REVIEW: Angelberry, Brighton

I love frozen yogurt. Anything that I can pass off as a relatively guilt-free treat, I'm all in. And I'm not the only one. The froyo craze is still running hard in the UK, particularly the self-serve, sold by the weight model which is what Angelberry is.

We're still not quite used to the idea of self service in the UK. People look awkward trying to do it. I like it though, and the set up here is quite basic. Grab a cup, choose your base probiotic froyo flavour(s) from the wall mounted pumps, then head over to the topping station. Then you weigh and pay at the till. All the while trying to retain an element of self-control.

I opted for a mix of plain natural yogurt and superfruit flavours which were as healthy as you can go and topped it with fresh mango, strawberries and blueberries. I don't have a massively sweet tooth so the tang of natural yogurt is particularly appealing and the superfruit flavour was fresh and fruity with the bonus of being sweetened by stevia not sugar.

Although with the eight other flavours, those that do prefer sweet things can knock themselves out with banana, tropical, chocolate or lemon cheesecake base flavours. There were loads of other toppings like cookies, sprinkles, marshmallows, sweets, nuts and chocolates too. I really enjoyed my portion, the fruit toppings were really fresh and exactly what I needed to cool off, felt like a treat and definitely left me wanting to revisit.

As it is sold by the weight, a guide for something like mine would be £3.75 at £1.85 per 100g. I thought that was quite a big portion but the tendency is to cram everything on. Probably not so good for the wallets of people who are a tad uncontrollable around buffets. Mr GF I'm LOOKING AT YOU. Other than that they do a variety of blended yogurt smoothies for £3 and hot drinks.

So all good. the problem? The problem is the bright pink and white brand in the environment of the North Laine. It looks a touch like a children's soft play centre from the outside so they will be attracting a very niche age group of teens and foreign students. And froyo is for everyone! I admit I have walked past due to this but the whole of the froyo sector seems to suffer a little from this saccharine aesthetic. It has that American jolliness which looks great in a US shopping mall, but not so great in the UK, especially away from the high street like this Brighton branch. Maybe it's the contrast with our grey skies?

Only a few of the other froyo brands get it right like Yog which is pretty target generic, mainstream and fresh looking and Snog who went for an edgy and cheeky vibe. I see Samba Swirl are rebranding to be in line with the cooler look of their Camden flagship store - a good move for them. And I loved Brighton's own homegrown store, Lick, which has now closed in favour of a wholesale and retail operation but it always looked at home in the North Laine with the right mix of fun and design the passing demographic craves. Angleberry jars in the environment and the large, bright shop looks out of place next to the bric-a-brac stalls, trendy cafes and indie boutique shops. I think it will have to work really hard to overcome this which is a shame as the product is really good.

Anyway, along with the good froyo, the other plus of this place is it's a great space for buggies and kids (a rarity in the area) and I sure will be treating Baby Foodie soon for a first froyo taste.

Give it a blast.

27 Kensington Gardens
Brighton BN1 4AL

I was invited to review Angelberry.

BOOK REVIEW: Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley

Are you a hardcore baker? And I mean HARDCORE. I don't mean Victoria sponges and cupcakes, no matter how good they are. As for those that like to make cute cake pops which look like little pandas with teeny tiny icing ears, you may as well stop reading now.

This is a serious book on the highest quality patisserie. It's almost as if William & Suzue Curley have written this to mock the majority of home bakers. It contains page after page of incredible French Patisserie that defies gravity and sometimes reality. Glossy, bejewelled beauties that look too good to eat. The recipes generally span multiple pages and cross reference elements which have recipes themselves in the foundation part of the book, which in itself if half an inch thick. You will need bespoke equipment in precise measurements (what the hell is a savarin entrement mould?!), and some hard to find ingredients like shiso (isn't that the dude that sang the Thong Song?). You may weep, almost definitely weep, creating these recipes.

But although these recipes are very involved, and quite long, each has clear step-by-step instructions with plenty of images to guide you through and are absolutely necessary.

As I said, this book is for those that wish to take that leap from being "good at cakes" to being incredible. If you have a real passion for sweet treats and an eye for beauty, if you want to push yourself to that next level then this is for you. It's essentially a course book, starting with ingredients and equipment to the core techniques like custards, pralines and feuilletage that really you should master before attempting the main recipes. And it's an interesting read too. This book contains plenty of historical information and the origins of some of the classic patisserie. And along with these classics, there is a good balance of Curley's contemporary creations, some with Japanese twists clearly taken from the heritage of his wife and partner Suzue. There are sections on pastries, gateaux, macaron, verrines, cakes and petit fours.

Although well written and clear, design-wise, I'm not a fan of the old fashioned style, type and layout of the book. But the cakes are jaw droppingly beautiful, pure works of art despite being given a slight 80s feel with graded coloured backgrounds.

Personally, I'm not even close to creating the recipes here and I really do not have the time to dedicate to them but I adore this book as much as I adore fine patisserie. Even the fact that it gives me a glimpse into the magic of their creation, the hard work and incredible technique behind each one is worth the read.

If you are passionate about cakes, then you will learn an incredible amount from this book. If you attempt to make anything then I salute you oh cake warrior.

Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley is published by Jacqui Small and costs £40.

I was sent this book for review.

COMPETITION and RECIPE: Strawberry and coriander jelly layer panna cotta

This is a really easy recipe, just requiring a little patience and time for the different layers to set. Ideal for a summer dinner party to impress without too much effort. The coriander layer adds a little something unusual but is a perfect flavour match to strawberry...honest. You could also try basil or celery as well. 

I used the OXO Good Grips berry bowl which is quite sweet. Along with a colander, the set comes with a bowl and lid so you can refrigerate and serve. With a little one in the household I also find it handy to drain small servings of rice, pasta and to wash fruit portions for him and serve in the bowl. It really is a useful little bit of kit.

You too can win an OXO Good Grips Berry Bowl Set and Strawberry Huller by leaving me a comment below or emailing me thegraphicfoodie (at) using "Berry Competition" as the subject line. I'll pick one winner at random on 15th July and they will then go on to be entered into a larger prize draw to win a year's worth of strawberries. I'm guessing the supply will not be delivered all at once! UK entries only.

Recipe: Strawberry and coriander jelly layer panna cotta
Serves 6 (—8 depending on glass sizes)

Method using recipe components below

  1. Using a muffin tray and tea towel, angle six glasses, making sure they are quite secure and stable.
  2. Make up the fruit jelly layer as per packet instructions and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully pour into the glasses. It should seem roughly just under half full with jelly (you want the thin coriander jelly layer to make up to half). Allow this to set completely which is important otherwise the layering will not work. This will take roughly 5 hours or overnight.
  3. Make up the coriander jelly and once room temperature, pour a thin layer onto the fruit jelly. If still warm then the layers will merge so be patient! Again allow to set completely, roughly 1-2 hours.
  4. Make the panna cotta recipe and allow to cool. Stand the glasses up straight and pour in the pannacotta to the same top level as the jelly. Allow to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Decorate with more berries just before serving.

Recipe components

Fruit jelly layer
1.5 Packets of jelly (135g each - about 205g in total)

Make as per packet instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Coriander jelly layer
Half sachet gelatine, about 6g
15g Coriander
1tbs caster sugar

Blend the coriander with a little water and pass through a very fine sieve/tea strainer to remove pulp.
Pour 3 tablespoons of boiling water in jug. Sprinkle on the gelatine and whisk until completely dissolved. If hasn't dissolved the stand the dish in a pan of hot water. You'll almost certainly have to do this due to the low liquid amounts. Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved. Add the strained coriander juice and make up to 285ml/half pint with cold water. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla panna cotta
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
250 ml milk
700ml cream
60 g caster sugar
half vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 

Combine the gelatine and half of the milk in a bowl and leave to absorb for 10 minutes. Place the remaining milk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, mix in the gelatine mixture and whisk until completely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Hello again!

I'm BACK! Not bigger (still rocking at 5'1) but better for sure. It's been nice to step back for a bit and refocus and I think I've got the breather I needed for more balance round these digital parts.

But I haven't been eating delivery pizza (the horror) or foraging out of cornflake packets in the larder whilst away (I may, may have eaten Nutella straight out the jar). Here's what I've been up to this month in pictures:

  1. Typical. I won a Twitter competition the day after I stated my break. Thanks to my Twitter buddies who let me know I'd won and to Shine for the amazing new cut!
  2. I'm collaborating with the fabulous Style Memos blog to give you a series of Brighton Lux Lunches because we all deserve a bit of a treat.
  3. My Elderflower cordial recipe (without citric acid) at this time of year is massively popular, number 1 on Google in fact! But this year I made rocketfuel my first batch of Elderflower Champagne. I'm praying it's not going to explode on me.
  4. Amazing. I ate Italian food in Brighton! And I loved it. More soon.
  5. One of the best meals I had this month was at Curryleaf Cafe. So good I went back for lunch and dinner.
  6. I cooked a lot. This batch of ricotta gnocchi using actual Sorrento lemons was a highlight.
  7. My review copy of Antonio Carluccio's Pasta book arrived which I'm very excited to be diving into.
  8. I took Mr GF to Burger Brothers which reminded me it's the best burger in Brighton hands down. THERE I SAID IT.
  9. I attended a really interesting (and rather decadent) oyster day at English's, one of Brighton's oldest restaurants. I'm sharing this corker with you soon.
  10. My family came over from Italy (the first time in 30 odd years) and brought me some goodies like bread from the village bakery, a caciocavallo cheese and some local torrone.
  11. I've been playing with a few new OXO Good Grips products and have created a few new recipes, plus I've got a fantastic competition coming up too. 
  12. Vacation time and I got a temporary new kitchen to play with. It had bling sparkly worktops and Plumen lights. Sadly one of those awful ceramic electric hobs as well though. The lovely outside cooking area made up for it!
  13. These are some prized, DOP protected yellow figs filled with pistachio cream and covered in chocolate from a new Italian online retailer I'll be writing about.
As for this blog, I've decided to be far more choosy about what to post about. Although I'll continue sharing my own discoveries, and I already turn down a lot of things I've been invited to or sent to review, I'm going to be even more select. The night I found myself being blindfolded and fed dire food as part of a PR event was the cold, hard slap in the face I needed. Time is precious.

Instead, I will be focusing on what I am passionate about, firstly the best of the best of dining in Brighton. I'm more at home in a decent, quality restaurants than I ever will be following the fads, gimmicks and fast foods. Only if it is truly exceptional, different or particularly interesting I'll let you know, otherwise you can go find sandwiches and cronutadoodledoos all by yourselves I'm sure.

I'll also be getting back in the kitchen creating recipes. Whilst I do like to be cooked for, I like to create and craft as well. My appetite for learning is back and really I think you can only appreciate food by honing those skills, knowing the techniques and how food gets to your plate.

There are quite a lot of posts I have ready to dispatch in the next few weeks but going forward, there will be less posts but more quality.

Gone fishing

Sometimes a little break is just what is needed.

I've decided to take the whole of June off blogging and more importantly, all social media channels. No more laptop eyes at 2am, checking that phone once too often and teetering off into the evening to food events left right and centre. I'm even deleting all desktop and mobile apps like an addict that needs all temptation removed. A social media detox that I need to sweat out if you like.

Social media has enriched modern lives in many ways. I've connected with so many interesting people through it, people that lighten my day, inform and entertain me. Some I'll now even consider to be personal friends. The other side is that it's an unbelievable drain of time, leading to lack of focus and distraction.

As for this blogging lark, there can be a little too much pressure for something that stated as a hobby and should be an enjoyment rather than a chore. This blog is lighthearted, real and fun and what people tell me they like about it. So I intend to keep it that way and stepping back for a short time is often just the ticket to reset the balance and get that positive energy back that drove me to start this blog, ooooh six years ago now. The last couple of months have been particularly busy with events and I've just completed a pretty major project at my day job too. Awesome, fabulous, love it, but full on.

So instead, I'll be taking lunch breaks and spending the time I do have at home, REALLY at home, with my darling little family. Because really, there are far more important things in life than needing to photograph every meal you eat. What really? Yes really!

Anyway, whateverthehell, I'm really looking forward to it. See you in July kids, don't eat anything I wouldn't.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog this far.

GF x


So you don't miss me too much, have a look at my latest posts, a world record 13 this month! Amongst them:

REVIEW: Hotel Du Vin, Brighton. Al fresco dining.

I suppose it was only typical that on the day we came to Hotel Du Vin to dine from their new al fresco menu it was one of the coldest and windiest days we've had recently. So, wrapped up in our scarves, we glumly passed by the new beautifully renovated terraces, which would be perfect for lingering, lazy summer lunches and dinners. Brighton is quite limited on nice outside dining spaces so this is one to keep in mind. 

Although we had to decamp to the main restaurant, being the troopers we are we dismissed the offer of the a la carte menu with warming food and powered on with the streamlined Summer menu. As you can imagine it lists salads, cold soups and lighter, fresher meat and fish dishes. I also like the punch bowl options and that they have pulled out a selection of their wines suited to the food, including a chilled red wine section. This is not something you normally see here but we do it a lot in Italy in the Summer, sometimes sticking bottles into cold running mountain streams on picnics. 

On the subject of wine, we started with a glass of crisp and fruity Wiston Estate sparing Rosé. I adore Sussex sparkling wines, but this was my first taste from the Wiston Estate, a new vineyard planted in 2006. And the packaging label has an awesome story behind it too if you're a brand geek like me. Definitely hunt these wines down, after my taste of the rosé I want to tick some of their others off the list too. 

Mr GF's pint, or tankard, of prawns seemed pricey at £9.50 on the menu but was actually a very generous portion of plump, fresh and juicy prawns, perfect for dipping into the marie rose sauce. I always appreciate a muslin wrapped lemon too, a detail that makes a simple dish like this seem even more special. 

My Oeuf Ee Meurette Salad had some my favourite things; varieties of chicory, tiny button mushrooms, little silverskin onions and for once, lardons cooked exactly as I like them, crisp to melt away the flabby white fat, yet nothing to worry my dentist. The wine poached egg was the only disappointment, being incredibly bitter. Not sure if this was the wine variety used or maybe that restaurant poached eggs are often halted in cold water which may have affected the wine. Shame as it really reminded me of the style of salads I've had in Lyon to get me in the holiday mood.

To accompany the food we asked the sommelier for their wine recommendation. I've become a big fan of asking their advice, mainly as I don't want to read hefty wine lists or choose wine based on the name alone (or what I can pronounce!). So many people are awkward about asking for wine recommendations, probably worried about a scenario like the recent table of diners in a London restaurant that were unknowingly drinking £400 bottles of wine until the bill with four of them came in. I've only ever had positive experiences, discreetly shown the price and rarely end up drinking something I don't like. Ziggy Grinbergs, head Sommelier at HDV Brighton, chose us some great wines and explained the choices, plus what red wines are suitable for chilling.

The chilled Santa Barbara Country Pinot Noir by Byron Estate was ideal with Mr GF's burger which came...on a plate. Not a board, not a slate, not a dusty scaffolding plank but a plate! I almost wept happy tears. The burger itself came cooked through with no other option which was a shame but the patty was well flavoured and seasoned. The brioche bun was excellent in texture and sweetness, holding together throughout eating. The charry smoke from the bacon gave it that BBQ summer edge and it was a darn fine burger. I know the fashion is for these sloppy, grease dripping burgers, but this is perfect for a man like mine that wears decent Grensons if you know what I mean. Frites were nice and crisp and the crunchy side salad nicely considered.

My classic salmon main with silky hollandaise is exactly what I want to eat on a hot day. Good quality, simple food which is well cooked. The plate, which you can just make out, was a nice fun touch as well.

We finished up with a summer essential of sorbets and ice cream and both said how much we enjoyed our meal, which no doubt would have tasted even better in the fresh air.

I had fallen out of love with Hotel Du Vin in recent years, it used to be excellent, we even celebrated our engagement here many moons ago, but thought the standard had begun to slip on the last of my visits. Today, the bar and bistro seem buzzy again and with ideas like this new menu and their eye on details like the exterior, I think they are back on track with creating the quality experience we've come to expect from them.

Hotel Du Vin Brighton
Ship Street
Brighton BN1 1AD

I was a guest of Hotel Du Vin

Nokia Lumia 1020 camera phone for food bloggers

There are many things that can blight the images of the non-career food blogger. By that I mean the ones that have a day job and don't have the luxury of daylight recipe cooking or time (and skill), to style their food beautifully.

Cooking in the evening (gah!), reviewing restaurants in romantic lighting (get a room!), wanting to appear discreet (in those shoes?). They all call for a small camera that can deal with terrible lighting and closeups.

I should care about good images, and do try my best, but being obsessive about visuals is my day job and I even take to poking food art directing the odd food shoot like this.

So really, when I get home, fannying about with lighting and tweezers is not what I want to do. The food I cook is real life and often poor Mr GFs dinner which I have to snap quickly before I get "the look".

More and more, I have been using the camera on my Samsung S3 phone for restaurant reviews and it is great, but often lets me down in low light. I also have a Lumix TZ5 which is a nice little camera but also getting on a bit. Either way, any blogging camera I have with me must be clutch bag friendly, plus whipping out a DSLR in a restaurant just isn't my style.

Nokia kindly offered me their Lumia 1020 phone for trial (maybe they were making a point of my blog photography?!) and my first impression was "oh my God, it's sooo yellow". What was I saying about being discreet in restaurants? Luckily it does come in a more reserved black. The main USP of this phone is the powerful 41 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens. It also comes with a camera grip to make it even more like a camera.

And camera really did impress me. I took it along to a few of the evening functions throughout the Brighton Food Festival and to be honest, didn't have time to look at instructions. But I was very pleased with the clarity and colour the camera managed to capture. Here are some of the shots (none are retouched). And if you really knew about photography, I'm sure you could wield it to greater effect. Most of my shots were uninformed point and shoots, and I think most of them were darn good.

The focal point was particularly useful. Here you can see the different effect and depth of field you can achieve.

Foreground focus

Background focus

But really, I suppose the best way of judging this camera for me is to compare it with what I am currently using. See below the image I took at the Coal Shed supper club which was very low light with both of my devices. Clearly the Nokia shot is miles better and I think you would need a really decent camera to get close to it.

Shot with Nokia Lumia 1020
Shot with Samsung S3 Mini

Nokia Lumia 1020 benefits summary
  • The main benefit of the camera is that it can shoot in focus light only, enough to light the food, but avoiding harsh flash which makes dishes look terrible
  • Ability to adjust focal point, allowing you to get the shallow depth of field effect that makes images look more professional
  • Macro was really good
  • 41MP means that you can crop or zoom in without loss of quality
  • Colour and vivid quality is amazing for shooting food
  • Plenty of control over things like white balance and shutter speed so you can create the effect you need
  • I found it quite fast to operate, with no real lag taking images
  • HD video which is supposed to have fab sound quality but didn't really spend too much time on this
So yeah, I was very pleased with my trial with the Nokia 1020 and will absolutely look into it as a phone itself and the Windows OS when my current contract expires. I have no idea about the phone function as I didn't really have time to play with that aspect and the main pull with his phone is the camera. It's a camera with phone capability if you like! But definitely from a food blogging tool, I'm really sad to see it, and all of it's banana chic, go.

Thanks to Nokia for loaning me the phone for review.