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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Seville: amazing gourmet tapas!

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If I had to choose one favourite meal in Seville, it would be a tough decision, but I think this lunch at Eslava would be my choice.

I had lots of fabulous food during my week in Spain, but the combination of gourmet tapas, great service and the atmosphere here made this lunch very special.

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The restaurant was packed when I arrived, and I thought I was early, but a nice flirty waiter (my favourite kind) found me a spot inside the tapas bar, perfect for people (and food) watching.

No sooner had I ordered a glass of wine until it arrived with a bowl of olives. I love that! I feel that Spaniards must easily get hungry too; as you’re always presented with bread and/or olives as soon as you sit down at a table.

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As you can see it was busy indeed, and a long queue that I managed to jump thanks to my waiter.

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My first dish was the award-winning slow cooked egg yolk on boletus soufflé with caramalised wine sauce and it was AMAZING!

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This is not a tapas for sharing – order one each!

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The next special dish on the menu is this cigar with brie and cuttlefish – a very strange combination of flavours but it totally works!

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After the first two must-have plates I felt I had to choose the next dish very carefully as it would most likely be my last here. (Sometimes I curse my inability to eat lots at one time; I’m more of a eat often but smaller portions type of girl.)

The courgette Charlotte with a garlicky sauce was just the thing to finish off my meal. More subtle than the previous dishes it still held its own and was very satisfying. Definitely one for sharing though as very filling.

I left the restaurant very content and ready to take in another day walking around the beautiful city. But as I’m writing this, I’m already dying to go back for another meal!

Eslava, Calle Eslava, 3, 41002 Sevilla, Spain

Lemon soufflé with elderflower liqueur

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I’ve been wanting to make soufflés for a while now and when I was at home for Christmas I finally did. With my very knowledgeable mother by my side. But I needn’t have worried – it wasn’t hard at all. And it is so satisfying watching the soufflés rise in the oven through the oven door.

The original recipe called for Grand Marnier, but we didn’t have any and therefore substituted it with another liqueur; St Germain. It didn’t add that much flavour though, but there was an elderflower hint at least.

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Lemon sufflé with elderflower liqueur, makes 6

50 g butter

80 g plain flour

200 ml milk

3 egg yolks

6 egg whites

80 g caster sugar

100 ml St Germain elderflower liqueur 

grated zest from 1 lemon

softened butter and caster sugar for the ramekins

icing sugar for dusting

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and incorporate it into the melted butter using a wooden spoon. Add milk and sugar and incorporate it on low heat until the batter is smooth and easily comes off the sides of the pan. Leave to cool. 

Thereafter mix in the egg yolks, liqueur and lemon zest. Beat the egg whites to a hart foam and fold them into the mixture. 

Butter the ramekins thoroughly and coat them in caster sugar. Fill the ramekins (all the way up and make sure the surface is even). 

Bake in 200C for 12-15 minutes; until they’ve risen above the ramekin edge and are golden brown on top. Keep an eye on them through the oven door. 

Remove the soufflés carefully from the oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.