North Northamptonshire based food blogger who is obsessed with good food and proper cooking. I'm part of the Midlands Blogging team for the BBC Good Food Shows. This is where I share my own recipes and carry out recipe development and product reviews for brands, including food and wines. Please contact me using the link below.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Restaurant Review - Wahaca, Covent Garden

I've just come back from a few days spent in London with my daughter & husband.  Both of them like a bit of Mexican spice, so Saturday night was my choice, as neither of the had eaten at Wahaca before.  We walked across to Covent Garden, descended the stairs into a bustling throng of noise, smells and vibrancy which is synonymous with Wahaca.  We were greeted by a friendly face who advised that there'd be a 35 minute wait, gave us our buzzer and invited us to the bar to have a drink while we waited.

Less than 20 minutes later, our buzzer went off and we were shown to our table and introduced to our waiter, Phil. He greeted us and asked of we'd dined there before and offered assistance if required.  Having previously eaten there, I was ok with the dining experience, so while he brought us our Nibbles of fresh tomato salsa and home made tortilla chips, we browsed the menu for our dinner.

The salsa that's served here is light and incredibly fresh, with a hint of herb, a small kick from the onions and a zing for the fresh lime.

Our orders were placed for grilled British Steak Tacos with grilled cheese and salsa for my daughter.

Tender marinated chicken Taquitos with lettuce, Lancashire cheese and salsa for my husband.

Whilst I chose the Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas in a spicy tomato marinade.

Our chosen sides were greens of tender sweet broccoli with a garlic chilli oil and lime as well as two portions of sweet potato.

Bearing in mind how incredibly busy it was, the service is excellent and food is brought out as it's made rather than being held on the pass until all dishes are prepared. This ensures that the food is brought to the table in typical street food style to ensure it's served at its' best.  All the dishes were shared between us so that we could experience the variety of flavours and each of dishes ordered.

Surprisingly, we all had room from pudding and again decided to go for three different dishes to share between us.  We chose the Churros y Chocolate; light cinnamon doughnuts served with a rich and intense, chocolate sauce.

The Salted Caramel ice cream with chunks of Original Beans chocolate that was almost entirely devoured before the photo was taken!

As well as the the incredibly refreshing, fragrant and fruity Mango Sorbet.

To see the smiles and hear the appreciative noises, not only from my husband and daughter, but from the surrounding diners, let's you know that the food here is good!

What I love about about the food here is that you can have nibbles and two courses, know you've had plenty to eat and still feel comfortable without the desperate need to find an elasticated waistband or to have a lay down!

I have to say a big thanks to our waiter, Phil. My daughter loved the pink and green ice cream spoons so much that I asked if we could buy them.  He only went and got her the other two colours; blue and orange, to complete the set as a gift to her! This guy is an asset to Wahaca with his personality and friendly nature.

All in, with drinks, the bill was very reasonable at less than £45.  We just need a restaurant opening nearer to home now so I can enjoy their food more often without the trek!

Thomasina Miers was a BBC Masterchef winner in 2005. She opened her first restaurant in 2007.  There are currently 12 Wahaca restaurants as well as a mobile street food kitchen that is destined to tour the country and introduce the nation to this amazing food.  It's a very ethical company with donations from every Street Food Special dish sold to Ednica, a UNESCO backed charity, that they support. They commission street artists to give a unique twist to each of their branches and have been voted Sustainable Restaurant Group of the year for 2012 & 2013 by using British ingredients, where possible, and composting or using all the food waste created to generate energy.

This review was not sponsored by Wahaca.  My visit was of a personal nature and was paid for fully by myself.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Product Review - Vimto Squeezy

We all know that we should drink between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day, don't we?  Well, what we don't always know is that this doesn't have to be plain water; it actually refers to the amount of fluids that our bodies need to stay hydrated.  These can be obtained from our morning cup of tea or coffee, to the drink we have with our lunch and dinner.  It's not always as easy to keep up your hydration when you're on the go, especially if you fancy something a little more tasty than plain water, a fizzy drink from a can or a coffee shop coffee, or indeed if you're a little fussy like me and don't like purchased still drinks as they're far too sweet for my palate.

What's the solution? Enter Vimto squeezy!

These little, 50ml bottles of highly concentrated squash contain no sugar or calories and transform a bottle of chilled water into something incredibly more tasty.  It's available in 3 flavours; Original, Cherry and Strawberry, with each bottle providing up to 25 servings.  You only need a few drops added to your glass, or about 4ml (just under a teaspoon) for a 500ml bottle.  Add to this the fact thaty they're also small enough to fit into your handbag to take with you.  In fact I have one of these little bottles on my desk at work and the other in my handbag for on the go hydration with the flavour of my childhood (original variety).

I was sent these two bottles as samples from the PR company for Vimto free of charge. I was under no obligation to provide a blog post, positive or otherwise, as a condition to receiving the samples.  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

SmileyBum makes me a ring binder

There's a local company to me called Smiley Bum that uses lasers to etch into wood, acrylics and stamps etc.  Amongst other products, they manufacture and produce a wonderful 'living hinge' ring binder, of which I've commissioned them to produce an A4 one to include my new logo which was designed for me by Kirsty Wiseman.

Never did I think that the intricate and delicate detail that Kirsty included in the cutlery on my logo would come out, let alone in such amazing detail as this.  The beauty of the laser over print is that you can touch all the texture of a design, rather than just feel it.

I really can't wait to use this at the food events that I get invited too.  I'm incredibly proud of my new logo and to have it on something that I can see, touch and feel with me too is just a huge bonus!

Next on my wish list from SmileyBum is a chopping board - but I won't allow anyone at home to use it on the etched side!!!!

Neither SmileyBum or Kirsty Wiseman have sponsored me to promote their products or services.  My logo design and the ring binder were purchased by me, at full cost.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Pulled Pork and Pears with Central England Co-op

Recently I was invited to take part in producing a dinner time recipe by the Central England Co-Op.  The best bit was that I wasn't limited in what I could come up with; I was given free range to produce an amazing plate of food for you, so I chose to do one of my all time favourite meals - a good old Sunday roast!  Come and share my creation and enjoy!

2kg Pork shoulder joint.
5ml Sea Salt
Fresh Thyme
2 Onions
For the gravy
400ml Pear Cider
80ml Double cream
Black pepper to season
For the pears
25g Butter
10ml Rapeseed Oil
4 Pears
15ml Demerara sugar

1. Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan.
2. If not already done by your butcher, score the skin of the pork through the rind, but not right the way through to the flesh.
3. Pat the skin dry, then season with the salt and rub in well.
4. Tuck pieces of the thyme into some of the slashes in the rind.
5. Peel and quarter your onions and use these as a 'trivet' in the base of your roasting pan.

6. Place your pork joint on top of the onions, add 250ml of water and cover tightly with foil.
7. Place in the oven and cook for 3-3½ hours until the meat is cooked through.
8. Remove the meat from the oven, along with the onions.
9. If you want to make crackling, then at this point, turn the oven up to 220C.  Cut through the strings securing the pork joint and cut the rind away from the flesh.
10. Cover the meat and onions with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
11. Place the pork rind on a wire rack in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until it has bubbled up and is crispy.
12. Add the pear cider to the roasting tin over a medium heat and stir to remove all the residual flavours (you'll often hear this called 'de-glazing' the pan).
13. Transfer the gravy to a saucepan and bring to the boil, and then add the cream and reduce to a simmer. Don't worry if it starts to look as if it's splitting, it will come back together as it reduces.
14. Allow the gravy to simmer gently, stirring occasionally.  Season with freshly ground black pepper, to your own personal taste.
15. Meanwhile, melt the butter and the oil in a pan then add the demerara sugar and stir through.
16. Quarter the pears lengthways and remove the core (I left the skin on mine).
17. Gently heat the butter and oil then cook the pears until they're tender.

18. Using two forks, 'pull' the pork apart (rather than slice it).  You'll find that it's lovely and tender and will do this easily.
19.  Serve the pulled pork with the pears and the pear cider gravy and a piece of crackling.
20.  I accompanied mine with gorgeous, crispy, roast potatoes and freshly steamed broccoli.


I was sent £25 of food vouchers from the Central Co-Op with which to create my meal recipe.  I also purchased additional pears and apples, along with some vanilla ice cream and made a crumble for dessert.

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