I make no secret of it – I LOVE FOOD!
My love of food covers a vast spectrum; from freshly baked bread served with buckets of butter and jam to Spaghetti Carbonara on to Haute Cuisine.
My love of bread started when I was a small child growing up in Ireland. My mother was one of 13!! Twice a week we would visit my grandparents. Their house was always brimming with family and at any given time there could be up to 20 people around the table. Granny’s food was all homemade, including bread, butter, cheeses and cakes. I was never happier than when I was served her home-made wheaten or soda bread, fresh from the oven, with butter and raspberry jam. Traditional Irish breads are the best, but very difficult to get hold of in the UK. If visiting Ireland you really must eat as much bread as possible – forget carb watching!
There are so many fantastic restaurants these days. I live in the countryside and enjoy a pub lunch. Our local is the excellent Muddy Duck in the pretty village of Hethe in Oxfordshire.
I do miss what London has to offer food-wise. I am a huge fan of Yotum Ottolenghi, whose restaurant Nopi on Beak Street in Soho has to be up there with my absolute favourite eateries. The perfect vegetables cooked and combined with wonderful flavours. Fresh and delicious. They also offer some excellent English wines by the glass, that are well worth a try! For home cooking, the Ottolenghi cookbooks are a great buy and the recipes really aren’t difficult to follow.
Another serious favourite haunt is the Polpo chain, the brainchild of Russell Norman. The group includes Polpo, Polpetto and da Polpo, all inspired by the fast pace of the Venetian bacaro bars. They all have a no-nonsense, casual, no-frills attitude to delicious food.
I am in London for at least two days per week for meetings and always try to go somewhere new and different. I have no problem eating alone. Last week I tried the heavily publicised Balthazar in Covent Garden. The New York restaurant is an institution with New Yorkers and travellers alike and Brunch at Balthazar is a MUST! I was expecting something a little commercial and touristy when I booked at the London restaurant, but it was quite the opposite. The service was outstanding and my waiter really engaging and helpful. The food was excellent, the wine list was equally impressive and featured some amazingly affordable and very drinkable wines. So do go if you can, it is truly worth a visit.
I also had the pleasure of dining at one unknown little place called Le Zucchini Blossom in Mougins, France, recently. Located on an industrial estate, the restaurant is amazing! Delicious courgette dishes with a South American twist. The decor is very eclectic and make sure you visit the loos! It really is worth searching out if you are in the area.
I’ll keep blogging about my restaurant experiences and I’d be delighted to receive your recommendations.