OLIVE MAGAZINE - November Edition

This issue declares ''it's comfort food month'' and ''weekends will be dedicated to slow-braises and easy roasts, and weeknights cheered-up with hearty winter salads and simple soups, so we can enjoy the last few weeks of autumn and conserve energy in the run up to Christmas.'' Who are they kidding? I don't know about you, but there are all the apples, blackberries, gooseberries and plums to freeze, pickle or poach and then there are the green beans, carrots and courgettes pouring off the allotment that need freezing or making into soups or quiches. Hardly a time for resting! I've only just found time to read this November edition of Olive.

The magazine is full of comfort food recipes, Bonfire party night food and easy brunches. Many quite straightforward dishes. I liked the look of the Grilled cheese sandwich with ox cheek and pickled fennel - it's a long time since I had ox cheeks. And the Beans on toast variation with Bacon jam and beans of haricot or cannellini seems an exciting challenge at 3 hours, with an overnight soaking of the beans (above). The Hangover pizza recipe claims to cure that 'morning after' feeling by using plenty of peperonata and onion jam - it looks delicious. The step-by-step photo sequence for making individual mini Beef Wellingtons is inspiring and shows how easy this dish is to prepare (below). My wife has long chosen to go for this mini version of this classic, - they look so much more professional on the plate than a slice of  Wellington. I think we still have some in the freezer ready for our next dinner party.

As for Bonfire food, you really have to seek-out the dishes hidden among a number of features. The contents page gives you a clue on where to look, but otherwise there is no other direct reference to November 5th. So what's on offer? Well, there are only 4 dishes - Smoked haddock scotch eggs, Double shroom burgers, Merguez sausage baguettes and Pumpkin pie spiced muffins. Burgers, sausages and muffins always go down well with the kids but I'm not so sure about scotch eggs. Different but far from the inspiration I expected, and what if the children don't like mushroom burgers?

Pleasingly for me, apples and pears get a few pages of dishes using toffee, nuts and chocolate as partners to these autumn fruits. Toffee apple brioche and butter pudding set my taste buds tingling (above), while the Pear and chocolate puddings seem an ideal dinner dessert - they look so attractive (below). As for other ways to use up my abundance of fruit and vegetables this month, I can try a Pear, pecan and dolcelatte salad, a Carrot and smoked paprika soup and Roast veg enchiladas.

'Table Hopping' this month hops between three restaurants in three London districts, Brixton, Shoreditch and Soho with a few words of praise for DF/Mexico, Bird and L'Escargot. 'Bar Hopping' goes to Dublin, Brighton and Oxford. The 'Anywhere but London' snippet highlights the Sticky Walnut in Chester, which chef Steve Smith describes as having a ''laid-back community vibe'' with roast grouse at £20. As for cost, I liked the look of  this month's 'Object of desire' - the Dualit  new Classic Kettle (below). It's pricey at £129, but looks stylish and swish and is the quietest kettle on the market.

Five pages of Olive his month are devoted to a very odd feature entitled ''Olive's top 50 Food Insiders'' - a look at the crucial trendsetters in UK food, claims Olive's Tony Naylor. It is an odd list because I struggled to recognise all but a  handful of names from the 9 innovators, 11 backroom operators, 7 dream teams, 5 local heroes, 10 absolute experts, or 8 empire builders, identified and pictured. I know of 'The Restaurant Man', Russell Norman and Ocado, the food supplier, but as for the rest, they may as well be from Mars. Maybe you can do better, but for me, a waste of five pages, Olive!

Mexico is the feature for 'Cook like a local' and Pro v Punter reviews the Leeds restaurant, Bundobust which looks a basic place serving rustic looking food and described as a bar that sells Indian street food and craft beers (below). Nevertheless, it scored 50 out of 60 from the reviewers, with the Pro spending £47 on a meal for two and the Punter £65. Next time I'm in Leeds, I'll know how to navigate the wine list as Olive provides 10 ways to appreciate the 'vino' on offer. A useful guide covers the best value fizz, Italian whites, great value regions and food matching to name but four tips. A great read!

Dublin is one of the month's 'Bitesize breaks' and joins West Sweden, Provence, Cumbria, The Algarve, Budapest, Harwich, Anglesey, Kalkan in Turkey and London (what a surprise!). The 'Weekender' goes to a favourite city of mine, Amsterdam, and there is a page of eating options, places to drink and places to share a plate. The Volshotel, the former offices of the newspaper Volkskrant, is a recommended hotel at £70 per night. So long as it's canal side, it's fine for me.  


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