Ciao for now & my wedding menu

Right so I'm off now for a bit to pop over to Italy marry the man I love more than Sicilian cannoli.

The whole wedding process has been a slightly odd one for me. Not being a glitter and princess sort of girl I have tried not to be sucked into the hype, yet being a designer I've insisted on doing everything myself (40 meters of bunting, carved wooden toppers for my "cheese" cake, 200 hanging lanterns, shipping out 150 British made teapots for favours... the list goes on!)

The whole thing has been made worse by the calamity of errors including but not exclusive to lost paperwork so that after a year and a half we just got clearance from the Italian bishop, bum-squeakingly today (long story, involves the pope), 150 fragile teapots in the hands of the it-may-arrive-it-may-not-and-if-it-does-it-will-be-in-5000-pieces Italian postal system, the church bell tower falling down due earthquake damage and a Manuel-style hotelier at the proposed venue that literally runs away when he sees me walking towards him.

So the only thing I can honesty say I have enjoyed is creating the menu. I wanted to celebrate the region of Italy my family are from so I've put together a totally traditional Abruzzo feast. I'm really looking forward to seeing what my British guests will think of this "real" Italian food, most of which will be alien to them.

All of the produce (with exception of the pineapples) is sourced locally within a few miles. The wine is also local and DOC controlled. After all of this lot we will have a bit of a boogie (to a band someone has booked for me insisting they are brilliant but I'm envisioning a Eurotrash disaster). Then we'll wheel out a whole porchetta spiced pig that I've ordered from the farm in the next village which should give us enough energy to dance into the early hours fulled by 3 barrels of vino!

The menu

Antipasto All'Italiana di Prodotti Tipici della Majella 
con Funghi Gratinati e Curatella di Agnello
Locally Sourced Antipasto from the Majella Region With Mushroom Gratin and Sautéed Lamb Offal

Brodo Degli Sposi All'Abruzzese
Traditional Abruzzo Wedding Soup

Timballino Primavera
Spring Vegetable Lasagne

Chitarrina al Ragù Rosso
Handmade Spaghetti “a la Chitarra”

Vitellino alla Duchessa con Verdurine Grigliate
Veal with Duchess Sauce and Grilled Vegetables

Agnello della Majella Scottadito con Insalata Mista e Patate al Forno
Grilled Local Lamb with Mixed Salad 
and Roasted Potatoes

Torta di Formaggi Tipici della Majella in Bella Vista
A Selection of Cheese from the Majella Region

Ananas “Lui e Lei” con Fragole
“His and Her” Pineapple with Strawberries

Torta Nuziale Glassata
Wedding Cake


Tenuta Dei Tigli Primo Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2008
Tenuta Dei Tigli Primo Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2008

I stripped the menu of an additional five courses they wanted to add in! My mum loves this traditional wedding soup so this one was for her, she is worth suffering the heat for. Wedding soup is a clear chicken broth with little veal and pork meatballs and croutons in. Flipping tasty. The spaghetti a la chitarra is so, so relevant to our region and is made using a contraption that looks like a stringed guitar, hence chitarra. Veal had to be on the menu, especially with this artichoke sauce. Lamb Scottadito literally translates as "lamb burn your fingers", so-called as it is so darn tasty that most people try and nab the meat off the hot grill with their fingers.

I totally expect the wedding cake to feature on the Cake Wrecks blog as Italians are not big on their cake decorating skills, certainly not where we come from. One of my cousins had a picture of Snow White on hers for Pete's sake. I've handed an image of what I was after to them but I have more chance of winning the lottery than getting anything that resembles the image. Therefore the "showstopper" cake will be a tiered creation made up with whole local cheeses, decorated with berries and fruit, the fattest tier probably being my favourite, Pecorino.

I'll have to see what the hell "His and Her" pineapple is - I had to give the hotel owner some input and there is always a fruit course at a wedding.

I shall try and get someone to snap the food. Not sure I will get away with it myself and have been strongly told that blogging and Twitter are out of bounds for the week!

Ciao for now,

Fran x

Bonjour Breakfast, breakfast delivery, Brighton

There is something luxurious about breakfast in bed, something quite naughty about it too; linen, crumbs, conserves...scandal! I love it, but dragging oneself out of bed on a sacred weekend to prepare something while your partner sleeps soundly is a bit of an ask, I mean, I love Mr Graphic Foodie and he'd be chuffed to bits if I brought him up breakfast, but I do love my sleep too!

This month sees the launch of a brilliant idea for those of us with good intentions but languid manners. Bonjour Breakfast is a breakfast delivery company, certainly unique in Brighton. One colossal USP it has going for it is that all the cakes and pastries are supplied by Cocoa, my number one, all time favourite patisserie in Brighton. Little would wake me from a Sunday slumber but a whiff of butter heaven from Cocoa would sure give me strong motivation.

There are some other nice suppliers too in there. All the preserves are from Heart of Home, a small home-based company in Devon, Chocolates from local Chocoholly and coffee is from Union, a small batch, hand roasting outfit with Fair Trade credentials. Lovely.

If you are being REALLY fancy or you have done something REALLY wrong to make up for, you can also impress with champers, home beauty treatments or flowers.

But as I do love those pastries I selected a box with a couple of croissants, a pain au raisin and an almond pain au chocolate. These were eaten with a lovely peach melba jam and some marmalade. The Frobishers juices were great, but coffee is also available (including the option of ordering a cafetiere if you don't have one).

Cocoa's Raspberry & Passion Fruit Delice is my favourite cake of theirs, a gold dust flecked beauty, with a stripy sponge outer, holding the most delicious raspberry barvoise with a passion fruit cream centre. Sheer. Utter. Heaven. As it is a very delicate cake, it arrived perfectly protected inside a ceramic dish. Bonus!

I have seen and heard about ChocoHolly chocolates as they are local and couldn't resit a box of the salted caramel chocolate hearts (£8). Salted caramel is one of my favorite combinations, but I would have liked these particular chocolates to have a little more flavour dimension.

After all these goodies, my sensible hat made me order something healthy in the form of porridge which came in a just-top-with-hot-water pot. I hadn't much hope for this, assuming it would be a pot noodle version of porridge but I really liked it! This Grasshopper Organic coconut and date version was really different and something ideal for work desk-lunching in the winter.

As Bonjour Breakfast has just launched it may be a little time before all items and packages are available on their site. Prices are rather good and not far off what you'd pay for them in the shops with a standard box costing £12.00 or individually, pastries are around £1.50, juices £1.50, coffee £2.00, porridge £2.00, preserve £1.50. Delivery free for order over £10 to BN1, Bn2 and Bn3 postcodes, charges apply to others.

It would be good to see what other items are added in the future following customer feedback. I'd like to see some sliced bread or artisan rolls, fruit salad, savoury pastries and although I understand it is a logistical nightmare, some hot food solutions.

Olive Magazine Reader Issue

This month's Olive Magazine is extra special, having most of its content contributed by readers themselves. I'm to be found on page 88 singing the praises of my personal number one Brighton restaurant, The Chilli Pickle, in the Hidden Gems. Feel especially proud to be representing my hometown!

This issue is out in stores until the beginning of August. Some readers have contributed some particularly yummy recipes. I adore Emily Crawford's Italian-inspired menu for six people which includes this amazing Zuccotto with orange and chocolate. It has all of my favourites like vin santo, ricotta and of course chocolate. I'll be darned if I shared it with five other people though!

Birthday sweet treats

So I turned the big 3-0 at the weekend. Not too much of a big deal because I'm not a birthday celebration kinda gal but on opening my present, celebrate is exactly what I did because I hit the foodie jackpot:

Oh yes. A Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer. Mr. Graphic Foodie had sure done well this year and has secured himself a few years grace from present shopping panic as there are quite a few attachments for this beauty that I would rather like. The sausage making one being at the top.

I now just have to figure out how to use it. I'm pretty sure it will become an invaluable tool and I'm pretty sure I want to call her Betty. Other than that I'm clueless. If anyone wants to point me in the right direction, please do so in the comments!

In other present news, I also got another classic design piece in the form of a Mondaine watch, its strap matching the cherry red colour of the Kitchen Aid no less!

I was sad to leave my mixer behind but London called, so we popped up for a spot of afternoon tea at The Lanesborough.

And rather nice it was too. As it was a birthday treat, it would have been rude not to start off with a glass of Champagne. For tea I chose the Silver Needle, a very delicate white tea, perfectly refreshing for such a hot day. Remarkably I managed to get through two pots during the sitting!

Sandwiches suffered a little from being pre-made, the bread having dried out on the surface a little but otherwise very nice. All the classics were represented; salmon, cucumber, egg in tiny brioche buns, ham, horseradish.... and some rather nice goat's cheese and red onion tartlets. As soon as this bottom tier was finished, another was brought to replace it.

Warm tiny scones and mini toasted tea cakes followed with generous pots of clotted cream and jam even before we could attempt the second tier of tea cakes. Of these, there was a rather nice lemon version, a banana and walnut and finally a rich chocolate cake.

Waistbands groaning, the final layer was reached, containing an assortment of pretty creations. My favourite being the citrus fruit profiterole, but very closely followed by the berry and marscapone slice and the pear macaroon.

The Lanesborough is a lovely venue for afternoon tea and is thoroughly deserving of its awards having an extensive tea menu and sommelier, and an army of eagle-eyed waiting staff who could charm the birds from the trees. I particularly love the fact that they rush to refold you napkin when you pop to the ladies and sprint to your chair when they spot your return to tuck you back in. With all that tea drinking they must do more running than the average athlete.

Although costing a slightly eye-watering £45 per person with Champagne and without the well deserved service charge, it is on par with most other hotel afternoon teas in the city and I didn't mind paying one bit for such a lovely experience. Another bonus is that you most definitely will not require dinner after.

Book well in advance.

The Lanesborough
Hyde Park Corner
London, SW1X 7TA
United Kingdom

DESIGN: Tea & Cake mug

I love this mug from Counter Objects.

It has it all; an ampersand (j'adore ampersands), a cute illustration and a nice play on words.

Cake Mug by Designers Anonymous £9.50 from