The New Food Faces Of London at Urban Food Fortnight

You’ll be hearing more from London’s new food heroes, including wood-fired sourdough pizza-maker Well Kneaded Wagon and artisan bakery Dusty Knuckle part of Urban Food Routes which helps a wide range of London’s small food entrepreneurs gain expert business advice and funding to help grow their business. Alongwith many others such as WeAreWhatWeDo and Global Generation - who are having a big impact on tackling social and environmental issues in London – promoting their work on improving diets and empowering young people to play an important part in building a sustainable future for London.


Well Kneaded Wagon

Well Kneaded Wagon


They will be showcasing their wares during 

Urban Food Fortnight from Friday 12th to Sunday 28th September, 

celebrating ultra-local produce being grown, produced and cooked on London’s doorstep.  

Cafes, restaurants and retailers partner with London food growers and producers to present the best ingredients the capital has to offer with special menus, harvest festivals, pop ups in poly tunnels and foraging walks. Taste carrots from Battersea, lettuce from King’s Cross, and honey from Old Street.

Find out more here:





About these ads

A Right Royal Welcome to Windsor Castle & at “18” The Mercure Hotel

First thing you notice about Windsor? The friendly people. Wherever we went we were treated like royalty – even in the Castle, long a home of kings and queens and the oldest inhabited castle in the world.

Windsor Castle

Clambering The Tower

Windsor is perfect for a day out  – less than an hour from London and just over a tenner return on a weekend train.

It’s a mix of history, pomp, pageantry and  fish and chip shops. We counted seven. Then there’s the river, boats, a bridge to Eton, theatre and shopping. But we’ve come for the food and history.


messing about in boats at Eton Bridge

Processing through the castle at the end of the day (last admission 3 or 4 pm) is a majestic experience. Gently ushered through room by magnificent room with the chandeliers being turned off and doors closed behind you.  You can ask any of the guides – and there are plenty of them – the most obscure question and get a satisfactory answer. We found out that during the 1992 fire a two tonne carpet sodden with hose pipe water was dragged by 50 soldiers from the Waterloo room out onto the lawns; and that instead of peppercorns, some aristocrats pay for their lands with a rent banner – the 2014 banners hanging just as you go into the Great Hall. The state banquet table seats 165 people and allows for 18 inches elbow space for each guest but you’d better mind your language as the Queen has her menus written up in French.

Watch the kitchen tour here:

An add-on to the ticket prices is a tour of the royal kitchens lined with copper pots from the ages and other palaces. Stamped “BP” for Buckingham Palace, “RY” is Royal Yacht and “WC”, yes you guessed it, Windsor Castle. There’s even A Royal Cookbook written by Mark Flanagan, Royal Chef to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with lots in it including napkin folding.


Windsor Castle

Changing of the Windsor Castle Guard – never on a Sunday

2014-08-16 17.33.50


Pottering around the shops outside the castle and avoiding some of the usual high street suspects we found a couple of interesting sweet shops.

Hardys Windsor

Hardys with over 2,000 different types of sweets



Windsor Fudge Kitchen

you don’t have to be crazy to work here…

The Fudge Kitchen serves up samples of some mouth scorching fudge – reputedly the hottest chilli in the world.

So to end the day, a scuttle up the hill to the Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel opposite the Royal Guildhall and the Castle for a cooling glass of fizz with and added stiffener of Chase mandarin vodka. It’s one of the first inns in Windsor

Madarin Chase Vodka

for a grown up Paddington

Just the trick before being ushered into the deeply purple and velvet dining room of the hotel’s award-winning 2AA Rosettes “18” restaurant.

Head Chef Gregory Watts focuses on delivering a contemporary menu with an emphasis placed on locally sourced fresh and sustainable ingredients. Just like the Queen’s kitchens nearby.

We started with fantastically dense ham hock pitted with capers, dabs of home-made piccalilli and  pickled shimeji mushrooms with exquisite tomato and garlic freshly baked breads.

old school ham hock & piccalill

old school ham hock & piccalilli


Another starter choice of seafood nage – broth thickened with cream, swimming with poached sea bream and mussels.

18 at The Mercure Windsor Hotel

dive into this seafood nage at 18 Restaurant Windsor

Main course was a peppery steak and thick cut chips or this incredibly tasty and rich duck cassoulet with chorizo.


18 at Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel

delicious duck


We were royally looked after by Andy Macsporran who found us a special 2008 Colombo Cornas red wine to wash the duck down.

Andy Macsporran Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel

Andy Macsporran at Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel –  yes, he showed us ID!



Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel

Proof of a great meal at 18, Windsor Castle

So ending on a sweet note that would not have tasted out-of-place at the old-fashioned sweet shop earlier, we dipped into rhubarb crumble and custard. “Deconstructed” – that normally puts the fear of God into me, but this was heaven. Flashback to those childhood sweets and more happy memories made.

Thank you Windsor. King for a day.

18 restaurant at Mercure Winsdor Castle Hotel

shaky photo as this was so good! Rhubarb crumble & custard.


To make a restaurant reservation

Mercure Windsor Castle Hotel

18 High Streeet



Tel: (+44) 1753 252800

JOHN new work from DV8 Physical Theatre at The National Theatre

JOHN, a co-production between the National Theatre and DV8 Physical Theatre, conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson, opens in the Lyttelton Theatre on 30 October. This new verbatim dance-theatre is inspired by interviews with more than 50 men, asking them frank questions about love and sex.

One of those men was John.

JOHN DV8 Physical Theatre National Theatre London dance

What emerged was a story that is both extraordinary and touching. Years of crime, drug use and struggling to survive lead John on a search in which his life converges with others, in an unexpected place, unknown by most. JOHN authentically depicts real-life stories, combining movement and spoken word.

DV8 Physical Theatre return to the National following their acclaimed productions To Be Straight With You, Can We Talk About This? and Just for Show. Since their inception in 1986, DV8 have made 18 works and won many awards including a Grand Prix de Danse, an International Emmy for Performing Arts, a Rose d’Or and three Prix Italia.

Previews from 30 October playing until 13 January 2015 with broadcast to cinemas by NT Live on 9 December.

National Theatre Live broadcast on 9 December.

Travelex £15 Tickets, Lyttelton Theatre.

Meat Porter – Fresh Restaurant Quality Meat To Your Door

London’s restaurant scene is one of the most renowned and most competitive in the world, with its top chefs using only the finest meat that requires just the slightest hint of seasoning.  Based on a very simple question; “why can’t people enjoy meat of this quality every day at  home?” is the guiding principle upon which online artisan butcher Meat Porter was founded.

Meat Porter logo

Meat Porter – quality delivered

With just a minimum spend of £25 you can be eating fine steaks the likes you’d find at some of the best restaurants – Meat Porter buys from the same farms and suppliers they do. Typically only 13 meat products, such as steaks, chops, sausages and bacon make up the majority of supermarket meat sales in the UK and this is the starting menu for this three-month-old start-up.

Stefan Porter is the founder and Managing Director of Meat Porter. Having studied German he got a graduate job with Lidl quickly becoming a Senior Buying Manager overseeing market research, analysis, negotiations, testing and packaging and so knows the UK food market inside out.

Meat Porter is for anyone who loves fresh, high quality meat whether it’s trendy young professionals, the modern mum, silver surfers or us greedy lot at Shinesquad and friends.

So with this gorgeous space to entertain in we invited Meat Porter to show us their wares.

Meatporter supper

Meat Porter Supper with Stefan Porter

The gourmet at home experience starts with a great website and within a few clicks the next day this lovely box arrives. Sleek and glossy with a slowly melting icepack and a sprinkling of farm straw.

Meat Porter

Great packaging from Meat Porter – you can refreeze the ice packs and use the straw for decoration!

This is what we ate:

Although the lion’s share of their meat is British,  fantastic Barbary duck breast from France followed by 28-day matured Herefordshire Ribeye steaks, new potatoes and asparagus.

 First up was the best duck I’ve ever tasted. We quite liked the idea that it had flown in from Nantes.

Stefan Porter

Stefan Porter from Meat Porter demonstrating the duck

Barbary duck is a leaner breed and can be grilled or pan-fried. Best with the skin removed and flesh scored to add some red currant jelly and honey.  Heat up the oven as hot as possible and then turn up the grill to the max so that you can cook the bird quickly making sure it stays pink in the middle.

Barbary Duck from Nantes

duck from Nantes

We served the duck with some rocket, avocado and fresh Scottish raspberries. Eh voila!

Meatporter artisan online butcher

Meat Porter – best duck I’ve tasted!

So onto the steak. The simpler the better. The best meat needs only a twist of seasoning.


Ready Steady… cook

Cooking for 10 means some are getting grilled steak and some pan-fried – what matters is that meat is so fresh you can still hear mooing.

All the steaks are roughly same shape and size –  just as the butcher would have cut if you told him you had a dinner party.  If you don’t use the butcher there is nothing worse than turning up at the supermarket to buy for six to find only five steaks.  Order six and you get six – no random replacements here. You can even ask them for certain meats and cuts and they try to source it for you within 48 hours.

Nothing beats a simple juicy rib eye steak

Nothing beats a simple juicy rib eye steak

A light flourish at the end with some meringue and more lovely raspberries made for a very enjoyable product testing.

Is it on the trolley?

Is it on the trolley?

It was great to meet and find out more from Stefan Porter @meatporter and his lovely wife Rachel, PR Nicola Burgess @WoodthorpeComms and dear friends @eatcookexplore_, @Fabio_Adler_LDN, Stephanie Birks, @scratch_london and  host with the most @rodneybirrell.

We got to have a re-run the next week as Stephanie ordered the duck again, this time cooked with the skin and it was just as delicious and served on these beautiful vintage Wedgwood plates.

Meatporter duck served on Wedgwood

Meat Porter duck

In a nutshell…

Meat Porter is an online artisan butcher who sources and delivers fine-dining restaurant quality fresh meat and poultry to your kitchen with free next-day delivery across Great Britain. Meat Lovers can even request office deliveries as every box has straw and ice to keep the meat chilled until you get home. It’s a great gift, too, with a nice note – not the invoice.

You build your own box from scratch or go for their surprise box. Order by 3:00pm Mon-Fri, and you get your box the next day.

We’ve tried it and loved it.

Iconic Quaglino’s Set for London Relaunch

Quaglino’s, the iconic restaurant and late-night venue in the heart of London’s Mayfair St James’s, is set to re-open its doors in October 2014 following a full-scale, multi-million pound renovation.

 Quaglino's set to relaunch October 2014

Iconic Quaglino’s set to relaunch October 2014

When Quaglino’s first opened, Londoners were dancing the Charleston and King George V was on the throne. The place has history.

The re-launch celebrates 85 years of Quaglino’s iconic heritage; from its opening in 1929 by legendary Giovanni Quaglino – whose love of food and good company created a destination favoured by glamorous society – to Terence Conran’s celebrated remodelling in the 1980s right through to the restaurant’s present day status as one of London’s cherished celebratory destinations.

We’ve certainly had a few nights out there.

A modern interior redesign by Russell Sage Studio will see the signature sweeping staircase, balcony bar, main restaurant and mezzanine private dining rooms elegantly restored, along with the addition of a glamorous central cocktail bar and a stage for intimate live music performances. Art deco touches will remain, with furniture and colour palettes alluding to the era Quaglino’s was first established.

The 240-cover restaurant will feature a contemporary European menu from new Executive Chef Mickael Weiss of classics with exotic flavours and spices from the extended continent, such as slow-cooked Pyrenean lamb shoulder with spiced spinach, Marcona almonds, parsley and goat’s curd and pan-fried south coast cod with artichoke puree and a vegetable and saffron cassoulet.

Both bars will serve a variety of drinks referencing Quaglino’s rich 1930’s heritage with a focus on classic and champagne cocktails and a 300 bin wine list be shown by style rather than country of origin.

Late into the evening, the restaurant will transform to showcase music icons and lounge-style live bands with the space to cater for 250 seated or up to 500 standing with a new sound system. 

Welcome back! 

16 Bury Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6AJ

Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year

As the first-ever Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year hots up in the search for Britain’s food and drink stars, the stellar panel of judges include Luke Johnson, the indefatigable serial entrepreneur who grew Pizza Express from 12 branches to over 250. He owns Patisserie Valerie, Feng Sushi, Flour Power City, The Draft House pub group and Grand Union and much more.

Other judges are Julian Metcalfe, founder of Pret a Manger, which in less than 30 years has grown in to more than 400 shops. He also started Itsu, for Asian-inspired healthy fast food, which has gone from zero to 40 branches.

While Carole Bamford has blazed a trail for organic food, launching the Daylesford Organic brand just over a decade ago, with produce and shops, which have won over 120 awards in recognition of its produce and sustainable farming methods.

Investec Food and Drink Entrepreneur of 2014

Investec Food and Drink Entrepreneur of 2014

Free to enter, Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 uniquely celebrates the person behind the brand. The winner will be the lucky one who has the perfect ingredients in their food or drink business to delight the jury, which also includes Lord Bilimoria of Cobra Beer, Iqbal Wahab of Roast and the Cinnamon Club, and Sir Tim Smit, Co-founder, The Eden Project and The Big Lunch.

• Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year closes to entries on Friday 12 September 2014

• Winners announced on Tuesday 6 November 2014

Twitter @fooddrinkstar

VIDEO: Master must-have Notting Hill Carnival Dance Moves – the Big N Nasty, Tempa Wine, Bruk It Down & Willie Bounce

The ballot is open for the public to register for guest list places to the Red Bull Music Academy Soundsystem at Notting Hill Carnival on Monday 25 August.

The ballot will be open until 5pm Friday 15 August.

Carnival Dance Guide Video

Storming the headline slot with a special DJ set – the frenetic, rabble-rousing antics of UK party house revolutionaries Basement Jaxx, dropping their hotly anticipated new album the very same day.

More Red Bull here