The Great Get Together

I’m starting to think that the best barbecues are the impromptu, last minute variety. Is this true?

Plans were in place for a Great Get Together in support of Jo Cox and the ‘more in common’ movement last weekend, but as happens all too frequently in our household, plans change.

However… right on cue, some dear friends invited us round to their house for a last-minute Sunday-night barbecue. Perfect little get-together me thinks. Now, living in an apartment with no garden, I can’t begin to explain how delightful it is to receive such an invitation.

So, what’s in the fridge? Some, I expect, might feel a little daunted by this prospect, however I absolutely love the freedom that an open fire brings – take what you have, and make what you can. Expectations can’t be too high can they? Moreover, you have before you the most devilishly ideal creator of flavour known to mankind, the humble fire.

weber coal starter

I’m fairly certain that a planned barbecue merely leads to anxious over-purchasing in the search of perfection, and ultimately greater food wastage.

Anything goes – as long as you cook everything sufficiently, it’s all good. Think about the garnishes, embellishments and rifts that will transform the ordinary into the extroadinary with a kiss of smokey char.

Classic new potatoes with rosemary from their garden, smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, unwaxed lemon peel, salt and pepper.. I even parboiled them before walking over. Wrap them up in foil and chuck them on the heat for a while to get gnarly.

bbq potatoes

Got a pineapple to hand? A splash of olive oil and a twist of black pepper takes it to a different level once it’s had a few minutes over the waning white coals.

Felix cooking up a storm

Good job little man.

BBQ Pineapple

Get outside and get together folks – make the most of everything you have and celebrate friendship. Jo was right.

Sunday BBQ

The Great Get Together is a campaign of the Jo Cox Foundation and partners, supported by Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution. The Jo Cox Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1170836). Registered address: 40 Bowling Green Lane, London, EC1R 0NE

The White Spoon

Long past are the days when I’d pop out from the office to grab something to eat in my lunch break, but I distinctly remember the options, or lack thereof..

An overpriced, plastic-clad sandwich or unimaginative pub fayre, unless you’re willing to pay through the nose for restaurant cuisine of course.

Competition certainly seems to be hotting up with so many new restaurants opening in Cheltenham this year; those looking to stand out are raising their game and bringing a new level of quality dining at an affordable price.

The White Spoon, tucked away on Well Walk, is offering lunchtime diners two courses in rather splendid yet welcoming surroundings, for as little as £12. Their set menu is written weekly, and makes the most of the freshest local and seasonal ingredients.

Chris White and Purdey Spooner clearly project their own style and friendly ethos to make this a relaxed and comfortable restaurant, supported by their attentive staff who I found to be particularly well-versed in every aspect of the menu.

Highlights for me? Dreamily transformative Applewood Smoked Butter, wonderfully fresh and respectfully handled shelled broad beans, and mashed potato the likes of which I’ve never experienced before: so light and airy you’d swear it was crafted from Altocumulus clouds by nimble-fingered angels.

Dreamy mashed potato

Pork Chop on Broad beans

I’m looking forward to exploring what their evening menu has to offer.

 

The White Spoon

8 Well Walk, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 3JX

01242 228 555

dine@thewhitespoon.co.uk 

http://www.thewhitespoon.co.uk/  

 

Emily Watkins

Chef Proprietor of the award-winning Kingham Plough, Emily Watkins, kindly took time out of her bustling Cotswold pub kitchen last night to demonstrate three of her favourite grain recipes to a room full of eager Whole Foods customers.

Part of the ‘Eat Real Food’ series, this class was laid on as a special event, with all proceeds going to the Whole Kids Foundation which admirably educates local children and families in healthy eating and nutrition.

Emily inspired and captivated the room with tips and tricks interspersed with stories from her fascinating career, training in male-dominated Italian kitchens and working under Heston Blumenthal at Bray’s Fat Duck. Majoring on under-used yet beautifully delicious grains, we had the joy of experiencing how a professional chef glides around the kitchen and improvises to deliver perfect dishes with minimal fuss.

Courgette ‘Spaghetti’ with Millet, Preserved Lemon and Pesto, Heritage Tomato and Pinhead Oatmeal Risotto with a Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Salad, and Fava Bean and Smoked Bacon Casserole… yes please. Oh how we wished we’d skipped our earlier dinner though.

 

Sourcing gorgeous ingredients from the store, Emily lectured on a concept that’s dear to my heart: “a recipe is just an idea”. You’ve got to approach cooking with an open mind and evolve recipes to suit you and your family – there’s no need to freak out when you’re missing an ingredient, trust your initiative and substitute or simply omit.

If you’re cooking seasonally with stunningly fresh local ingredients, simplicity is king.

Good on you Emily, you’re a Food Revolution hero.

AHL and Emily

 

SandBar Tenby

Down an alley on Upper Frog Street, neatly tucked away in what reminds me of a trendy converted London mews, is the home of the Tenby Brewing Company and their relaxed, rather funky little SandBar.

This very pleasing oasis away from the buckets and spades of the town only serves products from independent producers – craft beer and spirits from across Wales and the UK. Good on you lads!

Keg beers

It’s really promising to see new ventures like this appearing in the harbour town of Tenby. The combination of quality craft beers and classic streetfood-styled cuisine has been an astronomical success on the East Coast of America, and I see the scene having an equally meteoric growth in the UK as well.

No fuss, reasonably-priced fare that hits the spot with big flavours, and puts a smile all over your face and cheese in your lap. (Hashtag: Please eat responsibly).. I’m on holiday, it’s allowed.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat…”

The Awesome Footlong

Fear not vegetarians, their ever-improving kitchen caters for you too – surprisingly delicious Katsu curry that rivals Wagamama on flavour and texture, flows effortlessly from the kitchen.

Sandbar Tenby Katsu Curry

The highlight for me? Flights. Probably the most generous beer sampling flights I’ve ever seen (please, please don’t change that!) Choose any 3 of their keg beers in ½ pint measures for just £5. As these are mostly punchy craft IPAs, the measures are perfect for sampling and sharing. Love what you’ve sampled; the bar has it’s own shop as well…

paddles

Yes, you still need a beer menu or at least tasting notes for your great range of beers guys, but you certainly get ‘two thumbs good’ from me.

More details at: http://www.tenbybrewingco.com

Stunning art at Sandbar

Food Revolution Day 2016

As we head towards Food Revolution Day 2017 (FRD) on Friday 19th May, I want to reflect on how awesome last year’s events were.

What a day it was. The stats build year on year, and we’re seeing the revolution gaining ground as the key messages propagate around the world from person to person and community to community.

Jamie’s Facebook Live broadcast reached an astonishing 115 million people, and we saw over 700,000 people become revolutionaries by signing up to the Food Revolution Hub.

Our ambassadors and supporters ran thousands of events all over the world and Jamie shared ’10 recipes to save your life’; learn how to cook these, and you can feed yourself, and your family, for the rest of your life. Along with 9 other writers, I published twists on each of these recipes to show how easy it is to build on these basic recipes and broaden your repertoire to 100 nutritious dishes.

I took a couple of the recipes into Felix’s primary school, St James’ C of E, and spent the day cooking up a storm with the younglings. We had muchos fun with the DIY Oaty Fruity Cereal before making the Simple Houmous. SO EASY, yet so delicious and nutritious. Seriously, they couldn’t get enough.

The younger children in reception loved the classic ‘Identify and Try’ class with a variety of fruits and vegetables. They were so good at giving everything a go.

I have to add that none of this would have been possible without the kind donations from Whole Foods Market Cheltenham who supplied literally everything we needed from their selection of beautiful organic products. We’re so grateful.

 

And it didn’t stop there – Jane Gearing and our wonderful friends and Waitrose Cheltenham kindly ran a class for Dunally Primary School as well, cooking lovely little wholemeal flatbreads with pepper dippers and sugar snap peas, along with the simple houmous recipe above. The children were taught how to make their own bread dough and learnt about how to cut safely using the bridge and claw methods. Jayne, Emma and the team talked to the children about healthy diets and the importance of trying new and different foods, a subject they work into all of their classes in the onsite cookery school. Good on you Waitrose, we salute you.

wholemeal flatbreads

Here’s a little statistic for you that will give you an insight into why this year’s campaign is so important to us: “70% of three-year-olds recognise the McDonald’s symbol, but only half know their own surname…..”

Watch this space..

Food Revolution Day 2017