When day and night are of equal length and druids encircle Stonehenge; the moon grows fat and glows blood-red.  Summer turns to autumn.  Farmers and their families work hard to ensure their crop comes in before the first frost.  It’s harvest time.

The more delicate crops, beans and leafy greens, get picked first.

The pumpkin, large, round and orange, peaking out from under its deep green leaves, soaking up every last ounce of summer sunshine until eventually it too must be picked.  But whilst the rest of the crops are ready to be consumed, the pumpkin has another month to develop.  As it further ripens, its starches turn into sugars giving the pumpkin its sweet taste.  The pumpkin needs this time to mature and for its skin to harden.

Come late October, the pumpkin has reached perfection.  The excess of them meaning that they get churned out as Halloween pumpkins but for others, it is time to give thanks to the hare, the spirit of the land, for a bumper crop in this year and for the next.

And a whole pumpkin baked in the oven, a la river cottage, can’t be anything less than delicious!

Whole Oven Baked Pumkin


1 whole pumpkin

250g Grated cheese (Gruyére,cheddar, emmental, etc)

300ml Double cream

500ml Vegetable stock (or chicken stock should you prefer)

2 Bay leaves 

Rasp of Nutmeg

Salt & pepper


1st: Pre-heat your oven to 190°c. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray and cut the top quarter off the top of the pumpkin. Reserve to one side.

2nd: Scoop out the seeds from the interior and any fibrous bits.

3rd: Fill the pumpkin with the cheese.  Use any cheese you wish, I used a packet of pre-grated cheese which had a mix of Emmental, Gruyére, Cheddar and Red Leicester, but you are more than welcome to stick to one cheese or combinations of cheeses that you prefer.

4th: Pour in the pot of cream.

5th: Add the bay leaves, nutmeg and salt & pepper.  Top up the pumpkin with your choice of stock but make sure not to fill it to the brim.

6th: Put the lid back on the pumpkin and place it in the oven for approx 1hour (this can take any length of time from 45mins to 1hr 15mins), until the flesh comes away from the pumpkin’s skin or a knife can be pushed through (careful not to pierce the skin).

“At this point the pumpkin is in real danger of collapse.  The larger the pumpkin, the greater the danger!  Don’t panic, it will look deflated but will taste delicious.” HFW.

7th: Fish out the bay leaves and serve piping hot.

If there is any leftover, scoop the remaining flesh out and blitz with some extra cream, cheese & stock.

The perfect pumpkin recipe to celebrate this fantastic gourd and welcome in those longer autumnal evenings.


Posted: October 14, 2016 in Autumn, Uncategorized

After Wednesday’s rain and already having had to reach for a pair of PJ trousers mid-night is proof that summer has waved goodbye and autumn has walked through the door.

During autumn, the fresh produce that becomes available to us is that of the forest.  Vivid greens having transformed themselves into the colours of the earth over the hot summer months.  And even though we all associate the gourd: pumpkins and squashes, as autumnal feasts, for me autumn is all about the mushroom – which incidentally celebrates National Mushroom Day (usa) on 15th October!


Most fungi like to grow in moist areas and will therefore be most prominent after wet periods.  For optimal growing conditions the temperature needs to be quite mild, making mid-autumn and spring ideal mushroom growing seasons.

Some wild mushrooms, like morels, only make their prominence in springtime especially after the rain.  During the autumn months, trumpet shaped chanterelles and porcinis can be found in the countryside.

shroom1Mushrooms can be found in supermarkets all year round (button, shitake, portobello, oyster and other varieties) but these have probably been cultivated for supermarket sales.  Wild mushrooms (chanterelle, porcini, morels, truffles, cepes) will only be found in season but are increasingly sold at farmers’ markets.  Should you be unable to source wild mushroom varieties – which is a problem I’m struggling with at the moment – then reconstituted dried mushrooms will add great depth of flavour to any dish you are trying to create.

Butter, garlic and parsley – the holy trinity – in the life of a mushroom!

Woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme are also great with mushrooms.  I always sauté mushrooms in butter with garlic, thyme and rosemary for fragrant-flavour and a sprinkling of chopped parsley for its fresh grassy hit on the palate.

Below you will find some great mushroom recipes to help celebrate your perfect autumnal Mushroom Day:

Mushroom Risotto



  • Dried mushrooms
  • Button/chestnut mushrooms
  • Risotto Rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Shallots or Spring onions
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • dry sherry/vermouth
  • parmesan
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley


1st: Prepare a litre of stock and keep it warm on the hob. Use any stock you wish – I prefer chicken and not vegetable stock and generally use a stock pot. Both need to be mixed with hot water. I don’t make my own stock as have neither the inkling nor the need.

2nd: Place the dried Porcini mushrooms into a bowl and cover with hot water from a recently boiled kettle to reconstitute. Leave for 10mins.

3rd: In a saucepan add some butter and olive oil. Once foamy, add a couple of finely chopped shallots (shallots are more authentic in a risotto than spring onions). Sautée until the onions are soft and translucent.

4th: Add the risotto rice to the saucepan and slick with the oniony, buttery mixture. Keep stirring the mixture so that it won’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Once you hear the rice begin to fry in the pan, pour in a glass of dry sherry. Mix into the rice mixture and let the alcohol boil off.

 5th: Add ladlefuls of warm stock to the rice. As one ladleful of stock is absorbed add the next. Don’t let the rice become waterlogged as what you want is the rice to slowly cook whilst at the same time releasing its sweet, creamy starch. This stage will take approx 15mins until all the stock is absorbed.

If using fresh mushrooms, at some point chop them and add to the mixture to cook them with the risotto before moving onto the next stage.

6th: Drain most of the porcini mushroom liquor into the risotto, chop the rehydrated mushrooms and add to the risotto, make sure to retain the bottom of the liquor which will be full of grit. Take off the heat and mix in a decent knob of butter and a good handful of grated parmesan cheese. Check for seasoning. Clamp on a lid and let it sit for anything from 2-5mins.

Serve with a couple of drops of truffle oil and a green ribbon of extra virgin olive oil, a subtle grating of parmesan and a scattering of freshly chopped parsley. 

Mushroom Arancini Balls


Mushrooms on toast

img_3167This needs no recipe but remember to use a medley of mushrooms; dried, wild and shop-bought, and serve on a decent slice of rustic bread.  No plastic bread here!  Don’t overcrowd the pan as you cook the mushrooms, otherwise the ‘shrooms will become waterlogged.  Season well with salt, pepper and garlic and add your medley of herbs.  At the very end of the cooking process, squeeze the tip of a lemon over the mushrooms – too much will ruin the dish.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle more chopped parsley over.

Cheesey Mushroom Melts



  • 1 or 2 large mushrooms per person
  • Slice of blue cheese per mushroom
  • Thyme leaves
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning


1st: Put the grill on high.  Clean and trim the mushrooms removing any grit and gnarly parts.

2nd: Put a large knob of butter into an oven proof pan, place the mushrooms stem side up and drizzle olive oil and sprinkle thyme leaves over.  Season.  Cook on the hob until the mushrooms are soft all the way through.

3rd: Baste the mushrooms in the melted butter.  Once cooked, place a slice of blue cheese on each mushroom, drizzle in olive oil and place in the hot grill.

4th: Take out of the grill once the cheese has melted and serve.

Use your imagination on how to use these mushroom cheese melts: serve in a bap as an alternative to a veggie burger – the meatiness of the mushroom works well here.  Boil pasta and serve the mushroom melt over and grate parmesan cheese over the plate, steak and chips and cheesy mushrooms.  Or at its simplest, serve on slices of rustic sourdough toasted bread – which is just a great Sunday supper!

I’m currently working on a mushroom, pear and blue cheese tart with walnuts; mushroom works with blue cheese, blue cheese works with pear, walnuts work with all three.  Might be a great idea, could be a natural disaster– I’ll let you know how that turns out.

These are just a few of my favourite mushroom recipes to help you celebrate Mushroom Day 2016.

Remember there are plenty of other mushroom recipes that you can research online such as mushroom stroganoff, stir fry beef and mushrooms served with noodles, or sauté mushrooms, stir in some cream and parmesan cheese and pour over drained pasta – to name a few ideas.  If you want to be adventurous go for it – just stick to flavour combos that you know will work, tweak them and make it work with the flavours you like.

So whether you’re creating a mushroom duxelle for your beef wellington, rolling mushroom arancini or braving the weather to go out foraging for the best truffles money can buy, remember; autumn wouldn’t be autumn without the beige-white flesh of a fungi.

Regardless of the change in season, I am still refusing to bring out the duvet!

Start by making a mushroom risotto but make sure to ALWAYS make a little bit extra just so that you can make these easy to create, amazing arancini!



  • Leftover mushroom risotto
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • plain flour
  • breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1st: Take the fridge cold mushroom risotto and make teaspoon sized balls.  Roll the mixture in the palm of your hands, taking care to squish back in any pieces of mushroom that stick out.

2nd: Place all the mushroom rice balls onto a baking sheet and place back in the fridge for a few moments to firm up.  Use this time to bring out the flour, beat the egg and pour breadcrumbs onto a plate that you’ll need for the next stage.

3rd: Take the rice balls out of the fridge and dredge each one through flour – shake off the excess – then pass through the beaten egg, and roll in the breadcrumbs.

4th: Chill for 10mins before deep frying them until golden.

These can be eaten as they are.  I prepared a quick aioli and chilli mayo to snack on but some favour a béchamel style sauce to dip these luscious balls into.  Either way, it’s a win-win situation: delicious mushroom risotto, amazing arancini!




Noodles in a Jar – the perfect lunchtime snack!

I get asked regularly, “What would make a healthy, lunchtime meal for a school child’s lunchbox?”  But as much as we want children to have a nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the reality is that a simple sandwich, a piece of fruit and plenty of fresh air is all they need to keep them going until home time; especially as many children have a substantial tea when they get indoors.

I’m more inclined to help the grown-ups who often struggle to eat properly at lunchtime.

The working adult worries me the most – diminished lunch breaks, snatching something quick on the go, scoffing food at their desk, eating greasy take-aways, paying ridiculous prices for a filled roll or forgoing lunch altogether.

Mundane lunches leading to calorie induced foraging come 5pm.

All that can change with these simple to prepare, convenient and easy to eat noodle soups in a jar.  If you’ve only got a short lunch break, these are ideal and can also be conveniently eaten, if sadly, you’re chained to the desk.


noodle jars – photo taken from phillymag.com

There are no rules; no wrongs, just a few simple points to bear in mind whilst you assemble your jars.  The idea is that everything is piled into the jar in clean layers; without the items swilling around before you’ve added the water, hence, keeping your ingredients fresher for longer.

What you need to make your Noodles in a JarIMG_3102.JPG

I like to use a ½ Litre Kilner Jar with a clip-top but a mason jar would work just as well.  The jar can be as small or large as you want it to be; but unless you plan on making, and subsequently eating, vast quantities of the soup try to keep the size at around 500ml or less.  A pint size is ideal.

A flavour base is very important for your noodle jars, as otherwise you’d just be eating noodles swimming in hot water, which would be extremely disappointing considering that we are trying to achieve maximum flavour for minimum effort and fuss.  Feel free to use any savoury paste/cube/stock that you prefer.  I’m trying to get through some miso paste (fermented soya bean paste) at the moment but a soup stock paste, curry paste etc can be used.

Soy sauce, coconut milk, sesame oil, chilli sauce, tomato paste, etc can be used as extra flavour enhancers.

This is a great way to use leftover cooked meats – especially the scraggly ends of a Sunday roast; alternatively some frozen prawns, dried mushrooms or hearty greens would provide satisfying ingredients to make your pot tasty, nutritious and filling.


The noodle part of your soup can take many forms: dry vermicelli, cooked ramen or yakisoba noodles, cooked udon noodles, there are others too.  For total convenience you could even use a pouch of pre-cooked noodles from the supermarket.

I always like to top my soup jar with fresh ingredients such as coriander leaves, sliced spring onions and a wedge of lime.


 Assembling your noodle soup jars

Assembling the jars is a simple process:

Empty jar → Flavour base → Meat/Prawns/Veggies → Noodles → Fresh ingredients.

1st: Place your flavour base at the bottom of the jar and add any of your flavour enhancers.  Make sure to spread this around so that when you pour the hot water it will mix through easier.

2nd: Add your meat, prawns or veggies to the jar.  It doesn’t matter if they mix into the flavour base but try to create layers of different items.

3rd: Pack the noodles down – if they are cooked they might stick a bit but they will untangle once you add the hot water.

4th: Top with the fresh ingredients.  Seal and refrigerate.

Place in the office fridge when you get into work but take the jar out at least 1hour before you think you’ll be available to have your lunch, as otherwise the jar and the ingredients will be very cold and your soup will become tepid very quickly.  The jar will keep unrefrigerated for a couple of hours.

When you are ready to eat;

1st: Fill the jar with boiling water, cover and steep for 3 mins.  A recently boiled kettle is best but I use the tea urn at work.

2nd: Stir thoroughly with chopsticks or a fork, making sure to scrape the paste from the bottom of your noodle pot so that the flavour mixes throughout the whole soup.

3rd: If you stored the fresh ingredients separately to the rest of the soup in the jar, scatter them over the top of the soup and eat right away.


It is probably easier to mix the soup as you decant the jar into a bowl but your soup can be eaten directly from your noodle jar; especially if you are trying to ease on the washing up and eating at your desk.

I’ve tried two flavour combinations so far with very similar ingredients in both:
King prawn and coconut milk with dried vermicelli noodles, and
Beef with miso, tomato paste and soya sauce with cooked ramen noodles;

both layered with baby sweetcorn, sugar snap peas, mange tout, spring onions and coriander.


The pots can be put together in a matter of minutes and eaten just as quick.  I definitely think I’ll be trying to make noodle pots for lunch again.  I’m already thinking about a pork belly and ramen noodle pot for next time or maybe a chicken, vegetable  and vermicelli soup pot or maybe a lemon grass, ginger and chilli marinated king prawns noodle pot with coconut milk, fish sauce, lime and vermicelli noodles.  Lots of fresh coriander.

Pot noodle …but posh.











Posted: September 19, 2016 in Gibraltar, Restaurant Review
Tags: , ,


Whilst thousands of tourists, off our numerous cruise ships flock to Casemates Square, locals prefer to keep out of the heat and stick to the side-streets and back alleys that branch off Main Street. Recently, Chatham Counterguard and Parliament Lane have gone through a renaissance with new restaurants and eateries taking root, catering for those that work in the centre of town and its surrounding areas.

One such place benefiting from the rejuvenation of this district is Hacienda Patagőnĭca; found at the end of Parliament Lane.

Upon its sign going up, which was visible from Line Wall Road as you drove by; there was a buzz of excitement that a very good Argentinean Grill, of a reputable chain, was coming to Gibraltar. Everyone was looking forward to it, as many had experienced the same product in La Linea at the Patagőnĭa restaurant or either of the Patagőnĭca tapas bars.

Unfortunately, its official opening was somewhat veiled in obscurity and considering it has been open since May or even before, there aren’t many people who seem to have heard of its opening or have eaten there, however, it does seem to have its lunchtime regulars.

Hacienda Patagőnĭca can be found behind “The Office” at the end of Parliament Lane. Its terrace, that greets you on arrival, is covered in a green astroturf lawn. There are approximately 10 tables, all with vivid red, yellow or green watering cans holding steak knives and forks, as well as, decorating window sills surrounding the terrace. A redundant staircase that leads nowhere sits on the back wall. There are fewer tables inside with the decor leaning more towards Frida Kahlo’s mexican terracotta, however, the result is friendly, comforting and homely.

The menu, a meat lover’s delight.

I would recommend always starting your meal with a spicy meat empanadilla and a provolone grilled cheese (provoleta) to share, maybe even ordering this with your drinks order to expedite matters should you need to get back to your desk.

For the uninitiated into the world of Argentinean grills, I suggest ordering a Patagonia Grill (Parrillada Patagonia); a mouth-watering, tantalising platter of various cuts of meat including beef tenderloin, veal ribs, skirt, entrecote, black pudding and Creole sausage seasoned to perfection. Order it to be cooked medium rare (a su punto) as you can always have it cooked more should you wish. Please note, this is a feast for four people – 6 could eat comfortably from this portion, especially if you’ve had the empanadilla and provolone.


Photo taken from Samuel Stocker/Facebook

If you are of a squeamish disposition or vegetarian, turn away now…

…I prefer my meat cooked rare and swimming in bloody meat juices, I then take the baked potato and mash it into this glorious puddle #foodporn.

Once you’ve tried the different cuts of meat the Parrillada has to offer, you can then decide how you wish to proceed the next time you go – because there will be a next time – would you order the same mixed platter or select a specific cut of meat to feast on? I always order the ubiquitous Argentinean empanadilla and grilled cheese followed by specific dishes so as to get a larger portion of my favourite cuts drizzled with chimichurri.

If you are a vegetarian, I doubt that this would have been your first choice of restaurant but there are a few veggie options such as: roasted peppers, stuffed aubergines/mushrooms/courgettes, fried provolone triangles, Swiss potatoes, baked potatoes, as well as, provolone grilled cheese (provoleta) and a mixed salad, which are also delicious – or so I have been told.

Having been there on several occasions, I have found that service always seems to be better at lunchtime. On busier summer evenings, service can sometimes be erratic or slow. I can only put this inconsistency down to the fact that management have been unprepared for events such as Summer Nights. Admittedly, our waiter was very apologetic for not being able to give us a better service and offered us a drink on the house to make up for it.
Frustratingly, even with its redundant staircase, there is no access from Line Wall Road to Hacienda Patagőnĭca. People have to make their way round Chatham Counterguard probably stopping at one of the establishments along the way.

Nevertheless, as smoke billows up from its wood fired grill, peppering the air with delicious meat smells, its chimney acts as a beacon to hungry stomachs throughout the town, making Hacienda Patagőnĭca a great place for a quick or leisurely lunch and evening meal in the centre of town.

Meat sweats imminent…

as published on www.yourgibraltartv.com on 7th September 2016

How to prepare…

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Seafood, Summer, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,


When on holiday in the Mediterranean we all like to feast on deep fried squid rings; sweet and succulent to the bite with a lemon spritz.  For those of us that live on the shores of the Med, we are fortunate enough to dine on this delicious cephalopod as often as the seas allow us.  However, for those of you less fortunate, squid or as it is now trendily referred to on restaurant menus, calamari, is something you can only long for on your summer hols.

If you can’t wait for next year to enjoy delicious calamari rings and those you find in restaurants back home don’t quite measure up, then your only option is to purchase whole squid and turn them into calamari rings yourself.

“Can’t be bothered doing that,” I hear you say, “I’m too squeamish!” scream some, “I don’t want that mess in my kitchen,” justify the others BUT this is a work of mere moments.

All major supermarkets sell fresh squid and those that have a proper fishmongers onsite will clean and prep them for you, should you wish, however cleaning and preparing squid is not daunting.  Follow these simple steps below:

1st: Hold the squid firmly above the eyes and pull the body away from the hood.

2nd: Cut the tentacles off by holding the squid below the eyes.  Take care not to burst the ink sack as this will be very messy. Avoid the beak (mouth) as this will not be pleasant to eat, this can be found inside the head, near the eyes.  Reserve the tentacles and discard the remainder of the body.

3rd: Remove the cartilage from the inside of the hood.

4th: Now thoroughly clean the hood, inside and outside.
Remove the pinkish layer of skin and wings.  These come off easily.
Turn the hood inside out, I find this easiest to do by pushing a chopstick from the tip until the hood has turned inside out.
Give the inside a good scrape with a knife and rinse to get rid of any gritty, slimy traces.

5th: Turn the hood inside out again, taking care not to rupture it, this is now ready to cook.

Slice into rings and pass through seasoned flour before deep frying for delicious calamari rings.  Wedge of lemon on the side.


Alternatively, open the calamari hood and score the flesh on both sides and grill over hot coals – for a true taste of summer.  I love the way they curl as the heat hits them trapping any salsa / dressing juices that you drizzle over.


photo taken from http://www.taste.com.au



Nestled in the heart of Main Street, in-between old bottle green shutters and adjacent to the old butcher’s shop ‘El Ginger’, sits Pancake Factory; sited in the old Al-Andalus restaurant on College Lane.

A small but friendly place with approximately 8-10 tables inside and a further 5 outside. Pancake Factory is a pleasant place where you can hook up with friends for breakfast, have lunch with loved ones or meet clients for a meal.  The location is ideal as it is bang in the centre of town but remarkably quiet as it just misses out on the hustle and bustle of Main Street.

The decor currently feels like a mish-mash of different styles and I for one would perhaps like to see some more consistency in the approach.  There is a turquoise blue wall at the rear of the restaurant very reminiscent of 50’s American diners.  Perhaps developing this idea could be very fitting in the neighbourhood which has a hipster vibe going for it, complete with tattoo parlour.

Pancake Factory staff worked continuously and moved from table to table; taking orders, bringing food out and clearing place settings with a cheery disposition if somewhat nervous at times – they’ve only been open since 4th August 2016 but I am sure they will become much more confident as their experience grows.

FullSizeRender (2)

The menu opens as if the shutters to the windows on College Lane itself, however, there is no need to open the shutters should you be searching for pancake perfection.  The left shutter describing 8 crêpes from the traditional lemon and sugar crêpe “London Lemon” to the more decadent Hungarian special  served with walnuts, caramel and chocolate sauce “Budapest Gundel.”  The right shutter describes 8 American style pancakes such as: “Cote D’Azur” with blueberries and maple syrup and, “Tijuana Thrill” with strawberries and chocolate sauce.

FullSizeRender (4)The American Style pancakes arrive as a very decent stack of five fluffy pancakes soused in delicious syrups and sauces and a scoop of ice-cream should you wish.  As recommended by our waitress, I tried the Montreal Madness with apple, cinnamon and maple syrup; this can very easily become my new favourite flavour combo.

The menu itself has a good selection of various breakfast items such as DIY sandwiches, omelettes, granola and English Breakfast staples, however, American pancakes need crispy, streaky bacon on them and I was surprised to see that this was not one of the extras you could add to your pancake stack.  The Cote D’Azur with blueberries and maple syrup was crying out for this.  I do believe they are trying to rectify this issue.  The lunch dishes sound appealing – I hear the Hungarian Goulash is delicious – there is a good choice of starters, mains, salads, pasta dishes and savoury pancakes on the menu.

Pancake Factory opens from 9am to 5pm and is great for breakfast or lunch.  Alternatively, if you’re booked in for lunch somewhere else, Pancake Factory is an ideal place to stop for a quick dessert before you get back to work!

Good luck focusing on your spreadsheets and presentations after dining on pancake glory.


as published on www.yourgibraltartv.com



I know this is probably an over-generalisation but in my travels in the USA (both in the past and more recently) I feel as if eateries in USA make a great deal of brunch as opposed to a normal breakfast – like a pumped-up breakfast; on steroids – You still get fresh OJ and a cup of coffee but you’ll also get fries with that!   Ask for plain toast and butter and some establishments would be offended that there was nothing in their extensive brunch menu that you wanted and they would struggle to provide this measly option for you as the toast would be considered a side to accompany your pancakes, Eggs Benedict or ommelette!

Some of the simpler breakfast options were a French patisserie and a cup of coffee to eat on the go, however, these occasions were few and far between.  Hence, on some days we were only able to have brunch and dinner as we were so full-up.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

One of my all-time favourite breakfast/brunch dishes is Eggs Benedict.  Poached eggs sitting on roast ham, resting snugly on English Muffins and covered with hollandaise sauce.  At least that’s the way they come in New York; which is magnificent.

On the West Coast, Eggs Benedict was an adulterated version of the classic and arrived on food platters to feed a family of four!  In LA, these were served with a side of oil drenched French fries and toast!

Hash House a Go Go; Las Vegas

Hash House a Go Go, advertises itself as “Twisted farm food” – saw its popularity rise after IMG_2355a Man V Food Challenge and is almost as much a tourist attraction as it is a 24hr cafe.  The menu choices and portion sizes are out of this world; if somewhat vulgar.  Drink combos such as their BLT Bloody Mary which arrives in a tall glass with a romaine lettuce leaf and a slice of bacon sticking out of the glass – I could do with one of those now – are just as obscene.

HHaGoGo’s extensive brunch menu of pancakes and waffles also has 4 different versions of Eggs Benedict.  I gave Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Hash House Benedict a go – the very same one that Adam Richman ploughed through on Man V Food.  I was amazed that the waitress could carry the huge platter in her hand with such ease and set it down delicately in front of me (let’s not forget she was carrying two dishes to the table at the time).

I remember holding my head in both hands and whispering, “Dear Lord, what have I done?!”

Picture a platter, filled with mashed potatoes topped with wilted spinach, slices of tomato, more bacon and a mountain of scrambled eggs; sitting proudly on this, a huge sage fried chicken breast escalope skewered in place with a rosemary spear, all smothered in a chipotle cream sauce.  Oh I forgot to mention the English Muffin that was in there somewhere as well…


…as you’ve probably gathered, on 19th July; food won.

Seafoodseafood risotto OLIVES

The other ubiquitous West Coast food staple is seafood, more specifically prawn and lobster.  In Vegas, most restaurants have a plethora of lobster/prawn inspired dishes on their menu – you could devour a plate of prawns whilst playing on the slots if you wanted.

Of all the meals I had in Vegas, the stand out dish was at Bellagio’s Olives by celebrity chef Todd English.  A stunning seafood risotto that arrived loaded with clams, razor clams, shrimp, fish, crab and lobster set in a saffron broth.  Delicately divine.

Los Angeles

San Francisco

I’ve never experienced a winter so cold as a San Francisco summer!  – Mark Twain.IMG_2789 (Edited)

And on cold, misty days by the sea – a bowl of heart warming soup hits the spot.  I know
that clam chowder is a New England culinary creation but serve it in a hollowed out Boudin sourdough bread and you’ve got something that is totally San Francisco.  Even though the locals don’t eat this, tourists queue up at all of Fisherman Wharf’s seafood establishments for a taste of their chowder.  Boudin’s Bakery being one of the most popular.

Another delicacy is crab – Dungeness Crab – served whole either steamed or roasted in garlic butter or in crab cakes, or served with garlic noodles.  I enjoyed my snow crab legs thoroughly as they poked out of a mountain of shrimp and whitefish in Bubba Gump’s “Boat Trash”.

Cycling from Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina district, over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the village of Sausalito, you work up a pretty good appetite and the Seafood Peddler’s Daily Special of Clam chowder (in a bowl) and pound of lobster served with ‘slaw and corn on the cob was exactly what I needed.  Clearly not conducive to cycling back.

Therefore, a ferry trip back to Fisherman’s Wharf is essential to help the food settle as well as breathing in the sea air to open up your appetite for the next onslaught of sea-crustacean delights.

Please note that the photos above are only some of the food memories I’ve experienced throughout the past two weeks, more often than not, either excitement or greed, or a little of both would take over my usual self-control and I’d forget to take the photo before ploughing through the dish.

It has now been a week since I got back from my hols in Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco and even though I enjoyed every mouthful of food I am glad to return my belly (and gout!) to a proper food regime with enforced portion control.

I walked up to my front door to find that there was a bright red present tied with white and blue ribbon waiting at its feet.  It felt as if I had just received my first valentine card…the excitement, the joy, the intrigue.  Ripping through the wrapping, I found myself faced with a metal madeleine tray with 12 scallop-shell shaped moulds staring up at me.  Now if like me, you’re a food obsessive, you’d know what to do with it – otherwise you’d be taking it down the beach to decorate your sandcastles with.

the excitement, the joy, the intrigue

But I still hadn’t figured out who left it there!

The card that accompanied the tray made everything clearer; it was a gift from my friend, Pie.  On the card were suggestions as to which madeleine recipe to follow and who to youtube should I need direction, so that I too could enjoy the delights of a fresh, warm madeleine with a cup of coffee as a weekend breakfast.

I must place this in a context for you; my friend Pie, bakes delicious madeleines (or so she tells me as she’s never managed to invite me round for Sunday breakfast!)

So what is a madeleine?

A madeleine is a French patisserie favourite.  A small, buttery sponge cake to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.  Classically they will either be lemon or almond flavoured, however, they now come in a variety of different flavours; dunked in chocolate or filled with jam/fruit/curd.  But what sets a Madeleine apart from a standard sliced tea-time sponge cake, is the scallop-shell impressed pan they are baked in.

Having taken Pie’s recommendations and done some research myself – Michel Roux Jnr’s recipe is a good one to start with:


2 eggs

100g caster sugar

100g plain flour + extra for dusting

1 lemon

¾ tsp baking powder

100g melted butter


1st: Preheat the oven to 200˚C.  Brush the Madeleine tray with melted butter, shake in a little flour to coat the shells and tap out the excess.

2nd: Prepare your dry ingredients in a bowl and the lemon zest.  Pour the lemon juice into the melted butter and set aside.

3rd: Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until frothy.

4th: Pour in the melted butter and lemon mixture and lightly whisk in the flour.  Leave to stand for 20mins before carefully pouring the batter into your prepared madeleine tray.

5th: Bake for 8-10mins until risen in the middle and fully cooked through.  The madeleine should be golden brown around the edges.  Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.

Madeleines are best eaten within the hour – barely warm and sprinkled with icing sugar.

I recommend you set your timer for 8mins and then watch the madeleines like a hawk as they’ll go from pale and white to dark brown within the 2mins left!
Renowned food writers, such as David Lebovitz, who is known to “pop a few for breakfast” drizzles honey into the mix and gives his batter a generous wait time.  Rachel Khoo, from Little Paris Kitchen, drizzles in some honey and prods a raspberry into the centre of the batter mixture before baking, then piping lemon curd into the centre of the baked madeleine.  Julia Child’s recipe calls for salt, vanilla extract, 2 drops of lemon juice and 2 drops of bergamot extract as well as boiling the butter first to turn it brown – why would any home cook want to have to go through all that?!

I followed Michel Roux Jnr’s recipe adding more lemon juice than expressed.  Next time I’d like the madeleine to have a stronger lemon taste therefore adding more juice or perhaps adding some lemon curd to the batter mixture.  I prepared the batter before I went out the night before and placed in the fridge.

Make sure not to fill the moulds too much as they will spill over and engulf the madeleine next to it if you’re not too careful.

I suppose, like the old Chinese proverb: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  Pie has provided me with the tools and wisdom, so that I too can eat madeleines as often as I want.

Cue accordion music


“Wagamama, Gibraltar was faring the best across Europe!”  Rumoured the naughty child.

And after shifting 1 month’s worth of duck and beer in 3 days I can see why!

Wagamama_logo (2)

When I first came across Wagamama in London in the late 90’s, I nostalgically remember it as the perfect antidote to a night of student revelling London-style (stylie).  We’d wake up and trundle down to the nearest Wagamamas and cluster around their long tables and immediately get a vitamin boost from their super green, super fresh, body cleansing, high antioxidant smoothies followed by a bowl of something spicy with plenty of carbs – if my mind goes that far back, I think my dish of choice was always a Pad Thai.  It would beat going to Maccy-Ds any day!

Flash-forward over 20 years and in June 2016, after a social media frenzy of freebie tickets, £5 sittings and press evenings, we are treated to our very own Wagamama here in Gibraltar.  With the stunning setting that Ocean Village provides, Wagamama, with its roots in Japanese-inspired cuisine, fits right in amongst the palm trees and ferns that line the promenade.

long tablesUpon arrival everything seems to be at one with nature –chairs are large wooden blocks with simple metal legs, rattan chairs out on the terrace; long wooden-topped tables (ideal for families) presented in a minimalist Japanese canteen style with spotlights aimed along the centre of these.   Fully opening glass doors bringing the sea into the room.  The 3 large mirrors at the back of the room creating  a sense of depth, reflecting images of staff whizzing from station to table.  And last but not least, its vast open kitchen and prep area with its denizen of chefs glancing from screens to chopping boards to woks to plates.

The menu is not organised as ‘starters and mains’ but as: Sides – to order with your main dish or to share; Gyoza – either steamed or fried dumplings filled with goodness; Ramen – a bowl of hot soup filled with noodles; toppings and garnishes; Curry – fresh curries served over rice; Teppanyaki – sizzling soft noodles with crunchy veg/meat/prawns; Omakase – 4 different Chef Specials; Donburi – a big bowl of steamed rice and stir fired meats/veg; Salads -2 stir fry salads and Extras – miso soup, Japanese pickles, ‘century’ egg, kimchee, chillies or rice/noodles.

I found the exemplary waiting staff to be very cheerful and friendly at all times.  Their knowledge of the menu evident as they would translate dish numbers into dish names; scribbling your order onto your placemat.  Before leaving our table, the waiter asked us if we’d been to Wagamama before so as to clarify how our food would arrive.

For the uninitiated: as your dish is created it is served – regardless of whether there are 2, 4 or 6 of you dining; there is no procession of courses.

Fried duck gyoza

fried duck gyoza

Steamed pulled pork gyoza

steamed pulled pork gyoza

We ordered some Gyoza to see how they fared against authentic Japanese gyoza, which are dry-fried on the base and then steamed to perfection.  As the menu advertised either fried or steamed gyoza we tried the fried duck gyoza (99) – delicious, deep decadent duck meat in a deep fried gyoza, however, not what we were expecting.  Preferring a steamed gyoza we ended up stopping the waiter to order some steamed pulled pork gyoza (105) which were much more authentic in flavour and texture and upon reading the menu a second time realising that the steamed gyoza are served grilled!

Omakase – entrust the chefteriyaki lamb

Trying to avoid my Pad Thai Wagamama staple, I decided to let the chef recommend me one of its four Omakase (Japanese for ‘to entrust the chef’).  The grilled Teriyaki lamb served on a bed of soba noodles in a pea and wasabi dressing with grilled asparagus, kale, mushrooms and mangetout – simply scrumptious; grilled teriyaki lamb, grilled veggies, soba noodles.

Since then I’ve been again and had the chilli squid (107) crispy fried squid dusted with shichimi, served with a chilli/coriander dipping sauce – tongue tantalisingly tingly and the pork ramen (30) which even though I slurped my way through, could have been hotter – both in temp and spice, and saltier; however, I suppose that’s why there is soy sauce and chilli oil on every table!

banana katsuAs part of the ‘harmony, balance and chilli’ mantra that Wagamama is legendary for, ending your spicy meal with Banana Katsu (142) – banana covered in panko bread crumbs and deep fried with salted caramel ice-cream equals perfection.  I’ve asked for the mochi balls (124) and the sweet onigiri (135) but unfortunately they still haven’t received them from the Uk.

I suppose that if we are dependent on Uk deliveries for the food to be franchise-exact we will, on occasion, have this wait-time on certain dishes when items expire.  Next time I go I know I’m going to try the prawn itame curry (39) and here’s hoping that they’ve got the pork ribs (97) in stock!

But all is good with the world when you end your meal with jasmine flower tea…