Recipe: Root Beer Miso Butter

DSC07798Mini biscuits made with root beer miso butter

Three easy ingredients and a bit of blending turn boring old everyday butter into super yummy root beer miso butter. I took a chance with this recipe – reckoning that the woody flavour of Soda Folk root beer would pair nicely with the salty, nutty flavour of miso – and absolutely loved the results. To be sure I’ll be making more soon and intend to keep a log wrapped up and stowed away in my freezer for flavour emergencies.



250g stick of butter, at room temperature; 75g red miso (I used an additive free miso); 100g root beer (any’ll do but might I recommend Soda Folk root beer?).


In a large bowl, thoroughly blend the butter and miso together. Pour in the root beer a few drips at a time and blend until it is all absorbed in the mix.


Once the ingredients are mixed together well, you’re done. The butter can be eaten immediately or rolled into a log in plastic wrap to refrigerate or freeze for later. I’ve used my stick of root beer miso butter in a variety of ways since coming up with this recipe: spread across a piece of toast, slathered all over an ear of roasted corn, added as an ingredient when I baked some biscuits. All were delicious.

Root beer miso butter is simply a flavoured butter to be used as you might any normal butter. I’m craving to make some pancakes or French toast with a pat of my butter on top – the butter’s so tasty I may not need any syrup!

Soda Folk

I’ve teamed up with Soda Folk, an American craft soda maker supplying the UK, for Root Beer Reboot, a short series of posts exploring some of my all time favourite American foods and flavours. Stay tuned for more posts from me. To find out more about Soda Folk go to


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Heathrow Airport Hotels


Everyone is well aware just how hectic travel can be today, particularly when you are going through airport after airport.

Even the most seasoned business traveler can get frustrated and feel stress over dealing with all of the arrangements that need to be made, getting to the airport on time and finding the right hotel space for your trip. More and more people today are turning to using hotels that keep them close or at the airport of the city they are traveling to because it can be so much easier for them to get back and forth as it is needed. Traveling to London is no different and if you are going through Heathrow you may want to take a look at some of the hotel options available to you near the airport.

A Convenient Location You Can Afford

Looking airports at or near the hotel can make your travel plans a lot easier, particularly if you travel often through the area for the business and do not spend a long time in one place. You want to look for hotels that will keep you within just a few minutes of the airport so you can get there without any fuss or fear of getting caught in heavy traffic that can keep you from making your flight. When you look at Heathrow, you may even want to focus your attentions in on cheap and budget hotels near Heathrow Terminal 5, one of the busiest and most traveled areas of the airport. While there are a number of hotels in the area, many may charge higher room rates than you want to spend and still not supply you with a clean and comfortable place to stay. For the best of the Heathrow Airport hotels, try looking at what the Master Robert Hotel has to provide for you.

Proximity, Comfort and Price

When you stay at the Master Robert Hotel, you will only be ten minutes away from Heathrow Airport so you can get back and forth without any trouble at all. The hotel has several different park and go packages available so that you can park your car right at the hotel either for free or a very low price during the time of your travel and know you have a place to return to so you can spend the night and your car will be safe and secure. The hotel itself features 96 bedrooms and all provide you with comfort that you seek as a traveler, giving you a clean and comfortable room with a private bathroom, large space in your room, a place for you to work with ample lighting and much more. There is also a lounge and restaurant on site for all of your meals.

For a truly comfortable and very affordable stay near Heathrow Airport the Master Robert Hotel is the place for you to stay. The next time you are making plans to come to London be sure to check the room availability at the hotel by looking online or calling the hotel directly and they can be sure to set you up with just the right space at a price you will be happy with.

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London Daily Photo: Out the Window

LDP 2015.09.16 - Out the Window

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One Sixty – City: “US Style” Smokehouse and Bar


USA portions and flavours are on offer at new City smokehouse, One Sixty.

After epic success with its original restaurant in West Hampstead (I’ve never been but have heard great things), the team behind One Sixty have opened a sister site roughly equidistant to Liverpool Street and Aldgate Tube stations. Meathead carnivores and folks in the area who like a strong drink: start salivating now if you haven’t already dabbled in the meaty excesses on offer.

I really enjoyed my dinner at One Sixty – City. Hot wings with blue cheese sauce (£7 or £9.50 depending on order size) met my approval and are easy to recommend as a starter or bar snack. Ultra tender mega-slab of eight-hour smoked pork ribs (served with chips and/or slaw, £10 for a half rack or £16 for a full rack) satisfied as well. And ox cheek (also smoked for eight hours, served with mash £17) was an equally juicy, melt-in-your-mouth main.


Drinks wise, the bar leans heavy on the craft beer, but there’s more than decent wine and great cocktails too. I sampled a range of drinks over my meal; the Mezcal and Chill Old Fashioned (£9.50) was the undeniable fave. Smoky and with a kick, it was a pleasure to drink and might have been the highlight of my visit – it would be my top choice upon any repeat visit, and I’d stick with it if having more than one drink.

At the time of my visit, there were no dessert items on the menu. I took it as a good excuse to have another drink. I was told sweets are on the way soon though.

Service was exceedingly gracious and quick. In full disclosure, I should mention that the staff knew I was there to review the place and that might have affected how I was approached. That said, server Beatrice knew her stuff and never faltered when I relied on her for advice for food and drinks (that mezcal Of Fashioned was Beatrice’s suggestion).

Music was loud and rockin’ (I liked the Tom Petty playing when I first entered, but found it hard to have a meaningful conversation with my dinner guest). Then again, it’s not the sort of place I’d think to visit for thoughtful convo anyway.

If you work in the area, this would be an ideal place (well, as long as you’re not too ardently vegetarian) for full-on lunches and after work shenanigans.

One Sixty – City is located at 9 Stoney Lane, E1 7BH. Find out more at

One Sixty Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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London Daily Photo: Chingford to Liverpool Street

LDP 2015.09.15 - Chingford to Liverpool Street

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New for Paris: Frank Gehry’s Louis Vuitton Foundation (OneTravel)

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Opened October 2014 in the Bois de Boulogne public park on the western edge of Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton is the city’s newest art museum and cultural center – and is making waves more for the building itself than what is inside it.

Designed by American “starchitect” Frank Gehry, the museum is a being hailed as a 21st century marvel and possibly the best work of Gehry’s celebrated career. At age 89, the architect’s most recognized accomplishments include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and his own home in Santa Monica.

Read my complete post at OneTravel.

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Hotels Near London Major Tourist Attractions


Whenever you travel to a major city like London for a pleasure trip there are a number of things you want to keep in consideration as you make your plans. One of the most important of all of your decisions is going to be the hotel that you decide to use for your visit.

There are a number of considerations that are going to go into deciding just where you want to stay, including the quality and condition of the hotel, the reputation of the staff and service and, of course, the cost of your room. One other thing you may want to consider closely in your decision is the actual location of the hotel. If you are planning on visiting some London’s top attractions you want to look at hotels near Hammersmith Apollo, Harrods, the Kensington area and other prime spots.

Choosing the Best Location

There are many great places in London that are considered among the top spots visitors want to see the most. Luckily many of the can be found in the same general area within Central London. This can make it much easier for you when you are looking for a hotel as you can confine your search to that general area. With this plan in place you can be sure to have a room that is not only close to places like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, the London Eye and the like but that you will also have good access to the public transportation system so that you can make use of the trains and buses to get around the city. If you really want the best of the hotels near London major tourist attractions then you will want to look at the City Continental Kensington London as the place to stay.

A Quality Hotel in the Best Spot

The City Continental is in the ideal location in London, with a great spot in the Kensington area that makes it close to all of London’s best and most major attractions. The hotel is just a quick two minute walk away from Earl’s Station so that you can connect to any of the parts of London you may want to visit via the train. The hotel is recently refurbished and features fully modern rooms with wireless Internet access, en-suite bathroom facilities, in-room tea and coffee making facilities, ample workspace, comfortable bedding and more. There is also a continental breakfast available each morning of your stay. You get all of this, plus excellent staff service, at one of the best budget prices found anywhere in Kensington.

To make the most of your trip make sure you get a hotel room that places you in the best spot in London for the best price you can find. Look at the rooms for reservation during the time of your trip at the City Continental Kensington London and you will find that it can be the perfect spot for you so you can get to see everything London has to offer.

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London Daily Photo: Ladbroke Grove

LDP 2015.09.14 - Ladbroke Grove

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Virtually Travel the World Without Leaving Your Hotel Room


The future of international travel? It might be staying put or so it seemed after I settled in to my room and got kitted out for demonstration of VRoom Service at The Marriott Hotel Park Lane a few days back.

Just launched this week, VRoom Service is a first-of-its-kind offer allowing guests to order “inspiring” virtual reality experiences to their rooms. Created in collaboration with Samsung Electronics America, VRoom represents the latest in a series of innovations by the Marriott International intended to change how people travel.

Currently being tested for two weeks at the London Marriott Park Lane and New York Marriott Marquis hotels (check with the individual properties for exact dates), VRoom can be requested to use for free by guests in the same manner as they might go about ordering room service meals or laundry pickup. Upon request, the VRoom gear is hand-delivered to the guest’s room along with instructions and left on loan for up to 24 hours.


Upon arrival at the hotel for my VRoom demo, I was whisked up to Room 238, a lush suite with views over Park Lane and out towards the northeast corner of Hyde Park, where the gear was presented to me in a utilitarian metal briefcase and consisted of a set of headphones, a clunky looking headset (think Daft Punk on holiday) and a Samsung mobile to be slid into the headset’s visor. The gear sat comfortably on my head as I settled in not to enjoy the local London scenery, but to take in the sights and sounds around an ice cream shop in Rwanda, admire the panorama from atop the Andes in Chile, and observe the bustle of street life in Beijing.

Those three scenarios were the settings of the short “VR Postcard” clips viewed via my headset. Described as “intimate and immersive travel stories” that follow “a real traveller on a journey to a unique destination,” the VR Postcards are designed to give viewers an enhanced experience while learning about a destination. Without being any sort of tech geek or audiophile, I have to say in layman’s terms that the visuals and sound were amazing.

My VRoom session was kinda mind blowing, if a little wonky. I was pleasantly transported away from London during the brief demo with all the hotel room trappings fading away for the short while I was immersed. Though, I must say I never lost awareness of the fact that there were two strangers – a hotel associate and a professional photographer sitting in the bedroom next to me – with an unknown number of Marriott reps and PR folk waiting just outside the door keen to speak to me about VRoom. Nevertheless, it was delightfully disconcerting to find during the Rwanda VR Postcard that the person who was talking was doing so behind me and I had to look over my shoulder to find her. While watching the same clip, it was slightly creepy (but in a neato sort of way) to glance down at my lap only to see the empty seat of a chair.

As novel as the demo was, the potential application of such technology seems vastly more impressive than the actual VR Postcards I watched. What if we could “virtually” view a hotel room before booking it? Or get wraparound 3D directions to a place we’ve never been before heading out? What if ordinary folks like you and me could send our own VR Postcards to friends and family when we travelled. In the future will people book hotel rooms to stay in and then spend a day VR sightseeing? Will bloggers be more likely to publish immersive VR posts instead of posts with only text, photos, or old school 2D videos?

The Marriot Hotel Park Lane is located at 140 Park Lane (at the Marble Arch end of the street), W1K 7AA. Find out more about VRoom Service at

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London Daily Photo: Lane

LDP 2015.09.13 - Lane

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September Issue of UK Cigar Scene Out Now


Issue Eight of the monthly UK Cigar Scene Magazine is now online and ready for download.

Each issue of UK Cigar Scene is free to download and includes a video interview with a key cigar personality along with news of events, gossip, and more stogie related info celebrating the specialists, their staff and the many personalities who enjoy a fine cigar here “in one of the world’s most energetic cigar scenes.”

The magazine is the creation of proprietor and editor (and my long time acquaintance), Nic Wing. The September issue features an interview with London jazz man and cigar lover, Ray Gelato. As with previous issues, I was pleased to do the still photography for the interview.

Have a look at

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London Daily Photo: Doom

LDP 2015.09.12 - Doom

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You’ll Love Looking Around Lausanne & Lake Geneva (OneTravel)

Lake Geneva

Bonjour, hallo, ciao, and hi! I’ve just returned from one of my favourite European destinations, Switzerland. A highlight of my trip was checking out the sights in and around the lovely lakeside city of Lausanne. Now back home (and craving an excuse to rave about how much fun I had and what a beautiful destination the Lake Geneva region is), it seems rude not to share the best bits with you.

Have a look at this roundup of scenic, historic and cultural reasons to visit Lausanne and its near vicinity.

Read my complete post at OneTravel.

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London Daily Photo: Chelsea Rocks

LDP 2015.09.11 - Chelsea Rocks

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Recipe: Root Beer Boiled Peanuts

Recipe: Root Beer Boiled Peanuts

Growing up in Georgia, a paper bag filled with boiled peanuts and purchased for pennies from a farmer at a roadside shack was the snack of choice when out driving around in the country. As uncommonly tasty as they were, as an adult I’ve realised they’re a cinche to make … as long as you’ve got the time to let ‘em simmer properly. The secret is in how you season your nuts. What about doing it with some root beer for added bite?

It might seem strange to the uninitiated, but boiled peanuts (or bult peanuts as folks back in Georgia call them) are a total treat. Very messy, but oh so good. Usually, the only seasoning used when cooking them is salt, maybe some cayenne or Cajun seasoning in some cases. But whatever floats your palate’s boat can be added.

So why did I cook my peanuts in root beer? Well, root beer definitely floats my boat, and peanuts have always been one of my favourite snacks. Besides, serving peanuts alongside a glass of root beer wouldn’t be all that weird, would it? So why shouldn’t I find a way to enjoy them both as a combo? All the seasoning you need – minus some salt – is handily there in a can or bottle. And if there’s not a lot of gunky ingredients in your chosen brew, it’s can be a pretty healthy if slightly indulgent way to kill the munchies.

Results using all natural Soda Folk root beer were a total success.



  • 350g peanuts in the shell;
  • 2 330ml cans of root beer (any’ll do but might I recommend Soda Folk root beer?);
  • 50-75g table salt;
  • 2 pints of water.


Simply put all the ingredients in a lidded pot and bring to a boil and let simmer for at least two hours, preferably three hours or more. After an hour or so, have a taste. Too salty? Dilute with water. Not salty enough? Add salt. Strain before serving.


Eat your boiled peanuts while they’re warm and wet; just be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand and somewhere to throw all your excess shells.

Soda Folk

I’ve teamed up with Soda Folk, an American craft soda maker supplying the UK, for Root Beer Reboot, a short series of posts exploring some of my all time favourite American foods and flavours. Stay tuned for more posts from me and find out more about Soda Folk at

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Good Stuff #45

Dead Dog - rehearsal pic 22Photograph courtesy of HOME

Good stuff? Great stuff! And so much of it I’m having trouble keeping track and sharing the best of it in a timely manner. But don’t let my inadequate ability to blog efficiently get in the way you having a wonderful time. Have a look a this list of fine things to see, sip or savour – all of which I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. Enjoy.

HOME, Manchester

So, here’s a bummer. My plans for today included taking the train up to Manchester to attend a press preview at HOME, the city’s new international centre for contemporary visual art, theatre and film. But instead of a fun (and sunny) Manchurian day trip finding out about HOME’s upcoming season of new commissions, productions, collaborations and site-specific work, I’m here in my own home here in London, sunk in my bed feeling ill and feverish with a pesky head cold and a hacking cough. Oh well.

Formed by the merger of two of Manchester’s best-loved arts organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company, HOME’s mission is to be just that – a home at the forefront of the international arts scene for “curiosity seekers, for lovers of the dramatic, the digital and the deeply engaging; for radicals and reciprocators.”

Anyway, hopefully I didn’t annoy the folks at HOME too much with my no-show to politely request a rain check. I’m definitely keen to take them up on their offer to visit and would have much rather been healthy and happy with them there than sniffling and wheezing on my own here.

Jaeger-LeCoultre 2015 Collection

An invitation to preview the Jaeger-LeCoultre 2015 Collection brought on a bout of internal conflict lingering days after I accepted the offer to view a range of timepieces at – and take a tour of – the Swiss watchmakers’ new flagship boutique on Old Bond Street.

Most of the watches I viewed came with a price more than what I make over a few months, many were priced close to what I earn in a year, and a few even cost more than my income from the past decade. It sucks sometimes to be a poor boy living in a rich man’s city.

Still, the craftsmanship … the extreme dedication to accuracy and precision … intense attention to detail … long held tradition of high standards and innovation: it all came together in gloriously luxuriant efficiency as I tried on a variety of watches. I couldn’t begrudge the brand much for making such highly coveted upscale marvels.

I loved the hands on chance to admire a range Jaeger-LeCoultre’s most elegant pieces. The Grande Reverso Auto 1931 Seconde Centrale (£14,800) was an especially attractive ticker and just looked swell on my wrist. I got a kick learning how to flip its nifty reversible dial. The spellbinding Duomètre Sphérotourbillon (€222,000) with its hypnotic multi-axis tourbillon and the utterly captivating Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication (if you’ve gotta ask the price…) had an effect on me something like what I imagined Frodo’s ring to have on characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Precious.

The Manhattans Project at POND Dalston

Bringing a UK take on two divergent tastes of American “island life,” pop-up mixologists at The Manhattans Project have secured residency at Hawaiian restaurant and bar, POND Dalston. I paid a visit to a press night launch where I savoured every sip of my Underwood (£9), an inventive bone marrow infused Cognac Sazerac.

The event was my first to POND. I’ve heard good things about the food there, but only sampled a couple of cocktails before needing to head off elsewhere. Service was friendly and the buzz in the dining room was frenetic.

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London Daily Photo: St Paul’s

LDP 2015.09.10 - St Paul's

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Theatre Review: Sunny Afternoon, Based on the Music by The Kinks

Sunny Afternoon

Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, Sunny Afternoon tales the story of London’s best sounding rock ‘n roll catastrophe, The Kinks, and follows the band from its formation in Muswell Hill between brothers Ray and Dave Davies through the many ups and downs on their way to international stardom.

I caught a performance of the show last night and really enjoyed it. The Theatreland treatment came across a bit sappy at times (what else was I expect?) but in no way diminished the intimate, raw feel of Ray Davies songs and lyrics. I was greatly entertained, learned a few things about one of my favourite bands, and left in a great mood and humming Waterloo Sunset all the way home.

If you’re a fan of The Kinks, you’ll love the show’s renditions featuring a good selection of classic Kinks material. If you’re not fan (or don’t yet realize that are), you might be surprised by how many songs written by Ray Davies and performed by The Kinks you already love and probably know by heart.

Sunny Afternoon is playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN. Find out more and book tickets up to 16 April 2016 at

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Win the Ultimate Star Wars Foodie Companion: An R2-D2 Kitchen Timer


May the force be with you, even in the kitchen! Check out this fun chance to win your very own R2-D2 Kitchen Timer. Bleep bleep bloop bleep? Sounds like it’s time for you to dine with a droid!

We may still have a few months to go before Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is unleashed upon cinemas but I’m already geeking out big time! And I’m certain I’m not alone in my anticipation of what promises to be an epic film and the best Star Wars episode to be screened since the original three films came out what seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. To help with the wait and with your countdown, I’ve teamed up with – the UK’s complete online gift solution – to offer one reader this awesome piece of Star Wars kitchen kit. Win the Ultimate Star Wars Foodie Companion: An R2-D2 Kitchen Timer

With up to an hours timing, RD-D2 makes life a little easier. Simply twist his head to the correct time and he’ll sound an alarm when ready! Sit down and relax, for your space and sci-fi styled friend will do the work for you and time your cooking to perfection. Dark Darth won’t destruct your dinner this time around, with the help of this quirky kitchen gadget for only £11.95 from Prezzybox.

To be in with a chance to win the essential accouterment for any self respecting culinary Jedi, simply tweet the following:

RT to win an #R2D2 Kitchen Timer from @prezzybox compliments of @tikichris: #StarWars #DineWithADroid

Please take a moment to read the terms and conditions before tweeting!


I’ll pick one winner at random on Monday 21 September at 11.30am BST. The winner will receive one R2-D2 Kitchen Timer valued at £11.95. To be eligible to win, you need to have an address in the UK where the prize can be delivered.

Best of luck and may the force be with you!


Check out more tikichris competitions.

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Root Beer Reboot

Root Beer Reboot - DSC_0388

What says ‘Merica more than the deeply satisfying and super sassy taste of an ice cold and refreshing root beer?

Well, how about a super-sized bald eagle playing Sweet Home Alabama on an electric guitar made out of whiskey barrels and pick up trucks, lighting a BBQ pit with laser beams shot from its star spangled eyes while wearing a red, white and blue George Washington wig and reciting the Preamble to the Constitution in a voice not too dissimilar to that of John Wayne?

Unfortunately, such a fearsome flash of ultimate glory ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. So, let’s stick with the root beer. And luckily, now that Soda Folk has shown up on UK shores with its award-winning American craft soda, the good people of Britain can enjoy a true taste of full flavoured Americana simply by cracking open a can of root beer right here.

Recently launched nationwide with a rootin’ tootin’ root beer and a luscious cream soda, Soda Folk brings all natural, cane sugar sweetened, Colorado-brewed soft drinks to the UK. The brand has already secured listings with Selfridges and Byron restaurants nationwide, not to mention a prime position on the middle shelf of my fridge as well.

Yep, I really like Soda Folk’s root beer and am pleased to proclaim that I’ve teamed up with the brand for Root Beer Reboot, a short series of posts exploring some of my all time favourite American foods and flavours. I might even offer one of you lucky readers the chance to win a month’s worth of root beer and cream soda delivered to your door for free. So hang tight and have fun! I’ll be back blogging soon about how great it is to be American and what an exhilarating thrill it is to drink quality root beer.

Find out lots more at

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London Daily Photo: Leather Lane

LDP 2015.09.09 - Leather Lane

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El Rápido Guide to Spain’s 17 Regions (OneTravel)

Regions of Spain

Paella, flamenco, tapas, modern art, wine, world-class museums, ancient churches, Roman ruins, sandy beaches, massive mountain ranges – it’s all in Spain but not in the same place. The country is one of Europe’s largest and arguably its most culturally diverse. There are 17 autonomous regions in total, and two autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla, on the northern coast of Spain.

Have a look at this quickie reference to Spain’s different regions …

Read my complete post at OneTravel.

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London Daily Photo: Stalls

LDP 2015.09.08 - Stalls

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It’s been a mightily meaty few weeks for me. I’ve learned how to make Buffalo wings like they do at Orange Buffalo (one of my favourite London street food traders); attended a rare chilli masterclass cohosted by London BBQ School and World of Zing; obtained Kansas City Barbeque Society accreditation and got to sit in as a KCBS judge at London’s first ever Grillstock BBQ festival … and I’ve loved every juicy minute of it.

But the tastiest tidbit of them all has yet to have been pulled from the grill.

I’m working on an itinerary that’ll take me next month to some of the best BBQ joints in the American Deep South while hitting a couple of BBQ festivals along the way. Starting in Austin in mid October and then hitting the road to Dallas, Memphis and select pit stops across Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas, my odyssey will culminate on Halloween in Savannah (said to be the most haunted city in the States). There might be a break in the schedule to drop by and visit my family in North Georgia before flying back to London too. Hi Mom!

I’ve got a few commissions lined up for the trip and tons of ideas for making the most of my time. I. Cannot. Wait.

After my tour, I’ll probably want to go meat free for a while and will be happy to hunker down at home for a good, long spell. But eventually I’ll start craving some animal protein again and hankering another adventure. Odds are, my foodie desires will precede my wanderlust. With traders like Westin Gourmet, Online Butchers doing what they do via the internet and delivering what I want to my door my need travel might subside for longer than usual as I settle in for the festive season and cook up some winter warmers inspired by the memories of my journey.

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London Daily Photo: Water Feature

LDP 2015.09.07 - Water Feature

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Grillstock London: A Walthamstow Hillbilly’s Homecoming?


So, I was all sorts of messed up this weekend. Not because of the beer (although I had access to copious amounts of it). Or the whiskey (similarly ample volumes were at my disposal). Or the meat (there were mounds of epic proportion). But because, as a judge at the Grillstock BBQ festival in Walthamstow, wave after wave of out-of-context familiarity kept slapping me silly with wafts of hickory smoke, the lilting plink of a banjo here and there, and the sight of thousands of folks come together to celebrate their love of slow and low cooked meat.

In its first London incarnation (though with well established roots in Bristol), Grillstock invited attendees to “think locally, act hillbilly” over a weekend loaded with live music (Fun Loving’ Criminals and Razorlight were the headliners), fierce cooking competitions, barbequing and grilling demos, and myriad opportunities to chow down on “the very best BBQ and street food this side of Kansas City.”

Act hillbilly? As a long gone expat from the American Deep South now actually living just down the road from where the festival was held, it seemed like a rich request. Raised working class and Southern Baptist on the top of a wooded ridge diminutively set in the shadow of the age-old Appalachian mountain range straddling the border between Georgia and Tennessee, I’m about as hillbilly as it gets. And with hardly more than five minutes’ meander time between my home today and the Chestnuts Showground site of the festival, if I had wanted to think any more locally, I would have just stayed in bed or maybe arranged to have hosted my own back garden BBQ. By the way, I strongly felt the urge to type “backyard” in that last sentence.

For the triple whammy, the Grillstock invite I had received not only offered a chance to revel in this British take on redneck-ery as most guests but to do so as one of a select number of “king of the grill” judges. As a North Georgia cracker cum Walthamstow-away who’s been known to write about food on occasion, such a meaty weekend had the makings of a match made in heaven.

Of course I might should add that while strolling through the festival grounds and taking in its carnal atmosphere with me Sunday evening, my pescaterian girlfriend wondered if she had actually entered one of the lesser rings of Hell and tried to count out how many of the seven deadly sins she could see being committed. Gluttony was in full display for sure – and maybe a little lust as well – but that was about it.


Heaven, Hell or some piggy Purgatory in between – wherever it was fate had cast me this past weekend, I loved it. I sat in on four rounds of judging: the Jack Daniel’s Chef’s Choice, the best burger, and the best hot wings competitions on Saturday afternoon, and the ultra serious official Kansas City Barbeque Society competition on Sunday.

Saturday afternoon’s judging was a hoot with a raucous hoedown feel to it. The Brooklyn Lager and Tennessee Honey flowed, judges were encouraged to speak out, cut up, and toss spare samples out from the stage where we presided to the rowdy audience below.

Chef’s Choice was my favourite gig. The imagination, the effort, and the one-upmanship of that round blew me away. And I genuinely was impressed how inventively (and often prominently) Jack was used as a feature ingredient. As for the hot wings, I was certainly glad to eat much of what was brought my way, but found too many of the entries erred too often on the mild side of the heat equation. And, I hate to say it but none of Saturday’s burger entries did it for me – at all. I’ve long held that burgers are better fried than grilled, and I reckon Saturday’s session proved case in point.

Sunday’s KCBS judging was another story all together with rules and regulations aplenty. For instance, judges weren’t allowed to wear sunglasses, we couldn’t talk – or lick our fingers – during tasting, and the list of disqualifying factors (for judges and significantly more so for contestants) was lengthy. I had only received my accreditation as a KCBS judge a few days before in anticipation of the event and reckon it will turn out to be the tastiest credential I’ll ever add to my CV. Learning how to rate meat (categories were chicken, ribs, pork, brisket) to exacting standards of appearance, texture and taste and then apply those criteria to a range of entries from across the UK alongside a few from even farther afield was a treat – and something I very much hope to do again.

Two days of eating and critiquing low and slow cooked meat may sound like a dream come true – and believe me I’m not complaining – but I wouldn’t describe plowing through dozens of samples of BBQ as easy. Keeping all those KCBS regulations in mind while attempting to discern subtle differences in flavour, feel and look took concentration and a level of objectivity not usually heeded when chomping through a mega amount of meat.

The winners? I’m not sure. As a judge, I was only given entry numbers for the items tasted. When the winners were being announced soon after the KCBS judging was completed, I was on my feet stretching my legs and trying to walk off some of those occupational hazard calories I’d put on. But, I’m certain the winners are up on the Grillstock website by now (or will be soon).

At home writing this crisp Monday morning wearing my hoodie infused with the smell of smoked meat (is that hickory?), my belly a little bigger than it was just a couple of mornings ago and today’s lunch and dinner both undoubtedly will be leafy green salads, I’m still amusedly flabbergasted by my majorly American weekend of downhome flavour from back home (then) near my London home (now) feasting. Grillstock London was BBQ blast and a low and slow experience I look forward savouring again.

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London Daily Photo: Shrine

LDP 2015.09.06 - Shrine

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Bloggers’ Picks: 15 Things to do in London This Autumn (Time Out)

Reclaim your city

The latest issue of Time Out features some blurbage from me about why I love autumn in London so much. Obviously, there’s plenty more in the magazine than just my bit, including autumn tips from 14 other London bloggers.

Less sun doesn’t mean less fun. Need convincing? Just ask this city’s top bloggers – actually, we’ve done it for you. Settle in for a bracing round-up of the best things to do in London in autumn.

Read the complete article online at Time Out.

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London Daily Photo: Broadgate Circle

LDP 2015.09.05 - Broadgate Circle

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TONIGHT: Milano Exposed at Old Spitalfields Market

Milano Exposed at Old Spitalfields Market - DSC07747

This afternoon and tonight are your last opportunities to sample the range of Italian delicacies at the Milan Exposed event celebrating the best of aperitivo Milanese.

When you go, you’re gonna wanna try a bit of everything but make special effort to have a bite of something from these traders:

  • Delicatezza
    Have a taste of the freshly made (in London) burrata.
  • Donna Fugassa
    Focaccia! Find out about the shop they’re opening in Dalston soon.
  • Doppiozero
    I loved the polenta with Gorgonzola and walnut, the mini quiches with mushrooms and truffles, and the almond cream tart with pomegranate. You will too.
  • etnacoffee
    Two words: arancini pistachio!

… And to wash all that good food down have a glass of Franciacorta sparkling wine.

Milano Exposed is open to the public and no tickets are required for entry. Food and drinks will be served from 11am until 10pm (the DJ set will run from 6.30 to 9.30pm) on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 September 2015 at Old Spitalfields Market. Alcoholic drinks start from £3 and full aperitivi start from £7. Find out more at

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Squid Kitchen Brings Madrid Street Market Style to The King & Co, Clapham


Continuing with its pop-up approach to pub grubbing, The King & Co in Clapham has opened its kitchen to Madrileño style street food vendors, Squid Kitchen. A match made in heaven? It is if crisp craft beer coupled with cones overflowing with calamari sounds like you kind of fiesta. I loved my nosh through the recent launch party and am happy to gloat … erm … share the highlights of that occasion with you.

So the launch was my first time to warm a seat at the The King & Co. Having heard the word of its excellent food and drink offerings I was glad to have finally found the time to make down there. Expectations were exceeded (cool staff, welcoming atmosphere, rustic-ish decor). I was pleased especially with the beer selection. Really just great, see for yourself:

As for Squid Kitchen, the fare was right in line with how and what I love to eat. Gorgeous salt cod croquetas with “Vampire Killer” aioli (£5.50) were particularly moreish. The Squid Kitchen Cone jammed full of fried squid rings, tentacles and served with a wedge of lemon and Vampire Killer aioli (£7) was fun and tasty and a must-try dish whether visiting the pub for a meal or just craving a snack with your drinks.

The Squid Kitchen residence at The King & Co runs until 4 October. The King & Co is located at 100 Clapham Park Road, SW4 7BZ. Find out more at and

Click to add a blog post for The King & Co. on Zomato

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London Daily Photo: The Cut

LDP 2015.09.04 - The Cut

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Have a Drinki on Me

Have a Drinki on Me

Drinki is the world’s first app to reward users with free cocktails in return for Facebook check-ins. The free-to-download app for iOS or Android features more than 60 bars in London (with new venues joining every week) along with bars in Manchester and Liverpool too.

In addition to getting drinks for check-ins, you can unlock even more free cocktails by sharing Drinki with your friends. You get one token for each friend who signs up with your promo code. It takes three tokens to earn one drink.

Always happy to share new ways to enjoy free drinks, I’ve teamed up with the kids at Drinki to spread the word about the app and to offer my readers a special promo code for one free token upon signing up.

For a free token, enter promo code TIKICHRIS when you download the app via

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London Daily Photo: Brushfield Street

LDP 2015.09.30 - Brushfield Street

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International Street Food Challenge: Copper and Wheat’s Croque Monsieur au Comté

DSC07691My version of Copper and Wheat’s croquet monsieur au comté

I had a lot of fun foraging my foodie way through TravelSupermarket’s International Street Food Challenge a couple of weeks ago in Shoreditch. The free event offered guests the chance to sample a variety of authentic and delicious dishes cooked by a variety of vendors from around the world. Most of the traders on hand were from London. However, flown in all the way from Copenhagen was the popular duo of Frenchy gourmand maestros: Copper and Wheat.

Never having tried Copper and Wheat’s food before but having heard the hype (and bing intrigued that the organisers would find it necessary to import traders at all for a street food happening in London), I was keen to eat what they were serving. The duck fat frites were amazing, and the croque monsieur was among the best I’ve had.

Confident and open, Copper and Wheat made their recipe for croque monsieur au comté available to any and all. I gave it a go a few days later at home. It’s pretty easy to prepare (as long as you get the béchamel right). Comté seems a brilliant choice for an especially rich nutty flavour too.

Check out my previous post about another tasty treat I savoured at the Challenge and then attempted for make for myself back home: Orange Buffalo’s hot wings with blue cheese dip.

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