Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love Christmas baking? Enter the ‘Ideal Christmas Cake Decorator of the Year’ competition!

Christmas is a special moment or time where friends/families get together to spend the holidays. It is also a time where the kitchen is one of the best places to be. 

Warmth emanating from goodies being baked in the oven to smells of luscious spices adding its mark from stoves, the kitchen really is my favourite place to be. 

This year, The Ideal Home Show is introducing a competition with a twist of Christmas spirit in it. What is your favourite Christmas cake? Bake it and bring it to the competition and you might just walk away with the title of 'Ideal Christmas Cake Decorator of the Year'.

Hope to see you there...

Please see below for more details...

This year’s competition will see aspiring cake decorators from around the country decorating stunning Christmas cakes for the chance to be crowned this year’s ‘Ideal Christmas Cake Decorator of the Year’.

The highly anticipated cake decorating competition will ask entrants to create a cake that reflects their ‘Ideal Christmas’.

Whether its big or small, cupcakes or multi-tiered masterpieces, we’re looking for the most novel, exciting and fun Christmas cakes of 2012.

Entrants to the competition are asked to bring their creations to the show’s Christmas Craft Theatre by 2pm on Thursday 16th November.

The cakes will be entered into the competition to be in with the chance of winning a fantastic range of prizes, and the accolade of the ‘Ideal Christmas Cake Decorator of the Year.’

The cakes will then be judged by our esteemed judging panel, including Tarek Malouf from the Hummingbird Bakery.

The cakes will remain on display for the remainder of the day and prizes will be awarded in a dedicated prize-giving ceremony hosted on the Christmas Craft Theatre at 3.45pm. Contestants are welcome to take their cakes home with them after the award ceremony

The winning entry in the competition will win a £500 M&S Gift Card, a cupcake making master class at Hummingbird Bakery, a 3 course tasting lunch at Gregg Wallace’s Winter Restaurant with two glasses of champagne, a selection of signed cook books and a pair of tickets to the Ideal Home Show 2013!

All entrants  will receive free entry on the door for themselves and a guest*  to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, as well as gaining automatic entry into the competition once their cakes have been delivered to the judging area.
The competition is open to everyone, with all ages encouraged.

Disclosure: Information was provided by Stuart-Higgins Communications.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stripped Back, Hackney

What do you say about a chef who went from working as a head chef at Roganic, to subsequently deciding to strip back and pop up at a bare-boned stall at a weekend market? Awesome!

Roganic opened to much fanfare and though I eventually manage to get there, I was a tad too late as Ben Spalding had already left. So I had to wait patiently for his next venture and Stripped Back emerged. After what seemed to be a tiring and exhausting few weeks for me, I managed to free up my Saturday and headed to Broadway Market.

Makeshift tables and stools marked the stall with a 3 person team holding the fort. It is right next to a children's playground which is good for anyone with kids as you can watch your kids playing while you delve into some culinary delights. Arriving at what is considered prime-time lunch hour, I was relieved to discover that there were two empty seats for IJ and I. It didn't take long for us to decide on the 6 course lunch menu at £27.50 instead of the 4 course version.


Take a seat and you initially get served with a ginger ale & beer fizz with heather honey out of a whipper.


It was sweet and refreshing before tucking into some bread and butter. I enjoyed the yoghurt malt loaf which gave a hint of sweetness lingering at the end.


The next three courses were to me the highlights of my meal starting with a roasted & marinated chestnut mushroom, flaked almonds, baby gems and Saint Agur blue cheese. The melted blue cheese played nicely with the flavours of the mushrooms and almonds, blending into a symphony that reminded me of peanut butter.


Rare mackerel, tarragon & raw broccoli came next with ripe figs, dashi broth & fig leaf oil. The dashi broth was really subtle and clean which allowed the mackerel to shine through. I love the fig leaf oil as it added an extra depth. Who would have thought of ripe figs with its sweetness adding another layer. Such creativity and innovation. I was enjoying myself now.

Next was Ben's version of a Maltese dish, rabbit stew. It was one of those comforting and warm the soul type of dish but I felt that it needed just a little more spice kick to it.

From here, we moved onto the desserts starting with blowtorched pineapple, salted caramel, peppered creme fraiche and Oreo's. I love the idea of it though I think it needs a touch of acidity to bring the whole thing together.


I did not enjoy the warm chocolate, muscat grapes, sweetened pinenuts and jersey milk at all. I love pinenuts but the addition of it seemed to throw the whole dessert off balance. A spoon of mango puree and salted peanut butter rounded off the meal. All three desserts seems to play on the salty/sweetness combo and I personally would have preferred more variations. Do I really want three takes on salted caramel, salted peanut butter etc..?


After paying for our 6 course did we discover when we were chatting to another couple that we actually missed a course, which was the pig's cheeks. I think that it was a mixture of both me not looking at the menu to know what to expect and leaving it to the team and the slight confusion of them having to do everything that led to that.

Desserts aside, I truly admire the talent and creations from Ben Spalding and those first few mains were really wonderful. I now wished I had gone back and requested for those pig's cheeks, said to be one of the highlights. 

Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: Yes
Have I had better: That will be a no for the mains but yes for the desserts

@_strippedback, London Fields Primary School playground, Westgate Street, E8 3RL

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

River Cafe, Hammersmith

Ms. Chocoholic raves about the chocolate nemesis and would describe in detail, its loveliness and the pleasure that she experienced when she had it the first time. She said that we should try it where it originally came from and It didn't take much convincing after where we found ourselves heading to The River Cafe.

With the sun shining and kids and people enjoying the al fresco seating outside, you couldn't help but be in a jolly mood. Exuding an antipodean cafe vibe, we were relaxed and in a good mood.


The Calamai al Ferri £15 was simple, clean and fresh.


Agnoli di Coniglio - pasta stuffed with rabbit slow-cooked with spring garlic and Franz Haas Pinot Nero £14

River Cafe

Tagliatelle di Asparagi con Fonduta - pasta with asparagus, cream, egg yolk and parmesan £14


Dover Sole wood roasted with Capers & Marjoram with slow-cooked Florence Fennel and large leaf rocket £34


Blue Lobster split & wood roasted with Wild Oregano, Chilli & Lemon with Crushed Potatoes, Spring Peas & Wild Watercress £45


Lamb with Salsa Rosso Piccante, Borlotti di Lamon & Chargrilled Leeks £31

Overall, each dish was tasty and the flavours were clean and balanced though it wasn't brilliant.  For the prices charged, I would expect it to be justified by either the ingredients to be of really good quality that simplicity cooking is used to allow the natural flavours to sing through or cooking techniques and flavours were paired for something delicious. It was neither for me.

We now arrived at desserts and the infamous chocolate nemesis was ordered amongst others.

I have to say that Ms. Chocoholic's description sounded better than it tasted.


Chocolate Nemesis £9


Lemon Tart £8

Ricotta with Grappa & Champagne Rhubarb

We still had a great time but the company was more memorable than the food itself.

Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: No
Have I had better: Yes

River Cafe, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA

 River Cafe on Urbanspoon
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Kani Doraku Crab Restaurant, Osaka


Japan is a place like no other and I find myself travelling back there time and time again.

When I was in Osaka, I found myself eating at Kani Doraku which turned out to be one of the most memorable meals I've had.

Kani Doraku serves crab,quite obviously depicted by this big giant crab waving at the front of the restaurant.


I settled in for a ten course dinner where parts of the crab is served in different ways. Eye-openingly delicious, the highlights were the crab meat sashimi style - it isn't something that I'll probably order eagerly again but definitely worth trying at least once and a tofu hot pot where the aroma itself had me swooned and swirling on cloud nine.

If you find yourself in Osaka, this is not a place to be missed.

Kani Doraku Crab Restaurant
1-6-18 Dotonbori, Osaka
Tel: 06-62118975

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sclater Street Kitchen, London


Life is too short for hesitations and regrets. I always admire people who venture and try something even if you don't know what the future holds.

Gareth Baty is someone that I met when I received an invite to attend his launch party for Sclater Street Kitchen. He runs a suppervclub and have now decided to start his own private catering company.

I found myself heading there with Jen and was greeted warmly at the door.


We started with Gressingham duck breast, roast hazelnut & pickled walnut pearl barley with salted caramel shards and apricot gel.

Lots of flavours and texture in this dish. From the duck breast which was moist and tender to the slight saltiness of the pickled walnut and pearl barley, topped with salted caramel shards while adding a visual element was less cutlery friendly as it was hard to break them into little pieces. I have to commend on all the work that goes into making each element as it isn't easy. Though I found it slightly heavy on the seasoning, Jen thought it was good.


Next on the menu was the scallop and crab filo parcel with ginger velouté. The scallop and crab had a lovely texture and my preference was for the ginger velouté to be a thicker as I love my ginger.


In terms of flavours, the braised Northfield Farm ox-cheek with guinness sauce, wild garlic puree, courgette and horseradish foam hit the spot for me.

It was unctuous with the guinness sauce adding depth. I loved the zing and acidity that came from the wild garlic purée and horseradish foam. Too many ingredients? Not for me, the whole thing works and harmonise well together.

Hackney strawberries, white chocolate panna cotta, almond shortbread, baby meringues, strawberry milkshake

In terms of visual appearances, the dessert wins hands down with tiny milk bottles holding strawberry milkshake in little white baskets and mini jars of panna cotta and strawberries on wooden blocks. I felt like I was transported back to the playground and funfair as a kid.


Extra sides of baby meringues were deliciously irresistible.

Gareth came out after to chat with us and he is a really lovely guy. The amount of technique and skills he displayed throughout the entire dinner is impressive, and he sure has an eye for plating.

Please check out Sclater Street Kitchen for more information.

Chopstix2Steaknives dined as a guest.  
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Les Trois Garcons, Shoreditch


Les Trois Garcons, I've seen the name mentioned a number of times and is supposedly a favourite celebrity haunt.

I arrived with Ms. Chocoholic for dinner and were greeted with a décor that is just opulently rich and luxurious. I love the vintage hand bags hanging at different lengths from the ceiling and could see myself coming here just to soak in its luxurious surroundings.

We opted for the tasting menu which started with an amuse bouche of cauliflower & truffle puff. It was a savoury burst in the palate, awakening the taste buds.

The second half of the amuse bouche was a sweet potato and ginger soup. The ginger did not sing through at all and sadly played a very underwhelming role.

Les Trois Garcon

The first course was home-cured foie gras with pear & golden raisin and toasted brioche

The foie gras had a mid creamy texture yet a light flavour with the taste only hitting you midway before it disappears. The toasted brioche was everything it should be, buttery and moist.

Les Trois Garcon

Next to be served was the crab tortellini with a lemongrass sauce.

The crab tortellini was lovely though I could not taste any lemongrass in the sauce.

Les Trois Garcon

I was looking forward to the seafood dish of sea bass with seared scallop and mussels in a shellfish sauce and it didn't disappoint. It was clean with a good balance that really brought out the taste of the sea. A surprising dish where each component when in combination works to enhance each other.

Les Trois Garcon

The Herdwick lamb cutlets failed to impress with a very heavy gamey taste and the accompaniments did not harmonise. 

Les Trois Garcon

Sadly it was the same with the dessert, it didn't help that the presentation came across as if not much care went into the making and assembling of it. The Mille feuille and champagne poached pear was just underwhelming.

Les Trois Garcon

By this point we were not that interested to even have the petit fours. What started out seemingly promising crashed unexpectedly and ending a meal on a bad note just leaves this bitter aftertaste that lingers in your mind.

Will I recommend: No
Will I come back: No
Have I had better: Yes

Les Trois Garcon1 Club Row  London, Greater London E1 6JX

Les Trois Garcons on Urbanspoon
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wild Serai Supperclub - Seafood Feast

When whispers of Singapore chilli crab started circulating, my senses were alerted and I was on the hunt.

Searching for a free date is a battle by itself and I threw caution to the wind and booked four seats at the next availability. After all, it shouldn't take much convincing to round up another three friends with the magic words - chilli crab and seafood.

I have to say that this post was meant to be written earlier but sometimes culinary trips and life gets in the way of even the best laid plans.

Back to the subject, emails were exchanged, deposits paid and all that was left was for the day to arrive. I found myself running around in circles performing a switching dance with trains and after what seemed a long walk before I finally arrived.

Plonked into the cushions I sat and it was time for the seafood feasts to begin.


  The feast started with keropok, crunchy snacks hinting on what was to come.


I love otak otak which are parcels of fish that has been coated in a coconut, lemongrass and kaffir lime lead custard before it is wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. Wild Serai's version is steamed but equally as tasty.


We didn't have to wait long for the main star to arrive and all eyes were fixated with glee. This is Yolanda's version of Malaysian chilli crab and it was more-ish. How else can I put it, absolutely delicious and will definitely hold its own even in Malaysia.


If it wasn't evident enough, our table ordered two rounds of fried mantou buns to mop up the sauce.


Chilli crab is a messy affair and it does take a while to eat. While we were still cracking away, the ginger and rice wine clams made its appearance.

Savoury little morsels they were, if you were not messy before, this ups the ante. Don't be shy - just dig in and enjoy the moments of bliss.


The butter prawns arrived followed by the kangkung belachan and bowls of jasmine rice which provides a balance to all the protein richness.


Not all was excellent such as the flavours of the butter prawns and kangkung were spot on though it could have been more crunchy and crispy, texture-wise.

I think we were really stuffed by this point and there was still dessert to go.


Hot steaming bowls of soul-warming bubur cha cha, a childhood favourite was next. The only other time I've had this in London was at Uncle Lim'sKitchen.


The feast ended with a cup of Teh Tarik and nyonya kueh. This has been my most enjoyable of supper clubs yet and one that left the most satisfaction.

If you haven't been - keep your eyes peeled for the next seafood feast.

Read more about Seafood Lover's BBQ on Edible Experiences
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

C2S Cooks: Oeufs en Cocotte


Has anyone been watching 'The Little Paris Kitchen'? The series has concluded and there is no denying that it was a fun little series. Were you watching to catch view of Parisian life or maybe it was her gorgeousness or for me, it was her easy-style of introducing French cuisine.

In one of the episodes, Rachel Khoo made Oeufs en Cocotte and it reminded me of memories when I was a student and made this as a snack when I was hungry. It was soul warming and delicious, I do wonder why I haven't made this much since. Watching it on 'The Little Paris Kitchen' spurred me to make it again.

The magic about Oeufs en Cocotte is that the combination of flavouring ingredients is endless and the limit is really your imagination. I usually make mine with cheese, milk and eggs but you could substitute milk with cream, creme fraiche or even yoghurt. Add a dash of herbs or other ingredients like tomatoes or mushrooms for an umami hit, even maybe honey for a sweetened version.

If you are time-poor, I use to microwave this as a student. However, the taste and texture isn't going to be the same as an oven baked version. 


  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • 50g goats cheese
  • 2 button mushrooms
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of parsley
  • Pinch of black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Prepare your pots or in my case, I used teacups
3. Spoon the double cream into the teacups followed by the goats cheese and mushrooms.
4. Crack an egg on top and sprinkle the parsley and black pepper.
5. Place the teacups on a baking tray that has been half-filled with water to come up halfway to the sides of the teacups.
6. Bake until the egg yolk is set to your liking.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Turning a new chapter - introducing Treats & Teases

2012 is turning out to be a significant year for me - especially in the past few months.

There has been plenty of work and wheels turning in the background which has led to the reduction in posts in my blog. I aim to get that ironed out and have a regular schedule back as soon as I can.

What has been happening?
I have enrolled myself in patisserie school for the rest of the year - pursuing a passion of mine.

To find out more and to keep updated on my journey, please go to Treats&Teases.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

C2S Travels: Copenhagen, Denmark


I've always had a soft spot for Denmark, it's hard not to if you were in Australia when Princess Mary married Prince Frederick. So it was that Copenhagen had always been on my travel hit list.

Ms Savory and I joined the Frommer's free walking tour and it was fantastic. This is another place that I fell in love with the people and their culture. You can't help but be moved when you listen to the history. I definitely recommend the walking tour. 



  I love Twitter and how you find great places when you haven't done much research. A shout for recommendations found me headed to Told & Snaps, one of the enthusiastic response from @plusixfive.


With no booking, we were told to come back in half an hour and thankfully was able to get a seat.

Ms. Savory and I were seated between a couple from Sweden and Norway and it was a great experience. We all started chatting and they gave us recommendations and even insisted that we tasted what they ordered. The food here is awesome and with such a cosy vibe, you won't be disappointed.

Pickled herring, onions and raw egg yolk 65kr

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