25 September 2010

eating in and eating out...british food fortnight 2010

We don't need a dedicated fortnight to celebrate the wonders of British food but it's a good excuse.  This year's runs from 18 September to 3 October, and I will try to indulge in as much lovely British food as possible, not with any especially patriotic fervour, just because it's harvest time and it's mouthwateringly lovely!  I'm sure it's no coincidence that it's at this time of year with a huge glut of British food...all these are in season now...blackberries, plums, apples, damsons, pears, beetroot, broccoli, sprouts (just starting but probably not at their best for a month or two yet), cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, celery, start of the leeks, parsnips, spinach.  Plus there's still the end of the summer produce knocking about...raspberries, apricots, beans, tomatoes...what a wonderful feast!

It is also a great way to support the local economy, especially local farmers, local markets, local eateries and local independent shops. 

Great examples of British food is turned out every day at Canteen, but that's in London, out of regular grasp of us northerners.  I last visited Canteen Spitalfields in July and had a fantastic chicken, tarragon and walnut salad followed by a very adult blackcurrant jelly, absolutely zinging with flavour.  I was thrilled when they published their very own cookery book called Great British food, which not only has stacks of fabulous recipes but looks really quite spiffing too - a cover of brown paper, black old fashioned font and the strapline on the back just sums it up perfectly - seasonal British all-day dining.  The inside pages front and back (not sure about proper term for these) are a gorgeous duck egg blue with the other pages a speckled off-white, with glorious photos, wittily taken with stuffed animals.  The recipes themselves are delicious!  I wouldn't normally use Amazon, preferring to shop in a real shop where possible, but Canteen themselves direct to Amazon and it includes pictures including of the blackcurrant jelly recipe.  Enjoy!

eating in...tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor

My plum stones have got it (more or less) right for a change! Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor - my boyfriend is a marine scientist, which might just about fit!!  Here's my empty bowl after poached plums with greek yogurt for breakfast, lovely.

19 September 2010

out and about...great north run and meeting up with an old friend

I trekked out to South Shields today to meet M, my best friend from school, who was running the Great North Run with her boyfriend.  I haven't seen her for the longest time (we're both rubbish at keeping in touch) so it was wonderful to catch up.  I don't know why but I didn't factor in the logistics of 50,000 runners, assorted families and general race watchers moving about the Metro, consequently the train was heaving on the way out of Newcastle to the coast and it appeared to take about four hours for the queue snaking along South Shield's main street to die down.  
Now, Newcastle and the north east has its far share of bad weather and good weather but I have a sneaking suspicion that it holds onto the bad weather for visitors to the region not wanting to attract any more people here to add to the traffic on the roads, to affect people's quality of life, to make it all busy busy like in the south, and today was no exception.  It can't have made it that pleasant to run in though...!  Or wait about, huddled under space blankets.

out and about...a typical saturday

Yesterday was a more typical Saturday than last week's, which featured (in order) Falmouth, Cape Cod; Logan airport in Boston; and sitting in an aeroplane (more of that in a future post).

In our house, Saturdays are usually fairly lazy affairs not worrying too much about starting times, plus Radio 4 (all morning if possible) and a leisurely perusal of recipe books, food magazines, websites and cuttings to roughly plan the following week's food, outside if I can. I don't think there will be many days left this year for sitting outside, but fingers' crossed.


Then, armed with my shopping list, it's off to Newcastle's Grainger Market, one of my favourite places in Newcastle. This week I stopped off at Lindsay Brothers, the fishmongers, for tuna steak and sea bass fillets, and J Armstrong, the greengrocers, for a whole variety of fruit and vegetables. I've been going there for years so have a bit chat (as they say up here) with the blokes behind the stall, and what's nice is that they sometimes throw in something for free, a real treat. Once I'm loaded down with shopping bags, the next stop is Olive and Bean on the outside of Grainger Market, my regular Saturday haunt, for a coffee and something sweet - a cafe latte and lemon and poppyseed cake this time. I haven't quite got over that slight awkwardness of taking photos inside so will have to provide a photo another time.

I also visited the flower lady near Haymarket metro station for my weekly bunch of flowers. She has a great selection of mainly seasonal flowers, cheap enough to treat myself each week. This week, it was a small bunch of spiky, blue, sea holly.


I also found time to pick a few blackberries from the tangle of brambles at the bottom of the garden that is behind mine. I live in a downstairs Tyneside flat, which was built in the 1930s and looks like a typical semi from that time but is in fact four flats.  The garden at the back is split into two with the back part belonging to the upstairs flat, which is rented out and not very well maintained, hence the brambles.  There's also a crab apple tree and some rose hips so my next project is to investigate what to do with them.  The blackberries were super ripe and most of them had gone over so I think they were at their best while I was in America.

13 September 2010

eating in...a thai green curry

Monday...a fresh and light Thai green curry for tea, all zingy and tongue-tingly.  I must confess it isn't completely homemade but is made using the best curry paste I've come across, all natural, nothing fake.  I tried chicken thighs in it this time, which worked OK, but have concluded that thighs work better in heavier curries.  I don't think fiery ginger beer is a typical, authentic accompaniment but it was certainly yummy.

It did make me hanker after Nigel Slater's wonderful version in Appetite, called A hot, fragrant, lively curry, and I agree with Nigel that it is 'as good as eating gets'.  Mr Slater is a constant inspiration, with a no-fuss attitude to food, celebrating food in all its sensuous, exciting, lip-licking, comforting glory.  As you can see, I've also taken on board his relaxed nature to photograph, a bit messy, not too precious, not that I would ever claim that my photos are as good as the photos in his cookery books...