Category Archives: Food & Drink

Low carb eating

Back when we lived as hunter gatherers there was a limited supply of carbohydrate-rich foods. We hunted wild animals, caught fresh fish and foraged for green leafy vegetables, herbs, berries and nuts. We lived close to the land and honoured the seasonal changes. We had times of fasting and times of feasting. This is the way our bodies evolved. There was no bread, pasta, grains or refined sugar. 

Today, we eat a vast amount of sugar-rich and starchy foods that push our bodies to their biochemical limits. When we eat carbohydrates our bodies produce insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells for fuel and keep blood sugar levels in check.

A high carb diet from overconsumption of grains, starches and sugary foods results in constant insulin spikes as the body attempts to keep blood sugar levels at their low default setting; a very narrow threshold that evolved over millions of years when there was hardly any glucose available to us.

Insulin resistance

When insulin keeps spiking from years of eating sugary and starchy foods, the cells of the body stop responding to its message and it can no longer do its job properly, as there is simply too much dietary sugar to deal with. The sugar gets converted into fat and the body loses its ability to regulate its glucose load.

The driver behind most degenerative conditions

Insulin resistance is the driver behind diabetes, inflammation, heart disease and high cholesterol, and can contribute to carcinogenic changes in the body (cancer cells are greedy for glucose), as well as setting the stage for Alzheimer’s, which is now being classed as type 3 diabetes. Female hormonal imbalances can be addressed by lowering excess glucose because high insulin plays havoc with hormonal balance. 

Eight benefits of low carb eating

When blood sugar levels remain balanced, insulin stays low and stress hormones are spared, resulting in health benefits, such as:

1. Increased energy

2. Stable moods

3.Hormonal balance

4. Lowered stress response

5. Freedom from cravings

6. Fat burning

7. Lowered inflammation

8. Better sleep

What to eat on a low carb diet?

• Green leafy vegetables

• Salad leaves

• Herbs and spices

• Seaweed

• Low starch veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, kale, radish, asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, aubergine, sprouts…

• Quality protein from natural sources like grass-fed meat and wild fish

• Free range, organic eggs

• Raw nuts and seeds

• Healthy fats from cold-pressed oils, virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocado, oily fish, fatty meats…

• Low sugar fruits packed with antioxidants like blueberries, strawberries & blackberries

• Some grass fed, organic dairy

A typical day of low carb eating:

Breakfast: scrambled eggs and veggies

Lunch: salad packed with leaves, a protein source and a decent drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of nuts and fresh herbs

Dinner: vegetables, a quality protein and lots of healthy fats, such as wild salmon with broccoli cooked in butter, or chicken and roasted veg drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Your body knows best

Your body has a deep inner wisdom and you’ll be more finely tuned to listening to it if you get out of the perpetual cycle of sugar and starch addiction. 

Find out for yourself

Try slowly cutting out sugary and starchy foods and see how good you can feel without them. I guarantee you will feel supercharged and awesome! Eating this way deeply supports your body’s biochemistry.

Get the help you need

If you’re a slave to cravings, addicted to sugar, starchy or processed foods and would like to experience a whole new level of health and vibrancy, or to address any health conditions with a therapeutic diet, seek the advice of a nutrition professional to help you find your balance again. 

l Jo Rowkins, Nutritional Therapist & Lifestyle Coach at Awakening Health.

Gull About Town – February 2023

It’s been a wet old winter for your feathered friend as she braves the dark skies in search of the best food finds and drinking dens for her Whistler readers. But as the clouds part and the days get longer, it seems that there’s signs of new beginnings popping up all over West Hill. 

In Guildford Road alone, the legendary Sussex Yeoman, at one time the easy winner of Best Sunday Roast in Brighton is set to welcome its new tenants after 18 years of the old regime. As your Gull hovers, the doors are bolted, the boards are up and the ‘substantial investment’ promised by owner, Greene King, seems to be already under way. The Gull had become used to a regular leftovers feast of a Sunday evening as the city’s largest portions defeated even the healthiest of appetites. Check in the next issue to see whether the new menu has whet the Gull’s super-discerning whistle.

Over at the ever-buzzing Eddy, those animal and bird-loving landladies, Hatt and Jess are planning more arty pub nights. With Deliveroo biking the food in from all corners of Brighton, your Gull is not the only scavenger waiting at the bins as punters pile in for rockabilly bands and fancy-dress film nights.

The take-away pizzas from VIP seem a particularly popular choice among the birds of West Hill, so large are they that there seems to be enough for everyone. This grumpy Gull did notice, however, that with palate in one hand and brush in other, there was precious few pickings at the end of the recent Bob Ross live paint-along, even for this art-loving bird. There will be more Bob Ross nights coming as soon as March, but in the meantime, the rockabillies coming out to play with the Box Stomping Boys on Feb 17th are a much better bet for a hungry gull. (And check out for an interview)

Always on the hunt for food news, your Gull hears that Drakes Hotel in Kemptown has captured a couple of tasty chefs from 64 Degrees. Tom Stephens and Madeleine Riches are launching a tasting menu only restaurant called Dilsk in April. Expect five courses for £55 and 10 for £95, a sure-fire leftover offering for your hungry bird,

Catching a thermal, the Gull soars over to Western Road where a familiar scent of seafood is floating on the breeze. Sniffing closer, it seems that Brighton’s best chef, Duncan Ray, the man that Michelin missed, is sharing his brilliance at Atelier Du Vin’s new wine bar, Cases.  

Shared is his new menu concept which takes him away from his (and your Gull’s) beloved bivalves at Little Fish Market (pictured) with a much meatier menu. At £90 for two and his signature oysters to start, just one sitting a night will get a tour of his other favourite dishes cooked by his mate, artisan maker and purveyors of fine pies, Al the Pieman. Expect a terrine of Fosse Meadow chicken, Al’s famed beef pie, rump of Saddlescombe lamb with Potato Anna and lentils and a little Financier biscuit with pear and salted caramel that your Gull’s got her beady eye on.  Local, delicious food, cooked by the best in Brighton; this bird just hopes that Shared means what it says on the bin. 

Brighton Best 2023

It’s when Brighton foodies refresh their Instagram feed, ready to pounce on Open Table and book the top 20 restaurants in the city, as voted by ‘those who know’. It’s that time when Brighton cab
drivers high five each other, knowing that we’ll all be going out to eat more, taking confidence from the recommendations of Brighton’s Best.

As founder of the Juicy Guide and Awards back in the early 2000s, I’ve witnessed the influence of a gong. Judged by a panel of the city’s most well-fed foodies, the Top 20 will be announced at Brighton’s Best 2023 on March 20. But Euan MacDonald, one of the four founders of the awards which has been rating Brighton and Hove’s favourite restaurants for the last eight years, told me that it’s its autumnal sister, October Best which can give the most interesting indicators of what the public choose. The annual of feasting at £25 per head at any one of that year’s crop has become a bit of bun fight, with the public voting with their wallets; the clear favourites are sold out within an hour of release, or in the case of Bincho Yakitori within minutes…

‘We had 60,000 people visit the site in the first hour’ Euan told me, ‘and that’s predominantly from within Brighton and Hove. It’s like the public poll.’ Less 64 Degrees and more Chilli Pickle is what ticks the local box. 

So where else among the BB top 20, other than Bincho, did Brighton and Hove food fans go for last year?  ‘Well, I think Namo (Eats) had a really interesting October Best. We had so many people who didn’t know them, but she put on a terrific value menu. I think it was 25 quid for two. And we know that with it was chefs who were ordering her takeaway auction last year more than anyone else.’ 

It’s part of Brighton’s Best’s mission to support indie restaurants in Brighton and Hove, and Namo Eats is a great example of how it works. Another is Halisco.  ‘As they’re next door to Bincho, I think people who couldn’t get in there went, “Well, let’s just see what Halisco’s doing. They put on a mix of both menu and events, including a charity night to raise money’, Euan told me. ‘They had cocktails as part of their package,  so they had a brilliant October Best!’

It’s also a great way to reach new diners even for those we think of as booked up all year round.  ‘Dave from Bincho used to use October Best as his main marketing strategy’ said Euan. ‘He’d lose money in October because it was his way to go out and meet loads of new customers and get them on his books. The Set had a fantastically popular October Best because they were raffling tables off. And so they were able to accrue a huge amount of new followers to their Instagram stuff.’

But what does it say about the way that people are eating out in Brighton now? A city once leading the way in sustainable choices – Terre a Terre was scooping up the national awards decades ago; the vegan Happy Maki was born here – is now less interested in where its meat and fish comes from than a climate conscious foodie in more, let’s say food literate cities might be. In short, Brighton and Hove food fans are perhaps more into their Instagram stories than the unfolding drama of soil health and climate change. 

‘Well, I think that food literacy had a peak’ said Euan, stepping out of BB’s shoes for a moment and into his food consultant’s. ‘Dan Kenny (The Set) is a great example. Whatever Dan does, I know he won’t sell himself short on that type of thing. 

“But what we’ve got at the minute is a lot of people who are conscious of overheads, and so conscious of costs. So what can they do? They ask themselves what they’re prepared to trade off. Brighton has never wanted to spend huge amounts on eating out. We’re so close to London, but we just have never had the pockets.’

Part of the problem in Brighton’s sustainable food scene is the tourist; 
Euan says that post-pandemic,
many restarateurs just can’t prioritise
ethical choices when the tourist pound
is so integral to their survival.  ‘Really,
I  don’t think it’s something that is front of mind for a lot of the owners and operators’, Euan told me. ‘What a lot of visitors to Brighton do in a way that you might not do
in London is they’ll try and go to three places in a night. If they’re down for a weekend, they want to see as much of it as they can. So if

they’re not keen on the price, they’ll jump somewhere else. And that’s a real worry for restaurants at the moment.’

More worryingly for the planet is that Brighton diners don’t care much either. ‘It never comes into it’ said Euan, when I asked if Brighton’s Best is ‘marked’ on its sustainable sourcing. ‘It’s about the dining experience. And that has never been raised in any feedback. I would say it’s not front of mind for a lot of people.’

So what should we look out for in 2023 in Brighton and Hove restaurants?  ‘The year was split into two hubs for most restaurateurs’, Euan told me. ‘First is: are we still going to be here at Easter? I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as people thought it was. But I know that at the tail end of last year, a lot of people were very worried about the first six months of this year. So first of all, I think everyone will just do what they got to do to stay where they are. So that doesn’t breed a lot of innovation unless you’ve got deep pocket backers behind you.  

‘The fact that the whole industry had to be supported during the pandemic has changed the way investors will look at opening restaurants at the minute. And so, what you’re looking at is something which then starts to talk to that entire night out, rather than just the meal. So, keeping people under a roof for cocktails, accommodation. There’s a massive hotel being built on Middle Street. It’s operating more like a Soho House or a club that keeps you in.  I’m not saying it’ll be club membership by any stretch, but the prices will reflect that I’m sure. 

‘The Albert Schloss group which has venues across the North has looked at Brighton. The food’s actually really good; they lean towards the sort of schnitzel side of things. But they are about getting you in and keeping you in for music, for food for everything. And I think Brighton’s missing that at the minute.’

And there are plenty of opportunities for investors. The development of The Hippodrome is ‘up for grabs’; Churchill Square’s food offering is expanding very soon, which Euan says will look to keep people across three floors of drinks and food. That’s going to be the challenge for the smaller operators,’ he warned. ‘Whereas at the minute, I’ll go to a couple of bars and I’ll go to Bincho or I’ll go to Chilli Pickle, that’s going to change for most people’

It’s a depressing vision of Brighton’s next food chapter. What we need is something new in Brighton, Euan tells me, and for him, Palmito, the Latin-Indo collaboration between Curry Leaf chef, Kanthi Thamma and his pal from his Chilli Pickle days, Diego Ricaurte  is it. ‘I’m absolutely in love with Palmito. It’s just food you haven’t had before. And for that reason alone, it’s just so exciting.’

Christmas at Bolney Wine Estate

Gilly Smith talks to Sam Linter about life on The Bolney Wine Estate

Baubles and berries, bottles and bubbles, it’s all just one big excuse, this Christmas malarkey, to deck the halls and be very jolly indeed. But we’re not about that consumerist nonsense over at Whistler Towers. We’re all about zero waste and making stuff, eating local produce and supporting the neighbours. So how to feast and have fun without maxing the landfill? Come closer; we have some sparkling ideas.

One of the real treats of living in Brighton is the bounty of great produce on our doorstep, and increasingly, that means some pretty amazing wines too. Ding dong! There’s a couple of Christmas present ideas already. Plus, a wine tour is a great day out for all the rellies, and we’re still only on paragraph two. But wine? Sustainable? How? 

Well, climate change may not have a lot going for it, but the warming of our southern vineyards is at least creating a rather vibrant industry, with experts claiming that some of our chalk soil compares favourably to that of the Champagne region of France. And while English wines have been a thing since the Romans, this relatively new industry has attracted some pretty cool people who care about much more than the sound of the cash till. 

Cindy-Marie Harvey is the author of Watercress, Willow and Wine and told me that the English wine industry is setting new standards in sustainable business practice. “I think wine GB has been absolutely brilliant,” she told me on my podcast Cooking the Books. “If you look at a winery at harvest time, the amount of water that you need just to keep everything clean, it’s a phenomenal amount. For one litre of wine, you probably need ten litres of water. There’s a whole host of sustainable criteria that you have to look at before you can actually get the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain badge, but that means that customers can trust what they’re buying.” 

Within an hour’s drive or so from Brighton, we have some of the best wines in the south east, many of which are leading the field in sustainability. Ridgeview in Ditchling, the organic Davenports in Rotherfield in the Low Weald, Rathfinney in Alfriston, Bolney, just 20 mins from Brighton, Wiston, Breaky Bottom, the mighty Nyetimber, how spoilt are we? And Plumpton College just down the road is training up the next generation even as I write. 

Winemaker Sam Linter has lived almost her whole life at Bolney vineyard after her parents bought up an old pig farm in the 1970s, inspired no doubt by the TV sitcom The Good Life

“We had goats on site, so mum did the goat’s milk, the goat yoghurts, the cheese she used to sell to local deli’ Sam told me when I interviewed her for the delicious podcast. “She would drive all over to sell them. She grew marrows, tomatoes, courgettes, sweet corn, we had strawberries on site here. And it was fun. It was a great childhood. My brother and I ran wild.”

That Good Life ethos lives on at Bolney since Sam has taken the reins from her parents and built a business that has become a leader in English wines. Its cuvee rose even had a rep from Laurent Perrier recently scratching his head at which was his in a taste off. And with pips and skins used to make gin and other by-products, its wine production creates a virtuous circle. They even have a wine bottle Christmas tree at the entrance to the winery restaurant.

On which… what a find for a posh lunch over the holidays. Its Eighteen Acres Cafe overlooking the vineyard gets our loudest Whistle for quality, service and price with a fabulously instagrammable menu. And it’s even dog-friendly! To celebrate the festive season, Bolney is also running some tastings throughout December. A £12 ticket will buy you a tasting of three wines, paired with festive themed canapé plus a Bolney branded ISO tasting glass to take home. Or to give away as a Christmas present..  And if you prefer a little music with your wine tastings, you can enjoy a charcuterie board and glass of Bolney Bubbly for £30 per person every Friday evening in December. 

Listen to Gilly’s podcast with Cindy-Marie fromher podcast show “Cooking The Books with Gilly Smith

And also Gilly’s interview with Sam for the delicious podcast from June 2019

Bolney Wine Estate Foxhole Ln, Bolney, Haywards Heath RH17 5NB

More details at

Gull About Town – December 2022

The skies are clearing as we head out of the chaos of an autumn that had us gulls wondering about the very future of the city’s rich pickings, and we’re gliding into a crisp midwinter of surprisingly fresh and vibrant food stories. Who’d have thought that we’d be talking new restaurants in a cost of living crisis, but there’s exciting news ahead.

Your gull has been pecking at the windows of what was her favourite nibble, Oki-Nami on New Road to try to spot Brighton’s superstar chef, Dave Mothersill. Furna, his tasting menu only restaurant on the site will be open by the time your Whistler hits the streets and has been met with cries of delight in the scavenger community. 

Great uncle Gulbert still tells the chicks nest-time stories of the stubbly-chinned chef who would leave his delicious leftovers at the back of Terre a Terre, The Salt Room, The Coal Shed, The Ginger Pig and The Gingerman for his favourite gull with a smile and a wink. He could spot a bird with good taste.  And, shh, but word has it that he’s the most likely chef to get the city’s elusive first Michelin star. 

And from that Salt Room stable, Tutto (pictured) has finally opened after a false start back in September. Early pecking has this gull cocking her head, but she’ll be sticking with the veggie leftovers until she can be sure where the meat comes from.

Squawking of new openings, your gull can report that the highly popular Curry Leaf chef, Kanthi Thamma and his pal from his Chilli Pickle days, Diego Ricaurte have settled into their new Latin American meets India restaurant, Palmito. Since picking at the pork chicharron with hominy corn and salsa, she’s even ditched the idea of spreading her wings and heading to Mexico for the winter. 

As the nights draw in and the Christmas lights begin to line the streets of Brighton, your gull hits a thermal to look down on the bird life in this pretty city. The chicks are tottering down West Street, pecking at the tacos strewn across the pavements ahead of their big night out. A team of eco-gulls are clearing the beach after an unseasonably warm day has attracted a swarm of tourists. And Great Uncle Gulbert struts out of the back of Bincho Yakitori, stuffed to the gills with his favourite pickings in town. Dave Mothersill was right about him. He does have great taste.