Skip to content

DFDS 2015 Travel Blogger of the Year Award – Shortlist Nomination

thesinglegourmetandtraveller:

Just a week left before closing date to vote in these awards (by 24 April). I know many of you have voted for me already and many thanks – but if you haven’t, I’d be very grateful if you would now! :)

Originally posted on thesinglegourmetandtraveller:

food-header

I’m very excited to have been shortlisted for a DFDS Seaways 2015 Travel Blogger of the Year Award.

DFDS Seaways is a leading ferry company operating ferries across the Channel to France and Holland – see: www.dfdsseaways.co.uk for more information. There are five categories in the awards – Travel, Culture & History, Food & Drink, Newcomer, and Travel Photos. I’ve been nominated in the Food & Drink category and if you follow this link: http://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/Documents/dfds-blogger/categories/index.html – you’ll find me listed there under ‘Kay Gale’. I really hope that you enjoy my blog enough to vote for me and many thanks to all of you for following me and hopefully casting that important vote! :) Voting is open until 24 April. And, of course, the link will put you in touch with a number of great food and travel blogs that you may enjoy taking a look at.

View original

Carluccio’s Caffe Launches New Sharing Plates

IMG_8485

I spend quite a lot of time in various Carluccio’s Caffes – though mainly my local Richmond branch. I buy most of my pasta there (especially my favourite orecchiette), polenta, olives, panettone at Christmas, colomba at Easter and wonderful baci di dama biscuits (to which I am seriously addicted). I probably meet friends there for lunch more than any other place and am often found in the Covent Garden and Bloomsbury branches as well as local Richmond, but Kingston and Cobham too. I’ve even been to an opera evening – live singing – while you eat a set menu at Wimbledon. What I like – apart from the fact that they’re Italian and serve lovely Italian food – is that Carluccio’s Caffe fits the bill for any time of day. I love their croissants for breakfast and although I normally eat croissants on their own, I can’t resist asking for some of their fabulous fig jam to go with them. And, of course, a morning kick-start of punchy Napoli coffee (although there’s always the option of the softer Milano blend). For lunch or supper there are various salads or you could go the whole way with a plate of pasta (I often choose their lasagna with a side of rocket and Parmesan salad) or a Secondi of branzino – sea bass – or maybe Veal Saltimbocca. One of my favourite things to do at lunchtime is share an Antipasti plate with a friend and some of their excellent focaccia. But now with these gorgeous new sharing plates there are more options for a light meal – lunchtime or early evening with a drink – and so maybe I’ll have to go to Carluccio’s even more often!!

Well, OK. I think I’ve made the point that I’m a bit of a Carluccio’s fan. But now you can see that I was truly very excited to be invited by them to an event to launch their new Sharing Plates at the Covent Garden (one of my favourites) restaurant last night. It was a perfect evening to go for cocktails and sharing plates. It had been the warmest April day for 4 years and felt like summer. The Covent Garden Carluccio’s is quite a big one and I was directed upstairs to the nicest room with its bright, airy ceiling, big windows and pretty frescoes on the walls.

IMG_8504

The room was full of other foodie people and I was immediately welcomed and offered a glass of a simple cocktail of prosecco and limoncello. It was delightfully refreshing.

IMG_8500

A table in the middle was filled with large plates of the new ‘sharing plates':

Focaccia

Focaccia

Caponata

Caponata

Antipasti selection

Antipasti selection

A large ham was being sliced in front of us for the antipasti to be regularly replenished.

IMG_8499

All dishes were regularly replenished. We weren’t going to run out of food! When a new dish of little red peppers filled with tuna was brought, we were told they were quite spicy.

IMG_8506

They were – I love chilli and these had quite a hit but were really delicious. There were delicious Polpette – meatballs with tomato sauce:

IMG_8497

And lovely Bruschettine topped with either tomatoes & peppers or goats’ cheese & onion jam:

IMG_8509

And irresistible grilled prawns:

IMG_8510

There was a cheese board full of different Italian cheeses, a whole Parmesan in the centre to cut into and take chunks, wonderful arancini oozing with melted mozzarella, skewers of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. As for drink, there was plenty of wine or more prosecco but I was drawn to the far end of the room where Federico was mixing some Peroni cocktails. Try one, he urged, as he put a Peroni La Piazza before me.

IMG_8503

IMG_8505

I’m so glad he did. It was wonderful and perfect for the warm evening: ice-cold Peroni with some bitterness from Angostura balanced with lime juice and ginger spices. I was at the party for quite some time and talked to some lovely bloggers and other people interested in food. When I decided to leave and make my way home, I was given a goody bag by Abbey – part of the team who’d arranged the evening. Then on the train home I saw on Twitter that I’d missed dessert! Shock! Too late to go back but I obviously need to go back to a Carluccio’s soon to make up for it!

CCp6WdiWYAEWvb8.jpg-large

However, opening my goody bag at home almost made up for it:

IMG_8513

And anyway, I’m back at Carluccio’s Richmond on Monday lunchtime to meet a friend to celebrate my birthday … and since a birthday definitely means a treat then I’ll have to have dessert!!

Carluccio's Covent Garden on Urbanspoon

te te I’m

Freekeh Salad with Courgettes, Pistachios & Lemon Dressing

IMG_8484 There’s been a lot of gardening going on. My own garden is quite small but it’s surprising how much time it takes to tidy it after winter and plant some new shrubs and replant pots. I’ve also been helping Jonathan in their much bigger garden over the past two weekends. The young family are still a bit sleep deprived so gardening is one way to help, with the added bonus that I get Baby Gale cuddles and stay on for supper. Jonathan was going to make Mechoui Lamb. The shoulder of lamb could be smothered in spices and butter, covered in foil and put in the oven for 3 hours or more; no attention needed other than the foil to be removed for the last half hour. Perfect gardening food. I was to take a salad and so I decided to use freekeh. It has a nice middle eastern touch to go the the lamb, is full of goodness and wonderfully tasty. I was going to use it in much the same way I might use couscous or bulgur wheat and just add some vegetables and herbs. It’s nice to have some texture so I thought I’d add some toasted pistachios too. It was similar to the dish I first made when I found some freekeh in my local Revital store – for that recipe and more information on freekeh, click here. But while that was a warm dish, this new one was definitely a cold salad. I cooked the freekeh first as I wanted it to cool before adding the other ingredients. IMG_8464 I put a cup into a small pan, followed by 2 cups of water and some salt. I brought it to the boil and then left to simmer with a lid on. It’s similar to cooking rice and the freekeh does look a bit like brown rice with a green tinge. The freekeh should be cooked in about 10-15 minutes. If there’s still some liquid drain it and then leave to cool. IMG_8469 Meanwhile, cut two courgettes into cubes and fry gently in some olive oil until starting to brown. You don’t want to cook them too much because it’s best to retain some bite and not let the courgette become mushy. Remove from pan and put on a plate with some kitchen towel and allow to drain and cool. IMG_8467 Now dry roast a handful of pistachios in a small pan. Again, just a little bit – don’t let them burn and become bitter. Then chop them roughly and set aside. IMG_8470 Next I chopped some tomatoes into much the same size as the courgettes pieces. You want some really sweet and tasty tomatoes. I used small – but not cherry – Pome die Moro tomatoes which have a deep, good flavour but are quite firm for chopping. IMG_8471 Also, chop about 3 or 4 spring onions into small slices. IMG_8474 Now add the courgettes, tomatoes, spring onion and pistachios to the cooled freekeh and fold in carefully. IMG_8473 Next chop some fresh herbs. I used flat-leaf parsley, basil and mint. IMG_8475 You want quite a bit. Chop them roughly and add to the freekeh and mix well, but gently. IMG_8477 For the dressing, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon and then add twice the amount of olive oil with some salt, pepper and a teaspoon of honey. Mix well and then add to the freekeh and gently fold in. IMG_8482 I made this fairly early in the day and then put in the fridge before taking it round to Jonathan’s – and into their fridge while we gardened! IMG_8484 It made a brilliant accompaniment to the lamb – which was delicious, the lamb falling off the bone, full of the flavour of the spices and beautifully moist and tender. It was just what we needed after all that weeding and pruning. As for the salad, I’m sure I’ll be making it – or similar versions – many times over the summer and it’s so full of goodness that it could be a simple meal on its own.

A Sunday Morning Walk in Kew Gardens: April

IMG_8412

A lot has been happening in Kew Gardens since my March visit. Three weeks ago I was in Kew with my friend Elsa and saw a big change from when I’d written my March post just two weeks’ earlier. The magnolias were in blossom: their big majestic flowers ranging from white, through pale pink to deep magenta are one of the glories of spring.

IMG_8451

 

IMG_8442

Today, they were already on their way out: showers of discarded petals carpeting the ground beneath them.

IMG_8443

The tulips were looking fabulous and there was a wonderful display outside the Palm House; one of the first things you’ll see if you enter at Victoria Gate and bear right.

IMG_8414

There were gorgeous carpets of ground cover flowers, especially in the Woodland Garden near the Princess of Wales Conservatory, like these pretty Erythroniums.

IMG_8425

I’d gone there in search of Fritillaries – those beautiful, delicate, bell-shaped bulbs that push through the ground in spring. I didn’t see any there but found some Snake’s Head Fritillary in the Davis Alpine House.

IMG_8439

In the rock garden outside I found clumps of lovely Pulsatilla.

IMG_8436

Walking round the gardens, the Orangery Restaurant is always a good place to sit with coffee or a snack with its large terraced area allowing you to enjoy a view of the gardens at the same time.

IMG_8446

I can never resist a walk down to the lake, where there are a number of benches by the edge providing a peaceful place to sit for a time.

IMG_8457

Walking back towards Victoria Gate I passed some glorious prunus in bloom.

IMG_8461

Like the Magnolia trees, their blossom is a short-lived thing so all the more reason to go and enjoy it while you can. One of the great things about doing this year-long record of Kew Gardens, visiting each month, is that I’m much more aware of the changes; of what’s in blossom when. And planning to visit at least once a month ensures that I don’t miss out on anything.

If you want to know more about visiting Kew Gardens go to: www.kew.org

A Taste of Greece in Bloomsbury, London

IMG_0256

I’ve been looking forward to the British Museum’s Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art exhibition since first reading about it some months ago. It was watching Alastair Sooke’s brilliant Treasures of Ancient Greece on BBC4 last night that reminded me that the exhibition must have opened. With another of my ‘days off between freelance jobs’ I decided to head into central London. I was slightly uncertain whether it was a good idea. With the current school holidays, perhaps the British Museum would be heaving. But setting off early, I could be there soon after the museum opened and so avoid the worst of the crowds.

IMG_0248

Of course the Single Gourmet Traveller cannot venture too far into a new day without a good coffee, so on the Tube into central London from Richmond, I contemplated whether to get off at Embankment or Temple, thinking first coffee houses rather than museum. I decided on Embankment and to try coffee at Villiers (in Villiers Street), which I’ve passed many times and thought looked good, but had never been near at the right time for coffee. It seemed like the kind of place I’d like – artisan coffee house; later in the day a wine bar. The cakes in the window had always looked fantastic. It’s run by the younger generation of the famous Gordon’s Wine Bar further down Villiers Street so comes with a good pedigree. It was quite busy and I found a table at the back and ordered a small flat white and plain croissant.

IMG_0247

As my order was taken, I asked about wifi and was given a password. It didn’t work. I was told to try all caps. That didn’t work. A woman at the next table was having the same problem. The waitress wasn’t helpful and neither I nor my neighbour did get to sign in. The coffee was OK, though not up to the standard of other coffee houses I frequent and I wished I stuck to my original idea of going to Monmouth Coffee. The croissant was soggy on the bottom and oily. I was given no paper napkin and there were none on the table which meant that once I’d finished, I had to go to the toilets to wash my hands. The bill was a rather outrageous £6.08 (including a 12½% service charge for a not great service). At my usual haunts I’d pay only somewhere between £3.55 to £4 for the same – and I do mean sitting down and not takeaway.

IMG_0253

Still, one can’t be too down over a disappointing coffee on such a gloriously sunny day, so I headed back outside and onwards, walking through a still quite empty Covent Garden, cutting up Neal Street and into Bloomsbury and to the British Museum.IMG_0250

I wondered if I’d find large crowds but although it was busy, I was able to go in straight away. Just entering the British Museum is something of a wonder. The Great Court is magnificent.

IMG_0252

So too was the exhibition, although I couldn’t take photos of that, of course. There were some wonderful Greek sculptures and exquisite pots dating from around 500BC, plus some Roman copies of missing Greek originals. And inevitably, the exhibition included some of the controversial Elgin marbles. I won’t involve myself in that argument, but I will say that one of the ‘Elgin’ sculptures, of the river god Illissos by Pheidias (480-430BC), was incredible; so beautiful, and it was wonderful to see it.

IMG_0249

In Greek mode it seemed a Greek lunch was a good plan before going home. I had a quick search on the internet to find Greek restaurants in the Bloomsbury area and thought Konaki in Coptic Street sounded just the place to go. I went in quite early – at about 12.30 – and there were only a handful of people. It was a very friendly welcome and I was asked where I wanted to sit – near the front, further back or in the garden. I thought it probably wasn’t warm enough for me in the garden (though others went out there later) but liked the idea of being close to the door and looking out.

IMG_0261

They had a good lunchtime set menu for £10.95 for 2 courses with a wide choice, but I opted for just a main course from the à la carte: Kolokythakia – courgettes stuffed with minced lamb, rice and spices, served with an egg and lemon sauce. While I waited for that, the waiter brought a small glass of house white wine (pleasant and a good price at £3.90) with a dish of very good olives.

IMG_0258

Nearby another waiter was talking in Greek to a couple sitting at another table. With the sun shining through from the garden, the ambience like a Greek taverna, I could almost be in Greece and it enhanced my ‘day’s holiday’ mood. My main course came with ‘Greek pasta’ – which was much like Italian orzo – and some pitta bread I’d ordered.

IMG_0259IMG_0260

The food was OK but nothing outstanding. The courgettes were overcooked; the mince stuffing tightly packed so a bit solid. The avgolemono – egg and lemon – sauce was very delicious though. I finished with just an espresso. It was the kind of restaurant that’s handy to know about if you’re in the area and fancy Greek food; it’s not somewhere to make a special trip for.

I made my way back through Covent Garden, this time to Waterloo station for a fast mainline train home. It was still fairly early but I’d done a lot and wanted to miss the rush hour. Home and a lie in the sun in the garden beckoned me. Tomorrow work arrives …

Konaki on Urbanspoon Villiers All Day Dining Room on Urbanspoon

 

Chicken Roasted with Lemon & Thyme and French-style Peas

IMG_8405

Lamb is perhaps a more traditional roast for Easter Sunday but I fancied a nice roast chicken so bought one in the farmers’ market yesterday. I didn’t want to do anything very fancy with it so decided to flavour it simply with just some lemon and thyme and add a dash of cream to the gravy at the end. I bought sweet potatoes to roast along with the ‘ordinary’ potatoes as an accompaniment but the organic vegetable shelves were surprisingly bare when I was buying most of my shopping in Waitrose early morning, so I decided to cook some French-style peas.

Well, what I had in mind was Petit Pois à la Française remembering gorgeous examples in France, slightly sweet, cooked in stock with mild onions and some bacon. As often happens when I’m cooking something ‘classic’ for the blog, it didn’t turn out to be quite as straightforward as I’d anticipated. Amongst my large cookbook collection I had trouble finding a recipe; there wasn’t even one in my three Raymond Blanc books. I found two in old books – I mean old … both were books I commissioned and edited back in the late 1970s! The recipes were similar but one called the dish Petit Pois à la Française while the other, Peas Bonne Femme. Both had spring onions, shredded lettuce and stock but no bacon. I definitely remembered bacon. I’d bought bacon. I went online. I found a Gordon Ramsay YouTube video for making Peas Bonne Femme. Yes he used bacon, little white onions and frozen peas … but no stock, no lettuce. So … I threw all the ideas into a proverbial culinary hat and came up with my own version.  I chopped 4 rashes of streaky bacon and sliced – in quite thick slices – a bunch of spring onions, using only the white parts. I browned these in a little olive oil. I also added a little sugar to help with the caramelisation I wanted to deepen the flavour.

IMG_8399

Meanwhile I heated a few frozen homemade chicken stock cubes ready to add later. Next I shredded half a Little Gem lettuce and a few fresh mint leaves.

IMG_8400

I stirred them in and then added 500g frozen petit pois, stirred and added the stock – not quite enough to cover. I seasoned well with salt (but check because of the bacon and stock) and freshly ground black pepper and then brought to a boil and allowed to simmer gently for about 10 minutes. I didn’t want the peas to lose their freshness and colour but I still wanted to give them enough time to take up some of the flavours from the other ingredients. And they did taste very delicious!

IMG_8405

The chicken had, of course, gone into the oven earlier. I smothered it in olive oil, grated over the zest of 1 lemon and a good sprinkling of dried thyme, and salt and pepper.

IMG_8387

I cut away the remaining pith from the lemon and put the lemon in the cavity of the chicken.

IMG_8386

I like to cover my chicken for the first half of roasting with some greaseproof paper smothered with butter to keep the breast moist.

IMG_8388

I put the chicken into a 200C/180 Fan oven for about an hour and 15 minutes. I basted it quite often to help the flavours develop and keep moist, taking off the greaseproof paper about halfway through so the skin could brown. When it was cooked, I lifted the chicken on to a carving board and skimmed excess fat off the juices. The juice from the lemon had run into the pan which would add to the flavour of the gravy. I added a tablespoon of plain flour, mixed well and then added some chicken stock until I got the consistency I wanted. I squeezed in more lemon juice, tasting until I got the lemon flavour I was looking for. I checked seasoning, adding plenty of black pepper, then poured in a little single cream. Violà! One gorgeous lemon sauce to accompany the chicken. I have to say by this time things had got slightly hectic. Jonathan and Lyndsey had arrived with Baby Gale and Lyndsey’s mum, Julie. The baby started crying and I offered to take him for a while (because I can’t resist cuddling him at every opportunity), leaving Jonathan to carve. I didn’t take a photo of the whole roast chicken! But I did remember in time to get one of the chicken nicely cut into portions (the way I like to serve it) and put onto a warm serving plate.

IMG_8408

I’d roasted the mix of white and sweet potatoes. I’d cut them into fairly small (about 2cm) cubes and had very briefly blanched in boiling salted water before draining and laying in a roasting dish. I poured over some extra virgin olive oil and turned the potato pieces with my hands to coat them. Then I chopped 1 medium red onion and added that with a few garlic cloves, leaving their skins on, and 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden. They joined the chicken in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes.

IMG_8406

I just love the mix of potatoes and when you roast the garlic cloves whole, you can open them and scrape out a lovely gooey garlic paste to put on the potatoes when you eat them. The meal was always going to be slightly flexible in timing to fit in with Baby Gale. We sat down a little later than expected but everything kept warm OK. We tucked into some prosecco and some fresh foccacia that I’d bought in the Duck Pond Market in Richmond this morning (I’d been quite – but happily – surprised to find them open on Easter Sunday) with some olives and roast almonds.

IMG_8401

While Baby Gale slept, we ate the main course. It was all quite simple but gorgeous flavours. It seemed an appropriate meal for Easter Sunday. There was another little gap when Baby Gale woke up but it gave us time to make room for our dessert.  I’d bought a selection of wonderful cakes in Paul Bakery in the morning. This was a cheat perhaps – except this is exactly what the French do … buy patisserie from the expert. And really, it’s such a treat to go in and choose from all the wonderful cakes on offer. I’d bought 4 and cut them into quarters, making a kind of instant Café Gourmand with the cafetière of coffee I made to go with them.

IMG_8409

The meal stretched leisurely over a couple of hours, which is such a nice way to eat on a Sunday lunchtime. We all ate well, Baby Gale got some cuddles, Zeph the Yorkie got his favourite treat because he was so well behaved – some pieces of roast chicken! A very Happy Easter to you all!!!

Ten Things Not to Say to a Food Blogger

IMG_0225

I caught sight of an article in the Huffington Post on Facebook yesterday about 10 things not to ask a food blogger. Of course, I was immediately attracted to reading it but then disappointed to find that the blogger in question was a nutritionist and dietician and the questions were nothing like anything someone might say to me – your average kind of food blogger – but instead were all health related. However, it got me thinking and I thought, just for fun, it would be good to think about some of the things people say when they know I’m a food blogger.

A lot of people don’t ‘get’ blogging – why one is happy to spend so much time, and sometimes money, on it for no apparent purpose. But sometimes a purpose isn’t tangible; sometimes a purpose is just the act of ‘doing’ or ‘being’. One of my favourite quotes ever is from Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience’ and this is certainly something bloggers do, always reaching out to experience new things in the area they feel passionate about. Ralph Waldo Emerson on the other hand declared that the ‘purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable’ and thus he might well, if he were still alive, declare blogging to be a self-indulgent waste of time. Sure, it is self-indulgent but then hobbies are. It was never meant to be worthy but I know from comments I receive – sometimes from people I don’t know personally – that it often gives some pleasure to people other than myself, and that is a happy by-product. But in all honesty is was only ever meant to be fun. And certainly a lot of fun has been had!

So, what are the things people like to say to me? Sometimes people mean to be helpful; sometimes they want to show an interest; often they’re curious. And I certainly don’t want to put off anyone taking an interest in my blog and finding out more about it and what got me started and keeps me blogging on. So these are not really things that ‘shouldn’t’ be said … but more answers or responses to common remarks and all meant to be a bit of fun:

1. Do you make money from your blog? This of course touches on much said above but it is perhaps the most common question I receive about my blog. And the short answer is, No. A handful of bloggers do make money and have perhaps been commissioned to write books, newspaper or magazine columns, etc., but these really are the minority. I started the blog for fun and with a firm intention to bring some positive things into my life after quite a difficult period. I wanted to write and writing about something I knew quite a lot about and had a passion for seemed a good idea. But I never imagined it as a way of making money. Now, because the blog has in some small ways attracted a bit of attention (for example, the shortlisting in the DFDS awards – have you voted for me yet??!!), I allow myself a very little dream that one day I might be able to make money from it, which would be a happy alternative to the way I do make money (editing other people’s writing). But I’m always realistic and know that if I attached too much expectation or hope into making a living from the blog it would take something away from the huge pleasure I get from it. And then if I didn’t make money, I might see the blog as a failure. In general, I don’t think about money; I think about continuing to write the blog as long as I go on getting lots of happiness and fun from it and if I ever lose that joy, then I will stop.

2. Why don’t you get people to advertise on the blog? This is obviously a continuation of No.1. A lot of people seem very concerned that I should be making money! I’ve just paid WordPress to make the blog ‘professional’ so that they don’t put their occasional ads on my blog and it’s ad free. I guess I could make a little money (but not a living) from putting some ads on it but I don’t like the thought of how that would change it. I don’t want people to log on to the blog and find it looks like an offshoot of Amazon. The blog is more a journal of food and travel I share and I think the vital personal touch that the best blogs have could be lost amongst lots of ads.

3. Why don’t you start a supper club? Another moneymaking suggestion. This was first suggested to me by a restaurateur I know and to be honest I couldn’t help feeling a little flattered that he thought people would actually pay to eat my food. And I do know that it’s the way some bloggers have raised their profile and become very successful – in a money/recognition way – with their blogging. But the truth is that, apart from having a small kitchen not designed for cooking for a large number of people, I don’t want to cook for a living. I love cooking and I love cooking for family and friends, but I have a little experience of cooking professionally from my teenage years and early 20s, cooking in my parents’ pub for the restaurant and events like weddings, and so already know this isn’t what I want. I’m not thrown by cooking for large numbers but that doesn’t mean I actually want to do it. I write the blog because I love writing. For me writing is the thing. And I write about food and travel because these are passions and one should always write with passion.

4. What a wonderful life you have, or even, I wish I had your life! Not questions but fairly frequent comments. People often think my blog is my life. I do, it is true, write it in a very personal way, introducing family and friends and giving quite an insight into my daily life and my holidays. But I don’t write about the things that go wrong in my life: personal problems; difficult challenges; life’s inevitable disappointments. The blog is the upbeat side of my life. It’s not meant to be untruthful but is instead about celebrating the good things I enjoy.

5. Everything you cook is wonderful. I wish!! Sometimes people are intimidated by cooking for me now but no one should be. The truth is that I make mistakes too. It’s just that I don’t put the things that don’t work out – the cooking disasters – on the blog.

6. I expect you don’t cook much when you’re on your own. Not surprisingly, since starting the blog, this is a rarer comment. I know a lot of people who are normally cooking for a family or even just another person, like to have just have beans on toast or scrambled eggs if they get a ‘night off’. But those have never been meals to me. I’m a food person. I was collecting (rather sadly!) photos of food in my teens when everyone else was collecting photos of pop or film stars! If you live on your own you don’t give up wanting to eat nice food, trying out new recipes, treating yourself to something special to eat sometimes. Of course, now it’s fun to cook for the blog, as I often do, but even when I don’t have blogging in mind, I get enormous pleasure from cooking: slowly stirring a risotto with some mellow music in the background after a day’s work; throwing together a pasta sauce from just a few tomatoes, shallots, maybe some spinach and toasted pine nuts with a mound of freshly grated Parmesan on top. Food bloggers love to cook and they love to eat – that’s why we write about it!

7. You’re not going to blog about this? I absolutely never blog about food friends cook me. If I did, no one would invite me anywhere! Having said ‘never’ there are some notable exceptions: when in Spain, my friend Linda is happy for me to sometimes blog about some of the food she cooks; when I was in Switzerland with Annie she showed me how to make a traditional Swiss fondue and let me blog about it. My son and daughter have often let me blog about things they cook. But if someone invited me to their home or even to a restaurant, I would never assume I could blog about it, especially if I’m a guest. When I go out to eat with people now, they know I might want to blog, or I might say, Do you mind if I blog? But I would never assume it’s OK in all circumstances and if in doubt, would check.

8. Is that the classic version of the recipe? Often a perfectly reasonable question and food is something it’s nice to talk about and share experiences and recipes. But people can get quite hung up about what’s ‘classic’. I’ve learnt to be more careful. If I’m cooking a ‘classic’ recipe, I do my research and make it clear what I’ve found and where I might be deviating from some accepted customs.

9. Let’s meet in Starbucks. Oh no no no!!! I’ve never forgiven Starbucks for their influence on ordering a cappuccino after their arrival in UK in 1998. It became impossible to get a proper, small cup-sized cappuccino anywhere. It was assumed we all wanted a pint of milky coffee. No no no. That was never a cappuccino. Thankfully, the arrival of artisan coffee shops has put cappuccinos and coffee generally back on track and now some wonderful coffee can be found in UK. (See my post: In Search of a Perfect Cappuccino.)

10. Would you like to try out our new restaurant? This is a personal one – but I never accept a free meal f0r a review. I do go to bloggers’ events and that might involve trying out food at a restaurant new to me, but I make that clear in my post. But when restaurants write that they’d ‘love’ me to come and try their food out, on them of course, then I always say no. It’s part of writing the blog for fun and my own pleasure. So, 1., I don’t want to eat in places that don’t appeal to me (and there have been offers of meals at restaurants I’d never want to eat at because they’re not my kind of food) and most importantly, 2., I don’t want to feel under pressure about what I write. I know I would find it very hard to write a very negative review if I’d eaten it for free. Once I’ve visited restaurants or cafés for the first time, sometimes I form a relationship with the owners and will then accept offers to go back for special events or to see some changes happening there. But by then, I know I like what they’re doing.

Well, I hope that gives a little insight into the world of blogging and really, it’s not so much about what people ‘shouldn’t’ say because part of the pleasure I’ve derived from the blog is the wonderful support and show of interest I’ve had from family and friends. But if anyone out there wonders why on earth we do it … maybe I’ve shown you a little of what we food bloggers get from all that blogging!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 366 other followers