I think I may have found a new supplier…

In a recent blog post I lamented about my difficult in finding packs of Santa Maria Colombian Crunchy Chicken Bites Seasoned Corn Coating.

However I am now having real trouble finding it in my local supermarkets, Morrisons no longer sell it, my local Waitrose had it on special for a while, but now it’s no longer on the shelves. In theory it’s available at Asda, but I have never seen it at my nearest branch.

Since I wrote that, I have found it on Ocado, so have added a few packs to my basket for my next delivery.

Self-catering at La Croix Du Vieux Pont

One of the reasons I blog, it’s more for me than other people. It’s a useful reminder for me about what I have eaten, what I have cooked, and as in this post challenges when cooking on holiday.

At the end of July we went on an Eurocamp holiday in France. Having visited Brittany last year and stayed at a Eurocamp site I had anticipated blogging about my  self-catering experience and what worked and what didn’t, but for some reason never got around to it. I wish I had as it would have made this trip a little easier. 

I did post my challenges with self-catering when we went to Calpe in 2016 and 2017.

This year we went with another Eurocamp to La Croix Du Vieux Pont in Picardy or Hauts-de-France in Northern France. So I have decided to quickly write up some of those experiences in preparing for self-catering.

My previous experience of self-catering apartments was from the Greek Ionian islands and Cyprus. This was before children, so it was me and my other half. We rarely used the self-catering facilities for cooking, as we would eat out a bit, but it was useful to have a hob, a fridge and a few utensils and crockery. The “kitchen” in the apartments I experience were very minimal and not really sufficient for anything more than snacks and hot drinks. Also the local shopping environment wasn’t exactly great for self-catering, with very small supermarkets.

When we booked our Calpe holiday in 2016, due to dietary requirements (gluten free) we wanted to ensure we had not only a self-catering kitchen, but a decent enough kitchen for actual real cooking. We found the kitchens in caravans in the UK great for self-catering, if a little cramped. However I would usually take a range of ingredients and kitchen utensils to make my life easier when cooking. So I did something similar when we went to France this year.

At La Croix Du Vieux Pont, we had a three bedroom caravan which came with a well-equipped kitchen including a proper gas hob, an oven and an outside gas barbecue as well.

This was in many ways better than the equipment I have had at UK holiday parks, for example there was a washing up bowl and a draining rack! This made clearing up after a meal so much easier than just having the sink and draining board.

I took the following items with me to make cooking and catering easier.

Chopping board – for some reason the only chopping board I find in caravans are glass ones! So I always take a plastic chopping board with me.

Knives – I have found the knives on holiday either blunt or broken, so I have a large kitchen knife and a bread knife that I use on self-catering holidays.

I took a sieve with me, but in the end didn’t use it, as the caravan was equipped with a colander.

I took a spare baking tray, as usually there is only one in the caravans I have been in, in addition I took a pair of tongs which is useful for turning items on the grill. There was a long-handled barbecue tongs were provided which worked well for the outdoor barbecue.

Though I wanted to take my Tassimo coffee machine, I was overruled so we took a cafetière that worked well.

I took a potato peeler and I also took a pair of scissors, but there was one in the caravan.

The other things I take with me our sandwich bags, cling film and foil. This is easier to store uneaten food but also for packed lunches.

To help with washing up and cleaning, I took some steel scourers, washing up spongs, j cloths, washing up liquid and tea towels. In addition I take spare bin  liners as well.

I also took the following ingredients, though I know I could get some of these in French supermarkets, I wanted to avoid spending extra money on basics that I already had in the kitchen.

      • Pasta
      • Rice
      • Tomato pasta sauce
      • Pesto
      • Sunflower oil
      • Olive oil
      • Salt
      • Pepper
      • Parmesan
      • Various seasonings
      • Onions
      • Pepper
      • Butter

As two of our household are gluten free I also took a range of gluten free items as well.

I pack the fresh food in a cool box, which if we get a small fridge I use during the week as supplementary fresh food storage. The fridge though we got was pretty big and I didn’t use the cool box.

Overall I don’t think I missed anything, apart from some mustard and white wine vinegar to make a French dressing, so in the end we bought some dressing from the supermarket.

Giving cider another go

I am not really a fan of cider, I think it boils down to drinking stupid amounts of Merrydown Cider when I was student in York and not drinking it for a really long time.

I remember in 2006 accidentally ordering and drinking a Magners cider in Edinburgh, I don’t think I finished it.

Now living down in the South West (where everyone seems to drink cider) I have recently decided to give cider another go and looking over the supermarket shelves decided to try out a bottle of Henry Weston Vintage Cider.

Henry Weston Vintage Cider

I really quite enjoyed it, which surprised even me. I enjoyed the dryness of the drink and found it rather refreshing.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2019

This year I have written 54 blog posts, last year I only managed 35 blog posts.

Tenth post was on how I found the Pork Ribs at Wagamama back in 2011

Wagamama Pork Ribs

The post at number nine was the time I had teriyaki lamb at Wagamama.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The eighth most popular post on the blog was about using a pre-prepared pack of ingredients from Morrisons, to make Chicken Fajita.

Chicken Fajitas “made easy”

Seventh most popular post, was about the time I was wondering what to eat in Sheffield’s Meadowhall, but in the end, went to Yo! Sushi.

I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for…

The sixth most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions.

Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions

Dropping two places, the third most popular post was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recipe.

Basil & pine nut margherite

Like last year, reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

Newquay Steam Beer

Third most popular post on the blog, climbing from eighth position, was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

Sirloin for Beef Wellington?

In at number one Chilli Squid from Wagamama, maintaining it’s top position as the most popular post on the blog.. This post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011.

Chilli Squid from Wagamama

So there are three posts in the top ten about my visits to Wagamama.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches.

Time for a danish pastry

nyhavn

On this day fifteen years ago in 2004 I was eating a Danish Pastry in Denmark, Copenhagen to be specific.

danish pastry

In case you were wondering this pastry was 12 inches across, it was huge. No I did not eat it all by myself!

My memory of it was that it was delicious, fresh and tasty.

Spicy

After going to watch a film at the cinema for a birthday treat (not my birthday) we decided to follow up with a meal at the local Pizza Express.

They have created an interesting environment for the Pizza Express at Cribbs Causeway, with a lot of Banksy’esque style artwork on the walls.

I have had some excellent pizza at Pizza Express and was looking forward to another one. Perusing the menu I reminded myself that I should choose one that I hadn’t had before. I have been trying, when going out to eat, to not have what I have had before.

In the end I went with the Calabrese, this is described in the menu as fiery, soft ‘nduja sausage and spicy Calabrese sausage D.O.P with fresh red chilli, Roquito peppers, roasted red and yellow peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with light mozzarella, rocket, pesto and Gran Milano cheese.

pizza fiery, soft ‘nduja sausage and spicy Calabrese sausage D.O.P with fresh red chilli, Roquito peppers, roasted red and yellow peppers, mozzarella and tomato, finished with light mozzarella, rocket, pesto and Gran Milano cheese

I really liked this pizza, nice base and a great mix of spicy toppings. This was quite a spicy pizza, so don’t get it if you don’t like spicy.

We also had some great service, so overall a really nice meal out.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2016

So what food, drink and coffee blog posts were people reading this year? Interestingly none about coffee?

10 Trofie Pasta with fresh basil pesto, pine nuts and grated parmesan

9 A Taste of Peru

8 Wagamama Pork Ribs

7 Well that was nice

6 Christmas Four Bird Roast

5 Marks and Spencer’s Pork Medallions

4 Basil and pine nut margherite

3 Newquay Steam Beer

2 Chilli Squid from Wagamama

1 Sirloin for Beef Wellington

The top three posts were the same top three in 2015. Well here’s to some better and more exciting posts for 2017.

Sorry, they also look disgusting…

These Kipling’s Witches Hat Fancies are described on the packet as: orange flavoured green sponge with a vanilla topping and black fondant icing.

These Kipling’s Witches Hat Fancies are described on the packet as: orange flavoured green sponge with a vanilla topping and black fondant icin.g

That whole combination really doesn’t appeal to me, but maybe that is the point..

In my previous blog post I said I wasn’t going to buy any, however on a visit to London, my sister-in-law bought some for the children as a Halloween tweet.

Now I didn’t eat any, but my son who did, said he enjoyed it, but then it probably just tasted of sugar! What put me off (apart from all the sugar) was that the combination of green sponge and black icing, meant after they were bitten into, they actually looked like they were mouldy French Fancies!

…and that may be the point!

Sorry, these sound disgusting…

Sorry, these sound disgusting…

These Kipling’s Witches Hat Fancies are described on the packet as: orange flavoured green sponge with a vanilla topping and black fondant icing.

…and that may be the point!

These Kipling’s Witches Hat Fancies are described on the packet as: orange flavoured green sponge with a vanilla topping and black fondant icing.

That whole combination really doesn’t appeal to me, but maybe that is the point.. though I suspect they will taste like other Kipling cakes with just a hint of orange, with the usual over sugared taste explosion.

The name also annoys me, well that I am sure the grammar is wrong. In the box there are eight fancies. If these are hat fancies then surely one on its own would be a witch’s hat fancy. As witches is the plural of witch, then eight witches is fine, but I do think eight hats would be eight witch’s hats. Though is this like courts martial (the plural of court martial) as a result it’s eight witches hat, but that doesn’t sound right.. Adding fancies onto the end seems to worsen the situation. Personally I think it should be eight witch’s hat fancies, or am I wrong and Mr Kipling is right?

Did I buy them?

No!