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Helen Hokin's Winter Picks

I’m considering relocating to Barbados. I could swap my reindeer onesie for a designer one-piece and save on heating bills without the hassle of switching suppliers every other month.
And there’s the fish; I never eat enough fresh fish in winter and over there in Barbados they do Fish Fridays for tourists and locals and one very spoilt journalist, Martin Guttrudge Hewitt, who writes about the heaping plates of marlin and tilapia he devoured while cruising the Caribbean recently. Why he came back I’ll never know.
Meanwhile, I was in Liverpool   - the sun came out for a bit - to check out Hopskotch restaurant in the Cavern Quarter off Stanley Street.
Liverpool’s Victorian architecture is astonishingly beautiful –at least the buildings that remain –and Hopskotch is set inside one of them. The 19th century, purpose-built tea warehouse would have served as a dry store for cargo arriving into the Albert Dock when the city’s port boomed. Now, its cavernous space flooded with natural light is a restaurant designer’s dream. Chef Craig Sallery’s globally-influenced street food menu impressed me, not least because it’s the sort you can eat with your mittens off, sitting down in the warm on a freezing winter afternoon. There's a time and a place for street food on the streets. The North West of England in December isn't it.
Is it just me, or does every holiday available at the moment appear to be a gourmet-themed one?  In October, I took a gourmet Mediterranean cruise, I have an invitation to a gourmet wellness retreat to look into – if that’s not a contradiction in terms – and this week I'm about to embark on a gourmet skiing trip to the Dolomites skiing, apparently, with Italy’s youngest Michelin starred chef, Matteo Metuullio, (of restaurant La Siriola). I'm hoping we'll find time to try his contemporary take on the local Ladin cuisine he calls Slope Food.  A chef on skis? I hope he’s not wearing his whites if we get caught in an avalanche.
If I wasn’t gourmet skiing though, I’d be hot footing it to dineLA - Los Angeles’ impeccably glam restaurant week where some of the top drawer eateries (CUT, mar'sel, Melisse, Patina, Spago Beverly Hills, and Valentino) have designed cut-price tasting menus. It's all happening between January 20 – 31. I wouldn't need my onesie there, either.
In Glasgow, Victoria McGlip reserved a table at Windows on the 7th floor of the Carlton George Hotel. 'The only rooftop restaurant with views' goes the claim. Perhaps so, but for Victoria, the sight of the open kitchen, chefs busy searing steaks to order, proved the more interesting vista.
In London there has been a flurry of restaurant openings over the last few months, with a fair few more to come in 2014. Journalist Jamie Tabberer ambled down King’s Road for a relaxed bite at The Imperial and in his words: “The Imperial is riding a wave of laid-back cool for sure, but knowingly, and with class – and with greater ease than its many crammed, beer-soaked competitors in the east.”  I think he liked it.
We first heard it from our mums, then came the nutrition experts, health magazines bang on about it all the time and even our doctors are on the case. They're right and it's true; breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, particularly for children. Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, certainly thinks so. They need to raise £30,000 to support bereaved children and are asking for everyone to hold their own Great British Brekkie (from February 10th – 16th) and revive the tradition of the Great British breakfast. Get all the details here.
Make mine a sausage sarnie.
Best wishes,
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12 January 2014
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