REVIEW: Silo, Brighton


"Primitive"
"Processing"
"Waste"
"Elimination"
"Compost"
"Silo is designed from back to front, always with the bin in mind."

...not the sexiest of terms to be faced with when looking to eat are they?

Even though some of the language used in Silo's branding niggles me from an appetite inducing point of view, it's ethos is increasing relevant in today's food industry. Silo is very important, being that it is the UK's first zero waste restaurant where in this country food waste is estimated to cost a staggering £5 billion per year.

And I don't think there is a better place for it than Brighton where we are at home with environmental concerns. However, what I do like is that Silo goes beyond the effort of most of our usual yogurt weaving community with their cous cous salads and vegan brownies. Here, the thread of the concept runs deeper; for example in the bathroom there are special taps (no need for soap with the electrolysed and oxidised water), soft drinks are brewed from in-house from up-cycled fruit, bread is baked with heritage flours, mushrooms are grown, food is foraged and the daily menu is projected (although paper has started to make an appearance to save on neck strain) so it is genuine and not some cynical marketing drive.



The food itself is what I am most interested though and I was sat at a dinner the other week with someone in the industry who seriously called Douglas McMaster nothing short of a culinary "genius". Woah. Hearing other glowing feedback about Silo, I was expecting a good level but what arrived on my plate was exceptional. Truly standout.



There are just five dishes; one plant, one dairy, one foraged, one fish and my choice, which was the meat. A succulent, meltingly tender ox cheek with buckwheat and caramelised onion, caramelised celeriac puree and crisp julienne raw turnip. Topped with a beautiful vibrant purple braised kale leaf. The sauce was a highly concentrated, rich meat consomme and the smoked rapeseed oil really added dimension to the dish. In fact I've become a bit obsessed with that smoked oil!

Textures were really well considered and pretty much all ticked off with the softness of the cheek, the al dente buckwheat, silkiness of the puree and the crunch of the turnip. One hell of a dish full of bold, hearty, yet elegant flavours.

It was delivered with a long list of local suppliers from the cheek down to the oil but I wasn't listening too hard through the distraction of the dish's amazing smell wafting over to me.

So yep, it was safe to say that their fancy £20k compost machine they have for kitchen scraps was not required for my sparklingly clean plate.



I also appreciated the touch of their homemade bread using house-milled Amaretto wheat flour and served with hand churned butter.

Now you well know my issue of slates, twatplanks or other impractical cheffy presentation of food. Call me old fashioned but to me plates, knives and forks were one of the best inventions in history along with that twisty thing on shoe polish tins. It wasn't too bad here and mains were served on standard porcelain. I was expecting the recycled bag plate the bread was served on which is visually arresting but dear God, are we not over the whole jam jar thing? They are for storage and food preservation and as suitable for drinking out of as a dustbin or length of gutter. Even though I enjoyed the home brewed pink lemonade and refreshing ginger and lime drinks, sipping them out of a former Hartley's jam jar did not feel good at all or agreed with my red lipstick!


Dessert had to be taken on the fly and on high recommendation from my dining date (the fabulous style blogger Alexis from Style Memos) I got a chocolate nib cake to go. This was just the perfect level of gooiness and sweetness for me. I love raw chocolate nibs (they are good for you) and looking at the other bakery goods, I'll be sure to pop in for a grab and go treat in the future. 



Although maybe not to everyone's taste, I'm a huge fan of the lofty dining environment with hard metal tables, industrial lighting and chipboard seating (don't wear delicates). It suits the warehouse building and it suits the style of food. To be honest it's such a joy to see the building alive and kicking again as it was a real shame to see the former business there flop.

Douglas McMaster is a humble, softly spoken chef who is in direct contrast to the big-show chefs at this level. I think he has created something both unique and genuine and clearly has not compromised the taste of the food for the vision of the restaurant.

If my first taste, and pretty much what everyone has been saying is anything to go by, then I like Silo a LOT. Even enough to drink out of a defunct Hartley's Jam jar for. Yes really.



Silo
39 Upper Gardner Street
North Laine
Brighton BN1 4AN

I was also lucky enough to attend the Silo and 64 Degrees supper night which you can read about here: http://www.thegraphicfoodie.co.uk/2014/12/a-tale-of-four-brighton-supperclubs.html

House of Fraser Blogger Recipe Book


I was lucky enough to be included in a blogger's recipe book for House of Fraser published at the end of 2014. I had a hard time choosing from my recipes but finally decided on my beetroot gnocchi with goats cheese, peas, watercress and walnuts. It's pretty photogenic but also everyone who I've tested it out on (including 3 year old Foodie) loves it.



Anyway, I'm really pleased to be part of the book (more so as I'm the first recipe!). Although I have written for quite a lot of online publications and I have featured in print before in places like Olive Magazine and the Times, it's nice to be featured in a real, live, physical cookbook that I hope people will find helpful.


The book also features 14 bloggers and a range of recipes from Rosemary Red Wine Pears to Blueberry and Coconut Crunch Cake so pick up a copy if you can!

House of Fraser Homewear

TRAVEL: Paris restaurant, cafe and bakery guide

Bonjour mon amis! I'm back from a very lovely break in Paris (Mr Graphic Foodie sure chalked himself some brownie points with this surprise trip). I did have enough time to research the hell out of places to eat and finally (after three failed attempts on previous trips), to get a table at one of the most recommended restaurants.

We did do a couple of touristy things (Notre Dame and a night visit to Eiffel Tower is a must) but the best thing about returning to a city you have been to a few times eases the pressure to fit too much culture in.

If you are off on a weekend break to Paris then here are my food recommendations. My to-eat list on this trip did me proud, I don't think I ate a single duff course. There are still plenty of places I didn't get around to, or have been to before, but have listed them as well.


L'Epi Dupin
My meal here will certainly stick in my memory. For the price, the elegant yet robust food and some little clever quirks on flavour combinations, is unbeatable. My beef fondant in red wine was one of the nicest things I've eaten this year. Hence why booking is essential.  Sit cheek to jowl and read the French only menus on the boards but staff are particularly helpful. Fabulous.
11 Dupin St, 75006 Paris, France
www.epidupin.com


Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
This is a contemporary restaurant which celebrates the cocotte, a small, individual portion oven-proof pot. I really enjoyed dinner here, my foam bisque with langoustine ravioli was the perfect light start to the cocotte of rich veal. You must end the meal with their waffles. There is a no reservation policy and this is a very popular spot so arrive early.
135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France
www.maisonconstant.com



Eggs & Co.
Quirky doesn't even begin to describe this place but in a city where brunch is ludicrous in price, Eggs & Co are just the ticket for a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day. As the name suggest they only do eggs, in a million guises; poached, scrambled, fried, omelette... It's fun, fresh and very well done. After a day or two of rich dining, my omelette with ham was exactly the simplicity I craved and Mr GF's egg benedict, as I would have expected, were excellent.
11 Bernard Palissy St, 75006 Paris, France
www.eggsandco.fr



Chez Janou
A splash of tourist maybe but Chez Janou is ideal for lunch. Fun, friendly and cosy they serve classic dishes which are really well priced. Of course I had to order the signature chocolate mousse which comes in a gigantic communal bowl and you help yourself to however much you can eat or until you are sick.
2 Roger Verlomme St, 75003 Paris, France
www.chezjanou.com



Ladurée Bonaparte
A Paris classic and number one spot for afternoon tea, a trip to Laudurée never gets tired. I like to go into the Bonaparte branch as they have a beautiful breakfast room which reminds me of the Brighton Pavilion. Perfect for pastries and coffee, served with real silver and pastel coloured bone china. I particularly like their gorgeously iced Religieuse cakes.
21 rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
www.laduree.com



Other places I've been to on previous Paris trips or have been recommended by trusted sources:

Restaurants

Chez L'Ami Jean
27 Malar St, 75007 Paris, France
www.amijean.eu

Dessance
A restaurant celebrating the dessert. But don't expect three courses of pasty, the dishes are composed of vegetables, fruits and herbs, perfectly balanced, but swung toward sweeter notes.
www.dessance.fr

Les Deux Magots
Historic and typically Parisiene. Les Deux Magots is a little on the pricey side but a very elegant pitstop.
6 place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, 75006 Paris, France
www.lesdeuxmagots.fr

Café de Flore
Right next to Les Deux Margots and seems much of the same.
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006 Paris, France
www.cafedeflore.fr

Le Comptoir du Relais
They only serve one dish, steak frites and they do it well. Can get very busy.
9 Carrefour de l'Odéon, 75006 Paris, France
www.hotel-paris-relais-saint-germain.com

Café Constant
Another place from Christian Constant. This version is open all day and more affordable.139 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, France
www.cafeconstant.com

Le Mesturet
A classic bistro with affordable prices.
77 rue de Richelieu - 75002 PARIS
http://mesturetang.communication-pro.fr/

Chartier
Cheap as frites, boisterous but looks good fun. Great interior.
7 RUE DU FAUBOURG MONTMARTRE 75009 PARIS
http://www.restaurant-chartier.com

Josephine Chez Dumonet
Highly recommended by Parisiene food blogger David Lebovitz.
117, rue Cherche-Midi

Brasserie Bofinger
Part of the Flo chain. Good reviews and what an interior!
5-7 Rue de la Bastille, 75004 Paris, France
bofingerparis.com

Le Café du Commerce

Affordable brasserie in a lovely atrium style restaurant.
51 Commerce Street, 75015 Paris, France
lecafeducommerce.co



Bakerys/Patisserie/Chocolatiers


Pierre Marcolini France
Ok, this brand is Belgian but sell some of my favourite chocolate. Expensive but worth it.
89 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France
www.marcolini.com

Pierre Hermé
A trip to Paris without a macaron pilgrimage to Pierre Hermé? Unthinkable.
72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
www.pierreherme.com

Pain de Sucre
Husband and wife team. Try the baba au rhum, which comes with an extra pipette of rum so you can adjust the strength of booze to your preference.
14 Rue Rambuteau, 75004 Paris, France

Jacques Genin
Self taught chocolatier who has relocated his lab above the shop here. There is also a beautifully designed tea salon where you can enjoy classic French pastries. Go for the made-to-order mille-feuille.
133 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, France

Carl Marletti
Beautiful pastries and daily small batches of mille-feuille.
51 Rue Censier, 75005 Paris, France

Jean-Paul Hévin
Jean-Paul Hévin is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France – the highest distinction an artisan can aspire to – who's primarily known for his work as a chocolatier. There is a salon du thé here.
231 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris, France

Les Gâteaux et du Pain
A patisserie owned and run by a woman is still a rarity in Paris but Claire Damon gives the classics her own modern twists. Try her signature violet and blackcurrant Saint-Honoré.
63 Boulevard Pasteur, 75015 Paris, France

Rose Bakery
Chocolate & Zucchini blogger Clotilde Dusoulier's favourite place to eat in Paris, apparently. Service was a little rude on my last visit but loved it none the less.
46 Martyrs Street, 75009 Paris, France

Fauchon
The most beautiful incarnations of the Saint-Honoré. Recommended by Brighton's own macaron master Juilien Plumart.
26 Place de la Madeleine 75008 Paris


Cafe and more

Le Procope
One of Paris' oldest cafes dating back to 1686.
13 Ancienne Comédie St, 75006 Paris, France
www.procope.com

16 Rue Chaptal
A private townhouse that entertained the likes of Delacroix, Chopin and Rossini. The museum houses romantic art and there is a beautiful tea room. Go for the Egyptian style tea made with hibiscus flowers and cinnamon.
16 Rue Chaptal, 75009 Paris, France

Thanks so much to everyone that suggested places via Twitter, especially Brighton fashionista What Laura Did Next who clearly is a seasoned Paris visitor.


On a side note - we didn't take little Foodie with us on this trip (mean parents, but you know..) but dix point to Laduree for the poshest kid's high chair on the planet! 

Brighton supperclubs for January/February

The epic post on my visits to a number of Brighton supperclubs at the end of the year quickly became one of my most popular posts of 2014. The stats were through the roof (snuggling alongside my Kindlewood pizza post, Cyclist Refreshment Rooms review, Drakes Restaurant review and disaster visit to Velo).

And in 2015 we seem to be going in hard with yet more fabulous dining events which I thought I'd let you now about.

Silo Six Course tasting Menu, Saturday 17th January 2015, £35pp



This Saturday, Silo, Brighton's hottest new restaurant, are following up their last successful supperclub with a six course tasting menu that is insanely good value at £35. All the ingredients will be foraged, farmed or fished by Silo (to go along with their very ethical ethos). Expect incredible and sometimes surprising treatment of quality ingredients which will almost guarantee one of the most memorable dinners you have had. There is also a completely separate vegetarian tasting menu as an option as well. Hurry, hurry as only a few tickets left!

http://tabl.com/events/133213

(Image from Tabl.com)



Indian Tadka: Thali Supper Club, 24th January 2015, £22.50pp



I've written about Indian Tadka a few times now, with their spice delivery service and home cooking leassons, but now Kirthi Mundada is hosting a new series of monthly thali nights. These will showcase traditional home cooked Thali’s from different regions of Indian Sub-continent to introduce different Indian dishes to us (the 24th will be food from the State of Gujarat). They will also be using their own fair trade hand blend spices from their home in Hyderbad, India for authenticity. The supper will be in an intimate setting of just 12 guests and include a ten course set vegetarian menu.

Further details here: http://janesplace.org.uk/indian-thali-supper-club-24th-january

(Image from Indian Tadka)



Duck Soup Project: Return of the Pe(king), Saturday 31st January 2015, £25pp



I loved my visit to the Duck Soup Project last year. It was by far one of the most fun supperclub environments I've experienced both informal and engaging. Although chef Ed Heller has left Brighton to head up kitchens in Hampshire, he is back momentarily with another Duck Soup Project. The menu format is more of a mystery to act as a journey rather than a formula, but it will include Duck Soup (obviously) followed by a range of Asian dishes to graze on until you burst.  I think this is one of the best value supperclubs we have. and a great night out.

http://tabl.com/events/131199



Lynes and Co: Generations, Friday 6th February 2015, £32.50pp
Andy Lynes is a food writer, author and as it turns out, can throw a few skills in the kitchen as well, both in professional positions and in contests such as Masterchef. The Generations supper night is a family affair as he will be cooking alongside his son George who is a commis chef at the fantastic Coal Shed. With dishes including duck hearts with smoked haddock brandade and ham hock, broad bean and Sussex curd scorched beer-pickled onions, the menu reflects a modern take on British cooking.

http://tabl.com/events/132870

A visit to Lick Frozen Yogurt HQ

Walking through the doors of Lick HQ in Brighton, the space evokes what must have been those early cuddly days of Innocent Smoothies before the suits moved in.


Picnic benches, neon lighting, what looks like parts of a robot built out of cardboard. Really good fun and evocative of the bright, young and exciting brand that they are. There's a development kitchen and even their head forager popped in with a bag of found goodies, ready for the next trial.

Although they have closed their doors on their froyo shop in the Brighton North Laines, they still operate an open door policy at their office with a full schedule of events open to the public like yoga, gigs, exhibitions and artists residencies. They even have their own music label. There is great honesty in a company that embraces their consumers in a non cynical way. I like it a lot.



As I said, despite opening the first UK frozen yogurt shop in 2008, they have decided to concentrate their efforts in distributing their product (in it's pretty new packaging) across the country in shops, cafes and delis.

Their big USP is that they are the only frozen yogurt manufacturers whose products are 100% frozen yogurt. I was shocked at this really. Due to the difficulty is processing froyo, other brands will mix it with an ice cream base of varying percentages. Seriously. Ben & Jerry's is as low as 6% in yogurt content. SIX PERCENT!

Lick basically created bespoke equipment and did a lot of experimentation (involving a bunch of science which I don't have the capacity to process). Even though it's fat-free (I could weep) they also managed to nail the creamy texture as well. Essentially, the Jersey milk they use naturally contains higher levels of protein than other milk and it was possible to extract the required stabilisers from seaweed so there is no need for any fat or artificial ingredients.

But, unlike me you may not give a toss about science and all that lovely branding and brand culture (although it will get to you subliminally). You want to know if the product is any good!

Well...it is. I love the tang of frozen yogurt far more than ice cream and Lick tastes amazing. Not too sweet, full of flavour.


I tried the Strawberry and Elderflower flavour first which I really enjoyed for it's fresh, clean, summery flavour. Unbelievably, the elderflowers are hand picked (by the aforementioned forager). Now THAT is going the extra mile.

Next was the Blueberry and Raspberry flavour which has a berry compote rippled through. Again, this we enjoyed but it would be hard to pick a favourite.

The plain version would be really versatile in the kitchen and kids would love the Banana and Honey one too. My kid was all over these and actually, was nice to give him a treat that wasn't laden with sugar and additives.

So yeah, I'm a huge fan and proud that their base is in Brighton. I'm still trying to figure out the catch though. I mean, how can something that tastes so good be quite sin-less?!

For upcoming Lick HQ events visit: http://lickyogurt.com/event/

Watch more about the Lick story:



Abruzzo, an Italian eating photo diary



There aren't enough words to describe all of the wonderful things I've eaten in the fortnight I spent back in the family village in Italy. So here are a few pictures that should speak a thousand calories words. This is regional Aruzzese food on the whole, so possibly a few dishes you may not have come across as the area remains relatively off the well worn tourism path.

Although we mostly ate at home, cheek to jowl with no less than ten people at a time, dining out on the few occasions was wonderful too (and quieter!). Despite the decline in economy, there are a number of restaurants that shine in the bordering small villages. One we always go back to is a Slow Food champion in Pacentro (where Madonna's family are from no less) and a new one to us in Pescacosanzo that was even better. There's no point reviewing them as they are so remote but gives you an idea of how well, and reasonably you can eat generally in Italy away from the tourist drag. Plus you can also order a plate of expertly made pasta with a truckload of truffle for like, 6 Euro. I pretty much ate my body weight in truffles, natch.

Taverna De Il Caldora in Pacentro
Taverna De Il Caldora in Pacentro - a few of their Slow Food awards (practically every year)
Tagliolini with truffles at Taverna De Il Caldora. One of the three plates of pasta "tasters"
No olives on Earth are shinier or greener. Word.
The silkiest ravioli on the planet. Michelin quality as standard but without the price, if you hunt out restaurants where locals go. 
The local sausages are coarse and packed with flavour. You have them roasted, or even better cooked in the pasta sauce.
Grilled lamb is the thing to eat in Abruzzo. Simple, local and delicious. 
Home-style ravioli for a crowd.
Veal is the other most popular meat in the region other than lamb. This enormous fillet was something silly like 12 euros and so tender. 
We caught the tail end of the fig season. Not pretty but so sweet and jammy. 
The mushroom picking finds of the day. I think the variety is "big".
Abruzzo is not known for pizza making. Clearly. The only disappointing thing I ate in the fortnight and typical, it was a pizza.
SO GOOD. Italian meatloaf cooked in stock. This was so long! Only the lucky ones got a full slice of egg. i scored.
I love this drink so much. Like a bitter, grown up Cola. So hard to find in the UK.
The famous confetti (sugared almonds) made for wedding and celebrations in the nearby town of Sulmona,
These arrosticini (thin lamb skewers) are regional to Abruzzo only. Little Graphic Foodie loved his first taste of them.
Arrosticini and more local meat; pork belly and lamb chops.
Pizza rossa. This is only sold in bakeries, not pizzerias and is like a thin, tomato topped focaccia. Doused in olive oil so the base fries slightly. Will be trying to replicate at home and pop a recipe up for you.
Classic Italian pastries. Includes my favourite sfogliatelle.
Baccala (salted, dried cod)
Baccala (salted, dried cod) - battered.
One of my favourite cheeses - Caciocavallo, typical of the region. The name means "horse cheese" as they were tied and strapped over a horse to carry them to the market for sale. 
Formaggio fresca. Meaning fresh cheese. You can eat this mild sheep cheese like this or age it to make Pecorino. 
Mamma's minestrone. The best.
My aunt made a million crostatas whilst we were visited. No complaints. One day was apricot, another fig or blackberry. All good.
The beautiful village of Pescocostanzo .
Quaint doorway. Check. Geraniums in pots. Check. Sweet little table set up. Check. Cat. Check.
This ain't no photo shoot, this is real Italy.
If you do fancy a change from bustling Rome and manicured Tuscany, then you could start by visiting http://www.visitabruzzo.co.uk/.


You may also want to consider staying in the incredible diffusion hotel town which was a former ghost village in San Stefano di Sessanio. It remains my favourite "hotel" experience and a true taste of Abruzzo living in a bygone era, just with very fancy Philippe Starck baths! I wrote about it here and the place is just magical http://www.thegraphicfoodie.co.uk/2010/08/travel-sextantio-albergo-diffuso.html

(This is not a sponsored post by the way, just bigging up the area I come from in Italy. Please visit it, you'll get a true sense of real Italy and your belly will thank you for it too.)

About as happy as I get.