VALENTINES SPECIAL: Foodie Gifts / Brighton events

High expectations, stomach butterflies and squeals of joy or crushed hopes, disappointed tears and slammed doors. And I'm just talking about the reactions to Valentines Day gifts, so you had better get it right, oui? Here are my top gift picks for the food lover in your life, some ideas specifically for Brightonians as well as your chance to win an Amore Hamper worth £55 for that special someone. All bases covered here at Graphic Foodie! Onward...



Top of my list this Valentines would be these lush set of Love Cups from the red Cornishware range £30.00 available from www.tggreen.co.uk



Cuter than a bucketful of kittens is this cherub wing cookie cutter, £5.50 from www.bobbypost.com



I featured Chocri a littlewhile back, where you can personalise and name chocolate bars. Perfect for creating the ultimate Yummy Love Honey Bunny Munchy Munch Munch bar for your little snooky wooky woo woo.



For the serious cookware junky, how about something from Le Creuset Heart shaped range? Cast iron casserole (RRP £95) or stoneware dish (RRP £ £35) as well as some sweet little ramekins are available from www.hartsofstur.com.



If you do opt for the ramekins, you could go one step further and make these easy Chocolate and Amaretti desserts to go inside.

Brighton based



Nothing gets you in the good books more than breakfast in bed and I j'adore the pastries from my favourite patisserie in Brighton, Cocoa. Bonjour Breakfast is a breakfast delivery service in the Brighton area where you can create your own box of goodies or choose from their ready made packages with extras like Champagne and beauty treatments. Allow 48 hours notice. Visit www.bonjourbreakfast.com.



Also, for a kooky idea, ice cream parlour Cloud 9 are offering a free Valentines quick-date dessert menu. A Champagne sorbet plus a selection of mini desserts for 2 will be offered between 5:30pm - 9:00pm on February 14th only. You must book a 15 minute slot table before the 14th. Contact info@cloud9brighton.co.uk or phone 01273 72 30 20.





REVIEW: The Chimney House, Brighton



Sunday roasts are not usually something I go out for as Sunday dinner is typically a family affair at home, but the last couple of weeks, for one reason or another, I have found myself in front of a piled plate of British tradition. Brighton is graced with some real gems for pubs and the quest for the best local Sunday roast is like some holy grail and everyone seems to have an opinion on it. Recently I went to Marco Pierre White's new venture in Maresfield which as ok, but I don't think you can beat a "proper" cozy pub. After a bit of research* I chose The Chimney House, nested in the residential area just beyond Seven Dials.

What I liked about The Chimney House was that it has successfully found that comfortable yet difficult balance of gastropub/proper pub with a sprinkling of Brighton quirk. Most of the pub was set up for dining and the mood was spot on for some informal lunchtime indulging.

Starters were enticing with Jerusalem Artichoke soup, Beetroot and Horseradish cake with Beetroot Tempura and Spicy Beetroot Mousse or a Seared Pigeon amongst the offering but I had my eye on one of the puddings.

Worth mentioning is their excellent wine list, all available by the glass. I had a rather nice (and rather large) glass of One Chain's 'The Opportunist' Sauvignon Riesling.



Roast options were either Sussex Beef or Pork with crackling. Vegetarian options were Butternut Squash Nut Roast or a pan-seared Wild Sea Bass. I chose the beef which arrived in two generously thick, meltingly tender slices with crunchy roast potatoes, a lush herb Yorkshire pudding and and a good selection of perfectly cooked vegetables (served on the plate and not in irritating little side bowls - yay!!). I honestly couldn't fault this roast, it was perfect in every way, great quality ingredients and beautifully cooked. The pork was also very good with cracking crackling, encouraging most on our table to push through to clean plates. I would say that the price paid here (£12.50) is what the average roast costs in town now, but The Chimney House offering is far above average in quality so worth every penny.

I was sat right in front of the unbelievably tiny open kitchen and just gawped in awe of the chefs, turning on sixpences with grace, constantly sending out beautiful plates of food - everything looked great. The fish dish, the three tiny loves of bread served with the cheese board - heck even the nut roast looked great!



Thoroughly satisfied after demolishing the roast, a pudding was not needed but as it was Sunday I was indulging. A good selection of desserts are offered, I chose the Lemon Cream Posset, studded with Pomegranate served with plum sorbet (£5.25). This was exactly what I needed, a refreshing, sherbetty posset and although I didn't think the pomegranates offered much other than something to pick out of your teeth, I was quite happy with my choice. Better though was Mr GF's White Chocolate Bread and Butter pudding with Creme Anglaise (£5.25), which was lighter and silkier than the usual stodgy incarnation of this dish. The Apple, Pear and Red Wine Crumble also looked good and perfect for the chilly weather.



We called to book (recommended) and I thought it was really good of the staff to mention the arrival of a very large table of people so we adjusted our time slightly to fit in with them, preventing a long wait for our food. This attention to detail seems to run thoughout the pub from the interior to the food, drinks and staff which makes it such a winner.

The Chimney House
28 Upper Hamilton Road,
Brighton BN1 5DF
01273 556708

* The Cask, Royal Oak Poynings, The Ginger Pig or the Chimney House's sister pub The Preston Park Tavern are also highly rated and on my hit list for next time.

WIN: Tickets to Freixenet’s retro themed VIP event at Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Brighton, Thursday, 20th January

This competition has now closed. Thank you for all your entries - who knew there were so many cava monsters out there! Will collate all entries and contact the winners shortly.



I have 2 pairs of tickets to give away for Freixenet’s retro themed VIP event at Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Ship Street, Brighton on Thursday, 20th January 6.30pm - 10.30pm.

The Brighton Freixenet VIP is an exclusive party in the impressive Dome room at the Hotel du Vin. Brightonians on the guest list at the stylish venue will be able to soak up the glamour of the occasion while enjoying fabulous entertainment.

Following welcome drinks of Freixenet Strawberry Bellinis there will be a glamorous, cabaret-style dance class with feather boas. Then guests can get glammed up with professionally applied retro style make-up. Classical mime artists will add a vaudeville touch, while dainty afternoon-tea style sandwiches and indulgent cupcakes from Brighton Cupcakes will round off the perfect evening.

And, of course, cute little black bottles of chilled Freixenet Cordon Negro will be the accessory of choice!

See you there x

How to Enter:

If this sounds like your cup of tea/glass of cava then just leave your name with an email or Twitter address in the comments below or send your details to me at thegraphicfoodie@hotmail.com with "I'm a cava monster" in the title.

Details:

  • Competition closes at GMT midday Tuesday 18th January
  • A winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter after the competition closes on Tuesday 18th January. If no response is received by GMT midday Wednesday 19th January, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
Winners were selected using textmechanic

BOOK REVIEW: A Slice of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons



Blogging. Press a button and it's out there; you're published. A book, well that's really hard graft.

A Slice Of Cherry Pie isn't just another cook book to us food bloggers. It represents a dream that I believe a few of us may have - to publish our own book, to read our words physically, not through a glaring, lonely computer screen and to have the sweet pleasure of sniffing the ink of freshly printed pages (the last bit could be just me, I've been an irreconcilable print sniffer for many, many years). One day I hope to hold the fruits of my labour in my palms too. Maybe.

I actually think this is actually the first proper UK food blog-to-book to have been published, following in the footsteps of French-based Chocolate & Zucchini and US Julie & Julia who we all know goes one step further as a film. I can only imagine the excitement, hysteria and pride that the blogger in question, Julia Parsons, must have felt when she held her book in the flesh. And proud she should be too because this is a beauty.



A Slice Of Cherry Pie is so outrageously homely and comforting and makes even a miserable little toad like me smile with joy reading it. Not just for the kitchen, this is a good book for reading snuggled up in a blanket or, in warmer seasons, swaying in a hammock in the garden with a glass of homemade lemonade. I mean there is even a recipe for chocolate, film and bed socks! As charming as it is, some people could find ASOCP a little sugar-sweet in tone but the writing undisputedly comes from the heart and it would be impossible not to warm to it.

Section titles like Sunshine and Lemons, Wood Smoke and Roasts and Linen and Tea Roses conjour up the ethos for seasonal eating and recipes are generally simple yet delicious examples of everyday eating. From Summer Pavlova to Pot Roast Pheasants with Chestnuts and Mushrooms to a simple Tomato Relish, these recipes are all things you will want to make and want to eat.



I won my British husband over with my Italian cooking and although I rarely cook British food, when I do, you can tell he really enjoys it. I sometimes even catch him longingly looking at pictures of roasts and pies! ASOCP contains a bevvy of beautiful, homely and practical classic British dishes such as stews, casseroles, dumplings and crumbles and practical pages on gravy, potatoes, stocks and Yorkshire puddings, so this is a real education for me with lots of great advice - I'll make a good British wife of me yet!



Design-wise, Absolute Press have created yet another visually stunning book, with strong type, beautifully styled photography and a coherent theme. I love how the blog has been incorporated and the little snippets, family photos… it feels scrapbooky and personal yet neat, professional and structured at the same time with a nice tight grid. No mean feat.

As you know I like to test a couple of recipes before I review a book (otherwise you may as well read the blurb on the back of the book) and it was difficult to choose what to do as there were so many recipes I wanted to try.



Having never made scotch eggs before, and only tasting the sweaty shop bought versions, these were a revelation and rather simple too. Making them yourself gives you the added bonus of the control over your yolk preference. They were excellent with easy to follow instruction and great advice in the stages that required it.



A pot roast was another dish I have never made before. Again this was really easy, being more of an assembly job than cooking, the recipe delivering another excellent result. The broth was heavenly and the dish was a nice, lighter and warming alternative to a Sunday roast.

I shall definitely be trying out quite a few of the others, with the results for both dishes I tried giving me a strong trust in the recipes.

Whether you are a food blogger yourself or if you fancy a personal collection of no-nonsense recipes served up with a huge side order of charm, then A Slice of Cherry Pie is an ideal book for you.



A Slice of Cherry Pie by Julia Parsons is published by Absolute Press and costs £16.99.

You can read A Slice of Cherry Pie blog here.

Many thanks to Absolute Press for this copy to review.