About a week ago Belle and I went for our second visit to Symonds at Redwood, a lovely restaurant on the outskirts of Bristol – Clifton side – with a focus on seasonal, locally sourced food. Symonds is a slightly unusual offering in that it’s situated within a luxury retirement complex, but don’t let this put you off – it’s open to everyone and the service, ambience and decor is top notch. You’d expect nothing less from a luxury retirement after all.

The first time we went, about a year ago now, Belle was in a grump. I can’t remember why exactly, but I know it wasn’t a great time for her generally. She had GCSE exams looming, and wasn’t what you’d really call going to school, as she was finding it all a bit much. Being made to go out for dinner with me seemed to tip her over the edge, despite having her every whim catered for, including an off-menu side of dauphinoise potatoes.

This time around though she was in much better spirits and I was feeling more optimistic about conversation levels.

Redwood near Clifton

As I had been expecting, we were greeted by friendly and attentive staff, and settled down for a look at the menu. The food changes every three months, inspired by what’s in season and available locally, and if you go now you can choose from delicious sounding things like ‘Skate wing, celeriac puree, girolle mushrooms, braised fennel and beurre noisette’ and ‘Asparagus, petit pois and basil oil risotto, pecorino crisp and wild rocket’.

(You know a menu is fancy when every ingredient is listed don’t you?) View Post

Advertisement feature

easy homemade lamb burger recipe

Okay, I know, June this year hasn’t exactly begun with a barbecue vibe, but it’s only going to be a matter of time surely before the rain clears up and we all start rushing out to buy charcoal and burger buns at 4pm every Sunday?

I’m confident.

*looks doubtful*

To make sure you’re ready for the sunshine, I’ve been practising my barbecue skills by making some homemade lamb burgers. This is the latest in my series of lamb recipes to support the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it‘ campaign, and if you haven’t already, do pop back and check out some of my other lamb posts, like a Green Eggs and Lamb breakfast recipe, (genius, if I do say so myself), and a Game of Thrones inspired rack of lamb, which I feel has to be seen to be truly appreciated.

The aim of the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it’ campaign is to highlight the health benefits of lamb – lamb is rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a fantastic source of protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus – as well as show that cooking with lamb doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.

In this vein, I’ve made what are quite possibly the easiest lamb burgers you will ever make. I came across a lot of recipes while I doing my lamb burger research that had long lists of ingredients – breadcrumbs, egg, vinegar even – but I just don’t think you need them. Lamb has a lovely flavour already, and lamb mince holds together really well, so all I’ve done is add a couple of ingredients to enhance the natural lamb flavour at the same time as keeping things super simple.

Also, who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen making breadcrumbs on a sunny day?? Not me. You want to be sat outside drinking beer and pretending that life is sunny and full of possibilities don’t you?

Quite right.

So, get the barbecue lit, crack open the beers and let’s go. View Post

Advertisement feature

Irish stew easy recipe

Is there a word that means the opposite of heritage? Opposite in that it’s about looking forward rather than backwards? Forwardtage maybe? No, that’s terrible.

What I’m looking for is a word to describe the fact that my sister has been living with her Irish husband and my neice and nephew in Ireland for a few years now, and the longer they stay and the more often I visit, the more I feel a connection to Ireland as a place that part of my close family is growing up in. I may have no Irish heritage, but I feel a growing sense of Irish forwardtage.

When the latest theme for my lamb recipe project came through then, and it was all about cultural influences on food, an Irish stew seemed like an obvious choice. I’ve never cooked an Irish stew before, but the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it’ campaign is all about inspiring you to try new lamb recipes, so this felt perfect. View Post

Advertisement feature in association with Tesco Jersey Royals

Is there anything more spring-like than a huge bowl of Jersey Royal new potatoes, slathered in butter and fresh mint?

I mean sure, there are lambs and primroses and what not, the smell of grass, cut for the first time after winter, but give me a Jersey Royal, butter dripping down my wrist, and I’m a happy woman.

Jersey Royal new potatoes

I didn’t take much persuading then to get on board with creating a spring recipe using Tesco Jersey Royals. In store now until the end of the season in July, Tesco Jersey Royal new potatoes have a heritage that dates back over 140 years. They’re still produced and harvested using traditional methods like planting the seed potatoes by hand and fertilising using seaweed from Jersey beaches.

‘Delicate and nutty’ it says on the bag, which describes most of my ex-boyfriends, so it’s no wonder I like them. View Post

Advertisement feature in association with Naked Wines

I’m going to subtitle this post ‘how NOT to look like you’d normally pick whatever was on offer at around the £6.99 mark in the supermarket, even though you’re 40 years old and should know better.’

Catchy isn’t it?

The truth is though, that despite having ‘learn more about wine’ on my mental to-do list for about the last 15 years, I haven’t quite gotten around to it. On dates, when faced with the wine list, I find myself smiling at my date coquettishly and saying ‘you choose for me’, as though it’s 1953 and I can’t possibly make a decision on my own, but really it’s just that I have no idea what’s what.

One way around this is to buy your wine online through a company that helps you to choose decent wines and provides you with information about them, so you can drop in impressive sounding key phrases at dinner parties. This option can sometimes feel too pricey though, especially if you don’t drink a lot. Surely there’s a middle ground?

There is.

(You knew I was going to say that didn’t you?)

It’s the Naked Wines ‘Angels’ scheme.

Naked Wines Angels

I was sent 6 bottles of wine to ‘test’ them, (tough job…), but I accidentally drank one bottle before I remembered to take a photo.

The Naked Wines Angels programme is a kind of crowdfunding scheme for wine, designed to benefit you, the buyer, AND the winemakers. It comes from a desire to stop wine producers having margins squeezed endlessly by supermarkets, and to give them the investment they need to produce exclusive, exciting wines. View Post

Advertisement feature

easy mint rack of lamb recipe

Pin me for later!

You heard me, Game of Thrones.

I have to say that the brief to create a ‘lamb recipe to tie in with the new series of Game of Thrones‘ presented a bit of a challenge to me initially, as I’ve never even seen an episode of Game of Thrones, not even five minutes of it. When I read ‘Game of Thrones’ then, my first thought was ‘sexy dwarfs’. I have no idea if there even are any dwarfs in it. The sexy bit I think was just because I’ve heard there’s a fair amount of nudity.

I asked around, and was given clues that mentioned brutal violence, murder and dragons.

I still wasn’t really feeling the lambiness.

The ‘Lamb. Try It, Love It’ campaign is all about making you think differently about lamb though, and I was definitely doing that.

I remembered a few years ago how we’d gone to Northern Ireland to tick ‘visit the Dark Hedges‘ off my list of 40 things to do before 40. The Dark Hedges is a country road in the middle of nowhere, where massive trees have grown over the road and intertwined to make a tree tunnel. Tree tunnels are one of my best things, and when I’d seen a picture of this one in a magazine a few years earlier I knew I wanted to see it in real life.

What I didn’t know when I visited was that The Dark Hedges was actually used as a location for some of the action in Game of Thrones.

Here at last was my way in!

I looked back at the photos, and an idea started to form in my mind… View Post