Wednesday

BUSH HALL DINING ROOMS

Last year while we had our house refurbed we stayed with friends just off Uxbridge Road and I found what is now one of my favourite pubs for food. However there was another place on Uxbridge Road that I walked past quite often that looked really good, and that was Bush Hall Dining Rooms which had only opened a couple of months before, and is part of the iconic music venue, Bush Hall, next door. Fast forward nearly a year and I finally got round to going there. Now I've discovered it I've actually booked it for my birthday meal next month as that's how much we liked it.


We went to Bush Hall Dining Rooms on the first day of the football season, on the way to drop the boy off at Loftus Road. The extra 18,000 people in the area meant that Bush Hall was pretty busy, but this didn't detract from quality of food or service.

It was a hot day and we sat right in the window with the sun streaming in, people watching and catching up on Saturday papers until the food arrived. Bush Hall does "all-day modern dining, traditional values and good living", serving wicked cocktails and modernised classic dishes in a relaxed and comfy environment. We kicked things off as all Saturday lunchtimes should with some delicious cocktails. Extra strong Bloody Mary for me, and a secret surprise, whose contents we never did find out, for the boy. It was something with ginger, and lots of booze, and was really good!


More intent on drinking that eating to start off with (to numb the pain that QPR were about to inflict) we shared a starter before a main course each. We went for a favourite starter of ours - calamari, in the form of salt and pepper squid with red pepper sauce. Crunchy, perfectly seasoned outsides and tender squid inside, it worked so well with the red pepper dip.


For mains I had Bloody Mary mussels with chips, which was delicious. The fresh tomato sauce with the kick of the Bloody Mary spices was so good, and the chips excellently cooked, crispy outsides and soft insides.


The boy went for one of his go tos - cheeseburger and chips. He had asked for it medium rare, which it sadly wasn't but it was delicious all the same (you know when you're too hungry to send something back for being not quite right - that!) 


I'm now a huge fan of Bush Hall Dining Rooms and can see us going there for lots of meals in the future - their breakfast and brunch menu also looks pretty tempting. Not only was all the food great, the service was seamless and the atmosphere was so lovely. Relaxed without lacking in quality and really good value - we paid less than £20 each for all the above. They also do great deals for pre-gig menus, and have specials on cocktails at the weekends.

Bush Hall Dining Rooms is a 5 minute walk from Shepherd's Bush and you can find more info about their food on their website here.
 
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Thursday

A BOWL OF CHICKEN WINGS

I've posted a recipe here before (many years ago) for sticky, spicy chicken wings, but I wanted to put a slightly different, even easier, recipe, as the ones I cooked last night were devoured in minutes - even though there were so many of them!

I love easy dinners that can be whipped up when I get home from work and this is one of them. A little forward planning in the morning and they're even better.

Serves as many as you can share them with

800g free-range, organic chicken wings (I always buy free range anyway but when buying chicken wings, organic is essential - non-organic chickens get injected with drugs and hormones throughout their miserable lives. These drugs and hormones are injected into the wing, where they mostly stay. So if you're eating non-organic wings, then they're full of nasties - just don't!)
3 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

In the morning, before you got to work, mix the honey, mustard, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper together in a bowl. Add the chicken wings, mix well so they're all coated, cover the bowl and put in the fridge.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to 200C. Once it's reached this heat spread the wings out on a foil covered baking tray, pour the remaining marinade over them, and put the tray in the oven. After 20 minutes of so take them out and pour off 80% of the liquid. Put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes so they have 40 minutes in total.

We ate ours with olive oil mash, and a watercress and avocado salad, but serve them with whatever takes your fancy, or hide in a corner and eat them all to yourself!

 
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Saturday

MY TOP 10 RESTAURANTS

Over the past 3 and a half years or so of writing my blog I've been to tens if not hundreds of restaurants - some of which end up on here, others that don't. I tend to only write up a review of a restaurant here if it's one that I want to recommend to my readers, as my blog's about that, not ripping into places I haven't enjoyed. However there are also places that I've eaten at that I absolutely love, that for one reason or another haven't ended up on my blog. So as a quick and easy reference I wanted to put this post up to summarise my favourites. Most of these restaurants are in London, a few further afield (although all south of the M4 - I can only write about what I know!), and hopefully they're a good variety of food styles, prices and ideas. I'm going to continue the top 10 series (keep an eye on the new "top 10" button under my blog title), with more specific lists, but this one's my top 10 of all time (so far!)

The list is not in any order of preference - I can't do that as I just couldn't choose between them to pick my favourites in any order!

1. BARRAFINA - my absolute favourite London restaurant
    54 Frith Street, Soho, London, W1D 4SL

I love Barrafina for many reasons. I lived in Spain for a while and got a taste for great tapas. Barrafina bring this to London with each and every dish they produce. Top quality ingredients and excellent cooking mean the food here is second to none. The original restaurant (they've recently opened a 2nd site in Covent Garden) is small and set around a curved bar with 23 seats where you sit to drink and eat. There's no booking here, so although it's my favourite, it's not necessarily reliable for large parties or events where you want to eat at a particular time, but they do now do a private event space in Covent Garden that can be reserved for up to 60 people. Don't let the no booking put you off though, the queue moves pretty fast and the lovely staff keep you topped up with drinks and nibbles until you do get a seat. And a little tip for colder days - there are three or four tables outside the restaurant that don't get snapped up that fast - take one of these and watch the world go by under the powerful heat lamps that will keep you just as warm as if you were inside!

Top dishes - octopus with capers / courgette flower.


2. THE PRINCESS VICTORIA - a really brilliant pub, serving even better food
    217 Uxbridge Road, West London, W12 9DH

The Princess Victoria is one of our stand out local pubs. Ok, so it's not quite walking distance but it's still near enough to class as a local. The PV's not your average pub though - think dark wood interiors, a huge dining room and food that's worthy of a restaurant and you're getting nearer to what's on offer here. They also have an immense wine list, and the chef is more than happy to talk you through his drinks recommendations. A must visit if you find yourself in West London.

Top dishes - Hanger steak, triple cooked chips and watercress / Tamworth pork and green peppercorn pate


3. THE PELHAM ARMS - perfect cosy pub in the heart of Sussex
    High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1XL

I have such fond memories of this place. We went on a wild and windy night in January and had the most fantastic meal. The Pelham Arms source nearly all of the produce they use in their food from the local area, including salmon from a smokehouse that's actually in Lewes. The freshness and quality of the produce stands out and service is super friendly. So book yourselves in to the lovely Pelham House hotel and spend the evening lounging and feeding the Pelham Arms - I promise you won't be disappointed! And Lewes is such a sweet little town, you can spend the next day wandering the high street and ducking into cute independent book shops, antiques houses and delicatessens.
 
Top dishes - Smokehouse Lewes salmon with pickled beetroot / Pan fried fillet of local cod, tarragon crushed Jersey royals, sweetcorn puree, chorizo veloute


4. THE SHED - a new favourite, with nose-to-tail cooking served as sharing dishes
    122 Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill, London, W8 4RT

I recently wrote about my first visit to The Shed on my blog as I was blown away by their food. The menu here is split into sections - mouthfuls, slow cooking and fast cooking. They recommend you share dishes here (this seems to be a bit of a theme to my top 10!) and I recommend that too, as then you get to try even more of their amazing food. All produce is responsibly sourced and the brothers who run the restaurant have close ties with various suppliers from Sussex, including those who supply wine and sparkling wine. Book ahead if you want to go here as they are hugely popular, so you'll need to be organised if you want to eat here on a Saturday evening.

Top dishes - Wood pigeon, plum, Shed bacon, cobnuts, port / Pan-fried goat's cheese, hazelnuts, honey, thyme


5. THE CHAPEL - Somerset bakery and restaurant with bedrooms
    High Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0AE

The Chapel is a gorgeous restaurant and bakery on the high street of Bruton, in Somerset, set in a stunning building that used to be a 17th century coaching inn. Again the focus is on seasonal, locally sourced food, and they get it so right here. We had a superb birthday meal for my Dad here last year, and I long to go back for a weekend and stay in one of their wonderful rooms, whilst eating my way slowly through their entire menu. The restaurant has a really laid back feel and it acts not only as a restaurant but a café/coffee shop as well, serving breakfast and brunch. You can also pop in to pick a freshly baked loaf of bread and a nice bottle of plonk from their on site wine shop. If you're travelling down the A303 and need a stop off, this is where you should head.

Top dishes - Buttermilk pancakes, Sandridge Farm crispy bacon, maple syrup / Dorset crab, cucumber, fennel, avocado mayonnaise, toasted ciabatta / Wood roasted artichokes, pancetta, fontina, tomato, olives wood-fired pizza


6. 64 DEGREES - best food in Brighton
    53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB

It's no secret that 64 Degrees is my new favourite food destination in Brighton - I love it. And the best bit about it, is that they're coming to London! Having only opened at the end of last year in Brighton 64 Degrees' has had astronomical success, so much so that there'll be a new site in Pimlico by the end of the year, serving up the same style food as the original Brighton site. Think small sharing dishes (I know!!) of the best quality food you can get. Innovative combinations like scallops, land cress and lardo make 64 Degrees my kind of place.

Top dishes - Potato knodel, cabbage, smoked butter / Ribeye, kale, mash, shallot


7. CHARLOTTE'S, TURNHAM GREEN - West London' finest
    6 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick, London, W4 1QP

Charlotte's in Turnham Green is my favourite local restaurant, which has just been confirmed by them winning Good Food Guide restaurant of the year 2015 - a massive accolade they very much deserve. Their menu reads much like that of others in my favourite lists, although no sharing dishes here - no, they're far too good to share! Formal dining in a relaxed environment with the most knowledgeable staff I've come across in a restaurant. The menu again centres on seasonal, sustainable ingredients to make dishes like the grilled ox heart, slow roast garlic puree and pickled artichoke - yum! Charlotte's also offer oysters, crayfish and langoustines on their own or by the half dozen, as well as an impressive spread of cured meats.

Top dishes - Skate wing, black pudding, parsley butter sauce / Pan fried lamb's liver, tarragon mash, smoked red wine butter AND THIS - Brioche doughnut, apple compote, salted caramel and calvados cream


8. SONG QUE CAFE - cheap and authentic Vietnamese
    134 Kingland Road, London, E2 8DY

This used to be my local, where I was very much a regular. I lived less than 2 minutes walk away so used to stumble in here at all times of day or night for my fix of all things spicy and delicious. In fact, I rarely ate anything else here except their spicy soft shell crab, which they are the best at doing. If you pass Song Que, then pop in and try some. And then order another portion! It is SO good. One thing I did stray for on the menu though was their Pho, beef noodle soup or their crab meat and lemongrass soup (or as one the menus said "crap" meat!) Don't let that put you off. The food is too good. Although I haven't been to Song Que in over a year I've heard it's still as good as ever, and if I still lived as close as I used to, then it wouldn't have been so long since my last visit!

Top dishes - spicy soft shell crab / fresh roll - prawns and herbs wrapped in rice paper


9. ATARI-YA - the best sushi you can get, at the best price
    Various locations - Hendon, Swiss Cottage, Ealing Common and Mayfair

Atari-ya is my go to for good sushi. It helps that we have one so locally to home, but it doesn't matter - I would travel far and wide for fish this good! Don't expect fancy restaurants though, Atari-ya is all about the food. The restaurants are more like little cafes, with only a little bit of bamboo matting as décor - in fact you could quite easily walk straight past with no idea of the delights hidden inside. Atari-ya import fish on behalf of some of the top London sushi restaurants (think Roka, Nobu etc) so you know the quality here is incredible. I particularly love sashimi, and have never had a bad piece from Atari-ya. I'd recommend going with a group so you can order and try as much as possible! I would say to call ahead though if you are planning on going to an Atari-ya as I do sometimes find the Ealing branch is randomly closed for an evening.

Top dishes - sea bass sashimi / scallop sashimi / sea urchin ngiri (if you're brave!)


10. HIX SOHO - a bit of a cheat as it's actually the bar downstairs
      66-70 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 9UP

This is my cheat entry! I really like Hix Soho - the food's wonderful and I love the exposed brick work and art that hangs around the place, but what I really love is downstairs at Mark's Bar - where you have to eat from the Snax menu if you want to drink, so it kind of counts on my top 10 restaurant list! Mark's bar is dark and cool and my go to for a drink and quick bite any evening I'm in Soho. The Snax menu is diverse and delicious - a huge Yorkshire pudding with chicken liver pate, Scotch quail's eggs with caper mayo or Webster's fish fingers with mushy peas. You can also order from the A la carte menu from downstairs so you can go for something more filling while you drinks amazing cocktails.

Top drinks/dishes - Celebration - 3 year rum, gin, Mark's redcurrant syrup and grapefruit juice / Scotch quail's egg with caper mayo / Glenarm Estate porterhouse (to share!)


Where are your top 5 or 10 places to eat out?
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Thursday

A LITTLE LONDON LUSCIOUSNESS - 20th SEP

When I started doing pop up restaurants in November last year, I never once imagined that by August this year I would've done over 18 events already! Although I've stuck to my plan of 1 public pop up a month, I've had so many requests for private catering gigs that I've been cooking most weekends for the last 6 weeks! I absolutely love it - but also have a full time job, so have been exhausting myself a bit recently!! I decided to have a break from public pop ups in August, although ended up catering a hen do and a baby shower last weekend anyway.

So with no more pop ups this month, my next date is Saturday 20th September. I'm teaming up with Urban Food Fortnight to put on a pop up using locally sourced produce. If you follow my pop ups you'll know that they are all about using sustainably produced, seasonal produce, sourced mostly from the West Country, where I grew up. However there's a different challenge with my September date, as all the ingredients I will be using will have been grown in and around London! Now this might not sound so appealing, but what I'm doing is teaming up with various allotment holders to use their lovely home grown fruit and vegetables, all of which are seasonal, and I am souring all of my meat and dairy from farms in Essex and Kent. It's an exciting challenge and one that's made me come up with a menu that I can't wait to cook...

The menu for 20th September is:

Fig and elderflower cocktail - made to order on arrival (non-alcoholic version if requested)
 
Grilled figs with chicory, apple, candied walnut and gorgonzola salad
 
Slow roast pork belly, fennel gratin, mustard creamy mash potato, buttered cabbage & rosemary and crab apple sauce, served with cider gravy
 
Raspberry mousse with shortbread biscuits
 
Cheeseboard with homemade chutney and rosemary and sea salt biscuits
 
Coffee or herbal tea with homemade chocolates
 
As always, dietary requirements can be catered for, so if you'd like to come but there's something  you can't eat or don't like on the menu, then just mention in the comments section when booking and I can email you alternatives to choose from.
 
Tickets for the pop up are £30 and include a welcome drink. It's bring your own booze on the evening so you can bring your preferred drinks with you. I provide soft drinks for those who want them. Tickets are available here - and have already started selling!

The pop up takes place at our lovely house in Acton - which is easily accessible on the Piccadilly line, or via the overground stations South Acton or Kew Bridge, which link to East and South London respectively.

If you're not quite convinced and want to see what other guests have said, you can read all my reviews here. And here's a couple of photos from my last events....

Walnut and cranberry bread for the starter:
 

Pea and broad bean mousse, with walnut, maple and thyme goat's cheese and a pea shoot and pea salad, served on THE most beautiful plates (which sadly aren't mine!):

 
Summer vegetable salad, piled high with everything that's good and ready in August - courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and lots more, dressed with a tahini and lemon sauce:
 

Guests in my garden and a selection of that evening's food, including a blueberry and summer fruit cake, that went down particularly well, served with salted caramel crème fraiche:


So far, I've met some of my lovely readers/fellow bloggers who've booked to come to my pop ups, and it's been so nice meeting you! I hope more of you can make it to one my events soon :)

On another note, I wanted to mention that my last public pop up was in aid of a really important charity called Hope for Tomorrow. We raised a whopping £250 on the night (!) which is being very generously match funded by my day job at River Island head office, so we can donate a total of £500 to the charity. I know this money will be put to really good use, as being a charity, Hope for Tomorrow need all the support they can get. Thank you to everyone who came and made the evening such a success - and lots of fun too.
 
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Monday

THE APPLE TREE - PATISSERIE IN ACTON!

I live in Acton. It's not the most happening place in the world, and the little strip of shops near where I live used to be made up of a few grotty corner shops, an electrics shop, a funeral parlour (!) and not much else. In the last year however we've had a mini Sainsburys open, as well as a really good fish and chip shop, and most recently a great pizza place that does small pizzas for a very reasonable £4 each. And then a few weeks ago I noticed something else had appeared - a tiny café called The Apple Tree. We popped in for a chat with the owners and to see what they were selling, and I was thrilled to find out that they sell fresh juices and patisserie cakes! I would've never thought we could get such nice cakes right at the top of our road, but now we can. I must've been in nearly 10 times since they opened as they are now my go to for cakes to take to parties, or just for a lazy pudding to have at home on the rare occasions I really crave something sweet.

The Apple Tree is run by a lovely husband and wife team, and the wife's mother makes most of the cakes at her local bakery. They sell a wide range of biscuits, tarts, cream cakes and slices, and also do sandwiches during the week. They've got good, proper coffee, fresh juices, and my favourite, a frozen lemonade which is like a fresh lemon slushy - perfect for the hot weather.

I picked up a few cakes for a friend's baby shower yesterday and they all got eaten, so that can only be a good sign! I snapped a few photos of some of what's on offer, but just with my iPhone so excuse the quality.

Crunchy buttery biscuits - think delicious homemade jammy dodgers:

 
Fruit tarts with crème patisserie - so good with all the summer fruits:

 
Coffee cake - gorgeous coffee flavoured cream, topped with broken biscuits and chocolate:

 
Layers of moist honey cake filled with cream:


And the selection I bought for yesterday's party (just a few!) - the chocolate mousse cups and the apple crumble slice were especially popular:


So if you're ever in Acton Town (!?) do go grab yourself some treats from The Apple Tree - they're right between the 2 tube station entrances. I know it's unlikely that anyone would be hanging out in Acton Town, but it is on the Piccadilly line back from Heathrow so you could always just jump off for cake!! Their opening hours are Mon to Fri 6am - 7pm / Sat 8am - 7pm / Sun 10am - 5pm.
 
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Friday

WOMAD FESTIVAL 2014

Last weekend I spent 3 fun-filled, sunny days in a field in the Cotswolds at WOMAD 2014 festival. I wasn't planning on blogging about it, so didn't pay too much attention to taking nice photos, but I loved it so much I just had to write about it here. I've collected photos off as many of my friends as possible so these are from all of our cameras and phones.

Normally I stick to one camping festival a year - the one I've totally fallen for - Boomtown. But this year it's the boy's mum's 70th that weekend meaning that I can only go for the Sunday. So to make up for it we had a look at other options and Womad seemed really appealing. Womad is a family festival for 40,000 people spread across beautiful Gloucestershire countryside, sprawling either side of the most amazing arboretum, which provided much needed shade over the weekend. We got the boy's brother and his lady to sign up, and my best friend and another friend and her 9 year old came too, as well as the boy's mum, who went with her friends.

We arrived on Thursday night and walked straight in with no queue. We picked a spot close enough to the main arena to camp, set up our canvas homes and cracked open the first of many weekend drinks before a quick wander round site to see what was happening (not much on Thursday night) so headed back to the tents for some rest before it really kicked off on Friday.


Womad was founded over 30 years ago and is all about world music, bringing artists over from Africa, the Far East, South America and closer to home. This meant it was an opportunity to see bands and musicians who I'd only heard through my iPod before. WOMAD means World of Music, Arts and Dance, and that's exactly what it is. Everywhere you looked there was a workshop to get involved in, whether it was laughter yoga, African dance, beatboxing or wooden spoon carving - which we really wanted to do but stupidly left til the last day when we found it was then fully booked.

We started Friday slowly with a bit of Calvin and Hobbs story time....


Then headed into the festival site for halloumi fried breakfast, and then danced and played for 12 hours solid - particular highlights being reggae from Clinton Fearon's and his band, and then later in the night Congo Natty getting everyone bouncing to his amazing set. The boys also squeezed in as many fairground rides as possible before we all collapsed in a heap back at the tents.


Saturday was another scorcher so we took things a little slower in order to cope with the heat! The lovely Lucinda Belle sent shivers down our spines with her jazz set in the afternoon - another artist I was so happy to get to see live for the first time.

Fat Freddy's Drop were one of the headliners on Saturday evening, but I stupidly left the tent they were playing in just before they came on and then couldn't get back in! The photos below were from a much less busy set in the same tent - and as you can see there such a brilliant mix of ages in attendance.



Saturday night was bliss - we wandered round the site at our own pace, catching bits of different music going in all sorts of weird and wonderful tents, and then finished off watching Clinton Fearon do an acoustic set, just him and his guitar at one in the morning - it was the musical equivalent of bedtime stories with David Attenborough!

Sunday was of course a slower day! We only had a couple of acts on our definite list, who weren't on til later so we took the time to take in more of the sights, sounds and tastes of the festival. We had heard that the food at Womad was meant to be amazing, which it was. My particular favourite was a Lebanese stall serving roast beef that had been slow cooked on shelves about hot coals over the festival days.


The beef was served up with delicious, fresh salads, homemade hummus and loads of meze bits, which was just what my slightly hungover body really needed at that point! You could eat your way round the world at Womad, with the food stalls covering pretty much every cuisine you can imagine!

The last 2 acts we saw on Sunday were 2 of my favourites from the whole weekend. First up was Fatoumata Diawara, a singer with the most gorgeous voice from Mali, who has recently paired up with Roberto Fonseca, a mind blowing Cuban pianist, and together their music is extraordinary. I may have shed a few tears during their set! Finally it was on to see Alice Russell, whose music I've loved for years but who I'd never seen live. She was brilliant, and is not only a great singer and performer, but also full of absolutely hilarious anecdotes between her tracks - a must see if you can.

WOMAD completely won me over and I can't wait to go back. I was worried I wouldn't like as much as other festivals as I'm so used to going to festivals where I know most people on the line up, but this was just brilliant all round. Thanks for having us WOMAD, and roll on 2015!!!!




 
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MIRANDA GORE BROWNE'S BLACKBERRY CRUMBLE BISCUITS

One of the best things about my visit to the London Produce Show last month was getting the chance to watch some live cooking demos and sample the delights that were being made. The first of these that I watched was Miranda Gore Browne, of Great British Bake Off fame, who whipped up some seriously yummy blackberry crumble biscuits, that were then passed round for us to try. They were excellent, and I'm not normally a biscuit fan! They had the perfect balance of crunchy and soft with the freshness of blackberries and the sweet blackberry flower they were served with. I've already made a batch at home and they were nearly as good as Miranda's! If you want to try them for yourselves, then here's the recipe so that you too can make them.


Please just pretend that the photo I took is nice and in focus!! It doesn't do the biscuits any justice at all as they were so, so pretty - before I ate them!

Makes 12
 
145g unsalted butter, softened
155g Demerara sugar
1 large free-range egg
210g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1½ oranges
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
20g caster sugar
150g small blackberries, chopped
10 blackberry flowers (optional), plus extra to garnish
 
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
 
In a large bowl, cream together 115g of each the butter and sugar with the back of a wooden spoon, then beat in the egg. Add the 180g of the flour, the vanilla, one-third of the orange zest and the bicarbonate of soda, then mix gently until combined. Put 12 dollops of the mixture onto the prepared trays, spacing them at least 3cm apart. Bake for 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, make the crumble topping by rubbing the remaining 30g of butter into the remaining 30g of flour in a small bowl, using your fingers. Stir in the remaining 40g Demerara sugar and caster sugar, as well as the remaining orange zest, the chopped blackberries and blackberry flowers.
 
Take the biscuits out of the oven, flatten them a little with a palette knife, then divide the crumble topping between them. Bake for 5 mins or until golden around the edges, then leave on the trays to cool until transferring them to a wire rack. These biscuits are best eaten the day you make them.
 
* * * * *
 
What I really like about Miranda's recipes is that they are easy to follow and don't require anything that you can't get at your local supermarket. She has a new book coming out at the end of August, called Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, in which she's written over 100 recipes that you can make in almost no time at all. Miranda is great as she removes the fear that many people have about baking, and encourages and guides you through the recipes in her books so that you can make cakes and biscuits just as good as hers!
 
*This recipe was developed exclusively for The London Produce Show by Miranda Gore Browne, to be cooked as part of her cookery demonstration at the 2014 show.
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Tuesday

CARNABY STREET EAT, SUN 20th JULY

This Sunday, 20th July, Carnaby Street is going to be transformed for a free, one-day food festival. From 11am - 6pm the street will be packed with outdoor stalls run by local restaurants who'll be serving up street food versions of their best dishes. There'll be live music, free workshops, face painting and live cooking demos by Hardeep Singh Kohli throughout the day.

Over 40 of the top restaurants in the area will be out on the streets giving you the opportunity to sample their dishes from only £5 per dish. Restaurants that will be present on the day are Antidote, Camellia’s Tea House, Carnaby Burger Co., Cha Cha Moon, Choccywoccydoodah, Comptoir Libanais, Dehesa, FlatPlanet, Johnny Cupcakes & Crumbs and Doilies, Joho Soho by Cinnamon Soho, Kua ‘Aina, Leon, Liberty, Masala Zone, Moosh, Mozzino & Katia Kitchen, Pizza Pilgrims, Rosa’s Thai Café, SACRED Café, Shampers, Shoryu Carnaby, Speakeasy Espresso and Brew Bar, Retreat, Stax, The Detox Kitchen, The Diner, The Life Goddess, The Rum Kitchen Carnaby, Urban Tea Rooms, Whyte & Brown, Wright Brothers Soho and Zebrano.

We had a sneak peak preview of some of the establishments who will be involved on Sunday's extravaganza, and you're in for a real treat.

Oysters from Wright Brothers' very own oyster farm in Cornwall.


Dogs made from white chocolate at Choccywoccydoodah... 

 
Scrumptious pork gyoza at Shoryu.

 
Food and craft beer matched at Whyte and Brown - this particular combo was incredible, white and brown crab on bread with honey beer. 

 
A platter of Cha Cha Moon's guoites, spring rolls, parcels and wontons.

 
More deep fried delights at Cha Cha Moon, this was crispy chicken.


As well as being able to fill your tummies with all of these delights, the cooking demos should be really interesting and informative. Hardeep will be joined by chefs from some of the participating restaurants on the day. These joint demos will take place at the following times:

11am - Cinnamon Soho
12pm - The Detox Kitchen
1pm - TBC
2pm - Drinking Trend Talks
3pm - Pizza Pilgrims
4pm - The Life Goddess
5pm - Challenge Hardeep
5.30pm - The Rum Kitchen


And if you fancy setting Hardeep a bit of a challenge, then take an ingredient with you on the day, and bring it along to the demo kitchen by 5pm, when Hardeep will have to magic up a dish using only the ingredients brought along by the audience.

Sunday will be an excellent opportunity to sample all the delights of Carnaby Street, and I can't wait to have more of what we had the other night. There are so many great restaurants and food places in the area, it'll be wonderful to see them all out, along the street, on a (hopefully!) sunny day!

For more information check the Carnaby Street website where you can register for a free event guide, and be entered into a competition where you could win dinner cooked for you by Mr Hardeep Singh Kohli himself - that's if I don't win it!

Hope to see many of on Carnaby Street this Sunday!!


 
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Thursday

THE SHED, NOTTING HILL

Every so often I come across a new restaurant that surprises and delights me. It surprises as I always assume that because I've only just found it, it must be brand new (rarely is) and it delights me as I have a new place to go for amazing food in London. The Shed in Notting Hill is one of these.

I only found out about The Shed last week whilst googling potential spots for a mid week girly dinner, and called and booked the only table they had left, which was at 6pm. It didn't matter that it was so early though - I work not far from Notting Hill so knew I could get there in time and I'd been saving myself for food all day... if only my dinner date had got there on time too! By the time she arrived it was quarter to seven and I was already 2 drinks down. I don't want to moan though, it was strangely nice to sit there on my own whilst waiters and waitresses in checked shirts buzzed around me getting the place ready for what was to be a full house on a Tuesday night. I'm working with a food festival later this year, so while I waited I made some notes for that, as it's rare I've got any time to myself at the moment.


While waiting I had one of The Shed's signature cocktails - Goosey Loosey - a mix of Bold London Spirit (a locally brewed aperitif brewed using cherries and botanicals), gooseberry, lime, mint and soda, that was just the right side of sweetness to be a refreshing pick me up before food. I also ordered two of the "mouthfuls" from the menu, which are literally just that, and both really delicious. I had the quail egg and celery salt, and the hake rillettes with lemon marmalade and crisp bread.


 
The Shed is not dissimilar food-style-wise to 64 Degrees in Brighton, which I loved when I ate there recently. The Shed say that they "farm, forage and produce seasonal British food" that they serve in small portions which are ideal for sharing. They recommend 2-3 dishes per person. However, Michelle and I have quite different food tastes, so ignored their advice and chose 2 dishes each, which they very kindly made sure were brought out at the same time as each other, when they normally serve plate by plate.

I went for pan fried goat's cheese with hazelnuts, honey and thyme - a sweet but tasty dish, with the saltiness from the cheese being perfectly complemented by the sweet honey and crunchy hazelnuts.


Michelle's first dish was the highly recommended hake, lemon potato vinaigrette, capers, savoy cabbage and samphire. I was allowed a little bite, and it was as good as they said - so fresh tasting and the capers were excellent little salty bites in the mix. Michelle loved it.


Next for me was spatchcock quail, The Shed BBQ sauce and fennel. Again, a really well put together dish (although I had chosen 2 quite sweet dishes!). The quail was juicy and tender and the Shed's special BBQ sauce is one I can only hope to emulate in my own kitchen.


Michelle's second dish was another winner - grilled courgette, sundried tomatoes (that tasted like they'd been dried slowly on a really low heat, therefore retaining their juiciness and wonderful flavour), peas, tahini and mint - a summer veggie delight.


Not normally one for pudding, I had my little arm twisted and we shared The Shed magnum vienetta parfait. It was a sweet and caramel and chocolate on a plate. Maybe a little too sweet for me, which is why I normally steer clear! But really good all the same, and I loved the plate it was served on.


The Shed have a pretty extensive wine list, which includes a lot of British wines. Michelle had some "Nutty" bubbly and I had a glass of white from Nutbourne vineyards, in West Sussex. The white was pleasant but tasted a little like it was a natural wine (even thought I don't think it was), which I'm not so keen on as I don't like the slight fizz you get.

The dishes at The Shed are priced from £6.50-£9 - so all really reasonable. Our bill came to £75 (a third of which was drinks) between the two of use which I think is great value considering the quality of ingredients and cooking. And anywhere that has Montgomery cheese on the menu is a winner - that's what I serve at my pop ups!
 
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