12 Stunning Buche de Noel for Christmas

Valrhona Chocolates hosted this beautiful showcase for 12 top Patisserie Chefs to create a Buche de Noel or Chocolate Yule Log for this Christmas. The results were jaw droppingly beautiful and delicious too. All of these limited edition creations are available to purchase from the respective restaurants and hotels. If you want a stunning centrepiece for your Christmas lunch, better hurry and reserve one.


Valrhona Buche de Noel (6)
Valrhona Buche de Noel

Eric Rousseau – Patisserie Belle Epoque, Islington
Carrement PoireChoc 

A base of moist madeleine sponge, soaked in William Pear Syrup. Pears in caramel and Valrhona Dulcey Cream surrounded by a light Valrhona
Caramelia mousse. Topped with spheres of pear pearls.

Valrhona Buche de Noel (22)

Andrew Blas – Café Royal, Regent Street
La Bûche du Père Nöel
Hazelnut cream, light joconde sponge, mandarin and Valrhona Nyangbo mousse.
Valrhona Buche de Noel (3)

Lewis Wilson – The Ritz, Piccadilly
Putting on the Ritz
A moist coconut dacquoise sponge, mango cremeux, passion fruit and passoa jelly, Crunchy Valrhona Opalys and coconut mousse

Valrhona Buche de Noel (4)

Regis Negrier – The Delaunay, Covent Garden
Layers of grand Marnier soaked sponge, Guanaja Mousse all finished with a velvet chocolate and a zingy marmalade

Valrhona Buche de Noel (5)

Cherish Finden – The Langham, Regent Street

Magic By Moonlight
Valrhona Caramelia mousse and a Valrhona Kalingo cream rolled inside a moist Kalingo sponge and crunchy praline.
The Langham Valrhona Buche de Noel
Joseph Wagenaar – The Andaz
Bahibe Banoffee
Valrhona Bahibe light Chocolate Mousse, Smoked pecan Praline, Crunchy Valrhona Kalingo Ganache with a moist flourless chocolate sponge.

Valrhona Buche de Noel (12)

Loic Carbonnet – The Four Seasons, Park Lane
Lemon Panettone
Creamy Lemon sponge, Light Valrhona Gianduja and pressed almond sable.

Valrhona Buche de Noel (13)

John Grantham – Restaurant 61, Mayfair
Grand Marnier & Jivara Chestnut
A sumptuous chestnut and Valrhona Jivara cream, slithers of praline, caramel chantilly with a hint of citrus.

Valrhona Buche de Noel (14)

Luke Frost – Coworth Park, Berkshire
Belvedere Forest
A British interpretation of the classic Black Forest gateau. Damson’s provide the acidity and the unusual flavour of Sarsaparilla provides the depth of
flavour normfdelaunally achieved by adding Kirsch. Valrhona’s Bahibe Milk Chocolate gives the perfect balance between the cocoa intensity required for the gateau and the sweet creaminess of milk chocolate so adored by the British palette. Also utilised is Dulcey Blonde Chocolate to enrich the vanilla cream.

Valrhona Buche de Noel (15)
Mourad Khiat – The Berkeley, Knightsbridge
Guanaja & Pear Ensemble
A moist peanut sponge, crunchy spiced biscuit and pear compote covered in a Valrhona Guanaja mousse.
Valrhona Buche de Noel (23)

Sarah Barber – ME London, The Strand
Black Forest

Layers of Chocolate genoise sponge, Cherry Jam, a textured Valrhona Manjari layer and a Light Valrhona Opalys Mousse.

ME London Buche de Noel


Nicholas Patterson – The Shangi La, The Shard
Róu NènValrhona Ivoire Chocolate and coconut Mousse, Mango compote, sesame croustillant, Yuzu curd, Buddha’s hand madeleine

shangrila buche de noel



All of these are available to order from the respective venues or to eat in house.


The Bugatti Burger on the Burger Bus Stop at the London Motor Museum

London never ceases to surprise me. I have only recently discovered the London Motor Museum in Hayes.

This museum houses the largest collection of custom cars in Europe. It’s a result of the grand passion of Elo and his wife who have been customising and collecting cars for many years. Here is a quick run through of a fraction of what the museum has to offer, in case you don’t have the patience to read on. Warning, this post is a little bit on burgers and a lot on cool custom motors.

A video posted by May London (@londonmay) on

Elo, the founder is an entrepreneur, ex model and he also hosts the “Ultimate Wheels” show on the A + E Network. Here is a little welcome video for EatCookExplore readers.

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The Burger Bus Stop

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We came to the London Motor Museum to check out this new addition, the Burger Bus.

Elo and his team converted this old Brighton and Hove bus in their Supercar Workshop into a retro diner with wheels. A kitchen has been added to bottom floor of the bus and upstairs is a quirky dining space and brightly coloured pop art on the walls and ceiling.

The Burger Bus Stop at the London Motor Museum

On the menu are burgers named after big car brands like Cadillac, Bugatti and Roadrunner. Elo has American roots and it’s reflected in the menu on the bus. The burgers are made by his chefs from British Beef and they are adamant that they serve quality  food.

The Bugatti Burger at the London Motor Museum

The Bugatti Burger at the London Motor Museum

Chicken Burger

Chicken Burger

Here is the Bugatti Burger in all its glory, some hand cut fries and a killer malt Milkshake. Good succulent meat patty, soft bun, great sides. Loved the onion rings and fries. Also on the menu is a very tasty Chicken burger which is enormous. They have a kids menu too and the bus is already really popular for Birthday Parties.

This addition gives you another great reason to bring the family for a visit to the museum, besides seeing the awesome cars of course.

About the London Motor Museum

We had the great pleasure of being shown around their Supercar Workshop and the museum by Elo. There is a great story behind every vehicle and even if you are not a car buff, you would be mesmerised. If you do visit, make sure you take the owner’s tour for the full experience. If not, download their supercool new app which will give you information on every vehicle as you walk past it.

The musuem is over 15,000 sq ft and has over 200 vehicles, many that have been used in movies and music videos. You can see what they are working on in their workshop at the back of the museum and on the day we were there, we spotted a Bentley that was about to given the Elo treatment. It’s really inspiring to see Elo and his team being so passionate about what they do and being so proud of their product.

Besides the museum, they the customisations in the SuperCar Workshop.

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My favourite rooms are the Bat Cave, Super Cars and Muscle Cars. You can order one of these Bat Mobiles too for the price of a small London flat. There is one floating around the Middle East somewhere.

Here are some of the cars and their stories.

This is the latest one:  The Scream for Halloween. actually a customised London Cab where they took off the taxi body, fitted it to a Chevrolet Blazer chassis and added a 5.7l Chevrolet V8 engine and Monster tyres with added spooky features like flashing red lights. I took these pictures a couple of days before the grand unveiling.


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This 1989 road worthy Bat Mobile and the 1969 Bat Mobile.


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Here is the fastest speed boat on the water.

London Motor Museum

This is Snoop Dog’s last minute customised car for a show in Germany. Note his signature and the white leather interior. He still uses this car every time he comes to London.
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This is the 1937 Lincoln Zephyr, one of the most expensive cars in the world.

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1936 Ford Roaster, built from scratch.

London Motor Museum


This is their own design, a super slick car and what gorgeous lines.
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The 60′s room is striking with the juke box blasting tunes of that decade and the array of motors that you would have seen on Grease (at least that is my term of reference.)

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London Motor Museum

Then there is a lovely old Morris Minor that belonged to an old lady, found in a barn. They bought it and homed it in the Museum untouched. So it’s still there will the dust, the mud splattered wheels and housed in it’s own replica barn.

This is a VW Camper Van turned into a private jet inspired executive car with a coffee machine, a bar and all mod cons.

London Motor Museum
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This Ferrari Pick Up truck really rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. Sacriligeous they cried. Every Mid Western millionaire cowboy needs one of these.

Ferrari Pick Up truck at the London Motor Museum

Ferrari Pick Up truck

Of course there is the 1981 De Lorean from Back to the Future. (Note you can’t normally touch or get into these cars!)

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London Motor Museum

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Then there are the cars used by Beyonce and other music acts in their music videos, complete with the bling bling cyrstal encrusted wheels.

They don’t just have cars. This is a bike with a customised body made by an artisan who makes Medieval Armour.

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Here is one for the kids, Professor Z from Disney Pixar’s Cars 2.

Snoop de Ville at London Motor Museum

We had such a grand time at the London Motor Museum and being fed some serious burgers, we got dropped home in this Maybach. It’s a must visit if you are a motor head or even remotely interested in cars. A unique day out for sure.


A lift home from the @londonmotormuseumofficial in a Maybach #london #cars #lux

A photo posted by May London (@londonmay) on

London Motor Museum, the Burger Bus Stop or the new app, please visit

3 Nestles Avenue
Hayes, Middlesex

(5 minutes walk from the tube)

EatCookExplore was a guest of the London Motor Museum

Baking Brioche at Le Pain Quotidien

Love the baked goods at Le Pain Quotidien? Great news as the have just started offering baking classes. I went along to try out one of these classes.

I do like to bake but I don’t do it that often. I can do a lot of the basic techniques like rubbing in but have not mastered any of the more complicated techniques. As I like to tweak recipes instead of following t hem to the letter, this obviously is not a good idea when it comes to baking as you are highly likely to end up with a disaster.

The class I signed up to do was a Brioche and Spelt Scone class. Didier was our very patient instructor for the evening.

Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien

Didier, our Baking Instructor

In front of us was a bowl and some ingredients to make our first item, the brioche. Brioche usually takes a long time to make as it involves a long rising time but this was a quick recipe, which intriqued me. We followed Didier’s instructions in his French accented voice and tried to follow his example.

Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien (6)

After making a real mess with flour and dough all over the place, we prepared our dough to be left to rise while we stopped to have a drink and some tartines.

Onwards to the next recipe, a Spelt and Quinoa scone, a clever way to use an on trend ingredient. Surprisingly, the quinoa was used dry and mixed into the wet dough. This was much easier as it was like making rock cakes and shaped by hand. No rolling out and cutting required. After a quick egg wash, our batches were whisked away to the baked.

Meanwhile the brioche dough was ready for some shaping. We tried to follow Didier’s example but our fingers were not as deft as his. My pathetic attempt at making a little brioche loaf left was quite pitiful. After baking, the definition we tried to create were lost as we didn’t leave it quite enough time to rise, due to the colder weather.

We got to taste the hot scones and brioche as it came out the oven. They didn’t look that good but it tasted great regardless.

Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien

The Finished Brioche


Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien

My spelt and quinoa scones

The class was fun and fast moving. There was a lot of achieve in the 2 hours that we were there but I took away a couple of recipes that I would definitely use again.

You can find out when the next classes are on their website.

Le Pain Quotidien Borough
15 Winchester Walk
London SE1 9AG


Baking Lesson Le Pain Quotidien (35)

EatCookExplore was a guest of Le Pain Quotidien

Thai Style Leftover Turkey Lettuce Wraps

What do you do with all that  leftover turkey after Christmas? If you are tired of the go to recipe of Coronation Turkey or turkey sandwiches, try this recipe with a little bit of zing.

I like to spice up my leftover turkey and this is a very quick and tasty Thai inspired recipe. It’s something very simple using Thai flavours with ingredients that you most probably have in the store cupboard. You can serve this as a canape as little lettuce wraps or serve the dish with some boiled jasmine rice.

It’s like a warm meat salad and you can swap out ingredients depending on what you have to hand. Instead of using turkey, you can also use minced pork or chicken. Instead of fresh chillies, you can use chilli flakes and instead of coriander, you can use mint.


Thai Style Minced Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Thai Style Minced Turkey Lettuce Wraps


  • a few slices of leftover turkey, chopped into small cubes
  • little gem lettuce
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander, chopped (including the stalks)
  • 1 long red chilli, julienned lengthwise or 2-3 birds eye chillies if you prefer it hotter
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
  • 2 limes cut into wedges


  1. In a hot pan, add some oil and fry the onions for about 2 minutes until it softens
  2. Add the garlic and stir for another minute
  3. Add the leftover turkey and stir in to mix and warm up
  4. Season with the fish sauce, start with a little and adjust seasoning to your own taste
  5. Take off the heat
  6. Add in the chillies and coriander and combine evenly
  7. Serve on individual leaves of the little gem lettuce with some wedges of lime.
  8. Alternatively, you can serve this as a starter in a big bowl and a separate plate of lettuce leaves. Everyone can then make their own lettuce parcels.

 The ingredients were supplied by Sainsbury

An Autumnal cake from Cakes By Robin

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It’s such a treat to get sent a beautifully decorated cake like this one above. It’s from Cake by Robin who makes these amazing concoctions down in South West London. She is the cake designer behind all of the “send-off” cakes to the losers of each episode of the Great British Bake-Off on the Extra Slice programme.

This one had an autumnal theme, decorated with toadstools, acorns and autumn leaves. The sugarwork is stunning. Too pretty to eat.

The little 3 year old boy loved the toadstools and insisted on having all of them for himself.

The beautiful icing was wrapped around a moist chocolate cake. I have seen some of the other designs she sent to other bloggers and they are equally as stunning.

You can order special occasion or bvespoke birthday cakes from Robin via her website:


Cakes By Robin
Cakes By Robin (7)

Exploring Macau’s Fusion Cuisine at A Wong

Londoners, here’s a chance to Taste Macau. We get to experience this unique centuries old fusion cuisine at  A Wong where Macanese Foopd Ambassador Florita Alves has collaboration with Andrew Wong to create an 8 course tasting menu.

Florita Alves and Andrew Wong at A Wong

Florita Alves and Andrew Wong

The Macau Tourism Board held a lunch to preview this menu recently.  At A Wong, the main dining room is packed and oddly,  I catch a few odd snatches of Cantonese conversations. It appears that among the guests at this lunch to launch the Macanese menu are some transplanted Macanese and representatives of the Macau community. For a moment there, I thought I was back in Hong Kong.

When I lived in Hong Kong, I used to visit Macau just to play golf. I don’t remember ever having a typical Macanese meal when I visited Macau. This would be a new experience for me.

About Macanese cuisine

Macanese food a true fusion cuisine, a result of the Portuguese explorers making strategic trading ports en route from Europe in Goa, Melaka and Macau during the spice trade. Macau was a Portuguese colony for several centuries and was one of the last remaining ones until their handover back to China on 20 December 1999.  The first Macanese woman was a Malaysian woman from Melaka. The influences can be seen in some of these dishes on the lunch menu. There is still a strong Portuguese slant to some of the dishes and the liberal use of olive oil for cooking.

Macau does not have a large population but their community keeps their old cultures and traditions alive with many festivals. A lot of the locals left prior to the handover back to China but like Hong Kong, many have returned. Macanese cooking is kept alive by grandmas and mothers cooking with their daughters for these events. Recipes are still passed down by word of mouth through the generations.

The 8 course tasting menu was designed to showcase dishes which epitomise Macau and is served tapas style. The highlight of the lunch menu at A Wong was the African Chicken dish, a richly flavoured succulent chicken. It is usually marinaded in the spicy sauce for over 24 hours before being cooked.

The Bacalha married a Potruguese ingredient with Chinese Dim Sum techniques, resulting in a very tasty dumpling. Gambas a Macau, smothered in garlic was an easy winner.

Loved the pudding of the Pasteis des nata wiht flaky pastry and the coffee jelly with coconut pudding was a great combination.

Blinhos des bacalhau and Chillicote

Blinhos des bacalhau

Gambas a Macau

Gambas a Macau, grilled prawns with garlic and spices glazed with white wine

Shanghai dumpling wuth Glazed Dried Pork

Shanghai dumpling wuth Glazed Dried Pork

Grilled Portuguese Sausage with Beef Mince Minchi

Grilled Portuguese Sausage with Beef Mince Minci

African Chicken

African Chicken

Pasteis des nata egg custard tart with a Bebinca inspired coconut pudding with coffee jelly and Kahlua

Pasteis des nata egg custard tart with a Bebinca inspired coconut pudding with coffee jelly and Kahlua

Malaysian Influences in Macanese cuisine

On chatting to Florita, I found out that there is a lot Malaysian influence Macau cuisine. Of all the dishes on the menu, the one that most Macanese would identify with and is most representative of the Macanese cuisine is the Minchi, a minced beef dish. Every family has their own recipe for this but Florita gave me her recipe which I will reproduce on this blog soon.  This is normally served with rice as a typical home cooking dish but here it was served with some cubed fried potatoes. There is a very similar dish in Malay cuisine too.

Another example of Malaysian influence is the use of an ingredient called Balichao which used to made with tiny silver shrimps, a flavouring in many of their dishes. Florita sometimes enhances this with a splash of Portugese brandy. Balichao is not unlike the Malaysian Belacan (fermented shrump paste). The Macau version is less pungent. A balichao sauce is served alongside a Portugese meat stew called Tachuchauchau, not dissimilar to our Nyonya Tau Eu Bak (stewed pork belly) and sambal belacan.

There is a soupy noodle dish called Lakasa with shrimps and vermicelli which they have during Christmas. We have Laksa a spicy noodle soup. Their famous African Chicken is usually served with a sambal sauce which is very similar to our Malaysian condiment.

Am fascinated by this cuisine as the melding of the many different food influences has created a food culture that has evolved through the centuries. This has reminded me to investigate our own Malaysian Portuguese fusion cuisine (Kristang)  in Melaka on my next trip there.

If you like to explore different cuisines, don’t miss this  Macanese Food event. The 8 course Macanese tasting menu will be available from the 17th – 29th November at A Wong. 

A Wong

70 Wilton Rd,
London SW1V 1DE
020 7828 8931

A. Wong on Urbanspoon

For more information on Macau visit:

EatCookExplore was a guest of the Macau Government Tourist Office.

Vin Brule with Barolo Italian Mulled Wine

The undulating hills of Piedmont in Northern Italy is the home of the Unesco protected Baroloa and Barbaresco wines. In the cold winters here, they drink their version of a mulled wine called Vin Brule. The Piedmont region has had a lot of French influence over the centuries and this is reflected in their food and culture.

I guess Vin Brulee is one of those recipes that vary from family to family but they all seem to agree that it has great medicinal properties in warding off colds. I got this recipe from my new friend Chiara, a local Piedmont girl I met on my recent visit there for the Alba Truffle Fair.

It is very similar to a Vin Chaud or a Gluhwein as it involves adding warming spices and citrus to a red wine and heated. Once you have made of pot of this, the whole kitchen starts to smell really festive. You can find lots more mulled wine recipes or Christmas drinks ideas here.

As Barolo is a quite an expensive red wine, it might not be your choice to use this wine in the recipe. You can swap it out and use any other full bodied red wine instead.


Vin Brule Italian Mulled Wine

Vin Brule Italian Mulled Wine


  • One bottle of Piedmontese Barolo wine
  • 50 g of sugar
  • One stick of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • A pinch of mace
  • Skin of a lemon
  • Skin of an orange


  1. Put all the other ingredient in a pot with about a glass of wine, heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour in the remainder of the wine and bring to a boil. The Italians like to boil their wine so there is very little alcohol left. You can choose to just warm up the wine instead.
  3. Strain the mulled wine into a serving jug and serve it immediately.

Note: Barolo is a DOCG wine from the Langhe area in Piedmont, Italy. The Barolo vineyards were granted World Heritage Status which controls how much is produced and the strict locations where this wine can be produced. The are where the Barolo wine is produced has been growing grapes since 5 C BC and is one of the best wine growing areas in Italy.

The wine for this recipe was provided by Waitrose Wines.


The Langham launches the Wedgwood Afternoon Tea

London has the best Afternoon Teas and the Langham Hotel has won various awards for theirs. They are just about to launch their new Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood.

Cherish Finden at the Langham

Head Pastry Chef Cherish Finden at the Langham

Wedgwood desiged a new china tea set for them and Head Pastry Chef, Cherish Finden  has created a selection of Wedgwood inspired cakes based on old Wedgwood designs. Cherish is a previous winner of Pastry Chef of the year and the Palm Court at the Langham has won Best Afternoon Tea.

At the preview last week, we got to taste these delicious creations, each with delicately balanced flavours. Based on the cakes, I can say that they definitely rank up there as the best afternoon tea I have had in London.

Wedgewood Afternoon Tea

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Sandwiches with whtie truffle shavings and beetroot bread

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In addition to the cakes and savouries, the tea selection includes a Wedgwood selection which is an Assam blend and a very fragrant green tea called silk road.

The Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood will be served at the Palm Court at the Langham from 10 November.