Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Top 5 Things To Do In Jamaica

Jamaica is "The Land We Love", the phrase taken from the Jamaican national anthem sums up how I feel about Jamaica, it's the land I love. I heard so much about Jamaica growing up and thought I knew what to expect when I first visited at age 11 but the heat, the smiles, the beaches and the food pleasantly surprised me back then I still feel the same way some years later. I recently visited Jamaica last month, I can't wait to return (maybe 2016 or 2017), I'm getting excited just thinking about it.  As I've visited Jamaica quite a few times I thought I would share my top 5 things to do if you plan on a trip to this lively and vibrant Caribbean island.

Dunns River Fall
Located in the popular tourist town Ocho Rios, Dunns River Falls is the most visited tourist attraction in Jamaica and one of the most visited tourist attractions  in the Caribbean. Dunns River Falls is a natural waterfall that reaches a whopping 600 feet and the cascades water and waterfalls flow directly into the Caribbean Sea. One of the most appealing thing about this attractions is that you can actually climb the falls. Entry to the falls is 20US for adults and 12US for children and it takes around 1 hour to 1 and a half of hours to climb the falls. When you finished climbing the falls, why not purchase a "I climbed Dunns River Falls" t-shirt. I climbed Dunns River Falls when I was 11 with my family who already climbed the falls several. However, if you have not climbed the falls before, I would strongly recommend that you book an excursion as their are guides who will take you up the safest way. Also, make sure your purchase the specialist shoes which makes climbing easier. Flowing water down the back, safe spots to rest and take in the natural beauty....... if you are with those that don't fancy the climb.
Image courtesy of TicketsstarJA

Rio Grande Rafting
This was the first time I've been to Port Antonio, located in the North Eastern part of Jamaica and is nearer to Kingston than the traditional resorts such as Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, this is a little hidden gem primarily visited by the rich and famous or the playboys of Jamaica. Located in Port Antonio is the beautiful and second largest river in Jamaica Rio Grande where a popular tourist attraction is bamboo rafting. On a large handmade bamboo raft, you can be leisurely guided down the river by a skilled guide, originally uses as a method of transporting goods, bamboo rafting was made popular and fashionable by Errol Flynn. I booked an excursion from my hotel which cost around £80  per person which included a trip to The Blue Lagoon (which is heaven) followed by a stop at Rio Grande. Sit back, relax, have a drink and take in the natural beauty of Port Antonio. The leisurely raft takes around 2-3 hours, depending upon the weather and is an experience that you will not forget anytime soon. 

Something a little different, many tourists tend not to visit Kingston, the capital city of Jamaica, but there is lots of things to do and see in Kingston. Bob Marley's museum is based on there, take a tour (for 20US), learn about the history, music and culture of the man who brought reggae music to the world. If you have time, why not visit the Blue Mountains, this is visible from Kingston and visit some of the best natural landscapes and sample some of the best coffee in the world. On clear and Summers day, you may even see the mountains become blue ....reword. Any foodie (like myself) would be in ice-cream delight after a visit to Devon House. Built by the first Jamaican millionaire, this house is one of natural beauty, see some beautiful Jamaican art, take a leisurely stroll in the gardens, but most importantly sample some of the world renowned ice-cream. The Devon Stout ice-cream is a beauty to behold, go nuts and have lots of sprinkles and topping on top.

*Please do not visit Kingston without a guide.

Ricks Cafe
Take in the breathtaking views by watching the sunset at the infamous Rick Cafe, in Negril. Get there slightly earlier in the afternoon and have lunch (the menu is fabulous) and watch the dare devils jump from up to 35 feet into the clear, blue calm waters. This is the place to hang out if you are in Negril 7 mile beach.
Image Courtsey of Things to do in Jamaica.

Dolphin Cove
Ok, something I did not do (here in Jamaica anyway), but I am sure that if you are travelling with families, this will be on the top list of things to do.  Dolphin Cove on it's website state that it's the number 1 excursion in Jamaica. There are four different dolphin swims: Ultimate Swim, Swim with a Dolphin, encounter with a dolphin and a sea keeper for the day. Costing is around 70 US for a dolphin encounter and the price increases with the duration of time that you spend with the dolphin, it's worth saving up a bit for this. 
Image courtesy of Come To Jamaica

Things to stock up on.
As a foodie, I was in paradise. Yes, you can get a lot of, if not all, Jamaican products here in the UK, but there are some products that are better (and a lot cheaper) to buy there.

  • Blue Mountain Coffee - One of the worlds best coffee, known for it delicate and complex flavours, you have to sample what all coffee lovers adore. 
  • Tortuga Cake - Specialist rum cake, made with traditional Caribbean ingredients, which makes the cake light, moist and delicious.
  • Rum - My personal preference is Wray and Nephew for it's pure strength, Appelton is good. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Hotel Chocolat Patisserie Sleekster Review and Giveaway.

Oh how I love Hotel Chocolat products, especially their sleekster range of chocolates - these always include an array of different flavours, textures, colours and the chocolates are simply gorgeous. I have particularly enjoyed devouring these chocolates after not having eating any chocolate for 2 weeks (whilst I was in Jamaica!). Our favourite cakes, bakes and puddings have been recreated and in-cooperated into these luxury Patisserie Sleekster luxury chocolate form which, if you are like me someone who likes chocolates and puddings this sleekster will be right up your street. I resisted the urge to waffle the lot without savouring the taste to share my favourite chocolates in this blog post.

The Blondie was my favourite chocolate in this selection, the wafers in the chocolate were crisp: the white chocolate smooth and a nutty texture, the Billionaires Shortbread was another highlight for me; the rich chocolate topped with caramel, cookies and hazelnut was a taste explosion in my mouth and another favourite has been the tiramisu, I adored the strong chocolate and cream in a little morsel. Other flavours which you may like include:
  • Caramel Cheesecake (sour cream tang, French Butter caramel)
  • Carrot Cake (real carrots and walnuts)
  • Mousse au Chocolat (cocoa and cream)
  • Custard Tart (nutmeg and cocoa)

Retailing at £22 for 27 luxurious chocolates, this makes a beautiful and decadent treat for 1 (or 2) or a lovely gift for someone.

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolate are kindly giving one lucky reader of my blog these gorgeous chocolates.

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, follow the instructions below.
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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Banana, Orange and Mango Smoothie

A bright citrus burst to start the day, may be a contrast to the comforting porridge and Bircher Museli that we enjoy eating over the Autumn/Winter months. But due to my love of all things tropical and that I enjoy drinking a vitamin packed juice for my weekday breakfast. I drank so many varieties of tropical juices when I was in Jamaica recently and thought I would share one of the combinations I ate which you can easily create at home and quite frankly brings a taste of the tropics to an Autumn kitchen. The orange is packed with vitamin C, vitamin B, calcium and potassium, the banana is packed with B6, manganese, vitamin C and potassium and the mango contains Vitamin C, Vitamin K and potassium. Healthy and delicious, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

OXO Non-Stick Frypan - Review

I've got a ridiculously growing selection of kitchenware in my kitchen and when my non-stick frying pan was almost on the brink, very coincidentally, I was sent this lovely OXO frying pan to review. Non-stick frying pans are the only way to go for all cooks, the last thing you need is your dishes to stick or at worst burn in your pan. What's good is that this frying pan has 3 layer non-stick, dishwasher safe. As soon as I lifted the frying pan, I knew it would be good, it's heavy duty so if you drop it, it will be ok. One thing which I thought was impressive was the frying pan is oven safe, perfect for finishing off fritatas and pasta dishes in the oven. The frying pan RRP is £40, which is a little pricey, however as I have several OXO products, I can tell you that purchasing one of their products is an investment. 

Here are some of the positives:
  • Magneto Induction Base. Unique magnetic coating on base guarantees superior heat transfer on all hobs.
  • 3 Layer Non-Stick. 3 layers of German-Engineered, PFOA-free, Non-stick coating provides years of effortless food release using less oil.
  • Drip-Free Edges. Unique rolled edges for drip free pouring of sauces, soups, reductions & more.
  • Oven Safe. Silicone-Metal handle construction allows cookware to move directly from the hob to the oven. Oven safe to 200C
  • Dishwasher Safe. Dishwasher Safe for quick and easy clean-up.
  • Comfortable Handles. The handles are made of cast Stainless Steel for durability and wrapped in heat resistant Silicone for a comfortable non-slip grip.
I find the frying pan suitable to cook basic dishes such as eggs and plantain, alongside sauteing vegetables and making sauces.
Frying Plantains.

Frying Eggs




 Sweetcorn, Red Pepper & Coriander Omelette
Ive just returned from my annual trip to the Caribbean and thought I would share a breakfast recipe which I regularly enjoyed, whilst I was there; hearty, flavoursome and tropical. I was able to recreate this tropical inspired breakfast dish with ease using my OXO frying pan.

Serves 2
5 eggs
100g Sweetcorn
25g fresh Coriander
25g cheddar cheese
30ml semi skimmed milk
1 red pepper, sliced
1 spring onion, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste).
2tbsp oil

In a mixing jug, crack the eggs, add the milk, cheese, spring onion, salt and pepper. Using a whisk, whisk the ingredients until everything is fully in-cooperated. Heat the oil in a frying pan until the oil begins to sizzle (pop). Pour half of the omelette mixture into the frying pan, when the egg begins to set scatter half the sweetcorn and red pepper. Using a omelette slicer, fold the omelette and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the omelette to a plate and scatter half the Coriander over. Repeat for the second omelette.

Disclaimer: I received the frying pan for review purposes, all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Nosh and Quaff

If you are a foodie in Birmingham or the surrounding areas, you would have known that Nosh and Quaff opened in July. Nosh and Quaff is the brainchild of Aktar Islam and Jabber Khan who owns Lasan and Fiesta del Asado. Located on the trendy Colmore Row, right next to Victoria Square, this is perfect for the city workers, those fancy a bite to eat after work alongside those that want an informal yet sophisticated restaurant. I attended the launch party and was greeted by ladies on stilts which was was a warm friendly welcome and set the scene for the informal eating requirements here #letsgetmessy. Inside the restaurant, I found this to be dimly lit, I would have preferred a more brighter and lighter restaurant but there were also numerous positives which I found as soon as I waked in. I liked the combination of the different seating areas, it reminded me of an American diner, there was a combination of tables and bar stools. The ground floor had a more party vibe to it, perhaps due to the launch party and there was music pumping out, I wanted to hear myself talk so asked to be seated upstairs. This was not an issue, the staff were incredibly friendly and attentive throughout the meal and I loved their trendy denim uniform. I much preferred being seated upstairs, there was a live band, stunning views of Birmingham and an ideal place to host a group meal. 

The most important reason why we were there, the food. For the mains I felt it was necessary that I ordered the lobster after all this is one of the stars of the menu. Described as grilled fresh large whole, split with a garlic and lemon butter sauce, I was salivating reading the menu. When my lobster arrived, the lobster meat inside was tender and juicy and the accompanying sauce was light and fresh. Unfortunately my lobster was not piping hot and was just warm. I’m not sure the reason for this but it was a bit of a disappointment. The lobster was reasonably priced at £20 and the fries which accompanied it was well seasoned and crispy. The pork ribs which my nan ordered described as four-bone rib of naturally reared Hampshire pig in a peppery, mustard rub served with homemade slaw. I sampled the pork ribs, which I found to be delicious, peppery and meaty.

The side dishes were the Nosh and Quaff salad (£5) and Corn on the Cob. All which tasted good and I felt was reasonably priced. No restaurant with the hash tag #letsgetmessy would be complete without a decadent range of deserts, although there were 3 options they were perfect for rounding up the meal. The Rocky Road (£5) described as “ rich chocolate brownie, nut brittle, marshmallow ice-cream and loads of chocolate sauce. The other options are cheesecake and sharing sundae. As a chocoholic I can say that the chocolate dessert was sublime: indulgent, crunchy, moreish and sublime.

Overall: If my main courses were piping hot then there would be no hesitation on returning; I loved the menu concept and vibe of the restaurant.
Positives: helpful staff, great location and a great place for informal restaurant.

Not so good: My lobster was not piping hot.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Nosh and Quaff. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

A Lot On Her Plate by Rosie Birkett plus giveaway

I only discovered Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot On Her Plate via Instragram (don't you just love social media sites). I have been salivating over her colourful, hearty and seasonal dishes which are regularly posted on her social media sites. With critical acclaim over her imaginative and seasonal dishes found in her debut book A Lot On Her Plate, which I recently purchased at the beginning of Summer. I was instantly impressed with Rosie's thorough knowledge of food, not just about recipes but about sustainable meats, how to shop, getting to know your local suppliers, how to make ingredients stretch and also economical ways to revamp dishes, alongside basic ingredients and their uses. Rosie also shares what are her culinary essentials in her kitchen and others that are useful but not so essential.
For me, this book is one of my favourite books of 2015 due to the imaginative, creative and delicious recipes for the advanced cook. In my opinion, this is not a cookbook for beginner cooks, instead it's for the more advanced cook for those that want a little wow on your plate. So far, I've cooked a few dishes from this book: Baba Ganoush, Coconut and Almond Granola and Bavette and Chips, which is my personal favourite so far. Rosie writes with such passion and enthusiasm that it's easy to quickly fall in love with this book. A Lot On Her Plate also includes stunning and mouthwatering photography (which makes me hungry), alongside cute and quirky illustrations. I also love this book as it's introduced me to a wave of new ingredients such as siracha (type of chili sauce), migtias (a Mexican fried dish) and to my local Asian supermarket to stock up on frozen octopus. 

Bavette and Chips (my way, with fried plantains)

Bavette and Chips

Coconut and Almond Granola. 

Baba Gnash

The chapters are split into the following:
  • Breakfast and Brunch, I love a good breakfast so the majority of recipes appeal to me, but my favourite so far is: Cod's roe & sweetcorn fritters with avocado & siracha, Coconut and Almond Granola, Guacamole bread with fried eggs & chipotle salsa and Becy's migitas
  • Starters and Small Plates: delicious recipes to try incude: Crispy sesame-crusted tuna tacos with mango salsa, Bavette carpaccio with fried capers & mustard mayo, Chili crab cocktail tartlets and Keema Pau.
  • Snacks and Sides: stand out recipes include Baba Ganoush and Baby Potato and Rosemary Pizzas. 
  • Bigger Plates and Supper Suppers"Mushroom Ragu with truffled polenta, Bavette and Chips with Bottarga Butter and Grilled Baby Gem, Pan Roasted Pollock with lettuce, bacon and clams and Kale and Almond Pesto Linguine.
  • Feasts for Friends: delicious recipes to try include: Chicken, mushroom and tarragon cassoulet, maple brazed pigs cheeks with apple, roasted hazelnuts and parmesan polenta and home-style porchetta.
  • Salad and Vegetables: recipes to try include: fig, rocket & gorgonzola salad with toasted almonds and maple dressing, mum's seafood orzo salad and panzanella.
  • Dessert and Drinks: one of my favourite chapter recipes include: salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake, lychee & hazelnut pavlova, black cherry brûlée and peanut butter ice-cream. 
The lovely people at Hardie Grant are giving one lucky reader of Food Glorious Food a copy of A Lot On Her Plate. Continue to scroll down to enter via Rafflecopter.

Recipe for Bavette and Chips with Bottarga Butter and Grilled Baby Gem.
Serves 2

500g (1lb 2 oz) bavette steak
20g bottarga (or 8 best-quality anchovy fillets, minced)
50g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the sauce
grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
800ml vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil
3 sprigs rosemary, leaved picked and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for greasing
1 head of baby gem lettuce, cleaned and cut in half
50ml chicken stock or water.

Take the steak out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it, to bring it up to room temperature
To make the bottarga butter, finely grate the bottarga into a bowl, add the 50g of butter and lemon zest , and mash together thoroughly. Place 3 layers of cling film on a work's surface, spoon the butter into the middle of it, and tightly roll, twisting the ends so you have a cling film-coated sausage of butter. Place in the freezer to set.
To make the chips, dry the potato pieces with kitchen paper, and, if using a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 190C / 375 F/ Gas Mark 5. Fry the chips in two batches for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown and soft on the inside. Drain them on kitchen paper and toss with fresh rosemary and sea salt. Lay on a roasting tray and keep in a warmed oven (100C/215F/Gas 1/2) until you are ready to dish up, blasting them on a high heat for a few minutes, just before you serve. If you don't have a deep-fat fryer, toss the chips with plenty of olive oil, salt and rosemary, and roast them in one layer in a preheated oven at 180C (350F/Gas Mark 4) for 35-40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until crisp and golden on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Season the steak thoroughly with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a greased heavy-based frying pan until stinking hot. Put the steak in the pan it should sizzle immediately) and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side for medium rare or 5-7 minutes for well done. Transfer to a chopping board (but keep the steak pan) cover loosely with foil and leave to rest. Remove the bottarga butter from the freezer and put two plates in the oven to warm.
Brush the cut sides of the baby gem halves with olive oil and place them face down in the steak pan, over a medium heat. Leave for 2 minutes then pout over the chicken stock or water to deglaze, add a knob of butter, and pour the lemon juice. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until wilted and caramelised on the cut side but still retaining the shape.
Slice the rested steak into thin slivers, against the grain and divide between the warmed plates along along with any juices that might have escaped. Cut the end off the bottarga butter sausage and cur 2 x 5 mm (1/4) thick rounds of the butter  for each steak, making sure to peel the cling film off the outside. Place the butter directly onto the steak and serve with the chips and baby gem.

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Disclaimer: A Lot on Her Plate was a personal purchase, Hardie Grant books have kindly offered to host a giveaway.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Plantain Loaf

I adore plantain, in particular yellow plantains (there are two types, yellow and green). I'm sure you are aware of that, the starchy vegetable which tastes so sweet is tropical, yet so comforting. There seems to be more and more ways where I am able to in-cooperate plantains in my recipes and eaten widely in African, Caribbean and Latin American communities. Overripe yellow plantains (where the plantains are blackened all over), have such a versatile use other than frying them and when I recently had some over-ripe plantains, I decided to use them in this delicious and easy loaf. 
The topping of my Plantain loaf can either be dressed up and made sweet with a sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg or raisins or can remain as a savoury loaf served with lashings of margarine or slices cheese.  What’s the difference between an ordinary banana loaf or plantain loaf – it’s simple the plantains have a much more robust texture and favour, which I adore.
My plantain loaf is a beautiful, moist and delectable  loaf is to make and is ready in around an hour,  perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast. What's more, I make the mixture in the food processor to make my life a little easier, saves on washing up and arm work.
This is a delightful loaf,  perfect weekend loaf for all the family to enjoy. 

Plantain Loaf

Plantain loaf

Plantain loaf

Plantain loaf mixture

Plantain loaf, pre-bake
You will need 900g loaf tin and a food processor.
Recipe for plantain loaf
50g butter
50g sugar
2 overripe plantains, peeled and sliced.
30ml natural yoghurt
30ml semi-skimmed milk
1tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
180g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Fry light (for greasing the loaf tin)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180C/350F, grease the loaf tin using fry light spray

In a food processor, add the butter and sugar and blend. Add the plantains, alongside the natural yoghurt, milk, cinnamon and 2 eggs. Blend again. Finally, add the flour, pinch of salt and baking powder. Give the mixture another quick blend and transfer to the loaf tin. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for around 45 minutes. The loaf should be ready when after testing with a skewer it comes out clean.

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