A quick update as nothing has been put up for about ten days:
We started using some raisins I made from grapes in the summer, which were grown in Finsbury Park.
Its a real treat and they have been used in Rob's ever-improving delicious bread. The secret seems to be to have a very gooey sticky dough. I thought it was meant to be quite dry but my loaves come out rather rock-like.
Its easy to dry grapes if you have an Aga! I was ill and staying with parents who have one so as I got better I would lay out loads of grapes on a baking tray and put them on top of the aga. Then when they looked like raisins I put them in a bag and that was about six months ago and they are in perfect condition.
They do have pips in - in my weakened condition i really couldnt face trying to remove them. But they dont really caus e aproblem either for taste or texture. They are very small and make the raisins crunchy. Actually they are very delicious added to foods. We dont get much acid flavours - so its very welcome.
Also this week we discovered a great local grocer near Richmond bridge, and a real ale shop near there too. And had a very quick look at Petersham nurseries which appparently grow food and sell it in the cafe, which is totally magically gorgeous.
Monday, February 19, 2007
A quick update as nothing has been put up for about ten days:
Thursday, February 08, 2007
This is a quote from the Slowcoach at slowlondon.
I like this site and it is relevant because going on a 100-mile diet is all about slowing down.
There is plenty of food around, and a fair amount of variety but the thing is, you have to work for it.
What is different about this way of eating as opposed to how i was eating before, is that we really have to spend a lot of time:
- researching where food items come from and how they are produced
- sourcing particular brands or products once they are "approved" for the diet
- going in turn to all the different suppliers eg local shop for apple juice and potatoes, farmers market for fruit & veg, butcher for meat, health food shop for porridge, waitrose for milk. Its all scattered around.
- turning raw ingredients into useful food eg flour into bread and cream into butter
- chopping, peeling, cleaning the foodetc
- finding out how to cook it eg celeriac, bread
- actually cooking
So I would say this diet is about more than food. Or maybe food is about more than mere eating. It is about a way of life. Its a nice way of life and actually a few people have said I am looking very good these days, maybe its all that cream and eggs.
I do believe that if we are all going to be more ecofriendly its about changing our way of life and this is one way to see how that can be done. It really is a big change but its also quite easy and very exciting and it is making me think about lots of things in a new way. And it is incredibly satisfying and wholesome somehow, to actually be hungry and to really have to work hard to get your food.
Before I would just eat even when I wasnt hungry and I never really enjoyed it as much.
(NB Cooking in large quantities is good so you can then eat cold leftovers for a couple of days and it gets yummier each time.)
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Today I went to Stroud on business.
I asked Chris about farm shops. We went to one but it was shut at one and we were too late.
But there was an egg place down the road.
This is the first time I have seen an egg factory.
It is free range. it was quite nice. They had many eggs in a shed and a scrap of paper with prices on and a tray to leave your money in.
It was £2.40 for 30 eggs which seems quite good to me.
here is apicture of the eggs and below is a picture of the shed where they are collected. The chickens lay in cages to the left and right and the eggs roll out into collecting trays. Then i presume people go along and put the eggs into trays. On the other side of the cage is the exit so the hens can go outside and run around the pen where they can scratch about for food and such.
We saw that too. They had quite a lot of space. Its on a sort of plateau in the Cotswolds with old-fashioned dry stone walls around the fields.
I liked it until the farm dog came up hysterically barking at us and we had to go.
It was very interesting to see how the eggs are collected. I guess a lot of egg places have that kind of system.
The eggs I bought were huge. They were too large for the recycled Waitrose Large Eggs box that I put the eggs in.
Haven't tried them yet - will let you know if they taste as good as one feels they ought to.
The last pic shows how the hens come out the back of the shed and go into the outdoors. There was a bunch of hens further away in a bigger area with grass so I guess they get turns in the bigger part and most of the time they get to hang out in this bit. And then go inside again at night. This is what 'free range' means on egg packets. Now you know!
Monday, February 05, 2007
On friday last, the eve of my thirty-somethingth birthday, Sarah took me to Konstam's restaurant in Kings Cross, to both celebrate my rapid descent into middle age and to check out this rather unique eaterie on the border of London's West End.
Konstam's prides itself on a principle of sourcing most of the ingredients it uses, not within a hundred mile radius, but within the M25, so we have long planned to go there and see what dishes they are creating.
Sarah chose from the menu a recently shot Amersham pigeon with locally grown beetroot, stuffed cabbage with a swede and potato mash and a tarte tatin drizzled with lavender cream, though not all at the same time. She washed it down with a Kent rose that was, by all accounts, delicious and cheeky, fruity and summery, like drinking the darling Buds of May.
My experience felt a little less balmy but was, none-the-less, a rattle bag of taste sensations that delighted, frighted and ignited in equal measure.
The delight was obviously the tarte tatin, made with local apples, local flour and locally grown lavender for the sauce. Alas, the manager, when challenged, could not accurately pin-point the source of the sugar, but it could have been Silver Spoon! He was certainly very interested to hear that Silver Spoon grows all of its sugar beet in East Anglia, slightly outside the M25 but very much within one hundred miles and most definitely English!
The ignite was on my tongue from the gorgeous leek and spinach soup. It just tasted so fresh and creamy, like a big, fresh, creamy thing on a spoon!
The fright, alas, was the main dish, a locally reared chicken that was just a little too bland, a little too fatty for me. But the highs out-weighed the lows and it was a fascinating experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in local foods. I certainly didn't feel we missed out from not eating at a more conventional, less ingredient-challenged restaurant somewhere else in town.
As I write this blog, I am thinking about chocolate.