The Elderflower Restaurant, New Forest

TheElderflower 2

Good things happen when…

  • You ask to see the chef
  • You go to the New Forest
  • You enthuse
  • You embrace the magic of elderflowers

And so it was. Halloween 2015. Emily and I, elderflower enthusiasts and wearers of capes, happened upon The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington, following an epic day of mushroom foraging in the New Forest (and a humble pub crawl through this small village). We were already sold on the name, but the atmosphere and the stellar reviews convinced us that we needed to try this place. So we booked in for lunch the next day and experienced a meal that was nothing short of rock & roll.


The standout dish was by far the mushrooms served on celariac puree, topped with crispy kale and toasted pine nuts. And while there was some contention about the use of foam on their rhubarb dessert, I maintain that their pudding was the most inventive and delicious execution of rhubarb I’ve ever had, made all the better with fennel-infused Turkish delight.


The food is the work of chef Andrew du Bourg who runs the place with his wife Marjolaine. They are a dream team, and I am particularly grateful to them both for our grand finale: a cocktail lesson featuring their own elderflower cordial, an exchange that wouldn’t have happened were it not for our shared love of this magical perennial plant. (The cocktail later played a role in our Samhain festivities which I may get around to writing about at some point.)

And if all that weren’t enough, The Elderflower has a dessert called “British and French Cheese Journey”. Unfortunately we had a long drive ahead of us and weren’t sure if a full stomach of cheese and wine was really wise for the road. And after all, better to leave wanting more. We’ll be back soon!

The Elderflower Restaurant
4-5 Quay Street
SO41 3AS

smarter fitter supperclub – winter edition

On Friday 4th December we celebrate early sunsets, candlelight, comfort food and winter produce. (Welcome to the dark side…)

Candlelit feast with pleasantly unintrusive live music

Essential information:

  • when: Friday 4th December, 7pm
  • welcome cocktail
  • vegetarian menu
  • awesome people
  • Cotswolds countryside location (near Cirencester)
  • camping optional (but recommended)
  • cost: £30 (or £50 for camping + breakfast)
  • booking: pay by PayPal to

The food

The menu is TBD but the focus will be on comforting, wholesome vegetarian food, much of which will be vegan and gluten-free, too. For a taste of the kind of food I make, check out my pictures on flickr and instagram, read the recap from my last supperclub, or read food with mustard’s review. Any dietary restrictions, just let me know.

Dinner is served

The Venue

The supperclub will be held at my cottage in the countryside, a hidden oasis in the middle of wildflower meadows with an orchard in the backyard and an awesome dog named Lucky. You can get a preview of the grounds and interior in my Airbnb listing. Like all good cottages, mine is cozy and so supperclub seating is limited. Book now to secure your place!

Camping Option

Particularly handy for those who want to get their drink on! And a great opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the Orchard Cottage way of life.

Those of you who would like to stay the night and have breakfast in the morning are welcome to bring a tent and pitch in the backyard. I am really good at breakfasts and encourage you to take advantage of this offer! There will also be a campfire and hopefully s’mores, too!


How to book: 

Pay by PayPal to Upon receipt of payment I will send you all necessary info and directions on how to get here. Come for the food, stay for the company!

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright
John Wright waxing poetic about one of the 60+ mushroom varieties we found.

Last Friday, I went on a mushroom foray in the New Forest with John Wright from River Cottage. This was a day to experience and appreciate the incredible diversity of this marvellous country. The edible-ness of each variety was a mere side note, for every fungi had a story, as well as beautiful (and sometimes rude!) Latin name. Here are a few choice captures from the day.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

My “desert island mushroom”. Hygrocybe conica, Blackening Waxcap. Just beautiful.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

Forager’s nip: Épine, a boozy infusion made with blackthorn leaves.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

John was with us in photographing the moment. Even for a seasoned forager, the exciting finds never cease.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

Best part of the mushroom foray: the stories! And John Wright is an exceptional storyteller.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

Edible species: only 4 of the 60+ mushrooms we found were edible. Enough for a fry up at the end of the foray.

Mushroom Foraging with John Wright

Our foraging spirit guide? “Myc” the gnome. He’s a fun guy.

Recommended reading

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli with carrots

This is a riff on my usual bircher muesli recipe, with added carrots and cinnamon. The picture shows almonds in the mix, but feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand. Walnuts or pecans would be more carrot cakey, but I really like brazil nuts. No cream cheese frosting here, but yogurt makes a delicious and much more nutritious topping. It you want to add extra decadence, try sprinkling with some toasted pecans just before serving.

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

  • 50g oats
  • 7g flax seeds
  • 10g raisins
  • 10g nuts
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1 large crisp apple
  • 1 carrot
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt


  1. The night before breakfast, put the oats, flax seeds, raisins and nuts in a bowl and add water until JUST covered.
  2. The next day, grate the carrot and apple. Add to the bowl with a good squeeze of lemon juice and pinch each of cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. Serve with or without toppings – I like mine with yogurt, coconut flakes and sliced banana.

Bircher muesli in situ… have I mentioned that this breakfast travels brilliantly? And it matches autumn!

Here are a few more creative ways to get your oat fix:

I’m submitting this to the #ExtraVeg linkup hosted by Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen. Because mmmm, more veg!!

Green Apple Smoothie with Avocado & Lime

This is a signature smoothie of mine during autumn months when the orchard is in full swing and kale is in season. It’s easily adaptable to suit other fruits and greens (spinach, chard, etc).

I use a juicer and a blender to make this (see my favourite products for making smoothies) but don’t despair of you don’t have a juicer. Just put all the ingredients in your blender (squeeze in the lime juice and cut the ingredients into small blender-friendly pieces) and add water as needed to blend to a smooth consistency.

Green Apple Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 large apple (or pear!)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • a big handful of spinach or kale
  • 1/2 lime, peeled (or lemon, rind on)
  • small slice of ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional; makes it thicker and adds fiber)
  • 5g flax seeds
  1. Juice the apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, lime and ginger.
  2. Put the juice in your blender along with the avocado, psyllium husk and flax seeds. Blend until smooth, about 20 seconds (if using psyllium husk, I suggest waiting for a minute or two and then blending again, as it takes a few minutes for the psyllium to absorb the liquid).
  3. Serve as desired with your favourite garnishes (I like grated carrot, muesli, goji berries, and lots of spirulina!).

My recommended tools for the job: the Froothie Optimum 600 Slow Juicer and Optimum 9200 Blender

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie


As previously mentioned, I live in a place called “Orchard Cottage”, so called because there’s an old English orchard right outside of my backyard. Right now, the orchard is in full swing. And while the apples fall, wild blackberries take over the hedgerows, which sees me staining my hands and stockpiling the freezer with fruits to last me through the winter.

Throughout all of this harvesting and autumn worship, this smoothie has become my go-to blend to follow my afternoon Crossfit sessions. The apples and blackberries make the perfect sweet base, while yogurt adds creamy probiotic deliciousness. I also include unflavoured whey protein to amp up the protein levels, though you could leave it out if you wish, and double the yogurt to make it more substantial.

For protein powder, I recommend Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein made from rBHG hormone free milk from organically reared cows. Also, no additives, flavourings or fillers. And it blends like a dream.

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie


  • 1 apple, cored and chopped (a banana also works)
  • a handful of blackberries, ideally frozen (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, or a combination of berries, also work)
  • 150g yogurt
  • 15g unflavoured whey protein (I use Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional, adds fiber and makes it thicker)
  • 1 tsp flax seed (optional, also adds fiber and thickness)


  1. Put everything in your blender and blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. (If you’re using psyllium husk, I usually wait a minute or two and give it another quick blender, as the psyllium husk will have absorbed some of the liquid in the smoothie, and an extra blend will make it all smoother.)
  2. Serve in a cup (or bowl!) with your favorite garnishes (I like grated apple, muesli, and a sprinkle of spirulina powder, liberally applied and then reapplied as I eat it!).

Nutrition: 234 Calories | 10g Carbs | 0.5g Fat | 22g Protein

This was made with my Optimum 9200 Power Blender which has a super-handy 20-second timer setting which I use to make this. I hit the button once, clean up, make some tea, then hit it again and out comes a perfect yogurt and berry smoothie.

Find your winter energy


Winter can be such a sleepy season. Wouldn’t it be nice to while it away in pyjamas while drinking hot toddies and reading books in front of a roaring fire? But alas, there are bills to pay, things to do, and I think at the end of the day most of us like the feeling of being productive, active and energised to take on the world. So when it’s NOT hot toddy o’clock, how can we find this energy in the deepest darkness of winter? In this guest post, Dan Holloway from Simply Supplements offers a few suggestions. 

It’s safe to say that the summer is now officially over. The nights are drawing in, the temperature is beginning to drop and all over the country, couples are arguing about when to put the heating on. Winter can be a time when we slow down and find it difficult to muster up the energy to do anything more than go to work and switch on the TV when we get home. Equally however, winter can be a great time to be productive in your health and fitness goals, all you need to do is to find your winter energy. Here’s a handy list of how you can do just that from the food you put in your body, to the way you start your days in the morning.

#5 – Start your day in the right way

It can be really tempting to take one look outside the window when it’s cold, wet and windy and to roll over and go straight back to sleep, but alas we have to go to work! Therefore we get up cold and grumpy which definitely isn’t the ideal way to start your day. Instead, make sure the heating is timed to go on in the morning and set your alarm. Rising at the same time every day sets your circadian rhythm or sleep/wake cycle, meaning that you’ll sleep better and wake up feeling more rested in the end!


#4 – Shower

A hot shower can be the perfect way to start your day and wake up in the morning. Research has shown that rain/snow produces negative ions which boost brain function and wake us up. Not everyone wants to go out for a walk in the rain first thing in the morning so grab your ions from the shower instead.

#3 – Think food

Stockpiling the junk food ready for winter hibernation might be a tempting option when winter strikes. After the initially sugar rush has subsided however, you’ll be left feeling sluggish and so there are better options. Food such as lean meat, oily fish, fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes are much better for you and will give you a much longer lasting energy rush, allowing for the occasional sweet treat as a reward! Supplements such as Ginkgo Biloba and Korean Ginseng support healthy circulation and energy levels and can be a great winter addition to a healthy diet as well!


#2 – Lights

Lighting can be a major issue when it comes to energy levels. Melatonin is released by the brain when it gets dark, signalling it’s time for sleep. Being around bright lights at night can affect this and mess up your sleeping patterns, therefore try to keep the lights dim in the run up to bed time and avoid looking at things like the TV, mobile phone and computer screens.

#1 – Exercise

Wrapping up warm is a must but outdoor exercise in winter will improve your energy levels to no end! Research has suggested that just three 30 minute workouts a week will boost energy levels and reduce sluggishness. Supplements such as L-Taurine which supports energy levels and prolonged workouts can be great to give you that extra push in the winter, and a short jog on a frosty morning can be a great and refreshing way to start your day.



Winter for some equals months of feeling sluggish and tired, finding it difficult to get anything done. For others who start their day right however, it can be a great and productive few months, filled with good food, great exercise and tons of energy. Follow the steps above and make this winter your most productive and energy filled yet!

This was a sponsored post by Dan Holloway from Simply Supplements. Dan is also a professional martial artist and self defence instructor and writes his own blog at Photography by me, taking in Chicago 2014 during the Arctic Vortex.

In Pictures: Dartmoor Walking and Wild Camping

Wild Camping on the River Plyn, Dartmoor

Wild Camping on the River Plyn

Drizzlecombe Stone Rows

Trip highlight: the prehistoric stone rows of Drizzlecombe

Lucky on Dartmoor

Lucky’s first big walk and wild camp: he’s a natural

Nun's Cross Farm, Dartmoor

Nun’s Cross Farm

Sun setting over the River Plyn, Dartmoor

Sun setting over the River Plyn

Campstove dinner: Clearspring Miso Ramen

Campstove dinner: Clearspring Miso Ramen amped up with veg and seaweed

Scenes from an autumnal romp around Dartmoor National Park, starting at Postbridge, heading south and making a loop via Drizzlecombe to view its spectacular stone rows, with a wild camp in the middle on the River Plyn. It was a clear cold night but I had lots of layers, hearty food, hot tea, a good sleeping bag, and a warm pooch to keep things warm and cozy. 

Food Blogger Connect 2015 Highlights

Food Blogger Connect, London 2015 (yes that's Claudia Rodin in the middle). Image credit: @bethanykehdy

Food Blogger Connect, London 2015. Image credit: @bethanykehdy

Food Blogger Connect brings together bloggers of all ages, backgrounds and blogging levels to a conference that is all about enabling bloggers to be better at their craft. Conference speakers include food photographers, book publishers, pro bloggers, professional writers, advertising experts and other people to give talks and lead workshops on the various dimensions of blogging. This year I was grateful to have been such a speaker at FBC 2015 London, where I ran two workshops on “Awesome Analytics”, how to use data (i.e. FACTS) to grow your readership and achieve your blogger goals.

Bundled up & looking analytical for my Awesome Analytics talk. Video credit: @travelsfortaste.

Bundled up & looking analytical for my Awesome Analytics talk. Video credit: @travelsfortaste.

Indeed, one of the highlights of this workshop – and FBC in general – was learning about all the diferent goals people have in starting their food blog. Naturally many of you out there want to monetise your blog, be it through sponsored posts, paid advertising or other means. But many bloggers (myself included) had other goals in mind. Things I heard include:

  • Become a YouTube superstar
  • Grow awareness of supperclubs, food tours and other foodie activities
  • Sell eBooks
  • Build a community (this was a big one!)

The diversity of goals were unified by a general desire to achieve them and use hard data to pave the way – awesome! So awesome that I was inspired to start an Awesome Analytics Facebook Group, open to anyone with a website who wants to share tips and exchange ideas on web analytics. For example, what are the most important metrics for you to measure if you want to grow a community? How do outbound links work? What constitutes “good” stats? This is the place to discuss that!


Me with my Souvlaki Sisters, Lisa of United Cakedom and Candida of Oh My Kitchen Counter

Beyond the workshops, I had great fun taking part in other aspects of the conference. I especially enjoyed the talk on Self Publishing by Bloomsbury’s team from Writers’ and Artists’. There were also some terrific panel discussions – Ms Marmite Lover, Urvashi Roe and Helen Best-Shaw in particular had some really useful insights into monetisation and how to navigate the gnarly world of paid recipe development, sponsored posts and PRs.

Honey & Ginger Iced Tea from Massis Tea. Image credit: @massistea

Honey & Ginger Iced Tea from Massis Tea. Image credit: @massistea

There were also some great food vendors on hand who kept us fed and hydrated throughout the weekend. Big thanks to Massis Tea (above) for delivering their delicious ginger & honey iced tea to my talk. Seriously this stuff was inspiring – shaken in a cocktail shaker and garnished with rose petals and dried orange. I will definitely be copying this move at home.

The Athenian,  purveyor of amazeballs haloumi wraps.

The Athenian, purveyor of amazeballs haloumi wraps.

I also especially enjoyed my samplers from Bol Foods (wholesome beetroot and broccoli goodness!), The Athenian (souvlaki wrap!), Duke of Delhi Chocolate (chocolate + bombay mix = genius), and the Bicycle Bar from Quirky Bars (I needed those bloody maries on Sunday morning).

Honestly the best bloody mary I've ever had, courtesy of the Bicycle Bar

Honestly the best bloody mary I’ve ever had, courtesy of the Bicycle Bar

Of course, the best thing about a conference like Food Blogger Connect is that it creates a venue for catching up with old friends and making new ones. A major victory was finally meeting Jacqueline Meldrum (Tinned Tomatoes), one of UK’s top vegetarian bloggers who I’ve been reading for years. But moreover, Jac is a colleague of mine on the Froothie team, along with Elizabeth Atia (Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary), Katherine Hackworthy (Veggie Desserts) and Kate Ford (The Veg Space), all of whom who were also at FBC (the only person missing was Choclette of Tin and Thyme – next time!).

I already admired these awesome ladies from afar but meeting them confirms that their awesome factor is off the charts, and indeed exceeded my expectations. This can only bode well for our work projects! Writing this now I wonder why we didn’t all get a photo together? Like I said, next time. For now, here’s one from my talk with a nice cameo of Jac, camera always on the ready to seize the moment. She really IS a social media superstar.

Massis Tea delivery during my Awesome Analytics talk.

Massis Tea delivery during my Awesome Analytics talk.

Speaking of people I only previously knew virtually, I also met Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse and my guru for all things beans and legumes. Plus Kevin Chambers-Patson (selfie King and author of The Crafty Larder), Michelle Francis (the talent behind London from Scratch food tours), Manjiri Kulkarni (aka Travels for Taste…watch out for her F-bombs), Elinor Hill (aka Beach Hut Cook whose Instagram life I aspire to), Jude Macgee (whose A Trifle Rushed writings beckon me to Brittany) and Heidi Roberts (fellow American, fellow dog lover and fellow food blogger).


Megan Melling of Mel’s Vittles enjoying a bourbon steamed burger from BitBurgers.

It was also great to discover new food bloggers, previously off my radar, especially more fellow Americans, Lisa Niblock (United Cakedom) and Candida (Oh My Kitchen Counter), who I met in The Athenian ‘queue’ (never underestimate the social bonding powers of souvlaki). Also Jo Brigdale (wielder of baguettes and author of Jo’s Kitchen), Megan Melling (bringing Portuguese food into the limelight in Mel’s Vittles) and Jen Price (author of Jen’s Food and another person who balances a life in science AND food).

And I must give a shoutout to the friends I already know in person and don’t see often enough: Helen Best-Shaw (Fuss Free Flavours), Urvashi Roe (Botanical Baker), Sarah Trivuncic (Maison Cupcake) and Kavey Favelle (Kavey Eats).

My mission for my next food blogger conference: take more pictures of my friends, old and new! And also, to be even more awesome than I am now – with my analytics, with my cooking, with everything! Until then, here’s a few related links, because links are awesome!

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup


I’m a massive fan of Rick Bayless’s tortilla soup but when I’m in a rush, this does me just fine. The key is good stock and dried pasilla chile which gives tortilla soup its unique (and totally perfect) flavour. The best thing about this soup is the garnish potential!

You’ll need a high-speed blender for this – I use an Optimum 9200 from Froothie.  If you don’t have one, you can blend everything in a conventional blender and then heat on the oven in a pot (let it simmer for at least 10 minutes to let the flavours blend).

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup

Serves 2


  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 dried pasilla chile (I get mine from Cool Chile Co)
  • ⅓ bunch cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ avocado, pitted and peeled
  • ½ lime, peeled

Garnish ideas:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Black beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado


  1. Heat a frying pan and dry-fry the pasilla chilli for a few minutes so that it puffs up and changes colour. Remove the stem and seeds.
  2. Put the chilli, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, pepper, avocado and lime into a high speed blender (I use an Optimum 9200). Blend on high for about 5 minutes or until hot and steamy.
  3. Serve with lime, cilantro and avocado garnish.