Home and away, I love to travel. Posts from trips in the UK and overseas including hotel and restaurant reviews and visits to specialist producers.


The Sky Garden is one of the latest ways to enjoy a birds eye view of London. And it’s free!

Unlike some of the other tall buildings of London, it’s not a gherkin-shaped office block with no public access nor a soaring pay-to-ascend tourist attraction. You don’t even have to book a table for dinner and drinks – you are welcome to enjoy the terrace and garden area completely free, as long as you book in advance.

The Sky Garden is on the 35th floor of the building most commonly referred to as the Walkie Talkie, though personally I think it more closely resembles an old-school mobile phone.

We booked our free visit to the Sky Garden for a sunny weekday afternoon in March and marvelled at the views but didn’t stop for a drink or snack at the Sky Pod Bar, as all the available seating was taken.

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Instagram images from our visit back in March

Those looking for a full meal can book a table at Darwin, a brasserie located on the 36th floor, or Fenchurch up on the 37th, which serves a ‘British contemporary’ menu.

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It was drizzling mid-September evening when we visited Fenchurch but the rain didn’t temper the glory of the views.

Our table, next to the windows at the West of the restaurant was one of only a handful to look out across miles and miles of London.

Other tables along the south-facing internal windows had their views almost entirely blocked by a large empty terrace just outside the restaurant. With the building’s glass roof overhead, locating tables out on to the terrace would be so much lovelier and make use of a somewhat pointless space.

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We wondered if the original name for Fenchurch was 37? The menu branding seemed to suggest so.

Fenchurch offers a regular a la carte, a Tasting Menu (£70) and a vegetarian Tasting Menu (£50). The Wine Pairing for both Tasting Menus is an additional £39. With cockles and mussels both featuring in the regular Tasting Menu, Pete decided to order the vegetarian one, which allowed us to try many more dishes between us.

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The bread was excellent. The olive bread and rosemary focaccia were superb in taste and texture, and very fresh; the butter was soft and spreadable, rather than fridge cold. So many restaurants give scant attention to these two elements so it’s always a good sign when they are given proper respect.

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Although we giggled that the popped rice amuse bouche looked suspiciously maggot-like, the tiny nibbles were delicious. My crumbed pork was fantastic, Pete’s vegetarian one a little burst of flavour.

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First course on the non-vegetarian tasting menu: Chopped mackerel, pickled cockles, sea herbs and oyster cream. I loved this delightful jumble of tastes, textures and colours. Soft fresh mackerel, sweet pickled cockles and the most fantastic crunch from crispy tempura bits scattered through the mixture. Lovely bursts of flavour and salt from the sea herbs. A super dish.

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The vegetarian first course: Pea soup, poached egg yolk, mint and sourdough croutons. This was a beautiful soup; the essence of pea and mint, crunch from the croutons and richness from the oozing yolk.

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My second course was my absolute favourite of the menu: Rabbit bolognaise, harissa, Berkswell and sourdough. Again, the balance of textures between soft pasta, meat which was tender but not pappy and crunch from the sourdough was spot on. Likewise, the balance of flavours between rabbit and harissa was superb, with the harissa giving just the right level of heat and flavour.

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Second for Pete was Burrata, peach, grapefruit and fennel. The combination was given a thumbs up but the burrata was enormously disappointing, with none of the oozing creaminess that a burrata should have, this was far more like a regular ball of mozzarella and not a very creamy or fresh one at that. Still, the flavours worked.

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Confusingly, my next dish was not the Cornish turbot described on the Tasting Menu but Dover sole with brown shrimps, capers and samphire and a single squid ink pasta parcel stuffed with scallop mousse and more brown shrimp. Once again, the combination of ingredients was very good, with sea salt and crunch from the samphire, acidity from the capers and a welcome oomph of fishiness from the brown shrimp but the dover sole was a little overcooked, giving it a texture that was on the chewy side.

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Next for Pete was a dish very poorly described as Baked potato mash, sour cream and lovage. The description in the a la carte menu of the main dish version was far more accurate: Textures of potato. I loved this more than Pete did – he enjoyed it but felt it was more of a side dish, whereas I thought it stood alone rather splendidly. Potato was showcased three ways – a rich, layered block of fondant potato, a pool of smokey mash and soaring crisps that broke with a satisfying snap. Flavours were subtle but delicious. Pete was particularly impressed with the wine pairing for this course, a Tokaji Dry Furmint Béres 2013.

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Goodwood Estate lamb, garlic, artichokes, basil and olive jus was a generous dish with lamb cooked four ways – there was loin served rare, another cut I forget, a meatball and a pulled lamb croquette. The garlic puree was a little too raw garlic pungent for me, but the rest was well presented and delicious.

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Pete’s Jerusalem artichoke and ricotta agnolotti, summer truffle, hazelnuts and sage was one of his favourites. The dish was not the most attractive but once again, textures and flavours came together nicely. The tomato sauce was delicious but the fresh tomatoes were seriously under-flavoured and lacking in oomph. Our message to the chef – if you can’t source better tomatoes, take them off the menu! Critical sourcing of ingredients, and rejection of any which don’t meet standards, is surely a basic tenet of a restaurant of this calibre?

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The two dessert courses were the same across both versions of the Tasting Menu. The first was Coconut cream, lime granita with mango and sesame, a gorgeous little pot bursting with flavours. Very intense. Rich and yet refreshing.

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Last was this Glazed peanut and chocolate bar with banana yoghurt ice cream. I loved this! Intense, rich, sweet and salty peanut and chocolate against tangy yoghurt with banana flavour, this was, as we were coming to expect, a lovely combination.

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Petit fours were a decent chocolate truffle, soft and melting in the centre, and a mouth-puckeringly sharp elderflower lemon fruit jelly – so sharp the waiter gave a warning about it as he served it. Pete liked it, finding the level of acidity quite refreshing.

Our meal at Fenchurch was certainly enjoyable and fairly priced for the City location.

The cooking was accomplished; most of the dishes were very well conceived and cooked, providing superb balance of textures and flavours, with visual appeal an added bonus.

It’s a shame the layout of restaurant and terrace doesn’t give diners the view you might expect and I’d have been disappointed had we been seated elsewhere – we were allocated one of just a handful of tables with a wow-factor outlook. Of course, you can enjoy the views by walking around the Sky Gardens before or after dinner but be warned that if you don’t get the right table, you won’t enjoy the full effect of the views while dining.


Kavey Eats dined as guests of Fenchurch restaurant.
Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal


If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or my blog’s Facebook page you’ll have noticed that I visited Canada recently, taking in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and the region around Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’ll be sharing lots (and lots and lots!) from that trip in coming weeks. I totally loved all the destinations I visited and cannot wait to go back with Pete for a self-drive holiday.

Our tour of the Niagara region was hosted by husband-and-wife chefs Michael and Anna Olson who not only took us to visit their favourite local producers, vineyards, restaurants and markets but also invited us into their home for dinner and breakfast. We learned several of their delicious recipes, getting involved, asking questions and taking photographs as we laughed and chatted the hours away.

A recipe we all adored was Anna’s Blueberry Sticky Buns, which she made for us with blueberries and peaches, both in season in the local area.

Keen to take inspiration from Anna’s reverence for local and seasonal ingredients, I switched the blueberries and peaches for plums and blackberries gathered from our allotment just hours before.

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Anna’s original recipe calls for buns to be cooked individually in a muffin tin, but I’ve followed the variation she showed us to tuck them all together into a baking dish and turn them out whole for a wonderful family-style tear-and-share result. Also following Anna’s example, Pete and I made the dough, filling and buns in the evening, popped them into the fridge overnight to rise slowly and baked them for a perfect Sunday breakfast the next morning.

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I’m sharing Anna’s original recipe below.

To make my plum and blackberry version, just switch out the blueberries. Of course, you can use your choice of berries or chopped fruit.

To make the tear-and-share version, smear some of the maple-cinnamon filling across the bottom of a baking dish, and sit the buns side by side on top of that, within the dish. Either rise for half an hour at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.

We found that the buns need an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven when cooked this way.


Anna Olson’s Blueberry Sticky Buns

Makes 12 sticky buns

2 ¼ tsp / 8 g dry active yeast
¼ cup / 60 ml warm water
1/2 cup/ 125 ml milk, room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp/ 25 g granulated sugar
2 ½ cups/ 375 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp / 2 g salt
½ tsp / 2 ml ground nutmeg
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup / 125 g cream cheese, room temperature
Sticky Bun Filling:
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup / 200 g packed light brown sugar
3 tsp / 45 ml maple syrup
1 tbsp / 15 ml cinnamon
2 cups / 500 ml fresh or frozen blueberries


Sticky Bun Dough:

  • Dissolve yeast in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixer, add milk, egg and sugar and blend. Add flour, salt and nutmeg and mix for 1 minute to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 1 hour.

Sticky Bun Filling:

  • Combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon a tablespoonful of filling into bottom of each cup of a greased 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle 1/2- inch thick.
  • Spread remaining filling over the dough, sprinkle with blueberries and roll up lengthwise.
  • Slice dough into 12 equal portions and arrange them in muffin tin. Allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, and turn out onto a plate while still warm.


Huge thanks to Anna for sharing and showing us her delicious recipe, and for giving permission to share it with you. And of course, thanks to all of those involved in making my trip to Canada so amazing. I can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Kavey Eats visited Canada as a guest of Tourism Quebec, Ontario Travel & Destination Canada. The Anna Olson recipe is reproduced with permission.


Islay, aaah, Islay, it’s always such a pleasure to visit your beautiful landscapes again.

Even if you made a liar out of me when I told our Islay newbie friends how we have always had gorgeous weather for Feis Ile (whisky and musical festival) week and would surely have it again.

Even in the driving winds and rains, you were beautiful.

Though the weather made me grateful for the cosiness of our self-catering house with its deep, soft sofas, small but well-equipped kitchen and comfortable bedrooms.

And its windows out across glorious views of green grass, yellow gorse, blue sea and cows. I spent long moments standing watch as baby rabbits, deranged with excitement, hopped and swallows swooped across the spring sky.

There were seven in our group this time; two crazy brave folks on bicycles and the rest of us in joyously rain-proof cars. I think – I hope – we all enjoyed the week, though I remain in awe of the cyclists’ sheer determination and tenacity!

We didn’t visit as many of your beautiful locations as we usually do – no excursions to Kilnave Chapel, the Kildarton Cross or to the ancient seat of the Lordship of the Isles, on the shores of Loch Finlaggan. Few meanders across sand beaches or stony shorelines. And a little less time sitting out in the sunshine with a whisky in hand and the merry notes of live music nearby.

Still we visited all the distilleries: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig and Islay Ales too.

We didn’t diligently attend every distillery open day this time – since our first visit in 2006 the popularity of the festival has grown year on year and there are far more fellow visitors to contend with than ever before. Of itself, that’s no bad thing – it’s an extra pleasure chatting to locals and other travellers – but the narrow, twisting roads and limited parking at many of the distilleries makes transport logistics ever more difficult and there were a occasions when we bowed out of the long, slow queues for park and ride minibuses and pootled away somewhere else instead.

We took it easy, visiting distilleries on their quieter days and booked into only a couple of specialist events – partly be design and partly because they now book out within minutes of tickets being released. I am reliably informed that Jim McEwan’s last Bruichladdich masterclass and Dr Kirstie McCallum’s straight-from-the-cask tasting session at Bunnahabhain were both very fantastic.

Congratulations to both Ardbeg and Laphroaig, both celebrating 200 years as legally registered distilleries. Lagavulin follows suit next year. And a hearty congratulations to Kilchoman on their tenth birthday!

We made two lovely visits to my favourite Scottish pub, An Tigh Seinnse in Portnahaven, run by lovely Laura and her husband.

Of course, I gorged myself on crab claws and scallops from the Seafood Shack – no squat lobsters this time but the crab and scallops were as good as ever.

We cooked three communal dinners in the house and enjoyed two barbeques in the fantastic barbeque hut in the garden – I refer to this handsome hexagonal hut as the Hobbit House, though in reality it’s plenty large enough for the tallest in our group and seven of us had plenty of space to spread out inside. A large central barbeque is surrounded by benches covered in soft animal skins with light coming in from small windows. Next time, I shall pack a few candles for when the darkness falls. ASPorter butchers in Bowmore were the source of delicious meats, and the Bowmore co-op provided most of the rest. Plus some wild garlic foraged by Lagavulin’s car park and, later, from the back garden when we realised it was growing rampant there too.

We returned to The Lochside Hotel in Bowmore for a couple of lunches.

And we made a new discovery when we stopped into the Ballygrant Inn to a warm welcome in the well-stocked whisky bar there. Another welcome respite from the rain, especially for damp cyclists!

Even in the rain, driving around Islay afforded one stunning view after another; verges bright with blooming bluebells and tightly curled ferns, marshy grassland dotted with sheep and cattle, wide sweeping shorelines with gently lapping waters or wind-whipped, white-tipped waves, winding single-lane roads with quaint passing points that were slightly hair-raising when the island’s bus or a large lorry hurtled at speed towards you.

I did a lot of the driving as the only non whisky-drinker in the group, though I rather enjoyed it, perhaps more than my passengers did!

And when the sun came out more resolutely, for our last couple of days… oh Islay, you were, as always, glorious!

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Views from the main house


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Inside the Hobbit House


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Two visits to Ardbeg, one for Feis Ile open day and one for a quieter lunch in the Old Kiln Cafe


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A salad with foraged wild garlic; a newly discovered pleasure – cambozola cheese in Pedro Ximinez sherry; ASPorter butchers; farm-fresh eggs from the chickens by the house; my sparkling sake whisky alternative; serving up my banoffee dessert; the aftermaths of after-dinner drinking


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Laphroaig, celebrating 200 years this year


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An Tigh Seinnse (with birthday boy Pete and frenzied crab-eating Kavey); Portnahaven harbour views


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Birthday puzzle; whisky and chocolate tasting at Lagavulin; Ballygrant Inn whisky bar; one of An Gleann tablet makers resident peacocks displaying at a very disinterested peahen


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Two visits to Bruichladdich, one for Feis Ile open day and another to buy whisky when the shop was less rammed


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The boys walked to Caol Ila, I waited for the minibus and beat them there; beautiful views across to Jura


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Just some of my lunch purchases from the Seafood Shack


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Although we missed Kilchoman’s open day we did go for tea and cake on a quieter day instead, completing a quick crossword in the car and cafe


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Two visits to Bunnahabhain during the week


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Whisky tastings at Bowmore; Bowmore’s round church, Kilarrow, designed to give the devil no corners in which to hide; lunch at The Lochside Hotel


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Taking shelter from the downpour in the Islay Ales open day tent; I found cake!


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A trip to Islay starts and ends with a CalMac journey


Although this isn’t a typical entry, I’m submitting this to Celia’s In My Kitchen, since we did lots of wonderful cooking in our Islay home-from-home and the fabulous Hobbit House!

Big thanks to my friend Matt Gibson for extra photos, credited by image.


Located on Iceland’s north coast, the townfolk of Húsavík primarily make their livings from fishing and tourism, the latter being focused on whale watching trips out from the harbour. Our 3 hour trip with North Sailing gave us some wonderful sightings. The most famous landmark of the town is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907. You’ll also find a few cafes and restaurants in the harbour area where you can enjoy a tasty lunch before or after your excursion.

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Húsavík harbour, as we head out to sea

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Húsavíkurkirkja, a wooden church built in 1907; a whale painting on the side of a harbour-side building

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Beautiful weather as we head out to sea; Pete admiring the views

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All-in-one protective suits; bird

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Nearby boats; whale disappearing back under the waves; Pete checking his camera

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A beautiful sighting of a humpback whale (I think), especially for those on the Haukur

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A different whale, possibly a minke?

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Onboard refreshments; Pete


See my other Iceland postcards.


Outside of Reykjavik, Iceland is sparsely populated with individual farmsteads and small communities dotted across a rural landscape. Farming and fishing are still key industries but the last decade has seen huge growth in software, biotechnology, finance and service industries and a significant increase in tourism.

Sauðárkrókur – Hólar – Akureyri

After an inland detour to visit Hólar, we took the coastal route around to Akureyri (and on to Myvatn) via a stop at the Bruggsmiðjan Brewery.


Having set off early in the morning, we approached Hólar – nestled within the Hjaltadalur valley – in the golden morning sun. First to come into view was the tall tower of Hólar Church, with the red and white block of Hólar University College behind it.

The church and college were beautiful but what had drawn us to Hólar was the Nýibær turf house, next to the college building. Built in 1860, it is a typical medium-sized turf house in the North-Icelandic style, distinguished by forward-facing gables along the front and rear buildings arranged at right angles.

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The coastal roads offered stunning views, though occasionally a little hair-raising for those of us that are scared of heights!


Our visit to the Bruggsmiðjan Brewery was organised in advance, but they do their best to welcome drop-in visitors too.

The brewery is only a decade old, established in 2005 by local couple Agnes Anna and Olafur Trostur, who were keen to forge a new business in the local area. Both their sons are now working in the business, and one of them related the brewery’s story and showed us round, offering tastings of several of the beers currently in production. We were joined by a few others who arrived during our visit.

Agnes and Olafur had never brewed beer before, but were inspired by a TV news report they happened to watch, talking about the rising popularity of small breweries in Denmark. Just one week later, they visited Denmark to visit a few small breweries and came home determined to achieve something similar in Iceland.

We were surprised to learn that beer had been prohibited in Iceland until 1989! In 1908 Icelanders voted in a ban on all alcoholic drinks, which went into effect in 1915. However, the ban was partially lifted in 1921 when Spain refused to allow the import of Icelandic fish unless Iceland legalised the import into Iceland of Spanish wine. In 1935, spirits were also legalised after another national referendum. However, the temperance lobby successfully argued to retain the prohibition on beer (which covered any beer stronger than 2.25%). Icelanders regularly raised bills calling for the legalisation of beer. They finally gained more momentum after a new rule was imposed by a teetotaller Minister of Justice in 1985, banning pubs from adding legal spirits to non-alcoholic beer to create an imitation strong beer. Parliament finally voted to end beer prohibition and the ban was lifted on 1 March 1989, a date still celebrated as “Beer Day”.

Bruggsmiðjan’s Kaldi brand includes pale and dark Czech-style beers, summer and winter seasonal beers plus limited editions such as a beer featuring local herbs as flavouring. All the beers are made with natural fresh water from the immediate area and the core range are available in bars and shops all round Iceland.


See my other Iceland postcards.


I’m conscious that it’s now several months since our summer visit to Iceland and that I stalled after sharing just two ‘postcards’. I’ve been processing more of the images from the trip and decided to resume the series; better late than never!

We didn’t have time on this trip to include the Western Fjords that jut up and out of the island’s North West corner. Instead we loosely followed the main ring road in a clockwise loop. After a little city break in Reykjavik our first port of call was Stykkishólmur, for the Viking Sushi Boat Excursion. From there we continued Westwards, choosing the most scenic roads wherever possible.

Stykkishólmur – Grundarfjörður – Sauðárkrókur

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I loved this artwork on a seafood processing factory in Sauðárkrókur.

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Grundarfjörður was the least attractive stop of our itinerary, indeed it was really just a handy overnight between Stykkishólmur and Sauðárkrókur. I can’t recommend it.

In Sauðárkrókur we stayed at Hótel Tindastóll which claims to be Iceland’s oldest hotel, dating from 1884. It’s also one if Iceland’s oldest timber houses and has been sympathetically renovated. We stayed in one of the large rooms in the original building, which are quite charming if a little gloomy on the lighting front.

There’s not much to see in Sauðárkrókur but we enjoyed a short walk around the harbour area and into town. There are a couple of nice restaurants, a decent cafe bakery and a good bar in which to end an evening.


See my other Iceland postcards.

May 092015

I had so much fun with last month’s In My Kitchen – a romp through a busy month by way of Instagram – that I thought I’d rinse and repeat!

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My little baby nephew was born and I couldn’t wait to meet him. The first time he was 10 days old, and the second, he was a month old that day. Isn’t he gorgeous?


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For a while we had glorious sunshine. For a while…


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Allotment leeks in a delicious blue cheese and leek risotto.


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Deliciously sweet oranges and some apple and guava juice, both bought from Waitrose during my lunch break. Pain au chocolat from a local bakery and wagyu burgers from Aldi, not the highest quality wagyu but decent beef burgers for the price.


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We enjoyed a really lovely stay at Glazebrook House Hotel in Devon.


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And we attended an excellent Italian cookery class at Manna from Devon – we covered so much during the day – making pasta from scratch, some of which became tagliatelle and the rest ravioli, carpaccio of beef, bruschetta with red peppers and broccoli, lemon polenta cake, a crab risotto, a fish stew. Everything was delicious and the location itself is just beautiful.


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Driving in Devon is always a joy, especially when the sun is shining and the views of the coast are so beautiful!


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During our weekend in the Dartmouth area, we popped into local seafood restaurant Rockfish for a super fresh and delicious fish dinner. Check out the giant onion rings!


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After visiting London’s Piada Bar in Soho, I was given a packet of three piada flatbreads. We made some very quick and very tasty flatbread pizzas with them using ready-made pizza sauce, pre-grated mozzarella and a variety of charcuterie languishing in the fridge. So, so good!


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Our friends at The Bull in Highgate invited Pete and I to attend their Northern Line beer and food matching event. We enjoyed the evening immensely, and there were some very interesting matches too. Do keep an eye out on their Events page for future dinners.


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We took friends to the lovely Warda Lebanese restaurant in Southgate. I still think this is the best Lebanese food outside Lebanon!


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Two visits to Korean restaurants in New Malden for a sit down meal, the first Yami (top row) which did a fantastic modum namal including yellowbeansprouts as well as regular beansprouts, and their marinated short rib was excellen and Palace (bottom row) which was a little disappointing on the bbq front but did a decent tteokbokki (rice cake, fish cake, chilli dish).


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Pete pulled the last of our leeks from the allotment and combined them with a few leftover rashers of bacon, some wild garlic from the back garden and a little cream for a very tasty pasta sauce. Weirdly, this seems to be the most popular instagram I’ve shared thus far, no idea why!


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I loved visiting Wing Yip when I was a kid and it’s no less exciting now, several decades later. I took a Friday off to make a long weekend longer, and we took advantage to enjoy a dim sum lunch at Wing Yip’s Wing Thai restaurant, without the weekend crowds. A quick stop in the cafe bakery next door afterwards for a custard tart, a jin doy and some banana cake.


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We enjoyed a delicious ‘Chinese Spagbol’ recipe from Lizzie Mabbott’s ChinaTown Kitchen, a great recipe that we’ll make again and we have lots more bookmarked to try soon.


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We visited new local Japanese restaurant, Sushi Mania. Service is poor and when we visited, the place was overrun by really loud families, but the food we tried was all very good. At lunch time the a la carte is half price – that’s what I’d recommend; the full prices are too steep.



We used to go to this local pizzeria a lot under previous management, but hadn’t been since it changed hands. Pizzas are just as good as ever, though a touch more pricy than the competition. Tasty, though!



A few weeks of glorious sunshine have mostly been swept away by overcast skies and hard showers. This rose leaf in our front garden glistened after one such downpour.


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Our first dish from Diana Henry’s A Bird In The Hand was this very delicious and simple chicken, butternut squash and cream bake. Definitely one to make again!


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Two of my favourite fruits –  Asian mangoes and pears, the mangoes from a local grocery store and the Nashi pears from Wing Yip.


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Bank holiday Monday lunch at our local (Bohemia), roast dinner, shared with friends. Lovely end to a long weekend.


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Friends shared some of the Japanese kit kat stash with me, which they brought back with them from their recent trip. Wasabi and citrus gold blend were as good as I remember from my 2012 Japanese kit kat tasting. Strawberry cheesecake was vastly better, the balance of flavour completely different and far more pleasant. I’d never had the chilli variety before, so that was great fun to try – at first it seemed mild and then the chilli heat came through!


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With half a butternut squash leftover from the Diana Henry recipe, I found a gnocchi recipe online, which Pete made for a weeknight dinner. Served with mini fresh mozarella balls, grated parmesan-a-like and deep fried sage leaves (from the rampant bush in the back garden).



We’ve been munching far too many sugary sweets since the start of our three month Scoff subscription. You can win a three month subscription of your own, here.


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I’ve been at  my new contract in New Malden for 5-6 weeks now and loving the lunch options in the vicinity of my office. My favourite is Ohaio – a hole-in-the-wall place at the entrance to the rail station, which sells a wide range of Korean, Japanese and Thai dishes, made hot and all fantastic value. Most lunch deals are £4.50 or £4.90 and include the main plus miso soup and some mini spring rolls.


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We took some friends to our local Korean, Yijo, for another delicious feast. Above you can see Japchae, Kimchi mandu (dumplings), tteokbokki (a dish of chewy rice cake worms and fish cake slices in a hot sauce), a beef, tofu and vegetable hot pot and some meat on the table barbeque, a proper charcoal one. The portion of meat for the price has dropped significantly but everything else is still tasty and great value.


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Pussy Galoaf, our sourdough starter (and daughter of Priscilla) is going strong. For loaf 10, Pete upped the ratio of starter to give more sourdough flavour and baked the loaf in a silicon loaf tin inside a large lidded casserole dish. It was good!


This is my entry into the wonderful Celia’s In My Kitchen event.


If you were to write a wish list for the perfect, modern country house hotel, what might you include?

For me I’d be looking for a beautiful rural setting with plenty of varied attractions in the vicinity, easy to get to but still with that feeling of getting away from it all, sumptuous and spacious bedrooms with modern comfort and lots of personality, glamorous bathrooms with deep bathtubs and walk-in showers, appealing public spaces with comfy seating, an inviting bar and a delicious restaurant, all with modern decor throughout that is playful, quirky and fun to discover. Generosity of hospitality and genuine warmth in the welcome would also feature highly.

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Glazebrook House Hotel sits at the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park and is a very easy drive from London – less than four hours on the day we visited.

And it scores pretty damn highly against my wish list.

Collage Glazebrook outside (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

After decades as a traditional, fairly uninspiring but perfectly decent hotel, it was purchased and completely remodelled by Pieter and Fran Hamman. They commissioned interior designer Timothy Oulton to create a stunning and eclectic luxury boutique hotel with just eight rooms, a bar and restaurant plus conference room and attractive gardens. The new Glazebrook opened last May and, as it comes towards the end of it’s first year in business, we were invited to visit on a glorious spring weekend.

Owner Pieter tells us that the Georgian house was built in 1865, the same year that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Accordingly, there’s a subtle Alice in Wonderland theme in play, though it’s not overdone or pushed to kitsch; the room names draw from the story and just behind reception there’s an unusual display of magnifying glasses hung on a wall over correspondingly-shaped holes through which little passages from the book can be seen – magnified, of course!

At the heart of the styling is Timothy Oulton’s range of furniture – beds, headboards, sofas, tables, storage trunks, wardrobes – a modern take on traditional styles with lots of leather and shiny metal. In the main part, the decor owes more to the sensibilities of an eBay and car boot sale addict, with displays of everything from road signs to bowler hats, trumpets to drum kits, old cine cameras to dolls houses, china plates to tarnished silver serving platters – all of it vintage, assiduously sourced by Oulton’s team and turned into artful knick-knacks. As a life-long collector, I absolutely love it!

Collage Glazebrook interiors (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

The lobby is a rather fabulous space with grand chandeliers, a huge British flag draped behind the reception desk – large and silver with matching silver bulldog atop it, a taxidermy flamingo, an emu skeleton and many more fascinating details, plus some very comfortable sofas to sink into. From this central space you can take the grand staircase to the first floor, where seven of eight rooms are located, and there are also doors to the restaurant, the bar and a whisky and wine room.

Collage Glazebrook Mad Hatter Room (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

I can’t wait to see our room and I’m not disappointed. Mad Hatter features a king size bed with large leather headboard above which are three vintage dolls houses suspended on the wall – lying on the bed, it’s a little discombobulating at first to look up into their interiors, but you quickly forget about the oddness. A huge marble desk sits below a flatscreen TV mounted on the wall within a frame of blue and white plates. Old hats and hat forms are mounted on another wall. Glass domes show off a tumble of tiny green glass bottles and tea cups and saucers with an illustrated page from Alice in Wonderland. The bathroom is huge, with a deep white tub, double marble sinks and a walk-in shower and gorgeous black and white Q*bert-esque tile floor.

A nice touch is that the wardrobe contains a fridge containing a nice selection of beer, wine and soft drinks plus tea and coffee making facilities and a basket of chocolate, sweets and snacks. All of these are complimentary, we are told when being shown to our room; such a welcome change from price-gauging mini bar charges. Later, sitting in the bath with a sparkling glass of Luscombe Damascene rose and a packet of fruit pastilles, this is even more appreciated – I’d much rather the room rate be an extra £10 or £20 a night with such extras rolled in than having to negotiate ludicrously marked up charges for wi-fi, bottled drinks, coffee and an occasional bar of chocolate.

The bed is supremely comfortable but both of us hate this style of feather pillow – the kind that squishes completely flat where your head lies, to create two enormous cushions trapping your head and providing no support at all. The only other gripe is the shower; you can flip the water between a detachable, wall-mounted shower and the overhead monsoon head but the wall-mounted one is barely high enough for me (and I’m only 5 foot 6 inches) and Pete can really only use the monsoon head, which is mounted just a few inches above his head.

But these are minor niggles and we love our room.

Collage Glazebrook other rooms (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

The other rooms are just as beautiful. White Rabbit, with it’s giant sheepskin bedframe and playing cards is often sold as the bridal suite and has a white tub and walk-in shower like ours. Chesire Cat is the third luxury double (along with White Rabbit and our room) and I’m very taken by the purple colour scheme. The room is huge and has a pretty chaise longue but note that the bathroom doesn’t include a tub and both windows look out onto slate tile roofs and trees, quite a restricted if appealingly private view. Jabberwocky is a superior double, a little smaller than the luxury doubles and with shower only once again. Tweedle Deez is another superior room and the only twin, with two stunning metal four poster beds and a shower-only bathroom. Gryphon is the hotel’s only single room, the bedframe made with recycled metal from a Spitfire plane, so we’re told. Caterpillar, a standard double, is the smallest room in the house, although still with the lovely design touches of all the other rooms. Last is Bread and Butterflies, a wheelchair accessible room on the ground floor.

Collage Glazebrook dining room dinner (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

The in-house restaurant is very popular with locals so do make sure to book a table when you make your room reservation, if you want to be sure of a eating in.

Benefitting from enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, the room has plenty of light during the day and lots of light from chandeliers and candle sconces during the evening. Walls are decorated with collections of vintage china and silver serving platters, with wooden flooring and comfortable leather chairs.

Cooking is solid, based on good quality ingredients, though some dishes wow more than others. Winners are the Ticklemore goat’s cheese fritters and gingerbread whipped mousse starter – light, crisp, delicately flavoured – and a phenomenal whole lemon sole with samphire, lemon butter and jersey royal potatoes – the fish is so perfectly cooked and the lemon butter dressing just right.

The chicken liver parfait with tomato chutney and brioche is decent but let down by a slimy chicken thigh terrine which tastes of very little and contributes nothing to the plate. My west country pork belly, seared loin, cream potato, apple and cauliflower is a strong combination but the loin is very dry and the pork belly could do with even longer cooking to make the fat more soft and melting. It’s decent but not excellent.

The main let down of the meal is a chocolate torte with espresso jelly and tia maria cream – the espresso jelly layer, tia maria cream and tempered chocolate triangle on top are all fine but the main torte is very grainy, like seized chocolate and the texture is too off-putting for me. I am kindly offered a switch and enjoy a scoop of thunder and lightning ice cream served with an excellent light and crisp chocolate chip cookie.

The cheese selection is a really good choice featuring west country cheeses Yarg, Cornish Blue, Sharpham Cremet, Sweet Charlotte Cheddar and Quirk’s Mature Cheddar, served with quince jelly, grapes and a nice plate of crackers; the Sharpham Cremet goats cheese is utterly fantastic, a perfectly ripe, incredibly creamy goat’s cheese in the Brie style.

Collage Glazebrook dining room breakfast (c) Kavita and Pete Favelle

Breakfast is served in the same lovely dining room, this time with wooden tables unadorned with white linen and pots of fresh herbs as centre pieces. Juices, fresh fruit and patisseries are excellent as is Pete’s cheese and ham omelette. My full breakfast is alright – the single tiny sausage is a little overcooked, the black pudding and bacon are OK. There is little to make my heart leap – close but no cigar. I would rate both dinner and breakfast as enjoyable meals, but with some room for improvement.

Current room rates are £159 for the single, £179 for the standard double, £189-£199 for the superior twin and doubles and £239 for the three luxury doubles – that’s for bed and breakfast, with bar drinks and dinner charged a la carte. We think that’s a real steal for a relaxing afternoon, evening and morning in this lovely property.

Pete and I fell pretty hard for Glazebrook and I know we’ll definitely be back. We talked about family celebrations we might hold here, to share the delights of Glazebrook with our nearest and dearest, but I suspect we’ll err on the side of selfishness and keep it as a romantic retreat to savour on our own.

Kavey Eats were guests of Glazebrook House Hotel.


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.


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.



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


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.)

  • 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.


Just before Christmas I was invited on a trip to visit Vilnius, Lithuania. As a country I’ve long wanted to visit, and with the added allure of December Christmas markets, I didn’t hesitate to accept. I spent a wonderful few days exploring the city (and nearby Trakai) with incredibly knowledgeable, not to mention helpful, patient and enthusiastic, guide Edvinas Pundys.

Would that I could give you even a tenth of the rich insight into Lithuanian culture, history and modern-day life that Edvinas packed into our time together. Instead I shall share some images and impressions, and encourage you to visit for yourself.


My favourite place, which we crossed several times during our walks around the city, and which I also visited on my own for a little gift shopping, was Cathedral Square and the small but charming Christmas Market. The cathedral and bell tower are both impressive, the bell tower a standalone structure that was likely once part of the mediaeval city walls; the lower part of it being from that era, the upper part and neo-classical finish added in the late 19th century, during reconstruction work on the cathedral itself. Next door to the cathedral is the newly constructed National Museum, built on the site of the Palace of the Grand Dukes; in the basement you’ll find archaeological ruins from many centuries past.


Although lots of the food treats looked tempting, I focused on things I could bring home – some amber jewellery (for which Lithuania is well known) and a couple of jars of local honey.

I also stopped in a local supermarket for local cheeses, cured meats and chocolates.

Of course, there was plenty more to see around Vilnius, much of it rich in history and architecturally beautiful to boot. We also popped into the Money Museum, which I had expected to be a little dull but actually really liked, not least because of the clever technology used to provide the display; coins in columns that could be moved up and down by the touch of a button, as could the associated magnifying lens in front and drawers full of international currencies with a wall display about each one that could be called up from a central console.

The local tourist booklet, Vilnius in your pocket, has not only a full list of all the attractions, it also provides a detailed restaurant listing and a surprisingly comprehensive condensed history of Lithuania. Definitely pick this up on arrival, so you can refer to it during your visit. Better still, a Pocket Edvinas is strongly recommended!


Many of the buildings in the Old Town are worth a visit. We explored just a small part of Vilnius University’s Old Campus (there are other locations around the city too). The campus is formed of many buildings of different styles and ages, arranged around 13 courtyards. To enter the campus as a visitor, you’ll need to buy a ticket, it’s not expensive. I was particularly taken with the mural-painted arched ceilings of Littera, the university bookshop. There’s also a first floor hall featuring murals in red, blue and gold that is quite impressive. This is a modern artwork showing the seasons of the year, as they were once experienced by rural Lithuanians. Via the Grand Courtyard, we also visited St John’s Church. Such visits were made so much richer by Edvinas’ running commentary about the origins of the church, about how it survived the nazi occupation and the long period during which Lithuania was part of the USSR; religious activity being anathema to soviet secularity.


A short drive out of Vilnius is Trakai, a very popular local holiday destination. Unspoiled, with many attractive lakes, it’s also the home of Trakai Castle, a 14th century castle that was heavily restored in the late 20th century. Trakai was one of the main centres of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and as such, the castle held significant strategic importance.


Without fail during my visit, we ate well and prices seemed very reasonable. My main regret is that most of the meals organised for us didn’t showcase traditional Lithuanian cuisine as much as I’d hoped; rather the restaurants were selected on providing a tasty meal; the kind of places locals enjoy and recommend.  But I did try a few local dishes that have whetted my appetite for a return trip, so that I can experience more traditional fare.

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Dinner on the first night wasn’t included, so two of us took a walk to The Old Green House, a cosy restaurant a few minutes walk from our hotel. A bar snack starter of baked bread with smoked pigs ears and cheese was far bigger than I expected (for just 3.19 Euros) and one of my favourite dishes of the trip; smokey pork, gooey cheese and crunchy dark rye bread. I also had a main of pork ribs, and the stroganoff my friend chose looked very good too.

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The underground setting of La Boheme was very attractive. My favourite of the dishes we had there was a cheese soup with shrimp; rich and simple. My pork main was a little dry, and not very interesting.

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At Leiciai restaurant, a salad featuring local fresh cheese, apples and walnuts was delicious but I particularly enjoyed the duck served with a baked bacon-wrapped pear stuffed with cheese. The others enjoyed beers brewed by the restaurant’s own microbrewery. As a non-beer-drinker I paused on the way home  to buy a selection of beers from local and regional breweries, at the excellent beer shop also owned by the same business; hopefully Pete will review some of these soon. Dessert, a huge banana on a puddle of sour (unsweetened) kiwi puree was a disappointment.

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My favourite meal, and one which definitely gave us an insight into one of the local cuisines, was at Kybynlar restaurant in Trakai, a popular holiday destination about 30 km from Vilnius. We visited Trakai not only to see the impressive castle and lakes but to try Karaite cooking; Trakai is the home of the Lithuanian Karaite community, an ethnic and religious group derived from Turkic-speaking adherents of Karaism. The religion has much in common with aspects of Judaism, from which historians believe Karaism originated. Certainly one of the most interesting aspects of the Lithuanian history that Edvinas related to us was the tolerance Lithuania afforded to immigrants and their different religions, during times when this was certainly not universal.

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A salad plate included a very Turkish imam bayaldi, packed with flavour. Then a traditional beef kybyn, served with a clear chicken broth, reminded me of a Cornish pasty. The main dish was chicken čanach – chicken and vegetables in cooked and served in a pastry-covered pot, with sour cream. Both of these dishes were very plain – no herbs or spices – but tasty. A simple apple pastry finished the meal. We were also given a shot of a liqueur made of herbs, rhizomes and spices to a traditional recipe – too bitter for me, though!

Throughout our time in Lithuania, I noticed the warmth and friendliness of Lithuanians; indeed on one afternoon when two of us got lost on the way home from a visit to the Christmas market, a kind stranger, unable to give us instructions in a language we understood, walked twenty minutes out of his way to lead us back to our hotel, before continuing his journey home. So kind!

In terms of arranging a visit, Vilnius is a perfect destination for a long weekend, or even a week if you like. There’s plenty more to see than the highlights we took in, and eating out is affordable and tasty.

For British travellers, there are low cost flights from the UK via multiple budget airlines; I flew on Wizz Air; the usual no frills service – fine for a short flight.

We were hosted by the Artis Centrum Hotel; it boasts a very handy location in the Old Town and attractive, large and comfortable rooms, but I did experience a few problems: a bedroom door that didn’t shut properly, such that I returned to my room one afternoon to find it wide open and was told “the doors do that sometimes”, leading me to feel somewhat insecure thereafter; plus some minor issues related to in-room safes, higher-than-acceptable charges for bottled water and some confusion over charges for coffee at breakfast. A decent hotel but with some niggles to be addressed.

On January 1 2015, just 12 days after I returned home, Lithuania gave up their national currency, the Lita, and joined the Euro. Sad for those of us who have a soft spot for using unfamiliar currencies, but hopefully it will be a positive move for the country, from an economic perspective. Perhaps it will also result in an increase in tourism; certainly this gorgeous capital is deserving of more visitors.

Kavey Eats travelled to Vilnius as a guest of the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism.

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