A visit to Olives in Funchal, Madeira

In the land where ‘scabbard fish and banana’ is the repeated offer along streets full of eateries, discovering this partially veggie place was like the restaurant equivalent of spotting a sandy beach among the volcanic shingle.
The building is easy enough to spot, a stunning piece of deco architecture rising from a busy intersection, with Olives sitting on the 3rd floor. Through the shopping centre, past the gym, it’s not exactly an obvious stop off for walk-in trade, but well worth making the diversion.
The small terrace has just a few tables with a fragrant balcony border which doubles as the kitchen’s scenic herb garden.


Choices

There’s a veggie/vegan menu and then there’s a meat/fish/general menu. Or mix and match.

Ahead of the meal we were given warm local bread with a choice of three butters – basil, black olive or plain.
Although it might seem odd to have soup in a hot clime, the pumpkin soup with cheese and walnut was the perfect starter with the slightly gloopy fresh cheese countering the sweetness of the gourd.

For mains I went for the fresh spinach and cheese ravioli in sauce which was full of flavour while he went for the sea bream with poppy seed. Beautifully cooked and with a delicate taste. Served by the chef we enquired about the unusual potato structures standing tall on the plate – ‘Stonehenge’ he informed us with a laugh, ‘I was inspired by Stonehenge to create this.’

Ok, maybe Druid influenced potato erections are slightly out of the ordinary, but so is this place and we both loved it.

A great value for money place taking into account the care and attention to the menu, the service, the standard of cooking and the relaxed style.

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Recipe: Turkey a la king

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Whatever to do with that leftover turkey? This recipe is something tried and tested and is ideal with plain boiled brown rice if you’ve over-indulged. Although I can’t claim any medicinal basis for my observation, I believe it’s a help for what the French call ‘crisis of the liver’ which seems to be widespread at this time of year (aka. hangover!) and can give you a lift of you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

Get the recipe at Farmer’s choice here.

Gallery: Your Valentine’s food photo pictures

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Cooking with love! This gallery shows some of the first pictures in on the Farmers Choice Valentine’s food photo challenge. Hearts are the order of the day it would seem – and who knew chocolate pizza was the food of romance.

What did you cook up for your loved one – or perhaps you went out for that special meal?

Whatever you did to mark the day, there’s still time to share. If you’d like to join in, here’s how.

You can add a picture by using Twitter, Instagram or Flickr – all you need to do is add the #farmerschoice hashtag, leave your location enabled in the app you use and your picture will arrive at this dedicated area here: http://www.valentine.n0tice.com

If you’d rather upload direct from your phone or camera you can still join in. You’ll need to be registered at http://www.n0tice.com and the simply navigate to http://www.valentine.n0tice.com, click to add a new post and upload your image after filling in the brief details about its location.

The pictures will all appear on the noticeboard and a selection will be featured in this picture gallery too – all clearly attributed to yourself.

We’ll leave it running until midday Sunday to give you time to pick the best slot and then the winner of the essential family pack of free range meat (or a same value alternative from the veg or fish range if meat’s not your thing) from free range specialists Farmer’s Choice will be announced on Monday.

The reward from Farmer’s Choice is worth more then £75 and includes cuts such as rump steak, silverside parcel and pork loin parcel; diced meats of lamb, beef, turkey breast, and pork; and not forgetting chicken, mince and sausages. If you haven’t come across Farmer’s Choice before, it is a small, friendly butcher business, dedicated to delivering top quality free-range meat direct to customers in the UK. Check them out at the website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram.

Join the Valentine’s Photo Challenge for a chance of free range goodies

valentines
Filet, stuffed swordfish, roasted potatoes, green beans and a tomato salsa by Kristie Wells on Flickr.
What will you be cooking up for your loved one? Steak maybe? Cooked just as your loved one has it, or will it be fish or a veggie delight? Maybe you’ll be venturing out to a favourite restaurant instead?

Whatever you’re doing this Valentine, you’re invited to share a picture and be part of the Valentine’s Photo Challenge – it could even win you a selection of free range meat from Farmer’s Choice.

The idea of the challenge is simple – everyone loves snapping and sharing their food pictures – just tag it with #FarmersChoice and you’re a part of it!

The mission is simple but how to choose to interpret it is down to you – a simple snap of that lovingly prepared food, the restaurant’s table settings or something more artistic? That’s up to you.

You can add a picture by using Twitter, Instagram or Flickr – all you need to do is add the #farmerschoice hashtag, leave your location enabled in the app you use and your picture will arrive at this dedicated area here: http://www.valentine.n0tice.com

If you’d rather upload direct from your phone or camera you can still join in. You’ll need to be registered at http://www.n0tice.com and the simply navigate to http://www.valentine.n0tice.com, click to add a new post and upload your image after filling in the brief details about its location.

The pictures will all appear on the noticeboard and a selection will be featured in a picture gallery on this blog too – all clearly attributed to yourself.

We’ll leave it running until midday Sunday to give you time to pick the best slot and then the winner of the essential family pack of free range meat (or a same value alternative from the veg or fish range if meat’s not your thing) from free range specialists Farmer’s Choice will be announced on Monday.

The reward from Farmer’s Choice is worth more then £75 and includes cuts such as rump steak, silverside parcel and pork loin parcel; diced meats of lamb, beef, turkey breast, and pork; and not forgetting chicken, mince and sausages. If you haven’t come across Farmer’s Choice before, it is a small, friendly butcher business, dedicated to delivering top quality free-range meat direct to customers in the UK. Check them out at the website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram.

Week one of the allotment: Paperwork and a dilemma

allotmentThis is it. A narrow of strip of newly ploughed field that now has my name on it. This view is from its end looking over towards to immaculately kept and long-established allotments which neighbour this little patch of virgin earth in the rather unpleasantly named Coffin Field. (I have been assured that, despite its relatively near promixity to the cemetery, the name comes from the field’s unusual shape rather than any earlier plantings.)

This being week one, the main achievement has been signing the tenancy agreement and handing over the first year’s rent – £10. In the paperless age, you may think this a task of minutes but no, it required a visit to the town hall, hand written forms and the issuing of a receipt along with a witnessed three page contract. They don’t just hand these things out like sweeties you know!

As you can see, there’s rather a lot of work to be done. On the right of the picture the neighbouring allotment holder has marked out the border between us so today, armed with some twine and some rather flimsy stakes I did similarly – and discovered that keeping straight lines with pieces of string is a skill I’ve never had the need to master before.

I also went up to my local garden centre and, now have a bag of seed potatoes just itching to get grown, and started investigating costs for a wooden edgings for beds. The need to portion off little, manageable bits of plot has also thrown up the first dilemma of allotment etiquette.

In a piece of the field which appears to be no-man’s land ie. no little stake to mark out a plot, there’s a small number of tatty planks, sort of sleeper size – ideal in fact for edging a bed. Are they unwanted? Can I just help myself? When I had an allotment in Fallowfield some years ago, planks like that were like golddust and there, all manner of oddities – from bits of roadworks to street signs – become veg patch edgings but I don’t know how it works here so atm, they remain in the mud for another day.

So far I’ve seen a couple of fellow newbies starting work – and it all looks pretty serious. From the chap with the tractor and trailer delivering a storage container to the fellows with a 4X4 and a trailer full of manure, they all look like they know their onions. And leeks of course.

After a flurry of hail saw me off the plot this afternoon, I’m returning to my current reading of Paul Waddington’s 21st Century Smallholder and Caroline Foley’s Practical Allotment Gardening around doing some online research of a suitable shed or container so that I can get started proper – one which falls within the permitted 6 x 4 space allowed for structures of course.

Leeds Loves Food launch

Foodies gathered at this morning's launch event

Full post to come on this at a later point, but for now a very quick update from this morning’s food lovers’ festival launch. This year’s Leeds Loves Food event will be held between July 1-4 and for the first time will step outside of the city centre.

Headingley, Chapel Allerton and Leeds Urban Village will be included in the festivities which aim to showcase and celebrate the Leeds food scene.

I’ll update this blog with more. Soon………..

links for 2009-12-20

links for 2009-12-18

  • You too can help in this endeavour by buying the book and/or spreading the word about it. There is so much of poverty in the world and whilst this book will not resolve every problem, the money raised is a tiny step forward towards our underprivileged fellow beings’ welfare. One day, who knows, those tiny steps will become giant leaps one day. So please help in this endeavour and promote the book in any way you can. And I emphasise once again that 100% of the proceeds from this book will go towards the World Food Program (the United Nations frontline agency) called School Meals.