Month: December 2009

Another Year Over! End of 2009 [Part 2]

The epic adventure continues. The first 6 months of 2009 were busy, busy, busy!  The second half of the year got only busier, although busy from an industrious perspective as opposed to socialising. In that respect the year splits easily into two halves. Before I launch into that, I want to share something else with you. Another important part of summing up 2009 is sharing my favourite places and experiences, from that superb burger at Hawksmoor, to Txacoli at Terroirs, to black pudding and egg mayonnaise sandwiches at Fernandez & Wells. Oh, and don’t forget their fab breakfasts. Huge breakfast muffins from The Flour Station, discovered first there and purchased from them at market since, every day bubbles from Bisol Jeio Prosecco, which became a strong feature of the year via Bibendum Wine & my stall at Covent Garden, blosoming courgette flowers given to me by the gardener at the allotment at St James Park, to be later stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried. Those lamb chops at Tayyab’s sizzling and sashaying their way …

Farewell to 2009! Another year over [Part 1]

When I think back to this time last year, it feels like a very long time ago. So much has happened since then, personally, professionally, and on this lil blog of mine, that I almost feel like a different person. I’ve certainly been through the mill in some respects and learned a lot. Of course that mill was mostly operated by me. The worst boss you’ll ever have is yourself, I just never give myself time off. There was lots of good stuff too that’s worth celebrating. New recipes, fun events, trips abroad and lots of new people and some fond new friends. So, let’s delve in! I took a quick look at the posts that I wrote at the end of last year (here and here) and the year before. It made lovely nostalgic reading. It’s a little hard to believe that this is my third New Year blogging – 3 years! It feels like such a long time. It was a year of new challenges and adventures. I moved house twice, and had …

A Perfect Evening for Mulled Wine

If lazing and grazing were a sport, I would be a gold medallist. I treat it as an art form. Cosied up in the finest of fleece pjs, I slink around, from bed to kitchen to sofa, and many other possible permutations, munching on treats, planning the savouries, brewing some coffee, and catching up with myself, my books and some films. Lazy? I am afraid so. In my defence, I have been so horribly busy that I have had no time to laze, and not much time to graze for many months now, so I am making up for lost time. In fact it’s an absolute necessity, I’ve reached the point that if I don’t stop volunatarily, my body will make the decision for me, and I will get ill. I can feel it in my bones. What a perfect day St Stephen’s Day is for this (we don’t have Boxing Day here in Ireland). After the build up and heavy weight of expectation that preceeds Xmas Day, the sluggishness following the epic Xmas feast …

A Very Merry Xmas to You!

I made it. That epic journey from London to Chester (train)  -> Holyhead (ferry) -> Dublin (train) -> Waterford  -> butcher – > bank – > post office – > supermarket -> HOME!  I am still in 1-2-3, no, one piece! It’s exactly 24 hours since I left my house in London, and I’ve had an hour to sit down. Hardcore, I am sure you’ll agree ;) I am pretty tired, nay shattered, and have the look of a squirrel that was plugged into some electrical device. Frazzle dazzle, frizzy hair, shell shocked face. The one advantage that I have over such an animal, is that I can have a glass of wine and sit in front of a roaring fire contemplating some culinary adventures. They, I expect, are out looking for some nuts somewhere, and I have loads here. Heh heh. So, what will the Christmas period bring? Mulled wine, spiced nuts, chocolate salami, and that’s just today. Glazed ham, goose, roast rib of beef. Pear bellinis, great red wine, and some of my …

Festive snack: Toasted Pita with Mozarella, Tomato, Onion & Roast Tomato Dressing

I expect that I am not the only tail chaser this close to Xmas. Running around, doing last minute laundry, frantically packing suitcases, checking presents. Have I everything? Yes-I-think-so. I do, don’t I? Time for a snack! I am about to embark on an epic overnight trip to Ireland. Train to Holyhead, ferry to Dublin, and then train to Waterford, followed by an hour car drive home. Long, eh? And you thought Ireland was close to England, didn’t you?!It’s as close as you make it, and with all of my recent trips home, a budget jaunt was called for. So, the ferry it is. What to have? Not much in the fridge, so I slipped and slided to the shop, along the shiny reflective river of glass that my street had become. I contemplated and tried not to fall. Something light is required, for I am not a good traveller. I will also be awake through the night. I quite fancy some mozarella, and I do have slow roasted pulped tomatoes with a nice pinch …

And that’s it folks…

And, that’s it folks.  No more crazy early mornings filled with  intense baking sessions, vats of soup and spiced bramley apples. No more frenetic tweeting of mes petits désastres. No more waking to the intense  savouriness that is the smell of  kilos of slow roasting pork, wading through the aroma and the sleepiness down the stairs, and opening the oven to a rush of steam and porky goodness. The draining of the fat and the crisping of the crackling. Dipping my hand into the meaty cavern and pulling out the tender shreds of juicy meat. That’s it The last week is down. A snow filled Wednesday, but cheery to the end and committed to the market, we carried on. We went out with a bang. Yeterday at market was a fantastically busy day and a perfect day to go out on. The night before, I was exhausted, and really not in the mind for cooking. On the way home from work, I stopped at Selfirdge’s, knowing they had Brindisa chorizo which I wanted for my …

A Roast Lunch with English Fizz

Borough Market is a frequent stomping ground, and as many years as I have been going there, there are some nooks still unexplored. One of these was Roast, a restaurant dedicated to British cooking using seasonal produce. I had sampled their breakfast wares on occasion, and they do a scoffable scotch egg, but on this occasion, I had an invite to lunch from Chapel Down Wines, one of our fantastic donors for the blaggers banquet and one of the market leaders in the budding English wine industry. I know the sparkling well, I’ve had it many times, and I really like it. I also really like the Bacchus 2006, a fine white wine, but their other wines, and new beers were unexplored territory. Roast were making a lunch with some blind matches aranged by the chef and the winemaker. I really enjoy this kind of lunch, as it gives me an opportunity to learn some more about matching, and to speak to the people that produce the wine and make the food. We’re too dissociated …

Festive Frolics at Covent Garden Real Food Market

I’m not one for noticing detail. One market day recently, I glanced upwards after the lunch time rush, and spotted evergreen gracing the top of my stall. Of course! We’re getting close to Christmas, and the market is embracing it. We have chocolate salamis and spiced pecans, gorgeous homemade Christmas puddings and mulled wine. I’m serving up my 8 hour slow roast pork with spiced apple, but I am also including spiced soups to warm the senses on these very cold days. Recently I served up a very traditional boiled Irish gammon sandwich, we always have these over Christmas, particularly on St Stephens Day (Boxing Day in the UK) and it filled me with a surge of nostalgia and a longing from home. I would love to do more festive dishes, like Irish spiced beef, very popular in Cork. Cured for weeks with spices like cloves, allspice, ginger, mace & bay, it’s then boiled and served up over the Christmas period. I adore the leftovers in a sandwich. It’s not to be this Christmas period …

Lunch at Galvin La Chapelle

The Galvin brothers have moved east and opened a new eatery in Spitalfields, or rather two, Galvin La Chapelle for high end dining, and attached, Galvin Cafe de Luxe for more relaxed dining. I’ve been pretty lax this year for checking in on new openings, so when Fiona Beckett, prolific author, blogger and twitterer invited me there for lunch, how could I say no? I couldn’t. Housed in the former church hall of St Botolph’s in Spitalfields, on the new and spruced up Spital Square, an area once full of character, but sadly now more full of chains, Galvin La Chapelle sits on a corner. Behind an imperial grey doorway lies an arresting cavernous restaurant, with high vaulted ceilings and a glass walled mezzanine area housing the toilets at the back, and a private dining area at the front. It’s very impressive, and screams decadence. The clientele are, given the location, predominantly city types, donning designer suits and brandishing brandy. I am relieved when I spy Fiona, relaxed and smiling at a table by the …

The Civet Cat Club

Another day, another supper club. It would be easy to be cynical, but this trend of challenging the established, and the chains, and doing your own thing, utterly independent and free from any driving force but your own, is to be championed. What’s to lose? At worst: a poor evening, at best: a fantastic experience, sometimes: in the middle, offering something utterly pleasant and different, an insight into another home, chatter with your neighbouring guests, and a warm fuzzy feeling on the way home. Recently, I had the pleasure of an invite to a new supper club in Newington Green, London: The Civet Cat Club, nestled in the loft of a gorgeous flat, that filled me with such envy and admiration that I was happy to sit there and pretend that it was my own, if only for a few hours.  Seated at a communal table with the ever charming Gastrogeek, we tucked into our prosecco (you know I am a fan!) and stole a few moments to catch up, before chatting to  our neighbors, …

It’s time for an Ode! To Lahmucun

Ah, sweet Lahmucun. Gorgeous woodfired crispy flatbread, slathered with minced lamb, spices and onions, and crisped to curvy perfection. Lined up like gorgeous crusty soldiers, waiting for me and I am waiting for them. LAHMACUN!  How I love you. Saviour of my Wednesday market ingredient shop. Laden down like a packhorse I creep into Antepliler, lodge my request, and patiently await, 120 seconds, maybe 180. It feels so long! And then, we are one. Crispy, crispy goodness meets frazzled overworked senses. Rolled around salad and wrapped in paper, I tear the top and tuck in.  And I trot geefully up the street, cargo in tow, lahmacun in hand. I am happy. Lahmacun @ Antipliler, 46 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, Harringay, N4 1AG – £1.30.

Auction Against Hunger

What are you doing here reading this?!  Shouldn’t you be over on ebay salivating over the fabulous goodies up for auction as part of the Blaggers’ Banquet Auction Against Hunger for Action Acgainst Hunger? Shouldn’t you be planning many culinary operations and adventures with the prizes that you succeed in winning? There’s still lots of fabulous prizes we’ve yet to auction. The generosity of the donations has been astounding, and they’re still coming in. They’re not normal prizes either, lots of them are unique experiences, that money can’t buy (except for now in our auction). Still here? How can I entice you…? Dinner for 4 in Bob Bob Ricard’s Owners’ Salon 15 hours left to bid – bid here Dinner for four in the Owners’ Salon at Bob Bob Ricard with Beef Wellington and a bottle on 1983 Chateau Palmer. Includes any 4 starters, 4 sides, 4 deserts and all soft drinks. The 3lb-plus Beef Wellington is made with 28-day aged fillet of Aberdeenshire Scotch Beef. It is perfectly matched by the 1983 Chateau Palmer, …

A Recipe: Gammon & Cabbage Soup

I am not much in the mind for cooking, that is new, and possibly a bit worrying. I cook so much now for others, with a full day of prep, followed by 2 days at the market, and two 16 hour days in a row at that, that I find I have little enthusiasm for cooking for myself at home. Call me jaded. I do however, crave something really healthy. My body is battered and I feel a bit weary. I also want to hide out at home and eat here.  It has been a very challenging month. Something quick that I can make that sings of hearty full flavour, that will settle my tum, and soothe my frazzled senses. It sounds like I need a good solid soup. But, what soup? I am not really in the mind for something complicated, I want it to be fresh and wholesome. I am thinking back to my pea & ham soup that I made for the market on Thursday, and sadly forgot to photograph! The absence …

A Wine-ding Tour of Portugal

I’ve much bemoaned the lack of travelling I’ve been doing of late. Get out your tiny violin and let me tell you that I’ve not been to anywhere but Ireland for more than 5 days in over 2 years. Now, what is that about?! I’ve been working hard but playing less, in the last few months particularly, so I figured it was time to do something about this somewhat depressing state of affairs, and headed to Lisbon for the weekend. Why Lisbon? The European Wine Bloggers Wine Conference was there this year, and having met, and tasted much wine with Gabriella & Ryan Opaz and their co-organiser Rob MacIntosh this year, I had to go. They’re great people and extremely innovative, whatever they were organising, it was sure to be good. There’s also been much talk of organising a food one over a few days next year, since last March in fact so it made sense to see how it was done before getting that moving after the Blaggers’ Banquet. The bonus was that I …