8). This week’s special is the Bill Murray Life Aquatic (£9). Picking up a theme?

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single with cheese, El Chappo and Sheen

Our burgers arrived well within 15 minutes of ordering and we quickly chowed down… OK, keeping it British, we quickly tucked in!

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The burgers were fantastic! Moist beef, cooked medium as requested and so juicy, they dripped onto the plates, through our fingers and saturated the soft buns. Generous, sharp and salty melted cheddar cheese. Slippery onions. Tangy blue cheese. Thick, smoky, full-flavoured bacon. Roasted jalapenos. Pickled Gherkins. Garlic aioli. Every element was just right and contributed to each hugely satisfying mouthful.

They didn’t last long but we all agreed, they were worth the journey, the cold wait and the money.

The boys washed down their burgers with some good coffee from a neighbouring stall. I had an excellent Indian chai from the City Curry stall, warming and perfectly spiced.

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As you can see, we were not alone in enjoying Lucky Chip!

We resisted Lucky Chip’s fries, available with cheese or jalapeno salsa and sour cream or wasabi mayo and ginger sweet chilli sauce or chilli cheese. Not to mention beetroot flavoured onion rings. How good do those sound?

Something to look forward to for our next visit!

 

Broadway Market

Visiting Broadway Market makes me want to move house!

Oh, to have a wonderful place like this on my doorstep, full of a wide range of fabulous food and drink stalls, manned by eager and friendly people and lined on both sides with cafes, restaurants and more food mongers.

As well as the main market, we also meandered a bunch of extra stalls in the London Fields Primary School playground, just round the corner.

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Next time I come, it’ll be with a large shopping bag and a cool bag (and an empty stomach) so I can enjoy more of the delicious products on offer.

 

London Fields Brewery

Launched only a few months ago, London Fields Brewery is part of the explosion of exciting new craft breweries that have opened in London in the last couple of years.

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Operating out of a small railway arch property close to the London Fields Rail Station, partners Jules Whiteway and Ian Burgess produce a range of traditional ales and lagers.

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Every few weeks, they’ve been hosting Saturday open days; these are being held weekly throughout December.

Their car park is protected with marquee covers under which are tables and seating, along with heat lamps to ward off the winter chill. Visitors can buy and enjoy the brewery’s beers on site. Relaxing with friends, there’s a relaxed holiday vibe.

When we visited, mid-afternoon, there was also an Argentinian grill offering hot food for reasonable prices; and in the evenings, live entertainment from a variety of musicians.

Of course, they also sell beer to take away, either in their regular bottles or in cartons and flagons.

We happily whiled away an hour or two here before finally heading on home from our day in London Fields.

Gorgeous photos taken by my talented friend, Matt Gibson. Thanks, Matt!

Lucky Chip on Urbanspoon

 

I seldom make it to soft-openings, too unorganised to secure a booking, and that’s assuming I’ve even managed to remember the dates.

But José Pizarro‘s new restaurant doesn’t take bookings. So my plan to be there just before its noon opening time for Friday lunch pays off.

Pizarro is just a few hundred metres down from the hugely popular sherry and tapas bar José opened earlier this year. The simple, delicious dishes there wowed my taste buds but I found the stools awkward with my bad back and hips, and standing equally uncomfortable.

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Pizarro is not only a lot more spacious, it has a range of comfortable seating options from bar stools to banquettes, from long tables with benches to tables and chairs.

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Arriving so early means we have the pick of the place, and José leads us towards a table for two right by the kitchen pass. Throughout our meal we enjoy watching José and his team assemble our dishes, before elegant staff dressed all in black whip them away to the diners.

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Menus in hand, we’re served crunchy salted radishes in a peppery olive oil with a slice of bread each to dip into the oil.

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There is much to appeal and we have plenty of time, so we start by ordering ham croquetas (£6) and prawns, serrano ham, chilli, garlic (£7).

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It’s hard to convey just how good these hot balls are; crisp coating surrounds a shockingly creamy cheese filling with tiny chunks of ham, so soft that they melt away in the mouth. My only niggle here is that I’d like just a tiny bit more ham… the pieces in these are few and far between, though they still don’t last long!

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As I’m a chilli wuss, I’m very happy that the prawns pack more of a garlic hit than a chilli one. The tails are partially peeled, meaning I can simply pull of the head (and have a good suck, oh yes!), and then use the tail as a handle to eat the prawn. Perfectly cooked with lots of flavour. I confess I’m bemused by the menu pairing of prawns and ham until I try it; the salty ham is a wonderful balance to the sweet garlicky prawns.

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The description of butternut squash, goat’s blue cheese, almonds (£6.50) doesn’t do this beautiful warm salad justice. What arrives is half a partially-hollowed baby squash which is used as a bowl for a salad of chunks of squash, leaves, cheese, and almonds with a simple tasty dressing and pomegranate seeds for both beauty and sweet tart bursts of flavour. I think it’s fair to say I’m surprised by how much we both love this dish.

After three shared starters, we’re ready to order mains.

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Manchego canelones, silver chard, pine nuts £12) needs our waitress’ input to inform us that canelones is pasta. It’s not until the dish comes that I twig it’s the Spanish version of Italian cannelloni – large pasta tubes. These are filled with silver chard and pine nuts in a creamy cheesy sauce. A simple, comforting and filling dish.

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Our other main is the secreto Ibérico, olive oil mash, piquillo peppers (£15.50). The presentation of this dish verges much farther towards the rustic than the rest of what we’ve been served; it’s not the most attractive plate, visually. But the pork has a great depth of flavour and the lightly browned fat gives it some extra texture. To my surprise, the flavour is very bacon-like, though I don’t think the meat has been cured at all. The mash does little for me, personally. The peppers give a little sweetness and colour to the dish.

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Click to open Bellota Importers secreto fact sheet

Incidentally, whilst the waitress advises that secreto is a cut of pork, it’s not until I get home and Google that I’m able to find out about the actual cut – and as is often the case, it doesn’t translate to how the British butcher their pigs. I think it’s similar to what we call skirt in beef, and is described by Bellota Importers as hidden between the shoulder, ribs and fatback.

Ibérico pork, if you’ve not come across it before, comes from the famous black pigs of the Ibérian peninsula. The pigs live freely in wooded pastureland that has four different varieties of oak trees, providing lots of acorns for the pigs to eat. These, and the breed’s natural propensity to accumulate fat under its skin, give the meat it’s distinctive taste.

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After three starters and two mains, we’re slowing down! We order just one dessert to share, the chocolate, toast, caramel ice cream (£6). Soft rich chocolate mousse is served on crunchy toast with a light caramel ice cream on the side. Sea salt lifts the mousse and caramelised sugar lifts the ice cream. I love the texture of the toast against the soft mousse and ice cream, though a knife would have made it easier to cut through the hard crust.

Another thing I should mention, though I’m not a big drinker, is the reasonably priced drinks menu. Between us we enjoy a glass of Cava and one of Pedro Ximinez (can you guess which one is mine?), both very reasonably priced at £4.50. Often it’s the drinks that ratchet up the prices but you can certainly stick to a budget here, should you choose.

A small carafe of still water, left on the table for our convenience, is regularly and unobtrusively topped up by friendly waiters.

José Pizarro serves up food that is simple yet delicious, allowing the flavours of very good quality ingredients to speak for themselves, in a way that only the best chefs have the confidence to do.

Personally, I’m wowed more by the starters and dessert than the mains, and next time I visit I’ll likely order a larger selection of those to share, skipping the mains entirely.

As well as watching the kitchen team at work, we sit and linger as other guests arrive and leave again. There’s a huge buzz to the place that’s very uplifting.

Go, eat well, relax and enjoy!

Pizarro  on Urbanspoon

 

I hate shopping for clothes, shoes and practical necessities but I do love shopping for presents. There’s something wonderful about finding the perfect present for a loved one; a present you know will light up their face when they receive it; a present that fits like an oven glove!

Recently, I shared some recipes for homemade presents.

Now I’m sharing my favourite ideas for presents you can buy.

Hint: if you’re looking for inspiration for gifts for me, this should give you some ideas!

 

A Food Blogger’s Christmas Wish List

AdHoc Tea Infusers

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These nifty tea infusers by AdHoc bob about in your mug, gently infusing your chosen tea into the hot water. Available for £8.95 plus postage from Kitchen.

 

Food Christmas Tree Ornaments

COLLAGE

I’m enchanted and amused by these fantastic food and drink ornaments for Christmas trees, made by Inge-Glas, a German family glass-blowing business. There are over 125 to choose from and I’ve made a collage of my favourites, above. Thanks to My Tiny Plot for introducing me to these, via her post on Inge-Glas’ vegetable ornaments. She links to a US-based online retailer, but it’s probably worth contacting Inge-Glas directly to ask about European suppliers.

 

Bert & Ernie Cheese Cutters

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I mostly love these for their names, but I like the clean and simple styling too. Available from Crate & Barrel for £4.05 each (plus postage).

 

Nudo Adopt An Olive Tree

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I was invited to meet the founders of Nudo Italia recently, at an event where we tasted the latest harvest of oil before enjoying a meal incorporating the various flavoured oils. In fact I’d come across their flavoured oils a few years previously, so was already a fan of the fresh, clean flavours. I like all of them but particularly recommend the lemon, basil and garlic ones.

For £65 you or your recipient will receive an adoption certificate with information about the adopted tree and the grove it sits in. In spring, the adoptive “parent” will receive extra virgin olive oil from trees in their grove, between 1.5 and 2 litres. And in autumn, they will be sent three tins of flavoured oils, 250 ml each in size. I love unusual present ideas like this and can’t wait to receive the oil from my own adopted tree, which I was gifted by Nudo.

 

Le Creuset Espresso Mugs

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These Le Creuset mini mugs would be perfect serving dishes for rich, home made desserts such as lemon posset or chocolate mousse. I can’t decide whether I’d go for all one colour or get a mix. Available for £6.50 each from Kitchen.

 

Jar Tops

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I shared these clever jar tops from Dutch company, Royal VKB in my 2010 Christmas presents list but I like the idea so much I’m sharing them again for 2011. They screw onto standard jars and transform them into useful household objects. Get creative and leave the labels on some of your favourite condiments and jams for an even funkier look.

 

Neal’s Yard Remedies Shower Gels

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Although they sell everything from bath oil to moisturisers to shampoos to perfumes, it’s Neal’s Yard Remedies‘ shower gels that I particularly love, in a range of enticing flavours such as rose & geranium, rosemary and elderflower, citrus and jasmine. Priced at £14 for 200 ml.

 

Fridgeezoo Fridge Pets

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You could probably guess that these crazy, adorable fridge pets originate in Japan, right? When you open your fridge door, their sensors detect the light and the Fridgeezoo pets call out a greeting… in Japanese, of course! Even though our small fridge is always completely full, with everything slotted in like a 3D tetris, it’s hard to resist that cute little penguin. Available for £14.99 each from Firebox. Many thanks to MissWhiplash for bringing these critters to my attention!

 

Spoon Coffee Mugs

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Always losing your tea or coffee spoon? These cute mugs with integrated spoon holder may help. Mostly I just think they look very funky. They come in white or “sprout” green. Available from Create & Barrel for £2.69 each or £10.75 for four (plus postage).

 

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug

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This suggestion is a recommendation from my friend Matt, who tells me the Contigo is not only a highly efficient thermos flask which keeps drinks piping hot (or refreshingly cold) but also ideal for drivers; press the blue button and sip from a small hole that opens up in the lid. When closed, it’s a tight enough seal that the mug can happily lie on it’s side on the passenger car seat without leaking. Available on Amazon.co.uk for £19.99, free delivery.

 

L’Occitane Verbena

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Another food-flavoured toiletry range that I really love is L’Occitane’s Verbena range. Including shampoos, soaps, bath foams, creams and my personal favourite, their shower gel. I particularly like that they sell eco-friendly refill poaches for the shower gel, encouraging reuse of existing containers. Available directly from L’Occitane.

 

Egg Cups

I collect egg cups. I have hundreds and hundreds of them. Here are a few that have caught my eye lately.

Kathleen Hills Egg Cube

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I love the geometric lines of this egg cup. It’s pricey though… available from mydeco for £17.50.

Egg & Soldier Egg Cups

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How cute is this pair of egg cups, a little crenelated castle tower and a small horse? Available from mydeco for £23.50.

The Eggsterminator

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OK I didn’t own this but, as I was writing this post I couldn’t help myself, and a few clicks later I found I’d somehow placed an order! Surely a must for all boiled-egg-loving Dr Who fans. Available for £4.98 from Amazon.co.uk, free delivery.

Keith Brymer Jones Word Egg Cups

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And I do own this set too, a kind gift from PR agency 84 Buckingham Road, after I enthused about the egg cups during a Clarence Court Eggs evening at Hix (Brewer Street), and they learned I collect egg cups. I think they’re just adorable. Available from John Lewis for £15.

 

Ultimate Pong Cheese Selection

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I’ve a particular soft spot for Pong Cheese’s Ultimate Pong box because it was my idea. And it seems I was not alone, as it’s one of their best sellers; no surprise, given the delicious contents of strong, stinky and delicious cheese! Available for £28.95 plus postage.

 

Mrs Beeton Christmas Pudding on Stand

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A bit of a bargain from Tesco Direct, I reckon. This Mrs Beeton Christmas pudding comes on a glass cake stand, for just £10. Available from Tesco Direct.

 

The Irkafirka Tea Ninja Mug

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Remember how delighted I was when I finally joined the hallowed halls of those who’ve been irkafirkaed? I was even more delighted when I persuaded the magnificent men at irkafirka HQ to create a mug version for purchase. They kindly made available these marvellous Tea Ninja mugs (with the text removed so it could be any Tea Ninja, even your own). Available from £11.60 at zazzle.

 

Australian Stickies (Dessert Wines)

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Australian dessert wines are very well regarded by wine experts and great value too.

Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat sounds right up my street. A beautiful deep amber in colour, it’s described as very sweet with flavours of fresh, dried and candied fruits, hints of honey, ginger and burnt toffee.  Available from Morrisons for £11.99 or winedirect for £11.95 plus postage.

De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat is said to be robust enough to partner with Christmas pudding or blue cheese, both difficult matches. Its flavours are described as figs, raisins and caramel with a strong scent of rose on the nose. Available from Majestic Wine for £14.99 (or less when Australian wines are on special offer, as now).

 

Hand Crafted Aprons

Sites such as Folksy and NotOnTheHighStreet are a great place to find unique crafted items, such as the beautiful love bird bowls by Prince Design, which I featured in my gift ideas post last year. This year I’ve been inspired by hand made aprons.

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The Patchwork Heart offers custom made patchwork design aprons for just £12. I particularly love the burger design but you can also have tea cups, wine bottles, cup cakes and more.

     

Rosie Ann offers retro vintage-inspired aprons for £20. I love the feminine styling of these and the contrasting fabric choices too.

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Clare Carter Designs decorates aprons with colourful illustrations. Food designs include cakes, jellies, sundaes and picnic items. Available for £19.99 each.

 

Mamta’s Kitchen Aprons

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This year we launched Mamta’s Kitchen cookery classes and they’ve gone down a storm. So it’s a good time to remind you about our own Mamta’s Kitchen aprons, made by a catering industry clothing specialist, from heavy-weight 100% cotton, with reinforced corners and extra-long anti-tangle ties, they’re generously wide and long and can be machine-washed at 40 degrees, even with the embroidery.

 

Dunk Mug

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This fun mug for biscuit dunkers comes in left or right handed versions, so that the owner’s biscuits are front and foremost. Available from Mocha for £16.99 plus postage.

 

Tea Tube

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Also from Mocha is this clever combined tea scoop and infuser, which can also be used to stir in the sugar. Available for £11.99 plus delivery. When you drink as much tea as I do, you can never have too many tea infusers!

 

Opies Bottled Fruits

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This range of bottled fruits makes me salivate. Whether it’s the alcoholic options such as Messinia figs with courvoisier, Fujan stem ginger with Teacher’s whisky and Bulida apricots with Drambuie or the non-alcoholic offerings such as Baby Pears With Vanilla and Halved Peaches With Cinnamon, I’m still drooling. Available from Waitrose, priced between £3.49 and £11.

 

Sandcastle Bowls

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These glazed ceramic bowls by Caroline McGrath transport me back to childhood holidays by the sea. I think they’d make a great present as a fruit bowl for a seaside themed living room, or to grow herbs in the kitchen. Available for £25 plus postage.

 

Grenadier Stacking Mugs Set

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Stacking mugs are a great space saver. This set is designed to look good individually and splendid when stacked. Available for £15 a set plus postage.

 

 

Simply Relish Hamper

relish5smrelish6smAnn Busby of Simply Relish is a friend I met online, chatting about food on various chat boards. Her relishes have won numerous awards, for good reason as they’re absolutely delicious. (I speak from personal experience, having tasted a number of Ann’s creations). Contact Ann directly to discuss the contents and price of a gift hamper or inquire about your local stockists.

 

Tracklements

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And while we’re on condiments, I also recommend the historically-inspired range of condiments from Tracklements. 40 years ago Will Tullberg didn’t intend to start a new business, when he first made the first wholegrain English mustard as an accompaniment for the sausages he was then selling. It proved so popular with friends and family and local pub landlords that a new business was soon born. Today, Will and his son Guy, have added a wide range of new condiments to the original wholegrain mustard, many of which are inspired by old traditional English recipes found in ageing cookery books. Our personal favourites include chilli jam and sweet mustard ketchup. I would go for their DIY gift hampers, which allow you to choose which items to include from their range. Available for £28 or £31.50 from Tracklements.

 

Home Whisky Blending Kit

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This is definitely a great present for whisky lovers with a secret dream of owning their own distillery. My whisky-loving husband has been salivating over this! The blending kit includes 12 x 3cl whiskies plus pipettes, measuring cylinders and a whisky glass in which to enjoy your personal creations. Available for £49.95 plus delivery, from Master of Malt.

 

Rococo Chocolates

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There are many British chocolatiers I love from Paul A Young to William Curley to Gorvett & Stone, to name just a few. Thoughtful selections from any of them will light up the face of a chocolate lover. However, these Christmas specials from Rococo caught my eye, featuring two of my favourites – floral creams and high quality marzipans. Flower fondant creams £11.95, walnut and almond marzipan £13.50 from Rococo.

 

I hope you’ve found some lovely ideas to inspire your own present shopping or put on your own wishlist when family ask what they can buy for you.

Many of the gift ideas I shared last year are worth a look too.

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