Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Factory House supperclub - seasonal British fare to share

The Factory House supperclub main course

Since moving to London I'd dined at a series of supperclubs showcasing a whole host of exotic cuisines - ranging from a fiesta of Spanish flavours, to a mouthwatering Mauritian medley, and a treasure trove of Persian delights. But so far I'd never been served sharing portions of traditional British cooking, so I was attracted to the seasonal fare on offer at The Factory House's inaugural supperclub.

Monday 28 January 2013

7 things for 7 days...#3

A collection of favourite moments and random musings from the past week...
Spicy prawn and noodle broth

1. I've been suffering from one of those colds that the term "rotten" was created for. Fuzzy head, aching muscles, sore throat and snuffly nose; I felt so lethargic this week that I couldn't even drag myself to the gym (a sure sign that I was really sick!).

In an attempt to KO the flu I bubbled up a vat of this spicy broth packed with prawns, noodles and healthy vegetables - yet another recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals. The sour liquor with its chilli kick made a refreshing change from the rich and creamy coconut milk soups I normally make, and went a long way to speeding up my recovery.

Friday 25 January 2013

Mexican street feasting at Wahaca

Wahaca Guacamole and tortillas

Whilst there were many contenders for my most memorable meal of 2012 (such as my birthday dinner courtesy of Mat Follas at The Wild Garlic, and licking chicken off a brick thanks to Ben Spalding at John Salt) it was understandably impossible to beat Michelin-starred supremo Tom Kerridge serving up a storm inside a glass Cube overlooking London's legendary landmarks.

But Chris Pople of Cheese and Biscuits has highlighted an interesting distinction between a great meal and a great restaurant:

"A great restaurant, then, isn't just where you happen to have a great meal, it's a place you look forward to going to more than anywhere else because you always enjoy the time you spend there"

This got me thinking...obviously as a gastronome I am always keen to try new culinary experiences, and even when I return to a favourite haunt like Brockley Market or Brixton Village it's usually with the hope of testing out what different vendors have on offer each time.

However, there is one London restaurant that I gladly return to at least once a month if not more...Mexican market diner Wahaca, the brainchild of former Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers.

Sunday 20 January 2013

7 things for 7 days...#2

I'm stunned by the number of page-views the first instalment of this new series received! Hopefully this is a sign that I should continue regularly sharing my favourite moments and random musings from the past week...

1. What better way to prepare for the impending #snowmageddon than with a hearty venison stew?! Through the magic of Twitter I was lucky enough to win tickets to The Factory House's inaugural supperclub, where this classic winter warmer was the star of the show. The meat shredded easily after 5 hours slow-cooking, and the rich umami gravy contrasted perfectly with creamy cabbage and mashed potatoes. Apparently those cute oven-proof side dishes were for my boyfriend and I to share, but somehow most of their contents ended up in my tummy...!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

What the Katys did...lunch at Polpo

Polpo Arancini
Having already grazed on tasty tapas at Copita with Selina from Yummychooeats, and tucked in to a fig-filled feast at 10 Greek Street with Guilia from Mondomulia and Laura from Digest magazine, I've been keen to continue my tour of Soho's finest dining experiences.
So when BBC Good Food Show's Katy Truss suggested we finally put human faces to our Twitter icons and meet up in person, I hoped this would be a chance to see whether the positive rumours about Polpo's Italian offerings were true. Plus, it's always a bit of a novelty to find someone who spells their name the same way as me (I wonder whether Miss Truss also feigns nonchalance through gritted teeth when someone mistakenly refers to her as "Katie"...?)!

Sunday 13 January 2013

7 things for 7 days...#1

Welcome to my new regular series for 2013 - a collection of favourite moments and random musings from my week. I've discussed previously the suffocating pressure I place myself under in the quest for the perfect prose, so I'm hoping that this series will encourage me to relax my writing style.

It's also an opportunity for me to continue developing my understanding of food styling and photography, which dramatically improved over the course of #Project366, without adding any more commitments to my (already exhausting) daily routine.

For me, this series is all about flexibility - no promises of weekly updates, no promises that my "7 things" will focus exclusively on food, and no promises that the themes will even remain the same each time. It'll just reappear when I feel like I have a handful of particularly appetising, amusing or thought-provoking things to share....

1. My top meal this week was this incredible Mediterranean mixed seafood "basque" from Sam's on the Beach in Polkerris, where my cousin works. It was as good as any cataplana I've experienced in Portugal, overflowing with collossal mussels and king prawns, bathed in a rich provencale sauce with deep tones of spicy chorizo, white wine and roasted garlic.

I was also seriously impressed by my Dad's giant portion of scallops and black pudding, resplendent with their coral still attached. I might just have to treat myself to that next time!

Saturday 5 January 2013

Power foods #3 - Roasted broccoli to make it more fun to eat your greens

When I was growing up, before I discovered the delights of butternut squash, spinach and aubergine, broccoli was my favourite vegetable. Its vibrant spray of delicate leaves was far preferable to me than its cousins - the limp cabbage and pallid cauliflower - and I would always select this bushy green as a steamed side dish during special meals at home.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Most memorable meal of 2012 - Tom Kerridge at The Cube by Electrolux

I'm not sure if I believe in fate, but my most memorable meal of 2012 was certainly serendipitous.

Casually scrolling through my Twitter feed during a break on my last day at work before Christmas, my heart practically stopped beating when I suddenly spotted a tweet advertising tickets for a £50 charity dinner that same evening catered Tom Kerridge.

I'd fallen in love with Tom's food after celebrating my birthday at his two Michelin star restaurant The Hand and Flowers, and literally only days before had discussed with my boyfriend the need for a return trip, after watching Tom's magnanimous coaching of the Professional Masterchef joint-winners.

Given the opportunity I would have willingly paid for Tom to serve me a slice of marmite on toast, but on closer inspection this offer became so incredible that it was impossible to ignore. The tickets were for a seat at Electrolux's exclusive dining experience The Cube positioned on top of the Southbank's Royal Festival Hall, and included a six course tasting menu with wine pairings, plus a champagne and canapé reception, normally costing £215 per person.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

#Project366 – week 52 and the end of 2012

So that’s it for 2012…no more London Olympics, no more Diamond Jubilee, and no more #Project366! This time last year I set myself a challenge to capture a food-related photograph every day for a year, and confess to feeling a mixture of emotions now that it’s over. I’m delighted that I successfully reached my goal, proud of the improvement in my camera skills during the past 12 months, a tiny bit surprised that I didn’t miss a single day, and relief that there’s no longer the pressure to take a daily photo of something, anything, to do with food!

I’m grateful to my friends and family for supporting me through #Project366 (especially my long-suffering boyfriend!) and to everyone who’s taken the time to read these blogposts and follow my life on a plate for the past year. There were times when I was dashing around the country for work when I feared I wouldn’t find anything to photograph (hence the number of snapshots of train snacks!), and that I’d never write up my huge backlog of weekly updates. But thankfully I got back up to speed before the year drew to a close, and can share with you this final roundup covering my Christmas week menu and seasonal celebrations back in Dorset…

#358 - spicy sausage stew

Day #358 - My signature dish of spicy sausage stew, full of smoked chorizo from Flavours of Spain and a secret ingredient that I hope to share with you in 2013…