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A Christmas Gift Guide for Foodies

Urgh. Foodie. God I hate that word. It’s just so ugly sounding. I try to avoid using it as much as possible, but sometimes it’s just unavoidable, because what other word is there? Food-obsessed sounds like you stalk your brioche before eating it; gourmet is just plain wanky; and food-lover, well everyone loves food don’t they? Have you ever heard anyone say ‘food? Oh no, I hate that’. I haven’t. Read more

How to Spend Not Enough Time in Frankfurt

A few weeks ago I went to Frankfurt with work. It was for the Book Fair which is, incidentally, the largest in the world. I was there for just one night, flying out early Wednesday morning and then home late Thursday night. With back-to-back meetings in the ridiculously large exhibition centre, Messe, (there are airport style travellators to get people from A to B, via C and M), I did not have nearly enough time to explore the city properly, but I did try to see what I could.  Read more

Restaurant Review: Picture

Butternut squash. Cavolo Nero. Pheasant. Cinnamon. Crumbles. Custard. Crumbles with custard.

Autumn is my favourite season and not just because of the food. Rows of neatly folded knitwear on shop shelves. That first punch of cold, crisp air when you leave the house in the morning. The crunch of leaves underfoot, and the riot of colour overhead. Crackling fires with chestnuts roasting in their midst. Pink cheeks after a long walk. Fireworks. New leather boots. The subconscious urge to buy new stationery, and then line your sharpened pencils up in a neat row. Mittens. The first twinkle of Christmas lights. Thick chunky soup. Port. The slow steady shift from summer berries into apples, plums and blackberries, and then into pomegranates and cranberries… Read more

Donostia Social Club’s kitchen residency at The King and Co, Clapham

Why do people who live in Clapham think that Clapham is the centre of London? No wait, the centre of the universe? Do all maps suddenly shift a couple of miles south when you sign a tenancy agreement?

I’ve had a few friends live in Clapham (thankfully they’ve all since seen the error of their ways, and moved on), and whenever it came to discussing plans to meet they would suggest we (me and my mainly north-of-the-Thames residing friends) made the journey south. The ‘bars are so much better’, ‘it’s only a couple of stops on the Northern line’, they would say. Now I don’t want to cause anyone ill health, so Clapham-lovers please cover your ears and start saying your Hail Mary’s: Clapham bars are no better than bars anywhere else in London. If anything they are worse, as EVERYONE LOOKS THE SAME. Clapham is, in my opinion, a holding pen for fresh-from-university twenty-somethings. A place for them to all go when they arrive in London, find their feet and then move on to much nicer and more diverse areas. So if you are thinking of moving to London, let me save you the bother and a lost year by saying it is just not worth it. Trust me. Read more

A baking masterclass with Eric Lanlard, Cake Boy, and a recipe for Mini Red Velvet Cakes with White Chocolate Frosting

It is no secret that baking and I do not have the easiest of relationships. I love it, it just doesn’t love me.

I wish it wasn’t this way. I want nothing more than to be able to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies at the shortest of notices. I want to be able to invite Martha from across the road over for a cup of tea and a slice of something fruity, and have a heated discussion about the best spring-form baking tins. I want the only sign of my baking to be a couple of floury hand prints on my Cath Kidson pinnie. I want my home to smell of gingerbread. Read more

The Blitz Party

I meet him on the street outside. I spot his hat first, set at a jaunty angle, as he emerges through the gloom. We walk in, past the sandbags, and down into the cavernous space below. Union jack bunting is strung between the arches. The women are wearing tea dresses and seamed stockings, lips painted bright red and hair carefully pulled into victory rolls. The men are in braces and caps, or military uniform. We pause at the bar, and Tom, dashing in his RAF uniform, orders the drinks. A French 75 for me, a Rebourne for him. Drinks in hand we move over to the dance floor. Swing music is playing, and couples move in and out of the smoke, jitterbugging, skirts swishing, feet flying. Then the siren sounds, search lights sweep the floor, and a four piece band takes to the stage. The trumpet kicks in, and the floor fills up. We join the masses, taking our cues from a very accomplished couple next to us, and dance. And then dance some more. Four hours later, legs sore, brows sweaty, and scotch eggs tucked into our pockets we emerge back out onto a Shoreditch side street, and lurch forward 60 years. I’m bitterly disappointed, I never wanted to leave. Read more

Where to Go on a Tinder First Date in London

I first drafted this post back in January when EVERYONE was chatting about Tinder. Even the Guardian ran an article on it, which in the words of one of my dates made it ‘like totally legit’. Nine months later and, according to The Debrief at least, the app has already lost its mojo. Yet while I can see their point (one of my girl friends said to me recently: ‘I think I’ve swiped left on every guy within the M25), whenever I have poked my nose into it in recent months there are still plenty of new faces to pause over. Plus Jimmy Fallon has just created a profile for Britney Spears. Although I’m not sure if that is an argument for or against the Tinder cause. Read more

Bite Street Food Market

If you chat to anyone about London street food certain names are bound to crop up: Kerb, Street Feast, Broadway and Maltby are the headliners. Yet while they might be the ones attracting attention, for me the surest sign of the rude health of London’s scene is the number of smaller markets popping up in their wake; meaning you are never too far away from a delicious lunch!

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From Cuba to Cabaret: Two events at Kettners

Kettners has upped its game. A month ago I couldn’t even have told you where it was, and now I’m pretty much a regular. After the fantastic cocktail masterclass a couple of weeks ago, I was invited back for two very different events in the same week. One took me all the way to Havana with the aid of a Cuban passport and a couple of bottles of rum; the other, back in time to the decadence, and well, down-right naughtiness, of the restaurant’s glory years. Read more

Eating London: A Food Tour of London’s East End

You know what really gets my goat? People who say they’ve ‘done’ a city.

On my way to Copenhagen last year I sat next to two American students on the flight, whose conversation quickly turned into a competition over how many European cities they had each ‘done’. I sat quietly, biting my tongue, until one advised the other to only spend 24 hours, ‘if that’, in Venice. What? 24 hours? In a city stuffed to the brim with history and culture? Apparently there ‘wasn’t much to see’. Did you go to the Jewish Ghetto? See the coloured houses on Burano? Explore the Rialto market? No you didn’t. You saw the Basilica di San Marco, then sat in the square drinking an obscenely expensive cup of hot chocolate. You haven’t ‘done’ anything. Read more

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