Monday, 3 December 2012

The Chambers, Landport Terrace

Finding somewhere stylish around town to lounge over a relaxed breakfast/brunch is quite a challenge. Well not any more.  Please may I welcome you to 'The Chambers'.  It's urbane environment makes it a perfect choice for a weekend treat with friends.

Located at 27 Landport Terrace The Chambers has only been open a few weeks, and seems to be making waves in the right ways.

Rather than plump for the obvious choice of a Saturday night booking, I thought I'd pop in for a spot of breakfast last Saturday morning as I'd seen them advertise breakfast between 8am-midday.

The choice is good.  Full English, eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, grilled Kippers to name a few.  I'm a sucker for eggs Benedict, so I ordered that, but requested to have it with smoked salmon rather than ham.  This was not a problem and the helpful confident waiter made the amendment.  It was great to kick back in a wing back chair and read the papers on offer whilst sipping Earl Grey and waiting for the food to arrive.

It is much bigger inside than you think.  They can seat over 70, and it has a section upstairs too.  It's elaborate layout will certainly appeal to the well heeled crowd of Portsmouth.

But is it style over substance?  Not at all!  This seductive newcomer totally wowed me with the best Hollandaise sauce I have ever had anywhere locally - it was a delight!  The dish was rich in colour and taste (from the good quality egg yolks), creamy and well thought out, I was impressed the chef added hints of chopped fresh tarragon to elevate this smoked salmon version.  Now that's what I call care and attention to detail.  My muffin was slightly over toasted, but nothing worth complaining over, and as for the price my dish came in at a very reasonable £4.75, (when compared to a Gunwharf chain that charges £5.75 for their ordinary version).

So all in all I'm loving what I see and eat.  The main menu has some nice additional finds for people who just want to go along and soak up the atmosphere in the lounge area (such as a bottle of house wine and a choice of Moules-Frites or Nachos with Guacamole and toppings for £20).  They also offer a 'Champagne and Oyster Friday' consisting of a bottle of house Champagne served with oysters for £39 for 6 Oysters, £45 for 12 Oysters.

Have you been for a main meal here - what did you think?  With this establishment and The Garage Lounge in Albert Road I hear myself saying.....

  "Finally - restaurants with a bit of decadent style in Southsea!" out Brighton!!!!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Fire & Stone Portsmouth new menu Autumn 2012

The good people at Fire & Stone have rolled out a new menu this autumn and kindly asked myself and a guest to sample it and feedback.

I have always loved this place since it opened.  Combining it's quirky pizzas, funky restaurant, and great offers, is what makes Fire & Stone a perfect place to eat pizza with friends.  In my opinion it is the best chain pizza restaurant out there, because what it offers is different from the norm. 

So what did I make of the new menu? 'Whilst you wait' nibbles, starters, pasta, salads and sides all feature fairly equally in quantity to the pizzas on offer, thus showing that Fire and Stone is not just about Pizzas.  One thing that I have noticed since it first opened two and a half years ago, is that the 26 pizza's that were on offer on the original menu has now been reduced down to 17. So with that in mind we ordered a pizza (obviously), and a pasta dish.  The new Alexandria pizza (£10.95) is based on a chicken tagine with chicken, green olives, preserved lemons, coriander and yogurt.  This was delicious with the sharp and salty preserved lemon really making every bite extremely flavoursome, and a pizza I would highly recommend trying.  I went off piste and thought it would be good to review a non-pizza dish, and opted to have their beef ragu (£9.65) as my first choice of the tiger prawn and lemongrass pasta was off the menu as they had run out of prawns.  This dish follows the ever current trend of slow cooked pulled beef in a rich sauce, served with tagliatelle with F&S sauce.  Enjoy it, I did - however the sauce needs to be way punchier for it to stand apart from other beef ragu dishes if I am to order it again.  I think it could be improved with the addition of more acidity perhaps in the form of more tomato in the base. Still a very pleasant dish by most standards.

Gooey home-made chocolate brownie (£4.95) for dessert was an excellent pudding and very well made, but the vanilla and lemon cheesecake was rather dull in comparison, missing it's billed 'strawberry slices'.  I would love to see the vanilla panna cotta with fresh berries back on the menu.

19th of November sees the festive menu begin, and there is one pizza on the menu I can't wait to try: The Berkshire - crispy roast pork belly with apricot and almond stuffing, caramelised shallots, chopped sage and apple sauce.  I'll be back!!

 Top tip:

Check out the offers Fire and Stone have via
There is currently a fantastic deal to enjoy 50% off your total food bill every Friday until November 23rd!  (Valid when dining off the A la Carte menu only and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Valid for group bookings of up to 6 people)

A night to remember; Electrolux present a multiple-Michelin starred charity dinner

Ok, so anybody fancy spending a night with several of the countries most talented chefs?  Silly question! Well take a look at this link then, as this may well be something for you: FIVE MICHELIN STARRED CHEFS FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY:

The Bobby Moore Fund in partnership with Electrolux will present a gastronomic extravaganza which will be a must attend event for serious foodies.  The event is a one off charity dinner comprising of five exquisite courses each cooked by a Michelin starred chef.  Top chefs, led by two-Michelin-starred Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House Restaurant in Cambridge, will produce a culinary feast for 250 guests in aid of the Bobby Moore Fund.  Confirmed so far are: Daniel Clifford, Atul Kochar, Simon Rogan and Jonray & Peter Sanchez.

When:                  Thursday 24th January 2013
Where:                Gibson Hall, Bishopsgate, London
Tickets:                Prices start from £395 per ticket, with VIP tickets and Chef’s table tickets also available.  To book tickets please email:

I know this will be an incredible night to remember, I have first hand experience of Electrolux putting on a great show.You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Festive Seasonal Menu 2012 @ All Bar One

Tonight I was invited to go and sample this years festive menu at All Bar One.  I must say that All Bar One Portsmouth must be praised for holding these events, as not many other restaurants at Gunwharf do.  So what did we sample?  Well the complementary Prosecco and the welcome by Jonny and the team were both warm and friendly.  We were handed the festive menu to peruse whilst the kitchen were busy preparing the dishes.  The festive menu starters are:

French onion soup with cheese crouton
Roasted Portobello mushroom topped with baby spinach and goats cheese
Chicken liver, pork and mushroom parfait
Prawn cocktail.

All dishes (excluding parfait which was not available to sample) were tasty and to the standard you would expect from All Bar One.

Main courses are:
Roast turkey wrapped with bacon
Salmon wellington
Rib-eye steak (£3 supplement)
Shallot, parsnip and sweet potato tarte tatin

Here is where I tell you that I was very impressed with the salmon wellington and the vegetable tarte tatin, which I would love to go back and eat again.  Vegetarians would be super-happy with this dish oozing taste, texture and......, and the salmon wellington was made with a buttery shortcrust pastry which I did not expect (please do not change this for the usual bland, and potentially soggy puff pastry synonymous with Wellingtons), accompanied with a delicious...... cider and tarragon cream.  These were the stand out dishes of the night!
Shallot, Parsnip, & Sweet Potato Tarte Tatin
Salmon Wellington

Desserts are:
Sticky fruit pudding
Lime & lemon tart
coconut and chocolate tart

Sticky Fruit Pudding
Unfortunately of the desserts listed only the sticky pudding was available, and it's very much like a sticky date pudding.  A cheese selection and coffee and mince pies are also available at an additional cost.

So all in all it's a thumbs up for the slight variation and welcomed refreshing change to the traditional and predictable festive menu's we see throughout November and December in all restaurants. I had almost forgotten that it was a festive menu which personally pleased me no end!  3 courses will set you back £22 each and must be booked in advance.  There is also a buffet menu available at £15 per person but this is for a minimum of 10 people and must be booked too.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sharps Brewery Connoisseur/Walkers Sunbites Ambassador

September saw me developing recipes for the above two companies, and thus becoming a chosen connoisseur and ambassador of the brands

I'm really look forward to being on board with these two companies, and although each have very different businesses, both are really passionate about driving their brands forward through like mixed customers, and the use of social media.

Spending a day in London at The Cookery school with Sunbites, saw me blind taste testing the key ingredients that go into this product, and exploring the various ways that Sunbites can be consumed, through incorporating them into our food dishes.  Expanding people's minds into Sunbites being more than just a crisp.  Here is a simple canapé dish I created for them:

Rock in Cornwall is where Sharps Brewery is based, and they invited myself and two other avid food bloggers down to Rick Steins cookery school in Padstow, to spend the day developing our dishes to match their connoisseur beers, whilst being paired and mentored by three great British chefs- the two Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw, the newly crowned  Michelin stared London based Alyn Williams, and Head chef/food developer Jack Stein.  Alyn was my mentor and a joy to work with, and during the evening saw us three bloggers go head to head in a cook off with an audience of around 20! ( no pressure then). Three judges deliberated, and decided to crown yours truly the Sharps Connoisseur 2012. Lots of exciting things ahead with this title and responsibility!!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Local eateries now and to come 2012/13...

Just a short post to highlight what's happening around town:

We welcome the opening of 3 new foodie ventures:

The Boat Deck - a no nonsense approach to tackling sustainable fish on the pier (although pick an off peak time to go)

Carters Texas Smoke Pit - Old Portsmouth opposite Johnsons Fish Enterprises, American style meaty,smokey, BBQ menu of joyfulness, (the pulled pork sandwich was my favourite)

The Hotwalls Cafe - Old Portsmouth, a small outdoor tea shop set up in walls arches (open summer months 9.30 - 5.30pm but October - March is weekends only 10- 3pm)

And we also look forward to seeing in the near future 2 new openings:

Coast2Coast at Gunwharf Quays - Small chain American restaurant and bar, promising big things!  due end of December 2012

Chambers (27 the Terrace) Round by the corner where In-toto kitchens used to be/where Tenant Network is now located, owner of monks and former 8 kings road, is rumoured to be opening a restaurant here.  There is signs of a re-fit happening, this space!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Cookery Schools Rule!

So how many of us are avid viewers of cookery programmes?  Ratings are high, and it seems people can’t get enough of them – but in reality not many people are turning their hand to trying any of the dishes they watch being prepared!  I adore cookery programmes, so for me deciding to spend a day at a cookery school was a natural progression, and once I tried it – I was smitten!

Now I hardly know any of my friends who have been to a cookery school, it seems to be something people would like to do, but like cookery programmes, just never get round to doing it!  Well I really urge you to think again.  Cookery schools are really wonderful places for you to step up your game and learn some fantastic things that the TV just can’t teach you.  Not only that, but it gives you a platform of confidence to experiment in your own kitchen, and become a better cook.  There is a huge choice of schools in England, which vary in duration, skill level, and cost – so there is something to suite everyone.  I recently invited a friend of mine along with me and she loved it too, now she would love to go again someday.  Perhaps like I did the first time – you could drop a hint to a dear friend or a loved one about purchasing a gift voucher for you, but I can honestly say if you love food like I do – it will be a decision that you will be pleased you have made.  Forget Red Letter Day’s etc, get out to a cookery school!

I have been to several different schools over recent years (and they really do vary) – so here is a run down of my experiences and what you can expect:

Ashburton Cookery School – Ashburton, Devon
This was the first school I ever attended, so I have a fondness for it.  An extremely professional well oiled machine, for me Ashburton offers the best courses because everything has been well thought out to make you day truly wonderful, and the produce you cook with is of top quality and locally sourced.  Kitchens have all the best equipment too, and you leave with a high sense of achievement
Over 40 courses to choose from.
The dishes you prepare are of a high-end restaurant standard
The advanced courses are really that – a challenge to any budding chef! 
They have a shop too so you can purchase ingredients and equipment. 
The school is very modern with induction hobs and the layout of the cookery kitchen is practical and fun too!
Binder with all the recipes to take home too
Devon may be a little far for many, which will probably mean the cost of accommodation which will bump up the overall cost of attending the course.  Apart from that no other negatives to mention!

Waitrose Cookery School – London
A new kid on the block, which means they too have great up to date equipment, the teaching here is excellent and very enthuiastic, this cookery school is a good option for all.  They have a large cookery theatre in which you can also watch the chefs giving demo’s whilst you sit, listen in, and eat the fruits of you labour.
Great central location – 3 minute walk from tube station
Great atmosphere here – very conducive to learning
Shop too, for purchasing equipment
They give you a well laid out binder to go home with all the recipes
A big space but a small cookery school as it only has one big classroom, which can fit a lot of people!  If it was full then I’m not sure the experience would be so intimate and pleasurable!
The work benches are very close together, thus it can become a dangerous trip hazard when you pull open your oven to the people working behind you.  This was not thought out very well

Daylesford Organic Cookery School – Daylesford, Gloucestershire

One word – wow!  This is a very stylish ‘destination’ cookery school that oozes character and flair.  Although it also only has one large room, it is intimate and a great place to learn from head chef Vladimir Niza who is extremely knowledgeable and charming (watch out ladies!).  The dishes you cook are suitably impressive, and will want you going back for more.  The school is located on the farm; so all the produce you cook couldn’t be any fresher.  I adored my day here, felt charmed and totally chilled.
Great layout, very well thought out, and the food you cook is exceptional as it is organic and straight from the land!  Truly their biggest USP
There is a restaurant, various shops to browse around to buy the most amazing foods, clothes, garden accessories, so you get more than just a day out cooking – this in mind take extra bags and a credit card as you wont be able to resist their incredible produce!
Hmm, only to say like Ashburton - perhaps just it’s location for some may prove arduous, but still worth the drive!

Tante Marie – Woking
This is oldest independent of the cookery schools, and it knows its stuff!  You walk in here and instantly feel why they are so well established. Located In a big old converted house, it has several well-equipped cookery classrooms, as well as a demo theatre area.  What more could you ask for.  The professional long-term courses are offered here, and it would be my choice for one of these longer courses.  Part owned by Gordon Ramsay holdings too.
Very professional, the staff really care for you here
The teaching too is of an excellent standard
They have well known chef demo days (this is what I attended) where although you mainly watch, the cost is greatly less than a whole day’s hands on cookery, making it an affordable option, plus you get lunch provided, and a great opportunity to chat to the guest chef and taste his dishes, ask tons of question.
It’s not as modern looking as some of the other schools, but look beyond that, it still has all the equipment including induction and a Range oven to learn on
Most of the schools have a dedicated washing up team, so that you can get on with the cooking, but this is not offered here, so some may find that off putting if you have had the luxury of it all being done for you.

Leith’s – London
Probably Tante Marie’s biggest competitor as they too offer very professional courses. I came to Leith’s to do a day’s butchery course with an external tutor from the Ginger Pig, so I can’t hugely comment on the school as I feel I never really got to the heart of it.  The school felt a little impersonal to me, and my greeting from reception was sadly far from helpful/sincere.  However the course I attended was insightful thanks to the tutors, and I came home with a huge cooler bag of lamb dishes that I had prepped to cook myself– nice touch!
Extensive choice of courses too
They in addition have a wine school
A little impersonal, felt like I was a small cog in a big wheel
Just a little something missing, that I could not quite put my finger on!

The Bertinet Kitchen & Cookery School - Bath
 This is the latest cookery school in which I have just attended.  I was enticed in by a days cookery with 3 Michelin starred Clare Smyth from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.  Having seen her on TV many times, I admire her greatly!  This cookery school is in the heart of Bath and makes a great day out too (if you can fit in some shopping round town afterwards).  Richard Bertinet was there himself, and a charming man to chat to.

Guest chef days are a plenty here, drawing big names such as Angela Harnet, Clare Smyth
Bakery and shop with cookery equipment is attached to the school too, but be quick as the bakery closes around 2pm
(Sadly for me there were too many things not quite right here)
My class was sold as ‘Advanced’, but it was clear that the level of other attendees and the dishes we cooked were not advanced in my experience.
This course was more prepping of vegetables and watching than a ‘hands on’ cookery day, and for that I think the course was overpriced
There are 2 classrooms, and the largest of the two (the one I was in), you work in groups of 4 (most other schools I have worked in pairs), which limits the amount of cooking you actually get to do when there is so many of you.
No correspondence sent out prior to the course, so the emphasis is on you to make sure you don’t forget to attend!

 I hope you found this post informative and insightful, and if you have attended any cookery schools, I would love to hear of your experiences, and what you thought of them!


To heighten your cooking to more than just the basic everyday meals, I have two books to giveaway from this summers Taste of London.  These books have recipes from the countries top chefs, and will put your skills to the test, helping you to create restaurant style dishes (like you would at a cookery school).  Perhaps they will whet you appetite for cookery schools!   
 All you have to do is:

1) Follow this blog and
2) Answer this simple question:

Q) Name the 3 Michelin starred chef I cooked with at the Richard Bertinet cookery school

Please leave your answers in the comments box below.  Winner will be notified by e-mail. Competition closes midnight 21st October 2012.

**Congratulations PompeySuz & Laura Pugh - you are the book giveaway winners.**

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Richmond Arms - West Ashling

I've been spoilt with some fantastic food of late (The Electrolux Cube and the 'Menu' at Taste of London to name a few), so to find a little country pub serving food with confidence was an extremely happy event for me!

I love country pubs/restaurants, especially when they are cosy and serve good food!  I found both of these to be the case during two recent visits to the Richmond Arms.  Yes two visits!  I enjoyed the food here immensely that I had to return to share the experience with others.

The place was smaller than I had imagined, and also booking is essential, but both would not put me off returning again!

Our first visit was for Sunday lunch.  The only negative comments I will make start and stop here; and is with regards to the somewhat greasy starters.  Both the chorizo scotch egg and the delicate stuffed courgette flower tasted as if they had been cooked in oil that had been hanging around - used for several purposes, which overpowered the courgette flower as you can imagine.  Even the robust chorizo tasted of an amalgamation I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Maybe this needs looking at?!

However, not put off, we ordered the crispy skinned soy sauce duck and a sunday roast belly of pork.  It is quite apparent that the kitchen is very free thinking, as it made what would seem like two ordinary dishes on paper, into refined comfort food with the aid of wonderfully pickled plums to accompany the duck, and an apple and gooseberry sauce for the pork!  These accompaniments were the perfect balance of flavours, with intelligent use of acidity to cut through these usually rich meats! I can't praise these dishes enough.

Desserts were sublime.  A peanut butter brulee with a scoop of salted caramel and cherry ice cream.  Here lies a thing of wonder!  (I was also quite impressed with the inventiveness in presentation - thanks to a little help from Ikea!)  The homemade ice-creams were phenomenally good too: salted caramel, banana, chocolate amaretto, honeycomb, praline, rose pistachio - I struggled to choose only 3 scoops.

If your a gastro-nut wanting to find pleasure for your senses, then The Richmond Arms is the place for you!  The service is informed, charming and efficient.  Expect great things!

Runny chorizo scotch egg, saffron aioli
Local goats cheese, raisins, and pine nut stuffed courgette flower

Crispy skin soy braised roast duck, pickled plumbs and aromatic herbs

Sous vide pork belly & trimmings, with a delicious gooseberry & apple sauce

Chocolate amaretto, rose & pistachio, praline ice creams
Peanut butter brulee, salted caramel & sour cherry ice cream

Pickled plumbs recipe: 
Inspired by the duck dish, I decided to pickle my own plumbs.  It's an experimental recipe, but these are some of my most favourite ingredients of all time to cook with, so I'm sure you won't go far wrong.  Personally, I'm planning on also using it with duck, but other ideas would be with a stirfry, great with pate, or ice cream and yogurt for example.  It will be so versatile, so why not give it a go?  I'm sure if you served this alongside duck breasts for a dinner party (instead of the usual dull and obvious sauces), your guests would be more than impressed!

You will need:

800g of plumbs
My home-made pickled plumbs!
200ml cider vinegar
200g caster sugar
2 cardamom pods
2 star anise
1tbsp grated fresh ginger
1tsp allspice
pinch of chili flakes
 *sterilised jar*

Wash the plumbs well.  Put all the ingredients (except the sugar) in a large pan and gently bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the sugar.  Allow the sugar to dissolve.  Add the plumbs to the pan for about 4 minutes.  Remove the plumbs and place into the sterile jar.  Bring the liquid to the boil for a further minute, then carefully pour the liquid into the jar.  Close the lid and store in a cool, dark place for two months, (shaking the jar up from time to time).  
These will keep for 6 months to a year stored this way.

The Richmond Arms

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Vivitar DVR 892HD Digital Camcorder Giveaway

 I am giving away to one lucky follower a Black Vivitar DVR 892HD Digital Camcorder.
Extra compact, High Definition camcorder with colour display and built-in "flick" USB arm. The DVR 892HD also has 4x digital zoom and image stabilisation to creatre a lightweight HD recorder that is so portable you'll forget that it's always packed and ready to shoot.

To be in with a chance of winning,  read my previous post entitled 'Tuscan Inspired Recipe' and...

1) Follow this blog,
2) Answer the simple question below based on the Tuscan post I have written:
3) And if you love the look of this dish, PLEASE scroll down & vote for it here:To Tuscany

How many tomato halves are used in the final picture of this dish?

Please leave your answers in the comments box below.  Winner will be notified by e-mail. Competition closes Midnight 28th July.


Congratulations to Chevaune Stanley! 
Thanks for sending in your picture.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Tuscan Inspired Recipe

"I want to win a week in one of your Tuscany villas!"

This 'feel good' Tuscan inspired starter I have invented myself, is both super-stylish and sophisticated, and will leave your guests reminiscing of the sun-drenched climbs of Italy. It’s a dish you will be proud to serve.

Put together using 3 staple Tuscan ingredients; (olive oil, tomatoes and parmesan) - and a few others, I wanted this trinity to speak for itself, because although I have never had the privilege of visiting this Foodie hotspot, one thing I do know is that good quality ingredients don’t need fussing with – they simply speak for themselves!

Try not to scrimp on ingredients, buy the best tomatoes, olive oil and Parmesan you budget will allow.

 Tomato Consommé with Parmesan Croutons – serves 4

1 1/4 kg of overripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic peeled and chopped finely
½ tsp salt

50g finely grated Parmesan
¼ ciabatta cut into cubes
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch of salt

Garnish with:
½ cucumber sliced, and slices cut in half
12 halved cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
A handful of Parmesan shavings

Additional equipment:
Muslin cloth

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180oc
  • Put the cherry tomatoes, garlic and salt into a food processor and pulse them until the juices release.
  • Place a sieve over a large bowl and line the sieve with a piece of muslin cloth.  Pour the tomato mixture into the muslin and allow the juices to drain through.  This should take 30 minutes or so.  After this time gently squeeze the muslin to get a bit more out (not too tight as it’s nice to keep the soup clear).  Set the juices aside

  • Next, in a bowl toss the ciabatta cubes with a generous drizzle of olive oil, then sprinkle over the Parmesan, a pinch of salt and toss again.  Scatter onto a baking tray for about 5 minutes until golden.

  • To assemble – divide your cucumber and halved tomatoes into 4 bowls in an elegant fashion followed by your Parmesan croutons and shavings of Parmesan.  At this stage I think you have 2 options:  Either pour the consommé into 4 individual bowls drizzled with olive oil, allowing each guests to pour the consommé into their soup bowl at the table (this is visually the best option, and adds an element of fun), or carefully pour yourself into each soup bowl and drizzle with olive oil!

Buon Appetito!

If you love the look of this dish, PLEASE vote for it…just scroll to the bottom of this link:

I’d love to blog some more about my first ever trip to Italy and the gastronomic finds!
The Tuscan Trinity

**Top tip – Make this dish the day before, so it’s one less dish to do on the day. Store the soup in the fridge the croutons in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

'Local Catch' The South Coast's first Seafood Mobile App Launches

Calling all seafood lovers....

I have just caught wind of a new mobile phone app that has launched for the south coast, and could have the ability to revolutionise the way we think, buy and eat fish!

Developed by South East Seafood with the aid of Portsmouth University students, the app, called Local Catch, lets fishermen along the south coast send out alerts on what they've caught that day to anyone who downloads the app and registers, meaning local people can meet their local fisherman/fishmonger and purchase same-day caught fish. Restaurants can join in too. It's one of the only ways to be sure you're getting same-day caught fish that's 100% local.

This FREE app can be found via  and is available on Android.  Unfortunately you will have to wait a little longer for the iPhone version (which is due out before September), so I was unable to trial it and review it for you, so until then any feedback on your experiences of the app would be more than welcome!

For me this is very exciting news, as it is bringing an age old industry forward by using cutting edge technology to make sure the consumer can plan ahead,  become more aware of seasonal seafood, inspire you to be more adventurous, and much much more.

Read on to find out more....

If you like the sound of fresh locally caught fish and seafood, but aren’t quite sure how or where to get it, then brace yourself for a change thanks to South East Seafood. Working in partnership with the south coast’s fishing community, the group is excited to be launching Local Catch, a revolutionary new smart phone app and website designed to connect you direct to your local fisherman’s catch of the day.

The launch of Local Catch means anyone on the south coast can register to receive alerts about their local catch of the day direct to their smart phone, tablet or computer. Whether it’s crab, lobster, bream or bass, the south coast’s fishermen and the fishmongers, restaurants and cafes they supply will all be uploading details of their freshest catches, along with their exact location every day. All you have to do is pop along to your local fishmonger, or meet your local fishermen directly and you’ll be guaranteed fresh local fish and seafood, the day it’s caught.

To ensure you really make the most of your fish, Local Catch gives you access to a whole range of recipes, inspiration and ideas, as well as cooking tips and videos on the preparation of various fish and seafood dishes. So whether you’re making bouillabaisse, bisque, crab cakes or chowder you can be sure your fish supper will be the freshest around. 

In addition to guaranteeing you fresh fish that’s 100% local, the launch of Local Catch also means a fairer price for the fishermen of the south coast. Henriette Reinders, Director of South East Seafood, explains: “The launch of Local Catch means a lot for the local fishing community. It will put them in contact with a much wider range of buyers than ever before, creating a better deal for everyone involved.”  Henriette is keen to encourage local residents from across Hampshire to download the app: “Local Catch is all about supporting the local fishing community and getting the freshest possible local fish. This is a truly unique opportunity and one of the only ways to really be sure you’re getting fresh local fish on the day it’s caught. Residents along on the south coast are the first to trial this exciting scheme. If everyone in the community gets behind Local Catch it could be a real local success story, revolutionising the way we get our fish.”

Local fisherman Roger Ramsden, who fishes off the coast of Hayling Island, is equally excited about the launch of Local Catch: “I think it’s fantastic news and a really great opportunity for the local fishing community and lovers of fish. There are lots of people who may not previously have known how to get their hands on fresh fish and seafood, so I am really looking forward to letting local people know about what I catch. It’s great to have a way to reach out and tell local people what I’ve caught. I’m really hoping lots of local people download the app.”  

And it’s not just consumers who can benefit from the app, as Henriette explains that local chefs and restaurants can get involved too: “We are really keen for chefs, restaurants, pubs, cafes, delis and fishmongers to use Local Catch too – they simply need to register in the same way as members of the public would. Once they’ve purchased from their local fishermen they are then able to send out an alert that lets people in the local area know they’ve got fresh, locally caught seafood on the menu.”
Local Catch is simple to use and free to download now from the Android Market. It’s also just as easy to use Local Catch on your computer, simply log on to to sign up and find out the catch of the day.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Taste of London 2012 - Regents Park

I have had a busy week in London being asked to write reviews for the Electrolux Cube and with Taste of London for AEG.  I blogged about Taste last year too, and the Festival is still as great as it has been in all previous years Ive attended.  You arrive with gastronomic energy and leave with a full belly and a fond farewell, safe in the knowledge you have indulged in what the Capitals finest eateries have to offer.

Taste of London appears to be growing stronger each year.  For those who know little about it, it is a 4-day food festival, where around 40 of London’s top hitting restaurants come together in Regents Park to let you sample their dishes.  Each restaurant has 3-4 mini dishes you can try, in which you pay for the dishes in a currency of crowns.  There is also a plethora of exhibitors gunning for your attention, with samples of their food and drink for you to try and buy, as well as music, entertainment, and dedicated world cuisine areas.

However, ‘Taste’ offers much more than just a walk in the park.  It’s main sponsors British Airways and AEG (plus several others) also have put on within the festival various, exciting features to make the day more interactive.  For example BA are keen to show you how food 35,000 feet up has an impact on your taste senses, thus giving you the opportunity to learn about ‘Height Cuisine’, and even sample their new first class summer 2012 menu.  AEG are the premium appliance sponsor, and feature the Taste Theatre, where you get to see some of the countries biggest names demonstrate how to cook.  Situated next to that is the AEG mobile academy where you can see in action and ask questions about AEG’s Neue Kollektion, (you must see the steam ovens and a cleverly shaped wok induction), and my personal favourite is the AEG Perfekt Cooking Classes with Angela Malik.  Here you get to use the AEG appliances and cook dishes within 30 minutes.  Angela is the queen of Asian cuisine, and is always on hand to chat with, and show you how to create a great little dish.

Each year’s features are worthy of a visit, and this year my favourites include the Nespresso coffee experience (learn to match coffee with food), The Weber BBQ experience, The Secret Garden (full of all sorts of hidden indulgent extra’s), and the Laurent-Perrier champagne Masterclasses.  Sadly it is not possible to fit all of the activities into your 4-hour visit, so booking these sessions is a must, and you really must do it as soon as you enter, as availability is limited.  My top tip is to check out to see what the line-up is in advance, and work out a strategy of what you really don’t want to miss out on and book it immediately as you enter the park. 

As for the Secret Garden (which is in it’s second year), it is worthy of an additional mention as I was privileged to attend ‘The Menu’ in the secret garden which is a unique meal cooked by five world-famous chefs who each cook a course.  Angela Harnet, Bruno Loubet, Nuno Mendes, Wolfgang Puck and Jason Atherton wowed us with their skills, in an elegant enclosure found within the secret garden.  Dishes that got everyone talking were Angela’s first course of San Marzano tomatoes, burrata, basil purée, and black olive powder.  Although a very simple starter, burrata is relatively new on our food menus. It’s basically mozzarella cheese as we know it (but with a mozzarella and cream filling). The thought of being able to re-create this dish at home appealed.  However a simple starter like that is needed when followed by cod and tripe with a stew of onions.  This was everyone’s most apprehensive dish, but turned out to be delicate and flavoursome, with the confit cod bringing an unusual texture to the taste buds.  Wolfgang Puck followed this up with a duo of beef - grilled New York sirloin, roasted baby carrots, cipollini onions, armagnac sauce and an Indian spiced short rib with curried sweet corn purée and garam masala spicing.  This was murderously good, and I can see why this chef has a global empire of restaurants.  This meal takes place on the 1st two nights of the festival.  Each chef comes out to introduce his or her dish, which is a nice touch.  This event is available at an additional cost, but if you’re a real gastro-pilgrim like me, you may just find that the ‘Menu’ is right up your street.  When would you normally get 5 world-class chefs cooking you a meal together in one evening!  Highly recommended!

Taste of London is a super-hot ticket, and I can’t wait until next years show.  This stylish festival of gastronomy never fails to win my heart!

If you can’t wait until Taste of London 2013, then check out Taste of Edinburgh - 6th to 8th of July, and Taste of Christmas in London’s ExCeL - December 7th-9th.  Tickets options vary from standard entry to VIP packages.

Best In Taste 1st prize award winner Pascal Aussignac of Club Gascon's Marmite Royale

Angela Malik Cooking class with guest chef/restaurateur/Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers

The 'Menu' at Taste

Wolfgang Pucks duo of beef dish at the 'Menu'

The pop up restaurants at Taste

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Cube - Electrolux

People attend the Olympics and such like events when they are hosted by our own nation, because it's nice to feel like you have had a part in the making of history.  Well for food lovers all over the UK, here is an experience that will rival that sensation.  Allow me to introduce you to The Cube - by Electrolux.  I was asked this week to review this unique dining experience.  Read on to see why you really should make the effort before the end of September to dine like you have never dined before!

2012 is a fine year for London with both the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics to celebrate, and sitting tall overlooking these prestigious events right in the heart of the city, is the Electrolux Cube.  This 4-month restaurant is open between the 1st of June and 30th of September and is situated above London’s Royal Festival Hall.  It is a stunning piece of modern art, mixing a modern structure atop of a classic building, with glass sides offering unrivalled views of iconic sites such as the River Thames, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

The line-up of chefs (purposely located from various regions of the UK, and holders collectively of 8 Michelin stars) are Tom Kitchin from The Kitchin – Edinburgh, Sat Bains from Restaurant Sat Bains – Nottingham, Claude Bosi from Hibiscus - Mayfair (with all three appearing regularly on Saturday Kitchen), Daniel Clifford from Midsummer House - Cambridge  (who we saw reach the finals in this years GBM), and brothers Jonray and Peter Sanchez, (who shot to fame in Gordon Ramsay’s TV series Best Restaurant in 2010). 
Upon arriving on the rooftop of the Royal Festival Hall, a champagne reception with canapés on the constructed terrace awaits you, before you enter the Cube to sit down at a single long table which seats 18 people.  Should the British weather not be in your favour, I discovered that the dining table has been constructed to allow it to be electronically lifted to the ceiling, thus allowing guests to sip champagne in the comfort of the cube!  Its interior feel is very simple and clean, which reflects Electrolux’s Scandinavian heritage.
Upon being seated, everyone's excitement was clear to see.  The kitchen is not so much open but is part of the dining room space, which allows you the opportunity to get up and interact with the kitchen team, and view the dishes as they are being plated up on the open ‘pass’
The cuisine from each chef promises to be exclusive to the Cube, and is a highly guarded secret until the actual day, which all adds to the excitement, so for people like me who love to look up menu’s beforehand, had to show a measured degree of patience!
2 Michelin starred French born Claude Bosi was our host chef.  He describes the Cube as a unique experience, innovative and experimental, so did his food reflect this?
Without giving too much away (as this would spoil the secret nature of the Cubes menu), our lunch comprised of a seven-course menu, which in my opinion comprised of very classic French style food, but with some experimental Michelin inspired elements!  Shrimp paired with strawberry, chicken with hints of sharp fruits, a dessert with pepper infused cream and white chocolate infused with a spring vegetable, were some of the culinary highlights!  All eaten whilst listening to a play list, personally selected by each chef.
What the Cube offers is the ability to enjoy a fine dining experience, without the anxiety of wondering what everyone around you is thinking, wearing, and talking about, because your so busy interacting with the chef, the food and the company you keep throughout the meal.  For anyone seeking new gastronomic heights, then the Cube by Electrolux will deliver physically as well as metaphorically!
The Cube showcases the link between the new range of Electrolux home kitchen appliances and how they can be used in the professional environment.  Surely an inspiration for any aspiring home cook!
The Cube is in its final leg of touring Europe, having visited Milan and Brussels and is currently in Stockholm and London.

 The Cube by Electrolux in London is open daily. Weekdays Lunch: 12:00. Dinner: 19:00. Reservations required at all times. Set lunch: £175. Set Dinner: £215 (including paired wines). For further updates and the latest news visit Electrolux Facebook Page or visit: