I’ve known Judith for a few years, as we share a love of chocolate and happily meet often at chocolate and other food brand events. Unlike me, Judith’s blog focuses almost entirely (hence the name) on chocolate, with the occasional foray into other foods and drinks.

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Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself, tell us a little about the kind of content you share and the story behind your blog’s name?

I’m Judith Lewis and I ‘run’ Mostly About Chocolate. I’m a huge fan of chocolate for its wide variety of flavour notes but I also enjoy wine, spirits, coffee and tea for similar reasons! The reason I chose ‘Mostly About Chocolate’ was because while I mostly talk about chocolate I talk about other food and drink as well.

Why did you choose to blog about Chocolate?

Chocolate is something everyone loves and bonds over. I’ve been interested in and learning about chocolate for over a decade and at the point I started the blog I was already over five years into my casual education. I love chocolate myself and used it as a neutral point of research for my day job in Search. I spoke at conferences using chocolate as my examples and people started asking me for my recommendations. I added some top chocolate to my personal site and finally relented and blogged as a way to point everyone to where my pick for chocolate were.

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What are your earliest memories of cooking? Who or what inspired you to cook?

My mom – my mom is my biggest inspiration. My earliest memories are of her letting me lick some chocolate batter from the bowl and wanting more. I also remember making bullet proof chicken by leaving it in the oven too long. I also remember burning most things because I have no patience so went off and did other things, forgetting about the food I was cooking – an unfortunate trait that continues to this day so I have a timer I carry with me.

Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

I once accidentally combined the cheese filling of a cheese-stuffed manicotti with the tomato sauce. The stuffing involved cottage cheese so you can imagine what it looked like! Despite the barf-like look, it tasted great!

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

CHOCOLATE! Of course ;-) I made some whisky ganache chocolate balls with Paul Wayne Gregory at a World Duty Free event and it just reminded me how much I love chocolate with everything – even whisky!

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If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Probably I’d start with a decorative plate covered in hummus, drizzled generously in olive oil and a tiny dash of cayenne pepper with warm pita bread. I’d then move on to a salad I used to eat when I was in the Middle East of chopped cucumber, tomato, parsley, a generous dash of roasted pine nuts, and a squeeze of lemon juice with some special spices. I’d do a main of a gorgeous eggplant disk my younger brother invented combining sliced eggplan on a bed of a special mixture of spiced chunky tomato sauce and cheese, topped with grated cheese after being cooked through as a broiled topping. It is absolutely delightful! Dessert would be a chocolate mousse made from Original Beans Cru Virunga chocolate because they plant a tree for each bar you buy. I’d add some espresso from Alma de Cuba because I think their roast is perfect for a light chocolate dessert. I’d probably do a light sparkling white English wine for starters, a bold Pinot Noir red maybe from Switzerland for the main and of course, a sweet Canadian ice wine for dessert.

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Is there a particular cuisine or style of cooking that you seek out most often?

Thai. Believe it or not I get to sick of sweet things and having to keep my palate is such tip-top condition that I get fed up with it and seek out something massively flavourful that will kill my palate for a time. That would be the spicy Thai I love and seek out. It looks weird reviewing things like that on the blog but there needs to be a balance!

How do you decide where to visit next?

I try and review restaurants from around the world but often end up with so much chocolate or wine or rum or whatever to review that I struggle to fit in a restaurant to. I still have an absolutely gorgeous Dominican Republic rum to review that is just too special to do anything but dedicate a few hours to.

What are the biggest turn offs for you, when eating out?

Recently a place I frequent had such bad customer service that I swore I’d never return. The staff were surly, grumpy, and someone serving left for their break mid-service. I can cope with a lot but bad service is my bugbear.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you in a restaurant?

On the bad service theme, the worst thing that happened was one restaurant where we went and waited 40 minutes to be given menus. We had no drinks, no nibbles and no nothing. We waited as we had been there before together for a press review and this was without PR intervention. We watched others come, fail to be noticed and leave. It was possibly the worst thing that happened. Worst still was the food was not great. There was no apology, no excuse, just shoddy customer service. I don’t know if it was because they were busy serving the other people who were clearly British whereas my friend and I were visibly not or what but I have never been back.

What’s your take on the never-ending “discussion” about taking photographs in restaurants?

I do see people whip out massive cameras and take forever photographing every dish and really, it’s pretentious. It’s like saying to the restaurant “hey look at me I’m so important I’m a blogger and this meal had better be free because otherwise I will ruin this place”. I don’t use a flash, I use my phone and I do it quickly. I find bloggers who take endless photos and use a flash to be among the most annoying people and *I’m* a blogger who takes photos!

If we were meeting for a meal out, which restaurant would you choose?

Probably the Rabot 1745 restaurant as it had excellent service and great food.

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What’s been your favourite destination thus far and why did you love it so much? Can you share a favourite memory from the trip?

Probably my favourite destination was my to brief visit to the Niagara wine region in Ontario and not because I am from Toronto. It was the combination of perfect weather for the day, good friends and grwat (and not so great!) wines. I love Trius wine now and having seen it up close I’m just forever in love with it.

Which destination is at the top of your foodie travel wish list?

Dominican Republic because it is all about chocolate and rum, interesting culture and amazing fod. Next would be St Lucia again because it is all about chocolate and chocolate cuisine and there is an amazing hotel there run by Hotel Chocolat. I can’t imagine a better trip. Of course my third is Ontario – well, Toronto., There are so many different places to discover in Toronto from chocolate to Italian to French to Chinese to a great Hungarian/Thai fusion place called the Hungary Thai. Toronto is full of food waiting to be discovered!

What’s the very first trip you remember taking?

We had a cottage and we used to drive up there when we were kids with my parents – something that may have contributed to their divorce ;-) It was amazing to see the bedrock blasted through as a kid and be allowed to walk to town alone. It was an amazing thing and even better was visiting a friend’s cottage in the winder because there was a sugar shack nearby where they made maple syrup. The first foreign trip I remember is to Acapulco because we didn’t often go anywhere but to the cottage. I remember how amazingly different it was, the food, the beaches and the virgin cocktails!

Where are you going next?

Toronto because my baby sister is pregnant and I’ll be an auntie to a girl at last!

What three things can you never travel without? 

Moulton Brown soaps, special super conditioning conditioner and hand scales to weigh my luggage!

If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?

We’d to go the Niagara wine region of course!

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What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?

Keeping up with it. I now run my own consultancy as well as having a part time job and blogging comes way down at the bottom of the list of important things sadly. I usually end up working instead of blogging.

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What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

I have a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever on the blog which is brilliant because you freeze the batter you don’t use and have the perfect chocolate chip cookies any time!

What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Absolutely without a doubt it is Hummingbird Bakery chocolate muffins and that’s including all competition posts and everything (not including the home page).

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

This is a post about the importance of aging in fine chocolate. Not sure why but it has had little love :-(

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Spread the love

Blog URL – http://mostlyaboutchocolate.com/
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/MostlyAboutChocolate
Instagram handle – http://instagram.com/mostlyaboutchoc
Twitter handle – https://twitter.com/mostlyaboutchoc
Pinterest profile – http://www.pinterest.com/MostlyAboutChoc/

Enjoyed this interview? Read the rest of the series, here.

 

Every year, I’ve had great fun choosing prizes from Hotel Chocolat’s Christmas Gifts range to giveaway to readers. This year, the choice was just as hard, as there’s so many tempting products that it’s hard to narrow down to three fabulous prizes.

I’ve chosen a Collection box jam-packed with goodies, the impressive Christmas Truffle Tree, which I think would make a lovely dessert centrepiece, and the adorable red and white stocking filled with moulded chocolates.

Christmas Collection Christmas Collection-2

The Christmas Collection is a generous selection of Hotel Chocolat treats. It contains an H-Box of Christmas Chocolates, a bag of Butterscotch Puddles, the Dasher’s Dream slab, a Hazelnut Bûche and 6 Christmas Eton Mess truffles.

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The Christmas Truffle Tree is a rather impressive solid chocolate centre piece. The alternating layers are 50% milk praline feuilletine chocolate and sea salted caramel chocolate. On top are baubles of milk, vanilla white and dark chocolate.

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The rather sweet Dinky Christmas Stocking has a ribbon hook to hang it up on the tree, mantelpiece or a bedpost and is filled with caramel chocolate presents, milk chocolate santas and white chocolate bells.

COMPETITION

It’s my pleasure to give away these three prizes to readers of Kavey Eats!

  • First prize is Hotel Chocolat’s  Christmas Collection (£35).
  • Second prize is a Hotel Chocolat Christmas Truffle Tree (£26).
  • Third prize is a Hotel Chocolat Dinky Christmas Stocking (£10)
  • Each prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite story about wrapping or unwrapping presents.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win @HotelChocolat Christmas prizes from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/DzymeS #KaveyEatsHotelChocolat

(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of your favourite Christmassy wrapping paper (opened out, not rolled up!) via your Instagram feed. In the caption include my username
@Kaveyf and the hashtag #KaveyEatsHotelChocolat.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 5th December 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The 3 winners will be selected from all valid entries (across blog, twitter and instagram) using a random number generator. The first name selected will win the first prize. The second name selected will win the second prize. The third name selected will win the third prize.
  • 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.
  • First prize is Hotel Chocolat’s  Christmas Collection. Second prize is a Hotel Chocolat Christmas Truffle Tree. Third prize is a Hotel Chocolat Dinky Christmas Stocking. Each prize includes delivery within the UK.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Hotel Chocolat.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @Kaveyf 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, Twitter or Instagram so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats attended the Hotel Chocolat Christmas preview event and received samples of items in the range.

 

Like many in the UK, I celebrate Christmas as a purely cultural tradition. Although I am interested in the origins of the ways we celebrate, it’s about history rather than religious significance for me.

On a religious level, Advent is a period of anticipation; indeed the word itself comes from adventus; Latin for “coming” and marks the weeks of preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking ahead to his second coming. It is also the beginning of the liturgical year – that is the Christian calendar that determines the dates of various feast and fast days, celebrations of Saints and other observances.

For me, a nostalgia-loving Humanist, Advent is all about Advent calendars, and the ones I love best are chocolate ones! Who can resist the nearly-month-long ritual of finding the right number, carefully opening the door and revealing that day’s chocolate inside?

Twenty years ago, I was happy with a really cheap version; a couple of quid in Woollies (RIP) and I was sorted. But over the last couple of decades, my chocolate tastes have changed enormously and the really cheap stuff – more sugar and vegetable fat than actual cocoa content – just doesn’t cut it. The first time I bought a Hotel Chocolat advent some years ago, it felt outrageously expensive (and compared to my Woollies ones it was!). But nowadays, I’m happier to spend more on quality chocolate and I’ve also realised that £12.50 for a box of 24 tasty chocolates is actually perfectly reasonable.

300391_Christmas 2014_Advent to share 300391_Christmas 2014_Advent to share-2

Hotel Chocolat’s Advent Calendar to Share (£26) is a rather charming way of sharing the advent fun without having to share the chocolate treat. I think of it as a Couple’s Advent Calendar but of course, it would work for siblings or friends too, as long as they don’t mind taking turns to open the door! Behind each window are two baby truffles and there are a range of flavours to find including simple milk and dark truffles, salted caramel, gingerbread, almond and nutmeg, cinnamon, raspberry and hibiscus, and mulled wine.

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For those who don’t want to share, Hotel Chocolat’s one-person Advent Calendars (£12.50) come in dark, milk or white chocolate versions. Behind each door is a cute moulded chocolate sculpture.

COMPETITION

I have two prizes to giveaway to Kavey Eats readers!

  • First prize is a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar to Share.
  • Second prize is a Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar.
  • Each prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite way of enjoying chocolate at Christmas.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win @HotelChocolat Advent Calendars from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/80jVag #KaveyEatsHCAdvent
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of your favourite Christmas Tree decoration via your Instagram feed. In the caption include my username @Kaveyf and the hashtag #KaveyEatsHCAdvent.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 14th November, 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The 2 winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator. The first name selected will win the first prize. The second name selected will win the second prize.
  • 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.
  • First prize is a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar to Share and second prize is a Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar. Free delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Hotel Chocolat.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @Kaveyf 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, Twitter or Instagram so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats attended the Hotel Chocolat Christmas preview event and received samples of items in the range.
Winner of the first prize is Nikki Greene (blog comment). Winner of the second prize is @CaffeineCatty (twitter).

 

If you ever attend a blogger event and spot a whirlwind of energy and smiles, a warm and exuberant character with a truly deep love for Indian food, you can be sure that you’ve found Zoe, aka The Spice Scribe. More recently, she also launched a second blog to share her love of chocolate.

Find out more in my third Meet The Blogger interview…

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Hello and welcome, plea­se introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

I’m Zoe Perrett, or, as most folks know me online, The Spice Scribe. I write about Indian food and the wider culture surrounding it. What perplexes people is that I’m a white, Essex-by-way-of-East-London girl – and my only tie to the country whose cuisine I so love is its food! I also blog about chocolate just for fun – but Indian food is my ‘true culinary calling’.

On Culinary Adventures of the Spice Scribe I share information on regional food, the UK Indian food scene in terms of restaurants, street food and supperclubs (the latter two both big loves of mine), food books, ingredients, produce guides, interesting characters, festivals… basically and broadly, anything related to Indian food that captures my heart and imagination which I think might resonate with readers.

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

Hours of endless mulling… and a well-documented love for alliteration. The name of its ‘chocolate offshoot’, ‘Culinary Adventures of The Cocoa Nut’ clearly identifies it as a sibling, and, happily, manages to get in a pun to boot!

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Why did you choose to blog about Indian food and culture?

I don’t know if I chose Indian food. Maybe it chose me. Perhaps it was simply ‘Korma, Kheer and Kismet’, as the title of a new Indian food book I can’t wait to read puts it, that drew me in! Indian food just got under my skin. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and for some reason, I feel deeply connected to it. Sometimes just a whiff of a particular ingredient or dish will provoke a deep and unexplainable emotional response in me.

Does blogging about Indian food and culture present any particular challenges?

There’s too much to ever hope to cover if I were to learn – and type – 24/7! Even Cyrus Todiwala, one of the foremost authorities on Indian cuisine, concedes that if one were to devote many lifetimes to understanding India’s endlessly complex and varied kitchens, they would barely be able to scratch the surface.

Then there’s fact I don’t have a natural tie to the cuisine, which I find both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, it means some are quick to dismiss you as someone who knows nothing on the topic; on the other, it drives me to learn more and better in order to disprove that notion – something that only serves to benefit my own development in the long run!

Thus far, the many who champion what I do far outnumber the few who criticise – fingers crossed that remains the case…

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With Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala

What are your earliest memories of cooking? Who or what inspired you to cook?

Despite the ‘Indian thing’, my strongest memories are of cooking with my paternal grandmother – Nanny Win. More and more I’ve realised that this could be why Indian food ignites the feelings that it does within me.

She may not have used spices or Indian recipes, but when I eat things like keema and the soft, slightly sweet bread rolls called pav; the Indian rice pudding ‘kheer’, or milk-based sweetmeats, it takes me straight back to Sundays spent eating her savoury mince and nutmeg-topped milk puddings made rich with tinned ‘Tip Top’ cream.

I recently wrote a ‘food memory’ piece for my Parsi friend the Bawi Bride – it was all about Nanny Win’s cooking – and how, strangely, it actually had many parallels with ‘Parsi bhonu’.

What are the biggest influences on your cooking at the moment?

My go-to flavours are generally Bengali or Keralite. For the former, I’ll use mustard oil, dried red chillies, white poppy seeds, the mustard-mango relish called ‘kasundi’, slit green chillies and panch phoron – a mixture of 5 whole spices that speaks to me louder than any Indian masala… except, perhaps, for South Indian sambhar powder.

For the latter, coconut oil and grated coconut meat are ever-present in my kitchen – I’ll make simple vegetable stir-fries – ‘thorans’ – tempered with the oil in which I’ve fried mustard and cumin seeds, dried lentils (interestingly almost used as a ‘spice’ in this manner down South), curry leaves, chillies, and turmeric, and finish them with coconut.

I’m also currently obsessed with ‘pittu’ – a mixture of lightly-fermented rice flour that’s rolled to resemble irregular grains of cous cous, layered with fresh-grated coconut, and steamed in log-shaped moulds. You eat it with coconut gravy, sambhar or relishes. Traditionally it’s a breakfast item but I could live off it!

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

Mustard oil, ghee, kasundi, curry leaves… there’s more on my own essentials here.

My cupboards are ridiculous, with spices shoehorned into any and every kind of container; multiple masalas; many types of dal, rice, and flour; condiments and esoteric speciality items. I also can’t resist a bargain – so there’s evidence of bulk buying. I might not be Indian, but I think my kitchen might fool you!

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational?

Food writers – Chitrita Banerji. Culinary anthropologist Ammini Ramachandran. Pamela Timms, another ‘outsider’ drawn into India by its edible allures. Chefs – Cyrus Todiwala AND his wife Pervin – who many forget is a great chef in her own right. The family has done great things for ALL kinds of Indian food, but particularly with promoting Parsi and Goan fare.

Palash Mitra (Scarfes Bar), Gautham Iyer (Iyers Cafe), and Ashish Bhatia (Turban Street Cafe) are all doing interesting things and share my obsession with understanding all they can about the history, tradition and cultural issues around Indian food – as do the boys at Brighton’s Curry Leaf Cafe.

I also think streetfood and supperclub chefs deserve to be held in just as much esteem. Jhalmuri Express’s Angus Denoon never stops yearning to learn more from the Kolkata street food-wallas from whom he learned his craft. And working at the Damn Good Curry supperclub, Nilanjani Pai’s devotion to perfecting the last detail of each and every dish so that it’s absolutely as authentic as she can get it never fails to astound me.

Are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

I have about 200 Indian cookbooks and foodie memoirs. They’re all pretty special – but some favourites include Chitrita Banerji’s ‘Bengali Cooking – Seasons and Festivals’; Rinky Bhattacharya’s ‘The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles’; ‘The Calcutta Cookbook’, given to me by my great mate Angus Denoon, owner of The Everybody Love Love Jhal Muri Express street food business; and a load of funny little finds I wouldn’t part with for love nor money. Many are on Indian regional cuisines; priced in rupees and written by Indian housewives. My Ceylonese cookbook from the 1950s is also a treasured gem.

If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

I wouldn’t – I’d take you to Nel’s (Nilanjani’s), safe in the knowledge that her version would knock anything I tried to make into a cocked hat! But if I had to, probably poha – a tossed-up mix of flattened rice, spice, and all things nice, followed by Bengali bhapa ilish (river fish steamed with chilli-ed mustard paste), white rice, and a nice ‘dry’ (gravy-less) dish of spinach with a pinch of panch phoron. Dessert would be mishti doi – an amazing Bengali sweet yogurt set in clay pots which absorb the moisture. It develops a crust like clotted cream and is no less lovely.

What’s the single piece of equipment you wouldn’t be without?

I’m really low-tech in the kitchen, but an electric spice grinder (mine’s James Martin brand; I’m not proud!) is a godsend for making masalas. Ideally I want to get my hands on a wet-and-dry grinder soon, too. Other than that it’s a dabba (spice tin) filled with little katoris (dishes) containing my most commonly-used spices and kept close to the cooker. And, of course, a pressure cooker. Once you learn to cook by number of ‘whistles’ rather than ‘minutes’, you’ve cracked it, and dal is near-instant.

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Filming a recipe for charity campaign, Curry For Change

What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

Cooking: Picking my way through interesting regional recipes in Pushpeth Pant’s ‘India’. I find preparing a certain ingredient, like pumpkin, in a number of different ways ultimately instils a great instinct for recognising the provenance of a dish.

Eating: As I also blog about chocolate as The Cocoa Nut, I often have some lovely things to try lying around at home – at the moment I’m trying to eke out a box of Marc Demarquette’s ‘African Queen’ chocolates, newly awarded 3 stars at the Great Taste Awards – and I can tell why!

Otherwise, it’s Sri Lankan short eats (savoury snack items) I pick up from the hot cabinet at a local corner shop, or fish vindaye, octopus cari, and £1 fresh-rolled dal puris from the Mauritian guys at a chicken shop in Walthamstow.

Doing: As always, introducing people to new Indian ingredients, regional cuisines, foodie folks, cookbooks and places that make their eyes light up. There’s nothing more satisfying than someone falling in love with something you’ve been able to show them.

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What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

My Own Mahabharata – an Indian Vegetable Epic’. This is a guide to – and ambitious attempt to demystify – the endlessly fascinating world of the weird and wonderful vegetables (and a few fruits) that you see in Indian stores.

It’s by no means definitive – I still see many, many items that leave me scratching my head today, and people from different regions will use the same name to describe a different beast from their neighbours, or use a totally different name for a common vegetable.

But I do think it’s a useful primer, and I tried to make it as accessible as possible to people from all over so that they’re game to actually buy and try a few of whatever catches their eye in an Indian supermarket!

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

Probably ‘The Indian food places at which Indian foodies scoff’ where I asked many of my foodiest friends to share their top tips for eating Indian (and Pakistani) food in London.

Lots of lesser-known regional, neighbourhood-y places are mentioned; all endorsed by people that I know know about good food! If you want to know where chefs like Cyrus Todiwala and Vivek Singh eat with their families on their days off, you need to read this post.

 

Spread the love

Blog URL: Indian food: http://culinaryadventuresofthespicescribe.wordpress.com/ and Chocolate: http://culinaryadventuresofthecocoanut.wordpress.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiceScribe and https://www.facebook.com/CulinaryAdventuresofTheCocoaNut
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/TheSpiceScribe and https://twitter.com/The_Cocoa_Nut
Instagram handle: http://instagram.com/zoeperrett

Enjoyed this interview? Read the rest of the series, here.

 

This month, Kavey Eats has joined forces with Belleau Kitchen for a Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream – Random Recipes mashup.

Which means that I had to follow instructions to randomly pick one of my cookery books and then randomly pick an ice cream (or sorbet, froyo or other frozen treat) recipe. Rather than trying to make a single pile of all my books so I could pick a book with my eyes closed, I asked Pete to grab a book at random (because, unlike me he, doesn’t know by heart the colours, fonts and titles of most of the collection).

The first two books didn’t have a single ice cream recipe to offer but third time lucky he picked Divine Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a Heart by Linda Collister. The recipe we ended up with is definitely more to Pete’s taste than mine but that seems fair, since there’s still a little matcha ice cream and yuzu ice cream in the freezer, both of which are much more to my taste!

Although we followed the recipe ingredients as per the book, we changed the technique to use my new Optimum 9400 Blender by Froothie, which I mentioned in my recent Jungle Juice Sorbet post.

It’s a gorgeous, incredibly smooth and creamy ice cream with a really fantastic mouth feel but, as you can imagine, the white chocolate makes it rather sweet. I grabbed my pot of raspberry powder to give it a little fruity tartness plus instant visual bling. Perfect!

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Scroll down for recipe.

Making Custard in an Optimum 9400 Power Blender

I’d already seen custard made in a blender, when my friend Monica made some in her Vitamix. I was really impressed with the speed and simplicity, but put off by the Vitamix Pro 500’s £600 price tag. I had also been bowled over by the Thermomix I was loaned for a couple of months – it has a much wider range of functions including an internal weighing scale and cooking element but is twice the price of the Vitamix! Australian brand Froothie have recently launched in the UK and their Optimum 9400 blender is £329 – still a hefty price tag but significantly less than the alternatives.

In terms of performance, it compares well with Vitamix Pro 500 – the motor is 50% more powerful (2,238 watts against 1,492 watts) which powers the blade to 44,000 rpm against 37,000 rpm. Froothie don’t claim their product is superior – they simply provide a side by side comparison of key specifications. Because I’ve not owned a Vitamix I can’t offer a practical comparison. However, Helen from Fuss Free Flavours is a former die hard Vitamix fan who seems to have been converted after a few weeks playing with her Optimax 9400.

The reason power blenders such as Vitamix and Froothie’s Optimum 9400 are great for making custard is that you can throw all the ingredients in to the blender jug, switch on and gradually ramp up the speed to its highest setting. Simply leave the blender running for several minutes; the speed of the powerful blades generates enough heat to cook the custard. Believe me, after 7 minutes, our custard was steaming hot! And because we had confidence in the power of the blades, we dropped the solid pieces of white chocolate straight into the hot custard and blended again. The Optimum 9400 blades broke the chocolate down quickly and the heat melted and combined it thoroughly into the custard base.

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After that, we left the custard to cool down before churning it in our new Sage Smart Scoop ice cream machine – review coming soon.

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White Chocolate Vanilla Ice Cream, Served with Powdered Raspberry

Adapted from Divine Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a Heart to use the power blender method of making custard

Ingredients
225 ml milk
225 ml double cream
4 large eggs
60 grams caster sugar
Vanilla beans scraped from 1 pod, or 1-2 teaspoons good quality vanilla bean paste
140 grams white chocolate, in pieces
Optional: Freeze-dried raspberry powder, to serve

Method

  • Place milk, cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla beans into a power blender. Switch on and increase speed to full, then leave running for 6-7 minutes. This will create a steaming hot cooked custard.
  • Carefully drop in the white chocolate and blend again briefly to melt and combine chocolate into the custard.
  • Leave custard to cool.
  • Once cool, churn in an ice cream machine until ready or transfer to freezer container and freeze until required.
  • To serve, a sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberry powder really lifts the white chocolate vanilla ice cream, visually and on the palate.

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This is my entry into August’s #BSFIC #RandomRecipes mashup co-hosted with Dom at Belleau Kitchen.

BSFICMeetsRandomRecipes

Check out the challenge and join in!

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I used beans scraped from fresh vanilla pods provided by Panifolia, a retailer of high quality Mexican vanilla.
The freeze-dried natural powdered raspberries are from Sous Chef, a specialist online food and equipment retailer.

 

Kavey Eats received vanilla pods from Etienne Besse at Panifolia, freeze-dried raspberry powder from Sous Chef, a Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop review machine from Sage Appliances and an Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie. Kavey Eats is a member of the Froothie brand ambassador programme, but under no obligation to share positive reviews. All opinions published on Kavey Eats are 100% honest feedback.

Special Offer: For an additional 2 years warranty free of charge on any Optimum appliance purchased, follow this link, choose your Optimum product and enter coupon code “Special Ambassador Offer” on checkout.

 

When it comes to tourism in Belgium, Brussels gets a bad rap.

Go to Bruges, they say, for the picturesque canals and mediaeval centre.
Go to Antwerp, they say, for world class art and hipster fashion.
Go to Ghent, they say, for more of the same plus cycling too.
Go to Ypres, they say, for WW1 history.

But Brussels? Brussels is often dismissed as little more than a hub for politicians and lobbyists.

Of course, there’s much more to Brussels than politics! Yes, Brussels is the home of the European Union, NATO and the United Nation’s European office…

…but it is also the capital of a country of two halves – the Dutch-speaking Flemish region of Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia in the South. Multicultural Brussels, the third region of the country, is bilingual though French is now more prevalent than Dutch. These days English is widely spoken as well as many other languages, indeed it’s said that as much as half the population speak neither French nor Dutch as their native tongue.

As a Londoner, one of the things I find most appealing about Brussels is this sense of multiculturalism. Although the issue of language is still a hot potato for many Belgians, especially when it comes to education and cultural identity, Brussels is a city that is very open to the world.  Indeed, we chat to Pierre from the local tourist board who tells us that the people of Brussels refer to themselves as zinneke (bastard dogs), wearing their mongrel heritage with pride. Pierre is himself the perfect example – his mother is gipsy, his father Walloon and Flemish, his wife Brazilian and his sisters are married to a German, a Frenchman and a Czech, respectively!

Brussels is a vibrant city with a historic heart and a modern outlook. And the Eurostar service takes you from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi-Zuid in less than two and a half hours!

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When it comes to sightseeing, you still can’t beat a good old-fashioned guide book, or the website equivalent. I won’t try to recreate that here but suggest that as well as the popular Gothic and baroque buildings of the Grand Place and surrounding narrow cobbled streets, the shiny Atomium housing a variety of exhibitions and the incomprehensibly mobbed corner where the Mannekin Pis resides you might want to look up Jeanneke Pis and Zinneke Pis – the squatting female and doggie equivalents of Mannekin, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (and the Comic Strip walk that takes you past comics painted on the walls of a number of buildings), an amazing array of grand buildings such as the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, the Bourse (stock exchange), the Royal Palace, the Basilique du Sacré Coeur and the architecture of art nouveau architect Victor Horta. Lovers of literature, art, history and even cars, will also appreciate several excellent museums in Brussels.

Instead, I’m going to share my tips for some great places to eat, drink, shop and sleep.

 

Chocolates and Patisserie

Brussels is awash with shops selling chocolate, but much of what’s on sale is cheap, bulk-manufactured products that are hardly worth wasting suitcase space for. Here are the ones that are worth seeking out.

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Laurent Gerbaud is one of Belgium’s rising chocolatiers and is fighting an uphill battle to move Belgians on from the idea of “Belgian chocolate” to an understanding of the actual origins and varieties available.

Like several chocolatiers I’ve met, Laurent was a chef first; he came to chocolate via chocolate sculpture with an artist friend, and that lead, eventually, to his current career. As a child, he developed an interest in China, perhaps because of several friendships he had with Chinese and Taiwanese families. He worked in Chinese restaurants, took courses in Chinese and, after a university degree in history, finally moved to China for a couple of years. There, he discovered that the Chinese don’t have as sweet a tooth as Europeans and he lost his taste for high sugar sweets. When he came back to Belgium, he had the obvious thought of bringing his experiences in China into his chocolate making but realised he wasn’t inspired by fusion flavours. Instead, he focused on quality ingredients, including some sourced from Asia.

Today, the Chinese influences is perhaps most evident in his logo which is an artistic interpretation of the Chinese hanzi characters for “chocolate” and his name.

Laurent is keen to make chocolate that people love to eat; he says “one of my purposes is to make junk food – you eat one and you want another because it’s really good”. Judging by the chocolates we tasted, he’s nailed it – I could have eaten a whole box of the chocolates made with dried figs from Turkey and candied oranges from Italy. His shop on Rue Ravenstein is also a boutique tea room, with plans to extend the service to offer a savoury menu too.

Tip: Of course, you can visit his shop just to buy some of his excellent chocolate, but for a more personal experience, book a chocolate tasting or chocolate making workshop.

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Pierre Marcolini is one of the few Belgian chocolatiers to make chocolate from bar to bean, before then using it to make a range of chocolates. His chocolate shop at 2 Rue de Minimes is certainly full of temptation but what I recommend above the chocolate is a visit to the address around the corner at 39 Grote Zavel, where his spectacular patisserie is sold. I found the macarons surprisingly disappointing but a glossy strawberry patisserie was a winner.

Other famous chocolate brands in Brussels include Wittamer (a long standing bakery and chocolate business) and Frederic Blondeel (a chef turned chocolatier who also makes chocolate from bean to bar).

 

Speculoos Biscuits

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Speculoos, hailing from Belgium and The Netherlands, are spiced shortcrust biscuits that were originally associated with the feast of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) in early December. Made from flour, brown sugar and butter with a spice mix that usually includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper, these days they are popular and available all year round.

Maison Dandoy, established in 1829, makes a range of sweet bakery products but is best known for its traditional speculoos and gingerbread biscuits. These days, it has a handful of shops in Brussels, but its worth making a trip to its oldest remaining store at 31 Rue au Beurre, to admire the beautiful wooden biscuit moulds lining the shelves. The Tea Room on Rue Charles Buls (also known as Karel Bulsstraat) is larger, offering the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of biscuits, pastries and drinks inside. There are an additional four shops in Brussels, plus one in nearby Waterloo.

Having tried several supermarket brands of speculoos biscuit, I was surprised to discover that it’s not just a case of fancy shops and branding – the Maison Dandoy speculoos biscuits are definitely superior!

We also tried Dandoy’s pain à la Grecque, a crunchy bread-cum-biscuit coated with pearled sugar crystals. I was more fascinated by the origins of the name than the biscuit itself – over two centuries ago, the monks of a local Augustine abbey used to support the city’s destitute by giving them bread. The abbey was located near a place known as Wolvengracht (Wolves Ditch); the gracht pronounced grecht in local dialect. Over time, pain a la grecht morphed into pain à la Grecque, confusing generations of shoppers with its erroneous suggestion of a Greek origin.

Tip: If you’re as huge a fan of speculoos biscuits as we are, make a quick visit to a supermarket to pick up a couple of extra large packs of mass-produced biscuits as well. There’s a mini supermarket in Brussels Midi Station.

 

Cuberdons

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I first fell for cuberdons over two decades ago, and if anything, I love them even more today. A purply-dark red colour and conical in shape, the cuberdon is a raspberry-flavoured gummy sweet, firm on the outside with an oozing interior. In Dutch, it’s known as a neus (nose), in French it’s called a chapeau-de-curé or chapeau-de-prêtre (priest’s hat).

You can find cuberdons in quite a few sweet shops in Brussels, several of which sell multiple colours and flavours, a relatively recent phenomenon. But we’ve found that the best prices for regular raspberry cuberdons is from the Cric-Crac sweet shop inside Brussels Midi station, which sells by weight.

Tip: These sweets are best eaten within a couple of weeks of purchase, as the liquid centre can crystallise and harden if left for too long.

 

Waffles

Belgian Waffles fall into two types.

Firm, rich and chewy Gaufre de Liège (Liège Waffle) are made from an adapted brioche-dough and work well both hot and cold. These are usually oval in shape and have a slightly crunchy exterior from the crystallised sugar that has caramelised against the waffle iron. They’re great for eating on the hoof as they’re traditionally eaten plain (though you can buy them with toppings too if you prefer).

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Rectangular Brussels Waffles are made with a leavened batter, resulting in a much lighter and airier texture and are definitely at their best enjoyed hot, fresh from the waffle iron. Traditionally, Brussels waffles are served with a dusting of icing sugar but these days you can choose from a wide selection of toppings including ice cream, chocolate sauce and fruits. But I suggest you ignore all of those and ask for your waffle with a generous dollop of speculoos paste. With a texture much like smooth peanut butter, this sweet spread is the same flavour as the famous biscuit and melts wonderfully into the indentations of a freshly-cooked hot waffle.

Tip: You’ll find waffles on sale all over Brussels, often from hole-in-the wall vendors, but if you want to sit down and eat, try Maison Dandoy’s Tearoom.

 

Beer & Bars

Belgium is world famous for its beers and rightly so, with a rich tradition that goes back many, many centuries. The range of beers produced by Belgian breweries is impressive, including pale, golden, amber, red and dark ales, dubbels and tripels, Flemish sour brown, Champagne beers (which receive a second fermentation using the method now most strongly associated with Champagne), wheat beers and lambics (spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts that are native to the brewery, as opposed to the addition of cultivated yeasts).

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Both Pete and I absolutely love what owner Jean Hummler is offering at his two bars, Moeder Lambic and Moeder Lambic Fontainas, located at 68 rue de Savoie and 8 place Fontainas, respectively. He started the first bar less than five years ago, after a career working for industrial food businesses in France.

He starts off by telling us why he wanted to do something different; “most places are not very selective, they sell coca cola and junk food” and their beer selection is not very inspiring either. He is committed to selling only quality produce and that applies to the beers, the food and even the soft drinks. He has two key criteria, the way a product is made and how it tastes. “Making money and brewing great beer are often not the same job”, he laughs. He looks for products that are made by hand, adding that he doesn’t want “industrial anything”. For a beer to be selected it must be made with craft and it must pass the taste test – it must taste good! Right now, he has approximately 150 beers on the menu of which 46 are on tap. These include beers from around the world, including a number from the UK.

The same principles apply to his sourcing of cheeses and charcuterie (which form the main thrust of the simple menu) and the non-beer drinks menu (which includes some delicious farmhouse apple juice, for those less interested in the beers).

The cheese selection (€12.5) is utterly wonderful; all are raw milk cheeses and range from soft and mild to fantastically pungent, each one a genuine delight. In the centre of the serving board is a bowl of pottekees – a blend of fresh white cheese, onion, pepper and lambic beer. Just as excellent is the meat selection (€12.5) which includes garlic sausage, French sausage, paté made with geuze beer, hâte levée – pork cooked slowly in bouillon with garlic and spices, Tierenteyn mustard, Belgian pickles (which are a lot like piccalilli). Both plates are served with a basket of bread and a superb raw milk butter.

As he introduces each item on the plates, his enthusiasm for the producers and their products is self-evident; “The idea is to offer another selection, another quality, another explanation that most people don’t know exists”.

Two other key policies for Hummler are ensuring that all his staff know and love the product range, and establishing strong relationships with each supplier – and one (of many) ways he furthers both is the Moeder Fucker series of beers brewed by Le Paradis microbrewery not far from Nancy, in France. For each beer he sends two of his staff to the brewery to help make it; they decide which style of beer to make and work with the brewery team to create their vision. During our visit, Moeder Fucker IV was on tap.

As we talked, Pete tried five beers, guided by Hummler through the staggering range available. He drank Taras Boulba by local Brasserie de la Senne (Belgium), Moeder Fucker IV by Le Paradis (France), Mozaic Black by Mont Saleve (France), Cuvée De Ranke by Ranke (Belgium) and Fièvre de Cacao by Thiriez (France).

In the end, Hummler is a man after my own heart. “We all have to decide. Each citizen has to decide what they want to do with their life. I decided for myself that I wanted to eat very good food. I eat less and less meat, maybe once a week but what I eat is very good, like the chicken that is aged 120 days on a small farm. Taste is very important to me.

Tip: Ask staff for guidance in selecting beers for your own beer flight.

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Small and traditional pub La Fleur en Papier Doré was the perfect place to meet local friends for an evening drink. At 55 Rue des Alexiens, it was very close to our bed and breakfast, and also easy to reach by local bus. The menu shares a little of the history of the bar, housed in a small maisonette that dates from the mid 18th century. In the past it housed a convent, which moved to a new home in the middle of the 20th century. As a pub, it became the favoured meeting place of the Surrealist cultural movement with regulars including René Magritte; a few decades later it was a focus point for the Cobra (avant-garde) movement, creators of experimental art and philosophy. Mementos of both remain on the well-worn walls of the cosy pub, protected (along with the façade, the ground floor rooms and some of the furniture) by the local government which has decreed them of historical value.

Stop for a few beers (and some charcuterie) or for a simple meal.

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The Cantillon Brewery welcomes visitors for brewery tours (7 Euros including a beer) or to buy beer. You can buy to drink in or takeaway; lovers of lambic will particularly enjoy a visit. The address at 56 Rue Gheude is only a short walk from the central tourist district.

 

Lunch Stops

My first recommendation for a light lunch is the cheese plate and charcuterie selection at Moeder Lambic, above. Super quality, and each provides a generous portion for the price.

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Another great option is recently opened Peck 47 (amusingly named for its address at 47 Rue Marche Aux Poulets). This all day cafe offers a short menu of home made sandwiches, salads, soups, cakes, fresh juices, smoothies and a small selection of local beers. For just €8, my poached eggs on sourdough with smoked salmon and homemade relish was far more generous than I expected and all the items were of excellent quality. The eggs were perfectly poached, the salad nicely dressed and the home made relish very good indeed. Pete’s sandwich – roast chicken, rocket, lemon and basil mayo and slow roasted tomatoes – also impressed, for €5.

Tip: A particularly nice touch is that the free tap water is stored in the drinks fridge in large bottles stuffed with mint. Ask for some!

 

A Traditional Dinner

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I have to say from the off – don’t go to Restobieres if you’re looking for great service. The three staff on duty ranged from friendly but incompetent through utterly disinterested to downright sullen. That usually stops me from recommending a place but Restobieres is a good option if you’re keen to try traditional Belgian dishes alongside a range of Belgian beers.

Herve Cheese Croquets (€10) were a tasty comfort food, served hot and freshly fried. Homemade paté with Rochefort and foie gras  (€12) was a generous slab; light on the foie gras but tasty nonetheless. My calf’s liver with shallots and Chouffe  (€20) was decent; I really liked the beer and shallot sauce. Pete had satisfactory steak and chips with another good sauce and a generous well-dressed salad. The star of the mains was our friend’s bloempanch blood pudding (€12) which was both tasty and generously portioned for the price.

The only duff note (with the exception of the service) was a scoop of speculoos biscuit ice cream (€4) which we decided could only possibly have been made by a chef who’d never tasted speculoos (and not bothered to look up a recipe for the spices usually used). The texture was unpleasantly gritty too.

Located at 9 rue des Renards, not far from the Jeu de Balle flea market.

 

Brussel’s Modern Dining Scene

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I already explained how much we liked the multicultural vibe in Brussels. This goes equally for the food scene, which has some great restaurants to explore. One such place launched just a few weeks before our visit; located along very trendy Rue de Flandre in the Sainte Catherine district, Gramm is a restaurant offering bold, inventive and modern food. It’s headed up by Chef Erwan Kenzo Nakata, who grew up in Brittany to a French father and Japanese mother, thus explaining some of the eclectic Japanese touches to otherwise modern French cooking.

The evening offering is a fixed tasting menu, 6 courses for €38. Although the courses are individually quite small, we felt very satisfied at the end of our meal, having enjoyed the array of tastes, textures and colours in Nakata’s self-assured dishes.

While I felt the food was good value, I was less impressed with the drinks pricing, for wines, beers and soft drinks (which were served in shockingly tiny glasses) so if you’re on a fixed budget, keep an eye on your drinks orders to avoid a shock at the end of the evening. Also, do set aside plenty of time. Service is very warm and friendly but the wait between courses, even in a nearly empty restaurant, is a little longer than ideal.

Tip: Don’t be shy about asking for more of the excellent bread and butter, by the way, it’s great for mopping up some of the juices and sauces!

 

The Marolles Flea Market

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Usually, I’m not much of a shopper but offer me the chance to browse a car boot sale or flea market and I’m instantly excited, so I was very keen to return to the famous Marolles Flea Market held daily in the Place du Jeu de Balle. On sale is a charming mix of cheap tat and more expensive “antiques”; it’s definitely a case of one man’s rubbish being another man’s treasure. With my love of retro kitchenware, I was in heaven as there’s plenty of it here, at very bargainous prices. It’s actually a miracle I came away with only a couple of ornate old teaspoons and two Nestle branded cups and saucers in amber glass – there was, I think, a complete set of six in the box but most were too chicken-shit-and-feather covered to assess very well, so I just bought the two cleanest ones for a whopping €1!

The market runs every day of the year. Official start times state that it starts at 6 am and finishes at 2pm on weekdays, 3pm on weekends.

Tip: Take lots of small change with you and of course, be prepared to haggle!

Brussels has many more markets to visit including markets for art, food, flowers and vintage clothes.

 

An Elegant Pillow

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X2B Brussels is a family run luxury bed and breakfast in the heart of Brussels, just a few minutes walk from the Grand Place. The three guest bedrooms are each on a different floor – we booked the first floor double and were delighted to discover a vast room with soaringly high ceilings, simple and elegant furnishings and a very generous en-suite bathroom. Do note that none of the rooms have step-free access and, as you’d expect in a private home, there is no lift. Guests are welcomed either by owner Xavier or his mother Monique, who sit down with guests on arrival to share tips for visiting Brussels, personalised to their guests’ interests. Breakfast is excellent: a basket of fresh bread and pastries with an enormous selection of jams and spreads, cheese and cold hams, yoghurt, eggs however you’d like them, rounded off by coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. The hot freshly made raisin bread pain perdu is a lovely touch. Free wifi is also a boon, for those of us who like to stay connected. From £160 a night including breakfast.

Tip: make sure you jot down the house number as well as the street name; there’s no obvious sign on the outside so we walked up and down the same stretch of road several times, eventually identifying the B&B only by peering at the tiny labels for individual doorbells.

 

Getting Around

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In terms of getting around, the key sites in Brussels are within a fairly small area and its certainly possible to walk. But you can also make use of the metro and tram network, as well as local buses. The Brussels Card gives unlimited use of public transport, free entry into some attractions, discounted entry into many more and discounts in shops and restaurants too. You will also be given a free city map. Available for 24, 48 or 72 hours for 24€, 36€ or 43€.

 

With thanks to Eurostar for the complimentary return tickets between London and Brussels and thanks to the Brussels Tourist Board for their assistance in planning some of our sightseeing highlights and their insight into historic and modern Brussels.

 

Thus far, all the Brazilians I’ve met are warm, friendly, simple (by which I mean uncomplicated and genuine, not lacking in intelligence) and full of laughter.

Brigadeiro, a chocolate bon bon made with a few simple ingredients and decorated in a bold – perhaps even gaudy – style, is a wonderful representation of Brazil and its people – easy to make, looks and tastes fabulous and can’t fail to put a smile on your face.

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In a celebration of summer, Magimix are taking a look at Brazilian culture and cuisine and invited me to join in by sharing some Brazilian recipes on Kavey Eats.

We bought our first Magimix food processor a few years ago, and were enormously impressed with its multi-functionality. We used it a lot, more than we expected actually, by leaving it permanently out on the work surface. We fell a little out of love with it when the motor and blade malfunctioned (just months after the warranty expired) but were able to get it fixed and it’s been ok again ever since. The only downsides for us are the large footprint, given our limited work surface, and the small size of the feed tube on our 5200 model. The 4200 XL Magimix have just sent me has a (slightly) smaller footprint and a much larger feed tube. Every little helps!

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For this recipe, I used the main blade in the largest bowl to finely chop some 85% dark chocolate – I find that the grating attachment doesn’t cope well with pieces of chocolate as these tend to fly off the side of the disc before they’ve been pushed through the grater. The main blade is super sharp and breaks down the solid chocolate quickly.

Brazilian Brigadeiro Chocolate Bonbons

Makes 15-20 bon bons

Ingredients
200 ml condensed milk
30-40 grams grated dark chocolate or good quality unsweetened cocoa
1 heaped teaspoon butter
extra butter or vegetable oil for greasing your hands
Granulated decorations such as chocolate granules, hundreds and thousands, coloured crystallised sugar or similar

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Note: I used bronzed sugar crystals from the Waitrose Cooks’ range, hundreds and thousands and some extra grated chocolate.

Method

  • Combine condensed milk, grated chocolate and butter in a non-stick pan and heat gently, stirring continuously.

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  • Once all the ingredients have melted and are well mixed, continue to cook until the mixture thickens considerably, stirring continuously. When the mixture is ready, pulling the spoon or spatula through it should cause it to pull away cleanly from the base of the pan, almost like a choux dough when it begins to ball up.
  • Remove from the heat and leave to cool until the mixture is cool enough to handle.
  • Spoon a few drops of vegetable oil or butter into your hands and rub both hands together to coat well.
  • Use a teaspoon to scoop a spoonful of the mixture, roll between your palms to form a ball and roll gently into your granulated decoration. (If you find the mixture too sticky to handle, even once cool, it hasn’t been cooked it for long enough – just return to the heat, cook a little more, then leave to cool and try again).
  • Once coated, place into individual bon bon paper cups or onto baking paper.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge until needed.

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Kavey Eats received a Magimix 4200XL food processor from Magimix.

 

Two months ago, I spent an afternoon at Somerset House with Heston Blumenthal. I was one of the lucky group invited to his grand chocolate box restaurant, which meant a few happy hours giggling with delight as we tasted one clever creation after another. Most of the audience were chocolate specialists (producers, artisan chocolatiers, retailers…) so I was very fortunate indeed to be there. That was thanks to my dear friend Jen who couldn’t attend but responded to the researcher’s request to recommend others who might fit the bill. The fact I’d written a fair bit about chocolate here on Kavey Eats won the day and I was given my golden ticket.

After an hour or two waiting in a nearby hotel lobby we were finally walked into the grounds of Somerset House, where a giant Black Magic-style chocolate box awaited. It slowly opened out to reveal a small bar and stage in front of which tables, chairs, linen, cutlery and menus were quickly laid out, within a roped-off area. There were pretty plants in pots; there was even a Maitre d’s stand at the entrance. Shown to our seats, we spent the next few hours enjoying the Heston experience.

We were served chocolate-themed drinks – my favourite was the black forest gâteau hot chocolate with a cloud of “chocolate essence” squirted into the glass but we also sampled a gin cocktail, sweet chocolate wine and a chocolate stout. A beautifully painted edible chocolate box with pretty chocolates inside was delivered to each table. And we were fascinated by Heston’s Moos Bar, a beefy version of a Mars-Twix-Milkyway combo. I wish the beef taste was less subtle – I would have liked more evident beefiness!

Lastly, the tables were cleared away and a vast chocolate bar arrived. Each piece had been made by different companies, from mainstream brands to artisan chocolatiers, before being assembled onto a giant bar by Heston’s chefs. With chisels and mallets, Heston and his team broke into the chocolate, piece by piece, and we had a crazy feast, trying the many different fillings.

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The giant chocolate box, opening out, to reveal Heston’s House of Chocolate, BFG hot chocolate, Moos bar advert, Heston’s team, Heston telling us about his Moos bar, the Moos bars being delivered to our table, a Moos bar, me tasting the Moos bar and declaring “More cow, more cow!”, our reaction to the edible chocolate box, the giant chocolate bar arriving on a forklift, us reacting to the giant chocolate bar, Heston breaking into the first piece, his staff taking over the job, the crowd enjoying the chocolate, me at the end saying “it’s the best one ever – it’s chocolate, and it’s fantastic and it’s in a magical box!”, Heston summing up at the end

If you missed this episode, or the rest of the series, you can catch it on 4OD for a few weeks, here.

 

With enormous thanks to production company Betty for letting me be part of this wonderful experience.

 

I love Demarquette chocolates!

Run by talented (not to mention warm and cuddly) chocolatier Marc Demarquette and lovely partner Kim Sauer, this award-winning London chocolate company produces utterly delicious and beautiful hand-made chocolates. Not only do the chocolates taste fantastic and look stunning, they are made with carefully chosen high-quality ingredients, many of which are sourced from British producers. Even the chocolate is not off-the-shelf couverture but roasted, conched and blended to Demarquette recipes. A keen and critical eye is focused on ethical considerations too.

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This year, chocoholics craving the very best quality Easter treats can enjoy Marc’s new Caramel Filled Easter Eggs. The size of quails’ eggs, these come in three flavours – dark chocolate with sea salted caramel, milk chocolate with key lime caramel and milk chocolate with banoffee caramel. The eggs are blue, green and yellow and feature a simple hand-painted design – each one is unique!

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The salted caramels are a familiar Demarquette favourite, and just as good in egg form as the glossy domes I’m more familiar with. Both the key lime and banoffee caramel eggs are sweeter, because of the milk chocolate, with their core flavour coming through loud and clear; I like both but the banoffee is definitely my favourite!

Available by mail order, this box of 12 eggs is £19.95 plus delivery.

 

DISCOUNT CODE

I’m delighted to share a special discount code for readers of Kavey Eats.

Enter KAVEYEASTER to receive 15% off your online orders.

The code can be used to purchase any item from Demarquette’s range of chocolate treats.

Valid until 14th April 2014. Discount excludes postage. Minimum spend, excluding postage, is £15. Code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers.

COMPETITION

Demarquette are kindly offering a box of 12 Caramel Filled Chocolate Easter Eggs to a reader of Kavey Eats. The prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

Please read the terms and conditions before entering.

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your idea for a new caramel filling flavour.
Please include your name and provide a valid email address.
If you are intending to tweet a bonus entry (see below), please include your twitter name in your blog comment.

Bonus Entry – Twitter
Once you have entered via the blog, give yourself an extra entry via twitter!
Follow
@Kavey and @DemarquetteChoc on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a box of @DemarquetteChoc caramel filled easter eggs from Kavey Eats! 
http://goo.gl/nKkfw1 #KaveyEatsDemarquette
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 11 April 2014.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address.
  • By entering this competition, you give permission for your email address to be collected and provided to Demarquette Ltd, for marketing purposes. Kavey Eats will store the data until the end of April 2014 only.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey and @DemarquetteChoc at the time of notification.
  • Twitter entries without an associated blog comment are not valid. Please include your twitter name in your blog comment to make the association clear.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is a box of 12 Demarquette caramel filled easter eggs, as shown above. Delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Demarquette Ltd.

 

Kavey Eats received a review sample from Demarquette.

 

I’ve written before about my addiction to Pinterest. I think it’s a super tool – fun to use and hugely useful too. Recently, Pinterest UK have formed a community of keen UK pinners and have been busy facilitating discussions and organising events to engage with the group.

Recently, I attended a delightful evening with Paul A Young, one of my favourite chocolatiers, organised by Pinterest and Great British Chefs. The event was not only fun but also informative and hands on. Paul taught us his signature Port & Stilton Truffle recipe, making it in front of us from scratch so we could see just how achievable it is. Once the filling was made, everyone was invited to roll and dip to finish the truffles and of course, to taste!

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Here’s an old post featuring a fun video interview I did with Paul back in 2011, just after he opened his Soho shop. Do watch the video, it’s wonderful to see creative forces like Paul talk about what they do – he just lights up as he talks.

Kavey Eats attended this event as a guest of Pinterest UK.

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