Formula 1 Fever 2013

When it comes to restaurants, socialising and style, I sit firmly on the side of fuss-free, authentic quality. Fluff, glitz and bling aren’t my thing. One would assume then, that a UAE Grand Prix Paddock Club wouldn’t be on my bucket list. Not so. I doubt even an Isle of Skye Presbyterian minister could resist F1 Fever. Allow me to demonstrate:




I’m blessed with handy friends who take it upon themselves to equip me with VIP passes and uber luxe hotel stays that could bankrupt a Sheik. Lucky girl.

The Pit Lane





Relentless pit stop tire change sessions of Force India and Red Bull. 13+ men, 4 tires, 2 seconds.



Ferrari, McLaren and the super talented and magnanimous, Manish Pandey, writer and producer of the heartbreaking and critically acclaimed docu-film, Senna. I was so moved by this masterpiece (and a tiny bit in love with F1 demi-God, Senna) I blogged it in 2011. Manish is my new best friend, I may have followed him around all weekend. *Hangs head in shame*


F1 team villas. Apparently Lewis Hamilton walked within a hair’s breath of us here. I of course, was oblivious. #fail. And Yas hotel, so well located it straddles Yas Marina Circuit.


Where we cheered Man City against Norwich. Yup, we watched football at the Grand Prix. From the club owner’s boat no less, which thankfully, was much more civilised than the neighbouring party buses. And we had oysters. I like oysters.

Where to stay


Originally destined for Yas Hotel, my (ADORED) friend was forced to move me to Rosewood at the last second. And glad am I. Due to it’s perfect location, Viceroy status and hosting of celebrities and drivers, Yas lobby, and the yachts, are the heart of party F1. With that unfortunately comes Dubai on steroids: Formaldehyde faces, bling, Pick ‘n Mix perfume and pneumatic breasts the size of Timberland’s head – one of the weekend acts with Jay Z.

Abu Dhabi’s latest luxe hotel, Rosewood is the epitome of style, tranquillity, comfort and quality. I’m ashamed to admit, this may have been the highlight of my trip. That and seeing my ADORED friend.





Rosewood even hosts Michelin starred restaurant, Catalan and the prohibitively pricey Galleria Mall. L’occitane is as ‘high street’ as the planners have stooped to; Zara doesn’t even get a look in. From an architectural and design standpoint, however, these are undoubtedly some of the most impressive shop fits I’ve set eyes on.

What to do (other than F1)

My VIP sports whore brother used to live in Abu Dhabi and given my frequent trips to see him, I have lots of friends in the area, being awarded the title of honorary ex-pat. Free time revolves around water sports, brunches, ladies nights (yuck!) and pedicures (yay!).



Being on the water is is essential in summer: 45C+ and 90%+ humidity. It’s therefore virtually unheard of not to know someone with a boat.

Jones the Grocer


Five years ago I ranted relentlessly on the need for Root (my cafe from a former life) out here – call me crazy, but sometimes I’d rather a Kiwi barista coffee over a champagne chaser. When Jones appeared a couple of years later, ex-pats and Emiratis heaved a sigh of relief. And my brother called to incredulously announce someone had opened Root and re-named it. Any attempts to resist the Wagyu burger are futile.

Officially, there are five Jones’ in Abu Dhabi. In fact, there’s a sixth in the Crown Prince’s palace. If it’s good enough for royalty…

For more Grand Prix pictures, go to my 2011 Formula 1 Fever post.

Zesty Fish Pie

Posted in: S, SF, WF

In light of the almost sub-zero temperatures, I’ve deviated from the Tortilla plan to a fish pie feast. Because who doesn’t love a (tangy and creamy, chunky and cheesy) fish pie? This recipe feeds 8 – 10 and doesn’t skimp on the fish, so you can bribe your friends to visit and still have left overs for Sunday. Seasonal, cosy comfort: perfect winter week-end sharing.

Fish Pie Pots Wholesome Seduction

Feeds 10


5 eggs
2 lemons, juice and zest
1.4kg potatoes: Rooster or Maris Piper both good for mashing
600g Pollack, filleted bones and skin removed
200g smoked haddock, filleted, bones and skin removed
340ml milk: I swap between soya and cow’s and no-one notices.
20g butter
3 tbsp flour: plain or rice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
60g low fat cream cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
1 dsp wholegrain mustard
250g tiger pawns
5 scallops – optional
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
120g mature cheddar, grated

Fish Pie Wholesome Seduction

Fish pie calls for a bit of pan juggling. Don’t stress about timings, it all goes into the oven at the end so there’s no roast dinner co-ordination called for.


  1. Put eggs to simmer in a pan of cold water that just covers them. From the point the water begins to boil, set the timer for 6 mins.
  2. Pat fish (not shellfish) with lemon zest and put to one side.
  3. Peel potatoes and set to boil with pinch of salt.
  4. Remove the eggs and stand in cold water.
  5. Lightly poach fish in milk then turn off heat.
  6. Meanwhile, melt butter in a pan and stir in flour, slowly add milk from fish pan to make the white sauce. Add Dijon mustard and stir continuously until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Remove from the heat and set aside. You’ll have a little milk left over, should you need it for the mash.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and grease baking dish.
  8. Drain potatoes and return pan to a low heat to dry off – See my Mash not Smash tips for perfect creamed tatties.
  9. Add low fat cream cheese, olive oil, wholegrain mustard salt and pepper and mash. A lot. Then whisk with a fork to get lots of air in, giving you fluffy, creamy mash heaven. You may want to add the retained milk from earlier. If not, discard.
  10. Peel boiled eggs and cut into quarters. Mix with fish, shellfish and white sauce and pour into baking dish. Make sure your fish isn’t swimming in liquid, or you’ll end up with a sloppy pie.
  11. Top with mash, then grated cheese and bake in oven for 30 mins, until cheese has started to brown and sauce begins to erupt around the edges.

Zesty Winter Fish Pie Wholesome Seduction

Serve with green salad. Crunchy freshness with creamy pie.

PP: 385 Kcals Protein 29.5g  Carbs 32.8g OWS 2.6g  Fat 16.1g Sat Fat 7.4g Salt 1.2g


Mash not Smash

Posted in: SF, V, WF

On making my faithful old fish pie recipe, it occurred to me that perhaps my mash checklist could be considered more meticulous than most. In my defence, Root was essentially a mashed potato shop. Kind of. And my Granny was a beef farming Scot: we love our mince and tatties. Even my non cooking uncle felt compelled to bark instructions at me on the need for endless mashing and whisking as I sweated over his Aga. So, here’s my step by step guide on perfect mashed tatties.

Feeds 6 (or 4 farmer portions)

1kg potatoes: Rooster tend to lump less; and Maris Piper, a safe, readily available bet.
60g low fat cream cheese
3-4 tbsp olive oil
100ml warm, full fat milk (or cream if you prefer). I often drop all together.
Salt, lots of
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Peel potatoes and cut to similarly proportioned pieces. Quartering is generally a fair guide.
  2. Place in a large pan and just cover with cold water. Set to boil gently.
  3. After approx. 20 mins, test with a knife. You want soft right through, though not disintigrating.
  4. Drain off water and return pan to the lowest heat, ensuring all water evaporates. Dry potatoes are key if you want a fluffy, non-Smash, mash.
  5. Keeping the pan on the heat, start to mash. When you think you’re finished, go round again, working to remove all the lumps.
  6. Add cream cheese, salt and pepper and whisk with a fork.
  7. Add olive oil and milk (if using) and whisk until you feel the need to remove layers of clothing from having burned more calories than in a spin class.
  8. Taste, season, add more oil or milk if needs be. Whisk and test again.
  9. Ta dahhh!

Add wholegrain mustard, chives (added to hot milk then whisked through), lemon or frozen peas – they’ll de-frost in seconds. Potatoes go with everything so you can’t go far wrong.

Swapping the Rooster for new potatoes, skins on, and adding rosemary sea salt is my all-time favourite. Top with salmon and poached egg. Trust me. 

Note: Potatoes love salt and fat. There are times when no-one’s any the wiser if we cut out or swap the ‘baddies’, and there are times when food partners need to be respected, however waist expanding. So speeketh the Scot.

PP (6): 218 kcals Protein 3.7g Carbs 28.8g OwS 1g Fat 10.6g Sat fat 3.8g Salt 0.9g

PP (4): 328 kcals Protein 5.6g Carbs 43.3g OwS 1.5g Fat 15.9g Sat fat 5.6g Salt 1.4g


Quinoa, feta, rocket & toasted seed salad

Posted in: S, SF, V, WF

I hesitated over another salad recipe, but your requests aren’t to be ignored, and this may be our last chance to bank immune boosting ingredients before hitting mince pie debauchery.

This is my fail-safe dish that I never seem to tire of; post yoga or alcohol, it somehow always hits the spot. It’s the contrast of complete protein grain quinoa, against the peppery rocket; crunchy seeds against creamy feta. Popping, salty, nuttiness. Quinoa, feta & toasted seed salad, wholesomeseduction

Feeds 6



160g mixed leaves, including rocket
100g cooked quinoa
100g cooked puy lentils
150g peas (frozen & de-frosted also good)
80g sun dried or roasted tomatoes, chopped
80g feta, chopped
150ml vinaigrette
4 tbsp toasted seeds


  1. Place leaves in serving dish and top with quinoa, lentils, peas, tomatoes and feta, in that order.
  2. Drizzle over vinaigrette and top with toasted seeds.
  3. Serve as a main dish or side salad. I often add a dollop of hummus or garam masala roasted chicken – super easy, watch this space. 

Papa Garcia’s tortilla (tor-tee-ya) / Spanish omelette next week, carb lovers!

180g PP: Kcals 248  Protein 9g  Carbs 16g  OwS 3g   Fat 17g  Sat. fat 4g   Salt 0.5g 


Ricotta, pea & tomato pesto salad

Posted in: LF, S, SF, WF

A super quick (and low in saturated fat, by the way) supper for your salsa.

Ricotta, pea & tomato pesto salad. Wholesome Seduction

Feeds 2


2 handfuls salad leaves: Chard, herbs, spinach & rocket all work
2 tbsp peas. Frozen are fine, just run under tepid water to de-frost
1 tbsp buffalo ricotta, crumbled
1 tbsp tomato salsa (mixed with yoghurt, half and half is good)
1 dsp toasted pine nuts


  1. Dry fry the pine nuts in a frying pan until they begin to brown. Approx. 2 mins, tossing midway.
  2. In a serving dish or on two separate plates, pile the ingredients in the order listed above.

Serve as a side salad or with roast chicken or crusty bread as a light supper.

151 KCALS PROTEIN 6.6g FAT 11.2g SAT FAT 2.4g CARB 6.4g OwS 4.4g SALT 0.1g


Tomato & parmesan pesto

Posted in: LF, S, SF, WF

Serves 20 (1 dsp per person)

Despairing of UK tomatoes outside of summer (utterly devoid of flavour), I’ve accidentally come up with a solution, which has since become a permanent feature in my fridge. And miraculously, it’s only 39 calories per serving. Taking on board your unerring requests for quick, healthier dishes for people who “don’t cook”, I’m spreading the joy.


500g cherry tomatoes
10 sun dried tomatoes
20g parmesan, chopped
2 anchovies, chopped
1 tbsp basil leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper


  1. Blitz all ingredients in a blender. That’s it.
  2. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze. We do 50/50.

Drizzle over fish, chicken or salad; dollop on sweet corn fritters; stir through pasta, or use as a marinade. Basically, anywhere you’d use tomatoes.

Tip: mix with natural yoghurt or crème fraiche for a lighter, creamier option.

39 KCALS PROTEIN 0.8g  FAT 3.5g  SAT FAT 0.6g  CARB 1g OwS  0.9g  Salt 0.2g


Eating out: Feast’s Dickensian Christmas banquet with Tupperware

Posted in: Reviews

Want to know how to get through more restaurants in one day than you could in a year? Head to Islington’s disused Victorian sorting office for a December round-up of London food royalty: Hix, The Modern Pantry, Mishkins, Lucky Chip and Lily Vanilli to name a few, will be selling their wares supported by underground folk collective Woodburner. All washed down with cocktails by booze yoda, Background Bars.
We Feast, Wholesome Seduction

Feast, hosts of The Long Table, Dalston Roof Park and The London Restaurant Festival fame, know their food pop-ups. So revered are their events that I hosted my birthday at the August jolly. Here are some of the best bits, all tried and tested by Little Miss Piggy herself:



Moro. Big sister to our October post, Morito and One of our Favourite Places. In a box for a fiver. Need we say more?

Pizza Pilgrims: Wood fired oven deliciousness.


Patty&Bun at We Feast, Wholesome Seduction

Patty & Bun Joe. One of Our Favourite Places and the star of my Curb-side cuisine article: Probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten and I don’t underestimate the gravity of such a statement. Just look at it!



Wright Bros. That’s all.

Piadina. Essentially a flatbread calzone. Bursting with ingredients you’d expect from an Italian family, minus the yeast. Less yeast = less bloat = more food.


We Feast Cocktails, Wholesome Seduction

Pink grapefruit, gin and elderflower cocktails from Background Bars. And That Burger again.

Tips for ticking:

  • Arrive early so you can fit in lunch and supper, ideally with snacks in between. Cue: Wright Bros. joy.
  • Don’t fill up on the cheap stuff – stick with low or no carb options. Make an exception for the Patty & Bun burger… and Pizza Pilgrims. And Piadina.
  • Share with friends. Or covetable strangers…
The Shard, We Feast, Clare Garcia
  • Cycle there and back. Clocking in extra gym hours may also be advisable.
  • Wear thermals. The venue will be heated but it’s December, and it’s a warehouse. Cozy dining is so 2010, yah.

Date: 6th – 9th December. £7.50 or 6 tickets for the price of 5. For tickets and cooks, go to

Note: In case anyone’s confused by the Saturday daytime and eve ticket options (as I was), buy the earlier option. To quote the organisers, “you won’t be kicked out”.

Use the handy Share button below to rally your friends via Facebook or Twitter.

Eating out: Morito (Little Moro)

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

On returning from not one, but two trips to my (half) native Andalucía this summer, reality struck: My insatiable appetite for all things Spanish had to be addressed by means that didn’t involve an Easyjet flight, time off work or wads of cash. Cue: Morito, one of My Favourite Places picks.


It seems my restaurant hit list grows faster than I can tick it off, and I like to tick. As a result, there are few places I have the luxury of returning for seconds. Morito is one of said few. Big sister, Moro has long reigned in my Top 5 Eats. So, a no booking tapas addition to the Spanish / Arabic prodigy of Sam and Sam Clarke has proven cause for celebration. I’ve dragged chefs there, written café con leche fuelled articles, and brunched with friends over countless negroni sbagliatos. All in the name of inspiration. Here’s my pick of the best bits:

The star dish: Chicharrones de Cádiz – slow roasted pork belly with cumin & lemon. Rich, cumin spiced pulled pork, cut with fresh, tangy lemon juice. Perfection.

Morito London Tapas

Puntillitas (poon-tee-yee-tas): Fried baby squid with sumac. Squid as it should be, yet so rarely is. Not a whiff of chip shop batter smothered rubber-bands. To be clear, I’m not knocking chip shop batter. Fish and chips are a British delicacy I wouldn’t be without. But squid should be dense, yet tender, and semi-wrapped in salty, lemony crispiness. In my opinion.

Ajo blanco: Velvet almond, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. I dithered on whether to include this one; it’s possibly not to everyone’s taste. Super rich, the almond is so potent it could be extract from a bottle. Ajo blanco is a Spanish classic however, and true to Moro form, the olive oil and vinegar umami bring an interesting contrast to the palate.

Morito, London. Ajo Blanco. Wholesome Seduction

And Crispy aubergine with miel de caña (nice honey). One to try / play with at home / copy / steal. Watch this space.

Morito, London. Tortilla. Wholesome Seduction.

Tortilla (tor-tee-ya) de patatas: Spanish omelette. Not something I’d normally have; Dad’s recipe can’t be beaten. Or so I thought. It was a must for fellow eater Daze however, and glad am I. I’m in danger of gushing here, but this is probably the best tortilla I’ve ever eaten. Sorry Daddy.

Be warned, low fat options these are not. Varied in ingredients and nutrients, and utterly  addictive in their uncompromised comfort food ecstasy way, they are.

And last but in no way least, the café con leche (strong Spanish latte) is worth a trip to Exmouth Market in its own right. It’s as good as any single origin, locally roasted barista serves up in London’s finest coffee establishments.

Morito Exmouth Market Cafe con leche

But of course, there are three staples on a Spanish menu: coffee, vino and beer. So much so, they’re often cheaper than water. ¡Viva España!



Roast banana, bacon, maple syrup & sweet corn fritters

Posted in: S, WF

Not exactly a recipe, more of a sharing of love, and another way to use my September sweet corn fritter recipe. Sunday brunch comfort, borderline excess, and food Jenga. I’m relying on you having a modicum of kitchen nouse, it really is very easy.

roast banana & fritters Wholesome Seduction

Set bacon to grill – you can also omit the meat, there’s plenty going on without it. Meanwhile roast bananas as per the instructions in the Recipes page and set aside in warm oven. While the fritters are frying, mix creme fraiche or yoghurt with a drop of vanilla extract and maybe some maple syrup, depending on the sweetness of your tooth.

Then layer: fritter, bacon, maple syrup, creme fraiche, banana. I used 3 fritters. Because I’m a glutton. And it looked impressive. 2 is plenty.

Curb-side Cuisine, my EP Magazine feature article

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

Street food has gone way beyond lukewarm chips and cardiac arrest kebabs. In fact, our global love affair with bin top dining appears only set to blossom. American Slider bars, churros huts and oyster shacks worthy of a Michelin star now grace everything from luxury festivals to car parks. The less salubrious the back street, the more kudos, it would seem; anything to be considered vaguely underground, guerrilla or pop-up.


Instead of pouring gargantuan wads of cash into premiums, rents and rates, street concepts can be set up relatively speaking, with little capital outlay and reasonable pitch fees. Consequently, the mobile dining craze is increasingly a labour of love, not to mention bambinos. Passionate cooks armed with inspiration from their Gap Year, fresh faced Michelin trained chefs and multi-cultural Britain at its best: recipes as Amma made them.


No doubt in part due to our globe-trotting nature, we Brits are more discerning than ever when it comes to our fuel, shunning sugar strand sculptures and biblically proportioned menus in favour of simple, fuss free food done well. A shift that is evident beyond the tarmac: Burger & Lobster, Byron and Mooli’s are profiting from the pared down trend. Mark Hix recently opened Tramshed, serving nothing but chicken or steak, and Shoreditch’s Chicken Shop is the brainchild of Nick Jones. Think Soho House meets KFC.

In the same ‘Too Kool for Skool’ vein, websites and glossy marketing are being shunned in favour of less static and more interactive blogs and Twitter. And the resulting word of mouth can spread like wild fire. Lucky Chip, Pitt Cue Co. and Meat Liquor started out as two-man vans, only to be propelled into The Fashionista Restaurants To Do List as a result of their Twitter fame. Oh, and the Hereford Steer beef and Dalston Tommy K, of course.

KOGI BBQ VAN @kogibbq
Where it all began. Roy Choi launched his Mexican and Korean BBQ genius in the US. Fans, more vans and social media followed. There was no going back.

BEATBOX KITCHEN @beatboxkitchen
Rashid brought the US food truck craze to Oz.

MEAT WAGON to MEAT LIQUOR @themeatwagonuk
Yianni would pitch up his Peckham Meat Wagon and only then tweet his location. Brave? The Twitter love and consequent word of mouth proved so strong, queues were guaranteed around each South East London block. Chicken Cottage must have been up in arms. Two years on and the queues have moved to the back of Bond Street. Yianni may have taken on an exorbitant W1 lease, but he’s remained firmly on the no-booking policy bandwagon. Sorry.


PATTY & BUN @pattyandbunjoe
Yup, another burger van – with triple cooked chips. Patty & Bun link with Street Kitchen to create gourmet pop-up clusters.

STREET KITCHEN @streetkitchen
Jun Tanaka and Mark Jankel of Pearl and Notting Hill Brasserie led the way with their British Bistro airstream and remain at the forefront, fuelling the City and London 2012. #CelebrityChefVan #100%BritishProduce #MichelinGourmet #AirstreamStyle #FoodToGo

CHURROS GARCIA @churrosgarcia1
Spanish doughnuts and chocolate dipping heaven. No relation, but just as Abuela made them all the same.

The genuine article. Pani puri and samosa chaat, just as you find them in India. Minus the Imodium.

GREEN GOAT FOOD @greengoatfood Sustainable fish worthy of starched white table cloths and a hefty price tag. In a box for a fiver.

So what does this mean for retailers and food service? Take inspiration from the one or two-man operations discussed and have some fun. We live in the cultural melting pot that is Britain, do we not? Some of my favourite and simplest recipes have been passed on by families from my travels, by colleagues, by grannies or through my own Hispano-Celtic heritage. Some of the most coin-worthy café menus I’ve created have come from said list. I guarantee there’s a wealth of portable dining on your payroll.

Don’t get hung up on costumes or theme days. Most street concepts are little more than a sheltered table, two giant pots, even bigger personalities and a stack of eco-friendly take-away boxes. With smearing, wrapping and packing at lightening speed – sellers, take note!


To be clear however, life is a beauty pageant – gastronorms of slop won’t fly. Street vendors and retailers increasingly showcase offers worthy of an art gallery. If the food is the real deal, it will speak (and smell) for itself. When all is said and done, you’re bringing nourishment and relief to the working day, enjoy it. If you feel a burning desire to promote your pop-ups via Twitter, so much the better.

This article first appeared in the October issue of EP Business in Hospitality. View the online version here: