50 foodie things to do before you die

24 Sep
Betty's tea rooms is second on the foodie bucket list (or Betty's house, as I used to call it as a youngster. Surely she lives there?)

Betty’s tea rooms is second on the foodie bucket list (or Betty’s house, as I used to call it as a youngster. Surely she lives there?)

The appliance people at Kenwood have recently released a bucket list of all things food related. It comprises of 50 foods to eat/cook, interspersed with some of the world’s finest restaurants to be visited, before your life can be complete.

I’m not going to use this post to explore the rights and wrongs of the list, but let’s just say the list goes from the sublime to the ridiculous: from fish and chips (errr, obviously) to dining at one of California’s finest restaurants (not so much.) However, it’s an interesting read and it has inspired me to start to think about drafting my own. So, here is the list: how many have these foodie experiences have you tucked into?

1. Take-away with posh plonk

2. Afternoon tea at Betty’s

3. Fresh British asparagus

4. Marinated barbecue lamb

5. Beluga caviar

6. Bread and butter pudding

7. Breakfast at the Wolseley

8. Catching and cooking a mackerel on the beach

9. Dining at Chez Panisse, California

10. Chocolate fondant pudding

11. Eating a hotdog at a baseball game

12. Coffee and croissants at a Parisian cafe

13. Collecting and cooking fresh eggs

14. Cooking a curry from scratch

15. Cornish clotted cream

16. Crispy crackling

17. Curing raw fish at home

18. Dining at L’enclume

19. Dining at Racine

20. Fresh seafood by the sea

21. Chocolate eclairs

22. Woodland glade picnic

23. Set lunch menu at La Gavroche 

24. Blackberry picking

25. Greengages

26. Growing your own vegetables

27. Homemade mayonaisse

28. Baking your own bread

29. Making your own soup

30. Fresh honeycomb

31. Visiting Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech

32. Learning to joint a chicken

33. Dining at the Walnut Tree, Abergavenny

34. Making homemade ice cream

35. Making your own marmalade

36. Early morning breakfast at Carnegie Deil (New York)

37. Cooking a perfectly timed Sunday roast

38. British ale with a scotch egg

39. Guinness at the Stag’s Head, Dublin

40. Pork pies

41. Dawn fry-up at Smithfield Market, London

42. Street food in Kuala Lumpur

43. Sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

44. Take away fish and chips

45. Tapas at San Miguel Market, Madrid

46. Dining at the Seahorse, Dartmouth

47. Toasting a haggis with Scotch whisky

48. Wild British strawberries

49. International wine trail

50. Cooking chocolate cake with your children

 

I’m on a not too shabby 26. My favourites include street food in Kuala Lumpur (authentic satay is my absolute favourite food in the whole word) and Betty’s tea rooms (I was brought up on Betty’s caramel shortbread. Delicious.) Watch this space for my own banqueting bucket list.

The Fast Diet fry up

8 Apr

Yes, I’m still on the Fast Diet. It was going quite well (5lbs loss) until I got engaged (eeeeekkk!) which is pretty much an excuse to eat out and drink champagne as much as possible for a minimum of two weeks. The diet went out of the window. But now with a wedding to slim into (eeeeeekkk!) I’m more determined than ever so shed a few more pounds.

This post is designed to prove that, even on such a restricted diet, you don’t need to give up your favourite guilty pleasure foods.

A closet fan of the potato waffle, I really fancied some comfort food today and devised the following Fast Diet version of the rather naughty fry up:

  • 2 x Birds Eye Potato Waffles, grilled (210 calories – don’t go for the own brand version, they have nearly double the calories for some reason)
  • 1 x slice of boiled ham (35 calories)
  • 1 x 150g tin of Heniz Baked Beans (109 calories)
  • 3 x grilled mushrooms with a sprinkling of oregano (48 calories)

Total calories = 402

That still left a few calories for a little snack at work. I realise this might not be the healthiest use of my 500 calorie intake, but my Fast Diet fry up hit the spot today.

One of my finer culinary blog posts....

One of my finer culinary blog posts….

The Fast Diet

7 Mar

This is definitely not a diet blog. It’s a food blog. I love cooking, eating and drinking. This will never be a diet blog, however, I would like to tell you a little bit about my experiences with the latest thing in dieting, the Fast Diet.

I’m not massively overweight, but wanting to shed a few pounds, I was inspired by a colleague who, in the blink of an eye, has developed a new, super svelte figure.

For those who haven’t heard, the diet involves five normal days of eating, with two days of fasting, in which you have strict rations of 500 calories per day for women and 600 for men. I’ll blog a little bit more about some of the science behind it another time, but the theory is shocking. Not only are the pounds supposed to fall off (they certainly have for my colleague) but it’s also linked to protection against a variety of diseases.

The first few fasts were horrible. I had a headache, I was grumpy and I couldn’t stop thinking about pasta. But three weeks in, I’ve just finished a two egg omelette with smoked salmon and spring onion (250 calories) and I feel quite good. I’ll keep you posted on the weight loss (if indeed there is any) but let me inform you of some unexpected side effects I’ve experienced so far:

  • Food tastes so much better when you do eventually eat. Simple steamed broccoli is full of flavour. (Even my cat’s food smelled nice today but don’t worry, I certainly wasn’t that hungry!)
  • You don’t want to binge on the non-fast days. Don’t get my wrong, it’s the thought of wine and mini eggs that gets me through the fast days and I definitely treat myself, but I thought I’d be stuffing my face with all kinds of goodies and that’s just not the case
  • Being hungry isn’t really that bad – it’s only one day

I’ve still got a long way to go. Some fasters have been telling me that “on the non fast days, you don’t even fancy food like bread,”  not me, I still love bread, but we’ll see what happens.

If I get really hungry, I could always eat this...

If I get really hungry, I could always eat this…

Wakefield Rhubarb Festival

24 Feb

This weekend we braved Baltic conditions to pay our first ever visit to Wakefield Rhubarb Festival. Living bang in the centre of the (sort of) famous rhubarb triangle, I thought it was about time we went to see this homage of the local delicacy.

A lovely farmers market greeted us outside the cathedral – a smaller version of the Leeds Loves Food festival, but a great excuse nonetheless to stuff our faces on a Friday afternoon. A few mulled ciders, chocolate brownie, pulled pork sandwich and a rhubarb-flavoured sausage later, we sought shelter in one of the town’s newest cafes, Deli Central. It’s a lovely place serving some fabulous homemade goods, but I only had space left for a small glass of wine…

In the festival’s demonstration tent, we caught a glimpse of the Fabulous Baker Brothers and their rhubarb recipes and I learnt that the ingredient can go with…pretty much anything! Although I’m yet to give it a try myself at home.

Now, I’ve never been Wakefield’s biggest fan (it’s a long story) but it’s great to see a bit more going on there, with decent new eateries opening and a new shopping centre with a good mix of one-off shops and high street favourites. My opinion of the place is slowly starting to change from images implanted on my brain of drunk young girls vomiting outside pound shops, to somewhere I might venture to a little bit more often!

Poor House, Leeds

2 Nov

Smokey times at the Poor House

Last night I went along to the opening night of Poor House, Granary Wharf, a new bar and restaurant from the owners of champagne bar, Epernay. The offer of free food and drink just across the road from work was too good to miss.

The main attraction of the place is the location. A part of town quickly increasing in popularity, it’s at the opposite side of Granary Wharf from Fazenda etc, in what used to be the Olive Press. The water comes right up to the windows and the view of the canal is very lovely.

Poor House has a rustic, American barbecue feel, with a smoker in the centre. I can’t say whether it works or not, but the smokey smell is certainly abundant and atmospheric.

The menu looks nice, ribs, steaks, mac and cheese and other American favourites, with a whole menu dedicated to gin! I liked this touch.

We were able to sample some of their ribs, pulled pork and chicken wings, which were pretty good, the barbecue sauce was definitely the best bit. There were a few of us round the table, so the samples didn’t last long, but what I tasted was good. The musical entertainment was strange but cute, a lovely chap with an impressive walrus mustache serenaded us with us ukulele.

I’d like to pay another visit and sample the mac and cheese, but a word of warning – I wouldn’t go anywhere else after a meal at the Poor House, the smell is too much. It lingered on my clothes and hair all the way home, I felt like I’d been to an early bonfire. If I was going for a night on the town after dinner here, I’d take the Fabreeze in my handbag.

Lots of gin and friendly bar staff

El Xampanyet, Barcelona

20 Oct

This place was recommended to me by one very good friend, one very reliable guide book and one client who seems to know everything there is to know about Barcelona. We had to give it a try.

El Xampanyet is a gem. Situated opposite the Picasso Museum, it is the epitome of traditional Catalonia. It serves delicious own-brewed champagne and local cava in traditional 1920’s glasses for just three Euros a pop, which was enough to get me there without the food! But the tapas is to die for. Just a few of the tapas we tried; delicious red peppers stuffed with cheese and garlic, muscles, chorizo, traditional cheeses…and the rest I can’t remember (see above for comment about the bubbly.)

Our first visit to El Xampanyet was on a Wednesday evening and it was manic. Due to its traditional values, it’s a very informal kind of place; a long bar with no seats, right in front of the food where locals squeeze in shoulder to shoulder, chomp on the delicious food and chat to the friendly chaps rushed off their feet behind it. There are tables but I’m not entirely sure how you get one at rush hour – it’s every man for himself. We stayed for one drink and one round of tapas, but after a 3am get up to catch the Ryanair that morning, we weren’t really in the mood for a scrum, so we left.

The following Sunday, we were having a stroll around the gorgeous Port Vell in the stunning sunshine. It was jam-packed full of cruise shippers and the restaurants were full, so we walked back up to La Ribera to have another go at El Xampanyet and we couldn’t have timed it better. The place shuts between 4pm and 7pm for a well-earned siesta and we arrived around 3.30pm. The crowed started to clear, we grabbed a table and rather than be ushered out on the dot of 4pm, we stayed for a bit of a lock in, enjoying at least three more rounds whilst the doors were shut and everyone else drunk up. Bliss.

Well worth a try.

Lock in at El Xampanyet, Barcelona

Best Barcelona food: Nem Sitges

6 Oct

Don’t panic, during our trip to Barcelona, the boy and I managed to find some excellent eateries.

The first one I’d like to tell you about was actually about 30 miles outside of Barcelona in a lovely seaside town called Sitges.  It’s a very gay-friendly party town with a gorgeous church on the seafront and some lovely bars and restaurants. Whilst I had a lovely time there, it’s lacking a little bit of that authentic Spanish charm that we’d seen previously during our holiday, however, restaurant Nem is well worth a visit to Sitges, if you go for no other reason.

Nem calls itself a tapas bar and to an extent, it is. The small but perfectly formed menu is made up of sharing plates. Six was enough between the boy and I, but there wasn’t a patatas bravas in sight. The dishes are fusion style, Spanish inspired for sure, but with some British influences, unsurprisingly, given that the lovely owner and chef is a super authentic cockney. The menu changes monthly, depending upon the local delicacies in season.

The dishes we chose included; a warm tomato and cheese salad with fab home-made pesto, brie and mushroom tart, beef carpaccio, steak and blue cheese salad with pears and walnuts,bonito with tomato salsa and Catalan tomato bread. They were all incredible, so fresh and tasty.

And if that wasn’t enough, pudding came tapas style, too. We ordered a vanilla custard dish and french toast. Stunning. Coupled with a lovely bottle of rose, the whole meal was less than 50 Euros, and one of the most delicious I’ve ever had.

Yum.

The steak, amazing

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