Archives for category: Cafés/Restaurants

You are wrong Mr Gok Wan. No matter how many times you screech “It’s all about the confidence!” through the TV at me, I will not ever agree.

For me, daaaaaarlings, it’s all about the condiments!

On Thursday, I spent all day in the small but highly productive Rubies in the Rubble kitchen. As I stood in the middle of a car park in front of a huge warehouse, I feared that my early morning Hampshire to London fayre was going to be wasted on bad planning and my shocking sense of direction. This luckily was not the case, and I had in fact reached my final destination!

The brainchild of Jenny Dawson, Rubies in the Rubble is a business built on a ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ ethos. Sitting snuggly next to a wholesale mega-shed, Rubies seeks the unsellable. Torn toms, bumped about blueberries, maimed mangoes! Whatever is cheap and useable, Jenny and her lovely team magically turn into chutney, jam or smoothie that leaves the taste buds tingling and the stomach satifisfied.

Sick of staring at my laptop for days, I was so pleased to be part of a team. I chopped tomatoes, sliced onions, stirred mega-vats of bubbling chutney and got involved! As Radio One looped in the background, and Jenny, Rose and myself productively bustled around the kitchen, I got my first taste of Rubies ridiculously tasty red onion and chilli chutney. A deep and rich caramelised delight! The initial sweetness quickly developing to a firework of spice – phwoar!

It was not only the large jar of red onion chutney in my pocket and the spicy tomato smell that I left with that day. It was also the total inspiration of seeing someone who had followed what they wanted to do. Nothing airy fairy about dreams or aspirations or whatever. Jenny just seemed to believe in Rubies in the Rubble, believe in herself and what she could do with the community, and the phenomenal press that has followed has been a product of that.

After all…it is all about the condiments! (Pffftt!)

(Today I tried Jenny’s spectacular red onion and chilli chutney with Swaledale Cheese from Waitrose,
piled high on freshly made bread…)

Thanks so much to Jenny and Rose for letting me get under your feet. I had such a great time and hope I can pop back to see you at some time soon!

See the Guardian for another raving review and check Rubies in the Rubble out here…

Rosie x

Yesterday was a fantastic and beautifully sunny day. and yes, it was FULL of culinary delights! In our usual try-as-many-coffee-shops/restaurants-as-we-can-possibly-afford, Jessie and I had several cups of coffee of various degrees of deliciousness, as well as visiting some wonderful ‘places of interest’.

Here’s a little run-through of our wanderings, with some links. All places mentioned come HIGHLY recommended. What a lovely place Exeter is!

I was met at Exeter St. Davids by Jessie and her dad, local story-telling legend, Kevin Cotter. He was equipped with his story-telling hat, (straw with several magnificent feathers bobbing in its brim as he led the way to the car), as he said he would drop us off in town after visiting a local school. What a dad!

Off we wandered through Exeter and stopped at The Plant Cafe.  A vegetarian deli/cafe/restaurant, we shared a lemon and crunchy polenta cake, which was lovely. From our table outside, we had a view of the Cathedral as well as the historical buildings surrounding it. We also had a great view of the local drunks, semi-permanent fixtures of the Cathedral grounds. They were completely harmless, and were just out enjoying the sunshine (Did I mention it was sunny?)  as much as we were!

After feeling ever so slightly intimidated by the row upon row of sparkly windows in Princesshay, we headed away from the torment of the hideous high street and towards the beacon of culture, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

I could have easily spent a whole day there. Instead of rows of identical dresses and printed jeans, there were glass case upon glass case of the most intricately original butterflies, beetles (some male and female species as small as a nit) and the famous Gerald the giraffe, which towers above the tusks of a stuffed elephant. (FACT OF THE DAY: Rumour has it that the tail of the giraffe, a resident of the museum since 1920, was mislaid, and now has a carefully painted replica, courtesy of some poor bottomless horse). After 5 years of refurbishment, the museum has been quirkily curated to encourage the interaction of the observer. Not all additions make perfect sense on a brief wander, yet the entrance, painted the most phenomenal pink, marks the old building with an immediate vibrancy that demands the notice of the modern visitor.

We were hungry… I was whisked off to The Exploding Bakery on Queen’s Street where we tucked into tomatoey-oniony-rocketty focaccia, a middle eastern spiced chickpea soup which was accompanied by a hunk of soda bread (the hunky assistant was just as tasty!) Dodgy puns aside, everything that we ate here was absolutely delicious. The soup was full of flavour, the spices fragrantly refreshing on a hot (yes, hot!) day. And at just £3 for a cup and the bread, it was perfect. We stashed the bread in our totes to feast on later.

We then weaved our way down little and large streets old and new, to find the Book-Cycle. Situated opposite the House That Moved (another barmy story to research later), the unusual charity book shop works on donations that are used to send books to children in developing countries. An allowance of three books a day, the price you wish to pay from goodwill. I’m not sure on the proper details, but please check out this website and be inspired by it. Surely it can’t just be books that the success of this ethos is limited to… The upstairs room in this fascinating shop is well-worth the visit – just being in it will make you want to read!

A final note. Kevin works for an Exeter based company called, Love Local Food. The not-for-profit business seeks to encourage the positive effects of shopping in local businesses, in order to create a community that cares about the origin of its produce.  I am absolutely thrilled to have one of my recipes on the website now! The (Non-Stinging) Nettle Quiche was trialed for my children’s recipe book and voted by a trusted group of hungry students as the tastiest. Have a look at it here on the Love Local Food recipe page. Enjoy!

Rosie x

Sundays at home are my favourite days. I don’t really think about the threat of Monday morning, because the steam rippling over all the downstairs windows and the smell of roasting potatoes distracts me. Sunday means time out with my Dad, who smells like ‘garden’, listening to dodgy 1970s psychedelia in the car and a walk around Chilbolton Common in bare feet.

Sundays at University, because of this reason I suppose, are my least favourite days.

Today however has been different. Today I slept in until half past 9. This doesn’t seem very late, but for someone who finds it difficult to wake up any later than half past 7, this was a  beautiful feeling. I might add that this was the result of 2 pints of ale last night – an enjoyment that can be blamed by 3 years spent socialising in Cornish pubs rather than townie clubs.

Hangover free but relishing the excuse to be grumpy (suffering the Sunday Blues), I receive an inviting text from some gorgeous ladies to go for a coffee to Espressini – a relatively new espresso bar situated less than 100m from my front door.

(This stunning photo is courtesy of Espressini Café’s Facebook Page *please let me know if there are issues with using this picture*)

Espressini  is owned by Rupert, whose Hoxton-Fin haircut looks with every habitual sweep, as if it reveals the secrets of half of Falmouth.  Upon entering, you are immediately acknowledged as an old friend. After just 3 visits, he had remembered that I drink my coffee black. Though the other baristas are very friendly, I am always a little disappointed when Rupert does not serve me – he is the King of Coffee, and if missing, the full experience of Espressini is ever so slightly incomplete. Today is one of those days, but no matter. I am with Jessie, Meg and Amy – 3 of the loveliest ladies in Fal. So all is well.

The blackboard is full of scribbled writing, describing in every detail the level of strength, the depth of taste and the complex layers of flavour that embody the specially chosen coffees. I always think that I’m going to confidently declare exactly what I want, pronounced perfectly. Instead I panic slightly at the amount of choice and blurt out “The El Salvador one please…urr…filter please”. I have chosen the elaborately titled – ‘El Salvador – Maute Sion Estate Carton Tapacurl-Ahuchipion’.  I am not sure which is the title, the place or the flavour, (or even if all that is spelled correctly) but the posh filter cups and the little filter sleeve look so professionally tailored for the coffee’s purpose, that I’m not really that bothered. I am tempted by the fig brownies…

The coffee is delicious. The citrussy flavour tumbles around my mouth, changing and developing so remarkably quick that my tired taste buds can’t keep up with them. But I am warmed, and my grumpiness begins to subside.

I eye my way around the café space. An ancient wooden counter stretches across the compact shop, a jigsaw of fixed and re-fixed pieces. The furniture coincides with this carefully arranged mix and match. Just opposite the counter is My Chair. It is red, high-backed and quirkily patched with a green and dark blue stripe. It is the chair that when I’m in it, legs curled up beneath me, it makes me feel as if I am part of the furniture of this super-stylish, but comfortably unpretentious café.

A group of art students sit Ohmigod-ing on the next table. On our other side, an older couple read their Telegraph in content silence. An odd bunch, but no one is out of place. There is a feeling in the coffee-scented air of everyone privately believing that they have been the first to ‘discover’ Espressini.

As the chatter surrounds me I forget how strong the coffee is. I order another, a Cuban blend with notes of cocoa this time, and 10 minutes later my foot begins to unconsciously  tap. Phwwww!

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I started writing this at least 2 hours ago – before I thought walking around Falmouth with a tote full of ingredients for bread and butter pudding, was a good idea. Now I am back by my window watching the sun go down over Falmouth town and feeling slightly relieved that my bloodstream is gradually decaffienating.

From the many seaside-inspired cafés that are regurgitated for the benefit of tourism, Espressini stands alone to welcome anyone – student, local or tourist – to feel as if that chair, that coffee and that friendly welcome is exclusive to you. The coffee of course, is absolutely incredible. But just the one cup is perfect.

TBC. Rosie x

*Find Espressini @ 39 Killigrew Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 3PW

Cure for the Sunday Blues: Coffee, Friends and Laura Marling