Yummy Choo will be on the move soon, travelling around, eating and exploring the culinary world! From my home city of London, to other areas in the UK and worldwide!
Hadrians Wall- Trekking for Charity Action Against Hunger (9-10 June)
This seemed the best place to put my account of my recent travels to Hadrian’s Wall, trekking 26 miles of the wall to help raise money for Action Against Hunger! http://theramblingchoos.yolasite.com/events.php
It was a challenge to say the least but WE DID IT! Such a great feeling to see in sight the finishing point of our 26 mile journey (milecastle 52) was imprinted into our minds.. However, the experience was truly amazing, getting to see the beautiful Northumberland countryside, expansive views, hilltops, troughs, valleys, forests and stand on the highest peak and sing to the Sound of Music. Where thank god no one other than my companions had to endure my singing voice, but it felt so liberating to be in a peaceful place, no cars, just birds and nature.
The steep gradient of the hills both up and down were some suprising but we managed to scarper our way through, using those leg muscles, walking sticks to aid and sheer determination! Not to mention our faithful jaffa cakes and jordan bars that helped us perk our energy on the way. Go Jaffa Cakes!
The first day of our walk was the most spectacular as we walked over the Northumberand National Park, with amazing scenes, hair-raising cliff drops at times, but always a sense of adventure and challenging us. Not to mention the copiois amounts of cow pats having to dodge, menacing cows to walk through, rams, sheep and other hybrids all knowingly watching us as we walked past. But this is the glorious English countryside, rich, green, fresh and spacious, coming back into London, you don’t realise how congested we are here and using up every miniscue space possible, it was refreshing to be somewhere different.
So here are my pictures taken along the way to summarise the journey..
Beautiful views from Chollerford to Once Brewed..
Milecastles, turrets, remains of watch towers for soldiers
Team Rambling Choos, walking over part of the wall, trying not to look at the big drop on their right..
We are to happy to say we raised over £1000 for charity through fundraising and well having damn awesome friends and family who donated!
Real Food Festival/Market 25th March 2012
So only last weekend, after a busy couple of days of teaching and getting hideous amounts of icing sugar in my hair (cake classes) , I felt a day out to check what’s going on at the regular Real Food Market based on the Southbank was in need. Twas a sunny day by the river and Southbank, I got there around 11am where people were setiing up and getting food ready for the hoards of lunchtime crowds.
I managed to get a delicious buckwheat galette from the Creperie Nicholas van. Both Gill and Keith being lovely to have a quick morning chat with about their pancakes.
Already pre-made, she warmed it up on the hot pan to re-ignite their crispiness. Filling it with elemental cheese and mushrooms. It was a crisp pancake, a perfect start to the morning, I am glad I asked for a smaller amount of cheese otherwise in some cases it can just overtake the other ingredients and become a gloopy, stringy mound of cheese. Can you have too much cheese?
Wondering around the market, you do see some of the same stalls there (someone did say that to me recently, they don’t alternate the stalls there that much) but thats what you get, you have regulars, or some stall holders who may be in one place one day and somewhere else the next. In some ways it provides continuity for workers or regulars customers who choose to lunch or grab a bite to eat on the way home.
The smells wafting around the hub of stalls increase as the lunch time hour aproaches. I had the opportunity (while it was a bit quiet) to get a quick chat with some of the stall holders and find a bit more out about their produce and cuisine.
These two lovely chaps from Curry-Masters (im sure that was the name) who also do stints at Borough Market serving up mainly curries..had three pans of curry on the go. To my suprise they had a Mauritian chicken curry and dhall pouris! You don’t find my heritage cuisine (street food style) being served up that often in London. So it was a lovely discovery and they even let me have a taste test.
The curry used a mix of garam masala spices, with added sweet potato, it was quite similar to my mums! Job well done boys.. I cant say it was a good as my mums but hey you wouldn’t expect me to! It had an underlying spice sifting throughout the curry, succulent pieces of chicken and the sweetness of the potatoes.. it tasted better the day after!
The dhall pouri was delicious too, flaky, thin layers of pouri, filled with satini (chutney), rougaille(tomato) and curry rolled up. The chutney was spicy and fresh. They are best eaten served hot, rather than reheated, fresh is best! That’s what street food is all about.
After getting super excited to visit the curry masters, who will be attending the Real Food Indian Festival, I ventured round with the company of the lovely Feel Good Foodbook, (fellow super snappy food blogger) we had the chance to speak to Outsider Tart and peruse their amazing treats. Really looking forward to seeing them this Sunday at the Chocolate Festival and tasting more of their sweet goods.
I met a colleague of Chocolate Naive, I have not heard of them before but after trying their samples on offer their Fleur de Sel chocolate really struck a cord with my tastebuds! They make chocolate bean to bar and are a new boutique based in the Lithuanian region of Moletai.
I just had to buy a bar for £4, it didn’t last long.. more like 2 days and it was gone! It was sea salt with hints of vanilla, but believe me chocolate and salt do work. Some people may like it or not. I hope they will be at the Chocolate Festival so I can buy some more!
The next stop was the infamous Jacobs Ladder Burger, well being on the trail for the best burger it seemed only right to try one! The meat sourced from Biodynamic farms (Que?) well basically the cows are happy and roam free, eating the best, as its a method of organic farming. More information here
And you can tell by the taste of the meat, the quality of the burgers, the sizzle and smell from the cooking of them… you know these burgers are going to be good. These babies are encased in floury, light fresh buns or baps, but the stichelton (Stichelton is a classic blue cheese from unpasteurised milk ) , made with organic dairy are a little less stronger then stilton cheese but compliment the burgers so well.
Topped with mustard and ketchup you cant go wrong, I took mine to takeaway and for my husband too. I have never tried to get home so fast… and it was worth it. I can say that I still personally prefer Honest Burgers but Jacobs Ladder are definetly up there!
Beppino’s Pasta were also at the food market, making fresh pasta for passers by to see and we had the chance to sample their pasta with meat ragu, beautiful. It really inspired me to try to learn to make my own pasta, homemade and fresh tastes so much better.
Parisian Patisserie… 8th March 2011
Oh La La.. Caneles, Mille Feuille, Macarons, Tarte au Citron, Choux..
Oh sweet and beautiful Paris..
I have not been to Paris since I was about 13 years old or even younger..so you can imagine last time it was not for the food in particular. But this time round we had a day to walk around the wonders of Paris and sample any delights on the way…
This was a fleeting visit through the city of romance, with a reputation of patisserie that exceeds most worldwide. And nothing falls short of seeing the cafes, pastisseries, boulangeries dotted around the streets, that light up with window’s filled with Parisian delights. It’s almost mesmerizing , you just have to ogle and stare through the windows dumbfounded. Or go in and take about 10 minutes to decide what it is you want…
Anyway it was a long day of walking, beautiful to see the Parisian sights and soak up the atmosphere plus have a taste of local treats..
Breakfast: Crepe, with jamon, oeuf and fromage..
Crisp pancake, thin and perfectly wrapping ham slices..
Sunshine on a plate!
Dipping into the patisserie & boulangeries… To my surprise Brioche Nutella! What better combination
The famous Macaron’s, from Boutique Chocolate Patissier Christophe Roussel here cheesecake flavoured and pistachio morello cherry, another was the chocolate morello cherry which was eaten prior to this photo.. oops Chewy in texture, crispy shell coating, sweet interior flavoured precisely, these delicate morsels were gone in two mouthfuls.. mine never seem to turn out like this!
Laduree, Paris. Window of Macarons!
Returning with boxes of pastries..
The amount of sweet treats on offer are too tempting for the eye! These pretty little laid out bundles of cakes and biscuits, all neatly positioned and precise, look immaculate nestled among each other. Its hard not to buy all of them.. but yes that may just make you sick.
The flavours of pistachio with cherry, raspberry or strawberry is a popular one and works so well. The pastries were delicate especially the mille feuille which flaky pastry crumbles and surrenders when you fork into it. And the creme layers squidge out of the sides. ..
The tarte au citron with its perfect crumbly pastry is so tangy and sharp in taste, you can only manage a spoonful!
The brioche dotted with chocolate chips, its moorish warm, but needs to be fresh or warmed up to retain its texture and melting chocolate chips ..well its just naughty.
There is so many pastries to try in Paris, that’s not even delving into the world of French Cuisine at its best, next time Il try to have more savoury food out there!
Brixton Village 21st January 2011
On my list this year was to pick up the pace and visit more food markets and street stalls to sample whats new out there and creating buzz! Plus I love trying out new food, mulling around meeting new stall holders, trying out new restaurants and being outdoors really!
So I had it planned for a while and I went down to Brixton Village yesterday lunch time to meet the likewise foodie FeelGood Foodbook, plus being ashamed to say since Brixton is only 20-25 minutes away from me, I have not ventured down there for ages! ( Head bowed down in shame…)
After my burlesque class yesterday, I was pretty much starving, since I had skipped brekkie( I never normally do this!) so in affect went straight to lunch. Upon reaching Brixton tube station, with hoards of people pushing past, round the corner down Atlantic road, you can hear the ever growing sounds of bustling street market traders, music and smells of food being cooked for lunchers..
Entering into the village, flanked by vegetable, fish, meat traders aswell as bric and brac you reach crossroads and intersections with pop up restaurants getting busy for the lunch time hour. Meandering through the paths you are shadowed by restaurants, eateries, cafes, geletaria’s and more..
It took a while to decide where to go first, however we ended up being attracted into the French and Grace’s cafe/restaurant (founders of the Salad Club), by its simple, yet tempting healthy menu of mezzes, wraps, dips and teas/juices. Combining a Meditteranean, Middle Eastern flair on their menu with cosy outdoor and indoor seating (you share tables with others) like communial dining all adds to the experience.
Perusing their menu, we sat down to their fresh mint tea, served in beautiful glasses, with sugar. Their menu consisted of butterbean hummus, with lamb mince or baba ganoush with feta, pomegranate kernels, both drizzled in olive oil and served with warm thin flatbreads, which is what we went for..
I preferred the hummus, with spicy lamb mince , scooping up in handfuls of flatbread was simply delicious, you couldn’t really fault it. Having realised the founders were from the Salad Club which I had tried previously at a Soutbank market, I remembered I had purchased chorizo wraps, with their homemade slaw, all simple flavours and ingredients, but worked well. It’s a great healthy, yet TASTY option, their style of food and that’s right up my street.
Having moved on to decide to find somewhere else for dessert or cake we strayed away (only because I couldn’y physically fit a crepe of that size in my stomach) from the Brick Box, which is one place I would love to go back to visit for the galettes and crepes both savoury and sweet. With combinations of flavours ranging from rum, banana and coconut to maple drizzled banana or simple flavours for sweet crepes to gorgonzola cheese, sundried tomatoes or more for the savoury.. there is a wide range to try and the place was packed so thats a great sign!
We ended up being attracted to the large toasters perched on tables outside Breads Etc, where they serve slices of their homemade rye or wheat bread (shown in the windows of the cafe) where you can order and toast them yourselves, with a range of condiments, from nutella, marmalades to jams and peanut butter.
They have a range of bakes and cakes displayed, from banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple and pecan pie, scones. Sitting outside, you are given blankets to keep warm around your communial tables, I had the biggest cup of tea I think I have ever had, with a selection of their warm banana bread (which we decided to slather half of with nutella), choc chip cookies & anzac biscuits, that was more than enough!
Their banana bread or cake was lovely, moist, not to doughy or bread-like but easy to eat,with a sugar topped crust, for a crispy glaze. Well it didnt take long to eat that! Their anzac biscuits were coconutty, with oats, lovely and crumbly and not too sickly sweet but just right. The choc chip cookies had chunks of chips in their gooey middle and yet again not too sweet.
I took one of their seeded breads home to try, after seeing them actively prep and cook bread ( good marketing/advertising perhaps?) I wanted to try this artisan loaf charged at £2.75. It is a great tatsing loaf, with butter and warmed, however a little on the salty side I found.
I purchased a black forest gateau from the Wag Free (standing for Wheat and Gluten, not a footballers wife!) Bakery, selling mini pies, cakes and treats, great for coeliacs. At £4, it is quite a priced up fare, but your paying for the speciality of the cake and well upon first eating it I could taste the kirsch cherry liquer running through, whipped cream and decadently sandwiched between chocolate sponge and almost a fudgey texture topping… I finished it all that same night!
This was a brief visit to the village but have spotted a few places I would still like to try from Koasarn (homemade thai food), Mama Lan, for mama’s dumplings and Beijing Street Food! And the Brick Box, alternative Cafe Morito, Seven (for their tapas and they have an art gallery on upstairs at the moment), Elephant a Pakistani cafe, Etta’s Seafood, Honest Burgers & Heritage Deli..there’s more! Just need a bigger stomach….
December Fun – The end of 2011
Afternoon all, well I feel like I just rolled out of bed this morning, trying to battle a sore throat, chugging down copious amounts of lemon and honey, covered in vicks in the hope to kill it off.. but maybe I need something stronger like a hot toddy!
I thought I would do a round up of December since I seemed to do so much and almost forgot to write or take photos! Here’s what I did… Lots of warm hearty food.
Plus visited all these places….
Chocolate Festival – Southbank
On a cold wintery morning, I headed down to the Chocolate Festival near Southbank, to try out artisan chocolatiers and their produce. Not without get a hot chocolate first, perfect day for it!
There were some great chocolates on the day and desserts, plus arancini brothers unleasing their chocolate risotto balls, wonderful combination of savoury and rich dark chocolate, it works really well!
Seeing Paul Wayne Gregory making chocolate truffles, doused in rum, explaining the process plus piling high the tasters left me truly sugar filled coming out of the demo..I adore his salted caramel lollipops.
The Big Yum chocolate pretzels, were moorish, simply pretzels covered in rich chocolate, which inspired me to try my own over christmas, instead using salted pretzels to achieve the salt-sweet combo, that worked a treat, hung from my tree in small stocking fillers..
Angela Malik Pop Up Cook School
This was a sontaneous decision to try out Angela Malik’s Cookery school in a 30 minute pop up held at the Real Food Festival in Southbank over Christmas.
We were making a Christmas Pad Thai, consisting of brussel sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, with some of Angela’s own made Thai Pesto and Tamarind Jaggery added in for some Christmas Spice. All mixed up in Rice noodles, ready to eat in or take home.
For 12.50 I feel it was a reasonable price, since it kind of ended up as a private lesson! It was worth it, we were taken through Angela’s five spice sensations and them demonstrated the dish, we then had to make our own under direction.
It was super easy to make and quick in under 25 minutes.. on trying the food it really was her combination of pesto and tamamrind that brought the dish to life, simple ingredients that work so well together are mingled to create an explosion of flavours that bounce across your mouth when you eat it.
I absolutely love coming to camden market, yet it has been so long since my last visit here, I used to always come for the bargain clothes and food sampling, where you can just walk around perusing or sit by the lock eating some warming dishes from cultural diversities, thai, chinese, indian , ethiopian, japanese to name a few..
However we stumbled across the Chin Chin Labs, making nitro icecream which was the highlight of the day (eating ice cream on a blustery cold day didn’t faze me), creamy vanilla gassed ice cream, drizzled in our choice of honeycomb and sea salted caramel was heavenly.. it’s like when I first had peanut butter frozen yogurt, marvelled that it was yogurt and it tasted so good I consumed it in one breath..
Great British Chefs- Mulled Wine & Chocolate Fudge Workshop
One evening, I popped into visit the Great British Chefs and try out their recipes and demo making of chocolate fudge & mulled wine made by acclaimed chefs on their Feastive App..
Brick Lane Market
This was a lastminute plan to visit Brick Lane and Up Market, but am so glad we went, early on a Sunday morning, mingled amongst the ready crowds, the indoor market was heaving with people trying out the food on offer, bargain clothes & antiquities bordering on the quirky and designer.. but at reasonable prices.
I was mainly there for the food and to sample a bit of everything from the mind blowing tender pork & ribs from the resident Ribman, japanese karaage chicken, sticky rice and tempura, aswell as giant dumplings filled with pork and chicken.
It is such an innovative place for food, with samples of things you might not have tried before, or ideas you could take away and combine in your own style of cookery.. a bustling food filled place.
Dishoom- London, Berry Biriani’s, Bombay Rolls, Desi Mulled wine..
I was out with some friends and being the foodie out of the group I organised a table at Dishoom, which I have been tempted to try as many have mentioned it before.
The Bombay Cafe, this place tries to encapsulate the hustle and fast paced movement of Indian Street food, the atmosphere was buzzy, the place was packed and at a 2 hour seating they are in no shortage of eager customers.Placed right in the heart Covent Garden/Leicester Square its prominent position is an advantage.
After being seated and assured it was a 2 hour seating, we ordered hto Desi mulled wine ( which tasted like normal mulled wine) and they also had a hot mulled apple version.
The food came in drips and drabs after being ordered, by the lovelist of waiters, polite and attentive in every manner. Fried calamari, samossas for starts, follwed by spicy chicken or lamb mince wraps accompanied by chutneys, tighly rolled in rotis or naan bread. Biriani, chicken berry, I never had tried before but had a touch of sweetness to the dish, almost bordering on a persian-esque dish. Which was not served with any vegetable curry or sauce to give it some texture, so we had to order an addition. The Salmon Tikka, had hints of warm spices on this dry dish, with rice and salad.
The food overall was innovative, I enjoyed the variations on traditional recipes to give it a twist Bombay style, really sets this place apart form others. It’s made me intrigued to try out their breakfast or lunch meals with the likes of breakfast bacon and sausage rolls served in naan with chutneys or chilli jam or traditionals like Brun Maska, a hot buttered bun..
So I may take another visit down to Dishoom Dishoom! And at £25 pp for around 6 of us, the price was reasonable including drinks. I would recommend this place for those curious to dip their toes into Bombay cafe cuisine and prepare to taste variations on what we know. It’s exciting!
Rick Stein & The Good Food Show Winter, Birmingham, 23rd November 2011
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting my second home town (during university) Birmingham, host to the BBC Good Food Show Winter. Where the highlight for me was seeing the almighty Rick Stein cook up a storm in the Sainsbury’s Super theatre, for demonstration.
The show was a jam packed day in the large arena at the NEC Birmingham, bustling with shoppers, foodie gourmands and inquisitive cooks. In addition a host of chefs graced the arena, on Wednesday the likes of Stacie Stewart, James Martin, Tom Kerridge, Nathan Outlaw, Monica Galleti and Masterchef Winner Tim Anderson shared their tips and cooking demonstrations.
In the afternoon I had booked to see well known chef Rick Stein, with recipes inspired from his Spain book. Everyone was seated in the theatre (I lucky enough had a second row seat) and get a full view as he was introduced onto stage by Olly Smith, Sommelier and host.
Rick surprisingly was a slightly nervous cook in front of the audience however he revels in live demos because not only can he ‘explain the subtleties of the particular dishes but can also communicate knowledge of raw materials, cooking tips and philosophy of good simple cooking’.
He mastered in creating some beautiful dishes at the demo, inspired from his love of seafood and as he exclaimed ” not using second hand ingredients, preferring to use fresh, really makes that difference”. Being in great praise of his cookery school in Padstow, Cornwall an idyllic location to get quality produce and ingredients.
In awe of his audience he cumbered up a deep dish of Clams with Serrano ham and Oloroso sherry – Almejas Al Jerez and a Chicken in a mildly spiced saffron, pine nut and almond sauce. Simple enough and perfectly keeping the main ingredient of the clams speak to for themselves and the spices of the saffron with almonds and pine nut sauce to infuse together. Two great festive dishes to try over Christmas.
Rick exclaimed, “If you’re cooking for more than four people avoid any cooking that requires pan work i.e. frying or sautéing much better to choose, say, the poaching or roasting of a whole fish or cooking fillets in the oven. You don’t want to be cooking in relays!” Some advice I will definitely be taking.
Rick will be in Australia for Christmas this year, enjoying a seafood platter of “Queensland prawns, barbequed snapper and will probably also fit in a spanner crab” .. It’s ok for some!
With so many suppliers and artisans of fresh Brit produce, ranging from quality home born and bred meats, homemade chutneys, jams, fruit and vegetables under one roof no wonder it took me over two hours to circle the room once.
With the likes of the Cornish Cheese Co, from Cornwall bringing their “World Cheese Award Supreme Champion” blue cheese, Cotswold Gold, rapeseed oil, from Worcestershire, Woodhouse Farm Leicestershire Meat, Belvoir Fruit Farm Lincolnshire fruity cordials, Napton Water Buffalo from Warwickshire brilliant buffalo burgers, Snowdonia Cheese Co, where I purchased their Amber Mist (cheese laced with whiskey) and The Garlic Farm from the Isle of Wight bringing their range of garlic products.
Some others included deep flavoured smoked kippers and smokehouse products with all things smoked on display, a smoky lover’s heaven. Sorrel and Ginger drink, plenty of antioxidants and pungent, sharp ginger in a bottle, all things ’round’ from The Little Round Cake Company, heavenly, mini cakes to satisfy those cravings..
I did manage to do some celeb chef-spotting, realising I was standing next to an ever smiling and not known for Monica Galleti buying knives, managing to catch Eric Lanlard’s baking frenzy on stage, Tim Anderson & Andy Peters taking food enthusiasts step by step through gyoza making. There were plenty of talks, demos and opportunities to try and taste produce and a heavenly environment to be in if this is what floats your boat, so to speak.
Nabbing up some mini oatcakes from the Oatcake company (which were my loyal snacks while I was on the Candida diet) and The English Providence Sweet Tomato and Chilli chutney, perfect combination I trotted off back to London in anticipation of the Taste of Christmas Festival and many festive food markets to get into the Christmas spirit!
By Selina Periampillai
Last week I made the decision to pop down to Southbank’s Free From Food Market near the river to check out what was on offer, suprisingly there was no more than about 15 or so stalls there maybe even less…
This specialist food market, offered products, food, hot lunches, drinks and talks on foods free from gluten, wheat, dairy, sugar and egg. Myself being a bit of a walking allergy these days felt I could benefit from checking out what’s on offer..
The highlights being Arancini brothers vegetarian and gluten free risotto balls which I have to say i’m converted to not being so sure about these to savouring every last mouthful. I ordered the Arancini Wrap at £4, with a wheat free wrap, fres salad including apple slices, topped with four risotto balls and chilli sauce.
It was delicious, the balls were crispy crumb coated, soft and melting cheese in the middle between the risotto rice, flavoured with herbs they are simple enough, combined with the chilli sauce, apple salad.. to die for.
Only thing was by the time I reached my wrap in the bottom of the container it probably wasn’t needed, the balls speak for themselves.
Washing this all down with a dairy free hot chocolate (I was particularly freezing that day) from Jaz n Juls, serving up a recommended gingerbread hot chocolate at £2.50 a cup, made with soya milk for me, but there were other options available, like almond, rice milk..Warming, with spices like ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, it’s christmas in a cup! Made with dark choc its indulgent yet I didnt feel so bad about drinking it…Hopefully see them for the Chocolate Festival this coming month for more!
Inspiralled is another company exhibiting that makes cakes suitable for everyone, 100% cholesterol free and vegan. I tried their Raw Banoffee Banoffee Creme Tart, with a layer of light coconut, sunflower seed and date crust, then banana, date & coconut cream “caramel” with a filling of young coconut flesh, pure raw extract of banana and xylitol (low GI sweetner).
This was a creamy, soft and delicious coco-nutty tart, the layers melted into the others and were smooth and not too sweet, which is where my problem lies in desserts! They are innocently good products and tempted me to try more in their range. I also ended up buying hteir Purple Cheesey Kale crisps, a healthier alternative for thos snacking moments!
Amongst those were other stalls selling cakes, treats, the Wag Free bakery selling gluten free ham and mushroom or steak and onion pies.
Or the heavely smells of Malaysian Food was being prepared hot for lunchers..
I sat in on a talk from Concious Food founder Kristina, who demonstrated making use of millet, tabbouleh in recipes, with samples for the awaiting audience to try. She flavoured hers with curry powder, , lemon, spring onion and corriander, leaving a citrus kick and the curry flavour being subtle and not too spicy..
So a breath of fresh air to visit a different sort of food market and I’m glad I made the trip, ultimately it would be nice to see more exhibitors on the day but it’s a start.
Chocolate Unwrapped Weekend, Samples, Expert Chocolatiers, Inspiring Talks 15/10/11
What a weekend, I hadn’t actually planned to do anything, other than maybe clean the house, tidy up a bit, cook and eat! ( The cooking and eating bit is actually an exciting weekend for me!)
I was mulling over the idea of popping down to the event on Saturday and Friday sprung the opportunity to get a press pass, so that confirmed it and I made my way down there for a couple of hours.
Chocolate Unwrapped is a dedicated Chocolate Show held at the Vinopolis in London, Which normally hosts wine tastings ( I know because I have been, momentarily viewing myself as a connoisseur with my sister and exiting alcohol ridden.. )
With up to 4000 visitors this is no mean feat and it was chocolate week from the 10th-16th October, so it’s a great way to end it. The show includes talks, demonstrations and tastings to satisfy the chocolate lover.
Passing through the hustle and bustle of Borough Market, to gear me up for such an event, I could smell wafts of exquisite produce being cooked and see hoards of tourists mulling around in spectacle of the amazing food on display.
Semi-tempted to grab something for breakfast, to elude the fact I had half a banana in the morning before running for the train, I skulked around for a bit but then headed straight to the chocolate.. I think it was subliminally calling me..
There were no signs of the event on the street but upon reaching the Vinopolis I had to ask if I was in the right place.. Joining the queues of people inside, I got there just after 11am trying to not be the first person there but fashionably late.
Gaining my press pass, I donned my SLR digital camera to get some pictures and had my Iphone to hand to take notes of anything grabbing my interest.
Exhibitors were spilt into two rooms, both filled with up expert chocolatiers. Where do you start? Well in a nutshell it took me 2 hours almost to cover about 6 stalls.. once you stop, get tasting, talking to people, time flies!
There were some prominent highlights for me on the day, firstly it was meeting so many chocolatiers from abroad, I had the pleasure of speaking with a couple of these companies exhibiting here for the first time to try to establish themselves in the UK chocolate market.
Szanto Tibor- Fine Chocolates, based in Hungary. His chocolate ingredients comes from the Caribbean & Ecuadorian region, he makes a wide variety of chocolate blends, but I got to try his freeze-dried edible chocolate ranging from plum, chilli, lavender all handcrafted.
I met a truly inspirational woman Lourdes Paez from ChocoFest, a passionate advocate for Ecuadorian cacao and chocolate. She believes in direct trade as a way to “improve” the lives of people in the Amazon.
“It’s the only place where the farmers who grow the cocoa, produce the chocolate!” She exclaims which forthright passion. This enables them to monitor the products from tree to bean to bar. Thus producing quality products and allowing you the customer to know what you are purchasing.
She told me ” Chocolate beans can be left up to 30 years in storage, where as with us we have a production rate of about 3 to 6 months, our products are fresh”.
They produce Kallari bars , 85% cacao, wonderfully intense and Salinerito products, cooking chocolate and extra dark drinking chocolate. I tried a sample of the drinking chocolate and found it not as rich as I would have expected, smooth and delicious.
“This is proper hot chocolate, no milk, just natural cacao beans” Lourdes says.
I only wish I had bought a bar now..
All profits from this are ploughed back into the villagers, to improve their lives, health and education programs.. great cause and delicious products. This is the chocolate we should be eating!
Pacari is a artisanal organic chocolate company specialising in single origin chocolate from Ecuador. I had the pleasure of talking with one of the co-founders and hearing Santiago Peralta talk about the brand.
They work directly with farmers to ensure harvesting and drying of the cacao is done with greatest care. Their chocolate is crafted in small batches to ensure quality products.
Their concept is to change the way people are eating chocolat and how there are better options out there than your standard Cadbury’s or Nestle products.
I have fallen into the trap of the dairy milk or flake bar on occasion but having one or two cubes of better quality chocolate that’s better for you surely.. plus you eat less!
Other companies that stood out for me were Artisan du Chocolat, I nibbled their free sample of South Sea and Tahiti Pearl chocolates, that were gorgeously intricate, shimmering , crispy on the outside and melting into a soft centre of ganache and smooth praline.
Their Sea Salted caramel truffles was outstanding. No wonder Gordon Ramsey opted to use these for his menu at Claridges!
A recently new company, The-Chocolatier, were offering silky smooth mousses’ for tasters, I had an apple pie mousse, which did not include any cream, butter or eggs! It was what they call a Water Ganache.
There were samples of cake in wrapped in chcocolate by company called Lucky’s. Bananas, Coco Rush, Fancy Fudge, Mocha Madness fully covered in Valrhona chocolate.
I really enjoyed these pleasant mouthful’s of treasures, crunching into chocolate then the moist cake or caramel filling on top, great idea.
Hay- infused chocolate from Sir Hans Sloane chocolates, everyone has being talking about it and it could just be the next big thing.. I found it smooth and you could get the slight hint of a straw- undertone, interesting..
I had a lovely interview with the Award Winning Paul Wayne Gregory, who defines Bespoke Chocolate Artistry. While admiring his chocolate made hand-crafted sculpture and tasting his divine raspberry truffles we talked for what seemed like half an hour..
I’m going to write-up this interview later today, while eating my complimentary PWG sea-salted and popping candy lolly.. well a girl need’s some writing inspiration…
After 3 hours of what felt like a lifetime, I proceeded to leave the building, all chocolated- out, tingling skin and well having a bit of a sugar rush and craving something savoury. I left with my goody bag and well a last-minute sprint to buy a bottle of Chocolate Wine…
Oh and did you know your supposed to let chocolate melt in your mouth first, rather than chomp away at it, there’s an art you know! (only just discovered this!)
By A Hungry Selina Periampillai
RHS Harvest Festival, Pumpkins, Carl Warner, Wild Mushrooms
Last week, I ventured into London to check out the annual Royal Horticultural Society, Harvest Festival near Victoria Station.
I was particularly tempted to go, by the fruitful line up of seeing Carl Warner and his Food Landscapes artwork, woodland scenes, autumnal vegetables & fruits aswell as talks by horticultural experts on the day.
There were two halls showcasing events on the day. Showing the variety and range of plants and flowers being grown, plus competitions for the best vegetables or fruit in random categories.
I was most amazed by the pristine, shapes and varieties some of the seasonal vegetables came in, from large onions (biggest I’ve ever seen) to abnormal shapes of pumpkins, one also twice to three times the size of my head! Squashes and pumpkins in vibrant orange, green ,yellow colours and mini ones dressed in harvest baskets to go with the theme.
Amongst this were competitions and entries for the Best Victoria Sponge Recipe, shame you couldn’t try them! To a table dotted with jars of chutney’s and jams made from fresh produce, the spiced green tomato chutney and cranberry chutney caught my eye aswell as the unusual cucumber chutney (never tried this before, may make at home)
I had the opportunity to try freshly squeezed Kentish organic pear and apple juice.. you can really taste the difference to say something you buy in the supermarkets. It was sweet, fresh and the little bits in the juice acknowledge your drinking something fresh & good for you! By Heritage Selection, Brogdale Juices.
And I wouldn’t have been able to guess the amount of types of garlic on hand to buy.. From the UK to Europe there were so many on offer.
In the second hall when I walked in, at the front you catch a glimpse of a photographer and food stylist at work, preparing gorgeous ripe pairs for photos, with different backgrounds, materials to work with, was interesting to see…
The hall was lined with tables showcasing fruits and vegetables from avid growers that were entered into the competition. The length and size of these were amazing and astounding to see how they can grow to that size, they were well-groomed and looked after!
Further down was a wild mushroom company, showing various types of fungi, from Girolles (which I have yet to cook with) plus more versions and truffle infused oil, chinese truffles, crab apple jelly and chicken liver parfait.
I also had the pleasure of looking at a gallery of Carl Warner’s Foodscapes in additional to his new book, titled the same. Having studied photography in the past and having a keen visual eye for landscapes I really warmed to his work. The portrayal of his art were cleverly using and integrating food to create a seamless image.
I am very interested in finding out more about his work and underlying meaning for his use of food in his images, who knows I may consider my hallway worthy of a Carl Warner piece in the future.
Although brief this post, it was just to give an insight into my visit to the RHS Harvest festival, where I would consider coming to again, they hold events also around the UK and one forthcoming at Wisley Gardens. Suitable for the whole family, this is an event worth checking out in the future.
Feeling all geared up for the Harvest and looking to experiment with Autumn and Winter produce I left this festival feeling perky, inspired and went to watch Giorgio Locatelli do a cooking demonstration… Great Day.
Brighton Sussex Food Market, Tech n Taste & My First Experience of a Supper Club- Posted 21/9/2011
Well its been a while since I’ve blogged and I’ve felt strangely lost in a way.. maybe it’s because I have accumulated 2 weeks of food writing in my mind, I’m starting to go a little crazy. Need output.
So, firstly almost two weeks ago my dear laptop decided to die on me, I have had it for about 6 years now and its taken till this week for us to replace it with a new sexy samsung.. I mean this is the milk tray of laptops.
The last two weeks have been full of exciting things, I’ve been down to check out the Sussex Big Market in Brighton and to Tech n Taste a food blogger event in Soho held on behalf of Talk Talk and finally went to my first Supper Club on Saturday!
The Sussex Big Market is part of the ongoing Brighton Food Festival this month, last year it attracted over 40,000 people! I’m not sure how many people were there the day I went but believe me I felt like a sardine walking down those streets packed with sellers & the hungry public.
The rain was pouring but the crowd didn’t let that get in the way of sampling the food on show. Meandering down the streets, you can smell the whiff of hot food with a damp rainy mist lingering in the air and you’re spurred on by a lovely Jamaican man on his guitar crooning some reggae tunes to make you feel like your on holiday!
There were cupcake to cake stalls, breadmakers selling artisan products, cheeses and stalls serving up veggie curries, stir fries, hog roasts, oysters & fish. Being in Brighton I was assured I would find more fresh fish stalls being perched on the sea but there was not as many as I would have hoped.
I ended up cutting my journey short, but I did come away with some lovely sweetcorn fritters, with lemongrass, ginger creme fraiche & harissa dips from CanTina, they were very tasty and filling. I have heard she also does a Supper Club, shame its all the way in Brighton, but maybe one day Il consider going!
I couldnt resist buying jelly like textured Rice Cakes from Brighton sushi restaurant stall, Moshi Moshi . All these little puffs of sweetness are filled in a variety of flavours, ranging from peanut, chocolate, coconut and more..
The Tech n Taste event in Soho last week, was a free event for food bloggers and I met some fellow food lovers at the event. It’s so inspiring and gratifying that, yes, there are people like you out there also obsessed with food and who are just as passionate about it.
There were talks on SEO, Blogging Tips and food ‘bombing’ a new term learnt from Giles Phelps who did a talk, which I have tried to take on board in my own photography using phone apps!
Afterwards we were led to the food stall areas, where there were St Germaine cocktails (my favourite elderflower cordial), Goats Cheese , Tea Pigs with a variety of tea flavours and samples and Hummingbird Cupcakes with their new Carnival festive range. A company called No Added Salt, provided tastes of toddler & children’s food which were nice and simple yet comforting, a great idea.
We were bombarded with food and goodie bags which I was particularly happy about, especially being able to take free cupcakes home, but I’d just ran out of people to think of giving them too..
Flavours that stood out were the Toffee Apple, topped with a crunchy toffee slice, this one had the most Autumnal feel and the flavours worked really well, it inspired me to try a toffee apple crumble. However, with most cupcakes the frosting can be a tad too sweet but hey its a delicious sure-fire way of getting a quick sugar rush!
Somerset Goat’s Cheese was delish, creamy and indulgent, I have already added to salad and looking to create some recipes with it ( I have three blocks in my fridge!)
Finally, let me tell you about my first ever Supper Club I went to, which was an interesting experience. Believe me the host was lovely and really made you feel welcome in her house.
The only thing was as everyone turned up I quickly realised that everyone knew the host, eg had been to college or uni or worked with her so in fact I was the only total stranger there. But tell me if I’m wrong I thought the idea of Supper Clubs were to meet new people (which it was for me) but being that everyone else was acquainted it meant that at some points you miss out on topics of conversation..
The starter was a succulent smoked trout complemented by beetroot chilli relish and sourdough bread (which I forgot to ask if it was homemade) silly me. The main was the eagerly awaited Saltmarsh lamb (which I carved to join in with the sharing experience) this was a little dry for me but still tasty, the flageolet beans were very soft and creamy & the Shrewsberry Vodka jelly was just what was needed in this dish.
The dessert was a bramble pie & custard with homegrown berries. I was looking forward to it but the pastry was slightly overdone and the berries a bit too tangy & sour for me, however the custard was divine.. I could have had more.
It was an experience that felt more like old friends meeting up for lunch rather than a true Supper Club, but with nothing to compare it to at the moment, I can’t give this review justice. Will have to wait till the next Supper Club I go to, it has definitely inspired me to maybe try my own in the future.
Berlin 17th-19th August
My German Experience in Food..
Just about recovered from the 3 days and 2 night stay recently in Berlin, Germany.. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I missed writing on my blog. Its top of my things to do on this not so lazy Sunday. I mean I’ve been up since 7 am and half painted my garden fence plus had two showers and not even had my first cuppa of the day..
Anyway back to Berlin, the reason we ended up going here was because we stumbled across a deal on the groupon website and this city had been recommended by friends which always made me interested in going.
We did a fair bit to say the least of sightseeing and walking, I mean I couldn’t feel anything from the waist down after one day of walking in Berlin! One thing we noted from this was to use the public transport to get around, as in Berlin we found nothing is within walking distance and you would have to be prepared to walk a fair bit! ( not a problem if your super fit and like the challenge) . Armed with our trusting map we ventured out and about all over town.
We visited the Berlin City Centre, near Alexanderplatz and Hachermarkt where you have the odd street food seller, on each corner selling Bratwurst, Currywurst and huge pretzels to name a few. Great street food you can grab on the go and enjoy while perusing the architectural and historic sites of this city. Which I have to say is truly amazing, the Berliner Dom, the Brandenburg Gate, the River Spree that runs through and you have the historical points of Checkpoint Charlie to the Topographie Des Terrors an exhibition that documents the heart wrenching history of the World War, Hitler and the Holocaust.
The remaining parts of the Berlin wall can be found as you walk around and on the border of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg where the wall has been turned into the East Side Gallery documenting over 100 paintings from artists all over the world.
Whats on offer on the streets of Berlin
But back to the food, firstly we have the currywurst, a fast food dish consisting of hot pork sausage cut into slices and smothered in curry ketchup. Suprisingly I wasnt sure how this was going to taste at first and if the curry ketchup would be overpowering but it really complimented the sausages.
Some bakery cakes and pastries I wanted to try were the Berliner Pfannkuchen which is a doughnut filled with a variety of fillings from custard, jams, jelly or cream and iced in confectioners sugar. It was soft to the touch and the jam inside was not too sweet.
The Streuseltaler is a German pastry, which is more like a biscuit or shortbread in texture, but its a sweet dough, that’s flattened and topped with a crumbed topping. I found tasted like shortbread, buttery and crumbly, it was quite large in size and would not be able to be consumed in one day!
Chocolate Marble Cake
I was suprised with the variety of other cuisines available in Berlin, there were Vietnamese and Thai which seemed quite popular serving some traditional and flavour some dishes which were utterly divine and has inspired me to add these countries to my list of holiday foodie trips. Mr Long’s in Prenzlauer Berg is definitely recommended, the food was fresh, fulfilling and satisfying. This district also has a relaxed vibe to it, cafes and restaurants adorn every street corner and Al Fresco dining is what its all about.
Then to a Mexican street food joint called Dolores in AlexanderPlatz, tucked away off a side road, it was heaving with people, spilling out onto the street digging into hand-held burritos bursting at the seams with all sorts of tasty goodness. It had a great buzzy vibe, playing hip music and continuously dishing out orders to satisfy the queue of people.
Not forgetting to quench our thirst with the traditional Berliner Weisse, german beer using fruit syrup, seriously they came to us in a green and red in colour! It tasted sweet, you drink it through a straw and I’m told that it is strong beer .. but I don’t think I noticed.. or maybe that says it all! I would recommend the Sky Bar at Andel’s Hotel, you can see magnificent city views while enjoying a drink or two..
Sweltering under the heat, which I was totally unprepared for, seeking something refreshing we stopped at an organic sorbet kiosk, serving a variety of refreshing flavours, bright and colourful! We tried Amarena, a mix of cherries, tangy and sweet and strawberry and mint that tasted like Pimms ,well without the alcohol! And what a great combination!
We had a good trip to Berlin, my aim was discover more about German cuisine, we only had a couple of days which is not enough if you want to delve into its food world and try out everything on offer. I tried to get a good feel of the food here, however found myself more inspired by the other cultural dishes more than the german food they had here on offer.