Tea-time chic

In celebration of the city of Paris, Chinoiserie at Jumeirah Carlton Tower has unveiled an “I Love Paris” afternoon tea in association with master patissier Eric Lanlard (the third instalment in the Afternoon Tea by Eric Lanlard series). Reinvented brioche, macaroons and mini éclairs all feature, as do foie gras sandwiches, mini quiches lorraines, and lemon, poppy seed, and smoked salmon macaroons. To finish, guests can revel in tonka bean crème brûlée and a dark chocolate mousse. And, just in case you can’t quite eat it all, the leftovers can go with you in a beautiful take-home box. ‘Afternoon Tea by Eric Lanlard’ can be booked by visiting www.jumeirahcarltontower.com or calling +44 (0)20 7858 7181.

The best Devon cream tea?

While I love London, part of my heart will always be in Devon thanks to my university days there – and one of the reasons I love the place is for its classic afternoon teas. Now the hunt is on for the very best of the Devon crop, with local tourism providers challenged to participate in a cream tea trail and marketing campaign. Nineteen tourism businesses from Gidleigh Park to Twistgates Farm Cottages have so far signed up, providing guests and holidaymakers with the finest local ingredients to make the best cream teas available. The competition is split into three categories, with the best city cream tea, best countryside cream tea and best coast cream tea all being sought. The finalist will be launched in April 2013 at the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink. Details of the cream tea trail can be found here, with print versions and apps also soon to be available:


Follow the Cream Tea campaign on Twitter @CreamTeainHoD

Spooky sweets

Even though I’m not a massive fan of Halloween as an American import, I definitely can buy into the sweets – and British confectionery giant and king of the trick or treat season, Swizzels Matlow Ltd, is gearing up for the Halloween season with a range of ghoulish party delights. These include Trick or Treat Lolly Mix, Monster Treats and Spooky Treat or Trick Mix. Mega Drumsticks now have a black and orange wrapper, while Double Dip becomes Spooky Dip, with a blackcurrant flavour leaving tongues black! Products are available in a host of national supermarkets.

Celebrating Spanish-style

From 22-28th October, London’s top Spanish restaurants and Maltby Street Food Market will be celebrating the produce and typical recipes of Mallorca. You can look out for authentic Mallorcan specials on the menus at 5 of London’s top Spanish restaurants, including Pizarro, Tramontana, Barrafina, Cambio de Tercio and Barcelona Tapas. Curated by Radio 4 panellist and Catalan Cooking expert Rachel McCormack, selected food producers will form a dedicated market at Maltby Street, running from Friday 26 to Saturday 27th. Products on offer include small family estate wines, artisan olive oil, preserves, specialist seasonings and almond based store cupboard ingredients. If you’re already missing your summer holiday to the Balearics, this could be for you. Try Oli Novembre (an oil made from Mallorcan olives), Ametlla + de Mallorca (a range of almond-based seasonings), organic wines from Can Majoral, and artisan salt and marmalade products from Raixa Mallorca. There will also be a ticketed wine tasting on Thursday 25th October from 6pm, and a cooking class on Wednesday 24th October, where students will learn to cook Tumbet, Arroz Brut (Mallorcan Rice with Chicken and Rabbit), Mallorcan style croquetas and Gato (Mallorcan Almond Cake).

Check out the Mallorca Week Website for more!

Oh Malteser tree, oh Malteser tree…

Yes, it’s really true. This Christmas you could really have a MALTESER TREE in your living room. Handmade from Maltesers, the tree is then drizzled with white chocolate and planted with chocolate raisins, and is just one of a range of Sweet Trees available from RusticAngels.co.uk. Each tree comes with its own terracotta pot and is also planted with fudge and coconut, standing 30cm high. Even though the Sweet Trees cost from £22.50 (not including postage and packaging!), I reckon they make a more original alternative to an advent calendar any day.

Ashburton Cookery School wins Cookery School of the Year in Food and Travel Magazine Reader Awards

Staff at Ashburton Cookery School in Devon are celebrating after being voted Cookery School of the Year in the Food and Travel Magazine Reader Awards. The school was presented with its award at a ceremony in London on September 3, having beaten off stiff competition from other leading cookery schools, including Leith’s and The Bertinet Kitchen. Ashburton Cookery School was one of a trio of award winners from Devon which included Gidleigh Park as well as the Devon based wine writer, Susy Atkins. Well done to all!

Dark, milk, white…blonde?

Fans of fine chocolate will be intrigued to learn of a recent cocoa-related development from top French chocolate supplier Valrhona, which has recently launched the world’s first blonde chocolate. It is probably closest to white chocolate in its taste, but unlike white chocolate is in fact still the genuine article, as it still contains cocoa. Launched recently in the UK at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, the chocolate – named Dulcey – is said to have a biscuity, honey-like flavour, with hints of shortbread, salt and caramel. Fans of the retro Caramac should love it! The retail bar will be available from Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, and Fortnum and Mason.

What’s the best builders’ breakfast?

This is the question being asked by online tradesman-finding website MyBuilder this month, which announced that it was to launch the largest ever survey of builders’ breakfast tastes. MyBuilder will be asking tradesmen to nominate their favourite outlets, checking if Welsh builders still enjoy lava bread (seaweed) with their fry up, and wondering if the Scots still favour white pudding of a morning. And what about the breakfasts of Polish, Indian or Aussie builders working in the UK? Do they have their own favoured breakfast spots or have they adopted bacon and eggs washed down with a mug of tea? The survey will also find out if it is ever okay to have chips with your breakfast and if baked beans are considered an essential item. The winning café/diner will be named as the home of the Best Builder’s Breakfast In Britain on 27 November 2012 and presented with a trophy by MyBuilder. One lucky builder who nominates the winner will win breakfast for four there, as well as a one-year free membership at MyBuilder.com. Tradesmen who are non-members of MyBuilder can still enter by emailing competitions@mybuilder.com or visiting the MyBuilder blog. Good luck to chippies, brickies and sparkies everywhere!

Freedom to…and freedom from

The Good Food Guide Regional Readers’ Restaurant of the Year 2013, Jeremys Restaurant in the heart of mid-Sussex, has taken on the challenge of creating a delicious, gluten-free and dairy-free 4-course menu for its special ‘free-from’ dinner on Thursday 4th October 2012. Jeremy and his team have included things that allergy-sufferers might possibly be pining for – good bread, pancakes, soufflé, delicious canapés and petits fours – and some tasty alternative grains, quinoa, wild rice and gram flour. They have also sourced a gluten-free lager, which will welcome diners on arrival along with canapés of teriyaki duck, spring onion and ginger, wrapped in an almond milk pancake. A starter of spiced butternut squash, coconut cream, onion bhaji and coriander oil will be followed by beetroot-cured local mackerel, quinoa and wild rice salad, beetroot soufflé and apple chutney, then a main course of roast beef and mushroom-filled ballotine of guinea fowl, dry cure bacon, polenta, Swiss chard and red wine reduction and finally a delicious chocolate hazelnut cake with damson sorbet. A vegetarian option is also available on request, with a £30 4-course menu including coffee and petits fours. To reserve, please email reservations@jeremysrestaurant.com – and even if you can’t attend, take this opportunity to be inspired to serve up a gluten-free meal to your family and friends.

Vanilla, rum and raisin pudding, made by the Secret Kitchen team using the new spice mix

Sugar and spice…The UK’s first food tasting company, My Secret Kitchen, are very proud to the first to launch a sweet seasoning mix as part of their Secret Spices range. Secret Vanilla Pudding Spices combine vanilla with cinnamon, ground coriander seed, ginger and roasted cassia. Use in an apple pie for wow-factor results! The founder also recommends using it to top drinks, mix into custard, or dust onto popcorn or marshmallows. Priced at £4.49, it’s available from www.mysecretkitchen.com.

Ooh la la

French restaurant Brasserie Joël, located within the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London hotel, has just launched its monthly ‘Chanson et Cuisine’ evenings, which began on Thursday 27th September. Guests can embrace the true spirit of classic French dining with a three course set sharing menu, prepared by head chef Walter Ishizuka, while listening to traditional French music performed by Brasserie Joël’s resident chanson singer. Starting with the Rhone-Alpes, the menu will showcase dishes from a different French region every month, taking guests on a culinary “Tour de France”. The sharing dishes will be perfect for groups. The menu is priced at £34 with bookings available between 5.30pm-10.30pm. The live music, however, is played only from 7.30pm onwards. It’s great to see other regions of France being explored, especially beginning with one that I know so well. Here’s hoping some copeaux featured!

Fiona Cairns’ first TV series starts this weekend

Royal cake-maker Fiona Cairns’ first TV series ‘Home of Fabulous Cakes’ will start airing on ITV1 on Sundays from 23rd September. The series is a 10 x 1 hour series, with Fiona baking 4 different cakes in each episode. After her 2011 exposure at the Royal Wedding, this work follows Fiona’s partnership with Waitrose, and looks like it will offer valuable insight into her expertise. I’ll definitely be tuning in!