Thursday, 28 March 2013

One last reminder before I disappear for the weekend...... for those of you around the South west London and Surrey borders this weekend, the best place to get a decent pint and discover a proper pub only 40minutes from central london by train is at:

White Rabbit Beer festival
Well it's been a busy week, one day of decent weather meant gardening and weeding, then the garage needed clearing out............ It seems silly starting the Spring Cleaning when it's snowing outside, but Passover is passed and Easter is only a couple of days away!!!!!

A snowy trip to visit the guys at "The Carshalton Patch" on saturday resulted in delicious purple sprouting broccoli, lovely flat mushrooms and very sweet baby vine tomatoes...... these were the inspiration for my vegetarian entry in the "Panino Giusto" design your own competition.......

Panino giusto is the spiritual home of the Italian Panini that are so widely enjoyed now in the UK....... these are nothing like what we eat over here, a bit like not finding chicken tikka masala in India!!!!!
These are the real deal and I am so happy that they are opening a branch in London so the brits can find out what a real panino involves, keep an eye for developments on this as I will be there as soon as possible.

My 'invention' for the competition is an Avocado, Taleggio & Vine tomato grilled sandwich on crusty sourdough with a horseradish & greek yoghurt dressing........ Or the non veggie version with the addition of crispy bacon..... obviously supplied by my wonderful Butcher at

This weekend we are heading up to Yorkshire to visit friends and pick up some proper Wensleydale for my mother in law at the real wensleydale Creamery.

I'm sure I shall find many other local producers and suppliers whilst in the Dales so reports will be on line next week.

In the meantime Happy Easter all.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Taking a small break from my own kitchen last night, my Husband and I went "Out for a kebab" with his sister and her partner........

I know I normally  battle against fast food venues but this was different.

Fantastic Turkish on London/Surrey borders

We have eaten here several times and the quality of food and service is great, in addition Tuesday night is now "Belly dancer night"

Needless to say great fun was had by all and the boys were very pleased.

Now on a more sombre note I must go back to my search for quality product and my belief in Artisan production and local sourcing.

I have long followed CAMRA since introduced to them by Biker friends some 10years ago.....

I was shocked yesterday to read an attack on pub landlords by a 'gentleman' who drinks in a large chain of pubs offering "Curry & a pint for £5" saying that £3+ for a pint is daylight robbery!!!!!

The large chain pubs, like the large supermarket chains are killing the smaller pubs and freehouses in this country, bulk buying substandard beverage and selling cheap.

The rebirth and boom of Independant microbreweries in the UK is a wonderful thing, flavour, body and quality are as important in beer as they are in fine wines..... the skill required in brewing a decent ale is equal to that of a prize winning enologist and should be revered as such.

I am blessed with a prizewinning hostelry only 8 bus stops away, no Sky TV, no piped Muzak, no slots....... just Good beer, great knowledgable staff, homecooked and reasonably priced food and good conversation.

It is owned by a consortium of locals and managed by a wonderful chap who knows his stuff.

All I can recommend is that you check out your local "Real Ale" public house, forget the mass produced gassy lagers and try something different........ it may not be £2.50 a pint, but you won't need to drink 6 pints anyway so it will work out healthier for your wallet and you'll be helping keep another British tradition alive.

My local is :

Monday, 18 March 2013

Since returning to the UK in 2011 I have been struggling to come to terms with the lack of affordable, quality produce available in Greater London.

No wonder this country is suffering the highest levels of illnesses caused by bad diet when every street has a Kebab/pizza/fried chicken outlet within 1/2 mile of me there are 2 kebab shops, 3 pizza delivery, 2 fish & chippies, 5 Indians, 1 chinese takeaway, 1 Thai, 3 greasy spoons and a chain Pizzeria.......

Not a single Fresh food shop........ Local Butchers are suffering, Greengrocers closing every day and finding a fishmonger is like winning the lottery.

I admit, living in Italy for most of my adult life I have been spoiled by the sheer abundance of local, fresh, quality produce presented with respect and care and cooked in the same way.

I set myself a target to feed myself and my husband with a weekly food budget of £50 whilst eating healthily and well, without the inclusion of processed or pre packaged foods.

Step one was to find valid local stores selling quality produce and providing value for money.

Butcher: "She who searches shall find"..... and I did, my local butcher (hidden down a side street) buys his meat locally and traceability certificates and animal passports etc. have always been available to view...... he makes a huge variety of high meat content sausages on premises, will cut, trim or prepare meat to order and has yet to fail in sourcing me some of my more 'unusual' requests, whilst remaining competitive on price with all the major Supermarket chains..... this wonderful man whom I call 'Dan, Dan the sausage man' is Dan Parker, 4th generation proprietor of :  in Wallington.

Greengrocer: This was not as easy as you may think, luckily I have an International grocer only a 15 minute walk from home that I use for the more exotic needs, whilst remaining on budget, but whilst having a quiet drink with my husband in our local CAMRA award winning pub I was called over by the manager and introduced to a gentleman holding a box of beautiful cabbages...... unbeknown to me there is a trend for "pop up" stalls selling locally sourced produce at reasonable prices and this was our local one...... this gentleman can be followed on Twitter as @CarshaltonPatch    or on Facebook as "The Carshalton Patch"   after a conversation about heritage golden beetroot and vine tomatoes I was sold....... Tuesday's orders are boxed and ready for collection on Saturday morning on their stall by carshalton Beeches station........ Veggie sorted!

Fishmonger: Here again it was a tip from another source, my wonderful Butcher..... he has a friend who is a wholesaler locally and will source whatever I need for larger orders, dinner parties, bbq's, buffets etc. on a weekly basis I am still looking locally but do find the quality at my local Costco very good and a £15 side of scottish salmon will produce 6 fillets and enough trimmings for a family size fish pie.

Bread and cakes etc.: With the popularity of TV programmes such as "Great British bake off" and others I find it hard to believe that people don't bake their own bread..... Commercialy produced loaves have an incredibly high salt content, home baked can be flavoured with olive oil or herbs to give it flavour whilst keeping sodium low, a 1kg bag of strong bread wholemeal flour costs the same as a 400gr loaf and makes at least 6 times the amount of bread, no need for a breadmachine, give the bingo wings a work out kneading your own dough!

Cakes and desserts the same, give it a try and get the kids involved.... you'll soon see how easy and satisfying it is to produce a fragrant apple pie & homemade custard on a Sunday just like our Mother's did when shops were shut and Sunday lunch was sacred.

My average meal cost at present is less than £5 per head, we eat very well and have lowered our blood pressure noticeably, Supermarket shopping is reduced to detergents, dairy products and other household necessities.

Go on, give it a try....... buy local, source well and support British produce.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

As it's Paddy's day, may I start by wishing all the Irish out there a happy one, those of you based in London don't forget that Richard Corrigan is holding an all dayer at his Oyster bar today for a pretty reasonable cost per head......... Richard works hard to promote local seafood and preserving the highest standards and respect due to the produce.

Enjoy and remember guys....... "Don't drink & drive"