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Showing posts from August, 2013

Hungry reading

The page proofs of Real Port Talbot arrived in the post from my publisher two days ago and I am spending the weekend scouring each page, each word, each end-note number and reference for typos, omissions, clumsy errors, checking for letters and symbols lost in the transfer from Word to Quark, that the photographs are the right ones and in the right place and that each section falls on the right page number. 

It sounds like fiddly work but this is the kind of writing work I enjoy - proof-reading, editing, layouts. So much easier than the real writing, the struggle to get the right words in the right order and saying what I want them to say. It's not that I don't like the real writing - well, I like it when I'm lost in the flow of it - but I don't like the thought of it and getting myself to the desk to begin. I don't like the white screen, the blank page, the cranking up of gears, the slow lead in and the chopsy indolence of my internal critics who'd prefer me to…

Clearing out the Fridge: The Reality

When Nigel Slater clears out his fridge he finds oyster mushrooms with a 'woodsy' scent nestled in a brown paper bag and some Taleggio cheese that's creamily ripe with an attractive ooze. He also found some left over thick slices of bread cut from what looked like a wholemeal seeded batch loaf.
I cleared out my fridge yesterday. There was a not quite as attractive oozing third of a cucumber, a small dish of sliced lamb left over from lunch last Saturday that had taken on a greyish tinge and a half eaten pot of fizzing tzaziki a week past its use-by date.
That's the difference between TV and real life. And I'm sorry, Nigel, but bread cannot be categorised as 'leftover' unless it has curled crusts or a sprinkling of penicillin growth.
You can catch up with Nigel's leftovers adventures on iPlayer. I'll save you the graphic display of mine. 
But I do have a simple snack that only requires three usually available ingredients and a microwave for when you want…

The Grumps and Treacle Tart

The last time I saw our friends, Bernie and Chris, I was unintentionally grumpy. I'd had a couple of disagreements with Tony over the previous week - in fact, we might have had a minor flare-up in the car on the way to their house for a barbecue - and by the time I got there a veil of numbness had settled over me.
I don't think I was ill-mannered or discourteous, just unusually quiet with a hint of the dismal. And perhaps because, for most of the time, I'm naturally forthcoming and chatty, my mood was obvious and noted. 
Fortunately they are good friends, the best of friends, so I'm sure they have forgiven me and put it down to a minor and temporary malfunction in my life.
I'd planned to take along a treacle tart that I'd made the day before but the barbecue had been delayed by 24 hours because of rain and Tony and I snaffled a couple of slices. Then another couple. But it was a big tart and even half of it would have been an acceptable dessert contribution. '…

Swooning with Raymond Blanc

Every self-respecting French patisserie in Antibes sold them. Friandises: miniature cakes and desserts that we'd probably call petits fours. Eclairs, lemon and fruit tartlets, mille feuilles, chocolate and raspberry mousse - dozens of little bite-size delights. Everything you'd ever want a dessert to be but smaller. 
But I didn't truly appreciate them until I had my first Café Gourmand while I was living there: a dessert alternative that combines a kick (or two) of espresso coffee with three tiny sweet bites. It's an invention that restaurants in Britain haven't embraced. Or I thought they hadn't until I visited the Brasserie Blanc in Chancery Lane, London this week. 
I could go on about the grass fed Cornish fillet steak that Tony had. Or my grilled scallops, crushed new potatoes with prawns, and glistening dish of buttered french beans. In fact, we could perhaps just pause there:

But it was the words Café Gourmand on the dessert menu that really made me swoon. I…