Roast: a very British cookbook

Roast is a British restaurant located in the Floral Hall mezzanine inside Borough Market. Opened in 2005, the restaurant's aim is to use seasonal and sustainable produce from the country's best farmers and fishermen and celebrate Britain's heritage and ingredients.

Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook

The elegant restaurant is divided into a narrow bar with glass walls overlooking the market and a large dining room with an open kitchen. I had been to Roast before for breakfast during the summer, but last week I had the chance to try their dinner menu. The occasion was the launch of Roast: a very British cookbook, written by Head Chef Marcus Verberne.

Featuring dishes for all occasions, from breakfasts and brunches through to lunches and dinners, this stunning tome recreates for the home cook some of Roast’s most popular fare. Alongside all the classics can be found a host of new favourites in this best of British selection of fish, poultry, lamb, mutton, goat, pork, beef, game and vegetables, plus many ideas for puddings, cocktails and wines.

Press Release

Roast: a very British cookbook

With the occasion of the launch last Thursday, the menu featured many dishes from the cookbook (obviously adapting some recipes depending on what's in season). The chef Marcus Verberne came to our table before dinner to present the cookbook to us and describe his experience writing it.

Roast is Marcus Verberne's first cookbook, but I wouldn't be surprised if he decided to write another one. Originally from New Zealand, Marcus is obviously very passionate about British cooking and spoke to us with great enthusiasm about the process of recipe writing and research.

While fruit, vegetables, bread and cheese are all sourced locally at Borough Market, the meat and fish served at Roast are sourced from outside London. Marcus often travels across the country to meet the restaurant's suppliers, like Coast Seafood in Dorset or different farms in Yorkshire. For the cookbook, he had the opportunity to travel with photographer Lara Holmes, who documented the project's developments with stunning photos.

Over 100 recipes illustrate Verberne’s dual approach: to source the best local produce on offer and to let the flavours and textures speak for themselves.

Press Release

Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook

What I most love about the cookbook is the "basics" section, with simple recipes like roast potatoes, bread sauce or poached eggs. My cooking skills have developed by trial and error, without guidance, so it's useful to go back to the basics and learn how to get perfect results with a few simple instructions! :)

The book also contains step-by-step photos of more unfamiliar preparations, like opening an oyster or butchering a duck. The images by Lara Holmes are evocative and beautiful, worth alone the price of the book.

During our dinner at Roast last week, we were welcomed at our table with a glass of champagne and bread and olives to snack on. I didn't order any starters, but I tasted the Creamed Somerset organic spelt with woodland mushrooms and hedgerow garlic. I had no idea spelt could be used to make a creamy risotto! It was really delicious.

The Seared Isle of Mull hand-dived scallops with whipped apple mash and smoked black pudding also looked great.

Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook

As a main course I ordered the Roast breast of Yorkshire cock pheasant with sprout top hearts, chestnuts and wild boar bacon. The recipe for the sprouts is included in the Roast cookbook and I can't wait to try it: the sprouts are used like baskets and filled with a sauce of chestnuts and bacon. An original way to cook Brussels sprouts!

I also indulged in the different side dishes that were served at our table: crispy roast potatoes, soft parsnips, broccoli and cabbage. Everything was so tasty! I filled my tummy with vegetables and barely left any space for dessert…

Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook

Just kidding! ;) For dessert I ordered the Sticky Date Pudding with toffee sauce and Neil's Year crème fraîche, another recipe that is available in the cookbook and that I will surely try. It was perfectly executed and I really liked how it paired well with the crème fraîche.

Marcus came back to our table to talk us through the dessert list and recommended us the Sea Buckthorn Berry Posset, which my friend Wendy ordered (and I tasted). What makes the sea-buckthorn berries so special is that they grow on the Cornish coasts and are very difficult to pick, as their branches are very thorny. The best way is to do it is to freeze a whole branch and then break the thorns and release the frozen berries.

I also tasted the Poached pear with ginger shortbread and walnut and honey ice cream which Federica ordered and it was delicious.

Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook
Roast: a very British cookbook

Overall I had a fantastic dinner at Roast (with lovely wine) and would definitely recommend it. It is an elegant environment, so it's perfect for a romantic date or a special occasion.

Roast: a very British cookbook will be published by Absolute Press on 7th November 2013. The hardback will be available from all good retailers, online and in store, for a RRP of £25.

Disclaimer: I was a guest at the restaurant and I received a complimentary copy of the book. All views are my own.

Roast on Urbanspoon

Roast Sunday with Ben Spalding – Day 2

Two weeks ago I blogged about Roast Sunday, the pop-up restaurant with chef Ben Spalding. After seeing my photos on Mondomulia, the event organizer Daniel Young (of Young & Foodish) invited me to attend the next lunch as official photographer!

As you can imagine, I was very excited about taking photographs at such a cool event and being “behind the scenes” for the whole day, doing what I enjoy the most: photographing! Well, that and eating good food as well!

Highlights of the 2nd Roast Sunday were: the sun on Maltby Street, tender Belly of Land Race Pig (cooked overnight), giant Yorkshire puddings, custard and later gravy chugging contests, hot Jam Roly Poly with ice-cream.

I was there for the first and second sitting (12pm and 2pm) and snapped more than 700 pictures! After several days of editing in Lightroom, I prepared a selection of about 200 best shots. 42 of these have made it to the Young & Foodish Facebook page and you can view them here.

I have prepared an even smaller selection of my favourite photos – hope you’ll like them and all those hours of looking at roasts and puddings will have been worthwhile!

The 3rd and last Roast Sunday is this Sunday 10th of June and will be hosted at Redhook restaurant in Farringdon. The menu will include Kentish Ranger Chicken and Banoffee Pie, and the 2pm and 4pm sittings also include wine pairing (highly recommended!)

For more info and tickets, click here.

Roast Sunday with Ben Spalding

Do you remember when I blogged about Burger Monday last month? Daniel Young of Young & Foodish has just launched a new series of events called Roast Sunday. I managed to book a ticket for the first sitting and I am here now to share my photos and impressions with you!

The chef of Roast Sunday is Ben Spalding, former head chef of Roganic.

Ben has been working on different menus for the three events (May 20th, May 27th & June 10th), so each Roast Sunday is unique and worth trying!

“We will be using the very best meat in the country for Roast Sunday, I am going to be spending a lot of time sourcing the ingredients near my home in Kent, spending some time on the farms to ensure they know the exact quality I need for these events.” [Ben Spalding for Hot Dinners]

The pop-up lunch is held at Bea’s Diner in Druid Street, Bermondsey. Located inside an arch underneath the railway, the diner is a bare space with white walls and long tables with wooden benches.

As I arrived at Bea’s, I was greeted by Daniel who directed me towards the back, through the arch, past the kitchen and into Maltby Street. The street is gated and only open on Saturdays during the market hours, so on Sunday the street becomes a private courtyard, looking nice with the Jubilee bunting and God Save The Queen banner!

Around 12:30 we were invited in and shown our seats. I knew Little Miss Random from a previous event so I was happy to sit next to her and her boyfriend Toby.

Then it arrived: a Prime Rib of Angus Beef with Fern Carrots glazed in maple syrup & sesame seeds, Roast Potatoes in beef dripping, Buttered Pearl Barley, Minted Peas in salted butter, Creamed Spring Cabbage and a giant Yorkshire Pudding. On the side, beef gravy and wild horseradish sauce.

The beef, sourced from O’Shea’s Butchers, was rigorously served pink, as stated on the menu. 39 kilos of prime rib (off the bone) were consumed on the day!

An impromptu gravy-chugging competition took place during lunch! I can see how they used up 88 litres of gravy throughout the three sittings! ;)

As our empty plates disappeared in front of our eyes, big pots of Bramley Apple & Rhubarb Crumble appeared on the tables with a thick Cinnamon Cream to pour over. I loved the idea of leaving the puddings on the table for people to share!

As I was finishing the dessert, more people started to arrive for the 2pm sitting, so I didn’t indulge too long in conversations and left the table for the staff to clear up. I didn’t mind as I was on a very tight schedule that day: a few hours later I was at Discover Abruzzo Supperclub!

Update: after writing this blog, I was invited to attend the 2nd Roast Sunday as photographer, you can see another post about that event here.

Roasted Cod with Mushrooms, Mangetout and Noodles

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe from Hello Fresh, an online service that takes care of your meal planning and grocery shopping – all you need to do is use the ingredients provided and cook!

I was contacted by Hello Fresh and offered to try the service for free. I didn’t know the website before and I was skeptical about accepting the offer, as I didn’t want to feel obliged to then write a positive review here. But after looking at their website, I found the idea so original and good, that I was happy to try it!

Hello Fresh exceeded my expectations! :)

On Tuesday I received a big box containing meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, pancetta, pasta, tomato sauce and “the little bits”: garlic, spices, a stock cube, fresh herbs. They also squeezed in a packed of caramel chocolates as a treat (thank you)! ;)

You know the feeling of receiving a big box of nice stuff in the post? As you can imagine, I was very happy!

With the groceries, I received three recipes printed on pretty coloured flyers presenting the recipe and listing ingredients on one side, while displaying the recipe preparation (with step by step pictures) on the other.

The recipes were very original and made me discover new dishes and flavours. Having all the ingredients measured for me meant that I could get straight into cooking without wasting any extra time in the shops or in the kitchen – all you need is around 30 minutes of cooking and even the most complicated dish will come to life!

The first recipe I tried was the Roasted Coconut Cod with Shiitake Mushrooms, Mange Tout and Egg Noodles.


* 2 cod fillets
* 2 nests of egg noodles
* 50g of mange tout
* 60g of Shiitake mushrooms
* 3 tsp of coconut powder
* 1 lime
* 5g fresh ginger
* 1 red chilli
* 1 chicken stock cube
* 1 tbsp soy sauce
* 3 tsp olive oil


Pre-heat the oven grill to high heat and boil 600ml of water in a pot. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Cut the red chilli in half lengthways and remove the seeds before cutting it into really thin match sticks. Next peel and finely dice the ginger.

In a bowl mix the coconut powder with olive oil, the zest of half lime, chilli and ginger. Squeeze in the juice of half of the lime with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Coat the cod fillets thoroughly on both sides with the olive oil and coconut mixtures, Put them on a baking tray and cook them on the top shelf under the grill for 8 minutes.

Pout the chicken stock cube into the boiling water. Once it dissolves, add in the noodles and soy sauce. After one minute, add in the mange tout with the mushrooms and cook for three more minutes. Drain the pot but retain some of the broth for later.

Serve your noodles, mushrooms and mange tout into a bowl and top them with a piece of grilled cod. Finish off by adding half a cup of the broth into your bowl.

I recommend trying out the Hello Fresh service: you will save time, use fresh ingredients and discover amazing food!

To find out more about Hello Fresh, click here.

The Cornish Grill – at Redhook

Ever dreamed of eating a Sunday roast of fresh Cornish meat cooked in a stunning location by London’s top chefs? That’s what the Cornish Grill Sunday Roast at Redhook is about!

The Cornish Grill is a pop-up restaurant founded by Matthew Chatfield, a native Cornish from a family of farmers, who supplies fresh meat and fish daily to Michelin restaurants in London. The first pop-up grill events were started last summer as a way to make the Cornish produce accessible to more people and they were hosted at the Manor Arms pub in Clapham. Online reviews say it was a very informal but delicious affair!

It has since “upgraded” to the elegant Redhook restaurant in Farringdon and it showcases rotating guest chefs from the Michelin starred restaurants that Matt is a supplier for. With a 5-course menu changing every time, fresh quality ingredients and the best chefs, it’s not hard to see why Cornish Grill is a huge success!

I attended the Sunday roast on 26th of February, which was prepared by chef Carl Clarke of The English Laundrette and seafood pop-up Rock Lobsta. At arrival we were greeted with a glass of Ruby Red Royale (an aperitif of vodka, grapefruit juice and elderflower) and unlimited access to the Grey Goose Bloody Mary buffet.

I booked tickets with a friend for a late seating at 14:00; worried I might not be able to eat everything, I skipped breakfast and arrived hungry. The restaurant was busy and many people were standing at the bar waiting for their table. I was happy to wait at the bar, drinking Bloody Mary, taking pictures and chatting to a few Twitter friends. Only around 14:45 we sat down at our table, not knowing that the wait for the food was going to be much longer…

We nibbled on a basket of Sunday Pub Snacks, which was filled with Billy Franks extra-special jerky, from 40 day dry-aged Cornish Galloway beef, Smoked Treacle Bread, Cornish salt, whipped butter.

After a long time, we received the starter: Smoked Looe Scallops with fresh curds, broad bean shoots, crispy onions, lime and lavender vinegar. Alas, I don’t eat shell-fish and, although I made an exception and tasted the scallops out of pure curiosity, I left most of my portion to my friend. By then, I was properly starving and chasing the poor waitress for our roast!

The main course arrived around 16:00 and I almost literally threw myself onto the plate, stopping myself only a few seconds to take the photos! It consisted of Wild Fallow Deer with rosehip jam, rape and ramsons, shin and raspberry stout pudding; Yorkshire Pudding Roasters in Pitt Cue pork fat and roots with East London honey.

Everything was absolutely delicious, from the tender venison meat to the incredibly tasty potatoes and the sweet roasted carrots and parnsips.

For the dessert, like everything else on the menu, Carl used ingredients from Cornwall. The Sea Buckthorn Posset, a creamy pudding of jelly, sorbet and chocolate crumbs, is made with sea-buckthorn berries that grow on the Cornish coasts.

Overall it was a great meal and I really loved the location and the convivial atmosphere, unfortunately the delays did kill my enthusiasm slightly as by the time I received the roast I was so hungry that I gulped it down rather than savoured it! Previous events of the Cornish Grill have not been so busy, I was told, so I am sure the long wait at our event was only a hiccup that will be resolved next time.

The next Cornish Grill will be on Sunday 1st April. For more information, follow @Redhooklondon and @Cornishgrill on Twitter.

Read an informative presentation of Carl Clarke’s Roast dinner on Noshable.

Read more about Carl Clarke at Redhook on Edible Experiences