On Sunday I had a chance of a lifetime to go on the itv programme Munchbox as a judge after they contacted my mum through the blog. She said I could do it and I did an audition. The programme will air in the next few weeks (probably on the 18th October). The filming started and I felt a bit nervous and tense. I don’t know why. The boys team and the girls’ team were cooking for us in a competition. They had to cook three meals each, so we had to taste six meals in total. The celebrity chef for our programme was Lisa Faulkner. The presenters were Joe and Layla who were very welcoming. I can’t tell you whether the boys or girls won! You’ll have to watch.
The best thing about the day was trying the meals. The worst thing was there was a two hour wait between rounds but it was worth it.
Post by Luca: As it reaches Autumn millions of blackberries appear as if out of nowhere. However, people just ignore them! Picking blackberries is so fun and is an old-fashioned summer activity.
Here are my tips on picking blackberries
– It is highly remarkable that stinging nettles are always by blackberry bushes! Mind out for the nettles! [If you do get stung, look for doc leaves nearby – large green leaves which help the sting.]
– Only pick squashy black blackberries otherwise they aren’t ripe.
– Don’t pick blackberries below knee height in case dogs have wee’d on them!!!
What you can do with blackberries
– Tarts/ pies/ crumbles – add a bit of apple to liven it up and some sugar.
– Smoothies/ juices – squash the blackberries then add yoghurt for a smoothie/ water for juice.
Post by Luca’s mum:
We’ve been out and about walking much more since we got a puppy in April and on our walks we started spotting blackberries ready and ripe for picking as early as the end of July. We’ve had bags and bags full and Luca and other children who’ve been on walks with us have had great fun picking out the best ones. We’ve made a gorgeous berry smoothie with Greek yoghurt and milk, compotes and a tart. All very easy ways to use them up and (mostly) quite healthy too.
Where to find blackberries
You don’t have to venture to the countryside to spot them – they can often be found in brambly hedges in urban green spaces too. As Luca said there are often nettles and prickly twigs around where you pick them so it’s worth wearing thick, long trousers such as jeans if this bothers you!
And don’t forget some secure Tupperware type boxes or food bags to collect and store them in.
Our half term treat was a little unusual. Decadent even. Some kids might want to go to McDonalds for a school holiday lunch but we were very keen to try Burger and Lobster. And no it was the lobster we were all after, not the burgers.
Here’s what Luca had to say:
“We went to Burger and Lobster today for lunch. I was very keen to try lobster again. I had some of my mum’s once on holiday but it was ages ago. The waiters bought two silver metal trays of lobster and fries and salad and we shared this between three of us. The salad had a special ingredient of balsamic vinegar dressing which we like. The fries were similar to McDonalds ones. I don’t like McDonalds much but I do like their chips so this was not a bad thing. The lobster was large and delicious with a garlic and lemon butter sauce. They had bibs to protect your clothes but I did not want to wear one as I’m not a baby! Some of the grown-ups wear them though. It was quite a lot of work for my mum picking all the bits out of the claws with the picking stick but worth it for the extra.
The drinks menu was confusing because it didn’t have anything like normal juices or water on it – nearly everything had alcohol but when we asked the waitress they did have lots of juices that weren’t on there. I chose pineapple.
There are only three things on the menu for main courses: lobster with a choice of two butters, beef burger or lobster brioche roll. It would not be good for vegetarians as there is nothing vegetarian. The staff were very good and friendly. Lobster was delicious. I had a great hot chocolate at the end too. The best part was the lobster though as you can have a hot chocolate anywhere. We’d go again.”
This is what Luca’s mum said:”I had been desperate to try this place as I absolutely adore lobster. My favourite food ever but usually it’s too expensive in the UK. It wasn’t cheap here per se but was excellent value for what you get. Any of the three options on the menu costs £20 – the burger, the lobster or the lobster roll. That’s a lot for a burger but not bad at all for a lobster and it was amazing. As ever with lobster, there was a fair amount of picking out of the claws to do with the special picking out thingy* provided but it was worth the hassle. The staff were helpful and attentive, friendly but informally professional. They didn’t seem to mind at all that the three of us shared two lobster meals (oh no, am I making it sound McDonalds-ish saying a ‘lobster meal’. It’s not at all), with an extra plate for Luca to nab some of ours for. We didn’t have room for puddings (there were two on the menu, well in the waiter’s head, so not much choice but that’s fine – one was Eton mess, the other vanilla cheesecake with caramel and Oreo cookies). Coffee at the end was one of the most mellow and lovely I’ve had for a while. Most impressed generally and looking forward to going back soon.”
* there is probably a technical, culinary term for these instruments…
Here is the lobster picking instrument in fact:
Now the crucial question:
Is it a good place to take children?
This is a restaurant with quite a grown-up, albeit informal, feel but we were still made very welcome indeed as a family. There were no qualms about our request for the extra plate for example and the waiting staff were kind and friendly to our eight-year-old.
At the end we asked one of the waiters if they get many kids in. He said that it can be packed with them at weekends although they don’t have a children’s menu (or, it seems, do half portions). He added that they are hoping to introduce a kids’ menu soon…let’s hope they take our advice (see a previous post on this) and don’t dumb it down too much if they do (bread crumbed lobster nuggets anyone? Please NO!). Or better still they could just do smaller half portions of their grown-ups’ main courses and keep with their ethos of a very ‘finely tuned’ menu.
Out of interest, we asked the waiter if child customers there normally have burgers or if some do opt for lobster – he was pretty adamant that nearly all, if not all have burgers. The burger we saw at the next table did look incredibly appealing but we think this is a bit of a shame. Lobster rocks! Give it a go kids!
This post was not sponsored, we have no links to the company and we paid our way. There are five branches of Burger and Lobster in Central London.
Please do not comment on the ethics of lobster eating…this is not the place for it. Thank you.
These little green beauties have a DREADFUL reputation and we think it’s totally unfair. Why not give them a proper try so you know for yourself? They’re not bad at all – in fact we actually like them a lot in our house. Not convinced? You know the rules of Fab Fun Food Club – you have to at least try them, even if you find they genuinely are not for you. You might be surprised and they are very good for you, well apart from the fact they might make some of you FART (they only seem to do that to the dad in our family…yuck!!!) You have been warned…
What are they?
Brussels sprouts are leafy green, small vegetables that look like mini-cabbages. This is no coincidence as they are in fact related to cabbages. Think of it like a kind of vegetable family with cabbages being the parents and the sprouts being the kids. They are also related to broccoli and cauliflower – the cousins perhaps.
We’re not 100% sure why they have the Brussels bit in their name (Brussels is a city in Belgium if you didn’t know already) but it could be because they originated there or lots are grown there or they are very popular there.
Sprouts grow on stalks and if you look in a good greengrocer or the veg section in a larger supermarket they might sell them like this, although more often they are taken off the stalks and put into net bags. If you can, get your grown-up to buy the ones on stalks at least once as they will usually be fresher.
Clever people who know a lot about food, called nutritionists, often describe sprouts as a ‘super food’ as they are so good for you. They are absolutely jam-packed with nutrients – things you eat that help your body stay healthy. Some of these are vitamins and some are minerals such as iron. You might well have read or been told, for example, that oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Pah to that though – these little sprout guys would totally win in a fight with oranges about how much vit C they have – boasting levels three times higher.
What are they used for?
They are part of a traditional British Christmas lunch but we think they shouldn’t just be kept for Christmas. Enjoy them all year as a side dish/ veg with whatever else you are eating.
Ready to try them?
The good old-fashioned way:
Now the key here is to cook them properly – or to not over-cook them in fact – as then they don’t taste very good and that is probably why some people don’t like them. Boil your sprouts for about 5 to 10 minutes, no more. It’s a case of sticking a fork’s prongs into them and checking that it will go in but that they are not too soft.
One for sprout-haters:
Slice your sprouts finely and stir-fry or pan fry them in a little olive oil for about ten minutes. You can also add garlic or bacon or both. They are quite different to the ‘good old-fashioned boiled sprout’ this way.
Make a meal of them:
If you fancy something different to just a pile of sprouts, how about this yummy recipe for ‘Roasted Sprout Gratin with Bacon and Cheese‘ on the fabulous BBC Food site? It’s a lovely cheesy sprout bake.
We know we’ve been a bit naughty. We should really have updated the blog. We’ve been busy having fun over the summer holidays and with life and school and everything that gets in the way. More foodie blogs from a family point of view will be coming your way soon though…
Our friends over at Kids’ Blog Club brought the Sunday Times’ campaign to improve school dinners to our attention. As a junior foodie, Luca will definitely be filling the survey in and giving his views. Generally the food at his school is great but his biggest bugbear is the portions are too small. Sometimes he comes home so ravenous that he ends up eating almost a whole meal. If it’s like that for a fairly skinny year 3, how is it for the year 6 kids?