Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bodum Travel Press Review

Whilst on work experience with Dominic and Rose Prince recently, I was struck by the power people such as these can have. Rose, you see, writes a weekly column for the Telegraph called Tried and Tested, in which different food and kitchenware products are tested and written about. For this week, she was writing about drink warmers and flasks. She asked me to have a browse of the world wide web and see what I could find in the way of useful/innovative/functional drinks warmers, which I did.

One of the ones I found was the Bodum Coffee Travel Press. Rose thought it was good, so I called Bodum's press people, explained what we were doing, and that was it. The next very day, sent by courier and at absolutely no cost, said Travel Press arrived at the Prince household. Just like that. £27 worth of kit arriving next day for nowt.

Come the end of the day, Rose offered me the Bodum to take home and test, which I happily did. The following is the result of that very test.

The Concept

The concept of the Bodum Travel Press is simple but ingenious. It's a flask and a cafetiere at once, so the idea is that you can brew fresh coffee (and tea) whilst out and about, meaning you'll never again have to suffer the perils of instant coffee in a flask when on the go. It also comes with a free extra lid without a press, meaning you can use it as an ordinary flask.

The Design

The Travel Press is certainly something for the eye to behold. The shiny stainless steel body will hold 350ml liquid (about 1 ½ mugs worth) and is finished with an eye-catching rubber grip, available in six different colours and emblazoned with the sleek Bodum logo. The lid comes in a matching colour too. I cannot lie, I did feel pretty cool sitting on the 170 towards Victoria with my bright red and stainless steel Bodum.

The Performance

So far so good. Unfortunately though, this is where things start to go downhill a bit. You see, the concept of brewing fresh coffee or tea on the go is great, but in practise, unless you like your morning caffeine kick black and sugarless, it doesn't really work. Once you have pushed the plunger down, there is a tiny hole through which you must tip your milk/cream and sugar. Doing this on a stationary surface requires a sniper's accuracy in itself, let alone when in a car, train or bus. And of course, unless you wait until you are at your destination, this design also means that you would have to bring milk and sugar with you in your bag/glove box, which is slightly less than convenient. 

Finally, once you have added your 'condiments' (for want of a better word) how do you mix them (as you cannot stir)? Shake the Bodum, I fear, is the only answer. Do it gently though; I discovered, at the cost of a magazine and the cleanliness of my bag, that the lid is not watertight and will leak if turned on its side.

It seemed to me that the best way to use this flask is to brew fresh coffee in a cafetiere at home, add your milk and sugar there, and then just use the normal lid. But that kind of defeats the object, doesn't it?

The Verdict

A fantastic concept that sadly falls short of glory, unless you like your tea and coffee black and sugarless. It still looks great and works well as a normal flask though, but the leak is unforgivable.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Crab and Chilli Linguine

The first time I tried this dish was at the Lugger restaurant in the cosy fishing village of Porthleven in Cornwall. It was an instant hit, and so, a year later, I went about recreating it in my own home, purely by guessing the ingredients and their quantities that this rich and creamy pasta dish necessitates. Obviously, then, this version isn't identical to the one I tried at said Lugger, but I think that's all part of the fun. It's really easy and quick, is cheap, and tastes (nearly) as good as the original. I urge you to give it a go.

Time: 25 mins (You can do it in 20 or less though)
Cost: £1.25 per person (approx)
Serves: 2


- 210g linguine
- 1 x 43g dressed crab meat
- 1 red chilli
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- 100ml single cream
- A sploosh white wine (your choice, I used Echo Valley California Chardonnay)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped parsley


1) First of all get a pan of about a litre of salted water on the boil. Be generous with the salt. Put a deep frying pan/wok on a medium heat.

2) Peel and slice the garlic gloves. If, like me, you don't like it too hot, cut the chilli lengthways and remove the top, then get rid of the seeds. Leave them if you do have a preference for extra heat. Chop the chilli small.

3) Once the water is boiling, add the linguine to the saucepan. Add a lug (about 1-2 tbsp) of olive oil to the wok, and chuck in the garlic and chilli.

4) Once the garlic is turning golden, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the wok, then add the crab meat and mix it in. Add a good sploosh (65ml-ish?) of white wine and then stir in the cream.

5) Once the linguine is cooked, or preferably very nearly cooked, remove from the heat, drain most of the cooking water (reserving a couple of splashes or more) and then add to the wok, with the reserved cooking water.

6) Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix everything together thoroughly.

7) Serve with a salad, or on its own. Garnish with some chopped fresh or dried parsley and a further drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Indulge.