Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Leigh-On-Sea Sole, Jamie's Great Britain

Another Christmas and another Jamie Oliver book to top the charts. This time it's all about good old Blighty! You might expect traditional roasts, fish and chips and Yorkshire puddings and I suppose that's what you get in a round about way. However, there's a twist, Jamie is also paying homage to Britain's diversity, the rich tapestry of cultures which have come together and created some of the UK's best known dishes. So a simple Sunday Roast turns into Empire Roast Chicken with Bombay Roasties! There are some fantastic recipes with beautifully photographed food. As with all of Jamie's recipes, they're easy to follow and it's not about precision it's about flavour.

The first recipe I tried was the "Leigh-On-Sea Sole". It was a simple but impressive dish and full of flavour. If you're a Norwich reader then I got all the seafood for this recipe from Norwich market. It's definitely not the cheapest dish in the book, Dover sole is one of the pricier sea creatures to grace our shores, but great for a weekend treat.


If you've asked Santa for Jamie Oliver's new book but can't wait to make this recipe then you can find it on the C4 website here. I served it with a spinach purée which you can make by blanching a bag of spinach in boiling water for a minute. Then to retain the vibrant green colour, you refresh the spinach by draining and running under cold water. Finally, place all the spinach in a food processor and blitz, adding cream until you have the desired texture. To make the purée silky smooth I then passed it through a sieve. My girlfriend did a watercress purée using the same technique which tasted fantastic and I'd definitely recommend.

Once again, another another triumph for Jamie Oliver. Right I'm off to make ER's Diamond Jubilee Chicken!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pollen Street Social, London

It was my birthday last week and this time last year I had my first taste of Michelin starred food at Maze, London, by Gordon Ramsay. I was instantly converted. The Head chef at the time, Jason Atherton, crafted some simply stunning dishes. One year on, I'm a year older and Jason Atherton has opened his own restaurant, Pollen Street Social. It's rapidly becoming one of London's hottest restaurants and just before we dined there, it was awarded a Michelin star within 6 months of opening.

We went on a Wednesday lunch time, the place was packed but had a real buzz and atmosphere. It's elegantly decorated, with large wooden tables and black leather seats. Sat at the bar having a pre-dinner G&T it was very tempting to order a plate of the Serrano ham they have on the bar but we didn't want to spoil our appetite.

The service was impeccable from the moment we entered. I informed our waiter that I was gluten free and he ran through what options I could have and what they could adapt. We decided to go for the very reasonably priced lunch menu (£25 per head), which meant we could treat ourselves the following day (blog to follow!). For starter, I went for the pressed ham hock, coco bean, squid, piccalilli gel and wild watercress. A generous portion of beautiful ham hock and topped with squid which was perfectly cooked - the dish tasted as stunning as it looked. My girlfriend decided on the slow cooked egg, with Scottish smoked haddock and curry puffed rice which she said was deliciously creamy, flawlessly cooked. The curried rice puffs added not only another texture but also a fantastic flavour and balance to the dish.

Jason Atherton takes a lot of inspiration from Spanish cuisine and that was clear in my main course. I had roasted black bream on a bed of Catalan paella with sprouting brocolli and black olive. This dish was less about inventive cooking and more about sheer flavour. The paella was packed with flavour and the fish impeccably cooked, with beautifully seasoned crispy skin. The touch of genius was in the broccoli where the heads had been mixed with black olive, creating a sharpness that cut through the rest of the dish. Roast Yorkshire partridge received equal praise and again showcased both fantastic cooking and creativity. Accompanied with a plum jam, kale and compressed apple, the flavours worked brilliantly with the perfectly cooked succulent partridge.

I'm not normally much of a dessert person, but I need to save a few superlatives for this! Unfortunately, the two desserts on the lunch menu weren't gluten free, which gave me the rest of the menu to choose from! It was an easy choice, I love rice pudding and judging by the previous courses I knew this one would be something special. The rice pudding, laced with vanilla was served in a little pan, and then in my bowl I had a piece of plum sugar on top of plum ice creaming and plum pieces. It all worked together brilliantly, easily one of the best desserts I've had. My girlfriend had the "PBJ" a homage to the American classic, peanut butter jelly. This was a peanut butter parfait with, cherry jam and creamed rice puffs. Beautifully assembled once again and a fantastic flavour combination.

You're given a little something to take away with you when you leave, but I don't want to spoil the surprise for anyone thinking of going! After only 6 months, Jason Atherton has created a very special place indeed, Pollen Street Social has a very bright future ahead. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Perfect Pulled Pork!

There are a lot of great things to come out of America, but in the culinary world, it has to be pulled pork. The pork is cooked slowly at a low temperature which means it becomes deliciously tender and full of flavour.

I made up my own BBQ marinade from a whole host of ingredients I found in our cupboard but any BBQ marinade will do, just make sure there’s plenty of it! I used the following ingredients: Jamie Oliver’s BBQ rub, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, dark brown sugar, honey, red wine vinegar, tamari sauce, chilli oil and salt and pepper. Really the best thing to do is to make it to taste, so keep trying it. You want a consistency that you can smear all over your Pork. I used a Pork shoulder (about 1.6kg). I smothered it in the BBQ marinade and placed it on a roasting tray and wrapped the tray in foil. I then put this in a pre-heated oven at about 140 (fan) for about 4.5 hours. When your timer goes, unwrap the foil (be prepared for the amazing smell) and tempting though it is to tuck in, put it back in the oven for a final 45 minutes uncovered. When it’s ready, place it on a chopping board and put one fork through the shoulder and pull away with another. You’ll find that the Pork easily shreds. Smother over any of the left marinade in the bottom of the roasting tin.

For a full America feast, serve with sweet potato wedges, creamy coleslaw, BBQ beans and corn on the cob. Fantastic and simple recipe for easily one of my favourite meals!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Harvest at Jimmy's, Suffolk

The perfect festival for a foodie! Harvest at Jimmy's is a festival that's been held at Jimmy Doherty's farm in Suffolk for the last 3 years. It's a fantastic weekend with live music from bands such as the Kooks but the highlight for me is always the chefs and the food. This year the festival was also held at Alex James' farm in Oxfordshire. There's a whole host of food stalls from Jun Tanaka's 'Street Kitchen' to Jamie Oliver's 'Fabulous Feasts'. We had food ranging from Risotto Balls, to Tartiflette, to Chorizo and Halloumi. There was a great selection of gluten free options.

There's also demos from some great, well known chefs! Hope you enjoy the pictures and make sure you book your tickets for next year @ or

Jimmy's Hog Roast!
Matthew Fort and winner of the main course on Great British Menu 2 years running Tom Kerridge
Food critic Jay Rayner (who read some extremely funny bad reviews!)
Jamie Oliver and his Italian friend Genaro Contaldo
70 cookbooks to her name and judge on Great British Bake Off Mary Berry
Jun Tanaka's Street Kitchen
My girlfriend got the opportunity to do a master class with last year's Master Chef Winner Tim Anderson
Richard Corrigan, top chef and regional judge on Great British Menu

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Spicy meatballs in a noodle soup

Oriental inspired food can be difficult for those eating a gluten free diet, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a few gluten-free store cupboard essentials. First, has to be Tamari Sauce; a gluten free soy sauce and quite why everybody doesn't use this is beyond me! It tastes exactly the same as soy sauce and is the same consistency etc. If more restaurants used this there would be a lot more options for coeliacs. Another great product we found recently was gluten free soba noodles, once again I couldn’t taste the difference. These are available in larger branches of tesco or you can buy other varieties online. Finally, sausages – why they need to be packed out with wheat and breadcrumbs I'm not sure, the best sausages certainly aren't. For those living in the Norwich area, there’s a fantastic butchers on Norwich market which does a huge variety of sausages, all gluten free. And it was the chilli and lemon grass sausages that inspired this recipe! There’s a decent selection of gluten free sausages now at most supermarkets and you can make this recipe with any variety really or even some grilled chicken breast or duck.
  • Take 6 sausages out of their skins and roll into balls. Brown in a pan of oil, then put in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 or until cooked through
  • Bring 1 litre of chicken stock to the boil and add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and a 5cm piece of grated ginger. Add the noodles and cook according to the packet instructions. 2 minutes before these are done add your vegetables - we used pak choi, spring onion, beansprouts and mushrooms (around a handful of each). Just adjust the cooking type depending on the vegetables.
  • Add the meatballs and then serve into bowls. Top with chopped fresh coriander, sliced chilli and spring onion. Put tamari sauce and chilli oil on the table for people to add to taste. 
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Home-grown and another trip to the fantastic Roger Hickman's!

Today we were suppose to be heading to London to go to Jason Atherton's new restaurant Pollen Street Social and catch up with friends, but unfortunately due to the recent riots we decided to stay away. A quick look around my garden before heading to Roger Hickman's in Norwich proved fruitful spotting my first sweet pepper and a bumper crop of tomatoes!

We then went out to Roger Hickman's, Norwich's finest restaurant (in my opinion). I've reviewed it before and you can read that here. It was a shame we couldn't make it to London, but lunch at Roger Hickman's definitely cheered us up! We've been twice before and it just keeps getting better. Lunch today was simply sensational and incredible value at only £20 a head for the set menu. You can clearly see why this restaurant won the Good Food Guide restaurant of the year for the East of England.

We started with an amouse bouche - pea and mint soup, which was silky smooth and full of flavour. The starter was one of the best starters I've ever had a warm salad of fillet of beef with truffle and pickled mushrooms. The fillet of beef almost melted in your mouth, and combined with truffle was simply divine.

A main course of Pork Belly, Pork Loin, with cabbage and bacon and mushrooms in a creamy but light mustard sauce was superb. All the pork was cooked to perfection and the dish was beautifully balanced.

Dessert was also a show-stopper! Poached cherries with cherry jelly and chocolate mousse, with an added spark of popping candy. A really great dessert to round off a superb lunch. Service each time has been impeccable and they can always cater for gluten free, this restaurant really deserves all the plaudits it gets.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Mexican Classic: Fajitas!

I've not eaten fajitas in a long time as the tortillas they sell in the shops may read 'corn tortillas' but are bulked out with wheat flour. But my girlfriend managed to source these fantastic gluten free tortillas at And what a find they were! As they are pure corn tortillas and not bulked out they taste really authentic. Having been to Mexico, they really brought back memories of the tacos we used to get from street vendors in Puerto Escondido! They do come in batches of 30 but are great value and freezable.

We used a BBC Good Food recipe for steak fajitas which was very tasty. The recipe uses rump steak, which was full of flavour and great value. If you like it spicy just up the pinch of cayenne pepper. We served them with a tomato salsa, guacamole and sour cream. An awesome dinner which took no time at all to make!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Moroccan Chicken Wings with Herby Quinoa

Chicken wings tend to get over looked, but with the right marinade they’re extremely tasty… and cheap too! My girlfriend made this fantastic recipe for Moroccan wings as featured on BBC Good Food. The recipe uses Harissa, which is made form chilli, spices and citrus which originates from Tunisia and has a delicious warm and smoky taste. You can get in the supermarkets and a little goes a long way. With the syrup and citrus used in this recipe there’s a great balance of sweet and savoury flavours. We followed the cooking instructions in the recipe and grilled the wings but these would be a great addition to any barbecue.
As you can see from the title we substituted the couscous for quinoa a grain which has the advantage of being gluten free. It takes around 15 minutes to cook, but once done, just follow the same instructions as the couscous. A fantastic and simple dinner!

Full link to recipe:

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Perfect Portugese Piri Piri

Having just got back from the Algarve, I couldn't wait to share this recipe! Frango Piri Piri (Piri Piri Chicken) is hugely popular in Portugal and when it's done right, I can see why. Unfortunately, our first experience of Portuguese Piri Piri wasn't a good one - a touristy restaurant in Albufeira where the chicken was dry and tasteless. However we then found a recipe in our villa which tasted incredible full of flavour and with a tasty kick to it. We did both chicken and prawns on the BBQ in this marinade. Anything between 2 and 6 hours in the marinade is plenty. You can obviously cook this in the oven but for best results it has to be the BBQ!

Piri Piri Chicken - We did thighs, wings and breast on skewers!
Piri Piri Prawns! Chorizo and Steak also great on the BBQ!
Recipe - Piri Piri Marniade
Mix together the following and smother over chicken, prawns or whatever else takes your fancy:
250ml olive oil
Juice of 4 lemons
1 tablespoon of Piri Piri powder or Cayenne Pepper
5 teaspoons paprika
5 teaspoons ground cumin
5 teaspoons dried oregano
4 crushed garlic cloves

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Eating out for Gluten Free Pizza!

A really quick post aimed at the gluten free readers! Restraunts are rapidly catching up with changing dietary requirements and now Bella Italia do gluten free pasta and pizza. I've tried some great gluten free pasta at both Jamie's Italian and Carluccio's but gluten free pizza was a first. They were really quite good as well, I had the Pollo Picante, a tasty chicken and chilli pizza with a thin and crispy gluten free base. My girlfriend also went for the gluten free pizza base, (mainly because I usually eat any leftovers!) with pepperoni and she said she wouldn't have known the difference. It's just really good to be able to go out for a pizza now and again rather than having to make your own (although there are some great pizza recipes). Hopefully more restaurants will follow this trend!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Return to the Last Wine Bar, Norwich

I originally reviewed the Last Wine Bar in Norwich on 5th February where it was severely let down by poor service. On that occasion I was asked to fill out a card with my details and they said they would 'see what they could do'. A couple of months later, a letter arrived through the door stating that I had 'won a 3 course meal for 2'. Either, I flukely won the prize draw or they gave it to me so that we would come back. You can make your own mind up! I think I'd have much rather they had acknowledged the poor service delivered on the first occasion and asked me to return. In the end however, who am I to turn down a free meal?!

My girlfriend and I went back with high hopes, the food had been really good the first time round and surely the service couldn't be as disastrous. It was much improved, in fact, we had to take a break between our main and dessert as they had been so prompt throughout. On the other hand, it wasn't perfect. There were a few tempting specials on offer but instead of these being delivered with a true knowledge of what they were serving they were read by the waitress off a scrap of paper she had in her pocket. Only a minor niggle but just detracts from the overall experience.
Seared scallops on a bed of sweet potato and kaffir lime purée with curried popcorn.
The food was again good. I started with one of the specials, seared scallops on a bed of sweet potato and kaffir lime purée with curried popcorn. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the purée was smooth and light and had a real zingy flavour. The popcorn was as random as it sounded though, it tasted great and was a nice idea but just felt a bit out of place with the overall dish. My girlfriend had the char-grilled king prawns, vegetable curry, cumin popadoms and mango salsa which she said was 'very tasty and a nice balanced dish'. I then wanted the roast cod with crab velouté but as I'm gluten free this wasn't an option because, 'the chef thickens all his sauces with flour'. So instead, I opted for the lemon sole with caper, and sundried tomato butter, served with new potatoes. The fish was again beautifully cooked and the butter a beautiful accompaniment but it's a shame the butter wasn't on both sides as eating the second half of the fish was a little bland. The sirloin steak, with Dijon mash, watercress and a balsamic and red onion jus was my girlfriend's choice and received a good write up. For dessert I had a raspberry and basil panacotta which was good if lacked a little wow factor. My girlfriend opted for the passion fruit cheesecake with passion fruit syrup. The cheesecake was described as a 'little bland' but the passion fruit syrup was 'wonderful' so another decent dish.
Char-grilled king prawns, vegetable curry, cumin popadoms and mango salsa
With the bill only coming to £23, this was pretty incredible. Had I been paying full whack, I think I may have been left with a slightly sour taste in my mouth. The service was much improved but at these prices it should be at the top of it's game. Likewise, there were some good dishes and a few that just didn't quite hit the mark. At the moment, this restaurant is being outclassed by better establishments in Norwich.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Jamie Oliver's Italian, Glasgow

The Jamie Oliver brand is going from strength to strength, I've got his pans, flavour shakers, pestle and mortar, cook books and I even saw Jamie Oliver tomato plants in homebase! There was a question on the TV show Million Pound drop the other night asking which celebrity chef out of Blumenthal, Ramsay and Oliver hadn't won a coveted Michelin star. The answer is of course Jamie Oliver, but that's not what Jamie is about. Jamie's Italian was exactly what the naked chef is all about, great food, great flavours, served in a relaxed atmosphere.

Jamie's empire is expanding rapidly and there are now around 18 restaurants up and down the UK. We went to his Glasgow restaurant in the very impressive old GPO building in George Square. We went around 2.30pm and only had to wait a few minutes for a table. There is a real buzz the moment you walk in and the smells were fantastic. We opted for the seasonal meat antipasti plank to share, which was a selection of seasonal cured meats, Italian cheeses, pickles and a crunchy salad. Highlights were the buffalo mozzarella which was superbly creamy and the curly pickled green chilli's which were packed with heat and flavour. The presentation was stunning, with the plank placed across two large tins of chopped tomatoes!

For main course I went for a special of blood orange, chargrilled artichokes, creamy gorgonzola and toasty pine nuts. This was a great, perfectly balanced salad, the only criticism would be that I was expecting more chunky artichokes where as the waitress claimed these were finely sliced through the salad which meant the flavour was masked. The gorgonzola and blood orange were a fantastic combination. My girlfriend, knowing I'd want to steal a taste, went for the carbonara but with gluten free pasta! All the main pasta dishes are available with gluten free pasta which was as good as any normal pasta. The carbonara was creamy and the smoked pancetta gave it a delicious flavour. All in all Jamie's Italian was fantastic food and at an affordable price, who needs a Michelin star?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Passage To India, Norwich

Found a fanstastic Indian restaurant in Norwich over the weekend which really catered for gluten free. It shouldn't really be that difficult, as most Indian food uses little flour, and where it does, this tends to be gram flour (made from chickpeas) or coconut flour, both of which are gluten free, but you need to be certain. The first restaurant I phoned was far from certain and when I asked if they catered for gluten free, I was just given a response of 'We do Indian food", which wasn't hugely helpful. However, I then phoned Passage to India, where I was informed that most things on the menu were gluten free and they would be able to let me know if not.

We went early on Saturday evening and were the first people in. The decor and crockery were a little dated, and the food was equally as traditional but tasted fantastic. It was great value for money too, we had popadoms and a pickle tray, Chicken Tikka Massala, a Dopiaza, Saag Paneer, Pilau rice and drinks all for under £25. The Saag Paneer was really well spiced and the Tikka and Dopiaza distinctive and full of homemade flavour. The service was attentive and welcoming. Quite comfortably the best Indian I've had in Norwich so far!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Delicious Gluten Free Cupcakes!

Spending Sunday at work is never ideal, but when you get to come home to delicious gluten free cupcakes it makes the day a whole lot better! I was a little sceptical when my girlfriend said she was attempting to make gluten free cupcakes and I said she should make some regular ones as back up. I definitely should have had more faith, because they were absolutely amazing...

The recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook to make it gluten free, there's also a sprinkling of edible glitter!

For the cake:

  • 120g Doves farm gluten free plain flour
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 quantity vanilla frosting
  • hundreds and thousands or other edible sprinkles, to decorate
  • a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases
For the vanilla frosting:
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25ml whole milk
  • a couple of drops of vanilla extract

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer (my girlfriend's got a kitchen aid which is awesome!) with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth, careful not overmix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until half full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
  5. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting on top and decorate with hundreds and thousands.
For the vanilla frosting:
  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the milk is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
Text © Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers
Photography copyright Ryland Peters & Small

Monday, 21 March 2011

Jamie Oliver's Chicken Satay in under 30 minutes?!

Chicken Skewers, Amazing Satay Sauce, Fiery Noodle Salad and Fruit & Mint Sugar... in under 30 minutes? Definitely not. It's well documented from blogs to watchdog that Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals are impossible. I attempted the skewers, satay and salad the first time and I was well into hour 2 and that doesn't include the time to clear up the collateral damage caused during the process. Jamie's approach of chop everything using a blender may be quick, but when you take into account assembling the blender and cleaning the blender, a simple knife and chopping board becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Having said all that, I went back to Jamie's Chicken Satay recipe tonight because all the 30 minute recipes I've tried so far taste fantastic. I'll copy the bits of the recipe I used tonight below, we served it with egg fried rice and a little gem lettuce salad which were perfect accompaniments. The satay is the best I've ever tasted, packed with a freshness that you'll only get if you make your own. Cleaning the blender in this case is definitely worth it!

Chicken Satay (Serves 4)

Put half a small bunch of fresh coriander, 1 fresh red chilli (de-seeded), half a clove of garlic, 3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter, a lug of soy sauce (tamari for those who are gluten free), a 2cm piece of peeled fresh ginger and the zest of 2 limes and the juice of 1 into a blender. Blend until you've got yourself a paste. Taste it and see what you think, if you want more of a particular flavour, just add to taste. With the chicken, Jamie has some complicated way of skewering it... I found it easiest to chop the chicken breasts (4) into chunks and then place on a baking tray and smother over the satay sauce. Put into an oven preheated to 180 (fan). I cooked for around 12 minutes but its worth slicing through the biggest piece to check they're cooked.

Salad Garnish

The chicken is perfect with the salad garnish from Jamie's book. This is as simple as peeling and washing some little gem lettuce leaves and then sprinkle over some fresh lime juice, soy sauce and coriander. These cut through the bold flavours in the chicken satay and give the dish a real freshness.

Egg Fried Rice

The fiery noodles in the book are excellent but tonight we went for some simple egg fried rice. Cook some long grain rice according to the packet instructions. When the rice is cooked, heat a large frying pan over a high heat with some ground nut oil (or whatever oil you prefer). Whisk 2 eggs with some seasoning and add to the pan and stir quickly. As they start to scramble, add the rice, some sliced spring onion and a few dashes of soy sauce and fry for a couple of minutes. Very tasty, very simple.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Midsummer House, Cambridge

I've always been slightly sceptical about Michelin stars. The whole process is shrouded with mystery and can seem more focussed on pretence than food. This was my second experience of Michelin starred cuisine and my first trip to a two starred restaurant. The first had been to Maze by Gordon Ramsay which was spectacular food in a fairly, informal, trendy London setting. The setting of Midsummer House in Cambridge, where my girlfriend and I decided to celebrate our anniversary, couldn't have been more different, but the food was equally extraordinary.

Midsummer House is a small cottage on the edge of Midsummer Common, situated on the river Cam in Cambridge. We were seated in a large conservatory area with pristine white table cloths and beautifully set tables. It felt very formal but the staff were friendly, especially when I mentioned that I was gluten free. Although, I was fairly certain that some of their staff were putting on their French accents!

We began with an amuse bouche of Parsnip and Cumin Veloute with Honey Jelly which was full of flavour. It was light but really got the taste buds going, perfect as an amuse bouche. We both then had the Beetroot Salad with Corned Beef and Horseradish Ice Cream. The Horseradish Ice Cream absolutely stole the show, I've never tasted anything so extraordinary and it worked incredibly well with the rest of the dish. The beetroot was finely sliced with two different textures of corned beef, all presented beautifully. I then opted for the Daube of Beef with Pommes Puree, Mushrooms and Onions with a Red Wine Sauce. The beef was melt in the mouth tender and all the accompaniments packed with flavour and each cooked to perfection. I loved the little extras like the crispy pancetta and onion rings My girlfriend had Poached Pollack, Puy Lentils, Root Vegetables and Braised Celery. It was served with confit lemon which she said made the dish; attention to detail that seems to make a Michelin starred experience really stand out. We both then went for the Warm Cherries with Pistachio and Chocolate sorbet but both dishes looked very different as they had kindly modified mine to ensure it was gluten free. Both were simply stunning and once again the presentation was fantastic.

We had to have a tea and coffee because we couldn't resist the opportunity to choose home made chocolates from the large chest they rolled to the table. I picked a truffle chocolate that was actually made with real white truffle! These were also served with a type of Spanish Churros with salted caramel sauce and vanilla custard, and they gave me some marshmallows to ensure I had a gluten free option!

Whether you believe in the Michelin rating system or not it doesn't really matter, what you get when you come to Midsummer House is simply stunning food in a beautiful setting.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Amazing Ribs!

One of my favourite foods has to be ribs, and when they're done well, they are truly awesome! I've been to the home of great ribs, America, a couple of times and had some incredibly tasty, BBQ ribs. There's a show on Good Food which has a bit of a cult following, Man vs Food. We were lucky enough to visit a place called Papy's Smokehouse in St Louis Missouri, which featured on the show. It was an hour and a half wait in the Missouri midday sun but it was worth it, some great BBQ smoked ribs. Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa also did some of the best ribs I've ever tasted, equally as smoky but with a punch of heat as well.

Food at Papy's Smokehouse - seriously worth the wait!
But if you want to cook some truly great ribs at home, which my girlfriend did last night, then this is a great recipe from Delicious Magazine - Sticky Spare Ribs. We don't have a pressure cooker, so did them in the oven and got some truly great results. Unfortunately they were gone too quick for me to even take a photo, so you'll just have to trust me on this one!

We served them with Jamie Oliver's Fiery Dan Dan Noddle recipe. I've made this before and it's a great recipe with bags of flavour. We obviously made it without the crispy beef as we had the ribs instead and they worked great together. For any gluten free readers, we substituted the wheat noodles for rice noodles; just make sure you adjust the cooking time. Enjoy!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Graffiti, Hotel Felix, Cambridge

My girlfriend and I went to Cambridge this weekend for our anniversary and stayed at the excellent Hotel Felix, a modern, elegant hotel on the outskirts of the city. Graffiti, the hotel's restaurant was equally modern and elegant with attentive service. We'd booked it well before I found out I was gluten free, so this was going to be the first test, and I was very impressed. The menu had a star next to all the dishes which were suitable for coeliacs and a diamond against those that they could adapt to make gluten free. The menu wasn't restrictive with the majority of dishes already gluten free.

The menu was also very inventive. For starter, I had Baby Squid stuffed with Chorizo on a bed of Tomato which had real tasty Spanish flavours. My girlfriend had Ballotine of Goose with Roast Pear, Port Syrup and Goose Scratchings which was equally as good. The main courses were the real highlight. I had Roast Breast of Mallard, Confit Leg Boudin, Potato Rosti, Brussel Sprout Chiffonade and Plum and Orange Jus. The breast was cooked perfectly and the Leg Boudin (a duck sausage) was sensational, absolutely packed with meaty flavour. The Rosti was all caramelised on the outside and had a great texture. My girlfriend had Fillet and Braised Blade of Tilbury Beef, Shallot Tart Tatin, Crisp Bone Marrow and Cavalo Nero which received equal plaudits. The only let down of the dish was the Bone Marrow which was a crispy nugget, lacking any real filling. Neither of us could resist the Bitter Chocolate Delice with Rapsberry Ripple Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce which tasted as fantastic as it looked.

The restaurant clearly seemed to have a gluten-free influence and with an increasing number of people eating gluten free they're on to a winner. Providing me with a gluten free bread roll was real attention to detail and the bread is probably the best wheat free bread I've tried!


Hotel Felix