Friday, November 10, 2006

BBC Good Food Show??

Good Food Show? Not so one would notice.

I should have known from the difficulties I had purchasing a ticket (down to tracking down the organiser's office which promised to call me back. Twice). What a disappointment.

Years ago the Good Food Show was exactly what it's name implied. A wealth of interesting food suppliers and products, and although there were the obligatory used-car-type salesmen peddling all manner of squeezy implements and choppers, on the whole it represented good value for money at less than a tenner and an afternoon well spent.

How things change in a few years. Or perhaps it is one's standards and expectations that alter with age and experience. Whatever the reason I came away from Olympia this afternoon feeling rather saddened. Not only by what was on offer but also by my fellow show-goers.

The products proffered were predictable on the whole and collectively uninspiring. I imagine it is prohibitively expensive to participate which would explain the large brands that were represented. I was however rather taken with the following products:

Bateel - sparkling date juice
This gorgeous nectar is not cheap however it is a superb alcohol-free drink to offer guests (and oneself on school nights) and looks rather impressive in its glitzy bottle. Two bottles are now nestling expectantly in my wine racks.......
Perhaps not the most inviting of names but this is the first range of gluten and dairy frozen ready meals that I have encountered. Sadly the freezer section of my fridge is replete with edamame, peas and ice and I feel uncomfortable considering any ready-meals due to the laziness factor, however I feel duty bound to spread the word.

Black Mountain
When I was a younger and was coming down with a cold or flu, my mother would always offer a little brandy and hot water. Uuuegh. My tastebuds simply cannot stand the assault of harsh spirits such as neat brandy and whisky, so I was startled to find myself buying a tiny bottle of Black Mountain - an apple brandy with blackcurrant which is as smooth and warming as a French Kiss (I vaguely remember what they are like!).

Socialite London
I have been rather hesitant to share this particular find. A new venture is being launched and, I hasten to add, it is NOT a dating website. However if one likes to eat out and doesn't always have friends available to dine with, then one can find a number of dinner companions on
Yes, the promo girl hooked me in like a pro ("You're single after how long? Oh that's tough. And you like trying new restaurants in London? This is soooo for you.") But it does sound rather fun and with a month free trial it's worth a shot.

But the people there!!! Oh my word. I think I'll elucidate on my other blog, but there must be something about free food (and especially alcohol as I remember from my wine trade days) that brings out the animal in people. And we're not talking cute, fluffy kittens here. More predatory, growling lions, ready to pounce. A rather unpleasant sight and experience all told.

So, if you're contemplating popping along I feel duty bound to advise against it. Save your money, go to Borough Market or your local farmers', fill your boots (or rather your basket) with quality, fresh produce and avoid the blatant consumerism. And the unpleasant grabbing hoards.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mung's The Word

I recently read that mung noodles are a good alternative to their wheat or rice counterparts, particularly if one is mindful of GI content. Whilst I'm not, I do find that carbs sit in my stomach like an unwelcome house guest and so when I spied a packet of these delicious, delicate noodles in my local Thai supermarket, I pounced on them with glee.

My shopping basket was soon full with lemon grass, galangal, limes, thai basil, red chillis and beansprouts. With the addition of a few chestnut mushrooms, spring onions and mange tout, a fiery but light supper was borne.

Huggermunger Stir-Fry
skein of mung bean noodles
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 'thumb' of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
1 stem of lemongrass, outer leaves removed and firmly bashed
1 star anise flower
handful of chestnut mushrooms, wiped and sliced
handful of mange tout, sliced in half
handful of beansprouts
nam pla
tamari (or soy sauce)
sherry or rice wine

First soak the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Heat sesame or vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan and when shimmering-hot, add the garlic, chilli, ginger, lemongrass and star anise and briskly stir.
Add the onion, mushrooms, mange tout and beansprouts and tip in a good shaking of nam pla and tamari to your individual taste.
Pour in a little sherry or rice wine to add a little liquid.
Drain the noodles and add them to the pan.

Simplicity in itself, light on the stomach and good for fighting colds.

Yes, mung is the word.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Lifetimes ago, when I had a very uncomfortable relationship with food, I avoided fat with a pathological obsession.

I would watch my ex-husband eat half an avocado with horror, used God awful olive 'lite' spray with which to saute (I could never countenance the word 'fry'), skirted around nuts, counted and recorded the number of stolen crisps from my ex's packet of Hula-Hoops, removed any trace of whiteness from a piece of meat (back in the days when I ate the stuff) and convinced myself that an equation existed whereby the addition of essential oily fish to my diet equaled in gigantic thighs. Not a healthy, nor rational, way to exist.

Thankfully wisdom and a desire to be look after myself has come with age and now I relish the silky character that avocado lends to my homemade sushi handrolls, use olive oil liberally to sweat onions and celery, take enormous pleasure in my daily cracking of walnut shells to access the rich meat inside and try to ensure that if I don't get round to eating oily fish, then I at least take capsules containing their goodness.

But there is one food that still challenges me when I'm feeling a bit low. Cheese.

Being intolerant to cow's dairy I have a natural excuse to avoid the yellow stuff, but my stomach can take small amounts of goats and sheeps cheeses and yet my mind still balks at the fat content. I would never buy a block, let alone a sliver for myself and so tend to celebrate catering for others with a good-looking cheese board.

Last night was no exception. After a hearty and robust fish stew (I've blogged it before so won't bore you again although this time added butter beans), we dined on lactic acid - one cow and three goat. The wine flowed, the cow was polished off by my guests and I was left, to my dismay, with a substantial quantity of cheese which I could actually eat. Not letting myself cave in to the temptation to slide the lot into the waiting and hungry bin, I forced myself to pop it into the fridge. Where it sits, planning it's calorific assault on my arse.

Determined to dispel old behaviours, I re-introduced the cheeses to their board and ate a Sunday lunch of fromage, celery, cucumber, apple and a couple of mejdool dates. Washed down with a large glass of Australian Shiraz, a shot of coffee and accompanied by the tranquil tones of Pink Martini. And boy, it was good.

Tomme de Chevre
A texture that lies between hard and soft with an incredible depth of flavour. Reminds me of garlic for no good reason. A sumptuous luxury.

Murcia al Vino
This has a creamy consistency and a slight tannic twang (the rind is soaked in red wine) which is balanced by a gentle acidity and touch of citrus fruit.

This is a mousse like cheese, light and airy with hints of lemon and grass. Divine with celery and would be the perfect partner to a steely Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc.

So, more fat in one meal than I would normally consume in a whole day but when coming down with a cold on a chilly Sunday, sometimes a little lard is required. And yes, I did go bananas at the gym this morning in anticipation and no, I can't promise that the remainder of the cheeses will resist the call of the bin, but at least I tried.