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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.


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

Food tips for Barcelona

16 Sep

Hello fellow foodies,

A cheeky request: I’m off to Barcelona in a couple of weeks and am looking for some cost effective but super tasty places to eat.

Any ideas would be very gratefully received and I promise to blog about them all.

Thank you, Julia xx

Just off to Barcelona for a couple of days…

Friends of Ham

16 Aug


Friends of Ham

It’s always exciting when a new, not so run-of-the-mill place opens in Leeds. It doesn’t happen very often.  The recent arrival of Vineatily has resulted in quite a bit of hard-earned cash from myself and my friends being parted with behind the bar there. But it is totally worth it!

But now there is a new kid on the block, with a lovely, quirky name, Friends of Ham! You’ll not be surprised to hear that the main delicacy on the menu is ham, whilst its ‘friends’ consist of; cheese, lovely wine, specialty beers and specials including pork pies and fruit cakes with Wensleydale.

Situated on the station approach road in the centre of Leeds, I’ll be honest, it isn’t the most glam and happening part of town. But I don’t think that matters. It’s a little haven amongst the buses, trains Yates’ of this world!

Walking into the deli/wine bar can at first be mildly confusing. It’s a tiny room, engulfed by a large meat slicer with a few mini stools squeezed underneath a makeshift bar for good measure. It’s small to say the least. But where the magic really happens is downstairs, where Friends of Ham opens up into an oasis of shabby chic, comfortable and relaxing, not at all pretentious. Its Shuffleboard table, faux library wallpaper and sturdy, rustic wooden tables are crying out for long, lazy afternoons of drinking. So on an afternoon off work last week, that’s exactly what we did!

The range of ham, cheese, wines and beers served is extensive, originating from all over the UK and Europe. The food is served on lovely wooden platters with bread, crackers and chutneys.   Delicious. They even serve port for a bargain £2.50 – I certainly have more of the menu to sample!

Friends of Ham, 4 New Station Road, Leeds.

Some ‘friends’ but no ham


Zeffrellis, Ambleside

17 Jul

Here’s the latest in my gastro round-up of the Lakes: our experience at a vegetarian pizzeria/cinema/jazz bar (apparently this combination of places does exist…)

Persuading the boy to go to a veggie restaurant was quite a bit easier than I anticipated. I think that’s because Zeffrellis doesn’t taut itself as  a veggie, tree hugging, save the whales type place, simply a great restaurant, which happens not to serve meat.

I’m doing some work at the moment with a leading meat-free brand, and whilst I haven’t been completely converted, I do understand the health benefits of cutting meat out of your diet a few times  a week. So, I felt quite smug eating at a meat free restaurant…and decided to order a pizza!

Whilst the restaurant was lovely, the decor was like something out of 1988, but we quickly got over that and settled down with a bottle of vino. After some simple bread and olives, we both ordered Zefferellis’ version of my favourite food. The pizza base was wholemeal, so pretty healthy and very tasty. Certainly something I could get used to: I went for the Mexican; red bean chilli topped with cheddar and mozzarella, whilst the boy went for Barbaretto; feta, beetroot and jalapeno peppers. The combinations were really exciting and flavours, delicious.

I think it’s quite unusual to find something a little bit different like this, especially living in Leeds, where everything is getting fairly samey. In fact, I almost forgot we were in the countryside…until I turned round and realised we were the very last people in the restaurant. It was 10pm.

The boy’s half eaten feta and beetroot concoction

Man v Food

3 Jul

A must-watch show for anyone claiming to be a foodie, I discovered Man v Food about a year ago and became immediately hooked. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure (although I can’t imagine anyone reading a food blog is yet to indulge!) the show is about the lovable Adam Richman who scours the United States for the country’s best eateries, completing whatever food challenges they have to offer.

Be it the spiciest or the biggest feast in town, Adam will rise to the challenge to devour the dish whilst we watch, to see who reigns victorious: man, or food. A few things surprise me about this format of show:

  • There are that many eateries in the US which boast these ‘challenges.’ I saw one show where, if you ate all the spicy sushi offered to you, the staff in the restaurant have to bow to you every time you dine there again. Who thought of that?
  • The quality of the food demonstrated in these places. You expect them to be greasy spoons, but far from it. The food they serve is top quality, locally sourced stuff. If I were planning a trip to the US I’d certainly be eating in some of Adam’s haunts

There is one thing that does not surprise me about this show:

  • Why there are so many obese people in America. I don’t think I’m making a sweeping statement here, Jamie Oliver demonstrated the facts with his Food Revolution series. It’s clear. Adam, you don’t need four of those massive burgers, or and 11lb pizza, it just isn’t necessary. I realise I’m being a bit of a bore here and missing the whole point of the show – but if these places exist in this US, there is no wonder that 42% of Americans are set to be obese by 2030. It just makes overeating ok

Despite this, I was still upset to find that Adam has thrown in his knife and fork and announced that he’s quit the series. I am very upset.

A Man v Food sized burrito (picture courtesy of