Really looking forward to the Foodies Festival at Hampton Court Palace Green on Sunday! Haven’t been to Hampton court for ages and looking forward to taking in some of the sights as well as tasting lots of food, glorious food.
Running from Saturday 5 May – Monday 7 May, this appropriately Royal setting will play host to a festival of food, feasting and general yumminess!
I’m excited to see that TV chefs and personalities will be appearing on stage and sharing their foodie tips, including Levi Roots, Martin Blunos and Ed Baines, and actors Emma Forbes and Fay Ripley. Michelin Starred and celebrity chefs will be cooking up their favourites on the live stage, sharing their gourmet tips and expertise - can’t wait to see what they make! Also hoping to learn some of the tricks of the trade myself at the masterclasses and food and drink theatre tents…I’m really looking forward to sampling and buying yummy goodies – there will be delicacies galore in the restaurant tents, lots of interesting food and drink exhibitors, and World-themed pagodas and street food – delicious! Also particularly enthused by the idea of the Bus Bar – a bar in an old Routemaster bus! (Check out the photo, courtesy of FoodiesFestival - how fabulous?!)I always love trying and buying the artisan foods and local produce at food events – they should be of a particularly high standard here too, with loads of local producers and farmers gathered in the dedicated Producers’ Market.
And no food festival would be complete without some good wine to wash all the tasty food down with! Hoping to try a few good wines at the Wine Village… Will be taking my fold-up shopping bags to bring back lots of scrumptious treats!
The whole day should be entertaining, with live music and entertainment going on, a City Beach (look at the gorgeous photo – please don’t rain!) and getting there is going to be fun too – we’re travelling from Richmond to Hampton Court by boat – hope the rain holds off! Turks Cruises are doing a deal with the Foodies Festival to offer return boat travel from Richmond/Kingston to Hampton Court and a day ticket for the festival for the bargain price of £18!
Taking a boat trip – Turks Cruises’ Yarmouth Belle
The Foodies Festival is running up and down the country over the summer – I’m hoping to make some of the other venues as well, such as Brighton and Cheshire.You can find out more on the Foodies Festival website, and by following the lovely team on Twitter -@foodiesfestival
All this talk of good food and wine is making me hungry – I’m off for a cup of tea and some dinner! Bring on Sunday!Until next time, when I’ll tell you all about it, enjoy your tea break!
(Thank you to Foodies Festival and Turks Cruises for the lovely photos – can’t wait!)
A Month in Review
April saw many a shower, but only one day that we can remember which was actually sunny, though even that may have been a figment of our imagination. That aside April saw our website grow up into one we are very proud of thanks to our design partners @markeymedia. Visitor numbers tripled to over 1,000 visitors a month and our twitter followers have continued to climb. This however is thanks to our team of tireless reviewers for writing some great content. A special thanks must go to @TeawithRachael who did some great reviews of Afternoon Tea and places to go in Edinburgh, while the girls from @agrapenightin educated us again with their monthly wine review. @daniel_wall left us ‘Spellbound’ with his exciting and informative review of the Warner Brother Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. While our foodies continued to make us hungry for more with @CorreenR rather good review of the Great Gatsby in Sheffield and Lucy from @Straight_A review of the Gazette in Balham, who we also helped to grab £1,000 for her charity thanks to We are Lucky. Last but not least Jordon Salari treated us to a review of Rufus Wainwright new album – Out of the Game
May should be another stellar month, with more reviews and more reviewers joining us. We already have reviews for Greggs Table and London Coffee Festival hitting the site over the next few days so make sure you follow us on twitter so you are in the know. May also sees us launch our Events pages though we are still tinkering with this so watch this space and who knows we might even get two days of sunshine this month.
We’re always looking for more people to write reviews for us, if you fancy it send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I just had a lovely girly weekend with one of my very best friends in Edinburgh – my first trip to this fair City and a very pleasant one!
We shopped ’til we dropped, both admiring all that the city has to offer and doing some window shopping, as well as making some fabulous bargain purchases!
We were were well set up for our long days of shopping by staying at the delightful Rick’s on Frederick Street – a comfy, luxurious twin room with a well-stocked mini bar, organic tea and coffee, a fantastic power shower and White Company toiletries – fabulous! I particularly liked the purple colour scheme and copious plump pillows on the beds!
The breakfasts at Rick’s were hearty and traditional, providing plenty of energy for our adventures! Yesterday I had yummy Eggs Benedict with Scottish Smoked Salmon, tea (of course!) and freshly squeezed orange juice, and today a wonderfully filling full Scottish breakfast with grilled bacon, sausage, poached eggs, mushrooms, tomato, potato scone and wholemeal toast – along with two pots of tea and more orange juice, setting me up for the long journey back to Richmond!
We booked using Rick’s Sunday Escape Offer – with dinner and a (very good) bottle of Prosecco included in the price of Sunday night’s stay, as well as breakfast. Dinner was also excellent – I had haddock fishcakes which were meaty and filling, served with a light balsamic salad. Main course was chicken in mushroom and Marsala sauce with sweet potato mash – fresh, comforting and downright delicious! For dessert we shared a slice of melt-in-the-mouth lemon curd cheesecake with a home-made shortcake base.
After all our shopping on Saturday, we ate a late lunch in the bar at Rick’s, where we munched on a very generous charcuterie and cheese platter with salad, olives, hummus and wholemeal pitta bread, a selection of cheeses (including the creamiest Feta I have ever tasted!) and Parma Ham, Bresaola and Salami.
We were impressed by the relaxed yet trendy decor and the hotel/bar/restaurant all have a laid-back, fun atmosphere. The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly and we were impressed by the excellent value of the offer. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will definitely return to Rick’s. We highly recommend it and are both also keen to try their other establishment, Tigerlily.
On Saturday, we had another tasty meal – this time dinner – at Whigham’s Wine Cellars on Hope Street. I ate home-made chicken liver pate served with Scottish oatcakes, which was meaty and had a lovely taste of fresh herbs. For main course I had rare roast beef salad, with wonderfully pink slices of the finest Buccleuch Scotch beef. My friend had a very generous portion of roasted pepper risotto (I sadly couldn’t sample it as I’m allergic to peppers) but it looked and smelled delicious and my friend agreed! We washed it all down with an incredible rose Cava, which was also an appropriately girly shade of pink, and followed the meal with yet more tea! Thoroughly recommended for the great food and wine, cosy atmosphere and attractive decor.
On Sunday, after walking around Edinburgh all day and lots and lots of shopping, we stopped off at Frederick’s Coffee House on Frederick’s Street for their famous banoffee pie and a pot of tea. It was very tasty indeed, and Frederick’s Cafe has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere, with a fashionable turquoise/teal interior, comfy sofas and large windows that let in plenty of light.
I rate each of these establishments very highly and would definitely recommend – I am keen to return with other friends and my husband in the future.
Whigham’s Wine Cellars 4/5
What should we do on St Georges Day? St Patricks Day is easy thanks to Guinness, sadly Carling’s past attempts to promote England’s Patron Saint and boost its coffers has done little to excite people, in part because Carling isn’t the nicest beer in the world.
To me St George’s day is a bit like how us English feel about the Eurovision Song Contest, seemingly every other nation cares about their Patron Saint apart from us. The biggest difference would be made if the Government finally made it a Bank Holiday, then and only then will we start to get England more interested.
That aside St Georges Day for now at least is what it is, so we should make the best of what we‘ve got and race to our nearest local for a pint of good old English Ale and maybe some English grub.
For those of us in London, we really are spoilt for choice, but if you really need suggestions The Ship in Wandsworth, just by the river is a good place to start. Especially as they have drinks on offers on selected Ales until 7pm tonight. www.theship.co.uk The Lamb Tavern in the heart of Leadenhall Market is also worth a look if you’re in the area, they also have great offers on Ales today, while also attempting a world record. www.thelambtavern.co.uk
However if your idea of English food is a curry then Brick Lane is awash with choice, but if you’re stuck, Sheba the oldest restaurant on Brick Lane looks like it’s worth a go. www.shabaricklane.com However if you’re south of the river get yourself to a restaurant in Tooting.
For those of you with a bit more cash to spend, you could do far worse than to visit Vivat Bacchus, with restaurants in Farringdon and London Bridge. Ok they may have South African owners and a French Head Chef but they know great English food and wine when they see it. They offer fantastic steaks from the little county of Rutland, a wonderful selection of English Cheeses and some lovely English Sparkling wine, which really do give Champagne a run for their money. http://www.vivatbacchus.co.uk/
Whatever you decide to do, whether it be in a pub with friends or sausage and mash at home with a side of Eastenders, even if you’re not from these shores, just enjoy the day because this is the place you call home, England is a great place and we all should be proud of it.
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The Great Gatsby is not just an F Scott Fitzgerald book, it’s also a bar on the corner of Division Street in Sheffield. Previously known as The Yorick and The Olive Bar before regenerating into it’s current incarnation.
It has a sign with a moustache hanging from the side of the building and beard garden painting outside, touches like this are what attracted me to The Great Gatsby as well as the fact that it shares it’s name with one of my favourite novels…
I fell for this bar on new years eve when I ventured in for drinks and live music from the Grand Old Ukes of Yorkshire and whilst the live music room is an awkward L shape it was still a great experience.
The retro furniture and local artwork help make the atmosphere of the place, along with the variety of music that they play.
The menu is unsurprisingly American inspired with a selection of burgers to choose from as well as a variety of other dishes. As I was on a budget I decided to try their chicken wings with a medium spicy sauce and wedges which included two dips.
When my food arrived I was surprised by quite how much was provided!
Both dishes were well cooked and seasoned but I must admit that I made a rookie error asking for a blue cheese sauce with the wedges when the chicken wings also came with the same sauce. Funny what you miss when you’re hungry!
The wedges and dips were delicious as were the chicken wings, which were accompanied by a blue cheese sauce and celery.
The only bad point I could see in this dish was the fact the celery that came with the chicken wings didn’t seem that fresh but then again I didn’t order the dish for the celery in the first place so it was only a minor niggle.
The Great Gatsby is a great little bar which serves good food in a nice quirky environment.
Tweeted Review Score: 4/5
First, on Saturday, I visited The Nosebag in Oxford, sampling an enormous slice of homemade bacon and courgette quiche (thick, perfectly baked pastry with a copious amount of cheesy, smoky filling, with the courgettes adding extra bite!) with a selection of fresh salads (including my favourite – tomato and onion salad!), moist, zingy lemon drizzle cake (another huge slice, which we shared between two of us!) and soothing Storm organic English Breakfast tea, served in a kooky earthenware pot.
The atmosphere was relaxing and laid back, with inviting smells wafting from the kitchen and a smorgasbord of organic foods on offer, including a creative and colourful salad bar.
The artwork on the walls can also be purchased at reasonable prices, adding to the atmosphere and allowing visitors the opportunity to take a little piece of Oxford home with them.
I thoroughly recommend this delightful Oxford institution – especially after spending a long time walking around the city and its excellent museum, the Ashmolean (the perfect stop for enthusiasts of history and the ancient world, and it has a great gift shop!)
On Sunday, closer to home, I paid a visit to The Original Maids of Honour, a tea shop in Kew, Richmond, serving Maids of Honour cakes, which have been around since Tudor times (believed to be named after cakes that Henry VIII enjoyed with Anne Boleyn and other Maids of Honour – look out for the portraits of Henry VIII and his relatives adorning the walls!) The tea shop certainly has a long and illustrious history – the first Richmond Maids of Honour shop can be traced back to the early 18th Century.
My friend and I ordered High Tea for two, with a selection of sandwiches (a traditional mix of individual finger sandwiches of ham, cheese, salmon and egg), tasty plain or fruit scones (I chose plain and my friend had one of each) and our choice of cakes from a huge selection! Too full after all the sandwiches and very big scones, we took our cakes home with us! I ate a coffee eclair, which was amazing – thick and plentiful coffee icing and lots of coffee-flavoured Creme Patissiere inside. My guest chose a thick slab of lemon cake.
Tempted by all the wonderful food, I also took home a massive wedge of chicken and ham pie, which I heated up at home for dinner later that day. The pie was the best I’ve ever tasted – full of meaty flavour and gooey, with almost caramelised gravy oozing out when warmed! My friend took home a slice of homemade quiche, which looked and smelled delicious!
I was extremely impressed by the quality and quantity of both the High Tea and “takeaway” portions, and will definitely return! I’ve already recommended to my family and any friends who will listen!
Until the next tea break…
Brunch; in my opinion one of the best meal options around, and never quite the same unless consumed around a large table with friends. Which is exactly what led the girls and I to The Gazette, a French brasserie located in the heart of Balham, for an impromptu morning out.
First impressions of the restaurant are that it takes itself seriously, the centre of the room is dominated by a large bar and tables are an assortment of dark wood and what appears to be slate. However our perception quickly altered as, once seated by a very polite and smiley waitress, we realised that the table was in fact a chalkboard and in the centre was a pot of chalk crayons, all seemingly screaming ‘pick me!!’ What followed can only be described a gaggle of girls reverting back to our childhood selves and enjoying every minute….
But what about the food? Following our five minutes of madness, normality resumed and a silence descended as all members of the group became engrossed in making the all important brunch decision. The menu is, as you would expect, highly influenced with French cuisine, and breakfast items range from continental, to crepes and eggs served in a multitude of ways. The most popular dish around the table was ‘Oeuf Cocotte Tomate Cerise Basilic’, which loosely translates as 3 fried eggs served with tomatoes, basil and toast, closely followed by a similar dish but served with mushrooms, parmesan and herbs. All of the dishes are very resonantly priced, with eggs varying from £5 to £9.80.
A prompt 15 minutes after placing the order what arrived at the table can only be described as one the most innovative and visually stimulating examples of ‘going green’ that I have seen in a restaurant for many a year…… Eggs served in the saucepan they were cooked in. All members of the group were suitably impressed and quickly dug in to their respective dishes. My personal choice was the eggs with tomatoes and it tasted just as good as it looked. After a quick poke the perfectly cooked yolk exploded into the pan covering the well seasoned and succulent tomatoes. My only slight complaint was that the toast was fried, which is not mentioned in the menu and for my personal taste made it a little on the greasy side. However, the general consensus around the table was a resounding ‘mmmmmm’. In addition to the food we enjoyed a variety of fruit-based drinks, including ‘The Next Morning’, which along with being shockingly green in colour, busted with the refreshing flavours of mint and ginger.
Conclusion: If asked to sum up my dining experience in The Gazette in one word, it would simply be “scrumptious”. The atmosphere of the brasserie is relaxed and welcoming, exactly what you are looking for on a lazy Sunday morning. The food itself optimises the very essence of brunch, a blissful contraction of breakfast and lunch and the unique method of presentation only enhances the experience further. As for the rest of the girls, the only question at the end of the meal was “When are we coming again?”
An honest burger, what is one of those these days? For example Burger King offers us more and more outlandish concoctions; it must only be a matter of time before their burgers come with sparklers and their very own theme tunes. So the idea of an honest to god good burger without all the fanfare appealed greatly on a Sunday afternoon.
My experience of Brixton was little more than the high street, Plan B bar and the Brixton Academy. It wasn’t until I went to the excellent launch event for ‘A Grape Night In’ at the equally cool Seven @ Brixton in Brixton Market that my eyes opened to a world of weird and wonderful bars and funky little restaurants. Which brings me nicely back to Honest Burgers, a little burger restaurant nestled amongst the bizarrely wonderful metropolis which is Brixton Village Market (very close to but not to be confused with Brixton Market).
As we reached the ‘outside’ tables we were stopped by a very friendly and genuinely happy waitress. However, her infectious happiness didn’t stop my sadness as she uttered the words ‘40 minute wait’, which thankfully seemed to go in a flash with so many other great shops to see in the market. Finally seated, we were given a small menu with ouly 6 burgers, one chicken (free range of course), three beef all made from Ginger Pig dry aged beef, one veggie made with cauliflower, sweetcorn, shallots, spices, coriander and cucumber yoghurt and of course one special which as you would expect changes on a regular basis. My partner in crime ventured for simply the standard beef, while I of course had the Honest burger (minus the green stuff) and it was truly fantastic and cooked to perfection which was no mean feat considering the tiny size of their kitchen. In fact the only thing I didn’t like was that it made me want another one! Thankfully the delightful house chips with rosemary salt managed to prevent me from ordering another one long enough for me to feel full and very content. To drink I chose Ossie’s Fresh Ginger which was up there with the best I can remember having.
However, there was a downside to the meal, which there always is, even if you have to be incredibly picky to find it and in this case that is what I have to be. The 40 minute wait is just one of those things you accept when you go to somewhere that doesn’t take advanced bookings. Likewise, sitting in the window by the door whilst others on the outside gaze longingly whilst you polish off your meal was a tad annoying, but never was it enough to distract from the amazing food and service that we received.
Conclusion: All in all my favourite burger experience in London, by a long way! There were no brass bands in a bun or bonkers names, these burgers do their talking in your mouth. To put it simply, they simply did the simple stuff very well, just no nonsense Honest Burgers like the name says.
@TweetedReview score of 4.75/5