Brebis West Berkshre Mencap Dinner Fundraiser

This is amazing!  We are already selling tickets for our Brebis fund raising dinner on Wednesday 16th September and we haven’t even started advertising it yet.  Indeed we are still finalising the flyer.  However I think you clever people have worked out that there are a limited number of tables at Brebis, the food is outstanding and it is only £50 for an amazing meal including wine.  Call Newbury 01635 41464 if you also want to get ahead of the others, otherwise there will be flyers etc coming out soon.

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Le Manoir courses with cheeky Adam, the tutor with sass

There were so many course to choose from and if you look on the website you will see a range of new ones including BBQs, cooking with children, macaroons, the choice is amazing.  I would die and go to heaven if I could do the canape course bearing in mind my two favourite food groups were champagne and canapés.  Now I have given up drinking to raise money for West Berkshire Mencap but can still eat my bodyweight in canapés.

  All info can be found here

Below are some of the highlights and at the end I will give you just a few of the wonderful tips but not all because to get them you need to do the course.  I was lucky enough to win the course from @Country and Town Magazine, a wonderful and inspirational read.

IMG_3210This is the poor lady paired up with a one handed blogger that just wanted to take photos.  Luckily she was a great cook.

IMG_3223this was the braised squid with chorizo.  There are two ways to cook squid, flash fry or slow braise which I had never done before.  There were about a dozen ingredients plus some herbs and spices but the whole thing was really easy to do. Tip from Adam, don’t bother de pipping tomatoes when you are cooking at home, he doesn’t!  In fact I cant be sure he skinned them either, this is my sort of cooking!  I am not saying I don’t love my family and friends but they can eat tomato pips or pay to go to a restaurant of great quality, taking me obviously.

      IMG_3217 If only my good was set out for me like this EVERY time I cooked, it makes life so much easier and the quality of the food is really good

IMG_3222        Ballotine of poached salmon; dill cucumber, cauliflower florets and horseradish sauce (except we used wasabi)

Again such a simple dish to make and looked so classy, al of these dishes are given options to make little changes off the dish or garnish according to what you have in the cupboard or fancy.  You also get advice on what you can prep in advance so that if you are having a dinner party you can be the cool serene hostess instead of the sweaty panicking scary hostess.

IMG_3220 Just an example of the beautiful products around the kitchen

IMG_3211so proud of my chefs jacket which I get to keep by the way


There are well placed screens around the kitchen so that you can catch all the detail.  There Adam has rolled a small bit of pastry into cling film and is pressing the edges of the tart into the sides

IMG_3197How perfect is that, I haven’t done pastry for years

IMG_3202My long suffering friend was allowed to make a peach tart instead of a cherry tart

Ok because of my broken wrist Adam had to roll my pastry but I am sure I could have done it :-)

IMG_3193Coincidentally a great demo of all Raymond Blancs wonderful books, most of which I have

IMG_3175Half time biscuits, guess how many were left at the end of the break :-)

IMG_3189         Salt baked leg of lamb with salsa

This was delicious and quirky.  There is something primeval about blowtorching the lamb then covering it in a saltcrust which keeps the moisture in.  The salsa verde was a huge punch of flavour that gave the tender lamb balls, culinarily speaking.



       IMG_3186 IMG_3185 IMG_3184    Another pic of me with my chefs jacket, did I say how much I loved it.

IMG_3224I so wish I had room for this ham hock terrine with soused vegetables but I will definitely be making it.  Adam says a ham hock is less that £3 and if you pressure cook it (another Adam tip, pressure cooking improves favour and you can buy a pressure cooker from Raymond Blancs products)  There are gelatine options but I would go for pigs head or trotters.  The soused vegetables were fresh and sharp and perfect.

Ok now you get some tips for free

Blanch basil before making it into pesto

drain bitterness from parsley by blanching it

Stock – half roasted and half not roasted chicken wings and use for everything, stock is a carrer for most sauces

Think outside the box

taste taste taste taste taste taste

Adam was brilliant, entertaining, matter of fact and inspiring, well worth doing his course.

And try these courses – they are amazing and if someone wants to sponsor me to do the canapé one I will come and do canapés for them

KC Tavern – complete turnaround, fab

I love a pub run by passionate people and the owners, Josh and Inna Khan, have it in heaps.  In fact if you get a chance to chat to them they have the most amazing story of how they came to be running the KC.  They could have a whole radio programme to themselves and you would be riveted.  Tony and I were lucky enough to be invited to their open evening and wow what a change since last time I visited several years earlier.  The decor was lovely, beautiful shabby chic with the emphasis on chic.  I loved the beautiful fresh flowers dotted around the pub.

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Cocktail List

2015-06-15 20.34.21 roast beef in yorkshires, they are not mean with the portions

    2015-06-15 20.27.19     beautifully presented chicken siders

     2015-06-15 20.22.07        not just burgers, these are KC burgers, superb, a tang of pickle and hard to eat just one

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ok how cute are these fish and chip cones, fresh fish with a big fat chip at the bottom

2015-06-15 20.03.30 These chicken pies were astounding, home made pastry with a rich bechamel sauce and very big bits of chicken

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2015-06-15 19.30.38 Taste sensations, a Greek salad with an amazing vinaigrette which hit the spot perfectly

   2015-06-15 19.24.29        Tony was in heaven, these were fat fresh crispy whitebait with the most wonderful home made tartare sauce.  Hard to prize the bowl from his hand!

2015-06-15 19.13.47 Fresh crunchy bread-crumbed large prawns with that fantastic home made tartare sauce

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Ooh these were truly yummy, home made sausage and pickle rolls that were incredibly moreish

2015-06-15 18.39.50 New and very talented chef John Brye who has some good references and who we are lucky to have in Newbury

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  2015-06-15 18.35.44 Dogs welcome

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    2015-06-15 18.35.16 Josh and Inna Khan the proprietors

2015-06-15 18.57.15  What a great idea, a 3 thirds of pints to try

  2015-06-15 18.47.13 Beauty

 2015-06-15 21.07.32home made truffles, what not to like!

2015-06-15 20.50.21I loved this, sticky toffee pudding on sticks with a dip!!  Brilliant

They have an amazing menu that includes scallops with chorizo, walnut and saffron beurre blanc or gnocchi with honey roasted figs .

They have a great range of ales and wines, anyone who hasn’t been to the KC for a while will be very pleasantly surprised by the positive changes that have taken place particularly to the decor, the food and the welcome.

When I can I will review the evening menu which looks pretty tantalising but in the meantime do go and try it,

2015-06-15 19.30.17One happy husband, Good Old Boy, the most delicious whitebait and Camra.  Perfect

Vineyard – Belated Birthday Gift – Canapés of Greatness

For those that follow my facebook page you will know that I have been banging on about minimising, getting rid of ‘stuff’ and having experiences instead.  Read that as you will but in my case I have been asking for meals out as birthday and Christmas presents.  I love food as you know and if I had to pay for every meal I reviewed on here, well it would be a tiny list.  I am fortunate that I am often comped but my view is that if I am doing a review I should always be prepared to pay, blogging not blagging (so there Jay Rayner).  Every time I am comped or given a decent discount it enables me to do another review sooner but it will not influence my blog.

I am incredibly fortunate that there are many times that I am asked to do a review and am comped which is very generous but if I just want to do a review without being asked then I am always prepared to pay.  On top of that my radio interviews with chefs/patrons/owners of good pubs and restaurants cost nothing as I don’t need to eat and it enables a wide audience to find out what is happening with menu or staff changes or future ideas locally.  Of course eating helps but is not necessary so feel free to contact me if you know of a great place that could make a great interview.

This is all because of my growing belief that the things that matter are the times we share not the things that we accumulate that fill up our life and homes and detract from spending important times with family and friends.  To my mind that is always best enjoyed with good food and where better than the Vineyard.  Welcoming, beautiful, delicious and luxurious.  When you think about the fund times when you were a child wasn’t it more about times together, holidays, days out, picnics with family, friends and great food.

I was very fortunate that, it being a special occasion for me I begged for some canapes, indeed I could have an entire meal consisting entirely of canapés, particularly from The Vineyard, and was lucky enough to have some.  When we arrived we ordered drinks and were brought delicious olives and nuts which made me happyish.  Then ……….


 This is what was presented to us, guess where the wine comes from?  We are very lucky to have Sir Peter Michael in West Berkshire for a lot of reasons but today it was for employing Daniel Galmiche and his team for creating the best canapés ever.  I could have done cartwheels in the bar except it may have been considered unseemly.  Totally warranted though.


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Ok here is a rough idea of what I ate, they very kindly provided two of everything otherwise Tony would be terribly sad and hungry.

We had veloute, celeriac if I remember rightly, delicious and completely showing the sign of a great veloute, where you wish you had a huge trough of it to snuffle in.  Then there was a prawn ceviche, tangy, herby with the freshest prawns.  Next was the most amazing minced beef on a parmesan crisp, completely new combination of tastes for me and irresistible.  Finally a skewer of heirloom tomatoes which was nice although overpowered by the deliciousness of the other items on offer.

IMG_3017Arty view of canapes


Tony, donator of this wonderful experience


IMG_3024Sweet onion veloute, fois gras, pickled red onion.  Delicious

IMG_3025Brixham Lemon Sole, shellfish emulsion, pak choi salad, cockles

IMG_3030Saddle of Cornish marsh lamb



Corn fed chicken, endive, toasted cauliflower, collonata


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 White chocolate and passion fruit terrine, stunning



IMG_3036Petit fours beautifully presented


 My garden oven so far, I am living in hope that it will be completed before the end of summer, does anyone have a spare?

Posts to come

The Crab and Boar is on my list to write up as is a quickie on the Vineyard canapes and tomorrow I am reviewing the Yew Tree.  I also have a Brebis in hand so to speak.  Next week is Taste of London with a special with Chef Steve Groves from Roux@Parliament Square.  How cool is this, whoop whoop.

Also had an amazing lunch at the Royal Box at Newbury Race Course today, their food is really good which is just as well as we are holding our race day there again on March 4th with an interim event in August.

Gallimaufry Bristol, lovely little plates of yummy food

I have been hassled for some time to try this place by several people, the most persistent being Rachel, my blog inspiring daughter.  I was really looking forward to it as it was described as a selection of small plates, my favourite as long as there are a LOT, and each one was described brilliantly to lure me in.

Lots of delicious little dishes, one or two that were a tad disappointing but I was assured that they were normally much better.  This looked to me like a hipster joint, it often does live music and is very popular with young Bristolians (I am neither hip or young or from Bristol but willing and able).  The decoration is great and the staff were welcoming.  While we waited to decide on the small mountain of food that we were going to order we snacked on fried maize which I had never had before and would definitely have again.

IMG_2657_2My reason for coming down to review, they deserve commission

2015-03-17 17.51.47 Mussels, coriander and chilli, tasty


 2015-03-17 17.45.32 Garlic, smoked paprika and almond with flatbread, amazing depths of flavour, soft and spongy delicious flatbread

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Loved the gnocchi, best I have had in a long while2015-03-17 17.39.49Hake fillet, leek and celeriac, great fish

2015-03-17 17.39.35 2015-03-17 17.38.40 2015-03-17 17.30.07    2015-03-17 17.23.31 2015-03-17 17.04.34 2015-03-17 17.02.43    IMG_1620 IMG_1619 IMG_1618       There were a couple of things that weren’t quite as good as they had been before (according to my lovely referrers) but it may have been a bad night, I would not hesitate to go back to the Gallimaufry and would recommend it to anyone who wants a fun night with good food.

2015-03-17 17.24.25My lovely Rachel with her lovely Mouse, irritating as she was always Mouse so now she has to be Mrs Mouse.  harrumph, how come the new love of their life takes precedence over their very precious mum!!!

Next review will be The Vineyard and then the Crab and Boar

Wa flipping hoo!! WBMencap has the best prizes ever for Race Day 4th March 2016 BREBIS!!

Brebis have offered me a chef for ten people to cook in their home, winner provides wine and we will cover fuel.  I want this prize!  Here are examples of what you could eat.  Although for a chance to win you do need to buy a ticket to the most fun day ever, the West Berkshire Mencap Race Day 4th March 2016, half the tables already gone but still looking for race sponsors which gives you a table as well as watching your race from the Royal Box and loads of sponsorship opportunities.  Also prizes like this!!!

2015-05-29 12.33.51This is a fabulously well priced prix fixee that you dont have to worry about if you win our prize!  If you don’t win then get down to Brebis and try it out, you wont be disappointed

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A wonderful and joyous surprise in the mouth of gazpacho with extras that I didn’t write down so rely on the chefs to update if  they want to.

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oooh home cured salmon with a zillion really carefully chosen and perfected items that went with it that again you just need to try, this isnt a proper review, it is an example of my inability not to show you amazing food but detail is NOT my thing

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Hake with crushed potatoes, these guys must have weird quirky relationships with fish as they know just how to cook them.  I suspect they spend time in the water, lure the fishies in and then kill them with kindness somehow.  I dont want to think too much about that bit.

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I had to show you my half eaten food so you can get an idea of how amazingly cooked the fish is.  Brebis food is so flipping amazing and there may be an exciting event happening on 16th September at Brebis.  £50 for an amazing meal, with wine that will support West Berkshire Mencap

if you want to sponsor a race, book a table or place for Race Day please move fast and call West Berkshire Mencap on 01635 41464 or email  Same for the Brebis Dinner