Tag Archives: Miss Igs

2 weeks in and just drawing breath…

Wow, well, where to start?…it’s been 2 whole weeks since we opened the doors of Afternoon Tease! It’s passed like a whirlwind and I’d like to start by thanking each and every one of you who have supported me by coming in and for the lovely messages that you have sent…all have been very much appreciated and me and the team have been feeling the love!

It feels strange to actually have the time to sit still and write this blog and to be honest, I’m sure there are cakes to be baked at this precise moment but I really wanted to take the time to give you an update on the blog…I posted the last one abruptly on the day before we opened and then went silent!

For those of you who haven’t managed to make it in for a visit yet, here are a few pictures to fill in the blanks…

Neon

My beautiful neon sign…I got my logo, designed by Mr Penfold, transformed into Neon by Outline Displays.

Opening day...

I took this photo just before opening the doors for the very first time on Friday 25th October 🙂

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

We fired up Francesco (our beloved coffee machine) and awaited out 1st customers.

Those first couple of days were so crazy…adrenalin mixed with nerves and total sleep deprivation made for a real emotional rollercoaster and it took a while for the realisation to hit that the cafe I was working in was actually mine! 🙂 The learning curve has been a ridiculously steep one and I’m very much in need of some good sleep and a day off feels like the stuff of fairytales but gradually over the last couple of weeks me and the team have been getting into our stride.

We are open from 8am until 7pm, Tuesday to Friday, serving breakfast…

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Featuring crumpets from Chris at Dovecote Bakery and my Mums homemade jam and marmalade…

afternoontease-14

and a lunch menu, which changes regularly. Here is an example modelled by Miss Igs herself…

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I’ve been getting the menu board written and posted on Facebook and Twitter by mid morning…

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So follow us to be kept updated and come and get your lunch fix from 12pm 🙂

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We are also open on Saturday’s from 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm serving brunch on both days until 3pm. As many of you will know, as I’m always banging on about it, brunch is my favourite meal of the day. This was the menu we served up this weekend…

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Featuring my very favourite dish of pan con tomate with Serrano ham…

Pan con tomate w/ Serrano ham

The very talented Tom Milton, came and took a few pics at the cafe in the first week, capturing it in all of it’s brand new spangly glory…here are a couple of my faves…

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

Tom Milton Photography (TMPY)

I’ve been loving having free reign over 2 ovens and have been trying out some brand new cakes…

Pear and marzipan cake

Pear and marzipan cake

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

Plum cake w/ cheesecake ripple

aswell as the good old classics including my chocolate Guinness cake w/cream cheese icing and creating the cake filled counter of my dreams…

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I have a few very special mentions to finish this post on…firstly, a huge heartfelt thankyou goes to my my Mum & Dad, without whom, Afternoon Tease would not exist! I am ridiculously in debt to them for all of the hard work, help, love and support they have given me throughout!…

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My siblings were also roped in and pulled out all the stops to get the cafe finished…

My Sister building the counter

My Sister building the counter

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

Beautiful tiling by my brother, Tom

and also a big thankyou to Ivana (Miss Igs), my 2nd in command, friend and general sounding board :)…

Miss Igs

and to my awesome team…Robbie, Ashley, Charley and Martha!

Over and out for now but I look forward to seeing some more of you in the cafe in the coming weeks!

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Our Italian Feast Supper Club and a recipe for brutti ma buoni biscuits…

We were very excited to hold our July Plate Lickers Supper Club in a brand new and very original venue…Lynne Strover Gallery, an independent gallery run from Lynne’s beautiful home…

Lynne Strover Gallery

Our guests were seated amongst the sculptures and artwork by Belynda Sharples to enjoy their ‘Italian Feast’ inspired by mine and Ivana’s recent trip to Umbria and Tuscany (blogged here)…

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Tables set at Lynne Strover Gallery

Here’s a sneaky peak of the menu to whet your appetite for the pictures to follow. I’ve also shared a recipe for ‘brutti ma buoni’ …delicious hazelnut biscuits, crunchy on the outside but with a lovely chewy centre.

But without further ado, welcome to Plate Lickers Italian Feast…

Our Italian Feast Menu

Rows upon rows of cocktails awaited our guests arrival…we had made amaretto from scratch and served it with a touch of lemon juice and the mandatory cocktail cherry…

Homemade amaretto sours cocktails

Ameretto sours cocktail

These were accompanied by homemade sourdough crostini topped with wild boar salami, brought back from Italy and our homemade cow and goats milk ricotta with a sprinkling of decadent truffle salt…

crostini

Our guests were a friendly bunch and got chatting right away…

Chatty guests

Once everyone was seated we did a little welcome speech and appear to also be doing our best air hostess impressions :)…

Welcoming the guests.

before squirreling ourselves away in the kitchen to serve up the starter of courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and dressed with the peppery olive oil made by our beloved agriturismo hosts and a drizzle of homemade truffle honey…

courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Courgette and rocket salad with aged pecorino and homemade truffle honey

Next up was the main course of traditional ragu, which just got better and better the longer we cooked it, served on a bed of polenta with chargrilled chicory. Not the most photogenic dish but tasty all the same…

Ragu with polenta and chargrilled chicory

The dessert was peach and olive oil cake served with pinenut semi freddo, which seemed to be the favourite dish of the night. Ivana has already blogged the semi freddo recipe for you here.

Peach and oliveoil cake with pine nut semi freddo

and last but not least were the little brutti ma buoni biscuits, which perfectly fit their translation…’ugly but good’.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I’m a big biscotti fan and whenever I saw biscotti on the shelves in Italy I would also see packets of these brutti ma buoni. So as soon as I got home I started researching them and found this lovely recipe by Dan Lepard. The method is one I have never seen before but it produced the most amazing texture that even makes the arduous task of peeling hazelnuts worth it :).

To make a batch of about 20 small biscuits you can halve the recipe and will need…

150g toasted, skinned almonds (either buy them skinned and toast them in the oven for a few minutes or follow my instructions below if you buy them skin-on)

150g caster sugar

3 egg whites

75g ground almonds

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

So first, if you have bought the more commonly available, skin on hazelnuts, you will need to toast and skin them…not my favourite task I have to admit but it enhances their flavour and the skin can be fairly bitter, so it’s definitely advisable.

Preheat you oven to 200 degrees c and lay the hazelnuts out on a baking tray. Pop them in the oven for just 5 minutes, keeping an eye on them in case they start to burn. Then take a few nuts at a time and either loosen the skins by shaking them in a wire sieve or rubbing them in a teatowel. Once they are all skinned you’re ready for the biscuit making…

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees c and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Divide the hazelnuts approximately in half and put one half in a food processor, save the other half for later.

Add the sugar to the food processor and blitz it until the two are ground together but still coarse. Add the egg whites, almonds, vanilla extract and cocoa powder and blitz again until it forms a sludgy looking puree.

Now, this is the slightly strange bit…pour the puree into a saucepan. Roughly chop the remaining half of the hazelnuts and add them too. Put the pan on a high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture gets darker and thicker. You’ll know when it’s ready because it will hold it’s shape.

Using a couple of teaspoons, take a blob of the biscuit mixture (approx 2cm diameter) and place on the prepared trays. They don’t have to be uniform at all, the more rustic the better in my book. Make sure you leave at least 1 cm between the biscuits so they don’t get stuck together whilst cooking.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Brutti ma buoni biscuits read for the oven.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. If you can bear to, it’s best to wait until they are cool before tucking in. But then there needn’t be any stopping you 🙂

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

Brutti ma buoni biscuits

I would like to say a big thankyou to Lynne Strover for letting Plate Lickers descend on her gallery for the evening, to our guests for being as enthusiastic and wonderful as ever, to Ozzy for the use of his beautiful photographs and to Ivana, the co-hostess with the mostess!

Bring on August’s supperclub!

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Plate Lickers take on Umbria and Tuscany…

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not particularly good at getting away on holiday, however, I can confirm that I managed to escape and truly relax for 5 whole days on a recent trip to Citta della Pieve in Italy with my Plate Lickers Supper Club co-host Ivana (Miss Igs). As you may expect when two food obsessives are let loose in such a gastronomically plentiful country, we did a LOT of eating! And here’s a (not so) little summary of our adventures in Tuscany and Umbria.

We flew into Pisa and drove via a gorgeous little hill top town called Volterra, straight into a huuuge thunder storm. The weather went completely mental on us but Ivana did a sterling effort at keeping our little car on the road and as we arrived in the town of Citta della Pieve, the sun came out to greet us…

Sunshine after the rain

We had arranged our accomodation through AirBnB and were staying in a beautiful little cottage on an agriturismo called Cimbolello, a short drive out of town…

Our gorgeous abode

We couldn’t believe our eyes…we thought we’d arrived in heaven…

View from our front door

My meditation station

After we’d unpacked and settled in we headed into Citta della Pieve to find our first meal. Francesco and Luisa had drawn us a map and highly recommended that we head for Trattoria Pizzeria Serenella. We located it easily and as we entered the full restaurant, all eyes were on us! It wasn’t a tourist haunt (definitely a good thing) but our obvious foreignness and lack of command of the Italian language made us stick out like a sore thumb! (which is why I didn’t take any photos) 🙂 We persevered and were found a seat and read the menu at lightning speed. Ivana had heard about Pici, a local hand rolled pasta that looks like fat spaghetti but is 100% better, which we had with a simple but amazingly meaty ragu and a lasagna bianco…the stuff cheese dreams are made of! Serenella is a no frills establishment with paper table cloths and abrupt but swift service, the food was delicious and 2 main courses + 2 beers came to 15 Euro!

Back at the ranch the next morning, we woke up to bright sunshine. Our hosts had gifted us with a basket of freshly laid eggs & after a successful trip to the supermarket for a few more supplies, our breakfast was well and truly sorted…

Breakfast #1 before

Fresh tomatoes, of the variety that taste sooooo much better than we will EVER get hold of in our own country :), smoked speck, pecorino, creamy butter and our home-layed eggs, whipped up into a delicious omelette…

Breakfast #1 after '

with a strong espresso of course!

Breakfast #1 after

With our bellies full, we decided to head to Montepulciano, across this beautiful countryside…

Montepulciano

We meandered the streets…

Montepulciano

and stumbled on the Talosa wine cellar…

Montepulciano

We were directed to a stairwell, which felt like it went down forever but eventually ended up in the most amazing cellar full of the biggest oak barrels I have ever seen (see Ivana for scale)…

Talosa wine cellar

After sampling some of their wines we found our favourite and bought a few bottles of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The very helpful guy in the shop directed us to his favourite restaurant for lunch and although we were still quite full from breakfast, I’m sooo glad we followed his advice. We found ourselves on the terrace at Osteria del Borgo with this awesome view…

The view from Osteria del Borgo

Eating a selection of Cinta Senese (an ancient Tuscan breed of pig) cold cuts…

Selection of regional cold cuts at Osteria del Borgo

The most amazingly fresh Pappa al pomodoro (stale bread and ripe tomatoes, flavored with garlic, onions, and basil)…

Stale bread with tomatoes & garlic served warm at Osteria del Borgo

and the all round winner…cheese with honey and walnuts that had been grilled in an earthenware dish giving it amazingly crispy, golden edges…

Baked sheeps cheese with honey and walnuts at Osteria del Borgo

After lunch we strolled around and picked up a few more goodies including our first taste of panforte packed full of juicy fruits and nuts, homemade seeded flatbread, aged pecorino, our wine from Talosa and…2 gorgeous black truffles, bought from a little man on the street market in Citta della Pieve! We were both so chuffed with our truffle purchase and haven’t stopped planning what we’re going to do with them! So far I’ve shaved it on top of my scrambled eggs and made truffle honey…I also have plans for a classic truffle topped risotto…

Goodies picked up in Montepulciano

That evening, we continued our eat-fest and headed for dinner at Saltapiccio in Citta della Pieve, which had a beautiful roof terrace…

Saltapicchio in Citta della Pieve

The menu was pretty impressive, making it very tricky to make a decision on what to have…

Menu at Saltapiccio

The waitress was very helpful even though I did go against her recommendation of tartare.

We were brought a selection of simple crostini…

Crostini at Saltapicchio

For mains, we’d decided on ‘Lo Stinco d’agnello al forno con polenta e raddichio brasato al vino e miele’ lamb shank with polenta and radicchio cooked in wine and honey…

Lamb shank, polenta and radicchio at Saltapicchio

and ‘La bresaola di chianina con ricotta affumicate’ bresaola (air-dried, salted Chianina beef) with smoked ricotta…

Bresaola and smoked ricotta at Saltapicchio

We headed home to drink some of our Talosa wine and plan the next day’s trip to Florence, a destination that we were both very excited about.

Now, you may think that eating a big breakfast before heading on a food tour of Florence is a bit of a silly idea but hey, we were here to eat, so eat we did. Breakfast #2 was a quesadilla…2 olive oil tortillas filled with fresh tomato, pecorino and speck with a special sprinkling of truffle salt, fried in butter (natch)…

Breakfast #2

Breakfast #2 quesedilla

Ivana had found us a food tour online (link here) that we used as a base to explore Florence and after a 2 hour drive on the alarmingly fast Autostrada we arrived at Sant’Ambrogio market, where believe it or not, I had my first taste of fresh figs…

Figs at Sant'Ambrogio market

Before we started our exploration of the indoor market and our Florence adventure we fulfilled an item on my ‘must do’ tick list and drank a strong, black espresso, whilst standing up at a counter in the middle of the market with the locals and traders…

Espresso at Sant'Ambrogio market

The indoor market was packed full with a plethora of stalls selling meat, fish and pasta amongst other delicacies…

Sant'Ambrogio market

Sant'Ambrogio market

Next we moved on to a little street side cafe for a bit of refreshment and couldn’t resist a cannoli and pistachio eclair…

Morning snacks

There was so much to look at everwhere we turned. I loved this ice lolly shop, although I didn’t get to sample any of the goods…

Ice lolly shop

We momentarily battled with the hoards of tourists to get our holiday shot at The Ponte Vecchio…

Our tiny bit of being tourists

before hastily retreating into the back alleys and our next gourmet pit stop at Venchi for a gelato. We tried the caramelised fig and mascarpone and an Aztec chocolate…they were both delicious and a great combo!…

Gelato at Venchi

Next stop was Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, an amazing little place…

Cantinetta dei Verazzano

Just check out their coffee machine!…

Cantinetta dei Verazzano

We were already getting full but we couldn’t walk past this slice of foccacia topped with mozzarella cheese, courgette flowers and a liberal sprinkling of salt…

Zucchini flower foccacia in Cantinetta dei Verazzano

We’d been saving space for a very special delicacy of Florence…Lampredotto, the fourth stomach of a cow served in a roll! When Ivana first told me about it I point blank refused to try it but by the time we located the Lampredotto street food van on the Corner Via Dante Alighieri & Via dei Cerchi and having had a few days to psych myself up, I was well and truly ready for it!

Lampredotto stall, Florence

I loved the van and the father and son team who ran it…they had a lot of banter with their customers, mostly local workers on their lunch breaks…

Lampredotto stall, Florence

Look away now if you’re squeamish! When we were in the food market we located Lampredotto in its uncooked state, I’m not sure I should have looked at it but I’m stubborn so there was no backing out now…

Lampredotto before

And here is what a panino lampredotto looks like once cooked…

Lampredotto after

The stomach is boiled in a vegetable broth. When you place your order, they take a piece of lampredotto from the broth and chop it up. Then dip a crusty roll in the broth before filling it with the lampredotto and topping it with salsa verde and chilli sauce. We perched ourselves on stools at the edge of the van and got stuck in! I have to say, I nearly backed out when I caught a whiff of it but I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the taste, which I would liken to hot pate. I was ok as long as long as I didn’t look at it 🙂 I’m not sure I would be in a rush to recreate it at home (Plate Lickers Supper Club guests can breathe a sigh of relief) but I was glad we got to try such a local delicacy.

At this point we were full to bursting point but on the way back to the car we stumbled on this little gem…

Dolci & Dolcezze

and had to buy a creme brulee for later 🙂

Creme Brulee from Dolce & Dolcezze

We got pretty good at locating public outdoor swimming pools during our trip and with our swimming gear always at the ready in the boot we managed to fit in a quick refreshing dip before hitting the Autostrada again!

Once home and still somehow thinking of our stomachs, we bought some fig mustard from Francesco and Luisa’s homemade stash…

Homemade fig mustard from our agriturismo

Snacks

and rustled up a simple but delicious dinner of pici with gorgonzola and a tomato salad…

Homemade pici dinner

followed by the guiltiest of pleasures…classy! 😉

Guilty pleasure dessert

We decided that the next day would be used for some much needed rest and relaxation without any huge car journeys. And in the evening we were very lucky to benefit from the pearls of Luisa’s wisdom and to work alongside her making fettuccine. It was the first time I’d ever made pasta…I’d imagined it to be a lot harder, but then we had a great teacher!

Ivana & Luisa making fettuccine

I made pasta!

I made pasta

Here’s a little video we made of our fettuccine making https://vine.co/v/hmzbhebeIJX and here’s the finished product…

Our fettucine

Then, what was my perfect lastnight of holiday ensued…Luisa cooked up the pasta we’d made and served it with her homemade basil pesto and ricotta, which was divine!…

Our fettucine with homemade basil and ricotta pesto

Francesco filled our glasses with his homemade red wine and later his homemade cognac and walnut liqueur and we tucked into huge wedges of their homemade pecorino, pizza, sourdough & chutney…

Tasting the pecorino

We all chatted into the evening in a mismatch of languages and with the help of plenty of hand gestures until the fireflies came out and it was time for sleep. Before we all went our separate ways we made arrangements to help milk the sheep at 8am the next morning, as you do!

So at 8am on the dot we all headed over to meet the sheep. Now, I have to make an admission…I didn’t attempt the milking myself as I’m not a great animal lover and there were a few too many inquisitive sheep sharing the pen…

Sheep

I was in charge of general encouragement and picture taking. But here’s proof that Ivana got stuck in…

Ivana milking the sheep

Even though it was so hot, their small flock produced about 8 litres between them…

Sheeps milk before

Luisa showed us how she makes pecorino by heating the milk and adding a vegetarian rennet type liquid made from artichokes, which separates the curds (solids) from the whey (liquids). The curds are scooped into moulds that have perforations up the sides so that the liquid escapes and the cheese compresses over time…

Sheeps milk after as pecorino

Here you can see the cheeses varying in age, the older ones are the darker ones at the bottom…

Francesco & Luisa's pecorino stash

which is what we had sampled the night before…

Tasting the pecorino

I love the fact that in Francesco and Luisa’s house nothing goes to waste. The whey that was left over after making the pecorino was boiled up and became ricotta…

sheeps milk after as ricotta

Oh to be so self sufficient!

The time had come for us to leave our Umbrian paradise but not before picking some figs for our journey…

Figs fresh from the tree

and saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts…

Goodbye Franceso & Luisa

On the way back to Pisa we stopped in at San Grimignano in the hope of sourcing some wild boar salami with pistachio’s that my father had requested. We searched high and low but to no avail, there was plenty of wild boar salami (salame di cinghiale) available but apparently pistachios are not a regional addition, so I had to back down on my mission :(. The little town was very pretty but chockablock full of tourists and overpriced cafes.

San Grimignano

We managed to find a little cafe slightly off the beaten track for a quick espresso and slice of marzipan topped panforte…

Marzipan topped panforte

before continuing our journey. We were both sad to be leaving and found Livorno to be a bit disappointing. It didn’t help that we arrived in the afternoon when all shops and restaurants were closed until the evening, which included ALL of the places on our to do list 😦 However, we enjoyed the last rays of sun by the coast before heading home.

What an epic blog post! Congratulations to those of you who made it to the end. I hope my enthusiasm and new found love for Italy came though in my words and pictures. I highly recommend a trip to Umbria…we only touched the tip of the iceberg in 5 days! I have a feeling I’ll make an excuse to go back as soon as possible!

A presto Italia!

x

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Plate Lickers is 1…our birthday party!

Last Saturday saw us celebrate the first birthday of Plate Lickers Supper Club!

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since Ivana and I joined forces, came up with a name, found a venue, concocted a menu, filled a room with 30 hungry people and….fed them! From that day forward Plate Lickers has been going strong and with the amazing support of our guests has sold out everytime (sometimes in as little as an hour). We still love every minute of preparing for and hosting our supper clubs (ok maybe we don’t like the sleepless nights beforehand) and have met so many lovely people in our 12 month existence. We wanted to mark our anniversary event with a special Birthday party, the menu for which remained secret until the plates were put in front of our guests!

We had decided to return to one of our favourite venues, St Pauls on Hills Road where we had also held our Middle Eastern and the 2nd of our Childhood Memories events…

St Pauls

We welcomed our guests with a retro classic, a snowball, made with Advocaat, lime juice & lemonade…

Snowballs

Everyone helped themselves to a paper bag of olive oil roasted chickpeas and were given a choice of 4 flavoured salts to salt ‘n’ shake into their bags…

Salt 'n' shake chickpeas

Some mingling happened…

Mingling

Mingling

And then we took to the floor to say hello and introduce the first course…

Welcoming our guests

British asparagus, from Peter Elliott, who sells it from the roadside on the A10 near Hauxton, served with purple sprouting broccoli (or ‘psb’ as I like to call it ;)) and a drizzle of homemade hollandaise sauce…

Plating up the starter

Ivana

We called on Delia’s expertise for the hollandaise and it worked a treat, although we both agreed that we could have gone a tad easier on the lemon.

British asparagus & psb w/ homemade hollandaise

British asparagus & psb with homemade hollandaise

We decided to pop out and chat a bit about the main course before we served it up as it’s always quite a rush to get the hot food in front of our guests at this point in a supper club and we don’t feel we get to give it the full attention and description is deserves…

Welcoming our guests

We were really proud of this dish, our take on ham, egg and chips…

Ham, egg & chips

We used Dingley Dell gammon, smoked in-house by our favourite local butchers Northrops, who also deserve a special mention (especially Martin) for giving us consistently good advice. On this occassion we wanted to boil the gammon instead of baking it, on seeing just how big a 7kg joint of gammon was, I realised there was no way I was going to fit it in my fridge to soak overnight, so I lugged a huuuge saucepan along to Martin and he very kindly soaked it for me. The next day, we popped back in with a bag of chopped up carrots, celery, onions, a few peppercorns and bay leaves, which Martin placed around the joint of meat before vac packing it for us! We were essentially going to boil our gammon in a bag (or cook it ‘sous vide’ if you want to be posh about it :)) for 5 hours…there’s no way we could end up with anything but the moistest of meat!

We’d decided that we wanted to really push the boat out and challenge ourselves for this event, how better to do that than to poach 36 eggs! Until about a year ago, I had never poached an egg, but a sure fire way to get good at something is to do it en masse! My technique was to get a pan of water to a very light simmer (very small bubbles just breaking the surface), crack an egg into a small bowl or teacup, then using a balloon whisk, spin the water, creating a vortex. Gently pour the egg into the centre and DO NOT TOUCH! just let the vortex work it’s magic for 3 whole minutes. The success of your poached egg has a lot to do with it’s freshness but sometimes, I reckon you just get a stubborn one! All I can say is….persevere 🙂

The ‘chips’ part of our main course was based on the American dish ‘home fries‘, which we made by parboiling, then crushing new potatoes and roasting them in the oven with butter and onions.

We served it all up with our homemade ketchup and not so homemade mustard…

Homemade ketchup

I love the moment when we place the last main course in front of a guest and Ivana & I can take a deep breath and watch everyone tuck in!

Busy eating

The next course was the one that got people chatting the most…peanut butter and jelly popsicles…

Popsicles

Handing out popsicles

Unwrapping the popsicles

A layer of chocolate ganache mixed with salted peanuts and a sandwich of peanut butter swirled vanilla ice cream and blitzed raspberries…

The finished article - pb&j popsicle

Tucking in

After a quick party game of musical chairs to mix things up a bit and to get everyone chatting to people they may not have met yet, we rolled out the piece de resistance!…our giant 12 inch, fade, orange drizzle Birthday cake, which we sandwiched with homemade orange curd and iced with dark chocolate ganache and literally hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands…

The cake

This is what it looked like naked…

Decorating

Fade cake

Hundreds and thousands

and here’s the finished article before it was wolfed down…

IMG_5809

Slicing the cake

A slice of the action

Going going...

We offered our guests the choice to eat it now or to have a slice packed away in their party bags :)…

Party bags

and those who ate all of their dinner were awarded a special badge…

He licked his plate!

I think I say it every single time but THIS Plate Lickers was my favourite yet…so much fun! We couldn’t do it without guests who ‘get’ what we’re trying to do and come with an open mind, a sense of fun and are ready to be fed…for that I thank you all!

There’s no stopping us now, we’ll be announcing a June supper club in the next couple of weeks so if you would like to hear about it first, and you haven’t done so already, click here and join our mailing list and follow our #platelickers chatter on Twitter.

Branded

Thanks to Ozzy for the lovely photo’s. The full set can be seen here.

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My January blues banishing London adventure…

However much I love Cambridge, there’s still a part of me that, a year on, yearns to be back living in London. The air of spontaneity and sheer amount of new and exciting places to visit never ceases to lure me in! Having found a food loving, Cambridge-based partner in crime in Miss Igs, we hatched a plan to banish the January blues by going for a day trip, visiting as many of the new places we’d been lusting over as possible. We soon realised we would need to limit ourselves and I set about making us an itinerary, which looked like this and would take us to Duck & Waffle, E5 Bakehouse, Violet Cakes, Salvation Jane and finally the mecca of the dirty burger…Meat Mission.

Once we’d agreed our route we set about trying to secure a reservation for lunch at Duck & Waffle…we were nervous wrecks waiting for the confirmation to come through, checking our phones constantly (not a rare occurrence anyway ;)), but finally it came and one sleepless night later we hopped on the train to the big smoke and headed straight to Heron Tower near Liverpool Street Station and up the frighteningly speedy lift to the 40th floor!…

I was (literally) in heaven!

We’d seen some chatter on twitter about some not so friendly door staff and a strict dress code and I am very happy to report that we didn’t experience any problems with either and couldn’t have been greeted or treated any better!

We’d been drooling over the menu on their website already so pretty much knew what we wanted to try…

Duck & Waffle menu

Duck & Waffle menu

We felt it only right to celebrate the day by starting with a Winter Negroni…Bombay Sapphire Dry, Martini Rosso, Compari and Anitca Formula, raisin, date and roasted chestnut – rested, bottled and capped…

It was divine and packed a real punch 🙂

We decided to order a few dishes and share them, starting with the foie gras ‘all day breakfast’…

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A slice of toasted brioche, spread with nutella and topped with foie gras, deep fried black pudding balls, gorgeously thin bacon and a quails egg. It may sound a bit random but I am here to tell you that it was AMAZING, who would’ve thought that all those flavours would work so well together, but they did!

Next up we were presented with a paper bag, sealed with the Duck & Waffle crest…

which held our bbq-spiced crispy pigs ears…

and then the dish that we’d both been really intrigued by, and who wouldn’t be…the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam…

A gorgeously spicy ox cheek concoction surrounded by melt in the mouth, fluffy doughnut and covered in smoked paprika and sugar. My only slight criticism of this dish was that the smoked paprika was so strong that it overpowered the more delicately spiced ox cheek. But nothing was going to stop me devouring my half!

We couldn’t go to Duck & Waffle and not try their signature dish, the Duck & Waffle…

Waffle topped with crispy confit duck leg, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup…

The duck was so tender and everything worked so well together…the guys at Duck & Waffle really know their stuff!

I was totally bowled over by D&W, it was even better than I had expected, amazing food, friendly service and the most awesome view!

Just check out the private dining room…

Duck & Waffle private dining room.

I would recommend it to anyone and probably will bore everyone senseless by doing so for the next while!

We eventually dragged ourselves away to continue on with our day’s itinerary, next stop E5 Bakehouse situated in an archway close to London Fields Station, where they bake artisan breads on site as well as delicious looking cakes and coffee…

Much to our amusement we found ourselves in the middle of a photoshoot for a Scandinavian start up company and stayed a lot longer than anticipated thanks to our photogenic hands (luckily they were more interested in our hands and our addiction to our phones than our faces!). We finally managed to leave after signing a release form and being promised cloud based fame, not forgetting to pick up a loaf of Hackney Wild, a delicious pain de campagne style loaf, on the way out.

Our next stop was Violet Cakes, who tempt me daily on Twitter with their cake porn…

It was great to see where the magic happens and although it was very sweet, the atmosphere was slightly lacking during our visit :(. We sampled a very yummy (if slightly overpriced at ÂŁ2.80) cinnamon bun…

Our penultimate stop was Salvation Jane, sister cafe of Lantana (which I love and blogged back in 201o here). Our visit turned out to be at a bit of a strange time of day, when lunch had finished and dinner was yet to begin, and we had the place practically to ourselves…

We were happy enough to sit back and relax and peruse the menus for next time! I was also very happy to discover that there sold Little Creatures, a pale ale brewed in Freemantle, Australia, where I spent a very memorable birthday a few years ago…

It was probably a good thing that we didn’t get to eat at Salvation Jane as we needed to save as much room as possible for our burger eatathon at Meat Mission

Meat Mission is the newest member of the Meat Wagon, Meat Liquor and Meat Market family. I don’t know how I’ve managed not to visit any of the above, that is, until now!

We arrived for an early dinner at 6pm and got to choose out seat. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out on the BEST thing on the menu so asked our lovely waitress for her advice…she told us that the Dead Hippie burger was the must-try burger and highly recommended the monkey fingers ‘battered fillets of marinated chicken slathered in house-made chili sauce with blue cheese dip’. We finished off our order with a 2 pint flagon of Brooklyn Lager, which was so big it took a joint effort to pour 🙂 and some deep fried pickles (or gherkins to me).

The Monkey fingers were ridiculously tender and had a good after burn on them, which worked really well with the blue cheese dip. The mysterious dead hippie sauce was a nice addition to the burger, a kind of tangy mayo. Although it was definitely a good burger, I think I’d put the idea of it on such a pedestal in my mind that it would have been bloomin hard for it to measure up!

Full to the brim and overflowing with inspiration we got on the train back home to the Bridge. Hopefully the first of many ‘research trips’…we’re already planning the itinerary for the next so watch this space!

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Plate Lickers #4

We held our 4th Plate Lickers Supper Club on Friday night. Due to the popularity of the last event and the fact that we had so much fun with the menu we decided to go with the ‘Childhood Memories’ theme again.

Thanks to all of our lovely guests who really got into the spirit of the supper club, made new friends and even humoured us enough to queue for their dinner, school dinner style :). Thanks also got to John Quysner (Centre at St Paul’s) and Jack (Jack’s Gelato) for his wonderful elderflower sorbet!

You can read Miss Igs write up here and if you’d like to hear about our next events, just sign up here and we’ll keep you posted!

Me and Miss Igs are joining forces at this year’s Mill Road Winter Fair with an Afternoon Tease, Miss Igs and Plate Lickers triple whammy, come and say hi on Saturday 1st December.

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12/11/2012 · 11:11 am

Our 2nd Plate Lickers Supper Club…

Three weeks ago we announced the 2nd Plate Lickers Supper Club, this time with a Middle Eastern theme. Places filled fast and before we knew it, our chosen day, Friday 13th July had rolled around and myself and Ivana (Miss Igs) were embarking upon a very busy day of last minute preparation and cooking ready for our full house of 30 hungry Cambridge foodies! We were still buzzing from our first event back in May and although the feedback we’d received from our guests was wonderfully positive we were determined to up our game and push the boat out even more this time! 

We concentrated on using as many local suppliers as possible, one of whom was fruit & veg afficionado, Twitter veteran, Managing Director of Cambridge Fruit Company and serial Foodcycle donator Mr Neil B. Neil was great…he gave us advice on seasonality, price and quantity and then sourced and delivered delicious veggies straight to our door with a huge smile…

We were particularly excited about our secret venue…which we revealed the day before the supper club to be St Paul’s on Hills Road. I’d like to give a big thank you to John, the Centre Manager for all of his help and for allowing us to borrow the church, which we set about dressing in true Plate Lickers style…

and unveiled our Middle Eastern inspired menu…

At 7.30pm our guests arrived…

and were greeted with a pomegranate & vodka cocktail…

and homemade hummus and aubergine dips…

When everyone had settled down at their tables we handed around teacups of our green gazpacho, a refreshing mix of spinach, cucumber, green pepper, chilli, garlic, parsley, yoghurt and ice…

and then it was time for the main event…pork belly, a whopping 8.5kg of Dingley Dell pork belly to be precise… 

I’d like to give a very special shout out to the lovely butchers at Andrew Northrop Butchers on Mill Road. When I popped in to have a chat and order our meat they were so helpful, advising me on quantities, whether to cook it on or off the bone (we opted for on) and more importantly, imparting their wisdom on exactly how to make sure our crackling was awesome! They scored the skin for me and then told me that their top crackling tip was to dampen your hand and lightly wipe the surface of the skin wetting it just enough to give the salt something to stick to without soaking it as this would be detrimental to your crackling! As you can see their advice worked wonders!…

You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled on Miss Igs blog to find out exactly how we cooked this beaut, but I can tell you that we ended up with the most tender, fall off the bone, melt in the mouth pork belly, which we served with a couscous salad and a green bean, sugar snap, orange and hazelnut salad and my homemade gooseberry, ginger and elderflower relish (recipe to follow)…

After a refreshing little course of mint tea and orange blossom sorbet we served up the dessert…nut stuffed baked peaches in cinnamon & rosewater syrup with polenta & almond cake…

By this time the light was fading, the atmospheric church setting was coming into its own…

and the wine and conversations was flowing…

We’ve well and truly caught the supper club bug…watch this space for our next date or if you’d like us to keep you informed sign up to our all new mailing list here.

A final thanks to all of our lovely guests, of whom a nerve wracking majority seemed to be food bloggers and writers! We’ve been bowled over by the lovely write ups, mentions and tweets we’ve been receiving since Friday. Here are the ones we know about so far…

Aoife wrote a lovely post about us on her Gastronomic Girls blog here.

Nora has posted about us on her Nora the kitchen ‘Splorer here.

Ireena wrote this on her blog ‘Oh! Not another food blog’

Heidi wrote this fab review, which is also on Local Secrets here.

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