Index by recipe or subject

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May 2013

Exeter, Devon 2 May 2013 Urban foraging with wildnerness guide Mark Lane.

April 2013

Topsham, Devon 4 April 2013 A machine is threatening to come between me and my wife: a shiny, gorgeous, exciting and beautiful sous vide machine.

June 2011

Topsham, Devon 27-29th June, 2011 A rare and too brief visit to Topsham by my brother David and his partner Robin who were over from Virginia. We share a love of Italian wine, food and cooking, and cycling amongst other things. So it was a chance to ride, cook and eat together, and to dust off some special bottles...Here's a taste of what we ate and drank.

May 2011

Topsham, Devon 18th May -- We make pappa al pomodoro for May Vino Kitchen Italian Table.

April 2011

Exeter, Devon 29th April to 1st May -- This year’s Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink was probably the best ever. Coinciding with the Royal Wedding on the Friday, the atmosphere was amazing as the crowds came in to watch this special event on a large outdoor screen set up in Northernhay Gardens, and afterwards to enjoy a feast of West Country food and drink. Here's a brief report.

February 2011

Exmouth, Devon February20th, 2011 -- A stroll down Exmouth seafront with Guy to the fish shop at the Pierhead. What's good today? Those Lyme Bay scallops look sensational, just the thing for our Sunday supper.

Uplyme, Devon February4th, 2011 -- Today hundreds came to this lovely village to remember and celebrate a young person whose life was far too short. Afterwards, in the Uplyme Village Hall I felt privileged to sample Pip's hazelnut macaroons.

January 2011
Topsham, Devon January24th, 2011 -- TS Eliot was wrong: January – not April – is the cruelest month. If ever there was a time of year that mixes memory with desire, it is now. After the excesses of the holiday period, and at the start of a new year that inevitably is full of hope and the eternal, deluded belief in the capacity to change, January promises the chance to change who we are - if only we go to the gym more often (ker-ching) or take up the latest crack-pot diet (ker-ching)...Well, I'm sorry, I'm not having it.
November 2010
Topsham, Devon November 13, 2010 -- Our day (unabridged): went fishing; very windy; lost favorite hat; Kim rescued it; caught a sea bass; made simple ceviche.
October 2010
Turin, Italy October 21-24, 2010 -- "Just meeting is a miracle," said Carlo Petrini, proudly and humbly. My report about the fourth edition of Terra Madre, the remarkable bi-annual global gathering of food communities.
August 2010

Topsham, Devon August 18, 2010 -- My dismal attempts to catch sea bass are already well chronicled. However, this summer we have had some exciting success. We fished over the August Bank Holiday weekend in Lyme Bay off Exouth and were lucky to catch a real beaut.

Topsham, Devon August 18, 2010 -- The gals away, just me and Guy, so we raid the cellar for a special bottle for a steak night.

June 2010

Topsham, Devon June 29, 2010 -- Mario Fontana brought us a summer truffle from his home in the Barolo wine hills.

Topsham, Devon June 20, 2010 -- A dream-like evening in Topsham for Nello's Longest Table.

December 2009
Topsham, Devon December 6, 2009 -- Is this the craziest thing I've ever made in my life? Guy and I have a moment of turducken madness. . .
January 2009

Topsham, Devon January 21, 2009 -- Topsham's first wassail in more than 70 years takes place, with singing, banging, and the liberal consumption of much local cider.

Topsham, Devon January 21, 2009 -- Here's the recipe for Lizzie's apple cake, enjoyed outdoors under the apple trees during the Topsham Wassail.

November 2008
Dartington and Mathayes, Devon November 21, 2008 -- This week has been a great occasion for Slow Food Devon: Carlo Petrini's visit to Dartington. Andrew Whitley also launches his Sustain Real Bread Campaign, and we visit the McCaig's Otter Brewery in the rolling Blackdown Hills of East Devon. Here's my report on an amazing few days.
October 2008
Turin, Italy 27 October 2008 The 3rd Terra Madre gathering of world food communities took place this week in Turin, bringing together more than 6000 food producers, fishermen, market organisers, chefs, academics and youth delegates to discuss issues, problems and challenges. Once again, it was an inspiring occasion.
September 2008
Venice, Italy 21 September 2008 We have been traveling to Venice now for more than 30 years and have stayed in any variety of places, from grand 5-star hotels to no-star dives that frankly we’d rather forget.Just last weekend we found ourselves in Venice again and had the chance to stay in the Residenza Art Deco. It is worth recommending, as the place is not only lovely but also (very rare in Venice) available at a reasonable price.
June 2008

Topsham, Devon June 15th, 2008 Nello's Longest Table, a truly amazing occasion and a tribute to a special friend. Here's what we ate.

Topsham, Devon June 13-15th, 2008 A report on the Topsham Food Festival, a hugely successful and enjoyable weekend of events and activities centred on, what else, food and drink of course.

Topsham, Devon June 13-15th, 2008 A fabulous weekend of food and drink celebrations will be taking place during the first Topsham Food Festival.

April 2008
Exeter, Devon April 10-13, 2008 We enjoy a magnificent celebration of Tuscany and South West England in the Slow Food tent at the 5th Exeter Festival of South West England Food and Drink. Earlier in the week, we were involved in an important initiative to twin Tuscany and South West England at the Festival Conference. Afterwards, those involved and guests enjoyed a Celebration Dinner at Michael Caines at ABode Exeter. The brilliant menu devised by Ross Melling was inspired by Tuscany and utilised the finest West Country produce, accompanied by a selection of Devon and Tuscan wines.
February 2008
Bath, February 21st, 2008 We enjoy an evening of masks, foods and wines, Venetian style at the Bath Priory.
January 2008

Topsham, Devon January 20th, 2008 What a huge and satisfying relief: the first Slow Food Devon Topsham Market was a huge and resounding success! Here's a brief report.

Topsham, Devon January 1st, 2008 I am delighted to report that the Slow Food Devon Market will be transferring to Topsham's Matthews Hall, usually the third Sunday of each month, starting on January 20th. See you there!

September 2007

Topsham, Devon September 13, 2007 The Topic for this year's Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery was "Food and Morality", a fascinating theme that gave scope for any number of provoking and provocative papers and presentations. Food writer and friend John Whiting's presentation entitled Eating the Earth traces traces the destruction of our edible environment back to the days of the Stone Age hunter-gatherers.

Topsham, Devon September 4, 2007 Since it's her final day before school starts, we asked Bella what she wanted for her special 'last supper'. "Michal Caines' crab risotto," she said without a moment's hesitation. Only problem, no crab in town, so we make a variation with scallops and red gurnard.

August 2007

Topsham, Devon August 30, 2007 Guy and Claire leave for Nottingham on Saturday, so tomorrow is Guy's 'last supper'. Naturally I'm cooking the proverbial fatted, um er, not calf but duck. Of course it has to be duck.

Armaçao da Pera, Portugal and Topsham, Devon August 14, 2007 A summer dish I always look forward to is arroz do mariscos, one of my favourite foods in the world. This Portuguese hotpot inevitably comes bubbling to the table, piping hot and straight out of the oven, a magnificent celebration of the sea.

March 2007
Riccione, Italy March 17, 2007 A week in the wine hills of Romagna cycling is good for the soul as well as the legs.
December 2006
Budleigh Salterton, December 3rd , 2006 A picnic of salade niçoise and vin rouge on Budleigh beach in remembrance of Joan, a very special friend.
November 2006

Perno, Le Langhe, Italy November 11, 2006 Mario Fontana's mother Elda shares with us a masterclass in making agnolotti al plin, the classic stuffed ravioli of the Barolo wine region.

Glenridding, Cumbria November 1, 2006 Autumn half term saw us head up to the Lake District once more for a week of walking and relaxation in what we consider the most beautiful corner of England, if not the world. Fells walks work up prodigious appetites for hearty, warming foods, slow-cooked four hours such Helvellyn braised lamb shanks.

October 2006
Ebford, Devon October 22, 2006 The grape harvest at Geoff and Anna's Pebblebed vineyard is a great communal event. Afterwards everyone feasted on steaming bowls of Anna's Pebblebed harvest soup.
February 2006
Lympstone, Devon January 16, 2006 Burns Night at The Globe, Lympstone is enlivened by a happy piper.
January 2006
Topsham, Devon January 16, 2006 Turning grapes into . . . bread! Bill's sourdough bread, made with grapes from Pebblebed Vineyard, is a huge success!
December 2005
Topsham, Devon December 9, 2005 Following on from Guy's big birthday, Marc celebrates a milestone half-century with a duck feast. Topsham, Devon December 1, 2005 The South Devon Chili guys are in town once more and it's tomatillo time!
November 2005
Topsham, Devon November 2, 2005 Happy 18th birthday, Guy! Here's a little story that recalls our travels in Spain when you were just three years old.
September 2005
Topsham, Devon September 2, 2005 'Mummy mackerel' does it again...We go fishing on our anniversary.
July 2005
Chinatown, London July 6, 2005 A remarkable feast at the Jade Garden — duck tongues, chicken feet and much more — thanks to Uncle Red Bear.
June 2005
Topsham , Devon June 18th, 2005 The Melanesian Brotherhood are back in Devon, and in honour of their visit Alex Leger prepares a Solomon Islands pit barbeque!
May 2005

Exmouth, Devon May 23, 2005 To my way of thinking, crab is even finer, infinitely sweeter than lobster. And our local Devon crab, landed at Exmouth and boiled straight away on the quay, is the best there is.

Topsham, Devon May 16, 2005 For the sixth year in a row, a pair of swans have nested in the riverbank underneath our garden wall, just off the Topsham Quay.

Topsham, Devon May 6, 2005 Every four weeks, the knife sharpener comes to Topsham...

April 2005
Topsham, Devon April 29, 2005 Here's another way to enjoy Gerald Ridgeway's incredibly good Topsham mussels: Thai style in a green curry sauce.
February 2005
Ancona, Italy and Topsham, Devon February 16, 2005 I’m still basking in the warm glow of my recent trip to Le Marche. Here's a recipe for coda di rospo — monkfish cooked Ancona style, as I enjoyed with the Recchi family.
January 2005

Portonovo, Italy January 26, 2005 Le Marche, the central Adriatic region of Italy, is one of the country's still unspoiled and undiscovered areas, as well as the source of wonderful things to eat and drink. On returning home after a too brief visit, I recreate the favourite dish of Portonovo, spaghetti coi moscioli — spaghetti with mussels.

Exeter Devon January 19, 2005 Some of my friends in the US may be contemplating what to eat on Super Bowl Sunday. Here we're considering what's on the menu tonight for the most remarkable football (soccer) match (or mismatch) in many many years: our local team minnows Exeter City versus mighty Manchester United in the FA Cup replay.

November 2004
Exeter Devon November 15, 2004 The heady, pungent, almost overpowering aroma of tartufo bianco filled the dining room of Michael Caines at the Royal Clarence on a cold and wintery Monday evening as we came together to enjoy the Ride for Life 'Festa di San Martino' with our great friends winemakers Mario and Luisa Fontana of Cascina Fontana over from their home in the Barolo hills of the Langhe for an evening of stunning wines and foods and above all friendship.
October 2004

Turin, Italy October 21-25, 2004 Imagine the whole world (or nearly) coming together to break bread, share food, wine and culture (metaphorically and literally) all under the vast single roof of Lingotto Fiere in Turin, Italy. This is the Salone del Gusto, a biennial event staged for the fifth time in 2004 from October 21-25.

Topsham, Devon October 20, 2004 Oh dear, the ongoing saga of the vinegar has taken a turn. Mother, it seems, has roared back to life with a vengeance. . .

Topsham, Devon, October 8, 2004 I've long maintained that our local Topsham pub, The Bridge Inn, is the best pub in the world and my friends have allowed me this seeming indulgent statement though it is by no means without foundation. Now confirmation is at hand: the Bridge has just been acclaimed 'Beer Pub of the Year' in the Good Pub Guide 2005.

September 2004
South Hams, Devon, September 9, 2004 A favourite food from long-ago memories is salsa verde, made with tomatillos, or green husk tomatoes, that tart, chilli-hot salsa, redolent of pungent cilantro, an indispensable taste of Mexico. I never dreamed or even hoped that tomatillos would ever be available here in Devon, so I was absolutely astounded and delighted to discover recently that the South Devon Chilli Farm at South Milton near Kingsbridge now grows them.
August 2004

Armação da Pera, Algarve, Portugal August 28, 2004 It’s amazing to realize that we’ve been visiting the Algarve for more than a quarter of a century! In those long ago halcyon days, the mercado at Armação da Pera was a simple, covered affair, quite small, charming, the sort of slightly grubby, picturesque place tourists love to wander through and photograph.

Ferragudo, Algarve, Portugal August 21, 2004 Salty from the sea, with that powdery white layer on our skin that is the crusty feel of summer, we nose the boat on to the quay, make fast, and swagger up the steps, happy once more to have reached the best fish restaurant in the world (or at least in our world): Sueste.

June 2004
Exminster, Devon June 9, 2004 New Zealand comes to Devon with a tasting of Kim Crawford wines accompanied by a seafood meal at The Turf in an evening organised by Andy Tarry of execellars.
March 2004
Exeter,Devon March 28, 2004 The Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink, which took place this weekend in the city's Northernhay Gardens, was an outstanding success and demonstrates that Exeter lies at the heart of a local and regional renaissance in good things to eat and drink.
January 2004
Topsham,Devon January 1, 2004 New year, new moi? Every January, it's the same old thing. A year of excess culminates in an orgy of festive eating and drinking. There's only one word for it: Blubber....
December 2003
Exeter, Devon December 12, 2003 It was with the greatest pleasure that Kim and I visited Meriel, Caro and Mervyn at the FORCE Cancer Charity this morning to handover a cheque for£10,500, the proceeds from the Nello Century Cycle Challenge 2003. While there we had the chance to visit the site of the FORCE Cancer Support Centre.
November 2003
Topsham, Devon November 2, 2003 Duck dinners on birthdays seem to have become something of a family tradition here. Which is absolutely fine by me. So for Guy's birthday today we enjoyed pan roasted duck breast with, um, well, with Cherry Garcia sauce.
August 2003
Paris, France August 18-22, 2003 On my most recent cycling adventure, Paris-Brest-Paris, I was able to experience at first hand (sometimes most painfully) the relation between energy consumption and performance. Food as fuel, in other words.
July 2003
Topsham, Devon July 10, 2003 Imagine our surprise and astonishment when we discover in our boat, yes, eight, count 'em eight duck eggs!
June 2003
Topsham, Devon June 29th, 2003 It's hard to believe another year has gone by and it's time already for the 4th Nello Century Cycle Challenge. Read a report of the day, and enjoy the mouthwatering menu for the now famous Nello Pasta Feast.
May 2003

Dartmouth, Devon May 30th, 2003 A near perfect day, down the coast to Dartmouth for lunch, purchase some freshly picked crab, and on the return passage Kim catches ten mackerel...

Topsham, Devon May 2nd, 2003 Has the foodie culture that we as food writers have helped to create become something of a rod for our own backs?

November 2002
Topsham, Devon November 15th, 2002 Can you be ‘born again’ if you were never there in the first place? Yet I’ve seen the light and like all that have travelled this road before me, I’ve got to spread the word, share it with you, go tell it from the mountain. I have — simply to say the words gives me a tingle of untold pleasure, knowing the incredulity with which some of you may greet this — I have discovered the wonder and mystery of…. Brussels sprouts.
September 2002
Staverton, Devon September 10th, 2002 We were extremely sorry when our local organic farm shop, Highfield, closed earlier this year. However, we have now found a more than adequate replacement through the Riverford Organic Farm vegetable box scheme which supplies us with a weekly box of delicious, locally grown organic vegetables.
July 2002

Topsham July 21st, 2002 Not for the first time, I find myself in something of a personal crisis, having a 'bad foam' day...

Topsham July 12th, 2002 Out to sea on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we catch a red gurnard...

Topsham July 7th, 2002 This, the 3rd Nello Century Cycle Challenge, proved to be a real challenge for cyclists who tackled three different routes: the now classic 100 mile pedal, a new and testing 55 mile journey through deepest Devon, and a tough mini Tour de France Mountain Stage for the children. It was the sort of event that worked up prodigious appetites, which were by all accounts well satisfied at our evening 'Picnic in the Park'. Many cyclists, friends and families brought their own splendid picnics and enjoyed the special atmosphere which is "The Nello", while others enjoyed this year's Nello Pasta Feast.

April 2002
It is often said that Britain and America are two countries divided by a common language. It can certainly be true when it comes to the language of food. Some foods, let’s face it, just don’t translate. Take meatloaf, one of my alltime favorites.
January 2002
Topsham, Devon, January 2002 Oh dear. I've been in something of a personal crisis since the holidays (and I bet I'm not the only one). Up until Christmas Day, everything was fine and in check, weight-wise. But the scales never lie, do they? So here's my Ode to Fat.
December 2001
Topsham, Devon, December 2001 It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving, and almost without thinking, I find myself reaching up on my bookshelf for my mother’s ancient and well-worn copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. This book brings back so many memories, and makes me reflect on the nature of food, memory and food writing.
September 2001
Mother Ivy's Bay, Cornwall, September 9, 2001 Eking out the last of summer while camping at Mother Ivy's allows me to reflect on one of the simplest and most delicious foods of all time, the perfect bacon buttie.
August 2001
Guia, near Armacao da Pera, August 21, 2001 Piri piri chicken is a classic food of Portugal's Algarve, something that we invaiably enjoy whenever we visit this popular region. But of course, there is piri piri and there is piri piri. Here I share my thoughts on this intriguing, delicious and sometimes dangerous condiment.
July 2001
Topsham, Devon July 1, 2001 Over 150 cyclists take part in this year's 2nd Nello Century Cycle Challenge and afterwards get together in true Nello style and spirit for a pasta feast at the Topsham Rugby Ground. Read about it and start training for next year's ride and feast!
April 2001
Topsham, Devon April 4, 2001 A discussion with GFW food writing colleagues brought me consider how traditional foods evolve down the generations. So, on the occasion of a last cycle ride and 'boy's'g night with John Brandon before his impending move to New Zealand, I thought I'd rustle up my version of bulgogi — Korean barbecue — Topsham style. And would you believe it, Brandon still won't divulge the real recipe for his bread and butter pudding...
March 2001
Topsham, Devon March 14, 2001 As Britain finds itself in the midst of another grave agricultural crisis, we report on the Foot and Mouth situation in Devon and dream of walks across Dartmoor or along the Devon Coastal footpath, afterwards retiring home to enjoy a slow cooked feast of foil-roasted Exmoor lamb.
January 2001
Grasmere, The Lake District January 1, 2001 An escape from damper climes to the lofty, snowy heights of the gorgeous Lake District, and the opportunity to enjoy some exhilarating fell walks and simple, hearty foods, such as Bar Woodall's Waberthwaite Cumberland sausage with onion, beer and Bisto gravy.
November 2000
Topsham, Devon November 20th, 2000 Just days before Thanksgiving and we find ourselves with a major crisis on our hands: no tinned pumpkin to be had anywhere in Exeter or surrounds...
October 2000
Bologna, Italy October 24th, 2000 The 1st Slow Food Award for the defence of biodiversity took place in Bologna and for we 550 international jury members, who had gathered from 82 countries representing 5 continents, it was a privilege to be part of this remarkable and inspirational event.
August 2000

Silves, The Algarve, Portugal August 21st, 2000 Patience is required when you visit the Marisqueira Rui in Silves, especially in summer. For, though located inland about 10 km from the coast, this is one of the most popular shellfish restaurants in the Algarve. The wait, believe us, is well worth it.

Brixham, Devon August 7, 2000 A rare chance this summer to get away on the boat with a passage to Brixham. Along the way we fish for mackerel, one of the most delicious and undervalued fish in the world.

July 2000

Solomon Islands and Topsham, Devon July 22, 2000 A remarkable and extraordinary evening sharing food, music, and friendship with Melanesian monks from the Solomon Islands in the Leger's garden. Mrs. Kate Pwaisiho, wife of Bishop Willy of Melanesia, also shares with us her recipe for Solomon Islands Soup.

Topsham, Devon July 2, 2000 The 1st Nello Memorial Century Cycle Challenge, a 100 mile cycle over the roof of Exmoor and back, took place in memory and honour of a great friend. In fitting style, it was as much about physical challenges, cycling and the shared camaraderie of the road (see 'official' ride report), as it was about food and wine. Some 86 cyclists took part and in the evening over 200 of us gathered together on the Topsham Recreation Ground to enjoy an unforgettable Pasta Feast in true Nello style. I hope the menu whets your appetite and encourages you to take part next year!

January 2000

Exeter, Devon January 28, 2000 On Thursday nights in the winter, the Sunset Cricket Club transforms into a disparate and sometimes desparate group that only half tongue-in-cheek calls itself ‘The Dangerous Sports Club’. Each week it is the turn of one of the members to devise a suitable activity, entertaining, enlightening, edifying, dangerous, or otherwise, which always ends, inevitably, in a pub. But nothing could have prepared us for last night’s event, possibly the most dangerous and challenging ever devised: Bingo!

Topsham, Devon 21 January 2000 There are many things in the world that I’ve never tasted or had a chance to experience, and there are many things that I am not that fussed if I never try in my life. But I have never had the opportunity to experience real sturgeon caviar, and given that this is considered one of the great delicacies of the world, the occasion of some friends’ birthdays seemed a suitable time to rectify this omission with a caviar tasting.

December 1999
Topsham, Devon December 31, 1999 This year New Year's Eve celebrations were tinged with great sadness and it was mainly a private affair spent together with close friends. Food and wine, as always, provided some considerable consolation, however, which is as absent friends would have wished. For the record, here's a glimpse at what we enjoyed on the night: Our New Year's Eve Millennium Menu.
November 1999
Topsham, Devon November 23, 1999 Ciao, Nello. A farewell and an appreciation to a great friend and a great chef.
October 1999
Venice, Italy October 25, 1999 It occurs to us: Why not use that slightly sweet, dense, deeply coloured torbolino made from Cabernet grapes — that wine which is not yet wine — to make a risotto with the bitter, tenacious radicchio di Castelfranco Veneto? A marriage of sweet and bitter, transformed through our elbow efforts (and a liberal dose of parmigiano reggiano, a hefty nugget of good sweet butter) into a sublimely simple and typical Venetian repast...
September 1999
Topsham, Devon September 17, 1999 What a glorious September it is turning out to be. This is definitely my favourite time of the year: the morning rains we've had in the past few days have given way to warm, lingering autumn sunshine and the sort of weather that, elsewhere, ripens grapes and adds an intoxicating anticipation to the harvest time to come. We visit to Highfield Farm Shop just down the road and discover that we're in the midst of a most fortunate glut of red peppers, sun-ripened, sweet and densely flavoured, not insipidly crunchy like the picture-perfect Dutch red peppers found in most supermarkets, but more like the knobbly red peppers you get at this time of year in the South of France, Italy or Spain. It gives me an idea...
May 1999
Topsham, Devon May 17, 1999 A life and death drama of nature is taking place literally outside our kitchen window before our very eyes. Some two and a half weeks ago, a pair of mute swans nested in the marsh grass of the Exe estuary, just two or three metres from our house wall between us and Topsham town quay. The female has laid seven enormous eggs, and not surprisingly, she and her consort are very proud of them. But the struggle to survive the high spring tides is a very real and ongoing one. By sheer coincidence, during this same time, the Guild of Food Writers e-mail discussion list has initiated an exchange of correspondence on eggs, which has left me feeling rather ambivalent if not a little queasy...
February 1999
February 11, 1999 A gastro-philosophical question: Does the fact that a taste is forbidden or illicit make it all the more appealing? I pondered this question today when, after dropping Bella off at school, I strolled past our butcher's shop and spotted a sight I had not seen in some considerable months: neat bundles of ox-tail tied together with string, proudly on display in the front window.
January 1999
January 4, 1999 A modest resolution for the New Year: to eat more pulses. After the windiest (hah!) and rainiest, most miserable in fact, holiday season that I can remember we seem to be craving the comfort that such satisfying and filling foods can bring, such as this delicious southern Italian inspired paste e ceci, pasta and chickpeas with spicy Italian sausage.
December 1998
December 17, 1998 "I'm afraid," wrote my brother David in a Thanksgiving post-mortem e-mail last month, "that I am forced to the conclusion that there are some poor souls in the world for whom stuffing is just not that big a deal." Hard to believe, actually: certainly in our family, it has always taken pride of place, the turkey (or lately sometimes goose) being a mere adjunct, or side condiment, to the far more serious main element, the stuffing.
November 1998
Cowley, Exeter November 22, 1998 "When are we coming to you again for tea?," Bella asked Anna, inviting herself -- and us -- with her usual six-year-old forthrightness to one of Anna's spendid farmhouse teas. Tea for us is an unusual meal that we rarely encounter these days, so it's a treat that we look forward to as much as the children.
October 1998

Topsham, Devon and Burgundy, France, October 26, 1998 As we look forward to Bonfire Night, a celebration not so much of Guy Fawkes but rather of pagan winter rituals, we look beyond to the bleaker prospect of days drawing in ever shorter and shorter and to limited opportunities for decent afternoon cycling. Fall-into-winter, though, it must be said, may have other compensations. Not least the chance to enjoy again simple, classic comfort foods that are at once as easy to prepare as they are satisfying to consume. Burgundian coq au vin remains one of our all-time favourites. We hope you'll enjoy this version, based on a recipe from our first book, The Wine & Food of Europe.

Topsham, Devon and Alicudi, Sicily October 20, 1998 Is summer really over? I guess so since the clocks go back this weekend, officially signalling the end of BST (British Summer Time) and the onset of days that shrink to pitiful brevity (by December it is sometimes dark here by 4 pm). But in fact, we've actually enjoyed some of the best weather of the year in recent days and weeks. So why don't we kid ourselves for a few days longer at least by preparing this classic and delicious summer Italian favourite, spaghetti al limone, the scent of lemon like a breath of warm wind carried to us by Aeolus, god of winds.

Topsham, Devon, October 15th, 1998 A number of friends have asked me for the recipe for the salt duck which I made for the Addio -- it is one of those dishes that is actually embarrassingly simple yet stunningly delicious. I urge you to try it!

September 1998
Topsham, Devon, September 13th, 1998 Two weeks before Nello and Karen's wedding, the boys and I help Nello celebrate his Addio al Celibato, farewell to, er, celibacy, with an outrageous meal to remember, cooked by all fifteen of us! The evening kicked off with a poem unearthed for the occasion and suitably apt for Nello, written by ex-Abbot Gadso (or Gadzo) da Vicenza in the 16th century.
July 1998

Cornwall, July 26-28, 1998 The rain has finally let up, for a brief spell anyway, and not a moment too soon for the start of our Annual Tandem Mystery tour, this year first to the Cornish north coast at Boscastle, then down to Fowey and across to Looe. Leaving a day earlier than planned (to escape the forecast rains), we enjoy a tough and testing cycle across Dartmoor, then arrive home famished to find the cupboard bare, or nearly so: not to worry, just enough to throw together our favourite "stone dinner" of Venetian style spaghetti al tonno -- spaghetti with white wine, tuna and capers.

Topsham, Devon July 22, 1998 July, in spite of continuing miserable weather in what has been one of the worst summers in memory, has been an active and exciting month. Lots of party and picnic food, too, like these simple but delicious corn fritters, best served piping hot off the griddle with a Korean inspired soya, vinegar and cilantro dipping sauce.

Knowle, West Midlands and Isola della Scala, near Verona July 15, 1998 My mother-in-law Jean brought us a big bag of peas, just picked this morning from her garden in the Midlands. "Great," said Kim, "we'll make risi e bisi,the Venetian's (and our) favourite rice and pea risotto.This classic is exceedingly simple, but you do need to choose the best ingredients. The finest rice to use, for example, is Vialone Nano, cultivated south of Verona in the flat paddies of Isola della Scala, milled in the 16th century water-powered Riseria Vecia Pila of Gabriele Ferron.

Topsham, USA July 4th, 1998 The Fourth of July is not a day that we usually make a song and dance of here in Topsham -- let's face it, the celebration is, after all, to commemorate the early American Yanks getting shot of the Brits once and for all. For our Topsham School PTA Fourth of July celebrations, I gave a flavor of the day by preparing a massive pot of that perennial favorite, Marc's famous and genuine brisket of beef, slow-cooked for hours in sweet gunk, sticky and greasy, and served in a bun.

June 1998
Gambier, Ohio, USA June 23, 1998 This June has been the wettest on record, they say (but so they seem to every year). Let's face it: at that time when Wimbledon fortnight and the Lords Text Match roll around, there is always a certain amount of precipitation in the air, and we'd be surprised if not disappointed if it were anyway else. On a brief visit to Gambier, Ohio to take part in the Kenyon Review Summer Writing program, I had the chance to stop over and see my sister Michele. We sat out in her garden on a steamy, city-hot evening and chilled out with a deliciously fresh summer meal: first, in honour of Wimbledon, an apéritif of Pimms, refreshing and packed full of fruit and sprigs of mint, then a bowl of spaghetti served with this simple, pungent raw topping, followed by steamed salmon with our favourite avodado and cilantro salsa.
May 1998

Roscoff, Brittany, France May 29, 1998 Summer half term, the kids on holiday, and our now annual cycling and camping trip to Brittany: there is nothing finer, we assert, than loading up the bikes, leaving the car behind at the Plymouth docks, and cycling on to, then six hours later, off of the ferry in Northern France, totally self-contained, with little fixed plans, the world literally our oyster. This year my sister Michele flew over from Cambridge, MA to join us. On returning five days later to an unseasonably cold, windy Devon, she prepared for us her famous black bean soup, incredibly tasty and satisfying after days lived outdoors, carrying heavy weights up the short, sharp, sometimes savage hills of Brittany ("I'm no weight, I'm your daughter," I hear five-year-old Bella protest).

Topsham, Devon May 20, 1998 Enjoying the glorious early summer weather in Topsham, we've found time lately to get out on the river in our dinghy, to cycle to Dartmoor's fabulous Hound Tor by way of Moretonhampstead and back through the gorgeous Teign Valley, and to enjoy simply prepared, fresh foods outdoors in our river garden on windless, warm evenings such as these delicious local griddle-seared scallops with tomato, avocado and cilantro salsa.

Topsham, Devon May 9, 1998 Our Italian friend Paola cycled over to visit us this weekend, and she brought her paiolo with her in a knapsack, together with some almonds, sugar and a few lemons. "We'll make torrone croccante," she told Guy and Bella, "You can help me." Thus after dinner, enjoyed for the first time this year outside in the garden, Paola set them to work...

April 1998
Paris, France and Exmoor, Devon April 27, 1998 Where has April gone? The start of the month saw us preparing for Paris and Kim's epic completion of her first marathon on Sunday the 4th. It finishes on top of the world -- or at least on the roof of Exmoor -- and the now classic annual century cycle "The North Devon Horseshow". Read all about our exertions and enjoy our post-cycle feast: Marc's pollo alla cacciatora.
March 1998

Paris, France, March 23, 1998 Well, not quite Paris just yet, but the coundown for Kim's first marathon, which takes place in the French capital on Sunday April 5th, is definitely on. Kim's training has gone well, and in the last few weeks, she's completed three long 20-mile-plus runs, and so feels as prepared as she can be for the big day. Not much we can do at this point except encourage her and keep her well fed in anticipation of the day. Fortunately, we are all pasta lovers, so carbo loading is not a hardship for any of us! Here are a couple of favourites pasta recipes -- maccheroni coi ceci and orecchiette with broccoli -- which I enjoyed myself enjoyed at about the same time last year in preparation for my cycle from Topsham to Venice.

Chinatown, Topsham, March 2, 1998 Ever since I was a boy, growing up in the Bay Area, roast duck has always been my favourite birthday feast. In those days, it involved a journey over the Bay Bridge from Berkeley to SF to visit to Chinatown, an exotic adventure in itself for a small boy.
I still like nothing better than roast duck on my birthday, and so now does Guy. It stands to reason, therefore, that by default so should Kim, especially when Guy and I are cooking dinner for her birthday. There is not, sadly, an equivalent to San Francisco Chinatown here in Exeter, and anyway, it's more fun to make our own version of authentic Peking duck ourselves!

February 1998

Topsham, Devon February 24, 1998 Shrove Tuesday, or "pancake day" and the kids are excited! "Can we have savoury pancakes as well as sweet for tea?" Guy asks this morning. Of course. We'll have some Breton galettes de sarrasin or buckwheat pancakes.

Topsham, Devon February 10, 1998 "When travelling through France," writes Kim, "we can never resist stopping at the little local pâtisseries and gazing at all the beautiful fruit filled tarts in the windows. The classic galette de pommes is one of Guy and Bella's favourites. It really is very simple to make and always looks absolutely stunning. I warn you though, there will be no leftovers!"

January 1998

Chagford, Devon January 14, 1998 Winter in Devon is not without its compensations. At this time of year, for example,the Financial Times launches its annual "Lunch for a Tenner" scheme, which provided us yesterday with the opportunity to revisit one of our favourite restaurants, Gidleigh Park, a country house hotel and restaurant set in its beautiful grounds and gardens on the edge of Dartmoor which boasts one of the finest restaurants in the country. It was a chance too to see again our friend Michael Caines, Gidleigh's young and prodigiously talented chef. We were fortunate indeed last year when Michael was the guest chef for us at Nello's Ristorante for one of our Ride for Life gastronomic fundraising evenings in aid of cancer research and I'm delighted to reproduce here again his recipe for a delicious French classic, boeuf bourguignonne prepared in Michael's inimitable style.

Armaçao da Pera, Portugal January 1, 1998 Happy New Year from the Algarve! We've got plenty of favourite places to eat , but to our way of thinking, nothing beats Serol, a wholly local and unadorned restaurant on the seafront of Armaçao, the colourful fishing boats winched up the long beach in front.Try our version of the outstanding Algarve specialty, amêijoas na cataplana, clams cooked Algarve style in the cataplana, a dome-shaped primitive copper pressure cooker, for a real taste of Portugal. But watch out for the piri piri chillies.

December 1997

Brixham, Devon 30 December 1997 How I love fish from the cold waters of our English Channel and Atlantic, netted by local trawlers and landed at fishing ports such as Exmouth or nearby Brixham. Indeed, it is easy to undervalue such plentiful and still relatively inexpensive white fish such as cod and hake, but when really fresh, the firm fillets can be as sweet and as sea fresh as anything you've ever tasted. One of the simplest and most delicious ways of preparing the latter is the Basque classic merluza en salsa verde, hake in green sauce.

Comeana, Tuscany 21 December 1997 Kim made panforte, the exquisitely simple Sienese speciality, the other night to enjoy with friends (together with one of our few remaining bottles of Vin Santo di Calavria) in front of the fire, and the aroma of spices and honey and roasted nuts immediately transported us back in time and place to happy memories with friends. The recipe comes from our first book, The Wine and Food of Europe.

Topsham, Devon 8 December 1997 Just as we had all begun to think that it was safe to eat beef again, this week's government ban on the sale of beef on the bone has made us all think again. For the record, and at the time of writing, we still are eating beef occasionally and will continue to do so not least because we continue to have faith in our excellent local butchers. Indeed, the cold weather makes this beef braised in Belgium beer a warming classic.

New Malden, London 3 December 1997 An invitation to take part in a discussion over lunch on Korean food for the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme with Derek Cooper yesterday provides me with an opportunity to share a recipe for bulgogi or Korean barbequed beef, one of my all time favourite foods. If you are interested in learning more about Korean foods, please check out our Flavours of Korea based on our book of the same name.

November 1997

Topsham, Devon 20 November 1997 Salmon, it seems, once an occasional luxury, is now so prevalent due to farming methods that it has become almost an everyday staple. We regularly enjoy salmon steaks and fillets for a tasty and relatively inexpensive mid-week treat, as in this recipe for char-grilled salmon with avocado, prawn and cilantro salsa.

Four Oaks, West Midlands 17 November 1997 In honour of Kim's Auntie Dinny's 70th birthday, the entire Jordan family -- all eighty-one of us! -- gathered yesterday for Sunday lunch at Casa Tino's, David Jordan's superb and popular bistro-style restaurant in Mere Green where Chef Richard Turner, who oversees both Casa Tino's as well as Loyds in Knowle, prepared a simple but stylish meal which was enjoyed by all. I hope to post his recipes from yesterday's gathering here in due course, but in the meantime, here's one of his recipes for a favorite classic, minestrone soup with pesto.

Clyst St George, Devon 10 November 1997 It's apple time in Devon! If you have never tasted real Devon "scrumpy", then you haven't lived. The real stuff, produced from mixtures of local bittersharp and bittersweet cider apples, is gloriously harsh and rasping, rich in acid and tannin and definitely something of an acquired taste. We love it, er, no, not actually to drink but to cook with in place of wine, its character adding an unmistakable "taste of Devon", as in this delicious pork and apples in cider.

October 1997

Acapulco, Mexico 27 October 1997 No, unfortunately we haven't just nipped over to Acapulco for the weekend (though now that the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in so quickly we would sorely love to). This week's recipe for ceviche, however, comes from that crazy, wild Mexican resort (well, Mexican-ish) on the Pacific seaboard. We made it for our friends, Debbie and Steve, who have just returned to Devon after a year in Southern Californian and who are perhaps feeling just a tad homesick for the vivid colors and flavors of the West Coast.

Topsham, Devon 20 October 1997 Earlier this summer, we enjoyed a bread workshop at Quay Cottage with our friends Anna Evans of Real Cakes and Andrew Crump, an old mate and accomplished professional baker who works at Bread Works in Charlottesville, Virginia. We (and the kids) enjoyed a whole day of kneading and knocking back and made a selection of really fine and unusual breads. We will pass on some of Anna's recipes and breadmaking tips in due course, but in the meantime, by popular demand, here is the delightful recipe for Anna's Rye and Wholewheat Bread which we enjoyed with last week's lentil soup.

Topsham, Devon 12 October 1997 A sudden cold front that has brought fresh northerly winds following the mild Indian summer we enjoyed throughout September has meant that we've started having log fires in the evenings now. We've also begun turning our thoughts to warming foods which taste so good after outdoor activities in the cold. This weekend, the tides were just right for some end of season sailing on the River Exe, and we returned exhilarated and glowing as well as hungry for this filling favourite, a thick, bowl of piping hot lentil soup enjoyed with Anna Evan's homemade bread.

Montescudaio, Tuscany 7 October 1997 An invitation to attend the Sagra del Vino in Montescudaio, a medieval wine town off the Tuscan seaboard below Pisa, gave me the most welcome opportunity to escape into the wine country to discover some astonishing and high quality wines as well as to enjoy simple Tuscan foods, such as the classic La Ribollita, a hearty vegetable and bread soup.

September 1997

Topsham, Devon 16 September 1997 Walking back from the Post Office, a blackboard outside the Galley Seafood Restaurant beckoned me in: "Live diver's scallops 6 dozen". What a treat for a Monday meal: Seared scallops with mâche and cilantro salad.

Topsham, Devon 15 September 1997 A sudden early-autumn glut of local, organically grown courgettes (zucchini) provides us with a chance to feast on this simplest of pasta dishes -- spaghetti topped with courgettes fried in olive oil and garlic.Spaghetti coi zucchini

Topsham, Devon 2 September 1997 An elegant and delicious seafood ragout for our 19th wedding anniversary: Trio of Fish in a Rich Red Wine Sauce

Mother Ivey's Bay, Cornwall 29 August 1997 Trying to eke out the last days of a glorious summer, we head to North Cornwall, well prepared in case on unseasonal weather with a delicious Daube de Boeuf Provençal.

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