Monthly Archives: February 2010

Out with paper printouts, in with View Card – and try El Pirata Detapas


View London, the entertainment website for Londoners, has just launched a fab new discount card, View Card, for hundreds of London’s restaurants and bars.

The card not only includes deals for charming neighbourhood bistros, trendy bars and local pubs, but it also includes premium offers on Michelin star restaurants such as Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Rhodes W1, Gordon Ramsay’s Boxwood cafe, Nahm and L’Etranger.

Deals range from up to 50% off food bill, 2-4-1 on drinks and meals, you have unlimited use of all of the offers which are also extended to friends and family that go along with you.  What’s more, unlike the TasteLondon card at £69.95, View Card is a snip at £29.95.

At the moment, View Card covers over 600 venues, and new restaurants and bars are constantly being added to the list – the latest of which is El Pirata Detapas, a fantastic little restaurant in Westbourne Grove serving high-class Tapas dishes.

I went to El Pirata last night and really was pleasantly surprised, the best tapas I have eaten outside of Spain, and not one single oily dish in sight. With a la carte, lunch and degustation menus, there are plenty of tapas dishes to choose from.

The dishes that stood out for me were: Endives & valdeon cheese foam; octopus carpaccio, mandarin caviar & paprika; seared scallops, artichokes hearts & iberian pancetta; lentil stew with foie gras; pork cheeks, carrot puree & red wine shallots; and crema catalana for pudding.

Octopus carpaccio, mandarin caviar & paprika Image is courtesy of Al Stuart

Seared scallops with artichokes heart & iberian bacon Image is courtesy of Al Stuart

Pan fried red mullet, confit tomato & piquillo peppers Image is courtesy of Al Stuart

View Card is offering 25% off the food bill, but if you haven’t got your card yet, then I would definitely recommend you go at lunch time to make the most of their lunch deal, which is only £9.00 for two tapas + bread & alioli + a glass of wine cetelleo. 

If you get a chance, pop your head around the kitchen door to catch a peek at the devilishly handsome chef behind the dishes ;-).

For more information on View Card, visit

El Pirata Detapas

115 Westbourne Grove,
W2 4UP

(020) 7727 5000


Starbucks offers free brownies for Fairtrade Fortnight


Starbucks UK has set up a facebook page informing members of a new offer it has launched around Fairtrade Fortnight

The deal means you get a free Fairtrade chocolate brownie when you buy coffee from Starbucks – but N.B. it’s only valid on Friday 26th February 2010.

To download the voucher visit:

Starbucks® Espresso Roast is 100% Fairtrade certified

Phaidon crowned best cookbook publisher in the world


Judges at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, recently held in Paris, have crowned Phaidon the number one cookbook publisher in the world!

Totally well deserved in my eyes, especially looking at the most recent cookbook to come from the company – Coco – my new all time favourite.

As well as Coco, Phaidon is the publisher of many other top cook books including ‘The Silver Spoon’, deemed the most successful Italian cookbook of the last 50 years, and Spanish home cooking best seller ‘1080 Recipes’.

The jury at the awards cited “the creative design, enormous investment in quality production, inventive concepts, and distribution power in many languages” as the reasons behind Phaidon’s success.

The news gets better though, because in the next few months, Phaidon will publish two new cookbooks: ‘Recipes from an Italian Summer’ and ‘The Book of Tapas’.  Also ‘A Day at elBulli’ will be published in paperback.  Can’t wait!


Tearless onions to hit the UK


A new breed of onion is going to hit the UK and it will mean that we can chop without crying. 

An article in The Guardian quotes Dr Colin Eady, New Zealand’s crop and food research institute senior scientist: “By shutting down the lachrymatory factor synthase gene, we have stopped valuable sulphur compounds being converted to the tearing agent, and instead made them available for redirection into compounds, some of which are known for their flavour and health properties.”

Sounds good to me.  At least it means that I will be able to chop onions without wearing my ski goggles and yes, that also means without looking like a total idiot in the kitchen.

As long as the flavour is not sacrificed, it gets my vote!

Expresso bad for the heart?


I have always thought that coffee, expresso’s in particular, are bad for my heart – mainly because I can feel my heart beating frantically and feel agitated immediately after I have one!  However, I had never seen much proof until now.

According to recent research from the University of Palermo, just one single expresso can raise blood pressure significantly and restrict arteries for at least an hour after drinking it.

They also performed the same tests using decaf expresso, but this had no real effect.

While it may seem dangerous to drink coffee having just read this, the findings, that were published in British Coffee Association, were only tested on 20 people, and the British Coffee Association has since highlighted that “when consumed in moderation … coffee is safe for the general population.”

So, until I have further proof, I am going to continue to have the occasional expresso, well I can’t resist it!

Food crisis to hit the UK – and rest of world by 2070


A recent farming conference in Australia has revealed that as a result of over farming, fertile soil is being used up quicker than it can be restored.

The implications of this could be hugely damaging, with reports suggesting that by 2070 we will be suffering from a severe food crisis, not just in the UK, but across the globe.
The former chair of the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Agri-Food Committee, Professor Crawford suggested a few ways we can help to avoid this crisis and replenish soil:

  • plough fields as little as possible
  • improve farm management
  • leave fields to rest allowing soil to recover
  • plant crops that can help to replace carbon in the soil