dines at Sant Pau, Sant Pol del Mar

Sant Pau, the flagship of Carme Ruscalleda, is based in the small town of Sant Pol de Mar, just north of Barcelona. Right on the sea, the restaurant's raison d'être is seasonality and local produce, though often cooked in unexpected ways.  Carme also runs a restaurant in Tokyo, and her strong Japanese influences are palpable.  When we visited, the restaurant was celebrating the 9th anniversary of the Toyko opening, and a number of dishes originated at the Tokyo San Pau.

dines at Lasarte, Barcelona

Lasarte is the Barcelona outpost of the Basque chef Martín Berasategui, and the kitchen is run by Paolo Casagrande.  The restaurant is spaciously laid out, and the tiles on the walls replicate the Gaudi tiles on the Paseo de Gracia - a nice touch.

We were impressed by the ingenuity of the menu, and for the most part dishes were very well judged and delivered, both in terms of presentation, quality of ingredients and presentation.

dines at Moments, Barcelona

Moments, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, is the Barcelona outpost of Carme Ruscalleda's Sant Pau restaurant at Sant Pol del Mar.  The kitchen is run by Carme's son, Raül Balam, and serves Catlan food in a modern style.

dines at Enoteca, Barcelona

I'm in Barcelona, it's 20ºC on the terrace, and Femme D'Argent is blasting on my headphones - what's not to love?

Add to that an agenda that includes three 2* Michelin restaurants, and one 3*, and you know my mood is going to be relaxed, expansive, and happy...

lunches at Blanc Brasserie, Barcelona

The Blanc Brasserie is the main restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona, though they also have the Michelin starred Moments.

Food is well executed, and the kitchen turn out a wide variety of Catalan, Spanish and Oriental dishes.  We particularly enjoyed the miso octopus, which was succulent and tender, and I loved the inclusion of pink peppercorns in the yakitori which gave it a piquancy not usually found.

lunches at Holder and Hartnett, at Lime Wood...

When I mention that I spend half my time in the New Forest, people push me for hotel and restaurant recommendations... And the problem with the Forest is that it is a destination - over ten million people pour into it to it every year to camp, trek, and cycle through the woods, and sail out of the beautiful harbours - consequently, a great proportion of the restaurants in the area cater for the tourist market.

lunches at Galvin at Windows...

Galvin at Windows, my favourite restaurant with a view... Perched high above London on top of the Hilton, it's has enviable vistas from every window. The greatest joy is that no matter how many times you've been, you notice something new...

I was meeting up with my darling Valerie and the effervescent Sarah (she of the excellent Brock Hall Farm goat's cheese).  Galvin was unanimously chosen as our venue - indeed Valerie and I became friends because of Galvin - we're both utterly addicted to André Garrett's foie gras, duck pastilla and date consommé - it's one of our favourite dishes anywhere.

dines at Sumosan...

Mayfair's Sumosan is one of three restaurants worldwide run by the Wolkow family.  It's one of the trendier Japanese restaurants, with groovy music, dimmed lighting and excellent cocktails.

lunches at le Champignon Sauvage...

We visited Cheltenham during a blizzard in January, and though our shooting ended up being cancelled, we were very happy to have the opportunity to visit le Champignon Sauvage.

David and Helen Everitt-Matthias first opened lCS in 1987, and have held two Michelin stars for thirteen years.  David has also won the National Chef of the Year competition, and has three excellent cookbooks to his name, all of which I adore, and which I dragged along to be signed by David.

lunches at The Jetty

It may be a grey, wintry day, but there is nothing to cheer the soul like a sea view, with scudding clouds, and wading birds floating above a reflective sea...  Even better then, if you can take-in that view from within a warm, bright and glass wrapped haven.

The Jetty appears to float above Christchurch Harbour - all weathered wood, sparkling glass and steel - it's perched like a launching boat, next to the grey waters.   It is run by by Alex Aitken, who has cooked in the New Forest for over twenty-five years.  At le Poussin he held a Michelin star, and he moved to The Jetty in 2010.