A couple of weeks ago, I enthusiastically ordered a pair of (VIP, I think) tickets for the Friday (June 17th) evening at the fabulous Taste of London festival.
I love the Taste festival - we've had a really great time there in previous years - tasting little mini things from posh restaurants, talking to producers, sampling samples of absolutely everything that's on offer and, usually, buying way more chilli sauces than a household could possibly wish for.
However, it has since (tragically) been brought to my attention that we are off to a wedding that evening (that makes me sound really disorganised - I'm not - I just didn't know) and therefore cannot use our lovely lovely Taste tickets.
It would be a terrible thing to let them go to waste, so if anyone fancies them, I'd love to pass them on (I think Americans call it 'paying it forward' or or something similarly pithy)!
Let me know (comment, tweet or email is fine) if you'd like them and we can arrange the details?
Last week, we finally (I know it's not that long really, but I've been eagerly awaiting it) cashed in the vouchers that Husband gave me for Christmas for a foraging day with the glamorous Mat Follas (further bloggage on that later), which we combined with a lovely mini-holiday in Dorset (probably more on that too).
So we pulled up in the square in Beaminster last Monday afternoon after a broadly successful drive down from London (pretty sure we only went the wrong way *once*) and, following a cunning set of prearranged clues, managed to break into the apartment (who's name is Lewin - I love this - I am definitely looking for suggestions for a name for my flat now :-) ) above the Wild Garlic.
The apartment is absolutely beautiful - really stylish and comfortable, but somehow managing to retain the charm of what must be a pretty old building (we genuinely loved the ceiling beams and the uneven floor) as well as being way more spacious than we expected.
Obviously, as soon as we got through the door we bounced through the sitting room/bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, whooping with joy at the enormous cloudlike bed, the gorgeous (matching) wallpaper and curtains, the lovely cook-your-own breakfast (including bacon vouchers for the over-the-road butcher, which we gleefully cashed in the next morning), the ercol-style furniture, the eclectic (but carefully chosen) selection of books and DVDs and the chilled pink English wine that was hidden in the fridge.
It's probably just as well that the restaurant is closed on Mondays - the staff and diners probably wouldn't have loved us gallivanting around like a herd of mini elephants right above their heads :-)
Awesome bit of furnishing - you can't see it here, but the table has fabulous interlocking slotty chairs - and I wanted to smuggle the clock out in my suitcase and rehome it in my bedroom...
Dorset rose. I was a wee bit concerned, but in fact it turned out to be absolutely delicious. I'd buy it again.
On our last evening, we had dinner at The Wild Garlic (in fact, we had a special magic deal whereby two nights in the apartment somehow entitled us to a Free Dinner - awesome!). We'd been once before (last September, as part of our post-wedding-week-of-fun) and had eaten a foraging course lunch the previous day, so our appetites were well and truly whetted.
Dinner was delicious. Service was personal and delightful. The decor is stylish and tasteful - we particularly loved the stylish tables - ours had potato names round the outside (I vaguely remember a discussion about these very tables on the Guardian WoM blog before the restaurant opened - this is strangely sheering to me). The emphasis on local, foraged, fished and found ingredients is admirable in it's own right, but also means that everything tastes fresh and, well, like it should. Also - the value for money is fantastic - I guess, as Londoners, we have a slightly warped view, but even taking that into account, the food is very reasonably priced and, try as we might, we didn't manage to spend anywhere near as much as we tried to on wine (though what we did drink was really excellent).
Complimentary glasses of Mat's Fizz (infused with garden flowers), bread with (rape) oil and balsamic and the most gorgeous wild garlicky nuts (my mouth is watering again thinking about these - yum).
My starter - scallops and seaweed
Husband's starter - an absolutely gorgeous pigeon concoction - pink and perfect
The sorrel table decoration - I *might* have tasted a tiny corner of it - bad Jennie
My main - possibly the biggest lemon sole I have EVER seen. The picture doesn't really do justice to the sheer scale of it
Husband's main - the famous pork belly - REALLY good!
One of the best wines I've had in a restaurant. We'll definitely be looking out for this one in future. So good that it made us wonder whether they'd calculated the mark-up properly...
Proof that I finished the giant fish of giantness. He was Tasty :-)
My lime pie - with sorrel and lovely fluffy meringuey bits. And a delicious dust.
Husband's cheese with port and the cutest mini bread ever - baked with walnuts and raisins. I was a bit surprised at the choice as he's not usually a massive cheese fan, but we'd been watching the waitresses serving them to people all night and they just looked so delicious that he evidently couldn't resist!
We waddled upstairs fatly, after finishing our meal, to discover that we'd been there almost two and a half hours. Husband would usually being knawing his own hands (and probably mine too) out of the boredom of sitting in one place (especially a restaurant) for that long. I'm pretty sure this is some kind of fabulous testament to the loveliness of the Wild Garlic.
You must all go.
And stay at the apartment.
I decree that it should be so.
PS Mat - I think I might come and live with you... That's ok, right? You totally need a financial analyst/opera singer/food tester?
Lunch with MiL today... It's actually helped cheer me up from my extreme anger that a whole HOUR has been stolen from my weekend.
I ate the do called Chop of The Day (which was pork - I wonder whether it's often anything different) and a small mountain of chips.
It was pretty good :-)
I also had blueberry cheesecake with lemon curd, which I forced husband to share with me. It didn't look as good as MiL's stone fruit and frangipane tart, but turned out to be weirdly savoury, which was quite nice. I hoovered it to quickly to photograph.
Am a wee bit full now though and may require small nap.
Tonight, inspired by my mammoth Masterchef catchup session yesterday, I made Yotam Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu. I've never been very good with tofu in the past, but thought I'd give it another try. It was utterly delicious, even without the spring onions (which I accidentally used up earlier in the week and forgot to replace). The tofu was lovely and crispy, with a squishy soft centre and the sauce was really hot and tasty without burning (I guess that's the sugar). I ate mine with carrot and radish salad (it's all getting a bit end of weekish in our fridge) and Husband also had rice and chicken drumsticks (he's a bit of a reluctant vegetarian - subterfuge is often required). The picture doesn't really do it justice - I'll definitely be making this again :-)
Bernard (or, more likely, Bernards) arrived earlier in the week, ready filleted.
We covered him with cornmeal and fried him in a place somewhere between deep and shallow.
Here he is with some slightly lame salad (made of things from dark recesses of fridge) dressed with something limey and the end of my mayonnaise (which I need to stop making, as I am clearly an addict).
In my mission to hide from the cleaner today, I have found myself at the Pub in the Park on London Fields... It's nice and sunnylovely, but is increasingly becoming yummy mummy central. No matter though - is big enough to hide from all but the very screechiest of them.
In the spirit of Holidayism, I ordered something that described itself as a sandwich, but which, in fact, turned out to be a banquet of bread, cheese, roasted vegetables and the chunkiest chunky chips I have EVER seen...
I usually have reservations about excessive chunkiness, but, in fact they were pretty tasty...
Am hoping the cleaner has gone now, because, after eating all (or, at least, in excess of 85%) of that, I may be requiring small nap...
As previously mentioned, I am very suggestible (though clearly not very original or creative ;-) )when it comes to that kind of thing, so I immediately leapt into action and began frantically baking animals.
My results aren't as perfect as the originals (I suspect partially because I lazily made the dough in Kenwood, which isn't really the best solution for biscuits) but I am still pleased.
More animals to come, as soon as I've found some willing victims to force feed this lot to...
We went bowling today (I know - bowling - so retro) for my mum's birthday. I've not been for about 15 years. Neither the place nor the bowling have changed at all :-) Nor has my aptitude for it - I am truly terrible...
The food at the place looked a bit grim, so we followed our bowling exploits up with a small trip to Nandos.
Hot chicken livers, bread and corn - dinner of champions :-)
You'd think I wouldn't be that hungry after my Vast Lunch, wouldn't you? Clearly I am more piggy than even I thought :-)
Vegetables with (really good, in fact) pesto and tasty free mozzarella. Pesto is one of those weird things that is different every time you make it. This one turned out splendidly - it was really creamy and delicious. I have absolutely no idea why...
Also pictured - my extremely cheery red nose giggle monster :-)
I've stopped eating weekday meats for Lent, so was a wee bit apprehensive about our celebratory Byron Burger lunch today (for workfriends' joint birthday). Turns out I needn't have worried :-) The "Veggie Burger" (which turns out to be a great big portabello mushroom in a bun smothered with various Lovely Things) turns out to be utterly delicious. I wasn't even a teeny tiny bit jealous of my dining companions' meatier offerings. Am also happy to report that the onion rings were super awesome.
So we're using all the weird bits and pieces up in order to make space in the fridge for our Abel and Cole delivery tomorrow.
Hence green bean and mushroom ragu (for want of a better word) with lashings of walnut mayonnaise, which I must stop making before I am become the Fattest Little Girl in all of Fat Land. Husband also had farmers' market sausages and leftover mash.
The walnut mayonnaise was a happy accident, born of necessity. I started making mayonnaise before discovering that I only had a teeny tiny bit of groundnut oil left, so I improvised with a mixture of cheap vegetable oil and some walnut oil which I found at the back of the cupboard. Turns out that makes a really awesome mayo :-)
V slow roasted pork shoulder (5 or 6 hours, I guess) with some kind of unidentified steamed greens and beetroot slaw. Husband also had mash, but I was more about maximising the beetrooty meaty goodness :-)
I've been too tired/busy/lame (delete as appropriate) to remember to photograph anything before eating it for the last couple of days.
Here's some tempura type mini octopi and carrotty salad to make up for it.
I liberally coated everything with mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce, post photograph.
You should probably be pleased that you don't have to view my Gluttony :-)
In other news, I've now been three days Meat Free.
This actually isn't *that* unusual for me, but it still feels like some kind of achievement. Part of me wants to indulge in Extreme Meat Greed at the weekend to compensate.
You know? Steak topped with foie gras and a side of sweetbreads. And a black pudding starter. Possibly with chips. Cooked in dripping.
Or something :-)
I absolutely love pancakes. It's very sad, but, like most people (I conducted a mini survey at work yesterday ;-) ) I spend 364 days of the year totally forgetting this. I must try to do better this year.
I made thin crepey ones first, but we ate them too quickly to photograph - oops. I mainly had goat cheese and sweet chilli sauce on mine and husband favoured bacon and foolishly hot sauce.
Scotch pancakes for afters, with blueberries and orange zest. They were supposed to have maple syrup on, but it turns out that the last bit that I had in a tin in the fridge has gone solid - still tastes good, but is next to impossible to get out of the tin...
I'm pretty sure these (not *actually* these, obviously) were the first thing I ever cooked. It's a bit of a cliche, but when I was very little, my granny (my grandparents lived in the same house as us at the time, which means I must have been less than four, as that's when they left) showed me how to make these on a griddle. Hers didn't have fruits and things in and I had to make do with a frying pan, but otherwise, it's the self same recipe that I memorised at the time.
In case there's anyone in the country that doesn't know (and still has any pancake appetite after the stuffage of today), here's my (and most peoples', I think) pancake recipe.
Multiples of: 1/2pt milk (I used whole milk today, but usually use semi skimmed - either seems to work) 1 egg 4oz plain flour
For the scotch pancakes, I doubled the amount of flour and chucked in some baking powder (or you could make with SR flour), orange zest and blueberries (Chilean blueberries - I'm not proud of myself - I actually feel a bit dirty..)
I fried them in a teeny tiny amount of lard in my lovely Le Creuset frying pan, which proved, tragically, too heavy for tossing...
Well, today is Pancake Day (hurrah) and, as such, represents the final day before the Great Giving Up Marathon that is Lent.
I've always given things up - even when I was little, I smugly got off on the willpower kick :-)
So here's my list of things for this year (I find that I require strict rules like this - I'm an accountant, so it's my natural inclination to snuffle out loopholes) - please feel free to berate me (and, if necessary, beat me with blunt objects) if I seem like I might stray... The older I get, the more help I need!
I shall be giving up:
2. Sweets (yucky medical sugary lucozade sweets are obviously ok, though, because they are yucky, I generally try to avoid them anyway).
3. Bikkits (sweets ones and savouries this year, I think)
6. Salted nuts
7. Weekday meats (this is a new one - I feel like it's a decent challenge - fish is ok though)
8. Spending unnecessary money (by this, I mean that food and drink and actual contractual/properly necessary outgoings are ok, as are replacement items for things that have run out/broken and gifts, otherwise it's a bit hard on people whose birthdays fall in Lent. Other things are OUT).
*I don't like doing this, but there are notable exceptions for my Viajante lunch on April 14th and the end of this month, when we go to see Lovely Mat at the Wild Garlic - sometimes cheating is necessary - these are the only ones*
I am a MARTYR - a Martyr to the Cause (whatever that might be) and intend to complain and be smug a lot. You've been warned!
On my way to work this week, I have been accosted (in the nicest possible way) by Alpro people almost every day, handing out Alpro soya gift bags, imploring us to 'try a tasty Alpro soya breakfast'.
Never being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I have been happily accepting.
The bags have quite a lot of papery gumph in them - vouchers, inspiring magazines etc - most of which, I confess, have gone straight into the recycling bin. They also contain soya 'yogurts', which are tasty enough (for something free, at least).
And cartons of soya milk.
Now - I'm not a big (or any size really) milk drinker, I don't drink tea and coffee and I don't often eat cereal, so the four pints (which definitely constitutes a lake, as far as I'm concerned) of soya milk currently languishing in my fridge are causing a bit of a dilemma.
I guess with Pancake Day coming up, there are some possibilities, but I'm worried that they might not work very well (or taste good) and, besides, four pints of pancakes is quite a lot for two people, even when one of them is me :-)
Does anyone have any helpful suggestions/recipes? I can exchange comments for cake...