Monday, 26 August 2019

August 2019 Favourites List

Meltdown Festival is a music festival with a difference. Starting on a Saturday and ending the following Sunday, it stretches luxuriously over 9 days. This means you never have to worry about acts clashing. You can see whoever takes your fancy. Because the festival is at London’s South Bank, there’s no camping or concerns about British weather or any need for wellies. Each year’s festivities is put together by a music icon, so you get to immerse yourself in their tastes and influences. 

This year, Nile Rodgers, songwriter, producer, guitar legend and king of disco was the “curator” of the festival. Naturally, there was a lot of focus on guitar music. But Nile is a man of varied tastes, so his selections took in jazz, blues, indie and, of course, funk. 

I was lucky enough to see Nile Rodgers speak about his career and his many fruitful musical collaborations. He even treated us to the earliest ever demo of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, having told us the most thrilling history of that particular song. Who knew Bowie originally wrote it as a folk rock song? And who would believe we would get to hear Bowie slowly appreciating how it could work as a funk rock song? Only Nile Rodgers could have been responsible for that sound and that radical change of direction. 

Nile Rodgers brought his band along with him, and seeing Chic is always a treat. They are a super tight band, with vocal power and tonnes of soul. They didn’t disappoint, with the whole of the Royal Festival Hall on its feet, dancing for all it was worth. 

Nile hosted some of his favourite musicians and I was able to catch shows by Johnny Marr and Songhoy Blues. Both have bands with strong guitar sounds, but could not be more different from each other. Desert blues and British Indie royalty. Again, only Nile Rodgers could bring those influences together. 

This month’s photos are from Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown Festival 2019. I wonder who will be running the show next year? 

Hope you enjoy the photos and my selections of my favourite things this post month. 


Wear an apron when cooking. Don't wear a white shirt while eating. Laksa is a Malaysian/Singaporean institution: a colourful and spicy noodle soup. Here's Felicity Cloake on how to make the perfect Laksa:

MiMi Aye's Red Prawn Curry (Pazun See-pyan) from her new Burmese cook book Mandalay!

Looking for an alternative to a Sunday roast? How about this Summery Lamb and aubergine stew with houmous served up with Mediterranean flatbreads?


Grilling aubergines brings out the best in them. Here are some recipe inspiration - with cute baharat parcels, a creamy dip and stunning salad.

Summertime cordial recipes: cucumber and lime, peach and basil, and strawberry and cardamom cordial:

Got a pint of milk you might not use? Already cooking with some chillis? The bacteria in the chilli stalks can be used to make your own yoghurt!

Sushi rice has to be sticky, with a slight touch of sweetness. Here's how to make sushi rice with full instructions and videos:

Potato and chick pea masala:

Grilled portobello mushrooms and red peppers, in this rocket and couscous salad, suitable for vegetarians:

Chicken, giant couscous and harissa broth. Use giant couscous, don't substitute.


Food writer Sejal Sukhadwala picks out London's best meat free restaurants. List with map and reviews. Absolutely agree with Vanilla Black and Mildreds.

Every Summer, legal geniuses Sean Jones QC and Dominic Regan go through the arduous process of tasting the Summer's new crop of wines. They suffer for their art! Here are their picks for this Summer. I definitely agree that the Aldi Cotes de Provence (with the bottle embossed with flowers) is a great value, great wine:

As Chef Cyrus Todiwala prepares to open his new restaurant "Tandem" in Leicester, he took a few moments to talk to Seetal Savla about the restaurant trade, his faith and his rules for life:


Year Of The Rabbit

REM at the BBC



The Favourite


Johnny Marr – Call The Comet

Songhoy Blues – Music In Exile

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

July 2019 Favourites List

This month I’m going to tell you about Cienfuegos, a city on the Bahia de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Bay) on the south coast of Cuba. Founded by a wealthy family, who gave the city its name, in 1819, it is positively a youngster of a city compared to Trinidad, Havana or Santiago.

The huge central square, the Parque Jose Marti, sets the tone for the city. Open and graceful, it is almost a double square! There are two squares which combine to make the imposing rectangle of the Parque. Strolling around the square, you can’t fail to be impressed by its grandeur. There is a Casa de Cultura in the square, where locals watch live music in a hidden courtyard, drink a cold beer and meet with friends. Or Bar Palatino, almost exactly across the Parque, a traditional Cuban bar with a terrace outside to enjoy the sunshine. The square was made a national monument in 1978 and a UNESCO as a site of important Cultural Patrimony in 2005.

It's a short taxi ride down to the coast, and I found a lovely little restaurant to have a slow and lazy lunch looking over the sea. You can’t spend all of your time travelling sightseeing, walking and taking photos. It is exhausting! So lunch at Camila’s Restaurant was a welcome break. 

Cienfuegos’ 19th Century architecture is characterised by the main roads being wide boulevards, with grand villas on both sides. The houses here are painted in pastel shades, making them look very elegant. One of them has been converted into an old school Paladare (private restaurant), Las Mamparas, loved by locals for special occasions. Paladare Ache, in the side streets is a more contemporary Paladare with a beautiful garden, chunky rustic wood tables and a more modern take on Cuban food.


It’s a city which feels a little more relaxed than Havana, and has fewer tourists than Trinidad and feels a bit more like “real Cuba” than Vinales. Don’t forget to listen to some Beny More should you visit. He is Cienfuegos’ most famed musician, who could tackle many different genres of Cuban music with ease. Such was his versatility, he was given the title “El Barbero de Ritmo” or the Barbarian of Rhythm. It seems like a backhanded compliment, but it truly is not. You will find his statue on the main boulevard of town

I hope you enjoy my photos and my impressions of my trip.

My overview of my Cuba trip can be found here:

Find out about Vinales in the countryside here:

Food writing: 

Pubs are a quintessentially British drinking experience. They're not the same as wine bar, cocktail bars or other drinking establishments. What makes a great British Boozer?

An interview with food and recipe writer Felicity Cloake, by cookbook author Kerstin Rodgers at Ms Marmite Lover blog:

"Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches"! Do you know your peaches from your nectarines?

Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, certain cheeses - what they have in common is fermentation. Some fermented food can help encourage good gut health. Find out more.


Farro, grilled peach and pecan salad - an ancient grain with Summer fruits to make a seasonal salad which is vegetarian and vegan.

Fancy a cheeky weekend cocktail? How about this toffee vodka?

Quick and Easy Spicy Garlic Chicken Pasta from Helen of Fuss Free Flavours:

Diana Henry's South-East Asian tomato and mango salad recipe which turns any plain main course – fish, chicken, pork chops – into a flavoursome Eastern meal.

Nigel Slater’s new potatoes with broad beans and butter sauce:

Slow cooked Korean pork marinaded in miso, soy sauce, gochujang or Sriracha, sesame oil, and pepper, served in lettuce wraps:

Black rice, watercress and pomegranate, a super salad with tahini dressing which is vegetarian and vegan:

Turkish greens on toast and Börek with feta, greens and dark molasses tahini. Turkish recipes from Anna Jones:

Chicken, giant couscous and harissa broth. Use giant couscous, don't substitute. Buy the giant couscous pasta!

Vegan tofu 
summer rolls recipe with Hoi Sin sauce or sweet chilli sauce:


Killing Eve (Season 2)

Glastonbury (at the BBC)
The Good Place (Season 1)


Stephen Duffy - I Love My Friends (2019 reissue)

Neil Young – After The Gold Rush

Buena Vista Social Club - Various Artists

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.