My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

My philosophy

This blog is dedicated to my love of eating, cooking, writing and reading about food. In it you'll find recipes, book reviews, restaurant reviews and various other food related bits and pieces.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Inspiration or Inception?

Today was my day off and apart from having a driving lesson, I didn't have much planned. I knew I wanted to write something, but was a bit stuck for ideas, so instead spent a good deal of time looking at the colourful houses of Totterdown and daydreaming....

(Image sourced from BBC)

Feeling disappointed at my lack lustre approach to the day and with grey skies threatening to rain, I thought "To heck with it!" and had a nap......
But instead of this well and truly putting a stop to my creativity, I dreamt of beautiful poetry being read to the sound of violins and cellos, fields of lavender perfumed my dream, and I could still smell them when I woke up.

Then it came to me, one line of poetry (not lavendar related).... and here are the results:

I dream of runner beans
Creeping up canes
In shades of green
Boasting red flowers and bursting pods

Twisted vines, strangling wooden rods

I dream of snapping stems
Creeping up canes And snatching them
A stolen salad in a bowl
Topped and tailed, blanching whole

I awoke to smelling salt
Bubbling water
And hunger pangs
A tender side, with a glass of wine
A meal thought out with a dream in mind

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I think I might be on to something here with the old food/poetry malarkey. Poetry was something I'd always envisaged myself doing full-time and I think after doing this food writing course, I'm having something of a Renaissance period.... we'll see!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I'm still in heaven, although I'm not in Devon...

So it's been five days since I departed. Departed from that house, those people, that dog. Left Devon, left those luscious green fields, traded them for those grey high rise buildings of Liverpool...

I've been rained on, soaked through, worked my fingers to the bone, worn out and worn down, I've been through it all. But a glimmer of sunshine appears.

Like an enlightening experience that people only see once in a lifetime, my memories of Totleigh Barton are being kept alive.

Through baking, cooking, reading and writing, immersing myself in all that is food and through these mediums, I will keep my memories alive. These memories are motivation, stimulation, a way to escape the rut that was my life.

Now I write like I did when I first fell in love. I'm meeting my soul mate for the very first time, all over again.

Everything is fresh, vibrant and full of promise. But this isn't nostalgia, this is now. This is happening. I am awake, rediscovering a lost love and immersing myself in it's warm embrace.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ingredient of the month- Gooseberry

Henry the 8th may have been a bit of a cad when it came to prenuptials and when it came to matters of the heart, it’s hard to picture the same man who ordered the execution of two of his wives, supposedly penning the fraught lyrics of ‘Greensleeves’.

As the Tudor King continued wooing his young lover, Ann Boleyn, academic and naturalist William Turner was busy discovering the wonders of the British hedgerow in shades of purplish red, blues, pale greens and straw yellows, classifying the humble European gooseberry in his late 16th century publication, Herball.

These small, bristly berries which pepper the thickets of ruins around the countryside, are often picked, topped and tailed, boiled in their own juices, sour faces are sweetened as they bubble away, their flavour bursting into flamingo pink syrup which engulfs them.

With that in mind, I have created my own take on the classic, using flavours from the orient to complement the sharp tang of the gooseberries. Do make sure you taste the fruit puree as it reduces to ensure you don’t strip anyone’s palate!

Love Fool- a tribute to Ann Boleyn

225g Dessert Gooseberries
225g Red Gooseberries
50g Caster Sugar
2x Star Anise

2x Egg yolks

200ml Double Cream

150ml Whole Milk
50g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

3 tbsp Icing Sugar (sieved)

1 tsp Orange Blossom Water

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (to decorate)

1. Top and tail the gooseberries, rinsing away any debris under the tap.
2. Place them into a pan with the caster sugar and star anise. Bring this gently to the boil and then simmer gently until soft and pulpy. Set aside to cool.

3. In the meantime, make the custard. Place the yolks, sugar, 50ml of double cream and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat, whisking the thick mixture to keep it smooth.

4. Add the milk gradually as the custard starts bubbling. Remove from the heat when the mix is thick and creamy.

5. Whip the remaining cream with the icing sugar and orange blossom water until it reaches stiff peaks.

6. Once the gooseberries are cool, separate the crushed fruit from the juices (keep this in somewhere safe!).
7. Gently fold the cream and custard together, adding the fruit a little at a time.

8. Taste the mixture for tartness. Add some of the reserved, pink gooseberry juice to add more zing, or more sieved icing sugar if the mixture is too tart.

9. Place the muddled mixture into a large serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle a little more of the fantastic gooseberry ‘essence’
over the top just before serving.
Serves 6

Total Immersion, Totleigh Barton

The antiquated walls of Totleigh Barton have seen me eating too much, cooking too little, detaching myself from reality, musing about Ukrainian cuisine and re-discovering my love of Cadbury's Hot Chocolate.

Under the watchful eyes of Peter Gordon and Yotam Ottolenghi, my style dissected and analysed beyond recognition. Good intentions, finally realised and given time to germinate, years after the smallest seed of an idea was sown, the lush backdrop of the Devonshire countryside acting as inspiration. Bountiful hedgerows boasting a crop of vibrant colour and more berries than you could ever pick.

Strangely enlightening discussions under blasting gas furnaces, the patchy roof of the barn whistling as another brisk gust rattles through the rafters.

Memoirs by AA Gill met with praise and repulsion, his witty overtones marred by moral anguish and the part he played in the shooting of a baboon.

The resounding disgruntlement at Tom Parker Bowles' attempt at food writing, his misogynistic, meat heavy meals.
The nostalgic smell of the abattoir fondly remembered alongside the image of a small child clinging to their father's legs.

Totleigh Barton, a stream of consciousness, a thriving pool of ideas flowing into the cow fields. Ideas embraced and nurtured, the de-mystification of the elusive magazine editor setting countless minds at ease, the shaky start to a first attempt at making custard from scratch. Renowned chefs bonding with a Shepherd's Crook bought at the market.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Hatherleigh Farmers Market

Pulling into the dusty car park, metal corrugated roofs stretched out as far as the eye could see. A gaggle of locals congregated around the various gatherings of fruit, vegetables and brick-a-brack, some making polite conversation, others questioning the quality of a local pork sausage, much to the stall holder’s dismay...

But I wasn’t en-route to some life changing bartering experience on the continent; I was immersing myself in the Devonian delights Hatherleigh Market has to offer. From locally sourced Kurly Kale leaves, to the freshly picked scarlet Strawberries from Lifton Farm, we were spoilt for choice from a produce point of view.

I was however, a little concerned and bemused, that one of the vendors had a white transit van advertising: ‘Fruit, Veg, Tools etc’. I can honestly say that these four words do not sit well in a sentence for me. I’m still wondering what other services this jack of all trades offers to the general public ....

Perhaps it might explain why I was able to (if I wanted) pick up a feather duster from the same man that had just sold me a bag of apples.

The car boot-style product range reflected what I can only presume to be the markets ethos ‘something for everyone’. The site, which was originally built as a slaughter house has in turn, made way for the market, which has now made way for pet supplies, ice-cream vans and a livestock auction. Now that’s what I call progress!

Despite these glorified flea market stalls being fronted with local produce, providers were unashamed to admit their tomatoes were procured from places afar, such as Holland, but proud to proclaim their strawberries came from Mitchell, Cornwall, their west-country accents adding a seal of authenticity to their pitch.

The market culture still exists here and Hatherleigh has adapted and changed with the times in order to keep the locals tantalised. Where else could you meet characters like Dan the Fish Man who claimed ‘you’re in heaven when you’re in Devon’? These are the individuals that only the likes of Chaucer could describe with some level of accuracy.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Review- Matou

Well folks, it was my birthday yesterday and guess what? I felt like celebrating!
I'd heard great things about Matou situated at the Pier Head and decided it was well worth checking out seeing as it was a special occasion and all...

We arrived slightly early and were welcomed into the vicinity by a cheerful chap who directed us to the lift. With this in mind, my expectations had been raised somewhat, you know, start as you mean to go on etc...

When we got to the second floor, I was stunned by the architecture of the restaurant, as well as the views. But despite the restaurant being only half full, the waitress seemed exasperated and stressed when performing such a simple a task as showing us to our table.

But it was my birthday and I wasn't going to let anyone spoil it! The service continued to be chaotically disorganised as we waited about with our menus, our parched mouths getting drier by the second.

We decided to each have a soup course and share a tempura seafood platter and I decided to have the duck breast as my main course. But before the starters (and our drinks) arrived a gentleman who was very sure of himself approached with three steaming hot plates of Pad Thai and proceeded to clear our side plates... We kindly insisted that we hadn't ordered these dishes and he left for the correct table....

A waitress approached the table and informed us that the seafood platter was for a maximum of two people (even though it stated on the menu minimum 2 people), but by that point, I was so confused and hungry I just nodded and smiled...

Our starters arrived and all I can describe them as is mediocre... the soup was vaguely oriental flavoured, but nothing special. Then another waitress informed me I'd been misinformed about the duck dish I'd ordered... again, I smiled and nodded to avoid any further complications.

Once our soup bowls were cleared, our 'seafood platter' arrived... Now usually with Tempura, you expect a light, crisp batter simply coating the fish without impeding on the flavour. However, we received a mound of battered bits that looked like a blind child had been let loose on the deep fat frier and piled the greasy seafood tit-bits on our plate that simply slipped through my chopsticks...

A considerable amount of time elapsed before our main courses arrived, which provided a little breather. My father's dish arrived as a bland, flavourless plate of food drained of all colour and texture. When my dish arrived, I had to check that the correct meal had been delivered to me as my duck was so over-cooked, it was unrecognisable.

Despite the duck breast being sliced onto the plate, the chef failed to spot that there wasn't one pink bit in sight and decided to send it to my table all the same. Some people just don't have standards, but I do...

Needless to say, my birthday wasn't ruined as it's the company that counts... my advice, order in a takeaway, there's more flavour in a stock cube than all the food in Matou put together!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

I'm back and bursting with ideas!

So, it's been a wee while since my last Goremet update and loads has happened which has inevitably stood in the way of me updating my beloved blog....

But rather than lay on the apologies, I thought I'd update with some fantastic foodie news and tasty tit bits of information.

Firstly, I'm re-thinking my relationship with food... It's what I love and am passionate about it, but it ain't doing my figure much good. I recently went on the look out for a bikini and found myself just about squeezing into my 'usual' size, but I'll admit it wasn't a flattering fit. I bought the bikini regardless and have given myself an achievable goal which must be reached before I go to Mauritius (at the end of August).... so it's bye bye carbs for a while....

Secondly, it's my birthday next week and I'm trying to decide what kind of cake I should make myself
(sad, I know!)- I thought I might make a healthy hoeny and rose cake or something.... You may scoff, or even feel sorry for me, but I'd sooner slave away and make my own little labour of love than have a shop bought cake. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to show off my creative flair to all those lucky people I'm going to share it with!

Also, I'm trying to decide where I want to eat on my birthday... Matou? Etsu? San Carlo? Red Perilla? Piccolinos? I just don't know! Somewhere new and exciting that doesn't break the bank, but is just that bit extra special...

Oh yeah and I've got to start planning and financing my trip around Europe next year as well as sourcing ideas for my wedding... It's all getting a bit much! I want things to start arranging themselves, but I know that ain't gonna happen...

And finally, the time has come... in exactly one week, I'll be travelling down to the South-West to partake in the Arvon Foundation Food Writing Course and I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!

And that's just my social life..... work's been very busy with canape events and a fully-booked restaurant and with Delifonseca Dockside on the horizon, it's sure to get even more hectic... but do you know what? I don't think I'd like my life as much if there wasn't a million things happening at once, I just need to take a step back, along with a deep breath and FOCUS!!!!!!!!!!

With that in mind and Book it or Cook it's first birthday just a month away, I have plenty in store to whet the hungriest of appetites!

Let the feast begin!