Checkout (8th edition – April 2012)

Bacon? Jam? Bacon-jam... Sounds like a bad Peter Kay sketch

Anyone for Bacon Jam?

Yep. Bacon Jam. We first heard about such a thing when Eat Like A Girl wrote about it last year, we were determined to make the recipe one day but then we were sent a jar by E17. “It started as onion jam, on our burger and topped with a rasher of really good bacon,” explains step-brother and co-director James Brundle. “Then Chris combined all the ingredients, and some extras into one jam and it was a huge hit. Customers began to ask Chris if he could jar some so they could take home – he made enough for 100 jars and put them in the shop. Within two days it had completely sold out.”

The ingredients consist of award-winning Den Hay smoked bacon, coffee, lemon juice, bourbon, fresh garlic, coffee, rosemary with no artificial flavours or ingredients. There is a lovely story behind it, the enterprising young directors of the award-winning Walthamstow Spar – and its neighbouring bistro Eat 17. Brothers Chris, and Daniel O’Connor, Chris’ partner Siobhan O’Donnell and step brother James Brundle have been praised for their achievements at the Spar in Walthamstow, which they’ve converted from a run-down off license into a foodie emporium – championing artisan produce, craft beer and creating an in-store pizzeria (run by two Sicilian brothers) and organic bakery. “We wanted to create a new kind of convenience store and introduced our restaurant brand next door into the store. Creating a pizzeria and artisanal bakery where all bread is made by hand everyday in the shop was also part of our plan.” The neighbouring bistro Eat 17 serves hearty, modern European dishes like roast duck breast, dauphinoise and red cabbage (£12.50) from self-taught chef Chris. We tried it naked on bread and it tastes just how you imagine, it was even better in a hot sausage sandwich.

Bacon Jam retails between £3.30-£3.80, is available from Selfridges, Harrods, over 180 delis, stores and farm shops country-wide, and can be purchased in packs of four jars. Click here to buy

Eat17: 28-30 Orford Road  Walthamstow, London E17 9NJ
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Full bloom... © Photograph Jeffrey Friedl

Hanami picnic at Tsuru

Hanami is the Japanese tradition of ‘flower watching’. It is in fact now synonymous with ‘Sakura’ or Cherry Blossoms and in the spring, people gather in parks to enjoy picnics and parties under the falling sakura blossom. Lovely Tsuru (who do the best Katsu curry) are celebrating Hanami with a special picnic menu of authentic Japanese food and a cherry and sake cocktail available in the evenings until April 20th 2012, 5.30-10pm.

The picnic includes: Miso soup, Cucumber and wakame salad, Sake & ginger cured salmon, Futomaki sushi, Nigiri sushi – salmon and tuna. Tempura Prawns, Scotch egg, chilli rice, Akashi Tai cherry blossom cocktail/glass of pink sparkling wine. £20 per person, Serves a minimum of two people. The scotch egg is amazing, we had been waiting to get our hands on one for ages and got through several at the preview, turns out top chef Pierre Koffmann is a Tsuru fan, he was there alongside restaurant critic Richard Vines.

Possibly the best Scotch egg that we've ever tasted!

Click here for branches and more info


A good all-rounder

Old Amsterdam cheese

Ade and his son loved this cheese – they tried on crackers, they tried it warmed in a croissant and they even tried it grated on a spag bol. And it was a winner every time, a good strong flavour but not so mature that it makes your tongue curl! It comes coated in a sleek, black wax and is an indulgent alternative to Gouda. Chris Chisnall, spokesperson for Old Amsterdam says: “Old Amsterdam is ripened to perfection and has a mouth-watering smooth, robust taste with sweet tones and a slight crunch of ripening crystals. It is the perfect addition to cheeseboards and also works well when cooked in dishes such as potato gratin, stuffed peppers, melted on warm asparagus, or with salmon or ham.”

Look out for it on cheese counters in Waitrose, Tesco, Booths and Morrisons, as well as independent delis and fine food shops across the UK. RRP approx £2.49 per 150g.


Taste the rainbow!

Spicentice up your life

Again, another little background story behind this lovely product, Spicentice was born back in 1994 when Ketan Varu was a student and his mum sent him recipes and spices to make real Indian curries that would remind him of home. Pretty soon all his friends were hooked and years later it is still very much a family business (with mum, Manjula, and dad, Ramnik.

Flavours include BBQ, Peppery, Italian, Tandoori, Ras el Hanout, Fish and Harissa and they can be combined with oil to create a marinade, sprinkled into soups, pastas and salads, mixed with breadcrumbs, the list goes on. We’ve marinated some chicken and dusted a salad… still waiting for the sun to come out to try them on the BBQ!

£3.99 each, click here to buy. They have a fab competition at the moment where you can win cooking pots, a wok, a pot, a karahi or a tagine!


You can have any colour you want as long as it's red!

Learn to make macarons with Edd Kimber

Amazing baker Edd Kimber, winner of BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off 2010 is holding his popular macaron classes at the Miele Gallery in central London, just off Oxford Street. They are actually sold out for May, but dates for June will be released soon. The classes start with a demo on how to make the perfect macarons – sharing all the tips and tricks you need to ensure success. There are plenty of nibbles, tea, coffee and soft drinks available all night, as well as a glass of bubbly. At the end of the class, you’ll get to take home your tasty creations, recipes from the evening and a goody bag including macarons made by Edd. We were lucky enough to have Edd make our wedding cake last year, it was truly amazing, a lemon chiffon cake with cake pops and macaron pops, we haven’t tasted a cake so good before or since. Read our interview with the lovely man himself here.

£75.00 for three hours. Click here for more info.
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Our wedding cake by the amazing Edd Kimber Photography by Jennie Filer


This is what happened when we Google imaged 'bubbledogs'...

... and this is what we wanted!

New London restaurant: Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table

One of the best ideas we’ve heard in a long time: Hot dogs and champagne! What could go wrong? James Knappett – former Sous Chef at 2 Michelin Star The Ledbury has left to open up his own restaurant with wife Sandia Chang, (ex sommelier at Roganic). One half of the restaurant will be the more informal Bubbledogs, another no reservations jobbie where prices will start at £6, with a menu of up to ten hot dogs served on traditional steamed buns, including the BLT dog, wrapped in bacon and served with truffle mayo and caramelized lettuce; the Jose dog with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapenos. The Kitchen Table is where James will be hosting intimate lunches and dinners with a maximum of 19 guests seated directly around his kitchen. We can’t wait to try it out, although we’ll have to wait until the anticipated opening in July.
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70 Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QG


Charlotte proudly shows off how many ice cream samples she had... and a few goodies!

BBC Good Food Show Spring

We dragged the kids along to the BBC Good Food Show, in it’s first year at Glow Bluewater. It’s just a ten minute drive from us so it was ideal. Chefs included the usual suspects, James Martin, Gino D’Acampo, John Torode, Gregg Wallace, Tim Anderson, the latest Masterchef winner Shelina Permalloo, and one half of the Greedy Italians, Gennaro Contaldo. (Read our previous interviews with James Martin, Gino D’Acampo and Tim Anderson.)

 Surprisingly the kids loved it, Charlotte was so entranced by the Vitamix demo after seeing how it makes hot soup, ice cream in seconds and smoothies… Ade almost considered shelling out £400 for one until I stopped him. But we did buy some Kent Cider Company pear cider, staggeringly cheap Opies condiments and BOGOF Aerolattes (handy as ours has just broken). The kids revelled in the array of cheeses and ice cream samples.

We were lucky enough to have front row seats for Wahaca’s Thomasina Miers and Gennaro Contaldo demo, while everyone was watching the food I was wondering how she stays so thin and where her baby came from, one of life’s mysteries. After we were starving and very tempted to go to the gorgeous Wahaca but the kids felt inspired to cook, which is a brilliant thing to get out of the day, we love it when they get the cooking bug.

Look out for our May edition of Checkout

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