It was a huge blow to Cambridge’s food scene when Cotto had to close its doors at The Gonville during the pandemic in 2020. This revered restaurant owned by chef Hans Schweitzer and his partner Ruth was a top dining destination, having begun its existence on East Road in 2008 and steadfastly becoming a Cambridge institution over the years. I wrote about Master Chef Hans Schweitzer’s prestigious culinary history and my past dining experience here.
Those of us who missed the gastronomic delights and fantastic hospitality provided by Hans, Ruth and their team are delighted that Cotto is back. The restaurant has a new home in the impressive Cambridge Country Club, which boasts a golf course as well as wellness, spa and dining facilities in Bourn, Cambridgeshire – about 10 miles west of Cambridge.
The entire F&B service at the Cambridge Country Club is being run by Cotto, which includes the Spikes Bar (casual breakfast, lunch and drinks), Cotto Lounge (lunch, Afternoon Tea, Sunday Lunch and evening fine dining) and Garden Suite (parties and events). The Food & Beverage facilities are open to everyone – not just members of the Club. Cotto’s much-missed evening fine dining is due to start after some finishing touches, so diners will once again be able to enjoy chef Hans’ beautiful and delicious culinary masterpieces.
In the meantime, my Sunday Lunch in the Cotto Lounge was a fine dining experience in itself with chef Hans’ signature style, presentation and menu, all impeccably executed by the team and coupled with the same excellent service I’ve always experienced at Cotto.
One Two Culinary Stew presents BREWBOARD X SIGNORELLI’S BEER & FOOD TASTING – a refreshing and delicious evening of 3 BrewBoard beers to sample, paired with Mediterranean cheeses and cured meats from Il Mercato by Signorelli’s.
The experience will be followed by a 2/3 pint of a surprise 4th beer to enjoy with a shared platter of sweet nibbles prepared by Signorelli’s Deli.
The event includes an exclusive taste of Signorelli’s savoury sourdough made with BrewBoard’s Fathergrime hopped stout. This speciality loaf – named ‘Il Saporito’ – won Bronze at the 2019 World Bread Awards.
To add to the merriment, the pairings will be presented by Stuart (BrewBoard brewer) and Alex (Signorelli’s).
The tasting will take place in the ‘secret cellar’ at BrewBoard’s new Taproom on Cambridge’s historic Green Street.
** SOLD OUT **
Please email me to be placed on the waiting list, in case there are any cancellations.
One Two Culinary Stew presents MY PERSIAN KITCHEN @ KINGSTON ARMS – a delectable Small Plates Dinner of Persian flavours and aromas with nourishing ingredients, fresh herbs and fragrant (not fiery) spices.
Cambridge chefs Sirous and Abigail of My Persian Kitchen will combine their love of Persian cooking (inspired by Sirous’ family recipes) and their culinary experience in French and Italian cuisines.
My recipe for this moist and zesty coconut lime loaf cake is so easy to make (let’s face it, I only take on simple bakes). It’s a great alternative to the ever popular lemon drizzle. The coconut and lime flavours impart a tropical vibe, bringing the sun into your kitchen. We can all use a dose of metaphorical sunshine these days!
There’s a trick to bringing out the full taste and aroma of the lime, which is to rub the zest and sugar together to release the lime’s essential oils and infuse the sugar. A microplane / fine grater works well to remove the outer layer of the zest (make sure you don’t grate the white pith – it’s very bitter and you definitely don’t want that in your cake).
I use the coconut milk left over from my coconut rice recipe (you can use a bit less in the rice recipe, so you have 250ml for the cake). Coconut milk doesn’t have a long fridge life after the tin has been opened, so keep it tightly closed and use it in two or three days.
I’ve been a loyal customer of OliveOlive for several years now, regularly stocking up on their excellent halloumi and extra virgin olive oil from Cyprus. I have the added foodie bonus that this Cambridgeshire based company is local to me so my orders are delivered by owners Pam and Rob Marsden – a nice opportunity for a little chat. I often see them at markets and foodie events too.
Their first press, unfiltered olive oil comes from Pam’s family farm in Cyprus. It’s produced in a coastal village using handpicked local olives and cold pressed within 24 hours. It really is of superior quality, including their olive oils fused with basil, chilli, garlic, lemon or oregano. Their Cyprus Village halloumi is handmade the traditional way by their friends in Cyprus, the Stefani family. It’s way better than the supermarket stuff. These personal connections are the best kind of quality control.
Our cooking often features their products so I was excited to learn that Pam and Rob wrote their own recipe book – The OliveOlive Mediterranean Cookbook, published by Meze Publishing. I was looking forward to checking out all the recipes so I was delighted when Pam and Rob gave me a complimentary copy.
The cookbook features 45 recipes contributed by Pam, her family, their friends, customers and chefs who use OliveOlive’s products in their restaurants. There is page after page of mouth-watering photography of the dishes but I also liked the personal photos… the family farm, Pam’s relatives (mum, dad, aunt and uncle) in Cyprus as well as Pam and Rob on the farm and in their kitchen.
The circumstances that brought Tel Aviv chef Maoz Alonim to Cambridge may not be food related but it was inevitable that he would eventually open a restaurant and contribute to our flourishing foodie scene. Alonim is one of Israel’s most famous chefs renowned the world over for founding Basta in 2007, a small restaurant and wine bar in proximity to Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. With produce straight from the market’s stallholders only a few steps away, the menu changes daily (sometimes twice a day) and consists of main headings with handwritten dish updates. This is Alonim’s concept… a creative menu led by fresh, seasonal ingredients paired with an impressive wine list. And this is precisely what he has brought to Kingston Arms, located just off Cambridge’s vibrant and diverse Mill Road.
Always one to defy expectations, Alonim defines Kingston Arms as Kitchen, Hummus and Wine. He has even gone so far as having the serving presentation designed for their hummus and pita, a clever combo of zisha (Yixing clay) bowls with a round cork cover that doubles as a board for the pita. More on the amazing hummus later!
This independent pub is a real food and wine lovers’ gem. The interior is warm and inviting, with tables by the windows and back door as well as bar seating for perhaps a more wine or beer focused experience. There is a large walled garden with heaters that is pretty much rain proof, a definite advantage for a business that opened during the pandemic. The staff are so friendly and welcoming and there are knowledgeable sommeliers for their well curated wine list.
I was delighted to get a sneak peek of The Wine Rooms ahead of their official opening on 8 June. Located at 57 Hills Road near Station Road, this place is an exciting new addition to Cambridge’s independent food and drink scene. The focus is on wines paired with a modern, seasonal menu with New Zealand-born Cambridge chef Liz Young at the helm.
The Cambridge based owner of The Wine Rooms is an experienced vintner and wine management and cellarage provider so the wines naturally take centre stage. It’s more of a wine bar and shop for high end wines than a restaurant but that in no way diminishes the food offering. The changing menus, featuring an All Day Bar Menu of Small Things and Sweet Things and an Evening Menu of more substantial dishes, are designed to complement the carefully curated wines by the glass.
The wall of wine bottles on wooden shelves (some only accessible by ladder), the combination of table and counter seating, the specials boards next to the small window into the kitchen, the bar at the back complete with brass pendant lights and antiqued mirror… they all set the scene for fine wine and good food in an unpretentious atmosphere with friendly, knowledgeable service.
For over two years now, Amélie’s father-son duo Régis and Alex Crépy have been regaling customers in their Cambridge restaurant with Flam-kuche, their take on the 14th century Alsace dish known as Flammekueche (a super thin flatbread with crème fraîche and fresh toppings, baked in a very hot oven until the edges are crisp and the top is golden). I wrote about Amélie here, soon after the exciting launch of the restaurant in 2018.
Lockdown meant Régis and Alex had to adapt Amélie to these challenging times so they created the DIY Flam-kuche Flatpack for local delivery. It soon garnered praise as a quick and easy home kit that’s several notches above fast food. And now they have launched their UK-wide delivery service for more people to enjoy preparing and eating this tasty meal in their own kitchen.
In the Amélie Store, there are 7 flavours of build-your-own Flam-kuche Flatpacks: Authentic, Goat Cheese & Beetroot, Margherita, Mozzarella & Pepperoni & Olives, Mushroom & Mozzarella, Parma Ham, and Pulled Pork Shoulder – each with 4 rectangular bases, 5 toppings and the choice of their signature crème fraîche or deep red tomato sauce. Other options in the store are beef short rib, cheese fondue, homemade hummus, homemade pesto and packs of 4, 8 or 12 dough bases (for adding your own toppings or baking separately to use in dips).
I chose to receive the Authentic Flatpack and it came in a cheerful yellow and white rectangular box with dark blue lettering for the restaurant’s name, phone number and website. The brand colours and font took me back to Amélie’s stationary Citroen H van in The Grafton. The box was sealed and cleverly identified with the label “Authentique and on fleek!” and once open, I was greeted by “Bon Appétit!” printed on the side. A good start, non?