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The Ivy… out of its league…

A very nice friend of mine took me to the Ivy in London last night. The Ivy is an old stalwart on the restaurant scene so I was looking forward to sampling its delights as well as trying to spot some celebrities…

I ordered the Steak Tartare to start followed by Prawn Spaghettini with chilli, garlic and herbs. Steak Tartare is a dish I love  so I had high expectations. Imagine my discomfiture when I took my first morsel and found it to be too spicy. Talk about killing all the other subtle flavours usually found in this dish!

Then came the main, a straight-forward pasta dish which had as much allure as a Primark handbag. How could something so simple, in what is supposedly meant to be a very good restaurant, be quite so dull. The 5 measly prawns were tasteless and if there was chilli and garlic in that dish, well I am going to heaven (and we all know I am not). To add insult to injury, the price of such a mediocre offering was pretty outrageous… I’d honestly be ashamed to serve this in my own home, let alone charge what they did for it.

My friend Oliver ordered the Shepherd’s Pie, which I am told, is THE dish to have at the Ivy. It was fairly tasty but had clearly been microwaved. It looked ‘old’ and sorry for itself sitting there festering in jus.

All in all, the only good thing about the Ivy was the company and the Sancerre wine we consumed. I didn’t even get to see any celebrities quaffing champagne and picking at their food… and no wonder they only pick at it.


Nutty Endeavours

Sticky Toffee Pudding? Did I mention I was flaky and a food whore?

There I was on Saturday morning, flicking through my Rick Stein cookbook, looking for inspiration… when suddenly, on page 160, it was love at first sight. Walnut Tart… come here my lover!

The nuttiness of the walnuts and the sweetness of the raspberry jam are a perfect combination. It is not for the faint-hearted calorie wise (check out the butter…)



  • ready made shortcrust pastry
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • 225g of walnuts
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g softened unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • Crème fraîche to serve


1. Roll out pastry in a 4cm deep and 25cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Spread the bottom of case with the jam and chill for 30 mins.

2. Preaheat oven at 180 C. Put walnuts in food processor and whizz until chopped. Add flour, whizz again.

3. Cream butter and sugar together. Gradually beat in the eggs, add vanilla extract and then fold in walnut mixture. Spread into pastry case right to the top and bake in the oven for 50-55 mins. I cooked it for the full 55 mins but your oven might be different to mine so start checking at 45 minutes. It should feel springy to the touch. Remove from oven. Leave to cool.

4. Once cool, remove from tin, dust with icing sugar, serve with crème fraîche. Impressive yet easy…

It was polished off by John and I in less than 24 hours… Had some after dinner on Saturday, some for breakfast, some for afternoon tea, some after dinner… Piggies.

Walnut Tart