Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Today the postman arrived bright and early with my new gadget. A Sugar thermometer that I bought from Amazon.

A bought it with the intention of making some homemade Vanilla Fudge.

I had a recipe that's been recommended by a fellow foodie off the BBC Food Messageboard and it's by a lady known as Miss Agedashi and here it is:-

Vanilla Fudge –Miss Agedashi.

1lb/450g granulated sugar
4oz/125g butter
1/2 pint of milk/condensed milk (I used 1/8 pint condensed and made it up to 1/2 pint with milk - if you're using less than 1/4 pint condensed, add more sugar at your discretion to make up the sugar content)
seeds from half a vanilla pod

Butter a tin about 6 x 8in/15 x 20cm and line it with baking parchment. Put all the ingredients together in a pan, and stir over a low heat until the sugar and butter have dissolved.

Bring to quite a fast boil, and continue cooking until it reaches 116C on a sugar thermometer. If no sugar thermometer, boil for about 20 minutes STIRRING CONSTANTLY, until the colour changes from a creamy colour to a light brown (squirrel?!). Take care not to burn, it's easily done.

When it reaches the correct temperature/colour/soft ball stage, remove from the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Then start stirring vigorously for about five minutes, or until the gloss is going, it's getting thick and going flaky around the sides of the bowl. The longer you beat the cooling fudge the grainier/harder the texture will be.

Pour quickly into the lined tin and leave to set. As it cools, cut into squares with a sharp knife.

My only regrets are that I should've used a bigger saucepan to allow me to stir it easier and next time I'll wait til it's cooled completely before cutiing it up as it stuck to the knife while it was still warm.

You live and learn.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A DAY OF REST...not likely

I had a dreadful night's sleep last night and eventually got up just after 9.00am.
The plan was to check e-mails as we're still looking for somewhere else to live.

The phone rings and it's a wrong number.

I get an e-mail from my wife Tracey reminding me that I said I would make something a bit healthier that she could eat.Funnily enough The Lardy Cakes and sticky chicken aren't acceptable to my vegetarian wife.

With her thoughts in mind I decided on Simon Rimmers Bakewell Tart using this recipe which can be found on the BBC Food website.I'll post 3 photo's.One still in the tin which was a challenge on it's own cos i didn't have the correct tin.The second out of the tin and the third iced.

For the pastry
300g/10½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125g/4½oz unsalted butter
30g/1oz sugar
1 free-range egg, plus 1 extra, beaten, to glaze
2 tbsp milk, to bind (if needed)
For the filling
225g/8oz butter, softened
225g/8oz sugar
225g/8oz ground almonds
3 free-range eggs
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
50g/2oz plain flour
jar cherry jam
flaked almonds, for sprinkling

1. For the pastry, place the flour, butter, sugar and egg into a food processor and pulse to combine. If necessary, add a little milk to help bring the mixture together.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out until large enough to line a 26cm/10in tart tin. Carefully lift into the tin, then place into the fridge to chill for an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
4. Fill the tart case with a sheet of greaseproof paper weighed down with baking beans or rice. Bake the tart case blind in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove the paper and beans and brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Return to the oven for a further five minutes, until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
6. For the filling, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy.
7. Mix in the ground almonds, then crack in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition - don't worry if the mixture begins to split, just add a little of the flour.
8. Fold in the lemon zest and the flour.
9. Spread some of the jam generously across the base of the pastry, leaving a 2.5cm/1in gap around the edge.
10. Spread the filling mixture over the jam and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
11. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until set and golden-brown. Allow to cool in the tin before serving in slices.

My wife decided she'd like it Iced like the small ones you can get but I think it looks so good without it I'll take two photo's so you can decide.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


Today was a day surfing the internet for somewhere to live as we've been given notice where we are.
After several dead ends and numerous e-mails i decided to opt for a rest in the kitchen.

Sticky Chicken wings is a simple recipe that I adapted from a good friend of mine.Her recipe was for salt and pepper chicken wings and although it was very nice I decided that I needed more depth of flavour.

Here's the recipe:-STICKY WINGS.

2 tablespoons Maldon Salt
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Onion-roughly chopped
1” Root Ginger
2 tablespoons Muscovado Sugar
2 tablespoons pink or white peppercorns
60ml Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 kg Chicken Wings

Makes approx 20,depending on the size of the wings

For this you’ll find a small food processor is great.Just put all off the ingredients in together and blitz for about 30 seconds and place into a resealable bag. Add the chicken wings and mix them up in the marinade,seal the bag and put in the fridge overnight or for upto 2 days.
Preheat the oven to Gas 7/220oC.Let the chicken come to room temperature and pour the wings with the marinade into a shallow roasting dish and spread them out. Roast for about 40 minutes,turning them half way through cooking.

Serve with napkins.(Believe me you’ll need them).

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Today being Sunday is probably my favourite day of the week.A traditional Sunday roast is hard to beat in my opinion.
So nothing changes there as today it's Roast Pork with all the trimmings.
I'll save you the bother of looking at a photo because they're all pretty much the same to look at.
Today however I'm attempting something that I have fond childhood memories of...
I'm using this recipe which I got from the Independent on line:-
Lardy cake
650g strong white-bread flour
2tsp salt
1tsp caster sugar, plus more to sprinkle
7g sachet of easy-bake yeast
400ml warm water
200g lard, softened
50g butter, softened
200g mixed dried fruit
75g mixed peel
200g granulated sugar
In a warm mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the warm water and mix to a soft dough. Knead the dough by stretching and folding it for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface.
Mix the lard, butter, fruit, peel and granulated sugar together and divide into three parts. On a lightly floured table, roll out the bread dough into a rectangular shape roughly three times as long as it is wide and spread two-thirds of its length with one batch (a third) of the lard mixture, then fold both long ends of the dough into the centre and firmly press the edges with your fingers or the rolling pin. Repeat this process twice more, using up the lard mixture. Put the dough into a shallow roasting or baking tin with enough room for it to rise again. Leave to prove again in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (fan-oven 170ºC)/375ºF (fan-assisted 340ºF)/ gas mark 5. Bake the lardy cake for about 45 minutes. Turn it out upside-down on to another tray or large dish and leave to cool a little. Sprinkle the cake generously with caster sugar. The lardy cake is best served warm, cut into generous squares, just as it is.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Today starts much the same as the rest. Struggle down the stairs munch on the painkillers and the other stuff,make a cup of hot tea and decide what to cook today to relieve the monotony of back pain.

I've decided that yesterdays bread although very nice wasn't particularly good to look at so another effort was required.

While waiting on the dough to prove I decided to experiment with some Orange and Walnut Muffins and this is the recipe i threw together.

200g/8oz Self Raising Flour
1 tspn Baking Powder
75g/3oz Caster Sugar
1 Orange(Zested and segmented)
1 Large Free Range Egg
100ml/3½ fl oz Milk
Small handful of roughly chopped walnuts

1)Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7.
2)Place all the ingredients except the orange and walnuts in a bowl and combine together using a whisk.
3)When everything is well incorporporated together slice the orange segments in half and stir into the mix gently.
4)Stir in the walnuts and transfer into paper Muffin cases which should be sat in your tins.
5)Sprinkle each with a little orange zest and place into the oven for approx' 15 minutes or until risen and golden.
6)Remove and place on a cooling rack.


Thursday, 14 May 2009


The day started with a mild panic once the painkillers had taken hold.
We had all but two slices, run out of bread.
I thought what the hell,it's not like I'm going anywhere or doing anything all day so into the kitchen I went.While waiting for the dough to prove I was able to make the Oatmeal Biscuits as shown above.

Anyway here's the bread.I didn't get a very good rise like I normally do.


...I woke up with the same agonising back pain and wondering what I could do to take my mind if it.
I decided on making a loaf of bread and doing some oatmeal biscuits.

5 oz Self Raising Flour,
5 oz Oatmeal,
Pinch of Salt,
3 oz Butter
3 oz Caster Sugar
Milk to mix.

1)Preheat the oven to 180oC/350F/Gas 4 and grease some baking trays/sheets.
2)Mix the dry ingredients and rub in the butter.
3)Add sufficient milk to bring the mix to a stiff dough.
4)Roll out thinly and cut into 7.5cm(3 inch) rounds.
5)Place on the baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


While the Muffins were in the oven for some reason I still had the urge to create something else and decided on some Choux pastry with which to make some Chocolate Eclairs which my wife adores.

And here they are filled with whipped cream and decadent.

The recipe I used is one from Simon Rimmer which is:-


For the eclairs
150g/6oz Butter
225ml/8fl oz water
225g/8oz plain flour,plus extra for dusting
6 free range eggs
pinch of salt
300ml double cream

For the sauce
100g/4oz Caster Sugar
100ml/4fl oz water
50g/2oz dark chocolate(broken up)
25g/1 oz butter

1) For the eclairs,place the butter and water into a pan and bring upto the boil.
2) Once the butter has melted take the pan off the heat and tip in all the flour.Beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan.
3) Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.Stir in the salt.
4) Transfer the mixture into a piping bag and allow to cool for a few minutes.Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark6.
5) Pipe about 6 to 8 lengths of pastry onto a floured baking sheet.The pastry will double in size as it cooks,so give them plenty of space to expand on the baking sheet.
6) Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until they're golden and firm.
7) Remove from the oven and make a small slit in the sides of the eclairs to allow the steam out of them.
8) In a bowl whip the cream til it forms stiff peaks.
9) You now have a choice between slicing the eclairs and filling with cream or as I did make a small hole in one end and pipe it in.
10) For the chocolate sauce place the sugar and water into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.Bring to the boil and boil for 4-5 minutes,or until it thickens.Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
11) Add the chocolate and butter to the pan and stir well until the chocolate has melted.Allow to cool,stirring occasionally.When the sauce has has cooled and thickened,spread it on top of the eclairs and serve.


Well the day had to come for the Christening of my Mixer and that was earlier.

I opted for some Blueberry Muffins and as I've only 1 muffin tin I had to do them in 2 batches through the oven.

I was a little disappointed with the overall look as they didn't rise as much as my chocolate ones did and they've got one hell of a grip on the Muffin cases.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Tomorrow's choices .......

Well I have some decision to make because my friends on the BBC Food board have suggested either Pavlova,Bread or Muffins again.A friend of mine has also asked me to make some Kolaczki which is a Polish dessert.

Whatever i decide to do I'll post piccies and keep you informed.


My latest acquisition for the kitchen is a new 'Breville SHM2 Platinum Pro H' compact mixer.It came with two pairs of beaters and two dough hooks.
It's a lovely small machine with a 5 speed settings and even a boost if required.

Decisions,decisions....what do I use it for 1st.

Answers on a postcard/comment/e-mail please.

The most replies will be the thing I attempt.
Now I've done it......I could get anything now.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Today we're opting for our main meal to be this evening instead of the usual lunchtime.
The main reason is my wife would like to have a couple of drinks this afternoon as she's not been out of the house this week apart from going to work.
While we're out I'll have some roast potatoes on the go to accompany my pancetta wrapped rolled turkey breast.
My wife being a veggie will have a nut cutlet as her main part which will be accompanied by the aforementioned potatoes,boiled mashed swede,steamed peas,carrots,sweetcorn and yorkshire puddings and sadly...veggie gravy.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

...AND THE NEXT.....

Well today is another day and messing about in the kitchen takes my mind off the pain I've got.Trawling through some kitchen porn(cookbooks) and I've decided more bread is required.I'm going to try to make some Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia.

I'll be using this recipe from Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi which I got off the BBC Food Website.My reasoning's Italian Bread so it makes sense to try an Italians recipe.

300ml/½ pint tepid water
1½ tsp dried yeast or 2 heaped tsp fresh yeast
500g/1lb 2oz '00' flour or strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
medium coarse sea salt
2 sprigs rosemary, torn into small pieces

1. Pour a little of the tepid water into a small bowl. Add the yeast and blend using your fingers. Leave the yeast for five minutes to soften and dissolve.
2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. You may like to transfer your mixture to a pastry board or other flat work surface at this stage and prepare the dough there, in traditional Tuscan style. Otherwise, mix the dough in the bowl.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and salt mixture. Pour the blended yeast and water into the well along with the olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Gradually add the rest of the tepid water until a sticky dough is formed.
4. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Gather any stray pieces. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding a little extra flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic and the dough no longer sticks to your hand. To see if it is ready, you can carry out the stretch test: pull off a piece of dough, it should be elastic enough not to break quickly when stretched out.
5. Next accumulate any stray ends and rough sections by 'chafing' your ball of dough. Hold it and curve your hands around it, use your palms to pull at its sides gently while you slowly rotate it, letting your little fingers meet underneath. Do this for five minutes. You should be left with a neat, smooth ball.
6. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside and cover with either oiled cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size - about 1½ hours depending on the room temperature.
7. Use your fist to knock it back, then knead it again for a further two minutes.
Leave to rest again, but only for 5-10 minutes.
8. Shape by placing into a shallow baking tray, using your hands to spread it out to a depth of about 1.5cm/¾in, then allow to rise again, covered with a tea towel, until doubled in size - this will take about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
9. Create a dimpled effect by repeatedly pushing your fingertips gently into the surface of the dough. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil evenly over the dough. Sprinkle over the sea salt and push the small pieces of rosemary into the dough.
10. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is crusty and cooked through to the base. Serve.

In the end I opted to split the dough in two.
I've made a Garlic and Onion one and a Rosemary one.

With my wife being not only my guinea pig but also my critic I was pleased when she agreed both were really tasty and the consistency was lovely.

Friday, 8 May 2009


Well today I was looking for something to cook/bake that I haven't tried before.
Irish Soda Bread seemed like a good idea but then whilst making it I suddenly thought...............

'How am I going to know if it's any good as I've never even tasted it before?'

The recipe I used is a James Martin Recipe from the BBC Food Website.

Again whilst making it I hit another problem.I had no buttermilk and no assess to any so it was time to improvise and make a substitute.

I used instead of buttermilk I used 1/2 pint of milk with the juice of half a lemon in it and left it for 20 minutes.

The recipe is as follows with the substitute added:

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

1.Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.
2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)
4.Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.
6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

and I've put 3 pictures on here so you can see how it turned out.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


.....but with a twist.
I'm using walnuts instead of hazelnuts.

I've got a bad back and I can't be @rsed to try and walk to the shop.

Photo's to follow providing there is no kitchen disaster.

I need to work on portion control but all in all they worked out great.They would have been even better if I'd greased the greaseproof paper.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


My wife Tracey,my son Leo who is 21 months old,a friend Becky who I met via the BBC Food Website and her chap Mike went to the Festival on Sunday 3rd May and the weather was kind considering it was a Bank Holiday weekend.

On offer was a Craft Fair Marquee with everything you'd expect from handmade chopping boards to handblown glassware.

However the were lots of different stalls and a main Food Hall Marquee.There was some beautiful fine produce on offer from Parma Hams to Handmade Scotch Eggs,Chilli Oils that could blow your head off to beautiful creamy fudge.

I only purchased some Pancetta,a Simon Rimmer Vegetarian Cookbook and some Warwickshire honey.

The festival was extremely well supported (certainly on the Sunday) and I think alot of the credit has to go to the organisers with the parking arrangements and the fact that they'd managed to get a big name in food like James Martin to come and do some demo's.

We saw him judging a Dinner Ladies Cook off which was hilarious and a huge credit must go to the 2 ladies taking part.They were funny whether they meant to be or not.


Bearlands restaurant and Wine Bar,
Longsmith Street,
GL1, 2HJ
01452 419966.

On entering we were seated in the reception area in the form of a large conservatory/bar area, which was large enough to seat 15-20 people comfortably.
We were asked if we’d like drinks. I opted for a bottle of Budweiser and my wife Tracey had a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. Along with the drinks came the menus and wine list.
To view these log on to

The menu changes seasonally and the vegetarian options change every 4 weeks. Whilst deciding on our choices I took out a small inconspicuous red notepad. The barman/waiter noticed this and asked if he could help in any way. I told him that I would be taking notes and hopefully be posting the review on here. He seemed a little perturbed and said he wasn’t told any restaurant critics would be in and would speak to the Chef.
I subsequently found out that this barman was in fact the owner Glen Tanswell.
Before I go any further I think some background is required.
The restaurant in its present form has been open around a year and a half and is owned and run by Glen and 4-6 staff. The Head Chef is a really nice guy named Rob Sinyard who after our meals made a point of joining us upstairs later.

Right, back to the food. We chose the 2-course menu option, which was £21.95 a head. My wife started with the homemade French Onion Soup which you’ll have seen by the menu had a Welsh Rarebit Croute placed in the centre, whilst I opted for the Scallops with lime and Chilli and chilled lime Cous Cous.Our orders were taken while in the bar area and after 5 minutes or so we were shown to our table downstairs in the restaurant which consisted of 2 main eating areas. On reflection I would say that the restaurant could seat about 40 comfortably.
The décor was really stunning. Old converted ‘wine cellars’ which were used in bygone days when wine was brought up the River Severn to the Historic Gloucester Docks, which is no more than half a mile away. Vaulted redbrick ceilings (quite low in places) with plaster affects that had a ‘fleur-de-lis’ patternation that had worn away over the years. This led to a really dramatic, yet romantic feel.
The tables were laid with crisp white cotton tablecloths, candles, usual cutlery and glasses and a large ewer of iced water.
Whilst being seated I was given an envelope by our waiter which turned out to be a 40th Birthday Card that JRC had arranged by ringing the restaurant and dictating some names of people on the MB.For this I was blown away so thank you for making the effort.
We were offered a roll each with a choice of butters flavoured with Chilli, Garlic or unsalted. The rolls were warmed beautifully and my choice happened to have dates running through it, which were lovely. Our starters arrived promptly and it was then that I wished I owned a digital camera. My wife pointed out that although being a veggie my scallops looked stunning and could quite easily feature in any food magazine. The scallops came with corals attached and were beautiful. I’d never tried scallops before and I was expecting them to be a bit chewy. Far from it they were succulent and almost melted in my mouth. The Chilli and Lime worked perfectly in my opinion. I asked my wife how the soup was and all she could say was mmmm lovely and surprisingly sweet. The Welsh Rarebit went well with it although it was a struggle to cut a bite size portion with a soupspoon. Needless to say I didn’t get a look in!
Our plates were cleared and shortly after the waiter returned with two Lemon Sorbets garnished with half a strawberry compliments of the Chef. They were served in what seemed to be rather thick wine glasses filled with solid ice and the Sorbet placed on top which was delicious, light, palette cleansing as you would expect.
After around ten minutes of contemplation and while the staff served a table of twenty who were in our part of the restaurant, our main courses arrived. My wife had ordered the Roast Tomato, Seasoned Spinach and Feta cheese parcel, wrapped in buttered Filo pastry, with droplets of light Vodka and Tomato sauce. I ordered the Roast Venison Haunch Steak, placed on bed of creamy parsnip mash and marinated with a Sweet Port Wine Jus.
I noticed while Tracey had her first mouthful and I thought we were going to have a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment. She announced its gorgeous and it all works together so beautifully. This was my cue so I took a slice of Venison, placed it in my mouth and Tracey said she could almost see a tear in my eye, as I tasted it. It was so tender, cooked to perfection (pink) and the Jus was to die for! Once again the presentation was out of this world. A small bowl of steamed vegetables arrived and I’m ashamed to say that they hardly had a look in.
The portion size in my opinion was spot on. After sitting there raving about the flavours it was then that I noticed that neither of us had reached for the salt and pepper that was sat in glass mills on our table. Another compliment I think. We were asked during each course if everything was ok with our meals to which we attempted to smile whilst politely chewing our food and nodding.
After our meal we decided to go back upstairs to the bar area to finish our drinks ad were told that the Chef would pop up and see us if he had time. Less than ten minutes had passed when he came up, introduced himself and sat down so we could interrogate him about the food, restaurant history, suppliers etc. We were interrupted politely by the owner (I think) who asked he would return to the kitchen to oversee some Main Courses. Amazingly within 10 minutes or so, he returned sitting with us. He was a really nice softly spoken unassuming young man who (my wife pointed out) ought to be working in London somewhere. It transpired that he was only 26 years old and a local lad and the restaurant had recently won the Restaurant of the Year Award for Gloucestershire as voted by readers of the local newspapers The Citizen and Echo.
He seemed puzzled that we didn’t order any puddings/sweets, to which we replied we were completely satiated and simply didn’t have room for anything else. I did point out that 7-8 of us from the Prison had booked for our Christmas Lunch and he said that when they took the booking we were one of the last taken because they are now completely booked.
I forgot to add that to accompany my meal I opted for a glass of Merlot BIN 7 priced at £4.50, which was lovely and fruity and full bodied. Tracey was happy with her water.

We arrived at the restaurant at 19.30 and paid the bill at 21.40, which came to £62.30 and was worth every penny. So in conclusion, if you’re ever in Gloucester don’t miss out on this ‘little gem’ of a restaurant.
I wish I was able to describe what we’ve eaten with the same clarity, as Josh was able to do at the Fat Duck, but ‘practice makes perfect!’
Here’s to another 40 years of fantastic food.


First of all please forgive me for any spelling errors as I’m taking things straight from the menu and I don’t read Italian. laugh
The reason I decided to write this review is because recently I’ve been fortunate enough to try 2 of this chains restaurants.
One in Canterbury, Kent last week and one in Gloucester last night.

There are a few things that stand out with these two venues and that seems to me to be ‘class’.

Let me explain.
The Prezzo in Kent is positioned in the town centre as is the Gloucester restaurant. Both look really nice from outside and as you’d expect from a chain, very similar in appearance.
When entering we were greeted by very friendly staff who were obviously not English but not necessarily Italian either. We had baby Leo with us and he was enjoying the attention. We were seated at a lovely table and the first thing I noticed was that in Canterbury the table cloths and napkins were crisp white linen and yet here they were disposable paper flats. Thrifty management in Gloucester perhaps.

After perusing the menu for 5 minutes or so we were approached by a lovely young lady who took our drinks order. At this point I’d like to apologise to all the wine connoisseurs out there. I was driving so I didn’t even look at the options but I did have a single glass off house red which was lovely.
Tracey had a vodka and lemonade and we had a bottle of still water each.

The waitress returned in a few minutes and asked if we were ready to order. We were so we did.
In Canterbury I had Garlic Pizza bread as a starter we were able to share as it was quite big. Here we decided to go for a Mozzarella Garlic Bread but were surprised to find it was quite small yet delicious so we promptly ordered another.
For the main courses Tracey ordered the MEZZALUNA RICOTTA E SPINACI-Half moon pasta filled with spinach and ricotta in a rich tomato sauce and I ordered the SPAGHETTI CON MAZZANCOLLE-Crayfish tails, petit pois and garlic in a light cream and saffron sauce.
To see the look on Tracey’s face as this bowl of steaming pasta was placed in front of her was a picture. She whispered to me ‘how am I going to eat all that? ‘Then the waitress returned with a huge chunk of parmesan and a small grater and offered us it as a topping to which we both said yes please. Tracey said she thought the waitress would never stop grating, to which I replied you should’ve said ‘that’s enough thank you’. She managed to eat 80% of it and then declared she was stuffed.
Followed by ‘sorry, Im full up’ -‘I’m a lady!’

She declared it was beautiful especially the tomato sauce stating it was a lot better than ketchup. Lady indeed!

My bowl was of a similar size and delicious but seemed incredibly small compared to the bowl of steamed mussels that arrived on the next table. I was slightly miffed as I didn’t even see them on the menu. The cream and saffron sauce was sublime It was the first time I’d tried crayfish tails and I have to say I was slightly disappointed as I couldn’t have distinguished them from prawns in texture and flavour.
Both of us sat there grinning at each other stating how pleasant it was

Then followed the dessert menu which we both had to decline as we were nicely rounded.
We did both finish with coffees. Trace had a latte and I had a double espresso.

We asked for the bill which came to £37.60 which I thought was very reasonable and I left a tip and a huge thank you from us both.


I was treated to a great evening out by a friend who works for a company that supplies hotels and restaurants with fresh produce.

It was at The Cheltenham Regency Hotel.www.cheltenhamregenc...

It was meant to be £49.00 a head and advertised as a Tuscan Themed Evening.

Bubbly and canapes on arrival which included rabbit and foie gras,small haddock cakes,caviar and pomegranate etc.These were accompanied with Prosecco La Marca N.V

To start we were treated to Tuscan antipasti which came out on a wooden board and was meant for sharing(there were 20 of us around a large square shape),so obviously there were several of these boards.
On the boards were a selection of cold meats which included wild boar sausage,prosciutto,parma ham and thinly sliced duck.
To accompany them were plates of mozzarella,tomato and basil.Separate plates of freshly made 'tear and share' bread which was beautiful and also there were separate bowls of olives on offer with delicious boats of EVOO.

With this course came two wines which were Vermentino 2007 Poggio al Tesoro,Bolgehri and Meriggio 2007 Tenuta Fontodi,Panzano

During each course the hotel sommelier took the time to explain the complexity of the wines and her reasons for matching them with the food.This happened with each course.

Then came the Main Course which was a Braised Shank of Lamb served with a celeriac puree and ratatouille jus.

I can only describe this as mouth watering,superbly cooked with a great contrast in flavours.
To accompany this the wines were Chianti Classico 2006,D.O.C.G,Isole e Olena and a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano D.O.C.G 2005 "Carbonaia".

I personally preferred the Vino Nobile as it was slightly more acidic and cut through the lamb beautifully.

For dessert we were treated to a Warm Almond and Apricot cake served with marmalade ice cream.

Most people loved this combination of flavours but I'm not a dessert person so I didn't finish the dish although it was nice.

The wine with this was a Vin Santo "Tegrino" 2003, Cantine Leonardo which baffled me.To be frank I found it quite unpalatable but some said it went well with the dessert.

Expecting that to be that we were pleasantly surprised to be given small plate of petit fours with coffee.
They were hotel made White Chocolate Fudge which was absolutely staggering.Also Chocolate Truffles-again gorgeous and a Fruit pastille type jelly nibble which was lovely aswell.

I can honestly say that I had a fantastic evening and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone.

The Head Chef was a guy named Robin Dudley and in my humble opinion he should have his name up in stars.

My only regret with this review is that I forgot to take my camera.

...AND THE NEXT.....

There seems to be a theme developing here which I'm quite enjoying.
Now what can I share with you now?

How about hyper active Yorkshire Puddings.
I had to take a shelf out of my oven when these beauties started doing their thing.


I think I'm slowly getting the hang of it now.Here are my Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes that I made from the leftover Muffin mixture.I forgot to take photo's of the Muffins but take it from me,they were great.Perhaps next time.


Before you say anything to yourself.......yes I am that sad.Just recently as I've had so much time on my hands due to a back injury I've bought myself a nice leather stool and I can be found in the kitchen most days trying something new.

Just yesterday I thought I'd try some Banana Muffins and here they are.


Well practice makes perfect so here we go. I'm a food fanatic and if and when I can get some sleep I still dream about food.


About Me

My photo
I'm 42 and married to Tracey with a gorgeous 23 month old son called Leo who's named after my late Father.I have two great daughters from a previous marriage called Laurenne who's 14 and Danielle who's 13 and they live with their mum in Scunthorpe which is 160 miles away.I don't see the girls as often as I'd like but that's down to financial restraints as much as anything.