Kent: Michelin star luncheon at The Sportsman

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This Michelin star restaurant has been on my to-eat-list (yes, I have one of those…) for quite some time and I was thrilled when my Kent-based friends Helen and Pete suggested we go there for lunch together. We booked it several months before and finally went in May this year (sorry it’s taken me forever to do the write up!).

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Quite unlike most other one star places The Sportsman is really relaxed and rustic. You place your order at the bar (while looking at the daily changing menu noted down on the black board next to it) and go sit down.

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The food takes a similar approach and is really well prepared out of the best ingredients but with a rustic no-fuss approach. Which people love! Especially chefs, who vote this as their favourite restaurant year after year.

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I obviously like the approach too, and from the get-go it’s pure perfection. The three different types of bread are all very good, the olives are of the buttery kind and the butter is just heavenly. A good start.

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Pete and Helen are just as excited as I am, although they’ve been here before and Pete and I can’t resist the oysters, which were served two ways and both delicious!

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It was only also Pete and I who ordered starters, but we shared them at the table. The terrine with mustard, pickles, grilled sourdough and crispy scratchings was so nice. Everything was just perfectly executed.

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My tomato, burrata and pesto may look simple, but it was perfectly put together and had the best pesto I’ve ever tasted.

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Helen had the beef and Yorkshire pudding which was pure perfection as well. Just look at that plate.

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My pork was incredibly tender and was served with a deliciously fluffy mash and a mustard jus. Just perfect.

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Pete had cod, again cooked to perfection, with asparagus and a delicious chorizo sauce. It’s classic food, but still with a few twists.

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I was quite full after my pork but would not turn down pudding in a place like this and so ordered the rhubarb soufflé with rhubarb ripple ice cream. It’s was amazingly good. Strong but subtle flavours and the softest soufflé!

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Helen’s warm chocolate mousse with with salted caramel and milk sorbet was equally dreamy and although familiar flavours, the fun texture is a great addition.

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The whole lunch was really relaxed and cosy, with two well-behaved children, and such a treat! Afterwards we went out into the sunshine and down the beach to look for sea shells and fossils. Such a wonderful day – and lunch!

The Sportsman, Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP

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Recipe: burrata with figs and prosciutto

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Fresh figs everyday. A Mediterranean dream or reality in the south of Sweden? The latter. I know people think we have polar bears walking the streets (not true!) but Sweden in the summer is often warmer (and less humid) than the UK, at least in the south where I’m from. And in my parents’ garden we have peach trees and fig trees bearing fruit each year.

The two weeks I was in Sweden earlier this month we had fresh figs every day. So many in face we had to come up with various ideas of how to eat them. This starter was one of the winners and it’s a simple assembly job with no actual cooking required. Perfect for a summer lunch or to start off a more casual dinner party. (Yes, it goes perfectly with rosé.).

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Burrata with figs and prosciutto, serves 2-3 as a starter

1 burrata

4-6 fresh figs, washed and cut into quarters

6 slices prosciutto or other cured ham

2 handfuls rocket or mixed salad leaves

nice olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt & black pepper

Take the burrata out o the fridge a good hour before you need it so it’s not fridge cold. Take a serving plate and cover the base with rocket leaves. Place the burrata whole in the middle of the plate and arrange the ham sliced and fig quarters around it. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season well. 

Recipe: burrata and prosciutto salad

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This favourite salad of mine doesn’t really require a recipe, but I wrote it down anyway, mainly as a reminder to myself. It’s the combination of some green leaves, fresh juicy tomatoes, salty ham and creamy burrata that makes it work, but you can add anything you like to this. I think it would be nice to add some olives and/or sunblush tomatoes, maybe some artichoke hearts, but it’s nice as it is. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Burrata salad with prosciutto, serves 2

1 small good quality burrata

4-6 slices prosciutto

150 g rocket 

approx 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

nice olive oil

balsamic vinegar

crema di balsamico

Divide the rocket and cherry tomatoes on two plates. Place a few slices of ham in the middle of each plate. Cut the burrata in two and place half on each plate on top of the ham. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar all over, paying extra attention to the burrata. To finish, season and drizzle with crema di balsamico. Serve with some nice bread. 

Malmö: dinner (and wine!) at Bastard

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I know, you’re probably giggling at the headline, but that is the actual name of a restaurant in Malmö. A very nice restaurant in fact. It’s been around for a few years now and is always busy which is a good sign.

The atmosphere is best described as cosy meets big city, as it definitely feels the restaurant would work just as well in London or New York as in little Malmö. The focus of the food is on meat and unusual cuts and they have the same menu in the bar area and restaurant.

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When I came here with my friend Carina one evening between Christmas and New Year we hadn’t booked but we came early enough to get a table after just a ten minute wait in the bar. We started off with a glass at the bar; champagne for me and a glass of white for Carina.

Sitting down we both had a lovely white burgundy (La Châtelaine 2015) that we stuck to the rest of the evening. We also had the charcuterie board which I would say is compulsory here. It’s more mixed than Terroirs, but just as nice.

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After a while we decided we were still hungry and ordered the burrata (mainly for Carina) and the sweetbreads (mainly for me). The burrata was really nice and the oranges and pomegranate seeds balanced the creaminess very well.

The sweetbreads were cooked to perfection (such a joy!) and the sauce was incredible too, but I found the carrots as a dull pairing. I would have liked something with more acidity or bite to balance the heavy sweetbreads.

With that said we really enjoyed the meal and our evening here. I love that every single waiter or bar staff we spoke to were so passionate about the menu, wines and the business in general.

Bastard, Mäster Johansgatan 11, 211 21 Malmö, Sweden

Lunch by the coast: Cruderia Al Porto, Cierva

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Our third day in the Emilia-Romagna area we drove to the coast for lunch. It seemed like all Italians had made the same plan for Easter Sunday as us, so it took us a good half an hour to even find a parking space about a 15 minute walk from the restaurarant. But it was a nice day for a walk so we didn’t mind.

We started our lunch with some thinly sliced raw fish (tuna, salmon, octopus and two types of white fish) served with a grassy olive oil and lemon juice – nice and fresh!

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Thinking of the lovely red prawns from the night before we decided to also share a red prawn tartar with endive, fried garlic and saffron. It was nice but sadly not as fantastic as we had hoped.

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The restaurant was full to the brim with guests, and the staff was very busy looking after all the guests, but between our starters and our main courses it took about 45 minutes. I honestly think they had forgotten about us, and as we were absolutely starving (the starters made us more hungry if anything) it was a long wait.

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My ravioli with burrata (inside the ravioli – such a brilliant idea!) with large prawns and the most amazing tomato sauce with both depth and sweetness, was well worth the wait. It was one of the best dishes I had during our trip and it was just fantastic. So wish I had the recipe so I could recreate it at home.

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Sadly Carolines squid ink pasta with squid and bottarga wasn’t as impressive. In fact, we couldn’t understand how it was produced in the same kitchen as my delicious ravioli.

OK, the actual pasta was well cooked and the squid was nice, but it lacked a lot in flavour and didn’t really come together as a dish. Such a shame!

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Even though we were (finally) full after our pasta dishes we couldn’t resist the mini tiramisus we saw carried around the restaurant on trays, and it was just a perfect ending to the meal. It was great in flavour but a little more crunchy than your regular tiramisu but I liked it!

I’m a bit ambivalent in my opinion of this restaurant; my ravioli was extraordinarily good and I really want to come back to eat it again, but at the same time I don’t think the other dishes we had quite measure up, but since they can produce that amazing ravioli I’m willing to give them another chance. They were incredibly busy, and the potential is there, I just wish that all the dishes were as good as the one I had.

Al Porto, Lungomare D’Annunzio 2 – 48015 Cervia Ra, Italy

Burrata with slow roasted tomatoes

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I love burrata, the creamier cousin of mozzarella,  a lot  but I struggle to find it in Sweden. I’m sure they have it in some of Malmö’s better cheese shops but I thought it easier to bring a fresh one with me from my local Whole Foods.

We had it as a starter one evening soon after arrived to Sweden, together with slow roasted tomatoes, a nice olive oil, grilled bread and a bowl of buttery nocellara olives.

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It almost felt like we were by the Mediterranean; being sat outside, next to a fig tree, sipping rosé and eating the creamy burrata with slow roasted tomatoes. Such a lovely evening.

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Slow roasted tomatoes, serves 3 as a starter

150-200 g small tomatoes, halved

1 clove of garlic, sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

some chopped basil

a splash of olive oil 

salt, black pepper

fresh basil to garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 125C. Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil in an oven-proof tray. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and stir so the oil coats everything evenly. Place in the oven and leave for 2-3 hours. Remove the (now brown) basil from the tray. Plate the rest, garnish with fresh basil leaves and a good splash or olive oil. 

Pappa al pomodoro with burrata

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Although I utterly adore this simple Italian bread and tomato soup, I haven’t made it myself until recently. I saw no point cooking this with flavourless winter tomatoes, but now when the tomatoes (at least the forced ones) are in season again I just couldn’t wait any longer to make it.

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But I will admit it might work even better in the autumn when there are sunwarm tomatoes aplenty but the outside temperatures have dropped slightly. However, serving the pappa al pomodoro with a cold, creamy and mild burrata makes the dish a whole lot more summery. (I have the wonderful restaurant Zucca to thank for that idea.) And you don’t have to serve the soup piping hot either, it is nice when just warm too.

Pappa al pomodoro, serves 2-3 

2 medium tomatoes

4 small garlic cloves

1 bunch basil

3-5 tbsp of good quality olive oil

salt and black pepper

400 g tinned tomatoes (whole or chopped)

200 ml water

200 g stale white bread, sourdough or farmhouse style bread

To serve: burrata

Cube the tomatoes and chop half the garlic and add to an ovenproof tray. Also add a third of the basil and drizzle with olive oil. Season. Roast in 200C oven for 20 minutes. 

Chop the rest of the basil and garlic. Add to a saucepan and fry in olive oil for a minute or so. Add the tinned tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Break the bread into chunks and add to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes (oil, garlic and all) and mix well. Remove from heat, add olive oil and season to taste. Garnish with some more chopped basil and the burrata.