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

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Epic Chocs

We all like chocolates, right? And Christmas-- which is only 32 days away, in case you didn't know-- is a time for stuffing one's face with all kinds of yummy food and then collapsing in front of the telly and eating chocs, especially ones that we have been given as prezzies.

We also know that buying locally made items from locally owned businesses is an epic way of keeping your money in the local economy rather than buying  from big chains and the money going to their offshore bank accounts.

What could be better, then, than EPIC LOCALLY HANDMADE CHRISTMAS CHOCS from A LOCALLY OWNED business? Not much, that's for damn sure.

So let's talk about Truffles At Coco, Tenterden's one and only chocolate shop, and their amazing Christmas chocolate selection!




These things, which are NOT Buttons...


More bars...

And of course, their incredible truffles!

Oh, and before I forget to mention - they do espresso, too! So go and pick out some truly unique Christmas Choccies for the ones you love while sipping on a steaming latte. BOOM. What more is there to life?

Address: 128 High St, Tenterden TN30 6HT
Phone: 01580 763501

They're not online, but give them a ring! They're lovely people! (Oh, and they ship too - ask them for details).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jamie's Italian - Bluewater

I've been a big fan of Jamie Oliver ever since the early days of "The Naked Chef". So naturally the first time I went to Bluewater and noticed he had a restaurant there, Jamie's Italian,  I've wanted to go. Now I'm not uber-keen on Bluewater or shopping malls in general - I find them a bit claustrophobic when they're busy, because people just don't care whether they walk into you or not, they're walking in a straight line and if you don't dodge out of their way, well it's your own damn fault. Not to mention the sensory overload from all the stuff, the stuff, the stuff!

But Bluewater has one saving grace, at least for me. It has a ton of nice places to eat - Wahaca, Loch Fyne, Yo! Sushi, Leon, Giraffe, Carluccio's, Ed's Easy Diner, ASK Italian, Five Guys (yes, Five Guys has made it across the pond), and loads more. Frankly, if it wasn't for that fact, I wouldn't bother going, because it's a long way to go from where I live. However...

Like I said, we went to Jamie's Italian, but the reason we went there is because I had signed up a good while ago to the Jamie's Italian Gold Club. I got a little golden card with my name on it in the post and that has lain dormant in my wallet since I received it. Because of this membership, I get emails every once in a while with new offers, new menu items etc. most of which I tend to ignore simply because I know I'm not going there any time soon and I refuse to tease myself in that way.

The other week I received just such a missive containing a birthday offer for me. I won't spoil the surprise by saying what was in it. Follow along with the story.

We rolled up at Jamie's around noon and I showed them my Gold Club card as we went in. As soon as I gave the card to Eduardo, our waiter, he quickly procured a free appetiser each, the Porcini Mushroom Arancini. Lovely little balls of mushroomy rice breaded and deep-fried, then placed in a nice dollop of a creamy white sauce with snippets of parsley.

Rosie trying the Arancini. 

Then came the good bit. As promised in my email, because it was nearly my birthday, along came an ice cold bottle of Prosecco and four glasses, free, gratis, and on the house.

Amy sampling the booze.
We then ordered our food. Laura opted for the Italian Burger Juicy prime British beef with mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato, provolone, pickles & chillies, it says in the menu. She opted for it without mortadella as she's not big on smoked meats or cold cuts. Personally, I would have kept it in. I believe in no substitutions in a restaurant. I want to try it the way it was intended to be. But no matter. With fries it was £13.95 but it was a big burger, to be fair.

Amy ordered the Margherita pizza (£8.50) which was so long it hung over the edge of the table.

For Rosie, we ordered her the Chicken lollipops from the kids' menu. Grilled chicken pieces on wooden skewers accompanied by hedgehog potatoes (four hot baked new potatoes coated in butter with little nutty sprinkles on top) and a salad in a jar with dressing on the side, so you can add the dressing to the jar, close the lid and shake it up. Rosie, of course, being three years old, decided to just deconstruct everything and that's OK. She was happy.

I was unsure what to get because it all looked so damn good, but I finally plumped for the Squid & Mussel Spaghetti Nero. It looks freaky-deaky but tastes amazing.

The black colour comes from adding squid ink to the spaghetti.
In addition, we ordered two sides to share:

Polenta Chips

Funky Chips, which come with a sliver of garlic and a sprinkle of rosemary

So there we were, stuffed to the gills and getting happily tiddly on Prosecco. Prosecco, of course, does not last long between three adults, so I ordered a pint of Jamie's Draught beer. Nice stuff.

Just when we thought we couldn't fit any more delicious grub into our fat tums, out came this...

Let's face it, Jamie's italian, despite being a chain restaurant, is pretty darn cool. Even the restrooms are equipped with fantastic old-fashioned Thomas Crapper toilets!

As we were sitting there I looked up at the shelves to see that the Prosecco we were drinking was £17 a bottle, and we had a free one!

All in all I cannot find fault with this place. However, I do recommend signing up to the Gold Club because you get a free appetizer when you show it, and the birthday Prosecco was a wonderful added bonus. In the end, we paid £52 for a meal that would have cost £75 without the Gold card.

 I really wish I could have stayed there all afternoon. Eduardo really did a fantastic job of looking after us, and I cannot wait till next time.


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