Category Archives: Food + Drink

News, trends, interviews and restaurant reviews

Wine and walks in Sussex

Rathfinny great british design

Steeped in a hazy morning mist, between the rolling Sussex downs, between Alfriston and the sea the sun is twinkling on Rathfinny’s vines, which cover the valley like a blanket, as we drive in. They seem to go on for miles, but then Rathfinny is no hobby vineyard – Britain’s youngest sparkling white wine also happens to be its most ambitious. You won’t have heard of Sussex Sparkling yet, as it takes several years for the first vintage to mature, but five years from now Rathfinny’s owner, Mark Driver, hopes that it will be a household name as familiar as Champagne.

aloof-rathfinney-0254_22470091343_oAnd it’s easy to see why, driving into this vast 600-acre estate, with its incredibly modern building and wine room that sits among the swathes of vines. You could be forgiven for thinking you were at a big winery in South Africa or New Zealand, not a tiny village on the South coast. But the soil conditions – the terroirs as the French call it – and the climate are directly comparable with Champagne, if not better, so the question should really be: why has it taken so long for someone to get serious about making decent wine in the UK?

aug15_5_largeTucked away at the very end of the vineyard are the Flint Barns – the original farmhouse of the estate built in the 1860s, they have been immaculately restored from a ruin and now house a large dining room, a snug lounge room and 10 ensuite bedrooms, some arranged for couples or families, and some bunk rooms that are ideal for larger groups of up to eight. But unlike other walker’s retreats there’s no Ikea furniture to be seen here. Every detail has been considered, with bespoke beds made to complement the building, the finest linen and cosiest woollen blankets – it’s not grand or fancy, but it is polished and of the highest quality. Evening meals are family-style dining of locally-soured, crowd-pleasing dishes such as lasagne or shepherd’s pie.

rathfinny-flint-barns-main-stay-2@1xThe manager and chef Adrian is local to Alfriston and a font of knowledge about local walks and visits. A good one to start with is the Rathfinny Trail, which will take you up to the top of the downs for a birds eye view of the vines on one side and the sea on the other, and you can stop at the end at Rathfinny’s Flint Barns Café – an old H van serving delicious cakes and coffees that only walkers can reach – a local hidden gem, and soak up the warm English sun while gazing out at grapes and wild poppies that are doing much the same thing.

rathfinny-flint-barns-main-stay-1@1xWhat started as a rambler’s rest and hostel is evolving. This spring, as Flint Barns is becoming more discovered, they are opening up at weekends offering Sunday roasts and are hosting their first weekend yoga retreat in May, I can’t imagine anywhere more tranquil to salute the sun.

img_0777_25793416523_o-1280x853In Alfristion, Rathfinny has a tasting room and shop, selling local art and produce as well as the first bottlings from the estate, but the rest of this pretty, artist-friendly town is well worth an explore, with its mix of antiques shops, galleries and tea houses.

rathfinny-flint-barns-main-1At the moment, this is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets, but in 2018 when the first Sussex Sparkling corks are popped, Flint Barns and Rathfinny will be to Sussex what River Cottage is to Dorset. And the news that Taittinger has bought a vineyard in Kent is further proof that Rathfinny is onto a winner. Get there now so that you can gloat at dinner parties about how you stayed before Sussex Sparkling was ‘a thing’.


Rooms from £110 a night B&B, bunk beds from £35pp, /

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Outdoor kitchens? Smoking!


Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.37.33Eating outside is one of the best things about summer – if it’s ever warm enough – but increasingly, now it’s also about cooking outside, too. Hot on the heels of the “outdoor room” with its lounge-style furniture, outdoor cushions and twinkling lanterns, comes the outdoor kitchen – not just a barbecue, but stoves, grills, ovens and even sinks, all specifically designed for your garden. Maybe global warming isn’t all bad, after all?


California Grill
It’s no surprise that Orange County is the spiritual home of al fresco eating, with its year-round warmth. California brand Lynx design bespoke outdoor kitchens tat include five different sized grills, burners, griddle plates, smoker boxes and warming drawers, as well as cocktail stations (of course!), outdoor fridges and ice machines, and worktops, tailored to your space and lifestyle.
The original California Grill, that Lynx has been producing for 30 years, offers professional cooking and grilling for your garden.
Prices from £2860, 01275 343 000,

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.46.42Morso outdoor fireplace
Combining Danish design with clean, cast-iron lines, this stylish outdoor stove is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at al fresco dinner parties. It functions both as a warming outdoor fireplace and also as an outdoor Tuscan Grill for perfect barbecued food. The fire itself can be turned according to the wind direction, while the tall chimney means your clothes won’t smell of camp-fire smoke in the way that fire pits do.
Morso Kamino fire £999 and Tuscan grill £90,

esse-fire-stone-optional-side-shelves-and-stand-450x450Esse Fire Stone
This British-made, steel, cast-iron and brick, wood-fired oven is a heavy-duty piece of kit, cooking at temperatures up to 550c, but it also looks good enough to adorn even the most glamorous patio or deck. It cooks pizzas in just two minutes, but you can also use it for baking, roasting, braising and char-grilling.
In fact, Esse – who have been making stoves since 1854 – asked two Michelin-starred chefs and River Cottage’s Gill Meller to test it out before they launched, so there’s no excuse for burning the burgers. £1800,

Perfect Garden Private View Event, The Manor House, Ayot St Lawrence.

Gaze Burvill
After years of clients asking for bespoke outdoor kitchens, Gaze Burvill launched its modular A la Carte kitchen range two years ago, and sales are soaring, despite a starting price of more than £2,000. Four different cabinets contain a sink, Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances (a favourite oven with top chefs, including Aldo Zilli), a fridge and a warming drawer – which, as all Bake Off fans will know, is essential for proving your bread dough.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.52.48Morso Forno
This futuristic outdoor oven is a thing of Scandinavian beauty – and it cooks a mean supper, too. Inside, the wide, low-ceilinged oven is shaped like an Italian stone oven and has plenty of space to push the firewood aside when it comes to cooking.
On the stone you can bake bread, pizza or slow-cook joints of meat. Add the Tuscan Grill into the oven and you can chargrill steaks and veggies.
Morso forno, £1,620 (small £895),

Outdoor-GrillBig Green Egg
Yes, it looks like a huge hand grenade but this dome-lidded clay oven is actually a kamado – a Japanese stove where you can cook on direct heat, or indirectly using the deflector. You can also adjust the heat from 400c to 100c by releasing heat through a vent in the lid.
Think of it as an outdoor Aga, perfect for slow-cooking and roasting, but also for searing and crisping pizzas – serious al fresco chefs will love it.
From £750,

Outdoor-Kitchen-cassandra2Fire Magic
Create a fully-designed outdoor kitchen around seriously smart barbecues, incorporating sinks, fridges, grills, ovens and worktops – they can even build an enclosure around it to compensate for the British summer.
The stainless steel, American-made Aurora A430 barbecue (it feels demeaning to even call it a barbecue) comes with four burners, a rotisserie kit and a back burner as well as a built-in digital thermometer, and can be built into an outdoor kitchen from £2,999.

Weber Smokey Mountain
Want to create authentic pulled pork or smokey southern-style ribs? Then you’ll need a smoker, aka the hipster bbq, which adds more flavour to a traditional barbecue and cooks red meat, chicken and fish low and slow for juicy meat that falls off the bone, and it can also be used for hot smoking.
From £299,


The EcoGrill All Natural Barbecue by Eco Consumer Products is made from sustainably sourced, hollowed-out alder, and is designed to prolong the burning time of the charcoal. The disposable barbecue and fire pit burns away to nothing, leaving no waste.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.29.35

This article first appeared in Metro on 4 August.




Lime and Blueberry Ring Drizzle | The Times

Bake Off is back! Here’s a little taster to whet your appetite, courtesy of Mary Berry and The Times

blueberry lime ring

“Fresh limes and juicy blueberries add a lovely flavour, colour, and texture to this sponge. To get maximum juice, microwave the limes all together for 30–60 seconds before squeezing.”

Serves 24 200 calories per serving

225g butter (room temperature) or baking spread (at least 70 per cent fat), plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
2 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
Finely grated rind of 3 limes
100g blueberries
For the glaze
6 tbsp lime juice (from 3–4 limes)
175g granulated sugar
Special equipment
1.7 litre (3 pint) ring mould, 23cm (9in) diameter and 7.5cm (3in) deep; fine skewer


1 Preheat the oven to 180C (fan 160C). Grease the ring mould. Cut about 8–10 strips of baking parchment, each 15 x 2.5cm (6 x 1in), and use them to line the mould.

2 Place the butter, caster sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk and lime rind and beat using an electric hand whisk for about 2 min until smooth.

3 Spoon half the mixture into the ring mould and level it, then scatter the blueberries over the top, keeping them away from the edge of the mould (this makes them less likely to stick). Spoon the rest of the mixture over the blueberries and spread it evenly with a palette knife to cover the fruit.

4 Bake for 35-40 min or until well risen and the top springs back when lightly pressed. While it bakes, make a glaze: mix the lime juice with the sugar and set aside. Leave the cake to cool in its tin for a few minutes, then loosen the side with a palette knife. Turn it out on to a wire rack set over a baking tray and peel off the lining strips.

5 While the cake is still warm, prick all over with the skewer. Stir the glaze, then spoon it over the warm cake. Leave to cool completely.

© Mary Berry 2014. Recipes extracted from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect — Step by Step by Mary Berry, published by Dorling Kindersley, and available from the Times Bookshop for £22.50 (RRP £25), free p&p on 0845 2712134;

Source: Lime and Blueberry Ring Drizzle | The Times

More Cheese Please!

Woohoo, It’s British Cheese Week! I do LOVE cheese, as anyone who’s seen me, with my Neal’s Yard Cheese bag, will know.

Neal's Yard Covent Garden
Neal’s Yard Covent Garden

So this week, it’s an opportunity to gorge on cheddar (the nation’s favourite cheese – 80 per cent of Brits say it’s their cheese of choice), slice into some stichelton, or stir some goats cheese into a salad.

Inside the Borough shop
Inside the Borough shop

For me, oat cakes, charcoal crackers and parmesan biscuits (I could sit and eat a packet of M&S parmesan biscuits in one sitting) are essential, as is quince paste.

The Cheeseboard in Greenwich
The Cheeseboard in Greenwich

I love our local shop, the Cheeseboard in Greenwich, and news that Champagne and Fromage is opening an outpost here this month has filled me with excitement.

The tempting Cheeseboard, Greenwich
The tempting Cheeseboard, Greenwich

In central London, Neal’s Yard Dairy, La Fromagerie and the French cheese van at Borough Market (literally a guy who drives across from Normandy each Friday) are my favourites – and you can sit down and eat in at the cafe at La Fromagerie, too.

The outside of La Fromagerie, Marylebone
The outside of La Fromagerie, Marylebone

Anyway, here’s a bit of cheese-based research designed to celebrate Great British Cheese Week, from Branston. The average Brit consumes a palatable four servings of cheese a week, and our favourites are, drum roll please:

La Fromagerie1. Cheddar,

2. Mozzarella,

3. Red Leicester,

4. Brie,


6. Stilton,

7. Wensleydale,


9. Camembert

10.Cream cheese


Recipe: Heart Healthy Blueberry Avocado smoothie

If you are feeling the need for a mid-week cleanse then NUTRiBULLET has the perfect recipe for you. Their in-house Nutritionist has put together the perfect antioxidant-packed blast that your heart and body will love.

Full of monounsaturated fatty acids from the avocado, shown to help lower our risk of heart disease, and antioxidants from blueberries, shown to help reduce the build-up of “bad” LDL cholesterol, this creamy concoction will keep your heart healthy and strong.


Heart Healthy Blueberry Avocado

1 cup Blueberries
¼ Avocado
2 tablespoons Lime Juice
1 tablespoon SuperFood SuperGreens
1 tablespoon Honey
1 cup Coconut Water
1 handful Ice Cubes


Add all solid ingredients to the Tall Cup. Fill to the Max Line with liquids and blend until smooth, approximately 30 seconds. Add half a cup of Greek yoghurt for an extra boost of protein.

Street food comes to Shrewsbury

I’m really excited to see the street food trend expanding outside London. And on 22 May, chef Marcus Bean is launching Eat Street in Shropshire’s medieval county town of Shrewsbury.

The pretty, bustling market town of Shrewsbury
The pretty, bustling market town of Shrewsbury

Among the eight traders that will be showcasing their street food will be seasoned street food favourites: The Beefy Boys from Hereford and London-based Dog Town London. They will be lined up alongside Shrewsbury’s Barkworths Seafoods, Eat Up’s big coffee van and Polly’s Parlour Vintage VW ice-cream van.

Add live music and entertainment and there will be a real festival vibe to the event. You can’t go home without one of Dogtown London’s Big Smokey hotdogs or a 12-hour smoked pulled pork bun.

Chef, and Eat Street founder, Marcus Bean in the kitchen garden
Chef, and Eat Street founder, Marcus Bean in the kitchen garden

Other flavours at the Eat Street Shrewsbury include wood fired pizza from the pizza Peddlers, hot dogs topped with chilli cheese from Dogtown London, fishy delights from Barkworths Shrewsbury Saint-Pierre stand, and ice-cream served from a vintage VW ice cream van called Florence.

* Eat Street, Shrewsbury will take place in the grounds of St Alkmunds church off Butcher Row, Shrewsbury on Friday 22nd May, 4pm-10pm. Entry will be free of charge.

For more information follow @eatstreetshrews on Twitter 


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At home with chef Michael Caines

Double Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines has been the executive chef at Gidleigh Park in Devon for 21 years this year and also founded the Abode boutique hotel group. He has written books and regularly appears on TV. He lives in Devon with his wife Zoe and has three children, Joseph, 12, Hope, 9, and India, 3

Describe your kitchen…

It’s an amazing kitchen and it’s designed around the idea of integrated cooking and dining so it’s perfect for entertaining: it’s open-plan with a central island to cook on. I didn’t want it to feel like an industrial kitchen but it’s got clean lines and Miele stoves in both induction and gas and a wok burner. I’ve got a steamer and coffee machine built-in and two ovens so that I can cook things at different temperatures. It’s a great space for entertaining but also for relaxing and watching TV – I put a lot of thought into the design and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.


What’s your most used kitchen gadget?

I couldn’t do without my KitchenAid and blender, but I also rely on more low-tech gadgets like my pestle and mortar so that I can make my own spice mixes. My garlic press is probably one of the most-used gadgets in my kitchen – it’s just so easy.


What do you eat at home?

I cook lots of curries, stir-fries, roasts and pasta – things that the kids will eat too. And I bake a lot, it’s a great way to involve children in cooking. If they get involved with cooking it then they’re more inclined to eat it.


What’s your favourite cookbook?

I don’t buy cookbooks but I do get given a lot – I use them for ideas and inspiration. But the one that I do use at home is a really old book from the Seventies that used to be my mum’s called How to be a Good Housewife – it’s full of really patronising things like how to lay a table, but it’s got some really great cake recipes in it, including a Christmas pudding recipe that I love.

I use Asian cookbooks as I don’t cook Asian food in my work so I’ve learnt a lot from them


What are your store-cupboard staples?

Salt, garlic, Chinese five spices, olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden.


Do you have a favourite fast and easy meal that you could share with us?

I make a really easy seafood pasta dish – although I do also like to make my own pasta as I have a pasta maker at home. But I finish my pasta slightly differently, when it’s almost cooked I put some olive oil in a pan, sweat some garlic, and add some chilli, parsley and a little bit of the pasta cooking water and then I toss the pasta in the pan and finish the pasta in the pan to seal in the flavours. And then I serve the seafood separately, rather than mixing it all together.


What three things would you save from your kitchen in a fire?

Mum’s cookbook, my set of Robert Welch knives and my pestle & mortar.


Your favourite restaurant?

The Ledbury in London.


Last supper?

It would be seafood platter followed by roast chicken with all the trimmings, and then cheese and wonderful fruit to finish.


Your food hero?

I’m all about looking forward not back, so I don’t really spend time thinking about heroes or mentors. I’ve worked with some amazing chefs including Raymond Blanc and Joel Robuchon but my focus is on the future. 

Guilty food pleasure?
It’s go to be takeaways – I love a good Indian or Thai takeaway.

How did you get into cooking?
It started at home – I’d help mum baking cakes to start with and then we had a large kitchen garden so I’d help Dad grow things to cook and it just became a hobby and then a passion that turned into a career. There were no celebrity chefs back then so I never thought about it as a job, it was something I did for fun.

Is that why you focus on seasonal and local produce?
I focussed on regional food because 20-odd years ago you couldn’t get more exotic or unusual ingredients in rural Devon, so it made sense to concentrate on what was around me and available – especially as the natural larder in the south west is incredible. There was just one delivery a week coming from London at that time. And at the time, local and seasonal food wasn’t a big thing so it was something quite different to be doing. My food has evolved and I’ve grown more confident in my own style as I’ve progressed.


You overcame a personal tragedy when you joined Gidleigh Park and went on to win two Michelin stars there – how did losing your arm change your outlook?

It had a massive impact on me physically and psychologically but I was determined to overcome it as I had too much to lose. The first year was the hardest but when I got past it I could see how much I had achieved.

And what advice would you give to others in a similar situation or with obstacles to overcome?
My advice would be to take it one step at a time. The best way to persevere is to surround yourself with friends and family and create an atmosphere that gives you a positive mindset.

You’ve been at Gidleigh for 21 years this year – how has cooking and the food scene changed in that time?
So much has changed, fine dining has become less formal but there is still as huge place for it. I’m all about championing local and seasonal food and people are much more aware of that today. Food has become much more of a lifestyle choice – people are much more discerning about what and where they eat. I’m pleased that some of the gimmickry that has been around in recent years has passed – I don’t believe in de-constructing anything, ever.

Is fine-dining dead?
No. It’s still the highest form of cuisine and people want to go out and feel special and dress up. But people don’t want the pomp any more or to be made to feel uncomfortable. The premise is the same but the application is different, and that’s a good thing – fine dining is more accessible than ever. Food isn’t an elite sport, everyone deserves to eat good food.

And where do you get the best Devon scones?
I make them!

Michael Caines will be cooking in the On5 restaurant at Royal Ascot this June (0844 346 0346,


Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 15.01.25

This article first appeared in Metro on 14 April 2015.

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A stay in SoCo

Somewhere in the northern wilds of Wiltshire and Somerset a hot new area is emerging, SoCo, or South of Cotswolds is, whisper it, beginning to outshine its chic northern neighbour…

The green arc around Bath’s eastern side, where the West Country ends and the Wolds begin has long been neglected by travellers who zip through heading south for Devon, north to the Cotswolds, or straight through to Bath, Bristol and beyond.

But not anymore. This lush green, properly rural corner of the country has had a noticeable influx of not-so-muddy boots hot-footing it out of the city and into this bucolic, arty no-mans-land.

The tiny towns of Bruton, Frome (which boasts swanky private members club and hotel Babington House on its doorstep) and Bradford on Avon, all have a historic grandness about them, while also remaining just the right side of quaint to be thriving, interesting towns to live in and not just visit.

A wave of galleries, hotels, foodie producers, restaurants and cultural outposts has been putting this hot spot on the map.

Hauser and Wirth Somerset


Most recent, and notable, is contemporary art space Hauser and Wirth (, on the edge of Bruton in Somerset, which is home to Pearl Lowe and Danny Goffey. Drive out of the town and you’ll easily miss this farmhouse and its barns that have been converted into a world-class gallery. Outside, Subodh Gupta’s giant gleaming milking pail bucket, a Louise Bourgeois spider and the gently swaying Piet Oudolf-designed gardens (he of New York’s Highline fame) give away the fact that something altogether new is happening here.

Piet Oudolf meadow
Piet Oudolf meadow at Hauser and Wirth Somerset


It’s a cultural version of Daylesford in Gloucestershire, a daring and brave mix that includes a shop, four galleries, landscaped sculpture gardens for outdoor walks; and a truly fantastic restaurant and bar – the Roth Bar and Grill. The simple but brilliant, unpretentious food is a sort of Ottolenghi meets gastropub hybrid. The pulled pork and coleslaw ciabatta was lip-smackingly moreish; chicken with rosemary roast new potatoes kept the children happy; and the salad of butternut squash, kale and roasted tomato with spelt and goats cheese, that was meant to be the side dish, stole the show.

HW spider
A Louise Bourgeois spider looms over Hauser and Wirth in Bruton


The bar, meanwhile, is an oasis for cocktails, with a dizzying installation built out of local reclaimed materials by Dieter Roth’s son and grandson, Björn and Odder Roth. On Friday nights, locals take over – Reef drummer Dominic Greensmith and Goffey, now drummer for Babyshambles, are in charge of the music. Daisy Lowe has been known to DJ to a crowd that might include locals such as theatre director Cameron Mackintosh, fashion designers Pheobe Philo and Alice Temperley, film director Sam Taylor-Wood or property expert Kevin McCloud.


You can sleep here, too – Dursdale farmhouse, emblazoned with Martin Creed’s neon words “Everything is going to be alright” – can be rented by the week and sleeps 12.

At the Chapel in Bruton
At the Chapel in Bruton

Don’t miss Bruton itself either. This quiet town makes a big noise: stop for food, wine and a night at At The Chapel on the high street ( Owned by ex-Notting Hill restauranteur Catherine Butler, this bakery, wine bar, restaurant and micro hotel kick-started Bruton’s regeneration more than ten years ago. Stop for a morning cappuccino and you might spot Mariella Frostrup working on her laptop in a corner. Book in at Matt’s Kitchen, a supperclub in Matt’s house on the high street that operates three nights a week, or try Truffles French brasserie. There’s a natural, rustic florist, a rare-breed butcher, and organic grocers and a smattering of galleries and antiques shops – no wonder it’s been alikened to “Notting Hill back in the early days”.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

To the west of Bruton and south of Bristol, The Ethicurean perfectly sums up the mood of the area – it’s a very hip eatery housed in the ramshackle glasshouse of a walled garden, where almost all of the produce is grown. Here country meets cutting edge – they make their own vermouth to go in their Negronis (which come served with a rhubarb swizzle stick), and pickle vegetables to sustain the kitchen the lean winter months. Bohemian, cool, and yet very low-key, it captures the confidence of the region – there can be very few parts of the country where you could open such a venture and succeed financially, to such acclaim. Inside there’s a mixture of yummy mummies, Bristolian hipsters, older artistic types and a few welly-booted walkers. We polished off a sticky toffee apple pudding washed down by a pint of the local Gorge Best beer before heading on to Frome.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

Nearby Frome is a thriving indy town, packed with quirky boutiques, arty spaces and a bit of new age dream catcher thrown in for good measure (well we are a stone’s throw from Stonehenge and Glastonbury after all). The Archangel makes a great pit-stop, and if you want to swoon about in luxury, nowhere does it better than Babington House – the original country outpost of private members club Soho House and the brand’s first hotel.

A little further north in Bradford on Avon there’s a great mixture of shops, galleries and places to run about. The kids will love the country park; we played pooh sticks on the footbridge over the river, and the wandered up to Fat Fowl – a great all-day bistro with jazz on a Sunday and an upstairs play area to occupy the kids.

Old Manor

Just outside the town is the Moonraker (doubles from £135 B&B,, a laidback manor house that feels more like a friend’s rambling house party than a hotel, with higgledy rooms and a restaurant that’s headed up by Matthew Briddon who champions a home-grown farmhouse approach to fine-dining. The pea guacamole with Bath cheese and pancetta served with parsnip crisps and home-made pork scratchings made from the hotel’s own pigs set the tone for a delicious evening followed by the best night’s sleep. Rooms are relaxed and homely and furnished with antique furniture, home-made flapjacks, and local scented candles from Bradford-on-Avon. “When we came here a couple of years ago it was a real gamble,” says owner Tudor Hopkins. “But in that time we’ve seen it change so much, things are just exploding and there’s a real buzz about the area – and we’re getting busier and busier.”

Chef Matthew Briddon in Moonraker's walled garden
Chef Matthew Briddon in Moonraker’s walled garden

For now, thanks to it’s unique location off the beaten tracks of the Cotswolds to the north and the West Country to the south and west, SoCo has managed to retain an authentic, cool vibe, unaffected by tourist coaches and corporate chains. And that’s just the way the locals – and the cognoscenti who do visit – like it.


This article appeared in METRO on 13 April 2015


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Restaurant review: The Ethicurean

We were driving down to Wiltshire on Friday, minus the children, with an hour or three to spare. We were hungry. “Is there anywhere that we could stop about an hour from here,” asked my husband optimistically somewhere between Worcester and Gloucester trundling down the M5.

I scoured the map. We didn’t really want to drive in to Bristol as we were heading south-east of there, to explore the Somerset/Wiltshire borders. And then I remembered I’d been wanting to try The Ethicurean for a while. But where was it? Not quite in Bristol.

A Google search and phone call later we were booked in to this ethical, hyper-local, sustainable restaurant that sits in a walled garden south of Bristol. I say restaurant, but  The Ethicurean is really a ramshackle greenhouse and shed, stuck to one corner of the Barley Wood Walled Garden. If that makes it sound scruffy, then you shouldn’t go. But if you love the romantic notion of sitting in the orangery of the very garden that the produce on your plate was grown in, and to hell with a bit of damp on the walls, or the wonky mis-matched tables and chairs, then this is the place for you.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

As a gardener, an interiors addict and a greedy appetite for food, I was in heaven! Looking out, sipping cider from apples grown in the orchard, you could imagine Peter Rabbit might pop up at any moment and steal an organic carrot.

But, romance aside, the aims of this place are in credible. Virtually all of the food comes from the garden or is foraged locally, so menus are created each day according to what’s on offer. I was worried that we were visiting at possibly the worst time of the year – the winter season over, nothing would be growing for spring yet, apart from the earliest wild garlic and maybe some nettles and rhubarb.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

I needn’t have been. They pickle and preserve what they can, so the beetroot starter with strained goats cheese was divine. They also make their own cider from the apples and even their own vermouth to go in the Negronis. Our other starter – cider and cheddar Welsh rarebit – did not disappoint. The cider and cheese had been cooked and turned in to a thick fondue, then spread on the doorstep slab of home-baked bread and grilled into submission. A sharp salad of winter leaves and pickled carrot in place of tomatoes, cut through the rich rarebit to clean the palette.

Our mains were even better – considering the chefs were cooking in a shed the size of, well, a shed, this was a miracle. My pork belly was pressed to squeeze out some of the fat and served with chipotle crackling, more beetroot, pickled apple slices and deep, forest green kale. The husband’s bavette was succulent and stylishly presented. We may have been in a garden but there was no heavy-handed presentation, the finesse of the food and it’s delectable flavours were matched by the delicate presentation.

The Ethicurean
The Ethicurean

Pudding? Sticky toffee apple pudding! It could have had more sauce – as the husband pointed out, it isn’t hard to whip up – but it was moist and treacly without being stodgy or heavy. All in all, we were bowled over.

The only thing we couldn’t understand on this sunny, blustery spring Friday lunchtime, was why it wasn’t packed out? People of Bristol, what are you doing?! Perhaps you’re already too spoiled for choice by great, ethical, locally-sourced eateries…

The Ethicurean cookbook
The Ethicurean cookbook


Britain’s best Eat Streets

Want to know the best foodie hubs across the UK? Here they are…

The news that Berkeley Street has become London’s hottest gastronomic real estate may not come as a surprise to foodies, but where are the most delicious streets in other cities?

The view from GB1 in Brighton
The view from GB1 in Brighton

Brighton: Kings Road

Situated on the seafront, this is the go-to destination for any food fan, especially seafood lovers.

Salt Room
Salt Room

The hottest new opening, right on the seafront, is The Salt Room, sister to the Brighton’s famous Coal Shed steak restaurant, who’s menu focuses on sustainable British fish, including cuttlefish, bouillabaisse and lobster – but the huge cocktail list is worth the trip alone.

The stylish GB1
The stylish GB1

Or try GB1, a glam culinary hotspot that is renowned for its exceptional seafood. Grab a seat at the central champagne and oyster bar and share a seafood platter, all sourced from the south coast – with 75 per cent caught within an eight-mile radius of the hotel.

Other King’s Road favourites include Smokeys, for a flavour of America (great for a Californian brunch), Steki, a Greek taverna with live music, and the Regency restaurant for traditional seaside fish and chips.

The seafood afternoon tea at the Victoria Lounge
The seafood afternoon tea at the Victoria Lounge

Head to the Victoria Lounge Bar and Terrace at the Grand Hotel for afternoon tea with a seaside twist – think salted scones served with crème fraiche, chives and Keta caviar, and treacle-cured salmon. Or make for the Hilton’s Waterhouse bar and terrace to sip on Sussex Mules and chow down on a local Hailsham lamb burger.



Bakers and Co
Bakers and Co

Bristol: Gloucester Road

The longest independent shopping street in the UK, Gloucester Road – also known as Stokes Croft – boasts pubs, foodie shops and restaurants nestled between Banksys and artists studios, with a laidback, alternative vibe, that’s uniquely Bristolian.

Poco Bristol
Poco Bristol

Start at the original Pieminster shop for a steak and ale pie washed down with a local craft beer, stop at Poco – voted Best Ethical Restaurant by The Guardian – for global tapas plates including roasted belly of pork with fennel crackling, homemade Moroccan harissa and chorizo and merguez sausages, then there’s an incredible co-operative called The Canteen, where free live music sets the backdrop for affordable “slow food” that’s all super sustainable and ethical.


There are two Caribbean restaurants – Rice and Tings and Plantation which turns into a salsa club after hours. For more musical inspiration, stop at the pub where George Ezra was discovered, the Gallimaufry, a curious bar combining local art, music, home cooking and good drinks, all under one roof.

Huevos rancheros at Bakers and Co
Huevos rancheros at Bakers and Co

Another late-night institution, Biblos is the place for wraps and snacks, while the morning after you’ll find everyone brunching at Baker’s and Co, a San Francisco-inspired café and deli where everything is baked from scratch.



Edinburgh's Grassmarket
Edinburgh’s Grassmarket

Edinburgh: Grassmarket 

The historic cobbled streets of the Grassmarket in Edinburgh’s Old Town are packed with amazing culinary independent shops and restaurants.

Melli's Cheese
Melli’s Cheese

Tempt your taste buds with some foodie shopping: Demijohn was the world’s first liquid deli when it opened in 2004 selling bespoke vinegars, oils and liqueurs; Melli’s Cheese is an Edinburgh institution that stocks the city’s best restaurants and is a delight for the senses; get a flavour of Scotland at the Saturday Market, which has an abundance of locally grown and produced organic vegetables, artisan breads, fresh meat and fish as well as street food and the most amazing gin macaroons.

Hula Juice bar
Hula Juice bar

Make a pit stop at the Hula Juice Bar – the Betty Ford Detox Smoothie is virtue in a glass; for something less saintly try Mary’s Milk Bar for a cosy gelato, hot chocolate or freshly-made chocolate truffles – you can even join the monthly truffle-making masterclass. If you like your tipples a little stronger there’s a clutch of traditional pubs including the White Hart Inn, Beehive Inn and the Last Drop Tavern.

OInk hog roast
OInk hog roast

As for dining out, new arrival Oink specialises in delicious hog roasts from the owners’ Scottish Borders farm, while Maison Bleue offers an eclectic mix of French, North African and Scottish cuisine all sourced from local suppliers and producers. Mamma’s Pizzeria serves some of Edinburgh’s best, fresh stone-baked pizza alongside delicious steak on the stone, pasta and a great range of starters, sides and desserts.

Grain Store
Grain Store

But for a truly Scottish treat seek out the Grain Store, above the market and beneath stone vaulted ceilings and archways of the original storerooms used by the warren of shops below, serving the very best of Scottish produce.



Circo Lounge
Circo Lounge 

Bournemouth: Poole Road

The Westbourne neighbourhood, centring around Poole Road is brimming with independent delis, cool cafes and artisan food shops, just a 15-minute stroll from the beach.

Le Petit Prince bakery
Le Petit Prince bakery

Le Petit Prince on Poole Road sells delicious, award-winning bread made on the premises as well as cakes and coffees; a little further up the road is Chocol8, a luxury chocolate shop and coffee lounge.


Something savoury? Badger and Bumble is a fab deli offering British cheeses and pies; Circo Lounge is a laidback brunch and tapas bar with a cool, casual vibe, while Geneve, an American-style diner and burger joint is one of the best places to eat in Bournemouth.

Circo Lounge
Circo Lounge

Best of all, you can bag up your farmers market (on the first Saturday of every month) and deli feast and wander through a wooded pathway from here to Alum Chine beach for a picnic al fresco.



Trinity Kitchen
Trinity Kitchen

Leeds: Trinity Leeds, Boar Lane

The city’s glossy, glass-covered shopping area, is also home to some of the best restaurants and to Trinity Kitchen – each month five different street food trucks are lifted into this industrial-chic space to create an ever-changing, vibrant grab-and-go eatery, that’s as cool as it is affordable.

Noisette bakery
Noisette bakery

For cocktails, try the garden-inspired Botanist and share a watering can (yes, really) with friends – the Raspberry and Sage (sage, black grapes, raspberry vodka, elderflower liqueur, grenadine, white wine and lemonade) is our favourite pick. The Alchemist is a stylish spot for a lazy brunch or lunch.

Kerb Edge at Trinity Kitchen
Kerb Edge at Trinity Kitchen

For something more substantial, Crafthouse, five storeys above Boar Lane with glittering views, headed up by Lee Bennett pays homage to the areas amazing local producers and serves up the best of British and Yorkshire. Angelica, on Trinity’s top floor, has become the city’s latest go-to destination for drinks and dinner – the Raw Bar and the rooftop terrace are the must-book seats.

Trinity Kitchen
Trinity Kitchen

Meanwhile, Meatliquor will satisfy and burger cravings, and those with a sweet tooth should head down Boar Lane to Roast and Conch, the flagship café and restaurant from the team behind Hotel Chocolat.



Manchester House
Manchester House

Manchester: Spinningfields

One of the city’s most vibrant, newest destinations, Spinningfields is fast-becoming Manchester’s gastro capital.

Manchester House in Bridge Street serves Michelin-worthy modern British food (from Michelin chef Aiden Byrne) in a warehouse setting, while it’s lounge bar up on the 12th floor and roof of the building is a real draw too, with 360 degree views of the city.

Manchester House
Manchester House

The Left Bank Café in the People’s History Museum is a lovely place to catch up over lunch or a glass of wine, make sure to bag a seat on the waterside balcony. Pick up sweet treats at Hey Little Cupcake, or move straight onto the stronger stuff at Oast House or Neighbourhood – a Manhattan-inspired bar.

The Lawn Club reopens next month with a members-club feel and a retractable roof so that you can savour drinks and British small plates (very now) al fresco.


This article appeared in Metro on 17 March 2015

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