How time flies - I've just posted full details for my final public pop up of 2014! My October date has now all but sold out (there is still 1 ticket available!) so I've put up my final date for this year, on Saturday 6th December, as I'm skipping November in favour of sunning myself on a beach many miles away! So Saturday 6th December will be my last event this year (although I am going to be doing a Christmas fair, with food and drinks, at W7 Emporium in West Ealing on 13th December so look out for details of that one coming soon).

The menu for 6th December is as follows:

Winter cocktail, made with bubbles and cranberries
Gooey smoked salmon kedgeree 'arancini' balls with soft quail's eggs, curry mayonnaise and crispy toasts
Cider pot roast guinea fowl with leek gratin, pomegranate roasted carrots, salt baked celeriac & parsnip puree, and Yorkshire puddings
Passion fruit posset with winter spiced butter biscuits
Montgomery cheeseboard, apple and quince chutney, seeded crackers
COFFEE and HERBAL TEAS served with homemade "mince pie" chocolates
The event is £30 per ticket, and is bring you own booze so you can bring a bottle (or two!) of your favourite. If beer is more you thing, then you can come empty handed, as Peroni are sponsoring the evening by providing bottles of their new Alta beer.
If you'd like to come along and are a vegetarian, or don't like certain elements of the menu, that is no problem - while booking there is a comments section and you can just leave notes there as to what you can/can't eat and I will make an alternative meal for you. I don't think that I've done a pop up so far when I haven't cooked an alternative/veggie/vegan/gluten free main course, starter or pudding!

You can come on your own, bring a date, grab some friends, or book out a whole table for however many of you there are!

Tickets for my past few events have sold out crazily fast, so I do recommend getting in there early if you want to come along! I'm notoriously bad at taking photos at my pop ups (something to do with cooking 4 courses for nearly 20 people!) so I'll leave you with a photo of the table all ready and laid ready for guests to arrive:

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On Sunday 12th October there's a food festival happening in Wells, Somerset and I'm going to be there to give a talk about food blogging and pop ups!

Wells Food Festival launched last year and had over 3,500 people come along on the day. This year they're back - bigger and even better. The day focuses around showcasing local produce with a food market, lunches, talks, street food stalls and more. The day runs from 10.30-4.30 and everyone is welcome to this free event.

So, what can you expect from the day? Well first of all there's the artisan market, with over 50 stalls selling locally produced food from within 25 miles of Wells. There's locally produced organic wines, loads of Somerset cheese, flour, apples and cider, chocolates, pies, breads and sausage rolls, chillies, honey and loads more - I can't wait to roam around and buy one of everything to take back to London with me!

As well as all the stalls selling produce there'll be 13 street food vans on site selling hot food, ready to eat so you can pick up a wood fired oven pizza, a buffalo burger, veggie samosas or a plate full of Greek meze delights. But if you fancy something a bit more substantial for your Sunday lunch there are a few sit down banquets happening on the day as well.

Chef Valentina Harris is doing The Great Italian Sunday Lunch, using Somerset ingredients to cook up an Italian style feast. Tickets are £40 a head for this 5 course lunch which is sure to be an absolutely scrumptious feast.

Another option for lunch is Tom Hunt's Forgotten Feast Autumn Banquet that he's making using vegetables rejected by supermarkets for not being pretty enough, and a whole pig, fed purely on these same 'waste' vegetables. His starter of hot smoked pigeon breast with blackberry sorbet served with sourdough and truffle butter has already got my tummy rumbling! Tom Hunt's cooking is right up my street, and if you want to know why, then book a ticket for £30 each and go along and find out for yourselves. Tom is cooking his feast for 200 people, so there's plenty of tickets to go around.

If it's tea and cake you'd prefer there's afternoon tea at the banqueting room in the town hall, running from 2.45-5pm where you can pop in for hot drinks, finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. You'll also find Pearl Lowe and Trine Hahnemann signing copies of their newly released books.

The afternoon will offer the opportunity for learning as well - there's various talks and walks going on, covering subjects like foraging, truffles and how to grow great veg - full details of which can be found HERE. And from 3pm you can find me, along with 2 great bloggers - Anita, from A Lover of Creating Flavours and Vanesther of Bangers and Mash, - at the Parkes room in the town hall, doing a food bloggers workshop to talk you through starting your own blog, keeping it going and what to do with it from there. We will be there to answer all your questions and help you with anything you need blog-wise. Spaces are limited though so if you'd like to come along, then do send an email to the team.

If you are coming along, do leave me a comment below, and please do come and find me and introduce yourself - I'd love to meet you and learn your blog and/or foodie ideas!!

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A couple of weekends ago the boy and I were invited to France for a night. Deciding that we'd rather stay 3 nights instead of 1 our extremely generous hosts extended their invite to us for 3 nights in their hotel. The hotel is about 30 minutes south of Paris and 15 minutes cab ride (if the cabbie knows where he's going - ours didn't and it cost us 60 euros!) from Orly airport. The owners of the hotel, friends of the boy's ma's, were having a party there to celebrate their 75th birthdays on the Saturday night.

We arrived at Le Relais des Chartreux late on Thursday night and dumped our bags in our newly refurbed room, before gobbling down a very late dinner of lobster then scallops, and wandering the hotel's grounds for an hour or two, whilst being eaten alive by mozzies, before collapsing in bed. We'd made the decision that we weren't going to actually go into Paris while we were there, as having come from London we both wanted to make the most of some chill out time with just the 2 of us in the French countryside. This didn't stop me wanting to find the best possible place for food near the hotel so I spent hours on Tripadvisor, Google, blogs etc before we went trying to narrow down the endless and confusing choices to a place where we'd have dinner on the Friday. It's really weird searching online for somewhere to eat in a place you've never been, that's not the trendiest of areas to start with, but I struck absolute gold and found somewhere with over 95% either good or very good reviews. 

We lazed around on Friday during the day, wandered into the local town to pick up some amazing skincare items from the French pharmacy, that airport security then tried confiscate on our way back, and got ready for our night out in Villemoisson-sur-Orge (!) The hotel kindly arranged a car to pick us up and take us there (not even our driver knew where this mysterious place was until we whipped out the trusty iPhones and found it in the maps). But we got there in the end, and I'm so glad we did. Villemoisson-sur-Orge is beautiful little village/town set on winding hilly roads, with picturesque French houses lining the streets, covered in vines. The light was fading so my photos aren't great, but you get the idea.

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After a little break over August I can't wait to get stuck in to doing pop up restaurants again! My next date, 20th September, has already sold out, but there's good news - I've got another date now booked in for Saturday 25th October. But if you want to come you'll have to be quick, as half of the tickets for the October have already gone (I really can't believe it - thank you SO much to everyone who's booked this and all my other dates).

As normal the event will take place on Saturday evening at our home in Acton Town, where I will feed you 4 courses of homemade, seasonal food. I'm really excited by the menu I've chosen for October's pop up, and for starters I'm serving an old favourite - steak tartare with my secret mix - that has received rave reviews from past pop ups. Main course is a truly decadent game pie, full of meat that's in its prime season. And pudding is a crunchy, nutty crumble made with fruits straight from Somerset hedgerows, and served with my now almost-famous salted caramel crème fraiche. Here's the full menu in all its glory:

Blackberry cocktail, made with bubbles and something stronger
Steak tartare, quail's egg yolk, cauliflower puree & pickled cauliflower,
served with homemade bread
Rich game pie, creamy potato & celeriac truffle mash, buttered greens,
wild mushroom and shallot game gravy
Apple and blackberry nutty crumble with salted caramel crème fraiche
Montgomery cheeseboard, apple and quince chutney, seeded crackers
Coffee and herbal teas served with homemade chocolates

It’s bring your own booze on the evening so do feel free to bring a bottle (or two!). I provide soft drinks for anyone that prefers them. And you can put any drinks that need chilling in the fridge when you arrive.

And if you want to come along but you're veggie/GF/don't like something on the menu, then you can still come - if you book a ticket and mention in the comments section of the booking what it is you don't like/can't eat, then I can make something that you do like instead!

Tickets for 25th October are available here and cost £30, but do get in quick as they're selling really fast.

At my last pop up in July the food critic from the Chiswick Herald came for the evening and has amazingly given me 10/10 for the evening!! You can read the full review here.

One last thing to mention, if you're interested in all things pop up, is that Grub Club, the wonderful people who not only deal with all the admin and tickets sales for mine and many others' pop ups, but who encouraged me to start doing pop ups in the first place and have guided me all the way, are crowd funding. So if you want to be part of this huge food movement, and own your very own piece of Grub Club then follow this link and read all about what they're doing, where they're going and how your investment can help. So far, over 20,000 people have eaten at a Grub Club pop up and by investing a tiny amount you can help Grub Club grow and spread all over the world - !!

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I've blogged about The Bollo before - it was one of the first reviews I ever wrote on my blog. Since then we've been more times than I can remember, for food, drinks, Sunday lunches, last minute dinners, meetings, cocktails.... It's our regular so we end up there for many reasons or no reason at all. Then you can imagine my horror when I called to book earlier this Summer only for the phone to ring and ring with no answer. They'd closed! During Summer!! But a bit of further investigation led me to find out that it was only temporary as they were undergoing a full front and back of house refurb, and they'd be open again soon. So the night after they reopened we were there like a shot to try out their new range of drinks and updated food menu.

The Bollo changed hands pre-refurb and is now run the by the same group who own The City Barge in Chiswick, which is another new favourite of ours, so I was excited to see what they'd done to improve this place we call our second home! A lot is the answer!! I'm so happy that all has changed for the better. The inside of the pub has been given a lick of paint, the slightly odd seating arrangements are gone (it used to be a bit of higgledy mix of bench seating, large tables, sofas and various types of chair) replaced with more tables, creating a restaurant feel in the main dining area, but without having lost any of the pub feel in the bar area. And talking of the bar area, their drinks selection is awesome now. There's about 10 different craft beers, a lot of which are brewed in London, on tap - one of which is a new favourite - 3 Weiss Monkeys - a wheat beer brewed in London Fields which is light and refreshing with a delicious lemony taste to it. We sunk 5 of these between us before we'd even ordered  food - oops! If you like wheat beer or are interested in trying it, go for this, it's the best wheat beer I've ever tried.

But the main event for me was the food - we loved the old, seasonally changing menu that had our favourite dishes on it which we ate over and over again. I was nervous about the change, but I needn't have been - it is SO good! The menu has been spruced up - bread to nibble that used to be served with oil and balsamic has been upgraded to delicious slices of a seeded loaf, now served with oil and dukkah. Salt and pepper squid is now calamari with merguez sausage - traditional has been replaced by modern with a twist.

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There's not much we like more for a slap up dinner than a fajita or taco night, especially when we've got friends coming round. It's such a fun way to eat, with everyone grabbing their own ingredients and creating a unique plate made up of their favourite components from everything on the table - it allows the boy to steer clear of spice, but me to load up my plate with jalapenos and hot salsa, so everyone gets what they want. So when I was invited up to the Old El Paso HQ in West London to try their new range I was intrigued to find out more.

Old El Paso have launched their newest product (after 8 years in the making) - the Stand N Stuff soft taco. Think soft flour tortilla made into a flat-bottomed boat shape that you can fill with whatever you fancy without having to worry about it all spilling out. My bug bear with normal tortillas is that lump of folded flour wrap you get at the bottom that's stodgy and excessive, and the messy leakage of delicious juices that normally spill out of the tortilla when you eat it. There's none of this with the Stand n Stuff - just an open sided pouch that I find much easier to fill and eat that the standard tortilla.

We were given a little talk about Old El Paso, who've been trading for nearly 80 years and started life as a tinned tomato distributor before becoming the Old El Paso we all know today. After tasting the new range and then cooking up our own versions in their test kitchens we were sent on our way with goody bags stuffed full of the new products - we got one of each of their Stand n Stuff kits, in each of the 3 flavours - Smokey BBQ, chipotle and honey, and extra mild, which come with the tortilla boats, a spice mix and a salsa pack, as well as some of the tortillas on their own, and a nice big jar of jalapenos.

I was super keen to get in the kitchen at home and rustle up my own version of the tortilla, and so made these really delicious spicy tuna tortilla boats - which you can easily make too.

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