Cheesecake alert!

The Crab and Lobster had possibly one of the best desserts I've had in a long time - blueberry cheesecake with shredded maple syrup pancake on top, served with cinnamon ice cream. An 8.5 out of 10, if ever I tasted one (for those of you keeping count, Barn@the Biscuit still scores higher with a 9). It's strange that I have such a fascination for cheesecake, as I really don't like puddings much at all.

There's a lot you can do with dog biscuits apparently, if you like crafting real-life scenes from things like crackers and broccoli...


Time for some philosophy...

of weblogs, that is. The best-written commentary and explanation on blogs I've ever read comes from plasticbag.org.

Weblogs allow people to find new and interesting links on the internet. They let people read the soap operas (small and large) of real people's lives. They give you access to the news stories from the people who were actually there on the ground.

As for explodingchef, it's an (unconscious) attempt to merge the idea of a weblog and a journal (a j-blog?). A soap opera? Probably. The journalist in me loves the idea of you being able access news on the ground through my site, but that's something I'll maybe have to work on.


Teacake review!

Tunnocks dark chocolate tea cakes are a winner. Don't go eating them if you want a huge chocolatey hit - like the milk chocolate variety, it's very much about the squidgy gooey marshmallow experience (followed by the crunch of biscuit).

We're off to the Crab and Lobster near Thirsk tomorrow, to celebrate Ian and Claire getting engaged. The menu on the website looks pretty good - think it's going to take me most of the way there in the car to decide!


At last!

My Tim Parks book finished, I can finally get round to reading about Nigel. Can't wait...

I think I have found my dream biscuit. Regular readers will know of my devotion to Tunnocks Tea Cakes, which rate no 2 on the all-time top 10 biscuit list (no 1 being of course Pepperidge Farm cookies...). But it just gets better - yes, Tunnocks have released DARK CHOCOLATE tea cakes! What more could any self-respecting biscuit-lover desire?


We love Raymond Blanc

Chef attacks Mars Bar culture. Why don't more chefs stand up and take on business like this, rather than going for tie-ins and sponsorship? (Gary Rhodes and sugar springs to mind...)


Still on the subject of pies...

In case you were wondering, here are the recipes of the three winning pies at the Puyallup Fair. For those of you at the back not paying attention, the Puyallup Fair is a 17-day event held each September, in Puyallup, Washington, USA (where else?!).

On a completely different subject...Nigel Slater's Toast has arrived! See what I'm talking about - here's an extract in The Observer Food Monthly... I'm trying to save Nigel until I've finished my current book about Italian football (don't ask!) but it's a difficult task...


Fried pies?

Apparently, they're a delicacy from Northwest Alabama...sounds like a coronary-inducing dessert, second only to deep-fried mars bars!

My current home-baking efforts are a little more northern - currently sitting in my kitchen is a whole tin of parkin. Or what I call parkin anyway - a deeply sticky ginger traybake cake, with a glossy brown top, made with black treacle. Before anyone shouts, I know that this probably isn't what constitutes parkin for everyone - my friend, Ian, for example, makes his with oatmeal, and it's more of a heavy-duty flapjacky kind of thing. But for me it's the cake with the slightly chewy top and darkly gingery inside that reminds me of Bonfire Nights. I'm drooling at my desk just thinking about it...


Stuck in a hurricane?

Never fear...here's some top tips on food, for when you get peckish.



Good news! Garlic kills slugs. Maybe there is hope for my green beans after all...

Tried the ice-cream at the Crescent Cafe in Seaton Delaval yesterday, with Mog, Pippa and Jack. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of vanilla, but this was beautiful, almost toffee-y stuff. The coffee flavour was pretty good too. I'm torn, though - I still really like Cresswell Ices, further up the coast, as they do a mean mint choc chip.



And not just any old cakes either. Wedding cakes, to be specific. Mine was a traditional fruit cake in three tiers (I hate fruit cake, so I had a separate sponge tier just for me), with plain white icing, garlanded with sweet peas.

But if I was to go back and do it again, I think my choice would be tiers composed of fairy cakes, each decorated with white icing and little silver balls. On the other hand, now you can have a cake made entirely of cheese (what a fabulous idea!) or perhaps a Krispy Kreme donut cake....

Incidentally, how long do fruit cakes keep for? We've still got the top tier in a tin, over a year later...

The blackberry sorbet was quite successful...only quite, because I think it had too much sugar in for my taste. That's what happens when you use Nigella's recipe for redcurrant sorbet and selectively mess about with it.

A man and his quest for biscuits in Charleston. Apparently it's Biscuits and Gravy Week. Note to self. Must try next time in the States, just to see if it's as weird as it sounds.


Seduced by waves of nostalgia, I bought a packet of iced gems yesterday, and promptly ate the lot. There's just something about the combination of hard crunchy icing and biscuit that goes down so well. Takes me back to 70s parties, when there would be plates of them along with the jelly, ice cream, iced fairy cakes, and hundreds and thousands.


Went to Blackfriars in the centre of Newcastle on Saturday night with the usual suspects to celebrate Jane's birthday. I had some fab vegetarian food, but the others weren't so sure...the steak with korma sauce came in for a bit of criticism, and I think they might be right - tasted far too sweet for me (and it's not just us who thought that). The prices were equally high, but I don't think the imagination and quality match up to other places like Barn@the Biscuit or Cafe 21.

Toad in the hole on Sunday courtesy of Blenky and ginger cake with lime icing from Ian. Good food is alive and well in the North Yorkshire hills. And the North Yorkshire hills are alive to the sound of blackberrying - picked tons of brambles in the forest, ready to experiment on some bramble sorbet. Might even make some jam, although I've no jars left now after making all that chutney.

"I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond."
Mae West


One of the best programmes on radio about food, Radio 4's The Food Programme has a fantastic archive on its website. You can track down anything from the programmes on food styling to toffee, and listen again to the latest edition. Classy, in-depth info at the touch of a button.


Departing from the subject of food slightly, a site that's definitely worth a visit, if only because it's written by a lass with a passion for pickled onion flavour space raider crisps. (If you have no idea what these are - and to be honest you probably had to be a kid during the 1970s in England when they cost about 3p to know - here's a taste)


It's been a quiet day in the world of news, and I'm uninspired on the subject of food as well. Some days hunting down the entertaining and quirky in the world of food just seems like too much hard work. Whinge. I think I need to go home for a cup of tea.

But before I go, did you know that the oldest surviving piece of chocolate went on display in America in June? Apparently the small lump, found in the tomb of a Honduran king, is around 1,500 years old. Probably looks a lot like the dusty stuff at the back of my cupboard which I really must get rid of.


No cheesecake at Barn@the Biscuit. Boo hiss. But the rest of the meal was fantastic - I had rare tuna for the first time, on a bed of spicy noodles and realised how it really should taste.

The rest of the weekend was a trip into the world of roasting. Roasted vegetables with feta cheese and pasta on Saturday, after a long day of painting the skirting boards in the attic and tidying up the front garden. Roast lamb, courtesy of Mog and Pippa (with a fab Yorkshire pudding) in the middle of laying laminate in the attic on Sunday. Whatever you do, don't lay laminate after Sunday lunch. It's not good for the stomach muscles.