Surrender your lunch to the colours and flavours of the Med…

Weekend lunches. They’re the best because they’re generally tastier, usually a little more involved & often more exciting than the midweek, midday meals that sometimes sustain rather than delight…agree?

I knew you would, you’re such a well-read, edibly curious & always adventurous crowd and so with that in mind, let’s talk tapenade. Named after the Provencal word for ‘capers’ but with the first records of it being eaten emerging from Italy, this spread of the Med is traditionally made with a mixture of finely chopped olives, capers & olive oil. Whilst the components of a tapenade have been adapted over the years, two things remain constant – made right, this soft paste is always packed full of savoury flavour and made for you, it’s a total cheat’s dream for speedy meals. Read More

Covent Garden gets a taste of France with Mamie’s beautiful crepes & cider…

Hot Dinners is something of a bible for me when it comes to what’s new on London’s edible landscape and ever since they announced way back in April that a new crepes & cider based restaurant was opening in Covent Garden, I’ve been one of those ridiculously annoying jolly enthusiastic people who hang around shops first thing in the morning waiting for them to open. A little Twitter following here, a little Instagram peeking there and maybe even a hopeful visit while the poor team were still installing the chic copper fittings & minimal branding made me something of a Gallic stalker but what can I say? I like crepes, I like cider, I like Covent Garden and thankfully I can now say that I like Mamie’s. I really like it.

Tucked away down Catherine St, this is a sweet little place with a curiously charming mix of the traditional – French galettes & crepes made to order – and the modern – ordering via iPad at the table. The last time I had to order my dinner via the legacy of Steve Jobs was at Inamo where the whole experience was as enjoyable as root canal surgery; here it was simple, uncomplicated & fuss-free with no waiter coming over to read back your order and no need to check in half an hour later as to where your supper was due to a frozen screen. img_9166

Inside on a crisp December evening with the Christmas lights twinkling outside, it was romantically dark & cosy with small ‘date night’ tables for two, larger spots for groups of friends and stools in the window, perfect for people watching on the eternally busy streets outside.

Service was friendly & sincere and the food, quite frankly, splendid. Galettes here are crazily light & crispy and also gluten free thanks to their buckwheat base. Ours came beautifully folded over a generous filling of goats’ cheese & honey and rolled around sausage, onions & wholegrain mustard. Both were spot on in terms of flavour, texture and appearance plus at under £8 each and amply sized for sharing, they were a pretty-close-to-perfect price point.

You have the option for personalising anything you order so if you fancy a bit of blue cheese, pear & walnut ‘Edith Piaf’ atop your wafer thin, burnished gold & ham-cheese-and-egg stuffed galette, well then you go right ahead. The French are refreshingly unapologetic when it comes to what they want so channel that spirit here.

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With a waistband already distinctly tighter than it had been twenty minutes before, dessert was contemplated, mused and mulled over…then duly ordered. Please. As if there was ever any real doubt.

Crepes here brought to mind dreamy reminiscencs of past summers holidaying on the French coast where a post-dinner stroll along the seafront to have dessert was a highlight of each salty, sun drenched evening. Beautifully thin & soft, go ultra classic with an understated sprinkling of lemon & sugar, indulge your inner 12 year old with chocolate & marshmallows or simply copy me and dive face first into La Magritte, which comes with home cooked apples, vanilla bean speckled ice-cream and one of the best caramels I’ve ever had. Sweet, sticky and liberally draped over the pancake, I’d happily have bought a bucket full to bathe in. Messy? Sure. Worth it? Hell yes.

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Tangy, sweet & cloudy ciders from Brittany and Normandy hit the spot for us although there’s also a succinct yet decent looking cocktail menu that I’m pretty sure would lure me back again without too much effort on a cold evening in January when the charm of the festive season is long gone. To be fair though, the cider is only one of the things that will bring me back to Mamie’s and even that will have to wrestle with those crispy galettes and THAT caramel sauce for the top spot in my list of reasons to return. If you need nourishment of the stomach and the spirit in Covent Garden, Mamie’s is exactly the place you’ve been waiting for….just not as long as me.

A two Michelin starred evening with the finest of French fare…

It’s not often you get the chance to have your dinner cooked for you by a two Michelin starred chef so when the opportunity arose for a seat at Claude Bosi’s table during ‘An Evening With…’ at the Divertimenti Cookery School on Brompton Road, it was something I’d have climbed over my own sister to be a part of…

…luckily it didn’t come to that. I still have a sibling who’s on speaking terms with me and when I arrived to find there would be only 6 other people there with me, it became even more of a charming & personal interaction with this hugely talented & passionate chef.

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Chef Bosi, a classically trained alumnus of several of France’s finest restaurants including L’Arpege and Restaurant Alain Ducasse, is perhaps best known in the UK as the culinary genius behind Hibiscus, a Michelin star appointed restaurant based first in Ludlow and then London, and his inventive & respectful takes on French cuisine have won him fans both here and across the seas.

Five courses – each paired with wines – were prepared in front of us by Bosi and his two sous chefs in a kitchen that was unbelievably calm, organised & confident, traits of working that he instills in his kitchens. Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Comte & Cheddar Gougeres were our starting point for the evening’s feasting; rustic nuggets of perfectly cooked, soft centred, crispy edged cheesey goodness, each one lightly hand dusted with freeze dried cheese powder. There are times when you want party food to look aspirational and times when you simply want it to look comfortably welcoming and these plum sized, choux pastry dollops were the ultimate in homely-meets-chic appetizers, marrying beautifully with a glass of cold, crisp champagne.

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