2018’s five hottest foodie trends

I love to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to food trends, so when I found out that Suttons (the online garden essentials retailer) put together a list, I was all over it!

Drink good for you

Continue reading

Perfect Picnic

Perfect Picnic

I absolutely love a good British picnic – whether it’s from a fancy hamper in the grounds of a glorious garden, or a couple of sandwiches eaten on the beach, there’s something about eating outside that transforms a humble meal into a fun event!

I’ve always had a crush on Fortnum’s gorgeous hampers, but the one I have my eye on is priced at £400 – so when I saw Joules’ had a fantastic hamper on sale from £99.95 to £59.95, I jumped on it! It does help that the straps are the same shade of teal as Fortnum’s signature Eau de Nil colour! So, once I picked up the hamper, I also nabbed a matching picnic rug, coolbox and corkscrew to match! It might not be a Fortnums hamper, but it’s the next best thing…

Do you have a dream hamper in your imagination? What’s your favourite picnic food? Let me know in the comments!

Like my posts? Find me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore for even more content!

Square logo initials

Viva Forever – the musical!

So, as you know, because I keep banging on about it, we went to London on Saturday for a special pre-Christmas day out. I got my hair done, we went to Judy’s Vintage Fair, and bumbled around Camden for a bit – but the main reason for our trip was to see a preview of Viva Forever, the musical based on The Spice Girls’ songs. My husband is a huge Spice Girls fan and still follows their musical careers today, compelled to purchase their recordings… Well, with me it’s shoes and nail varnish, so I can’t really judge!
Viva Forever theatre 3
The musical is being staged at The Piccadilly Theatre, which is pretty small – we were surprised how intimate the musical actually was when we got in there. Our local theatre, The Mayflower in Southampton, is actually much bigger – no wonder it’s sold out. When we saw it, the musical was still very new and hadn’t opened or been reviewed yet, so there were definitely hiccups. The ending was pretty non-existent and abrupt. The second half flagged. There didn’t seem to be any proper focus on certain story arcs over other ones. The girl band idea was ditched after the interval. There was a lot that could be improved. That said, I still loved it. Up until the second act, I was fairly convinced that this was one of the best musicals I’d ever seen – second only to the very excellent We Will Rock You. The production was great – way better than the slightly farcical Jesus Christ Superstar stadium tour we’d been to see in September. The songs were chosen well and fit the plot, for the most part – although there were some album tracks I didn’t know at the beginning. That said, I’m not a fan of the band, so that’s hardly surprising.

The whole performance started off with a bang for me when we were invited to sit in ‘The Ambassador Lounge’, which was formly known as the Tunnel of Love. Ooo err! One of the employees approached us in the lobby and asked us if we’d like to sit in ‘a special area’, and I’m sure we both looked as sceptical as hell at the prospect. “How much is it?” we asked. She told us it was free, and so we agreed at once! “Poste haste to this ‘special area’ please!”

In theatre Ambassador Lounge sign In theatre Ambassador Lounge 3

As you can see, it was quite literally a tunnel, lined with beautiful chairs and tables – very intimate and peaceful compared to the rest of the theatre before curtains up! It also had a great vintage vibe, and matched very nicely with my hair – excellent.

In theatre 3

There was a drinks menu, but of course, being awkward, I wanted one of the special Spice Girls cocktails, so we had to trail all the way up to the bar at the top of the theatre to get one, accompanied by a theatre employee who ordered for us like we were VIPs!

Viva Forever cocktail menu 3

It was hard to pick because they all seemed really nice, but I went with a Sporty Spritz in the end – it tasted like cream soda. Delicious!

Hubby was very excited to see the show (although he later confessed he was nervous in case it was a bit crap…)

In Theatre Michael 4

I was fine as long as I had a cocktail…

In theatre 1

All in all, we had a great time seeing the show – I hope they get the ending fixed, but the first half was sublime. (The second half was rescued at the end by the Spice Girls medly finale, so at least it finished on a high note.) It was written by Jennifer Saunders (her first musical), and was very much in the vein of Mamma Mia – like the British version, if you will! There were some amazing comedy moments from the main character’s mum and her best friend, and an especially hilarious highlight in the second half when two characters sang 2 Become 1 in the bedroom – brilliant! I also really liked the way they performed Viva Forever – Spanish guy, singing parts in Spanish, playing the acoustic guitar – but my husband thought it was cheesy. Personally, I thought it would have been cheesier in English – we like foreign guys because we have no idea what they’re saying, right ladies? It’s probably all about football, computer games or cars, but if it’s FOREIGN it could be literally anything…

In theatre 5

If you go, see if you can get yourself down in the Ambassador Lounge, and also, get yourself one of those delicious cocktails. If you go in ready to be entertained, you’ll have a brilliant time, and if you love Jennifer Saunders’ comedy, you will be in heaven. I would definitely go back to see it again after it’s opened properly – you can’t really judge things too harshly before they’ve been properly polished after all! (You should see me first thing in the morning!)

Outside theatre Viva Forever 1

Serving Up Food Heaven: Dining at WestQuay, 22 November

If you’re from Southampton, or regularly visit our big shopping centre, WestQuay, you may have noticed some building work afoot over the past few months! Tomorrow, on 22 November, all that hard work is officially paid off as the centre launches the new Dining at WestQuay – a wider range of restaurants available for customers visiting the mall. New restaurants will include Pizza Express (yes!), noodle restaurant Wagamama (yes!), Southampton’s first Café Rouge Express (YES!), Mexican eatery Tortilla (yes!) and the American-inspired Ed’s Easy Diner (OH GOD YES!).

To celebrate, there will be a day of culinary delights, led by award-winning chef Aldo Zilli, who will be showcasing his Italian-inspired cuisine live on stage!

From 12pm, shoppers will be treated to 3 demonstrations, which feature dishes such as pasta chitarra with four tomato sauce, baked cod with black olive crust, and a panettone dessert. Chefs from some of the other new dining companies will also be demonstrating their dishes – including Wagamama, so expect some Asian-inspired dishes as well!

Of course, if you really want to get the crowds in, you have to offer samples, so you’ll be pleased to know many of the food outlets are planning just that, from Hotel Chocolat, Nando’s, Marks and Spencer, Starbucks and Café Giardino. There will also be prizes, special offers and discounts up for grabs!

Check out the site for more info at WestQuay’s site.

Most Wanted

Well, it’s nearly the weekend, and I’ve spent all week drooling over Nigella Lawson’s latest book, Kitchen, and I’m ready to put my spatulas to the test on Saturday. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up Kitchen yet, it’s pretty much Nigella as she always is – cooking ridiculously fattening foods, claiming to have no time to cook, and yet still being able to pour forth an entire library’s worth of completely different dishes, all of which she intimates she cooks all the time. I swear she eats six times a day, the amount of things she says are well cooked favourites, or something the kids always demand to eat, or stuff she always cooks for dinner parties, etc.

Anyway, let’s just make this clear – I love Nigella. Even though her ever-expanding waistline is a testament to the fact that you shouldn’t really cook (or at least, eat) like this regularly, it’s hard to resist someone who loves food as much as she does. And, luckily for her, she’s one of those rare women who actually do turn curvy rather than just fat the more they eat (note to the media – championing ‘curvy’ women is not the same as ‘real’ women. Most of us do not put weight on Christina Hendricks style, in perfect, desirable ratios across our busts and hips – it’s just as unrealistic as all those skinny ladies, the only difference being you can imagine Hendricks eating cake.)

Anyway, so, I’m going to spend this Saturday with my dear friend R, making Nigella’s version of red velvet cakes (ALWAYS wanted to make these), blondies and chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

But of course, that’s not enough for me, so I present to you my top three most wanted-to-cook dishes which-I’m-not-planning-on-cooking-right-now…

Grasshopper Pie, Cooks Country

3: Grasshopper pie – from Nigella’s Kitchen, a bright green gooey pie she also describes as Ghostbuster Pie. Now if that’s not screaming Halloween at you, what will?

Tomato, basil and feta skewers, from Cook Sister

2: Vampire-slaying tomato, basil and marinated feta skewers… Can you say, again, HALLOWEEN? I love this idea, it looks so fresh and delicious, and as an added bonus, is a no-cook recipe.

Lemon Drop Jell-O Shots from Bakers Royale

1: Lemon drop Jell-o shots… Oh my, these look divine, and so simple!

If I ever get around to making these beauties, I will, of course, let you all know, but in the meantime, I wish you a drool-inducing Thursday!

Where you been, DG?

You might have noticed I’ve been missing for a good few months. If you’ve missed me, God bless you! The sad truth is… I’ve been on a diet! I’ve been focusing my energies on a very special day to take place next year – my wedding! I plan to blog every now and then, and maybe one day I’ll be able to show my low-cal creations off with pride, but for now, especially in these cold winter months, it’s all I can do to count the calories, do my job, plan for my wedding, and do lots and lots of exercise!

On the plus side, I have lost 11lbs since the beginning of November, and I’ve also managed to lose 2lbs over the Christmas holidays. Now, if that doesn’t deserve a round of applause, I guess I’ll have to do something drastic!

In other news, I’m plotting the decoration of my own wedding cake using the fondant flower cutters from my birthday cakes. Now, I could be being overly ambitious here, but it seems to me that it’s going to be a total cinch! Could I be more wrong? Find out after the big day! Ha!

Chicken in Milk

Anyway, this recipe is a bit of a weird one – a whole chicken baked in milk with lemon zest, garlic and sage… Courtesy of Jamie Oliver (again) from Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I’m starting to think that Mr. Oliver is the king of the whole chicken – I thought it was Nigella that was always roasting a bird…

Here’s the costing.

Tesco Organic chicken : £7.27
Half pack of butter (!) : 47p
Bunch sage : 68p
Half a cinnamon stick: from cupboard
2 lemons (unwaxed): 62p
One bulb garlic : 30p
1 pint milk : 45p

Grand total : £9.79.

Week Six : Organic chicken

There’s the chook – another organic one. Mr. Oliver – do you have shares in an organic chicken farm…? I never can tell the difference. Will I be lynched for saying that? It seems like a foodie crime.

Week Six : Ingredients
This recipe makes me weep – look at that giant block of butter at the back there. Guess what you do with that beauty? Use it for frying and then…. throw it away. Oh no, I don’t think so! I used some of it to cook some pink fir apple potatoes, and very nice they were too. Throw it away, psh.

Right, so the first thing you need to do is turn these:

 Week Six : Lemons

into this…

 Week Six : Lemon zest

Looking at the picture for Jamie’s version of this, his lemon zest is more like lemon peel. I did try to do it like that, but my knives defeated me.

 Week Six : Aromatics

So these are the flavourings of your chicken in milk. Cinnamon, garlic and lemon zest – and of course, your sage.

Get your butter, melt it in a pan, and then brown the chicken off. There’s a lot of butter and the chicken is very big and delicate, so it’s slightly easier said than done to move the chicken around in the pan without breaking its skin. I ended up using two wooden spoons like a pair of forceps.

 Week Six : Browned chicken

Did it in the end though – and doesn’t it look delicious? DO NOT EAT, though – this is slightly underdone…

Chuck away the butter (sob sob) and then return the chicken to the pan with the half a cinnamon stick, the sage, the zest of two lemons, the 10 cloves of unskinned garlic and the milk.

 Week Six : Chicken in milk

Looks appetising, but kinda weird.

Now, you roast and baste, roast and baste. Roast and baste for an hour and a half, which is the standard cooking time for roasting a 1.5kg bird (see, I’ve learnt something!). If you’ve diligently basted and roasted, this is what you end up with:

 Week Six : Chicken in Milk

Looks pretty exotic, I think! The idea is that the lemon zest slightly curdles the milk and you end up with a split lemony milk sauce which you eat along with the chicken, some mashed potatoes and some wilted greens. We ate ours with roasted pink fir apple potatoes and some spinach.

The milk sauce didn’t split that much. It was very unusual, to say the least – pretty much what you would expect when you infuse garlic, lemon and sage in milk. The cinnamon didn’t show up so much – I blame it on the fact that cinnamon sticks really vary in how long they are. Is that a foodie joke: how long is a cinnamon stick?

 Week Six : Chicken in Milk side on

The scores:

M gave it 7.5. He said it was ‘all right’. This is his standard answer to things when he doesn’t know what I want him to say.

I gave it 7. It was nice, very unusual, but I can’t see the point of doing it other than it was exotic and weird. Maybe the lemon didn’t really work so well for me, because the sauce was just a little odd. Nice, but the kind of thing you’re not totally sure about and stop eating halfway through. Maybe a bit rich…

On the other hand, it did provide me with a pint of curdy lemony milk and chicken stock which I used in a potato soup, and some creamy chicken flesh that went really nicely in a risotto…

Search terms

Well, I’m overjoyed to see that people are finding my site helpful when they search out specific terms. Hello to the readers today who found me using the terms ‘Peggy Porschen’, ‘potato soup’, ‘horrible story’ and, most thrillingly, ‘grey chicken meat’. I hope I was of use!