Avocado and Mango Ice Lollies (In Association with Magimix)

As part of the Brazilian recipe series, I have a really simple ice cream or ice lolly recipe using Avocados. In Brazil, they use Avocados in both savoury and sweet dishes like Avocado Mousse and Avocado and Coconut cream. The creaminess that the avocado imparts makes it an ideal ingredient in ice cream.

Healthy Fat in Avocado - The avocado is one of those super foods that they always recommend in Anti Inflammatory diets as a good source of healthy fats. Besides being full of potassium it a souce of healthy monounsaturated fat that is easily burned for energy. Some studies have found that by eating half an avocado with a burger inhibited the production of inflammatory compounds. If you follow any sort of low carb diet, avocados is a good ingredient to add to increase your intake of healthy fats.

So try this Mango and Avocado Ice Cream recipe as a healthy alternative to other fat laden desserts.

Avocado and Mango Ice Lollies Dairy Free

Avocado and Mango Ice Lollies Dairy Free


  • 1 large ripe mango, cut into chunks
  • 2 Avocados, flesh scooped out or cut into chunks
  • 200ml canned coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbsp Golden Caster sugar or honey if you prefer. Add to taste


  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. I used the mini bowl and the main blade in the Magimix to make the first batch.
  2. Fill the ice lollie moulds to the top and put in the sticks.
  3. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
  4. When ready, you can soak them in a little hot water to get them out of moulds.
  5. To decorate, you can either roll them in some dessicated coconut to make them look pretty or partly dip them in chocolate or even drizzle over some melted chocolate to make a lacey design.
  6. Enjoy!

If you don’t want to make ice lollies, you can put the mixture into an ice cream machine or even better, use this nifty new tool Chef’n Ice Cream Maker where you can make ice cream in 90 seconds.



Brazilian Black Eyed Bean Salad or Salada de Feijao Verde (In Association with Magimix)

The cuisine for this summer is of course Brazilian since everyone has been infected by World Cup fever. My little contribution to that are a selection of Brazilian recipes that I thought I’d try out using ingredients that are new to me.

In my research, I found that Black Eyed Beans or sometimes called peas is quite predominant in the cuisine. It’s found in Feijoada, the street food Acaraje, stews and salads.

So here I made a Brazilian Black Eyed Bean Salad  or Salada de Feijao Verde. It’s quite simple once you get all the ingredients together. In this salad, I added, the black eyed beans, tomato, avocado, red onions and coriander.

Adding avocado to a salad with tomatoes has shown to increase absorption of lycopene and beta-carotene, recent research shows. Even avocado oil added to salad gets the same results. The best way to get the most beneficial part (the darkest green area under the skin) of avocado is to peel the skin off by hand. Avocados themselves contain a large array of carotenoids which is believed to be the key factor in its anti-=inflammatory properties. Avocados also contain good fats which is high in Oleic acid which is shown to lower the risk of heart disease.

I made this salad using the Magimix 4200XL Food Processor to chop all the ingredients. This very handy kitchen appliance  made quick work of it. I am really impressed with all the different blades that come with it and the variety of functions it has like besides the obvious slicing, chopping and grating to mixing bread dough and making smoothies with it’s special blender attachment.

Brazilian Black Eyed Bean Salad or Salada de Feijao Verde

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serve 4 people

Brazilian Black Eyed Bean Salad  or Salada de Feijao Verde

A simple, healthy recipe using Black Eyed beans, avocado and tomatoes. Work really well as a side salad or bring it along to a picnic.


  • I can black eyed beans or use 400g rehydrated dry beans if you can find them
  • 1 large onion, red or white
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. If you are using dried beans, boil for about 20 minutes until tender, then drain.
  2. For this recipe, I used the main bowl and the main blade to chop the ingredients.
  3. Firstly, I put in the peeled onions and roughly chopped them using the pulse button
  4. Then, I added the tomatoes and coriander and chopped those too
  5. To assemble the salad, mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  6. Make the dressing in another bowl by mixing in the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice and seasoning
  7. Dress the salad and adjust seasoning.
  8. Serve.

Magimix provided EatCookExplore with the food processor for this recipe. 
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Botanical Brews at the Polo Bar Westbury Hotel

What is more English than a tall cool G&T. The Polo Bar at The Westbury has elevated the classic G&T with a new menu of botanical infusions in association with Tanqueray’s No. 10 Gin. This new menu was created by 2 of London’s top mixologists, Tim Homewood and Elias Yiallouris. The Polo Bar has just won the award for the Best Mixology at the London Club and Bar Awards.

After weeks of tweaking, they have settled on a menu which includes a Blue Lady Tea & Grapefruit Peel, Fennel & Star Anise , Blackberry & Hibiscus Tea & Lemon Peel, Cinnamon, Clove & Vanilla, Rose with Elderflower tonic, Pink Pepper & Orange Peel, all served with Fever Tree flavoured tonics.

We were there recently to try out the new Gin menu. The elegant Polo Bar is the Westbury Hotel was really bustling for a weeknight. It’s a popular haunt for the local Mayfair clientele, stopping for an after work drink.  It’s also the perfect location for ladies to take a weight off their feet after a marathon shopping session along Bond Street. The long room is dominated by a long Art Deco bar and seating on low bar tables scattered around the room, with windows overlooking Brook Street.

The Gin is served with a tray of spices and flowers which is then infused in a glass teapot before being poured over ice, some citrus peel and topped with a matching flavour of tonic. The spice infusions and the flavoured tonics really transforms the flavour a classic G&T. If you have never tried the drink like this, I’d urge you to stop by The Polo Bar and be prepared to be surprised.

Besides, the G&Ts they have a long list of cocktails, fine wines and spirits too. They also serve some gourmet canapes like these goats cheese cones, crispy prawns and seared tuna bites. 

Polo Bar
Westbury Hotel
37 Conduit St,
London W1S 2YF
020 7629 7755

Polo Bar Westbury Hotel (6)

Polo Bar Westbury Hotel (11)

Polo Bar Westbury Hotel (10)

EatCookExplore was a guest of The Polo Bar 


Discover great tasting Isle of Wight Tomatoes

No more tasteless tomatoes

I have never paid much attention to tomatoes and all I really knew was that I liked Italian plum tomatoes for my pasta sauces, fresh San Marzano when I can find them in local Italian delis, cherry tomatoes on the vine and plain old no name varieties in the big buckets in supermarkets. I have never had the luxury of buying my tomatoes by the name, instead I have been buying by the colour and type. 

All that has changed after my recent visit to the glasshouses that grow an amazing variety of fantastic tasting British Tomatoes on the Isle of Wight where I tasted some very juicy, flavourful, ripe tomatoes. My tomato tastebuds have been awakened. Gosh, we have been duped for such a long time, being offered only those tasteless generic, unnaturally uniform and tasteless water filled red fruits anymore.

Arriving on the Isle of Wight via the ferry/train combo, I am met by Paul Thomas and Joni at the station. A short drive through to the heart of the diamond shaped island is a lush green fertile valley which is the home of Wight Salad’s 26 hectares of greenhouses, where the  Isle of Wight tomatoes are grown. 

Isle of Wight tomatoes greenshouses
We meet up with Ross Hammond, Site Ops Manager to take us on a tour of the facilities. At the first greenhouse, we don white jumpsuits, shoe coverings and gloves, careful to not bring in any microorganisms that could taint the health of the plants. All the greenhouses are its own ecosystem and we had to be careful not to transfer any pesky bugs from one to another.

The humidity and heat hits you as you walk through the doors, then your green smell that get when you have a hot box full of green plants and ripe fruits. There are rows upon rows of very tall tomato plants, well over 10 feet tall in some circumstances, trailing like triffids up support poles. The vines can grow up to 40 feet in length it seems.

Each plant is heavily laden with fruit of varying degree of ripeness. Men on tall machinery are working by hand, picking ripe fruit for the market, tying up the growing stalks, cutting back sections, pruning by hand or sometimes even hand pollinating the plants.

Isle of Wight tomatoes Greenhouses

The tomatoes are picked daily when they reach the desired amount of ripeness that is judged by its colour of 5 as per the chart. Here they like to pick their fruits at their ripest to ensure that optimum flavour. The Isle of Wight tomatoes get their great taste from the amount of sunshine they receive and benefit from being picked only when ripe.

the tomato stall (46)

Freshly picked Isle of Wight tomatoes

Freshly picked Isle of Wight tomatoes on the vine

As we traverse the rows of tomato plants, I spot many different varieties, distinct by their different colours, shapes and sizes. There are little yellow ones, stripey brown ones, big green ones, red plum shaped ones and more. Plucking the ripe fruits straight off the vine to taste leaves a lasting impression, each variety I tried had a completely different flavour. The juicy fruits were sweet and fragrant and some were more tart but each one was quite different and definitely did not taste anything like the tasteless varieties that I have been buying from supermarkets. Joni tells me that some of the staff here like to snack on bowls of ripe cherry tomatoes instead of  sweets and I would too if they tasted like these ones.

The tomato plants are grown in coconut husk and watered with nutrient enriched water. The air in the greenhouses are controlled for both temperature and composition and Co2 is pumped in where required. Bright yellow and white boxes nestled between the rows houses bumblebees who naturally pollinate the plants. They even use predator insects to keep other harmful bugs at bay.

The bumblebee pollinators

The bumblebee pollinators

Organic Isle of Wight Tomatoes

About 10 hectares of greenhouses grow organic tomatoes. The difference is the soil in which the tomatoes are grown in, which is made of compost from the plant waste and from all the other material that supports the growing like the string to tie up the plants to the support sticks. In the darker months, the greenhouses use artificial lights to prolong the growing period. Typically the yield for organic tomatoes is about 15% less than the conventional crop.

the tomato stall (22) the tomato stall (23)
Growing Tomatoes on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight, besides being England’s largest island, is also one of the sunniest place in England which makes it an ideal place to grow tomatoes. The Wight Salad group started as a cooperative for local growers and started by selling their produce in some of London’s farmers markets. They found a loyal following and high demand which has led to today’s successful operations. They now supply over 50% of the British tomatoes in the country. They sell to supermarkets across the country and also directly to the public at farmers’ markets across the South (which is how their business started) and also through their website.

On the Isle of Wight, with the help of  heating in the greenhouses, they can grow tomatoes from March until November. The greenhouses are kept at an even temperature throughout the year and the humidity is controlled too. Irrigation of the greenhouse is supplied by harvesting rain water and run off.

They grow over 200 varieties of tomatoes here and about 40 of these are sold regularly in shops. With their special access to tomato seed producers around the world, they are often asked to trial older lost varieties of Heirloom tomatoes and they probably have the largest repository of tomato seeds in the world.

You can see some of the varieties that they grow here  Some of the varieties are baby plum, piccolo (cherry tomato on the vine), coeur de boeuf, Angelle, Sun Choco, Jack Hawkins an old English Heirloom and even San Marzano, the celebrated Italian plum tomatoes.

The last greenhouse we visit is the one that gets the most sunshine. This one houses the varieties that they are trialling for tomato seed producers and also to experiment with other crops. At the back of this greenhouse are rows of chilli plants, this year experimental crop. Don’t be surprised to see this being added to their list of products later.

the tomato stall Isle of Wight tomatoes Isle of Wight Tomatoes - Heirloom tomatoes the tomato stall Many unusual varieties of tomatoes Isle of Wight Tomatoes
Other Tomato Products from The Tomato Stall

The Tomato Stall Products
Of course with all food producers, the fatter margins are with the added value products. Here, a lot of their nutrient and lycopene rich produce is used to make a variety of tomato based products under the The Tomato Stall brand. They make a variety of products like their distinctive bright yellow Sunshine Juice made with just tomatoes, which is now widely used to make Sunshine Mary’s, the golden version of a Bloody Mary.

The Tomato Stall's Sunshine Juice

The Tomato Stall’s Sunshine Juice 100% tomatoes, no additives

Their compact production facility also produces Chilli Jams, Chutneys, Oak Roasted tomatoes and Oak Roasted tomato infused balsamic. I’ve used the chilli jam in making cheese toasties, a generous smear really transforms this into a moreish. The Great Taste Award winning oak roasted tomatoes are terrific used in pasta sauces and chopped and added into a posh Mac and Cheese ( something I learnt from Tom Aikens recently).

the tomato stall - Isle of Wight tomatoes
Roasting  tomatoes for their award winning Oak Roasted Tomatoes takes over 10 hours of roasting ripe tomatoes in this oven, after cutting it by hand and manually turned. This is then smoked for about 4 hours. All highly labour intensive but the resulting flavour I can attest is sweet and flavourful.

If you have never tasted Isle of Wight tomatoes before, pop down to a local farmers market or order from them directly online. The people in the know order their tomatoes by name. You could also try one of their Specialty boxes which has a mixed variety of tomatoes that sometimes include some of the other less common varieties that they grow. Make sure you add some of their Roasted Tomatoes to that order too.

You can buy these amazing tomatoes and the other products from their site , in Waitrose or Sainsburys with the packs labelled Isle of Wight Tomatoes. They can be found at Borough Market or at selected farmer’s markets around London like Pimlico, Swiss Cottage, Barnes and on the Isle of Wight itself, you can buy their tomatoes at Farmer Jacks.   

EatCookExplore was a guest of The Tomato Stall and Isle of Wight Tomatoes

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.





My foodie guide to San Francisco

I love San Francisco. I have been there so many times and I discover new food trends and places to eat on every single trip. It’s such a multi cultural city and has that unique Californian take on food, leaning heavily on their Pacific Rim influences.

On my most recent trip where I spent a month traipsing around town, I found quite a few local food places to add to my list. This is by no means a comprehensive list but it is of the newer places I have found.  If you are planning a trip to SF, you might find this a useful guide.

This is not the comprehensive list and the reviews on this post is just a quick summary. There will be another one with another list of the places I didn’t fit onto this map. I will be adding more detailed reviews in separate individual posts.


San-Francisco-Foodie-Map-Eat Cook Explore-Virgin Atlantic

Map courtesy of Virgin Atlantic.

1. House of pancakes
937 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
This is not IHOP but a newish Chinese Restaurant in Outer Sunset serving Northern Chinese food even though the owner is Cantonese. Going by their name, they serve a savoury Chinese pancake filled with a variety of meats. The hand pulled noodles had a great texture, springy and just enough chewiness and Wok Hei. Loved the lamb skewers, fish in chilli oil, garlic string beans, fish sauce egg plant. Everything was good and very reasonably priced.

House of Pancakes on Urbanspoon

2. Hong Kong Lounge  
5322 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
Around the  other Chinatown in the Richmond area of San Francisco there are quite a few authentic Cantonese restaurants. The Hong Kong Lounge is a really popular local dim sum restaurant. Testament to this is that we got there early (before noon) for a mid week lunch and there was a queue. The only conversations we heard around us were in Cantonese, a good sign. They had quite a wide selection of dim sum on the . The American sized portions again are big so don’t order like you were in London. Loads to eat, very authentic and very reasonably priced.

Hong Kong Lounge on Urbanspoon

3. The Stinking Rose: A Garlic Restaurant  
325 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
The Stinking Rose in the North Beach area is an institution in SF. The Italian food is a bit hit and miss but must be tried, at least once. From the name, garlic features in everything. Our taste buds were singed from the raw garlic in olive oil dip on the tables. The mains were decent but not that memorable and the garlic ice cream was a vanilla ice cream with a hint of garlic. Not the most innovative or best Italian in the area and definitely not a date restaurant but great fun.

Turtle Tower Restaurant on Urbanspoon

4. Z & Y Restaurant  
655 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94133
The Z&Y Restaurant is an authentic Szechuan restaurant in Chinatown. We ended up here one evening when most other places in Chinatown had closed. It was actually a favourite of our Taiwanese friend who highly recommended it. It is open later than most so it gets a stream of people after 9pm. We had the mouth numbing cold noodles and Dan Dan noodles which were both good. A few other dishes were good too.

Z&Y Restaurant on Urbanspoon

5. El Salvador  
2278 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
One of the things I wanted to do on this trip was to try more South American restaurants in SF since we don’t have much authenticity or choice in London. One of the finds is El Salvador which was recommended by some Latino friends who live in the Mission. It is a small dining room run by a lady who has been running this place for years. It seems to be like a clubhouse for the Salvadorian community. They make really good pupusas (have the cheese stuffed ones), 2 for $5 served with jars of spicy salsa which you smother on as you prefer. You will find some very friendly ladies serving you. Before you leave, take a peek in the kitchen to see them making the pupusas.

El Salvador on Urbanspoon

6. Jayakarta Restaurant  
2026 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
This is an Indonesian restaurant that relocated to Berkeley from another part of town. It seems to attract a lot of students and South East Asian clientele from around the Bay Area. They have an enormous menu, lots of choices. I went with a group of Malaysian friends who were missing the spicy dishes of home. We went especially for the weekend special “nasi bungkus” or translated rather unglamourlessly as packet rice. It’s quite a large serving with good beef rendang but not too keen on the nangka side dish. The spicy eggplant dish was too sweet and tomatoey.The lumpia they served had gone bad but they did apologise. I would go back to try the other dishes if I were in that part of town but it’s probably not worth the trek to Berkeley if you are in the middle of town.

Jayakarta on Urbanspoon

7. Taqueria Vallarta  
3033 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Deep in Mission, somewhere I would not have dared venture a few years ago. Since Mission is now super hip and happening, these authentic local places are open to all. An authentic no frills cheap and cheerful Mexican taco bar! Great carne asado taco. The taco guy mans his hot plate by the door. The menu is on a faded board behind him. Just order a variety like the tongue tacos and smother it with your own choice of sauces. Watch out for the very hot sauces. If you have never had it before, try the horchata or tamarindo which is a popular Mexican drink made with either rice, seeds, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. The place is a bit basic and you seat yourself but it’s an experience.

Taqueria Vallarta on Urbanspoon

8. Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market  
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111
The Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market is open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and all day Saturday. It is the biggest and most famous farmers market in San Francisco. It now spills over the front of the ferry building, all around the side and the back of the building. There are some permanent food shops and restaurants in the main building. Spend Saturday morning here and wander around tasting some of the great street food stalls, buy some of the fresh local produce from markets around the Bay Area. There are some seats at the back of the building facing the bay where you can catch some sun while you stuff yourself with all the irresistible foods for sale here.
9. Turtle Tower  
645 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94109
I came here with friends who say that this is their favourite pho place in SF. They serve it Northern Vietnamese style which means no bean sprouts and green stuff on top of the noodles. The broth is chicken and not beef like elsewhere. It’s a clear, clean flavoured broth and they use slightly thicker pho noodles. It’s not bad but not wow. The rice paper rolls is enormous (I forgot about the American sizing of portions), one order is enough for 4 people. Don’t think it is a starter for one unless you have an American appetite. It’s recently been renovated and is quite clean and service is friendly. Be warned, it is in the Tenderloin and if you are not driving, it’s a dodgy area to walk around. The best thing about having lunch here is the Vietnamese snack shop next door for afters. They sell Banh Mi and a variety of unusual Vietnamese sweets and snacks.

Turtle Tower Restaurant on Urbanspoon

10. In-N-Out Burger  
333 Jefferson St
San Francisco, CA 94133
Love this place. You can’t visit California and not eat at In-N-Out Burger. As it’s the only one in SF and being I the middle of a very touristy area, it is thronged with people. We picked up a friend from New York at the airport and this was his first stop before anything else. Order off the secret menu for your burgers, drinks and fries. (Hint: Animal style burgers and fries) Don’t miss the double cooked extra crispy fries. Best things ever!

In-N-Out Burger on Urbanspoon

11. Little Star Pizza  
 400 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
I am not usually surprised by restaurants and food but this place deep in the Mission was a very pleasant surprise. Their pizzas are quite unique. They come on a thick sour dough base and is topped with a highly reduced tomato sauce and various other toppings of your choice. We had the brass monkey off the secret menu (notice the trend). I am not a big fan of pizza, let alone deep dish pizzas but this was sensational. The crust was had a chewy and a slightly crunchy texture. The sauce was highly flavoured and the combination of toppings made this quite a unique combination of mouth feel and flavour. I wouldn’t call it pizza, it’s a whole new food group and it’s great. That’s saying something for someone who doesn’t really like pizzas.
There a few branches of these around town, don’t miss this one.

Little Star Pizza on Urbanspoon

12. 37 Degrees
1155 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
Places don’t open very late in San Francisco. Unless you are in the centre of town, there are not many places to hang out after 9pm. In some of the outer lying areas of town are a few of these late night Asian dessert places. We came here specifically for the snow ice. We had the mango flavoured ice with some fruit toppings. Nice texture but the flavours tasted synthetic. This didn’t seem to deter the clientele. We had a couple of drinks too. The lychee and osmansthus drink was overwhelmed by the lychee flavoured syrup. Shame. The menu looked promising.
13. Green Earth Natural Foods
860 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Divisadero is such a great street for shopping and eating. Lots of good neighbourhoody restaurants and fabulous food shops. This is a good place to shop locally for organic and whole foods. They sell a vast variety of grains and other goods in bulk so you can pick out what you want by weight. It is not covered with glitzy lights and high end packaging so you can get your wholefoods at decent prices

Food Photography with Nokia Lumia #FoodiesOnTour

This is guest post by Jo Yee who covered this fab event for the blog when I was away travelling. 

These days with the popularity of mobile photography it’s no surprise that more and more people mistakenly refer to their mobile as their camera. I, myself, am an iPhone user but was intrigued by the opportunity to shoot with the Nokia Lumia
1020 at the #FoodiesOnTour event sponsored by Microsoft Devices Group. With 40 megapixel capability and fitted with Zeiss lens I think its safe to say the device is more camera than phone!

Winning presentation!

The food styling & photography masterclass was held at Leiths School of Food and Wine and taught by cookery teacher and food stylist, Jessica Mills. Each blogger was equipped with either a Nokia Lumia 1020 or its bigger brother, the Nokia Lumia 630 to capture the evening.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

After an introduction and overview of the evening we were given a quick tutorial on how to use the camera phone with its manual settings then Jessica’s colleague, Jenny, demonstrated how to prepare a rack of lamb. My fellow bloggers and I were then put to work in cooking, styling and photographing our dinner assisted by Jessica.

On the menu was:

Starter: spinach and bacon salad with red chilli and mango

Main: rack of lamb coated with mustard & breadcrumbs and tomato mint salsa

Dessert: pavlovas with mint, papaya, pomegranate and passion fruit.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class


Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Broken into teams of 3, we divided and conquered our individual courses. From my team, Andrew ( took on the unenviable task of preparing the rack of lamb (read: fat trimming and scraping away the membranes connected to each rib) while Tash ( seduced us with the aroma of bacon for the salad and I went on unchartered territory in trying my hand with pavlovas.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia


Food Styling

Another team’s presentation


The recipes Jessica provided proved to be pretty reliable as we were all happy with the results. The lamb was a tad overcooked but tender and complemented by the texture of the mustard and breadcrumb crust. The bacon salad sung beautifully as I expected it to, after all it was dressed with bacon fat! The pavlovas, I’ll admit, were a little over worked but held their own, a sweet tang danced from bite to bite.
We eagerly tucked in after a round of styling & photographing, breaking bread with the rest of the bloggers. At the end of the evening, Jessica presented the Leiths Cookery Bible to the winner of the casual food styling competition… me!

Here are the final results from my team’s food styling attempts. And I’ll leave you with some handy food styling tips from Jessica:

Food Styling tips

Food Styling and Photography Tips

- Use less food than you normally would. Think about framing the dish with
the plate.

Food Styling tips

- Look for a complementary background and props.

- Think about textures.

- Food doesn’t have to be too placed; it can look slightly messy and random
within reason

- Choose crockery that will enhance rather than detract

- Think about work in progress shots i.e. ingredients or just before something
goes in the oven

- You may wish to photograph a dish whole or a bit or scoop taken out of it

- Think about how you’re going to shoot the dish i.e. overhead, at a slight angle,
or on the side

- Think about colours, textures, patterns of food and props.

Food Styling tips

- Think about the lighting of the dish. Consider how you want the finished dish
to look when you are prepping and assembling the ingredients.

- Think about height and make it interesting, although some dishes work quite
well being flat

- Think about garnishes and how you can make the dish look fresher by
reserving some ingredients to scatter just before taking the photo.


EatCookExplore was a guest of  Microsoft Devices

Port and Chocolate Matching at Churchill’s Port House

Port and Chocolate Port House

Churchill’s Port House in Soho is undoubtedly London’s most unusual and unique pop up. It’s the brainchild of Max Graham whose family owns Churchill Port (first British Port wine company in 50 years) with the intention of bringing Port to a new audience and to demystify Port.

Most people associate Port as a fuddy duddy drink that only appears at the end of indulgent formal dinners and the tradition of passing the Port decanter to the left is still observed. A friend of mine has a massive collection of Vintage Port which has turned out to be a great investment and it was when I developed a taste for a fine Vintage Port.  

Port and Chocolate Port House (7)

At a recent Port and Chocolate pairing evening, we started with the Premium Tasting flight which consists of 3 ports paired with 3 chocolate truffles selected by Paul A Young.

Port and Chocolate Port House

First up is a Roasted Almond and Honey Caramel truffle paired with a White Port, served chilled. White Port needs to be reintroduced as a great alternative aperitif drink. This White Port is aged 10 years in barrels from mainly white grapes.

It has quite a savoury flavour and is normally served with  roasted almonds, hence this pairing. This truffle is made with local non grainy Richmond honey which makes the caramel really smooth.  

Churchills White Port Served cold as an aperitif

The second pair is a Peanut Butter and Raspberry Trifle paired with a rich Late Bottled Vintage Port. It might seem a bit strange to pair Port with chocolate and this Vintage Port would go well with peanuts so this truffle works really well.

Churchills Late Bottled Vintage Port
Peanut Butter and Raspberry Trifl

Port and Chocolate Port House (13)

The third pairing is a Cigar Leaf Caramel truffle which is something very unusual and special. There is a hit like hot chilli from the cigar leaf which is balanced by the oozing caramel, which is available at Paul’s shop. This truffle was paired with a 20 year old Tawny Port.

 Cigar Leaf Caramel truffle

John Graham founder of Churchill's Port

John Graham founder of Churchill’s Port

Churchill’s Port House really does a good job at changing the general public’s perception of Port. It is not longer that drink that you you pass around at the end of a meal. There are so many other ways to enjoy a good port. On their menu are a various  flights of Port to taste and you can choose to the chocolate pairing or some savoury food from their Portugese menu.

Churchill’s Port House would make a really unique night out and learn something new about different types of port. Catch it while you can.

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EatCookExplore was a guest at Churchill’s Port House.