Heston, the Everdure range and some very good food

* This is a collaborative post with Kettler GB

On a sunny, but chilly April day I attended the launch of the 4K Outdoor Oven from Everdure by Heston Blumenthal, which has been 4000 years in the making. It only seemed right for it to be put to the test, and for me to sample the food cooked on the latest addition to his hi-tech range - well, it would have been rude not to!

fat duck chefs at work
paying attention to detail

Although all future barbecues will have a lot to live up to from now on, the food, as you’d expect was a little out of the ordinary. By looking at it you’d think it was produced in a usual kitchen, but it wasn’t.

PASTRAMI ON MARMITE EGGY BREAD WITH CHIP STICKS

PASTRAMI ON MARMITE EGGY BREAD WITH CHIP STICKS

RIBS AND COLESLAW

RIBS AND COLESLAW

I was glad that MOH wasn’t with me, while he would have found it as fascinating and informative as me, I’ve a feeling that it would have got quite expensive pretty quickly as there was an impressive range of barbecues on show, and something for everyone I’m sure.

What was refreshing to see was that there wasn’t any “charcoal snobbery” from the Kettler GB team. They recognised that charcoal doesn’t work for everyone, and while they think it tastes better they acknowledge that the convenience of gas for many has its advantages.

I think they’re right, there’s nothing quite like the charcoal taste, but waiting for a charcoal barbecue to heat up after a day at work is likely to mean that we wouldn’t cook outside quite so much during the week when the weather is warm. I’m impatient enough anyway, but don’t make me wait for food!

But that’s about to be challenged, as you can see from the image below the charcoal is ready to cook in 10 minutes, which kind of changes things

some of the mighty barbecues

And if you’re wondering about why it’s 4000 years in the making, it’s been inspired by the 4000 year tradition of Kamado-style and man-made ceramic clay cooking, which merges the taste of charcoal with 21st century technology.

Accessories and portable/table top barbecues too

The 4K doesn’t look like you’d expect it to look either, I suspect that’s why it’s called an outdoor oven. As well as the fast flame charcoal ignition there’s probes which control meat and air temperatures, it’s exterior is cool-to touch and it even has Bluetooth connectivity.

I know. I told you it had 21st century technology. It also cooks food!

the unusual shape of the 4k everdure

It looks versatile too, whether you want to grill a steak, roast a turkey (don’t laugh - that almost happened to us on our first Christmas in this house, when the oven played up on Christmas Day!), smoke meat or bake a pizza the 4K will tell you how to cook it and prepare it, advising on temperature control, charcoal management and even the recipes. I’m pretty sure it’ll do a mean banger too.

a look inside the 4k everdure barbecue

And in case you were in any doubt, the food was excellent and didn’t hang around for long. There was also scallops, which I avoided, and there was also a baked Alaska on a stick, which I did everything but avoid. Only Heston would even contemplate ice cream on a barbecue, and it isn’t something that we’ll be trying at home, however tasty it was.

in case you were in any doubt the food was excellent

And I couldn’t end this post without sharing a photo with Heston himself, could I?

Me and Heston Blumenthal

He was a really nice man and while it was only a short chat, we did have a chat about his journey to Canary Wharf and of course, about the Everdure range. I left the event knowing much more about barbecues, enjoying some great food and pleased that Heston didn’t shatter my illusions of his TV self.

* Thanks to Kettler GB for the invitation to the event and their hospitality.

Packit: A lunch cool bag with a difference

Usually when we go to Norfolk a cool bag is one of the ever presents that I pack in the car. Sometimes it comes home empty, but mostly not as quite often I’ve made a stop at either the Fish Shed, the Cley Smokehouse or the farm shop at Norfolk Lavender, or if I’m lucky all three and more. Mum’s got used to keeping some shelf space free in her fridge, and a spot in the freezer too for the ice blocks.

This time though I took my new Packit lunch bag, which is a cool bag with a difference. It needs no ice blocks, which I always resent for taking up valuable space. I know they have a use, but when I was offered the opportunity to try out a new-style cool bag without ice blocks, I was definitely in.

UNFOLDED TO HOLD YOUR LUNCH

UNFOLDED TO HOLD YOUR LUNCH

And it looks great too doesn’t it? But does it work?

Colourful and a sideview of this sturdy cool bag

It folds flat so it fits easily into the freezer, and yes, no ice blocks so you freeze the whole bag. The walls of the bag are gel-filled and keep the contents cool and fresh. You only need to freeze it overnight, and as you can see on the website it says it will also ‘chill items that are at room temperature’, which I know would be handy at times too.

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE

TAKE A LOOK INSIDE

There’s also plenty of room inside, definitely enough for a hearty lunch. While I didn’t have a hearty lunch to pack, or not one meals worth anyway, I did manage to put it through its paces, and it was still cold when we got home some three hours later.

It's well made, doesn't need ice blocks and has plenty of room for lunch

I was impressed with how much the Packit holds

This visit to Norfolk was one of those fruitful ones food-wise, and from what I managed to include in it here, I’m confident that it will easily hold lunch for one, and possibly even two so will be useful for those picnics I plan this summer in Greenwich Park.

Arriving home from this trip, I unpacked:

  • some locally grown purple sprouting broccoli

  • Baron Bigod, cheese made in Suffolk

  • A tupperware tub of Gurney Gold, made in Norfolk

  • Binham Blue, another Norfolk cheese

  • two ‘spare’ gin-in-a-tins and

  • the leftovers from our roast haunch of venison (which has since been demolished stroganoff style)

Which all adds up to more than a hearty lunch I’d say, not even I could eat that much cheese for lunch. Clearly, I’d give it a good go…

UNPACKING MY PACKIT

UNPACKING MY PACKIT

The colourful design is perfect for me, but there are other options available whether you’re into stripes, checks, plains or even unicorns - something for everyone I’m sure. They also have larger tote-size and backpacks which could be useful to hold your whole picnic.

What do you think, are you ready to ditch the ice blocks? I am!

* I was provided this lunch cool bag for the purposes of this review, however all views and opinions are, as usual, my own.

And relax, with an artisan cuppa

Much has been made this year of “Twixmas” the time between Christmas and New Year, the time of year we all recognise because we’re unsure what day of the week it is, and we’re still nibbling our way through the festive food, that was designated as “for Christmas” in the lead up to the celebrations. We still do that ritual of asking what you want for tea, but know that the answer is more than likely going to be turkey, or ham. That is until the new year when we’ll add beef to the repertoire!

But life is starting to get back to normal. Our Christmas guests have gone, the turkey is off its carcass and in only a small number of containers in the fridge. But the real barometer of returning to normality is the decline of the cheeseboard and that the pigs in blankets, even the second batch, have vanished more quickly than you’d know.

The calm after the whirlwind of family visits and the general hubbub of December is something to enjoy though, and this year it’s been enhanced by a proper cuppa, and artisan ones at that from Adagio teas, who sent a selection of their seasonal teas for me to try. In this post I’ll share a bit more about each of the samples, which are extensive.

Adagio teas are a family company who source their teas direct which means they arrive fresh and the farmers benefit from a better deal. On their site there’s information about the types of tea, the five basic steps of tea processing - plucking, withering, rolling, oxidising and firing, and the five basic styles of tea - white, green, oolong, black and pu erh.

A CHRISTMAS SELECTION OF TEAS INCLUDES: CHRISTMAS, ROOIBOS NUTCRACKER AND YULETIDE TODDY

A CHRISTMAS SELECTION OF TEAS INCLUDES: CHRISTMAS, ROOIBOS NUTCRACKER AND YULETIDE TODDY

I’m a big tea drinker, but I hadn’t realised that there was so many options and choices when it comes to flavours. The Yuletide Toddy is a mixture of cranberry and orange, whereas the Rooibos Nutcracker has a different slant of Christmas with nuts, caramel and cocoa, and is a good reminder of our trip to the ballet in Birmingham last month.

CHESTNUT, GINGERBREAD, CANDY APPLE, CRANBERRY, PUMPKIN AND CANDY CANE TEAS IN MINIATURE TINS, FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER

CHESTNUT, GINGERBREAD, CANDY APPLE, CRANBERRY, PUMPKIN AND CANDY CANE TEAS IN MINIATURE TINS, FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER

These small tins are a great way to get started into a different kinds of tea, chestnuts are one of my go to Christmas flavours - chestnut stuffing anyone? No, you don’t like it either, no problem, that’s more for me is the usual gist of the conversations - so to have a tea that brings that roasted chestnut smell in a cup, well that sounds almost perfect.

CHRISTMAS TEAS INCLUDES: CANDY CANE, CANDY APPLE, GINGERBREAD AND CHESTNUT TEAS

CHRISTMAS TEAS INCLUDES: CANDY CANE, CANDY APPLE, GINGERBREAD AND CHESTNUT TEAS

SWEET TOOTH TEAS INCLUDES: CARAMEL, CREAM, TIGER EYE AND CHOCOLATE CHIP TEAS

SWEET TOOTH TEAS INCLUDES: CARAMEL, CREAM, TIGER EYE AND CHOCOLATE CHIP TEAS

The Sweet Tooth Teas box intrigued me. Sweet tea isn’t normally my thing and I’m not one for sugar in tea. The Tiger Eye blend caught my eye though with its smooth flavours, the website says this has a high caffeine level and the reviews warn of over-steeping this one.

CHAI TEAS INCLUDES: MASALA CHAI, CHOCOLATE CHAI, SPICED APPLE CHAI AND THAI CHAI TEAS

CHAI TEAS INCLUDES: MASALA CHAI, CHOCOLATE CHAI, SPICED APPLE CHAI AND THAI CHAI TEAS

Masala Chai is one of my favourite teas, and I’m regularly found in the queue in the cafe at work asking for one of these. So much so, that if I opt for something else the servers there look most confused, so I was pleased to see a chai selection in this parcel, and while I haven’t tried these yet, I’m looking forward to branching out from my usual “plain” chai.

I also find traditional Earl Grey teas challenging, but the names of these blends may just make me overcome this. I think I’ll be easing myself into these gently, perhaps starting with the green and Rooibos blends, which are described as a classic blend with a twist. I think making sure I’ve some shortbread to hand will help with easing myself in. There’s something about a cup of tea and a biscuit, or two isn’t there?

EARL GREY TEAS INCLUDES: EARL GREY BRAVO, EARL GREY MOONLIGHT, EARL GREY GREEN AND ROOIBOS EARL GREY TEAS

EARL GREY TEAS INCLUDES: EARL GREY BRAVO, EARL GREY MOONLIGHT, EARL GREY GREEN AND ROOIBOS EARL GREY TEAS

The final two sample boxes have teas with names I can’t pronounce but flavours I know I will enjoy. Oolong tea is one of the five basic types of teas, and one of the most time-consuming teas to create using all of the five steps, but the result is a more complex flavour which are often smooth and rich.

OOLONG TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: TI KUAN YIN, WUYI ENSEMBLE, FORMOSA BAI HAO AND DANCONG ARIA TEAS  PREMIUM TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: YUNNAN GOLD, GOLDEN SPRING, KEEMUN RHAPSODY AND PU ERH POE TEAS

OOLONG TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: TI KUAN YIN, WUYI ENSEMBLE, FORMOSA BAI HAO AND DANCONG ARIA TEAS

PREMIUM TEAS OF CHINA INCLUDES: YUNNAN GOLD, GOLDEN SPRING, KEEMUN RHAPSODY AND PU ERH POE TEAS

I’ve only shared some information about tea in this post because it’s impossible to do it justice in a single post, but if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of tea, health benefits, the teabags vs loose tea question, or even food pairings then do take a look at the Adagio teas website, like me, I’m sure you’ll be surprised at how much effort goes into a cuppa.

Tea is so much a part of the British psyche. We all know that a cup of tea will fix almost anything, help solve a problem or just provide some thinking time, and it’s something that is part of who we are, but so often we reach for the household name tea bags rather than anything more. So this Twixmas, my tea exploration journey has resumed, and I’ve a feeling it’s going to continue through to the 91st of January or whatever, at least and hopefully much further into the year as I’ve rediscovered that there’s really something rather nice about using loose leaf tea, which feels like a treat, when really it shouldn’t.

Are you joining me?

* This is a collaborative post, but all opinions are my own.