Japanese Peruvian food is this year’s big thing!


Lemon and chilli to get us going


Well, it is in this household, thanks to a great couple of hours on a course at Divertimenti just before Christmas. I’d never heard of Japanese Peruvian food and, being an out of towner, then couldn’t reel off 3 Peruvian restaurants I’d eaten at.

All the Londoners could.

Let’s face it, we haven’t even got a Wahaca yet in Nottingham. But I digress. We picked this because it was the course on the date nearest to MGGs birthday, not because we’d seen in Olive that Peruvian and Japanese Peruvian would be big in 2017.

Led by Fabricio Cano, this gave us an introduction to the cuisine, but with recipes that I’ll be making at home. Teriyaki sauce will be coming from a pan not a bottle in the future, apparently keeps well for a fortnight in the fridge. This time we converted it into a Peruvian teriyaki beef with stir fry vegetables, definitely one for a week day supper.


Beef teriyaki on the go


I loved doing the ceviche and the sushi rolls. I mean, look at the tuna we started with!


Some serious tuna going on


Being in the Midlands fish this fresh is a little more difficult to come by, but I would definitely do this if I was passing a good fishmongers.


Tiradito Nikkei


We did a salmon ceviche maki alongside the tuna dishes, all amazing. Fabricio talked about lots the techniques of ceviche, how long to leave it for, even down to things like ditching the middle of the red onions for ceviche as the flavour is too strong.


Ceviche Nikkei


MGG and I both loved making the gyoza, and were pretty impressed with our pleating. We could have just polished off the plate of these, and will be making these soon.


Pork gyoza, pleated by us


I loved this as a course, there were 7 of us on it, everything was really well organised, and the pace was great. Sitting down to eat everything we’d cooked together was lovely too, helped along with some sake, a classic Chilcano de Pisco and some good wine. That was me, not MGG.


Peruvian Japanese lunch is served


This is not for you if you’re a bit shy, as you are essentially cooking in the middle of the lower shop floor, but that wasn’t a problem for us. I’d definitely look to go on other courses at Divertimenti, there’s everything from baking through Italian food, knife skills to Malaysian. Fabricio is teaching again in March, this time Peruvian street food.

Lovely to go on, reasonable from a cost perspective and a great range of subjects. The only downside is you’ve got to try and get through the Divertimenti shop without spending anything…! So tempting, so many things you never knew would help your cooking and baking!



Giving the gift of learning


Gifts can be all sorts of things. Lets face it, they can be mediocre, they can be laughable, they can be things you hope never to see again. Or they can be joyous, surprising, laugh out loud fabulous and memorable for years to come. And for me, giving someone the gift of a new skill, or upgrading a skill they already have, is a great gift, creates great memories, and in my area of interest, likely to lead to some great food as well!

There are, of course, some hugely well known schools, with quite large enrolment fees attached, so I’ve tried to feature some of those that are slightly more wallet friendly. Should you have won the lottery, then just ring for Raymond now! Otherwise, here’s my choices:

* Top of my list (in case Santa is reading) would be a course at The School of Artisan Food. Actually, what I’d love to do is do their full on diploma in artisan food producing, but given the need to pay the mortgage I’d settle for artisan ice-cream making or even cider making. Buy gift vouchers if you can’t decide, or book a course if you know what they’d love. Beautiful surroundings, and an incredible farm shop on site will make it a day to remember.

* Activity Superstore have a fairly wide range of cookery classes and experiences on offer, everything from kids classes to Japanese food, cupcakes to knife skills. You can watch and learn with chefs like Jean-Christophe Novelli, or just enthusiastic cooks looking to pass on knowledge. And if you’ve got it wrong, then they can always switch to anything else on offer, like bungee jumping. If they must!

* Dr T and MGG did a foraging walk with the team from Food Safari whilst we were at Harvest at Jimmy’s earlier in the Autumn, and loved it, and I’d certainly be keen to join one of their courses. There is more unusual stuff here, like Wild Meat in a Day or Free Range Pig in a Day, or you can go a little simpler and just make some wonderful bread. Another huge benefit, the courses are mainly in the Suffolk countryside, so stunning surroundings as well.

* For something a little different, how about a day with Ivan Day, food historian and food lover. Learn about things like period sugarwork and confectionery, or late Medieval English cookery, even jelly and moulded food. Courses are two days long over weekends, and cost £290, excluding accommodation. Based in the Lake District, there’s plenty of choice of places to stay at every budget, and quite sure a day on these courses would certainly give some new insights into the food we eat today.

* Divertimenti is one of those shops that most cooks could lose a lot of time, not to mention money in, and their cookery school offers the same kind of diversity as well. As with most, you can book a course or buy vouchers, and it may be difficult to make a decision on which one. Great, intriguing names as well, like Tempting the Dragon or Fast and Hot, Slow and Low. There are also great technical courses, and fun courses, and just great demos to turn up to.


Give them something to look forward to in the New Year, and something to look back on for months to come. Just remember to encourage them to practice their new found skill on a regular basis, and the course almost pays for itself!

Photo by Goldhahn & Sampson.


Seeing what Divertimenti have in store for Christmas


As you can imagine, Divertimenti is one of those shops that I can get lost in for hours. And one of those where I should really leave my credit card at home before crossing the threshold! Their Christmas gift guide is out, and here’s what I think is worth a look:


Beautiful carafe and glasses from Divertimenti


* I know that they’re not the best thing for drinking champagne from, but I adore the gold spiral champagne saucers. Bring a bit of old fashioned glamour to everyday life, even if you’re only drinking sparkling water!

* Talking of drinking water, they also have a beautiful carafe and glasses, which will mean even tap water will seem spectacular. Nice and space saving too, as the glasses stack into the neck of the carafe when you want to put them away.

* Enjoy good loose leaf tea without much mess with this glass mug with lid. Pop your tea in the filter and keep the lid on to keep it warm whilst it brews. They also do a very good loose leaf tea, so perhaps put the two things together.

* I want a waffle griddle, please Santa! In my experience these stove top ones are by far the best thing for producing fabulous waffles, and I think there can be no better breakfast come Christmas morning!

Flower trivets - great gift for a food lover who keeps juggling pans * Brighten up someone’s kitchen with practical yet gorgeous floral trivets, for everything from teapots to cooking pots.

* For something a bit vintage looking, attractive yet practical then I love the Camembert plates. They come in a really attractive storage box, and have my favourite label: dishwasher safe!

And this is just from the Christmas selection! The regular selection has some great foodstuffs, like Carved Angel Condiments and some great Smoked Paprika. Buy this for the tin alone! Great stocking filler though. Lots of things to browse through and add to your wishlist, or shopping list.


Where do foodies register for their wedding?


Where would foodies register? What to buy food lovers for their weddings

Being of the nosey/curious type, I love looking at the search terms people have put in to get to the blog. There’ve been all kinds of weird and wonderful ones, not to mention some very err, creative, spellings. But this one seemed an entirely appropriate question, and the sort of thing I would want to know the answer to! So, here’s a few thoughts from me:

1. How about seeing if your favourite local deli or wine shop will run a list for you? In fact, I am surprised not more local specialist stores have got into this lucrative business. Sadly, not even Ocado seem to have a listing facility.

2. Thankfully some of the wine retailers do seem to have caught onto this, so if you’re foodies who love wine, then this might be a good route for you. As one would expect, Berry Bros & Rudd will run a list for you, to which you can add wine, spirits, accessories, wine tastings and even wine courses at their school. For something with more national coverage, then Majestic also offer a wine list service. They have everything from fine wine through to champagne, beers and spirits, so you could really lay down a very interesting, and quaffable cellar.

3. Natoora offers a really wide selection of goodies from Europe, from fresh stuff through to tinned, cheese through to meat and all kinds of veg. They don’t offer a wedding list service but your guests could buy gift certificates that you could have an awful lot of fun spending after the wedding! As an alternative, check out Forman & Field who also do gift vouchers, and there’s a great choice of stuff that you could spend it on.

4. A wedding would seem the perfect opportunity to upgrade your kitchen equipment. I would be really happy to have a list at Divertimenti and would not only load it up with great stuff for the kitchen, but also with classes at the cookery school. If you wanted things for all the house but still really good, not to mention good looking, kitchen stuff, then Heal’s would be another good choice, or you can register a wishlist at Habitat. And, of course, there’s always John Lewis!


I'd put it on my list!


5. Not on the High Street is one of my favourite sites, and you can register a list with them. There would be fabulous things for the kitchen and dining room, like beautiful cake stands, stylish coffee machines and funky personalised mugs. There are also some interesting food options as well, with everything from an Over Indulgence Hamper (how lovely to come back from honeymoon to this) to organic chocolate, great oils and interesting mustard.

6. I do love my cheese, but yet to find someone with a listing facility. Paxton & Whitfield offer gift vouchers, so I guess you could run your own list and ask for those. You could then spend them as you needed cheese. Or have a look at the Cheese Club from Teddington Cheese (great cheese shop, unlikely location), where you could ask people to buy you one of each theme, which covers selections suitable for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas, as well as one for each month of the year. The Fine Cheese Co in Bath also offer something similar, and people could buy you a whole year’s worth of deliveries.

7. You may have also gathered that I have a reasonably big cookbook addiction. Which would have made listing with Amazon a perfect choice for me. It would enable you to explore the far reaches of your food reading and cooking desires. You can explore old and new, rare and not so rare. I guess Amazon is almost like a huge department store now, so you can also list for lots of equipment too. Just don’t forget the books.

So, that’s a few suggestions for a couple who love their food as much as they love each other! Happy listing!

Interesting wedding cupcakes taken by clevercupcakes on Flickr.

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