COMPETITION: Win a set of Tefal Ingenio Induction pans worth £250


As you may have seen, I've been putting these pans to the test over the last five months and boy, have they been tested. You can read my original review here and my updated review here. In a nutshell though, I'm a huge fan of them.

But there's nothing better than trying them out yourselves! Tefal have been super kind and offered a full 13-piece set of Ingenio Induction pans (that can be used on all types of hob) for me to giveaway.



To enter, simply follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. Good luck! (UK entries only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRODUCT REVIEW: Tefal Ingenio range (updated)



As promised, here is an update on how I'm getting on with my Tefal Ingenio pans. So, five months
later what do I think?

To be honest, I thought I would have taken my trusted stainless steel set out of storage but the only ones that have made their way back in the kitchen are are the small pans for heating my toddlers dinners or to cook small servings of pasta and rice and my gigantic pasta pot. ('Cause this mamma can't sleep at night unless I can cook for 40 people at the drop of a hat.)

Now, I use my pans heavily and need to be on the stove a good three times a day. The things I was most concerned about was the non-stick coating and any damage caused by the snap on handles.


As you can see, the non stick surface is still box-fresh silky smooth and to be honest out of all of my non-stick pans this is the best I have seen. Remember my age-old Tefal Wok? Still going strong and i imagine it's the same story for these pans.


The handle scratch is very minimal with only a tiny amount of the coating at the ridge rubbed off. The handles clip on very firmly (a good thing!) so it's surprising there isn't more of an issue. In fact, I only really use the handles for draining or tossing during frying.

Biggest surprise is that I've used them a lot in the oven in place of my trays, mainly because they are so much easier to clean. If I'm cooking meat, fish or potato wedges they will all go in the large frying pan. Also nothing sticks so no scraping or catching and things like the potatoes will crisp up even better as the coating will gently fry them a little if you have included fat.

I've found the heat distribution particularly excellent. These pans are a good weight but even the large frying pan, the outer edges heat and cook very well.

The only negative is that I'm still not a fan of the glass lids with rubber seals, but don't really use lids in cooking. (I think this is mainly an aesthetic issue for me though.)

My kitchen storage is so much neater - the removable handles are a dream and I think I've only got annoyed once or twice where I needed a handle on the pan asap and needed to hunt one down. Although the pans now fit in the dishwasher with no handles, they are so easy to clean that I rarely bother. Bye bye scrubbing.

They also sent me two new pieces to try; a pasta colander insert for the 20cm pan. This doesn't disrupt the neat storage, which is a big USP of the Ingenio range as it still sits neatly with the whole set. I really liked that they had thought about a good solution for the clip on handles which snap onto either the pan or the colander depending on if you are cooking or draining. It's great quality as expected and yeah, I've used it quite a bit actually.


The next item was a grill insert for either the 26cm or 28cm frying pan. As I'm using these pans so much in the oven the grill insert is also handy, especially if you are trying to be a bit healthier and drain off fats from meats. It's also good for roasting vegetables.


So all in all it's safe to say I've been converted to the coated pan and have been really, really pleased with them. If you are looking for a coated set of pans (that also have a storage and multi-tasking bonus), then I can't see how you could better these ones really in terms of quality.

I was sent the Tefal Ingenio pan set for review. Opinions, as always, are my own.

REVIEW: The Cow, Brighton


The Cow can be found in the heart of Seven Dials, where the very popular Tin Drum used to be.  I have been hearing some very good feedback about the food, including my boss about the Sunday roast and he is one hard man to please with dining!

The interior is large, pleasant and attracts quite a variety of diner. There is plenty of buggy space for parents and there were also a few workmen, single diners and workers on laptops in when I visited at lunchtime. I think they have tried to go for a rustic, eclectic look which at some points looks like the Wild West section at Disneyland - all cow print and Western fonts, but overall it just about works. Being owned by the local Indigo pub group, there is always that corporate brand touch that comes with chain ownership I suppose.

The menu is quite varied with bar snacks and cakes for the minor munchies plus small bites, sandwiches, burgers, sharing plates and a few mains.

The deals are also reasonable and the lunchtime 3 small plates for £10 seemed pretty good. Junior Foodie was with me and a variety of food is damage limitation on potential rejection of a single dish. (All parents of toddlers nodding right now.) I also ordered a plate of fish goujons which on reflection was a bit crazy as the three plates were a feast in themselves. There is a kid's menu available, but to be honest, these days my three year old is more at home sharing my food or with small plates off main menus.


My favourie dish was probably the lightly spiced cauliflower pakoras. There was plenty going on in there with fresh herbs and were well seasoned.


Calimari wern't too bad. The herb batter was good and carrot ribbon and rocket salad fresh and crunchy. I wouldn't expect the best quality calimari in a pub and this met my assumtions by being on the chewy side. Still, not the worst I've ever had and I've paid far more in the past in fish restaurants for a plate of essentlially tyre trimmings.

As the beef noodle salad went down so well, I didn't even have a chance to get a snap before kiddo had half devoured it. The little guy is a noodle monster. The Asian dressing on the rice noodles was fresh and vibrant with crunchy raw cabbage. The thin beef strips were very interesting, cooked to almost a beef jerky driness (I don't mean that to be a bad thing) and were very savoury and crunchy.


Sometimes fish gougons are just reformed, gloopy fish pulp but I was happy to find fat white fish strips that flaked beautifully, held together by the crisp batter. These were only about £5 or £6 so not bad at all.

The only niggle I had really was the generic pots of dip that seemed to accompany every dish which could have had a bit more thought put into.

But I was quite impressed with the food  I tried and will definitely return for more of the menu (although pretty difficult to order burgers with the excellent Coggings and Co next door). Don't go expecting fireworks or anything particularly inventive with the food, but as modern pub grub goes, the Cow does it very well.

The staff were also very accommodating to children with kids cutlery etc., I guess being in the popular family area of Seven Dials they must be used to little diners. As the space was so large, you also don't feel like you are in the way or disturbing other people too much, which makes for a more relaxing experience for parents.

This pub also champions craft beer with a choice of "craft on draught" and bottled beers from the UK, USA and further afield. I can imagine that The Cow feels very different come nighttime with a bustling atmosphere and I like places like this that nail that round the clock use from breakfast to boozing. Every neighbourhood should have one.

The Cow
95/97 Dyke Road, Brighton



For more buggy friendly cafes visit my guide:
http://www.thegraphicfoodie.co.uk/2014/04/gf-guides-buggy-friendly-cafes-in.html


Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards 2015



I am very proud to say that I have been chosen to judge a category this year for the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards. I'll be heading out as a secret shopper later on this year when public votes have been counted. (I'm thinking some sort of secret agent outfit but maybe that's taking it a tad too far.)

The awards are run by the team behind the city's food festival, and are the annual celebration of the best in hospitality in the city including restaurants, caf├ęs, pubs, cocktail bars, retailers and individuals who are making a significant contribution to the city's food and drink industry (which I may add is getting bigger and better each year).

Chef Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees who won gold last year for both the Best Restaurant and Newcomer categories said: "The whole team at 64 Degrees was truly honoured to win not only best newcomer but also best restaurant. It was a real surprise and an amazing achievement in our first year. We love being involved in the food festival and it is great that we are all working together on truly putting Brighton on the map as a food destination."

Henry Butler of Butler’s Wine Cellar, winner of Food Hero 2014, said: “I was very chuffed to be acknowledged as the food award’s Food Hero, and for once I was a little speechless. Butler's are very much part of the Brighton community, we are enjoyers, and like to consume what the Brighton food scene has to offer. I look forward to defending my trophy.”

Public nominations for the food awards are now open at www.brightonfoodfestival.com/foodawards2015 and run until 31 August with winners announced in October 2015.


Also do remember the Food and Drink Easter Weekender and also the Food Festival itself. More information can be found on www.brightonfoodfestival.com and also my choice picks from both events on http://www.thegraphicfoodie.co.uk/2015/03/event-brighton-hove-food-and-drink-food.html

REVIEW: YO! Sushi, Brighton

I'll hold my hands up and admit my knowledge of Japanese food is limited. Probably not as limited as those thinking it's acceptable to serve pasta with a duck in Hoisin sauce and front loading it with an order of garlic bread for that authentic Italian experience. (Clue: It's frigging not.) I also do not generally like the wipe down, generic environment of a chain restaurant.

So here we are in the Anglo-Japanese chain restaurant YO! Sushi. The Brighton branch has actually had a bit of a make-over and is all shiny new and sparkly.

As open to variety as we are in this city, Japanese restaurants in Brighton are actually quite limited. Emperor of them all, Moshimo, is a gorgeous environment and I always enjoy a visit and then we have the ramshackle but popular E-Kagen, Fatboy Slim owned Oki-Nami which rarely sets pulses racing, you'll find Sushi Garden down the laminated menu street for tourists and there's Pompoko where you can worryingly order a 30 course meal and get change out from 50p (sort of). There are a few smaller sushi and ramen places starting to pop up but again, I'm not the best informed of this cuisine. (By all means, leave me tip-offs in the comments.)

But one think I am sure about is that a conveyor belt sushi restaurant has my inner child and greediness squealing with glee. A constant stream of food passing under your nose as you dine? They should be in every restaurant I say. As is standard, cold sushi and dishes are taken off the belt but there are plenty of hot dishes made to order.



So, needless to say I tried a few things. Highlights were the beef and garlic teriyaki. The coating was crunchy and glazed in a sticky sweet sauce which I could have happily ordered again straight after. The spicy pepper squid, which surprisingly had been marinated for 24 hours on-site, was crisp and tender, but let down by the coating which was slightly floury.

Fresh and vibrant was the salmon and yuzu salsa tataki dish, with slices of salmon sat in a ponzu dressing topped with a tomato and cucumber salsa. 

Most dishes average around the £3-4 mark but there are a few more luxurious items like the seared tuna sashimi with caviar (£6). Being marinated in sake and soy, I would have expected a more dynamic flavour from the tuna, but it won a few points back for prettiness.



The sushi rolls were enjoyable enough. The YO! Sushi signature roll I suppose is a must order. Fresh salmon, avocado, mayo and orange smelt roe. The fried salmon skin and chicken katsu rolls also left little to complain about.


All in all, I enjoyed my meal. I wouldn't go in expecting the finest Japanese fare any more that I would the highest authenticity from Pizza Express. You can only expect so much from a restaurant that has a key to icons in the menu and an A-frame outside.

This is clearly crowd pleasing, safe food which I suppose is why the chain restaurant is so popular. Whilst I ate, I notice a wide demographic of diner from the working lunchbreaker, daters to families. And I would say this is a great place to bring the kids where they can freely experiment with their palettes in an engaging, interactive format. The families in the booths behind and in front were having a blast and I think my three year old, who is pretty gung-ho with food, would love it despite the high probability of leaving me with eye watering bill and a metre high tower of plates.

I would like to see a better drinks menu with freshly squeezed juices rather than Frobishers and that hideous tooth-tingling Zeo drink. They could also do with a few more beers, but apparently this is in the pipeline.

Staff are young and fun and add to the buzz of the place.

YO! Sushi
6 Jubilee Street, Brighton BN1 1GE

I was invited to review YO! Sushi. Opinions, as always, are my own. 


PRODUCT REVIEW: Bacco Tipicita' al Pistacchio Colomba

The UK is well and truly sold on the Christmas panettone. Before, my family had to go to very specialist delis or someone would send one over to us from Italy, but now they are stacked sky high in most supermarkets and delis. Even my husband's traditional British family have ditched the fruit cake in favour of them!

Lesser known though is the Easter Colomba. Traditionally, this is similar to the panettone but contains no dried fruit and is normally topped with sugar paste, pearl sugar and almonds. It is also shaped as a dove (but is always a very, very abstract, minimal version of a dove!). Anyway it's delicious and if you ever need a break from the Simnel cake, then this is it.


But here I have a particularly special version of the Colomba - this one is made by Sicily based Bacco Tipicita' al Pistacchio who specialise in products made with pistachios grown on the slopes of Mount Etna. Bronte is a village renowned for its special kind of pistachio, known as Etna's 'green gold', and believe me, this ain't no ordinary pistachio. The plants (which can live up to 300 years!) are grown on lava soil so the nuts receive unique properties and a flavour that distinguishes them from your typical bar snack. They can only be harvested every two years and the whole village of Bronte, young and old, get involved in shelling the nuts one by one. I love that thought!


I don't like overly sweet things but this is just gorgeously fragrant with the taste and aroma of good quality pistachios. The emerald colour is natural and the thick paste injected throughout adds interest to the plain base.  It is also topped with frosted paste and chopped pistachio nuts. I thoroughly enjoyed it and try as I might, I doubt the rest of it will see Easter day.


I was sent this to review but you can order one direct from Sicily in three days for £20.28 (inc P&P). It's available from http://www.artimondo.co.uk/pistachio-colomba-easter-cake.html 

Buona Pasqua!

REVIEW: Stanmer House, Brighton



I've been meaning to get to Stanmer House for far too long. But if I'm honest, the heinous, shouty pub chain website has kept me away, making me expect laminated bangers and mash menus.

Here's an example of the menu for Mother's Day. "She's in for a treat!" and "Book early to avoid a Tantrum" slogans - I kid you not. And a breakfast menu that would be more at home down West Street on a hungover Sunday or a motorway service station. Either orchestrated by two design geezers in a loft studio somewhere or, more likely, two marketing geezers in a loft studio somewhere. What works for the other Whiting & Hammond pubs, clearly shouldn't be applied at this venue.




Despite being taken over in 2011 by the chain, the interior has been more sympathetically renovated than the website and print collateral portrays and is modern and comfortable without detracting from the elegant 1722 heritage.



A jaunt across Stanmer Park on the first sunny day since, well forever, the outdoor dining area looked just too inviting to ignore. Walking through the heavy doors of the entrance the house is just stunning, there are cosy little nooks with open fires, a bar area or a more formal dining room to choose to dine in. But on a day as glorious as this, sitting outside is a must. Children (and dogs) are really well catered for with space to roam in, I can't comment on the children's food as they hadn't printed any menus yet. This was despite it being a freaking busy lunchtime and the sun was clearly going to bring in scores of diners. Duh. So I had to make do with a half blank waitress recalling what possibly was on the menu whilst being corrected by another member of staff. Ideal. So we kind of ordered haphazardly. 


I finally did get to see a menu, which was huge and a clear nod that we are in pub chain territory, but there were some good ideas on it. It was a Sunday but we wanted a lighter lunch as we had dinner plans, and they do a roast ciabatta which is their roasted dinner meats served as a sandwich with roast potatoes and gravy. Now. I eat out a lot and see some pretty daft presentation materials but a gravy boat served on a twatplank wooden board is up there for utterly bonkers impracticality. I assume you are meant to dip the potatoes in gravy? Anyway, meat could have been better, there could have been something green to lighten the stodge factor, but yeah, as sandwiches go it's been elevated enough to be classed as a little more special.



My choice of smoked salmon terrine and bream rillettes was a nice light option from the starters. Again, it was ok but the ciabatta toasts were almost stale, not enough of them, and served on my pet hate of slate. Watching the poor staff weaving around the large garden trying to find diners whilst keeping capers on flat slates was like some assault course inspired by Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Anyway, the bream rillettes were actually lovely, light and a good texture. The salmon terrine was enjoyable too and even though the salad wasn't dressed, the inclusion of it made the dish suitable for a light bite.

Generally, people seemed to be ordering the sausage rolls to wash down their chilled beers with but I did see a few roasts go out with huge Yorkshire puddings. Maybe inside people were ordering full meals, but really, with the sun blazing, I think everyone was giddy on vitamin D and wanting just drinks and nibbles.



Junior Foodie had to make do with a plain scone alongside bites of our meals as I was worried about the wait time following my mathematical equation of (bumbling staff + massive queues) = horrific toddler meltdown². He just threw it down his neck and was more concerned with running round and round the pond, squealing with glee anyway. The scone wouldn't have me rushing back for afternoon tea but it was fine, although I did see a tweet of their homemade cakes that did look pretty good.

All the food was just about acceptable really so yeah, go along for a light bite at lunch or a nibble to keep you going on your hike across the park. Prices are a little high but you have to accept you're in wonderful surroundings. Would I come here for a special occasion dinner? No, of course not. Despite the amazing venue, there is too much that winds me up about the design, staff, slates not plates and manilla ownership of the place. But an hour or two spent in their garden in the sunshine, or tucked up inside in front of the fire on a cold winter's day for that matter, is time worth spending, even if just to soak in the atmosphere.

www.stanmerhouse.co.uk
Stanmer Park
Brighton
BN1 9QA

On a side note, the following (read below upward) is a prize example that highlights that this is a heritage property with a chain pub mentality. Nothing like protecting your brand with good PR, eh. Kerching boys, kerching.

Read Rosie's review of the full roast dinner here. (At least that was served on a plate but possibly the only redeeming feature.)