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"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Tuesday
Aug082017

Rack of lamb with smoked aubergine puree and harissa

I think I have finally worked out why it has become fashionable in recent years for restaurant menus to simply list key ingredients rather than call their dishes something.

Rack of lamb with smoked aubergine puree, caramelised spring onion, crumbled feta, kalamata olives, harissa and a sprinkling of pistachios.

That's how a '90s menu would probably have described this dish. It’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it? But choose a few key ingredients and list them like this and you have something much more appealing:

Rack of lamb | Smoked aubergine | Harissa | Pistachio

Same dish, different sales pitch. Which would you order?

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Wednesday
Jul192017

Harissa

Harissa, if you haven’t discovered it yet, is a vibrant Middle Eastern condiment that can be added to many dishes to give them a zesty hit of sweet and spice and all things nice.

It goes particularly well with lamb. I often use it as a condiment alongside roast lamb, coated lamb chops in it, slathered it on burgers and my new favourite, in a bun with merguez sausage, mayo and rocket.

It can also work with chicken or a meaty fish, like monkfish or hake, so long as you are not too heavy handed. I love adding a tablespoon or two to a tomato-based stew, such as my chicken, chorizo and chickpea stew or albondigas. You can also stir it through mayonnaise or yogurt to give them a bit of a kick.

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Thursday
Jun292017

Oxtail Ragu, simply the best

People often ask me what my favourite food is, a ridiculous question for someone who lives to eat. I try to explain that it is like asking a musician to choose just one song, a film buff their favourite movie, a theatre critic their favourite play… and so on. 

“Well then, what about a favourite cuisine?”

Nope, can't answer that either. It all depends on my mood, the weather, where I am, what I had earlier, what I’m planning to have later, is it Saturday morning? is it Wednesday night? The list goes on.

BUT one thing I do know for sure would be on my desert island list - if someone superglued a pen to my hand, chained me to a desk and forced me to write one - is a rich and hearty, melt in the mouth, slow-cooked (I’m talking days, not hours) ragu with fresh pasta.

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Monday
Apr172017

People's Palace Thai, Manila

It did not really come as a surprise, having travelled around the Philippines for 2 weeks, that the best meal I had there was (a) in the cosmopolitan capital of Manila and (b) not Filipino. I am willing to be proven wrong – I did end up in some rather provincial places – but overall I found Filipino food to be too sweet, greasy, bland or all of the above.

In some ways it is a shame that we didn’t do Manila first, when we were excited to try the local food, as I have read about some places that do modern Filipino food and get rave reviews, but after 2 weeks of eating greasy meat, sweet bread, margarine coated everything and a lot of junk food at bus stations, we just weren’t keen to give them a go.

This is how we ended up at a modern Thai restaurant for our final meal in the Philippines. People’s Palace Thai is similar in style to a David Thompson restaurant, except with less emphasis on the cultural style of eating and more on traditional recipes cooked and presented in a modern style with a focus on high quality ingredients.

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Friday
Apr142017

Spectacular Sunsets and disappointing food in the Philippines

I knew next to zero about Filipino food before I went there. The Philippines wasn’t on my itinerary until my friend Libby came to meet me in Vietnam and we discovered that all the places we were planning to go for our beach holiday were going to be grey and wet. Libs is a sunworshipper and I had promised her a summer holiday, so we flew to the Philippines on a whim.

We didn’t really do much research, even on the weather front, as it turned out that all the top beach destinations there were also going to be rainy and stormy. We'd only looked at the forecast for Manila, so we ended up having a rather bizarre holiday travelling around Luzon, the island Manila is on. I don’t think many tourists get beyond the capital.

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