Breakfast of Champions
The World’s Original Marmalade Awards festival is taking over the Dalemain Mansion and Gardens in Cumbria this Saturday and Sunday, 12 and 13 February, and it promises to be one sweet, family-friendly food and outdoors event though devotees of serious food will find the talks and workshops worthwhile too. Paddington Bear starts the festivities by greeting visitors at the Glendridding Pierhouse of Ullswather Steamers, then there will be talks and demonstrations by food historian Ivan Day, Pam Corbin (the preserve expert from River Cottage, yes they have one), Dan Lepard (the Guardian’s baking guru) and Jonathan Miller who is the new product development buyer at Fortnum & Mason — doesn’t that sound like a dream job? On Saturday evening there’s Marmalade Bonfire, on Sunday morning a Marmelade Church Service, and throughout there will be an artisan food and homemade craft market, citrus themed don’t you know? The whole thing sounds just divine. And if you’re looking for a restaurant nearby, we have some.
A Load of Scallops
At the other end of the country, Rye Bay Scallop Week also kicks off on 12 February and runs through a week and a bit to the 20th. This is a local festivity that is just brilliant because, one way or another, it seems as if half the town is involved and having a whale of a time. Webbe’s Cookery School and chef Bruce Wilson (formerly of The Greenhouse in London) of The Beach Bistro at The Gallivant Hotel both offer lots of terrific scallop cookery courses. There’s a Scallopship Award Ceremony for local GCSE pupils who have created their own scallop sauce dish, a farmer’s market with lots of tastings and demos and a scallop lucky dip to win a hamper, a six-course Scallops of the World Unite dinner at The Ship Inn, a Scallop Bash at the Landgate Bistro, a benefit dinner with the entertainment of Mr Wurlitzer Len Rawle MBE, a Scallop Race and loads more. If you doubt the importance of these tasty, succulent treats of the sea just ask yourself, when Botticelli painted Venus arriving with her blonde hair floating all around her, on what was she posing? You got it in one: a scallop shell. Come celebrate these delicious molluscs with the people who bring them home.
Chocolate in Any Tongue
In France, Marseille hosts the huge, irresistible Salon du Chocolate event this weekend 10 – 13 February at Parc Chanot where you are invited to ‘discover and taste chocolate and cacao in all its forms’. Well, certainly more forms that we had imagined. The chocolate fashion show, for instance, boggles us a bit, but we’re intrigued by the Cacao Show space that presents dances, songs and rituals of the producers of cacao. There are demonstrations, a children’s area, a teaching kitchen, vast array of exhibits from producers and artisanal chocolate makers and the whole thing sounds like a slice of heaven on the Mediterranean coast. And if you’re going, we have a few particularly fab restaurants in Marseille to recommend.
Fire & Knives
A don’t-miss culinary day out in London is nearly sold out but if you move fast you might get a spot. This Saturday starting at 10 am that amazing and beautiful magazine Fire & Knives is hosting Mixed Grill, a day-long even to include (we don’t have the exact programme, but we trust them totally) lectures and talks, performances, debating panels, ‘rants’ and presentations all about food. MsMarmiteLover is doing a one day only popup restaurant and you can make a reservation to eat there too. We’re pretty sure it’s BYO, but here’s the link. It’s at Conway Hall but if you can’t make it they’ll have a live twitter feed ‘so you can heckle’.
New restaurant signings on toptable:
Once Marco Pierre White revived the historic and delicious Wheeler’s of St James’s in London, he decided to spread the good news far and wide by opening other branches in delightful spots
outside the capital. Now there’s a Wheeler’s of St James’s in Fernhurst in Sussex. It’s set in a quintessentially English pub, the Kings Arms, with charm from cellar to roof, higgledy-piggledy walls, excellent modern art work, pastoral scenes beyond the door, high quality food and — as it’s in a pub — real English ales to have with your superb meal. The Wheeler’s of St James’s in Maresfield, Sussex, in the heart of the Sussex Weald has found a home at Chequers Inn, a coaching inn dating from the 18th century. This stylish and historic spot is the perfect setting for Wheeler’s thoroughly British menu, and the bar area is a terrific spot for friends to gather and relax. Both are easy drives from London and the south coast and each one has four superb special offers right now –we’d say that seals the deal.
Caffe Concerto at One New Change overlooked by the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is a bright and charming addition to the City of London dining scene. The menu is incredibly popular Italian featuring the time-honoured favourites with a tempting array of cakes to make the meal complete. Live music is always on the menu here, with the grand piano in near-constant use from 7pm each day, adding to the pleasure of the dining experience with a range of music from jazz and bossa nova to classical and ballads. A romantic, upmarket restaurant.
How does a Michelin star and a triple crown of AA rosettes strike you? Intriguing? If you haven’t heard of La Trompette in Chiswick, owner of all those awards, before now, then let this be the instigator of a visit very soon. The menu is inspired by the rich and classic cooking of
southern and southwestern France and it perfectly balances tradition with creativity in a way that enhances them both. The dining room is both smart and relaxed, just as the service is both friendly and professional. La Trompette is one of London’s treasures.
Bardoulet’s Restaurant in Peebles just outside Edinburgh is another holder of the triple AA rosette crown named for its Chef Director Patrick Bardoulet. The menu is thoroughly French with a nod to the restaurant’s Scottish location and the decor is opulent and fabulous, the sort of restaurant that makes every meal a special event. There are both a la carte and tasting menus and you should expect superb service.