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Sunday, 23 February 2014


Apparently a Fougasse is some kind of fan-shaped bread, which I never knew I was making before I started to bake this loaf. I don't usually bake bread; I tend to opt for sweeter baked goods so last week I was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it can be. I adapted this Lorraine Pascal recipe for the student friendly (using dried thyme as opposed to fresh; mine is still struggling in out front patio herb garden). Mix 500g of strong white bread flour with 2 tsp of salt and a packet of fast-action dried yeast. Making a hole in the centre, pour in 300ml of water. This will feel sticky to start with but once it's all combined it will firm up more. Pour out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 10 mins or so. Add 2 tsp of dried thyme to the mix and knead this in, then fold in 40g of ready to eat finely chopped chorizo (opt for non-sliced stuff). Knead until all the ingredients are well combined and evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a ball and then roll out into a rough oval shape. Using a large knife cut fan/leaf like slashes into the dough and widen these with floured hands. Firmly push around 10g (or more if you wish) of chorizo into the top of the dough. Cover with oiled Clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place. Once doubled in size, glaze with 2 tbsp of milk and place on a floured baking tray. Place the tray in the centre of an oven at 200C and throw a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven. Bake for around half an hour until the bread has risen. This stuff tastes great just on its own or with butter, possibly serve alongside tapas, or a Spanish themed casserole. 

Photo Courtesy of LUU Bakesoc

Sunday, 16 February 2014


In my original post about travelling to the Dordogne, I mentioned the vast array of amazing food there was to be sampled there; however, I'm sure I can expand on this further with the addition of a few suggestions on where to eat and what to expect if you visit. As I have mentioned before, the Dordogne is known for a handful of very rich foods; primarily walnut oil, foie gras and goose/duck fat. Most dishes here came with foie gras, rich creamy sauces and every menu offered duck, usually confit style. Despite travelling in summer, the rich, dark flavours I would associate more with an autumnal menu and I often found that having lunch out during the day meant a light snack or sandwich for dinner. I stayed in the sleepy village of Coux et Bigaroque, which had very few places to eat and was more of well placed in-between village to stay in for trips to busier places during the day. The best find in our village was the hotel/restaurant Le Chambellan, which sold cheap wine by the litre and like most French restaurants offered a sample of (reasonably pricey) set menu's to choose from. One thing to bear in mind is the cost of these places; dining out in this region is not a cheap affair- backpackers and students should just buy goats cheese and baguettes from the supermarket. The restaurant in Le Chambellan was exactly what you'd expect in this part of France; country cooking at it's best. I had the decadent confit duck with pomme sardalais and cepes, pushing the foie gras to the side of course and finished the meal with a creme brulee trio (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavours if I remember correctly?) I can't rave about the pomme sardalais enough; fried potatoes with parsley and garlic; a regional speciality that's not to miss. Other meals included the strongest garlic soup known to man and a 'medium rare' steaked cooked the French way (it was pretty much blue). My favourite restaurant of the whole trip was located in La-Roque Gageac. We dined at La Belle Etoile, which overlooked the river from a grapevine decorated balcony. The atmosphere and food here was some of the best I'd ever experienced despite not opting for regional classics. The starter was a delicate lemon flavoured monkfish carpaccio and the dessert was an iced soufflĂ©, something I'd love to recreate if I ever had the right recipe! For a lighter meal, visit the stunning Le Jardins de Marqueyssac, which offers regional salads of mostly cheese and walnut bases. Overall the Dordogne epitomises everything you'd expect from the region; sweet Monbazillac wine, game meats and soft delicate cheeses. We ate in pretty much most of the main villages and tourist sites so if you're interested in more foodie adventures please let me know! 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Ever since I was sitting in Arts Cafe at the beginning of term and handed a little card with 'Shear's Yard' stamped on it, I'd been dying to go. Praised by many, the now not-so-new restaurant created from the team behind Arts Cafe is one of many independent restaurants to join the Leeds Dining Scene. The menu boats local Yorkshire classics re-imagined for a modern audience. Situated on the Calls, opposite Ambiente and Calls Landing, Shear's Yard is set up with a very minimalist style, with bare walls and exposed light bulbs hanging from the ceiling (the focus here is clearly on the food, not the interior design). To start we ordered a round of cocktails; I had a rose petal martini which was adorned with rose petals and tasted almost perfume-like. My two friends had a pear and ginger martini and an apricot jam and passion fruit concoction, both of which tasted amazing and were rather strong actually. Onto the food; we decided to skip a starter in favour of a dessert; there was however plenty to choose from, including fresh scallops and spicy tiger prawns. For the main courses we were spoilt for choice; I had a delicious venison two-ways with fresh blackberries, pumpkin puree and roast celeriac. There was also an amazing sounding cod served with fresh crab and for vegetarians; bubble and squeak croquettes with black garlic and kohlrabi. Lastly, for dessert there was universal approval for the banana pudding in a toffee sauce, served with Yorkshire tea ice cream and banana chips. This very much reminded me of the Arts Cafe sticky toffee pudding, yet with the addition of tea flavoured ice cream; a superb addition if you ask me. I would 100% visit Shear's Yard again, their menu is initiative and their ingredients fresh; the seasonal changes meaning you have a fresh set of choices for every visit.

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Tree Top Pods

You may have seen these spherical pods before, or you may be confusing them with something you might have seen in a sci fi/fantasy film. These personal tree houses are actually called 'Free Spirit Spheres' and are hung from ropes between trees to replace any conventional style tree house. A company in British Columbia, Canada rents out these little bubbles and markets them as perfect places to enjoy nature, meditation and relaxation. Groovy. 

Fairy Princess Castle

Ever wanted to pretend you were Cinderella? Sleeping Beauty? Château de Bagnols, a Celtic style castle has everything a castle should need. Complete with moat, drawbridge and decadent, gold leaf interior design, this castle has everything you need to play princess for a day. Described as 'wildly romantic', this hotel is the most expensive on the list, with your average apartment room costing £312 a night, but considering the decadence you get what you pay for here. 

Ancient Ruins

Neemrana Fort Palace is not built on your average brownfield. Situated just outside of New Dehli, India, this luxury accommodation is built on the ruins of a fallen Palace, which crumbled into decay after India became independent. The site now holds a complex of seven palace wings with an accompanying hanging gardens, zipwires and a couple of pools. The restoration of these beautiful ruins has made Neemrana a perfect location for culture vultures and anyone who appreciates a good view.