Gallery: A whirlwind food trip in Cannes and Montecarlo

There’s the holiday over then. Rather than attempt to review places which many blog readers here are unlikely to visit I kept a short picture diary of places visited and food served up.

To see the locations and further details of any of the dishes just click on the image and the posting I made to my noticeboard while out and about in Cannes and MonteCarlo will open up.

Hope you enjoy – it’s made me hungry putting it together!

Vermillion bosses launch charity seafood cookbook

The Seamark business is well known in Manchester for both its headquarters in the east of the city as well as for being responsible for probably its most expensively built and designed restaurant – Vermillion.

Now the global business is taking both the story of its success and the recipes which grace the plates of the restaurant to new audiences with a book that’s just been published to raise money for charity.

Called ‘Seamark bringing fruits of the ocean to your plate‘ the 150 page book is a mixture of business history and cookbook with enough food photography to make it a coffee table read.

The early pages detail the Ahmed brother’s ‘story of determination’ in building a business which is today a £150m operation.

“In 1984, with a £100,000 credit facility, the brothers set about capitalising on Britain’s growing taste for seafood and began importing prawns from their home nation of Bangladesh.”

Then we move onto recipes from Vermillion which starts with a useful glossary of spices and herbs used in Thai cooking. There’s easy to follow instructions on dishes which many people will already be familiar with eating such as as tempura prawns, salt and pepper squid or salmon tikka.

But there’s some more unusual dishes too including several pages on spicy salads and a black prawn curry recipe from a Thailand’s northern jungles where coconut milk isn’t used.

Some of the ingredients might be tricky to source outside major cities but largely they include items such as oyster sauce and Kaffir leaves which are easily found in supermarkets or online.

I’m looking forward to trying out the Nile perch with Thai pepper sauce which uses green peppercorns and includes instructions for a butter rice accompaniment.

* The book costs £9.95 with all proceeds going to the Iqbal Ahmed Foundation which was set up to help people in developing countries through education, training, housing and healthcare. At present it can be purchased from the website and should be in the Amazon store in coming weeks.

Taste of summer range from Abel and Cole


“I don’t care what the weather man says….and the weatherman says it’s raining!” Isn’t that what the song they play at the end of the television weather forecast says?

Yeah right!

Who doesn’t care what the weather’s like – well people were the weather can be guaranteed, day after day that’s who.


So while the brief showing of the sun over the Bank Holiday fades into the distance (and half the city’s population head to Rome for reasons of football), so does any hope of one of those most English of pastimes – the picnic.

Oh for the family picnic!

Squashed sandwiches which unexpectedly incorporate tomato along with grass, weird angry wasps, warm pop (0r lashings of ginger beer of course), grass stained clothing, sunburned shoulders and “whiffy egg”! Who could want for anything more.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite like that. Opening up a delivery from Abel and Cole’s Summer Range yesterday gave me different view of what picnic could mean. OK there’s no outdoors in this version but what the heck – lay out a summery tablecloth and make believe there’s good weather abound.


The range includes plenty of Mediterranean favourites, ready to go. A black olive houmous (£2.20) which was so thick it was almost a mash – most definitely not of the runny dip variety – with a deep olive flavour enhanced with a good helping of black pepper, scooped up onto chunky, crunchy sesame breadsticks (£1.89).

Then there’s the hams – salty pancetta (£2.99), sweet prosciutto (£4.59)  – and the taleggio cheese (£4.95).

According to my Italian Food dictionary (Gillian Riley, 2008) this cheese is often matured in caves “wafted by draughts of cold humid air”. Whether this particular variety had been treated in this way I know not – wrapped like butter, it certainly had the freshness of the mountains and was perfect with good ripe sweet toms.

Eat your heart out Famous Five travels to Roma style.

But this being an indoor picnic meant that some cooking could occur so the centrepiece became a crab salad with this season’s Jersey Royals daubed in Danish butter.crab

The handpicked white Cornish crab from Seafood & Eat it (£4.99) comes with recipe ideas (chili crab linguine, crab rosti for instance) which sound great in their own way but the freshness of this white meat couldn’t be bettered than served simply with a nice crisp white wine – from Italy, of course.

Now that’s what you call a picnic! Oh, and yes, there was even cricket.

* The goods from the Abel & Cole Summer Range were provided free of charge for review purposes.