Thursday, 29 November 2018

Lavender & Lovage - A culinary notebook of memories & recipes from home & abroad - A Review

Karen Burns Booth was one of the first food bloggers I ever came in contact with in my early blogging days and despite having never met in the flesh so to speak, is someone I consider a friend.

Her beautiful blog "Lavender and Lovage" was always something I aspired to in my own blogging efforts and was inspired by over the years.

Some 7 ish  or so years later, I was highly delighted to be sent a copy of her beautiful book to review, the book is very much Karen, part diary, part travelog, part life history but very much the book of a passionate lover of food and its importance in life not just as nutrition but as the linkage to a time and place in your life.

The book is wonderful  from start to finish, starting with the illustrated cover by Callie Jones which depicts Karen's new Welsh home on the Lyn Peninsula. The book features photographs from Karen's family archive of her vibrant upbringing in several countries and her world travels and all the food photography is Karen's own work too.

Image by Rama Knight

Divided into the sections such as "middlings" or a "bit on the side "and "on the shelf" the book exudes Karen, her fun down to earth approach to life and more importantly food. The book acknowledgements is like a who's who of my foodie inspirations.

Do yourself a favour and purchase yourself a copy you won't regret it, the book is a perfect gift for the foodie in your life, the recipes are tried and tested favourites of Karen, there is no higher recommendation in my eyes.

You can purchase a copy from Amazon or from your local bookstore who I am sure will be able to order if they don't already have this in.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

La Belle Assiette - book a private chef to cook dinner for you.

Do you love entertaining and serving great food to friends but don't like all the hassle of shopping, cooking and washing up afterwards. 

Well we have a solution for you, say hello to La Belle Assiette, the easy book private chef service where  a talented professional chef comes to your home and serves dinner to your party. 

The chef does all the shopping, preparation, cooking and washing up for you in your home (or holiday home), all you need provide is a kitchen and the drinks for your guests. Nothing could be easier. Leaving you free to relax and enjoy the company of your guests and enjoy great food without any stress.

How it works
  • Your chef buys the finest ingredients
  • They cook in your kitchen
  • They serve each dish
  • They clean up before they leave
Menus start at around £39 per head and can be tailored in discussion with your chef, so catering for special dietary requirements is not a problem. All the chefs you can book have been validated by diners so you are assured of a high quality experience.
La Belle Assiette was founded in 2013 by two friends, Stephen and Giorgio. Paris is where it all started. Parisians love to entertain at home, so sending chefs into their kitchens was a no-brainer. Four years on, they are proud to have become Europe's leading chef service.
Despite the very French name , La Belle Assiette has been overwhelmingly accepted in the UK. Our chefs are welcomed into people's homes and trusted to deliver, time and again. 

We were lucky enough to experience chef Michael Thomas for our dinner party recently, a talented chef with over 17 years experience of fine dining and high quality catering reasonably local to our home. We had agreed the menu by telephone a couple of weeks earlier after Michael suggested a number of delicious sounding seasonal menu's and also discussed my requirements for a gluten free meal. All was no problem and a creative fresh flavoured menu was created.


Gin cured salmon served with a celeriac slaw, pickled cucumber and avocado cream. Finished with pea shoots, smoked rapeseed oil and fresh dill.


Trio of pork:  pan fried pork fillet, braised pig cheeks and pressed pork belly. Served with fondant potato, celeriac puree and jus, finished with a broadbean pesto.


Lemon and elderflower cheesecake served with lemon curd, meringue, fresh berries and elderflower jelly.

We can thoroughly recommend the La Belle Assiette service and especially Michael Thomas our chef, the evening went without a hitch and our guests thoroughly enjoyed their evening and the food was amazing.

The La Belle Assiette service is great for a special occasion or that special meal whilst away on your holidays at your holiday home.

The validation dinner service was provided on a complementary  basis to enable a review of the chef and the La Belle Assiette Service to be undertaken, all thoughts, opinions and views are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review of the service.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Summer Sunday lunch at the Olive Tree Brasserie, Preston

We are in the middle of a heatwave here in Lancashire so it really did feel a little like Greece when we recently visited the Olive Tree Brasserie in Preston for lunch.

We had been invited along to enjoy lunch on their summer menu, as we visited on a Sunday we could also choose from their "roast menu" or their prix fixe lunch menu.

We choose a drink from the extensive cocktail menu to enjoy whilst browsing the food menu's. As one of us was driving we plumped for an unusual beetroot and lavender white lady as our cocktail and ordered a mocktail too.

I thought the lady would be pink but as you can see its a gorgeous creamy combination of gin, Cointreau, beetroot shrub, lavender syrup, lemon juice and whites. Perfectly balanced in flavours, it could have so easily been girly and sickly but instead it was deliciously summery.

The designated driver ordered a mocktail, a refreshing summery blend of lemon and mint, not too sweet and served over crushed ice. Loving the paper straw by the way as well. 

We ordered our lunch from the a la carte menu which has been subtly changed for the summer however it still features all of the modern Greek classics you know and love.  For starters we ordered Garides Saganaki and Keftedes.

The Garides Saganaki dish when it arrived wasn't what I was expecting, I thought it would be grilled prawns sprinkled with feta and a tomato sauce, but this was more of a prawn and tomato stew, slightly spiced and full of delicious vegetables with chunks of salty creamy feta. Wow very impressed, just needed a spoon !

Mr LF chose the Keftedes for his starter, the tasty and hearty pork and beef meatballs were served in a rich tomato and herb sauce, the portion size was great for a hungry chap but for those of us with smaller appetites may be a little on the large side.

For my main course I chose the Solomos souvlaki, another hearty dish a skewer of chunky moist salmon pieces, served on a bed of  red quinoa, greek slaw - which essentially if red cabbage coleslaw but with a tzatziki dressing and sweet potato skordalia. I enjoyed the dish but couldn't finish it as quinoa is very filling and I found a lot of the elements at sweet end of the flavour scale.

Despite being here to review a summer menu our other mains choice was the Vodino stifado , a rich tasty and aromatic meltingly tender beef stew with Greek potatoes. Perhaps more suited to a winters day but tasty all the same and thoroughly enjoyed by the diner.

On to our delicious desserts to complete our meal 

First up was Loukoumades , Greek sweet donuts with a white chocolate dipping sauce, tasty fluffy hot doughnuts with a runny white chocolate dip to dunk your doughnuts in.

I chose the ice cream selection for my dessert, my choice of three flavours so I went for the classic Neapolitan , pistachio, strawberry and chocolate, wonderful on a hot sunny day when it was 30C in the shade, that's hot, really hot for Preston. The ice cream was well flavoured and disappeared quickly.

For more interior atmosphere shots check out the post of our earlier visit to The Olive Tree here

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and would definitely recommend a visit, So if its Modern Greek food your after why not check out the Olive Tree Brasserie, branches in Preston, Lytham, Stockton Heath , St Annes and Chester. Bookings advised. 

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

NEW - Beech's Gourmet Packs - taste test !

We love chocolate here at Lancashire Food, so we were delighted to receive some sample flavours from the new Beech's Chocolate Gourmet pack range for taste testing. 

The packaging is sophisticated and ideal for a gifting occasion, the range comes in 12 varieties  including fudges, truffles and covered specialities. We chose 

Cacoa Truffle Roasted coffee - a decadent, rich indulgent  truffle with a rich coffee flavour, our favourite.

Dark Chocolate coated Ginger Pieces - Delicious dark chocolate with a warm rather than hot ginger centre. The ladies at my WI committee enjoyed sampling this flavour.

Milk Chocolate Coated Honeycomb - creamy milk chocolate covering chunky pieces of crunchy chewy honeycomb.

You can purchase Beech's Chocolate online or in high quality retailers.

Please also see previous post for Beech's Chocolate here and here

We were sent the samples on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

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