Afternoon tea – Basque style

A journey to London by train from Edinburgh used to take us at least 4.5 hours. Now that we’re under two hours away, a day out in London is feasible. A couple of art galleries were on the menu, but what and where to eat before we returned home? Afternoon tea would hit the spot.

The Bar at the Halkin - ready for tea?
The Bar at the Halkin – ready for tea?

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Hot Foot to Zero Degrees Bristol

Zero degrees Bristol

We don’t know Bristol well, and we managed to arrive at Zero Degrees by the hardest route, up two flights of the Christmas Steps. Somewhat out of breath, but a few calories down, we were ready to taste.

Zero Degrees was founded in 2000. Although microbreweries are quite common these days, at the time of launch they were rather unusual. Now each of the Zero Degrees venues (there are 4) has its own microbrewery. You could not get a fresher pint.

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Capreolus Distillery – Prepare to be amazed

Barney working with the still at Caproulus Distillery

Spirit of the Year 2016

Drive down an ordinary road in Cirencester, park and walk down the path to Capreolus  distillery (Capreolus is the latin name for a roe deer). To one side is the area where the ingredients are processed. On the other side is the distillery itself. It’s housed in the lean-to greenhouse of Barney Wilczak’s childhood home. The garage is now designated a bonded warehouse – there can’t be many of those in Gloucestershire.

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Classic Pierre Koffman

Pierre Koffman with young team at Bath Priory

What would you say is a chef’s finest accolade? It could be the number of Michelin stars gained, the length of time in business or perhaps the number of our finest chefs who were trained in his kitchen. For Pierre Koffman it must be all three.

A spread from Classic Koffman. Beautiful photographs of the finished dish and of preparation
A spread from Classic Koffman. Beautiful photographs of the finished dish and of preparation

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Let’s reclaim jelly

Make jelly for yourself not the kids!

When I was little, I loved nothing more than chewing on jelly cubes usually red and made by Rowntree. They were almost as good as the “proper” jelly itself.

As I got older, I rarely ate jelly. It was only when Marks & Spencer introduced their pots of raspberry jelly and again I was hooked.

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Escape to Thailand at Thaikun

Thaikhun Bath - Warm and welcoming

Last week I ate in Bangkok. Bath masquerading Bangkok to be exact. It was a chilly evening when my husband and I walked into Thaikhun. There was an immediate assault on the senses: colour, noise, people and stuffLook up and there are all sorts of items hanging from the ceiling including signs in a language we didn’t know, household utensils, some very old TVs, networks of wires wrapped round what looked like telegraph poles. We then noticed the bar to the left where much energetic shaking was going on and to the right a very shiny kitchen semi-open to diners. The space is large but cleverly split into different areas.

A peep into the kitchen - lots of training going on
A peep into the kitchen – lots of training going on

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Top 7 foods and drinks you’ve got to try

Inspirational food and drink producers

Think about autumn, and no doubt that phrase “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” will pop into your mind – can you remember the rest of the poem? No me neither, but it does evoke that golden time at this time of year.

The days are much cooler but they can be so sunny and crisp. Today I went to a Harvest Festival for the first time in many years. This Harvest Festival was a little different. It was organised by Jolly Nice at Frampton Mansell between Stroud and Gloucester. It’s aim? To celebrate their local producers who create a fascinating range of products stocked in the shop.

The day was dry, thank goodness, after the torrents of rain yesterday. It was the perfect opportunity to sample, discover and indulge. So let me share seven producers you should really seek out. Many sell online and at local farmers markets in addition to Jolly Nice.

Top 7 foods and drinks to try this Autumn

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Make mini berry rum babas

Mini berry babas served in ramekins

Clandestine Cake Club

She struggled into the packed room clutching a very large white box. “I don’t know what happened” she said. “I ended up making 3 cakes”. She opens the lid to reveal a beautiful towering cake which later proves to have no less than six layers.

A selection of cakes at Clandestine Cake Club Gloucester
Just some of the cakes at Clandestine Cake Club Gloucester

There are sixteen of us squeezed into a very pleasant room at the back of Peppers Cafe in Gloucester. We were given the theme last month, but the secret location was communicated by our organiser Julia,  just a few days before. This is the Clandestine Cake Club. Today there are 180 such local clubs not only in the United Kingdom but worldwide and as far away as New Zealand with more than 16,000 members. The clubs are the brainchild of Lynn Hill who around 5 years ago set up a secret cake club in her home town of Leeds.

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