REVIEW: Edendum, Brighton

Obviously, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is where the best Italian restaurant in Brighton is. Well firstly, I have a hard time recommending any in the city and secondly, there's really no such thing as one. Divided by regions, which may as well still be different countries, Italian food is as varied north to south as it can be village to village.

But Brighton Italian food has predominantly been that Anglo-Italian jumble where hideous dishes like "spag bol" sit awkwardly next to portions of fish and chips on tourist fodder menus. As you can tell, it makes my blood boil and my arms do some sort of over dramatic Italian gesticulation.

So I was more than interested in the opening of Edendum (latin for eating) a new restaurant run by a family from Piedmont. Owners Diego and Lorenza Cacciolatti have been successfully producing the branded jars and packets of food that line the walls for purchase and have settled on Brighton for their first restaurant venture. Forget the red and white checked tablecloths and candles in old, straw covered Chianti bottles. This is a smart, modern Italian restaurant you would typically find in any Italian city.

I started with one of my favourite dishes; Magatello di manzo con salsa tonnata. Normally I would expect this sauce to be served with veal, but the paper thin, tender slices of beef medallion were delicious regardless. I hear you. Meat with a thick, creamy, savoury tuna sauce doesn't work mentally, but honestly, you must try it. Umami central.

Something I wouldn't have ordered but came recommended were the gnocco fritto, which are deep fried, puffy pieces of pizza dough. Again, on paper you would imagine this as some sort of Pizza Express dish (I'm still digesting one of their dough balls I ate in '89) but these were pillow light, well seasoned and moorish. They were served with Parma ham, flavoursome Pachino tomatoes, creamy and sweet buffalo mozzarella and huge Cerignola olives, all of fantastic quality.  It would be well worth popping in for a glass or two of wine and this dish which also comes in a larger size with salumi and cheeses.

The rest of the menu is vast with classics like king prawn and saffron risotto and regional specialities of aubergine and mint cream soup. There is also a full pizza menu, making their own dough on-site. I did peek at another table and it did look quite good. One for the pizza list for sure.

They also have possibly the best kid's menu in Brighton as far as Junior GF is concerned. Pollo alla milanese, oven-baked salmon fillet, a small pizza or bowl of pasta with either oven baked potatoes or a side salad. Fruit juices were the pulpy Italian succos and you also got fresh fruit or small portion of pannacotta for dessert. It was a joy to be able to let him order anything on it and the generous portions of proper food is what all restaurants should be offering children. Not a chip or processed meat nugget in sight.

With our son happily tucking into his plate of fusilli with fragrant Neapolitan ragu, we chose meat ravioli with butter and sage, which were silky, refined and full of flavour and the more unknown Panelle di ceci - Chickpea croquettes.

Now these squares of batter made with chickpea flour are something you would find as street food in Palermo and eaten as they are. As a main dish I wasn't convinced, especially served with bread and a chive dip. It made for am uninviting beige plate of food and maybe wouldn't be to British tastes. Whilst I don't think Italian food should be tailored in that way, I think there are plenty of other choices. As I said, as a main maybe not, but the panelle served with a vibrant salad or as a starter with antipasti, would be more than welcome.

Dessert was a beautifully simple, light hazelnut cake, warmed and made special with a punchy prosecco and saffron zabaglione. The Zeppoline would be well worth a try too.

The Italian only wine list is excellent and I was so pleased to see my favourite white Pecorino on it as well as the fact that you can order almost all of the wines by the glass. They also have some artisan Italian beers to discover too. 

I like the idea behind Edendum and certainly appreciate the quality of produce but there are some tweaks needed maybe. I feel the menu is on the large side with too much choice. Something a little more streamlined and rotated often would be more appealing. Presentation needs to be updated a little too - the square and black plates, balsamic glaze squiggles and parsley garnish should have been left with Lloyd Grossman era Masterchef.

I would say that vegan diets have been well catered for here - a rarity in Italian food establishments, and the products for sale are most definitely worth popping in for, even if you are not dining. The large raised bar area is also really attractive for those wanting drinks and nibbles, I'm definitely keen to spend more time with their wine menu. 

But little tweaks aside, Brighton has certainly moved on leaps and bounds into real Italian food territory with Edendum.

69 East Street

I was a guest of Edendum. Views and content, as always, are my own.

REVIEW: Fatto a Mano pizzeria, Brighton

Brighton has come a long way since the beginning of the year where I found myself weeping in a Fiesta having put another slice of soggy pizza in my mouth, laden with processed cheese and catering olives. Eating pretty much from every pizzeria in the city to prove what I already knew; local pizza was, with little exception, inauthentic and at times, just plain vile.

But here we are today, boasting two Neapolitan pizzerias I'd happily recommend. First was Nu Posto in West Street and now Fatto a Mano (meaning "made by hand") in London Road. Two of the less glamorous streets in Brighton, but hey, I'd have walked over hot coals for a decent slice at some points during my search.  (And rumour has it they may be joined by a third well-known boutique chain.)

Fatto a Mano is a prettily designed, simple pizzeria but has everything you'd want. Firstly a beautiful, mosaic wood-fired oven and a concise menu with an equal mix of red sauce and white (without tomato sauce) pizza with a nice range of toppings.

I visited twice in a week. Once for a dinner with my girlfriends and a quieter lunch. Pizza was pretty consistent on both visits but the atmosphere is different. Evenings are busier and lively and it hasn't taken long for word to spread - the place was packed cheek to jowl. Throw in a few Hugos though and its a buzzy venue for dinner and giggles with your besties.

As always, I started with a traditional Margherita. The sauce was well seasoned, perfect quantity and precisely the dotting of creamy mozzarella I want to see too along with a few fresh basil leaves. The dough here is very good. Wood-fired ovens give the base that extra dimension in taste, a little char and singe really is what you want. The base was perfectly cooked with the char I want and the well formed cornicone had a decent bit of leorparding (if you want to know what the hell I'm on about, take a look at my pizza geek glossary here).

Around the table the other pizza looked good, my favourite being the Salsiccia and Friarielli (sausage and a type of broccoli hybrid, local to Naples).

I went back a few days later for lunch and tried a Napoletana. This was the same as my last, still good, decent toppings of tomato, anchovies, plump capers, dried oregano, fresh basil and the big hooray; decent black olives (not the horrid dyed tinned ones). Luckily I love garlic and wasn't on a first date because there was a Dracula-proof amount of the fresh stuff on there, possibly too much but such a minor point.

Had Fatto a Mano been the only real pizzeria in town, it would no question be the best and it really is good. But personally, I think Nu Posto just pips it to the, er, post, purely as I prefer the airy, pillowy light nature of the dough there. But I'd happily eat at both pizzerias and half the large table who were with me preferred this, so either way you can't go wrong. What they do do better here though is the drinks, particularly the beer.

A return is required for a slice of Torta della Nonna or even the Scugnizzielli (fried pizza doughnut strips) and nice they encourage you to pop in during the daytime for a sweet treat and coffee.

It's so great that you have a hankering for pizza in Brighton now, you do not have to subject yourself to cheap catering cheeses, terrible quality and inauthentic toppings, substandard or bought in dough, or even flown in dough from Rome (carbon footprint anyone?). The real deal is finally here.
77 London Road

RECIPE: Pretty vintage rose cupcakes

I don't often post baking recipes and I don't really do pretty baking either, but these sweet vanilla cupcakes are rather simple to make (my kind of baking) and are on the right side of girly cuteness. AND it's National Cupcake Week you know. Now, I think enough time has passed that cupcakes are ok again. Remember a few years ago when cupcakes were everywhere and piled high American style with nauseating amounts of frosting? I'm seeing more sensible versions now that you do want to eat thank goodness. ("Cake pops" will never be ok in my book though.)

I made these ones for a 1 year old's party as her middle name is Rose but didn't want anything too kiddy. These would be welcome at girly gatherings, tea parties or even wedding cake material. The roses are not difficult to make once you have the hang of them.

Ingredient quality really makes difference to baking. I've experimented with lots of butters and you can tell the difference - buy the best! The white eggs* here are from The Happy Egg Co. whose ethos I like and these are laid by white hens. They have a larger yolk than normal so fabulous for baking with. I also wouldn't be without my beloved OXO Good Grips tools to help me either. You can read more about my product reviews here but they are my go-to for everyday, affordable kitchenware.

Here I'm testing the sturdy mixing bowl* which is exactly what I want; 1. stainless steel, 2. non slip, 3. well weighted. It's perfect and the white exterior is modern and good looking for display (great for speedy chilling too). I was also testing the decorating set but had the rose decoration in mind. I've never got on well with icing kits, either the simple snipped bags or those impossible traditional metal plungers that spew icing out of the sides. The OXO 4 Piece Baker’s Silicone Decorating Bottle Kit* may look a bit bonkers but it was so easy to use and handle. No spills or mess either. The compact nature is a bonus as everything can be stored inside. Even after a quick test, I know I'll be packing my old icing kits off to the charity shop in the morning.

Makes 10 cupcakes

125g Caster sugar
125g Unsalted butter, room temperature
125g Self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Line a muffin tin with 10 muffin cases.

Beat together all of the cake ingredients for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth batter. Divide between the muffin cases and bake for about 15 minutes, until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

For the decoration

Ready to roll icing (Half a standard 1kg pack or 500g pack)
Icing sugar
Red and green colouring paste
Silver dagrees/sugar balls (I like the soft ones you can get now)
Green edible glitter

Cut a third of the icing off and reserve. Dust the work surface lightly with icing sugar and roll the larger icing block out thinly, flipping and turning to ensure it doesn't stick. it needs to only be about 3mm thick. Using the round cookie cutter that is a little bit smaller than the finished cupcake, cut 10 circles.

Cut a third off the smaller piece of reserved icing. Put a few drops of red colouring onto the larger piece and a few drops of the green into the smaller piece. Go easy as you want a soft pastel colour. Work the colour into each icing until you have a smooth, even colour. Chill this for a little while if it has gone too soft with the heat of your hands.

Once ready, lightly dust the worktop with a little icing sugar and roll each colour to around 2.5mm thick. For the rose colour cut into thin strips about 10mm tall and 100mm wide. Roll these up slightly unevenly to form the look of a rose. Slightly pinch the bottom to form a "v" shape and to hold it all together. Trim the end point so your rose sits on a flat surface. Repeat until you have 10.

Cut the green icing into 10 small leaf shapes then using a blunt knife, press lightly to form the central vein. Tip a little of the glitter onto a plate and lightly press each leaf into it.

Pour cold water into a small glass. Dip a pastry brush in an remove excess water with some kitchen roll. Lightly paint the underside of the white icing round and press centrally on top of the cupcake. Using a small clean, unused artist paintbrush, dampen the underside of each green leaf and apply slightly off centre to each cupcake. Repeat with the base of each rose and stick centrally. Apply a single silver dagree.

*I was sent the products for review. Words and content, as always, are my own.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Bluebird Tea Co. Autumn Collection

Pack up those Aperol Spritz drinks, the autumn is coming so get the kettle on. Bluebird Tea Co are a fantastic tea shop in Brighton that make drinking tea, well, bit more exciting.

They have just launched an Autumn collection and as I've come to expect from them, have added their own spin to some classic flavours. Their biggest USP is that their teas look amazing, full of ingredients you can actually see and taste. No dusty teabags here.

My favourite of the set was the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Chai. This had gorgeous notes of vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and clove and (my inner child squealed a little) Halloween sprinkles. I KNOW.

Pudina Chai on the other hand was very fresh with strong peppermint against cardamom, lemongrass and ginger. I think the chai range at Bluebird is particularly good, and I've loved working my way through them.

I wasn't nuts for the Nuts About You one.  The tea seemed to taste overwhelmingy of almond extract. Shame as the other ingredients (almond pieces, cinnamon, coconut flakes, mallow flowers) sounded like a beautiful combination.

The inevitable seasonal sniffle can be soothed with their Kung Flu Fighter! with eucalyptus leaves, aniseed, lemongrass, chilli, echinacea and peppermint. I thought this would be more medicinal than enjoyable, but actually was rather nice to curl up on the couch with.

It's a great idea that they keep things interesting with seasonal specials but their main range is worth a look too. They have experience packs which are a good place to start. Pop into the shop or order from Bluebird Tea Co are a fabulous Brighton brand so support them!

Bluebird Tea Co. 
41 Gardner St, Brighton, BN1 1UN

I was sent these products for review. Words and content, as always, are my own.

RECIPE and WIN: Papas Arrugadas with Mojo sauces plus win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer

I love simplicity in tapas. I normally go for chorizo cooked in sherry (obviously!), Manchego cheese and quince jelly, slices of IbĂ©rico ham, a finely layered potato tortilla, some marinated anchovies, maybe a ham and cheese croquette, padron peppers,pan con tomate and if there is a nice octopus dish...ok,'s pretty easy to get carried away. 
But one dish I do like, which is rarely on the menus, is Papas Arrugadas with Mojo sauces. This is regional to the Canary Islands and something I discovered with Mr Graphic Foodie back in the day when we were young, carefree and wrecking our cheap 1ltr white Nissan Micra by driving it off road to Playa de Papagayo. And when we weren't breaching our car hire lease conditions, we were propped up somewhere, ordering these wrinkly potatoes with a salted crust, dipping them in fiery mojo sauces. They really are one of best holiday food memories I have.

And as Alhambra were nice enough to send over a case of their Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer, I thought I'd remember what summer was like (is it EVER going to stop raining?) and recreate that holiday vibe. There are so many variations of mojo sauces but I've stuck to the two classics of spicy red and smoother parsley mojo sauce but you can try avocado or orange based ones too.

Although not much of a beer drinker, I really enjoyed the Alhambra Reserva 1925. Crisp, premium and really full bodied flavour. It was actually quite elegant. It was also refreshing to drink something traditional and not from the neue craft beer genre with zany labels and pumped up social media feeds. Anyway, I loved it and you can try it too by winning a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer yourself - see the end of post for details.

Papas Arrugadas with Mojo sauces

For the potatoes
500g small new potatoes, skin scrubbed
about 30g sea salt
1 litre water

For the Red Mojo Picon
150ml neutral tasting oil
1 large red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 fresh, hot red chilli
50ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of saffron

For the Mojo Verde
150ml neutral tasting oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
50ml white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
40g fresh coriander


Preheat the oven to 150C.

Put the potatoes into a pan with the salt and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain off any excess water and allow to steam dry slightly.

Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the skins have started to wrinkle and the potatoes get a slightly crystallised coating from the salted cooking water.

To make the sauces, just place all of the ingredients into a processor and process until a sauce has formed. Do this for each version.


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I was sent a case of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer for review. Opinion and content, as always, are my own.

REVIEW: Little Blue Smokehouse at the Seven Stars, Brighton

I discovered Little Blue Smokehouse's food at Street Diner and I thought they were great with their pulled pork and brisket filled rolls, making pretty much everything from scratch from the sauces to the pickles. They cure, brine, dry rub and smoke, going the extra mile for their food and I tip my hat to them for it.   

And as it turns out their food translates very well into the pub environment unlike some street food which should remain firmly kerb side. Pint of beer and squidball? No ta.

I know I don't often eat or post about pub food but honestly this is one of the most exciting menus I've seen recently, restaurant or not. It's full of everything you really want to eat; smoked confit duck hash, pulled pork rolls, brisket chilli, mac and cheese bites with bacon jam, smoked fish chowder and even the bread comes with BBQ butter and BBQ gravy dripping. Clearly a lot of time and love has gone into crafting this menu.

Little Blue Smokehouse transforms meat cuts (as well as fish and vegetables) into something richer, stickier, succulent and intense through their processes. This is dig in, filthily good food and the depth of flavour is fantastic.

Here is a picture of the smoked and beer braised ox cheeks which we should all pause and admire for a few moments:

As you can imagine, these melted away under the fork and I loved the ham hock greens to accompany them which were almost as good as the cheeks. The silky mash was decent restaurant level too. Bring on the snow this winter because as soon as I see the first flake, I'm racing down for this again.

Kimchi has been a really popular trend lately and these fries would make good beer munchies alone. They also had an unexpected sweetened soy sauce under them which I hadn't seen before and worked really well. 

We also tried some of the smaller dishes; deep fried pickles with chipotle aioli, sticky Korean chicken wings and a really good charred wedge salad, made theirs with buttermilk ranch dressing and crispy smoked onions. It's good they have given diners and drinkers the option to pick and mix or snack from the small plates or have a filling meal with an all day pub menu. 

Stand out was the smoked pigs head fritters, tender to the bite and not as grizzly as you may expect. The accompanyng piccalilli was the perfectly sharp contrast to the mellow smoke. I think this could prove to be one of their signature dishes actually. I also appreciated that each dish owned their own sauces. So many lazy pub foods come served with a utilitarian dipping pot of something, so if you go down the small plate route then it all feels very mediocre.

The food is matched well by the pub's selection of craft beer but you could wash down this hearty food with some quite delicate cocktails, made with their own infused Sipsmith gin. We tried the Melotini which was fresh and feminine and probably quite a hilarious choice for the bolshy food but beer drinker I will never be. 

The Seven Stars is yet another renovation from Indigo pub group who are seemingly taking over every pub in Brighton. They do have a winning formula though and are attracting some very good kitchen takeovers (some not so good!) but it is a shame to see some individuality being stripped from our local boozers. Personally, I'm not sure how much I want to see MeatLiquoresque caged booths and graffiti in a pub, but that's just me.

There's some pretty mad ideas in pub dining at the moment but LBS have made their menu interesting and enticing without resorting to weird concepts or tacky presentation. An absolute must try.

I was invited to review. Words and thoughts, as always, are my own.

EVENT: Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival, 26 - 31 August 2015

No honestly, it really is August out there! But come rain or shine, you may as well eat your way through the Bank Holiday weekend at the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival.

Yup one of the UKs biggest and best festivals is back with loads of evening events and three days of food and drink goodness on the seafront at Hove Lawns.

This time I'm LOVING the idea of the Boho Gelato Disco. The festival has teamed up with Seb Cole of my favourite Boho Gelato in Pool Valley to create an interactive, day-glow ice cream and music experience. Imagine! There are both children and adult sessions (where a swig of booze is likely to be added to the granita - hurrah!).

As well as the free and family friendly weekender on Hove Lawns (which includes plenty of Children's activities and the new Sussex Drinks tent for the adults) there are some amazing suppers you can pre-book. The award-winning Jeremy’s Restaurant at Borde Hill Garden are hosting a cocktail-themed supper created by distiller Sarah Thompson of Blackdown Sussex Spirits and chefs Jeremy Ashpool and Jimmy Grey. Stunning food will be matched with a selection of drinks from the internationally acclaimed Blackdown range.

Chef Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees teams up with six Sussex vineyards for a one-off wine and food matching evening in the festival marquee on Friday 28 August. The event is a fundraiser for FareShare – the food surplus redistribution charity – with Michael working with the FareShare team on some of the dishes. Each course will be matched by a still or sparking Sussex wine with the winemakers themselves presenting.

Sunday 30 August sees the Live Food Show marquee taken over by Metrodeco and Sussex Swing. There’ll be free adult and children taster classes of Lindyhop and Charleston throughout the afternoon followed by open dancing from 4pm. Enjoy afternoon tea or a selection of tea cocktails created by Helen Taggart of Metrodeco and Sarah Thompson of Blackdown Sussex Spirits.

For further details of all free entry and ticketed events, please visit

Top image by the lovely Julia Claxton