All posts filed under: out of the kitchen

Sicilian Stories, sweat and bruschetta

Love Italy, love Italian food (except gnocchi – just cannot get that stuff) and have had some amazing food on some fabulous holidays. I think I have visited probably 10 times, from the lakes in the North, to Rome, Tuscany and Venice, to Sorrento, Capri and Positano in the South, but never yet ventured to Sicily. So this year’s holiday was a first. Before Sicily though we have Birmingham airport, and I just wanted to share this gem with you. This beaut is a “sausage bloomer sandwich” and it cost £7. Yep. I will leave that with you…. Taormina is perched halfway up a cliff and is truly beautiful, a wonderful old town with meandering ginnels, alleyways and streets, with ancient artefacts (the odd 2000 year old amphitheatre or mosaic) around every corner, mingling with characterful old buildings and all human life, particularly Italians, for whom this is favourite holiday resort. The streets are packed with shops, restaurants and bars and the views from the cliff side over the med are stunning. Alongside the smaller antiquities there is also a truly fabulous Greek amphitheatre which …

Street Food in Greenwich – not everything I ate recently was wonderful.

I didn’t actually know there was a market in Greenwich, so you live and learn. I haven’t been to Greenwich since I was a kid but it still seemed so familiar. I guess those old naval buildings appear in so many films, that you feel you know them, even though I think I was about 10 when I was last there. The Clipper from Bank was fast and with great views of the city in the sunshine, you have to wonder why people don’t commute this way more often.        Anyway, I was here to see a friend, so no time to admire the Cutty Sark apart from a fleeting glance through the glass dome that surrounds the ship’s hull. Great idea – tried hard to convince Plymouth they should so something similar with a copy of the Mayflower once upon a time….anyway enough of that. Greenwich Market, where I met said friend is a sort of artsy crafty affair, very pretty, lovely atmosphere. Good pub. It also, I discovered, has the ubiquitous street food …

Visiting the glorious Welbeck Estate (in inappropriate footwear).

The beautiful Welbeck Estate nestled in Sherwood Forest is in the heart of the ancient royal hunting grounds – the Dukeries. Welbeck Abbey was founded in 1153 and when dissolved, the Estate became the home of the Dukes of Portland and it continues to be privately owned to this day. Apart from the beautiful natural setting and the stunning buildings it is perhaps best known for the labyrinth of underground tunnels and rooms (including a ballroom!) constructed by the 5th Duke and for its time leased to the MOD for an army training college until 2005. It is once again lived in by members of the extended family who have transformed it into a thriving working Estate which provides inspiring, creative spaces for artisan food businesses, education and the arts. Although the house is private there is much to see to in the open parts of the estate and I was invited along to meet some of the fantastic artisan food businesses which operate out of Welbeck and to visit the Farm Shop. As well …

Street Food, but not on the Street. Chef Jugz and the Homeboys

We local foodies all got a bit excited at the prospect of a street food market opening up in Nottingham when word broke a few weeks back and much speculation was had as to where this might be. There are lots of side streets and lanes which emanate from Nottingham’s central Market Square that could host such a thing, and already there are plans to close off to traffic some of the streets in boho Hockley to encourage people to spend time there in the evenings. So, it was a bit of surprise when the location was announced as being in the food bit of the large Intu Victoria Shopping Centre, the posher of the two Centres in town. Not exactly what you’d consider to be “street” by any stretch. Still we rocked up with our e-tickets for the opening Saturday, nonetheless. (Did anyone actually check anyone’s e-tickets or was it just a cunning wheeze to get our details..call me an old cynic). Anyway, sure enough in a back room of the foodie bit (which …

The Flying Childers at Chatsworth House

The Flying Childers Restaurant at the glorious Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is the latest foodie option to open on the Estate and it is not what you might expect. The Flying Childers (named after a prize winning stallion acquired by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire in 1719) offers only Afternoon Tea (and I use the word “only” advisedly here) and now brunch. That’s it, a brunch and afternoon tea restaurant. I recently visited for the Great Food Club  – check out the website greatfoodclub.co.uk Open for only 4 weeks when we visited, the Flying Childers is tucked away in the corner of the House’s magnificent stable block. I say tucked away as, although there is seating outside (as there is in much of the stable yard) when we visited the signage was so low key as to be almost invisible. Don’t let that put you off though, once inside the large glass doors you are greeted by a portrait of the eponymous Childers and find yourself in an elegant, refined and relaxed space which combines …

My day out with the “Snobby Butcher”

Sharing a version of my Great Food Club article on one of Nottingham’s most famous (possibly infamous) Butchers.. “So, what have you got on today, mum?” “Well, I am going to have breakfast with a Master Butcher and then meet his pigs.” “Cool, see ya.” That was kind of how my day with the award-winning Johnny Pusztai, the Master Butcher of Nottingham’s Mansfield Road, started. You know how sometimes you come across a place and you think “how come I never knew how amazing this was?” That was how I felt when I stepped inside the unprepossessing J.T. Beedham’s (Johnny’s butcher’s shop) on a damp January morning. Beedham’s, has been selling quality meats on the Mansfield Road in Sherwood since 1884, and the small shopfront nestled between cafes, pubs, healthfood shops and delis is the front for an Aladdin’s cave of butchery, smoking, curing and drying that makes the most of all the nooks, crannies, cellars and yard of this turn-of-the-century building. You need to visit somewhere like Beedham’s to remind yourself what real butchers …

Channeling Rumpole on Fleet Street

Well, you couldn’t really stay just off Fleet Street and not step back in time to a world of gossip, intrigue, scoops and plotting that was (still is?) the culture of the English Press. Although most of the papers are long gone and the presses moved out, their ghosts still haunt Fleet Street, the shadows of signage on the grand buildings, faded painted titles on the walls, the pubs and bars that hosted the press barons and hacks, and of course the eponymous Street remains short-hand for our newspaper industry even though most of it is long gone and much of it is dying on its feet. Ever read Rumpole of the Bailey? or Private Eye?  You’ll recognise this place. The “Pomeroys” of the books –  El Vino. It reeks (only figuratively of course) of a culture of portly, red-faced men, polishing off a bottle of decent red from about 11 in the morning bemoaning the world and putting it to rights, or those leaving the (truly astonishing) St Bride’s Church, the “journalist’s” Church to …

Borough Market – I know, I am such an old romantic

I’ve not met anyone that doesn’t love London’s Borough Market. It’s not just the fabulous range of fresh produce, meat, seafood, products, herbs, spices, bread and street food, it’s the atmosphere it evokes. Like much of London, its history colours your sense of the present. I defy anyone to walk towards the Market nestled under the iron girders of the  railway bridge above and not find themselves cast back to any number of films, novels and exhibitions that describe the sights, sounds and smells of historic London. You feel you are walking in the footsteps of thousands of others stretching back hundreds of years who have come to this place to meet and to trade. And indeed you are, the market is believed to go back possibly as much as a 1000 years. It is situated at one end of London Bridge, for centuries the only route over the river and believed to have been built originally by the Romans (which then became a strategic defence against the marauding Vikings as they sailed up the …

Gin for Breakfast at Maxey’s

Couple of Saturdays ago, it  was World Gin Day apparently. Who thinks of these things? Still, it provided me with a legitimate reason to think that popping to a Gin Tasting at 11 am on Saturday morning was an entirely reasonable thing to do. If you hadn’t noticed, gin is having something of a renaissance, every food fair I attend sees an increasing number of  specialist local gins flavoured with all  manner of botanicals,  herbs and spices, a far cry from your straightforward Gordon’s (of which, admittedly I am still a fan). Gin is no longer the preserve of the middle-aged, younger people are now more likely to drink gin than the over 40s apparently and it is anticipated that gin sales will top £1.3bn in the UK by 2020. My desire for gin for breakfast also meant I discovered a new Farm Shop. Always a good thing. I get a bit lazy having the amazing Gonalston Farm Shop on my doorstep, but here is another find – Maxey’s in Kirklington, no wet fish here …

A rather lovely day, eating and drinking at Nottingham Castle

I should be a total Food Festival fanatic, and indeed I probably am. Certainly, the daughter rolls her eyes to the heavens whenever we are about to plan a weekend foray to one. Well, actually, I don’t think I am fanatical about anything, but I do, or rather did, rather enjoy festivals. So many have sprung up over recent years though, and I have suffered so many expensive disappointments that I am much more discerning about where I will go and what I am prepared to pay. It is simply not good enough to charge people entry, and/or charge them to park their cars (in places where there is no alternative means of getting there) and then present them with a handful of pickle sellers and someone making 3D cards.    However, the Nottingham Festival of Food and Drink has joined the likes of the Melton Mowbray Food Festival in the “yes this is well worth a visit category”. So we headed over to the Castle on what promised to be (and eventually became) a …