Skip to content

Archive for


Must Have for Christmas List No:1 Baileys Chocolat Luxe

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 18.21.15Just a sniff of the bottle was enough to get a wild response! This drink is something else, a perfect blend of Belgian chocolate and Irish whiskey.

Oh My God, just doesn’t sum it up! It’s deadly for anyone on a diet we think. Perhaps a thimbleful at a time would be best! (That’s once a day mind, make it last!) In fact 100 ml adds up to 371 calories (16g of fat, 27g carbs, 3.5g protein) … you can work a daily dose out for yourself!

The result of a three year project this is a chocoholic’s dream. Anthony Wilson is the son of the man who led the team behind Baileys Original Irish Cream some 30 years ago. So you can expect this chocolate offering to be in the same league of lusciousness.Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 18.21.29

This chocolate indulgence makes it impossible to envisage ice cream without it. We are putting together a list of other luscious items that would take a good dribbling – how about chocolate eclairs, meringues, jam doughnuts, shortbread and strawberries, cooked pears … the list could go on and on. Must stop fantasising, work to be done. Husband has hidden the bottle … but I will soon find it!

There is a video on the Baileys website link

Baileys Chocolat Luxe is available from October with an RRP of £16.99 for 50 cl. More info at

Val Reynolds, Editor


A Wonderfully Warming Soup – Pumpkin and Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano And Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup JPEGIt’s Pumpkin time! We love that wonderful orange flesh in pies, cakes and soups. We found this Parmigiano Reggiano and pumpkin soup recipe – always a great winter warmer and a great starter for a Halloween celebration.

It’s really easy to make – just combine fried onion, pumpkin, vegetable stock and Parmigiano Reggiano rind and cook until tender. Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the vegetables, remove the rind and blend the mixture until smooth.

To serve, sprinkle the soup with fresh parsley, top with French bread with melted Parmigiano Reggiano and season.

Full recipe is included below.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, known as ‘Parmesan’, is one of the world’s oldest and richest cheeses, still produced today as it was nine centuries ago.  Totally natural, it’s the only cheese with a minimum maturation time of 12 months, although its best at 24 months. Did you know it takes 16 litres of milk to produce one kilogram of cheese!  It’s easy to digest and is high in calcium.

Parmigiano Reggiano is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. PDOs are defined and protected by European Union law in order to defend the reputation of regional foods. This mark ensures that Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in designated areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and Mantua to the east of the Po River.

For more information on Parmigiano Reggiano at

Parmigiano Reggiano and Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4-6

150g (6oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, with rind

25g (1oz) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 medium pumpkin (or butternut squash), peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks

900ml (1½ pt) hot vegetable stock

150ml (¼ pt) milk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

4-6 slices French bread
Fresh parsley or thyme, chopped to garnish

Reserve the rind from the Parmigiano Reggiano and cut it into chunks, then finely grate

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and gently fry the onion until softened
Add the pumpkin, vegetable stock and Parmigiano Reggiano rind and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender

Remove the rind from the saucepan, transferring the soup to a blender and add the grated cheese, reserving 25g (1oz) for garnishing. Blend the soup, until smooth. Return it to the saucepan and add the milk. Stir thoroughly and reheat until piping hot

Toast the slices of French bread, sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano on top and grill until melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each portion with one piece of French toast

To serve, sprinkle with fresh parsley or thyme and season with black pepper

Penny, our resident cook, says: You could try other cheese of course, low fat cheddar is excellent. We make this soup for six and then freeze a couple of portions ready to reheat. It makes a really comforting snack on a very cold day. We wouldn’t go on a long, bracing walk without a flask of this soup. A welcome, wonderful warmer. Can’t say enough about it!

Information provided by The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano   Photography: Steve Lee  Recipe and Food Styling: Sue Ashworth

Val Reynolds, Editor


Winter Culture in London – theatre, art and literature

The still balmy days of autumn mean that the hot, sunny days of summer are not yet a distant memory, but promises of imminent cooler weather are a reminder that winter is not a distant prospect.

So now’s the time to shake out the winter woollies and consider options for the darker, shorter days.

Perusing the listings online and in the press, one word resonates in my head: Vienna.  Perhaps it’s because this is the city my parents hailed from, but undeniably, it features in various aspects of culture this season.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 16.59.02First, and most obviously, is the exhibition at the National Gallery in London entitled Facing the Modern – The Portrait in Vienna 1900, which is showing from 9 October 2013 to 12 January 2014.  Check it out on and if it appeals, go and luxuriate in the works of Klimt, Schiele, Gerstl et al.

The second, perhaps more oblique reference to that once powerful city centre of empire is perhaps more problematic to see. It’s the production of Hysteria by Terry Johnson who also directs what I believe must be the definitive version of his 20 year old witty and intelligent play.  Unfortunately, it is only playing until 12 October, but tickets have been hard to come by throughout its entire run.  This is largely due to the critically acclaimed performance of Anthony Sher as Freud, the pioneer of psychoanalysis. An added frisson is that the action takes place not in his famous Berggasse rooms in Vienna but in his consulting room in Hampstead, a matter of a few hundred yards from the theatre itself. Unbelievably, the play treads the difficult line between farce, surrealism, intellectual debate and the Holocaust with extreme dexterity.  One minute you’re laughing (especially at the mention of a ‘Freudian slip’ referring to an item of underwear), the next you sit back in your seat in shock and horror.  It is a play that only ever so often is revived; catch it if you can.  Meanwhile, if you’re in that part of London, why not visit the Freud Museum in Hampstead, where the Bergasse is recreated in minute detail and includes the famous couch Shot 2013-10-08 at 17.01.42

My final reference to Vienna is cheating a little, as it concerns a book written about 50 years ago that I came across recently via the BBC website.  In the run-up to the centenary of the start of the first World War, there apparently had been a piece on the Today programme about the fact that in the year running up to the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Vienna had been home, albeit temporarily for some, for several well-known figures: Freud, obviously, but also Stalin, Hitler, Trotsky and Tito.  At the end of the website report, reference was made to the aforementioned book, Thunder at Twilight by Frederic Morton, and a trawl through Amazon secured me a second-hand copy.  It makes utterly fascinating reading and has been passed on to several relatives and friends who have all been enamoured by it. Check if your library can get you a copy, the origins of ‘the war to end all wars’ have never been more clearly explained to me.

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 17.05.17Which leads me to mention a production that has not yet started, although tickets have been on sale for a while already. The Theatre Royal Stratford East, created by the grande dame of people’s theatre Joan Littlewood, is reviving its production of Oh What A Lovely War! to mark the centenary. It’s comforting for me to know that nestled in the new buildings, immense shopping centres and the Olympic stadium, this theatre, one of the oldest in the capital, can still put on plays that wrestle with the conscience. It’s playing from 1 February 2014 to 15 March 2014. Check it out on

jeannette-adjusted31Jeannette NelsonArts Critic   A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.

%d bloggers like this: