Pit Stop in Sandwich town for Le Weekend

A favourite breakfast venue of ours in Sandwich was the Beach Hut, but that was a while back and the location on Strand Street was taken over by the Smokehouse which didn’t seem to last very long, but we’d notice that there was a further change of ownership and the cafe was now called ‘The Pit Stop’. So when we made a visit to Sandwich for the ‘Le Weekend’ event, we made sure to make a pit stop and check out their breakfast offerings. They do several English breakfast variations, as well as, Omelettes, Eggs Royal, Eggs Benedict and various toast and sandwich options.

We had Breakfast 1 & 2, so between the two of us we had a nice range of quality ingredients. Nicely cooked bacon & mushrooms, plenty of black pudding & hash browns. An excellent breakfast all round and reasonably priced (just over £20 for two breakfasts & two coffees).

There is some nice outside seating, so it’s a great place to have a leisurely breakfast or brunch in the sunshine. Good service too, quick & friendly.

Le Weekend is an annual event in Sandwich where the town hosts a French Market and an Anglo- French Medieval Encampment. There is also Live Music and lots of stalls mainly in Market Street.

Several cafes (including the The Pit Stop) offer classic French menus over the weekend.

For more information see www.sandwichevents.org.uk


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Le Weekend in Sandwich aka La Baguette :)

Le Weekend is an annual event held in the lovely historic town of Sandwich. usually around about the first weekend in June. It’s quite amazing – the sleepy town of Sandwich wakes up and is full of people. The shops and cafes spill out onto the street, it’s all very continental, especially when the weather is as good as it was on our visit.

The highlight of Le Weekend for me is the French market, which is the real deal, full of French produce sold by French people. I bumped into some Ramsgate friends who were also visiting the Market. They have a house in France and are very familiar with French Markets, they were suitably impressed commenting that it was actually a lot better than many Markets in France. Praise indeed!

I could not resist the wonderful aroma and bought the most succulent and tasty garlic prawns I have ever had from one of the vendors.

The Cafes in town were pretty full, but I managed to get a seat in the wonderful NoName Deli (which is not just there for Le Weekend).  I ordered some of their excellent coffee and a piece of Normandy Tart and did a bit of people watching.

Other activities that occur over Le Weekend include Live Music and a Medieval Fayre.

It was a lovely day out and so nice to hear all the French accents, like being on holiday for the day. I must remember not to miss “Le Weekend” next year, although I do think they have missed a trick not calling the event “La Baguette” 🙂

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B is for Broadstairs

On a stunning sunny Sunday in October we made a beeline for Broadstairs taking in the beautiful beach at Viking Bay, Breakfast at the delightful Belvidere Place Boutique B & B, the highly acclaimed Broadstairs Food Festival and the hidden delights of Bleak House.

I’d like to say we did the picturesque beach walk from Ramsgate to Broadstairs but alas we didn’t allow ourselves enough time. Instead we jumped on the regular Loop bus for the 15 minute journey to Broadstairs.

Belvidere Place

We had pre booked breakfast at Belvidere Place, Jilly Sharpe’s rather special Boutique Bed & Breakfast. It’s a beautiful quirky and artistic place with just the right level of civilized informality.


There was no menu, breakfast is based on whatever goodies Jilly can source locally. We were offered the choice of figs or baked apple to start. We opted for the Apple served with yogurt and just enough Muesli. Very healthy and tasty. Next course was bacon, tomatoes and egg served with toast and a delicious stuffed mushroom. Arbroath Kippers were also on offer. After a leisurely morning reading the newspapers, chatting to Jilly, her friendly staff and guests lucky enough to be staying in the much in demand 5 bed-roomed B & B, we headed off to the Broadstairs Food Festival.


UPDATE – Under new Management.

Broadstairs Food Festival

The Broadstairs Food Festival is an event that attracts a lot of mainly Kent based suppliers and Restaurants. This year they had 100 plus stalls and 53,000 plus visitors over the course of 3 days. The Kitchen Theatre demonstrations were from several well known local chefs like Matt Sworder from the Corner House in Minster.  Steven Edwards who won Masterchef The Professionals in 2013  also did a session. The Kitchen Theatre presentation highlight I suspect though was from GBBO semi finalist and Broadstairs local Chetna Makan. Her session was interrupted by a surprise visit from the ever so slightly famous Paul Hollywood – check out the fun videos published by the Isle of Thanet Gazette. It’s just like being there 😉

Top Kent Restaurants like Wyatt & Jones and Rocksalt had stalls, as did Quex Barn – the wonderful deli at Quex Park.  There were tastings for Dudda’s Tun our favorite Kent Cider, and East Kent College were showing plans for their 4 star Training Hotel due to open next year.


We had hoped to get food from The Ambrette stall but they weren’t there this year. So for a late lunch we had some Pad Thai from an old favorite Siam Kitchen, followed by a dessert of coconut macrons and salted caramel bars from Sylvia and Terry.  We also brought some bread from McCarthys Country Store.

Bleak House

We took refuge from a very busy Broadstairs in Bleak House, which despite its uninviting entrance via the kitchen area is a lovely tranquil spot for drinks or afternoon tea.

You can pre book the formal Afternoon Tea in the Great Expectations Dining Room overlooking the garden and visit Charles Dickens study and the Smuggling Museum.

So after our lovely day out, we are certainly looking forward to next years Food Festival and to having a good few more breakfasts and afternoon teas in lovely Broadstairs.

UPDATE – Bleak house closed.

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The Chocolate Festival – Christmas Treats!

Bah! Humbug! I so nearly didn’t go to the conveniently timed pre christmas Chocolate Festival in London this year… but I am so glad I did. There is such a great selection of stalls and the festival is just full of quality chocolate goods and fun ideas for Christmas presents. I had been gauging how busy it was via my Twitter feed and thought it would be too much of a pain to battle my way through the crowds as this Festival seems to be an example of being spoilt by success. Maybe they will get more space next year based on just how popular an event this has become.  Fortunately I did manage to find a quiet time on the Sunday – I am not saying when exactly as that might spoil it for me next year.

As it was quieter I was able to chat with probably one of the busiest and well known Chocolatiers in the business Paul A Young.  Pauls session in the Chocolate Cookery Theatre was on Saturday so I was very surprised to spot him manning the stand on the Sunday, he was there just prior to making a tour of his London shops – it’s a hard life being a Chocolatier!  We spoke about the success of the festival and he told me that Saturday had been the busiest day that the festival had ever had. One of the reasons I think that this festival works so well is that it provides access to both new innovations and to some of the UKs world class Chocolatiers.  William Curley also had a stand and Duffy’s were there too, however I couldn’t get near their stand as it was busy even during the quiet time!

I tried a few samples as I worked my way around the stalls –  the highlights were Paul Wayne Gregory’s stand where they were pushing his new salted caramel flavour lollipops, a divine idea and Artisain du Chocolat where I tried their honeycomb and gingerbread chocolates, which are a tasty new seasonal addition.

Another stand that caught my eye was the rather glamorous looking Herzog one, showcasing Chocolatier Pâtissier Sven Herzogs wares. I was also rather impressed by the Chocmotif stand. I like the idea of chocolate greetings cards and they have a great selection, just think off all the paper Christmas cards you throw out after Christmas, isn’t eating them a much better idea?

Yes, Christmas is definitely a great time for Chocolate and like the Chocmotif cards, it’s not just for Christmas.

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Broadstairs Food Festival – Going Medieval at the Seaside

After the Real Food Festival in London, we thought it would be interesting to highlight an out of town festival in the seaside resort of Broadstairs.  Broadstairs Food Festival or Food Fayre as it is also known is an annual event and this year had over 100 stalls showcasing Kent produce. I visited on the third day of the Fayre, it was fairly busy when I arrived mid-morning, but by the afternoon it was packed with visitors sampling the free wares.

There was lots of English Wine, Flavoured Cider, Cheese and Chutney on display, along with the obligatory burger stands, which in this instance at least included local butchers selling venison burgers and wild boar and venison sausages.

Kent restaurants like the The Ambrette (Rye and Margate) and The Siam Kitchen (Broadstairs) were also represented and I couldn’t miss O’re the Moon the award winning Kent fudge company’s display of  Scottish Tablet (not sure where that fits in as traditional Kent produce, but as a Scot I am not complaining).

The highlight of the day though had to be the Medieval Cooking demonstration from Mo Joslin of Farmhouse Kitchen. It was entertaining in between the disruptions from the dodgy sound system (the bane of so many outdoor festivals).  I also got a good picture of another typical Food Festival event “The Swarm” (pictured above) homing in on the samples from the Cooking demonstration – a rather tasty pigeon dish. Funny it’s normally the Pigeons that do the swarming,  although in Broadstairs it’s more likely to be Seagulls, which is all part of the British Seaside experience.

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Real Food Festival on the Southbank

I am something of a fan of the Real Food Markets that take place on London’s South Bank every week, but until now had never been to the annual Real Food Festival. The  last food festival I went to was such a disappointment that it put me off the whole food festival concept (Foodies in Battersea Park).  Today was different. Foodies for example cost £15 a ticket and all the Chef Theatre events had to be pre booked.  The Real Food Festival in contrast is free and the Theatre events are on a first come basis. I actually got a front seat in the Theatre, something I have rarely managed to do at other festivals – it’s so nice to get pictures that don’t involve zooming in, not to mention being in a good postion to sample the food post demonstration before the swarm (see picture).

There were plenty of stands lining the river taking over a fair bit of the outdoor space around the Southbank centre. All nicely laid out, so you could actually see what was on offer. Lots of food festival regulars like The Little Round Cake Company and Outsider Tart were there. Cono Sur had free wine tasting, Thunder Vodka were providing samples of their award winning Toffee Vodka, and I was spoilt for choice on the savory front. I eventually decided to try some Takoyaki (Japanese dumplings) – Octopus, spring onion, Japanese red ginger, tempura topped with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, aonori seaweed and katsuobushi, they were piping hot and very tasty.

The first event in the Chefs Theatre I attended was advertised as Ben Tish from the Salt Yard restaurant but he could not make it, so his Sous Chef was there to fill the breach. The next chef scheduled was Jun Tanaka, but the timings were a bit off, so instead chocolatier Fiona Sciolti stepped in at literally the last minute to plug the gap with amusing stories of her foraging to get the natural ingredients for her rather special chocolates. She came armed with lots of samples, so we had the chance to try her new Sea Buckthorn chocolates. I had been told that Sea Buckthorn was an acquired taste, and boy did I acquire it – the chocolates are great. The filling has a sharp flavour that is reminiscent of passion fruit and it works very well indeed when mixed with white chocolate ganache.  Other chocolates we tried were spiced masala chai, elderberry & sambuca and garden mint thins (a really good palette cleanser). She also mentioned the new range of ice cream her company have launched this year.  Fiona hit a few problems with the sound system during her session so poor Jun Tanaka ended up going low tech with a hand mic, which he quite rightly pointed out was not designed with a chef in mind, but he took it as a challenge and received a round of applause for his one handed egg breaking skills. He demonstrated how to cook a rather appetizing dish of salt crusted beef, served with potatoes where he added “a little butter” much to the audiences amusement – it was the whole 1/2 lb pack. I had to leave just as he was handing over to Cyrus Todiwala of Cafe Spice Namasti. Which was a shame as Mr Todiwala is always entertaining.

So much to my surprise I have found a food festival I actually would recommend.

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