Evening Standard London Food month

We are proudly taking part in the Evening Standards London Food Month from 1st-30th June 2017.

We will be teaming up with Bandstand Beds and Cactus Kitchens for our first ever Common Cook up.


On Saturday 17th June Bandstand Beds volunteer led community food growing project, HowellandHarte and Cactus Kitchens are collaborating for London Food Month to host a special Common Cook Up. Utilising fresh produce dug up straight from the community garden that morning Bandstand Beds volunteers, and food blogging duo, Will Howell & Conor Harte will be creating a mouth-watering menu to be enjoyed by all.

Alongside assisting Will & Conor, Cactus Kitchens’ cookery school team will be providing a free taster session of their popular Knife Skills class, giving guests a chance to learn how to handle a kitchen knife with confidence. Top tips will included learning how to dice and slice vegetables and herbs to reduce waste in the kitchen and get the best from seasonal home grown produce.

Bandstand Beds is a community garden project set up in 2013 to encourage locals to get their hands dirty, get outside, grow vegetables and have a good time. The group has grown from 10 to over 90 volunteer members and has been funded and supported by various charities including The Princes Trust, Tesco Bags of Help and Awards for All.

 Click here for free tickets


London Evening Standard Food Month Logo


cactus kitchens

Sicily: Secondi

Following on from our latest blog post this is the next recipe in our Sicilian dinner menu. Live in chef’s is part and parcel of the standard family holiday.  As mentioned in our previous post, Sicily: Primi, we had a few mouths to feed and you’ll probably have noticed people gathering around in the background of photos eagerly waiting to be fed, desperate for something to go with a nice glass of wine. However, we did have one night off where we made our way down to Acireale to try some local cuisine. We managed to catch one of the local saint festivals at the same time, arriving to see the holy effigy fly out off a beautiful baroque church on her heavy wooden float at the speed of a canon ball; it was certainly a miracle that there wasn’t a bloody smear of people passata left in her beatified wake. After these wonderful celebrations, solemnised with a round of fireworks, we headed to find some food. And, with an entirely local clientele of archetypal Italian family parties sharing dishes, cracking lobsters and drinking vibrant rosé from carafes from the slopes of Etna, Restaurante I Cavaddari was truly a special find. 

fishThe choices  on offer at Cavaddari were few: fish or fish and pasta. Being an Irish family we would never shy away from a carb.
Note to self, shy away from the carb!
It had to be one of the most incredible meals we have eaten, but by course 7 I think most of us were flagging. Highlights were the Langoustine and squid ink tortiglioni (left), a starter platter that contained no less than 10 different types of fish (from smoked to seared) and Langoustine Risotto. If you ever find yourself on the south east side of Sicily, this is worth a detour. If you do go for the fish and pasta tasting menu, make sure you have a horizontal surface nearby to layout on to allow the food coma to pass before attempting any long journeys – it might take a few days!

The recipe in the second instalment of our Sicily series can be served with or without pasta or with a variety of other dishes, like grilled aubergine or just a plain leaf salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil (Italian, of course).

The simplicity of this dish is what works, you can taste ever single ingredient so if you can get your hands on good produce, this is the recipe to use.


Polpette Pomodoro bake

Serves 6


500g pork mince
500g beef mince
1 red onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 egg beaten
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper


500g of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil
1 ball of mozzarella cubed
Salt and pepper

(Pasta optional)


Preheat oven to 175 degrees.

In a bowl combined the minces, chopped onion, egg, oregano, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.

Using your hands roll in 4cm wide balls place on a plate and chill in the fridge whilst preparing the sauce.

Add the chopped onion and garlic into a saucepan with a glug of olive oil and slowly simmer till cooked.

Add the quartered tomatoes and half the basil to the pan. Cover and simmer for 20 mins till the tomatoes have broken down; then add the balsamic vinegar and season.

In a heavy based frying pan, bring oil up to temperature and add half to the meatballs and brown on all sides transferring to the oven proof dish to finish in the oven.  Repeat with second batch of meatballs until they have all been browned and transferred to the oven.

Once the meatballs have cooked a further 5 minutes, pour the sauce over the meatballs, sprinkle over the mozzarella and return to the oven for 20 mins to cook.

Remove from the oven add the remaining fresh basil, salt and pepper and serve hot with or without pasta.

Buon appetito!