Good morning February, two pretty pictures from the last day of January a couple of years ago at Watergate Bay in North Cornwall.
I’m improvising with illustration because the actual ponder is brief and not a pretty sight.
I use a grater fairly often, almost always without injury. But twice now when creating a Vegetarian meal I have grated off a tiny sliver of index finger skin. Honestly you couldn’t make this up, the last meal of Veganuary and I add some inadvertent flesh. Is it cheating if I eat my own flesh?
Time to consider the fuel it takes to drive our city walk. There are some guidelines that need to be adhered to and a good breakfast is the foundation on which a good days walking is built on. We have scaled the delights of high-end and high-up, The Shard, breakfasts. After extensive research we have narrowed the key ingredient down to bubble and squeak. A working- class use of left-over ingredients, cabbage and potato. Just the stuff to get our legs going and our jaws constantly scattering. Our next stop to take in fluids was a Korean tea shop. We got there around lunchtime but our aim was only to have some unusual infusions and that was exactly what we found.
Our final destination took us across Central North London to Marylebone and the home of a simple no menu restaurant that serves only one dish. Steak frites with a famous green sauce. Queuing is the only way to get a table the perfect combination of French and British culture.
And that concludes the fuel blog from our city walking. East to West in 20,000 steps, many conversations and three delicious stops. The 3 websites follow-
P.S I wrote this just after I did my first gym induction since the pandemic. Turns out those machines have got cleverer. Not only do they count the amount of calories you have burned off. Now your walks or runs on a treadmill take you on lifelike augmented reality tour. This morning I walked 10,000 steps through Paris streets without so much of a sniff of a croissant or a glorious cup of hot black coffee. Where is the pleasure in that!
Yesterday was my birthday. Under normal circumstances I don’t think birthdays always get a mention in my ponderings. This one gets a mention because it was quite unbirthday-like. After a week in London providing love and support to a new grandaughter, and attending the blogging course, my birthday was the day to travel home.
Not that the birthday was unmarked. Sunday evening there was a fabulous curry for supper boosted by savoury Bengali snacks from Brick Lane and a Connie the Caterpillar Cake.
Our drive to Devon was made birthday-special by visiting a Gails Bakery on our pre-drive dog walk. Gail’s is a large, London, chain of bakeries. Their cheese straws are my personal gold standard. Because it was my birthday I chose two baked goods to accompany me to Devon and a flat white, oat milk coffee. I picked, as my luxury item a brioche bun. Unknown to me it was not just any bun but a Christmas Bun!
Despite being a fairly loyal customer , I had never encountered a Christmas Bun before. Why do these things happen just as I leave London? To save me from myself would be the best answer.
The revelatory moment occurred as I drove on the A3 almost certainly beyond the last outpost of the Gails sphere of influence. Out into the world of Surrey and beyond.
No other incident in my life has made me inspired to make brioche buns before. Googling gives me the other ingredient I will need to learn to make – frangipane.
If I manage to crack this project there is one thing certain. These buns will not just be for Christmas.
The other end of the journey also had a surprise. We stopped on the edge of Dartmoor to collect something, the unusually warm November had allowed Lichen to thrive on Gabions that had been used instead of Traditional dry stone walling. I am normally very sniffy about such poor practice but who wouldn’t be charmed by these quilt- like patches of lichen.
Now this may seem an odd pairing for a blog but anyone who regularly drives long distances knows just how hard it is to get enough green into your diet on driving days. The same goes for blogs.
Here we are in Ontario trying to find our place as numbers 14 and 15 in a family we have not seen for over 3 years because of Covid restrictions/ lack of passports and annual leave constraints. Just like marbles in a jar there has to be a little movement in all directions for us to settle. The walking of many miles on our previous of four days was just a training exercise. Now we are all about the food. You know you have landed in the heart of an Anglo-Indian family when the welcoming meal is a belly bursting curry. Nothing like a curry that is painstakingly recreated from a recipe book or created by a restaurant chef, but one that has evolved over many years at the hands of an Aunt who knows her recipes inside out and creates intuitively and with love.
British summer fruits are a lifelong love. Only this week my favourite firework was chosen because it reminded me of rhubarb. But this summer the fruits that are part of my summer are a bit different. By moving only 7 miles the fruit glut that my friends and neighbours share, is all a bit more exotic. More fabulous figs arrived yesterday.
I believe I could eat fresh -off -the- tree figs all day. Internally that might not be such a good idea but if the supply was infinite I am certain I would be happy to attempt a fig challenge. Cherries too are available in big amounts.
Last night we made a Turkish dish that made cherries a savoury accomopniment. Tenderstem broccoli with cherries.
Cherries are another fruit I can eat to excess and I would never cook a fresh cherry because it would already have been eaten.
You may or may not be aware of the genre of art where slightly plump ladies lay back on luxurious pillows, seductively eating fruit. The juices moistening their lips and breasts as they give the viewer of the paintings a ‘come hither’ look. I believe the viewer has got this all wrong. That look actually says ” Touch my fruit and you’re dead”
Our early morning dog walk produced a cute breakfast treat. Fresh windfall figs, minding their own business, resting on the pavement.
Enrobed in creamy yogurt they soon fulfilled their destiny. Later in the day the camouflaged net disguised another gustatory pleasure. Soupe au Pistou. A French tradition neatly relocated to the Stonehouse Tennis Club. In late summer when there is a glut of vegetables, communities in France come together for a communal meal of Vegetable Soup served with Parmesan and Pistou, a sauce made of garlic, oil and basil. Pistou is similar to pesto but does not have the addition of pine nuts or cashews.
Beneath the camouflage was a community of people enjoying charcouterie, the eponymous soup, a cheeseboard, tarte au citron and loads of chatter.
We met many people who we would normally pass on the street with a nod or brief good morning/afternoon. Released from just a simple polite greeting by sitting together for a couple of hours in the sun we had wide ranging and fascinating conversations with people who would quite rightly have been categorised as strangers only moments before. Well fed and watered we made our way home. The evening plan was to work off all the days fabulous food with a swim from our regular evening location.
Not a bad day at all and all within a five minute walk from home. This is turning out to be a very fine weekend.
Goodness we have wanted to find the Hidden Hut for ages! When we lived and worked in London it was the aspirational destination of food writers in all sorts of magazines.
Our weekend visits to South East Cornwall never seemed to have the time for a trip down to the Roseland Peninsular. Being busy and Covid restrictions have run away with our time since our return to the South West. Yesterday we were up early to do another tiny chunk of the South West Coastal Path and more importantly to be at The Hidden Hut in time for lunch.
As you can see we were well on time and enjoyed an aperitif of coffee and ice cream while we waited for our lunch
As is obvious from these blogs I am a very confident consumer of wonderful food but live in awe of actual food writers. So I will share two reviews from my favourite eating gurus. Grace Dent and Jay Rayner.
Jay and I often commuted into central London on the same early morning tube from Brixton perhaps we we both dreaming of seafood by the sea.
No London food critics obvious yesterday at The Hut, no longer hidden from us! But plenty of Londoners and food savvy visitors flocked, some of them in box fresh country gear, to this small corner of Cornwall.
Nature and beach detritus are carefully arranged to catch the eye.
It really makes a point to see such soft beauty and plastic waste both arranged with effortless charm.
Nature wins over in the battle to catch our eye but it made us think, again about plastic waste, and that is no bad thing!
Was the Hidden Hut worth finding?
Absolutely, great fish stew and mackerel pate. Served with plump flatbreads, if that is not an oxymoron. The rain held off until we were safely back in the van. Promises to return were made, we loved it.
A high tide and the sun at the right angle makes a pretty picture but not one that is particularly good for the marine environment. Earlier this week we started drinking Butterfly Pea Tea , it arrived from Hong Kong as part of a birthday package.The tea and the sea, in this location are similar colours
We discovered the tea on Lamma Island, part of the Hong Kong archipelago, after a very hot circular hike. Even a dip in the sea had not cooled us down enough to be normal rational humans. The iced blue tea we bought did the job just before we caught the ferry home. New to us then it was refreshing and had that distinctive taste that lingers at the back of every flavour of Jelly Bean. To bring out the flavour of the tea a little lime juice, or anything acidic does the job. It also changes the colour. Butterfly pea is also a natural food colouring. I might try painting a watercolour with it.
Careful what you google is the warning to the next part of this blog. Like all things botanical Butterfly Peas have a latin name, in this case not one that should be tripped off the tongue without complete accuracy.
Then there are the benefits of drinking the tea which is rich in anti-oxidents and flavenoids. My brain will be boosted and my stomach and intestines soothed. The growth of any worms in my gut will be retarded!!
On that happy note have a fabulous weekend, not something the worms in my gut will be having!
This is what procrastination looks like. I’ve been trying to buy some popular shelving from Ikea, I dithered about yesterday and didn’t check the website until later in the afternoon. All the units I wanted were available in the colour I wanted but I had missed the deadline for click and collect. Suddenly a trip to Ikea had turned into a spontaneous overnight camping trip as we ‘made the most’ out of a trip to Exeter and wild- camped overnight on the seafront at Exmouth. Close enough to Ikea to get there when it opens on Sunday morning.
In all my Ikea life such a plan would never have been hatched before. Our most regular Ikea was always Croydon and before that Bristol and Thurrock, none of these destinations scream wild camping wonderfulness. But Exmouth really is rather fabulous for an overnight spot of Van life.
In an effort to put International in our life while I still have no passport we are eating our way around the world while remaining in Plymouth. Before we even thought about Ikea or camping trips we went to Canada for lunch. Kickin Caribou on Mutley Plain serves Poutine and other Canadian treats.
We had the window seat and had an unusually vivid street scene to enjoy while we tucked into chips, curd cheese and gravy. Yesterday was St Georges Day and one of the biggest charity events that Plymouth hosts. The St Luke’s Mens Day Out, passed by our window seat. The link below explains the great ethos behind the event. The route of the walk takes in some amazing scenery and passes plenty of pubs. It is a thoroughly wonderful event. There are some unplanned additional events related to these pubs. My following comments are tongue in cheek and not representational of the organisers plans.
The clue is in the statement ‘ there are plenty of pubs on the route’
Many of the men choose to walk in fancy dress, some of them drink far too much. Some of them fight. Lets just say that history does not suggest that Crusaders or the Flintstones ever got involved in street fighting or T Shirt pulling but there were pockets of such behaviour along the route. The walk started at 10am, when we decided to leave for our unplanned Ikea adventure at 5 pm there were still the walking wounded shuffling their way along the route. There may be a few sore heads this morning alongside the many more sore feet. Most importantly a lot of money was raised.
When we lived in London we lived 6 miles from a very good burger van.
The burgers were so good that we were always happily tempted away from our, no red meat, lifestyle choice. When we returned to live in Cornwall a happy coincidence occured when Zephyr Burgers relocated to 6 miles from our Cornish home.
6 miles in London or Cornwall can be a lifetime of travel so our burgers were always eaten on the hoof. A process that could be both an absolute joy and horrendously messy. Of the many reasons we decided to relocate to the Devon coast, Burgers were not on any pro or con list. Earlier this week the chef/proprietor of Zephyr was back in London winning the Burger Chef of the year award. This prompted us to have a burger outing.
We now live about one mile from our favourite red meat indulgence. Last night was epic, not because the burger and dirty fries were wonderful, which they were. Not because the burger was cooked by the best burger chef in the UK. Not even because I almost got a photo of an owl shadow reflected on a wall as we returned home. Juggling a bag of burgers and a smart phone does not make me a speedy photographer.
Last night was epic because, for the first time ever we managed to eat our burger at a table in our own home. Neither one of us ended up wearing any part of the burger on our clothes. We can even wear the same clothes this morning. This has never happened before. Suddenly we are respectable burger eaters.