Monday, 20 May 2013

Dining in Lyon

I mentioned Lyon in my last post but thought I'd tell you a little bit more as it was so delicious. A beautiful city that I didn’t really know much about before I visited, I had heard talk of amazing food, Michelin stars, markets and cocktail bars, which was all I needed to know really...

I was there for a few days, having taken a laborious route via Schiphol, where the plane left everybody's bags behind; thank goodness that we only had hand luggage. I did not want to spend all weekend in one outfit with no make up or toiletries, the poor people of Lyon did not deserve that...

The food, the delicious, delicious food... We ate so well, Le Café des Fédérations being the highlight. A poached egg in red wine with lardons to start, who would have thought it could be so delicious! Cured meats, creamy lentils, salad Lyonnaise, black pudding, praline tarts and all the cheeses... Saint-Félicien, my new best friend. Amazing. Raymond Blanc was there the week before us, we obviously have good taste!

We drank delicious cocktails, I've never been to so many lovely cocktail bars in one weekend. La Passage with it's Luxury Spritz is still stuck in my mind; Aperol, Champagne and soda, my god, so so good... L'Antiquaire where we sat outside with Negroni's and The Monkey Club, my new favourite bar, pity it's 850 miles from Newcastle... Full of taxidermy, butterfly's and cocktail Archaeology; Absinthe in teacups and long forgotten recipes revived... Then there were the little pots of red wine everywhere we went; ahh, the tasty pots...


Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the most amazing covered market, full to bursting with every meat, cheese and fish you could think of. A lunch of oysters, tiny grey shrimp and wine. Amazing. The pink praline tart was a pretty special way to finish. La Garet was another good Bouchon and Butcher was a lovely steak filled way to spend our last night. I was struck down with some awful bug on the way home, thankfully it didn't ruin any of the holiday, I would have been devastated to miss out on any of the pots, cocktails or feasting that went on...

...and I think we've found a woman who knows a woman who can get hold of some Saint-Félicien back home, so fingers crossed we can carry on being friends...

Saturday, 11 May 2013


I've been from one extreme to the other recently, a week of chickpeas, lentils and hunger followed by a few days in Lyon where I ate and drank far too much... Which ended in being terribly ill on the way home, I think I picked up some bug from somewhere, or it was my body just telling me to calm down with the 3 course meals and the wine... I fainted in the end! But have recovered to tell the tale... Lyon was beautiful, a lovely picturesque city. We ate in some amazing Bouchons and drank in some lovely cocktail bars. It is a city of offal and wine, my kind of city... We enjoyed black pudding, chicken liver cakes, cheese and praline tarts all day long. It was sunny and generally delightful. I hear summer happened here while we were away, but it's back to a grey cold day out there today.

This is one of my new weekend favourite breakfast brunches, especially on a cold damp morning like this. A bit of heat and spice with your morning eggs, courtesy of Ottolenghi, who's book Jerusalem is still one of my current favourites. It is a Tunisian dish of baked eggs nestled in tomatoes, soft peppers, and garlicky harissa spice. Comfort and spice...

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, I just have one large one which I scooped the eggs out of to serve, if you have smaller ones it's nice to be able to serve individual portions in the pan.

Add 2 tablespoons of harissa, I used an amazing rose harissa I discovered recently, 2 teaspoons of tomato purée, 2 diced red peppers, 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and ¾ teaspoon of salt, then cook for about 10 minutes. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes then simmer for another 10 minutes until the peppers are soft and you have a thick sauce.

Then make little dips in the sauce to add your eggs, I used 4 eggs, you can add up to 8 depending on how many you are feeding and how many eggs you like. Swirl the whites of the eggs into the sauce a little bit and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.

Serve with a big dollop of yoghurt and some fresh bread. The runny egg yolks in the spicy tomato sauce are delicious, with fresh tangy yoghurt and soft sweet red peppers. A perfect start to a cold Spring day.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Live Below the Line - The Final Day

It's only a matter of hours until my Live Below the Line challenge comes to an end. It's been difficult in parts, more so on some days than others. I've been tired, forgetful and hungry most of the time, but that could just be me on a normal day sometimes... The initial shop was very difficult and I still don't think I made the best choices in some ways, I could have actually bought a larger quantity of stuff from value ranges, but I wanted to buy vegetables and was keen to try and make nutritious tasty recipes wherever possible... I think I have achieved that as much as I could. It's very difficult to buy small amounts of food on a small budget, bulk buy and you can get bargains, but if you only want a little of things it is an incredibly hard way to live. The lack of choice and variety has also been one of the most challenging aspects.

You can see below what I made each day and how much each meal cost, I'll be publishing the recipes in due course as the Dal and the Chickpea Curry were really tasty. I might wait a few weeks before making flat breads again, but at 2p a pop they are pretty good tasty value...

Thank you so much to everyone who has sponsored me, I have raised an amazing £640 which is just so much more than I ever thought was possible, you're a generous bunch out there.

My Menu 

Butternut Squash Soup with flat breads – 37p
Lentil Dal with flat breads – 51p

Butternut Squash Soup with flat breads – 37p
Chickpea, Tomato and Paprika Stew with flat breads – 51p

Chickpea, Tomato and Paprika Stew (sick of flat breads) – 47p
Spaghetti with Tomato, Chilli and Anchovies – 67p

Leek and Potato Soup with flat breads – 51p
Chickpea Carrot and Butternut Curry with flat breads – 37p
Banana – 12p

Chickpea Carrot and Butternut Curry with flatbreads – 37p
Lentil Dal with flatbreads – 47p
Banana – 12p 

£4.86 in Total

 Below fed two of us for all meals for 5 days...

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Live Below the Line - Day 4

Today has been the hardest day so far. I'm tired, hungry, light headed and forgetful. I am finding myself behaving strangely. I've been watching KFC adverts and thinking 'that looks lovely'; on a few occasions now, a massive bucket of chicken, and then a weird battered wrap thing with sauces and cheese. I bet it's not even nice?! I haven’t even had a KFC for about 5 years and I'm not that bothered about them. I was sniffing into the doorway of Greggs in town yesterday. I want bad food, it's funny how depriving myself of pretty much everything, meat, fish, dairy, sugar, caffine... makes me crave things that wouldn’t even cross my mind if I was eating a normal everyday diet.. Except wine, I really want a massive glass of wine... I cannot wait for Friday and wine.

Today I had Leek and Potato Soup for lunch, it was nice, I can't get more excited than that, and it worked out at 49p per serving. I'm definitely losing enthusiasm for my menu. Especially looking at the kitchen bench and the ever depleting tiny pile of food. It now consists of some flour, half a bag of lentils and an onion. That's all... so that's supper tomorrow then. Luckily I have soup pre made for lunch tomorrow and I've made a Chickpea Carrot and Butternut Squash Curry for supper tonight, working out at 35p per portion. Thank goodness for spices, it would be a pretty dull 5 days without them...