Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Buffalo Mozzarella
 To a large extent the pictures tell the story of my night out last week at Westminster Kingsway College, tasting the very first selection of products brought to London by a start up business, The Sauce Two men, Niels and Florian, have made it their mission to introduce truly extraordinary food to the UK, so that more may sample 'the best food you've never tried in London'.

Quite an ambition! But, on the basis of the tasting the other night, one that they are achieving with ease.

Amalfi lemons - spot the odd one out!
Tasting these  Sfuasato lemons was indeed a first for me, they are HUGE things and gentler on the tastebuds than their sour little cousins. Shavings of the peel with a dollop of ricotta was a really lovely mouthful, clean and delicate, a real delight.

Palely beautiful buffalo butter

 I adore all things salami and these were no exception, pancetta longha - the one that looks like bacon - was a particular favourite. Without need of grilling or eggs or accompaniment of any sort it is best simply thinly sliced and eaten immediately.

Students tuck into treats
 The students loved it too!

Niels and Florian - passionate about seriously great food

Tuna in jars

The food I loved the most out of such a wonderful array was the tuna - there was roe preserved as bottarga which, thinly sliced is an intensely salty umami rich mouthful and thoroughly moreish. I tried tuna heart, which was a little chewier and stronger in flavour, the liver which was very strong, not quite to my taste really, and lastly there was Ventresca. Cured tuna belly, preserved in olive oil, it was the best I have ever tried. Utterly gorgeous.

Loveliest fig I've ever eaten
To finish the tasting there were white figs - fichi bianchi - which I really enjoyed, and I'm not even a fan of figs!
Students clearing the kitchen
This is a great way to sample new and interesting foods of the highest quality. Check out The Sauce and sign up for more information and possibly to buy a box of treats. With this kind of quality you'll be delighted!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Olive Oil Chocolate Sponge Cake

I love olive oil. Like garlic and salt I am never without some, it is one of my absolute must haves in the kitchen. Last week I emptied the last of my 3 litre tin into my 500ml bottle and felt a tiny bit anxious that I might run out before I had been to the market to buy another 3 litre tin. I don't really like using cheap olive oils, they don't bring enough to the food, particularly not to salad dressings.

You might think that's a slightly mad assertion but I went to a tasting of Spanish olive oils recently and it was fascinating how different the oils were and how much the flavour changed depending on what - if anything - was eaten with it. I used to associate olive oil exclusively with Italy but in fact Spain is the world's major olive oil produceer and the ones I tried were extraordinary in their diversity. The oils were poured out into wine glasses, first to be sniffed and then savoured in the mouth, swilling gently and breathing through the oil to really appreciate the full flavour. The oils ran the gamut of sweet, through bitter to incredibly spicy though interestingly the smell and the taste didn't always match. Surprised me! The other surprising thing I learnt was that one litre is the average annual consumption of olive oil here in the UK. Given that the man and I get through about 12 litres, I'm worrying there are people out there who are seriously missing out!

There was a time when I thought the microwaved chocolate cake, ready in minutes, was an internet joke gone viral. Turns out it really works - and I know that because I recently got my first oven which, amongst a gazillion other functions, microwaves things. If  I'm honest I am still a bit trepidatious around it, but I'm delighted to say that making this yummy little cake is a decidedly tasty way to get a grip!

Olive Oil Chocolate Sponge Cake

The olive oil makes the cake lovely and moist and the cocoa makes it lovely and chocolatey - definitely a good combination

4 tablespoons plain flour
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons olive oil
A tiny pinch of baking powder
A little cinnamon or vanilla, optional

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Grease the sides of a 400ml bowl or cup and pour the mixture in. Microwave at maximum power (800-1000 watts) for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and tip the cake onto a plate. 

Consume immediately! A dollop of cream or jam is optional.