Fiona Beckett chooses her favourite sites.

Fiona Beckett is an award-winning food and drink journalist and author of 21 books on subjects as diverse as student cookery and beer (well, maybe not so diverse). She also has a couple of websites - Matching Food & Wine, which does what it says on the tin, and Beyond Baked Beans for hard-up students and singles, a cheese blog called The Cheeselover and has recently launched a series of all-day cheese courses with Bristol cheesemonger Trethowans Dairy called Cheese School. She spends rather too much time on Twitter where she tweets as @winematcher, @food_writer and @StudentsCanCook depending on her mood and the subject.


Pong - No, not a scent site but a great name for a wacky online cheese company which approaches cheese in a refreshingly unorthodox way. Current cheese selections include The Ultimate Pong Box - “a box of our best sellers and worst smellers” - and The New Mum’s Box of Indulgence for cheese addicts who have been deprived of their favourite food for the past nine months. There are some good cheesy recipes too.

Food Stories - There are so many great food blogs out there that I find it hard to keep up with them all but one I keep coming back to is Helen Graves’ Food Stories. Why? Because it’s rooted in the life of what many would see as an unlikely gastronomic neighbourhood (Peckham), she’s a hilarious and engaging writer and (like me) she’s unashamedly greedy. Again, the recipes are terrific.

The British Larder - An exquisitely photographed blog by the mysterious Madalene Bonvini-Hamel. I say mysterious because it doesn’t say anything about her other than she’s a chef, works for a “leading British food manufacturer” and has experience of developing ready meals. I suspect this is her way of cutting loose. She’s incredibly creative and everything she makes looks absolutely beautiful. Damn her!

Jancis Robinson - The most authoritative, absorbing, most conscientiously updated wine site in the world by the doyenne of British wine writing. Part of it is only available to subscribers - well worth it IMO for access to JR’s well-judged tasting notes and the online edition of the encyclopaedic Oxford Companion to Wine but there’s plenty of free content too, laced with Robinson’s dry wit and razor sharp observations. Extraordinary to think she started writing in the ‘70s.

Culinaria - I admit this recommendation is mainly of use to those of you who live in or regularly visit my home town of Bristol but it IS  a site I look at every week to check what my favourite local chef Stephen Markwick is cooking. On it you’ll also find (shameless plug coming up) details of the book we wrote - and self-published - together called A Very Honest Cook (right) which has a foreward by Simon Hopkinson, also a great admirer of Stephen’s food. (It isn’t on Amazon because we think Amazon’s terms for publishers are outrageous.)

The Trainline - My husband has finally persuaded me to book my train tickets to London via the booking service Trainline. Up to now I’ve been deeply resistant because I hate planning ahead or committing myself to leave or come back at a specific time but you have to do that for planes, ferries or any other kind of transport. And since discovering that first class fares can be cheaper than what I was previously paying at the station, I’m converted. (A tip: single fares are often better value than returns).

18 May 2010