28 Aug 2009

Variety is the Spice of Life - Part II

The food at Jamie's Italian was generous and delicious. My choices were Prosciutto, Pear and Pecorina Salad followed by Italian Bakewell Tart.

A couple of negatives - sorry Jamie - the bottled water, on an extremely hot day, was served to us at room temperature! We asked for a glass of ice cubes which promptly appeared but then disappeared off the table just as quickly!! Also, if you decide to go to a Jamie's Italian make sure you eat downstairs because the Brighton restaurant is on two floors. Downstairs is a must for ambiance and where you will see the cutting of hams and bread etc. Wait for a downstairs table rather than go upstairs to eat.

Coffee in Brighton has to be at The Red Roaster Cafe. Freshly roasted beans and delicious coffee topped with latte art - it doesn't get much better than this. The second photograph shows a collection of coffee brewing machines the owner has obviously collected over time.

Brighton Pavilion - no trip to Brighton is complete without a visit here.

The Victoria, Richmond - a gastro pub where Paul Merrett is a chef and joint owner. We went on a Wednesday when they have an outdoor grill menu. The food, as was my latte art topped coffee fabulous, and I couldn't find one single negative. Perfect.

RHS Wisley, Surrey. Lots of beautiful, trees, plants, fruit trees bursting with apples, pears and damsons and wonderful walks. Didn't go here for food though.

Fish! Restaurant is situated in a huge glass building at Borough Market. Another sunny day where we sat outside and ate wonderful food. Forgot to take a photograph of this - sorry. Everything was perfect here too. Fish! also have a stall at Borough Market serving up fish and chips which was extremely popular with visitors.

The Total Organics Juice Bar situated inside Borough Market - no I didn't drink any of this, I just wasn't feeling brave enough! They serve shots of juiced wheat grass here.

Lots of wonderful tomatoes, again at Borough Market, a real feast for the eyes.

Whitstable, Kent. Yet another sunny day and lots of oyster and seafood stalls to whet the appetite.

We also ate at Ask and had a reasonably good meal, but the best place in Beckenham where we ate was Friends of Mine - the food was not only delicious but presented extremely well. The restaurant interior is definitely 'cool' and we enjoyed relaxing here after long hot days out!

My daughter lives in Kent and we stayed at her house for a week which was really useful and gave us the opportunity to explore the area and beyond. As you can see we had a wonderful time - just perfect.

I have been to some other great places this year and hope to post about these in the future.

2 Aug 2009


I have had some fabulous raspberries and cultivated blackberries in the garden this year and I couldn't think of a better way to use some of them, especially as I love meringue.

My blackberry plants have unfortunately got to be destroyed because I can't find out what is wrong with them, which is a shame - I seem to be getting a lot of die back.

Cultivated blackberries will never be the same as wild blackberries but they are thorn less, non invasive and the fruits taste surprisingly good. Also, they make large fruits which are very decorative.

I used the blackberries to make shortcakes with blackberry and orange compote last year, and you can see the recipe here.

This time I didn't use Nigella's pavlova recipe but made the usual meringue mix. To get the marbled effect you simply dip a skewer into pink food colouring and swirl it into the meringues just before popping them into the oven.

Meringues are a great way of using up egg whites which you have stored in the freezer after using only the egg yolks in previous recipes. If you freeze them in one egg white and two egg white portions in small bags you will always have a ready supply - as a rule of thumb one egg white weighs 40g.

Serves: 4 people

You will need:

3 large free range egg whites, 165g white caster sugar, pink food colouring, 100ml lightly whipped whipping cream (I used Greek Yogurt), 300g mixed summer berries.

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, 130°C fan,300°F, Gas 2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat for a few minutes until the whites become stiff. Add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
2. Using a little of the meringue mixture, stick baking parchment on to a clean baking sheet. using a spatula, dollop the meringue into 4 circles on the parchment, then make a dip in the centre of each. Dip a skewer into the pink colouring and swirl it into the meringues to make a marble effect.
3. Put the tray into the oven, then immediately turn the oven down to 130°C,110°C fan, 250°F, gas ½ and bake for 40 minutes.
4. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for a few hours.
5. Spoon over the cream or Greek Yogurt and add the berries.