How to make the perfect cup of tea. Not sure I agree with all this malarkey, particularly the idea of leaving the tea to steep for 5 minutes. It'll just turn that horrible orange colour, and have a really tannin-y taste.

No, my idea of the perfect cuppa is to pour some milk into a mug, add a Redbush teabag, pour in some boiling water, swish the teabag around slighly until the milky colour darkens to a very light brown, and then lift out and deposit the teabag in a bin. It's a method perfected over years of being the only one in the house who drinks tea, making a whole pot a bit unneccesary. My friend Beth would hate it - she's the original drinker of "bleach your knickers" orange tea, a phrase coined by Darren. Why, we can't remember, but it goes back into the mists of time at college.


The best meal for me of the whole Sardinia trip was a visit to an agritourismo. The Sardinians are being encouraged to restore traditional farm buildings, and use them to gain tourism income - so you see lots of signs for B&B or farms offering local produce and meals. The one we went to was deep in the countryside, in the middle of a valley. It grew its own produce (organic, of course) and raised animals. It was one of those places with a set fee and a set meal - and around 10 tables for diners, outside in its gardens.

The set meal was fantastic...

  • antipasto of peppered salami and pecorino cheese, a chickpea dish, a potato dish, paper-thin bread, goats cheese, roasted peppers and aubergines and a gorgeous tuna and onion/celery dish
  • pigs trotters in a tomato sauce
  • fresh pasta, with a potato, cheese and herb filling
  • bread soaked in broth, topped with cheese and then baked
  • home-made sausages, cooked with olives
  • roast suckling pig, with endive and tomato salad
  • seadas - a Sardinian dessert, basically a huge piece of pasta filled with ricotta cheese, fried, and then served in a lemony-honey syrup
  • coffee, and myrto, the local liqueur

The food was just amazing - beautifully cooked, and made from very fresh ingredients. Didn't need to eat for a week after all that...


Not been around for a while...the fault of too much DIY, a trip to see the folks, and then a holiday in Sardinia....where the food was completely spectacular. Italians really know how to cook, and the Sardinians are obsessive about using home-grown, organic food, which meant that the stuff available in the markets was fantastic. Tomatoes that really tasted like tomatoes, the world's largest aubergines, proper buffalo milk mozarella cheese...the list was endless. The pasta fresca shop in Cannigione was a huge hit (I can see why the Italians don't make their own at home).


Viva la popcorn! Absolutely.

Went out for lunch today, to celebrate (a) the fact that it's Friday and (b) after 10pm I'm on holiday for 2 weeks! Ended up at Cafe Parisa on the Quayside, where you have a fabulous view of passing suits, tourists, and random people pootling past, topped off by a backdrop of the construction site that is the Sage Gateshead. The food wasn't bad either - my burger was pretty good. I don't know what it is, but every so often I get a craving for a really good burger (preferably one made of good ground meat, with chopped onion). McDonalds need not apply.

Although I hate to admit it, I do have a soft spot for Maccy D's breakfasts, while travelling around. Although the menu is far better in the States, where you are actually allowed to have bagels and frozen yoghurts...and somehow their coffee tastes far superior too.


In a fit of madness yesterday, I made cheese scones for lunch. To Mum's recipe, of course.

8oz self raising flour (or in my case, plain flour with a teaspoon of baking powder)
2oz butter
1 teaspoon paprika (what I really wanted was Coleman's English mustard powder, but there was none in the house)
some grated cheese (a bit of farmhouse Lancashire, and some mature cheddar that was left in the fridge)
1/4 pint of milk

Rubbed the butter into the flour, trying not to spread it all over the kitchen floor. Added the paprika and cheese. Mixed in the milk to make a squishy dough. Was so lazy that I couldn't even be bothered to get the pastry cutters out of the filing cabinet, and just sqodged out the dough into 6 round (ish) balls, and flattened them. Baked for 12 minutes in the ridiculously swift fan oven at 180C. Delicious. Not surprisingly, there's not many left...

While I'm on the subject of ovens, does anyone else just seem to use the one temperature? (in my case 180C) It seems to work for everything so far.


The rhubarb and gooseberries have finally left the building...courtesy of (a) a Nigella Lawson recipe for rhubarb polenta cake (not bad, but a bit soggy for my liking, and I probably won't make it again) and (b) Pippa, who whisked them off to be topped by sponge. I'm still not keen on either, it has to be said. I'll probably get hate mail from rhubarb lovers now, but to be honest, for me you can't beat raspberries, picked straight from the garden. I've got a container of raspberry canes, grown on from a single cane that Astrid gave me years ago...and this year's been the best yet.


When you can't remember what those sweets were that you had as a kid, cybercandy has a list of practically all of them. And will sell them to you too! And if you're feeling exotic, you can check out sweet stuff from around the world, including Oreos, Hershey sweets, and Tim Tams...

On a completely unrelated to food note, went to see Herbie Hancock at the City Hall last night...it's the first time I've ever walked out of a gig. Two hours of complete boredom. I don't think I'm suited to modern jazz... And there was no interval and therefore no ice creams. I don't know what the world is coming to...


I'd love to get my hands on some of these cheesecakes...they're far more inventive with flavours over the pond than we are over here. In fact, when all you mostly get in restaurants is a Sara Lee frozen jobby, it's a poor show.

I'm in the middle of reading Gennaro Contaldo's Passione. And he'd be absolutely appalled by the idea of cheesecake from the deep-freeze in the supermarket, I'd bet. His recipes are fantastic - but then he did have the advantage of growing up in the Italian countryside, surrounded by wonderful ingredients in a culture of home-cooking. There's my dilemma, you see. I'm a city girl, and couldn't contemplate living anywhere else. But I would love to be able to grow far more of my own food than I can in my tiny back yard. There's only so much you can grow in a grow-bag.