Tag Archives: review

Book Review: My Vegan Travels

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Please note: A recipe extract is included at the end of this post.

I must admit that the last time I watched a whole series of MasterChef UK, from start to finish, or any other MasterChef to be honest, was in 2011. I cannot pinpoint exactly the reason or reasons why, but I guess it must have been something to do with the people taking part. It’s probably the only series in which I can remember the finalists clearly, but the one clip I will never forget was the one in which they had Yotam Ottolenghi as a surprise judge. Jackie Kearney’s smile radiated through the television screen. From that point on I rooted for her and wished she could win. She didn’t but of course, that was just the beginning.

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Book Review: London The Cookbook

London The Cookbook cover

[Before proceeding with the review, I would just like to add a personal note. To the people of London, in particular the residents of Grenfell tower who lost their homes in the terrible fire, the firefighters who are nothing other than Superheros, the victims and their friends and families, and the community rounding up to help. Also to all the traders in Borough Market and the victims of the London Bridge attack. We are with you.]

I could not contain my excitement when after writing to Quarto requesting this book for review, I actually received it in the post. You see, for any new reader of this blog, you must know that London and I go way back. I met her for the first time when I was 6. And yes, London is of course, a she. I didn’t like her very much at first, until my parents took me to the parks. She and I made friends there and then, and remain so to this day.

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Book Review – Sri Lanka: The Cookbook

9780711238589 Sri_Lanka finalWhat I said two posts ago, while reviewing Mira Manek’s first book Saffron Soul, holds true here as well. The guys at Quarto are seriously, seriously (yes, it’s a double) getting things right. I was very curious and very nervous about Sri Lanka: The Cookbook, thinking that I would not be able to give an objective review. Perhaps ‘objective’ is not the right word to use here, but let’s leave it. When I received it a few days ago, what I saw when I opened the package just made my day.

Sri Lanka (0958)I wrote to Jessie at Quarto almost immediately with a ‘how beautiful this book is’ e-mail, which I normally don’t do, at least not that quickly. This time round though I couldn’t contain my excitement. It just looks stunning. (As I write this I might take a photo of the book myself, just to show you the texture of the cover – another good excuse to bust out my macro lens. And I did.)

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Flora’s Tearoom: One year Anniversary

Pancake of the Week (0683)One year goes by so fast. I find myself saying this repeatedly these days. A year ago I was told by a good friend of mine about a little tearoom and cafe’ (thank goodness) in the heart of Naxxar. You should go, Anna said, you definitely should. So that’s basically how Flora’s, which I think must have been open for just around two days, went straight to the top of my places-to-visit list. I had moved to Malta with J the previous summer and was looking for quaint independent places where I could have good coffee and a piece of cake (or two) while chatting to my mum or for just reading a book. Needless to say, discovering Flora’s felt as if I hit the jackpot.
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Flora’s Coffee Shop and Tea Room

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One thing I thought I would miss, since moving back to Malta last year was a good place for coffee and conversation, and perhaps for some reading. I’m sure there are a few places dotted around the island where you can do all that, but I haven’t come across anything till now. From this week though, I’m happy. In fact, this post could easily be part 2 in my love Malta series. From this week, my lovely readers, there’s a new kid on the block I like – a place so charming you will want to visit very soon. It’s called Flora’s, a small but beautiful coffee shop and tea room in Naxxar. So central, so on point. At least, for me. With an address like 1, Victory Square, you cannot miss it, and it’s right by the church. That’s exactly where I wanted to go on Friday. They opened on Wednesday, and I wanted to see how they would manage the usual teething problems a new place faces during its first few days.

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Ice cream from Borough Market

Ice cream from Trebis in Borough Market (9524)

I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since I posted something on C&T. I rarely miss my post-one-a-week target without telling you about it first. In the past I used to feel guilty – don’t know exactly why – but I tend to be a little picky about this blog. It is my baby. I’m sure you know what I mean.

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Book review: Gordon Ramsay’s 3 Star Chef

3 Star Chef (9073)

I learn new things every day. From anyone. It doesn’t matter if on the other side of the bench there’s a chef or a home cook who’s doing the teaching. If something makes sense, it makes sense. That’s it. Done deal. I do have lots of respect for people who know their craft; those who have gone through years of classes and training in the best kitchens, with the masters. They took the time to train for excellence. Not a mean feat. They might seem arrogant, and arguably some are, but I would count to ten before saying so. Not all restaurants are the same. And not every chef is the same. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Gordon Ramsay or trying his food; still, through reading his work and watching the man on tv, whether from a restaurant kitchen or indeed at home, I feel I have actually learnt something. Please note that two books by Ramsay have been out on the same date: Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course (Hodder & Stoughton) and 3 Star Chef (Quadrille Publishing). The former accompanies a tv series, and has a very different style. Quadrille were kind enough to send me a review copy of the latter on the day of publication. Without diminishing the importance of eating well at home, cooking in a restaurant kitchen is obviously a very different thing. This book is about restaurant food at the highest level.

There’s no doubt about it: the guys at Quadrille know what they’re doing. Freshly pressed, everything about 3 Star Chef (the mini edition) points to one thing: Perfection…with a capital P. And that’s Gordon Ramsay for you. He needs no introduction, and for those who don’t know who he is, let’s just say that one doesn’t get three stars from Michelin for nothing. This book is Gordon Ramsay. You can tell as soon as you read what he has to say about this project.

First impressions are good. It’s white so it’s clean. The photos are stunning, the food exquisite, so it’s beautiful. There are a few photos of the Chef but this is meant to be a celebration of Ramsay’s accomplishments so far, so there’s definitely a place for them. The first half is glossy and shows off 50 of his trademark dishes at their best, whereas the second half is matte, snaps us out of nirvana, and explains how they are made (step by step, without any extra patronising). What I didn’t do this time is to try some of his signature dishes myself (something which I usually do for completeness), but hey, really, what is there to confirm about the food? There are some dishes which scare me, but others, like the Fillet of red mullet with cod, spring onion and pearl barely risotto, with a sweet and sour pepper sauce, seem attainable enough. At least to cook; I cannot really hope to replicate the presentation. I would also like to try my hand at the Carrot and white chocolate fondant with dark chocolate sorbet.

It’s easy to sort through which recipes one could reasonably try. However, some seem impractical as they need very particular ingredients; this is hardly unexpected in recipes of this kind, and substitutions aren’t acceptable (unless this is already indicated). Others cause logistical problems: what to do with any leftover ingredients. My only concern is the lack of a list of stockists, for those specialist ingredients. Though of course there is always the internet. If you want it, you can find it. Gordon will certainly not treat you like a kid. If you’re capable of mastering these types of dishes, then you probably already know where to get the ingredients from, or at least how to find out.

It’s a book that belongs in the kitchen as well as in the living room. Priced at a mere £20 it makes a nice gift for any Gordon fan. Quadrille have confirmed that this year’s edition has the same content as the signed limited edition of 2007. It just has been reduced in size. It’s not the kind of book I’d normally go for if I was merely browsing in a bookshop. Having said that, now I’ve spent some time reading it I’m not quite so sure.

Rob x