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penelope, new york city

new york on a crisp january day... sadly the person indulging herself was not me but my lovely friend judy. during her trip she discovered a fabulous breakfast place, which she wants to tell everyone about. over to you jude…

an oasis in the midst of an unassuming area of mid town, penelope’s was a gift from the gods. staying in the definitive budget hotel on east 30th, our first task was to find that morning cup of coffee for me and tea for my friend kay. it was not looking good. on one corner was the brazil coffee shop: tea-less and the food wasn’t quite what we had in mind for breakfast. while we stood on that cold corner deciding whether to head up town, go to starbucks or take a chance on one of the diners, the sun shone on penelope, the paint work a little worn, the canopy needing replacing. we crossed the road just to see what it had to offer. the menu promised everything we could hope for and coffee and tea for every persuasion. the test was whether it fulfilled its beguiling promise so desperately needed to boost our flagging spirits and, in particular, my caffeine levels.

up the rickety steps to a swell of lively chatter, the young woman waiting there looked like a student from julliard ready to burst into a song of welcome. the ambience was vibrant and warm; and the smell of coffee captivating.

hurrah we were in new york and the city welcomed us. we had fruit juice, pancakes and maple syrup served with a side of fresh fruit (strawberries, blue berries and melon). the double cappuccino convinced me i was in heaven. i had more. following our initiation, we used penelope’s for our early morning fillip for the rest of our stay and enjoyed a different dish of fresh and well cooked ingredients every day: perfect eggs, bacon crispy but not teeth challenging, interesting sausage and not a favourite, irish oats – porridge to you and me, french toast, delicious jam and wonderful pumpkin waffles., all served with a infectious smile and breathtaking willingness.

from the moment we found penelope’s our visit took on a different hue because we knew that if all else failed - and in the usa the food experience is very similar to buying a lottery ticket - there was somewhere to go for succour.


corner of east 30th street and lexington avenue, new york


february foodie profile: amy jane badré


as you’ll know, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

this month we’re hearing from amy jane badré, who is scottish and lives and works in provence in the south of france.

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stridently healthy: lentil and savoy cabbage soup


the miso soup which i have posted about recently fulfils a very specific need. it’s light, delicious and obviously healthy.

this lentil and savoy cabbage soup is similar except it screams healthiness and worthiness given its star ingredients are cabbage and lentils. this isn’t always a good thing – to make a huge generalisation, boys often need persuading of the virtues of this kind of food!

however, there are definitely days when i need to eat something that is going to make me feel a little bit saintly. whether it’s because i’ve been overindulging, need to be frugal or i just feel that my body needs a dose of healthiness.

the recipe is deceptively simple but tastes fabulous and ticks the saintly box. unless of course you grate over mounds of parmesan and eat it with fresh bread slathered in delicious french bridel butter. but even then it manages to retain an aura of austerity. deluded? moi? surely not…

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magdalen, london se1

as ever i have a list of restaurants that i want to try. frugal january means i’ve not been eating out much but on a whim i decided that we needed a treat to get us to the end of the month. so i booked a table at magdalen, a restaurant which offers a fabulous range of british food.

opposite the unicorn theatre (london’s newest theatre for children and well worth supporting) magdalen is a buzzy restaurant spread over two floors. the walls are painted a deep oxblood and it felt very cosy on a windy wintery night (i’ll be interested to see how it feels in the summer).

after polishing off the lovely chewy bread that we were given as we arrived, i chose potted devon crab to start. this was truly delicious, gently spiced and flavoured with a hint of orange. david’s goat’s curd and greens on toast was equally good, the mild creamy curd contrasting well with the slightly oniony flavours of the greens.

we decided to share the slow cooked shoulder of milk-fed lamb for our main course. this came with potato gratin and we ordered a side of sprout tops. the meat was beautifully tender and flavoursome but, for me, it was the combination of fresh greens with the creamy potatoes (perfectly flavoured with a hint of mace) that made me smile the most.

our puddings were, in my opinion, less good. david was very happy with his apple and calvados trifle but i’d have liked it to be a little less sweet. my chocolate pot served with brandied cherries was incredibly dark and bittersweet and i’d have liked a few more cherries to balance the flavours.

magdalen is a lovely place to spend an evening, with delicious food, a buzzy atmosphere and incredibly friendly and genuinely interested staff. there are several large tables and with its good value wine list i’d love to come back with a group of friends. i just need to come up with an excuse for such a gathering…


152 tooley street, london se1 2tu

telephone: 020 7403 1342


prawn miso soup with noodles, ginger and pak choi


finally! i have finally managed to take a photo of miso soup that looks vaguely appealing.

miso soup is something we eat often, in various guises, and i’ve been wanting to write about it for quite a while. however, steaming bowls of soup are tricky to photograph so it’s taken a while to get a photo i was happy with.

delicious and nourishing, it is the perfect healthy comfort food. as a result, this is my contribution to meeta’s monthly mingle which has comfort foods as its theme. meeta, i hope you like it!

miso soup is also very quick and easy to make and can easily be adapted to what you have in. this recipe has prawns as the star of the show but we also make it using chicken or, for a veggie version, a mixture of interesting mushrooms. give it a try or, if you’re already a fan, let me know which combination is your favourite.

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