Friday 1 November 2019

Well, I’m sitting here writing this last post for my well-loved food blog. I really have enjoyed my time inventing recipes, following them, not following them! There have been some catastrophes (the chocolate tube things for a World Cup Party, for example) but there have also been one successes: I still use the Herby Summer Lamb Stew recipe!

Looking back through the stats, I’m amazed how many people still visit the the last two days there have been over 60 page views, people searching out recipes, reading the latest post, etc. I’m not getting rid of my love as even I still use it as a recipe index, but any of my new, food related posts will now be over on my more family style blog under the Bon Appétit tab at the top. I’d love you to come with me over well as continuing the food and recipes, I also write a monthly piece called ‘Meet, Make & Munch’ giving ideas as to where to go, what you might like to make or cook, and what or where to eat. It’s fun, I promise! I’d love you to transfer to the new blog and follow me there would be great to take you with me and continue on our journey!

As well as The Chimney House, I also have a Facebook page with a few more bits and pieces and incidentals!

I began Dire Bon Appetit in January’s now November 2019 so it’s had a pretty good run, I’d say. Things change, evolve and grow, and the food blog has become part of an ever bigger, ever expanding life. With two smallish children, a three day a week teaching job and a husband who runs I simply didn’t have the time needed to do it justice. But now, a once a month post is just about manageable, and if I get more done then that’s great. A family-style blog works well for me at the moment, with food still playing a pretty big part of it!

So pop on over, write me comment, tell me who you are...I’d love to keep in touch!

And thank you...for the last 11 years.

If things didn’t change, we wouldn’t have butterflies.

Merlotti x

Holiday Lunches

There is nothing I like better than a lunch on holiday. With a little family, it means that you can stay in for the evening and the children can get into pjs etc and we can play a few family games before a slightly later bedtime. But it also means they’re not sitting in a restaurant waiting for a late dinner when they’re worn out, thus leading to whingey, grumpy behaviour (from them, and, in turn, me!)

So lunch out it is. We usually just about manage to get out of the apartment around 10/11am, meaning we arrive in time for lunch! Perfect. We have a look around the village, a browse in the shops or a wander along the beach before finding a restaurant. Actually, we usually know which one we’re going to here in Nice before setting out, and our day tends to be planned around it! We have a few firm favourites which never disappoint. Most offer a Menu du Jour which is set and a fixed price, often including main, dessert and, sometimes, a drink usually for between €15 and €20. For just the Plat du Jour (dish of the day) it’s around €10-€12 and there’s usually a small choice of three or four dishes. 

We’ve long learnt that this is often the best, not mention the cheapest option. Our 8 year old usually chooses a piece of fish with rice or chips, or a bowl of pasta whilst the two year old shares everyone’s. 

Most of our restaurants are not actually in Nice itself, but a short drive outside. One is in the middle of the university area hidden between’d never find it if you didn’t know about it! And none have instagram, few have Facebook, and none need either. No self promotion necessary; the quality of food and cooking literally speaks for itself. 

First we visited Cagnes-sur-Mer and ate at a Moroccan restaurant on the corner of the ‘front’. It produces the most amazing tagines and cous cous, all served in big sharing bowls from which you help your self and make up your own bowl. Alongside is a small bowl of flavoured chickpeas and some harissa. My husband had a lamb and apricot tagine, I had merguez cous cous. You help yourself to Cous Cous, pop on the sausages, ladle on some delicious carrot and courgette stock/soup and garnish with the  chickpeas and harissa. There is a chalk board with several ‘plats du jour’ all for €10...often there is something for everyone on here: a couscous, a meat, two fish and a pasta. The restaurant is called ‘San Marino’ and if you’re visiting, get there early!

Next on the ‘list’ was the restaurant on the port at St Laurent du Var, Paradis Marin. We’ve been visiting here for many years now and recently, the whole stretch of restaurants along the port has had a facelift with the kitchens, insides and outsides being redone. There are many to choose from but we tend to return here time after time. Again, we opt for the menu du jour for €18 which is a main course, plus a cafe gourmande for dessert, and includes a glass of wine or a beer. This time it was Merlu with a light hoisin sauce served with rice. The cafe gourmande is my favourite dessert as you get a few ‘tiny’ tasters of puddings, plus an espresso. Perfect! David had the menu at around €24, and choose moules, steak and iles flotants. F had a fillet of sea bass with frites and cc shared everything. They even brought the girls a little free taster dessert! 

Another great find, recommended by French friends, is hidden away next to the voie rapide by-pass. You’d never find it by accident ... you just have to know! And by the time we left yesterday, it was super busy inside with a vibrant, Thursday lunchtime atmosphere. We were the only ones mad enough to sit outside on the terrasse as it was still lovely and warm. There is a brilliant menu, and when you had a Mose at what others were eating, huge plates of sharing pasta, meaty, tasty brochettes and many other choices. We all had the menu again, this time priced at €16.90. It was an Italian cheese made with cow’s milk, baked with pine nuts and honey, and lots of bread to dip! Mains were a simple tomato pasta with pecorino...f had a bowl of this too and shared with cc: they only charged €8 for this and it was equally as large as our main portion)...with a chocolate mousse for dessert. Again, the girls also had a mousse each but they just charged for one on the bill. Booking is vital here. It was really busy on just a usual, workday, Thursday lunchtime. You’ll find it on Rue Robert Schuman and it’s called La Locanda, specialising in homemade Italian deliciousness! 

Today is going to be a choice in Antibes. Usually we would go to Square Sud, a large French brasserie on one of the main squares, but having looked into reviews, we might opt for a little french place called Cote Terroir. I’ll let you know via fb which we chose!

Sunday 20 October 2019

‘Cheesy Bubble’ at Perrywood Garden Centre, Tiptree

I chose to have this winter warmer when I last visited Perrywood garden centre, although, there is so much delicious, hoe made food to choose from it can get quite stressful at times! With a range of daily specials and the usual panini, jacket potatoes and sandwiches you couldn’t be better provided for.
The ‘Cheesy Bubble’ special is simply a play on Bubble and Squeak. A hot bowl of silky, cheesy mashed potato with spring greens ribboned through it, topped with bubbly, melty cheese.

Peel, chop and boil potatoes in vegetable stock.
Two minutes from the end of cooking, add thinly sliced spring greens.
Drain, leaving a tiny splash of the cooking stock, then mash with a lump of butter and put a huge handful or two of your favourite cheese. I used cheddar and Red Leicester.
Add salt and pepper to taste, pile deeply into a dish and top with more cheese.
Grill until bubbling.

Honestly, I could eat this every day at the moment, especially since the weather has most def Italy dropped a degree or two this weekend.

And if you don’t fancy making it yourself, have a day out at Perrywoods and treat yourself to lunch. Definitely worth it.

Friday 20 September 2019

Local Italian Produce

Since building my pizza oven, I’ve become a bit of a snob when it comes to topping ingredients for pizzas. I like to make my own Frito base tomato sauce and bubble it down over a few hours to thicken it up, but I’ve always struggled getting a good quality cheese or sausage to add to the toppings. I try to use Mutti as a tomato base, or a good quality tinned whole tomato, and first fry garlic and dried oregano in olive oil, before adding the tomato base. I then simply bubble on a low heat until it thickens to create a paste-y sauce. Mutti is available in Sainsbury’s but it’s a treck across town for me, so I was delighted when Just Italian Food opened a unit just round the corner from me!

Regularly importing delicious produce from Italy, they couldn’t be friendlier. There’s a huge range of dried pasta, Italian biscuits and other dried produce, but also a small selection of cheeses, salamis, nduja and other fresh produce. I even found a pizza flour I’ve been searching for for a while and couldn’t resist the buffalo mozzarella and Neapolitan salami! And if you can’t get down to the shop, which I highly recommend, if only for a wander and to get your taste buds going, then have a look at the is free for local residents when spending £40 or more.

The shop is at Unit 19, Waterhouse Business Centre, just off Waterhouse Lane. Pop down there this weekend and say Buongiorno, or Ciao if it’s easier! 

The website can be found here or search Facebook for Just Italian Food. 

Monday 4 February 2019

Chicken & Mushroom Pie

This super simple pie is a great dish for all the family. Both my girls love it too and served with some leafy green veg. is a perfect winter warmer.

I use this short crust pastry recipe from the bbc then simply make up a chicken and mushroom filling.

Brown off some chopped chicken thighs.
Add mushrooms on a high heat and a big knob of butter.
Season well and add a splash of water if they’re starting to stick.
Turn down the heat once everything is browned and cook through.
Sift a little plain flour over the top and stir in.
Add milk on a high heat a little at a time, making sure every drop is incoroporated before adding the next splash.
Once you have a thick sauce, add chopped fresh thyme and check seasoning again. Lots of pepper, a little salt. If you want, crumble in a stock cube too.
You can keep this mixture in the fridge for a couple of days if you wanted to get ahead.

Then line a pie tin with half the rolled pastry, use a metal one to ensure no soggy bottoms; stick the oven on 200; add the filling; lay the other half of the rolled pastry over the top and seal at the edges. Brush beaten egg or a little milk over the top and stab it a couple of times for the steam to escape. Pop into the oven, then reduce the heat to around 180. Leave until the pastry is golden brown on top, between 30 and 40 mins and check filling is piping hot before serving!

Saturday 3 February 2018

Chorizo, Beetroot & Ricotta Baguette

Another 'perfect for a weekend lunch' recipe idea here, again using produce sent to me for recipe ideas by Laverstoke Park Farm. I must say, I've really enjoyed eating cheese and black pudding for the last three days!

Chorizo, Beetroot & Ricotta Baguette


10-15 cm hard chorizo
half a red onion
three steamed beetroot - buy ready prepped, but not the vinegary ones!
handful baby spinach
black pepper
Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Ricotta
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
thyme leaves
extra virgin olive oil


Slice the chorizo at an oblique angle so you have ovals rather than rounds.
Fry it off in a little olive oil and add the sliced red onions. Fry until the chorizo is crispy and the onions are caramelised. They'll help each other out here!
Once ready, cube the pre-cooked beetroot and add to the pan. Heat through.
Grind over a little black pepper.
To serve, slice the baguette and add a handful of baby spinach.
Top with the chorizo, beetroot and onions.
Pour any remining pan oils and juices over the top.
Dollop ricotta across the mixture.
Now, this is the bit that brings it all together so don't leave it out...sprinkle fresh thyme leaves, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grinding of black pepper over the top.

Thank you Laverstoke Park Farm...not just for the produce, but for getting me back in the kitchen and inventing! I've loved it. 

Disclaimer: The products I received were complimentary for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions given are my own, honest and truthful.

Friday 2 February 2018

Black Pudding, Pear, Potato and Ricotta Salad

I say salad, but this is a full-on, whole hearted meal that not only will leave you full of food, but also full of flavour. My previous post told how I was enjoying trialling some produce from Laverstoke Park Farm, and the recipe today includes the Black Pudding and Buffalo Ricotta from there. I have added quantities for ingredients as a guide, but I'm one of those 'choose as much as whatever as you'd like' sort of people, so feel free to go ahead and change!

Black Pudding, Pear and Ricotta Salad

Ingredients: Makes one large salad - serves two happily.

For the salad:
Bag of rocket leaves
12 baby new potatoes, halved
2 large pears, cored and wedged
2 thick slices of Laverstoke Park Farm black pudding, cubed
leftover bread (nice crusty loaf works best) torn into chunks

For the dressing:
1/2 lemon, juiced and skin torn and squashed
1 garlic clove, crushed
black pepper
small handful roughly chopped fresh mint
several small whole mint leaves
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar


Add the potatoes and all but one of the pear wedges to a roasting tin.
Make the dressing - combine the garlic, black pepper, lemon juice and skins, chopped mint, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
Pour over the potatoes and pears and roast in a hot over until the potatoes are crispy and the pears are soft...around 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the cubes of black pudding. Once beginning to crispen up, add the torn bread. The black pudding should produce enough oil to fry the bread in too without the need to add more.
Remove the potatoes and pears from the oven and drain off the juices and dressing into a small bowl. Add another 2 tbsp olive oil and a splash a red wine vinegar to the juices and stir to combine. Taste and adjust flavours as desired.
Once the bread has begun to turn to croutons, add the few whole mint leaves to the oil to crispen up.
Slice the remaining pear wedge thinly.
In a large serving bowl, combine the rocket, potatoes, pears, black pudding and croutons. Blob little bits of ricotta all over. Top with the crispy mint leaves, thinly sliced pear and drizzle over the new dressing from the small bowl. Grind some fresh black pepper over the top.
Eat warm.

I hope you like this - don't be put off by the long list of ingredients for the dressing - you'll have most in the store cupboard anyway. And once you've started the recipe, all else can be done whilst the potatoes and pears are in the oven.

Disclaimer: The products I received were complimentary for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions given are my own, honest and truthful.

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