This week has been one of pure indulgence. The kind of greed that I usually reserve for fancy restaurants, when someone else is picking up the cheque. Or the decadent holiday feasting, so encouraged by the cozy trattorias and tempting gelatorias of the Mediterranean.The reason for this, as if I needed one, was that for the two weeks previous, I had been hugely deprived. None of the doctors warned me, before extracting four whopping teeth from my skull, how long it would take to heal. I thought it would be a two day recovery job. Oh contraire. For those couple of weeks my food journal read like cow and gate’s catalogue. Everything pureed and pulverised. I cannot say enough that eating any main meal through a straw, takes the enjoyment out of the experience, unless it is is a legitimate soup or stew.
It was a week of depravation, and like the madmen that give up chocolate for Lent, towards the end I was gunning for gold. As soon as I could chew again, I meant business…
The beginning of the week began with a trip to The Shed, a new hotspot that has just opened in Notting Hill. Run by two brothers, with a casual farm in Sussex, just waiting to supply them with beautiful fresh produce. The chef mastermind Ollie, who I know and worked with at River Cottage, was on great form, juggling the plates of assorted foods as they came out of the kitchen through the pass. The restaurant set up has been cleverly planned so that the pass sticks out into the main dining area, protruding into the restaurant, so punters can see the chefs in their natural habitat. The food, as expected was fantastic. The idea is to order an assortment of little tapas-esque plates of food. Ed and I opted for baked Goats Cheese with Honey, Hazelnuts and Thyme, The Ox Heart with Straw Chips, Beetroot cured Pollock with Fennel, a Radish, Carrot and pickled Cucumber Salad, finally the Hake and Wild Garlic. To top it all off we shared the Magnum Vienetta Parfait, which was a blast from the past. A delicious throwback to the 90s classic mint Vienetta I remember as a tiny tot. Although at the time I was a little heartbroken to have missed the last order of Venison Carpaccio, all the food we ordered was impeccable. For anyone thinking of checking it out soon, do! The highlights were definitely the cured Pollock and the Ox Heart.
Last weekend, on my visit down south, to Balham Farmers Market, I stumbled across a Lavish Habit, a charming little Cafe on Bedford Hill. This cozy little spot boasted not only great Monmouth Coffee but also an array of Cakes, Puddings and a fantastic veggie Quiche, served in generous hunks, as big as a doorstop. The sweet jumbled showroom and knick knacks for sale gives the place a twee vintage feel. Even just sitting there sipping the coffee, in glass tumblers, and reading to paper, you feel a little like an extra on a 1960s film set.
Poached Eggs and Smoked Salmon were on the menu for Tuesday’s breakfast. Moroccan Flatbreads with oven roasted Peppers, Courgettes and White Bean Houmous followed for lunch. The delicious Lemon Custard-filled tart was courtesy of a charming Patisserie in Covent Garden. Soft and creamy, with a hard sugar topping, this Tart is the perfect amalgamation of Tart aux Citron and Creme Brûlée.
The beginning of making Bread and Butter pudding. Slices of Bread, spread liberally with Coconut Oil and Apricot Jam. Later came the Desiccated Coconut and the creamy Egg mixture. I only had a mini baking dish, so could only make enough for two servings. It ended up being the perfect amount for Fred and I to have for breakfast on wednesday.
You might be curious about the cheeks, photographed below. I attended a graduate art fair in central London last week and many of the work on display were installation. One of which being the man in question wearing a pigs mask. He wasn’t just a naked spectator.
Gail’s lunches are something else. Smoked Salmon with Pearled Spelt, Spring Greens, Avocado and a couple of slices of homemade sourdough made up Thursdays lunch. A griddled Lemon Yoghurt Chicken with Cumin Spiced Potatoes followed for dinner… recipe soon to follow.