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Tom Aikens helps launch Market Deli by Walkers

It’s always fun to attend events where great chefs are doing a demo or masterclass. Tom Aikens was at the launch of Walker’s new premium snacks range, Market Deli. His introduction emphasised his reliance on really good produce and the provenance of his ingredients.

Tom demonstrated a couple of dishes using some of the ingredients that inspired the new flavours of snacks, a spicy. chunky gazapacho wiht a multitude of ingredients and a very decadent Mac and Cheese.  I picked up a couple of useful tips from his demo:

1) always use warm milk when making roux, helps the sauce come together, no lumps.

2) add some chopped up sun dried tomatoes into your mac and cheese. This adds an extra dimension to the flavours.

Walkers’ new Market Deli range comes in 8 flavours inspired by “deli” foods like chorizo, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. The range come in potato chips, tortilla chips and the trendy pita chips which I quite like. My favourite flavour was the Flame Grilled Roasted Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion.

Walkers Market Deli

Market Deli Tom Aikens making mac and cheese

Tom Aikens making mac and cheese

Tom Aikens makes mac and cheese

Market Deli Tom Aikens adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs to mac and cheese

Market Deli (23) Market Deli (29) Market Deli (28) Market Deli (26) Market Deli (27) Market Deli (48) Market Deli (47) Market Deli (50)

Market Deli (55)

Market Deli (54)

 

EatCookExplore was a guest of Walkers at this event.

 

 

 

 

Waitrose Cellar Debuts – Wine Buying Guide Online

Waitrose Cellar

When I was younger, I tended to just buy wine from the local wine shop where I got some help with the wine selection.  In the last few years, after attending a lot of wine tastings and with the help and tips from my Wine Judge friend, I have learnt a lot more about wines. I am not an expert by any means but I can certainly make a more informed decision now.

Today, you can buy wine from websites online with each giving advice of varying quality. Waitrose has just launched Waitrose Cellar just for selling wine online. The site includes at a lot of  information on the types of wine and helps you with your selection including food matching tips. This is a really great resource for anyone who is not an expert.

I’ve been at a couple of wine tastings recently (Wines of Rioja and Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) where I was very ably led by one of the senior wine buyers from Waitrose. He is a walking wine encyclopedia and knew which wines and vintages to avoid and which ones were really amazing. When you are at a wine event where there are several hundred wines to taste in a day, this was a great help.

At the recent Waitrose Cellar launch event at the London Canal Museum, we met a couple of other Wine Buyers for Waitrose, Xenia and Stephane. Loaded onto a barge, our group drifted along the Regent Canal while sampling the Spring Foodie Collection of 12 wines. This collection was selected by the team and consists of some sparkling, some white and some red wines.

Waitrose Cellar (18)

Stephane Waitrose Wine Expert

Stephane Waitrose Wine Expert

 Of all the ones we tasted, I really liked

  • the award winning Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut made with only Pinot Noir, which will be great paired with Chinese food and fish and chips
  • the crisp and citrusy Waitrose Chablis (made by the Caves des Vignerons de Chablis) which will be good with seafood and
  • if you like dessert wines,  this sweet wine with a hint of peach was delicious, Waitrose Pacherence du Civ Bilh or Seriously Peachy.

Waitrose Cellar (66)

Waitrose Cellar (112)

The new Waitrose Cellar website lets you buy the wines by the type of grape, which I have not seen anywhere else. You can choose any of the pre mixed cases or choose your own. If you need help, you can either tweet them a question @waitrosecellar or call them. An expert will get back to you with some answers.

Waitrose Cellar Discount Code

Order any 6 wines at waitrosecellar.com with free delivery. Save £10 when you spend £100 with our code WTCELLAR514

Regents Canal London

Regents Canal London

Waitrose Cellar Canal Museum

 Waitrose Cellar (32)

Waitrose Cellar

Salut!

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing You All A Very Happy Christmas!

Wishing you all a very delicious and Happy Christmas and an abundant New Year!

christmas wreath

Festive Food and Wine Matching Guide

If you are like me and have no clue about matching wines to your festive food, here is a really handy Food and Wine Matching guide that can help you.

You can’t go wrong with some bubbly to serve as an aperitif or with the Christmas canapes. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a bottle of Crystal Champagne, then consider one of the many superb alternatives like a good Italian Prosecco or a sparkling English Wine.

For the main event, whether you are having a Roast Turkey or a Roast Goose, both red and white wine can be a good accompaniment but do have a read of the chart to help you pick the right one.

Don’t forget a good dessert wine. This year, I found a few great new sweet wines from France and Italy, both white and reds. This would be a nice option to go with your Christmas Pudding. Alternatively, you could even opt for a Chocolate Beer from the Meantime Brewing Company.

Have a fun with your festive feasting!

 

Food and Wine Matching guide

The Mince Pie Project For Kids Company and FoodCycle #MincePieProject

The Mince Pie Project is a unique charity initiative where top chefs create some unique mince pies and sell and auction them for good causes. The 2 causes chosen this year are The Kids Company and FoodCycle. (More about them below)

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4-Mince Pie Project

The Mince Pie Projects kicks off at noon on Friday 6th December. 100 top chefs will each create two boxes of signature mince pies of their own design.  One box will be auctioned to the highest bidder; the second box will be put up for raffle, in which anyone can get involved with a £2 donation per ticket. You can bid or buy a raffle ticket here:  www.themincepieproject.com 

Each box of signature mince pies will be submitted for the online auction, beginning at noon tomorrow and ending at noon on 13thDecember.

Some of this years most original and most anticipatedmince pie marvels include; mince pie ‘santamosas’ from Great British Bake Off Winner and design guru, Frances Quinn; bacon, bourbon and butterscotch mince pies from Neil Rankin at Smokehouse, lemon meringue mince pies from Duck & Waffle head chef, Dan Doherty and a volcano inspired, molten mince pie from Nobu head pastry chef, Regis Cursan.

I had the chance to taste a selection of these mince pies at their launch event and I have to say that Neil Rankin’s bacon, bourbon and butterscotch mince pies were really unique and would be worth recreating yourself if you don’t win the auction or the raffle.

2-Mince Pie Project (3) The other more notable and adventurous flavours were Alyn Williams’ Mincey Pienuts, a hybrid of a mince pie and a doughnut filled with brandy custard. Then there was Mickael Weiss’ modern twist with a marzipan base and a sweet macaron topping. Everything worked in this one except I don’t like marzipan. Mince Pie Project

About FoodCycle FoodCycle builds communities by combining volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen space to create nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Over 400,000 tonnes of edible food is wasted each year yet over 4 million people are affected by food poverty across the UK. Since FoodCycle started cooking in May 2009, their network of 1200 volunteers have served over 80,000 meals for people in need.

About Kids Company Kids Company provides practical, emotional and educational support to 36,000 vulnerable inner-city children. This includes 18,000 of the most at-risk children and young people in London, who face enormous challenges in their family homes and neighbourhoods. They provide support through four centres, outreach work and services in 46 schools. More information on the Mince Pie Project website: www.themincepieproject.com 

Mince Pie Project

Event Preview: James Martin at Ascot Festival of Food and Wine Raceday 7 Sept

Fine Food and Horse Racing

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday

Horse racing used to be just about the horses, betting and drinking. Nowadays, it’s so much more. This week, Ascot is hosting a Festival of Food and Wine Raceday this Saturday where they will be hosting cooking demonstrations by James Martin.

He will be cooking dishes using seasonal British produce and they will be simple recipes that you can recreate at home. He has also designed a menu to be served at the Windsor Forest Restaurant with dishes like home-cured salmon with charred cucumber, pickled ginger and tapioca crisp, followed by a slow roast fillet of beef with sautéed wild mushrooms, fondant potato and Madeira jus and for dessert a vodka and vanilla pannacotta with fresh raspberries and sugared doughnuts.

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday combines great racing with fantastic food.  Wine connoisseurs will be on hand to give expert advice on how to choose a wine to suit your palate, while the Festival of Food celebrates the best produce the local area has to offer.  Racegoers can shop between races, purchasing locally-produced items from county suppliers, and leaving them with the “Shop & Drop” facility to collect later.
James Martins’ menu is available for lunch in the Windsor Forest Restaurant and includes premier admission, exclusive table of 10 or shared table for smaller groups, a private balcony with trackside viewing, a glass of champagne on arrival, four course luncheon, Cellar Master’s selected wines, port or brandy with coffee, afternoon tea, complimentary bar throughout the day (excluding champagne) until 30 minutes after last race, one car park label per couple, a racecard and racing paper.

You can book by calling 0844 346 0346. Raceday tickets start from £16per person and children under 18 go free.  For more information and to book tickets, please visit ascot.co.uk

Italy Live in Soho

San Gimignano is a medieval town in Tuscany that is famed for it’s Etruscan ruins and historical sites. Nearby, there is an old labyrinth (like that in Crete) and even a sword in a rock (like excalibur). This town is not only mystical but quite mysterious too.

Italy Live Moretti Beer

Moretti Beer chose this town to host the Italian part of their summer shindig. Every summer, Moretti puts on a fun Italian themed event where take over a garden square in Soho and ply the locals with Italian beer and Italian food. This summer, they erected a big screen projecting some chefs cooking in the piazza of San Gimignano. Meanwhile in London, lots of hungry people are sat waiting for their lunch that is being cooked live in Italy.

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We weren’t actually waiting for the food to just beam out of the screen onto our plates as there was a kitchen hidden behind the screen cooking us the equivalent in London. It would have been much more fun to be sitting in that square in Tuscany than Golden Square in Soho but maybe next year.

What they served up was a pasta carbonara with guanciale (wild boar pancetta) wiht Pecorino.

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This was followed by an award winning Saffron and pine nut ice cream from that town. Sergio Dondoli, the boss of award winning  Gelateria Dondoli was on hand to dish out his award winning gelato and to wow the crowds with his larger than life personality. This man needs his own TV show.

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By one of the Moretti bars, the Pizza Pilgrim boys were slinging their wood fire oven pizzas. All this food was delivered with copius amounts of beer served by some very stylish ladies.

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What a fun to spend a hot summers day. Wonder how they will top this next year? By the way, if you missed this, you can still join in the fun as Moretti is running a competition to win a trip to San Gimignano on their Facebook page.

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Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Moretti at Italy Live.

Riverfood with Coopers

Rivers in and around London are teeming with edible species which are under represented on our plates. Yes, eating anything that swim in the Thames used to kill you but the water quality has improved a lot as shown by the recent heroic swims along its length.

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Coopers Riverfood Great view of Tower Bridge

Great view of Tower Bridge

Further down the estuary in Kent, it’s a lot richer in edible river life like pike, shellfish and eels. There are 125 edible species of fish in English rivers.

Riverfood London

Shucking Kentish Oysters – These were the small ones, the big ones get up to 1lb in weight!

Mad rush for the oysters

Mad rush for the oysters

Fish on the BBQ

Fish on the BBQ and a kitchen with a view!

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smoked pike
Smoked Pike
What were these creatures again?

What were these creatures again?

On the launch of their restaurant consultancy, Coopers hosted a gastro trip on the MV Royalty and took us for a breezy ride along the Thames and served up a variety of eats sourced from rivers and estuaries in England.

View of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge from the river

View of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge from the river

Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Coopers