Wednesday, 22 July 2015

July 2015 Favourites List

This month's pictures are from the lavender fields of Provence. There is something unique about the light in that part of the world, which has attracted some of the world's greatest artists to draw and paint there. The colours, countryside and flowers are colourful and vibrant. Nothing says Summer to me like the vivid purple and heady scent of thousands of lavender flowers.

I hope you will enjoy this month's collection of recipes, food articles, video, know how and other stuff I have collected together as my favourites for the month. I have been watching a lot of live music this month, mainly because I am not suited to going to festivals. As a tremendously light sleeper who is only really 5 foot (5 foot and half an inch doesn't count) with a penchant for hot showers and comfortable beds, a weekend away at Glastonbury and the like was never really on the cards!


Summer succotash with edemame beans, served with grilled chicken:

In the UK we are very unaccustomed to the heat and the sunshine. It makes us panic a little. So I bring you: what to eat in a heatwave:

Cyrus Todiwala's onion and chilli bhaji recipe for "Kaanda Bhajia".

Recipe for Bombay Badboy Cheesecake. An innovative spin on a classic chocolate cheesecake by Zoe Perrett. A Curry For Change recipe:

Summer cocktails requiring minimal equipment which are easy to whip up. Cheers!

Quick, colourful and full of Summer flavours; prawn, tomato and chilli spaghetti.

Chicken thighs, rocket, pomegranate, and giant (Lebanese) couscous combine in a light salady-meal for hot days.

Vegetarian Mexican-Indo corn chaat by Deena Kakaya. I recommend her innovative recipes to any vegetarians out there.

The highly controversial New York Times pea guacamole which gained the criticism of President Obama:

Lamb leg steaks, feta, peas and puy lentils in a substantial but Summery meal-in-a-salad:

Articles/Know How:

Ladies - put the kettle on! Time for some Rosie Lee! (Particular health benefits found in tea for women.)

Guilty on two counts; cramming a pan and underseasoning. I consider myself schooled.

Having visited Penang, Malaysia, I can honestly say it has some of the finest food on the planet. Great to see that Ainsley Harriott agrees!

Time Out's list of the best Vietnamese Restaurants in London. I can vouch for Cay Tre and Banh Mi Bay. Keen to try the rest!

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

Find Your Feet are back with Curry For Change. Eat Indian food at a partner restaurant or throw a curry night for your friends. It's easy and fun to raise money to help empowerment rather than aid in rural areas of India and Nepal.

Bordeaux is more famous for its red wines than its white. But are we missing out on something? How well can the wide variety of Bordeaux whites complement food? I found out at Imbibe Live 2015 with Saturday Kitchen's Jane Parkinson.

My picture post on the Foodies Festival, Alexandra Palace Park

Arles in Provence is a beautiful, atmospheric town... typically southern French in food, feel and soul. This is my selection of places to eat.

My latest restaurant review is of Ekachai's relaunch of their Wandsworth restaurant. Written for Flush Magazine:


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Amy Winehouse In Her Own Words

Glastonbury 2015 Sets by: Belle & Sebastian, The Mothership, Jamie xx, Alt-J, The Who, Paul Weller

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.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Places to eat in Arles

I had the good fortune to visit the south of France, spending time in Nice, Aix en Provence and Arles. Provence is beautiful, with lovely countryside, picture perfect villages, and historic medieval towns; a feast for the eyes. The countryside boasts many farms producing wonderful fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, so a feast for the belly, too! 

There are lots of places to eat in Arles, mainly very good, although some we sampled were only average or good rather than great. Service is generally good, although in one establishment, my French was mocked by the waiting staff in a rather mean spirited display of what supposedly passed for humour. Don't worry, they aren't on this list, not just for the unkind service, but because the food wasn't up to scratch (the level where I'd actually recommend it to other people). 

So here is my list of places to eat in Arles, with a recommendation for a day trip to Saint Remy.

La Gueule du Loup

This family run restaurant prides itself on its authentically Provencale food, made with regard to seasonal local produce. We were told by the nice woman in L'Office du Tourisme that the chef had won an award for the food being quintessentially of the region. Her recommendation was echoed by the owner of our accommodation and a number of local restaurant guides. It did not disappoint. 
The menu changes with the season, and includes the famous local beef (Taureau de Camargue is a beef product which enjoys DOC protected status), olives, seafood and Camargue rice, that other local famed ingredient. 

There is a dining room upstairs, but the real atmosphere is in tiny downstairs dining area, where you can see the cooking and preparation happen in the tiny kitchen at the back. Watching the dishes being made with dedication and love is impressive enough, but seeing the co-operation and care working in confined conditions is an extra surprise. 

This restaurant is popular with the people of Arles and for dinner you may want to book. We found that on the day bookings were possible, but in high season this may change.

La Gueule du Loup
39 Rue des Arenes
13200 Arles
04 90 96 96 69
Closed annually 15 January - 15 February
Closed in Winter Sundays and Mondays
In season closed Sunday and Monday lunchtime

Au Brin de Thym

The terrace is a riot of floral colour, making this Arles eatery a very appealing place to spend a balmy Summer evening. 
The typically Provencale food is perhaps more rustic than some of its finer dining rivals, but it makes up in robust flavour what it lacks in precise presentation. 
I appreciated the earthy colours of the handmade terracotta plates and simple presentation, feeling timeless and of the region. 
The Provencale fish soup is served with the traditional accompaniments of toasted baguette slices, rouille sauce, grated parmesan and cloves of raw peeled garlic. I relished rubbing the raw garlic over the cute little toasts, smearing the rouille, topping with parmesan and dunking in the slight, pleasantly smoky soup and munching!

Au Brin de Thym
22 Rue du Docteur Fanton
13200 Arles
33 4 90 97 85 18

Le Galoubet

Situated just next door to Au Brin de Thym, Le Galoubet is on Rue de Docteur Fanton, which also boasts a homemade ice cream shop and a cute little lunch place called Le 16. 
Le Galoubet runs both a restaurant and hotel. But don't let that persuade you this is a low quality tourist trap, because we found that the restaurant was popular with the locals. Their menu changes regularly and although not extensive, is select. 
The emphasis is on fresh local ingredients. Their three course menu was 29 Euros, which I felt was very good value, but sadly a large lunch that same day meant I could only manage starter and main! 

Le Galoubet
18 Rue du Docteur Fanton
13200 Arles 
04 90 10 11

Nearby, in Saint Remy de Provence:


Of all the places to visit close to Arles, visitors are most likely to go to Saint Remy. It is close by, and is a compact and lovely old town, easy to explore and walk around. Of course, the Cloitre de Saint Paul where Van Gogh spent a year painting and convalescing draws many curious about the inspirations and work of that great artist. 

I would recommend L'Estagnol as a place to have lunch on a visit to Saint Remy without hestitation. It has a gorgeous garden terrace at the back of the restaurant. The speciality is seafood and the chef, Fabrice Meynardier holds the title of Maitre restaurateur, given for quality cooking, done freshly and in-house. 

16 Boulevard Victor Hugo
13210 Saint Remy de Provence
04 90 92 05 95
Closed annually around the second 15 days of February and the second 15 days of November
Closed Sunday evenings and Mondays

Recommended to me but not tested:
5 Rue Dulau

I have not received any form of incentive or payment for this post. I paid for my food at these restaurants fair and square. The establishments featured have no clue they are being included in this blog post. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bordeaux does streetfood at Imbibe

Bordeaux in south west France is famous for wine. Renowned for its very fine red wines, such as Margaux and St Emilion, it is not as well known for its white wines. Planete Bordeaux (or Planet Bordeaux) wants that to change.

As a result, at the 2015 Imbibe exhibition at London's Kensington Olympia, Planet Bordeaux wanted to show the range of Bordeaux white wines and their versatility with food. They are convinced that Bordeaux whites are food friendly, making them a great choice for home cooks and contemporary casual dining.

I was invited to their "Bordeaux Does Streetfood" event at Imbibe Live 2015 to see how well Bordeaux whites can complement food. I was intrigued and keen to discover more. Hosted by BBC Saturday Kitchen wine expert Jane Parkinson, the event promised to shine a light on the grape varieties, variation of style, versatility and value of Bordeaux white wines.

We had five wines to sample along with some carefully selected dishes. We were encouraged to try a small sip of wine before eating, to sample the pure flavour of the wine, but also to have some whilst eating the small dishes made for us. The flavour of wine can be radically affected by what you have with it.

Jane's advice to us was that Bordeaux whites are "super versatile with food" and that they are "underestimated even by us in the drinks trade". Jane was joined by chef Nicos Popupalot. "Popupalot" is not his real name, but an adopted name inspired by his many varied cooking projects, and a nod to his genuine Cypriot heritage. 

The first dish was a cod mousse, wrapped in cucumber ribbons, served in a pea veloute. The wine match for this was a Chateau Pierrail 2014 (Single varietal).

The Chateau Pierrail is made in the Entre Deux Mers area of Bordeaux from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Gris grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc gives fruity, clean flavour and the Sauvignon Gris less fruity notes, with more savoury herby palate. It echoes green mint and chives. Sauvignon Gris is growing in popularity. I enjoyed the light white fish and gentle summer sweetness of the peas. The combined effect of the food and wine was a fresh and ripe feel of clean, fresh, light, green flavours. This wine is to my palate a little too young and fruity to be drunk on its own, but would go well with green salads.

The next dish was Gravadlax with dill and lemon zest in blini with creme fraiche. The wine to complement it was a Chateau Le Grand Verdus 2014 (blend). Again, this wine is from Entre Deux Mers. 

Nicos informed us that he had tweaked this dish from the regular by infusing the salmon with a little vodka. His idea was that the creme fraiche would cut through the dill, and the vodka and herbs would mellow out the salmon. The Chateau Le Grand Verdus, made of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle, to an exacting method. The grapes are harvested at night only, to preserve and retain aroma. It is keep on lees for 5 months. These processes result in a mineral driven wine. The heavier flavours cope well with the strong saltiness and unctuousness of the salmon. 

Our third dish was a crostini topped with smoked mackerel rillettes. The third wine was a Chateau Lestrille Capmartin 2013 (barrel aged) from Entre Deux Mers. 

This wine had a dark colour to it, as a result of the fact it is both fermented and aged in oak. It is made from 62% Sauvignon Gris, 23% Semillon, and 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Michel Rolland is the consultant winemaker to the Chateau. Despite the fact that 2013 was a difficult year for the region, this is a successfully balanced wine. I do not usually enjoy oaked wines, but this was an exception. It was full bodied and was not overwhelmed by the strong flavour and aromas of the oily mackerel. There was nutty richness to the palate of the wine. This is a wine which can be laid down for up to 5 years, in contrast to the wines above, which are for enjoying now. 

Next up was a more complicated and meaty dish. Nicos made us a squid and chorizo slider with lemon aioli. The wine was a Chateau Thieuley, Cuvee Francis Courselle 2012, made from 50% Sauvignon Gris and 50% Semillon, grown on 25 year old wines.

This barrel aged wine is macerated for 12-18 hours, the skins adding flavour and tannins to the wine. It is fermented in barrels and aged in lees for 8 months, which is a generous amount of time. The wine therefore is rich and full, which allowed it to cope with the meaty component of the slider. Chorizo, with its heavy dose of paprika, can be a challenge for white wines to match with. This wine, from Entre Deux Mers was a suitable match for the chorizo and lemon aioli. Jane hadn't expected Nicos to have thrown the curveball of the lemony sauce, but she need not have worried. 

Finally, was some asian style marinated tiger prawns, served with Chateau Le Hargue 2014 Moelleux.

This wine, the only made at Chateau La Hargue, is 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 15% Muscadelle. The grapes are harvested late to increase the sweetness and is fermented at low temperature following 24 hour maceration. The resulting wine is not as sweet as the aroma leads you to expect, being off dry. 

Given that the prawns were marinated in a combination of flavours which are difficult to pair with wine, namely lemongrass, coriander, ginger, chilli and lime (typical of Thai or Vietnamese food), this wine was something of a revelation to me. I think I have found a wine which would be very well suited to spicy food, from Thai through to Indian. The wine is more balanced and subtle than my usual choices of wine for this situation; Rieslings and Gewurtztraminer. It has a pale tone and and is highly aromatic. This is a wine to watch!

We tried some very contrasting flavours and textures of food during this tasting session. Many of them are notorious for being difficult to match with wine. It has been illuminating to discover how Bordeaux white wines can be paired with food so successfully. White wines make up 11% of Bordeaux's overall production, but they are wines which Jane reminded us represent "fantastic value for money" and I am impressed by their wide variety and versatility. 

If you want to find out more about Bordeaux whites, please visit:

Snigdha was invited by Planet Bordeaux to Imbibe Live 2015 and to the Bordeaux Blanc Does Street Food tasting session. Snigdha has not received any payment or incentive for writing this post.