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March 17, 2017

We’re very excited in my house. ​​
Or, at least, ​​I am. ​​This morning, my kitchen was a ​​room where I prepared the kids’ meals, which lately have included stuff like fishfingers with chips and peas, and frankfurters with mash. But now I’ve got hold of a copy of The Great Dixter Cookbook: Recipes from an English Garden, it is about to become a centre of rustic, wholesome gastronomic excellence.

For this earnest and beautifully photographed collection of seasonal recipes from the home of the legendary writer and gardener Christopher Lloyd, penned by its head chef, Aaron Bertelsen, is full of simple, achievable recipes that have re-animated the former earth mother (you know, before I had two kids) in me. And anyone who’s visited the beautiful stately home and admired its gardens – Lloyd’s...

March 2, 2017

I've never been tempted by posh burger joints – after all, they're a penny a dozen in London – so we've avoided Hoof on Rye's high street, which only opened at the end of summer last year and therefore felt as much a DFL as I did. But on a rainy day in March, walking a hungry toddler with an ear infection and his baby brother in search of 'pasta please, Mummy', we finally tried it, simply because it was the only place on the high street that did mac 'n' cheese.

All I can say is, YES. It's small (everywhere's small here), but they've nailed the customer experience. Exuberant waiting staff showed us to a table, smiled and spoke to my two-year-old, swooped down with crayons and a colouring-in sheet as soon as he started playing with the pepper pot. His Mini Mac and Cheese kids' meal cost a f...

February 17, 2017

Since its beginnings in the 18th century as a bitter soup for those wandering round Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, to its lowest point as a pale, sugary powder in the supermarkets since the 1980s, hot chocolate has been patiently waiting for its big moment. Its peers – coffee and tea – have both been reborn in the gastro-revolution that has hit the UK in the last 15 years, and now, finally, its time has come.

I’m drinking a 70% Sao Tome with Seville Orange, and I feel like Jilly Goolden. As I stare at the frothy bowl of deliciousness, I find myself saying things like ‘well-rounded mouthfeel’, ‘velvety fruitiness’ and ‘mmm, notes of toasted hazelnuts’. Sobering up for a second, I look up sharply to see if the proprietor of this hot chocolate bar, Jens Knoop, is smirking at my sudden expertise....

June 3, 2016

You can’t go wrong with pick-your- own fruit. All you need is a liberal attitude to mess (perfect time to put them in that ‘Aren’t I cute?’ T-shirt you’ve been dying to get rid of), a handful of coins and a car. At Tibbs Farm, a family-run PYO site that’s been growing since the 1970s in Udimore near Rye, the pickings are extremely rich. Here’s what you need to know before you go:

1. You can eat as much as you want

When I, in my naivety, asked the lady behind the counter how many was too many, she smiled and shook her head. ‘How exactly are we going to police that?’ Actually, she doesn’t need to. It turns out that, especially in hot weather, you can eat too many strawberries. And too many raspberries and loganberries.

2. They don’t take cards

It’s cash or a cheque (bless ’em).

3. It’s the tast...

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