Jul 1

Tickets go on sale today as Abergavenny Food Festival announces the full line up for 2015. September 18, 19, 20 will once again welcome thousands of visitors to Abergavenny to sample the best food and drink the UK has to offer.

Tom Kerridge, the Hemsley sisters and Olia Hercules, will be joined by over fifty foodies who will share their culinary passion and expertise, demonstrating everything from baking to foraging, tea tasting to cooking up cultural delicacies.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Raymond Blanc

Raymond Blanc – President SRA

Raymond Blanc OBE will be appearing in his capacity as President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In conversation with Sheila Dillon from BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming programme, Raymond will explore the roots of his passion for produce, dread of waste and respect for the land. He will reveal how early lessons learned from Maman Blanc have guided him throughout his career as chef and restaurateur – and how only by understanding that food connects with every part of our lives, can we truly secure a future for our food.

Be amongst the first to get your hands on the much-lauded new book by celebrated chef and author, Yotam Ottolenghi. NOPI: The Cookbook. Yotam, alongside his head chef, Ramael Scully, will bring the inventive NOPI ethos to the festival, pushing culinary boundaries.

The Festival line up also boasts Bake-Off champion Frances Quinn guiding you through her unique style of baking; exciting new London trio, The Groundnut Boys demonstrating recipes from their African Heritage with a contemporary twist and Festival favourite Cyrus Todiwala OBE who has been changing perceptions of Indian cuisine since his arrival in the UK from Goa in 1991.

Abergavenny Food Festival: The Groundnut Boys

The Groundnut Boys

Alongside household names are some demonstrations with a difference; Jon Old from the Wasabi Company will talk visitors through how, from a secret location in the UK, they grow one of the world’s most expensive crops and Mitch Tonks, renowned for his radical career change from accountancy to fishmongering, will be demonstrating recipes from his book The Seahorse, inspired by Italy and the South West of England.

In addition to food, the festival boasts a number of cocktail, foraging and alcohol master classes.  James Chase from Chase Distillery will expertly guide you through spirits, wines and ciders, while author and forager by day, Andy Hamilton presents ‘Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails’ showing you how you can make delicious cocktails from a hedgerow near you.

Heather Myers, Chief Executive of the Festival said: “This year’s line-up is our biggest and best to date and definitely the most varied.”

“Whether you want to come along and explore the market, sample produce from over 220 hand-picked stallholders, or watch demonstrations from some of the finest chefs and food adventurers today, there really is something for everyone.”

It’s not just Festival goers who benefit from the biggest food Festival in Wales. It is estimated that the Festival brings £4million to the local Welsh economy, with the majority of 30,000 visitors spending between £50 and £100. Each year the Festival raises over £9,000 to local community groups, supports around thirty fringe events across Monmouthshire and employs an extra 120 young people over the festival weekend.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Sam and Shauna, Hang Fire Smokehouse

Sam and Shauna, Hang Fire Smokehouse selecting their free range pigs for the Festival – Pic (c) Huw John, Cardiff

Local success story Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn from Hang Fire Smokehouse came to the Festival last year as stallholders and return this year on the bill, since winning BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming award for Best Street Food 2015.

Sam said: “It’s incredible that just one year on from our first appearance at Abergavenny Food Festival, and just two years since starting this business, we will be standing where our inspirations from the food industry have stood. We’re looking forward to both feeding the Festival goers our brand of Welsh slow and low BBQ and being a part of the Festival over the weekend.”

Shauna added: “This Festival is the highlight of the foodie event calendar and we’re delighted to be included in all aspects of the programme, for the first time, as we share the alchemy of meat smoking.”

Abergavenny Food Festival: Night market in Brewery Yard

Night Market in Brewery Yard – Image Tim Woodier

Alongside the bursting programme, Festival favourites return including the Night Market, transforming the Lower Brewery Yard into a magical place to eat, drink and hangout. New for 2015, the Festival will introduce the Meat Market, where you’ll find a selection of the best meats and butcher demonstrations Wales has to offer. The new Craft Brewery will create a relaxing area to sample some of Wales’ best-loved craft brews and ciders.

With parties on both the Friday (Swing Time at the Castle) and Saturday (Party at the Castle) evenings, visitors can experience music, dancing and food in the enchanted atmosphere of Abergavenny’s ancient castle.

Roll up your sleeves and book a place at The Artisan Kitchen School which gives you a unique opportunity to receive expert tuition first hand, taking your creations home with you. Children can show off their culinary talents at the Food Academy with a weekend of free hands on workshops for over 320 children and activities to tempt the most budding mini-master chef.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Val Warner at Food Academy 2013

Val Warner at Food Academy 2013 – Image Tim Woodier

Fast becoming an institution of the Festival, Rude Health Rants are back for their seventh year in a row. The team, led by co-founder and chief ranter Nick, are a proudly outspoken gang who aren’t afraid of standing up for real, honest food. Throughout the weekend Festival-goers will be given the chance to join them in their mission to eat right, and stay brilliant by speaking up.

The 2015 Festival is supported by a number of high profile businesses from across Wales and the UK including Cardiff Airport, Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd and Chase Distillery, as well as support from Welsh Government, Monmouthshire Council and Abergavenny Town Council.

Tickets available now at abergavennyfoodfestival.com

Jun 10

If you love street food, you must head over to Purple Poppadom for their new Street Food Pop Up 4 Lunch Menu. Chef Anand George and his team has have explored India’s exciting urban food scene to bring you authentic dishes inspired by the very latest in Indian street food.

We have always loved the food at Purple Poppadom. Chef Anand is one of the most exciting chefs in Wales creating vibrant, visually beautiful, and delicious food. We were delighted to be invited to Purple Poppadom to sample his new menu.

If you want to have a quick “sandwich”, you must try a Bombay Frankie Roll (£4.95) a popular Mumbai street food. Their authentic Frankie Roll is made from their homemade wholemeal flat bread and then coated with egg omelette. You have a choice of fillings: Keralan Beef, Tandoori Chicken Tikka and Tandoori Paneer Tikka. This is then topped with green chutney, pickled cucumber.

Corpulent Capers: 12hr Keralan Beef Frankie Roll

12hr Keralan Beef Frankie Roll

We sampled the Keralan beef and Paneer which were both delicious. The beef was melt in the mouth amazing as it was marinated for over 12 hours and then slow cooked for over 12 hours. This may be fast street food but a lot of time and love went into this beef. The paneer was light and flavourful, even Mr A who is not a fan of paneer really enjoyed it.

Corpulent Capers: Paneer Frankie Roll

Paneer Frankie Roll

The menu also has a selection of Thali Platters (£7.95 – £8.95). These come with a snack starter, rice, homemade flatbread, and then a little bowl of a vegetable dish and a “curry”. There is a choice of prawn, chicken, lamb, or vegetable.

Corpulent Capers: Thali Platter

Thali Platter

Also on the menu are a variety of street food snacks. These are light bites. 2 to 3 would be a light lunch or if you are hungry, have one of these before your Frankie Roll. We tried the Venison Pao which was minced venison cooked with spices, topped with a fried egg and served on a homemade soft roll (pao). The Pao Bhaji was a flavourful potato and vegetable mash served with a zingy relish on a pao.  We also sampled the Kerala Calamari, crispy spice batters squid served on a refreshing nest of tangy salad.

Corpulent Capers: Venison Pao

Venison Pao

Corpulent Capers: Pao Bhaji

Pao Bhaji

Corpulent Capers: Kerala Calamari

Kerala Calamari

You simply cannot go wrong with anything that is on this Street Food Pop Up 4 lunch menu or any of the evening menus. Purple Poppadom is a multi-award winning restaurant serving vibrant and exciting traditional Indian cuisine with a modern twist. We have always had a delicious meal with friendly and professional service. 10 out 10 from me.

Mar 30

A new Slow Food UK group has started in Wales: Slow Food South East Wales / y De-ddwyrain. This is the fifth group to open in Wales, with the others being in Llangollen, Dyfi Valley, Carmarthenshire and Anglesey (Dros-y-Fenai). People in South East Wales will now have an opportunity to participate in a wide range of Slow Food activities, such as meetings with guest speakers, campaigns on specific issues, awareness-raising programmes, and diverse events.

Slow Food is about helping people think differently about food. In the UK, Slow Food works to reconnect people with where their food comes from, so they can better understand the implications of the choices they make about what they put on their plates. The aim is to encourage people to choose nutritious food from sustainable and local sources, which tastes great.. Slow Food is a non-profit organization, supported by members and donations.

Mark Adams, Group Leader of Slow Food South East Wales said: “I am very happy that we have been able to form a Slow Food group in the area. These days the food market is dominated by multi-national corporations offering highly processed, multi-ingredient products as opposed to simple wholesome food. Add to this the lack of food education and we are seeing the loss of traditional cooking skills along with some of our unique native breeds.”

He adds: “Our aim in forming the group is to help people understand the impact that their choices in food can have on them, their families and the environment. We want to promote the importance of ‘local’ and help protect our culinary traditions and regional food products. Ultimately we want everyone to have access to good, clean and fair food.”

Carol Adams, founding member and Secretary of the group says: “We are a young group but have a strong committee comprising of local food and drink producers, business owners, chefs and those with an interest in good food. We are actively seeking new members to help us achieve our goals.”

 “We have a strong focus on food education to help individuals and communities make informed choices about their food and its production,” she explains. “Our aim is to help preserve forgotten Welsh foods and cooking traditions, alongside supporting artisan producers and farmers of sustainable and biodiverse food, which in turn helps protect the land for future generations. Our locality has an abundance of great producers and produce, and we shall be hosting a number of activities and events throughout the region.”

The newly formed Slow Food South East Wales committee members are as follows:

Mark Adams (Group Leader/Chair), Barnaby Hibbert (Vice Chair), Rolant Tomos (Treasurer), Carol Adams (Secretary), Grady Atkins, John Thomas, Melissa Boothman, Richard Crowe, Rob Lilford, Stephen Nottingham.

For more information about the group email: info@slowfoodsoutheastwales.org.uk



Follow us on Twitter – @SlowFoodSEWales  or Facebook – SlowFoodSEWales

Corpulent Capers: Slow Food South East Wales Committee

Slow Food South East Wales Committee

Back row from left to right: Grady Atkins, Rob Lilford, Melissa Boothman, Stephen Nottingham, Richard Crowe, Carol Adams, Rolant Tomos, and John Thomas

Front  Row: Mark Adams and Barnaby Hibbert

About Slow Food: Slow Food was founded in 1989 by Carlo Petrini as a response to the opening of a McDonald’s in the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Today the movement exists in 132 countries and has over 100,000 members and supporters. Slow Food UK has 4,500 members and oversees a number of programmes, such as the UK’s contribution to the Ark of Taste and the Slow Food UK Chef Alliance.

Slow Food South East Wales/y De-ddwyrain covers an area roughly from Bridgend to the English border, sweeping up through Merthyr Tydfil and the Valleys to Monmouthshire.

Feb 23

Corpulent Capers:Fairtrade FortnightThis year Fairtrade Fortnight runs from the 23rd February to the 8th March 2015 and we are celebrating the impact of Fairtrade by turning the spotlight on the producers who grow the products we love.

Take for example, farmer-owned Fair Trade nut company, Liberation Foods who source all their nuts from co-operatives of small-scale growers and farmers who own a 44% share of the company. With peanuts coming from Nicaragua and Malawi and cashews all the way from India, Liberation is passionately nuts about Fairtrade, the livelihoods of its farmers and providing the best tasting product.

To celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight we have teamed up with Liberation Foods to offer 5 readers the chance to each win 3 bags of nutterly delicious Fairtrade nuts from the range below:

Corpulent Capers: Liberation Nuts ChilliOven Baked Chilli& Lime Cashews with Peanuts & Roasted Corn.
Inspired by the colour and flavour of street food in Latin America, the sweet cashew nuts are coated in a special chilli and lime seasoning and oven baked slowly. The peanuts are lightly salted and baked. Once the nuts are perfectly seasoned they are mixed in with the chilli corn kernels to create the perfect blend of citrus and spice.

Oven Baked Salted Cashews & Peanuts.
Each ingredient is baked separately with just the right amount of sprinkled salt (that stays on the nut) to produce the perfect ‘crunch’. Liberation knows that peanuts need just a little bit longer under the heat than cashews and when all are perfectly bronzed, the nuts are cooled before being mixed and bagged.

Oven Baked Mixed Peppercorn Peanuts with Cashews & Habas Fritas.
These hot, spicy mixed peppercorn coated peanuts are speckled with ground peppercorns, packing a real peppery taste! Not forgetting the Habas Fritas, these broad beans have been deep fried and seasoned with salt to create a crispy, crunchy and golden roasted snack.

To win answer this simple question in the form below. Liberation Foods is a farmer owned what company ?

[promosimple id=”6b4b”]

You can learn more about Liberation Fairtrade Nuts by clicking here.

Feb 9
Alma de Cuba Coffee Review
posted by: Gomez in Front Page, Products on Feb 9th, 2015 | | No Comments »

Over the years I’ve sampled many different coffees and visitors to Corpulent Towers have come to expect a decent cup to be served.  So much so that they only ever comment when what they get doesn’t live up the normal standards.

So it was interesting when a cup of Alma De Cuba, prompted a fellow visiting coffee lover to exclaim how much he liked that day’s brew.

Alma De CubaOnce upon a time, before the revolution, Cuba was the world’s largest exporter of coffee exporting over 20,000 tonnes a year.  These days that’s down to less than 5,000 tonnes even less of which is good quality.

Fortunately The Cuba Mountain Coffee Company signed a deal in early 2014 to invest £2.4m into the Cuban coffee farming community over the following five years.  The result is Alma de Cuba (Soul of Cuba) coffee.

Grown in the rich, loamy fertile soil of the Cuba’s mountains. Shaded by Cuba’s native trees and temperature regulated by the Caribbean trade winds these beans can rival some of the best in the world.

The flavour has great depth and a silky richness, remaining smooth but clean.  On the nose it has a smokiness that reminded me of almost of good barbecue.  Surprisingly this coffee works equally well with and without milk, a bonus of those that just can’t get their heads round drinking it black.

Corpulent Capers: Alma de Cuba Capsules

Alma de Cuba Capsules

Now if you are a Nespresso™ user there’s even more great news as Alma de Cuba have launched a new range of premium Nespresso©-compatible capsules. These are intense, with wonderful silkiness and a lingering finish which allows the unique and consistent flavour of Alma de Cuba to infuse through.

This really is an excellent coffee and no doubt it will only get better as the plantations see the benefit of that investment.  Resplendent in its distinctive packaging Alma de Cuba is well worth a try.  Whether you prefer espresso, filter, black, white or now Nespresso™ you won’t be disappointed.

All Alma de Cuba coffees are available for worldwide delivery online at almacuba.com or wholesale to selected outlets globally – email coffee@almacuba.com

Review samples were provided by the nice people at rock pr.


Feb 1
Zest Revisited
posted by: Gomez in Restaurant Reviews on Feb 1st, 2015 | | No Comments »

The last time we wrote about Zest they had just partnered with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage as part of a pilot programme to introduce a local, seasonal menu.

We were pleased to be invited back recently and given the opportunity to discuss the experience with Executive Chef, Anthony Barnes.

Corpulent Capers: Cardiff Marriott Executive Chef Anthony Barnes

Cardiff Marriott Executive Chef Anthony Barnes

For those who are not familiar, first a little background information into the world of hotel catering. In a large proportion of hotel chains the restaurant menus are set at corporate level. Often the hotels will simply be told what to put on the menu, with little input from the actual hotel chefs themselves.  Some chains operate a recipe bank system where chefs are allowed to choose from an agreed list of dishes.  Very rarely are hotel chefs allowed to do their own thing.

The advantages of systems like this for the chains are obvious, dishes can be rigorously cost controlled and central purchasing can obtain the best deal from the hotels suppliers. There are far less advantages for the diner however.

The partnership with River Cottage was bold move on Marriott’s part and a definite departure from the norm. So what was the outcome?

Corpulent Capers: Inside Zest Restaurant

Inside Zest Restaurant

We asked Chef Barnes if Zest was still working with River Cottage and he told us that now that the pilot programme was over they were no longer working together. This was due to a number of factors. One of the primary reasons for the link up was, of course, to increase the numbers of covers served in the restaurant and this hadn’t materialised to an extent that outweighed the cost of working with River Cottage.

There had also been some issues with suppliers.  The original plan was that 80% of the ingredients should be sourced within a 60 mile radius of the restaurant. For some items this had proved impractical. Although River Cottage had originally helped to identify suppliers, some had difficulty in providing continuity of product, whilst others found it hard to work under the purchasing constraints of a large organisation.

So was the partnership a failure?

Not at all says Chef Barnes. There were many lessons learnt whilst working with River Cottage Chef’s School that are still applicable now.

“Such as?” we asked.

The biggest lesson that my team and myself learnt was the value of provenance for the ingredients we use.  Before we attended the Chef’s School there was a tendency to think of it as just a carrot. Now the team realise that someone has put an awful lot of time and effort into producing that carrot. Everyone has a lot more respect for the ingredients we use.


“What about the local aspect of your sourcing?”

There were definite issues with the imposed 60 mile limit on sourcing, but we are still trying to source the majority of our ingredients from the local area.  It’s important to remember that we still need to serve top quality food and that it is more important to serve a good product from a little further away than an inferior one just because we can get it closer to home.

“So what happens now, does it just go back to the way it was?”

Certainly not! Zest will continue to be in charge of its own destiny as far as the menus are concerned. Of course, there are some areas where we have guidelines that we have to adhere to but for the most part we can act independently.

“So how has this experience impacted on you personally?”

I certainly feel like my enthusiasm for food has been reawakened. I’ve made some changes to the restaurant which I hope have enhanced the ambiance. (The clip clop floor has gone.)

Corpulent Capers: Zest Garden

Executive Chef Anthony Barnes in his herb garden

I’ve also started a small urban garden at the rear of the property and would like to expand it to roof area this year.  I’m just growing a few herbs, some strawberries and the like to start.

Corpulent Capers: Zest Herb Garden

Corpulent Capers: Chef's Handmade Planter Dividers

Chef’s Handmade Planter Dividers

We take a tour of the restaurant and the transformation is surprising. Gone are the white tiled floors, to be replaced with dark wood flooring.  In come some dividers in the form of planters, created by Antony himself.  These break up the space and help remove the hotel restaurant feel.  The chalk board menus remain, listing plenty of local ingredients as well as some classics.

Corpulent Capers: Seasonal & Local Menus

Seasonal & Local Menus

The wall plaque entitled ‘FOOD’ seems to sum up the current ethos perfectly.

Corpulent Capers: Food Rules

Food Rules

We take a quick behind the scenes tour of the impressive kitchen and get to watch the creation of a simple, yet delicious fish dish. Proving yet again that with good ingredients food does not have to be complicated to be tasty.

Corpulent Capers: Frying Tonight

Frying Tonight!

Corpulent Capers: The Finished Fish Dish

The Finished Fish Dish

After our tour Chef invites us to try a few items from the lunch menu at in house Chat’s Cafe Bar (Zest is evening only) and appetites piqued by our tour, we happily agree. It’s the same kitchen after all.

Corpulent Capers: Smoked Mackerel Salad at Zest

Smoked Mackerel Salad

Corpulent Capers: Free Range Chicken Tagliatelle, pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese

Free Range Chicken Tagliatelle, pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese

In my last review I said “I think if I was staying at the Marriott then Zest would certainly stop me from exiting the building to try to find a local eatery”. After spending some time with the team, talking to Chef Barnes and sampling some of the menu not only would the new Zest stop me exiting the building but it gives good reason to enter it in the first place.

So do yourselves a favour and walk past a few of those big name places you’ll find nearby and go and give Zest a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Zest Restaurant
Cardiff Marriott Hotel
Mill Lane
CF10 1EZ

Tel: 02920 399 944

We were invited to Zest by DigitasLBi and all food and drink was complimentary

Dec 18

I had not heard of Delia Smith before moving to the UK. I Arrived in November and my thoughts immediately turned to cooking my first traditional British Christmas meal. As Mr A handed to me his battered copy of Delia Smith’s Christmas he said, “if you do what Delia says, it will always work”.

Now I am a confident cook when it comes to big feast meals but I turned to Delia that Christmas 8 years ago and it has come off the shelf every year since!

Delia Smith’s Christmas is not just a book of recipes. It has chapters like List and More Lists, Christmas on Ice, Talking Turkey and Geese and Hams, A Party Selection and The Last 36 Hours to help you get organised for the big day and get a beautiful homemade lunch on the table at 2:00pm Christmas day. But yes, you will also find tasty recipes that work in the other chapters: All Kinds of Christmas Cakes, Talking Turkey and Geese and Hams, Christmas Puddings and Mincemeat, Preserves, Pickles and Chutneys, Canapés and Nibbles, A Vegetarian Christmas, Ducks Geese and Game, Roasted Meats and Cold Cuts, Vegetable Dishes and Salads, Christmas Desserts and Sweet Dishes, Homemade Sweets and Chocolates and of course a chapter on what to do with the tasty left overs!

I have made so many recipes from Delia Smith’s Christmas that I could write a book about them myself, but I will just highlight two of them here.

If you are nervous about cooking a turkey, or have cooked a turkey and it was not perfect, try the Delia method. Her method is fool proof and I get a moist, golden turkey every time. What I love about it, is that it the turkey doesn’t need frequent basting! I have shared her method with my sister and mother and we all love it!

Here is a link to her turkey cooking method from her website but additional helpful information is in the cookbook.

Last year, I was chatting on Twitter to one of my knitting friends in London Rachel, @knittingtastic, about baking for Christmas. She recommended Delia’s Creole Christmas Cake as it is delicious and super easy to make. The recipe can be found on line here but it is also in the book.

This is similar to the fruit cakes made in the Bahamas but so much easier. It is moist and delicious but not cloyingly sweet as some fruitcakes are. If you don’t finish it up over the holidays, wrap it up well and store in a cake tin. Mr A and I just finished last year’s cake to make room in the tin for Creole Christmas Cake 2014.

Delia's Creole Christmas Cake

Undecorated Creole Christmas Cake – Rich, Moist and Fruity

You need to soak the fruit for at least 1 week before baking the cake but you can soak the fruits for longer if you like. The pre-soaking calls for a variety of liquors (rum, brandy, cherry brandy and port). I use the brandy and rum as I always have those to hand but, use whatever I have in the house if I don’t have any cherry brandy and port. This year I used Cointreau and my homemade blackberry wine.

The recipe also calls for a variety of dried fruit and nuts. What I love about this recipe is that you can mix and match the dried fruits; using up what you may have stored in your baking cupboard. Just make sure you use the correct total amount of dried fruit and nuts given in the recipe. For example, the recipe calls for 450g of raisins. I had 300g but I also had 150g dried cranberries needing to be used up; so this year I used 300g of raisins and 150g of dried cranberries instead of 450g of raisins. Last year, I had some dried figs knocking about so I used them by adjusting the quantity of currants.

Delia recommends decorating with a glazed nut topping. I, however, leave my plain as it is delicious as is and I find it easier to store for the year if we do not devour over the holidays.

I simply love this cookbook. I start to get the festive spirit as soon as I take it off the shelf. I recommend this book whether you are a confident or novice Christmas lunch cook.

Would love to hear what you will be cooking this year for the holidays! Happy holiday cooking and baking!

You can find this book at good local book stores and on Amazon by clicking the image below,

*If you want to know more about Carol’s adventure with food or even join her on one then check out Food Adventure Ltd.

Nov 13

Cookbook Number 11 Soup Can Make You Thin by Fiona Kirk and Jean Barr

Soup Can Make You Thin is one of Mr A’s cookbooks and one that I had not read or cooked from. Two things inspired me to take this cookbook off the shelf:

1) I tend to crave soup as soon as the weather gets nippy. I love a steaming bowl of soup for lunch or for dinner and have even been known to have it for breakfast. Every autumn I look for new soup ideas and recipes to add to my repertoire

2) My sister came to visit for 2 weeks and let’s just say we indulged a bit! After 2 weeks full of afternoon teas, leisurely 4 course lunches, sumptuous suppers, and naughty treats, I felt the need to lighten up my meals.

The authors of this book devised a diet to lose weight based around soup. This is the cookbook that accompanies the diet. “But are these soups delicious” I asked myself. I certainly have had quite a few “diet” soups in my day. I shudder at the thought of cabbage soup. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book full with 50 soup recipes that look really flavourful. Not only does the book have autumnal/winter warming soups but refreshing summer soups as well.

Corpulent Capers: Spicy Meatball Soup

Spicy Meatball Soup

You will enjoy this book whether you are following the diet, trying to cut back on calories or simply looking for delicious soup recipes. There are soups for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and meat lovers alike. You will be delighted with recipes such as Duck Broth with Egg Noodles and Bok Choy, Parsley Soup with Chicken, Aduki Bean Soup, and Red Onion Soup with Feta cheese.

As I am making soup for lunch for both Mr A and I, I was delighted to find a recipe for a spicy meatball soup as Mr A is a fan of meatballs. I was delighted with the result. The soup is chocked full of vegetables such as tomato, courgette, kale and carrot. Chili gives it a nice kick and the meatballs and added beef stock give it a nice meaty richness. It is a very satisfying bowl of soup. I certainly will make this soup again.

I have to say that I am glad I discovered this book amongst my 200 plus cookbook collection. The recipes are clearly written, are easy to follow and cook. The fact that they are good for the waistline and healthy are a real plus!

You can find this book at good local book stores and on Amazon by clicking the image,

*If you want to know more about Carol’s adventure with food or even join her on one then check out Food Adventure Ltd.

Nov 8

I’m not sure quite when I saw the sign to Toi et Moi languishing in a hedge on the road to Abbey Dore, but it intrigued me enough to Google it when I got home.  Hmm, a French restaurant with a French Chef, in a remote location 2.5 miles across border into England and with views across Golden Valley. Sounds interesting, eh?

Then I promptly forgot all about it until @L0mbard0 reminded me of it again last March.

And so it got added to our ever increasing list of places to go at first opportunity.  This week that opportunity knocked when my dear sister in law, J, decided to come visit and we were looking for somewhere to go for lunch whilst exploring the Hereford area.

We booked an early lunch, planning to move on Hereford later but as the day turned out to be wet, windy and cold we never made it past the wood burner in Toi Et Moi. Our day in the city turned into a very long, leisurely lunch!

On arrival the first view of Toi et Moi is from the rear and its wood clad appearance made me wonder if I was about to lunch in a barn conversion.  The front and interior tell a different story, this is a new, purpose built restaurant with commanding views over Golden Valley.

Corpulent Capers: Golden Valley: The view from Toi et Moi.

Golden Valley: The view from Toi et Moi.

On entering, to the right is a shop area run by English florist, Dawn who also teaches flower arranging classes, in the premises, on the days when husband, Cédric isn’t serving food.

To the left is the restaurant area, a nice open space with plenty of light even on a dull day like today. With only 6 tables available you’d better make a reservation.

Corpulent Capers: Inside Toi et Moi

Inside Toi et Moi

The semi open kitchen allows Cédric a view of the dining room and the landscape whilst the diners get to see just enough of what’s going on in the kitchen.

Corpulent Capers: The kitchen at Toi et Moi is partially visible, but chef has a good view of the dining room.

The kitchen at Toi et Moi is partially visible, but chef has a good view of the dining room.

As we arrive Cédric is just lighting the fire and we settle down on a few comfy sofas to warm up and read the menu, which is written on a heart shaped chalk board atop an easel.

Corpulent Capers: Chef Cédric Lherbier lights the fire for us.

Chef Cédric Lherbier lights the fire for us.

Today’s menu has 4 starters and 3 mains.  “Always 1 meat, 1 fish and 1 vegetarian”, says Cédric. Lunch is £25 for two courses or £30 for three. Cheese maybe taken as an extra course for £7.  Dinner is £40 for 3 courses.

Whilst we warm up in front of the fire a plate of simple but tasty amuse bouche arrives.

Corpulent Capers: Toi et Moi Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

I’m not going to write an in depth discussion of every dish as the pictures speak for themselves.  Suffice to say that it was all delicious and tasted even better than it looks.  Cédric is a master at extracting every drop of flavour from whatever he is cooking. Every dish you see below packed a punch in terms of taste. Stocks and sauces are the foundations of great cooking they say and there is no doubt that Toi et Moi has a chef that is in full agreement.


Corpulent Capers: Pithivier au faisant et figues - Pheasant and fig paté in puff pastry.

Pithivier au faisant et figues – Pheasant and fig paté in puff pastry.

Corpulent Capers: Raviole de ricotta et Truffles, coulis Topinambour - Truffle and ricotta ravioli with Jerusalem Artichoke coulis.

Raviole de ricotta et Truffles, coulis Topinambour – Truffle and ricotta ravioli with Jerusalem Artichoke coulis.

Corpulent Capers: Velouté de potimarons - Garden pumpkin soup with pan fried squid and chorizzo

Velouté de potimarons – Garden pumpkin soup with pan fried squid and chorizzo


Corpulent Capers: Poisson du jour - Fish of the day - Monkfish

Poisson du jour – Fish of the day – Monkfish

Corpulent Capers: Duo d'agneau - Mailes Butchers lamb duo with green lentils

Duo d’agneau – Mailes Butchers lamb duo with green lentils


As we had by now abandoned all plans of visiting Hereford we decided to slip in a cheeky cheese course before dessert proper!

Corpulent Capers: Plateau Fromage - Cheese Plate - 2 local (Neal's Yard) and 3 French cheeses.

Plateau Fromage – Cheese Plate – 2 local (Neal’s Yard) and 3 French cheeses.

Corpulent Capers: Marquise au chocolat - Chocolate Marquise with coffee mascapone cream and coffee ice cream

Marquise au chocolat – Chocolate Marquise with coffee mascapone cream and coffee ice cream

Corpulent Capers: Pain Perdu de Mamie Irène - Cédric's grandmother's French toast speciality with honey caramel and ice cream

Pain Perdu de Mamie Irène – Cédric’s grandmother’s French toast speciality with honey caramel and ice cream

Toi et Moi is now officially Corpulent Capers favourite new place.  The staff are friendly, efficient and welcoming. The space has a lovely atmosphere and great views, even on rainy days. Chef Cédric Lherbier, is happy to chat and answer questions about his food and himself.

He is also a genuinely nice chap. Case in point. My sister in law decided that lunch would be her belated birthday present to me. As we were getting ready to leave and she was paying, she turned to me, smiled and said “Happy Birthday!” “What!” exclaimed Cédric. “Why did you not tell me it was your birthday?  Sit, sit!”  A minute later he had produced a plate and a piping bag of chocolate sauce, sat beside me he wrote a “Joyeux Anniversaire” chocolate message and topped it with a truffle and candle. A lovely touch when he could simply have said Happy Birthday and let us walk out the door.

Corpulent Capers:  Joyeux Anniversaire

“Joyeux Anniversaire”

In summary:

Toi et Moi – Je l’adore!

Toi et Moi is open for Lunch from Thursday to Saturday:
 12 - 2.30 (last orders 1.30)
And for Dinners from Thursday to Saturday:
 7.00 - 11.00 (last orders 9.00)

Toi Et Moi, Abbey Dore, Herefordshire. HR2 0JJ.
Tel: 01981 240 244

Toi Et Moi on Urbanspoon

Oct 15

I’ve been around long enough to have seen many changes. I’m from the pre-internet, 3 terrestrial TV channel generation so I’ve learnt to embrace and even welcome change. I’ve even been known to wander round muttering “change is good, change is good”.

Sometimes, however, change is just so blatantly and utterly wrong that you can do nothing but shout “WTF?” out loud and have a jolly, good rant about the sheer stupidity of it all.

Which brings me to McVitie’s Digestives and the reason why I was wtf’ing in my local supermarket recently.

Throughout my life there have been a few constants, a few things that I feel I can rely on. One of those has been the McVities’s Digestive. Sure I’ve consorted with Custard Creams, buddied with Bourbons and even hung around with the odd Hobnob but I’ve always known that I’d come back to the humble Digestive. It’s pretty much the perfect biscuit. It’s got good crunch and a taste of its own; so many biscuits can manage the former but not the latter. It’s the right size, not too small that it’s gone in one bite. I’ve even been known to buy mugs based on their suitability in relation to the size of a digestive, which bring me to my next point.

Copulent Capers: McVitie's Digestive Pack

Old Pack: Stands up all by itself

Dunking! It’s the perfect biscuit to dunk. It soaks up just enough liquid and is hardy enough not to disintegrate immediately, unlike that pretender the “Rich Tea” which has the ability to turn from firm disk to sunken sludge in a nanosecond of inattention. No the Digestive reigns supreme as a dunker!

That’s not all though, it also works incredibly well with a good strong cheddar and as a carrier for many spreads and dips.

So what has changed? What has happened to the king of biscuits to make me put fingertip to keyboard?

Fortunately nothing has happened to the biscuit itself, it’s the packing that has changed and certainly not for the better.

Until recently, the king of biscuits had the perfect packaging. Basically a nice tight fitting tube, and for quite a few years now, a simple ‘tear here’ tag to help take the top off, although those of us who remember back to pre-tag days prefer a knife. Forgive me if you’re an old hand but let me show you how perfect the packaging was.

Look at the pictures. First notice how you can stand the pack on its end so it takes up very little cupboard space. (see picture above)

Then if you pull on the tag or take a knife you can slice down between the biscuits and remove the top.

Corpulent Capers: Tear the tag or slice through with a knife

Tear the tag or slice through with a knife

Now take the biscuits out of the top section you just removed and an additional biscuit from the main pack (like you needed an excuse), turn the empty top over and it fits exactly back into the main pack. It fits so well that it forms sufficient seal to maintain the quality of your biscuits. No soggy digestives for me. This, my friends, is design at its best, simply perfect. Pop the pack back into cupboard to wait patiently for your next cuppa knowing your biscuits will still be fresh and crunchy on your return.

Corpulent Capers: Remove biscuits, turn top over and replace for the perfect seal.

Remove biscuits, turn top over and replace for the perfect seal.

So why was I ‘wtf’ing’ in the biscuit aisle? Well just look what they’ve gone and done! Now the packaging looks like something better suited a Christmas cracker. I can only assume that McVitie’s must have decided that the ability to read the word ‘tear’ and perform the action is too much for the majority of their customers. Not only that but they must think that the only thing their customers can manage to open is a packet of crisps!

Corpulent Capers: End better suited to a Christmas Cracker!

An End Better Suited to a Christmas Cracker!

Corpulent Capers: Can't Stand Up

Can’t Stand Up

The other crazy aspect to this new design is that they have made it impossible to stand the packet up. Now all you can do is let it lie on its side, where not only is it taking up more cupboard space but it’s in constant danger of rolling out when you open the cupboard door. Instant broken biscuits!

Some things just don’t need changing!


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