Manson – Alan Stewart hired as new head chef

Not far from Fulham’s Munster Road, Manson might not necessarily be right on your doorstep; but walking into the restaurant, you know immediately the journey was worthwhile, and even more so since Alan Stewart, previously at Launceston Place, has been appointed its new head Chef.

The menu is British through and through, striking a fine balance between fresh, seasonal produce, classic English dishes and a level of cuisine you would only expect to find in Michelin stared establishments. The brasserie style restaurant has a wonderfully welcoming and warm country pub feel to it, yet somehow it still manages to maintain the urban and fresh atmosphere of a top London restaurant.


The menus, created by Alan to reflect the best of local and seasonal produce, reveal his field to fork philosophy through the use of Manson’s own allotments, the foraging of British ingredients and sourcing of meat from small Cumbrian farms.  The food was utterly fantastic, beautifully presented and probably the best meal I have had in a long time!


We had a selection of dishes from the menu, which were perfectly paired by Launceston Place’s sommelier Mickey Narea from Manson’s well-selected wine list.  To start with we were presented with the most stunning plate of tartar of highland venison, rich in flavour, yet still light on the taste buds, adorned with meaty pickled girolles and cobnuts and a rather glamorous swirl of celeriac.  What a fantastic way to start a meal!


The venison was paired with a Little Yerring Pinot Noir from Australia, and while I am usually a huge fan of Pinot Noir, I think that out of all the wine we sampled that evening, this was perhaps the least exciting.
Thinking that we had already had the best course of the evening, the next course arrived, a red leg of partridge, with quince, honey and oats.  Utterly delicious, a perfect combination of sweetness from the honey coupled with the gamey flavours from the partridge.   Alongside, this we sipped on a syrupy and rather smokey white, a Marques de Riscal Limousin Reserva. While punchier than the Pinot Noir, this really was so well paired with the flavours of the dish, I’ll be hard pushed to want to drink anything else with partridge in the future.


Next as if it couldn’t get any better, we were fortunate enough to dine on roast grouse – my absolute favourite – and even more so now after having tasted it with damsons and savoy cabbage.  This we drank with a superb Riferno Rossa Riserva, Camillo De Lellis, Molise, Italy.

And last but not least, a plate of cheeses and a sumptuous apple tart with clove ice cream, alongside a soupcon of Coteaux du Layon, from the Loire Valley. 

The cheeses were full of flavour and a great selection, and the tart really was to die for, so much so I forgot to take a picture before I dived on in!  If I am being critical, I’m not entirely sure what benefit the clove ice cream gave to the dish, I think I might have been happier with double or even clotted cream, but 99% ain’t bad… fruitiness from the apples, rich creamy caramel yumminess balanced out by the crispy and buttery pastry. YUM


Overall a fabulous array of flavours, and while it’s hard to say what my favourite dish was because it was all simply divine, if pushed I might say the grouse and damsons, coupled with the Italian Riferno, narrowly surpassed the tartare of venison as the dish extraordinaire of the evening.
Other highlights from the menu include: wood pigeon, spelt, berries, currants and chervil (£7.50); Devon brown crab, chilled tomato soup with pickled cucumber (£8.50); roast coley, leek, fennel and surf clams (£14.00); mutton suet pie, roast loin, baby onions and bacon (£18.00); Cumbrian suckling pig with glazed apple and cobnuts (£19.50); damson parfait, candied rose petals, blackcurrants and brown bread crunch (£6.00) and London honey and almond loaf with plum ripple ice-cream (£6.00).  There is also an extensive wine list with a number of English wines, featuring over 60 bins, with 15 available by the glass from £4.50, and bottles starting from £17.90.
Mark Dyer, Eamonn Manson, and David Minchin, who also set up sister pub The Sands End together in 2007, opened Manson in 2010. 
A resounding success!  I look forward to coming again soon… 
Reservations can be made on 020 7384 9559 or 676 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5SA

Thai restaurant chain Patara puts oysters on the menu


Fine-dining Thai restaurant Patara has collaborated with Maldon Oysters to celebrate the Oyster Festival.  Two new oyster dishes have been created by Patara’s chefs and put on the menu at all four restaurants in London throughout October and November 2011.

The two oyster dishes combine traditional Thai cuisine with seasonal produce from Maldon Oysters and are presented in two ways – raw and cooked, in the following styles:

  • Oysters with mint, coriander, lemongrass, Thai vinaigrette, lemon and crisp shallots.
  • Oysters deep-fried in soda batter served in its shell with bean-sprout and chilli sauce.

The dishes are set at three: £5.50; or six: £9.50, which seems like a pretty fair price.

They are also offering Champagne by the bottle to enjoy with the oysters, which include Moutard Brut Reserve (£35.80); Laurent Perrier Brut (£56.20); Veuve Cliquot Rosé (£66.40); and Moet et Chandon (£148.10).

For August and September, Patara joined forces with luxury resorts and spa group Six Senses to create a special menu with a focus on health and flavour.

Highlights from the menu included Miang pla Salmon – salmon and herb Thai salad with chilli lime dressing; Goong yai op – Roasted king prawns, lime and chilli marinate, spiced mango and passion fruit foam served with tender steamed bok-choi; and Goong Pow, grilled tiger prawns with kaffir lime dressing served on brown rice infused with green curry paste.

I went to sample the six senses menu in the Greek Street restaurant and had a great evening.

While the salad appeared to have been sitting in its dressing for a while before it made it to the table, the fresh spring rolls were light and delicious, the king prawns were cooked to perfection, the green curry sauce was not watery, but creamy and full of flavour, and the service was way more attentive than I have witnessed in the past, so I am sure that the oyster dishes will go down a treat.

I just hope I manage to make it along before December to sample them!

Making the most out of store cupboard olives – Top tips from Celeb Chef Omar Allibhoy


Olives from Spain has teamed up with celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy, as seen on This Morning and Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, to inspire us Brits to cook authentic Spanish dishes more often.  To help you experiment in the kitchen, Omar has kindly offered gastrogossip some top olive tips and a yummy recipe – enjoy!

Top tips from Omar Allibhoy on making the most of Spanish Olives:

  • Olives can be enjoyed at any time of the day
  • Use them to complement a glass of Sherry, a Dry Martini or any other dry cocktail
  • Have as a pre-dinner snack or an entrée
  • Olives are equally impressive served as part of a main meal in any hot dish – turkey, chicken, duck, rice, veal – as well as many other gastronomic specialities which are popular all around the world
  • Olives are a common salad ingredient because of their freshness and natural characteristics. They go especially well in Mediterranean-style salads with other flavoursome ingredients like tuna, onions, anchovies and capsicums
  • Cold meat selections are a favourite across the globe and olives are a great accompaniment because they bring out the flavour of the meats
  • Roasts / casseroles / tagines: These kinds of slow-cooked dishes are internationally popular and olives are frequently added to give them a touch of the Mediterranean!
  • Of course there are many other things that olives can be served with too, so why don’t you open a jar and experiment today!

Lubina a la sarten con aceitunas, piquillos y fino. (Pan fried sea bass with Spanish olives, piquillo peppers and dry Sherry wine)

4 pieces of seabass of 150g each.

1 tin of pitted purple Spanish olives

1 tin of piquillo pepers

1 handfull of Spanish Caperberries

100 ml of Spanish olive oil

4 garlic cloves

1 small glass of dry Fino wine

Some cracked black pepper

A pinch of salt

2 sprigs of flat parsley

Wash and pat dry your seabass fillets and put to one side to pan fry later. Open the tin of piquillo peppers, half them and remove any seeds. Drain the caperberries and olives put aside also.

Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves, fry over a medium heat until golden with half of the olive oil. Add the piquillo peppers and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the purple Spanish olives and caperberries and sauté again. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of Fino wine. Let the alcohol burn and sprinkle a bit of finely chopped parsley. Taste the seasoning and alter if needed.

Preheat a non stick pan over a high heat and pour a bit of Spanish olive oil. Pan fry the seabass fillets skin side down until ¾ done, turn over, season the skin with some salt flakes and cook for one more minute.

Serve a bed of the Spanish olives accompaniment and place the seabass on the top, drizzle a bit of olive oil to finish off.

Follow Spanish Olives on Twitter for all the latest news and ideas on how to incorporate them into your cooking @Taste_of_Spain or find them on Facebook

Costa launches Costa light! Check out the video to see how light it really is!


Costa’s Master of Coffee, Gennaro Pelliccia, gets airborne in this new video to promote Costa Light (cl).

The new concoction is a shot of Costa expresso, which is then mixed with skimmed milk and finally frothed together to make Costa light… sounds good to me!

One thing that surprised me about this video is that Costa sells a whopping 520 million cups of coffee each day worldwide – That sure is a hell of a lot of coffee!

Guest Post: Love Food Give Food campaign for Action Against Hunger


Great idea from guest blogger: Jo Furnival!

Jo works for marketing consultancy All about the Idea, which specialises in producing big ‘bang for buck’ ideas for companies stuck in a creative communications vacuum. She is a food enthusiast, keen dinner party host and proactive charity busy body. You can find her tweeting at @allabouttheidea and writing on the Big Ideas blog.

“Something that I heard about recently is the Love Food Give Food campaign. To raise awareness and money for Action Against Hunger, which works to save the lives of malnourished children by providing communities with access to safe water and sustainable solutions to hunger, Love Food Give Food appeals to those who love food and encourages them to give food to those they love.

The big idea is that food enthusiasts sign up to host a dinner party for however many people and whosoever they wish. As long as each guest brings along a donation for Action Against Hunger, money is raised for the charity and a good time is had by all.

I tried this idea last Saturday, but I wanted to go one step further, give a little extra and create as much bang for Action Against Hunger’s buck as I could. So I contacted a few local businesses and old friends who agreed to give me a hand.

True Deli, a bespoke London based catering and events company, were the first to offer their assistance and with a generous commitment from Co-Founder Henry O’Grady, the Love Food Give Food dinner party was able to double in capacity to a total of 12 confirmed guests. This carried with it inherent drawbacks, as a kitchen table capable of seating six was just not going to cut it in the face of this augmented food extravaganza. Furniture Hire UK then stepped into the breach and promised to lend a 6ft round table and 10 banqueting chairs for the event. To add a real sense of occasion moreover, Chase Distillery, award winning vodka and gin producers from Herefordshire, sent over a bottle of their finest Williams Gin for pre dinner G ‘n’ Ts in the drawing room.

After a fine feast of Chicken Liver Parfait (with Onion Confit), Goats Cheese Mousse with Confit Cherry Tomato and Smoked Mackerel Pate (all couriered that morning from True Deli’s kitchen in South Kensington), followed by my own homemade Fragrant Chicken with steamed Basmati rice and green salad, then True Deli chocolate brownies for dessert, guests received a slip of paper posing as ‘the bill’. This was merely an opportunity to use Gift Aid and to record the details of who was donating and exactly how much.

I’m thrilled to report that we raised a grand total of £280 for Action Against Hunger. Special thanks again to True Deli, Furniture Hire UK and Chase Distillery for their kindness and generosity. Try it yourself!”

Guest recipes from Thomasina Miers; Poussin, fig and rocket salad & Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce


Former MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers has just created a range of recipes for the Travel Cookbook, and has kindly donated some to Gastro Gossip. The Travel Cookbook aims to inspire people who have taken a self-catered holiday home into immersing themselves and experimenting with local cuisine whilst away.

Thomasina, inspired from her travels around the Americas, has contributed six recipes to the online Travel Cookbook, all of which are easy to make at home, but of course, taste much better when created from locally sourced ingredients.

Thomasina Miers says, “Travelling and cooking are two of my biggest passions in life. There is nothing I enjoy more on holiday than exploring the local markets and trying local produce to find inspiration for my next family meal, so access to a kitchen is essential. Holiday home rentals are ideal, as they have all the space and facilities I need to store and experiment with my new-found ingredients. ”

All of Thomasina’s recipes are available at, along with hundreds of other recipes and tips that people have picked up on their travels around the world, but I have included my two favourite below to whet your apetite.

Poussin, fig and rocket salad

Spatchcocking a bird means very simply cutting out its backbone and flattening it out so that you can grill it and get as much of the delicious, marinaded skin in contact with flame or heat to get gorgeous, crispy skin and masses of flavour.  Ask your butcher to do it or try it yourself, or just cut up the poussin in pieces before you cook it on the grill.  Salting the bird the day before improves the flavour hugely, giving you a juicy succulent bird.  This is a glorious salad for a sunny day.

Feeds 4

2 poussin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp grappa, eau de vie or vin santo

A generous handful of thyme leaves

¼ loaf of country-style bread or sourdough, torn into roughly shaped, large crumbs

12 rashers of thinly sliced streaky bacon or pancetta

6 very ripe figs

Two large handfuls of rocket, washed

For the dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar (or a mix of the two)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 very ripe fig

To spatchcock the bird, take a pair of sturdy scissors (meat scissors are designed for this job) and cut all along the length of the backbone on both sides to cut out.  Now place the bird on a chopping board and press down sharply and firmly onto the breastbone so that the bird flattens out.  Mix the sea salt, thyme leaves and black pepper together.  Sprinkle the bird with the alcohol, rub with the salt mix and leave to season overnight.

When you are ready to eat, make the dressing by mashing the fig up with the vinegar and mixing it in with the shallot and seasoning well with salt and pepper.  Heat a griddle-pan or barbeque and when either are hot enough, cook the poussin skin side down first until golden, about 10 minutes and then turn and cook on the other side until the breast is just cooked.  Take the bird off the heat to rest in a warm place and cut off the thighs and continue to cook them for another few minutes until the meat is no longer pink.  Meanwhile, toss the torn bread in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fry, tossing frequently in a frying pan over a medium-low heat until golden and crunchy all over.  Fry the bacon until crisp.

Slice the figs.  Arrange the rocket leaves in a salad bowl and scatter with the breadcrumbs and fig slices.  Mix 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil into the vinegar.  Carve the chicken into nice big chunks and arrange over the salad with the crispy bacon.  Dress with the figgy vinaigrette and serve at once.

Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce

This is a great dish for the bbq or on a griddle pan if you’re cooking indoors.  The meat has a delicious charcoal-grilled flavour and is even better if you let it marinate for a bit to let those lovely garlicky, smoky flavours really penetrate the meat.  If you get the chance, buy the herbs in a local market where you’ll get huge fresh handfuls.

feeds 6-8

2kg piece of sirloin steak or T-bone steak

Fresh watercress or rocket

For the marinade

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed to release the skins

100ml extra virgin olive oil

2 hot red dried chillies, crumbled

A small handful of fresh thyme

½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

1 lemon, squeezed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa

2 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked

4 tablespoons sherry/red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2-3 garlic cloves, ground into a course paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

150ml olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pestle and mortar bask the garlic together with the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and chillies until you have a rough paste.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil and rub well into the steak.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, the longer you can the more flavour you get in the steak.

For the sauce, coarsely chop the herbs, and pound together in a pestle and mortar until well mixed, with some of the olive oil to loosen.  Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the oil and season well to taste.

Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking, to allow it to come back up to room temperature.  Wipe the excess marinade off the steak and bring the bbq or griddle pan to a smoking hot heat and cook to your liking.  If you were in Argentina, this would be rare!  Make sure you let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking, just on a chopping board, loosely covered in some foil.

Carve up thin slices and serve on a wooden board or heated plate, with the sauce and a peppery salad.  There will be lots to go around!  This is delicious with steamed potatoes and lots of crusty bread.

Mayfair’s Cuckoo Club gets menu revamp


Having always been wary of clubs that try to claim they’re top quality restaurants as well, I was naturally nervous about the prospect of dinner at Mayfair’s Cuckoo Club, just off Regent Street, however, I really was pleasantly surprised!

The rather stylish ground floor of The Cuckoo Club plays host to the restaurant, which serves contemporary European cuisine under a funky purple bauble-laden ceiling.

The head chef Chris Cooper (ex Texture & Savoy Grill) has created a new menu with a good range of light dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients. With a notable exception of butter or cream in any of the starters or mains, the menu is exceptionally light, making it a great pre-club option.

While the prices are fairly high, as one might expect in Mayfair, the portions are not small.  In particular, king crab with mango; the duck breast, the fish and the fillet of beef were all delicious and also extremely well presented on the plate.

Annoyingly, I was driving, so was unable to sample the alcoholic cocktails, however, and not usually being one to order a virgin cocktail, I can say the non-alcoholic versions were absolutely yummy, so I am sure the punchier ones are even better!

Since its inception, The Cuckoo Club has defined itself as London’s place to be, entertaining the likes of Mick Jagger, Leonardo Di Caprio, The Killers, Natalie Portman, Prince Wills and Harry, Kate Moss, Orlando Bloom, P Diddy and John Cusack.

The Cuckoo Club - Swallow Street - London W1B 4EZ
T +44 (0) 20 7287 4300 - F +44 (0) 20 7788 2942 -

BBC Good Food Show & MasterChef Live search for UK’s best artisan producers


The BBC Good food Show and MasterChef Live‘s organisers are yet again on the hunt for the best small and artisan producers for its Bursary Award scheme.

After the applications have been received and the shortlist announced, nominees will be put through a rigorous judging process headed by BBC Good Food Magazine editor Gillian Carter which will include a tasting session in the BBC Good Food Kitchen.

The most exceptional will then be awarded with a free opportunity to exhibit at one of the shows, which will enable them to showcase their products to tens of thousands of food enthusiasts at the same time as earning valuable editorial coverage.

One of last year’s winners, Kate Jenkins from Gower Cottage Brownies, says: “Since winning the Producers Bursary Award at The BBC Good Food Show Winter 2010 I have seen a dramatic increase in both online sales and interest from wholesale stockists. The award helped me, as an artisan producer, to take my products centre stage and direct to the customer on a scale I could never have achieved by myself.”

For more information about the scheme contact Katy Truss on or 0208 267 8315 or via

Applications close on 28 August 2011.





Moët & Chandon unveils new brand identity for Grand Vintage


Inspired by the tradition of using chalk plates to identify different vintages resting in cellars deep beneath the ground in Epernay, Moët & Chandon has created a fab new label for its Grand Vintage champagne.

The new branding, which essentially replaces a traditional Grand Vintage front label in favour of an artisanal style ‘hand-written in chalk’ label, will debut in the UK market from September of this year on bottles of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002 and Grand Vintage Rosé 2002.

Elsa Corbineau, Champagne Director at Moët Hennessy UK, says of the new label identity: “We wanted to convey the heritage and ethos of the house. The hand-written element is simplistic, but exudes class. The collection dates listed on the coffret enable us to invite the consumer to feel part of and celebrate the house’s long-standing history.”

Cooking with potatoes: tips and advice from Jean-Christophe Novelli


As potatoes are the perfect base for any healthy and delicious meal, and are extremely quick and easy to cook, Jean-Christophe Novelli has been working with the Potato Council to create a selection of simple but delicious recipes; and to find them all you need to do is go to his Many faces of potatoes website.

The kind of recipes you can expect to find on the site include: Potato and red pepper frittata, potato and feta garlic bake, potato crusted pizza, easy peasy gratin potatoes, delicately spicy pekora and hundreds more!

Even better, to help you on your way to potato heaven, Noveli has also put together a few helpful potato cooking tips:

  • To cut down on cooking time for jacket potatoes, microwave them before you put them in the oven
  • You can shave 15-20 minutes off the time that it takes to bake a potato in the oven by inserting a metal skewer or baking prong through the centre of the potato
  • To make the ultimate light and fluffy mash, heat the milk before adding it to your potatoes – delicious! (This one I am less sure of, as I am against adding milk to mash, but who am I to argue with such a potato don?!…)
  • Leave the skin on your potatoes wherever possible as they contain lots of flavour and goodness, but if you have to peel them, don’t throw the peelings away; toss them in a little olive oil and roast in the oven for delicious crisps that are perfect for dipping!

“Potatoes are such a versatile ingredient – I use them very frequently in so many of my recipes. Food trends come and go but potatoes are an important part of british life”, comments Novelli.  “An average serving of potatoes contains less than 1% fat, and many potato dishes take only 20 minutes to prepare and cook – making them perfect for busy mums and professionals,” adds Novelli.

To whet your appetite, here’s a quick recipe, courtesy of JCN himself :

Potato Salad with Pan Seared Tuna (Serves 4)

50g of Tuna Steak per Person  
12 Baby New potatoes 
300g Green Beans 
2 Tomatoes
4 Eggs (hard-boiled) 
½ Pepper 
4 Baby Gem Lettuces 
16 Black Olives 
8 Anchovy Fillets 
Good French vinaigrette to dress

To make your own dressing: 
10ml White Wine Vinegar 
100ml of Olive Oil or Rapeseed
1 tsp of Dijon Mustard 
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Sea Salt & Cayenne Pepper 

To Dress: 
Chervil (chopped) 


·        Wash the baby potatoes and cook in salted water for 10 minutes and check they’re ready with a paring knife. Prepare the green beans and cook to al-dente in boiling water, cut out the green stalk from the tomatoes and chop each into six pieces 
·        Deseed and slice the pepper, shell the hard-boiled eggs and halve lengthways, and chop the anchovies.  If the olives have stones, halve and remove, and then mix the salad ingredients together. 
·        Heat a skillet (griddle pan) until very hot – season the tuna steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on the skillet to mark the flesh for approx. 2 minutes on both sides (longer if you prefer your tuna well-cooked).  Remove the tuna from the skillet and arrange on the top of the salad
·        To make the dressing, pour the vinegar into a bowl and add the salt, cayenne pepper, Dijon Mustard and gradually add the olive oil with a little whisk. Check seasoning before dressing the salad