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Mapping out great food locations

April 23rd, 2014 · Foodie gifts

Melton Mowbray map


I saw this food map of Melton Mowbray being shared by the team at Vale House, and thought how great it was, given this is local to me. But even more great examples exist when you follow the link through to the They Draw & Travel site.

Need to know about, or remember, great gelato in Vancouver?  There’s a map for that.



Gelato vancouver


Glasgow’s West End? Done.


glasgow west end


The collection is quite eclectic, but maybe that’s why I like these. There may be places you’ve been, or places you’d like to go, or types of food or drink that you love. It would seem that you can just print them out from the site, or there are various options on how to get “proper” prints to hang on the wall.

Great site to have found, and doesn’t just cover food and drink, so worth a look.

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Hanging out with Shakespeare

April 21st, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to eat

When I was writing about the St George’s Day Hamper, it reminded me that it’s also a significant day in that it’s apparently the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, and later his death. I seemed to spend quite a few weekends in Stratford on Avon last year, which may or may not have anything to do with David Tennant being in residence at the RSC for a while.


Stratford on Avon


I went to the theatre on each visit, but this isn’t about the amazing productions, or David Tennant. The added bonus to all the visits was some great eating, and was particularly impressed with the lunches at the Rooftop Restaurant at the RSC. The operation is very slick, with food appearing very quickly, but was consistently good, tasty and interesting.


RSC Lunch



It’s a seasonal menu, so it’s different now to when I was there. I think it was more gutsy winter tastes, so things like venison were on, which was delicious. To be honest, other than paying being a bit slow, I couldn’t fault either lunch that I had there, including really charming staff. I think it’s reasonable value for the level of cooking, at £19.50 for two or £24.50 for three.

I’d also highly recommend the small bar area on that floor, especially early evening. We stopped in for cocktails, just before curtain up one night, so it cleared out quickly but not emptied, and it was great cocktails, lovely environment and good atmosphere. Also worth popping up here in the interval, it’s quieter than the main bar.

We stayed at hotel that had seen better days, but if I could have my choice, then I would definitely stay at the Church Street Townhouse. I went for dinner, and could have just moved in! I know several friends who have stayed there, and absolutely loved it. If we’d had more time, then we’d have spent more time in the bar, it was just a great atmosphere. I don’t mind which room I have, though a lovely bath would be a treat!

There’s definitely more to Stratford than twee tea rooms and naff tourist traps, and I am looking forward to my next trip. In fact so much, I’m spending my birthday there!

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Ring the changes on the kir front

April 19th, 2014 · Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I know someone on Twitter who these might suit incredibly well, as kir seems to figure a lot on the drinking menu in their household. We originally seem to have been fed the line that a kir is wine plus blackcurrant syrup, but the French never seemed to have been so limited, and these are definitely not blackcurrant!


Kir Syrups


Now your French probably doesn’t need to be extensive to work out that there’s a rose and a violet syrup in this collection. I have both these flavours in my cupboard from the many trips to France, and use them occasionally. They both need a light hand, otherwise it’s a bit like drinking a glass of fragrance.

The other one is a word I only learnt last year, as I ordered a macaron that was this flavour, on the basis I didn’t know what it was, but how bad could it be in macaron form? Turns out that coquelicot is poppy, and I don’t remember it having much flavour in the macaron, but who knows in a syrup form? Could make for an interesting guessing game for guests!

I love kir, it says summer, it says happy times in France, and I’d happily give these room in the drinks cabinet.

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Are there black badger beans in your cupboard?

April 17th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I was intrigued by a twitter post over the weekend that was about black badger beans. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of them, ever.

Hodmedods Big British Box


But if you take a look at the Hodmedod’s website, then it’s not the only pulse I’ve not cooked with, or heard of. But what a great website it is, and what a surprise to discover that there are so many pulses grown in the UK, even quinoa. Although I’m no fan of quinoa, but imagine I should give it a another go as a local product.

But back to the black badger beans. I’d not even heard of them by their Yorkshire name of carling beans, but they have been grown in the UK for at least 500 years. They have a nutty flavour and you could use them instead of chick peas or puy lentils. I’m thinking they’d make a fairly funky looking hummus.

I’m really tempted to order their Big British Box, which would act as a great sampler of everything Hodmedod are doing, including not only the dried pulses but also tinned and snacks like the roast fava beans. The box is £25, instead of £32 if you order everything separately. Great to stock your store cupboard up with, and great to know you’re supporting a number of British enterprises.

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St George’s Day at Spicers of Hythe

April 15th, 2014 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

I was really intrigued when the team at Spicers offered to send me a St George’s Day hamper. I think it’s the first time I’ve come across one, although that could just be lazy research on my behalf. And with so many great English producers I thought it could be something fantastic.


St George's Day Hamper

And to be fair, it does contain some very English flavours. I always think of lemon curd as traditionally English, even if we are short on native lemons. And we might have imported chutney from the travels of our ancestors, but we do it so well (come on, who else has a jar of Branston hidden away?)

But I have to be honest, this wouldn’t be a hamper I would choose for myself, or to send one of my friends. I would possibly send it to someone of my mum’s generation, as it feels pretty old school. I don’t own any lacy jam jar covers, and don’t really feel the need to start a collection. I’m also not fond of private label goods like this, as I do like to know the provenance.

For the right person, it could make a good gift, as all the products taste nice enough, and the wooden trug will come in useful when it’s time to cut flowers from the garden. Just as soon as I have the weeds under control!

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Doing away with the cooking smells

April 13th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

I’ve written before about my love of fragrance, and how it’s possible to combine my love of food and fragrance. Well, it definitely comes together when I’m cooking fish, as there is definitely the chance of lingering odours.


Moroccan Mint Tea


This week’s kedgeree cooking coincided with the arrival of a scented candle from Love Aroma, a new site for all things home fragrance. And I love the one they sent, which is a Max Benjamin Moroccan Mint Tea candle. It’s fabulous, not overpowering, not toothpaste mint, just proper mint tea wafting away the smoked haddock scent.

I like the minimalist styling of it, and that it’s an all natural candle. There’s also a reed diffuser version too, which would give you the same lovely fragrance all the time, it depends how much control you like over your fragrance.

The candle arrived really well packed, and it’s a lovely surprise to open the box and find that they’ve fragranced the inside of the box too. I love the Melt candles too, both for the look and the fact they are made in rural Lancashire, although I’d have liked information on each fragrance.

Love Aroma is a new business that I know lots of work has gone into, please take a look and support the team there if you can.

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Easter deliciousness without the chocolate

April 10th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

Of course it pains me to write a title like that, as I’m “quite” fond of chocolate, Easter or otherwise. But the other great thing about Easter is there are also great baked goods to be had, with many of my other favourite flavours included. Here’s some I’d be making space on the tea table for:


Bettys Fondant Fancies


Ok, Betty’s get me every time, and I love a treat from them. They sent me fondant fancies at Christmas, which were delicious, and now they have pretty Spring flower ones. What tea time wouldn’t be improved for having these served up?


Colomba Cake


Italy also has some great baking traditions for Easter, and the Colomba cake is one of those. The dough contains candied orange peel, and I love the crunchy almond icing. The pretty packaging is a bonus too!


Easter Sponge Pudding


You might need a pudding after an Easter Sunday lunch, so how about an Easter Sponge Pudding? An amaretti sponge, covered in flaked almonds and drizzled honey, what’s not to love?


Easter Biscuits Gifts Box


I’ll admit, I’m not very good with the whole decorated biscuit thing, although always admire just how beautiful they are, and how much patience it must take to make something this lovely. They’d make a lovely gift if you were heading to someone else’s for Easter lunch.

Of course the thing I’d be leaving the most room for would be some version of Simnel cake, mainly because I love marzipan. I will be making my own, though it may be more of a Simnel loaf thanks to Jules’ recipe on the Butcher Baker blog. So even if you are one of those rare creatures who doesn’t like chocolate there are still delicious treats to be had this Easter time.

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What chocolate are you hoping for this Easter?

April 8th, 2014 · Chocolate, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I love Easter. I mean, what’s not to love, especially when it’s this late in the Spring? I’m hoping for lovely weather and my cherry tree to be in full bloom.

And for there to be chocolate. Good chocolate. Any of these really…


The Ultimate Egg


If you’re going to go big, then this has to be the one, the Ultimate Egg from Fortnum & Mason. It’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s actually five eggs. Five chocolate eggs. If you’re not sure what kind of chocolate you like best (or like them all) then this could be for you as each egg is a different type, from white through to dark. Sounds like bliss to me!


Stroppy Teenager Egg


I love Rococo anyway, they can do no wrong in my eyes. But I really love this Stroppy Teenager Egg. There’s no pink, no cute bunnies, no bows, just great chocolate plus praline and also salted caramel ganache eggs. It’s almost too good to be wasted on stroppy teenagers!


Rococo Almost Like the Real Thing


And I’m sorry for featuring two things from Rococo (told you I loved them), but who could resist something that’s like the real thing but better? I just want to fill my fridge with boxs of these real eggs filled with praline. Though imagine bit hard to whip up a Victoria sponge with!


Montezuma Half & Half


Can’t decide what sort of chocolate you like best? I’d go for the Super Thick Half Dark and Half Milk Truffle Egg. With truffles. Wow, Montezuma’s still know how to spoil us!


Moo Free


Need a chocolate egg but need it to be tasty but free from? Well, it looks like Moo Free might be for you. I love the Bunnycomb Egg, ticks the boxes for taste and is gluten free, dairy free and vegan, so everyone can be happy.


Humpty Dumpty from the Fairy Tale Gourmet


For something lovely and a little different then I love the Humpty Dumpty from  Fairy Tale Gourmet. How gorgeous are these? And that’s just the good looks, wait till you see the flavour choices! I want the Earl of Peanuttle, but any of them would be welcome. I think these are a bit different, as the shells are filled which you don’t see very often. I fancy a whole wall of these!

Go on, get the choccies in! With so much choice there is no excuse for dull Easter egg selection.



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Normal service hopefully to be resumed soon

April 3rd, 2014 · Foodie gifts



Just to say sorry for the lack of posts, am struggling with technology issues at the moment. Hoping to have normal service back soon, particularly as there is so much scrummy chocolate to write about ready for Easter.

By the time I resolve the technology then I’ll need chocolate!

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One of my favourite weeks of the year: stationery week!

March 30th, 2014 · Foodie gifts

There are some great “weeks” in the year, like Chocolate week and Farmhouse Breakfast week, which are all fabulous but quite high on the calorie count. But stationery week, well, that’s one you can indulge in with no guilt whatsoever! And I am pretty fond of my stationery at any time of the year, but these are four lovely food orientated options that I’m quite keen on right now!


Cake for Breakfast


I love this journal, as I love keeping a journal. And who doesn’t love the statement “eat cake for breakfast”? Like Christmas Day every day. Surely that is a good motto for life? Joy and excitement every day.


La Duree Stationery


Love a good macaron, and a trip to La Duree, here or in Paris, is always a treat. This little stationery set might be enough to keep you going between trips. I mean, who doesn’t need a macaron shaped eraser? School pencil cases would have been a whole lot cooler with these inside.


Taking tea recipe book


Even in this age of Pinterest and millions of recipes online at the click of a mouse, it’s still lovely to write down a recipe, pass it on, share it. I have a book from Paperchase that I like, and is a slightly more solid way to keep those recipes that arrive in the house just on scrappy bits of paper. They don’t have the same design any more but I thought this one was lovely too.


From the kitchen of


Always up for a bit of DIY stationery, then a personalised stamp for homemade goodies has to be a good thing. Stamp labels and tags, recipes and missives to the milkman, whatever takes your fancy really.

So, enjoy this particular week, maybe write out some recipes and pass them on, or keep them somewhere safe. Just do it beautifully on lovely pages.

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