Great British Chefs Masterclass with Chef Russell Brown

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting and cooking along with a chef I greatly admire – Russell Brown.

Chef Russell Brown

Chef Russell Brown

Self taught Master chef Russell Brown owned and ran a successful little restaurant called Sienna in Dorchester, Dorset. It was awarded 3 AA rossettes and a Michelin star in 2010. Only very recently has he closed shop to pursue a new venture – Creative about Cuisine.

We started out by preparing the ricotta in a process very similar to how I make paneer at home. Reminded me of all the times growing up when aai would show us how to expertly get the paneer out from the vessel and hang it to set in a soft muslin cloth – which usually was engineered from her and aji’s ( nan’s) old cotton sarees’s. Chef Russell strongly suggests using distilled vinegar to split the milk to ensure that the end product is not affected by residual odours which may lurk around when anything else is used – lime for example.

How to make ricotta cheese - easy and quick method

How to make ricotta cheese – easy and quick method

While Russell recounted his adventures from his recent travels to Italy he showed us how to make the pasta dough. Then as our dough was resting Russell showed us how to make a delicious vegetable sauce which really was the highlight of the evening. It was so good with the pasta – almost like an edible silk scarf.

Making the vegetable sauce for the agnolotti

Making the vegetable sauce for the agnolotti

I was making Angolotti for the first time and it was great to really get hands on with using the massive rolling pin to flatten the rested dough before passing it through the dough attachment on a KitchenAid. Pipping the ready ricotta mixture was great fun and gives more precise results that filling ravioli parcles with any kind of stuffing. Why? Well, the pipping ensures an almost even filling provided the fluted cutter is wielded almost symmetrically across the stuffed pasta sheet.

How to make agnolotti stuffed with ricotta cheese filling

How to make agnolotti stuffed with ricotta cheese filling

The dessert was Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille and we had a team working furiously in the background to make it for us while Chef Russell showed us how make the raspberry gel. Can never forget the taste of the gel on my palate – it sets almost instantly as it lands on the tongue – weird and fabulous at the same time.

Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille

Raspberry and Mascarpone mille feuille

In 3 hours flat we had made fresh ricotta and fresh pasta, learnt how to make a delicious sauce to accompany our pasta and filled and cooked the agnolotti too.

At GBC cook school I have had the opportunity to meet and cook with some acclaimed chefs who have shared tips from their vast experience working across the best kitchens across the world. As a home cook and a writer it is always a great pleasure to meet accomplished chefs and learn invaluable tricks and sample the brilliant food they cook. Working alongside some of my close blogger friends and getting an opportunity to meet more like minded journalists and food enthusiasts is definitely a plus.

I have to also mention the lovely Roaslind Rathouse and her efficient team at the Cookery School. A spotless, well maintained kitchen is the least one can expect from Rosalind who is a stickler for perfection and hygiene.

Am now quite determined to explore the joys of home made pasta by recreating Chef Russell’s delicious agnoletti and vegetable sauce sometime soon.

*With thanks to Great British Chefs and Chef  Russell Brown for an invite to a truly memorable evening. Many Thanks to Rosalind and team at the Cookery School. All opinions expressed are as always my own. No monetary compensation was provided for a positive review.

Pack a healthy protien punch into your meals with Quorn

One of the main challenges I have been facing off late as I am trying hard to throw off weight is maintaining a high protien diet and keeping my meals low on fat. Believe me it’s tricky trying to go low on sugar, saturated fats and ensuring blood sugar and cholesterol are at acceptable levels too- almost like a tight rope walk!

But even if you do not need to actively lower your cholesterol or sugar levels and are just looking for a healthier alternate to protein from meat sources I would consider including Quorn in your diet. I first tried Quorn simply out of curiosity. Both my husband and me love lamb mince but eating it more that 2 times on a week made me really feel very guilty. But swapping Quorn mince for lamb, once a week was something we are happy to do.

I always marinate Quorn mince with spices overnight and leave it to soak in all the flavours overnight. So when I was invited to an event to cook with Quorn at the Underground Cookery School, I was quite keen to see what recipes they had in mind.

Starters for the evening

Starters for the evening

We started by making dessert – always a great way to start the evening! Chocolate Torte was on the menu and we really enjoyed working with chocolate and working to an easy recipe created by the Underground Cookery School .

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Torte

Next it was the BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw followed by Quorn Thai Curry – which I enjoyed making the most. I really loved the recipe created by Denise.

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

Denise in conversation with bloggers at the #quorncooks event

And for you, my readers here its is for you:

Quorn Thai Curry

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp korma paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
  • 500gm Quorn pieces

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400gm onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 60gm fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp fresh, frozen or dried lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 vegetable stock cube crumbled
  • 2 x 400 gm tin coconut milk
  •  3 tbsp sweet mango chutney
  • 30 gm fresh basil
  • 350 gm red peppers, thinly sliced
  • 200 gm mangetout or sugar snaps, halved
Quorn Chicken Pieces

Quorn Chicken Pieces

Method

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the Quorn is coated. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a pan then gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  • Add half of the coriander, the lime leaves, turmeric, stock cube, coconut milk and mango chutney. Gently bring to the boil then simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the basil and remaining coriander to the sauce for the last 5 minutes of cooking time then remove the pan from the heat and blend until smooth with a hand blender.
  • Meanwhile transfer the marinated Quorn pieces to a baking tray and cook in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  • Add the Quorn pieces, red pepper and mangetout to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.
Quorn Thai Curry

Quorn Thai Curry

While our curry was bubbling away we sat through a presentation over wine and a  Q-A session. The question many of the bloggers had – as am sure many of you do was – what exactly is Quorn made up of?

Quorn’s core ingredient is a plant protein that is exceptional at replicating the texture and taste of meat.  This is a naturally occurring fungus, which is harvested through a fermentation process. Other key features that make it a great choice are:

  • Quorn has no cholestrol and is high on fibre
  • From the sustainability perspective consider this Quorn mince uses 90% less greenhouse gasses than lean beef mince,

It was lovely to meet so many bloggers that evening and also bump into familiar faces like Leyla Preston and Becky. And for me it’s always a good feeling to come back to Underground cookery school where Chef and Patron Matt Kemp and his able team of chefs ensures that every blogger feels welcome, wine glasses never run dry and cooking is fun all the way.

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The BBQ pulled Quorn was delicious and I really liked the texture of quorn and how easily it had taken up the flavours of the seasoning used. Paired with pink coleslaw it makes for a really great snack and a lovely idea for a summer BBQ.

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

BBQ pulled Quorn and pink coleslaw

Served with steamed basmati rice, perfectly done – each grain cooked to satisfying perfection was the creamy Thai Green curry – this was the most satisfying dish that evening and one that I am happy to make at home over and over again.

Both hubby and me love our meat and seafood but we are consciously trying to eat healthier, include more vegetables and fruits in our diet and look for healthier protein choices. That’s where Quorn comes in. Quorn certainly is a healthy protein alternative with a wide range of options – a solution to both vegetarians and the rapidly expanding group of people wanting to reduce their meat consumption.

Infographic-Quorn

Infographic-Quorn

Today is World Meat Free Day, why not create your very own easy vegetarian delight for an easy dinner at home tonight? And for those feeling less adventurous there’s many options Quorn has like my favourite Quorn steaks – served with a peppery salad of rocket leaves and fresh summery cherry tomatoes they go down a treat.

World Meat Free Day

World Meat Free Day

*With  thanks to Quorn for the invite and for the team at Underground Cookery for another great experience.  All photographs used in this post are courtesy Preston Perfect Photography. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Great British Chefs Masterclass with Michelin-starred Chef Adam Gray

Last week,I was invited to the #GBCCookSchool by Great British Chefs to cook up a 3 course meal with Michelin-starred Skylon Chef Adam Gray at the Cookery School.

I have always been a great fan of the Great British Chefs website and their many cool recipes and some life saving How to videos. So it was really excited to be invited to a masterclass with them and watch a  Michelin-starred Chef show us some cool tips and tricks.

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After nibbling on some cheese and yummy starters washed down with a glass of bubbly (oh alright I confess – several glasses of bubbly!) we gathered for the demo by Adam gray. Assisted by his sous chef Damon Stokes, he showed us how to expertly fillet fresh Cornish mackerel.

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He then used a wafer thin slice of bread and wrapped it around the fish dabbed with a little mustard and then lightly pan fried in Rape seed oil.

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I have used Rape seed oil before it has a strong nutty flavour probably only less overpowering that it’s bright yellow colour but as the Chef rightly informed us it has half the saturated fat content of olive oil making it lower in cholesterol and also it has 10 times more Omega 3 than olive oil. Besides hailing from Northampton too, the locally produced rapeseed oil (Farrington’s Mellow Yellow) has the Chef’s seal of approval, as expected he is as proud a supporter of British produce, as he is of seasonal ingredients.

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Served with a delicious Rhubarb Relish and a Pea Shoot & Sea Kale salad, these really elevate a simple dish to Michelin-star quality by combining otherwise unusual ingredients to create an imaginative dish.

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Image Courtesy : Great British Chefs

The sea kale is something I had never tasted before and like me was quite a discovery in a new taste sensation for me and a few other bloggers. Chef Adam Gray showed us how to serve the Crispy Cornish Mackerel chopped at a slant and plated with the relish at the side adding a final flourish to a posh looking yet easy to prepare crispy fish finger starter – easy if you can master filleting the mackerel that is!

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It looked ever so easy but that wasn’t the case as we were all about to fin out when later a few enthusiastic bloggers got to try their hand at it with the Chef showing them how to wield their knives and expertly handle the fish even if it was a delicate small mackerel or a large meaty specimen. ( why not learn how to fillet a flat fish with tips from this short how to video by Great British Chefs?)

After that we formed 3 groups and set out to make Ticklemore & Goat’s Cheese Fritters under the watchful eye of Chef Adam and Chef Damon. Coated in panko breadcrumbs with a generous sprinkling of fennel seeds, I busied myself with adding 2 coats of the egg wash and breadcrumb mixture to the fritter while the others chopped up the delicious heritage tomatoes seasoned with lovage – an intriguing herb and in taste aptly described by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  as ‘ The flavour is like parsley and celery combined with a hint of aniseed and curry’ . We used Sharpham farms goats cheese and combined it with some soft cheese resulting in a delicious and rich fritter that tasted fabulous served on a bed of fresh salad.

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Moving on to the dessert we made individual portions of Flourless Citrus Cake served with English Strawberries and Vanilla Yoghurt. This is by far one of Chef Adam Gray’s most popular recipe on Great British Chefs, a completely gluten free cake it is one of those recipes which is perfect for cooking along with kids and helping them master some basic skills.

While our cakes were baking in the oven, we once again huddled around the demo kitchen and watched while some brave bloggers volunteered to learn how exactly to wield a knife and fillet a Cornish Mackerel.

The flourless cakes were delightfully light and soft and the fresh strawberries mixed with Tiptree strawberry jam relish was a perfect accompaniment to the dessert. The vanilla infused yoghurt added an interesting dimension to the dish.

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This was the second in a new series of Masterclasseses by Great British Chefs. Held at the Cookery School, where Rosalind Rathouse and her team hosted all of us and made sure that we were well looked after, it was a great experience. The Cookery School itself is very well maintained, as is evident from the spotlessly clean kitchen and work surfaces and eco-friendly practices.

Needless to say the event was even more fun because I caught up with blogger friends Vaishali and Heidi, also finally go to meet Deena Kakaya and Felicity Spector in person. It was lovely to see some more familiar faces like the lovely Miriam and Alexandra too.

*With  thanks to Great British Chefs  for inviting me. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

MoBa – New Boulangerie with a French-Asian fusion menu opens in London

The new artisan bakery where Bánh Mì meets  Boulangerie called MoBa opened it’s doors to the public on Monday at Goodge street in London.

MoBa press day

Before I dive into the details about their unique and well thought of menu, a bit about the background – the how’s and why’s ( humm ,maybe all those hours am spending watching House M.D have started affecting the way I think – need to know the why first..)

The Paris born founding duo – Thibaut and Theodore, met while studying Hotel Management in Switzerland and then kept in touch even when their careers took to various locations across the world.  They recently moved to London with the aim of  bringing a new concept of dining to London. Though they are still in their early 20’s this duo has gained lots of experience between the two of them and have been exposed to various culinary influences.

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With a bold and fabulous new fusion menu this new casual dining spot promises to serve up interesting food, which like their lovely window display will change with the seasons. ‘MoBa’ an acronym for Modern Bakery aims to combine traditional French cooking with fresh and simple flavours from Asia – a culmination of friendship, passion for creativity and of course a shared love of good food.

The interiors are cool and fresh, the minimalist look adds a soothing touch while the sleek leather lined stools give it just the right edge.

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I also got a feel of a  bit of behind the scene the counter action – a masterclass of sorts. Thibaut Voury, one of the founders , who was managing the kitchen showed me how to make my own Bánh Mì.

MoBa press day

Because I wasn’t too keen on a heavy lunch, the naked Bánh Mì sounded good and Theodore Charoy the other founder suggested that I choose ‘Tokyo’ because of the fabulous flavours of the Salmon gravlax. He was right! I absolutely loved this mix of seasonal veg wok, Japanese lime and garlic cream served on a bed of noodles. Not only is it light and fresh it is still full of wonderful Asian flavours.

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I resisted having any beer but they have my favourite Asian beer – Asahi, while the other bloggers loved Bellerose – a blonde beer from Northern France.

MoBa press day

I also learnt that the word Bánh Mì was born out of a misspelling for ”pain de mie” which simply means ‘sliced bread’. This sandwich dated back to the time when French colonised Indochina, a perfect example of a fusion born out of the meeting of two very different culinary worlds.

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The other bloggers choose the Toulouse (£7.20) which as they described as a fabulous combination of spicy mango sauce and duck confit in a traditional baguette stuffed with seasonal veg wok. It was massive and looked very delicious , I do hope to go back soon for this one.

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Apart from the fusion menu, the Boulangerie also stocks beautiful breads and some baguettes with unusual combinations like the soya-ginger baguette which I got to take home in goody bag. I was greedily eyeing the green tea croissant while photographing the place and the mango croissant looked so tempting with the beautiful glaze over it – wow – almost irresistible!

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Ever since I started having my matcha green tea everyday I am totally addicted to the taste of green tea and the match green tea brownies were my absolute favourite from the sweet treats we were given to sample. Of course the fusion of flavours spills over into the dessert menu too then and the exotic sounding Zen Lightning Éclair packs a punch with a strong tangy flavour while the Speculoos Mango Cheesecake is delicious too and a perfect companion with a steaming hot latte. What I loved most is that the dessert tray came lined with the MoBa ‘newspaper’ – hot off the press!

MoBa press day

MoBa is conveniently located a short walk from Goodge Street tube station and is a fabulous lunch option for lunch go-ers and would make for a great place for a casual catch up over dinner with friends too.

Don’t know about you but I think MoBa is going to kick off a new trend in London with their  fusion menu!

*With  thanks to the PR Agency and MoBa for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.All images without my watermark for ‘travelsfortaste’ are provided by the PR Agency. Kindly do not re-produce any images without prior permission.

The Spice Traveller explores Great Britain’s culture and cuisine

Crab Kasoori Methi  – sounds intriguing right?  If that piqued your interest then there’s lots more in store in the creative repertoire of Celebrity Indian chef Saransh Goila who’s food and travel show aptly titled The Spice traveller debuted on his YouTube channel last week . For the uninitiated Saransh Goila won the hearts of millions of fans when he won the  Food Food Maha Challenge which was hosted by Sanjeev Kapoor ( a chef he has watched on tv  in his formative years & greatly admires! ) and Madhuri Dixit ( Bollywood super start, mommy to 2 and possibly the most graceful dancer Hindi films have had in the 90’s !) . He then went to host the TV show Roti Rasta aur India on Food Food channel where he travelled 20,000 km of India by road in 100 days  – exploring local flavours and cooking feats for a lucky few along the way.

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First of its kind , India’s youngest celebrity Chef Saransh Goila’s digital food travelogue show is a 20 part series where the celebrity chef travels across England and Scotland exploring  beautiful travels destinations , local food and culture . He attempts to change perceptions about how people travel across England and Scotland and what they normally except to eat while they discover new destinations. Goila’s  1000 km journey take him to exotic locations around Cotswolds, Yorkshire, Edinburgh and Fife where he cooks up finger licking fusion cuisine.

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Chef Saransh at Kellie Castle –  Fife

 

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Chef Saransh making cheese in Yorkshire

Saransh also managed to throw in exciting experiences including cider making ,also pretending to be ‘Alice in wonderland’ for a day at what he described as a the best cream tea party ever , took over the reins of a Michelin starred kitchen , spent a day at a trout farm in Yorkshire and fell hook ,line and sinker in love with fishing – while learning all there is to  about fly-fishing and Rainbow trout !

 

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 Chef enjoyed some amazing  cream tea and warm scones with clotted cream and jam  polished off with fresh British strawberries!

And while he was cooking , travelling and making exciting cocktails at the Virgin Atlantic  bar in the air at 35,000 ft, he also managed to get a designer kilt made and ermmm pose  🙂

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Chef Saransh in a pensive mood , maybe his day out in Scotland left him enamoured with the Scottish Highlands!

So throw away all those musty old travel guides and  hop onto an exciting culinary journey through English and Scottish countryside with Chef Saransh !

And what better place to start that journey than in the city I have fallen madly in love with – London city ! Watch the second episode of The Spice Traveller as he explores multi cultural London  – learns to make Britian’s favourite Fish-n-Chips with Chef Micheal Brown at Fishworks @FishWorks , discovers a resturant that serves 100% vegetariane food in the heart fo Central London , cooks up England’s favourite curry  – Chicken Tikka Masala in the kitchen at Cinnamon in Soho – @cinnamonsoho , explores the sights and sounds of Covent Garden and wanders the beautiful street markets of London city !

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Don’t forget to leave comments after you watch the YouTube video!

Chef Goila’s 1000 km has only just begun and you have lots more episodes to look forward to and exciting contests to participate in too!

So fasten your seats belts, as VisitBritain  – @VisitBritain and Virgin Atlantic Airways – @VirginAtlantic in partnernership with One Digital Entertainment and Zenga TV.com – @ZengaTVMedia take you on fabulous journey – no passport or air ticket required for this one folks!

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Hungry for more ? Watch this space for an exclusive interview with the charming Chef – COMING SOON!

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Chef Saransh Gola for a sharing his fabulous culinary adventures with us ! Why not subscribe to his YouTube channel to continue watching the adventures of The Spice Traveller and watch the Chef cook delicious dishes?!

All images are courtesy Chef Saransh – Please do not reproduce without seeking prior written permission , feel free to share with due credit.

Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

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This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

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The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

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But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

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Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

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With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home 😉

 

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I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

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*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .

Wine Pairing made easy by Waitrose Cellar

On a fine evening last week when the sun suddenly decided to shine upon us Londoner’s I happened to be invited to a blogger bash to celebrate the launch of Waitrose Cellar – the  new online wine service by Waitrose ,at the London Canal Museum.

With over 1200 interesting & exclusive wines,Champagnes & spirits to choose from at Waitrose Cellar online you can order any 6 wines with free delivery.The best part is the Waitrose Cellar experts hand pick mixed cases and  they are just a phone call away to address any queries you may have related to their wines  ,but if you’d rather do the food and wine pairing yourself ,there’s a wealth of knowledge on the Waitrose Cellar website where you can browse through 40 articles, watch over 150 tasting videos and read ratings on product pages,you can even learn how to expertly pop open a bottle of champagne!

Our wine experts for the evening – Stèphane and Xenia set the mood for the evening by popping some champagne.Stèphane started with a  level 3 award in wines and spirits from WSET and perfected his wine knowledge to become a wine waiter, then head sommelier before he became part of the Waitrose Cellar team. Xenia a Master of wine (2003) came to Waitrose last December ,with 24 years experience in the wine trade, she has worked as an independent wine consultant,a buyer for a large brewery,retailer and wine importer. After a spot of introductions over some champagne and starters I chatted with some very familiar friendly  faces. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event5 (Copy) It’s then that I noticed my name badge had a little picture of a glass of red and some others had picture of white wine on their badges ,the red wine gang set sail with Stèphane and the white wine badges went off with Xenia.We were taken onto a traditional canal boat to sail along the Regent’s Canal ,sample some of the brilliant Waitrose wines while Stèphane, took us through the story behind each wine and got us to think how best we could pair our wine with various mains. 14th May'14 Waitrose Wine Cellar event1 (Copy) (Copy)

If like me you’ve never sailed before on a traditional canal boat these beauties come equipped with a cute compact kitchen, ‘leisure’ accommodation and a nice little seating area for socialising which we promptly abandoned for a place on the deck, after all who can resist the soft evening sunlight and the light cooling breeze while sipping some fine wine and dreaming of  delicious food to pair it with! While sipping on Prosecco, Stèphane shared a naughty little trick to amp up your sweet bakes,he adds just a tiny pinch of pepper along with some salt ,takes the tooth-grinding sweet edge off the bake and gives just the right hint of flavour,am definitely going to give this fab idea a try soon!

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We started with tasting the  white wines ,of the white wines we tried I loved the Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs NV the most ,perfect for summer parties and nibbles.This Chardonnay from Burgundy has a  fresh, crisp, apple and citrusy flavour makes it really easy sparkling wine to drink. Also quite liked the Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon,which is a very dry,fresh western Australian Sauvignon which would go really well with fresh seafood,steamed greens by the side or a sinful portion of gnocchi with toasted pine nut and fresh green basil pesto. This white,I daresay is even better than the other Antipodean varieties like Chardonnay. Moving on to red’s, by which time we had passed through the Reagent’s Canal and am sure managed to gulp some stray drops of water falling off the musty old bridge as well, but am sure we were either honestly engrossed in conversation or blissfully unaware of anything expect how much fun we were having by then , which I shall safely blame on the progressive climb towards feeling pleasantly buzzed – no , not shamelessly tipsy.Am  eagerly waiting to once again savour the Waitrose Chianti Classico Barone Ricasoli. This full-bodied Tuscan red is a delight on the palate with its woody notes and velvety texture,perfect for grilled meats and roasted peppers- think juicy kebabs with minty chutney. Made in partnership with Ricasoli family who were the first producers of Chianti , no wonder then this wine has won the Decanter Bronze Medal for classic Chianti. Before we knew it, we had worked our way through 16 different ,fabulously delicious Waitrose wines and by the time we got back to the Canal Museum we had worked up quite an appetite and speedily devoured the fab spread laid out for us.

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Stèphane and Xenia continued to reveal one secret after another of how best to choose a wine just right for you and how to go about pairing  food & wine.Then it was time for some speed wining – yes you heard that right Speed Wining!  I’ve never been speed dating but enough hours of watching crime and romantic dramas on the telly have left me no stranger to what its all about ,only this was way more fun because we got to talk about our favourite food and wine and didn’t need to impress our very friendly bunch of fellow foodies. I think I managed to ask some rather interesting and fun questions along with some rather boring ones but the user-friendly Waitrose Cellar website made it really easy for us to look for wines that would best suit the personality and tastes in food of our speed wining partners.

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Don’t we all look like we really had a great time ‘speed wining’? 🙂 And now a look at my favourites from the evening, the sparkling burgundy and classic Chianti both perfect matches for the sea food lover in me who also has a weakness for juicy kebabs,lamb curry and a major sweet tooth.

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Am happy to say that as a result of our speed wining session my fellow red team mates Becky,Snigdha,Anne,Laura and May managed to almost accurately guess which type of  wines I’d  enjoy the most.So when the 6 wine case for each of us, sent by Waitrose Cellar online, reached me I couldn’t wait to get cooking and wine pairing!

First up of course I shall be popping some Champagne – Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV(picked for me by Laura for my love of sweet and a bit of fizz) – to celebrate becoming aunty to a bonny boy and my niece clearing her GCSE equivalent in India with flying colours!Definitely calling for some bubbly,loads of canapes and well some more bubbly 😉

For my Sunday lunch with my family I will be pairing lamb curry with Catena Malbec chosen for me by Anne .I know my dessert wine for this month  will be the Limited Reserve Peachy wine from my wine case selected for me by May to appease my sweet tooth after a spicy meal.  Dr. Loosen Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett  will keep me company for familiar flavours of fresh seafood curries and fusion meals with scallops and soft shell crabs ,thanks to Snigdha’s choice.Waitrose Chablis picked for me by Becky who quizzed me and learnt of my love for ciders.This Chablis is so apt for a lazy summer afternoons with sea food starters.Last but certainly not the least the Sparkling Burgundy with a beautiful label that adorns the bottle ,which also is in my case,will be shared over lots of cake for a double birthday celebration with my family who are visiting us end of this month – exciting times ahead!

Feeling a bit of envious are we now? Don’t !For even you can win £1000 worth of wine specially chosen JUST for you by Waitrose Cellar Experts .Plus 5 runners-up will win a ready-made collection of  Waitrose Wine Teams 30 favourite wines. Now I would certainly clink my glass to that! You can also tweet away – @waitrosewine and chat up the wine experts.

 

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*With thanks to Waitrose Cellar for the invite.No monetary compensation was provided for this post.All views expressed are my own.

Greek Easter Feast with Tonia Buxton and Total Greek Yoghurt

One of things I enjoy most about being a  food and travel writer that am exposed to many little traditions from various cultures and an opportunity to celebrate various festivals and of course meet wonderful new people .Even better is a chance to cook with someone as passionate as Tonia Buxton who taught us how to make a 3 course greek feast and took us through a journey of how Easter is celebrated back in Greece, relating in a very animated manner the the rituals,prayer and festivity surrounding the occasion.Total Yogurt the makers of the deliciously thick and creamy yogurt put together  this cooking fest at a Cookery School called La Cucina Caldesi located in the heart of Central London.

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Tonia Buxton a Greek Cypriot is the Total Greek Yogurt Brand Ambassador and a presenter of the award winning T.V series on Discovery Channel called ‘My Greek Kitchen’ and has also authored a book titled  ‘Tonia’s Greek Kitchen’. Soon  to star in a new T.V series called  ‘Pauls Family Feast’ a TV show by well ,Paul Hollywood 🙂

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After a quick ice breaker session we got in groups and started preparing the main dish of the meal – Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake. I love cooking lamb and am delighted with the similarities in Greek and Indian cuisines. We took love our spices and cumin does add a very deep flavour to lamb. If I was to make it at home though I would tweak it and amp up the spices  especially the cumin and just because I love heat crushed or paper thin slices of green chillies with seeds ummm!

Here is the recipe:

Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake

Serves: 4

Ingredients

100g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
400g lamb mince
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cumin
4 red onions (2 finely chopped, 2 cut into wedges)
Large handful mint, chopped
4 waxy new potatoes, i.e. Charlottes cut into wedges
4 courgettes, halved & quartered lengthways
250g pack juicy cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 unwaxed lemons cut into 6 wedges each
4 tbsp olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled

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Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs, the lamb mince, egg, plenty of seasoning and cumin in a bowl.
  3. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle in half the chopped mint. Give everything a good mix and shape into 8 patties.
  4. Lightly oil a large, shallow roasting tray and add the patties.
  5. Place the onion wedges on the tray around the lamb patties with the potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for around 40 minutes, turning & basting everything once halfway, until the lamb is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the feta and remaining mint.(We used up most of the mint and our minty lamb patties were very juicy and yum)
  6. Serve with a large dollop of Total Greek yoghurt and tahini sauce.

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While our lamb patties were cooking we played a fun Greek easter egg game with eggs painted a cheerful bright red.We had to go about smashing our egg onto everyone else and in the end I was up against Tonia- of course she won! Years of experience laster she has mastered the technique 🙂

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We then made a Greek dessert called Anarocrema using Anari Cheese, which I flavoured with orange blossom extract ,fresh fruits and generous bits of freshly made filo pastry crispy bits .This creamy dessert is made using goats cheese and marries well with fruits ,pistachios,almonds and honey too is  very filling and morish dessert.

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While our desserts were sent for chilling we got cracking on with the starter a light and superbly flavoured starter –  Greek Sea Bream fillets with olives,capers,lemon and yoghurt Tahini Sauce.

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Thanks to @satureyes for the brilliant  photos.

It was a very well organised event and I got an opportunity to meet so many more bloggers.Cooking up in a team with Fiona (London Unattached) and Heidi was good fun and it great to be working with familiar faces. Many thanks to @TotalGreek yogurt for the lovely event & @ToniaBuxton  for her lively,warm and friendly way of conducting the cookery workshop and sharing so many beautiful experiences.

Hope all of you had a brilliant Easter Weekend and are looking forward to another long weekend coming up!

Disclaimer: With many thanks to Total Uk  and Tonia Buxton.I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Masemari – The Fishing – Seafood heaven in Pune City

Masemari is owned by Lalan Sarang , a well know Maharashtrian Big Screen and Theatre actress and is situated in the heart of Pune city and is fine example of Malvani,Konkani and Goan cuisine with a comprehensive menu. An ode to the finest that coastal cuisine from Konkan and Goa has to offer!

Western Indian Coastal cuisine and the way our family cooks  sea food, involves the use of freshly grated coconut in abundance.We also don’t shy from using chillies lots of them red and green and freshly ground coriander chilli,ginger and garlic are used as a marinade for fish before frying. So if discerning  foodies like us who know our coastal cuisine go out to eat similar food, the place better know what they are serving us!Especially if it involves travelling from one end of the city on a crisp winter morning and when we could easily have waltzed into Nisarg our all time sea food speciality fav restaurant.

So are you ready to go on a visually stimulating coastal adventures on the tall swaying coconut tree lined coast of India , into the beautiful waters of Konkan and treat your senses to a tantalising deluge of spices …well then Strap on that seat belt for a ride on this fishing powerboat …no no … what the heck…just Dive right in 😉

We start the meal with Sol Kadhi (pronounced Soul Kadhee) made from freshly squeezed coconut milk and kokum (Mangosteen) , said to have digestive properties and consumed as palate cleanser between courses.

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A prawn platter which is a mix of Rawa ,Tawa,Koliwada and crispy prawns.(rawa = semolina ,Tawa =pan,Koli = fisherman, Wada= literally meaning a huge old style indian house like a bungalow, but Koliwada refers to a colony of Kolis or fishermen folk  in India)

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Bangda (Mackerel) Fry…I love anything served anything on a keli-paan (kela = banana ,paan = leaf)

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Fish Pickle as a side

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For mains we ordered Tandool Bhakari or Indian bread made with rice flour (the white roti in the picture) , Wade – made from a mixture of 3-4 different flours and deep fried (the brown puffy puri),Pompfret curry.

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I loved the clean fresh white washed walls and huge artefacts that scream fish,fishing and fishing boats. The service is polite , quick and the fish is as fresh as the catch of the day, we went in hope of getting crabs – lots of them , alas …. I live in the hope of a ”next time”

After this fine meal I still dared to consume a gulab jamun and some more sol kadhi! I literally crawled to where Baba had parked the car and that afternoon oh boy ! Did I have a fab nap or what 🙂

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1-3rd Nov'12 Saturday Masemari Pune with aai baba

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London Review Bookshop, Cake Shop – Review

Old buildings, browsing free entry museums and loosing myself in the beautiful by-lanes of London City are  things I love to do. Considering that I am either doing 2-3 part time jobs at once or a very tight schedule full time project at other times, time is always at a premium so on free days I love setting out armed with my backpack with a few home made sandwiches, a bottle of water, low cal (joke!) crisps and if I am lucky then a small piece of cake. I do try and carry a thermos with hot water for making my own tea but that only in the summer when I want to walk up Box-Hill , read a book , catch a snooze and watch the clouds make funny patterns in the sky.

Now that I am blogging from home (full-time) , I have to think hard and save lots before I allow myself even the occasional treat at a quaint cafe.

On one beautiful summer afternoon last year ,when my dear ma-in-law was visiting us ,(ma – who is also a good listener  and knows how to soothe frayed nerves and lighten me up when I am hyper -which is almost always), decided to go see the British Museum. With my absolute lack at being able to use the many apps I have on my smartphone (apparently even the owner has to be a tad smart- sigh..) I managed to totally confuse her and we ended walking almost for 40 minutes before we finally reached the museum. Ready to fall dead myself and with a huge guilt conscience at the torchure I had just inflicted on my poor sweet ma (who is well into her 60’s) ,I decided to treat her to some tea and cakes. Funnily enough the only other time I had been to the London Review Bookshop nestled in a lane bang opp the British Museum was when she last visited us in 2011 – weird or what!

Back then we had ma’s foodie and very sensible friend P with us who is much more intelligent than I shall ever be. So we had managed to see a fair bit of the museum and then stumble into the bookshop after a fairly short bus ride from Kings Cross.(!!! when will I learn to navigate around London using the many apps on my phone – NEVER ?!! And to think P doesn’t even own a smartphone – yet – says a lot about how smart she is !)

Anyway, by the time we sat down at the table at the Cake Shop in the London Review Bookshop, we were severely dehydrated and needed some sugar to pump some energy back into our systems.

What better way than to order one of Terry Glover’s brilliant cakes? And yes two – yes yes you read that right two pots of Tea. To say that the London review Bookshop is neighbours with Le Cordon Bleu which has its own little cafe’ attached is no small matter. I must say the Le Cordon Bleu has a highly distinguished neighbour 🙂

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So after indulging ourselves in a heavenly pot of tea from Sri Lanka called”chai-tea” ( I will rant about why it irks me to see 2 words with the same meaning used to name a variety of tea and fast becoming an acceptable ways of referring to Indian tea – NO folks chai is tea in Hindi – ”simples”!!) with a generous amount of honey to sweeten it , we were ready to face the world – or win a war whichever came first.

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The bookshop is a treat for any self respecting book lover and a must-visit place,they have a basement reading room of sorts which is super quiet and a great cubby hole to loose yourself in. Perfect for when you want to switch off from the world outside – which I would like to very often.

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So I managed to buy this book for a friend who loves and knows her tea,Tea by John Griffiths.

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And ma got herself the most amazing – Sharks Fin and Sichuan Peppers by Fuchsia Dunlop- (If you love food you MUST read this book) .Really wanted to buy ,One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore but was broke by then.

A bit of tasty tidbits about the Cake Shop owner, taken from her bio on the London Review Bookshop website :

”Her signature style fuses Japanese and French influences, clinched with a chilli kick.

Terry finds inspiration in meeting the people behind the produce – growers, suppliers or cooks – who invest love, knowledge and personality in their food.”

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I love how the many floral teas are displayed in these huge glass jars in this corner , apologies to the unknown person who happens to be in this picture , I only wanted the jars but you were so lost in reading I didn’t have the heart (or the courage  tehehe) to disturb you!

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Cake Shop at the London Review Bookshop is another of those cafes that I would want to visit several times over and I know I would enjoy each visit like a different flavour of tea or cake perhaps.Well that’s one tick off my must see places in London for sure.

That’s ma’s happy face after her tea, by the way she has written a guest post for me in a series of posts about Irani Cafes in Mumbai,Pune and London , which you can read here and she also is the author of a blog called Retro-Reflections, which has been  silent  for a few months now as she had a Valve replacement Open-Heart operation back home in Bombay.She is back to her cheerful self now ,thank god and her blog will see some action real soon.

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I would love to know what you thought about this review , ma’s blog and our series on Irani cafes, I love reading all comments and it makes me immensely happy to share with all of you –  my love of food,travel and all the little things that make life worth while.Thanks for reading 🙂

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P.S: If you are as badly technologically challenged as I am and need directions of how to get to this gem of a place click here , the website has detailed directions of how to get to cafe without breaking into a sweat after walking for 40 minutes  and having to think you might actually need to dial the emergency services!

London Review Cake Shop on Urbanspoon

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