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Helen Hokin's Spring News

Spring has made an appearance, at last, and we have al fresco ideas from picnics in the park, to sky-high snacking in London, and all over the world.
 
But first, to Spain, where one sure sign the season's new ingredients are here is the arrival of the 'Calcot' a sort of outsized spring onion particular to the North East of Spain. The Catalonians pay homage to the tender bulbs by devouring, with gusto, as many of them as they can get their hands on. It's understandable; the season is short. More to the point they are delicious, braised on an open wood burner, until charred on the outside and buttery-soft within. They are tradituonally served with nothing but tangy homemade romesco sauce. Every restaurant boasts their own secret recipe. Food Tripper's writer in Spain, Rob Train, took himself on a personal homage to Catalonia when he travelled from Madrid, to the outskirts of Barcelona, for this year's Calcotatda and a fun family feast.
 
In London, Jamie Tabberer challenged himself to another eatathon. This time it was down the less salubrious (but all the more interesting for it) end of Portobello Road, to one of the capital's latest openings. Lisa's Kitchen & Bar serves an all-Scandinavian menu and Jamie was more than happy to get stuck into herring, marinated in a hot horseradish sauce, pungent Vasterbotten cheese and light crisp-bread. He managed to offset what was turning out to be an entirely wholesome evening with a couple of fiery Danish cocktails. Read the review here
 
Meanwhile, I caught up with home interiors guru, Alison Cork, for a few pointers on kitchen design and simple summery recipes; her prediction being that the mini-meringue is the new cupcake, and we have her simple, summery recipe for them here. Alison's home interiors pop up, at House of Fraser on Oxford Street, runs until 26th May.
 
The number of new restaurant and bar openings in London is hopefully a reflection of a recovering economy. It's hardly surprising that a number of them have a Brazilian theme: I'm looking forward to a couple of long, cool Caipirinhas created by Benjamin Purslow at Archer Street's newly launched Barzhino. Even Pizza Domino have got in on the footy act with a pizza Brazilian - sounds good for a lazy evening snacking on the sofa at home. And then there is the latest creation from the lovely people at Piminister who were kind enough to deliver their latest creation 'the Brazilian' direct to my door. Inspired by the Feijoada stew it's a punch-packing pie with chicken, chorizo, sweet potato and the latin heat of Chipotle chilli and paprika. I've got one warming in the oven as I write.
 
Australian import, Bill Granger, has opened his second restaurant offering on Clerkenwell Green, and is cooking up a globally inspired menu that he describes, intriguingly as: 'Hawaii, sunny Sydney and Japan to the absorption of the Italian kitchen'. I'm saying nothing till I've given it a try.
 
Some of the best and most consistently good meals I have had in the capital have been at Corrigan's of Mayfair. This time, Richard has come up with the brilliant idea of a delectable-sounding hamper for an extravagant spring or summer al fresco lunch - all very handy for nearby Hyde Park.
 
Elsewhere, we have rounded up a sizzling selection of roof-top bars for your summer getaways, with posing possibilities in Jerusalem, New York and L.A., London is of course in the mix with the imminent opening of On the Roof with Q at Selfridges. Fingers crossed the dry weather holds.
 
Best wishes,
 
Helen
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