Prestige Flowers Bouquet

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Prestige Flowers is a leading UK florist online. As we know, the internet doesn't do any favours to its merchants and some trades come out of the experience without smelling of roses. As always it is important is to be able to redress the balance when feedbacks are not showing a company at its best, and it seems to me that Prestige Flowers is doing just that.

The bouquet I received to review was made with high quality stems arranged by trained florists. How do I know that? My very first job was in a flower shop. Prestige Flowers bouquet was an arrangement made to please, all in shades of pinks and greens.

My Lomond arrangement looked very much like its picture on the website. The bouquets are sized not by the stem, but by the worth of the flowers. Therefore the extra £5 for a medium bouquet is reflected in the value and rarity of the flowers.

The delivery was prompt and my instructions followed. The flowers were carefully packaged with a wet pouch around the tip of the stems to keep them watered. The box was strong and there was a card with essential tips and, a voucher for next time.

Disclaimer: I was sent this bouquet for this review. As always opinions are my own.

5 Recipes Celebrating the Humble Leek

The humble leek doesn't have to play second fiddle to the main ingredient. How about making leeks the star of your meal. Looking back at 12 years of recipes, here is what I found on Pebble Soup for you.

Let's start with Leek and Mustard Cheese Tart. This recipe is adapted from my signature dish Tarte á la Moutarde

Two for the soup fans: Leek and Chickpea Soup, a hearty, warming, one-course dinner which is comforting and low calories. The other couldn't be more different, it's a sophisticated cold soup, perfect as a starter for occasions, think St David's day, Mothers' day: Rocket Vichyssoise.

A savoury crumble where Leeks and Caerphilly are cooked down together in a gooey filing Savoury Crumble : Leek and Caerphilly/ Cheshire Cheese Crumble difficult to find a recipe more Welsh than this.

Fifth recipe but not least recipe, a classic Leeks au Gratin, an easy dish for when you are in a hurry seve with a salad or a thick slice of focciccia and you have a 10 minutes dinner preparation.

How do you celebrate Leek Season?

Pear Frangipane Tart

 Pear Frangipane Tart copyright Solange Berchemin

There is something definitely something a little quaint about Frangipane (butter, eggs, ground almonds creamed together). The sweet smell of ground almonds seems to be engrained in our collective memory if that makes sense. I read somewhere that in medieval times ground almonds was an essential ingredient and cooks used to sculpt marzipan into fantastic shapes.

In France, frangipane is best used on Epiphany for La Galette des Rois. Did I have the King's galette in mind, was it the meal at Drakes, or simply the few pears languishing in the fruit bowl? whichever it was, using a few shortcuts, a Pear Frangipane Tart was quickly whipped up.

                                              Pear Frangipane Tart

I used a shop-bought sweet pastry and I used it chilled, It's much easier all around.

For the Frangipane
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
175g ground almonds
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 pears cut, cored and sliced.

Other recipes use plain flour. I didn't.

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5

Roll out the chilled pastry and line a 28 cm flan tin. Use a deep one if possible.

Cream all the ingredients together using a mixer, starting with the butter and sugar, then the sugar and last when it's all creamy add the eggs and the almond extract.

Spoon the frangipane mixture into the pastry case, level and arrange the pear slices on the top.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown.

Enjoy with cream or vanilla ice-cream.

You may fancy something a little different, but still with pears, try this Pork Burger with Pear recipe

this recipe is link to
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Plates of Seduction at Drakes of Brighton

A visit to Drakes of Brighton starts at the bar with a pre-dinner apéritif. Select from the comprehensive list of bespoke cocktails and premium spirits and enjoy. An array of past and present celebrities have been known to do the very same. Indeed, it doesn't take much imagination to picture Cate Blanchett's reflection in the glazed cabinets or Sophie Dahl enjoying the stunning view of Brighton pier from the Regency lounge.  
Drakes Brighton Bar
Drakes of Brighton lounge bar picture courtesy of the hotel
To report on the best finds for special occasions, we need to experience them ahead of time. Christmas in July is now well known to Pebble Soup readers who, therefore, won't be surprised to read about Valentine's in January. 

This is how he came to savour a fragrant drum of light golden coloured 10 years old Ardberg from the Isle of Islay, while I opted for my favourite cocktail, a Love Potion, before moving on to the restaurant:

Don't be fooled Drakes isn't your round-the-mill 'Hotel-Restaurant'. It is one of buoyant Brighton's food-scene most popular and acclaimed fine-dining places. Still, it remains affordable. The quality of its dishes has not passed unnoticed, Drakes appeared in the Good Food Guide 2018, for the 10th consecutive year. 

I don't know about you, but when it comes to dining out, I relish with anticipation everything which goes with or prolongs the experience. My favourites are the small pauses between dishes, so much the better if they are filled with a few surprises. Which is exactly what happened at the start of the evening. To set the tone, our waiter delicately slid on the immaculate white table cloth, 'une assiette de foie gras' topped with a crispy nutty shard.

From the start, our sommeliere demonstrated extensive knowledge of wines and food pairing. She relished the challenge that was our choice of dishes. Indeed how do you pair foie-gras, scallops and soup with one wine? 
Pinot Gris from New-Zealand is the answer, and from then on, I knew that our pre-Valentine outing was in safe hands.

Seared scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke purée, Pancetta Jam and Salmon roe

Seduced by the name He had ordered a 'Crème Dubarry, Harrogate Blue Cheese Mousse and Walnut Oil'. 

Now pay attention, this is the background bit: 
Jeanne Du Barry was a high-class prostitute who had a liaison with King Louis XVI. She soon became his favourite and Marie-Antoinette's arch-rival. The moral of the story is they all lost their heads a little later, during the Revolution. 

And now for the foodie bit:
There is a difference between Crème and Velouté. The distinction resides in the liaison of the ingredient(s). Cream and egg yolk are used to bind a Velouté when a Crème calls for cream only.

Andy Vitez worked at Drakes as a Sous-Chef before accepting the position of Head-Chef. This is a chef who relishes working with local produce of the highest quality. Nowhere was it more apparent than with the Beef Fillet with Chateaubriand Sauce, a melt in the mouth, tender morsel, I was told, served with a glass of Carmenere, a wine harvested at 14% of alcohol, a happy moment.
Here, I could tell you a little about Monsieur de Chateaubriand but since this is our Valentine's date, I would not like to bore you. Let's therefore, continue with dessert: a Poached Pear Tart with Yogurt Ice-Cream. I wouldn't be surprised if a re-creation appeared on Pebble Soup HQ 's table soon.

Fillet of Steak at Drakes of Brighton

The accomplished range of dishes and the fantastic pairing are not the only reasons to choose Drakes for a special meal. With 40 cover only, the restaurant never feels packed. Moreover, the staff takes time to engage with every single diner, our waiter was knowledgeable, witty and discreet.

Dining at Drakes is an exquisite experience replete with chic and charm. With all the accolades received and its reputation for hosting celebrities, Drakes could be elitist but it's not the case at all, well-worth stretching the budget a little on a special day. 

Facts file:

A 2-course meal cost £37.00, £48.00 for 3 courses plus 12.5% service charge

At the bar classic champagne cocktails cost £10.50, Drakes will whip you up a treat from £8.50 less for a glass of spirit

44 Marine Parade, 
Brighton BN2 1PE
01273 696934

Disclaimer: Our dinner at Drakes was complimentary for review purposes. All views are my own. Pictures are my own unless stated otherwise. Please ask permission if you would like to use any of the content.



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