kaveyeats

 

If there’s one trend in the restaurant industry that’s really come to the fore since the turn of the century it’s the rise of the second-career chef.

Men and women who worked in all manner of highly successful, and often high-paying, careers – lawyers, doctors, engineers, corporate managers, computer programmers, management consultants, hedge fund gurus – choose to give these careers up for the hard labour and long hours of a professional kitchen. There are many routes to this journey from an informal start running supper-clubs, short-term residencies or street-food stalls to a more conventional training and graduation from a professional cookery school.

Some, like my friend Mat Follas, win a TV cooking competition and take it from there. In the UK, winning Masterchef doesn’t come with any prizes; no monetary bursary to put towards training or setting up one’s own business, no book deal, magazine column or paid apprenticeship with a top chef. But it does give you a readymade reputation for reliably good cooking and a short-lived celebrity from which to launch a new career should you choose. After Mat won Masterchef in 2009 he strode through that door of opportunity with an immense steadiness of nerve, opening his own restaurant within just a few months.

Beaminster-based, The Wild Garlic restaurant was immensely popular with locals and visitors from further afield and the food was excellent. Pete and I visited a few times; well worth the trek from London.

After the restaurant closed in 2013, Mat cooked at a number of other venues including a summer beach cafe and a local hotel in Dorchester. He also wrote two cookbooks, the first Fish: Delicious recipes for fish and shellfish came out last April, the second Vegetable Perfection: 100 tasty recipes for roots, bulbs, shoots and stems was published a few weeks ago, (review coming soon).

Now he has launched his latest venture alongside wife and business partner Amanda, and long time colleague and business partner Katy.

Mat Follas at the Bramble Cafe and Deli on Kavey Eats-173225 Mat Follas at the Bramble Cafe and Deli on Kavey Eats-180004 Mat Follas at the Bramble Cafe and Deli on Kavey Eats-184723

The Bramble Cafe & Deli is located in a newly built area of Poundbury – the experimental urban development on the outskirts of Dorchester, built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. The development ethos is to create an integrated community of shops, businesses, private housing and social housing and the architecture is a modern interpretation of classic European styles. As a fan of yellow brick, I like it.

Bramble fronts onto an elongated ‘square’ with all the properties facing in onto an open space, commonly used for parking. There’s a deep portico providing shade to the patio area in front; go through the front door into an airy interior with huge windows and plenty of tables. Behind the dining space is the kitchen, cosy and domestic rather than gleaming-metal; very much in keeping with the relaxed style of the space and Mat’s cooking. Everything is on one level, including the toilet, making disabled access straightforward.

The deli is set to open in a few weeks, with products to be displayed on a large set of shelves to one side of the main room. For now, the cafe is open Monday to Saturday from 8.30 to 4.30, offering pastries and cakes, light lunches and drinks. As of a couple of weeks ago, the cafe is also open for dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings; Mat offers a pared back menu with three choices per course and an affordable wine list to match.

Daytime

During the day, customers can come in for a breakfast croissant, a hot or cold lunch, or perhaps an afternoon tea with a sweet baked treat.

Mat Follas at the Bramble Cafe and Deli on Kavey Eats-141537

The macaroni cheese with smoked salmon is one of the best macaroni cheese dishes I’ve had. I’m not a fan of the thick style where a block of stodge can be sliced with a knife; I prefer my macaroni cheese to have a slippery-slick sauce full of intense cheese flavour, coating perfectly cooked pasta and that’s just how this one comes – with the added bonus of two generous slices of smoked salmon, made flaky by the heat of macaroni cheese below and grilled cheese above.

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Also superb is a crab and cheese toast. Crisped slice of bread is thickly covered with a generous layer of flavour-packed crab, heavy on the brown meat, and topped with sharp salty cheese, grilled till its bubbling. Served with some crisps and an unadorned salad, it’s perfect for a satisfyingly delicious lighter lunch.

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On the counter are a few indulgent bakes, flapjacks and gluten-free chocolate brownies on the day of our visit. These are huge slabs – my photo shows a half portion of the brownie I shared with Pete! It’s good, dense and fudgy with a lovely crisp surface on top.

I enjoyed my share with an extra chocolate hit – a Jaz & Juls hot chocolate; Bramble offer a dark chocolate or a milk chocolate option.

Evening

The Bramble is currently open for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. Walk ins are welcome but book ahead to guarantee a table. The menu changes seasonally, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients.

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Tempted by all three starters, we follow Katy’s naughty suggestion of sharing the Asparagus with hollandaise sauce (£6) as a pre-starter and then having the other two starters afterwards. The asparagus is excellent with lots of flavour, no woodiness, very fresh. And Mat makes a killer Hollandaise, glossy with butter and lifted by a real kick of lemon juice. Gorgeous!

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Not what we expect from the description of Smoked salmon, tomato and pea (£7), this dish doesn’t feature any smoke-cured salmon, rather it is fresh hot-smoked salmon served in a jar with tomatoes and pea shoots. The theatre of Mat opening the jar at the table to release swirls of smoke is fun, but the dish isn’t a favourite – perhaps because I had expected smoke-cured salmon instead.

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The Ham hock and wild garlic terrine with pickles and toast (£5) is enormous! Actually large enough for two to share as a starter, and could be the basis of a fabulous lunch plate too. Delicious soft and meaty pork with a hint of wild garlic, crunchy lightly pickled vegetables and crisp melba toasts.

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Pork belly, crackling, apple sauce and smoked mash (£14) is so very delicious. It may not look it from the photo but the (enormous) portion of pork is cooked perfectly till the fat is melty, melty, melty and the meat is soft and tender. Crackling is gorgeous, though a little too salty for me. Mash is rich and buttery and with just the right level of smoke. Apple sauce has the sharpness to cut through all the richness. I may need to get out my indigestion tablets later after all this butter and fat, but it’ll be worth it!

On the side, cauliflower and broccoli cheese (£3.50).

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Pete orders Rabbit cooked in red wine, served with a crusty roll (£13). It’s really not a pretty dish any which way you look at it, but it does deliver on flavour. The rabbit and vegetables are well cooked, the sauce full of red wine and meatiness, perfect for sopping up with the bread.

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We don’t really have room for desserts but cannot resist, especially with a bit of gentle nudging from Katy!

My Chocolate and marmalade orange tart with clotted cream (£6) is a grown up jaffa cake on a plate – rich, smooth dark chocolate ganache over a marmalade orange jelly, inside a crumbly pastry shell.

Pete loves his Lavender pannacotta with raspberry powder (£6), so perfectly judged that it wobbles most pleasingly yet yields like creamy custard to the spoon.

At no more than £30 for a three course meal with a side per person, this is fantastically good value. Of course I appreciate that prices are lower outside of London but for good quality ingredients and cooking like this, it’s still a steal.

We booked a wonderful B&B a few miles outside of Dorchester to make a short break of our visit and took the opportunity to enjoy some of the gorgeous gardens nearby. There’s so much to do in Dorset, look out for another post in coming weeks sharing my favourite attractions (and lodging) in the area.

 

I do love a good chocolate brownie and for me that means dense and gooey – none of this crumbly cake-like stuff – and redolent of top quality dark chocolate. I want the texture to be rich, fudge-like, just short of too sticky to hold and I want to taste the natural flavour of the cocoa bean from which the chocolate was made.

When such a brownie can be mine for twenty-odd quid and a day or two’s wait for it to made to order and sent to me by post, there’s absolutely no reason not to indulge from time to time. And of course, it means I can spread the love by sending lovely parcels of deliciousness to friends – for a birthday or anniversary, as a thank you gift, as a get well message or just because I know someone who will utterly adore them!

B is for Brownie offers such a service, selling handmade single origin chocolate brownies across the UK via an online shop.

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I recently tried their offering (see my review below) and had a chat to founder Lou Cox. I also have a box to giveaway to a lucky reader, and a reader discount code to share too.

B is for Brownie | Interview

When did you decide to launch a business selling your brownies to the public? And when did you launch?

My decision to go into brownie baking happened in the autumn of 2014. I was on a mission to produce the very best brownie that I could. There was lots of experimentation during which I discovered that you could taste the character of different origins of chocolate in the brownies and that seemed like the most obvious route for me to take. The online business launched in August 2015.

How did you come up with the name and brand design for B is for Brownie?

My partner came up with the name and it just sounded right. I worked on the brand design with a very talented web designer called Sarah Webb. I didn’t initially want a black and white design, but in the end the logo looked so clean and fresh and timeless that I went with it.

All your brownies are gluten free. Was that a conscious decision based on a personal need to avoid gluten, a desire to be suitable for gluten-free consumers or simply that your favourite brownie recipe happened to be gluten free?

During the development stage I decided to offer a wheat free version. When I baked with wheat free flour I was so impressed by the texture that I felt that the brownies actually benefited from being wheat free, so that’s the recipe I now use. I don’t shout about it, it just happened to be the best thing for my brownies.

Where do you source the chocolate for your single original chocolate brownies, and how do you select it?

I source by flavour, it must have plenty of character to shine through in the baked brownie. I prefer chocolate without vanilla and soya lecithin where possible.

For your Grenadan brownies, you actually make the chocolate yourself from the bean, before using it in your brownies! Why did you decide to take this approach? Can you tell me more about how you chose these Grenadan beans and how you make your chocolate?

I just wanted to take the whole process further and I enjoy experimenting. I have a science degree, and spent nearly six years working for Hotel Chocolat within the development team. So felt confident in my abilities to take brownie baking to the next level. I simply chose the Grenadan beans for their character and also from a practical point of view I am a very small business and cannot justify buying tens of kilos at a time. The bean to brownie is intended to be a limited edition brownie baked simply without any additional flavour to show case the cocoa bean. I intend to change the bean origin from time to time.

The process for making chocolate is very simple but a little time consuming. Basically you roast some beans, allow to cool remove the shell, grind to create small nibs then heat the nibs and add to a grinder and grind for 4 hours. [You can read more about Lou’s methods and equipment in Lou’s recent blog post, here.]

Which is your best seller?

The sea salted butterscotch without a doubt!

How do you develop new brownie flavours?

Firstly they need to be able to withstand the character of the chocolate, secondly I tend not to blend flavours through the brownie batter as this would mask the flavour of the single origin chocolate. I like the contrast or harmony between the topping and the chocolate. Sometimes you get more topping than brownie and sometimes more brownie!

Can you tell us about flavours currently in development and coming soon?

I’ve just developed The Hazelnut Gianduja Brownie for which I am making the gianduja myself – roasting and blending hazelnuts with chocolate and sea salt – before submerging chunks into a brownie slab just before baking.

I’m also looking at a Rum & Raisin brownie for summer / Father’s Day. I am soaking flame raisins in spiced rum before baking them into the brownie.

Sum up your brownies in 5 words or less.

Immensely dense, intensely good. Truffley (not really a word I know!)

B is for Brownie | Review

My brownies arrive securely packed in a sturdy box that should fit readily through most letterboxes. Inside, the brownies are beautifully wrapped in branded paper tied with ribbon, and also in parchment paper, so they arrive safe and sound.

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Lou hand-makes the brownies to order so they are freshly baked when posted and remain in good condition for about a week after arrival. You can also freeze some of the pieces if you like, to spread the enjoyment out; I froze a couple of mine, wrapped tightly in some of the parchment paper they arrived in, and can confirm that they freeze and defrost well.

The slab Lou made for me is single origin Madagascan chocolate and she created a mix of flavours so I could get a feel for her range. Fingers crossed that a similar assorted brownie slab will be available for order in her shop soon as I love the idea! From left tor right the flavours in my slab are Sea Salted Fudge, Raspberry, plain Madagascan and Hazelnut Gianduja [coming soon].

Unlike many flavoured brownies I’ve tried before, Lou doesn’t mix her flavourings into the batter as she is keen for the flavour of the single origin chocolate to shine through. Instead, she adds ingredients as toppings or – like the Hazelnut Gianduja – pushes a layer down inside the batter so it bakes into the middle. This tactic works really well and the flavourings complement rather than overwhelm the chocolate. And with chocolate this good, that’s a very good thing – the delicious red berry fruit notes typical of Madagascan chocolate sing on the palate.

I love all four that I try but I think my favourite is the raspberry jam – the fruit accentuates the natural flavours of the cacao so perfectly!

Most of the B is for Brownies range is priced between £18 and £23 per 500 gram slab. The Goldie is the outlier priced at £30, not unreasonable given the brilliant bling of 23 carat gold leaf that adorns it. Delivery is an additional £3.35 per box.

Hint: If ever you want to get in my good books, a box of Lou’s brownies would go a long way towards ensuring your place!

B is for Brownie | Giveaway

PRIZE

B is for Brownie are offering a box of single original brownies in their latest flavour, Hazelnut Gianduja, to a reader of Kavey Eats. The box will contain a 500 gram slab of handmade chocolate brownies and includes delivery to a UK address.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What new brownie flavour would you like to see B is for Brownie developing next?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey and @Bisforbrownie on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a box of single origin chocolate brownies by @Bisforbrownie from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KE-BIFB #KaveyEatsBIFB
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 24th June 2016.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a B is for Brownie box of Hazelnut Gianduja brownies. Delivery to a UK address is included.
  • The prize is offered by B is for Brownie and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey and @Bisforbrownie at the time of notification.
  • For Blog comment entries, entrants must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

B is for Brownie | Reader Code

If you would like to order a box of single original chocolate brownies for yourself or a friend (and I’m telling you, you or the friend will love you for it!), B is for Brownie are offering 15% off to Kavey Eats readers. Enter KAVEY2016 on checkout; valid till 30th June 2016. Discount applies to contents of  cart; delivery cost remains the same.

Kavey Eats received a review box of chocolate brownies from B is for Brownie.

 

Once upon a time, dating was what you did before you got married and once you were married, well you were married, weren’t you? It wasn’t that married couples no longer went out, just that it wasn’t referred to as dating, just married life, I guess. But over the last couple of decades, the term ‘Date Night’ has done an about-turn and these days I most commonly see it used to describe a dedicated night to themselves for married or long-term couples.

For Pete and I, with no kids underfoot, you could say that most of our meals out, and all our weekends away and longer holidays are dedicated time to ourselves, and it’s true that many of them are; sometimes we grab our Kindles and read, companionably, over our meal whereas other times we leave them behind and natter away, making plans for the allotment or a future holiday, talking about the news or some interesting local development, sharing synopses of good books we’ve recently read or giggling over whatever is the latest thing to tickle our funny bones…

I imagine that for couples with young children, setting aside dedicated child-free time to be a couple must be essential to maintain their relationship as lovers and friends, as distinct from their mutual roles as their children’s parents; whether it’s weekly, monthly or only every now and then.

Whatever your situation, if you’re looking for an indulgent Date Night idea, I have a terrific suggestion for you – Film, Fizz and Dinner in a luxury hotel followed, if you like, by an overnight stay.

Film & Fizz

Luxury London hotel One Aldwych host Film & Fizz nights in their dedicated 30-seater cinema – you are greeted and seated with a glass of chilled champagne and a box of sweet or salty popcorn to enjoy during the film, after which you head to the hotel’s Indigo restaurant for a delicious three course meal. Or night owls can opt for a later screening; fizz and film without dinner afterwards – perfect if you want to dine in one of the many excellent restaurants in the vicinity.

One Aldwych Date Night Film Dinner and Hotel Stay on Kavey Eats-203820 One Aldwych Screening Room popcorn
second image courtesy on One Aldwych

On our One Aldwych Date Night, Pete and I enjoy Trumbo – an engaging film about how the American fear of Communism lead to the Hollywood Blacklist, as told through the story of top screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. The cinema is adorable – wide and comfortable blue leather seats with plenty of legroom (enough for Pete’s lanky legs) and good image and sound quality too.

After the film, we and other guests head to Indigo restaurant for dinner.

Dinner

This is very much a trip down memory lane for me. When we first moved to London, our salaries (and therefore our budget for eating out at restaurants) were much lower and my approach to eating out at decent restaurants was to take advantage of their pre-theatre dinner menus; these allowed my friends and I to enjoy two or three courses for significantly less than an a la carte meal would cost, albeit we had a restricted selection of dishes to choose from. Indigo (and the hotel’s other restaurant, Axis) were both firm favourites on my pre-theatre dinner circuit and I have happy memories of many excellent meals here.

Today, Indigo’s kitchen is headed up by Chef Dominic Teague. Over the last year, Teague has quietly developed lunch and dinner menus that are entirely gluten and dairy free, though those without allergies certainly won’t feel they are missing out; if it weren’t mentioned on the menu, I doubt most diners would even notice.

Top quality ingredients, conscientiously sourced, are allowed to shine in light, delicious dishes.

First, gluten-free bread – samphire, rosemary and roasted onion mini loaves with rapeseed oil for dipping; perfectly decent.

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Pete orders red wine, a young Bordeaux that could do with another year or two to mellow – there’s not much choice in the lowest price bracket; mark ups seem on the high side. My One D.O.M. cocktail of Benedictine, Finlandia Vodka, honey, kaffir lime leaves and egg whites is delicious, but similarly pricey at £14.

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Pete’s Wild garlic soup with poached egg and croutons is superb, with a clear wild garlic flavour that is perfectly balanced; rich yet not overwhelming. The egg is beautifully cooked and a gentle cut of the spoon spills it into the soup to add its yolky creaminess. Croutons and wild garlic flowers garnish with texture and fresh flavour.

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My Organic Rhug Estate pork, granny smiths, truffle mayonnaise looks a bit of a mess and when it arrives I mistakenly think it’ll be a bit meh. Actually, it’s gorgeous, with thin slices of soft, meaty pork accentuated perfectly by crisp sweet-tart apple, a pea shoot salad and a beautifully truffled mayonnaise, with extra truffle grated over the top. The truffle with the pork is a winning combination!

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Pete’s Brixham plaice, confit pepper, olive, fennel is perfectly cooked, just just just enough – creating a softness and silkiness that’s very appealing. This is a light dish that speaks of the summer to come.

My Braised new season lamb with spring vegetables, wet polenta is more solid, a dish that speaks of the winter just gone. The lamb is superbly cooked and with excellent flavour, as is the gravy. Vegetables are so so, the beans are a little woolly but the peas, carrots and greens are good. But the slop of wet polenta does absolutely nothing for me, lacking in flavour and with all the texture of wallpaper paste.

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Pete is delighted with his Lemon posset, poached Yorkshire rhubarb which comes with a quenelle of pastel pink rhubarb sorbet and a crumble garnish as well as the poached fruit. The posset hasn’t set, so it’s more of a cream but the flavour is excellent, and the dessert is, once again, very nicely balanced.

My Alphonso mango sorbet, passion fruit jelly comes with both mango sorbet and fresh mango, perfectly ripe and flavour-packed Alphonso, the king of all mangoes. The passion fruit jelly suffers in comparison, with very little flavour other than a not-too-pleasant acidity. Luckily, it’s easily left at the bottom of the pretty glass bowl and the mango sorbet and fruit more than make up for it.

It’s an enjoyably meal with only a few minor niggles and I think it would be a particularly nice place to visit with friends on gluten-free or dairy-free diets, allowing them the luxury of choosing anything on the menu rather than being forced to pick the one dish they can eat.

Our set menu dinner is rolled in with the price of Fizz & Film, at £55 per person for a glass of champagne, the film and a three course meal. (Drinks are, of course, extra).

Ordering from the a la carte menu, a three course meal in Indigo ranges from £35 to £53, based on the menu at the time of our visit.

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The film was a long one so we’re dining later than usual (though there are post-theatre diners that come in much later than us). The staff kindly serve our tea and coffee to the room, a nice touch that speaks to thoughtful service.

Bed

Speaking of our room, it’s an absolute delight. We are in one of the hotel’s spacious Deluxe Doubles. The beautifully elegant room features a king size bed, two comfortable armchairs and coffee table, a desk and chair and a TV (with safe hidden in the stand). The bathroom is gorgeous, all dark red tile and white suite with a deep tub by the window and a walk in shower. Both the bedroom and bathroom look out over the heart of tourist London but good quality glazing means no street noise to worry about.

Indeed, the only thing that disturbs the peace is a poorly-designed low-water flushing system that makes the most awful racket after you flush, and the screeching noise lasts for ages too. I’m happy to see hotels take eco-friendly measures seriously but these need to meet the standards of the rest of the fittings and furniture, and right now the loo lets the bathroom down!

There are lots of lovely touches that other hotels could learn from – an international plug adaptor in one of the drawers, a card detailing the next day’s weather forecast left in the room during turndown service, a hairdryer that isn’t attached to the wall as though I’m going to steal it if it isn’t, and a decent amount of space for opening cases and storing clothes.

One thing we miss though is the provision of tea and coffee making facilities; unusual not to have them in a hotel of this calibre.

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Breakfast

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A nice touch when it comes to breakfast is that you can enjoy it delivered to your room for no extra charge, or dine in the restaurant if you prefer.

The downside is that it’s awfully pricey at £29 per person and the Full English Breakfast isn’t very full!

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The plate above is Pete’s cooked breakfast; he asks for the Full English as it comes, stipulating streaky bacon over back and eggs to be fried; this minimalist plate is what he is served – two eggs, some bacon, a small piece of black pudding, half a grilled tomato and half a small flat grilled mushroom! Oddly, no sausages, though they are listed on the menu and my breakfast (for which I name items I want individually) includes them! The basket of pastries and toast is meagre with three different pastries and a few slices of toast between two, though if you order room service, you’ll be given your choice of four per person, selected from a list. We ask for more pastries, and staff do oblige. Breakfast also includes fruit juice, tea and coffee.

There are national newspapers available at the entrance, always appreciated, particularly on a weekend.

Date Night Score

For Film, Fizz and Dinner, we give One Aldwych a solid 9 out of 10. It feels like a real occasion; the little cinema offers a decent selection of films – a different one each weekend; Dominic Teague’s cooking is very enjoyable, and the dining room is comfortable and welcoming too.

For Bed, it’s an 8 out of 10. We loved the generous size of our room, the elegant colour scheme and furnishings, the comfortable bed and the luxurious bathroom. Only the noisy plumbing and lack of tea and coffee making facilities let it down. Note that this is a luxury hotel; plugging a few different dates into the online reservation system returns Room Only prices starting from £350 for standard doubles and twins, a good bit more for the Deluxe room we enjoyed. That said, the location truly is in the heart of tourist London, less than a minute’s walk from Covent Garden, Waterloo Bridge, The London Eye and many more of London’s best attractions.

Breakfast is the only element that gets a thumbs down, 2 out of 10. For the hefty price of a three course dinner, it’s not remotely good enough and I’d recommend booking Room Only instead. Use the £58 you save to cover both breakfast and lunch in the many local cafes and restaurants nearby instead.

One Aldwych - Multicoloured Lighting
Exterior hotel image courtesy of One Aldwych

Kavey Eats was invited to review One Aldwych on a complimentary basis, including the fizz and film dinner experience plus bed and breakfast. We were under no obligation to write a positive review, and all opinions are our own.

 

Your Date Night Ideas

Do you and your partner do Date Nights? If so, what are your top suggestions for a romantic or fun experience to enjoy together?

May 152016
 

We recently spent a lovely few days visiting our friends in their gorgeous rural home in Monmouthshire. While they were at work, Pete and I took over their large kitchen (with beautiful views of the countryside) and cooked up a storm. Having packed our new Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Smart Waffle maker, on our first full day in the kitchen we went waffling mad, making rich, decadent double chocolate waffles for breakfast followed by smoky paprika and cheesy potato ones for lunch, both big successes and utterly delicious.

We thought (briefly) about having a non-waffle breakfast the next morning and got as far as discussing toast, bacon and eggs. But the thought of hot buttered toast with Marmite, a breakfast staple in both houses, lead me to suggest Marmite Waffles instead and the very enthusiastic response to the idea meant there was no going back!

We adapted the Classic Waffle recipe from the Smart Waffle maker guide book, reducing the sugar and adding Marmite, and to our delight, the waffles came out beautifully. Just the right amount of Marmite flavour, not so subtle that you struggle to taste it but not overwhelmingly strong either.

These are light waffles perfect to serve straight out of the waffle maker with soft boiled eggs and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

As Pete discovered, on nibbling a leftover waffle that afternoon, these are also great cold as a savoury snack.

Marmite Waffles on Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle (2)

Marmite Waffles Recipe

Makes 5 waffles in the Smart Waffle maker

Ingredients
80 g butter, melted
300 ml milk, warmed to tepid
2 level tablespoons (or 2 very heaped teaspoons) Marmite, or your preferred brand of yeast extract
2 large eggs
200 grams plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 generously heaped teaspoon baking powder

Method

  • Preheat your waffle maker. We used the Smart Waffle’s Classic setting, and set the Lightness-Darkness dial to two lighter than the middle notch.

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  • Whisk butter, milk, marmite and eggs together.
  • Place dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ones and whisk to form a runny batter.
  • Pour batter into waffle maker; don’t overfill.
  • Cook for about 3 minutes, or until nicely browned and crisp on the surface.

Marmite Waffles on Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle (3)

  • Remove and serve hot.

To read more about the Smart Waffle from Sage by Heston Blumenthal, check out this post where I share a recipe for very indulgent and delicious Double Chocolate Brownie-Style Belgian Waffles.

Marmite Waffles on Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle (1)

Here are a few more waffle ideas featuring well-known food brands:

 

Kavey Eats received a Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Smart Waffle for review. As always, I was not expected to write a positive review; all opinions are my own and I recommend only products I truly believe in. This post contains affiliate links; please see my sidebar for further information.

 

One of the most picturesque cities in Europe, Lübeck is the perfect destination for a Northern European city break. During my recent March visit the wind chilled to the bone but the end-of-winter sunshine showcased the Old City in glorious golden light.

Situated on the River Trave, Lübeck is the second-largest city in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein region, and a major port in the area. For several centuries it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, a commercial confederation of merchant guilds and market downs that dominated trade in Northern Europe, stretching along the coast from the Baltic to the North Sea. Lübeck Old Town, on a small island entirely enclosed by the Trave, is much admired for its extensive brick gothic architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A Rich Mediaeval History

If you enjoy learning about Europe’s history, you’ll certainly appreciate a visit to the European Hansemuseum which opened in Lübeck last year.

Even though I love history, I’m not always a fan of museums; far too many of them present information in such dull and unimaginative ways. That absolutely cannot be said of the Hansemuseum which is one of the best museums I’ve visited! Housed in a purpose-built modern structure adjacent to Lübeck’s Castle Monastery, the museum focuses on the rich history of the Hanseatic League (which South East England was very much a part of) over six hundred years. The museum makes excellent use of modern technology to bring history to life; not only are there informative interactive visual displays and audio content, but every other room recreates a scene that immerses you in an aspect of the tale – a lively bazaar, a traditional wooden merchant ship or the league’s council chambers during a session. As in any museum there are also a range of historical artefacts on display, and best of all, an excavation of ancient constructions down at basement level.

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Of course, you can also see much of this history in the many beautifully preserved old buildings; Lübeck is a veritable jewel of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

 

An Enormously Walkable Old Town

A great way to appreciate some of that is simply to walk around Lübeck’s delightful Altstadt (Old Town), designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site with very good reason.

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A local guide can really bring the history alive for you, pointing out details you might otherwise miss, and relating the history and stories associated with each place. We were shown some of Lubeck’s treasures by Mr Colossus, a real character with the most wonderfully bushy handlebar moustache; hugely knowledgable and an entertaining narrator, he really enhanced our visit. Certainly, you can explore on your own though it’s well worth picking up a guide book or Tourist Information map to ensure you don’t miss the highlights.

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Holstentor

The iconic Holstentor – a fifteenth century brick-built Gothic two-tower city gate that formed part of the city’s mediaeval fortifications and sits at the Western entrance to the Old Town – is today considered the symbol of the city, and indeed you can buy hand-moulded marzipan models of the gate in Niederegger’s shop (see below).

Burgtor, also built during the fifteenth century, is located to the North of Old Town.

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The St. Mary’s devil; St. Jacob’s church

Lübeck was once known as the City of the Seven Spires, these being visible from quite a distance from the city.

St. Mary’s Church shows the Gothic stone cathedral designs prevalent in France adapted to be built in local brick. Do check out the bronze sculpture of a devil that commemorates a charming fairytale about the construction of the church – as the townspeople were building St Mary’s, the devil paid a visit and asked what they were building. Keen not to anger him, they told him they were building a tavern. Delighted with this idea, since many souls had found him in just such a place, he leant a hand and the church grew quickly. Only when it was nearing completion did the devil realise he had been tricked. Furious, he picked up a huge stone boulder, intending to demolish the new place of worship. Thinking quickly, the townspeople promised to build a tavern directly next to the church and this they did, the Ratskeller. Appeased, the devil dropped the boulder where it lies today next to the walls of the church – the devil’s claw marks are clearly visible. The bronze sculpture of the devil was created in 1999 by artist Rolf Goerler.

Lübeck Cathedral is the oldest place of worship in the city; construction of the brick cathedral began in the 12th Century, but before that a wooden church stood on the same spot.

St. Peters, a Roman church built between 1227 and 1250, is no longer a church but an exhibition and events centre. At Christmas, a large arts and crafts market is hosted here.

You may also like to visit St. Giles, St. Jacob’s and St. Catherine’s churches.

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The Rathaus

The Rathaus, Lübeck’s Town Hall, is still the city’s seat of administration, so you can’t wander around inside on your own. However guided tours are available regularly throughout the day to allow visitors to see the lavish interiors and architecture more closely.

The Heiligen Geist (Holy Spirit) Hospital is one of the oldest social institutions in the world – any sick or elderly townspeople were guaranteed care here, regardless of their financial means. During advent, the city’s largest and best known arts and crafts market is hosted here.

If you do get tired and want to rest your legs, you can hop on a boat for a leisurely view of Lübeck Old Town from the water.

 

A World Centre of Marzipan

Lübeck is famous for marzipan. The most celebrated manufacturer is Niederegger, founded over 200 years ago.

Once upon a time there were many hundreds of marzipan makers within the old town alone. A local legend suggests that marzipan was first made in the city in response to either a military siege or a local famine. The story goes that the town ran out of all foodstuffs except stored almonds and sugar, and these were combined to make loaves of marzipan “bread”. In reality, marzipan is believed to have been invented far earlier, most likely in Persia though historians are undecided between a Persian and an Iberian origin.

At its core, marzipan consists of nothing more than ground almonds mixed with either sugar or honey. These days, a wide range of marzipan is available; many commercial versions contain a comparatively low volume of almonds; instead they contain a great deal of sugar with the flavour boosted by almond oils and extracts or even cheaper synthetic almond flavourings and are often sickly sweet. In Germany there are clear labels that describe the various levels of marzipan, from marzipanrohmasse (raw marzipan) at the top to gewöhnliches marzipan (ordinary or consumer marzipan) at the bottom.

Niederegger marzipan products are all marzipanrohmasse, which means they contains 65% ground almonds and 35% sugar; the flavour is subtle and natural and the sweetness is not overwhelming. In consumer marzipan, only a third of the total content is almond, with the rest made up of sugar and flavourings.

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Niederegger Cafe (external photo courtesy of Niederegger)

The best place to visit to indulge to the fullest is Café Niederegger, located in the heart of Old Lübeck. Not only will you find the most impressive range of Niederegger products in the extensive ground floor shop – at far lower prices than you’ll find in the UK – there’s also a charming café on the first floor where you can have a light savoury lunch before indulging in one of the fabulous cakes on offer. And I can personally recommend ordering a marzipan hot chocolate, alongside! Also worth a quick visit is the top floor museum where you learn a little more about the history of marzipan in Lübeck and see twelve life-size statues made entirely of marzipan.

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Dinner in the Seafarer’s Guild

The Schiffergesellschaft is a modern restaurant offering both traditional German classics and newer dishes. The restaurant is proud of its history as part of the city’s historical shipping guild.

The Skt. Nicolaus Schiffergesellschaft (seafarers’ guild) established in 1401 was tasked with supporting those who worked in the shipping trade, and caring for their families. By the end of the thirteenth century there were multiple such guilds, including St. Anne, established in 1495. In 1530 these two guilds merged, forming a single professional body for Lübeck’s shipping industry. The new guild purchased the property across from St. Jacob’s church in 1535 and shortly thereafter, a new headquarters was built there. Over time the guild’s responsibilities expanded to include matters of navigation, taxes, mediation, guarding the harbour and more. All those working in shipping had to be members of the guild but in 1866 the compulsory nature of the guild was abolished and it lost many members and much-needed revenue. In order to counter some of its debt it leased an area of the building in which a restaurant was established. This lease assured the financial security of the guild and helped it to settle its debts. In 1933 the Schiffergesellschaft became a non-profit organisation and in the 1970s, extensive restoration of the building was carried out. Today the restaurant lease is operated by Engel & Höhne.

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The wood-panelled restaurant features wooden tables and ornately carved high-backed bench seating that divides the room into rows of diners. Hanging from the high ceiling are model ships, and lanterns and chandeliers throw a warm and welcoming light.

The menu offers a wide range of starters, fish and meat mains, and desserts.

After malty brown bread served with pig fat, my Roast Duck Lübsch – roasted duck served with gravy and a savoury-sweet stuffing of red cabbage, prunes and marzipan – was hearty and delicious, and desserts were indulgent.

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This isn’t the highest level of fine dining but it’s good, tasty food in an unusual setting and the extensive menu gives plenty of choice.

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I liked our table up on a raised platform by the front window which allowed us to look down into the main dining area; book this if you can.

I spent just over 24 hours in Lübeck and am keen to go back for a longer, more leisurely visit. Have you been? What sights, activities and restaurants do you recommend I check out on my next trip?

Kavey Eats visited Lübeck as a guest of Niederegger who organised transport, accommodation, a guided tour and our meals. We were also given an exclusive tour of their factory, not usually open to visitors.

 

Welland’s Farmers Market in Niagara-on-the-Lake is not nearly as vast as the mind-boggling markets I visited in Montreal and Quebec but it’s plenty big enough to offer a wide selection and is a wonderful place to buy local and regional produce. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy, cheese, honey, charcuterie, baked goods and other food and drink products are all on offer, sold by friendly, helpful and knowledgeable vendors.

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Usually, I’d take my time and explore everything the market had to offer, but on the day of our visit I was focused on just one main ingredient – peaches!

Our hosts, chefs Anna and Michael Olson set us a challenge, giving us just 30 minutes of shopping time at the market and $15 Canadian dollars with which to buy our core ingredients to make either a sweet or savoury condiment back at Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute where Michael is a chef professor. (The Institute is incredible, by the way, not only is there an expansive professional cookery school, the college also boasts a teaching brewery, a commercial teaching winery and a full-service training restaurant. With onsite vineyards, hop yards, and organic gardens, students can also also focus on the agricultural production of ingredients if they wish.)

Over the previous several days (in Montreal, Quebec City and here in Niagara-on-the-Lake), I had admired basket upon basket of gorgeous ripe Ontario peaches at every market and fruit store I’d visited so I quickly decided to make a peach jam.

I raced around all the stalls selling peaches to compare the taste, ripeness and prices of the many varieties on offer – Baby Gold, Flaming Fury, P24, Pierre and Redstar. I decided on Flaming Fury from Tony’s stall after a tasting that clinched the deal.

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I had two ideas to try with my gorgeous Flaming Fury Ontario peaches – a peach and ice wine jam or a peach and honey one. In the end I decided to make both, using some ice wine kindly provided by Anna, and a locally produced honey I bought at the market. I chose a robustly flavoured buckwheat honey from Charlie bee that packed a proper punch of flavour.

We had a few challenges during our cook – an unexpected fire alarm and ensuing evacuation meant we all raced out (I stopped to turn off the stoves first) and it was a long wait (in the tasting area of the teaching brewery, plus a walk around one of the greenhouses) while the fire personnel checked the entire cooking school building before clearing us to go back in. On returning to our classroom we discovered that the gas had not yet been turned back on so had to made a quick switch to another, where we were able to use plug-in electric cookers to continue cooking our condiments!

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Flaming Fury Peach & Niagara Ice Wine Jam

This recipe can be scaled up or down to according to how much fruit you have

Ingredients
750 grams peeled, cored peaches, variety of your choice
500 grams caster sugar
125 ml ice wine of your choice, divided into 50 ml + 75 ml

Note: I used a locally-made Henry of Pelham Vidal ice wine (2010). You can use any ice wine of your choice, or substitute a different sweet liqueur or fortified wine.

Method

  • Chop the peaches, to roughly half inch sized pieces.
  • Place chopped peaches, sugar and 50 ml of the ice wine into a large, flat-bottomed pan and turn on the heat, at low to start until the sugar melts and the peaches start to release their juices, and then to medium-high.

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  • Use a jam thermometer to cook the jam until it reaches 104 °C (219 °F). Alternatively, you can assess for readiness by checking the set of the jam, but I find both the wrinkle test and spoon test more of a faff than using a thermometer.
  • The timing for cooking can vary enormously depending on how ripe the peaches are and how much sugar and water content they have. Keep an eye on the pan and stir regularly to stop the jam from catching.
  • Once you have reached 104 °C or have tested successfully for set, take the jam off the heat and allow to cool for a minute before stirring in the additional 75 ml of ice wine.

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  • Bottle hot into sterilised jars or serve warm over vanilla ice cream

To our surprise, after we finished cooking all our pans were set out for Anna, Michael and Anna’s right-hand helper Lisa to taste test, something they took quite seriously and which turned us all into nervous wrecks. To our relief, everything passed muster and we enjoyed the savoury creations with some local sausages, coleslaw and snacks before spooning my warm peach jam over vanilla ice cream for afters.

If you’d like to learn more about ice wine – how it’s made and some great wineries to visit – do check out my recent post on Enjoying Ice Wine in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. With additional thanks to Anna and Michael Olson for being our hosts, and Diane Helinski for being our tour manager and guide.

 

When you have a waffle maker, everything looks like a waffle!’ So says a dear friend of mine and I reckon he’s not wrong.

It’s full steam ahead on the waffle wagon here at Kavey Eats and today it’s the turn of the humble potato. Our first experiment with potato waffles used mash potato mixed with egg, a little flour, a little cheese and seasoning. The idea worked pretty well but the waffles were a bit of a faff to make, a little bland and they didn’t crisp up as we’d hoped.

So my next thought was to try the potato rösti route. I recently had great success in adapting potato rösti into a pizza base, so I was hopeful it would make a great waffle.

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For our first attempt we completely winged it, guestimating quantities and method by eye, and assuming we’d need to tweak the recipe at least once or twice before it was ready to share. But we totally nailed it on the first attempt and I’m urging you to make these for yourself and tell us what you think!

You need just three core ingredients plus a little oil to create these crispy-surfaced, gooey-centred waffles with a gentle smoky flavour and heat from the paprika.

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Parmesan & Paprika Potato Waffles

Makes 4 waffles in the Smart Waffle maker

Ingredients
500 g raw potato, grated
2 tbs vegetable oil
100 g parmesan, finely grated
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Note: I used La Chinata smoked paprika which has a wonderful flavour and a nice kick of heat.

Method

  • Preheat the waffle maker.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil through the grated potato and microwave until soft; 3-4 minutes.
  • Mix the paprika through the grated cheese and then add to the cooked potato.

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  • Mix well to distribute cheese throughout the mix.
  • Spoon a quarter of the mix into each side of the waffle maker and close, and leave to cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove and set aside on a hot dish or in a very low temperature oven for a few minutes until all the waffles are ready.
  • Repeat with second half of the mixture.
  • Serve hot and crisp!

Parmesan Paprika Potato Waffles - Kavey Eats (2)

You may also enjoy these savoury waffle recipes from fellow food bloggers:

 

Kavey Eats received a Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Smart Waffle for review. As always, I was not expected to write a positive review; all opinions are my own and I recommend only products I truly believe in. This post contains affiliate links; please see my sidebar for further information.

 

I adore dessert wines. The syrupy liquid nectar is too sweet for some, but I truly love the intensity of flavour that the best dessert wines bring to the glass.

Some of my favourites are produced by noble rot, the action of Botrytis cinerea, a fungal mould that causes infected grapes to partially shrivel, raisin-like, on the vine. This concentrates the sugars, resulting in a delightfully sweet wine, though of course, far more grapes are required to produce a bottle than for regular wine. French Sauterne, Hungarian Tokaji and German and Austrian Beerenauslese are all made in this way.

But there is another method that produces similarly sweet results and that is ice wine. Here, the grapes are left on the vine until a cold snap freezes them – of course it’s mainly the water content that freezes, rather than the sugars and other solids within the grape. Pressing while still frozen means that only a small volume of sweet and concentrated juice is extracted, with the water left behind as ice. This is a tricky wine to produce since the vintner must hope for the right weather conditions to grow healthy grapes, and then for a suitable cold snap during which to harvest. Harvesting is usually done by hand, on the first morning it’s cold enough, and there’s a brief 6 hour window during which the entire harvest must be picked and pressed. For this reason, ice wine is not produced in great quantities, and there are only a few regions with the requisite climate to do so. Canada and Germany are the world’s largest producers; with the majority of Canada’s ice wine being produced in Ontario.

During my visit to the region last year, I enjoyed visits to a number of vineyards in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. Of course, all these wineries produce regular red, white and rosé wines as well as their sweet ice wines, so they are well worth a visit even if ice wine is not for you.

 

Two Sisters Vineyard

Two Sisters Vineyard is the first one we visited, on a balmy early-autumn evening, the sun casting a golden blanket across the beautiful stonework of the vineyard, and the fields of vines surrounding it. We ate our dinner on the terrace, probably my favourite menu of the vineyard restaurants we visited. Kitchen 76 offers rustic Italian food at its best – superb fresh ingredients cooked and served simply but skillfully to bring out their inherent flavours.

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For starters, we shared pizzas, salads and charcuterie boards laden with locally made meats, cheeses and breads.

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For mains, superb pastas – the rabbit ragu pappardelle was a winner, plates of lamb chops with guanciale potatoes and a ribeye steak topped with a potato croquette that was to die for.

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Vineland Estates Winery

Three of us really arrived in style to our lunch at the Vineland Estates Winery, dropped off by the helicopter that had just given us spectacular aerial views of the Niagara Falls. (The rest of our party went by road, a beautiful drive in its own right).

Lunch was served on the outdoor terrace, a perfect spot in the gorgeous sunshine. Of course, there are plenty of tables inside, for when the weather is less amenable!

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From a wine perspective, this was hands-down the best meal for me; Vineland Estates produce not one but several different dessert wines, some made with late harvest grapes and some ice wines. I was served a flight of delicious sweet wines throughout my meal, switching between wine types, grape varieties and years of harvest. It was a wonderful opportunity to identify the flavour profiles of the grapes, not to mention the difference that weather makes, year on year.

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Food was again excellent. A very different style to Two Sisters, but very similarly focused on the superb quality local ingredients. I particularly enjoyed Chef Justin Downes’ home-cured charcuterie and home-made rillettes, patés, pickles and chutneys.

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These were followed by an incredible smoked tomato bisque, perfectly cooked beef top sirloin served with cauliflower puree, mustard jus and some blue haze blue cheese. After, a New York cheesecake with brandy-marinated necatines, blueberry gelato and crushed pstachios. Everything was stunningly plated and suitably delicious.

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The one I bought a bottle of was a delicious classic Vidal ice wine, 2014.

 

Inniskillin Winery

Inniskillin Winery was the only brand I was already familiar with, having come across it’s ice wine in the UK. Founded by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser back in 1975, the name comes from the Irish Regiment to which one Colonel Cooper belonged in the 1800s; Cooper was the previous owner of the farm where the vineyard was established.

Unlike the other wineries we visited, Inniskillin don’t have an onsite restaurant. But they did organise for chef Tim MacKiddie to cook us a multi-course meal to enjoy with their wines, served in one of the spacious private rooms at the winery.

Before and during dinner we were talked through the wines by the enthusiastic and hugely knowledgeable Sumie Yamakawa, Inniskillin’s Visitor Experience Manager.

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The wine that absolutely floored me here was the incredible sparkling Vidal ice wine, 2014 vintage, and this is the Inniskillin bottle I purchased to bring home. This is truly amazing, well worth a try if you can find it!

 

13th Street Winery

Located right next door to Whitty Farms (more of which in this recent post), 13th Street Winery is the vision of Doug and Karen Whitty and their friends John and June Mann, but the man behind the wines is Frenchman Jean Pierre Colas, formerly the head winemaker at the Domaine Laroche in Chablis for 10 years, during which time he produced many award-winning wines.

First into our glasses is a sparkling rosé blend of pinot noir and chardonnay plus a little gamay to add a deeper colour and more fruitiness to the flavour. The colour and sparkles are beguiling and the others in the group confirm, for those with less of a sweet tooth than mine, that it’s delicious.

During our tasting Jean Pierer explains that red gamay is the flagship wine of 13th Street, though of course, they produce other wines too. Having worked in Beaujolais as a student, gamay was a grape he knows how to handle and it grows well here in Niagara; “there is something unique in Ontario that allows us to produce crazy, beautiful, strong, charming gamays”. And gamay is also a wine that is made for food, as the pastry with basil, tomato and Grey Owl blue cheese helps us to confirm.

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13th Street are one of the only wineries in the area not producing ice wine. As Jean Pierre puts it, “we don’t have to be like everybody, we don’t have to do like everybody”. I ask him why and he quips that he has “no interest to pick grapes in the winter and to freeze my arse outside!”

After the gamay, we try 13 Below Zero, a sweet riesling with far less residual sugar than ice wine. With my super sweet tooth, they’re still too acidic for my liking, but are much-liked by the others in my group.

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The owners’ love of art is shared via a selection of modern pieces hung within the winery’s main building and displayed in the beautifully planted gardens just outside.

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Hopefully I’ve given you a taste of the Niagara-on-the-Lake region’s excellent wineries, and especially the ice wine that many of them produce.

It’s a perfect destination for a self-drive holiday, with plenty to see and do, many charming independent hotels and bed and breakfasts, and some truly world class eating and drinking to enjoy, both at the wineries themselves and in the area’s many top quality restaurants.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. With additional thanks to Anna and Michael Olson for being our hosts, and Diane Helinski for being our tour manager and guide.

 

A few days ago I shared my review of Grow Your Own Cake, published by Frances Lincoln. Click through to read more and to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the book.

This intriguing cookbook features 46 recipes for savoury and sweet cakes and bakes featuring vegetables and fruits you can grow yourself. The author Holly Farrell, an experienced gardening writer, shares invaluable tips on how to grow and harvest each crop, before putting it to use in the recipe provided. Photography is by Jason Ingram, who illustrates both gardening tips and recipes throughout the book.

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Book jacket; sweet potato image by Jason Ingram

Pete and I have thus far made two recipes from the book, an Upside-down Pear Cake and this Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake, published below with permission from Frances Lincoln. I love the idea of taking a combination associated with American Thanksgiving menus and turning it into a cake.

We weren’t sure what to expect from this cake – in taste, in texture, in appearance. To our surprise the crumb is actually fairly light and not overly sweet, in fact it’s a lovely gently flavoured sponge which would work very well on it’s own, without the ganache filling or marshmallow fluff topping. We over-baked by just a few minutes, which gave the outside a slightly darker colour, but it didn’t affect the taste at all.

I am not sure adding mini marshmallows into the batter serves much purpose – as the cake cooks they seem to melt away leaving odd pockets in the sponge, lined with a crunchy sugar glaze – so I might skip those next time. The sweet potato cake is the real winner in this recipe, and you could lose the marshmallow elements if you wanted to and serve it as a simple unadorned sponge.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (2)

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow Cake

If sweet potato & marshmallow casserole, the traditional Thanksgiving dish, is too sweet for your turkey dinner, use this great pairing in cake form instead. It is perfect after a long winter’s walk.

Makes a two-layer cake

Ingredients

Mashed sweet potatoes
800–900g/1lb 12oz–2lb sweet potatoes

Cake
400g/14oz plain flour
11⁄2 tbsp baking powder
3⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1⁄2 nutmeg, finely grated, or 1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
165g/51⁄2oz unsalted butter
250g/8oz light muscovado sugar
4 eggs
450g/1lb mashed sweet potatoes
90g/3oz mini-marshmallows

Ganache
45ml/11⁄2fl oz double cream
100g/3oz white chocolate

Decoration
1⁄2 jar of marshmallow fluff (about 100g/31⁄2oz)
100g/31⁄2oz marshmallows

Equipment
2 × deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined

Method

  • For the mashed sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Roast the sweet potatoes for around 45 minutes until they are soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, then pop them out of their skins. Mash well (use a potato ricer if you have one).
  • For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

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  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well; leave to one side. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each egg. Mix in the mashed sweet potato, then the flour and spice mix. Quickly stir in the mini-marshmallows and divide the cake mixture between the two tins. Make sure that all the marshmallows on the surface are coated with mixture to prevent them burning. Bake for 50–60 minutes. To check if it is ready insert a skewer into the cake; if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes in the tins, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

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  • For the ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat until just under boiling point. Pour over the chocolate and stir until it has melted and is smooth. Leave to cool until the mixture is thick enough to spread without running.

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  • To assemble, sandwich the two cake layers together with the ganache, spread marshmallow fluff on the top and sprinkle with whole marshmallows.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (1)

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Grow Your Own Cake from Frances Lincoln, part of Quarto Publishing Group UK. Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell, photographs by Jason Ingram is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

 

It’s not often I visit Kingston-upon-Thames, being based as I am in the wilds of North London. But an invitation to enjoy Ribstock-winning barbeque in a pub not too far from my sister’s house in South London was too tempting to pass up, and on a gloriously sunny day in late March, we made our way down. We drove and parked in the public pay and display just opposite but if you want to take advantage of an impressive beer list and whisky collection, I’d recommend you travel by train to Kingston station, just a couple of minutes walk.

On our arrival, pub licensee Leigh White filled us in. The Grey Horse is now run by the team behind The White Hart Witley, where Sam Duffin installed BBQ Whisky Beer after moving it out of it’s original Marylebone home. The White Hart became well known for its extensive whisky bar, strong craft beer selection, live music and excellent barbeque. And when I say excellent barbeque, I’m not exaggerating – BBQ Whisky Beer won Ribstock 2013, beating the likes of barbeque stars Blue Boar Smokehouse, Carl Clarke of Rotary, Cattle Grid, Neil Rankin, Prairie Fire BBQ, Red Dog Saloon, Roti Chai Street Kitchen, The Rib Man and Tim Anderson of Nanban!

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The same team have now taken over The Grey Horse, which closed in 2014 and has since been extensively refurbished. When it reopened in November last year, the space had been reorganised to provide a traditional pub area to the front, a dining room with open kitchen behind and a live music venue called RamJam Club at the rear. RamJam has its own small kitchen too, so either the pub or guest chefs can cater separately for the club and small outside space.

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The new dining room opened this January and it’s a lovely space. A huge skylight lets in plenty of light, giving an upwards view out to blue sky, grey clouds or perhaps a starry night. Along one side of the room is an open kitchen and along the other a row of tables in a long alcove. At the back, exposed brickwork with a mural of Jimi Hendrix – he played here in the venue’s previous heyday, so it’s said. I’m not a fan of the high tables with stools that take up the central space; a killer for anyone with back or hip probblems – always smacks of style over substance, but that’s the only minus amongst the pluses for me.

The pub area is more traditional albeit with whisky-laden shelves (and board list) that make Pete determined to return without the car before too long!

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As I mentioned, the beer list is appealing. Pete has a half pint of Twickenham Tusk, on draft which he describes as dry with a pleasant floral hoppiness.

For the rest, we stick to soft drinks including a Dalston Cola and a Rocks Ginger and Wasabi. Both excellent and such a nice change from the big brand fizzies.

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We dither so much over which starters to order that we eventually decide on three!

First choice is crab cocktail, charred gem, fried avocado, nduja aioli (£7) and it’s plated in the deconstructed style that’s become so prevalent. Plenty of sweet fresh crabmeat, deliciously charred baby gem lettuces, odd but good-odd crumbed and fried slices of avocado and a generous smear or spicy nduja aioli. Can’t go wrong ordering this one!

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Next is the only meh dish of the meal – fried Ogleshield, pickled wild mushrooms and spinach puree (£6). Inside the deep-fried balls we expect to find gooey melted Ogleshield, a delicious sticky-soft washed-rind cheese by Neals Yard Dairy, but instead the filling is super dry, way too crumbly and lacking in much flavour. The spinach puree is more of a decoration than a key element – a shame as it tastes great. The big redeeming factor is the heap of pickled wild mushrooms which are redolent with red wine vinegariness and sweet shallots.

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Our third and final starter is chicken wings, hot sauce, blue cheese, sesame and celery (£6). Six plump chicken wings are covered in a fiery hot sauce – tingling-on-the-edge-of-burning rather than blow-your-head-off painful. The blue cheese dip is properly cheesy and thick enough to cling generously to dipped wings. The celery I leave for Pete, who praises it’s braised nature – gentle crunch and gentle flavour, nice with the blue cheese dip.

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For my main, how can I not choose Sam’s Ribstock winner, the Jacob’s Ladder beef rib? Available in small, medium or large (£10, £13, £16) I’m surprised at how hefty my £10 rib is and can’t help but laugh at a nearby diner’s look of shock when his large portion is served! Mesquite-smoked and rubbed with Sam’s own spices before being smothered in homemade barbeque sauce the meat is melty-soft inside with perfect char and texture on the surface; the flavour is smoky and beefy, intense and fantastic!

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It’s true, Ribstock totally called it, this barbeque is fantastic and absolutely worth the trek across town! Next time I come, I’m skipping the starters, good as two of them were, and going all in on the smoked ribs three ways (£20) featuring beef rib, pork rib and iberico rib!

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Pete is a sucker for a burger, so he chooses the classic burger (£9) which comes with smoked bacon and American cheese plus lettuce, onion, tomato, dill pickle, burger mayo and ghetto sauce (whatever that may be!) Skinny fries (£3) are extra, or you could order a coal roast sweet potato, dill aioli, black garlic (£4) or house pickles (£3) amongst other sides.

Just three days earlier, Pete and I tasted nine different beef patties (plus burgers made with each of those nine) to help our local pub decide on which to serve in their soon-to-be-upgraded burgers. Three stood out above the other six, of which one was a clear winner – on taste, juiciness and texture.

To Pete’s delight, the patty in this burger is the match of that winner; it has an intense beefiness to the flavour, excellent juiciness and a texture that gives just the right amount of chew without leaving one chewing and chewing like a cow eating cudd! The bun is well chosen, both for flavour and texture, and there is good balance of all the secondary ingredients and condiments.

All in all, this is a top burger!

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By this point, you’d be right in thinking we are quite full. But I always try to order one dessert just to assess a restaurant’s sweet offerings – too many restaurants treat desserts as an afterthought and they don’t always match up to the savoury menu.

I cannot look past the dark chocolate and peanut butter tart, salt caramel ice cream £6), which Pete won’t enjoy because of the peanut. So Pete goes for the cornflake ice cream sundae, dulce du leche and hot fudge sauce (£6).

The sundae first; a classic bowl of ice cream, cream and sauces with the extra crunch and flavour of cornflakes! It’s good and Pete somehow finishes the entire bowl!

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The tart is delicious too; peanut butter chocolate topping over crunchy base and with crushed caramel sprinkle, it’s super rich and fairly sweet – perfectly partnered with a properly salty salted caramel ice cream, which makes a pleasant and surprising change. I only manage half of this but I enjoy every mouthful!

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After all that we’re full to bursting but it’s definitely been worth the bloat – the food has been delicious, and the barbeque rib just phenomenal.

This isn’t our neck of the woods but we’ll definitely be back, as this is way more than just a decent local pub – for barbeque lovers it’s a destination restaurant, well worth the visit wherever you live.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of The Grey Horse.

The Grey Horse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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