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.

14-Italy Live Moretti Beer (15) 13-Italy Live Moretti Beer (14)  15-Italy Live Moretti Beer

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.

12-Italy Live Moretti Beer (13)

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



How I use Pinterest and the launch of Pinterest UK

Have you caught the Pinterest bug yet?

If you are a food blogger, you really should use Pinterest to share and syndicate your content. It is a visual sharing social network and makes it really find insipiration for new recipes, travel and style ideas. One of the best things about using Pinterest is that it is now a bigger referrer of traffic than twitter, bing and stumbleupon combined. (Great for SEO too).

I use it to pin my blog posts to reach a new audience via Pinterest. I use Pinterest to find inspiration and if I see something that takes my fancy, I will pin it so that I won’t forget and to make it easy to find again. I also use it to find new blogs to read and follow. When I see things that I like, amuses me or educates me, I will repin it to one of my boards. One of the things that have struck me is the immense amount of talent out there. There are some stunning photos and so many clever recipes and ideas.

Pinterest UK Launches

Pinterest has just launched a UK version. What does this mean? Pinterest is virtual so it seemed a bit odd that it has launched a UK version. When I met with Enid from Pinterest a few weeks ago, I learnt the new UK version has proper English Spelling and when you sign up you will be shown a selection of UK pinners to follow instead of the global ones which are shown now.

Evan Sharp Co Founder of Pinterest at the Pinterest Launch UK

Evan Sharp Co Founder of Pinterest at the Pinterest Launch UK

Here is one of my boards (you can add this widget to a blog post or to your blog sidebar)


Some pinning tips

  • Make your images pinnable
  • Pin your blog posts
  • Join some collaboration boards
  • Make friends, follow fellow bloggers and repin and comment on their pins

You can add a pin it button to your blog with the code that Pinterest gives you from the settings or if you use wordpress there are quite a few plugins that you can use. I like the Hover Pin It as the pin button appears over the image.

As part of their Pin it forward campaign, I was introduced to Juliane who’s an American expat in London. You can follow her on Pinterest here.

If you haven’t signed up to Pinterest yet, you can do so here and follow me too. Be warned, it is highly likely that you will get addicted to this.


Follow Me on Pinterest

Royal Ascot Preview with Tom Kerridge and Olly Smith

Royal Ascot besides being one of the major events in the horse racing calendar, it is also an essential part of “The Season” and is one of the highlights of summer. Everyone knows the famous ladies day at Ascot where the ladies vie for attention wearing the most outrageous hats and outfits.

 Royal Ascot 2013

Whether you are going to Royal Ascot for the horse racing or for the social event, this year, there is an added attraction, superb Michelin starred food. Tom Kerridge, the 2 star chef from the Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow will be showcasing his modern British cooking at the Panoramic Restaurant. The menus will be matched with a selection of fine wines chosen by Olly Smith.

Tom Kerridge Olly Smith Royal Ascot

The other evening, I attended a preview of the menu that Tom will be featuring at the restaurant. Among the traditional English dishes that have been given the Kerridge treatment are Treacle Cured Beef Fillet and Braised Shin, English Asparagus Salad and Summer Truffle Dressing and a Beluga Vodka Sorbet.

Tom Kerridge Olly Smith Royal Ascot

Treacle Cured Beef Fillet

Tom Kerridge Olly SMith Royal Ascot

Beluga Vodka Sorbet

om Kerridge Olly SMith Royal Ascot

An array of locally sourced cheeses

I used to go racing with some friends who had a stud farm and a few racehorses. It was always fun but not always profitable, even with tips from the trainers. If you have never been to a horse racing meet, Ascot is a great one to experience, especially on Ladies day. 

Tom’s menu and Olly’s wines will be offered at the Panoramic Restaurant from 18 – 27 June and you can get more details at www.royalascothospitality.co.uk

Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Royal Ascot Hospitality