Monthly Archives: November 2009

Making Pizzas at Ponti’s – Perfect for a first date in London!


Photo is courtesy of Al Stuart

If you are struggling to find a suitable restaurant to take a first date, then look no further than Ponti’s Italian Kitchen just behind Oxford Circus, where you can make your own pizza.  What an awesome way to get to know someone better or just have fun with your mates.

I went with my sister and while we both had pre-conceived ideas about Ponti’s, we were suitably impressed to find a cleanly decorated restaurant full of fresh ingredients, friendly staff and most importantly for central London, affordable prices!

We didn’t actually make the pizza dough ourselves as it needs time to ferment, but we were each given a dough ball and shown how to make the pizzas: How to cover it in polenta flour, toss it in the air, manage to catch it without sticking your nails through it, roll it out and delicately spoon on the tomato sauce – ready for the toppings of our choice.

I couldn’t decide which toppings to put on so I went for a four seasons, which meant I had the excuse to try a bit of everything.  Delicious spicy spianata romana salami, fresh anchovies, portobello mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella, rocket – the list goes on!

Photo is courtesy of Al Stuart

The pizzas were placed inside the oven and brought to us at the table, cooked to perfection.

I am not going to lie and say that mine was as wafer thin as the pizzas I’ve had in Rome, but it really wasn’t bad at all, more importantly a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.

Pizza-making at Ponti’s is available Monday to Wednesday at £15 per person.  The deal includes a glass of prosecco on arrival, the pizza and some ice cream for pudding – perfect for a first date.  Just remember to call, as you have to book in advance. 020 3230 3018.



Michelin star awarded to canteen in Hong Kong


It just proves that you can eat amazing food at affordable prices when a canteen in Hong Kong, serving dim sum at only 80 pence, is awarded a Michelin star.

When the global downturn hit, Mak Pui Gor, who previously worked at the Four Seasons Hotel restaurant, decided that there was a gap in the market to open a canteen serving delicious food at bargain prices and has been rightly awarded for doing so.

Tim Ho Wan, a small canteen seating only 20 people, serves affordable dim sum and is so popular that people regularly queue for an hour to eat the delights of Mak Pui Gor.

The most expensive dish in the restaurant is a plate of noodles at less than £3.00. Michelin Guide director, Jean-Luc Naret, highlighted the restaurant as being the “most affordable starred restaurant in the world”.

Please, please, please can we have one in London – pretty please with cherries on the top?

Exercise your brain to help you lose weight


According to new research from brain training website, brain teasing activities, like crosswords and Sudoku, can help you lose weight.

Although, not nearly enough to make me spend my time doing Sudoku, as you would have to play for a whole hour just to burn off the calories in a biscuit.

I reckon I use my brain a fair amount each day, so would rather just spend half an hour cycling to work and back, saving money on public transport and burning enough calories to eat a good few slices of cake every day.  Or, if you are like me and prefer savory to sweet, loads and loads of cheese mmmn.

The one real benefit I can see though is for the elderly and those unable to take exercise. While they may struggle to exercise their bodies, brain training is easy and accessible and is key in helping maintain mental agility.

An article in today’s Daily Telegraph includes a list of snacks containing the same amount of calories you can burn in an hour’s brain workout – you clearly need a lot of time on your hands for it to make any real difference!

Are you Marmite enough to be in the Marmarati?


From two man band Frederick Wissler and George Huth in Burton-on-Trent in 1902, to the largest Facebook following of any food brand in the world, Marmite really is a British success story.

It was 100 years ago when the recipe and its makers went underground, but last week the Marmarati, Marmite’s secret society, revealed itself to forty dedicated Marmite lovers, to help decide on a recipe for the strongest Marmite ever and find its next 160 new recruits.

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In a formal setting in the heart of London, Marmite’s blending and production process was revealed last week to the lucky forty, who have all now been sworn into the society as its first circle.

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These forty people, of which I am honored to be one, were blindfolded and invited to try three different blends of the yeasty spread.  Noting down which was our favourite, we then posted our results in a wooden box, ready to be collated – the winning blend will be made into Marmite’s next spread, codenamed MXO.  P1010917P1010921P1010924

Are you Marmite enough to be in the Marmarati?

There are 160 places left before The Marmarati conceals its existence from the world once again.  Declare your love for the dark sticky elixir, join Marmite’s Appreciation Society on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, comment below – do what you can so the best possible membership selection can be made.

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What to do with leftover wine? Don’t pour it down the sink…


According to an article in today’s edition of The Times, Brits pour £470 million worth of wine down the drain every year – what a waste!

The figures, compiled for the Waste & Resource Action Programme (Wrap) are pretty shocking, revealing that 1.8 million tonnes of food and drink are chucked away, for the most part just because of bad planning/lack of desire to keep for later.

I don’t know about you, but if wine doesn’t get finished, (rare, I know) I just keep it aside and use it for cooking later in the week.  I assumed everyone did that, but not according to these figures!

A few suggestions, with what to do with your left over wine:

  • Freeze it into ice cubes and use for sauces.  For red and white, although apparently Sherry doesn’t freeze well.
  • Decant it into a half bottle, keep it in the fridge for a later date. It should keep for a good few days. For Red and white.
  • Take out the cork, and replace it with a rubber one, it will last a bit longer.
  • If you don’t want to drink it, keep it for cooking. Red for bolognese or gravy, and white for soups or sauces.
  • Make it into vinegar

If you have any more suggestions, then do please let me know…

Gordon launches ‘World Kitchen’ recipe book


I guess it must be nearly Christmas, as another cookbook has just been published – that’s two in one week!  This time, it’s Gordon Ramsay’s WORLD KITCHEN.


Accompanied by stunning photography, the book includes a selection of a 100 of Gordon’s favourite, yet simple, recipes from 10 countries across the globe, featuring dishes from The Middle East, China, Spain, America, Thailand, France, Italy, Greece, India and the UK.

A particularly appealing quality of the book is that Gordon includes little explanations of how to master key techniques from each cuisine, such as how to pan-fry scallops, shape ravioli, make Thai curry paste or barbecue sardines.


I have to say that Gordon really does have impeccable taste, as I would happily munch every dish in the book, well actually I am not sure about the ‘carrot and coconut halwa’, it doesn’t really sound like my thing– other than that they all look amazing!

Added to this, every delicious recipe is really simple to create, making this book perfect for both the novice and experienced cook alike.

Published by Quadrille publishing, World Kitchen is available in hardback at a price of £20.


COCO, a ‘must have’ for the food enthusiast!


For someone who doesn’t tend to open recipe books more than once, I was pleasantly surprised at how keen I was to hear more about the launch of a new book called COCO. COCO book shot

Described as a ‘global survey of the most significant and exciting culinary talent working today’, the book really is the first of its kind. It is a fantastic insight into the food industry, revealing fascinating nuggets of information about the top 100 up and coming contemporary chefs across the world.

Chosen by ten internationally renowned chef curators, including Gordon Ramsay, Fergus Henderson and Alain Ducasse, each chef has four dedicated pages including a short biography, spectacular photography, a few of their recipes and details of a sample tasting menu.


The survey delves into culinary talent across the globe from the likes of Japan, Australia, Denmark, Spain, France, USA, South America, Russia and the UK, but not just those working in restaurants; the book also sheds light on food idols such as caterer Lyndy Redding, and ice cream maker, Kitty Travers.


I was particularly impressed to see that British chefs featured highly in the book, including Tristan Welch, Theo Randall, Tom Kitchen and Jason Atherton.  Thirteen Londoners were featured compared to only eight from New York, and five from Paris – testament to how far the British food industry has come.

The best thing about COCO is that it really is not your average cookery book.  I have only had the book for a matter of days, but I can’t stop looking through it. I have to admit that the evening I got it, I flicked through each and every page; eager to discover more about the talent that is shaping the industry. I might even go as far to say that it is becoming one of my favourites, alongside the likes of Leith’s Bible and Larousse Gastronomic.

COCO is a contemporary epic of the food industry. It really is a must have for anyone interested in food and what a great time for it to come out, perfect for Christmas presents!

Available now, COCO is published by Phaidon Press and is priced at £29.95.


There is more…over the next few days, I will be blogging about an awesome gallop I had across London last week visiting four of the aforementioned chefs and tasting their culinary delights – watch this space.

A tomato sandwich is the best diet food, says survey


According to the University of Reading, the compound lycopene, which makes tomatoes red, appears to lessen your appetite, making tomatoes, over other vegetables, the perfect choice for dieters.

According to the Daily Mail, the research looked into the benefits of enriching white bread with fruit and vegetables.  It tested women aged 18 – 35 on cream cheese sandwiches.  The bread in the sandwiches was either standard white bread or bread enriched with carrots or tomatoes, and it was the tomato bread that filled the women up the most.

The Telegraph quotes Dr Julie Lovegrove, a specialist in nutritional metabolism who is leading the project “It was a small study, and we can’t yet say what the crucial tomato ingredient is, but the results were statistically significant.”


Marmite cereal bars out 2nd November, that’s tomorrow!


If you are a Marmite fan, head to Morrison’s to bag yourself some Marmite cereal bars as they come out tomorrow – 2nd November.

On the back of my previous post, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview ahead of the launch, and I have to admit, I was unsure at first.

They kind of taste like Flapjacks, only not sweet, but also not overly ‘marmity’; either way something worked because I kept coming back for more.  A strange combination of oats, wheat and rice smothered in yeasty yumminess – they totally work, I am just not sure why.  Having said that, there is never going to be any substitute for a hot buttery crumpit or slice of toast smothered in Marmite now is there?

When I opened them in the office and offered them around, I got completely mixed comments. One girl immediately hit Twitter singing its praises “Verdict YUMM!”; others were not sure: “Eugh, they taste stale”; “Wierd, but strangely good”; I don’t think I should like them, but I do, are there any more?”; “Nope, wrong consistency”; “Oh my God, they are AMAZING!”

Whether you are a Marmite fan or not, give them a try. You might be pleasantly surprised, and hey at only 93 calories/ bar and £1.99 for six bars, what have you got to lose?

The only issue for me (until they roll out in other stores in the New Year) is finding a Morrisson’s nearby…

So, a bonkers idea or an ideal mishmash of loveliness? Verdict: ideal mishmash of loveliness of course!

What do you think?  Comments welcome below – or head to the Marmite Facebook page to share your verdict with 238,430 other fans:\marmite