Secret Food Tours of London.. Brings London’s History of Food and Culture into one Melting Pot

I recently spent a Saturday afternoon on a Secret Food Tour around London Bridge and Borough market area, not just any foodie tour but a secret one complete with a history of London, the spots we visited and an affable guide.

Secret Food Tour - Bermondsey

The Secret Food Tours company offers tours around London, Paris and Rome with plans I learnt to also expand to Madrid later this year. The London tour has two secret food tours, Traditional British food tour around London Bridge and Indian Food tour around the East End of London. It has a clever approach of using local guides whom know the various traders and restaurateurs and insider knowledge that proves really helpful when you’re limited on time and want to see the best each city has to offer, but in the most painless way.

On tour with visitors

I’ve been on several ‘foodie tours’ in my time around Bangkok and New York City and they were good but what I personally enjoyed about this insight into Borough market was the in-depth knowledge from the guide and the history and details he told us with each stop. I was also impressed that he gave us a few extra tips and facts along the way and spent I suspect a little more time with us.

We kicked off the tour with some traditional fish and chips at the famous Fish Kitchen and tasted some beer battered haddock and generous portion of chips with homemade tartare sauce .. soo good. We then had a little tour around Bermondsey market at various coffee and chocolate specialist shops, which all looked very tempting before we stopped at a local fruit and vegetable producer to taste some succulent strawberries.

Our Tour Master - OlliOyster Time

Then it’s onto an amazing oyster tasting with a secret ingredient and fire show .. ok well almost a fire show as the Spanish server very nonchalently throws around a blowtorch to heat and burn off the secret ingredient of cheese and a pesto looking mixture, while having a conversation in very fast Spanish .. it’s quite a skill and I’m suitably impressed. After the show we then each try to devour our oyster as delicately as possible, it’s tasty but I still wince as i struggle slightly with oysters.. am I bad?!

Oyster time

Oyster time

arrggghhh

Moving swiftly on we have a bit of a history lesson about the buildings, and cobbled lanes around the market area as we walk over towards London Bridge and The Golden Hind and Sir Francis Drake’s defeat of the Spanish
Armada. Oliver our guide explains that the next stop is a surprise and we’re simply not going to guess where or what the building was in its hay day.

One of the final stops on this tour is a former stables underneath the arches of London Bridge in a very cool pub that the next time I have people to stay in London will definitely take advantage of. Oliver has arranged for us to have a cider and cheese and fig tart tasting.. quite an unusual combination as it goes, but as he starts to explain the reasons behind choosing the cider over beer it all become crystal clear.. well almost. The cheese board is a generous mix or cheeses such as English Stiltons, Stinking Bishop Cheese Caerphily cheese and a Yarg cheese along with a fig cake that went really well with the light summer cider.

For the final chapter of this epic afternoon we headed to the river for some fabulous views and the most important dish of the today pudding and lots of it.. Traditional English puddings with stolen recipes by the French and the best eton mess i’ve had in a long time, was certainly a highlight for me and not to missed along with a cup of English breakfast tea and a history of tea lesson from our guide.

Pretty colours in umbrellasDessert time ..

All in all not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon learning more about London and getting to eat and drink along the way.

Tours can be booked directly at

Price per person per tour is £60.00 and takes approximately 3-3.5 hours to complete the tour along with plenty of insider knowledge and history about the area as you walk around.

Meringue and Mandarin double cream

Christmas cake, Caviar and Champagne.. what’s not to love?

The diet is most well and truly over and I’m back to full–on luxury indulgence which is fortuitous as it’s also coinciding with the festive season. Happily I’m eating again well over eating, and loving it. On a recent press trip out to Austria somebody commented rather rudely’ I’ve never met such a petite woman who could put away so much cheese and beer’. Really! How rude..

I can’t help it though, there’s no stop button well until the ‘New Year, New Me’ regime kicks in again. I’d made a promise to myself at the start of the diet that I’d treat myself and long suffering friends to a long lunch somewhere fabulous with food that was a combination of comfort, deeply satisfying and indulgent.  I found myself back on the welcoming doorstep of Angelus restaurant in West London, ready to dive into a divine plate of Orkney scallops, succulent rabbit and a long awaited and much anticipated ‘assiette of dessert’ which involved a memorable Clementine and Vodka soufflé, salted caramel tart with homemade ice-cream. It didn’t disappoint.. that was nearly a month ago and since then I’ve been indulging in a non-stop sugar fix.

French Fine Wine

French Fine Wine

Foie gras - Creme Brulee

Foie gras – Creme Brulee

Not a huge lover of traditional fruit Christmas cake I jumped at the chance to taste test some of Maison Blanc’s Christmas Patisserie range and offering of beautifully designed festive themed cakes made with woodland theme <a href="http://www.maisonblanc.co.uk/”>http://www.maisonblanc.co.uk/ at their Fulham rd store.  Naturally I had to try all of the patisserie on offer, my favourite was the Pistachio woodland cake featuring cute toadstools. It’s indulgent yes, but it’s fun, especially for children and a great alternative to a full English afternoon tea. You can either chose 1 or 2 mini cakes an exquisite chocolate ‘Buche de Noel’ log or some of the Christmas Cupcake range are also really fun and with fresh cream and light vanilla flavoured sponges, much better than Christmas cake anyday.

There’s a limit however, even for me as to how much sugar you can have in a week, so moving over to the savoury side of my tastebuds. On a more savoury note but no less indulgent I was sent some Caviar by the London Classic Caviar company along with a Mother of pearl teaspoon and given explicit instructions on how to taste the densely packed Caviar pearls.

Caviar Classic London .. package perfection

Caviar Classic London .. package perfection

The Caviar is beautifully dense, grey, shiny in appearance and densely packed. As soon as I put a spoon into mouth .. hmm it has a deliciously creamy texture with a slight hint of fish but not overpowering in anyway and a nutty aftertaste. We sip some Champagne and then taste with blinis and creme fraiche and wow it’s a great little amuse bouche if you’re looking for something special to offer guests over the festive period or New Year’s. www.caviarclassic-london.com

Croatia National Tourist Board launches new ‘Croatia365’ Campaign

Croatia 365

Croatia 365


Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik

Last night, I attended the UK launch of the Croatian National Tourist Board (CNTB)’s new pre- and post-season campaign: ‘Croatia 365’.
Held in the Grand setting of Queen’s Club, we were welcomed by Mr Darko Lorencin, the Croatian Minister of Tourism, Mr Ratomir Ivičić, Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, Mr Tonko Rilović, UK & Ireland Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board, and Mr Ivan Grdešić, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United Kingdom.
Representatives from the regions of Dubrovnik and Riviera, Korčula and Pelješac, Slavonia and Baranja, and north-western Istria showcased their huge range of cultural, eno-gastronomic, adventure, wellness & health and MICE offerings.

Wine Tasting menu

Wine Tasting menu


Award winning Croatian wines

Award winning Croatian wines


We were then treated to a fun and informative tasting masterclass by Joe Wadsack, the renowned wine writer and Saturday Morning Kitchen TV presenter. During the tasting, Joe, transported us on a wine tasting journey around the beautiful country of Croatia.
Once we’d over indulged in some amazing Croatian canapes and artisan delicacies – which included the highest quality truffles, cheeses, olive oils, pršut, salami, honey, sweets and cakes – we were treated to a beautiful and charismatic performance from world-class Croatian tenor Stijepo Gled Markos.
Canapes with Croatian Artisan produce

Canapes with Croatian Artisan produce


The aim of the evening is to put Croatia in people’s minds as an all year round destination, which can offer – so much more than just stunning coastlines, with cultural activities and fascinating historical architecture to thermo-mineral water based spas and local food delicacies. Looking forward to going very soon for a city and wine tour.

Après London- A cool ‘Sex in the City’ Cocktail bar

A heaving Oxford Street gives way to a trendy side street, where Après London drinks bar and club lives. It’s my Sex in the City moment post work,shopping cool cocktail bar. Après is a nice little find around the busy West End and Mayfair area, conveniently situated opposite Selfridges. It has an outside area for summer drinks and tasty nibbles and some very comfy leather seating inside by the bar to relax and chill out in post a busy day at work.

Apres London, Terrace area

Apres London, Terrace area

Serving an eclectic mix of cool cocktails ranging from some fabulous martini and mojito concoctions with a twist to wine and beers, as well as non-alcoholic cocktails with some pizzaz!

Cucumber cooler

Cucumber cooler

Mojito with a twist

Mojito with a twist

When we arrive at the bar it’s fairly busy and the Thursday night DJ who is too ‘Cool for Skool’ starts setting up next to us. To the left of us a couple on a date and another table of very chic London girls are sipping cocktails and avidly catching up on the gossip over some cool tunes. I notice it’s mainly Londoners in here, everybody is achingly on trend and looking very London, there are a few wealthy looking ex-pat types but it feels quite local in here as well.

ApresLondon

ApresLondon

After the initial cocktail we veer towards the menu, which is certainly a fun eclectic mix of some different and favourite cuisines. We decide on some beef sliders, steak tacos, hummus with fresh large green olives and hot pitta bread, as well as chicken satay sticks, simple but good ingredients, which certainly hit the spot.

Beef Sliders

Beef Sliders

Well stocked bar

Well stocked bar

Apres has an easy and fun atmosphere for a quick drink and bite to eat. It’s a lovely relaxed spot with cool tunes and an even cooler DJ, who was good when we were there on the Thursday evening. Weekends the basement club is also open and holds bigger numbers, there is a doorman policy at the weekend and you can ring ahead to reserve a table as it does get busy with the cool set.

For a few cocktails and 2-3 tapas style dishes the average cost would be £30-35 per person. The location is easy for Bond Street/ Oxford Street tubes. http://www.apreslondon.com
Apres

Ratings:
Atmosphere: 7
Food: 8
Drink: 9
Overall Experience: 8

Win Tickets to see Charles Metcalfe in action at Foodies Festival Edinburgh

To celebrate Discover the Origin’s return to Foodies Festival, Edinburgh for another year, I’ve teamed up with the people behind the campaign promoting delicious protected products to offer two lucky Delicious Traveller readers a pair of tickets to Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park this weekend –Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August.

Festival-goers will have the chance to see Discover the Origin take the ‘how’ out of choosing the right wine and creating perfect wine parings with free masterclasses* hosted by celebrity wine expert Charles Metcalfe. Charles is one of the nation’s most well-known and amusing wine critics. He’s equipped with plenty of advice about this summer’s wines, including the best temperature to enjoy them at and what to look out for when choosing a bottle to ensure you’re drinking a quality wine.

Visit the Discover the Origin pagoda to meet the campaign’s team of experts and taste the samples on display alongside their expert guidance. And all in the glorious settings of Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park.

Foodies is the UK’s largest food & drink festival with 10 festivals in 2014 featuring top chefs, producers, pop-up restaurants, street food and live entertainment. To see more about the festival visit foodiesfestival.com.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of Foodies Festival Edinburgh tickets simply Retweet this tweet:
RT to win a pair of @foodiesfestival Edinburgh tickets from @delictraveller and
@DiscoverOrigin #discoverquality #heritage #protectedstatus

Good luck!

DiscovertheOrigin

DiscovertheOrigin

Discover the Origin is a campaign financed with aid from the EU, France, Italy and Portugal that celebrates the character and heritage of five fine foods and wines with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status: Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Parma Ham, Douro Wines, Bourgogne Wines and Port. To learn more and see delicious recipes featuring easy ways to use these little luxuries visit discovertheorigin.co.uk

Ts&Cs: Two winners will be chosen at random at 5pm Friday 8th August 2014 and notified by email the same day.
* Entry to the Drinks Theatre is included in the ticket price. Places are available on a first come, first served basis and entry is limited – register for free entry at the Registration Point opposite the main entrance.

A perfect London Summer evening at Angelus Restaurant, Bathhurst Street

My love affair with London continues, there is always a new street to explore or new restaurant to discover and I may have just found one of my favourite restaurants in London in this place. My supper at Angelus restaurant, on Friday was one of those special London evenings; where the company, the food, the ambience and setting all came together to make a perfect summer evening.

IMG_0796

Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus, Thierry Tomasin

Angelus restaurant and bar is tucked away on Bathurst Street in an unassuming but historical part of London, not far from Notting Hill and Lancaster Gate area. We’re immediately greeted by a beautiful young French girl, who asked if we’d like to sit in or out, we opted to start our evening sitting outside on the little terrace and soak up the summer evening and London atmosphere.

A hidden corner of effortless indulgence, the warmth and energy Angelus is renowned for is personified as you enter the restaurant, and meet the fabulous founder Thierry Tomasin, and ex-Gavroche Head Sommelier for 20 years and his staff. Far more than a stunning interior and mouth-watering cuisine, Angelus has become a beloved secret spot in London.

A little bit of history..
Formally a pub and covert meeting place for political figures such as Winston Churchill, Angelus boasts elegant Art-Nouveau interiors which have been cleverly incorporated into the original architecture of this early 19th century building. Named after the Angelus Bell, this “brasserie de luxe” is located in one of London’s last working mews.
My plan for the evening had been not to over indulge or drink as I’m into week 1 of a new training and diet session (my blog – Diary of a WBFF newbie – taylorspr.wordpress.com) which is for a challenge I’ve scarily decided to attempt in November. However, the plan went out the window for several reasons, some of which are listed above, A) the menu was simply too tempting to say no to a glass of wine with dinner, and B) the other reason was boy issues.. so I felt I should take some solace in my favourite French cuisine.

Thierry Tomasin, the owner was also convincing with his charming French accent and easy manner, his pitch being a “Salesman of Pleasure” that we girls should be indulged! Not going to argue with that, what an excellent way to twist mine and my companion’s arm.

The Girls on Friday Night

The Girls on Friday Night


Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

Enjoying a glass of Marsanne

The menu is seasonal French cuisine, bistro cooking from the heart and we had the option of choosing from the summer á la carte menu or anything from the brunch menu, there was quite a lot to choose from a mixture of classic French cuisine dishes and specials.

We decided on two entrees from the á la carte menu:
• A divine Light Maroilles Cheese soufflé with walnut crust, fresh endive, sliced green apple and Parmesan consommé
• English Pea and Broad Bean Velouté, with a poached Sussex farm duck egg, with grilled Romanesque cauliflower florets

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg

Veloute with Poached Duck Egg


I like to try slightly different and unusual dishes from time to time for my reviews, it keeps it fresh in my approach and is also a great way to widen the palate and be open to new experiences and tastes. We both opted for fairly light entrée dishes – the Velouté is a light vibrant green which tastes of spring garden vegetables, I carefully broke into the poached egg and it was a lovely bright yellow runny egg, just as it should be. The Cheese Soufflé was divine the small mouthful I tasted with a beautifully balanced and light Parmesan consommé. Thierry attended to us with his passion for food & wine and the restaurant shining through, and I knew we were going to be well looked after. The wine list is superb, with a heavy nod to French wines, but as a French restaurant I would expect nothing less. There are also some good quality new world wines on the list just in case you’re averse. We however, in an effort to be good opted for a glass of wine and Thierry, who was the Head Sommelier at Le Gavroche working under Chef Michel Roux, recommended the Marsanne Viognier, a light white wine with some complexity and minerality and also some floral notes. It was delicious and needless to say we didn’t just have one glass!

Main dishes:
• Seared Monkfish with green olives, shellfish and wild rice with baby fennel
• Roasted whole pigeon D’Anjou with peach and pink pepper puree, and crumbled black pudding

For our main plat we decided to move into the restaurant as it was getting a little chilly and I also wanted to savour and soak up the atmosphere of this lovely restaurant. It was fairly full and we were given a little table for two, not to close to our neighbours, so we were able to relax a little more. The interior has a very French, dare I say Parisian feel to it and it’s absolutely charming. I certainly felt as if I’d been transported to France for the evening and adored the dark wood tables, art deco lights and flooring which added to the ambience.

I chose the fish option of the Monkfish, light, yet meaty and succulent with an array of green and black olives delicately presented over the seared monkfish stuffed with shellfish, perfect for a warm summer evening. We remained on the same white wine as it matched our dishes well, my companion opted for the roasted whole pigeon with a peach and pink pepper puree and black pudding, also very good and a contrast to the fish. Meaty and rare (very rare) well we were practically in France at this point (she could have opted for a light red wine with this meat, but decided to stay on white). Our only suggestion would be to have some more vegetables with the plats or some further vegetable options as side dishes would have been good.

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

Monsieur Thierry Tomasin, Owner

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The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef's Table

The Kitchen Tour next to the Chef’s Table

With the diet well and truly out of the window and my cheat meal taking on epic proportions, we threw caution to the wind and allowed our host Thierry, to suggest the dessert, which he thought we’d love and he was right!

Dessert:
• A shared plate of Apricot soufflé with apricot homemade apricot and lemon-thyme sorbet, homemade elderflower yoghurt with honeycomb, white chocolate ice-cream and summer berry pavlova with carpaccio of nectarine and strawberry coulis.

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"Salesman of Pleasure" Dessert Plate

“Salesman of Pleasure” Dessert Plate


Wines:
• Glass of Pink Champagne
• White wine – Marsanne Viognier – Domaine de la Cessane, 2012
• Dessert wine – Jurancon, Uruolat – Charles Hours, 2012

Angelus prides itself on an easy gastronomic menu and contemporary approach to the French classics. Its talented kitchen team has created a menu of elegant but unpretentious food that can be enjoyed for any occasion. One of the City’s last remaining secret spots, Thierry’s Gallic passion, combined with award-winning cuisine and a formidable wine list make Angelus a regular treat, to be enjoyed with friends and good company.
http://www.angelusrestaurant.co.uk

This is definitely a firm favourite now for me, and depending on if you want to have a two course lunch or dinner it is has a great variable menu with lunch starting at £22 for two courses in central London, is pretty great and at these standards an exception to the rule.

Dinner a la carte – for two with wine, entrees, plats, dessert was approx. £47.00 per person.

Value rating: Excellent
Atmosphere: Excellent
Food Quality: Excellent

Refresh and refuel at London’s Chic Drunch cafe for a light lunch

Watermelon & Fresh Basil Juice

Watermelon & Fresh Basil Juice

Lazy hazy sunny days in London are always the best when you can leisurely saunter in and out of the shops and head to a favourite place for lunch. Oxford Street and Bond Street, have lots of little streets off them and it’s here that some of the best places exist for a fab little lunch post shopping or afternoon pick-me-up.

Last weekend found me wondering around Regent Street for a street food festival on Sunday, with Regent Street closed off to traffic, a lovely reprieve to the usual hecticness. I also discovered the streets just behind Marble Arch and the Edgeware Rd recently, which have some lovely restaurants and café close by.

Wondering around London, in the sun is such a pleasure and there are always lots of new places to stumble upon and little gems to get carried away in. Drunch, is a great little find, an oasis in the shopping mecca of the West End. It is ideally located between Oxford Street and Bond Street on the corner of Woodstock Street, with a very quintessential London fashion feel to it. Even though it is just off Oxford Street, I hadn’t discovered it previously, even as a quick shortcut.

Drunch Cafe

Drunch Cafe

The cafe is surrounded by beautiful Georgian buildings and opposite Bonhams auction house, which adds an air of sophistication. Everything is freshly-prepared at Drunch with a delicious take on healthy dishes and lots of smoothie and juice options, just perfect for summer eating.

It was quite hot when we arrived, so we decided to sit outside under the awning, on stylish cream cushions and black rattan furniture, which was really very comfortable.. I could have sat there all afternoon.

They have a wide range of constructed teas and fresh coffees, but as it was hot I decided on a delicious watermelon and mint freshly squeezed juice. I’ve been overindulging recently so thought the sound of a Superfood salad with avocado and pumpkin seeds after my baked camembert in Brixton market the previous evening might make me feel slightly less guilty.

Avocado, quinoa & pumpkin seed salad

Avocado, quinoa & pumpkin seed salad

Grilled Halloumi & Heirloom tomatoes

Grilled Halloumi & Heirloom tomatoes

My companion was even more virtuous than I was and had grilled halloumi with cherry tomatoes, everything was served on differently shaped black pottery style plates and dishes, which gave it a modern contemporary feel to the dishes.

We were slightly less healthy when it came to dessert however, and it was a much as I could do not to order an “RIP DIET” Cheesecake .. but I just couldn’t do it to myself and shared a rather less indulgent but yummy almond cake with espresso.

Too tempting..Almond cake

Too tempting..Almond cake

Drunch is a great little pitstop in the heart of Oxford Street, with a cool London fashion feel to it. It’s able to offer good quality ingredients for lunch or a lovely alternative option for a lavish afternoon tea that won’t break the bank.