Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas in Iceland: It's booked!

Guess what?

I'm heading to Iceland... for Christmas!

Nick, our friends Jay and Andy, and I will spend five nights in this chilly Nordic land exploring as much as we can and trying to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

We fly to Reykjavik on December 21 and spend a night by the airport before picking up our car and heading north to Akureyri for three nights where we hope to see the aurora borealis.

Our plans and itinerary are far for finalised, but we have booked all our accommodation and something I'm rather excited about... Dog sledding! 

It might not be a traditional Icelandic activity, but I couldn't pass up the chase to race along the snow with a pack of huskies.

We still have no plans for Christmas day - hopefully we can find a place for a good meal somewhere in Reykjavik - and there is the issue of buying a bunch of Iceland proof clothes.


  • You can follow our progress on Twitter using #IcelandXmas 
  • Been to Iceland before? Please share your tips & tricks here and on Twitter.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Recipe: Naomi Bars (What to do with plain digestives)

After a long, cold day outside I made myself  a creamy hot chocolate as an evening treat. But my enjoyment was shattered when tucking into a fresh packet of cookies I discover, much to my horror, that I have bought plain digestives instead of chocolate ones.

In the vain of "When Life Gives You Lemons" I present: Naomi Bars...

Naomi Bars


  • 115g butter
  • 2 tblsp cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 60g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 90g coconut
  • 250g pkt digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs

  1. Melt butter, cocoa and sugar together in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Remove from heat and add beaten egg, vanilla, biscuit crumbs and coconut.
  3. Spoon mixture into greased slice tin and level.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 mins until cold.


  • 60g butter
  • 3 tblsp milk
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 2 tblsp custard powder
  • 60g chocolate

  1. Cream butter and gradually add milk, icing sugar and custard powder.
  2. Beat until smooth.
  3. Spread topping over base mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.
  4. Melt chocolate in a bowl over hot water and trickle from a tsp on to base.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Review: JRB Pop-Up, Thatched House

Let me begin by saying I am by no means a food reviewer or culinary aficionado. I am simply someone who really enjoys their food

With that in mind, on a wet and dismal late autumn night in London, my friends and I ventured out to the JRB Pop-Up restaurant at the Thatched House in Hammersmith.

The night's meal was being prepared by up-and-coming talent Nathan Richardson, assistant manager at The Ship, Putney.

After a quick glass of wine, we were shown to the dining area with about 30 others for a evening of inventive fine-dining. 


Roasted Sweetbreads 

Morel Puree, Asparagus Salad, Mushroom Croquette and Truffle Oil

The real surprise of the night, the roasted sweetbreads had been the one dish I had been dreading.

Thankfully hidden under a bed of greens (not sure if there was any asparagus, which suits me just fine), the tasty morsels of, well I don't really want to know, were just the right size for their rich flavour - any larger and the dish would have been sickly.

An added bonus, the mushroom croquette was simply delicious.
Roasted Sweetbreads. Photo by The Ship

Butter Poached Salmon 

Soured Cream Sorbet, Avocado Puree, Melba Toast and Scorched Lemon Dressing

For me, this was the standout dish from the savory section. Perfectly cooked and wonderfully flavoured, the sour cream sorbet was a surprisingly tasty hit.

Butter Poached Salmon. Photo by The Ship

Poached Duck Breast 

Foie Gras Donut, Confit Leg Meat, Almond Fluid Gel, Duck Scratching and Cherry Jus

First up, I'm going to say I really enjoyed this dish - beautifully cooked duck is a real treat - but I feel that a with a few small tweaks this meal could have been amazing.

The foie gras donut was a little on the dry side and while I found the duck scratching tasty, it was slightly too rich for the portion size. The richness of the dish could have been toned down by adding more of the sharp cherry jus or a more greenery to the plate.
Poached Duck Breast. Photo by The Ship

Hot Apple and Blackberry Crumble Shot

There is no other word to describe this little dessert than 'wow'. How can one person pack so much flavour into one tiny little shot glass?

Designed to easy the diner into dessert, the proper way to consume this pud is to remove the oat biscuit on top, drop the jelly pastel into the warm 'crumble' mix then down in one.

I didn't quiet follow the instructions, it was too tasty for me not to siip, and savour, slowly.

As one diner aptly described: "it was like something from Willy Wonka!".
Hot Apple and Blackberry Crumble Shot. Photo by The Ship

Iced Coffee and Chocolate Parfait 

Frangelico Cream, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Tuille

By this stage of the evening it started to look like food had won. 

And then this arrived at my table - a vision of chocolatey goodness covered in gold flake.


It took a good whack of the spoon to break through the dark chocolate shell (all made by the chef's own hands I might add) and fashioning the perfect scoop with equal parts cream, truffle, chocolate and salted caramel it was quite possibly the best dessert I have ever eaten.

Extra bonus - the addition of some kind of popping candy/chocolate.
Iced Coffee and Chocolate Parfait. Photo by The Ship

Final Thoughts

What an amazing evening of food. If you ever come across a menu featuring Nathan Richardson behind the grill you must go! Now. That is an order!