Friday

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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Tuesday

GRUB CLUB CHEFS' SUPPER

If you read my blog, or come to my  pop ups, you'll probably know I'm a big fan of Grub Club. One of the founders is now a friend, and I sell tickets for my supper clubs and pop ups exclusively through their site, as they are lovely, they look after us really well and are there to answer questions and support all the way. So when I got an email inviting me to Grub Club chefs' supper I RSVP'd yes immediately. Not only was it a great opportunity to give feedback to the team behind Grub Club, but it was SO nice to meet other people doing the same as me - working full time and doing a couple of food events a month - and bounce ideas off each other, as well as pick up a few tips from the more seasoned professionals!

The pop up hosts who were there were:

Brixton Kitchen - using fresh, seasonal produce, these 2 lovely ladies run a monthly pop up in Brixton. Their produce is so fresh that they only announce their menu a few days before, but book for this and you won't be disappointed. Their next event is this Thursday, but it's sold out - so check out their next event on Thursday 14th August.

Bidoche - Bidoche means 'meat' and that's what this pop up is all about - lovingly prepared, slow-cooked, cured or marinated meat all served in a cool Clapton venue. The next Bidoche is Saturday 9th July.

Fab Cuisine - serving modern European dishes, Fabrice is a trained chef who has worked in some major London restaurants, but now serves up food at pop ups in Battersea to 30 people a time. He doesn't have any dates in the diary at the moment, but keep an eye on Grub Club for information about his next pop ups.

That Hungry Chef - another highly trained chef, Pratap is throwing his last event of the Summer, an 8-course globetrotter taster menu, in Holloway this Friday, 11th July - get your tickets now before they all go! Pratap also now makes and produces delicious relishes and curry sauces, all available on his website.

Mondsey - trained in patisserie but refined in Malaysian cooking, Mondsey host their 3rd Malaysian 6 course feast of a pop up in their home on Saturday 19th July (the same night as my next pop up - oops!!ha!) near Tower Bridge.  

Les Greedy Cochons - all you can eat melty cheese... what's not to love! Food bloggers turned pop up hosts, Les Greedy Cochons are doing their next raclette night in Camden Market on Thursday 17th July.

Quinto Quarto - a man of many talents, and the proclaimed King of Gnocci, Adalberto hasn't got any dates live on Grub Club at the moment (I'm sure they'll come soon) but he's fed hundreds of people already at his seven course Italian feasts, which have included game, fish, festive and new year's eve themes.

Social Pantry - Alex's Clapham based pop ups were such a success that she's set up a catering company and has now started up The Social Pantry Café in Lavender Hill, where she serves delicious and healthy breakfasts, brunches and lunches - their salads look divine. 

BOBs lobster - another pop up turned permanent business, BOB's Lobster serve up their seafood feasts in East London from Tuesday to Friday, and also roam the streets serving seafood delights straight from their VW van.

And I can't write this without a quick mention for my own pop up! I run monthly pop ups, serving homemade, British, seasonal produce made into a four course feast, at our home in  West London, details of the next one on Saturday 19th July here. I'm also available for private catering gigs so please do get in touch if you want to enquire about an event you'd like food for, email me via the link in the sidebar of my blog.

So not only did I get to spend a wonderful evening with these amazing chefs, but Grub Club also persuaded their very own Hugh to cook up a Mexican inspired feast for us too - we were spoilt with ceviche, followed by carnitas - one of my favourite things - which is pulled, spiced pork, wrapped with salsa, sour cream and various levels of chilli sauce depending on your tolerance!



Thanks so much for having us Grub Club - and if any of you are thinking about starting your own supper club or pop up, do speak to Grub Club as they're there to help and guide you all the way.
 
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MY NEXT POP UP with HOPE FOR TOMORROW

I can't believe it is July already!! This year seems to be whizzing by SO fast. But that's a good thing, because it means that it's nearly time for my July pop up! On Saturday 19th July I'm hosting a four course dinner at our house, all in aid of a wonderful charity called Hope for Tomorrow. Hope for Tomorrow are a charity that provide support for cancer patients by bringing treatment closer to home. They raise money to build mobile chemotherapy units that can be driven to more rural, hard to reach areas, therefore saving poorly patients grizzly car journeys to and from the hospital for treatment. Hope for Tomorrow work with the NHS to make sure the mobile units get to those that need them. If you want to read more about their truly amazing work you can visit their website here.

My pop up starts at 19:30 on Saturday 19th July and will take place at our home in West London (in between Chiswick, Acton and Ealing). Hopefully if it's nice outside seating will be in the garden, as that's what we did at my pop up last weekend and it was so great to be out there.


The menu for the 19th July is as follows, but if there's something on there you don't like/can't eat but you still want to come, that's no problem at all - just mention in the comments section when booking what it is you can't eat and I will email you a few other options to choose from.

Summer berry fizz cocktail (non-alcoholic version available)
*
Pea and broad bean mousse with herbed goat's cheese and homemade bread
*
Whole salmon, braised fennel, baked and dressed aubergine, posh potato salad and Summer vegetable glut salad
*
Blueberry sour cream cake with salted caramel creme fraiche and crystallised summer berries
*
Somerset cheese board with homemade seedy biscuits and chilli tomato chutney
*
Coffee or herbal teas, served with homemade chocolate balls

All my ingredients are the best quality I can get and everything is then homemade by me for the pop up. While the coffee and chocolate are clearly not British I use as many seasonal, British ingredients as possible.

Tickets are £30 for all the food and a cocktail and can be bought HERE. It's bring your own booze on the night, so you can bring as much as you like, and I provide soft drinks if required.

Hope for Tomorrow is a very dear charity to me which is why I've chosen to raise some money for them. All proceeds from the pop up on 19th July will be going straight to Hope for Tomorrow, and will also be match funded either by the company I work for during the week, or failing that, by myself.

My next pop up after 19th July will be on Saturday 20th September - details to follow - as I'm having a little break/already doing too many catering gigs in August!

I really hope some of you can make it along for a Summery four course feast of an A Little Lusciousness pop up!!
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Monday

SUMMER with ROSE D'ANJOU

Rosé has always been my Summer wine of choice. I think it's hard to beat a glass of crisp Rosé, served perfectly chilled on a long summer evening. So when I was invited to a Rosé tasting I jumped at the chance - particularly, as although I drink it quite often, it's probably the wine I know least about when it comes to varieties and flavours.

So on a sunny Wednesday evening a few weeks ago I jumped on the tube across town to the Queen of Hoxton where we celebrated pink pleasures from the region of Angers, France.

Having got over the embarrassment of saying to lady on the door "I'm here for the Rosé evening" and responding that my name was 'Rosie', I hot footed it up the many flights of stairs to find the roof in all its evening sunlit splendour.


I introduced my self to a few people, and got down to the task in hand - drinking our first glass of Rosé, whilst munching on a variety of nibbles being passed round. I met the lovely Mandy from Emm in London and Emma of Adventures of a London Kiwi, both of whom it was great to chat with about the ups and downs and ins and outs of blogging. However we were soon summoned to our tables for the tastings to commence.


We had 5 wines to decipher, each poured even more frequently than I normally top up my own glass! Rosé D'Anjou means Rosé from the Angers region, which is an area of France located in the Loire Valley, about 80 miles from the Atlantic coast, and with the area of nearby Saumur, makes up what is known as the Middle Loire. The majority of Rosé D'Anjou is made from the grolleau grape, which produces an off-dry wine which makes it really good for drinking on its own, but in fact, even better for pairing with food.



Rather than talk you through the tastes of each wine, I thought it would be nice to tell what foods I think they work with, as they are all delicious, and can be drunk with food or included in the ingredients...

1. La Grille Rosé D'Anjou 2013 - this was a light and fruity wine, which would go perfectly with my seabass pasta recipe - and as it's summer, you could barbecue the fish and serve the pasta cold as a salad with it. 

2. Champteloup Rosé d’Anjou 2013 - lovely with sauteed mushrooms on toast with a little jamon.

3. 1749 Rosé d’Anjou - all year round. I think we'll save this one for drinking on its own! It was my favourite of the five on the night, and could also be drunk with food, but was very quaffable just as it was. It was also the wine that I used to make my nectarine, rose and lavender tarte tatin below.

4. Les Ligeriens Rosé D'Anjou 2013 - this was great with an asparagus and duck egg salad, although asparagus season is over, you could drink this wine with lovely green salads throughout the Summer.

5. Val de Loire Rosé d’Anjou 2013 - a wine that is delicious alongside a beetroot tartare with goat's cheese yolk. This simple veggie alternative is made exactly the same way as its raw meat equivalent - using chopped gherkins, capers and shallots and a Worcestershire, tabasco, ketchup and mustard sauce, and substituting raw meat for cooked, chopped beetroot.

After we'd tried all five wines we moved over to where food photographer extrodinaire, Paul Winch-Furness, was on hand to give us all a quick masterclass in food photography, guiding us through choosing the correct angle and light direction as well as suggesting ideas to help with framing of photos. It was a fascinating insight into how make photos really work, especially when the elements are against you (ie - a dark corner of a restaurant).

Then it was time to make our dinner - we had the choice of various ingredients to make a kebab to accompany our wine for main. Paired up with Lucie of Lucie Loves and Amy Laughing House we came up with a North African inspired kebab of lamb, halloumi and peppers in a honey and spiced marinade, that we named "Agneau D'Anjou". Whilst these were cooked for us we retired again to our table where a huge platter of starters was served.



As much as I loved the evening of Rosé tasting with Loire Valley wines, what I was really looking forward to was getting home and starting work on using the 2 bottles of Rosé we'd been given in our hamper to make some recipes. I use a lot of red wine in my winter cooking for both savoury (stews, pies, sauces) and sweet (poached fruits) cooking, and white wine (cooking sauces for fish, pastas etc) but I've never really used Rosé, as all of it always seems to end up in my glass instead! But that is all to change! I came up with a recipe for a nectarine, rosé and lavender tarte tatin when playing with a menu idea for one of my pop ups and honestly, it's one of my sweet best dishes to date, and went down an absolute treat when I served it as pudding yesterday for my pop up. The rosé adds the edge needed to cut through the sweetness of the caramel, whilst the fruit notes of the wine add a depth of flavour, and are just heavenly with the touch of lavender I added. Here's how to make this little plate of deliciousness....

NECTARINE TARTE TATIN w ROSE AND LAVENDAR

For 2 people

40g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter (unless you like a tiny salty edge, in which case use salted - I did!)
Tablespoon of rosé wine - 1749 Rosé d’Anjou is ideal
2 pieces of lavender
1 nectarine
¼ pack puff pastry
½ beaten egg

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease the bottom and sides of two ramekins or mini pans (I used my individual Le Creuset casserole pots).

Heat the sugar and butter in a small, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Heat until all the sugar dissolves and it bubbles and starts to turn colour. Turn the heat up slightly and add the rosé. Keep it cooking until it's bubbled right up and down again and turns a golden colour. In the meantime, cut the nectarine in half, twist and remove the stone, so you have 2 perfect halves. Once the syrup is golden put the lavender heads in and then the nectarine halves - with the skin side facing up. Cook for 1 minute and remove from the heat.

Carefully spoon 1 tablespoons worth of the syrup into your greased tins. Add a piece of syrupy lavender to each and then transfer a nectarine half to each tin, keeping the skin side up. Cut a circle of rolled out puff pastry that is larger than the tins, and place over the nectarine, tucking the excess pastry into the sides. Brush gently with egg wash and cook for 18-20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed up and golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. After this time take a plate and a cloth, and cover a tin with the plate. In one quick, smooth movement flip it over so your tart lands on the plate. Don't leave them to cool for too long in their tins and the syrup will set and be harder to remove.



If you want to find out more about Rose D'Anjou then you can have a look at the Loires Valley Wines website here.

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FREE STOLI VODKA LEMONADE SORBET!!

Over the next four weeks there's a treat in town! Stolichnaya® vodka have teamed up with everyone's favourite gelateria, Gelupo, to create a vodka lemonade sorbet that they'll be giving out for free across London over the next few weekends. They've created a low-fat alcoholic sorbet using Stoli vodka, fresh lemon juice and zest and natural sugar syrup, that's the perfect Summer refresher for 2014.

You can chase the free samples all round London this Summer, as the sorbets are being served up from the Stoli lemonade van which is a customised 1950's Citreon H Van from the South of France. Free samples of both the Stoli and lemon sorbet and the Stoli and lemonade drink are being handed out to passers by. You can find the van in the following well known London locations from 12-7pm each day:

28th June      Truman Brewery
11th July        King’s Cross
12th July        Coin Street, South Bank
19/20th July  Box Park, Shoreditch

If you miss the van or can't make it to one of it's stop offs then you can get the Stoli lemon sorbet in-store at Gelupo (7 Archer Street) in Soho throughout Summer.

 
I really suggest you track down the van to get your sample, or failing that, pop into Gelupo and buy yourself a whole portion, as it's such a delicious mix. It doesn't taste too sweet and sickly, so is wonderful on a hot sunny afternoon. And I've even managed to get hold of the secret recipe for the Stoli Lemonade cocktail for you, so you can whip up a batch at home for a BBQ and really impress all your mates!
Stoli Vodka Lemonade Recipe:
50ml Stoli Vodka
20ml Lemon juice (fresh) 
10ml Sugar syrup
Wedge of lemon to garnish

Pour ingredients into a glass and fill with lots of ice, top up with still water.

For more info find Stoli on twitter and if you pick up a free sample, don't forget to get a photo and upload it using the hashtag #StoliLemonade!
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Thursday

THE JOLLY POACHER, BRIGHTON

After our mammoth lunch at 64 Degrees in Brighton and a quick trip back to our Airbnb flat, we wandered back into town for some arcade and dodgems fun on the pier before our friend's play started that evening. We had a lovely time mucking about, and really enjoyed the play. Afterwards we went to the pub next to the theatre for a few drinks with the cast, but Brighton was heaving and all we really wanted was to find a nice pub, with good beer, where we could relax and drink for the evening. Our friend whose play it was suggested we go to The Jolly Poacher, run by a mate of hers, so we jumped in her car and headed 10 minutes up the hill to the pub. I'm particularly fussy with pubs, and even if I'm just drinking in one I like the ambience created by a good gastropub, and that's exactly what The Jolly Poacher is. In fact, whilst perusing the menu over late night Saturday drinks we decided this was where we should come for our Sunday lunch the next day before the drive back to London. We booked a table, drank more beer, stumbled home and awoke on Sunday SO ready for some good food.

I already knew what I wanted before we even got to the pub on Sunday. When we'd been there on Saturday night I had a long chat with the chef, who'd said he had one portion of a few things on the menu left, so I'd reserved one of those things for my lunch! Although with their seasonal menu using locally sourced ingredients, most of their dishes were right up my street.

As we were in Brighton and near the sea I couldn't not start my meal with a couple of juicy, fat oysters - served with a really good red wine shallot vinegar they knocked my slightly fuzzy hungover head straight back into shape!

These were swiftly followed by goose liver parfait (yes, that is a sneaky way of saying foie gras), rhubarb compote, pickled asparagus and toasted brioche - it was so good. The parfait was smooth and iron-rich, and served with some of my favourite seasonal ingredients. I thought the brioche was the perfect bread to serve with this dish as it wasn't too heavy like normal toasted bread would've been.


My main was the dish that I'd pre-ordered the day before, and I couldn't wait to try it... Sticky ox cheek, Pilsner battered oyster, mashed potato and spring greens. It may have been a little rich and less than summery for a warm end of May day, but it was so scrumptious. The ox cheek was slowly braised and melted in the mouth, with the slightly salty oyster it was phenomenal. The dark sauce on the plate was the braising liquer, reduced down until almost treacle like, the whole dish was indulgent and what I would eat every day when it's cold and miserable outside if I could.


I'm such a bad blogger/little greedy, that I can't even remember what the boy had to eat, but I know we left clean plates!

The Jolly Poacher is just outside the centre of Brighton, so if you're visiting, make sure you make the little trip up the hill to go and try the food there. In fact, even if you just want a drink I think it's a lovely spot for one. It's got a real family feel to the place, and is full of friendly staff. Prices range from £6.50-8 for starters and £14-23 for mains, although on Sundays they do 2 courses for £20 which is excellent value. I will most certainly be going back to The Jolly Poacher when we're next in Brighton.

To see the full menu and location for yourself, you can check out their website here.
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Tuesday

64 DEGREES, BRIGHTON

A couple of weekends ago we jumped in the van and headed to Brighton for 24 hours. I really love Brighton, but most of my visits have been at night to see friends who are DJs or musicians perform there, so I've never really got a true feel for the town. So we booked a flat via AirBnb and went to make the most of the lovely weekend. This also meant we had the opportunity to book a couple of places for food that I'd heard about and really wanted to try out, as again, we're normally there late at night, or staying with friends so going with them to eat. One of the places I'd heard about was a new, tapas-style restaurant in The Laines called 64 Degrees. It only opened this year but has had rave reviews already so I was thrilled that they'd managed to book a table for us on Saturday afternoon. That was until we got on to the M25, and didn't move for about half an hour. A small panic rose inside me as I calculated miles left til Brighton, amount of time we were stuck and potentially missing 64 Degrees' opening hours. We were booked for 2.30 - they stop serving food at 3. We got to Brighton at 2.45, found a parking space and ran through the throng of tourists to get to the restaurant in time. We got there with seconds to spare... Luckily! In fact by this time we'd agreed to meet with our friend and her son, and try and squeeze them onto our table as well, which we did.

64 Degrees is tiny. It probably seats a maximum of 24 people at any one time - one table of 4, one table of 6, two of 2 and 6-8 seats at the bar in front of the open kitchen. After a bit of re-jigging we were put on the largest table, as people were leaving and the kitchen closed.

The idea of 64 Degrees is that you order 3-4 dishes per person, and share them... if you want! The menu is split into meat, fish and veggie and there are 4 or 5 dishes per category. The waitresses were very thorough in talking us through the menu, and also checking if we had any allergies so they could advise us what to avoid, which was really helpful, as menus don't necessarily list every single ingredient in a dish. We ordered plentifully and dishes arrived one after another, until we were so full the only thing we could do was polish off an espresso martini and head to the flat for a little rest!

This is what we ate:

Lamb, asparagus, fregola, anchovy. This was one of my favourite dishes - the lamb was cooked to perfection and the flavours of the dish so harmonious. It was Spring on a plate and just so good. The anchovies added the perfect amount of saltiness against the slightly creamy fregola.


Scallops, miso, lemongrass and sea kale. Another winner for me - juicy, plump, caramelised scallops on the outside, but moist and perfectly cooked inside. Eating scallops by the sea is heaven.


Then it was asparagus, hollandaise and hazelnuts. Again, delicious and seasonal, and so well cooked (there's a theme here - the cooking of all the ingredients was incredible!) The crunch of the hazelnuts was a wonderful contrast in texture to the soft asparagus and the foamy, lemon hollandaise.


Next up, tomato, iceberg, avocado and land cress. This was freshness on a plate, and the tomatoes tasted of sunshine, each slightly different than the other. I love charred lettuce as well.


Our friends we were dining with ordered the bream, oyster, ratte and chard. This was excellent as well, but our friend's 9 year old son was a little disappointed that the oyster had been made into a sauce rather than served whole on his plate - he's got a pretty sophisticated palette already!


I ordered the next dish for me, as the boy can't eat chilli, but actually found it to be lacking in heat. It was billed as chicken wings, kimchi and blue cheese but there wasn't enough kick for me, nor was the blue cheese sauce punchy enough with blue cheese. But the chicken wings were juicy and tender, and I still ate all of them!


In place of chicken wings, the boy had the short rib, seaweed, tomato and carrot, which went down a treat. The meat fell off the bone and the dish had lovely textures to it, with a crunch of seaweed and the soft meat.


Finally, we shared potato knodel, cabbage and smoked butter which was amazing (although would've been better half way through the meal rather than at the end). The potato knodel were smooth and creamy on the inside yet with a crispy outside and the smoked butter had a really deep flavour. The charred cabbage stopped this dish from being too heavy.


With all adults too full for pudding, we moved onto perfect espresso martinis while Kai had a sticky toffee pudding. We might've had a mouthful of pudding to check it was ok.... it was better than ok!



The bill at 64 Degrees came to about £35 a head, which for the amount of food we ate, and the quality of the dishes was great value. We didn't hold back on drinks either!

I think that 64 Degrees get booked up quite far in advance so if you want to go, make sure you reserve before you go. We managed to get a late lunchtime table booking a few days before we went, and you can book via their website here.

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LONDON PRODUCE SHOW

Last week saw the launch of a new event in London - The London Produce Show set up home in the Grosvenor House Hotel for 3 days, filled with fruit and vegetable producers from all over the world. The lovely ladies organising the event invited me down, via amazing boxes of fruit and veggies that arrived at my house, to the opening cocktail evening and the show the following day.

The first I knew about the show was when Liz got in touch via Twitter to ask if I'd like to come and if yes, what my postal address was. This was followed by a box waiting on my doorstep, that contained a bottle of rum, a cocktail shaker, dragon fruit, grapefruit, limes, mint and lychees. I made a dragon fruit and lychee mojito, which was just like a super healthy fresh fruit juice (with added rum!)




The following week (while I was at home post surgery) another box was delivered. This time it was full of 'artisan' vegetables. It had mini beetroots, a heritage tomato, an oyster mushroom, wild garlic, thai basil, oyster leaf, purple and white carrots, tagete flowers and a buzz bomb (more on that later).


From this box of goodies I made a steak dinner. I used the wild garlic and oyster leaf to make a salsa verde (in which I didn't use anchovies as the oyster leaf has a very fishy taste), which I served with a marinated bavette steak, grilled oyster mushroom, pickled beetroot, and some new potatoes. I used the carrots separately with the thai basil for a salad that weekend.


So having accepted my invite to the London Produce Show via boxes of various goodies I was really excited about the show itself. I headed down on Wednesday evening to the Grosvenor Hotel which was buzzing already, having been set up ready for the show it was now full of traders, their hands loaded with champagne and canapés.







I didn't actually know anyone attending the show so it was really nice to meet Lynne from Josordoni and Rosana from Hot and Chilli. We sipped on bubbles, made plans for the following day, and nibbled our way around the amazing food - there was a roast beef area where slithers of pink, juicy meat were served with mini yorkies; a sushi bar with more raw fish than I've ever seen in one place; duck rolls being made to order; and platters of canapés, each designed by a young student chef, circulating the room.


I also bumped into Valentine Warner who was going to be cutting ribbons, giving talks and doing demos the next day. Full of bubbles I headed home for some rest before the main event on Thursday.

* * * * *

Thursday focused on a media session in the afternoon that we'd been invited to, but I also wanted to make sure I had enough time to see all the stalls and traders, and to watch a cooking demo by Miranda Gore Browne, who I'd been chatting to the night before, and was one of the finalists from the first Great British Bake Off show. I got there just in time to see her make some incredibly delicious blackberry crumble biscuits. To save this blog from being too long, I'm actually going to post the recipe for her biscuits in a separate post, so watch out for that soon.
                                           
After admiring Miranda's speed, skill and ability in the baking department I took myself down to the stalls with the particular aim of speaking to any British suppliers I could find, as I wanted to arrange a few farm visits as well as talk to them about produce for my pop up restaurants. I met some really great suppliers, some of whom are now growing vegetables you'd never imagined would grow commercially in this country, such as baby turnips, pak choi and chillies.


I also discovered the buzz bomb on my way round the stalls, that had come with my veggie delivery but I hadn't used as I wasn't sure what to do with it. I met the guys who grow them and they gave me one to eat - it was very strange! It tastes like a flower but has the effect on your mouth of eating the fizziest sweet ever - my tongue was salivating and tingling for about 15 minutes after I ate it!! It wasn't the most pleasant experience, but I can see how it would work as part of a spicy curry or something similar. There were all sorts of weird and wonderful new shoots, leaves and flowers on show - some of which I'm already putting into menus for my next few pop ups!

Next I met a guy who is doing some distribution for a new company called Growing Underground who are doing what their name says - they've got a plot of land underneath Clapham North (old air raid shelters) where they're growing sustainable micro-greens and salad leaves. How amazing is that?! By growing inside this means all their crops are pesticide free, and as they are so central their produce can be in the restaurants, or on your table, within 4 hours of being picked. Really inspirational stuff!  


The most exciting part of the day for me though was the media afternoon that the show had put on for us. After (more) champagne (which was in fact English Sharpham sparkling wine) and canapés, we were given a talk about how new products get launched - I hadn't realised that the way new vegetables get onto the supermarket shelves is via top restaurants, where they serve these new veg, and supermarket buyers go to eat, working out what is becoming popular on the food scene. This talk was followed by a cooking demo from chef Adam Degg, of Michelin starred restaurant Wild Honey, who showed us how to make the 2 courses we were about to eat - Spring salad of lambs' sweetbreads, goats curd, asparagus and peas, and lemon verbena posset with meringue shard and blueberry compote. It was so nice to learn lots last Thursday and one piece of information I won't forget is about sweetbreads - I had always believed that sweetbreads were brains, but they're not! They are the throat gland of the sheep, not the brain. Neither of these sound particularly appetising anyway, but trust me, Michelin star cooked sweetbreads are really delicious, and worked perfectly with the salad and goat's curd. In fact both dishes were not only delicious but beautiful as well.



It was lovely to chat to the other girls who'd been invited to the media masterclass while we had our lunch, and I particularly enjoyed talking to Deena, who runs her own vegetarian food blog which features some great veggie recipes, and stunning photos, as well as doing cookery classes.

We were very kindly given wonderful goody bags by the organisers of The London Produce Show, including both Valentine's and Miranda's cookbooks, and loads of fresh produce.


This included the *new* product of 2014 - the cucumber flower, that I mixed with some mustard leaf, sea purslane and a few other salad bits, and a lemon and mustard seed dressing, to make a really fresh tasting green salad that we had with a barbecue.

The London Produce Show was brilliant. It was insightful, educational, inspirational and just generally lots of fun! Thanks so much for having me - I can't wait for next year, and look out for more related posts soon.
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