Tuesday, 3 April 2018

La French Food Afternoon tea

La French Food is a chance for people with a love of food who produce, make, buy, sell and write about food to get together over an afternoon in Central London to sample the best, most traditional, and also the most innovative French food products.

Because, as we know, the French have great style, that meant being welcomed with a glass of Champagne, served up right next to Valrhona chocolate's presentation. Resist fine chocolate and Champagne? I am a mere mortal. How could I?

Valrhona's chocolates are rightly famous, known as one of the best in the world. But other than delectable high quality chocolates, what is new and innovative? 

The people at Valrhona were keen for me to try their fruit couvertures, as pictured above. They have been experimenting with preserving the very essence of fruit; colour, aroma, flavour in cocoa butter to give a cooking ingredient for baking and desserts. The strawberry is fresh and tastes like a sunny Summer day. The passion fruit is a taste revelation; packing a tangy punch, the vibrancy of the fruit shining through. Almost too good to cook with, these little parcels of fruitness have to be tasted to be believed!

Next I decided to check out the cooking demonstrations, of course!

Chef Neal from Atelier des Chefs was making salads using Entremont's new cheese creams. Their "Creme Terroir" takes classic French cheese such as Munster, Rebluchon and Roquefort and combines them with cream and butter to make a blend highly suitable for making sauces, creams or just for eating with salads. The blending means that when you are making a sauce, you can be sure the sauce won't split and will come out perfectly creamy.

Across from Neal, Chef Fabrizio was cooking up a storm, making that French favourite, Crepes. With a choice of Crepe with Valrhona Caramel cooking chocolate and Fabrizio's own secret recipe Chocolate Ganace or Crepe with Ham and cheese, the sweet crepe was always going to win!

Naturally, an experienced Chef like Fabrizio was going to make a lovely, light pancake. But the caramel chocolate filling was a great surprise, as was the rich ganache. Indulgent and luxurious!

It wouldn't have been right to only try the sweet stuff, so I moved on to Bahier's very traditional meaty Rilletes. They make Pork, Goose, Duck and Chicken varieties. 

Spread on some fresh sourdough baguette slices, their Rilletes were rich and pleasantly unctuous. They reminded me of sunny afternoons spent in the Loire Valley last Summer, where we had these informal and unfussy pates for starters, with glasses of Vouvray. 

The famous Agen prunes and dried fruits of Les Vergers D'Escoute were my next discovery. This family has made great quality dried fruit products for 5 generations. Not only were they large, moist, generous and tasty, but look at the presentation of their produce! A world away from the uninviting packs you find in health food stores, these are inviting and beautiful packages to either treat yourself to or give to your friends as gifts.

My next discovery was one of the quirkiests finds at La French Food: Apis Civi honey. Why quirky? This is isn't honey made in sunny Provence, or on the wineries of Bordeaux or on the banks of the Loire... this is city honey. Made in Paris! I was told that the flower diversity of Paris is so wide, the bees create a honey which is unique. It certainly tasted good and made me think twice about France's stunning and special capital, a city I love. 

It wouldn't be a French afternoon without Macarons! Brioche Pasquier provided these beauties. They are a bakery from the west of France originally founded in 1936 whose bread products have recently been picked up by Ocado in the UK. 

My final discovery was perhaps the most innovative food and drink product I have ever seen: the D-Vine wine system. This is a method of serving wine in perfect condition almost instantly. I was sceptical but had to give it a try.

As a frequent forgetful foodie, I have known the frustration of forgetting to chill white wine before serving, desparately putting the bottle in the freezer and hoping for the best. With the D-Vine system, each little bottle (which has a full glass of wine inside) has a little microchip to tell the machine how to serve the wine in terms of aeration and temperature. Still pining for the Loire Valley after my trip there last Summer, it was obvious what I was going to choose!
The machine detected my choice, recognising the need to chill it before pouring. After just under a minute the machine began to pour my wine into my glass.

Amazingly, the wine was perfectly chilled, despite the bottle having been at room temperature only a minute before. The wine itself was a beautiful off-dry Loire, as promised. The next person in the queue wanted a red wine. Somehow the machine served that wine, aerated and at room temperature.

This machine is such a marvel of new technology that even Emmanuel Macron, the French President has a D-Vine machine. I can see how this could be an excellent little gizmo for a small restaurant or bar. I was a bit concerned about the sustainability of the system given that each bottle only holds the capacity of a glass of wine. However, they are fully recyclable, and the makers hope to expand to reuse the bottles, collecting, cleaning and refilling them. If this happens this would be an excellent and environmentally friendly way of enjoying wine, glass by glass.

Snigdha was invited to La French Food by Business France as a guest. She has received no incentive for posting this review.

Friday, 23 March 2018

March 2018 Favourites List

This month’s picture may seem a little out of place for a favourites list for March. They’re more in the vein of Christmas! 

We Brits are obsessed with the weather. We can talk about it in incredible detail, with any other English speaking human being, for any required length of time. We get excited about it, we often complain about it, we never get bored of it. Even the subject of what to wear for the weather can embroil us in deep conversation.

We don’t have fifty words for snow. But we can talk about it forever. London rarely gets snow, being down in the very south of the UK and because it has its own microclimate (often a degree warmer than the outskirts). So when the cold weather front dubbed “The Beast From The East” hit us, bringing us some of the white stuff, we filled our boots. Instagrams, tweets and Facebook pictures of backgardens, snow covered cars and snowmen filled everyone’s timelines.

We only had a decent inch or so of snow. Our compatriots up north had a lot more. But don’t begrudge us our flurry of joy. We had so much fun. The trains didn’t run, the roads weren’t gritted, and boilers went on the blink. But we didn’t mind, it was just something else to chat about.

My pictures are of Central London in the snow. I hope you like them. I will confess, I really hope when I come to compile next month’s favourites list Spring will have arrived! I’m freezing!


Mung bean vermicelli are so see through, they are called glass noodles. Here's a Thai recipe using prawns and pork mince which uses them: https://hot-thai-kitchen.com/glass-noodle-salad-v2/

New noodle recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi using rice vermicelli, udon and sea spaghetti: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/10/yotam-ottolenghis-noodle-recipes

La Scala in Beverly Hills has the reputation of being the restaurant of Hollywood stars. They are famed for inventing the American chopped salad - easy to eat, no need to slice anything, light and unfattening. Perfect for busy actors lunching. La Scala shared their recipe with Rick Stein on his recent Mexico series. https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/chopped-salad-from-la-scala

I would swap out Cumberland sausage for the more meat-rich Italian sausages I can get from the Italian deli in Lewisham. But a quick supper dish for cold evenings: https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/meat-and-poultry/pappardelle-with-spicy-sausage-and-kale/

Did anyone else like the look of Madhur Jaffrey's Lamb shanks braised in yoghurt and spices served with dill pilau on a very recent Saturday Kitchen Best Bites (10 March)? The recipe is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/lambshanksbraisedina_91037

Food writing I’ve enjoyed this month:

Food memories take us back to better times, more innocent times. This beautiful evocation by food blogger and NHS doctor Aaron Vallance of his grandma Beryl's chicken soup has made me a little misty eyed. https://www.1dish4theroad.com/2016/12/grandma-beryls-chicken-soup.html

Food writing is best when it is passionate, full of love... or full of laughs. This is a brilliantly humourous blog post on Brussels sprouts... AKA mini demon cabbages! http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2018/03/20/die-demon-cabbage-die-i-will-make-you-like-brussels-sprouts/

Southern Italy is a beautiful place to travel around. Imagine flitting from town to town sampling the very different and perhaps controversial versions of pizza to be found? Imagine no longer… https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-15/the-wild-pizzas-of-southern-italy-have-to-be-seen-to-be-believed

Pre-prepared ingredients in supermarkets often attract negative comment. "Why would anyone buy ready made mashed potatoes?" But many of these products aren't a short cut for "the lazy". They're necessary for those with pain/strain/injury issues, disabilities and persistent conditions. The packaging often has far too much plastic, but that's a problem across the board in our supermarkets. Before we judge, we need to be more thoughtful. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2018/mar/16/pre-chopped-onions-arent-pointless-if-you-cant-hold-a-knife

8 March was International Women's Day, prompting Metro to write about 5 inspirational women of Indian origin, shaking up the London food scene. (International Men's Day is 19th November, in case you were wondering.) http://metro.co.uk/2018/03/08/meet-5-indian-women-shaking-up-londons-food-scene-7355930/

After International Women's Day, it seems apt to think about whether food marketing should be gendered. Why would one chocolate bar be "not for girls", yet another is a feminine indulgence? What next? Bloke blue bottled Champagne? Women's flowery sausages? Let food be food, I say! http://metro.co.uk/2018/03/08/food-and-drink-isnt-gendered-so-can-companies-please-stop-marketing-it-as-if-it-is-7369052/

Beyond five spice - a guide to the essential condiments for home cooked Chinese food: http://thewoksoflife.com/chinese-spices-condiments/

An emotional, beautiful, evocative read. Remembering his Vietnamese-American upbringing, Andrew Bui discusses his love for Pho. And he shares his recipe. https://thecookscook.com/columns/family-meal/a-bowl-of-pho/

Food recycling taken up a notch - how used chewing gum can be given a new lease of life: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/stories-43198104


What you might have missed at Snig’s Kitchen:

Some thoughts on blogging, to coincide with me finally adding a recipe index to my blog: http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2018/03/recipe-index-new-to-snigs-kitchen.html

Here is that recipe index for you to browse through! http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/p/recipe-index.html


Lady Bird


The East


Mum (second series)

Before We Die (Innan Vi Dör)

Synth Britannia 
Synth Britannia at the BBC


Agnes Obel – Aventine

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

Dorothy Ashby - Afroharping

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Recipe Index - new to Snig's Kitchen

Dear Readers,

I have finally got round to compiling a recipe index for this blog. I know, it has been a very, very long time coming!

I started writing this blog with absolutely zero knowledge of how to do any of this stuff. I wanted to share my passion for food online, in an immediate and simple way. I’ve learned a lot as I’ve gone along, but realise there is so much I am still working out. I chose a “blogger” blog because it seemed like the blog platform which required no knowledge to get started. I started blogging with lots of enthusiasm, but no technical skills. The simplicity of the blogger interface has suited me, even though some of its quirks have driven me up the wall (portrait photos being displayed as landscape, complete with 90 degree rotation is one which really winds me up!). 

Photo by Kavita Favelle

One thing I have realised over several years of blogging is that a blog, because it essentially is an online diary, means the older content you post gets buried. There are recipes which I am proud of and I know work well which readers can’t easily find, because they were posted some time ago. 

I hope that this recipe index will make my blog more useful, more accessible, and more helpful than ever before. I hope you will give some of these recipes a try. Or if all you do is have a little browse in your lunch break to give you something other than work to think about, that’s great. As always, please let me know how you get on and what you think. It is always a joy to hear from you, my readers.

I have tried to compile the index in the same way as a book index would work. Therefore, some dishes will appear more than once in the index because it has more than one “key word”. This might annoy some people, I know. But it will help those who like to browse or find inspiration with no particular fixed idea of what to cook.

I hope you will have a browse, wander around some of these blog posts and find stuff to interest you.

With very best wishes