Monthly Archives: December 2012

‘Neal’s Yard’ Say Cheese!


More Cheese

Real Cheese

Real Cheese

What a display!

What a display!

Anyone who does not like cheese should go to a doctor and get themselves looked at.
Yes La Fromagerie is a good cheese shop, but it’s not Neal’s Yard. I love visiting Neal’s Yard when I am in London. I know the French may have more quality butters than the U.K. Not sure how, but they do. And let’s face it their chickens undoubtedly rule the roost. But cheese wise, it’s a myth they that are top. U.K. cheeses are unquestionably the best in the world. Jamie Oliver and friend Jimmy went to France to prove this point.

Neal’s Yard is the place to sample our finest cheese. Their knowledge is also worth tapping in to. Many other cheese connections are available in the store. The temperature and atmosphere is set for cheese heaven.
I used to buy Woolsery Cheese from the Woolsery Cheese owner, via the local farmers market. Very nice it was too. Neal’s Yard bought the same cheese and aged it. When I bought it from them, cut from the block, not wrapped in plastic, well you can guess the result.
Stuck for lunch in London, a few hits from Neal’s Yard makes a stunning lunch addition. We also Gorilla cook steak from Ginger Pig, but that’s another story. You can get some of St John’s Bakery produce at Neal’s Yard. Eccles Cakes, the best in the world, I am a northerner by descent, so I don’t say these things lightly.
Here are a few of my favourite cheeses:
Kirkham’s Lancashire( I grew up in Lancashire) Ruth Kirkham is I believe the only person still making traditional, cloth-bound Lancashire cheese by hand from her own herd of Fresian cows. This crumbly and creamy white cheese has a distinctive rich, tangy, flavour.
‘Colston Bassett Stilton’. A great place to start with British Blue Cheeses. The reason U.K. cheese won the Blue cheese challenge on Jamie and Jimmy’s Food Fight is that the flavour is strong but not overpowering. I like French and Spanish blue cheese, but not as much as ‘Dorset Blue Vinny’ or ‘Devon Blue’. ‘Saint Agur’ or ‘Picos Blue’ are very nice but too salty/harsh/sharp in comparison with the above U.K. cheeses.
Caerphilly Three distinct flavours run through this cheese-its springy, citric, lactic center; oozy, mushroomy cream under the rind, and musty, earthiness of the rind itself.

Go visit Neal’s Yard !

Wow! These Chillies burn twice.


The first few Twilights and hey what were the others called?

The first few Twilights and hey what were the others called?

Not bad for my first atempt at growing chillies.

Not bad for my first atempt at growing chillies.

You never know what's around the corner.

You never know what’s around the corner.

small  hot

small hot

I have finally got around to sampling some fruit from my home grown chilli. At last! Very good they were too.
Ivybridge fish (Devon Life Gold Winner) are supplying some quality fresh mussels. This made for a superb Thai Mussel Soup, great results.
The usual suspects went in to the soup. As ever, going for the five flavours that make a lot of Thai food. Pungent (acrid), sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

I guessed all the amounts of ingredient tasting as I went along. So it does not have to be too accurate. ½ a kilo of mussels made two bowls. 1/2teaspoons of fennel and coriander, 1/4of cumin. Again these are rough guesses. 2 cloves garlic 4 small shallots or 1 banana shallot.

Start by tempering and grinding Cumin, coriander, fennel. Roasting spice in a small pan brings out the oils and flavour, make sure they don’t burn. Add to some chopped Shallot, Ginger, Garlic, Galangal, and four small twilight chillies. A pestle and mortar pastes all of theses the ingredients. Then add Shrimp Paste and Tamarind. This paste is cooked out, for about 5 minutes; watered down block coconut is added along with some palm sugar and lime leaves, watch it does not get to sweet. It is then brought up to a simmer. In go the mussels, a few minutes later they open, that’s it.
It does need chopped coriander at the end; hold fire on this if you are planning a reheat. Tasting and seasoning, but you knew that already.
Like many soups curries and stews this tastes better when reheated the next day.
Extra care must be taken as ever with any food but especially seafood. It is important to keep things at the correct temperature. 0-5 degrees is a safe temperature to store the soup overnight. It is a good idea to check your fridge is always at this temperature.
Mussels will dry out if you put too much heat on them. So take out the mussels before you reheat the soup. Then pop the mussels back in.
For all things Chilli you should visit The South Devon Chilli Company. They are a great place to visit online or at their farm. The farm has a cafe and a great shop.
Cook’s note: if no twilight chillies are around bird’s eye or any other fiery chillies are fine. How much heat is your choice? Don’t be a wuss though!

Eden Project

Top of the World!

Top of the World!

This is a must visit,very educational, great fun. The tropical Bio dome is amazing, lots of interesting things that you may take for granted. Coffee, vanilla, rubber,lemongrass and much more.Seeing a lemongrass plant , for the first time , it was much bigger than I thought it would be.There is a waterfall with plants that are maintained by abseiling gardeners. There are various tropical birds and other things flying around.You can go right to the top , it is well worth the climb. Be warned it may be winter outside , but to quote  Axle Rose , when you are in the bio dome you’re in the jungle! Seriously tropical heat and stuff, take your coat off.Outside there are many things to see, take a free train ride around. We stopped for food in their Cafe. We are glad we did great food, very cheap. We shared Smoked mackerel/Salad/potatoes. Their was enough for two of us. It was £6, it was healthy, fresh and tasty. They bake in-house bread ,pastries and more.Maximum Respect!

You never know what's around the corner.

You never know what’s around the corner.

All over the park there are interesting and fun things to see and play with. Mexican art, inventions, scary facts about how we are changing the world,lots of art and humor.

Fresh/ tasty /healthyCheap

Fresh/ tasty /healthyCheap

Chocolate,whats not to like

Chocolate,whats not to like

Go Visit the Eden Project, you wont regret it.

Gordon Ramsay Menu Prestige


So here it is,the big one, Gordon Ramsay’s Hospital Road.

100% excellent, service, food and ambience. Every course was amazing in taste and presentation.

Clare Smyth is Wonderful. Maitre d’ Jean-

Claude Breton and team are so welcoming, a very nice warm reception from start to finish.

The food well see for yourself. Forget the latest trendy restarants. This is a place that, wont let you down.

The amuse bouche was the best I have ever had so silky smooth, with very tasty additions bacon morels and more.

Roasted pigeon from Bresse with grilled polenta, smoked ventrècheand date sauce. This was the standout dish for me. This was my first taste of Bresse produce, it was superb. I eat wild pigeon, a lot. But this was something else. It was perfectly cooked. I take my hat off to the French, I am glad Clare’s team did this justice.

All dishes were excellent

The deserts were so beautiful, the extras always nice.  Good coffee. I was in the coffee business for over a decade and this was good coffee.

Lemonade parfait<br /><br /><br />
with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yoghurt sorbet<br /><br /><br />



Very Fresh!Very Tasty!

Very Fresh!Very Tasty!


Banhmi11 is another fantastic find. After failing to find their market stall, I was pleased to enter their café at Shoreditch. They make Some seriously fresh and flavorsome food. That’s why Jamie Oliver Nigel Slater and other people in the know, go there.

We had a bowl of Pho with the famous ‘Imperial BBQ Banhmi’– British pork, thinly sliced, marinated in caramel and lemongrass, twice-grilled. This is so tasty. We also had a delicious spring role.

We made a return trip a few days later, we ordered ‘Fish Q’ – Catfish fillet, marinated in turmeric & galangal, grilled with dill & spring onion and another Imperial BBQ. On the way out I picked up a Banana slice cake, again seriously good.

Both are meals had Vietnamese coffee with them, again really nice.

Check out some of their menu’s below;

£5 for banh mi, £6 for noodle salad/rice box

  • Crackling Pork Belly – British pork, marinated in lemon jus and      five spices, slow roasted
  • Imperial BBQ –      British pork, thinly sliced, marinated in caramel and lemongrass,      twice-grilled
  • Fish Q –      Catfish fillet, marinated in turmeric & galangal, grilled with dill      & spring onion
  • Cha Cha Chicken –      Chicken breast, marinated in coconut milk and lemongrass, grilled
  • Temple Tofu –      Puffed tofu chunks, macerated with lemongrass, simmered in sweet/sour      sauce

Noodle Soups
Pho – Flat rice noodle in spiced broth with slow-simmered beef or shredded chicken, spring onion and coriander
£6 for full size, £3 for mini

Market Specials
Hanoi young rice crabcake
Claypot caramelized salmon
Baby ribs in sweet and sour sauce

Fresh Summer Rolls
Sun-dried rice paper roll with rice vermicelli, carrot, daikon, butter lettuce, coriander
Pork belly, roasted with crackling
Prawn, steamed in coconut, lemongrass
Salmon, grilled in foil wrap with dill
£1.50 each

In London? Visit BanhMi 11

Don’t get confused with the others (we almost did) ,Banhmi 11 is the best!

Exploding Bakery


What a fantastic month off! The best company (my girlfriend/family). I had the best food, some amazing scenery in Bavaria/ Cornwall /Devon.  First up; it’s The Exploding Bakery in Exeter. This is worth changing trains at Exeter Central for sure. As luck would have it I was stuck in Exeter, trains all up the spout (First Trains words, not mine). Exploding Bakery really is an amazing find. I had a superb ‘Pea and mint Frittata’ followed by the most yummy light ‘lemon polenta cake’. Alongside this was a good cup of tea that was topped up for free. These people really know their stuff, their knowledge of food and all things cool, was refreshingly good to hear. I even found out about a Bavarian Gin from them, I am eager to find out more about ‘Monkey 47’. Seek out The Exploding Bakery.

Lemon Poleta Cake, so nice! Tangy lemon perfect sponge.

Lemon Poleta Cake, so nice! Tangy lemon, perfect sponge.

Friendly people , who know a lot about food and all things cool

Friendly people , who know a lot about food and all things cool.