Cronuts from Mark Bennett Patisserie in Poole.

Apparently cronuts were a ‘thing’ quite a long time ago; the whole craze about them started in 2013 in New York. I didn’t know anything about them until last Friday, though. When I accidentally read an article about this combination of a croissant and a doughnut filled with flavored cream, my urge to eat one became unstoppable. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait a long time and uncle Google directed me to a local patisserie in Poole – Mark Bennett – where you can order delicious cronuts online. Let me tell you why you should do it!

What is the cronut story?

Cronuts
Would you resist eating one?

I wouldn’t normally write a blog post about a donut, but the story behind the cronut is quite fascinating and I think you should know it too! Little did the cronut’s creator Dominique Ansel know that his original bake would make people queue at his patisserie in New York from 5am! Ansel’s bakery is opened from 8 a.m. and regardless of the weather, people wait patiently for hours to get a famous cronut. Turning up to the bakery at 8.30 requesting a cronut will result in an apologetic smile from Ansel’s staff. Dominique prepares only a limited amount of them according to his noble philosophy of ‘quality over quantity.’ Due to a huge success of the cronut, it was trademarked and its recipe remained unknown for a long time…

Cronut Recipe

The cronut’s recipe was finally revealed in 2014 by Dominique himself and it turned out, not surprisingly, that it takes three whole days to prepare the croissant-doughnut hybrid! There are some simplified recipes available on the internet (here for example), and with so much time on our hands in quarantine, you could try to make one, but…it’s probably better to use this time reading books or something and instead support a local business in these difficult times!

A local patisserie in Poole, owned by award-winning baker Mark Bennett, offers artisan bakes, sandwiches and the famous cronuts delivered to your house, all done in keeping with social distancing rules. Please, make sure you call them (the phone numbers here) the day before you want to eat your cronuts, because they sell out quickly and are not available to hand! I had to wait 24 hours and it felt like eternity 😉

What does a cronut taste like?

What does a cronut look like?

Coming back to the main topic of my article, the cronut from Mark Bennett’s bakery was crispy outside, fluffy and flaky inside and the nutty hazelnut cream that was in-between the layers tasted just heavenly. It indeed was like a hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut, but more towards the doughnut. I’m obviously not the right person to say if it tastes like the original New York cronut because I haven’t eaten one, but even so, I can reassure you Mark Bennett’s will become your favourite guilty pleasure.

What does a cronut taste like?
These cronuts disappeared from the table within seconds…

The cronut’s story, its uniqueness and flavour made me want to taste it as soon as I found out about it. I hope you’ll be encouraged to order one and indulge in this little, simple pleasure of sweetness and crunchiness.

If you’re interested in finding out more details about cronuts, you can watch an interesting interview with their creator Dominique Ansel here.

Bournemouth CafĂ©s: The Real Eating Company

Independent, cosy and selling deliciously aromatic coffee – what more could you want from a local cafĂ©? Well, probably some good snacks, sandwiches…or a healthy meal just in case you happen to be on a diet! The Real Eating Company, located in the town centre, has it all. As a bonus, it has recently started a collaboration with Lunch’d – a local company which delivers healthy lunch boxes to Bournemouth office desks.

Last Saturday, I was invited, along with some other Bournemouth bloggers, to the Real Eating Company to hear about the partnership with Lunch’d and to taste one of the healthy boxes that are going to be available in the cafĂ© on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Oli, the owner of Lunch’d, and Helena, the owner of The Real Eating Company – both charismatic and friendly people.

We were sat around a table decorated with beautiful daffodils and bags of coffee beans, which are actually roasted at a family-run business in the South of England. We were offered some tea, coffee and freshly squeezed apple juice.

We were also given a lesson about organic herbs grown at a local farm – @greenponics – which provides herbs for Lunch’d boxes. We sampled different kinds of herbs such as beetroot, red cabbage and broccoli microgreens. The intense flavour and sharpness of these herbs was remarkable.

Then, we opened the Lunch’d boxes – almost as if it was a Christmas present! The contents of the box, humorously called the Big Phat Greek box, are inspired by the famous Greek classic Moussaka. It had a mix of potatoes, aubergine and minced meat in it (a vegan option is available as well) and some quinoa salad with beetroot hummus. It was fulfilling, healthy and tasty.

The Big Phat Greek box, this time on a plate, exposed for Bournemouth bloggers to take photos.

After sampling the healthy lunch box, we spoke with Helena and Oli about their project and collaboration. What’s worth mentioning is that both Helena and Oli are business owners devoted to working with local producers from the South Coast of England and choosing only good quality ingredients to give their customers the best culinary experience.

The Real Eating Company’s decoration is an expression of their philosophy – good quality food and coffee sourced from local producers. “We want to make the right decisions for the right reasons, not just for profit or to make shareholders happy,” they say on their website.

I strongly recommend visiting The Real Eating Company not only because it is a genuine and honest place selling good food, but also because it has a business philosophy that I value a lot. Don’t forget to try healthy Lunch’d boxes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! The cafĂ©’s decor will give you a homely and welcoming feeling and I am sure you’ll enjoy visiting and eating at this place.


*The content of this article is my own, honest opinion. This is not a sponsored post

Veganuary: seasonal vegetables and vegan restaurants in Bournemouth.

Veganuary seems to be the most-used word on the internet this month. Is becoming vegetarian or vegan just a temporary fashion or a genuine trend? I truly believe it is the latter! I’m not a vegetarian and I don’t think I could ever be (well, never say never!), but I am one of those people who’s trying to eat less meat. If you have resolved to do the same, you can call yourself a flexitarian or a reducetarian. One of my New Year’s resolutions is also to buy more local, seasonal vegetables.

Some of the British seasonal veggies and fruit I bought: cabbage, beetroots, celery, swede, carrots, brussels sprouts, pears, and apples.
I’m also avoiding greens pre-packed in plastic. It’s difficult to find loose fruit, especially at big supermarkets, but it’s not impossible – if you can, do it!
Choose loose!
I hated brussels sprouts as a child, but now I love them – provided they are not overcooked!

In order to celebrate Veganuary, I decided to explore three vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Bournemouth in search of tasty, local and, ideally, seasonal vegetable dishes. My choices were the Mad Cucumber, the recently opened restaurant Twelve, and the South Coast Roast CafĂ©. The latter is not entirely vegetarian but has the ambition to become so and 80% of the menu is vegan.

Apart from a catchy name, the Mad Cucumber has got a truly environmental ethos, which is clear from their website. It says, ‘Everything is made from scratch, by hand, from mainly local, seasonal and organic ingredients.’

Mad Cucumber is entirely vegan. I can somehow imagine being vegetarian, but vegan seems to be mission impossible!
This is a photo of a burger made from lentils, oats and quinoa. The salad that was served with the burger had some seasonal vegetables like red cabbage and carrots in it. Instead of using rocket, the chef could have used kale, which is in season at the moment. Nevertheless, my veggie burger was tasty and kept me full for a couple of hours!

The South Coast Roast CafĂ© is a true hit again. I love the staff’s philosophy in creating and running this genuine place. I had the pleasure to speak with the owner, Giles, and listened to him passionately talking about using fresh and local ingredients, as well as encouraging people to change their habits and become more environmentally friendly.

My brunch: local sourdough bread, cashew nut cream cheese, caramelised onions, and smashed – seasonal – butternut squash, accompanied with fresh juice made from spinach, kale and other green things. Sorry, I can’t remember all of the ingredients, but it was mouthwatering!

While Mad Cucumber and South Coast Roast are more breakfast & brunch cafĂ©s, Twelve could be a perfect place for a romantic supper, especially since they serve organic wine and other cocktails – Valentines Day is coming, guys! The name of the restaurant Twelve is truly puzzling and made me wonder what it means. In fact, it’s not a random number, and it comes with an interesting meaning. I’m not going to reveal the secret now, as I will definitely devote one of my future posts to describing this beautiful place in more detail.

Just look at this presentation, it’s art on a plate! The left plate contains salt baked celeriac and avocado puree. The right one contains beetroots with hazelnut pralines, braised shallots, and citrus dressing. You simply discover a new, unexpected flavour with each bite. A big plus for using seasonal vegetables!
*We only ordered starters because we had previously prepared dinner, but we’ll come back for more!

These local restaurants in Bournemouth are offering vegan and vegetarian dishes not only because there is a growing demand for it. They’re selling a more conscious life philosophy to people. Eat local because it’s good for the region and the people who work here. Eat seasonally, because seasonal vegetables are at their best and simply delicious. Eat less meat because it improves your health and reduces damage to the environment.

Even though Veganuary is almost at its end, I hope my article has encouraged some of you to eat seasonal vegetables and maybe to try out Veganofebruary by eating in these restaurants. I think I’ve just coined a new word…

South Coast Roast CafĂ©

This post is the first in a series devoted to exploring cafĂ©s in Bournemouth where you can eat tasty breakfasts and brunches and drink good quality coffee. You can trust my taste buds as I am a demanding foodie and I don’t tolerate mediocrity when it comes to food! This article is a review of the South Coast Roast CafĂ© on Richmond Hill in the town centre (address here).

We visited South Coast Roast on a Sunday morning at around 10 o’clock. When we entered the place, which has a raw industrial design and stark wooden tables, the choice of background music was more than surprising. Hearing the Prodigy’s Firestarter that early in the morning, when you rather expect smooth jazz, seemed weird at first, but it awoke our spirits and we found ourselves extremely energetic without even drinking any coffee. Seeing the enthusiastic staff preparing freshly ground coffee and cooking from local ingredients only added to the general feeling that South Coast Roast is a lively and vibrant place.

Salad, grilled tomatoes, chorizo sausage, potato hash and a fried egg
salmon, grilled tomatoes, poached eggs, an avocado toast, and home made chilli jam

The menu offers healthy and original breakfasts and brunches from local produce. The delicious dishes are for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike, and you can also find some gluten-free options. Whatever preference or philosophy for food you have, you’ll find something to enjoy at South Coast Roast. Our choice was a ‘Bondi Breakfast with Salmon’ and a ‘Chorizo & Potato Hash’.

Our breakfast was super tasty, fresh and fulfilling (for both me and a 2-metre tall man so yes, truly fulfilling!). We ordered coffee classics – latte and cappuccino – and were really pleased with their richness and aroma. An interesting fact is that South Coast Roast works with a local coffee roasting company called Bad Hand Coffee (link to their website here) – I’ll be sure to write more about them in the future.

Summing up, the South Coast Roast CafĂ© is a remarkable place to eat breakfast or brunch. This was definitely not my final visit! The cost of a dish is on average ÂŁ7 per person and the cost of a cup of coffee is around ÂŁ3. One final thing that I love is that they don’t serve take away cups and will give you 25p off every drink if you have a reusable one. Ten bonus points for being environmentally friendly!