A chance to win a short break in Harrow

How do you fancy a one night stay with dinner and breakfast for two at the lovely Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow?

If you help PhD student Pedro Longart with some research, you could be in with a chance of winning this.

Pedro, who is undertaking his PhD at Buckinghamshire New University has been in touch to tell us that he is currently conducting academic research into the consumer decisions associated with restaurant selection. As part of this, he is running an on-line survey to help gather information on the decision making processes of restaurant goers.

He’d like to get the views of as many people as possible and wonders if some of our followers might be interested in helping him?

As a way of thanking those who are willing to spend a few minutes answering his on-line questionnaire, Pedro has secured the support of the Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow.  On offer is a free glass of wine at the hotel for all respondents, plus the chance to win a prize draw to win a one night stay at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel with breakfast and dinner for two people.

If you’d like to help with the research and be in with a chance of winning his prize draw, please go to his on-line survey where you’ll need to create your own user name and password which will allow you to return to complete the survey whenever you want.  You then need to tweet Pedro @pedro_longart so that he can send a coupon for the glass of wine.

The deadline for responses is 15th March 2014 and the prize draw is due to take place on 31st March.

Please note UK Dining has no affiliation or involvement in the survey, incentives or prize draw, we are simply giving a helping hand to Pedro in his search for respondents!

Monster vegetables move into Malvern

In vegetable growing circles, Morton, Illinois, is the undisputed pumpkin growing capital of the world.

Yet this weekend, in the heart of the British countryside, monster specimens of this fascinating fruit, will be on display at the Malvern Autumn Show (28th & 29th September).

Amateur growers across the country have been busily growing prize pumpkins for the last few months and ten of the best will be among the bumper crop of 270 giant vegetables, ranging from parsnips, onions and marrows, to leeks, carrots and runner beans – all of them entered into the prestigious UK National Giant Vegetables Championship.

The competition makes its debut at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire this year, following its move from Somerset’s Royal Bath & West Showground, where it has been staged since 1997.


Pumpkins were completely unknown in Europe before the time of Columbus, although they have been grown in America for over 5,000 years!  Like gourds and other varieties of squash, they belong to the Cucurbitacae family, which also includes cucumbers and gherkins, and in the peak growing season, a giant pumpkin can gain 50lbs in weight per day.

It’s easy to grow pumpkins in a home vegetable plot, though they do have a tendency to spread out a bit, so they need a bit of space to grow into.  We’ve been growing them down on the plot for years now.  There’s nothing more rewarding that sowing a few seeds in spring that lead to a crop of tasty winter squashes in late Autumn – this year we’re giving Waltham Butternut and Sweet Dumpling squashes a try and they’ve been coming on very nicely.

The show sounds like a great way to get a bit of inspiration for next year’s vegetable plot – there will be a Good Life Pavilion with edible gardens and Britain’s favourite baker, Mary Berry is a headline guest  on Saturday.






Food on foot in New York

Whenever we travel to a new place, we’re always keen to try out a few local food treats if we can, so on a recent trip to New York we decided to hook up with a local company running Food on Foot tours to get a little off the beaten track.

Food on Foot run a whole range of different food tours and ours took in the East Village with a three hour walk that gave us a flavour of neighbourhood food away from the tourist hotspots.  Meeting under the entrance for Grand Central Terminal (it’s not a station – we’d done that tour the day before!) our group of about 30 from nations around the world slowly came together and we set off on for the subway in pursuit of tour leader Corey. He reckons he’s the only foodie tour leader brave enough to take a large group on the subway – thankfully we didn’t let him down and the whole group made it to the right stop without mishap.

Corey’s strap-line is that he’s a ‘real New Yorker taking you out for real New York food.’ His tours aren’t about gourmet tastings, but about getting to the heart of real New York street food.

Clearly, we’re not going to reveal his route and stops as that would spoil the tour- part of the fun is in not knowing where you’ll go and what you’ll try.  We did six stops though, sampling both savoury and sweet treats at small local establishments that we’d never have otherwise found, let alone tried.    At each stop, Corey told us about the food they specialised in and why he’d included it, then gave a recommendation for what to try.  In between, he sprinkled in a few interesting facts and snippets about New York’s history and culture; giving us little insights that weren’t in the guide books.  It was turning into a great little tour.

New York is famous for its New York style pizza, which apparently originated back in the early 1900’s, but Corey reckons that really good New York style pizza is now getting hard to find, so he wanted to make sure we tasted some on this trip. We’re not big pizza lovers – we eat it occasionally, but can definitely live without it – so we admit to being a little bit tepid about this stop.  We have to say though that the slice we went for was fabulous – most definitely the best pizza we have ever tasted.

At the final sweet stop, we plumped for a ‘New York Italian’ ice cream which was the perfect end to the tour and a thoroughly enjoyable three hours.  It was a good six hours before we could eat anything else!