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The Chemex Coffeemaker is an iconic design; a beautiful narrow-waisted glass jug with polished wooden collar and simple leather tie. The sleek coffee apparatus is so timeless you could be forgiven for assuming the Chemex is a recent creation but it was invented in 1941 by German inventor Peter Schlumbohm.

Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle - 9093 withtext

Schlumbohm’s Most Famous Invention

Conscripted into the army during World War II, Schlumbohm returned from fighting in France unwilling to take on the reigns of his father’s successful paint and chemical business, as was expected of him. Instead he signed away his rights to inherit in return for the family’s financial support to keep him in education for as long as he wished to study. Alongside chemistry, he studied psychology, keen to understand what had lead to “the mess of a war”, his experiences on the battlefield inciting him to call for the abolition of the military and a technocratic leadership for Germany.

After graduating in chemistry Schlumbohm became an inventor, specialising in vacuum and refrigeration, the former being a key component in the latter. After visiting the United States in the early 1930s to market some of his inventions he eventually moved there, filing thousands of patents during his lifetime for a variety of chemical, mechanical and engineering breakthroughs.

For Schlumbohm, the Chemex – which he originally patented in 1939 as a laboratory ‘filtering device’ – held far less promise than the refrigeration device he exhibited at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and which he believed would make his fortune. Looking for financial investment to take the refrigerator prototype into production, he raised capital by selling a minority interest in the filtering device, setting up The Chemex Corporation to produce and market it as a coffeemaker later that same year. It was the Chemex that became Schlumbohm’s most successful and enduring invention.

Within a couple of years, Schlumbohm had simplified the design , eliminating the spout and handle in favour of a simple pouring groove. The classic Chemex design was born.

Launching in the wartime years was a challenge, requiring approval from the War Production Board for allocation of materials and production, which was eventually undertaken by the Corning Glass Works. The lack of metals in the product meant no competition over supplies with armament producers and other core industries.

The Chemex tapped perfectly into the design sensibilities of the era, which valued functional objects with a simplicity of shape and construction; indeed it complimented perfectly the influential Bauhaus aesthetic, bringing together creative design with practicality of form and skill of manufacture. It was quickly lauded by the Museum of Modern Art, cementing its place as a design classic.

In subsequent years, Schlumbohm focused on building the public profile of the Chemex by way of trade shows, prominent advertising and strategically gifting products to those in a position of influence – artists, politicians, authors and film-makers.

Today the Chemex is much loved across the world and has experienced a renaissance in recent decades, as coffee lovers around the world rekindle their love-affair with pour-over filter coffee.

How To Make Pour-Over Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker

To use the Chemex you will need:

  • Chemex Coffeemaker (mine is the 10 cup size, which equates to approximately 1.4 litres)
  • Chemex filters *
  • A set of scales, accurate to within a gram or two
  • Whole beans coffee ^ + a coffee grinder with adjustable grind setting
  • Filtered water ~
  • A measuring jug or pouring kettle
  • A timer / stopwatch

* Chemex filters are much thicker than standard filters for regular coffee machines. The thicker paper traps sediment more effectively, and removes a higher volume of coffee oils, resulting in a unique taste when compared with coffee brewed using other methods. It also has an impact on how quickly the water drips through.

^ If using pre-ground coffee, look for coffee that has been ground fairly coarsely, usually labelled for use in cafetières and filter coffee machines. Espresso grind is much too fine.

~ Filtering water before using it to make your coffee (or tea, for that matter) removes unwanted substances that are present in most tap water supplies. This has a significant positive impact on the clarity and taste of your finished coffee.  You can either use a filter jug to clean your water before boiling or use a kettle with a Brita filter incorporated into the design to filter and boil in one step.

How Much Coffee To Use

Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9071 Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9072

The ideal ratio for Chemex coffeemakers is between 55 grams and 65 grams of coffee per litre of water.

Simply scale those ratios up or down depending on how much coffee you want to make. For 500 ml of water, use 27.5 to 32.5 grams of coffee, and so on.

The exact amount of coffee will vary according to the variety and roasting levels of the coffee you choose, the grind you’ve applied and your personal preferences in how you like your coffee. Heavy roasting not only intensifies the flavour of a coffee bean, it also makes it lighter in weight, so 50 grams in weight equals many more heavily roasted coffee beans than lightly roasted ones. Don’t be afraid to adjust each time you switch to a new coffee – the ratios are just a starting point.

How To Assess The Grind

Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9079 Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9088

Do a test run. Weigh and grind your coffee, noting down the grind setting used.

Make your coffee following the instructions below, timing the process from the moment you pour hot water onto the coffee to the moment it pretty much stops dripping through.

It should take around 3.5 minutes for the water to drip through.

If it takes significantly longer, the grind may be too fine – water takes longer to work its way through finer grounds as they naturally pack more tightly within the filter, and so extracts a lot more from the grinds as it passes through. You may find the resulting coffee too strong and bitter. Adjust your grinder to achieve a coarser grind and try again.

If your water makes its way through much faster than 3.5 minutes, the grind may be too coarse – the resulting coffee may taste weak and insipid. Adjust your grinder to achieve a finer grind and try again.

Keep in mind that the outcome will also be affected by the individual coffee – dark roasts result in stronger, more bitter brews than light roasts and the variety, origin, growing conditions and many other factors affect the taste.

The 3.5 minutes is a guide to make adjustments again, not a fixed rule.

How To Make Pour-Over Coffee

Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9084 Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-9076

Weigh and grind the coffee beans.

Place a Chemex filter paper into the funnel of the Chemex, with the triple folded side centred against the pouring groove.

Filter your water in a filter jug, or use a filtering kettle to boil sufficient water for the amount of coffee you want to make, plus a little extra.

Pour a little hot water into the filter to wet the paper. Pour this water out of the Chemex jug and discard.

Place your ground coffee into the dampened filter paper.

Measure 500 ml of boiled water and start pouring slowly and steadily into the Chemex, starting the timer as you start to pour. Rather than pouring only into the centre of the coffee, use circular movements to distribute the water across the surface area of the coffee. Pause during pouring if you need to, to keep the level of water a couple of centimetres below the lip of the Chemex.

Stop the timer once the coffee pretty much stops dripping through.

Gather the top edges of the coffee filter together, pick it up and quickly set it aside in a mug or on a plate. The paper and coffee grounds can be composted, if you have a compost bin.

Your coffee is now ready to pour and enjoy!

Making Pourover Coffee in a Chemex Coffeemaker - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle - 9066 withtext

 

Kavey Eats attended a Chemex coffee making class run by the DunneFrankowski Creative Coffee Consultancy at The Gentlemen Baristas coffee shop as part of Brita’s #BetterWithBrita campaign. Kavey Eats received a Chemex coffee-making kit, Brita filter jug and Morphy Richards Brita Water Filter Kettle from Brita.

 

Every once in a while, I encounter a food or drink product that is so damn good it makes me giggle with delight.

Bonieri is one such brand, which I first encountered at The Chocolate Show last October. Launched in 2013, Bonieri was founded by Amber Rust to bring chocolates and other sweet specialities originating in Italy’s Piedmont region to UK consumers. She fell in love with these products while living and working in Turin many years ago and wanted Brits to have access to the superb quality chocolates made by master chocolatiers of the region.

Today you can buy Bonieri in both Selfridges and Harrods, as well as via their website.

At the heart of their range is the ‘Tonda Gentile delle Langhe’ hazelnut grown in Piedmont, which features in Bonieri’s traditional gianduja products. The local story goes that gianduja was first invented in Turin during Napoleonic times, when cocoa (imported from South America) was expensive and scarce. Local chocolatiers looking to stretch the precious cocoa further combined cocoa and sugar with roasted and ground hazelnuts, and the resulting spread quickly became very popular. The individual chocolates, known as gianduiotti, were created a few decades later.

Bonieri 1 Bonieri 4

Products include the cuboid Cremini – a layer of pure hazelnut cream sandwiched by two of gianduja cream – and traditional gianduiotti. The intensity of hazelnut flavour in both of these products is utterly amazing, and the texture of the pralines is wonderfully silky too. Bonieri also make praline-style chocolates featuring pistachio and coffee flavours, which I adore. Unsurprisingly, the Cremini praline was recognised with a Gold in last year’s Great Taste Awards.

Probably the biggest surprise in the parcel of samples Bonieri sent me (since I hadn’t already tasted it at The Chocolate Show) was their chocolate-covered nougat which, hand on heart, is the tastiest I’ve ever had. I’ve since learned that the nougat (known in Italy as ‘torrone’) is worked by hand rather than a machine and is made using fresh egg whites, those delicious Piedmont hazelnuts and a clear honey from the local area, known as ‘millefiori’. The nougat is steamed for several hours, shaped by hand into moulds, then cut and left to cool before it’s coated in high quality dark chocolate. It has a wonderful almost-crunchy texture but still the chew you’d expect from nougat and the flavour is utterly wonderful.

Another one to try is Bonieri’s Gianduja Spread, which goes in Italy by the wonderful term gianduja spalmabile! It’s miles beyond that high street brand and well deserving of it’s Great Taste Awards gold star. A generous dollop in hot milk makes a decadent hot chocolate or just eat it with a spoon straight from the jar!

Bonieri 2 Bonieri 3

GIVEAWAY

Bonieri are giving away a wonderful prize to one lucky reader of Kavey Eats.

  • A bag of Chocolate Hazelnut Nougat (250 grams, £14.95)
  • The Bella Box Gianduja (250 grams, £23.95)
  • A jar of Gianduja Spread (200 grams, £9.95)

The prize includes free delivery in the UK.

Entry to the giveaway is via Rafflecopter and we’ve provided lots of ways to gain extra entries and increase your chances of winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCOUNT CODE

And if you don’t win (or if you’re feeling greedy for great gianduja right now) Bonieri are offering 20% off to Kavey Eats readers. Enter KAVEY20 on checkout; valid till 31st August 2015.

 

Kavey Eats received review samples from Bonieri.

 

I love raw salmon – I don’t think there’s enough salmon sashimi in this world to sate me. And I love cured and smoked salmon – both the hot and cold smoked varieties… utterly gorgeous.

But although I’ve had lovely cooked salmon plenty of times, I’ve also been served some hideously overcooked salmon; so much so that I no longer order it when eating out. Salmon is a fish that doesn’t forgive overcooking and the gap between perfectly cooked and woaaah there, Nelly, you’ve turned it into a fishy rusk covered in unsightly streaks of white albumin seems to be about 5 seconds!

The advantage of sous vide cooking is that you can take a piece of salmon (or steak or an egg or whatever you like) up to the exact temperature that will change its texture to just cooked but leaving it in an extra few minutes won’t make a bit of difference. Heck, you could leave it in an extra 30 minutes and it’d be just fine. Click here to understand more about how sous vide works.

So sous vide salmon has been on my list to try at home for the longest time. (Yes, I know, I’ve had a sous vide machine for 18 months… what the heck took me so long? how the heck can I call myself a food blogger? blah blah blah…)

The texture is just gorgeous. Silky, silky soft with the gentle wobble of just-cooked fish – it’s a wonderful way to enjoy salmon!

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9040

What prompted me to finally give it a go was getting our Codlo, a super nifty space-saving device that turns your regular slow cooker or rice cooker into a sous vide water bath. Read my original review of the Codlo, here.

I’m genuinely an enormous fan of this device – we’ve enjoyed the results of our Sous Vide Supreme for over a year but struggled with storage, as it’s really quite large. The Codlo takes hardly any space, indeed it’s small enough that we can store it inside our slow cooker!

When we tested the two devices in a side by side comparison, we couldn’t tell any difference in the results, making Codlo a very viable alternative, not to mention significantly less expensive too.

codlo book 2[3]

The accompanying book, Codlo Sous-Vide Guide & Recipes written by Codlo creator Grace Lee, is packed with instructions about sous vide cooking techniques plus temperatures and times for different types of foods and lots of tempting recipes.

We followed Grace’s instructions for cooking salmon, but served it with a very simple lime butter instead of the parsley sauce suggested.

As the salmon needs a brief brine bath before cooking, start this recipe about an hour before you wish to serve.

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9035 Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle - 9038

Sous Vide Salmon With Lime Butter

Serves 2

Ingredients
– For the brine

500 ml (2 cups) water
50 grams (3 tablespoons) salt
– For cooking the salmon
2 fresh salmon fillets
30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
– For the butter
25 grams butter, softened
Juice of half a lime, freshly squeezed
– Vegetables
As you prefer, we chose baby new potatoes and peas

Note: You will also need sealable bags in which to vacuum-pack the salmon. Use a vacuum sealing machine with specialist bags provided or food-safe ziplock bags and the water displacement method.

Method

  • Fill your slow cooker or rice cooker with water, plug in the Codlo, set the temperature to 50 °C (122 °F) and allow to come up to temperature.
  • In a large bowl dissolve the brine salt in the water. Place the salmon fillets in the brine solution so that they are completely submerged and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the salmon from the brine and place into your sous vide bag with the olive oil. Remove the air from the bag and seal securely.
  • Once your Codlo-controlled water bath is up to temperature, set the timer for 20 minutes and submerge your bagged salmon in the heated water.
  • Use these 20 minutes to cook your chosen vegetables and make the lime butter.
  • To make the lime butter, mix the lime juice into the softened butter; you might prefer to add half the juice first and taste before adding more, to balance the acidity to your taste.
  • Once the cooking time is up, remove the salmon from the water bath, open the bag and carefully slide the fillets onto plates. Be gentle as they are quite fragile once cooked.
  • Spoon lime butter over the fish (and the potatoes too, in our case).
  • Serve immediately.

Sous Vide Salmon with Lime Butter - Kavey Eats

Kavey Eats received a Codlo for review purposes. All opinions are genuine and 100% honest, as always.  Codlo is currently priced at £119, available here; given how much I love the product, I accepted an invitation to become an affiliate, please see blog sidebar for further information.

 

I don’t often gravitate towards cookery books focusing on a single ingredient as they so often have a core of fabulous recipes padded out with a bunch of weak page fillers.

But Diana Henry’s A Bird In The Hand is a wonderful exception, chock – or should that be chook? – full of appealing recipes for simple, tasty chicken dinners.

A-bird-in-the-hand Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-withtext

In the UK we purchase and eat a lot of chicken. It’s so good roasted, grilled or barbequed, fried (pan or deep), poached, cooked in a stew or casserole… and well-suited to flavours from all around the world – a wonderfully versatile meat.

In this book Diana Henry shares a collection of over 100 chicken recipes that range from quick and casual to impressive and celebratory. I am tempted by nearly all of them! Some, like Baked Chicken with Tarragon and Dijon Mustard, Chicken Forestière, Thai Chicken Burgers, Soothing North Indian Curry and Japanese Negima Yakitori are similar to recipes we have made and enjoyed before; a good reminder to make them again soon.

Others are dishes we’ve not thought to try ourselves. My copy of the book is frilled along the top edge with little scraps of paper bookmarking those I want to try soon – Spanish Chicken, Morcilla and Sherry, Vietnamese Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken, Bourbon and Marmalade-glazed Drumsticks, Chicken with Shaoxing Wine, Crisp Radishes and Pickled Ginger, Tagine of Chicken, Caramelised Onion and Pears, Chicken Legs in Pinot Noir with Sour Cherries and Parsnip Purée, Roast chicken stuffed with black pudding and apple and mustard sauce, Ginger beer can chicken, Chicken Pot-Roasted in Milk, Bay and Nutmeg, Pot-Roast Chicken with Figs.

They all sound so good, don’t they?

Diana Henry's Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1 Diana Henry's Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-3

Both dishes we have made so far have been enormously comforting, delicious and likely to be repeated again and again. Though there are only two of us, we felt the Crusted Chicken and Chorizo Paella was best made in a large quantity; we scaled it down to make two thirds and that served us both for two meals, plus a generous portion for my lunchbox one day too. Warm, comforting, tasty and not complicated to make.

The Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère actually blew me away. As you can see, it’s such a simple recipe and yet I would never have thought to combine chicken and pumpkin, nor to cook the combination so simply in cream flavoured with garlic and grated cheese. Be warned, this is a rich dish, so small portions will be plenty. A crisp vinaigrette-dressed green salad is my perfect accompaniment.

Again, we scaled the recipe down by half. We used chicken thighs (which I much prefer to breasts) and butternut squash and switched the two hard cheeses for close cousins we had on hand. We also decided to cut the thighs into three pieces before frying, rather than after as in the recipe.

Full, original recipe provided below.

Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1

Diana Henry’s Chicken with Pumpkin, Cream and Gruyère

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) pumpkin or butternut squash (unprepared weight)
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
8 skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts
400 ml (14 fl oz) double cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
25 g (scant 1 oz) grated Gruyère
25 g (scant 1 oz) grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and cut it into wedges. Put the wedges into a roasting tin, brush with olive oil, season and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until completely tender (and even slightly caramelised). Now put the squash into a gratin or other ovenproof dish, one that is big enough to accommodate the chicken too.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken. Simply season it all over, heat one and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the chicken on both sides until golden and cooked through, eight to ten minutes. Cut each piece into three. Add the chicken to the pumpkin.

Heat the cream with the garlic until it’s boiling, take off the heat, season and pour over the chicken and pumpkin. Sprinkle on both cheeses and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The dish should be bubbling and golden. Serve. You need something to cut the richness so a salad of bitter leaves is good. Children like it with pasta, but I prefer brown rice or another nutty whole grain.

Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-1 Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-2 Diana Henry's Chicken with Pumpkin Cream and Gruyere - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-3

You may also enjoy:

A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry is available from Amazon for £9.99 (RRP £20). Published by Mitchell Beazley. Kavey Eats received a review copy from the publisher.

 

As a child of the seventies, I have strong memories of walking to the local newsagents with my pocket money and choosing sweets.

Oh, the excitement!

Tiny white chocolate teddy bears were a particular bargain at 2 for half a penny, but I also had a penchant for drumstick lollipops, fruit salad chews, pineapple and cola cubes, strawberry and lemon bonbons, sherbet pips, pear drops, sherbet dip dabs, gobstoppers, foam shrimps and bananas, tubes of love hearts, refreshers and parma voilets, candy necklaces and bracelets, plastic-bound whistles and lipsticks and those white cigarettes with the ends painted red…

Today, there is quite a demand for the retro sweets of my childhood and many that were once discontinued are available once again.

Scoff Club is the latest in a long line of food subscription services – sign up and a box of sweets will be posted out to you once a month. Choose from 2 tubs (approx. 500 grams), 3 tubs (approx. 750 grams) or 4 tubs (approx. 1 kilo) priced at £9.99, £11.99 and £13.99 per month respectively, delivery included.

Scoff Box - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-120703
One of our 3 tub Scoff Boxes

As is the norm with such subscriptions, you don’t get a choice on what your box will contain. For many, that element of surprise is very much part of the fun, and it’s also ideal if you are buying a subscription as a gift for someone else. I found it a little frustrating as one of our boxes had half a tub of liquorice sweets in it, which both of us hate. That said, we have enjoyed the majority of the contents.

The good news is that Scoff have recently introduced a preference centre so you can let them know whether you hate, like or love Jelly & Gums, Sour/Fizzy, Chocolate, Hard/Boiled, Chewy, Sherbet and Lollies. Unfortunately for us, there’s no category for liquorice and given that I’d mark Chewy as Love, I have no way of banning liquorice from my box.

The overall range across my trial of the 3 tub box has been decent, though I have found individual boxes a little lacking on variety – each tub holds only one or two types of sweets in it, plus there are a few extra loose items in the box. The box shown above was a little disappointing, whereas the box with lots of different chews was much better!

Because of the tub format, the boxes are too large to fit through the letterbox so you’ll need to retrieve them from your local Royal Mail depot if you’re not usually home during the day. I’d vastly prefer flatter boxes that could easily fit through the letterbox, which should certainly be possible for the volumes we’re talking about about here.

I’d also like the option of specifying from the start how long my subscription will run – one month, three months, six months and a year. As it stands, it’s an open-ended subscription and you have to remember to cancel when you’ve reached the duration/ budget you had in mind.

That said, this is a fun addition to the subscription trend and a nice gift idea for those with a sweet tooth.

GIVEAWAY

It’s my pleasure to join  with Scoff Box in giving away a three month subscription for the 3 tub Scoff Box to one lucky reader of Kavey Eats! The prize includes free delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment sharing a memory of buying or eating sweets when you were a child.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey 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 @ScoffBox subscription from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsScoffBox #KaveyEatsScoffBox
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at 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 & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 5th June 2015.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries (across blog, twitter and instagram) 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 three month Scoff Box subscription to the three tub box and includes delivery within the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Scoff Box.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your 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.

DISCOUNT CODE

New subscribers are offered 50% off their first box. Enter discount code SCOFF50 on ordering.

 

Kavey Eats received sample products from Scoff Box.

May 042015
 

Since my first smartphone, I’ve been a loyal Android girl. Having worked extensively with Apple macs in a professional capacity I was never as bowled over by their alleged coolness as many of my contemporaries, nor willing to pay the premium. I started with an HTC Wildfire which didn’t disappoint; I quickly became used to checking and responding to emails and social media, navigating via Google Maps and accessing the full extent of the web.

In 2012 I was given a Nokia Lumia 800 to review but quickly discovered that despite loving the physical design I absolutely hated the Windows platform. With a vengeance. I switched back to my HTC before the Lumia and I came to blows. When I eventually looked to upgrade the Wildfire I stayed loyal to the brand – that proved to be a mistake; the entry level HTC Desire was three years newer and yet slower, with poorer battery life, than the Wildfire it was intended to replace.

I was reluctant to blow the big bucks when I’d only just upgraded but was seriously considering it… when along came an offer to review the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4. I totally clicked with my S4 phone and have been using it happily for two years now.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-165511 Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-164435
Out of the box; after a few weeks

My latest review item is a Huawei Ascend G7, launched in the UK late in April.

The Ascend G7 is an Android smartphone with large screen size, smart, slim, metal casing, 4G capable and an attractive midrange price point – currently around £200.

If, like me, you hadn’t heard of Huawei, here’s the cheat sheet: Huawei is a global Chinese company specialising in telecomms networking and equipment; one of the largest manufacturers in the world. You may well have encountered their products before, as a large part of their business is making white-label products for other brands. Now they are promoting their own brand mobile handsets across Europe.

I’ve now been using the G7 for a few weeks. There are a few aspects I really like, but quite a bit that I find frustrating – I haven’t yet made a decision on whether I’ll be stick with the G7 or switch back to my S4.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THE HUAWEI ASCEND G7

Physical phone

The slim form metal case is attractive, there’s no denying this is a good looking phone.

But bigger isn’t always better – I’ve come to realise that the size is just that little bit too large for my hands; the extra 7 mm width means I can’t comfortably use the G7 one-handed without quickly feeling muscle strain. That’s a personal issue, of course, and not a criticism of the G7 and it will suit those who are looking for a larger screen.

 

Image & Sound Quality

Sound quality seems pretty similar on the S4 an the G7, certainly I’ve not found myself thinking the G7 is better or worse than the S4. In fact, I just played the same music video on both phones and I’d say the sound is definitely comparable.

Officially, the resolution of the S4 is much higher (441 ppi against the G7’s 267 ppi) but I think the G7 does a fantastic job of harnessing those pixels – everything looks good and sharp, with nice colour definition and,to my surprise, I haven’t felt a step down from the S4.

However the (impressively large) screen shows every fingerprint and smear in a way that my Galaxy S4’s screen doesn’t. The smears are really intrusive in bright light, and I’m constantly rubbing the phone against my trouser leg trying to clear up that display.

Likewise, I struggle to see the screen in bright light, making outdoor photography and general phone use rather tricky when the sun is shining.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-164306

 

Phone Manager & Battery Life

Hands down my favourite feature of the G7 is this clever app management (and security) software which allows me to easily and quickly close apps and clear trash files, thereby hugely extending battery life. I can choose myself which apps will never be closed by the Phone Manager and can manually override on an individual basis.

There are a number of power save settings available, which will likely come in useful for those occasional times when I am not able to plug the phone in for a charge overnight.

Apparently there is also a harassment filter which can be used to block nuisance calls or messages from specified numbers and even a Do Not Disturb mode which blocks all calls save those from your personal Allowed list.

And by the way, battery life is phenomenal – I’ve never come close to draining the phone, even on a really heavy-use day.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-58 Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-15
Before running the optimisation and after

 

Missing Apps Tray

In their infinite wisdom (I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my words, even in the written format?) Huawei have done away with the Apps Tray which means that every single app you install, plus all the ones they’ve preloaded the phone with (including quite a few useless ones), are crowded into your five home screen pages.

Having an Apps Tray (a standard part of the Android platform) means that all apps are automatically listed in alphabetical order, which makes it very easy to find those I only need to access very rarely. I can therefore create shortcuts on my home screen pages only for those apps I use on a regular basis, creating a layout that is customised to my needs.

On the G7, every time I install a new app it randomly inserts itself into one of the few free spaces in one of my home screen pages, and I have to waste several minutes moving several other app shortcuts around (rather fiddly) in order to position the new app in alphabetical order. This is utterly nuts and a really stupid decision on Huawei’s part, no doubt an attempt to emulate the iPhone platform.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-26
My customised home screen centre page

 

App Names & Icons

Speaking of icons and shortcuts, I’ve quickly discarded Huawei’s own Calendar and SMS Messaging apps – they just aren’t very good – and unfortunately, when I install my preferred Google Calendar and the standard Android SMS, the G7 doesn’t pull through the relevant icons, using instead the same ones as it’s own label versions. Very confusing. I’ve had to hide the Huawei versions away in a dumping ground apps folder in order to keep them out of the way. (Yes, still missing the Apps Tray, here).

 

Camera

The camera really failed to impress for the first couple of weeks. I couldn’t understand why my images were so frequently out of focus until I eventually realised that it seemed to be back-focusing. Since social media is a key reason I use a smartphone, a camera that didn’t work for me was an immediate deal breaker.

Thank goodness, Pete suggested trying some other camera apps to assess whether it was the camera hardware itself at fault or just a poorly-written camera app.

I’m currently using the Google Camera app, which is much much better and gives me handy exposure compensation controls, which I appreciate. Certainly I’m not having any trouble with focus / sharp images anymore. Unfortunately, this app plays an annoying shutter click sound even when my phone is in silent mode and there’s no setting I can find to override that. That said, it has at least proved to me that the camera hardware itself is fine, which is a huge relief.

I’m keen to find a better solution and am considering Camera FV-5, but the free trial version restricts me to very low res images which are hard to assess properly. If you have any experience of Camera FV-5 or other good Android phone apps, please leave me a comment – I’d be hugely grateful for your suggestions!

For number crunchers, the G7 has a 13 MP main camera with f2.0 aperture and LED flash. The front (selfie) camera is 5 MP. (Virtually the same as my trusty S4, the only difference is a f2.2 aperture).

I’ve not explored the G7’s camera software features much as I so quickly gave up on using Huawei’s camera app but the app boasts HDR, panorama settings (on both front and rear cameras) and a facial-enhancement feature called Beauty Mode. An intriguing All-Focus mode allows you to take a photo and then select the focus later, blurring the foreground or background appropriately to create shallow depth of field after the fact – weird but it does work, should you want it!

 

File & Image Folders

Samsung’s Gallery feature was irritating as hell but once I worked out how to turn it off, I was happy with image organisation and could easily create folders and move / copy images between them.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be possible to create folders and sort content within the G7 File Manager, and that applies to image files too. Irritating!

 

Notifications, Shortcuts & Settings

Both Push Notifications and Shortcuts to key settings are accessed by swiping down the top menu. Unfortunately, the Huawei skin hasn’t made this user friendly.

On my S4, the first swipe down immediately lists notifications, and then a tap on either of the two icons provided will take me to either Shortcuts or to full Settings. On the G7, swiping down gives me access to either Notifications or Shortcuts, seldom the one I want at the time, and I have to switch between them.

Furthermore, the Shortcuts list is truncated and there doesn’t seem to be any way to tell it to always display in full; given that you can’t customise which settings are shown in the list, and that all the ones listed fit easily on screen, this seems a pointless extra step.

The main Settings panel has also been reskinned for no good reason, making everything that little bit trickier to find, but not offering a single advantage over the Android standard.

Although I’m open to innovations that provide a benefit, I’m really not a fan of change for change’s sake.

Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-41 Hauwei G7 - KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-48
Shortcuts shown as they first come up, and expanded

 

Performance

I remember from my brief switch to the HTC Desire (before I got my S4) the frustration of slow performance when I was used to fast.

Although the tech review sites have highlighted laggy performance in their G7 reviews, I can’t say this is something I’ve noticed at all and I’m very happy with the phone’s performance.

 

Other Niggles

I nearly always set my phone to Vibration mode (zero volume, buzzing for incoming calls and notifications) and it’s easy enough to select that option. Unfortunately, time and time and time again (several times a day) I discover that the G7 has switched into completely Silent mode, without vibration. This is driving me crazy, so if anyone has an answer to how it keeps happening, or better still, a way to stop it, I’m listening!

And speaking of Vibration mode, the vibration is really weak. Perhaps that contributes to the excellent battery life but I’d sure like a way to pump it up a little. (Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, yes you!)

Like most of Huawei’s in-house software, the Phone Dialler must surely also have been written by people who just don’t use phones very much! I can work out how to call a number from my Contacts and I can see how to type a number in myself. What I can’t readily do is paste in a phone number that I’ve copied from an email or tweet – the only way I’ve found is to start typing a number in to the Diallier, paste my copied number in and then go back and delete the number I typed in to bring the field up in the first place.

 

In conclusion

Although my review isn’t altogether positive, the Phone Manager / battery life are such strong additions to the Pros column that they do go a long way to balancing the Cons. And if Huawei gave up their insistence on replacing perfectly good default functionality with crappy in-house versions, most of the Cons could be crossed off the list.

Let me end with a few photos taken on the G7 (and posted to instagram):

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Kavey Eats was provided a Huawei Ascend G7 for review purposes.

 

I’ve been reading about black garlic for the last few years. I’ve even tried a product made with black garlic – my friend Dave made some striking black garlic cheese which I used in a delicious seasonal butternut squash and cheese bake.

But until this week, I’d never actually tried the stuff as it comes, nor used it in cooking.

If you haven’t come across black garlic, you might be wondering what it is? Well, it’s not a new or different variety of the plant we love and know. Simply put, it’s very caramelised garlic. Sold in whole bulbs, it can be (peeled and) eaten as is or used as an ingredient in cooking.

The process to make it is occasionally (and erroneously) referred to as fermentation – but there is no microbial action involved. Black garlic is made by gently heating whole bulbs of ordinary garlic for a long period of time, until the cloves inside caramelise. Just like roasting garlic brings out a wonderfully mellow sweetness, so too does this process for making black garlic. The key differences are that black garlic remains (marginally) firmer than roasted garlic, and there is a hint of acidity to the flavour of black garlic that is rather like molasses or reduced balsamic vinegar. In both cases, the fiery nature of raw garlic is completely tamed.

Apparently the idea originated in East Asia – possibly Korea – where black garlic is commonly marketed as a health product. It started gaining popularity in the USA less than a decade ago and quickly crossed to the UK, initially as an import. It is now produced here from British-grown garlic by a number of brands. The one I’m using below has just rebranded to Balsajo, so packaging may look a little different if you seek it out in the supermarket. Mine is from Sainsbury’s.

Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-8542 Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-8546

The packet contains just one bulb (and mine was a fairly small one) so I wanted to use it in a way that would show off the flavour. A simple pasta dish seemed just the ticket, with mushrooms to balance the sweetness and cream to make it more decadent.

 

Black Garlic, Mushroom & Cream Penne Pasta

Serves 2 (could easily stretch to 3)

Ingredients

Penne pasta, amounts as per your usual portions – we use 50 grams dried per person
1 bulb black garlic
Small splash of vegetable oil
500 grams cup mushrooms, halved and sliced
150 ml double cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Put the pasta on to boil.
  • In a large frying pan, fry mushrooms in a small splash of vegetable oil until they have released their juices. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated / been reabsorbed by the mushrooms and they take on a little golden colour.

Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-8549 Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-8552

  • While the mushrooms are frying, gently peel and slice the black garlic and set aside.

Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle-8556

  • When the pasta is nearly cooked, reduce the heat under the frying pan, stir in the double cream and add the black garlic.
  • Stir to distribute the black garlic evenly through the mushrooms and give the cream and black garlic time to heat through.
  • Season to taste.
  • Drain the pasta thoroughly.
  • Either combine pasta with the sauce in the pan or divide pasta into bowls and spoon sauce over the top.

Black Garlic Mushroom and Cream Penne Pasta KaveyEats (c)KavitaFavelle textoverlay

I love the sweet flavour of black garlic! It’s a lot like sweet and sticky caramelised onion, but with that familiar garlic flavour, mellowed as it is when roasted. Utterly gorgeous and well worth seeking out!

For more inspiration on how to use black garlic, check out:

Kavey Eats received a sample of black garlic, plus a small contribution towards ingredients, from Sainsbury’s. Current price per packet is £1.50.

 

Sous-vide is a wonderful cooking technique, but it’s not an ideal option for anyone tight on either budget or space. Our ‘prosumer’ water bath (the SousVide Supreme) is the size of a small microwave and has a list price on the wrong side of £370. Even disregarding the price angle, kitchens are already groaning under the weight of numerous popular appliances; the need to find space for a bulky water bath next to the toaster, the food processer, the stand mixer, the blender, the microwave, the deep fat fryer, the rice cooker, the juicer and the slow cooker rules out a traditional sous vide machine even for many who can afford it.

Hang on a minute… the slow cooker… the slow cooker is half-way to a water bath already; it’s a large container that can heat liquid (such as water!) for hours at a time.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a small device that could convert an existing slow cooker to a sous vide water bath by way of accurately controlling the temperature of the water inside? Well of course, that’s where Codlo steps in.

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Official product image; my Codlo in our Kitchen (don’t look at the un-grouted tiles!)

Codlo is one of those ideas that’s really obvious once someone else has had it, not to mention done all the hard graft in getting it to work. This clever device turns your slow cooker – or rice cooker, or tea urn, or anything else that holds and heats water – into your very own sous vide water bath. Essentially Codlo is a small plug-in gadget with a temperature probe which allows it to turn the power of the attached appliance on and off and on in order to achieve and maintain your target temperature. That’s the theory but how does it work out in practice?

Codlo with Slow Cooker adj
Codlo and glass slow cooker (image provided by Codlo, mine was completely out of focus!)

The short answer is, remarkably well.

In the name of science, we cooked two identical steaks (here’s my guide to cooking steaks sous vide) – one in our SousVide Supreme and the other in our venerable old Breville slow cooker attached to the Codlo. After cooking one steak in each bath, we fried them together in the same pan for exactly the same amount of time before tucking in to a delicious dinner, each of us eating half of each steak. We genuinely couldn’t perceive any difference in the end result; texture and level of cooking were identical.

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That’s not to say that the Codlo-controlled Breville performs identically to the SousVide Supreme. Firstly, it takes a little longer to come up to temperature – but that’s understandable, as our slow cooker is a 290W model and we ran it on Low (we will try the High setting next time) whereas the SousVide Supreme is rated at a much higher 550W. Given that sous-vide cooking is usually a long process, adding an extra 15 minutes at the start isn’t a big deal for us. Of course, this difference also depends on what appliance you plug the Codlo into – a more powerful appliance will likely reach temperature just as quickly as the SousVide Supreme.

Also worth noting is that the temperature in the Codlo-controlled Breville takes a little time to settle; it (deliberately) sails past the target by a couple of degrees, drops below it when the food is added and gradually heats back up again. However, once it’s settled at the target temperature – around 10-15 minutes on our slow cooker’s Low setting – it’s rock steady, varying less than the SousVide Supreme. And the food seems to be none the worse for wear because of that initial temperature variance. The makers of Codlo advise us that the device adapts to each individual cooker it is attached to so these times will likely vary depending on the appliance you use.

codlo book 2

In addition to the Codlo controller, there is also an accompanying cookery book – Codlo Sous-Vide Guide & Recipes – full of information on the sous vide cooking technique, on temperatures and times for different types of foods and lots of tempting recipes. This would be useful not just to Codlo users but to anyone starting out in sous vide cooking and I’m hoping to share a recipe or two from the book soon.

Codlo does everything it promises, turning inexpensive equipment we already owned into a functional sous vide water bath, with results that equal our bulky and pricy prosumer alternative.

Kavey Eats received a Codlo for review purposes. Codlo is priced at £119, available here. This is an affiliate link, please see blog sidebar for further information.

 

You can take the girl out of Luton…

Smack in the middle of the eighties – which I still hold to be the best decade, musically and fashion-wise (though I admit to harbouring some bias on this) – I did a German Language Exchange Trip through my secondary school. Luton and Hamburg were an odd pairing; the kids of that rather attractive northern German river port city must surely have been a tad disappointed when they discovered that the attractions of Luton amounted to little more than a biscuit-shaped pincushion in the local museum and a pink flamingos fountain in the Arndale shopping centre.

The (frankly marvellous) pink flamingos have long since gone, which is a huge shame as they were one of Luton’s best (if not only) attractions.

pinkflamingoesofluton

Worried I might be imagining the biscuit-shaped pincushion (though my little sister remembers it too), I made a call to the museum last week and was delighted to hear back from one of their specialist curators that they do indeed have a biscuit-shaped pincushion in their collection (though it’s not currently on display). It dates from around 1870 and was produced as an advertising product by Huntley, Albert & Palmers. I should add at this point that the museum did, of course, have a great deal more on display than the biscuit-shaped pincushion, including no-doubt-excellent exhibits about the local hat- and lace-making industries for which Luton was, once upon a time, quite famous. It’s just that, as a teenager, little of this captured my attention; I’d probably appreciate it much more today!

And, by the way, did you know that the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ originated in Luton?

Anyway, back to Germany…

I’d actually already dropped German from my curriculum by the time the trip came around. We signed up for the exchange in our second year but travelled in our third by which time, having mastered only ‘ich liebe dich’ and ‘du bist eine dumme ganz’, I decided to focus on French, which I found immeasurably easier. I added one more phrase to my German knowledge some years later, by the way; even today I still like to point at random plants and declare ‘das is kein gummebaum’ (that is not a rubber plant) – a very useful phrase, I’m sure you’ll agree?

Luckily, the majority of people I met in Germany spoke superb English, so I got along just fine.

My host family showed me around Hamburg, of course. It’s an attractive city and the views from the revolving restaurant up in the Heinrich-Hertz-Turm comms tower were beautiful. I also spent a few days visiting German Schleswig – a school trip within a school trip – with my exchange partner’s class.

One of the days I remember most fondly was a family outing to nearby Lübeck, just an hour’s drive away or 45 minutes by train.

Situated on the River Trave, Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, 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. The Old Town, on an island enclosed by the Trave, is famous for its extensive brick gothic architecture and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Images of Lubeck from Shutterstock.com

Niederegger Marzipan

It was not just the beauty of Lübeck that won my heart, oh no! Lübeck is also famous for its marzipan. And I really, really love marzipan!

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.

Niederegger have been making marzipan in Lübeck for over two centuries, and relate the story from the perspective of founder Johann Georg Niederegger.

Our marzipan was invented far away, where almonds and sugar are grown. Rhazes, a Persian doctor who lived from 850 to 923, wrote a book in which he praised the curative qualities of almond and sugar paste. When the crusaders returned from the Orient, they brought with them a host of spices and Oriental secrets. In 13th century Venice, Naples and Sicily, spices and confectionery were generally traded  in tiny boxes. The enchanting word “Mataban” (box) gradually came to be used for the contents of the box:  Mazapane (Italian), Massepain (French) and Marzipan (German). Did you know that even back in the 13th century, the renowned philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas reflected upon the indulgence of eating Marzipan? In his doctrinal teaching, he reassures enquiring and anxious clerics: “Marzipan does not break the fast.” In his stories, the great novelist Boccaccio clearly describes the correlation between passion and marzipan. In those days, marzipan was topped with gold leaf to crown the sweet temptation. Great Hanseatic merchant boats brought spices and other prized ingredients to the North. Initially, however, only apothecaries were allowed to trade sugar and spices. Not until confectionary became a trade in its own right were so-called ‘canditors’ allowed to produce marzipan. The first Europeans to indulge in marzipan were kings and rich people. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth I of England, who lived from 1533 to 1603, was addicted to all things sweet.  The saying ‘regal enjoyment’ was coined. Later, at the French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV’s sumptuous feasts, huge tables laden with marzipan were the order of the day. Marzipan reproductions of all sorts of fruits, poultry and game were created – anything you desired could be made. In the first half of  the general population were now able to sample the almond delicacy to their heart’s content in coffee houses. Now that sugar could be extracted from sugar beet, the costly luxury became slightly more affordable. Marzipan was also particularly popular and prized in Lübeck. I would now like to tell you something about my life: as a young man, I left my home town of Ulm to become apprenticed to a confectioner, Maret, in Lübeck. In 1806 I was able to open up my own shop. I supplied my wares to kings and tsars. From then on, my reputation grew thanks to excellent quality. My recipe for marzipan – as many almonds as possible, as little sugar as necessary – is secret, and has been passed on from generation to generation since my death. That way, Niederegger Marzipan remains what it has always been: a delicious speciality made from the very best almonds. New York, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, a sweetmeat goes on tour … Niederegger stands for “marzipan of world renown”.

The quality of Niederegger marzipan is certainly renowned, as is that of slightly younger Lübeck marzipan manufacturer Carstens (founded in 1845, 39 years after Niederegger).

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 more sugar with the flavour boosted by almond oils and extracts or even cheaper synthetic almond flavourings. They are often sickly sweet.

Niederegger marzipan is the very good stuff. With a high ratio of almonds to sugar, the flavour is subtle and natural and the sweetness is not overwhelming.

Germany grades marzipan according to the following ratios:

  • Marzipanrohmasse (raw marzipan) contains 65% ground almonds and 35% sugar. When you see a label of 100:0 or 100%, it means 100% raw marzipan with no additional sugar added, not that there is no sugar at all.
  • Niederegger Marzipan is raw marzipan, made to the 65:35 almond to sugar ration and labelled as 100:0 (100% raw marzipan).
  • Lübecker Edelmarzipan (Lübeck fine marzipan) is described as 90:10. That means it’s 90% raw marzipan mixed with an extra 10% sugar. Don’t forget, that 90% is not 90% almonds but a mix of almonds and sugar. More sugar is added to that raw marzipan paste. That means the ratio of almond to sugar falls to around 58:42 (58% almonds, 42% sugar).
    Lübeck marzipan has a PDO (protected designation of origin) and the label can only be used for marzipan manufactured in the region to the 90:10 ratio.
  • Gütemarzipan (quality marzipan) must be 80:20. It’s made of 80% raw marzipan and 20% sugar. Almond makes up 62% of the total and sugar the other 28%.
  • Edelmarzipan (fine marzipan) is described as 70:30. It’s made of 70% raw marzipan and 30% sugar. The almond now makes up only 45% of the total and sugar the other 55%.
  • Gewöhnliches marzipan  (ordinary or consumer marzipan) is described as 50:50, so is half raw marzipan and half sugar. That means only a third of the total content is almond and two thirds is sugar.
  • There are also other designations such as Königsberger marzipan, which is no longer associated with place of manufacture but describes a style of marzipan that usually contains almonds, sugar, egg white and lemon juice and has a distinctive golden brown colour.

For anyone looking for high quality marzipan, you can buy Niederegger here in the UK – I’ve seen different products from their range on sale in John Lewis, Waitrose and Tesco and of course, you can buy online (from the same stores plus Chocolatesdirect.co.uk, Ocado and Amazon, to name a few).

Probably the most common Niederegger product  is marzipan coated in dark-chocolate, which is always wrapped in red foil. Blue foil denotes a milk chocolate coating and other colours of foil indicate flavoured marzipans such as apple, caramel, espresso, orange and pistachio – the latter being one of my personal favourites. There is also a liqueur range available.

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GIVEAWAY

It’s my pleasure to join  with Niederegger in giving away two hampers worth £25 each to readers of Kavey Eats!

Each hamper contains:-

  • 1 x Milk chocolate marzipan bar
  • 1 x Dark chocolate marzipan bar
  • 1 x 125g Marzipan loaf
  • 1 x 200g 16 Piece mini loaves assortment
  • 1 x 100g 8 Piece mini loaves classic
  • 1 x 40g Marzipan stick
  • 6 x Mini Loaves
  • 1 x Gift hamper box
  • Free delivery within the UK

HOW TO ENTER

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

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment sharing a memory of language lessons at school, when you were a kid.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey 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 marzipan hamper from @niederegger_uk and Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsMarzipan #KaveyEatsMarzipan
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet and please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES & DETAILS
  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 1st May 2015.
  • The 2 winners will be selected from all valid entries (across blog, twitter and instagram) 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.
  • Each prize is a hamper of Niederegger produts, as detailed above and includes delivery within the UK.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Niederegger .
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your 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.

Kavey Eats received sample products from Niederegger.

 

I’ve been on Instagram for just over a year and I’ve quickly come to love it. It’s quite distinct from other social media platforms, though it also lends itself to some cross-sharing – I push selected instagrams across to twitter, facebook and to my Nibbles tumblr, which in turn feeds through to the Kavey Eats sidebar. The downside, if there is one, is that I often forget to share some of my food and drinks experiences here on the blog. So for this month’s In My Kitchen, I thought I’d take a meander through some of the last few weeks via my instagrams.

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At the beginning of March, Pete and I took the opportunity to visit the recently opened Sky Garden, housed in that skyscraper that lookslike a mobile phone. It’s (currently) free to visit, but tickets must be booked in advance. Although there are some pretty planted terraces within the space, I think it’s a slight exaggeration to describe the space as a garden, as most of the space is taken up by a restaurant and a cafe terrace space. That said, the views of London are beautiful, and if you’re planning a trip to London, it’s a fun thing to do.

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Afterwards, we popped across to Bad Egg Bar & Diner where we enjoyed a giant fried pork belly rib, huevos rancheros, portion of fries, dulce de leche milkshake and a couple of beers for very reasonable prices.

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We made use of our slow cooker to make a delicious batch of Boston Baked Beans which we enjoyed with slices of Clonakilty black pudding.

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I finally remembered to bake some of the Japanese kit kats friends brought back for me last year – they’ve been sitting forgotten in a box for several months. Note: these kit kats are designed to be baked, I’m not sure this would work well with regular kit kats!

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I was blown away by some particularly fabulous lychees from a local grocery shop – so plump and super sweet.

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Pete and I met with the creators of Codlo, an affordable and space-saving sous vide solution which converts your existing slow cooker or rice cooker into a fully functional sous vide machine. Our results so far have been very positive indeed, and I’ll be writing a full review to share soon.

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I got my hands on my friend Mat Follas’ first book, Fish and it’s a cracker. Review coming in the May issue of Good Things magazine, for which I’m still a regular contributor.

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McVitie’s sent me some of their cuddly toys and biscuits – the cuddly soft toys are super soft and super cute. And I can never resist a chocolate digestive (though, for the record, I think the dark chocolate ones are way tastier!)

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We combined a visit to our wonderful local pub, The Bohemia (in North Finchley) with a catch up with our friend Dom, who is currently in the process of launching his new chocolate brand. In the meantime, we happily purchased his excellent chocolate bars, such as this bar of Trinidad 60% Laverstoke Buffalo Milk Chocolate with Halen Mon Vanilla Sea Salt. Delicious!

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It’s a constant source of surprise to me that North Finchley can support quite so many coffee shops, with new cafes opening every few months to add to the list. But I’m glad Harris & Hoole are one of the options as their hot chocolate and banana cake make a very welcome breakfast after an early morning local appointment. And service is consistently helpful and friendly too.

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I can rarely resist browsing our local Tiger store whenever we pass and on my last visit I found these gorgeous individual oven dishes, as well as a funky white jug to send my friend Celia for her Festivalof50 birthday celebrations. (You can see that jug over on Celia’s blog and watch the video created by our fellow blogger Jason from Don’t Boil The Sauce! – yes I’m in it, looking quite demented!)

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Once again, I was invited to be a judge for the International Chocolate Awards. Of course, it’s a pleasure to taste some excellent chocolate, but the judging is taken very seriously, with regular palate checks and palate cleansing (icky gloopy polenta, but it works) and a carefully considered marking system.

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I attended the inaugural Good Things Supperclub, a pop up dinner featuring recipes from our latest issue – I think it’s fair to say that everyone enjoyed the evening.

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Gregg’s The Bakers invited me to visit a store and try their new breakfast range – which was shockingly good value and very tasty. Just as well there’s not one near my new office or I’d be far too tempted to have a sausage baguette every morning. We also picked up a few of their doughnuts and were amazed at the quality of these, especially at the price point – the caramel custard and chocolate custard ones we bought definitely rivalled those by Krispy Kreme (which I buy regularly) and were far less expensive.

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A Sunday visit to Maltby Street Market saw us devouring a truly fantastic burger from Grant Hawthorne’s African Volcano peri peri stall. We also took home samples of his new smoked salmon -both the peri peri dry rub and the treacle and peri peri sauce varieties were excellent. Keep an eye out for those going on sale soon.

We had a lovely visit to Anspach & Hobsday Brewery, where we chatted with Jack Hobsday about the history of the brewery, the individual beers and the adjacent market. Pete was seriously impressed with the beers. Left to right above, the (third of pint) tasters are A&H’s White Coffee Milk Stout, Pale Ale and Table Porter. We bought home a big box of several of their beers, so look out for full reviews of their bottled range on Pete Drinks soon.

Of course, we also did some shopping – a couple of St John’s custard doughnuts and some fantastic Iberico ham from Tozino, which we had for dinner along with the African Volcano salmon and the Gouda cheese I received from Kaashandel Peters.

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Pete experimented with some kamut flour that we purchased from Tuxford Windmill a few weeks previously. This was Pussy Galoaf loaf 6 and although it was denser than the usual white loaves we’ve been making, the texture was nice and even and the taste very pleasant.

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Just before I started my latest contract (having been working from home for the last couple of months) I spent a happy day down in London catching up with friends for dim sum at Princess Garden and cake at The Delaunay Counter before grabbing a tasty Honest Burger at Camden and heading on to an excellent Tea Tasting event run by Momo Cha Fine Teas.

Glad to find that their teas are as magnificent as ever – I placed an order for more of their incredible High Mountain Oolong the very next day!

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The last Sunday in March was a decadent affair, as I accepted an invitation to Sunday Brunch at the Rosewood Hotel, in celebration of their recently launched Slow Food & Living Market. Unlike other small-scale food markets I’ve visited, this little market is perfectly curated and the range of top quality produce is fantastic, with current stallholders including O’Shea’s Butchers, Hansen & Lydersen (smoked fish), Oliver’s Bakery, Nyborg’s Kitchen, Hiver Honey Beer, Anspach & Hobday brewery, Lalani & Co fine teas, Gosnells London Mead, and other stalls offering fresh produce, dairy and cheese as well as chocolates, cakes and more. It’s not huge but every stall is a good one, so it’s a lovely place to browse and shop. The brunch, featuring produce from the market, was also excellent, though pretty pricy at £60 per person without drinks.

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Surprisingly late in life, I finally spotted and bought some fresh garlic – this is fully grown (unlike wet garlic, which is usually harvested before the bulb has developed much) but still green from the harvest, rather than the dried bulbs we more commonly buy. It has a far milder flavour than the dried equivalent and was delicious in a pasta sauce alongside finely diced homemade fuet.

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Another invitation, this time to a fun blogger event hosted by Tonia Buxton at The Real Greek restaurant in Soho. After some light learning (mixing our own tapenade and learning how to stuff dolmades) we enjoyed a tasty dinner – the menu is affordable and tasty.

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Over the Easter weekend, Pete and I were very happy to discover that the newly taken over local Vietnamese restaurant, now called Phó’ Viet Hu’ó’ng, is better than ever. My dish is the co’m su’ó’n (pork ribs and fried egg with rice) and Pete had mi xào (egg noodles) with chicken and veg. Better still, lunch was only £5.50 each including a soft drink. Very very tasty!

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Easter cooking at home included a simple rosemary roast lamb and some hot cross buns – despite the somewhat Jackson Pollock-esque crosses, they turned out very nicely!

 

I’m submitting this (mammoth) In My Kitchen post to Celia’s round up over at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.

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