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barrafina, w1

it’s odd but if i am ever asked what is my favourite type of food is, it really wouldn’t occur to me to say spanish, but when i think about my favourite meals in recent months, it has been london’s spanish restaurants that have been exciting me.

and thanks to barrafina i am very excited. barrafina is the sister restaurant to fino, which is a long-standing favourite of mine. barrafina is a stylish tapas bar, modelled on cal pep in barcelona. it has a mere 23 stools placed around an l-shaped bar, behind which are the metal hot-plates (plancha) on which, much of the food you eat will be grilled.

arrive early and expect to queue. but don’t worry, the queuing is no hardship – a glass or two from their excellent wine list and possible a few tapas to stop your tummy from growling too loudly and the time will fly by.

in addition to the items on the menu there were a number of specials on offer, several of which we decided to try.

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the lure of a new cook book…


it intrigues me how some cookery books cast a spell upon me when i’m flicking through them in a shop or at a friend’s house but, once they are mine, they stop singing their siren song.

this happened when i bought the moro cookbook, the first book by sam & sam clark. it sat on my bedside table for many months, being looked at regularly but never quite capturing my imagination sufficiently to cause me to try a recipe. but then, as if by magic, i was captured once again and all the dishes that had jumped off the page and begged to be cooked were jostling for position.

this chorizo and spinach paella was the first to make it onto my table and is one of the dishes that i make most often from the book. i now own all three moro books and have gone through this same process with each of them. well, not quite all - moro east remains resolutely silent. if you have any particular recommendations, do let me know, i’m not good at being patient.

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march foodie profile: neil armstrong


as you’ll know, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

this month we’re hearing from neil armstrong who lives and works in london. he also publishes a fabulous variety of  food-related podcasts, recipes and photos at gastronautics.  

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leek and bacon black eyed bean bake


one dish dinners, what a joy! a single pot or pan to wash up and a mountain of delicious tasty food to tuck into. risotto is often my first choice when i want something simple, not least as i find it very soothing to make – it must be all that stirring!

however, dishes which can be assembled and then put in the oven and forgotten about are also a great option, and this creamy beany, bacon and leek bake is a particularly good example. based on a recipe i saw over at a forkful of spaghetti, this dish is full of flavour and the balance of creamy, cheesy richness with the healthiness of beans and green freshness of the leek is just perfect.

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daring bakers: french bread


another month, another daring bakers’ challenge. and what a challenge it was – julia child’s french bread!

julia child is a name that i have become familiar with since i started reading blogs from around the world. she was america ’s first celebrity chef who was at the height of her fame in the 1960s after she published mastering the art of french cooking, a summary of what she and two fellow graduates learnt at the cordon bleu cookery school in paris . she has been credited with inspiring a boom of french restaurants and fresh food markets across america . sadly she died in 2004.

so, julia child’s french bread, how did i get on?

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