Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world


June 2012

Crispy Lavender Chicken: C’est Simple!

On hearing that I was cooking lavender chicken for dinner, apparently my friends conjured up images of chicken in potpourri, or something just as awful: Nice to hear that they have faith in my culinary skills!

This dish was in fact a light and crispy-yet-sticky chicken marinated in lavender, lemon, thyme and honey; and it was just delightful! I followed the recipe from Rachel Khoo’s ‘My Little Paris Kitchen’ (an English girl living and cooking in Paris with a restaurant for two in her tiny home: so quaint!). The recipe is definitely worth a try as it is so easy to prepare yet so tasty (and you can impress your friends with its unusual nature). Cooking with wild fragrant flowers is all the rage at the moment so go gather some lavender and get involved! (from a lavender farm such is this one below, or from your own garden!)

The recipe can be found following the link below, however a few extra hints from me are:

–          Don’t overdo it on the lavender: when she says a little goes a long way, she means it! I used lavender from my garden and it worked perfectly well.

–          Lavender honey was unsurprisingly difficult to come across, so I used wild flower honey as a substitute.

–          When cooking do make sure you keep an eye on the chicken as it browns very quickly- ensure to turn to get crispiness on all sides.

Ensure to season the jus well as it really alters the flavour and makes it much less sickly sweet.

Despite initial doubts from the critics (my friends), it went down very well indeed! Parfait!


‘WILD thing, you make my tummy sing!’

One of my favourite things to do is ‘brunch’. Whether it be a chilled catch up with friends, a big family get together or just riding solo with a book: all tick the box!

I must admit that being a student, one has quite a lot of ‘free’ time. Therefore I have managed to pack many a Bath eatery in to my time here.

A place that I have only just discovered (great timing, just as I am about to leave!) is ‘Wild Café’. Recommended by a friend, I took my mum for brunch on her visit last weekend. The brightly coloured door and bike outside give it that arty Cornish vibe, which extends inside to the intimate and friendly dining space. The open kitchen fills the small yet airy room with the buzz of chefs at work and delicious aromas of their dishes.

Fully satisfied after a ‘Wild’ brunch

Not a hug fan of full English breakfast due to the customary layer of grease and soggy tendencies, I decided here was the place to bite the bullet and order it: it was brunch after all! And I was not disappointed; in fact I was extremely impressed: tasty mushrooms, smoky-yet-not-too-salty bacon and nothing soggy in sight! My mum had a contrasting dish: avocado on toast, with a gorgeous texture and lemony zest! There were also other more adventurous dishes on the menu, which we felt were too bold for brunch o’clock: think wild nettle and squash risotto, wood pigeon salad, and here’s their cheeky recipe for a real country bumpkin dish: rabbit pie!

The friendly staff, tongue-in-cheek attitude (they speak on their website of an army of smurfs in their basement!) and colourful decor make for a quirky, rustic and vibrant brunch haunt! (And all run on 100% renewable electricity!)

Let’s dance and shout for British grub!

Yesterday the Olympic torch passed through my humble town in Yorkshire. Local folk were out in mass, with the school children creating a bustling pavement of red, white and blue: singing songs, cheering at everything and anything driving past; and frantically waving flags as the torch passed by. It was just lovely and got me feeling all patriotic as the whole community came together to celebrate.

local boys patiently waiting…

With many a celebration over the past year; from the Royal Wedding, to the Jubilee, to the London Olympics; the Brits have come out in force to celebrate our nation. And we certainly have a lot to be proud of: the beautiful Georgian architecture, the rich cultural heritage from Shakespeare to the Beatles, the Queen and, actually, the food. In the words of Hugh Grant (playing the Prime minister) ‘We may be a small country, but we’re a great one too.’

English cuisine is often undermined, particularly by our French friends over the channel who share our national colours, yet refuse to have anything to do with our culinary status. When speaking of ‘English cuisine’ in France, you will most probably be faced with the muttering of ‘la cuisine anglaise??! Il n’y a rien de tel!’ (There’s no such thing as English cuisine!)

Now, not one to criticise the French (as you may have cottoned on to the fact that I would in fact quite like to be a frog), here I can say that they are totally and completely faux!

As Brits, we have a lot to shout about: hearty home-cooked Shepherd’s Pie, Roast Beef and sausages and mash; rustic seaside fish and chips; refined afternoon tea with all the works; anything and everything you can think of thrown into a hearty pie; the greasy yet irresistible English breakfast; and the unique Yorkshire pudding!

Mini ice cream cone with hot chocolate at Fortnum and Masons: only the British!

And all of the above is not even taking in to consideration the multicultural nature of modern-day Britain. Take our capital as an example; London is a melting pot of cultural diversity. I doubt you could find a curry in India much better than those on Brick Lane, China town is a vibrant ‘village’ of its own and one can get lost in the unbeatable diversity of the dozens of markets.

So the idea of the British as inept in the kitchen is one only for the ignorant who have not been privileged enough to taste real English grub… You’ve got to love ‘les roast beef’!

As a little appetizer for my next post about all things English cuisine has to be proud of! This perfect Yorkshire pud certainly appears to be from a trialed and tested recipe. Yummy!


part of

I do love Yorkshire puddings.  I have made them in many different sizes and filled them not just with roast beef but also with many things such as sausages, jam and golden syrup.  This is how I have been making them since my early twenties, which is a distance memory now!  Each time I have been treated to the most glorious Yorkshire puds.  Admittedly, there are occasions where they are slightly bigger than others and I put that down to the eggs.  I buy some lovely local free range eggs, which do not get graded in size.  Either way these Yorkshire puddings taste so delicious and I just cannot understand why people would choose to buy them ready made, when they work out so well.  Please give this recipe a go and do follow each step, to make sure that you get glorious puts too!

The video…

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‘Charlie’s mom has got it going on…’

… when it comes to her brownie recipes!

When entering the quaint Yorkshire cottage of my friend Charlie, you are bound to be greeted firstly by his adorable Springer Spaniel presenting you with her choice of shoe, shortly followed by the unmistakable aroma of his mummy’s baking. Sue’s best-known treat amongst our friends (and I’m sure in the local area) are her chocolate brownies.

‘Naughty Noo’ being pampered as usual…

I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to these chocolaty desserts. However, ordering a brownie is not as simple as it may first seem. The variety of delicacies you can be faced with under this umbrella term of ‘the brownie’ is overwhelming… from the dense and fudgy brownies to crumbly cakey brownies; with ingredients varying from chocolate chunks, to fruit pieces, to many a type of nut.

My favourite have to be those which are crunchy on top but gooey and moist in the middle: so not too heavy and rich but slightly spongy. Sprinkled with a dash of icing sugar and voila: the best brownies in the world! This is the type that Charlie’s mum bakes. I am afraid that I cannot point you in the direction of these drops of heaven (secret family recipe and all…) but take my word for it, they are GOOD!

Otherwise the best brownies I have tasted are from easily one of my favourite places in Bath: Chandos Deli (full post to follow). They’re dense, they’re packed with cranberries and they are most importantly of all chocolaty… divinely chocolaty! What are your favourites?

A beautiful car, a beautiful cottage…

Haut Société for the everyday onlooker

When thinking of France, particularly Paris, one evokes glamorous and romantic images of the cafés littéraires (literary cafés) of haut société. Having studied the artists Toulouse Lautrec and Edgar Degas and their portrayals of these Parisian haunts, I have come to realise that this vie bohème (bohemian lifestyle) was much more than pompous nobility of the era sipping tea and discussing the latest trends. They were in fact also places where the everyday individual could go to console themselves about their impoverished lives. These places fascinate me: from the romantic images of the literary elite finding their inspiration in the art deco surroundings, to the not so glamorous idea of people frequenting them as an escape from solitude.

When visiting Paris I have visited these cafés many a time, my favourite activity being looking past the inevitable tourist glare and daydreaming about what it would have been like to sit in the same spot decades ago amongst the writers, the artists and the bohemians of Degas and Lautrec.

Unfortunately my current location means that I cannot pop along to these cafés with ease. However, in Bath I have found a modern day equivalent in ‘Society Café’ on Kingsmead Square. Here I have wound away the last couple of afternoons minding my own business (well, maybe also minding other people’s business as they planned weddings and discussed the music industry and up-and-coming artists…). The incredibly friendly staff are a refreshing change to modern day hostility: they not only remembered me from the day before but let me sit peacefully for a couple of hours without making me feel I was in the way or that they were trying to get me out once I had given them my custom. I felt back in the café culture of France where the ambiance is to be enjoyed and you are left at ease to enjoy your coffee (in this instance two varieties of hot chocolate: the first incredibly sweet white chocolate with subtle hints of vanilla and the second a milk chocolate a bit less sweet but just as tasty, both made with giant chocolate buttons!) Also not to miss are the giant chocolate bourbons and the delicate pastries from the local Bertinet Bakery.

A recent venture, I am sure this café will become a home from home for many locals, be they haut société or not.

My friend and elephantbranded bag at my favourite table to sit at in Society Café

Summer spirit, syrup style!

This Sunday we took a trip to the Bath Love Food Festival and we were lucky enough to see a demonstration by the Vegetarian Cookery School belonging to the Award Winning restaurant ‘Demuths’.

‘Summer syrups’ was the theme, fitting for the forecast a few weeks ago, but unfortunately not for the current weather. However, the demonstration was very useful and inspiring for us young food enthusiasts. An assortment of syrups were prepared and served in a variety of ways. The elderflower syrup was mixed with water and ice for a refreshing and sweet cordial, the lavender was mixed with whipped cream to make a fragrant cream, and finally the mint and rosewater syrup was poured over fresh strawberries. The strawberries and cream together with the fragrant flavours of the syrups was perfectly sweet yet light.

The little tasters really brightened up the wet wintery day and have inspired us to make elderflower mojitos and fragranced strawberries and cream for our graduation. Thank you Demuth’s!


The beauty of these syrups is that the wild ingredients can be freshly gathered from local areas, therefore no expense apart from sugar.

–          200g sugar (the ladies at Demuths use their homemade vanilla sugar for an extra spice)

–        100 ml water

–          4 tbsp dried lavender/1 tbsp rosewater and small bunch of fresh mint/or create your own.

Place the sugar, water and chosen fragrance in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the syrup thickens. Allow to cool et voila, there is your syrup to add to cream, to make cocktails, to flavour cakes, to drizzle onto desserts… the possibilities are endless!

For details about courses and classes at the Vegetarian Cookery School check out

Two Potato Tickle

My brother lurking to be the first to pick his roasties!

Sunday roast: my favourite meal of all time and an absolute must for Sundays chez nous (at home). When it comes to awards for the best roast, my mum’s side of the family has a lot to offer! The Crossleys, The Duckworths and The Tickles… a bizarre amalgamation of family names…

My Auntie’s nickname of ‘two potato Tickle’ has risen from an incident from her and my mum’s teenage years when she would leave two roast potatoes until the end to mash them up with her gravy. My Uncle Tony (Tickle), always the joker, came up with the name ‘Two potato Tickle’ which has definitely stuck, whether my Auntie approves or not. However, this name is misleading as two is never enough in our family dinners… Roast potatoes are the absolute highlight with full blown family arguments having sprouted from who gets to choose their potatoes first! Shameful this may be, but to this day manners fail me when the crispiest most golden potato is at stake!

Every family has their own twist on the simple roast potato, with each believing theirs to be the best… I still claim ours to be the best… made with goose fat and Maris Piper’s.

I must add that one of my favourite things in life is this last mouthful from which ‘Two Potato Tickle’ was born. The smallest and crispiest roastie with bits of everything else piled up and swimming in a spoon of gravy… nothing else better describes heaven on a spoon!

A convert in the cheese aisle

Knowing that I spent a year living in France, the cheese capital of the world, people find the fact that I don’t like cheese bizarre. I have no idea, I absolutely love cream and when I see people cutting gooey cheese my mouth always waters, but for some reason there has always been something holding me back. However peu à peu (little by little) I have begun to dabble in a few varieties. During a réunion of our Nantes girls in London, after a very French-style leisurely meal cooked by Mama Watt, I decided that I fancied a taste of goat’s cheese. But only a ‘petit petit peu’… and a bit more… and some more…et voilà, I was converted!

So, as a novice, I went to Sainsbury’s and actually had to ask my friends where the cheese aisle was… Usually foreign territory, I was completely overwhelmed with the variety- goat’s cheese, blue cheese, cheese from France, local cheese, Sainsbury’s own label cheese… I spent a good couple of minutes staring blankly (and most probably appearing very peculiar to other shoppers) not knowing where to start…

I have now come to realise that the statement ‘I don’t like cheese’ is extremely sweeping due to the extensive variety in taste and texture. Now goat’s cheese is a regular item in my shopping basket and I am eager to discover many more favourites.

So there we go, now I am fully prepared for my food tour! After all, it would be complètement folle (crazy) to embark on a food tour of France without liking its most prestigious food variety! Fromageries (Cheese shops), fondue, raclette… get me there now! How can I have been missing out on this baffling world?!

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