Sunday 15 September 2013

Authentic Chinese Flavours at the School of Wok - worth a shout instead of just a whisper

School of Wok's Sichuan Aubergine, Fujian Fried Rice and Crispy Pork Belly

As the name suggests, the School of Wok is an Asian and Oriental cookery workshop tucked away in Chandos Place, just behind the Strand and only a few doors down from my favourite fast Mexican food joint Wahaca. I'd visited their dining room previously as the location for a few Edible Experiences pop-up events, and certainly heard whispers about their expert tutorials amongst London's food-loving community.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

7 things for 7 days...#9

A montage of my favourite foodie moments and other random musings from the past week...
Pintxos at Pix Bar

1. When I visited Spain last summer I fell in love with the traditional pintxos bars, and was amazed to discover an impressively authentic replica much closer to home in the form of Pix Bar. Last week I visited with fellow food lovers Selina from Yummy Choo and Laura from Digest Magazine, and as I predicted they were equally taken with the stunning display of tapas on offer.

With items priced at either £1.95 or £2.95, Pix is very friendly on the purse, but because everything looks so appetising you still need to keep an eye on your growing stack of skewers. Thankfully for greedy folks like me, Pix have introduced "infinity Sundays" where you can enjoy 90 minutes of unlimited pintxos and cava for only £29.95. There's a tray of churros and chocolate sauce ready with my name on it for my next trip...!

Saturday 17 August 2013

Boozy banana, coconut and chocolate bread to put you in the tropical spirit

Boozy banana, coconut and chocolate bread sliced

If, like me, you're a novice when it comes to baking, I'd recommend starting out with a loaf cake. Also described as a "bread", these look great without the need for complicated frosting or multiple layers, and can be filled with pretty much anything you fancy: fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts, chocolate and coffee...even bacon!

Whereas previously my cookies have crumbled and my brownies have burnt, my lovely fruity loaf cakes have never let me down. Indeed, I was so stunned by my first beautifully risen bread that I even let its memory live on in the logo for this blog.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Two little pigs visit Story restaurant

Restaurant Story beef dripping candle

Oh boy...this is another one of those situations where I include a photo in a round-up and promise that more photos are "coming soon"...and then realise 3 months later that I still haven't shared them...! Apologies, my bad (and note to self, I really must stop doing that!).

So back in Spring the London food scene was going wild over Story, an intimate new restaurant near London Bridge from former Noma chef Tom Sellers (not to be confused with American chef Thomas Keller or moustachioed actor Tom Selleck). Established food critics and unknown food bloggers alike were fighting for reservations, particularly once word spread about fantastical dishes such as the "beef dripping candle" starter and "Three Bears' porridge" dessert.

Sunday 4 August 2013

7 things for 7 days...#8

It's been months since the last time I posted one of these random montages - even though I like writing them and apparently you like reading them. As ever, there's a whole host of excuses, but I won't bore you with these now. If you follow me on Twitter, you can probably figure it out. The main thing is that I'm finally BACK with another selection of my favourite foodie moments from the past week, plus some other random musings...

Donostia Social Club duck slider

1. Check out this incredible (overflowing!) duck slider courtesy of Donostia Social Club - just looking at it makes my mouth water! I'd heard rumours of great things being produced by these relative newcomers to London's streetfood scene, and decided to check them out for myself at KERB Saturdays in Kings Cross. I loved the concept of a pintxos bar attached to a food truck, and would have happily perched there all afternoon sampling their tasty tapas (and perhaps a few Sangrias...!). This duck was rich and tender, with a clever contrast from the sliced apple and Basque cider sauce. Their juicy prawns a la plancha with shallot salsa were also delightful. One to watch...

Thursday 18 July 2013

Cookhouse Joe's mountain of Lebanese mezze

Lamb kofte at Cookhouse Joe

Full disclosure: this meal was a total and utter freebie, hands up. I'd never heard of Soho Joe, the family-run pizza restaurant on Dean Street, but I was invited to visit their new sister restaurant Cookhouse Joe on Berwick Street, and the promise of a combination of Lebanese dishes and rotisserie chicken enticed me.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Sweet and spicy roasted chicken and vegetables to solve solo supper times

Close-up sweet and spicy roasted chicken and vegetables

It seems like there's a big difference between the chosen style of cooking when my boyfriend is in our little London flat, and the meals I opt for when I'm home alone.

If I'm making dinner to share with my man, the focus is on hearty, rich dishes such as sausage stews with potato wedges, spaghetti and meatballs, or roast dinners that we can then pick at throughout the rest of the week.

If the situation calls for a solo supper, normally I aim for something lighter and simpler, often incorporating healthy seafood with other "power foods" for a nutritional boost and a smugly virtuous glow.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Rambling through La Boqueria

Ham legs at La Boqueria

It's the start of the holiday season, with people jetting off to warmer climes in search of some sunshine after the total washout that has been this year's British Summertime (based on the evidence so far).

Monday 20 May 2013

Fudges' milk chocolate florentines - sharing my delightful Dorset discoveries!

Fudges milk chocolate florentines

At heart I will always be a Dorset girl, no matter where I live in the big wide world or how long I'm separated from the Jurassic coast.

Occasionally the rural twang in the pronunciation of my vowels gives away my heritage (much to the amusement of my trendy urban friends), coupled with my obsession for seeking out the nearest spot of beach as soon as the sun begins to shine. In my eyes there are few things more mesmerising than watching the deep blue sea lapping against the sandy shore, whilst breathing in the salty air - transporting me back to my childhood in an instant.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Bank Holiday weekend binge

One of my favourite blog series' is Weekend Things on How Sweet It Is - the photos are always fantastic and it's so clever how your mind fills in the gaps in the story. If anything my love of food photography has grown after completing Project 366 in 2012, so I thought I'd share with you my Instagrammed snapshots from a particularly gluttonous Bank Holiday weekend...

3 Bears Porridge at Restaurant Story

Three Bears' Porridge at Restaurant Story...which one was "just right" for me?! More photos from this fantastic meal coming soon

Sunday 5 May 2013

Beef and chickpea koftes to spice up your supper time

Beef and chickpea koftes with Harissa tomato sauce

These beef and chickpea koftes with Harissa tomato sauce were included in a recent "7 things for 7 days" list as further evidence of my current obsession with Middle Eastern cuisine, following my luscious lunch at Honey & Co. As well as a couple a jokers querying whether Ras-el-Hanout was the bad guy from Batman Begins (that was Ra's al Ghul, FYI), I was surprised that a whole bunch of people asked for the recipe.

Sunday 21 April 2013

7 things for 7 days...#7

My favourite foodie moments and other random musings from the last week (or so!)...

FishDogs dognuts

1. I believe that this is what is known in the industry as "the money shot" (I'm not saying which industry...!) Get your ass down to FishDog's truck at Brockley Market on Saturdays or the Red Market on Fridays to wrap your lips around these bad boy "dognuts", served alongside their sexed-up fish finger sarnies. These hot dognuts are crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, coated in sweet cinnamon sugar and smothered in salted caramel sauce for an added treat...just like all the best bad boys...!

Saturday 13 April 2013

Patty & Bun's Smokey Robinson burger - it's a miracle!

Not since Elvis was jiving in his blue suede shoes has the humble burger been such a phenomenon.

In London right now it feels like a new diner opens almost every week, promising a beef and bread combo that's bigger, better and dirtier (!) than ever before. Needless to say, with so many options on the table there's a danger of worshipping false idols, and it's hard to know where to begin on the quest for sensory enlightenment.

Crowned King of kings at Burger Monday's latest #LondonBurgerBash, Joe Grossman's Patty & Bun has certainly generated the most evangelistic response from the masses. Disciples flock to this tiny restaurant in a constant stream, waiting with the rest of the outdoor congregation until they can enter the shrine and be charmed by the infamous Ari Gold, or experience a whole new level of foodporn courtesy of the Ron Jeremy special.

Having harked on for months about taking a trip to Patty & Bun, I decided it was time to discover for myself whether Joe really is the messiah, or just a very naughty boy...

Thursday 11 April 2013

Lunch at Honey & Co - sugar and spice and all things nice

Middle Eastern lunch at Honey&Co

Am I the only one who's obsessed with Middle Eastern cuisine right now?

Perhaps it's Ottolenghi's beautiful Jerusalem calling out to me from my kitchen bookcase. Perhaps it's this neverending freezing weather making me nostalgic for the humidity of the Moroccan souk (can you believe it's still snowing in April?!). Perhaps it's simply that the classically Arabic combination of sweetness, spice and aromatic scenting appeals to my palate.

Whatever the reason, it's a craving I'm more than willing to satisfy. So a lunch date with fellow food-bloggers Yummychooeats and Mondomulia, plus bona fide journalist Felicity Spector, sounded like the ideal opportunity to scratch my itch with a visit to Honey & Co.

Monday 25 March 2013

7 things for 7 days...#6

Continuing my regular series of blogposts recounting my favourite foodie moments plus other random musings from my past week...

Grilled lobster at Burger & Lobster in London

1. During the past fortnight I've been enjoying some much-needed downtime from work in an attempt to recover from the exhausting Eastleigh by-election campaign. As you can see from my Instagram feed, it's basically been one massive "Eat Week", including trips to Honey & Co, Tonkontsu, Caravan King's Cross and Pix-Bar...lucky me!

I've definitely polished off more than my fair share of delicious dishes, but I think the plat de résistance was this gigantic grilled lobster served with skinny fries, salad and a jug of garlic butter at Burger & Lobster. Next time I'm asking for one of their plastic bibs...

Sunday 17 March 2013

Pho frenzy - putting a personal twist on Vietnam's national dish

Spicy Pho Tai Chin

You know that I love eating comforting rich meals like hearty casseroles and crumbles as much as (ok, maybe even more than!) the next person. But I'm keen to make sure that I offset this decadence with a lot of clean living too. The healthy Vietnamese noodle soup at the forefront of Pho's menu has always appealed to my inner fitness fan, so it was a serious bit of luck on my part when I was invited along to their Spitalfields branch to test out the menu for free.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

KitchenAid mixer to beat this bad baker into shape!

Ice Blue KitchenAid mixer

Check out the latest addition to my culinary collection, an Ice Blue KitchenAid mixer...isn't it beautiful?!

To be honest I still can't quite believe this gorgeous mixer is mine...every time it catches my eye from across the worktop, my heart skips a beat and my stomach fills with's definitely love at first sight!

Friday 22 February 2013

7 things for 7 days...#5

Apologies for the lack of blogposts over the past couple of weeks - if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm currently busy campaigning with the Liberal Democrats in the Eastleigh parliamentary by-election. Normal service will be resumed here shortly, but in the meantime I hope you'll enjoy this flashback of my favourite foodie moments and other random musings from my past week...

Tamarind duck at Tanoshii Fusion

1. Way back in the mists of time when I first started this blog I lived in Winchester. One of my top places to entertain any visiting friends and relatives was a pan-Asian restaurant called Tanoshii Fusion, which my boyfriend and I returned to late last Friday for a romantic dinner after a disastrous Valentine's Day (don't ask!). Their tender roasted duck with a sticky tamarind sauce was the stand-out dish of the night, but everything we ordered was as skilfully cooked and beautifully presented as I'd remembered (see my Instagram for more). The complimentary plate of icecreams to share was the ideal end to our delicious meal, especially as it included my favourite flavour of rich honeycomb and dark chocolate.

Saturday 9 February 2013

London's best pancakes - a rich treat for Shrove Tuesday or any time of year

The Riding House Cafe pancakes

Shrove Tuesday is just a few days away, so food bloggers across Britain are currently racing to toss their recipe for the perfect pancakes to the top of the stack.

Personally, I'm a sucker for pancakes at any time of year. In fact, they were the subject of my first ever post...which I confess was far shorter and sweeter than those you're now accustomed to reading here!

Sunday 3 February 2013

7 things for 7 days...#4

Reflecting on my favourite foodie moments from the past week, plus an exciting announcement...
Fennel, olive and sausage couscous

1. Sometimes the most surprisingly impressive meals are the unplanned ones that you concoct in the pan relying merely on your instincts. Last weekend I returned from Brockley Market with a bulb of aromatic fennel and a punnet of Olive Branch's juicy fruits mixed with garlic and rosemary, which I felt certain could be combined to create a dish epitomising the spirit of Mediterranean cuisine.

Sure enough, when fried together with rich sausagemeat and a little lemon juice, these ingredients united to produce a perfect balance of flavours, which were soaked up by fluffy couscous. I've promised to write these notes up properly for Olive Branch's Recipe Tree soon, so keep your eyes peeled for the full recipe.

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…