#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

Vegetables! We love 'em. One thing I didn't really anticipate in running a dessert bar (weirdly, I know), is quite how much sugar I'd start eating! I mean, someone has to be the official taste tester, right? But that does mean both Jaime and I quite often crave salt, protein, and vegetables. Lots and Lots of vegetables. 

One great cookbook that satisfies any veg craving we have is River Cottage Veg everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. BBQ corn on the cob? Yup. Lemony Guacamole? He's got it. Beetroot Hummus? Why, yes please! Brussels Sprout winter stir-fry? Don't mind if I do!

Although- I must admit our love for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage runs deep (so deep, he is in fact referred to as "Hugh" in our household), so we would recommend any of his books/shows/restaurants anyway, but this one is a pretty solid 'go to' in our house when we want variety. With over 200 recipes, it's hard to get stuck in a rut of making the same old, same old!

Last night for dinner, we made one of our favourites from this book: Mexican Black Bean and Tomato Soup. YUM. Chock full of veg, lovely beans for protein, and a dollop of sour cream so you feel a bit naughty, this hearty soup works through all the seasons and is generally made of staples in our household: tomatoes, black beans and red onion. It's easy to alter based on your fridgeful (for example, sometimes we roast the tomatoes first, other times we use a leftover jar of pasta sauce instead of passata, or sometimes we even throw in bean variations, extra vegetables, or toss a few tortilla chips over the top). We also tend to leave this soup pretty chunky and take the 'finely chopped' suggestion with a grain of salt (see what I did there? ;-), so if you do go ahead and make this recipe, chop it your way! 

All I know is that vegetables are great, this soup is magical, and this cookbook is often used in our house and highly recommended!

Mexican Tomato and Bean Soup

Hugh Fernly Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg everyday!


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 medium-hot green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

600ml veg stock

200ml roasted tomato sauce or passata

400g ripe tomatoes, cored, deseeded, and finely chopped

400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed

a handful of oregano, chopped

a pinch of sugar

juice of 1 lime

small handful of coriander, roughly chopped

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

To Finish: sour cream, chopped coriander


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat, add most of the onions (reserving a little to finish the soup) and salute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, chillies and cumin and stir for a minute. 

Add the stock, roasted tomato sauce or passata, tomatoes, beans, oregano, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the soup topped with dollops of soured cream, if you like, and scattered with the reserved red onion, chopped coriander, and freshly ground pepper.

N.B (from Chef Jaime): We like to top our soup with a bit of grated cheddar and some chopped avocado as well. In these images you can see the homemade bread we made- simply mix 1:1 greek yogurt to self-raising flour with some olive oil, roll out, and pan-fry in a non-stick pan! Perfect for dipping and the tang of the yogurt in the bread accompanies this soup particularly well.  

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

With two little figs running around our house (ages 1 and 3 years-old), we love recipes that involve a bit of a 'project'. Filling these muffins with pear chocolate jam is just the ticket for a little bit of extra fun (and mess! I can't lie!). Plus, the left over pear chocolate jam is a great 'special treat' (as our girls say) on rice cakes for snack times later on in the week. With a bit of freshly sliced pear layered over top, you can also enjoy 1 of your 5 a day!

Churro Mini-Muffins with Pear Chocolate Jam

Pear Chocolate Jam


700g peeled & cored pears in a small dice

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp cold water

275g caster sugar

big pinch cinnamon

85g best quality dark chocolate chips


In a wide mouthed pan over low to medium heat, cook pears, lemon juice, & water for about 5 minutes until the pears begin to soften. Add the caster sugar and cinnamon and stir to dissolve.  Leave to cook down for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is a bit gooey. Cool for about 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz to consistency desired (note from Chef Jaime: we like to leave a bit of texture in our jam, so it’s not completely smooth).  Stir the chocolate into the warm mix until melted. Set aside.


Churro Mini-Muffins

(makes 24)


350g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

100g caster sugar

110g brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly whisked

240ml whole milk

85g butter, melted


Butter & Sugar Bath

6 Tbsp melted butter

100g caster sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon



1)   Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter and flour mini muffin tin and set aside.

2)   Place flour, backing powder, salt, caster sugar, and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.

3)   Add eggs and milk, whisk again. With the whisk running on low, slowly tip melted butter into the batter. Whisk until fully combined.

4)   Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 12-15minutes until the edges begin to brown.

5)   Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Push the back of a spoon into the top of the muffin to create a small hole and wiggle around to create space in the center of the muffin. Using a piping bag with a small tip, pipe the pear chocolate jam into the middle until the muffin feels heavier and you cannot fit any more jam inside without the muffin exploding. Immediately dip top into melted butter and then directly into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

6)   Eat and enjoy!


#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

It's my favourite post of the month! This year, we have started the #figbarcookbookclub where we will share one of our favourite cookbooks from our home collection (of over 120!) and cook one of the recipes here along with you! Last month was the brilliant Victuals, and if you missed that post, definitely check the archives for it and the biscuit recipe.

This month's pick may seem a bit surprising to you, or maybe not! Either way, I'm super excited to share Hotel Chocolat's A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate as February's cookbook club pick. We received this book as a gift a few years ago and have turned to it for inspiration to add chocolate to literally e v e r y t h i n g. The beauty of this book is helping turn sweet into savoury in a delicate way. Yes, there is a 'dessert' section that, of course, utilizes chocolate in every recipe, but just wait till you flick through the unconventional chocolate uses: black pepper cocoa nib beef jerky, not-so-scotch egg, beetroot carpaccio, rump steak burger with cocoa beer-braised onions, cocoa brine roast turkey, citrus salad with white chocolate dressing, portobello mushroom risotto.... have I enticed your tastebuds enough? If that doesn't, then the gorgeous pictures definitely will. The book also is a lovely introduction to the Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, Hotel Chocolat's beautiful cocoa estate, with a bit of it's history and ideals of sustainability (brilliant news since I recently read an article that the cocoa plant may be extinct by 2050!!!!! But more on that tangent another time...). As mentioned in a little footnote at the start of the book, "falling in love with Rabot Estate was easy". If this book and it's elegant dishes say anything, it's that I love the Rabot Estate too! 

But, alas (said for increased dramatics), if we can't all go to St. Lucia to eat chocolate, let's use this book to bring the warm islands to our cold February, England! 

One dish in particular has become Jaime's & my go-to for one-upping our friends in the pot-luck appetizer game (now they'll read this and know our secret!), which is this brilliant recipe for 'Smoked Mackerel Ganache'. Oh. My. Goodness, you guys. When I first made this, I thought it would be tasty, but believe me when I say, "It is tasty.". Make sure that you use only the best quality ingredients you can find for this recipe, especially the smoked mackerel, and pair it with really good quality bread. There's a recipe for cocoa nib crispbread in the book that is a great complement. 

Recipes taken from "A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate" from the Hotel Chocolat

Purchase the book here

Smoked Mackerel Ganache


125g peppered smoked mackerel

100g cream cheese

zest and juice ½ lemon

2 Tbsp White Chocolate Horseradish (recipe follows)

salt and pepper


Skin the mackerel and make sure there are no bones in it. Break into smallish pieces. Place in a bowl along with all the other ingredients and use your hands to mix everything until completely combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (note from Steph- the only reason it lasts in my fridge for 3 days is if I make it ahead of time for a party. I’ve never ended up with leftovers!).


White Chocolate Horseradish


50g white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter content)

110g creamed horseradish


Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the hot water. (chef note from Jaime- this is called a ‘bain marie’).

While the bowl is still sitting over the pan, add the creamed horseradish and mix until fully combined with the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat for 1 minute further. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed- it will keep for up to 2 weeks. (Note from Steph – eat this for breakfast to up your avocado and salmon toast game!).


Breakfast in Bed!

Breakfast in Bed!

Did you see the new Vanilla Magazine? It's a gorgeous collection of reasons to 'love your locals': fashion, beauty, homes, and (of course) food! Chef Jaime Garbutt features this month in their article 'Yes Chef!' with a recipe that will woo your honey or impress your mummy... Valentine's Day, Pancake Day, Mother's Day... we've got you covered! Breakfast in Bed anyone?

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Here's the rest of the recipe to complete the cake featured in Vanilla. It's time consuming, but so adorable! 

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

See Vanilla Magazine Feb/March 2018 pg. 82 for Recipe (available at Figbar if you need!) 


Maple Milk


1 Tbsp buttermilk

1 Tbsp maple syrup


Place buttermilk and maple syrup into a small bowl, whisk with a fork to emulsify. Set aside until required.


Maple Icing


100g unsalted butter

75g maple syrup

250g icing sugar

1 tsp lemon juice


1)   In the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk butter and maple syrup together until well combined.

2)   Sift the icing sugar into the maple mix. On a low speed, incorporate the sugar into the maple mix. Add the lemon juice, and mix again

3)   Turn the speed to high and whisk for about 5 minutes until the icing is light and doubled in volume.

4)   With a spatula, decant the icing into a piping bag. Set aside.


Maple Candied Bacon


4-6 strips of good quality bacon

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar


1)   Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

2)   Place bacon strips in a single layer row on the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy.

3)   While the bacon is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and brown sugar until the brown sugar dissolves into the maple syrup. Set aside.

4)   Remove from the oven and, using a pastry brush, immediately coat the bacon pieces with the maple syrup mix. Flip the bacon and coat again. Use all of the mix.

5)   Set aside and allow to cool completely. Break the crispy bacon into small pieces. Set aside.


Vanilla Buttermilk American Pancakes

Makes about 25 bite-size pancakes


125g  plain flour

2 Tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

pinch of salt

240g buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

60g melted butter

1 tsp coconut oil, for frying


1)   In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

2)   Add buttermilk, vanilla extract, beaten egg, and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the mix to rest.

3)   In a non-stick frying pan over low heat, melt coconut oil.

4)   Using a dessert spoon, spoon small rounds of batter into the frying pan. 

5)   Once bubbles begin to form in the frying batter, flip the cakes over.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides. Making the perfect pancakes is an art form and may require some practice. Don’t panic if the first set is overdone, turn down the heat and go again.

6)   Place cooked pancakes on a plate to cool. Continue with steps 4-5 until all the batter is used. Set aside to use for decorating.


To Decorate:

On each cooled cake, pipe maple icing in small rounds to build a beehive shape base. Sprinkle candied bacon pieces atop of the icing, paying particular attention to the sides. Place 2-3 mini pancakes on the top of the icing, gently pressing to create a solid foundation. Add two small pats of butter and just before serving, if you feel particularly fancy, drizzle with a little maple syrup so it drips down the edges of the pancakes. 

#figbarathome : Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread

#figbarathome : Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread

The most winning combination I can think of? Beer and bread. There is some yeasty magic behind how beautifully the flour and beer bubble together that cannot be topped. You can make a simple beer bread with just 3 ingredients (beer, self-raising flour, and sugar), or you can exercise your right to experimenting by adding extra elements. This beer bread recipe below does that, twice. We've taken one of our favourite lagers from Adnams (Earl Grey Lager, which we also have our our menu at Figbar) and upped the ante by creating a beautiful little beer bread bundt with it (we only did that for the alliteration, any bread tin or cake tin will do). The brilliance of beer bread (sorry, I love alliteration!), is that you can create so many flavors just by changing the beer you use in your basic recipe. What I love about this particular recipe we are sharing here is that the honey prevents the sweetness from distracting from the beer.

If you have ever tried the Earl Grey Lager by Adnams, then you'll remember the tea that lingers on your palette. This bread barely hints at the strength of the tea, but instead lends itself to a slight acidity with lovely buttery tang. We've included a variation with the ingredients to give more of an earl grey kick, but do try it each way and see which you prefer.


Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread


400g plain flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

80g honey (reduce to 75g if including optional ingredients)

1 x 330ml bottle Adnams Earl Grey lager

100g butter, melted

1tsp lemon juice (optional)

1 earl grey tea bag, contents only (optional)



1.     Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease a 6 hole bundt tin with butter (see n.b for other options of bread tin).

2.     In a large bowl, place flour, baking powder, salt, and honey (if using lemon juice and tea leaves, add them now too)

3.     Pour Earl Grey Lager directly over the other ingredients, and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until all ingredients come together. Do not over mix.

4.     Pour half of the melted butter evenly into the bottoms of the bundt tin. Use a pastry brush to push the melted butter into all the crevises.

5.     Evenly split the dough into each hole in the bundt tin. (It will about double in size, so try not to overfill your particular tin).

6.     Evenly brush the remaining 50g butter along the top of the dough.

7.     Bake for 20-30 minutes until the bread is golden and a knife inserted to the middle comes out clean. (Fair warning here, this is the trickiest part of the entire recipe and does take a bit of practice. A toothpick can come out clean, but you’ll slice the bread only to find the texture doughy to eat. Next time, add 5 minutes to your cooking time. If you do find this, I recommend slicing the bread and popping it into the toaster and then slathering with butter. J).

8.     Serve immediately from oven (though it’s still good for days in the bread drawer and makes a killer sandwich bread).




A few notes:

* You can use any bread tin your have, you’ll just have to adjust the baking times. For example, a 9x5x3inch standard bread tin will take 40-50 minutes to cook properly. I made this recipe in a large bundt tin and it cooked in 35 minutes. If you feel unsure, set your timer for 20 minutes and then every 5 thereafter until the bread is done. The sheer amount of butter drenching the top of this bread helps keep the browning turn to burning.

* It may help to ‘melt’ your honey a bit in the microwave so it cooperates when mixing.

* Try this same recipe with any brand or style of beer and taste the results! It’s super fun experimenting with flavours and styles (ale vs. lager, pumpkin vs. clementine,  American craft vs. British craft, etc.), and also great to know you can have good bread quickly just with a can of beer on hand!


#figbarcookbookclub : Victuals

#figbarcookbookclub : Victuals

New Year, new things to cook! Or in this case, for me anyway, old things, memory-type things. Each month here on 'Crumbs' we are going to be recommending and sharing one of our favourite cookbooks on our home kitchen shelves. To start, I wanted to feature a beautiful cookbook that hit the shelves in 2016: Victuals: an Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy, a US author and editor. The book won the prestigious James Beard Media Awards in April 2017 for Best American Cooking as well as the top book award for Cookbook of the Year. If that doesn't indicate it's going to be a stunning collection of recipes, I don't know what will! 

As many of you know, I am from the USA- East Tennessee to be exact, and this book focuses on all my childhood favorites (I'll spell like an American for this :-). There's unashamed use of buttermilk, cornmeal, and sorghum. There are stories and words that only those from Appalachia will recognize or be able to pronounce. And there are flavors, ooooh my goodness are there flavors!  Every recipe we have made from this book in our kitchen has brought out a new story from my youth, my tastebuds filling my head with memories.

The recipe I'm going to share with you from the book is for the 'Bigger isn't Better Buttermilk Biscuits'. After I made the recipe and took a bite of one hot from the oven, I did one of those incredibly cliche closed-eyes, full-mouthed sighs of 'ooh, yeah...'. They are everything from my youth: biscuits and sausage gravy (a breakfast food), fried chicken, pork chops with applesauce, afternoon snack... It's one of the first things you learn to make because they are quite easy, but delicate, and you use your hands to mix so to really get to know the dough and the power of mixing the ingredients. They also whip together quickly without much fuss, so you can have fresh biscuits for breakfast or dinner in 20 minutes. Perfection.

Bigger isn’t Better Buttermilk Biscuits

from Victuals


8 Tbsp (113.5g) butter, cold, diced plus extra for the cookie sheet

2 ½ cups (400g) of plain flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)

1 tsp salt

1 cup (215g) buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Cut the butter into the flour mixture and use your fingers to flightly mix the flour and butter together until they form pea-sized clumps. Add the buttermilk all at once. Quickly and lightly mix it in until the dough just holds together.

Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and gently pat it down; then fold it over and gently pat it down again. (Gently. Really.) Lightly roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¾  inch and cut out biscuits with a straight-sided 2- or 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter. Cut straight down, without twisting. Place the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet with space between them and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are just turning golden. Serve immediately.

NB: Watch your biscuits, when I made this recipe, they cooked in 10 minutes. Remember all ovens are different! After cutting the biscuits, take the scraps and gently mush together dough the size of a large egg and round it into a dome shape. Place them onto a prepared cookie sheet. They will be ugly, but just as tasty, and you can’t say fairer than that. 


#fillourtable : Jaime & Stephanie Garbutt

#fillourtable : Jaime & Stephanie Garbutt

It's Christmas Eve Eve! And you guys asked for it, so we are delivering- Jaime and I have answered the questions we dished out below :-) 

I cannot enough thank all the beautiful souls who supported our #fillourtable Christmas Party invitation. We absolutely adored getting to know this brilliant collection of people that little bit better, and we cannot wait for more with each of them in the year to come.

We here at Figbar wish all of you an incredibly happy and merry holiday season filled with good food, good friends & family, and lots of love. We are so grateful to you all for allowing us to sweeten your days and hearts with our treats. You sweeten ours more than you could imagine! 

We close tonight (December 23rd, 2017) at 10pm and reopen again in the New Year on Tuesday, January 9th. We cannot wait to see you all again soon for a good catch up and smile! Wishing you all so much joy and love!


Steph & Jaime

So here we are, the last two to sit down at the sharing table. We have so loved having everyone here to help #fillourtable and cannot wait for another party next year! 

Name: Stephanie Garbutt

What you do: co-own Figbar and CakebyFigbar with my gorgeous hubby Jaime
A bit more about Steph: My family is from the USA, and I moved to Norwich 10 years ago to complete my MA in Creative Writing at the UEA. During this time, I met Jaime, and the rest is history! We have two beautiful daughters (the 'little figs' Ella & Ariele) and a lovely little dog named Figgy Pudding. 

(Side note- Check out my poetry collection that I wrote based on my MA thesis. It's called Metrophobia - then buy a copy or two. It makes a great present!).


1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from the fab guests you already invited, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

I LOVE a huge dinner party with a strong mix of characters. I would love to chat to Coco Chanel, Giovanni Boccaccio (he wrote my fav book The Decameron), Walt Disney, Bing Crosby, Audrey Hepburn, and Richard Branson.

2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

All of them. But seriously, all foods from our garden because it's magic watching things grow. In that same regard, I love all home cooked foods (breads, roasts, cakes, etc) because the energy and commitment that goes into creating a meal is beautiful. I am incredibly thankful for Jaime's focaccia bread, stout mocha cake, and porridge (because he makes this every morning for our daughters and that means I don't have to cook breakfast!).

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

Thanksgiving. I love every part of the tradition it contains (particularly my grandmother's vintage plates with turkeys on them). I also love a tradition that my parents started for my siblings and my birthdays- we were allowed to choose any meal that we wanted to eat and the rest of the family would make it for the birthday kid. Through this, my three siblings and I learned so much about food and its preparation. One birthday it would be lobster, the next kale with lemon, sometimes chicken parm. It's such a charming collection of our eating habits and how we changed and grew into adults. 

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

I am forever grateful to my parents for instilling in me the value of an education and a love of reading. So while it is an ongoing act and not a single one, the act of kindness that has made the biggest difference is my parents encouragement, support, and demand for my best. Thanks, Mom and Dad! I hope I can be as awesome as you at this parenting thing!   

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Definitely when Jaime asked me to marry him (in Iceland under the Northern Lights!)- what better compliment than someone saying they like you enough to be with you forever? 

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I would use it to buy a tired and stressed out mum a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar the next time I was in a coffee shop to say "you're doing a great job!". I love the idea of paying it forward and making someone's day in an unexpected way. It's really hard being a mum and, especially when it's new, it's overwhelming. Often, many of us feel like breaking down frequently or like we're only just holding it together (another shout out to We Got This! (sometimes)!). So even without my dollar to buy you the coffee, please hear me when I say: "Hey mama who may be reading this right now- YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!!" 



Name: Jaime Garbutt

What you do: co-own Figbar and CakebyFigbar with Steph
A bit more about Jaime: I love to travel, to eat, and to explore. I love my wife, my kids, my dog, and good food. 


1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from the fab guests you already invited, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

Aside from Family I think it would be exciting to share the table with chefs I admire: Pierre Koffman, Thomas Keller, Jordi Roca, and Fergus Henderson are currently at the forefront.

2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

Working with pastry and sugar all day means in my down time, salty and savoury is the name of the game. Bacon is definitely up there, but also potatoes, the classic english roast, and curry. 

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

With a new family it's a chance to start creating traditions of your own. Making pancakes for my girls on Sunday mornings is something we've been doing for over a year now, so it's pretty special.  

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

My wife, my family, my friends, my staff and my kids, putting up with me as well as helping us through, without question or hesitation, through all the crazy challenges the last 10 years has thrown at us.

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Winning EDP best new comer was a honour.

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I'd give it AREDS, an Indian NGO who I worked with for many years and who are like a surrogate family to me. Samy and Christi's work, dedication, personal sacrifice, and total unquestioning support of the people they work with and help to protect is, unfortunately, a rarity in this day and age. I love them dearly. 


Thank you all again so much for joining us at our sharing table this Christmas to #fillourtable!! We feel so lucky to have gotten to know everyone!



#fillourtable : Topless Baker

#fillourtable : Topless Baker

It's officially winter and Christmas is now only 3 sleeps away! I can't think of a better guest to next #fillourtable here at our (fictional) Figbar Christmas Dinner Party: Matt Adlard aka Topless Baker! 

The world of social media is a crazy one, and Matt is a star among it. His skills, winning smile, and fab biceps are melting hearts (and chocolate) across the internet. His youtube channel is such great fun, and his instagram account is simply lovely. He knows how to demonstrate and also how to poke a bit of fun at himself. He's charming, and you'll find great joy in watching him! 

Matt is Norwich raised, and, as often happens in our Fine City, he and I ran into each other on the Earlham Road. Having never met in person, we both stopped and pointed at each other me questioning "Matt?"  and him "Steph?"... and both exclaiming "I know you!" It's strange to meet an internet friend in real life, isn't it? I feel as though you forget that you hadn't even officially befriended one another yet... and in a way the other person is like a book character. How fun it is to have them in person!! 

Matt is as utterly charming in real life as he is online. He is genuine and interesting and just lovely. It is with sheer joy that I introduce the next guest to #fillourtable: Matt Adlard!

Name: Matt Adlard
What you do: I’m a YouTube chef & baker!
A Bit About Matt: I’m 26 years old and grew up in Norwich all my life with my family. I went to Wymondham College before going to study International Business in Birmingham. After university I worked in London for 3 years but I got pretty tired on the craziness and recently moved back. I now live here with my girlfriend and our little puppy Cookie! 

Find Matt: 






1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

I have a lot of family in America who we don’t get to spend Christmas with very often, so I would love to have my English & American family all together at our Christmas table. 

2. What foods are you most thankful for?

Chocolate! Everything at Christmas has to have chocolate in it :)

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

Our tradition is quite non traditional in that we cook whatever we really crave - so If someone wants mashed potatoes, or dauphinoise at Christmas we have that! We never stick to one specific meal each year, we just have a schmorgesborg of all our favourites! 

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

I was lucky to inherit some money from my aunt, and it was a huge help in setting me up with my first house and getting settled back in Norwich. So I’m thankful everyday for her support! 

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

My dad said I had nice arms on TV once ;) 

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I’d give it to my baby niece! I’ve got a little piggy bank set up for her, so when she turns 18 she has a pot of money to go travelling with, so I would top that up :) 


Thank you, Matt! We so loved getting to know you better!!

#fillourtable : moon + moss jewellery

#fillourtable : moon + moss jewellery

The countdown is ON!! Only 4 sleeps to Christmas morning! Who better to lead us closer to the morning of cinnamon buns (in our house anyway) and fresh coffee (shout out to Strangers Coffee Christmas Blend!), than the fabulous Sophie Kowalyk of moon + moss jewellery? We are SO excited to have Sophie here to #fillourtable!! OK, full disclosure, Sophie is often here to #fillourtable because she's our incredible manager here at Figbar (a woman of many talents!), but for this (fictional) event, she comes to us with her creative maker hat on because we really want to highlight her side gig moon + moss jewellery because, frankly, it's SO PRETTY. 

Sophie is stellar. She is so motivated, so talented, and so creative. She has such a keen eye for detail and beauty, and she brings her artistic force to every aspect of her life. Her beautiful jewellery adorns many a person in Norfolk and beyond, and you can find your very own piece at Elm on Dove Street (This jewellery makes a great gift or stocking filler for you, Santa! Add it to your list, friends, as I'm sure we've all made the 'nice' one!). The aesthetic of moon + moss really highlights the beauty of the semi-precious stones individual to each piece. My personal favourite are the copper star earrings... or any piece with the rainbow quartz! (I think I may just have convinced myself to go shopping...)

Sophie, you are such a superb addition to our Christmas Dinner Party, and we are delighted you are here to #fillourtable!! 

Name: Sophie Kowalyk
What you do: Baker by day, Jewellery maker by night

A Bit About Sophie: I live in Norwich with my cat Chip, staffy dog Gypsy Rose and my housemate who cooks the best Chinese food! I work at Figbar during the day and make moon + moss jewellery in my spare time. 

Find Sophie @moonandmossjewellery on Instagram


1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why? 

I would do anything to have my late Grandad there. I never met him as he died when my Dad was 17. He was born in Ukraine and had a very tough early life and lost all his family at a young age due to the war, but seemed to carry on in life with passion!  I would also invite the late Carl Sagan, so we could talk about star stuff! Also Tom Hardy because, why not?! 

2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

Food my Mum cooks and food my fiancés Mum, Gina, cooks. Both do it with love and will always make sure my belly is full.  I also absolutely love my partner's scrambled eggs. He makes the best scrambled eggs. (Sorry, Jaime!! - my boss who also always cooks me scrambled eggs).

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

I can't really think of a family food tradition that my family has but I have started cooking a roast dinner for my house mate and who ever else is round on a Sunday and this now feels like a little tradition which I hope to carry on when I have my own family! 

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

I've met the most beautiful group of women through social media and have friends who would help me out no matter what so there's been lots of times when this has made a difference. I also am super lucky to have a pair of amazing bosses in my day job who have made me think differently about food, work and life! 

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

A couple of my friends have told me that I inspired them to start their own businesses and that I gave them the courage to do so. To hear that is very lovely because most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, it just looks like I do! 

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I would give it to an animal charity. My dog and cat are big part of my life and I can't bear to see any animals suffering. Although a pound isn't a lot every little donation helps. 

Thank you, Sophie!! We love having you at Figbar, especially for our Christmas Dinner Party :-) 

#fillourtable : Dynamic Fitness

#fillourtable : Dynamic Fitness

It's the last day before the winter equinox, and we have a brilliant guest here to #fillourtable at our (hypothetical) Figbar Christmas Dinner Party. The incomparable Ross Lenton from Dynamic Fitness Norwich! And he definitely brings the party wherever he goes. 

Ross has an endless supply of energy, positivity, and the most motivating playlist you'll find. He knows when to pump up the volume and when you need to turn it down a little. He is a fab listener, incredibly thoughtful, supportive, and just plain fun. We definitely need a cool guy like him here at our dinner table. 

One of the best things about Ross and his awesome personal training studio, Dynamic Fitness, is that once you start, you don't want to stop! They have running clubs, summer BBQ's (don't worry, egg and spoon races are likely to appear here!), rowing competitions, press-up challenges (he even had Chef Jaime Garbutt doing the 6 weeks to 100 press-ups!), and more. Ross is another Norwich gem born and raised. He's well-travelled, but he knew the best place to settle down was obviously our Fine City! So 10 years ago he rooted his dynamic business here (see what I did there? ;-), which is currently located on Ber Street. I know, I know, having a personal trainer in our midst may make us a little anxious- rethinking that extra helping of mashed potatoes (oh. my. goodness. I know this dinner party is hypothetical, but Jaime's mash is unbeatable- sorry, Mom), but I promise- Ross gets it. He gets good food, moderation, extravagance, and that this dinner party especially is a time to go a bit overboard. So, let's dig in, Figbar fans! We've got Ross to help whip us back into shape come January! 

Ross Lenton of Dynamic Fitness, thank you for bringing the party and coming to help #fillourtable! 


Name: Ross Lenton

What you do: Owner at Dynamic Fitness

A Bit About Ross: I'm a Norwich boy originally but after Uni I went to Sydney, Australia and qualified as a Personal Trainer. After some amazing results I decided to come back to Norwich in 2008 to set up Dynamic Fitness. I have had almost 10 successful years of helping clients get fitter and happier, together with running many successful Fitness Events.

Currently, I live in the Golden Triangle with my lovely new wife Sarah. My amazing Mum lives in Norwich and my 2 brothers live in Thailand and Vancouver!

Find Ross & Dynamic Fitness here:

Insta twitter and facebook @dynamicfitnessnorwich



1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

Even though I actually met him this year, it would be cool to have David Beckham!

2. What foods are you most thankful for?

Sorry, Steph, but I would have to say steak!

(Editor's note- Steph here, the apology is because I'm a vegetarian! :-) 

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

Summer BBQ's!

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

My Friend, Paul's, Parents allowing me to rent their house and allow me to turn the back room into my first Gym!

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

My best man, Tom Ellis, said in his best man speech (amongst other things!) that I am the most positive person he has ever met :)

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

Whoever needed it the most

Thank you, Ross!! We love having you here at our table, and cannot wait to clear the table for a little dance party when we are done :-) 


#fillourtable : We Got This! (Sometimes)

#fillourtable : We Got This! (Sometimes)

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too... come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you..." is playing through our sound system as our next guest arrives to #fillourtable here at our (fictional) Figbar Christmas Dinner Party! It's the simply gorgeous superwoman Emma Victor-Smith, founder of the excellent parent events company We Got This! (Sometimes). If you are reading this and are a parent, stop right now and follow We Got This! (Sometimes) on all social channels linked below (then come back and finish finding out about it's founder!). If you aren't a parent and reading this, stop right now and follow We Got This! (Sometimes) on the social channels linked below, all events aren't exclusively for parents or mums, like the upcoming Fashion Re:boot (also linked below), and often you'll find yourself thankful for the upbeat and positive quotes posted. 

I first met Emma after the launch event of We Got This (Sometimes). The name of her company alone made me feel like she may be my kindred spirit. It turns out, she is absolutely brilliant. Fearless, positive, hardworking, dedicated, motivated, but, and probably most importantly, honest and real. She is all these brilliant things, but she also will tell you like it is- days will be hard, parenting can be rough; life can be rough, but that doesn't mean you can't find the smiles. Which this superwoman does for sure. I'm am so incredibly inspired by her attitude towards starting a company as a young parent and the community that she has already created because of it. I am so grateful that she's here to #fillourtable and share her experiences. Our Fine City certainly has a lot of gems, and Emma Victor-Smith is one of them.

I am thrilled to introduce Emma Victor-Smith, founder of We Got This! (Sometimes) as the next guest to #fillourtable! 

But first.... 

Upcoming events… We Got This (Sometimes!) presents:

Busting the Supermum Myth with Anya Hayes at St Giles Hotel, 19/1/2018, 10am

The Scummy Mummies Show at Norwich Playhouse, 31/1/2018, 20:00

Fashion Re:boot at The Narthex, The Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist, 23/2/2018, 19:00


OK, Emma, welcome to our ideal dinner party! 

Name: Emma Victor-Smith

What you do: Founder of Parent Events business We Got This! (Sometimes) and Freelance Brand Consultant

A Bit About Emma: I'm Emma, Norfolk girl (went to school in Bradwell and Gorleston, have settled in Hethersett), wife to (long suffering) Mike, and mum to two children, 4 and 11 months. My background is delivering design and marketing projects for food manufacturers and retailers and I’m still dabbling in that a little. My new project is creating lovely, laidback, fun, sometimes glamorous events for parents in Norwich and the surrounds, called We Got This (sometimes) (as in all honesty no parent has got it, all the time).

Find Emma:


instagram @wegotthissometimes

facebook WeGotThisNorwich

twitter @we_got_this_s



1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

My husband! He has been away a lot. If we could squeeze lots of people in, also my friends, we are mostly with kids or live across the country, I’d love to have everyone in one room in real life, not just on what’s app! Only adults though, so we could finish conversations.


2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

I love food so much, and miss eating out now we have little ones (we used to go out A LOT when we lived in the city centre before children)! So anything cooked by anyone else, at home or out, out. Marmite on toast and a cup of tea is my big love. I also love steak. And very dark chocolate.


3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

To be honest, I tried to keep out of the kitchen growing up, now I enjoy cooking if I have lots of time and a recipe (so hardly ever!). I did like making cranberry sauce one christmas eve (with vodka) with my parents, and my mum taught me to make a delicious stuffing. In our home, a Sunday roast has a special feeling (for about 5 minutes until it all goes wrong!).


4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

So so many! I am not sure how far back to go. Most recently, it has been my husband, friends and family who have their own issues, challenges, day-to-day routines and yet supported the launch of We Got This (sometimes) in such amazing and different ways. It can be isolating and paranoia creeps in so much when you are a mum. Especially if you are self employed. You have to have some grit and I have grown (?) a brass neck but the support and words of encouragement, being the first guest speaker, specially discounted training, social media sharing, ad hoc babysitting, hands on help, contacts of contacts, proof reading and more, they were and are all acts of kindness. It all has a huge ripple effect as I can help others with the business - I think if everyone is benefitting in various ways it is the best outcome - I love collaborating.


5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

I am not sure about ever received, that would probably be if a client ever said a piece of work was outstanding as I can’t help but be a perfectionist (I’m trying to lower standards now for obvious reasons!). Recently, some lovely women have contacted me privately to say how brilliant they think We Got This is, and that they found it inspiring, which makes me feel like an imposter but also very happy inside. Very recently, two of my friends children on two separate occasions gave me a spontaneous kiss which makes my heart burst!


6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

To Get me out of These Four Walls, a local charity for mums suffering with post-natal depression, it is such an important charity as it is difficult enough after having a baby, so to get out and meet other mums who understand your brain is such a tonic, I hope to support it next year.


Thank you, Emma! We can't wait to see more of you around Norwich at these awesome events!

#fillourtable : Pilates Studio Norwich

#fillourtable : Pilates Studio Norwich

Christmas is less than a week away! (Whhhaaatttt!? Yes, this is the sound of panic!)- but I can relax a little knowing who the next guest to #fillourtable is as she is going to bring a bit of calm to our (hypothetical) Christmas dinner party here at Figbar! I'm so delighted to introduce Lauren Murphy, the owner of The Pilates Studio Norwich, as the next guest to #fillourtable ! 

I hadn't ever done pilates until after giving birth to baby #2, and my doctor recommended it as a way to get back into movement. I haven't looked back since. I swear to you, there are days I leave Lauren's class feeling better than after getting a massage. She's one of the best teachers you will find- approachable, friendly, knowledgable. She knows how to push you that little bit extra, but not too much. There's variation in her class, wonderful advice, and results you can feel and see (I promise I'm not trying to sound like an infomercial, but sometimes those infomercial lines are just the truth!). 

Lauren is an absolutely lovely person, and I recommend you all to try out her classes or private sessions. This woman knows what's up. Her energy is limitless, her support and dedication is inspiring, and her footwork, well, it's too be envied! (Gives us all something in aspire to :-).

I'm so so excited to have you at our sharing table, Lauren! Thank you for coming to #fillourtable! 

Name: Lauren Murphy

What you do: I spend my days teaching and running my wonderful studio The Pilates Studio Norwich, tucked away in Labour In Vain Yard. I'm a self confessed Pilates geek, Pilates is my profession but also my hobby! At the studio we offer Ballet Barre, Mat and Equipment Pilates classes. We teach Private and Group classes, so something for everyone. Our wonderful clients come to use for various reasons and range from 14 - 86! 

A bit about Lauren: I was born in Hertfordshire, went to school in North London and left at 16 to attend a full time Professional Dance college. My boyfriend is from Suffolk and in 2015 when he left the army we decided we wanted to move away from London to East Anglia, and headed for Norwich. The best decision we've made - Norwich is now home. I took over the ownership The Pilates Studio Norwich last year - the second best thing I've done after moving to Norwich!

Where to find Lauren and the Pilates Studio Norwich:
4 Labour In Vain Yard, Guildhall Hill, NR2 1JD
insta - @thepilatesstudio_norwich




1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

I'm going to assume alive or dead is fine. Aside from the obvious choice of my family, Joseph Pilates would be first on my list. He is the creator of Pilates (originally called 'Contrology.' It was only named Pilates after he died) There is so much I have to ask him. Amanda and Beth, who both teach at the studio would love to meet him so they are on my guest list too. My boyfriend Andy would also come as he is huge Figbar fan (as am I of course) and would definitely want a Jaffa cake for dessert! Lastly Dawn French, because she's a national treasure and would keep everyone entertained!

2. What foods are you most thankful for?

Its simple, but I love Lasagne. Also, a cup of tea at home after a long day at the studio.

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

Homemade Sausage rolls on Christmas Eve, 'Fajita Friday' and dinner at my grandparents house. They are Irish so it normally involves Boiled Potatoes and cabbage!

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

I received a scholarship when I was in my first year at Dance College which made a huge difference to my parents financially. More recently, the support I have received from the people of Norwich since taking over The Pilates Studio Norwich 16 months ago has been so kind.

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

I get thanked on a daily basis from clients which I take as a compliment. When a client tells me they are now pain free and feeling stronger and more mobile it makes me so proud of the work we do at the studio.

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I think I would give it to my nephew. He is only 18 months old but it can be the start of his life savings!


Thank you, Lauren!! Can't wait to see you in the studio (with some jaffa cakes and brownies ;-) again soon!