Tag Archives: organic

Getting inventive at MasterChef Live

Lured by the promise of tasting top notch, gourmet food and spotting celeb chefs, I attended the MasterChef Live press breakfast at Olympia, followed by a gander around the exhibition.

Unlike the TV programme, MasterChef Live is aimed at chefs and foodies of all abilities and there are a number of workshops, demonstrations and top tips sessions from the UK’s leading chefs, offering insider tricks and new techniques.

A big highlight of the weekend is the Invention Test, critiqued by John Torode and Gregg Wallace and hosted by Andi Peter.  30 pre-booked competitors will be given just 30 minutes to prepare a dish from a set of unseen ingredients and impress the judges.

Invention test

The first session seemed to get off to a flying start, with the budding chefs toiling away over the stoves at their work stations, although things got a bit precarious when someone’s pan caught fire!

I also saw the rather handsome James Martin (of Ready Steady Cook fame) doing a cookery demonstration and  Theo Randall giving advice on how to make the perfect pasta at the Hot Tips Pod.

At the centre of the exhibition hall is the beautifully designed Restaurant Experience, where you can pick and choose from special lunch menu, created by a variety of London’s top restaurants.  You can sample Hereford Beef and Bashed Neeps at Urban Caprice, a pork belly bridge roll from Roast to Go and vanilla and ginger cheesecake from Boxwood cafe.

dining room

There were exhibitors from all over the UK, from big players like Rachel’s Organic promoting their delicious new toffee and milk chocolate yogurts and The Co-operative to smaller specialised producers like Loopy Lisa’s Fudge and the decadent Bougie Macaron and Tea.

After the copious amount of artisan pastries and coffee at the press breakfast, eating more food wasn’t the first thing on my mind, so I took a few laps around the venue to try and forge a new appetite to taste the food samples on offer (well, that’s why you come, isn’t it)?

My top discovery of the day was Jacc’s Gourmet Coffee flavoured coffee beans.  I bought a small bag of their Irish Cream and Hazelnut roasted beans, which they ground for me, and I’ve been addicted to it since. The beans are flavoured with essential oils, so you get a deep, natural flavour, rather than the aroma disappearing as soon as it hits water.

coffee

In the Producers Village, you can find top cuts of organic meat from Brown Cow Organics, artisan cheeses at Keens Cheddar, authentic American cupcakes from Beverly Hills Bakery and freshly iced oysters from Mersea Oysters and Ale.

oysters

I was also intrigued by the Aladdin’s cave of different varieties of garlic at The Garlic Farm – my choice is usually limited to single or a pack of three!

But Keith Floyd disciples shouldn’t despair, as there’s plenty of booze to sample from producers including Frangelico, Funkin cocktails, Thunder Toffee Vodka, The Bubbly Champagne Company and Chateau Civrac.

garlic

MasterChef LIVE is on this weekend at London’s Olympia (13th – 15th November).  Tickets are priced from £18 and there are a number of packages available.

Get down to the Invention Test, sponsored by Plenty at MasterChef LIVE.  Just like the programme, contestants will need to hone their skills and hold their nerve to create something tantalising with some tough ingredients – and this time in just 30 minutes. Previous TV MasterChef winners will be there as well as formidable duo John Torode and Gregg Wallace – and Brenda & Audrey, the housewives from the Plenty adverts, will even be there to cheer you on! Go to www.plenty.co.uk or www.masterchef.com for more details.

A life in mono

Glasgow is vegan cafe central, but mono is the only one that can keep my sworn carnivore friends happy with their exceptionally delicious veggie burgers and homebrewed pink lemonade.

Mono

Mono is the kind of place where you can waste away an afternoon drinking organic beer on the sofas, swapping a book at their library exchange or getting crafty at one of their regular Stitch and Bitch events.  It’s in a quiet, rogueish part of town, down by the Clyde and just far enough from trendy Merchant City and Argyll Street’s uninspiring shops.

The soundtrack is provided by in-house record store Monorail, which has an amazing mix of records and CDs from every Scottish indie album you could ever want to antifolk, glitchy electro and obscure film scores.  At night, mono turns into a gig venue with a tiny stage that has seen all the greats like Arab Strap and Belle and Sebastian and now plays host to the kind of bands on Domino and ATP Recordings, oh and their own jazz night.

Monorail

But more about the amazing, wholesome vegan food!  If Stella McCartney has got you into Meat Free Monday, then you’re in for a treat – 3 delectable course for £10, all day Monday.

On the menu are Indian or Greek platters and thai stirfrys, a variety of tapas and snacks like crostini with aubergine and chilli.  My longtime hangover cure was a veggie burger with spicy chips and garlic mayo, but if you’re after total obliteration, go for the Big Mono (£7.50) – it’s a burger with the full works, chips and a side salad.

Mono home-brewed beer

Mono is lucky to have some pretty good neighbours, with treasure trove vintage shop Mr Ben just two doors down and 13th Note across the road. The only problem is, it’s kind of hard to tear yourself away!

Mono, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, G1 5RB