Today is Kavey Eats’ 5th Birthday! Where did the time go? Over 800 posts shared, and I’m still learning, still bubbling with ideas, still enjoying the process and still feeling like a newbie in so many ways. Thank you for visiting, for reading, for commenting and for sharing my content with your friends. I am so grateful!

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some Favourite Fives with you. Click on the links to go straight to any section or settle in for a long scroll down!

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes
Five Favourite Travel Posts
Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews
Five Favourite Lessons on the History of Food
Five Favourite Recipes by Pete
Five Favourite Hotel Stays
Five Favourite Random Lessons
Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews
Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments
Five Favourite Cookery Classes
Three Favourite History Lessons

 

Five Favourite Kavey Eats Recipes

Many of the recipes I blog are by way of reviewing a cookery book, but here are five of my own that I’m particularly proud of:

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A chicken tarragon pasta bake that turns leftover roast or poached chicken into something special.

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Candying (confit) clementines is surprisingly easy, as is making rich, sharp-sweet lemon posset.

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Although I love boston baked beans, Pete was never keen on the belly pork that is a common accompaniment. I created a culinary handshake between America and Britain with these British Bangers & Boston Baked Beans. Leave soupy or cook longer to reduce to a thicker, stickier mass.

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I won first prize for chutneys in our local allotment show with this apple, date, ginger and chilli chutney so I’m very proud of it, especially as I had to be encouraged to enter by an allotment friend!

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I adored my stout (beer) and salty roasted peanut ice cream – the representation of a pub in a sweet frozen treat. I wrote this as a guest post for my husband’s blog, Pete Drinks.

Other recipes I really like are my chicken liver and port pâté, these fun bacon pancakes, coffee and rum walnut brittle ice cream featuring home made walnut brittle, and a home made strawberry vodka liqueur that turned out wonderfully thick, sweet and fruity.

 

Five Favourite Travel Posts

I love to travel, especially when there’s also great food involved!

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The day we spent talking za’atar with Abu Kassem was a highlight of our trip to Lebanon.

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We had great fun spending a weekend eating and drinking our way around Amsterdam. There was so much to eat, so little time!

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I can’t pretend the Falklands Islands are a dream foodie destination but we ate well and spent lots of time appreciating the local wildlife.

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Our latest visit to Islay for the Islay Whisky Festival 2013 saw me eating fabulous fresh seafood as often as I could, which turned out to be every day!

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It’s been so hard to pick just one of my many Japan posts to include here, but I’ve chosen a little place in Kyoto selling Japanese specialities, amazake and warabi mochi.

Also in my shortlist was a really old introduction to eating in Morocco, that I originally wrote for a short-lived travel blog I abandoned almost as soon as I started!

 

Five Favourite Cookery Book Reviews

I own far far far too many cookery books!

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The book I was probably the most excited to see was Leon Book 4, featuring three of mum’s recipes, photos of mum with her parents and with baby me, and an explanation of how Mamta’s Kitchen came into existence.

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Saraban, by Greg and Lucy Malouf, is enchantingly beautiful. The recipe I shared, Tahcheen-e morgh, proved very popular, and more recently it inspired my Persian Peri Peri Fusion version.

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I’m a big fan of Angela Nilsen’s approach of taking a classic recipe, researching it, sourcing tips from a range of experts and then creating the ultimate recipe and she shares 50 such recipes in this book. Here, I make her Ultimate Quiche Lorraine.

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My friend Uyen Luu’s book is a visual feast, full of beautiful images, evocative writing and delicious recipes. We made several recipes, including her Caramelised Sardines in Coconut Water.

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My last choice is a book I wish I had on my own shelves, the wonderfully named Please To The Table, full of Russian recipes. Pete made Cheese Vareniki and Meat Pelmeni and they were mighty fine!

A few that didn’t quite make the top five but offer tasty treats include a fabulous smoked cheese gnocchi from The Amalfi Coast, Gastrogeek’s Roasted Aubergine Macarone Cheese and Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken.

 

Five Favourite Lessons On The History of Food

Sometimes a topic really catches my attention; when that happens, I love to read as much as I can to learn all about it and then pull everything together into an essay-like post!

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Our visit to the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale last year was fascinating. We learned a great deal about the history of the collections from our super guide, Mike, and I was inspired to do more research about the history of the apple in the UK, when I got home.

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These days, turkey is relegated to little more than a Christmas staple, but a visit to the Kelly Bronze farm prompted me to look more closely into the history of turkey eating and breeding in the UK.

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This post had been simmering for several months, the majority of it written after our first trip to Japan in autumn 2012 but not completed until after our second trip in 2013. I only just got round to posting it! It gives a history of yakiniku in Japanese cuisine.

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A press trip to Parma allowed me to discover the origins and methods of making parmigiano-reggiano (parmesan cheese) and prosciutto de Parma (Parma ham).

 

Five Favourite Recipes by Pete

Pete does so much of the cooking in our house. Here are five of my favourite recipes he’s created.

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I’m always begging Pete to make his Chocolate & Porter Cake. Most recently, he made it for an afternoon tea, and it went down very well!

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Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake is simplicity itself but so very tasty. It’s also a great way of using up the remnants of a varied cheeseboard.

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Home made bread is one of Pete’s fortes and I loved this Cobnut Bread he made using British cobnuts and oil.

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I dubbed this invention of Pete’s Courgette-Saka, in a reference to Moussaka, though I’ve come across similar dishes called courgette lasagne. It’s made by layering ragu, slices of courgette and bechamel before baking.

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Pete’s Crumpet recipe is a winner. Nothing like hot, freshly made crumpets oozing with melted butter for a fantastic weekend breakfast!

 

Five Favourite Hotel Stays

I guess this could come under travel, but in these posts I’m focusing on the beautiful places we stayed.

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We stayed in Ryokan Kankaso in Nara on our first trip to Japan and it remains one of my favourite experiences in Japan. They served us an amazing kaiseki ryori feast.

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Sometimes when you visit a place, it seems to have been designed with your personal tastes in mind. So it was at The Scarlet in Cornwall.

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London’s Syon Park Hotel is shiny and new, and the exterior isn’t particularly attractive, but I really appreciated what it offers inside.

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I didn’t particularly love our hotel in Abisko in Sweden’s Lappland but its location and the surrounding views were spectacular!

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Yes, two ryokans make it into the list – we also had a wonderful stay at Shiraume Ryokan in Kyoto’s historic Gion district.

 

Five Favourite Random Lessons

A little mix-bag of miscellaneous topics!

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I had a great time attending a food styling photography workshop by one of the best in the business, Alastair Hendy. I’ve shared lots of his tips in my post.

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In a rare departure from the food and travel content I usually post, I created a framed artwork of heart shaped maps of places that hold special meaning to Pete and I. Here’s the tutorial on how to make your own digital heart maps collage.

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I’ve been happily making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and ketchups and storing them long term in sterilised jam jars and glass bottles. But before I embarked on my first canning project (where the food is heat treated inside the jar) I did some research on the various methods of preserving food at home. This post shares what I learned and was followed by my instructions on how to can apple pie filling.

Japan2012-2154 Japan2012-3168

I found the temples and shrines in Kyoto and across Japan utterly fascinating and wrote this article to help visitors to identify a Buddhist temple from a Shinto shrine and to understand and appreciate what they are seeing. Here too are 6 earlier posts in which I shared information and images from several shrines and temples we visited.

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This one isn’t so much a lesson as our experiences running a food market stall for just one day, in Covent Garden’s Real Food Market.

 

Five Favourite Restaurant Reviews

I love to eat in and I love to eat out. Here are restaurants I particularly enjoyed.

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It’s probably not a huge surprise that one of the most memorable meals I’ve written about is Heston’s Fat Duck. My sister took me there for my 40th (and her 37th) and it was a great experience.

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Given the distinction of being the only place I’ve written about where we ordered one of the dishes a second time during one meal, I must mention Club Gascon, which we visited when they were offering a special menu to celebrate their thirteenth birthday.

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Tristan Welch is no longer at the helm of Launceston Place, but he and his team made another birthday very special for me and my friend Chaundra

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History was always one of my favourite subjects at school (and indeed I studied it at uni too) so I was happy that my added content covering the history of Bombay Cafes and Thums Up Cola were of such interest to readers in my post about Dishoom.

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The Sportsman in Kent reminds me of myself, but is altogether far tastier!

This was probably the hardest category to narrow down to five! I wanted to share Hida Beef, Tempura, Yuba and Yakiniku from Japan, enjoying a Nutter Genius’ kitchen table, crying over the loss of the Oriental City Food Court, my addiction to Kookoo Sabzi, the wonderous oddity of mac’n’cheese sushi style and a most wondrous meal at Pierre Koffmann’s rooftop popup.

 

Five Favourite Gardening & Allotment Moments

We’ve been growing our own fruit and vegetables in the back garden and, for the last three years, at a nearby allotment too.

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We spotted this fox fast asleep one morning, nestled amongst the tomatillos and gourds in the back garden. He woke after we’d admired him for a while.

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I’ve never been a fan of regular broccoli but discovered that I do really like purple sprouting broccoli varieties.

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Wanting to make the most of the yellow raspberries and blackberries from our allotment, I made a fruit tart. It features my homemade plum jelly, made from allotment plums, too!

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Some confusion on my part lead me to make this redcurrant and port jelly but it turned out so well (despite being a little runny because of too much port) that I’ve since been eking out the remainder!

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Tomatoes are one of my favourite things to grow. I adore the sweet taste and beautiful colour of Sungolds, and decided to preserve some in this lovely spicy yellow tomato ketchup.

 

Five Favourite Cookery Classes

It’s always a pleasure to learn new skills.

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The impact of our single cookery class at Billingsgate Seafood Training School cannot be underestimated! Not so much in the frequency with which we cook fish at home, but in the way it’s helped to change Pete’s eating habits to the extent he will now happily eat fish on the bone! That increase in his fish eating habits helped give me the confidence to finally book our first trip to Japan!

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Pete’s the bread baker in our house but we both hugely enjoyed this comprehensive two day course from Master Baker Tom Herbert, held at the Bethruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall.

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I love the warm, friendly and very hands on nature of cookery classes at Food at 52, and this Flavours of Italy class was no exception.

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To celebrate ten years of running Mamta’s Kitchen (back in 2011), we decided to run some Mamta’s Kitchen Cookery Classes, to raise funds for various charities. Feedback was super and the experience was very rewarding.

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I’ve grown ever more interested in Japanese food over the last few years and have now attended a few of Reiko’s Japanese sessions, which showcase traditional dishes with a modern twist.

 

Just Three Favourite History Lessons

I always loved studying history, and with these three posts, I took a little step back to my academic days.

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At school, college and university I studied history, with a focus on the 20th century. For Remembrance Day 2010, I shared a history of the Battle of Britain.

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More history, this time in the sinking of the Titanic, and the stories of some of those aboard.

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When The East India Company name was resurrected, I wrote a piece explaining the history of the original East India Company.

 

Oh and for those eagle-eyed readers who’ve noticed that the archive dates back to 2006; after I started the blog in 2009 I copied across bits and pieces I’d written and shared via email and online discussion boards in the previous few years. That’s the time I describe as my “stealth blogging” period – I had the enthusiasm you’d expect from a blogger to record my thoughts about food, cooking, restaurants, equipment but no actual blog!

Thanks for joining me on my slow stroll down memory lane!

 

When I was a child, I never could understand grownups telling me that time seems to pass faster the older you’d get. “Another year has whizzed by”, they’d say, as I furrowed my head and thought, “no it hasn’t!” What’s more, I couldn’t foresee that I would ever come to feel the same way or say those same things. And yet here I am, marvelling bemusedly at how fast another year has whizzed by and, hang on a second, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago I was trying to remember to write 2013 rather than 2012?

And yet, when I look back through the posts I’ve shared through the year, I can say that it’s been another wonderful year, regardless of how quickly it seems to have sped past.

 

January

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Japan2012-2810 Japan2012-2197 BillyColaChicken-3947

On the recipe front, I loved Billy Law’s Coca Cola Chicken and was delighted with my Walnut Brittle.

The Apple, Date & Ginger Chutney I made went on to win me first prize for chutneys at our local allotment show later in the year.

I also enjoyed reliving some of our first trip to Japan the previous year, with a post on Mitarashi Dango and an incredible Kaiseki Ryori meal at Kankaso Ryokan in Nara.

February

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I was thrilled to be able to share my favourite food photographs on the back of my new Moo mini blog cards.

For Christmas 2012 I made a strikingly colourful Beetroot and Lemon Zest Cured Trout, finally sharing the recipe I used just in time for Valentine’s day. If that sounds too time-intensive, I also made some really quick No Bake Mini Lemon Ricotta Cheesecakes. Probably the recipe that excited me the most (and has kept on giving us pleasure as we work our way through the jars) was How To Can (Bottle) Apple Pie Filling. We’ve made variations of the simple King Oyster Mushroom & Cream Pasta a number of times since.

On a more gadget-focused note, I reviewed a spice and nut grinder from Cuisinart.

March

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Japan2012-2568 Japan2012-2573 Japan2012-2584 Japan2012-2589 Japan2012-2592

I wouldn’t usually include a giveaway in my annual roundup but the chocolate badger from Bettys really caught readers’ imaginations and I’ll be sharing further news from that later this year.

Still reliving the holiday to Japan, I posted the last of my six posts about Japanese temples and shrines we visited and took you on a Meander through Kyoto’s Nishiki Market. Back in London, I found a taste of Japan at Bincho Yakitori in Soho.

Things were quiet in my kitchen, but the No Churn Jelly Belly Ice Cream Recipe was fun!

April

Japan2012-3048 JapanKitKats-4963 FarmisonChicken-4836
GastrogeekMacCheese-0125 ChickenKatsuCurry-4901 Skrei FishPie-5073

You’re probably realising right about now that I remained obsessed with Japan for the rest of the year! In April I wrote about Yuba and Japanese Kit Kat flavours.

There were more recipes on the blog including Butter, Sage and Lemon Roasted Chicken, Cheat’s Chocolate Cherry Baked Alaska, an incredible Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese recipe by Gastrogeek, tasty Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry Rice and a Billingsgate Fish & Egg Pie.

May

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Pinterest and I are good friends. I explained why I love it and how I use it, here.

I sneaked in another post about Japan, sharing our little rest stop for Amazake and Warabi Mochi at Bunnosuke Jaya.

And there was lots more cooking including a Chicken Tarragon Pasta Bake I urge you to try, a Simple Miso Cod which we served with pak choi and rice, a delicious Home-made Tomato Soup and classic Garlic & Rosemary Roast Lamb.

June

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That roast lamb made a delicious leftovers meal of Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps.

There were fabulous 3D Safari Cookies. I tasted the best ham in the whole world.

Supperclubs have been steadily growing in number and popularity for the last few years, but I don’t get to many. I did have a lovely evening at a Japanese supperclub hosted by The London Foodie.

Oh and I got a new Samsung S4 phone, which I still love!

July

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In late May we returned to Islay for the whisky festival, our third time attending. I loved up some Squat Lobsters and Crab.

We had some grand days out to Bettys in Harrogate and to Edible Ornamentals near Bedford.

I experienced the shock of finding great food a stone’s throw from where I was working in Watford.

My favourite recipe was a feather light Smoked Cheese Gnocchi, another we’ve made again since. You could follow that with a refreshing Lemon, Limoncello & Thyme Sorbet.

August

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PeachTarteTatin-1365 Frittata-1420 BaconPotatoSalad-1583

I never did write up the lovely weekend I spend attending the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. But I did share an excellent guest post on the basics of Cooking a Stir Fry, written by my friend Diana, who I met over the weekend.

We had a lovely meal out in Naamyaa Cafe in Islington.

Recipes this month included Flat Peach Tart Tatin, a simple and very versatile Pea, New Potato & Goat’s Cheese Frittata and a Heart Attack Potato Salad laden with bacon and gherkins.

September

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AVBakedRice-4392 ButternutSoupCandiedBacon-1838 teabagspice (1 of 1)

A quiet month on the blog, as I was immersed in planning for our second trip to Japan.

I wrote all about the history of apples and our educational visit to the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

September recipes included a Persia Meets Mozambique Peri Peri Baked Chicken & Yoghurt Rice, Spicy Sungold Tomato Ketchup and Easy Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Bacon.

And a little tip on using DIY teabags to immerse spices into one’s cooking!

October

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Another winner in Watford (who’d have thunk it?) was Grandpa’s Sushi in the covered market. I also wrote about dim sum and tapas restaurant visits.

In the kitchen, I made some quick Bacon Baked Eggs, a chef-inspired salad and a classic Apple Pie, with home-grown apples.

And just before we headed back to Japan for our second trip, Pete spent the day with the London Brewing Company in The Bull in Highgate, creating a collaboration Coffee Porter.

November

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I enjoyed hot chocolate and fudge at Camden market.

My friend Diana wrote another guest post, this time sharing some comprehensive tips on making Egg Fried Rice, with many variations. Pete made a really tasty Pork and Apple Stroganoff Pie with Cheddar Crust.

I enjoyed some excellent food at The Sportsman in Kent and Duck and Waffle, in the City.

And I wrote a letter to my beautiful niece.

December

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This month has been altogether more Christmas-focused with my 2013 Gift Guide full of ideas for the best presents, my recommendations for bottles to buy for a sweet-toothed alcoholic celebration and a review of marzipan fruits.

I also introduced Cocoa Runners, a great way to buy the very best bean-to-bar chocolate from around the world.

In a fit of nostalgia, I did a restaurant review of childhood favourite, a Beefeater restaurant.

And my last recipe of the year was a really old classic – Mrs Beeton’s recipe for scones, served with home made black cherry jam.

 

That’s it, the year is done. Hope you’ve had a great one too!

Wishing you happiness, health and success in the new year.

Dec 302012
 

2012 has been busy for Kavey Eats, with over two hundred posts shared over the last year!

Here’s my pick of posts from each month:

 

January

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The year started sweetly, with several tasty cookie, cake and dessert recipes. A cracker was the Confit Clementines and Lemon Posset I made for the previous year’s Christmas day lunch.

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The savoury eating had a good start too, with my review of a magical celebratory meal with my sister at The Fat Duck.

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I also had the pleasure of cringing at myself on the telly when the BBC food quiz, A Question of Taste aired.

 

February

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Still in the grips of winter, I shared my recipe for Beef Cheeks Bourguignon, a hearty classic with a Kavey Eats twist.

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But the recipe which garnered far more attention was these Bacon Pancakes, an idea I picked up from American food bloggers and had to try myself.

Towards the end of the month, I re-launched Kavey Eats, having moved from Blogspot to WordPress and created a completely new look and layout.

 

March

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March saw me post another hearty recipe, this time my culinary handshake between America and Britain – Boston Baked Beans and British Bangers.

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A Clafoutis Black Cherry Pudding made a great winter warmer dessert.

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Memories (and photos) of childhood abounded when I made Knicker Bocker Glories as part of my second ever BSFIC challenge.

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Pete and I amused ourselves by Making Triangular Omelettes in a Sandwich Maker, just to see if we could!

 

April

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We had fun checking out the new Hawksmoor Spitalfield Bar.

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I got wrapped up in the history of the loss of the Titanic, after a tasting at Berry Bros & Rudd.

Chicken Savoyarde was utterly delicious, though not very photogenic!

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I was bowled over by Satong Sumbat (baby squid stuffed with spiced minced chicken) and other dishes at Umami Restaurant, all the more surprising given that it’s a hotel restaurant.

 

May

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Pete and I had a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam during which we did nothing but eat and drink our way around the city. I shared a comprehensive list of local specialities to look out for, some delicious places to find Coffee, Cake and Snacks in Amsterdam and lastly our tips for Amsterdam Restaurants & Bars.

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Several eager panellists joined me to carefully cogitate over as many brands of Jaffa Cakes as I could find, which resulted in the Great Jaffa Cake Taste Test. The winner surprised all of us as it was neither the best known brand nor the most expensive, by a long shot!

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I shared a non-food project I was very proud of – a collage of heart-shaped maps of our significant places, which I made for Pete as a gift for our 20th anniversary of being a couple.

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I was a very proud wife when Pete won Saveur magazine’s Best Wine or Beer Blog 2012 after only 6 months blogging at his own site. Go visit, have a look around, leave a comment or three and add him to your RSS reader!

 

June

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I learned and shared a recipe for Easy Dauphinoise Potatoes. They’re delicious and have become a regular feature in our house!

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Pete and I went to Dublin’s Bloom In The Park, and encountered many wonderful Irish food and drink producers.

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We tried Club Gascon’s amazing Marmite Royale & Toasts shortly before it was launched at Taste London.

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Pete made the most delicious Cobnut Bread. The recipe would also work well for hazelnuts or walnuts.

 

July

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We enjoyed a superb dinner at Paul Merrett’s pub, The Victoria in East Sheen.

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I had fantastic fun attending The Flavours of Italy cookery class at the new Food at 52 cookery school.

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Discovering how easy and tasty the condensed milk and double cream no churn ice cream base recipe is has made it even easier to make ice cream at home. This honeycomb ice cream was fabulous.

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I gorged myself on crawfish at Bea’s Crawfish Boil.

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This year I enjoyed visiting many more Indian restaurants, including Cinnamon Soho, for a family Sunday brunch.

 

August

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My genius came to the forefront (or so I maintain) when I came up with the idea for these Pickleback Ice Lollies – yes, that’s bourbon mixed with pickled gherkin brine and frozen!

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The view and the food were both pretty amazing when we attended Claude Bosi at The Cube, located on top of Royal Festival Hall.

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I may have confused redcurrants and cranberries, but my home-made Redcurrant and Port Jelly made an appearance on Christmas day, regardless!

 

September

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I talked about my tips for organising the freezer.

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After attending two wonderful fish and seafood cooking classes with Lee Groves, I posted an interview and his recipe for Ray Wings In Pepper Brown Butter Sauce.

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I was thrilled with how well this Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream came out. Delicious!

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I’m not one for hero worship but I have long admired Atul Kochhar so I was delighted to not only meet him but attend a mini cooking class in his restaurant kitchen, before sitting down to a lovely meal in the dining room.

 

October

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After another great visit to Abergavenny Food Festival, I enthused about my favourite exhibitors.

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I enjoyed getting my chops around a Tongue n Cheek ox heart burger.

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This Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with a Stout Honey Glaze was absolutely fantastic. It’s long past due for another outing!

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A residual memory from summer came to the surface when I shared the photos from our day at a Kentish Hop Farm.

November

PicasaJapan2012 Food Mini

In October, Pete and I spent a truly wonderful 2.5 weeks in Japan. In November, I started writing up our experiences – there are so very many I want to share. First, an introduction, itinerary and resources list. On to eating, I posted about the challenges of Japanese vending machines, a delicious meal at Tempura Tsunahachi Honten and being intimated by Piss Alley before finding delicious Ramen for dinner.

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Probably the post that garnered most attention was my Guide to Staying in a Japanese Ryokan.

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Mum and I were very excited to finally see Leon Book 4 because we contributed a few recipes to it, not to mention some photos from the Gupta family album!

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I enthused about one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, Jekka’s Herb Cookbook.

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This year, I’ve discovered some fantastic teas. I reviewed my favourites for my Fantastic Teas 2012 Great Gift Guide.

 

December

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After an eye-opening (not to mention palate-opening) visit to the Kelly Bronze Turkey Farm, I wrote about the history of turkeys in the UK and about the difference between intensively raised white birds and Kelly’s bronze ones.

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For once, this dessert-wine drinker was given matching wines for all courses, at The Vineyard in Stockcross.

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Ever keen on quick and easy recipes I shared two this month. The first was for Chocolate, Amaretto and Amaretti Ice Cream. The second was an impressive Speculoos and Mascarpone Pancake Cake.

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More from Japan, in the form of Hida Beef and Owara Tamaten and a very photo-heavy meander through one of Takayama’s morning markets.

And there you have it! Believe it or not, that’s only a small selection of what I’ve posted on Kavey Eats this year. I hope you enjoyed my monthly picks. Happy New Year and see you in 2013!

 

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Carved detail on Hachiman Festival Float, Takayama, Japan

Apr 022012
 

Today I’m celebrating three years since I launched Kavey Eats, on April 2 2009.

Sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that the archive goes right back to August 2006. That’s because I started the blog as I came to the realisation that I’d been stealth blogging (as I call it) for years… sharing my food thoughts in online chat rooms, on food discussion boards, at LiveJournal, via email and even in the comments sections on other peoples’ blogs! I wrote rambling restaurant reviews, thoughts on favourite ingredients, reports about food festivals I’d attended, notes about kitchen equipment we’d purchased, feedback on recipes we’d tried and enjoyed… much of the same kind of stuff I share on the blog today.

Despite that, when I started the blog, I feared I’d never keep it up, that I’d run out of things to say, that I’d get bored or that the enjoyment would simply fade away over time.

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for those who’ve been asking for a picture of me without the specs, post eye lasering

But three years on, I’m still loving my tiny corner of the web, still enjoying the act of recording my food thoughts and experiences both for myself and sharing with others, still getting a kick out of the relationships I continue to build and maintain with readers, fellow bloggers and people in the food and drinks industry. I’ve met so many wonderful people, and been given such wonderful opportunities, through writing this blog, I am very thankful.

I’m really happy about the new look too. How can I describe the pleasure of going from using a template, the same one used by so many bloggers all over the web, to a design that’s all my own and reflects me so well? Do you remember those strap-on roller skates that you used to buckle onto your regular shoes as a kid? Did you ever upgrade to proper roller boots, which quickly came to mould themselves to your feet, so the skates felt like an extension of your body? Or how about finally buying your very own home and stamping your identity on it, after living in magnolia rentals for years and years? Or finding the perfect fit of jeans after pair after pair with a slightly loose waist or thighs that pinch or legs that are an inch too short or long?

Somehow, even if it’s superficial, the new look makes Kavey Eats feel more like home and gives me even more motivation to keep going, not that I often run short of things to say!

Many thanks to all of you for reading, especially to those of you who take the time to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Here’s to the year to come!

 

For those less interested in my restaurant round up than in the cooking, here are the 12 recipe posts which received the most views during 2011.

TopRecipesViewed2011

Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom & Crème Fraiche Pasta

Braised Ox Cheek Bordelaise

Chocolate & Chorizo Chilli Con Carne

How to make Strawberry Vodka Liqueur

Persian Baked Yoghurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e morgh)

Lemon Posset, Candied Peel & Cordial

The Ultimate Macaroni Cheese Challenge

Homemade Terrine de Foie Gras Mi-Cuit

Chicken Liver & Port Paté

Perfect Burger & Ultimate Burger Bun Recipes!

Pete Bakes: Chocolate & Porter Cake

Choux Buns With Coffee Custard Filling

 

Enjoy, and if you make any of these, leave me a comment letting know how you get on!

 

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

Follow links to read the full reviews for each restaurant.

 

Best Starter (Joint Winners)

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

 

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

 

Best Lamb

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

 

Best Seafood

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

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

 

Best Vegetarian Dish

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

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

 

Best Burger

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

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

 

Best Sweets

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image courtesy of Chancery Court

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

 

Best Never-had-it-before Experience

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

 

Best Sharing Plates

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Recently, I shared some recipes for homemade presents.

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

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

 

A Food Blogger’s Christmas Wish List

AdHoc Tea Infusers

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

 

Food Christmas Tree Ornaments

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

 

Bert & Ernie Cheese Cutters

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

 

Nudo Adopt An Olive Tree

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

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

 

Le Creuset Espresso Mugs

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

 

Jar Tops

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

 

Neal’s Yard Remedies Shower Gels

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

 

Fridgeezoo Fridge Pets

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

 

Spoon Coffee Mugs

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

 

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug

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

 

L’Occitane Verbena

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

 

Egg Cups

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

Kathleen Hills Egg Cube

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

Egg & Soldier Egg Cups

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

The Eggsterminator

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

Keith Brymer Jones Word Egg Cups

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

 

Ultimate Pong Cheese Selection

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

 

Mrs Beeton Christmas Pudding on Stand

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

 

The Irkafirka Tea Ninja Mug

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

 

Australian Stickies (Dessert Wines)

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

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

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

 

Hand Crafted Aprons

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

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

     

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

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

 

Mamta’s Kitchen Aprons

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

 

Dunk Mug

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

 

Tea Tube

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

 

Opies Bottled Fruits

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

 

Sandcastle Bowls

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

 

Grenadier Stacking Mugs Set

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

 

 

Simply Relish Hamper

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

 

Tracklements

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

 

Home Whisky Blending Kit

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

 

Rococo Chocolates

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

 

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

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

Apr 022011
 

Somehow the second birthday of my blog has come around already.

Mini Kavey

I’m not sure how it happened so fast; I still feel like a newbie blogger – flushed with excitement, discovery and joy.

Certainly my enthusiasm (and verbosity) hasn’t shown any signs of abating. In my first year, I wrote 127 posts. This last year I’ve posted 216!

*gulp*

Even more so than last year, blogging has brought me so much, not least some wonderful friendships that I truly cherish. Of course, there have also been fantastic opportunities to meet and learn from chefs and experts, visit fascinating events, review products and cookery books, attend fun and informative cookery courses, review restaurants and hotels and so much more. And of course, there’s been time for a bit of cooking too!

this last year I have persuaded my husband Pete to join in with this latest hobby of mine, in the guise of Pete Drinks. (He’s also making more regular updates on our gardening blog, now that we have an allotment to supplement our kitchen garden).

I’m more excited about food and drink than ever and can’t wait to see what my third year of blogging brings.

Here are my favourite 65 posts from the last year of blogging:

  • Hot Sweet Sour Tangy Lemon Pickle
  • Catch Of The Day At Billingsgate Seafood Training School
  • Lipsmacking Tamarind Ketchup
  • Beautiful Buttery Brioche
  • Cooking A Crab
  • Polpo: A Venetian Bacaro in London
  • Chocolate Chorizo Chilli Con Carne
  • Learning To Cook Japanese: Beef Tataki & Creamy Sesame Sauce
  • Urban Farming With Celia Brooks Brown
  • Choux Buns With Coffee Custard Filling
  • An Interview With Kavey
  • Mat Follas’ Foraging Course
  • The Scandinavian Kitchen: Swedish Cheese Tart
  • Pierre Koffman Is Back In Business: Koffmann’s At The Berkeley
  • Memories of Vodka, A Moscow Mule & The Re-Establishment of a Vodka Empire
  • Pickled Gherkins, How I Love Thee!
  • Creamy, Dreamy Paneer Malai
  • Best of the Blogs: Kavey Eats in the Times!
  • Chateau d’Yquem Tasting & Dinner
  • Food Styling & Photography Lessons from Alastair Hendy
  • Dishoom Dishoom
  • The Views Are Paramount: Dining With A View in London
  • Denhay Farms: An Interview With Traditional Cheese & Bacon Producers
  • Empanada! Leith’s Meat Bible
  • Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
  • Toast? What’s YOUR Feel Good Food Smell?
  • Hix’ Baked Parsnips with Lancashire Cheese
  • Under Pressure: Raspberry Pancakes With Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
  • Aqua & Their Curiously Addictive Kookoo Sabzi
  • Autumn Garden & Good News!
  • Home-Style Cooking at Delhi Grill
  • Meemalee’s Kitchen Goes Large: The Burmese Pop Up
  • Paganum: A Rural Tradition – Buying British and Visiting the Farm
  • Shaking it with the Zulu warriors
  • Green Romanesco Cauliflower Cheese
  • My Hallowe’en Pumpkin
  • Pete Drinks: Wolf Brewery Battle of Britain RAF
  • Travels, Food and Memories with Josceline Dimbleby
  • Birthday Blow Out at Launceston Place
  • Pete Drinks: Marble Brewery Tour-At-Home
  • Daisy Does Dinner for Kavey (NSFW)
  • A Rather Unusual Job Interview + Pear & Ginger Chutney Recipe
  • Angela Nilsen’s Ultimate Quiche Lorraine
  • Food & Drink We Love & Hate At Christmas
  • Pete Drinks: Bristol Beer Factory Tour-At-Home
  • Making Gingerbread Houses with LexEats
  • Love Shack, that’s where it’s at! (Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall)
  • The Great Christmas Pudding Taste Test!
  • Twelve I have, Eighteen I want: Confessions of a Food Book Addict
  • ? Chicken, Bacon, Mushroom & Crème Fraiche Pasta
  • Chin Chin Laboratories: London’s First Liquid Nitrogen Ice-Cream Parlour
  • Homemade Terrine de Foie Gras Mi-Cuit
  • Pete Drinks: The Kernel Brewery Tour-At-Home
  • Sweden’s King of Cheeses Comes To Town!
  • ThaT Burger!
  • How to make Strawberry Vodka Liqueur
  • Pete Drinks: CAMRA Says This Is Not Real Ale!
  • Bangladeshi Shatkora Citrus: Candied Peel, Cordial, Posset & Pectin
  • A Slice of Cherry Pie: Creamy Sausage Pasta
  • Viajante: A Journey Of Flavours, Textures and Unusual Combinations
  • Pete Drinks: Bath Ales Tour-At-Home
  • Thanking My Mum
  • Fifteen Cornwall
  • Baking Bread with Master Baker Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery
  • Güdness Gracious Me + Recipe for Fred & Jerome’s Chocolate Gü-lash
  • Also, a few reminders:

    Lastly, I’d also like to wish a happy blog birthday to my friend Dom at Belleau Kitchen, which celebrates it’s first birthday today!

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