Competition winner!

Janilizi is the winner of the two tickets to Lille – well done! I’ll put you and the Eurostar people in touch today.

I am, as you may have noticed, back from America considerably later than was expected; a friend we were with ended up in hospital for a week, so we stayed with him until he was able to travel back to the UK. Business as usual resumes tomorrow (and I’ll get Twitter going again today) – and I’ve plenty of food to tell you all about! I intend on spending the rest of today staring fixedly ahead in pyjamas.

Win a little break for two to Lille!

I’m still on an official blog holiday, but I’ve a couple of really great prizes to give away this week. For today’s competition, Eurostar have stumped up two tickets to Lille (you might remember reading about the little break I took there with a bunch of other food bloggers last month) for one reader.

If you want to win the tickets, just leave a comment below, explaining how a little break would make a big difference to you – the guys at Eurostar will shortlist five of the funniest or most interesting entries, from which I’ll choose a winner on October 1 2009. Please remember to include your email address so I can contact you if you win.

There are just a couple of conditions: you must be able to make your own way to St Pancras to board the train, and the prize is available to UK entrants only, traveling from London to Lille, not Lille to London. Good luck!

Blog holiday

I’m away until October, gallivanting around Las Vegas and Phoenix in search of the perfect meal. I plan on blogging a very little (if at all), and I’ll be on Twitter a minimal amount too. I’ll be picking up emails as usual (and a friend is staying in our house while we’re away, so burglars beware).

What else? I have to thank the guys at Charlie Bigham’s, who sent me a week’s worth of ready meals which coincided very nicely with Dr W’s absence of a week (he’s starting an MBA, his existing MA and PhD not being sufficient, as far as he is concerned). I moved from sceptical to stuffed in one meal. I am not really a ready-meal person, but these are as close as I can imagine such a thing getting to a meal you’ve cooked yourself, and kept me very nicely fed for a lonely week. (I hate cooking for one. I always end up eating too much, and most of the fun for me is in having someone else to enjoy what I’ve cooked.) A hearty recommend in particular for the little 1-person pies. Now, these things are pricey – the lamb parcels in filo, which I particularly enjoyed, rocked up at £10 when I looked for them at Waitrose – but if you’re looking for something swanky to feed to last-minute visitors when you don’t have time to cook, I don’t think you’ll find much better.

I’ve also got a new camera – an Olympus Pen E-P1, which I have fallen hopelessly in love with. So far, only the peach and papaya jam post has been illustrated using it, but I’m amazed at how much better my pictures are turning out (the photos accompanying this post were all taken as I pootled around the village with it the other day). It’s exactly right for me – a four-thirds body means it’s smaller and lighter, so more portable than a DSLR, but it’ll still take interchangeable lenses; it’s a stroll in the park to use; it’s fabulous in low light (good news for restaurant photos); and look at the picture quality! I’m not a natural photographer; I have a lousy visual imagination and recall, so taking pictures for this blog is something I’ve always had to work pretty hard at. I’m absolutely thrilled at how much easier the E-P1 is making things. I am really looking forward to unleashing it on Las Vegas.

Back in early October. If there are any recipes you’d particularly like me to have a swing at on my return, please leave a comment here, and I’ll see what I can do!

Summer competitions

Just a quickie today – my buddies at Allrecipes are running a cocktail competition, where UK readers can win a professional blender and cocktail set. Get shaking!

I’ve also been emailed about a competition that readers in the US and Canada can enter – PartSelect are after pictures of domestic appliances that readers have painted with a pink ribbon. They’ll donate $25 to Breast Cancer Research for each valid entry, and the prizes are not to be sniffed at; who wouldn’t jump at the chance to own a pink Kitchenaid mixer and a whole host of other pink kitchen equipment? I suggest you use water-based paint…

Pause for thought

It’s sunny, I have an unexpectedly free week, and I find I’ve got several half-formed recipes in my head to work over. I’ve decided to take a week away from blogging to catch up on some reading and sunshine, to slap aloe vera onto my angry-looking shoulders and to think hard about red wine – I’ll be back at the end of next week.

A quiet week…

I’m away from the kitchen this week (and mostly, joy of joys, away from the computer), taking a short break in sunny Windsor. I have Malaysian noodle restaurants and Joel Robuchon to investigate in London, Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray to visit on Thursday, and I’m on a quest to find any non-chain restaurants here in Windsor itself. Updates will be brief and even more sporadic than usual this week, but do keep tuning in; there are some interesting reviews coming up.

New blogs, a competition

Some notices today. First up, there are two new blogs in the blogroll at the left of the page. South of France Cooking is written by David, a chef working in the hotel he part-owns near Carcassonne. It’s full of recipes and tips on technique, and I’m finding it absolutely fascinating – drop in and see what you think.

Also on the new blog front, Cait and Jude in Anchorage are busying themeselves making good things like bouillabaisse, and hanging out in bakeries. Check out 907Eat, and marvel at the fact that you suddenly want to go on a culinary tour of Alaska.

Finally, my buddies over at Allrecipes are running another competition. This time, they’re inviting you to post a recipe with a photograph on their site. The writer of the best recipe will win £500. Read the rules and enter here – and good luck!


When I’m not writing about food, I write about perfume. I’m not even going to try to be humble about this one – I won a Jasmine Award (one of the beauty industry’s most prestigious gongs) yesterday for this article, and my feet absolutely haven’t touched the ground since.

I plan to spend the rest of today sitting very still and looking at my trophy.

Merry Christmas!

I’m taking a short break from blogging over Christmas. Look out for a return next week with a turkey recipe (which will be too late for this year, but you can give it a whirl in 2009) with all the trimmings; in the meantime, a very merry Christmas to all of you!