Time for the last ice creams of summer?


Well, Bank Holiday Monday seemed to be a bit of a wash out in most places across the UK, so ice cream sales might have been reduced. But if you wanted to make your own, then I highly recommend “The Art of Making Gelato” by Morgan Morano.


The art of making Gelato


Now, I’ve not tested out any of these recipes, but my, the flavours sound amazing, I wouldn’t know where to begin. From the basics, including chocolate and espresso, through Italian classics like cherry and cinnamon and onto more unusual things like jasmine, biscoff and apple pie.

I am mentally clearing space in my freezer as I write!


Cuisinart ice cream maker - great gift for a food lover who really loves their ice cream


The gold standard of ice cream makers is still the Cuisinart Professional for me, if you have space on the counter to keep it out. Still, at just under £250 you’ve got to really like ice cream. That said, Magimix do a version for under £45, and I’m considering the ice cream maker attachment for my Kenwood Chef.

Maybe the weather will pick up, maybe it won’t. But every day can feel sunnier with good ice cream!


On fabulous ice cream and raw milk


Our trip to County Durham led us to some great new food experiences from local producers, and one of those was Wheelbirks. So good, we went twice. But when ice cream is this good, why wouldn’t you?

Their ice cream comes from the milk of their own pedigree Jersey herd, apparently the oldest in Northumberland, and you get to meet the girls from the moment you pull up.


We first went on a Sunday, along with half the county I think, but apparently it is very popular with the locals, and was filled with happy family outings taking place all round the parlour. It’s a lovely space, and on a fine day there is even more space in their orchards. Perfect for kids to run around, play on the swings, feed the chickens…



What about the ice cream? Well, it was superb, creamy as you’d expect, and with flavours from your normal vanilla (it was delicious) to the more unusual salted caramel and liquorice (could have done to have dialed down the liquorice a bit). We never got beyond just sampling different ice cream flavours, but you can also indulge in things like Knickerbocker Glories or Banana Splits. They also had amazing looking cakes on offer, not to mention some light lunches as well.



You can also buy their Jersey meat and also their raw milk. Sadly, didn’t get to try either on this trip, but they are obviously serious in their support for the unpasteurised milk campaign. Next time we stay up there, I am going straight there to get the milk in for the week, and some beef for supper. If you want to find out more about the campaign for real milk (or milk like we used to get) then worth reading the campaign website here.

This seems like a really great local business, and what seemed to me to be a really integrated approach to their livestock, really from cradle to grave. It’s also got a real sense of history, as dairy farming started on the farm back in 1925. If you’re in the Stocksfield area then most definitely worth a visit.


The Friday Five – Bring on the Ice Cream


Here comes summer! A perfect time for an ice cream sundae


Surely summer is going to start properly some time soon? Been thinking about ice cream in all its forms, and wondering when it’s really going to be warm enough to want to tuck into some. So maybe whilst it’s not quite warm enough it’s a good time to be making up plenty of batches to be on standby in the freezer. Or at least have a leaf through some inspiring books whilst it’s raining outside!

Here’s five to kick start the iced treats for this summer:

Lola’s Ice Creams and Sundaes: Iced Delights for All Seasons by Morfudd Richards – I’ve never been around to stop the Lola’s On Ice van, but I’d be happy to stop them for Marmalade Ice Cream or Gin and Tonic Sorbet. Definitely a book to get you beyond chocolate and raspberry ripple, this is a very modern approach to iced treats!


Making Artisan Gelato by Torrence Kopfer – definitely moving this on from a kid’s treat, this book has some amazing flavour combinations, such as Chocolate Cinnamon Basil Gelato, Honey and Toasted Sesame Seed Gelato and even a Blue Cheese Granita with Poached Pear. If you fancy turning out something different for dessert, or surprising your guests with a guess what’s in the cornet competition, then this is the book for you.


The Vegan Scoop: Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream – I’m thankful that I don’t have a dairy allergy, but for those that do, or choose not to partake, then this might be the book for them. Particularly as the subtitle continues “that tastes better than the real thing with 1/3 less calories”. Which is one heck of a promise! There are fruity flavours and funky flavours, and I would imagine great source of ideas, particularly if you have kids with a dairy intolerance.


SNOG Healthy Treats Cookbook – Frozen Yoghurt, Gluten-free Bakes, Raw Food Treats, Smoothies & Drinks – quite a title, but a healthy version of iced treats. In case that’s your thing. Or you’d like it to be.


We All Scream: A Brief Look at Ice Cream Around the World by Christopher Wortzenspeigel – more food reading than preparing the freezer to be full of iced treats, but great to learn about what types and flavours of ice cream are top of the charts around the world. Wonder how far the Knickerbocker Glory makes it around the world?

So, lets hope for sunny days and fantastic ice cream eating moments!


Delicious looking knickerbocker glory photo by Eggybird on Flickr.


The last ice creams of summer


So many flavours, so little time!


It seems the weather is having a last hurrah of warm weather in some parts of the country, so seems a good time to indulge. This week sees the launch of The Icecreamists at Selfridges, the so called agents of cool. Now, this could look like style over substance, with a guerilla ice cream installation, apparently subterranean, subversive, and subzero. I’m very excited to have tickets to go, but even more excited to taste the flavours!

No raspberry ripple here! Well, there might be, but it won’t be called that. There’s Obamarama, a traditional milk chocolate, Espresso Yourself, for an iced coffee type hit, and the delicate yet paradoxically named Axl Rose-Water. Of course, all the hype so far has been about the Sex Pistol: viagra and absinthe ice cream served with a shot of absinthe in a pink water pistol. Less 99, more 69!

And then there was Julian Hunt tweeting from the Guild of Fine Food Retailers Awards, especially about Lou’s Liquorice ice cream, made with Pontefract cakes, from Yummy Yorkshire . Sounds very different and quite delicious! Looking at their website then I quite fancy the Marmalade Cheesecake as well.

Of course, the ideal is to make delicious versions at home. I’m still trying to find space to put a proper ice cream maker in, one of those with the inbuilt freezer, so can just decide on a whim to knock some up. And if I find room for that, then I’ll need to find room on the bookshelf for Lola’s Ice Creams and Sorbets. Beautiful looking book with great photography and great recipes.

All I need now is a few more days of sunshine. And to work out what to wear on Thursday!

Photo by wetwebwork


The Friday Five – looking ahead to new food and drink books


It’s getting to that peak time of year when whole heaps of books are launched, ready to tempt the Christmas shoppers I guess. Or those of us who could probably just squeeze in at least one more cook book to our (groaning) shelves. Here’s my very personal view of what looks interesting for the next couple of weeks.


I Know How to Cook, or I will when I've read this


1. I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot – this is a bit of a cheat, as in France this is an absolute classic book to be found on shelves in many homes, but this is the first time it’s been released in English. First published in 1932, this is an authority of every classic French dish going, from Croque Monsieur to cassoulet. With 1200 recipes to go at, it could be a very Gallic winter in this household!


The Classic Whisky Guide - a perfect guide to a drop of the good stuff


2. The Classic Whisky Guide by Jim Murray – apparently, Jim Murray is the world’s only full-time whisky writer. Which, if you’re a whisky lover, sounds like a very hard job indeed. This covers every kind of whisky, from the highlands to islands, through to the whisky and bourbon of Kentucky and Tennessee. This would make a great gift for a whisky lover, particularly combined with a bottle of their favourite, or something new to them. Try The Whisky Exchange for an incredibly extensive selection, both well-known and more unusual.


A Year at an Italian Table from Valvona & Crolla


3. Valvona & Crolla: A Year at an Italian Table by Mary & Philip Contini – just what you need to counteract all that Gallic activity from the first book! Two hundred recipes from the legendary Italian food shop and restaurant that will give you hours of wonderful smelling dishes throughout the year.


Sweet treats for your sweetie


4. Life is Sweet: A Collection of Splendid Old-Fashioned Confectionery by Hope and Greenwood – if you’re feeling blue, you can’t beat a quarter of old fashioned sweets. And Hope and Greenwood have been one of those leading the charge to bring back our old favourites. This book is a great gift for those with a sweet tooth, or nostalgic tastes, and includes recipes for things like Sherbet Lemon Marshmallows, Midnight Dark Truffles and Coconut Ice. Worth buying now and perhaps making your own sweets to give as Christmas gifts.


A roast by any other name


5. Rôtis by Stéphane Reynaud– as we come into Autumn, it’s the perfect time to buy this book, as it’s all about roasts, whether pot or oven roasted. There’s a roast for every night of the week, from meat to fish, and even includes recipes for leftovers, so very credit crunch friendly. Written by the author of the fabulous Ripailles, this is a great book for meat and fish lovers in search of new comfort food recipes.

So, some great titles coming up, and I am sure there will be some more to come before Santa gets his sleigh hitched up for this year. Watch out for a cook book by Matt Dawson, and Keith Floyd’s autobiography, which I imagine will be quite a read!


A foodie tour of La Rochelle


My favourite market: La Rochelle - great place for a food lover


I love La Rochelle, and would happily spend my days here (note to the housesitters, yes, we will be home. Unless we win the lottery).

It has everything you could want, especially if you want good food. You can do everything from fine, Michelin star dining through to just a quick coffee, but it’s all here, and in great surroundings.

My starting point would be a morning coffee, really anywhere overlooking Vieux Port. You could push the boat out and have a croissant too, but you won’t get hurried away regardless of what you have. I would then make my way up to the market. It’s on every morning, and to me it’s what you want every food market to be like. Full of colour, and characters, the best produce of the local area, and you really are spoilt for choice. Get there early, and you’ll be rewarded with the best of the days catch, great fruit and veg, and then inside for the rest of your lunch.

You begin to understand the huge variety of French cheese when you stand in front of one of the counters here and know that this is just from one small part of one region. As long as you’re not dairy intolerant, you will be spoilt for choice. You can move through the various charcuterie products, and fabulous cuts of meat, mainly from local animals. I’ve already described my love of the foie gras pate with preserved figs from one of the producers, but there are all kinds of other pates on offer, of every conceivable combination.

It must surely be heading towards lunchtime by now. I would say you had two choices really: seafood or the best of French high cuisine. For seafood, then Andres is an institution, and is possibly worth the visit at least once. I’ve had a great lunch in there, and I’ve had terribly rude service as well, so I’ve probably done my one visit for this lifetime. For myself, I would go to A Cote de Chez Fred on Rue St Nicholas. Lovely people, great atmosphere, and fabulous fish and seafood.

For fine dining, then one family dominate the town. The name of Coutanceau is over the door of not one but six places at the time of writing and is sure to expand. The original now bears the name of father and son, Richard and Christopher Coutanceau, and has an enviable position overlooking the town beach. This is two star Michelin dining, and deserves the stars. Needless to say, you need to book in advance!

You may get luckier with a walk in at my favourite, Le Comptoir Des Voyages, run by the eldest of the two brothers. This is a more eclectic approach to eating, particularly unusual for France, with influences from around the world. Also unusually for France the wine list is dominated by non French wines.

I’d enjoy lunch, then maybe take a walk around the aquarium, or walk the walls to work some of it off. You could also go to the small but interesting perfume bottle museum. Obviously put together by real fragrance afficionados and lovers, it will only take you about 15 minutes, but will cover fragrances you’ve never heard of, as well as those you have long forgotten.


None of this one for all business - ice creams from Ernest


All of this is really activity to make sure that I have room for a scoop or two at Ernest, glacier par excellence in my book. If you love ice cream, or possibly only like it a little, this is a must visit, to see just how far you can stretch ice cream from plain vanilla. I’ve not been yet this year to see what is new, but last year I had turkish delight, that was delicate beyond belief, but not dull, or too subtle, with a plain chocolate laced with cracknel and pink peppercorns. A seriously sophisticated taste that I have hankered after ever since.

After that, I’d probably pop into La Belle Iloise from some tinned fish, and go home. Otherwise the temptation would be another coffee, a pre dinner aperitif, and to move onto dinner. Which is no bad thing now!

If you need to get there, then Easyjet and FlyBe fly in from the UK. I’ve always been staying in a gite outside of the town, but for perfect location I would stay at The Yachtman – everything on your doorstep and it has it’s own outdoor pool. It’s also just round the corner from Chez Fred.

Go and discover this beautiful part of France, even for the weekend. You will come back euros lighter, pounds heavier but stress lightened!


We all scream for ice cream


Another glorious day, more temperature records broken…even more need than ever for great ice cream! Now you could pop out to the corner shop for a Fab or a Strawberry Mivvi, but the true foodie is not going to be happy with that! Unless your local stocks something fab like Minghella’s, or Roskilly’s for the Coconut Ice Cream.


Be cool with great taste! The Gaggia ice cream maker with built in freezer compartment


So I would suggest if they are an ice cream aficionado, then it’s time they started making their own. I’m reliably informed by an ice cream addict that the Gaggia is the Rolls Royce of ice cream makers. It’s fantastic in that as long as you have bench space, it stays out ready to go all the time. With others, you have to know in advance you’re going to want to make it, or wait until the bowl has frozen.

Or if you want a bit of interactive fun with a tasty end result, then how about the ice cream ball? You put everything in, play a bit of footie with it and hey presto, ice cream! Got to be one of the most fun ways of making dessert!

For ice cream inspiration, then check out the Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, for chunky, flavoursome ice creams or perhaps The Ultimate Ice Cream Book for equally flavoursome but slightly more sophisticated offerings.  And if you’re just going to dish up vanilla, then you’ll need to make a great sundae or knickerbocker glory! So pick up some hundreds and thousands whilst you’re down the shop!