“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Monday, June 25, 2012

Foodie Finds

Hey peoples! Thought perhaps it was time for another roundup of food finds. Stuff I have found, picked up, grabbed, happened upon, whatever, and thought "Hey, I should put this in the blog." So here goes with a few yummy and/or refreshing items I like!

On June 1st there was a late night shopping event in Tenterden and The White Lion had a  BBQ out front. Not content with burgers and dogs, they were also doing piri-piri chicken and these beauties, grilled mackerel in a bap. Fresh mackerel fillet (tail still on), grilled right in front of you and whacked into a bun. Nice!

The Abigale Brewing Company is a relatively new  micro brewery in Ashford, of all places. They do four beers, Nailbourne Best Bitter, Hoyman's Porter, Ridgeway Pale Ale and this little beauty, Samphire Bitter. Delicious and smooth.

You may or may not know this, but Tenterden has four vineyards within spittin' distance -  Chapel Down, Biddenden, Gusbourne Estates in Appledore and Harbourne Vineyards in Smallhythe and High Halden. This particular Seyval Blanc was delicious!

Inycon is a wine company from Sicily and I had tasted their Nero D'Avola before and liked it, so naturally I wanted to give this Fiano a try when I saw it on offer in Waitrose. Really very easy to drink, lots of fruit without being sickly. Not a bad price too (sorry Ian, but I like this one!)

Know what this is?

That's right, it's a focaccia bread, with Stilton and almond, no less. Made by this guy.

Creepy, huh? Paul Hollywood is his name, apparently.

That's right - cherry beer. Extremely delicious.

Plain old houmous (humus, hummus, hoummus, whatever!) is so boring, dontcha think? Well, this stuff rocks out loud, my friends.

M&S came out with some of the best Jubilee-themed foods in my opinion and Coronation Chicken-flavoured crisps is just inspired. (All my American buddies are now scratching their heads because they have absolutely no idea what this is.)

ShakeAway is a cool milkshake joint that does something like a gajillion different flavours. I went for the peanut butter, but you can get some seriously oddball stuff like Weetabix and Farley's Rusk. I have to try those next time.

We picked this beer up in Judges' Bakery in the Old Town  part of Hastings. It was lovely, rich and dark.  And guess what?

That's right, it's Welsh.

Remember back in the 70s you used to be able to buy some stuff called Creamola Foam? You put a spoonful of it in a glass of water and presto! Fizzy drink! Well it went out of production a while back but a company in Scotland decided to make a tribute to it called Krakatoa, and man, it's awesome! It's available from Ally Bally Bees.

Been a while since I had a pint of mild, and this was so good I had to have another one right after.

Dark chocolate Mocha from Caffe Nero. It's not on the menu, you have to ask for it, and they may or may not have the dark chocolate syrup, but if they do, it is soooo worth it. Way better than a regular mocha.

Greek-style yogurt is seriously in vogue right now, with every yog company putting their own spin on it. However, this is one of the few that actually tastes like Greek yogurt, and the pear version is divine.

Merrydown cider. Nuff said. It's still as good as it used to be. Eat your heart out, Bulmers.

These are crispy little kosher puffs of snackaliciousness. 

Sounds good, dunnit? Well, take a look.

I grant you, it's not really proper bubble & squeak unless it's made in a frying pan, but those sausages were lovely and the mash and gravy was wicked.

I don't know where Tesco found Mr E. Gilleland (Master Brewer) or where they brewed this , their answer to Old Golden Hen, Hopping Hare, Golden Champion and all the rest, but they have a rare find there. They need to keep him because he clearly knows what he's doing. And at £1.33 for a 50cl bottle, I sure ain't complaining.

Just look at the colour of that beautiful beer.

Yes, it was reduced. I don't think I'd have even tried this if it had been its full price of £3.99 unless I was feeling especially flush, but I'm glad I did. That is one delicious masala, and the mango flavour is quite unique. Not too fruity but with a definite semi-tropical kick.

Ah, and last but not least, a smooth and creamy stout from Bonnie Scotland. Beautiful pint, and I love the name.
Kooshti sante!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

NeverSeconds: I think you know why I don't have a picture today ...

NeverSeconds: I think you know why I don't have a picture today ...: I think you know why I don't have a picture today but I will have on Monday! Thanks to everyone that has helped to get my blog back on track...


Oh dear blog, how I have neglected thee. It has been longer than I care to remember since I have blogged about anything even remotely food-related. I have left you guys hanging with an unanswered Name This Food!, and I haven't reviewed any restaurants or fab food finds for quite some time. Not, I hasten to add, because there hasn't been anything worth mentioning, but simply because of a combination of factors - first, that I am a born procrastinator. So much so, in fact, that I very nearly wasn't  born. Secondly, because I have been quite busy with several other projects, work, and other assorted shizzle I just haven't found the time, or rather,when I have found the time, there's just been other things I'd rather do. So there ya go.

Anyway, what all this is inevitably leading up to is a food review. Yee-ha!

Today we went to Bluewater, which to the uninitiated is a giant mall in Greenhithe, Kent. North Kent. So far North Kent as to be practically London, actually. Given my limited experience of Malls of the World, I'd say it compares in size to The Mall Of Georgia - without all the satellite shops and restaurants. However, it wins big time over that mall because it has WAY more restaurants inside it, and many of them are full-size, not just little dinky food-court sized ones with limited menus.

The food, of course, was my main motivation for going there. I am not a big fan of malls. Trudging around with bags full of shopping in shops you don't want to really be in and sweating from the air-conditioned temperature controlled environment is not my idea of fun. It does not make me a happy boy. In fact I have resisted the invitation to go along with my other half to Bluewater before, purely based on that fact. But she gradually wore me down and I relented, especially after going online and seeing the vast selection of food options available. It has been said before (by me) on this very blog, that the one cuisine that is nigh impossible to get a decent version of here in the UK is, understandably, Mexican food. But after looking at the menu on the Wahaca website and noting that the chain was started by a former winner of MasterChef (Thomasina Miers), I decided then and there that that was top of my list - either that or Wagamama. However, after eating some Japanese food from Waitrose yesterday, the Mexican swung it.

Laura, my partner, has never had what you might call full-on screamin' authentic Mexican chow. She's had enchiladas (made by me) and fajitas courtesy of Old El Paso, but not what you might describe as the real deal. Well, today, all that has changed.

The first thing I was alarmed to see was that there was a long line. Ugh. But then I realised it was a line for Nando's, the purveyors of piri-piri chicken, which apparently people cannot seem to get enough of these days. Next door at Wahaca, there was no line and we were warmly welcomed and taken straight to a table. The first thing I noticed was the wonderful eclectic design, layout and decor.

The lights were behind these fixtures, made of hundreds of empty plastic bottles.

The cool design was not just limited to the front of house. The bathrooms were pretty groovy too.


Hand washing facilities.

Why am I showing you the urinal? Well, if you look closer...

..each one had a picture of a fly in the bowl. Made me look twice, for sure.
Anyhow, let's get on to the food. Starting with the obligatory chips and salsa...

Really good salsa!

Drinks, well, I chose a Paloma, which is pretty much the national drink of Mexico...

A divine concoction of grapefruit juice, tequila, lime and soda.

Laura had a non-alcoholic Citrus Fizz which I sadly neglected to take a pic of, but it looked very similar to the Paloma!

We chose the ceviche next, because, well, I like ceviche. Two crispy tortillas with salad and shrimp and scallop ceviche piled on top. Yum.

We then chose the Wahaca selection, a selection of small dishes for 2 people which contained...

A large broad bean quesadilla... yeah, I know! Broad beans in anything other than yer Gran's Sunday lunch s different, to be sure, but this really worked. And for my American pals... broad beans are what you guys call lima beans.

Three chicken tinga tacos...

Three pork pibil tacos...

Two potato taquitos,and two black bean tostadas.
After all that I was a bit thirsty so I had another drink, this time the lovely Negra Modelo cerveza!

All f the food was well cooked, well made and beautifully presented. The staff were uniformly excellent, very knowledgeable but not constantly in-your-face about it, and very friendly, clearly enjoying working there which to me says a helluva lot. They were genuinely pleased when I told them I loved the salsa (in fact the phrase I think I used was 'kick-ass') and this was the closest I have come to tasting real proper Mexican food since I arrived back on this sceptred isle. A real hearty 5 out of 5 yums for Wahaca !

The hard-at-work chefs.
Kooshti sante!

Friday, June 15, 2012

NeverSeconds: Goodbye.

NeverSeconds: Goodbye.: This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos...


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