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British Food Food Fortnight

September 17, 2009

19th September – 4th October 2009

The eighth British Food Fortnight starts this weekend. Running from 19th September to 4th October, the next two weeks see the biggest ever promotion of British food. Wembley Stadium, Grey Gables Hotel in Radio 4’s The Archers, the Cabinet Office, the BBC, St Paul’s Cathedral and the National Trust are just a few of the famous establishments taking part this year. Highlights include:

• MORE BRITISH PROMOTIONS IN SUPERMARKETS THAN EVER BEFORE…all the major supermarkets are running special British promotions during British Food Fortnight signifying the greatest support in the history of the event. And hundreds of independent stores will be flying the Union Jack in the high street with tastings, meet-the-producer events and special offers on British food, led by Budgens official sponsor of the event.

• MORE BRITISH FOOD ON MENUS THAN EVER BEFORE…eight of the largest food service organisations led by ARAMARK, six major pub groups led by Young’s, all the chef associations, the Youth Hostel Association, Anchor Care Homes and many others are putting British food on the menu during the two weeks.

• BBC’s HAIRY BIKERS LEAD NETWORK OF 9,000 CHEFS READY TO TEACH CHILDREN HOW TO COOK …the network is made up of chefs from some of the biggest catering organisations, chef associations and pub groups all of whom have signed up to sending people into schools to teach children how to cook during British Food Fortnight. This is the largest volunteer movement educating children about food.

• EAT YOUR WAY AROUND BRITAIN…more opportunities than ever before for people to enjoy British food with food festivals in Horsham, York, Cardiff, Devon, Nantwich, Isle of Man, Abergavenny, Cornwall, Manchester, Hastings, Alnwick, Luton, Glasgow, Kent, Norfolk, Newbury, Penrith, Brighton, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire; foraging walks, food trails and fungi forays; a Harvest Swap Shop and fruit and vegetable shows; ‘Bring back Granny’s Recipes’ and ‘Design a Sausage’ competitions; Mad Hatter’s tea parties and People’s Picnics; Plot to Plate cooking demonstrations and a drop-in cooking theatre; Meet the Farmer events and school trips to farms and even a ‘Dancing with Dabs’ musical fish procession!

• ACTIVITIES FOR THE YOUNG AND OLD…British Food Fortnight’s school programme is the biggest yet with prizes of Kenwood cooking equipment for the top 110 schools taking part. This year’s challenge is to use British seasonal food to design and cook a meal that contains a healthy balance of the food groups the body needs and contains at least two portions that count towards our 5 A DAY. And Anchor Trust, the biggest provider of Care Homes for the elderly, is planning lots of activities and special menus for its residents.

• IS IT BRITISH? YES MINISTER! …last year British Food Fortnight was credited with helping to increase the proportion of British food sourced by Government departments to 66%. NHS Trusts, school catering services and major Government departments including even the Cabinet Office are joining in the national celebrations this year and taking up the challenge to put British food on their menus during the Fortnight.

• COMPETIION TO WIN £1,000 CASH…to celebrate the biggest ever British Food Fortnight, the organisers are giving people the opportunity to win £1,000 in a cash draw. To enter simply go to

• WHY IS THE EVENT BIGGER THAN EVER THIS YEAR? Commenting on the huge amount of activity this year, organiser Alexia Robinson says: “Ironically, despite the tricky economic climate, this year’s British Food Fortnight is the biggest yet. People are thinking more carefully about the sustainability of the food chain and retailers and caterers know they need to respond to this. Consumers want value for money, but value in the case of food has never been just about price – it is about taste, freshness and quality. The best guarantee of these values is British food, produced to the highest standards in the world. The fact that nearly every major supermarket and catering organisation is participating says it all – British food really is flavour of the moment!”

For further information and details of specific events taking place across the country see

Eat Here – The Cut Bar and Restaurant at the Young Vic

September 13, 2009

The Cut and Lower Marsh have a lot of tasty treats to offer locals, but there is one little place that I love more than the rest. ‘The Cut Bar and Restaurant’ based in the Young Vic theatre on The Cut offers a wide range of  very affordable gastro pub dishes in a relaxed, community atmosphere.

I was lucky enough to eat the Oak Smoked Chorizo, Onion Gravy, Herb Mash, which for £9.50 was a total bargain. The sausages were incredibly firm and exploding with flavour. If you are planning to walk in a grab a table make sure it’s not during the theatre rush.

Top food deals this week

May 28, 2009

We all like to save money, and with only a few days away until pay day there couldn’t be a better time.

Here are my top food deals for this week:

Money Saving Expert: Martin Lewis and the team do it again with great offers such as 50% off at La Tasca, 2-4-1 at GBK and £29 meal and wine for two at Browns. Top Table are offering up to 50% off at many restaurants including Chowki, The Zetter and Sitaaray (my favourite) The guys at Last Minute are offering bargain £15 deals with restaurants including Tamarind, Imli and The Langley.

Please check websites for terms and conditions.

Depression Cooking with Clara – Cooked Bread

May 23, 2009

Another episode of Cooking with Clara; I love her.

Poor service knocks the song out of the Bluebird

May 19, 2009

I grew up in South East London and as a child I would go to the local pie and mash shop with my family every Saturday afternoon. It was stuffy, noisy and as basic as you could get with white tiles on the wall and a vending machine for drinks. We would share tables with other people and you would be in and out in less than 30 minutes. At  £4.00 a head we would leave very full and very satisfied, and the service was always fast.

With ‘cheap’ restaurants and cafes, people generally expect poor service and as a result you sometimes get certain walks of life avoiding such establishments, some may call it snobbery.  So when you go to a restaurant which has the brains of Conran behind it and customers from areas such as Chelsea and Pimlico, you assume and expect great, attentive service (and decent food).

The Bluebird Restaurant on Kings Road, Chelsea, has been around for a while now and generally attracts local business people and Chelsea mums. I’d never really been interested in going in, but since restaurants such as Bluebird, Cantina and The Chop House have started serving £15.00 two course lunches there really is no excuse to not to go in (well there might be once you’ve finished reading this).

I was being treated to lunch by a colleague,  there were five of us and we were all hungry. The huge restaurant was empty; waiters and waitresses floated around wiping creases out of table cloths and we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. It took approximately five minutes for us to decide what to eat, and 25 for them to ask what we wanted to eat. Please note, they hadn’t even asked us what we wanted to drink yet, so I had to ask if we could order our drinks as well.

In the old days I would have said that it would be unfair to judge a restaurant purely on the speed of service, but as the pressure to leave a tip or to (sometimes begrudgingly) pay a service charge has increased over the years, I can not help but take everything in to account.

This is a shame though, as the food overall was very satisfying. I ordered the chicken and ceps (mushroom) pie. I would like to point out that the pie came on its own, and when I ordered it I expected a recommendation of a side. Instead, on the request of my colleague at the end of ordering, he picked three sides he felt would accompany our meals. One was green beans; the other two were salads, one of which was covered in parmesan. Only one of the five meals would have gone with this particular side, and I can guarantee you lettuce does not soak up the juices of a pie well. YES, I am being picky, but this brings me back to my point on service.

Overall our food was delicious; I renamed my pie ‘the beast pie’ as it was enormous. The pastry was flaky and the chicken was tender. My colleagues nettle risotto was creamy and flavourful and the fish pie had big, meaty pieces of fish. But I still left unsatisfied due to the service. Maybe my three week stint experiencing New York restaurants turned me in to an arse, but service was as important as the food.

The phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t have been more spot on; maybe the Bluebird needs to start thinking about upping their prices again – but only if they up the service.

Average spend per person (lunch menu) £25 including drinks
Blurbird Restaurant, 350 King’s Road

I got 99 problems but a flake ain’t one

May 16, 2009

icecreamweekFinally a national week that’s worth celebrating: National Ice Cream Week. Running from the 1 – 7 June, the UK will see a series of gorilla style stunts and surprises from ice cream giveaways to Cadbury’s Flake 99 rollercoaster challenge.

So stock up your freezer and make sure that you are prepared for National Ice Cream Week.

To celebrate the week here are ten things you might not know about ice cream:

• The first evidence of ice cream comes from China during the Tang period. King Shang used to have a frozen dish made for him out of buffalo milk, flour and camphor.
• Ice cream first arrived in Europe in Italy in the 13th Century
• Ice cream sundaes are so called because they used to be sold on a Sunday as a way of getting around a law which made it illegal to sell flavoured ice cream on the Sabbath.
• The ice cream cone was first mentioned in Mrs Marshall’s Cookery Book in 1888.
• Brits eat an average of 9 litres of ice cream every year (dwarfed by Americans’ 21 litres!)
• Whenever ice cream sales rise, so do shark attacks!
• Over £100 million worth of ice cream is sold from UK ice cream vans every year.
• As a teenager, Barak Obama used to work in an ice cream shop.
• Strange ice cream flavours include Smoked Bacon and Egg, Black Pepper, Chilli, Black Pudding and Beer; and the Japanese even have horse meat flavoured ice cream!
• The most expensive ice cream sundae in the world costs $25,000 and contains edible 23-caret gold.

Would you like milk with your mackerel?

May 13, 2009

As I flicked through the food related press releases in my inbox this morning, I stumbled across a release from Kellogg’s, who has decided to put a spin on the usual way you would eat cereal for their latest campaign.

Nature’s Pleasure is Kellogg’s latest addition to the muesli family and Simon Rimmer from BBC2’s Something for the weekend has created ‘Nature’s Please Oat Rolled Mackerel’. I love mackerel, but I’m not sure if I’ll be making this in a hurry.

Mackerel and muesli
Mackerel and muesli

If you fancy rolling some fish in Kellogg’s latest cereal then here is the recipe:


4 mackerel fillets
2 beaten eggs
50g butter
100g porridge oats
100g Nature’s Pleasure Almond, Pecan and Raisin
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Mix the oats and Nature’s Pleasure together, then lay on a plate

2. Dip each fillet into the egg, season on both sides and then into the oat mix

3. Melt the butter in a frying pan, when it starts to foam add the fillets and cook over medium/high heat for 3 minutes each side taking care when flipping the fillets over

4.Serve with fresh watercress, dressed with vinaigrette