Category Archives: Food

T&T 41 | Joyful French Eating with Elizabeth Bard

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

Today on Tea & Tattle, I’m chatting with the bestselling author, Elizabeth Bard, about Elizabeth’s new cookbook, Dinner Chez Moi: 50 French Secrets to Joyful Eating and Entertaining.

Elizabeth lives in Provence with her family, and she has also written two culinary memoirs, Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence, about her move from America to France and how she fell in love with the country, the food and a Frenchman! I love Elizabeth’s humorous and insightful descriptions of adapting to the French way of life, as well as the delicious recipes that accompany her words.

Dinner Chez Moi is less of a memoir and more a handy guide to the French style of eating and living, with plenty of Elizabeth’s favourite recipes to enjoy. I had a fabulous time asking Elizabeth all about what she stocks in her Provençal kitchen; how to shop wisely for delicious, but affordable meals and some of the French secrets to keeping a trim waistline (I think I’ve got the tea-drinking part down at least!).

It was so fun to catch-up with Elizabeth on the podcast, as I’d met her last summer when I was in Provence, and arranged an interview with her at Scaramouche, the artisan glacier Elizabeth runs with her husband.

With Elizabeth Bard outside Scaramouche

This episode is perfect for summer and will inspire anyone, I’m sure, to dash to their local farmers’ market and start buying up juicy tomatoes and other fresh produce!

Listen to learn more about eating, cooking and living the French way. 

T&T 40 | The Greedy Queen

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m learning all about Queen Victoria’s eating habits from the food historian, Annie Gray. Annie’s recently published book, The Greedy Queen: Eating with Victoria is an unconventional biography of the Queen, examining her life in food.

Annie Gray is an historian, cook, broadcaster and writer, who specialises in the history of food and dining in Britain from about 1600 to the present day. In our chat, Annie explains how her interest in food and history developed, and how she first came to examine the role of meals in Queen Victoria’s life. It was so interesting to learn more about the complex relationship Victoria had with food, how she used meal-times as a way to exert power and the culinary legacy she left behind.

Annie Gray

I read The Greedy Queen a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed Annie’s engaging, witty style of writing that brought historical figures and events so vividly to life. In today’s episode, Annie’s vivacious conversation will be a delight to lovers of food and history alike.

Listen to learn more about Queen Victoria’s life and relationship with food

T&T 37 | West African Cuisine With Lopè Ariyo

West African Cuisine With Lopè Ariyo

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m chatting with the food writer and chef, Lopè Ariyo, about her debut cookbook, Hibiscus. Lopè was named the Observer’s Rising Star of Food for 2017 and has been praised as one of the UK’s leading voices in West African cuisine. Her cookbook, Hibiscus, was published in June and has a delightful variety of mouthwatering recipes featuring traditional West African ingredients. I can’t wait to try my hand at Lopè’s hibiscus and coconut cake!

West African Cuisine With Lopè Ariyo

In this episode, we chat about how going to boarding school in Nigeria influenced Lopè’s cooking when she moved back to London and tried to recreate the dishes she’d loved best from her childhood. Lopè also shares how winning a food competition whilst studying Maths at university (and writing her food blog on the side) changed her life, landing her a cookbook deal and catapulting her into the food industry.

West African Cuisine With Lopè AriyoLopè Ariyo, Image © Ellis Parrinder

Lopè’s love for entertaining and cooking is clear, and I asked her for some tips on being a brilliant hostess, as well as a menu for a dinner party inspired by her book. Be warned – listening to this episode is bound to make you feel rather hungry!

Listen to learn more about West African cuisines and the story behind Hibiscus.

P.S. Next week on Tea & Tattle, I’m in conversation with the writer and critic Lauren Elkin about her fabulous book, Flâneuse

A Chat With | The Hardihood

A Chat With The Hardihood | Beautiful Raw Cakes | Miranda's Notebook InterviewDaisy Kristiansen and Leah Garwood-Gowers, founders of The Hardihood

I’m always keen to hear about female-led businesses, especially when they’ve been successfully founded by best friends. When I stumbled across the story of The Hardihood, which produces raw cakes as beautiful as they are nutritious and tasty, my interest was definitely piqued.  Daisy Kristiansen and Leah Garwood-Gowers were housemates who gave up sugar together one year, and, uninspired by the sugar-free dessert options available, decided to start making their own. The Hardihood was born, and quickly garnered a huge amount of success, with the cakes now stocked in Harrods, Planet Organic and Daylesford Stores, as well as available to order online.

Daisy and Leah’s first cookbook, Raw Cake, came out at the start of 2017, and their brand is clearly going from strength to strength in a remarkably short space of time. I took the opportunity to ask Leah some questions about her growing business.

***

Would you tell me a little about your background? How did you both meet?

Daisy and I have been friends for years; we met at a dinner party in West London and became pals on the bus back to Hackney together that night. We later went on to live together and have many years of fun under our belts. Although we no longer live together, we’ve been running The Hardihood together since late 2015. Before we founded the business, Daisy worked in fashion and styling and I worked in hospitality and journalism.

How did the idea for The Hardihood originate? What made you decide to go into business together?

We’d both always leant towards the creative side of entrepreneurial spirit before starting The Hardihood, having had many ideas but little clue as to how to get them off the ground. The fact that The Hardihood’s success grew through social media almost overnight forced us to get serious about the world of business. There’s been a lot of faking it until you make it, and although we’re still learning on the job, we’re very confident about our vision for the future and feel grateful that, between the two of us, we have the passion and skills to stick at it.

A Chat With The Hardihood | Beautiful Raw Cakes | Miranda's Notebook InterviewAfternoon treats: ripe cherries and a Hardihood raw salted caramel cake

The Hardihood was born out of a number of factors. The first was creativity; we both wanted creative freedom over the project we’d be working on. The second was the desire to make the world a better place, which sounds dramatic, but it was around the time of founding The Hardihood that people were really waking up to the perils of refined sugar, and we wanted to make a dessert option that addressed this. We wanted to make a dessert that looked good, tasted good and felt good too. The third was building a lifestyle for ourselves and our employees that actively supported work-life balance; for example, having a work schedule that’s flexible enough for female employees to return to work after baby number two or in which male employees are able to take a generous amount of time off for paternity leave.

A Chat With The Hardihood | Beautiful Raw Cakes | Miranda's Notebook InterviewRaw cakes from The Hardihood

It’s wonderful to see an inspiring example of female friendship and business partnership. What is your advice to women who may be thinking of going into business with a friend? How do you make sure that your friendship remains a priority, and that you both feel heard and valued within the business?

It’s funny, we often say that we have to approach our relationship like a marriage these days. When things get tough it’s not like either of us can just leave the room, we’re both hugely passionate about The Hardihood being a success so whatever disagreements – professional or otherwise – we have, we have to face them head on, which I believe is hugely helpful for personal growth. It’s important to make space for honest and direct conversation, but it’s equally important not to get into the habit of treating each other too familiarly. When you’re spending such a lot of time together it’s easy to start speaking to each other as offhandedly as you would to your siblings and this can sometimes be inappropriate within a professional environment. You’ve got to be patient with each other and remember that you’re growing together, so your inputs are both equally valuable. Even though we’re only a small team of 3, we often sit down and talk about our company culture in ways that would support the size of the company we want to grow to. We value transparency, a can-do attitude, a good sense of humour and efficiency above all else, and so we push ourselves and each other to behave in a way that reflects this. At the end of it all, we’re still the best of friends and make time to discuss our lives like we would if we weren’t tackling the pitfalls of running a small business together daily.

What are your top tips for people who want to give up refined sugar, or create more general healthy eating habits?

Even switching your ordinary sugar to coconut sugar is a great place to begin. Or begin by getting in to the habit of reading the back of anything you buy that is packaged. A lot of the time sugar is sneaked into things that you’d consider savoury, like pasta source or hummus. It’s one thing indulging decisively in something, but eating something savoury and then discovering that you may as well have just had a donut is frustrating.

A Chat With The Hardihood | Beautiful Raw Cakes | Miranda's Notebook InterviewDaisy and Leah’s new cookbook

Would you tell me a little about your book, Raw Cake?

We always hoped the book would be an insight for beginners into the world of raw cake. It’s beautiful enough to be a coffee table book and accessible enough for everyone. We were both self taught raw chefs and we found that a lot of the books we read in the beginning were hugely complicated and contained ingredients that even google couldn’t find. We use a lot of repeating ingredients with the option to add superfoods throughout. We’re particularly proud of the glossary at the back – it tells you a little bit about each ingredient and what we find it good for.

***

Follow The Hardihood on instagram, twitter and facebook.

Get the Raw Cake cookbook here.

All images, apart from the second listed, which is my own, courtesy The Hardihood.

Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Last week, I joined a group of bloggers at the Artist Residence hotel in London for tea and croissants in the morning, before being bundled into Land Rovers and whisked to the new Artist Residence sister hotel in Oxfordshire, for lunch in the garden and a Dutch flower workshop with Bloom and Wild.

It was the perfect day for an outing, with bright blue skies and a pleasant breeze. The car journey seemed to take no time at all as I chatted with Milly (you may remember her from my Cornwall interview). We arrived just before lunch and were offered a glass of rosé and the chance to explore the hotel, which only opened in May.

I was charmed by the decor, especially the floral House of Hackney wallpaper that was such a striking feature. Some lovely ladies from Bloom and Wild, who were giving us a flower workshop in the afternoon, had set up a gorgeous display of blooms that made my flower loving heart very happy.

Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I also got to peep into one of the bedrooms, which was gorgeous and looked extremely comfortable. I would have enjoyed lingering in the tub in the light, airy bathroom and writing postcards at the vintage desk.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After having a look around and taking a million photos between us, we headed out into the garden for lunch, our appetites whetted by the fantastic sounding menu that had been emailed round the day before.

Al Fresco Dining

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Doesn’t that look a delightful table? I felt summer had truly arrived as I took my seat and was offered some more rosé. The outdoor dining area overlooked the hotel’s lawn and vegetable garden, and I was delighted to learn that many of the vegetables and salad leaves served for our lunch were freshly picked from the garden.

The hotel had cooked up a fabulous feast for us. To start, we were given sharing platters of crispy whitebait with garlic sauce; mozzarella, pea, broad bean and mint salad; heritage tomato salad with ewes curd and olives; and scotch eggs served alongside homemade brown sauce.

The main course was lamb wellington, with buttered Cornish potatoes, a green salad (from the garden!), barbecued radishes (also from the garden) and violet artichokes. I was beginning to seriously doubt whether I could manage dessert (strawberries with toasted marshmallows, lime curd and strawberry sorbet), but when it arrived it looked so delicious I couldn’t resist.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

The food was all absolutely incredible, and it was glorious to enjoy it outside on a lovely day in excellent company.

Dutch Flower Workshop

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After our meal, we went back into the cool, shady interior of the hotel for our Dutch flower painting inspired workshop. I was particularly excited for this workshop, as I love Dutch floral still life pictures, and there was a glorious selection of flowers awaiting us to help feed our inspiration.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Rowan, pictured above, talked us through the process of arranging our flowers, making it look incredibly easy as she finished her lovely floral display in about 10 minutes flat.

I settled down with a cup of chamomile tea and set to work, choosing a selection of blooms I liked best, and trying to create a loose, tumbling arrangement, featuring the striking colours that I often admire in my favourite Dutch floral artworks.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I sat next to the charming Briony from A Girl A Style, and we bonded over our mutual love for books, flowers and pretty teacups.

After a hair-raising moment when my display threatened to topple over, and I had to pop in a few dahlias to balance it out, I pronounced mine finished.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I don’t think I’ll be setting up as a florist any time soon, but I was still pleased with my result.

On being told it was time to leave, we were kindly showered with leftover blooms to take back home with us (I got some funny looks later on the tube as I maneuvered my way along platforms, weighted down by my spoils!).

It really was the most perfect English summer day, and I’m now contemplating buying some florist foam so I can have a go at some more flower arranging – practice makes perfect, as they say!

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

A LONDON STAYCATION

Last week, I was lucky enough to celebrate the start of half-term by spending a night at The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell, one of my favourite areas in London. I’d never had a proper London staycation before, but after my wonderful time, I hope to have a few more! It was one of the most fun, relaxing experiences I’ve ever had in London.

Checking into The Zetter Hotel definitely felt like checking into 24 hours of fun and freedom, but without any of the hassle that usually must be got through before a holiday: no panic over passports and tickets, no drama when trains to Gatwick are  inevitably cancelled, no 5am alarm clock…etc etc. I simply hopped on the metropolitan line for 20 minutes, before getting off at Farringdon station and ambling happily towards the hotel.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

If you’re visiting London, then Clerkenwell is a lovely location in which to base yourself. Full of history, fantastic restaurants, and independent shops, it still has an undiscovered, unspoilt air that makes it special to Londoners (scroll to the bottom for some of my suggestions as to what to do in the area).

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Only a short walk from the station, I passed through an ancient archway to find myself at the hotel, which is situated in a very pretty courtyard, across from The Zetter Townhouse (a sister hotel, serving fantastic cocktails in a beautiful setting) and The Modern Pantry (I love their afternoon tea).

The Zetter Hotel is housed in a renovated Victorian warehouse and is beautifully designed, befitting an area that celebrates urban aesthetic (I’d just missed Clerkenwell Design Week, which ended before my stay). The hotel is also notable for its sustainable features and was given a Gold award for Green Tourism. I was amazed to learn that the hotel’s water comes from their own bore-hole under the building!

Downstairs is the stylish restaurant and wine bar, and these rather gorgeous lifts lead up to the 59 rooms:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Aren’t they fabulous?! Here’s a closer look at the quirky wall design:

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

After ogling the lifts, I was warmly greeted at the Reception desk (this marked the beginning of the absolutely outstanding service I received at the hotel) and told I was being checked into a rooftop deluxe room on the top floor. I was then whisked up in the elevator and shown around my room.

ROOFTOP DELUXE ROOM

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

My rooftop deluxe was absolute heaven – spacious and comfortable with floor to ceiling windows opening out onto a gigantic private balcony. I loved the soothing colour scheme and mid-century style furniture, which added such elegance to the room.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter HotelLondon Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Comfort, as well as style, is clearly carefully considered at The Zetter Hotel, and there were lots of pleasing touches, like the snazzy espresso machine (which made very good coffee), free wi-fi, fresh milk, a well stocked fridge and nibbles, REN products in the bathroom,  fluffy bathrobes and the wonderfully comfy bed. There was even a hot water bottle, complete with knitted cover, for colder nights.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I also appreciated the thoughtfully chosen bedside Penguin books (I adore Margery Allingham mysteries!), magazines, bottled still and sparkling water and delicious chocolate truffles. If only my own bedside table was kept readily stocked with such lovely supplies!

ROOFTOP VIEWS

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

To my mind, though, the truly spectacular feature of the room was the magnificent balcony. I made a cup of tea and sat and drank it on one of the deckchairs, enjoying the sunshine and the fantastic views of the city.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I had a few hours to spend before supper at the hotel,  which my lovely friend Claire was joining me for, so I passed the time happily reading on the balcony in preparation for an upcoming Tea & Tattle interview and having a few more cups of tea (room service responded instantly to my request for more milk).

COCKTAILS AND SUPPER

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

It felt no time at all until Claire was tapping at my door, and after showing her round my room and admiring the views together, we made our way downstairs for the complimentary wine cocktails that are one of the perks of booking a room in advance at The Zetter.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

We both went for white wine sangrias (so refreshing!), which arrived with a serving of plump green olives, and we happily chatted away as we perused the menu, trying to decide what we fancied. I snapped a few photos of the Wine Room and Restaurant, as I loved the striking bar and plush, jewel-coloured furniture.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

I was very impressed with the menu, which was reasonably priced and offered a delectable selection of dishes. I’d like to go back with my Mum soon, as she works very close by, and dinner at The Zetter would make a lovely post-work treat one evening, especially as it’s her birthday month!

In the end, I settled for English asparagus, crispy hen’s egg and cured ham, followed by rib-eye steak, chips and béarnaise sauce, with chocolate mousse for dessert.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Everything was mouthwateringly good. The asparagus was perfectly cooked, and my steak was fantastic: tender and flavourful. The chips and béarnaise sauce were dangerously more-ish too, and of course a chocolate dessert is always a winner in my book, especially when it’s so beautifully presented. The meal was excellent: classic, skilfully executed and exceedingly tasty.

We washed it all down with a carafe of white wine from their wine on tap selection, which is a super idea that means you’re offered many fantastic wines at very reasonable prices.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel

Claire very much enjoyed her supper as well, going for beetroot salad with goats curd, pine nuts and apple, followed by cod with seaweed crushed potatoes and creamed mussels, and Amalfi lemon posset with raspberry compote for dessert.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I’d like to try all of those dishes on a return trip myself! It was so much fun chatting with Claire, who was filling me in on her exciting travel plans and great book recommendations. In contrast to our usual London meet ups, this time I had a 1 minute travel time back to my room after saying goodbye –  the ultimate luxury for a Londoner!

BREAKFAST

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I had a fantastic night’s sleep; the pillows were incredibly soft, the room was the perfect temperature, and I was amazed by how quiet it was, considering I was sleeping in the heart of a busy city.

After my usual journaling, stretching and instagraming in the morning, I felt quite hungry, despite the impressive meal the night before. I got dressed, first delighting in the walk-in ‘raindance’ shower, before heading down to breakfast.

I went for the Zetter Full English Breakfast: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushroom and black pudding, with copious amounts of tea of course. It was delicious and certainly set me up for the day!

EXPLORING CLERKENWELL

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

I was quite sad to leave the hotel, but consoled myself by making plans to meet up with my friend Arthur later in the day and having a thorough stroll through Clerkenwell. I thought I’d list a few suggestions for fun places to go within the immediate area, should you fancy spending time at The Zetter Hotel yourself:

// The Cloister Garden //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

Opposite The Zetter Hotel is the Museum of the Order of St John, which is well worth paying a visit, especially for the courtyard garden, which is a beautiful and tranquil space.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell

// Marby & Elm //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | Marby and Elm

This fun stationery shop, across the road from The Zetter, is the perfect place to go to stock up on quirky, colourful cards and notebooks, and it sells a lovely selection of candles inspired by London locations – I was particularly taken with the Hampstead Heath candle, but you could stick to your surroundings and go for the Clerkenwell Blue scent!

// St John Bread and Wine //

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

One of my favourite places to go in London, St John Bread and Wine  is only a short walk from The Zetter Hotel. The St John Restaurant is fantastic too, but I generally stick to a glass of wine and the bar menu in the evening, or a cup of tea and sweet treat in the afternoon. Typically British fare is offered: the eccles cakes are famous, and I love the seed cake and vanilla custard doughnuts too.

London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and WineLondon Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine London Staycation | The Zetter Hotel Clerkenwell | St John Bread and Wine

// The Zetter Townhouse //

London Staycation | The Zetter Townhouse | Clerkenwell

Finally, even if you’re staying at the The Zetter Hotel, it’s well worth nipping over the cobblestones to their sister hotel, The Zetter Townhouse, which has one of the prettiest front doors in London and serves fantastic cocktails in beautiful surroundings that make you feel as if you’re in a rather grand English drawing room.

+++ Rooms are available from £258 inc VAT at The Zetter Hotel. You can check availability and book here. +++

Note: my stay and meals at The Zetter Hotel were complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

T&T 31 | One Dish Meals With Rukmini Iyer

Rukmini Iyer Interview

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week, the food stylist and writer Rukmini Iyer joins me to discuss her career in the food industry and her fabulous new cookbook, The Roasting Tin. Rukmini started her professional career as a lawyer, but realised her real passion was working with food. I was so interested to learn more about how Rukmini transitioned from law to becoming a food stylist. In today’s episode, she shares the important lessons she learnt from spending time in a professional kitchen and competing on Master Chef.

I bought The Roasting Tin when it came out in April, and I’ve been so enjoying Rukmini’s easy, delicious recipes. We chat about her inspiration behind the book and her tips on meal planning, as well as some of her very favourite recipes. I’m sure, like me, you’ll feel inspired to pull out your roasting tin from the cupboard and get cooking straight away!

Listen to hear all about Rukmini’s new cookbook and some great tips for making healthy, home-cooked meals when juggling a busy schedule.  

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore RestaurantThis post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Throughout the week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

We certainly did a lot of good eating whilst in Penzance, but there is one meal in particular that stands out as a highlight of our trip. I admit that The Shore will likely fail to please if you’re not a fan of fish, but for those of us who enjoy nothing better than a taste of the sea, The Shore is a must-visit on your Penzance list.

Bruce Rennie runs the restaurant, which is essentially a one-man operation; a labour of love that pays homage to the bountiful offerings of the Cornish coast. Having previously worked in the prestigious, two-star Michelin restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh, Rennie has been long-settled in Cornwall and delights in producing a regularly changing small menu that showcases freshly caught, local fish and produce (a lot of which is foraged by Rennie himself).

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

We had a booking for supper on our first night in Cornwall, and ambled along the twisting streets from our B&B to the restaurant, enjoying the golden glow of the evening light.

On arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted warmly and shown to our table, where some thickly cut slices of homemade bread and a generous helping of Cornish butter appeared at our table, alongside the bottle of prosecco we ordered. The Shore has a fuss-free, pleasant interior, with painted white walls and a blue ceiling, light wooden furniture and silver light fixtures and wall displays reminiscent of coral. It reminded me of the beachside restaurants I grew up with on Long Island, and I instantly felt at home.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

Sipping my fizz, I turned my mind to the menu and began the hugely enjoyable task of choosing what I’d like. I adore fish, so it was a real treat to sample the local catch, and I had a hard time deciding which dishes to choose. Did I fancy pollack or brill? Red mullet or hake? Or possibly a spider crab broth?

In the end, I settled on Cured Pollack with Apple, Dill and Wasabi, and Mum chose Brill with Cafe de Paris Hollandaise and Asparagus.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

Both dishes were incredible: everything on my plate was fresh and vibrant, the delicacy of the fish balanced perfectly against the sweet crispness of the apple and slight heat of wasabi. My mum pronounced her hollandaise sauce utterly blissful alongside expertly cooked brill.

For our mains, I’d chosen Sole (a favourite of mine) with Artichoke and Asparagus Nage, Orzo Pasta and Tarragon. Mum went for Cod with Potato Terrine, Cockles, Celeriac and Sprouting Broccoli.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

My choice tasted like spring on a plate: the tarragon in the broth brought a wonderful zest to the dish, and the vegetables were cooked just right. I loved the mix of radish, asparagus, carrot and artichoke, and of course the fish was beautifully done, standing up well to the heady mix of flavours. I tried a little of my Mum’s plate too, and agreed it was superb.

By this point, it was getting dark, and the candles flickered in their shell-like vessels as we took a little break before choosing dessert. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I can rarely resist a chocolate-based pudding, so eventually I put in my request for Valrhona Manjari Chocolate Delice with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Honeycomb. Mum was less predictable with her order of Banana Parfait with Hazelnuts, Lime and and Coffee.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

My dessert was a rich, deep, velvet chocolate that was extremely satisfying, and I loved my Mum’s playful concoction too, which was just as delicious as it was pretty.

As we were finishing our meal, the Chef himself came out to greet us and chat about his menu choices and love for Cornwall. It’s clear that Bruce Rennie is extremely passionate about what he does, and puts a great deal of thought and care into every detail of his restaurant, including the exact shade of blue paint, which he told us took him months to decide. His strong vision and desire for the very best shines through his cooking, and I can’t wait for whenever we can return to Penzance and to The Shore. As my Mum said, the food alone is worth the train journey from London!

+++ The Shore restaurant is open for lunch Friday-Saturday, 12.30-13.30 and for supper Tuesday-Saturday, 18.30 – 21.00. It’s strongly advised that you make a booking and give notice of any dietary requirements or allergies in advance of your meal. +++

Note: our meal at The Shore was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park

UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park

This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Throughout the week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

A wood carpeted with bluebells has to be on of the most beautiful sights on earth. Tremenheere Sculpture Park, with its intriguing mix of exotic plants and imposing sculptures by renowned artists such as David Nash, would be beautiful at any time of year, but in the spring it is truly extraordinary. I took in deep lungfuls of bluebell-scented air as I wandered along the quiet paths, listening to the gentle swish of leaves in the breeze.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the sculpture park, and, on our first proper day in Cornwall, had toyed with the idea of taking a taxi to Mousehole instead. As the weather was  bright and sunny though, I decided it would be a good opportunity to devote the day to exploring the outdoors: we’d spend the morning at Tremenheere and then get another cab to travel the short distance to St Michael’s Mount. I’m so happy we didn’t miss out on seeing the sculpture garden, as it turned out to be one of the (many!) highlights of our trip.

UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture ParkUK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park

Isn’t it beautiful? I could have wandered for hours, and we did in fact spend a good deal of the morning there, as by the time we’d finished our walk, it was time for lunch. Happily, Tremenheere has an excellent cafe with an appetising lunch menu. The cafe is next to the gift shop (full of beautiful ceramics, and they also sell some flowers), and we settled down to a lunch of freshly caught hake (excellent) and elderflower and prosecco cocktails.

UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park

If you’re ever in the area, then I would recommend paying the park a visit and enjoying the calm, restorative atmosphere yourself. It’s worth tying in your visit with a trip to St Michael’s Mount (I’ll be sharing more about this amazing castle on a tiny island in an upcoming post), as they’re so close to each other (you get excellent views of the castle from the sculpture park, in fact).

+++ Adult tickets to Tremenheere Sculpture Park cost £8, and the opening hours are 10am-5pm daily. +++

P.S. A few people on instagram asked where my dress is from – it’s another favourite of mine from TOAST.

Note: our tickets to Tremenheere Sculpture Park were complimentary, but all opinions expressed are my own. 

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

This post is the first in a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

First Class Tickets to Penzance

I never would have thought that a train journey could feel like a holiday, but then I’d never travelled First Class by Great Western Railways before. I was so excited to be headed to Cornwall with my Mum, who happily had some annual leave and so was able to accept my invitation to travel down with me. It had been a while since we’d had a proper trip out of London just the two of us, and as soon as we wheeled our luggage into Great Western Railway’s first class lounge at Paddington Station, I knew that this would be a holiday neither of us would forget.

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

After a 5am start (we were keen to arrive in Penzance in time for lunch), I wasn’t feeling at my brightest, but after helping myself to the complimentary pastries, fruit and tea on offer in the waiting lounge and sinking into a comfy leather armchair, I began to perk up. This, I reflected, was a rather splendid contrast to my typical dash for the train, preceded by a coffee-to-go from Starbucks.

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

The train journey felt just as luxurious, and proved the absolute ideal situation for me to work. If only I could write all blog posts in a comfy chair, with room to spread out my papers all around me, beautiful scenery flying past, and a trolley wheeled by every 45 minutes or so, dispensing free tea, coffee and delicious fruit cake (there were other nice snacks, but I was particularly fond of the fruit cake). I’m sure I’d never procrastinate again! I certainly flew through the work I had to get done, and by the time the train entered Cornwall, I was able to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

It felt like no time at all before we were pulling into Penzance, and (despite the fruit cake), I was looking forward to the first stop on our agenda: brunch at The Front Room.

The Front Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

The Front Room is a charming cafe a mere 3 minute walk from Penzance train station, so a great place to know about if you’re hungry on arrival! It gets very busy over the lunch hour, but fortunately there are lots of nooks and crannies, as well as a pretty little garden, offering plenty of seating.

Katie, one of the owners, gave us a warm welcome when we arrived and was a fabulous source of knowledge on places to explore in Penzance, filling me in on which bookshops, independent shops and pubs she thought I’d enjoy in the area. I scribbled down all her suggestions, and we managed to make it to all of them in the time we were there!

Eating at The Front Room feels like you’re having tea or lunch in someone’s home, as the service is so friendly and the decor so cosy. It’s a very inviting space for children too  – there’s even a playpen tucked under the stairs, full of toys for your toddlers to enjoy as you eat your lunch in peace! Let me take you on a tour:

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

For brunch, Mum opted for the Full Cornish Veggie (toast, eggs, beans, avocado, veggie sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and hashbrowns), and I went for the traditional Full Cornish (sausage, bacon, black pudding, eggs, beans, toast, hashbrowns, tomatoes and mushrooms). I do think the sausages in Cornwall taste particularly good! Mum had coffee, and I – predictably – ordered a pot of tea (I must be 80% tea).

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

We both thoroughly enjoyed our brunch, which was all cooked to perfection and was just what we needed to set us up for an afternoon exploring Penzance. I rather regretfully decided I was too full to try one of the delicious looking cakes placed invitingly in the window and contented myself with pouring some more tea. Mum is the coffee expert (I rarely drink it), and she said her cup was wonderful. Katie told us all the coffee she uses is by Origin, which is renowned for its exceptional brews.

I’d discovered that EE phone network coverage doesn’t operate in Penzance (apparently you have to be on O2), but happily the Front Room had free wi-fi, so I was able to look up how to get to our B&B.

I’ll be sharing the details of our charming B&B overlooking the sea tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Have you ever travelled first class by train before? Did you enjoy it? Are you as partial to a Full English (or full Cornish!) as I am?!

Great Western Railway First Class journeys from Padding to Penzance start from as little as £56. See more details and book tickets here (make sure to book ahead to get the best deals!). 

The Front Room serves wholesome breakfast, brunch, light lunch dishes, cake and cream teas Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm and Sunday 10am-2pm.

Note: our train tickets and brunch at The Front Room were complimentary, but – as always – the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.