Category Archives: London

Winner of the Francis Francis X7.1 Coffee Machine!

On my last post, I announced a competition to win a Francis Francis X7.1 Coffee Machine from EspressoCrazy. Well, the response was absolutely amazing and it has been my most popular competition to date. To enter the competition, you had to get the following question correct:

Who designed the appearance of the Francis Francis X7.1 coffee machine?

The answer was: Luca Trazzi


Thank you to everyone who entered. The full list of everyone who did is here: Francis Francis X7.1 Comp Entrants I have selected the winner from all the correct answers using Random.org and I am pleased to announce that the winner is Rosa Blacker. Congratulations! Rosa, if you can please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk with your address and contact details, I will ensure that the coffee machine gets sent out to you as soon as possible.  Thanks again to everyone who took part. Please stay tuned for another competition soon.

I will be back at the weekend with a post about my trip to the Ludlow Food Festival.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Win a Francis Francis X7.1 coffee machine from Espresso Crazy!

I love coffee. I cannot start the day without it so I was very pleased to be invited to a coffee masterclass in London from the good people running Galleria illy, a month long pop up that will arrive in London (after Berlin, New York, Milan and Istanbul) from 13th September till 16th October. On offer is an unmissable programme of gastronomy, art, literature and design events.  What’s more it’s all free! To book your coffee masterclass at Galleria illy, just visit EspressoCrazy Unfortunately, due to medical issues I am now unable to attend.

However, I am very pleased to announce that I have been given a beautiful Francis Francis X7.1 coffee machine, worth £199 to giveaway. Effortlessly sleek and compact, the X7.1 uses illy coffee iperEspresso capsules to create a smooth, full bodied espresso with just one touch of a button. It is a coffee lovers dream!

To enter the competition, all you need to do is answer the following question:

Who designed the appearance of the Francis Francis X7.1 coffee machine

Please email your answer to joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk by Monday 19th September at 6pm. All the correct answers will then be put together and the winner will be selected by Random.org. The competition is open to everyone from the UK only. The prize will be delivered by EspressoCrazy.  Any questions about the competition, please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk.

This competition is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner will be announced in the next few days :-)

Good luck to everyone!

Many thanks to Molly at Galleria Illy for giving me this fabulous prize to giveaway :-)

A Night at Odettes

Stuart and I are fans of the Great British Menu, the BBC TV programme. We have watched it since the start and we were particularly taken by a young chef, Bryn Williams who appeared in series 1 and got to cook the fish course for the Queen’s 80th Birthday banquet. Therefore, on our second night in London, it was a fairly easy decision as to whose restaurant we wanted to eat at.

Odette’s is located in Primrose Hill and Bryn has worked there since 2006, becoming the chef patron in 2008. We arrived at 7.45pm on a wet and windy Sunday night to find a quiet yet buzzing restaurant, barely noticeable on the High Street unless you knew it was there.  We were seated promptly and left to make up our minds from the fabulous looking menu. Having already looked on-line, we had a fair idea as to what we wanted and when Stuart mentioned that he would like the Roasted turbot, braised oxtail, cockles & samphire for his main (the dish that Bryn cooked for the Queen), we were informed that there was only one left and needed to reserve it, if Stuart wanted it. We did as we were told and reserved it for later.

As an Amuse Bouche, we were served a Cream of Mushroom and Wild Garlic Velouté which was delicious, light, full of flavour but not overpowering. For my starter, I had Roasted wood pigeon, foie gras, pickled cherries, chocolate, vanilla salt (minus the foie gras- pregnant people can’t eat it!) and Stuart had Crab lasagna, salt & pepper squid, shellfish sauce. My starter was amazing. All the flavours worked really well together and the roasted pigeon leg, which was wrapped in filo pastry was like a spring roll. It was delicious. Stuart’s starter was great too as the crab and the squid really worked well together and did not overpower each other.

Stuart’s roast turbot and oxtail was fantastic. I can see why it was served to the Queen. It is a combination that really should not work but it does. The rich oxtail compliments the turbot and brings out it flavours. I only got to try one spoonful of it. Wish I could of tried more. My main of Loin of Elwy Valley lamb, potato fondant, baby gem, peas & mint was perfect too. It comes from Bryn’s family farm in Wales and is melt in the mouth tender. I  wish I could cook lamb half as good as this at home. It was yummy! If I had not of been in public, I would of licked the plate clean.

As a pre dessert we were served panacotta with berries.  The panacotta was rich and creamy, but not so rich that you could not finish it. For dessert I had Lemon curd arctic roll, cranachan & raspberries. I have loved arctic roll since I was a child and was interested to see Bryn’s take on it. The lemon curd in the arctic roll gave it an extra dimension and moved it beyond the ordinary. He can start selling it in supermarkets at any time. I will happily buy it. The crunch of the cranachan and raspberries brought more textures to the plate and cut through the richness of the arctic roll. I will eat it again at anytime.

Overall, we had a fantastic evening at Odette’s. We would like to thank Bryn and his team for a fabulous meal. We will be as soon as we can. In the picture above, I am wearing a Diamond Dress from Lush Mummy who make glamorous maternity wear and I have been lucky enough to be sent some. I will be doing a full post about them and their clothes on Jo’s Nursery soon.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Restaurant Review: Bloomsbury Street Bar and Restaurant

A few weeks ago, Stuart and I had a lovely weekend in London. We went and saw Harrod’s and Borough Market. One evening we were there, we went to the Bloomsbury Street Bar and Restaurant, located in the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel. We arrived at 7.45pm on a busy Saturday evening to be greeted by two members of staff, who told us that they were fully booked, barely looking up from their computer screen as they did so. We informed them that we had a reservation, which they then could not find. Eventually, the manager turned up, found our reservation and we were seated by the restaurant entrance. This was not a good start and it did not really improve greatly from there.

To nibble on, while we looked at the modern European menu, we were brought bread and butter, with some olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar to dip. The bread was fantastic.Very warm and very fresh, however the olive oil was very bland and tasteless. It did nothing for the bread at all. To start, I had Cream of Wild Mushroom and Rosemary Soup and Stuart had Marinated fillet of beef with horseradish rosti, mushroom cream. Stuart loved his starter; the beef was beautiful and complemented well by horseradish rosti. Mine was a bit disappointing as it was under-seasoned and  I could not taste any rosemary in it all.

For my main, I had Potato gnocchi with butternut squash and baby spinach and Stuart had Char-grilled rib eye steak from Dillon’s Farm in County Londonderry, pink pepper corn sauce and chips. Stuart’s main was fantastic. The steak was cooked perfectly, the chips were amazing and the peppercorn sauce was lovely. Mine, on the other hand was bland and unseasoned (again!). The sauce was good but it needed more flavour. Something to bring it up a level or two. We shared a green salad as well, which was needed as a contrast to both our mains.

For pudding,  I had Crème brûlée with lemon sorbet and Stuart had lemon sorbet on its own as he is not really a dessert person and did not really like anything else on the menu. My crème brûlée was lovely, very creamy and delicious however the sorbet it came with was not lemon. It had a very strange flavour to it and I could not place what it was. (I think Stuart had all the lemon sorbet!) My sorbet was placed in a wafer basket that would not have looked out of place on an ice cream van. It was not what I expected of a 5* star London hotel. We left the by now empty restaurant at 10pm and went to back to our own hotel.

Overall, I think that the Bloomsbury Street Bar and Restaurant provided acceptable food that would be fine if you were staying in the hotel for one or two nights to eat. However, I do not think that the food is worth a special journey for and it is not what I consider to be 5* London restaurant standard.

You can find out more about London Hotels here.

Note to readers: Stuart and I dined as guests of the Raddison Edwardian Hotels. We received a free three course meal for two with a bottle of house wine. We stayed at the Raddison Edwardian Grafton for two nights with breakfast at a discounted rate. Many thanks to Jimisha for arranging this for us.

PS: Sorry for the haphazardness of my posts of late. You can find out why I have been a bit irregular posting on Jo’s Nursery, here.

A Postcard from Borough Market

On a recent trip to London, I visited Borough Market for the first time. It is complete foodie heaven and I cannot wait to visit it again soon. As it was a busy Saturday afternoon, I did not get chance to really chat to the stallholders so I took photos of the things that interested me while we were walking around. I hope you like them. I will be back with another post soon

Happy Cooking! :-)

A Postcard from Harrods: The Food Hall

Stuart and I recently had a weekend in London. There will be more to follow from this trip soon but for now, please enjoy some pictures that I took in the fabulous Harrod’s Food Hall. (I would live there if I could!) :-)

Browse Bullring Guest Post

I have written a guest review on the Browse Bullring website about Brown’s in Victoria, London. Brown’s Birmingham will be coming to the Bullring in the Winter 2011 as part of the Spiceal Street development. You can read my guest post here.

Hope you like it.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Review Of The Year 2010

2010 was my first full year of blogging so its seems right that I should look back and reflect on what an amazing year it has been.

In January, I did my first Fresh From The Oven Challenge, making Chocolate Buns. This formed part of my New Year’s resolution’s to be more adventurous in baking and make more bread. I also made cottage pie and did my first ever guest post on Nora’s blog.

In February, I made Valentine’s Cupcakes (that looked like boobies!) for English Mum’s Best Valentine Cupcake competition.  I reviewed my first cookbook, Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Ingredients and Nora did a guest post on the blog.

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

In March, I celebrated completing my first year of blogging. The first meeting of the Midlands Food Bloggers was held at Loaf’s HQ in Birmingham, where we cooked pizza’s and tasted Peters Yard’s Crispbreads and Brock Hall Farm’s Goats Cheese for the first time. I went to my first Cupcake workshop at Kiss Me Cupcakes and I hosted my first Fresh From The Oven challenge, Kringel

.

In April, I entered and won the Easter Cake Bake and made cupcakes for the Mad Hatter’s Shropshire Tweet Up. Helen did a guest post on the blog and I made croissants for the first and last time!

May started by making the ultimate spring time brunch and a crumble. Pizza Napoletana was the Fresh From The Oven challenge.

In June, Jo’s Kitchen was invited by Miele to do the Masterchef Invention Test at the BBC Summer Good Food Show. Marie and I took on a Giant Cupcake Challenge and I went on an archaeological dig and left my blog in the care of Gary, Linda, Louise and Charlene.

In July, I made my favourite childhood dinner of Fish Fingers, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Parsley Sauce. I entered my second English Mum’s Big Bake Off and held a competition to win a Masterchef Apron.

In August, I made a sweet version of Fish Fingers, Mash and Ketchup with Mat Follas’s help and went on a foodie trip to Ludlow visiting the Ludlow Food Centre and Ludlow itself. Brioche was this month’s Fresh From The Oven Challenge.

September was a busy month so I only made some cupcakes and garlic and basil focaccia.

In October, I made some spooky Halloween cakes for English Mum’s Autumn Bake Off, went to my first 24 Carrots Farmers Market and attended the second Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up.

In November, I made Coca-Cola Marinated Steak, with Wedges and Cool Beans, and I went to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London. I also reviewed the Findus Fresher Taste range of ready meals.

In December, I was invited back to the BBC Good Food Show Winter by Miele. I took part in two cookalongs and met lots of fantastic producers. I went to the new Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring, Birmingham. I learnt how to make pasta for the first time at Loaf and shared my Christmas wishlist with you. Finally, for a late seasonal treat, I shared my Mincemeat Flapjacks recipe.

Overall, 2010 was an amazing year. I met so many fantastic people, ate lovely meals, made lots of new recipes and I was lucky enough to review some great products. I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring. Thank you to all my readers for being along with me for the ride. I hope you will stay with me for 2011. I hope you all have a great night tonight, whatever you are doing. I will see you early in 2011 with my New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year! :-)

Restaurant Review: Jamie’s Italian, Bullring, Birmingham

Photo by Jamie's Italian

After a really enjoyable visit to Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, London not so long ago, Stuart and I were really looking forward to the branch in the Bullring in Birmingham opening as it is only twenty minutes down the road from us. Therefore, we jumped at the chance when Emma from the Bullring invited us to have a meal there.

Jamie Italian in Birmingham is the biggest of his restaurants so far, with 270 seats. It is set right in the heart of the Bullring opposite St. Martin’s church and has been designed with Birmingham’s Industrial heritage in mind. We arrived on a cold Monday evening at 7.20pm and were greeted by friendly and efficient staff who took us straight to our table, which had the most amazing view of the restaurant interior and the church.  The restaurant has high ceilings with exposed pipes and metal, with the most incredible chandeliers I have ever seen.

Photo by Jamie's Italian

The atmosphere was buzzing when we were seated but due to the high ceilings the noise did not overwhelm. We  browsed the winter menu and as we struggled to decide on a bottle of wine to accompany the meal, the waiter recommended Primivito Di Salento, Cantine Lugi Scritti, a fruity red wine from Puglia. It was so lovely; Stuart and I shared a bottle and had another glass of it to go with our puddings.

To start, we shared a selection of top Italian breads which included focccacia that is baked twice daily on the premises. I can make foccacia ok but mine will never in a million years be as good as the ones I have tried at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants especially this one. It was light and packed with flavour from the rosemary. The olive oil and the balsamic vinegar that was served with the bread were gorgeous too!

After the bread, we each had a bruschetta. Mine had grilled and marinated mushrooms with lemon, thyme and garlic and Stuart’s had oven dried tomatoes, with basil, garlic and creamy ricotta on top. I really enjoyed the mushroom bruschetta but thought that the portion was a bit to large. One piece of bread with the mushrooms on would have been enough for me. Stuart disagreed with this and ate every last bit of his and loved how the basil and the garlic really gave a kick to the tomatoes and creamy ricotta.

For our mains, I had rabbit ragu pappadelle which was rabbit cooked in a broth and served with pappardelle pasta. It was unusual as it had a thin broth like sauce unlike most other pasta sauces. It was light but with the pasta, it was filling and comforting at the same time. Stuart had the grilled Angus sirloin steak, which was cooked to perfection and declared amazing by Stuart. We shared posh chips with truffle oil and parmesan and crunchy salad to go with our mains. The chips were ok, but the best was the salad. It fresh, vibrant and an excellent contrast to both our main dishes.

My favourite course was the pudding as I had the best chocolate, raspberry and amaretto brownie I have ever tasted. It was amazing. I cannot think of words to describe it. It was that good; I think everyone should get down there and try it for themselves. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Stuart had some vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce which he deemed excellent as it was creamy, rich and full of vanilla bean seeds.

Overall, we had a fantastic time at Jamie’s Italian in the Bullring. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was buzzing but not on your face and the staff are charming. I am actually looking forward to Christmas shopping at the weekend now as I can go there for something to eat afterwards. :-)

Jamie’s Italian is part of a new scheme that the Bullring is hoping to complete next year. It is called Spiceal Street and it is hoped that in 2011, three new restaurants, similar in style and class as Jamie’s Italian will open in St Martins Square. If you would like more information about the scheme, please see the website here.

Note to readers: Stuart and I dined at Jamie’s Italian as guests of the Bullring. Many thanks to Emma for setting it up :-)

Restaurant Review: Jamie’s Italian, Covent Garden, London

A few weeks ago, Stuart and I both happened to be in London for work at the same time. We decided to meet for dinner after work one night in the middle of where we were both staying. I was on one side of the Thames, he was on the other. We had lots of choice of where we could meet but we opted for Jamie’s Italian in Covent Garden, as it is close to a tube link (Leicester Square) and Jamie Oliver is one of our favourite chefs. In my pre-blogging days, we dined at Fifteen Cornwall twice and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

We arrived at the restaurant at 6:50pm on a Wednesday evening and people were already queuing to dine there. You are not able to book a table at any of the restaurants (other locations include;  Bath, Cardiff, Glasgow,  Leeds and Reading) unless you are in a group of 8-16 people. We waited for 5 minutes in the queue and were greeted warmly and efficiently by a member of staff who told us that a table for two would take 40 minutes. She took a mobile phone number and gave us a pager that is supposed to beep/flash/makes lots of noise when your table is ready and told us to go for a drink nearby. We found a pub around the corner, had a drink and exactly 40 minutes later, we were called (the pager did not work) and told us our table was ready.

On our return to the restaurant, the place was buzzing with music, chatter and laughter. Various types of hams and other preserved meats hung on a wall, wine bottles in glass cases were used to decorate walls and the kitchen was open for people to see into as they entered the restaurant. We were taken to the downstairs seating area, which was quieter than the main floor above.

Our menus were brought over and soon it was decision time. The menus at all Jamie’s Italian locations changes seasonally and most use the same menu, with some local variation. Apologies for the quality of photos in this post, the restaurant was quite dark and I did not want to use a flash as I would have disturbed my fellow diners. To start, we shared the Selection of Top Italian Breads and the World’s Best Olives on Ice. My favourite of the breads was the rosemary focaccia as it was light but chunky at the same time and full of flavour. The olives were fresh and tasted delicious.

Next we shared an Seasonal Meat Antipasti Plank, which included  mortadella, prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and a crunchy salad. The plank  was rested on two tins of Italian tomatoes which gave it a rustic charm. I loved the prosciutto and the crunchy salad. The little balls of mozzarella were amazing too. They were so sweet and creamy.

For our mains, I had Shell Roasted Brixham King Scallops with crispy pancetta on a fresh tomato salsa. They were fantastic scallops. Big, fat and juicy but in the spicy crumb, they were a bit lost. It was a shame really. It could have been an incredible dish. I still ate it all though. Stuart had the Feather Steak and we both shared the sides of braised fennel with anchovies and chilli  and funky chips with garlic and parsley. The chips were amazing. I will definitely try serving them like that at home. They were yummy!

For pudding I had honeycomb and vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb chocolate bits. It was heaven! I love honeycomb and there was lots of it. Simple and delicious. Stuart had a fresh and zingy lemon sorbet, which he enjoyed as well.

Overall, we had a really enjoyable experience at Jamie’s Italian. I loved nearly everything, even the napkins! (See photo at top of post). A new Jamie’s Italian opened this week in the Bullring, Birmingham, just down the road from me and I cannot wait to try it!