REVIEW: Kindlewood mobile pizzeria, Brighton Station

Ah pizza…the cause of many Twitter scuffles and heated conversations for me. Frankly, so far in this city, there are few, if any, pizzerias that have impressed me. And I don't really care that people claim "x"or "y" is UH-MAZING. It maybe amazing compared with the Domino's and frozen pizzas that some may have dared to put in their mouths in the past but none of the skill in crafting the dough has really compared to true Italian pizza, either Neapolitan or the thicker style from Rome.

It's a simple beast really but quality of ingredients and handling of the dough is everything. Details that some overlook entirely. Crikey, look at Pizza7 who had everything apart from a decent dough going for it. That went up in flames in a matter of months. 

But Kindlewood Pizza is a welcome addition to the gourmet train station we now have at Brighton. This mobile pizzeria is housed in a beautifully restored 1969 Citroen H van, pride of place outside on the forecourt. As mobile eateries go, this is one of the most gorgeous for sure. There are very few vans I would contemplate pulling up a chair to eat lunch from but I could happily do so in my heels here. The team behind this venture are CafĂ© Coho who have two successful and very good cafes in Brighton. They certainly know a thing or two about the food industry so I think this is a nice off-shoot for them.

When trying pizza, I always start with a Margarita and it was pretty good. I like the fact you can order a half pizza to go at a mere £3 and whole ones start from £5.50. They cook in a matter of seconds too so this is a great place to grab a bite on the fly or linger a little longer on the bar with a San Pelligrino.

The base was probably a bit too thin (I suspect they roll rather than mould the bases by hand) but crisp and just charred enough to give you the delicious flavour from the wood oven. The dough was well seasoned as was the sauce, with the right amount of basil. For once I didn't have any complaints on either the amount of cheese or sauce. You could easily eat the slice without anything sliding off or any wrangling with a floppy corner.

Eating pizza straight away from the oven is best but if for any reason you have to take-away I like that they have avoided the use of boxes which would be an environmental frown. A simple paper plate and greaseproof paper is all that's used and needed. My studio is mere stone's throw so lucky me! 

Even if you don't have a train to catch, make an effort to visit Kindlewood. Pull up a stool and try a pizza, deliciously mouth scolding hot from the oven. As it should be.

Would I go back and make a dent in the other pizzas? I'm not quite ready to renounce my nationality but I'll absolutely revisit. And there isn't anyone else I can say that about so far. 

Brighton Station (forecourt)
Queen's Road
Brighton BN1 3XP

English's of Brighton seafood restaurant, Brighton

There are not many restaurants that could be classed as a Brighton institution but English's of Brighton is most definitely one of the small handful. It has existed in the same location since 1945, with a much older fish restaurant on the same premises from the late 1800s. You can even still see the original embossed brass plate on the outside.

Sitting at the oyster bar, it could be any era really, I doubt much has changed looking at the faded framed pictures on the wall, the charmingly worn print on the plates and handwritten old menu. And I love it, few places could exude this type of eccentric atmosphere, and one that cannot be created unless it had been seasoned in place over decades. I only regret not having visited sooner, thinking this was a quaint old place for tourists and the over 60s, the only people that seem to appreciate velour seating.

I suppose I have also been seduced to frequent the handful of other good fish restaurants with their neue lux surroundings (Riddle and Finns) or exciting and accomplished cooking (Little Fish Market).

So before we go ahead, here is my secret. Seafood is the only thing I dislike eating and one mollusc in particular, the oyster. I don't believe that you should "hate" any food (microchips and frozen pizza aside) so have always been disappointed with myself for not enjoying seafood, especially as Mr. GF can devour huge platters of the stuff like a seal. I feel like I have failed as a food appreciator as oysters are so revered, but I do try, and try again in hope.

So the invitation for an education in oysters at English's was exactly the ticket I needed to cure my palette. Oh, and the inclusion of champagne may have been a sweetener too. I KNOW I like that thank you very much.

We were hosted by Jonathan Speirs who has been the head Oyster Shucker at English's for over 10 years and for more than 30 in the industry. Unremarkably, he knows a thing or hundred about oysters. First, we were given a selection of cooked oysters, which I have never tried before, a good move rather than going in hard with raw ones.

Surprisingly, I liked them. The toppings (tempura with a dipping sauce, samphire and hollandaise and and the classic thermidor style) were a welcome taste distraction and cooking eliminated the squeamish qualities of the slippery, slimy raw oyster. Instead was a soft, mild little sea pillow with enough flavour to shine through the other flavours.

Next came the big boys and I will admit I wasn't exactly rubbing my hands together with glee. What was interesting is that we were given a selection of rock oyster varieties and we were told to eat them in a certain order, much like a cheese board based on strength. The Jersey oysters slipped down ok. They were quite firm and mild. I wouldn't say I was quite there with the love but I felt like I was finding my feet. Next were Lindisfarne oysters, a middle ground oyster. Again, I ate these with no issue. The only ones I did struggle with were the Mersea ones, which were so soft and creamy and possibly one texture of slippery too far. One for the oyster pros amongst you.

People say they taste of the sea, and I can't add much more to that. If you like them, you like them I guess and if you want to explore or know more about them, pull up a stool here and chat to the staff. I was happy to learn a little more, what affects the taste like the depth and temperature of the water and so on. Oysters, at the very least, are interesting little creatures.

But oysters are not the only thing on the menu at English's. Trying the sharing plates of sea treats like scallop cerviche, octopus carpaccio, mackerel samosa and their own home hay smoked tuna and salmon made me want to come back for more of the main courses.

Prices, as with most good seafood restaurants, are toward the more premium end, but as the price reflects the variety of what you are eating it all depends on what you order from mackerel fillets and mussels to lobsters, dover sole and brill. Some fish is just wildly expensive.

There is always a place in my heart for a proper restaurant. The more I see of stylised food trends, the more I seem to crave smart service and tablecloths. I want to be treated when I dine and English's is most definitely a special spot indeed, whether you are perched up at the bar, inside admiring the murals or outside in the bustling atmosphere of the square.

English's of Brighton
29- 31 East Street
Brighton BN1 1HL

I was a guest of English's.

REVIEW: Bluebird Tea Co., Brighton

Ok, ok, I'll admit that if you look into my tea cup you would normally find a cup of the finest mass produced builder's tea. Other than that I may have a few Earl Grey and some dusty herbal tea bags in the cupboard. Yet look on my shelf and you'll see my collection of teapots. I love them! I even had 200 British made teapots flown out to Italy for my wedding favours for the Italians, that like me, will display them on the shelf whilst we down our espressos.

But genuinely, the arrival of Bluebird Tea Co. in the North Laine has transformed hot beverages at GF towers. We've dusted off the teapots and filled them with the most wonderful Bluebird Tea blends. I suppose my lack of enthusiasm for tea is due to my ignorance on the subject. I've avoided mass produced fruit teabags because they taste like disappointment and dust. Yerk. But the Victoria Sponge mix here, with a base of Ceylon black tea with coconut, strawberry granules, whole freeze dried raspberries and raspberry leaves was anything but dusty. It was really vibrant and had a truly fruity taste with a comforting vanilla cakeish (it's a WORD) background.

I was trialling an "experience pack" which I think is a great idea if you are new to real tea or the BTC brand. They contain five blends in specific collections (chai, caffeine free...) or a pick n' mix of your own choosing. There is enough loose leaf tea in each for quite a few cups and there are some I would never have chosen yet will absolutely repurchase. Handily on each pack is the brewing guide, temperature and if it is served with or without milk for each tea to enjoy it at its best.

Favourite of my pack (which you can purchase in store and online) was the Gingerbread Chai. I loved it for after dinner. Handily caffeine free with a Rooibos base and an intense but not over the top spice from cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, softened with Mallow flowers.

I also tried out the Peppermint Cream (fun for after dinner), Nearly Nirvana (jasmine silver needle with spearmint) and the prettiest tea on the planet, Enchanted Narnia, with whole rosebuds, cocoa shells and raspberry leaves.

And look at the blends! They are utterly beautiful, as you can see all of the ingredients. yes some of the teas are quite quirky and I guess that gives this brand their playful charm but the taste is very serious and well considered, something you will want to drink again and again rather than experience for gimmicks sake.

And they don't just sell tea and tea accessories. There is a little bar in the corner for delicious iced and hot teas for take out or to perch on their bench seating. Plus they hold tea events in the evenings. I particularly like the sound of the tea mixology classes with tea cocktails. There is also a tea club you can join to really try out the different blends which are delivered to your home every month via a subscription.

I can't recommend this shop enough. Get down there, have a sniff and a cuppa. There will be something for all tastes whether you like spicy, fruity or fresh in all manner of base teas. Dark chocolate chilli chai, Apple Strudel, Fire chai, Monkey Chops or Bonfire toffee. Whatevs, it's there. Go.
Order online or at their store:
41 Gardner St

I was sent an experience pack for review.

REVIEW: Angelberry, Brighton

I love frozen yogurt. Anything that I can pass off as a relatively guilt-free treat, I'm all in. And I'm not the only one. The froyo craze is still running hard in the UK, particularly the self-serve, sold by the weight model which is what Angelberry is.

We're still not quite used to the idea of self service in the UK. People look awkward trying to do it. I like it though, and the set up here is quite basic. Grab a cup, choose your base probiotic froyo flavour(s) from the wall mounted pumps, then head over to the topping station. Then you weigh and pay at the till. All the while trying to retain an element of self-control.

I opted for a mix of plain natural yogurt and superfruit flavours which were as healthy as you can go and topped it with fresh mango, strawberries and blueberries. I don't have a massively sweet tooth so the tang of natural yogurt is particularly appealing and the superfruit flavour was fresh and fruity with the bonus of being sweetened by stevia not sugar.

Although with the eight other flavours, those that do prefer sweet things can knock themselves out with banana, tropical, chocolate or lemon cheesecake base flavours. There were loads of other toppings like cookies, sprinkles, marshmallows, sweets, nuts and chocolates too. I really enjoyed my portion, the fruit toppings were really fresh and exactly what I needed to cool off, felt like a treat and definitely left me wanting to revisit.

As it is sold by the weight, a guide for something like mine would be £3.75 at £1.85 per 100g. I thought that was quite a big portion but the tendency is to cram everything on. Probably not so good for the wallets of people who are a tad uncontrollable around buffets. Mr GF I'm LOOKING AT YOU. Other than that they do a variety of blended yogurt smoothies for £3 and hot drinks.

So all good. the problem? The problem is the bright pink and white brand in the environment of the North Laine. It looks a touch like a children's soft play centre from the outside so they will be attracting a very niche age group of teens and foreign students. And froyo is for everyone! I admit I have walked past due to this but the whole of the froyo sector seems to suffer a little from this saccharine aesthetic. It has that American jolliness which looks great in a US shopping mall, but not so great in the UK, especially away from the high street like this Brighton branch. Maybe it's the contrast with our grey skies?

Only a few of the other froyo brands get it right like Yog which is pretty target generic, mainstream and fresh looking and Snog who went for an edgy and cheeky vibe. I see Samba Swirl are rebranding to be in line with the cooler look of their Camden flagship store - a good move for them. And I loved Brighton's own homegrown store, Lick, which has now closed in favour of a wholesale and retail operation but it always looked at home in the North Laine with the right mix of fun and design the passing demographic craves. Angleberry jars in the environment and the large, bright shop looks out of place next to the bric-a-brac stalls, trendy cafes and indie boutique shops. I think it will have to work really hard to overcome this which is a shame as the product is really good.

Anyway, along with the good froyo, the other plus of this place is it's a great space for buggies and kids (a rarity in the area) and I sure will be treating Baby Foodie soon for a first froyo taste.

Give it a blast.

27 Kensington Gardens
Brighton BN1 4AL

I was invited to review Angelberry.

BOOK REVIEW: Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley

Are you a hardcore baker? And I mean HARDCORE. I don't mean Victoria sponges and cupcakes, no matter how good they are. As for those that like to make cute cake pops which look like little pandas with teeny tiny icing ears, you may as well stop reading now.

This is a serious book on the highest quality patisserie. It's almost as if William & Suzue Curley have written this to mock the majority of home bakers. It contains page after page of incredible French Patisserie that defies gravity and sometimes reality. Glossy, bejewelled beauties that look too good to eat. The recipes generally span multiple pages and cross reference elements which have recipes themselves in the foundation part of the book, which in itself if half an inch thick. You will need bespoke equipment in precise measurements (what the hell is a savarin entrement mould?!), and some hard to find ingredients like shiso (isn't that the dude that sang the Thong Song?). You may weep, almost definitely weep, creating these recipes.

But although these recipes are very involved, and quite long, each has clear step-by-step instructions with plenty of images to guide you through and are absolutely necessary.

As I said, this book is for those that wish to take that leap from being "good at cakes" to being incredible. If you have a real passion for sweet treats and an eye for beauty, if you want to push yourself to that next level then this is for you. It's essentially a course book, starting with ingredients and equipment to the core techniques like custards, pralines and feuilletage that really you should master before attempting the main recipes. And it's an interesting read too. This book contains plenty of historical information and the origins of some of the classic patisserie. And along with these classics, there is a good balance of Curley's contemporary creations, some with Japanese twists clearly taken from the heritage of his wife and partner Suzue. There are sections on pastries, gateaux, macaron, verrines, cakes and petit fours.

Although well written and clear, design-wise, I'm not a fan of the old fashioned style, type and layout of the book. But the cakes are jaw droppingly beautiful, pure works of art despite being given a slight 80s feel with graded coloured backgrounds.

Personally, I'm not even close to creating the recipes here and I really do not have the time to dedicate to them but I adore this book as much as I adore fine patisserie. Even the fact that it gives me a glimpse into the magic of their creation, the hard work and incredible technique behind each one is worth the read.

If you are passionate about cakes, then you will learn an incredible amount from this book. If you attempt to make anything then I salute you oh cake warrior.

Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley is published by Jacqui Small and costs £40.

I was sent this book for review.

COMPETITION and RECIPE: Strawberry and coriander jelly layer panna cotta (closed)

This is a really easy recipe, just requiring a little patience and time for the different layers to set. Ideal for a summer dinner party to impress without too much effort. The coriander layer adds a little something unusual but is a perfect flavour match to strawberry...honest. You could also try basil or celery as well. 

I used the OXO Good Grips berry bowl which is quite sweet. Along with a colander, the set comes with a bowl and lid so you can refrigerate and serve. With a little one in the household I also find it handy to drain small servings of rice, pasta and to wash fruit portions for him and serve in the bowl. It really is a useful little bit of kit.

You too can win an OXO Good Grips Berry Bowl Set and Strawberry Huller by leaving me a comment below or emailing me thegraphicfoodie (at) using "Berry Competition" as the subject line. I'll pick one winner at random on 15th July 2014 and they will then go on to be entered into a larger prize draw to win a year's worth of strawberries. I'm guessing the supply will not be delivered all at once! UK entries only.

Thanks for all the entries and to Cara the winner!

Recipe: Strawberry and coriander jelly layer panna cotta
Serves 6 (—8 depending on glass sizes)

Method using recipe components below

  1. Using a muffin tray and tea towel, angle six glasses, making sure they are quite secure and stable.
  2. Make up the fruit jelly layer as per packet instructions and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully pour into the glasses. It should seem roughly just under half full with jelly (you want the thin coriander jelly layer to make up to half). Allow this to set completely which is important otherwise the layering will not work. This will take roughly 5 hours or overnight.
  3. Make up the coriander jelly and once room temperature, pour a thin layer onto the fruit jelly. If still warm then the layers will merge so be patient! Again allow to set completely, roughly 1-2 hours.
  4. Make the panna cotta recipe and allow to cool. Stand the glasses up straight and pour in the pannacotta to the same top level as the jelly. Allow to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  5. Decorate with more berries just before serving.

Recipe components

Fruit jelly layer
1.5 Packets of jelly (135g each - about 205g in total)

Make as per packet instructions. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Coriander jelly layer
Half sachet gelatine, about 6g
15g Coriander
1tbs caster sugar

Blend the coriander with a little water and pass through a very fine sieve/tea strainer to remove pulp.
Pour 3 tablespoons of boiling water in jug. Sprinkle on the gelatine and whisk until completely dissolved. If hasn't dissolved the stand the dish in a pan of hot water. You'll almost certainly have to do this due to the low liquid amounts. Add the sugar and stir again until dissolved. Add the strained coriander juice and make up to 285ml/half pint with cold water. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla panna cotta
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
250 ml milk
700ml cream
60 g caster sugar
half vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 

Combine the gelatine and half of the milk in a bowl and leave to absorb for 10 minutes. Place the remaining milk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, mix in the gelatine mixture and whisk until completely dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Hello again!

I'm BACK! Not bigger (still rocking at 5'1) but better for sure. It's been nice to step back for a bit and refocus and I think I've got the breather I needed for more balance round these digital parts.

But I haven't been eating delivery pizza (the horror) or foraging out of cornflake packets in the larder whilst away (I may, may have eaten Nutella straight out the jar). Here's what I've been up to this month in pictures:

  1. Typical. I won a Twitter competition the day after I stated my break. Thanks to my Twitter buddies who let me know I'd won and to Shine for the amazing new cut!
  2. I'm collaborating with the fabulous Style Memos blog to give you a series of Brighton Lux Lunches because we all deserve a bit of a treat.
  3. My Elderflower cordial recipe (without citric acid) at this time of year is massively popular, number 1 on Google in fact! But this year I made rocketfuel my first batch of Elderflower Champagne. I'm praying it's not going to explode on me.
  4. Amazing. I ate Italian food in Brighton! And I loved it. More soon.
  5. One of the best meals I had this month was at Curryleaf Cafe. So good I went back for lunch and dinner.
  6. I cooked a lot. This batch of ricotta gnocchi using actual Sorrento lemons was a highlight.
  7. My review copy of Antonio Carluccio's Pasta book arrived which I'm very excited to be diving into.
  8. I took Mr GF to Burger Brothers which reminded me it's the best burger in Brighton hands down. THERE I SAID IT.
  9. I attended a really interesting (and rather decadent) oyster day at English's, one of Brighton's oldest restaurants. I'm sharing this corker with you soon.
  10. My family came over from Italy (the first time in 30 odd years) and brought me some goodies like bread from the village bakery, a caciocavallo cheese and some local torrone.
  11. I've been playing with a few new OXO Good Grips products and have created a few new recipes, plus I've got a fantastic competition coming up too. 
  12. Vacation time and I got a temporary new kitchen to play with. It had bling sparkly worktops and Plumen lights. Sadly one of those awful ceramic electric hobs as well though. The lovely outside cooking area made up for it!
  13. These are some prized, DOP protected yellow figs filled with pistachio cream and covered in chocolate from a new Italian online retailer I'll be writing about.
As for this blog, I've decided to be far more choosy about what to post about. Although I'll continue sharing my own discoveries, and I already turn down a lot of things I've been invited to or sent to review, I'm going to be even more select. The night I found myself being blindfolded and fed dire food as part of a PR event was the cold, hard slap in the face I needed. Time is precious.

Instead, I will be focusing on what I am passionate about, firstly the best of the best of dining in Brighton. I'm more at home in a decent, quality restaurants than I ever will be following the fads, gimmicks and fast foods. Only if it is truly exceptional, different or particularly interesting I'll let you know, otherwise you can go find sandwiches and cronutadoodledoos all by yourselves I'm sure.

I'll also be getting back in the kitchen creating recipes. Whilst I do like to be cooked for, I like to create and craft as well. My appetite for learning is back and really I think you can only appreciate food by honing those skills, knowing the techniques and how food gets to your plate.

There are quite a lot of posts I have ready to dispatch in the next few weeks but going forward, there will be less posts but more quality.