Well, the good old English weather has certainly given me a windy welcome home! But as I write my head and my heart are still chock full of the sights, smells and flavours of Vietnam and Cambodia. I had such an amazing time, in the company of family, taking in the unique atmosphere of Southeast Asia – the sights (watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat will live in my memory forever!), the culture and of course the food. From crispy insects to noodles at the night market, I experienced so much. It was so good to meet and get to know our suppliers out there – another memory which will last is the sight of the Kampot pepper plantations; knowing how they were almost wiped out by events in the recent past, it was amazing to see how they have recovered to a point where they are positively thriving, and how this has been achieved by such wonderful people! All in all, a trip to remember..

Back in the real world, we have Chinese New Year to celebrate and this month we tell you how to make another restaurant favourite, Char Siu (Barbecue Roast Pork), which is as satisfying visually as it is to eat! There is also Valentine’s Day to enjoy, and this month’s main feature is on the aphrodisiac qualities of certain spices (yes, really!) – also we give you a special recipe which truly is the food of love and will keep you in your other half’s heart for a good while.

Anyway, time to crack on and catch up – these spices won’t blend themselves! Have a great February, and happy Year of the Monkey!

Magali

Spice of the Month

Mexican Holy Trinity

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A Spice Mountain original, this blend for us sums up all that is best about Mexican cooking. The Holy Trinity here are three of the most popular Mexican chillies (ancho, guajillo and pasilla), which are blended with other essential elements of the cuisine such as cumin, cinnamon and oregano to create a seasoning which will add character, warmth and depth to any dish, and not just Mexican ones. For instance, a little added to a typical English beef stew, a hearty lentil soup, or any dish based on beans will make all the difference. It can even be used as a garnish or a table condiment, and is amazing sprinkled over freshly cooked chips. And of course use at will in Mexican classics such as Chilli, guacamole, burritos or huevos rancheros, the breakfast of choice for cowboys! Holy Trinity has an insistent but not overpowering heat, well-balanced and deep, so if you are a fan of the really hot stuff feel free to add some fire by including one of the hotter chillies in your recipe too. All in all, Mexican Holy Trinity is muy, muy bien!

Recipes

Vadouvan Lamb With Dahl

s01pxVadouvan, or French Masala, originated in the Indian town of Pondicherry, which was ruled for many years by the French and to this day retains a strong influence from that time.

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Char Siu (Chinese Bbq Roast Pork)

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Few sights are more mouthwatering than the racks of Char Siu hanging up in the window of restaurants in Chinatown, and it is surprisingly easy to recreate this at home.

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Tagliatelle Alfredo

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This pasta dish is a genuine Italian classic, sinfully rich and full of luxurious, creamy goodness. It is quick and easy to prepare for a romantic Valentines day dinner

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