Month: June 2016

Exploring Edinburgh Castle

During our first wedding anniversary trip to Edinburgh a month or so ago, we visited Edinburgh Castle. I’d actually been there once before but I was very unlikely to remember any of it – I was in my mum’s tummy when she was pregnant with me, 30 years ago! If you visit Edinburgh, the castle is almost always in sight, standing proud up on the hill in the centre of the city. We headed up there one morning and I was blown away by the amount of things to see and do within the castle (almost quite literally, it was a rather windy day!). After exploring some of the grounds, we ventured into the Regimental Museums, to the tune of bagpipes, where we learned about the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Next we headed into my favourite (although perhaps the most dark) part of the castle, the prison. There’s a short video of it here: The first prisoners were French privateers captured in 1758 soon after the outbreak of the Seven Years War, but over the years, …

Fine Indian Dining at Salaam Namaste, Bloomsbury

Last week I was invited for dinner at Salaam Namaste in Bloomsbury. As with most reviews, I always try not to read up too much on the restaurant or its menu in advance, so it comes as a nice surprise. I knew that it was an Indian restaurant (one of my favourite cuisines) but that was about it. My friend Kelly joined me and we met at Russell Square station and walked for just under 10 minutes to the restaurant. It was a little bit in the ‘middle of nowhere’ down a side street and to be completely honest, it didn’t look to be anything particularly exciting or different from the outside. But we were still looking forward to seeing what food would be on offer. We were dining fairly early (6.30pm) on a Thursday, but there were already a couple of tables occupied, and by the end of the evening it was pretty much full. As soon as we sat down and opened our menus, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be your …

A Tabl Dinner with Amba Chefs, Battersea

I’m thoroughly enjoying going to supper clubs and pop ups at the moment, partly because I’ve had a couple of negative restaurant visits of late. But I also find that the whole experience of going to a supper club is a lot more personal and friendly, and you learn a lot more about the cuisine and the people cooking it. You might have heard of a company called Tabl and I’m very proud to be one of their community founders. Tabl describe themselves as ‘the new home for pop-up kitchens, “secret” supper clubs and food adventures.’ A couple of weeks ago I went to one of their supper clubs, hosted by Amba Chefs. Amba Chefs is made up of Beth, Alison, Monica and Angela – pictured above. As they explain on their website, their passion for all things food led to them giving up their careers to train as professional chefs at Leiths School of Food and Wine. They have combined their backgrounds and cultures (Italian, American, Spanish and British) to produce a fantastic fusion of high …

Tweetup at Brasserie Blanc, South Bank

A few weeks ago I was invited to a ‘tweetup’ at Brasserie Blanc on the South Bank. Brasserie Blanc is a small chain of French restaurants from renowned chef Raymond Blanc, with five restaurants in London and another 13 around the rest of the UK. I’d been meaning to visit one for ages as I’d heard good things, so this was a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the business and what it’s all about. The Southbank location has recently been refurbished and it’s been beautifully done, complete with an alfresco terrace decorated with olive trees. If the weather had been better we would have sat outside (typical British summer!), but we were all perfectly content in the bar area. The image below was provided by Brasserie Blanc – it was actually completely packed when we were there, always a good sign, especially mid-week! The focus of this event was on the bar and its cocktails, and given it was a tweetup, the photos I took were on my phone – it’s definitely …

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic Recipe

I adore cooking with garlic and so I couldn’t wait to try out some recipes from my new cook book, quite literally titled ‘Garlic’ by Jenny Linford, published by Ryland Peters & Small. It’s such a pretty book, with over 65 recipes, broken down into six chapters: Mellow, Sunshine, Comfort, Fiery, Go Wild and Celebratory. I decided to try out a recipe from the ‘Mellow’ section – Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. Yes, you read that right, 40 cloves! Here’s the recipe: Ingredients – serves 6 1.8kg/4 lb free-range chicken 25g/1 and a half tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 40 garlic cloves, separated but unpeeled. 100ml/one third of a cup of vermouth or dry white wine freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon 200ml/1 cup good-quality chicken stock a handful of fresh tarragon sprigs salt and freshly ground black pepper A lidded flameproof casserole dish, large enough to hold the chicke Method Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a …

West Country Cheese Co: Monthly Cheese Club

There’s a subscription service for everything these days. But I think the best category has to be cheese. I mean, a selection of random cheeses sent straight to your door each month, sounds pretty epic to me! I’d been looking into which company to sign up with, as there are a few offering this service now, when I realised that the wonderful West Country Cheese Co, who we bought our cheese wedding cake from, was doing them. My first box arrived a couple of weeks ago, right before I was going up to Yorkshire to visit my mum. I wasn’t going to risk leaving it in the fridge for a whole weekend with hubby home alone (!) so I took it up with me for my Mum and I to feast on! I couldn’t wait to find out what I’d been sent! The box was well packaged and presented, with three cheeses and crackers, as well as accompanying notes about the cheeses. We sat outside in the sun on evening and tucked into them: Comté …

Barbecoa and the perfect steak!

As I’m sure many of you know, a good steak is one of my favourite things in life. And if it’s been cooked badly, it upsets me greatly! This is something I’ve been discussing with the team at Barbecoa recently, as they’ve put together a rather nifty (and pretty!) infographic (below) showing you how best to cook steak, as advised by Steve Pooley, Executive Chef Director at Jamie Oliver. I first visited Barbecoa a few years ago for brunch with Tim, and really enjoyed it! I tried to dig out some photos and found this collage – you can just about see the food (this was clearly pre-blogging days!) some gorgeous steak huevos rancheros.  As you can see, the view is also amazing, looking directly across at St Pauls Cathedral. The team really do know their meat. Barbecoa is described as the UK’s first ‘barbecue steakhouse’, with the chefs cooking the meat using Texas pit smokers, tandoors, fire pits, robata grills and wood-fired ovens. But let’s face it, not many of us have any of …