29 August 2012

3 years ago today


We said 'I do'. Getting married was the most fun thing ever. And best of all, being married has turned out to be more wonderful than I could possibly have imagined.

28 August 2012

27 August 2012

Sunday Lunch at the Princess of Shoreditch









On the hottest day of the year so far we went for a walk over to Shoreditch and stopped for lunch at The Princess. Here they serve the best roasts I have had in London. The dining room is lovely and the service is good too. Our roast beef was great and all the veg were nicely cooked which can be a challenge - I normally find that one or two components are less than perfectly cooked, but this was not the case here. Best of all was pudding. Very impressive standard for a pub. We had apricot and golden syrup sponge pudding with blood orange sorbet. I mean, how good does that sound? Must go back soon and work my way through that dessert menu.

22 August 2012

DIY holiday


Last week I spent five days on a ladder painting and decorating our spare bedroom. Not the most relaxing of holidays, but very nice once it was finished. Putting on the first coat of jungle green paint to the floor was quite scary, but people always say you have to take some risks in life...very pleased with the result!
Wallpaper Golden Lily from Morris & Co.

21 August 2012

Spaghetti with roasted Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes, Chilli and White Wine


I love a delicious dinner that takes under half an hour to prepare. This is one of those - so super tasty and also one of the quickest and easiest things you could possibly make. All the ingredients for the sauce go in the oven to cook together, all you have to do is boil some pasta and stir it all together. Including prep time this will be done in 25 minutes. Great for weekday evenings.

Serves 2
2 Salmon Fillets
20 cherry tomatoes
1 Glass of Dry White Wine
2 Cloves of Garlic
Dried Chilli
Butter
Flat Leaf Parsley
Salt and Pepper

Place the salmon fillets in a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Wash the tomatoes and scatter on top of the fish. Chop the garlic and dried chilli (use as much as you dare or fancy) and add this to the tray. Season again generously. Pour over the wine, put a knob of butter on each of the fish fillets then roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
In the meantime, cook the spaghetti. Roughly chop a good handful of Parsley. Once the fish is cooked, gently flake the meat up into chunks and discard the skin. Pour all the contents of the roasting tray over the pasta, add the parsley and stir. Job done - serve and enjoy!

20 August 2012

Late Summer






It is time for bright, strong colours and plenty of lush growth. Time for Dahlias - they never stop amazing me, so intricate looking with each perfectly curled petal wrapped tightly around the centre of the bud. And time for bright orange Calendulas, so easy to manage as long as you keep deadheading to encourage flowering and to stop their fat seeds from spreading all over the place. And at last, with this summer weather that has finally arrived, time to just sit, look and enjoy it all.

18 August 2012

Simplicity



Today is a proper hot summers day. The smell of barbecuing is everywhere, and the sounds that go along with it are getting increasingly louder as the Pimm's starts flowing...
If I could have my wish, dinner would look a bit like this. A few gorgeous things on a plate, no cooking involved, and a delicious wine to go with it. Another lovely memory from another wonderful meal we had in Sweden...was it really only a couple of weeks ago?

15 August 2012

Bakewell Tart at Albion










That tart was as nice as it looks in the picture - moist, rich and fruity, yum! At Albion they do really good cakes and bread, baked throughout the day in the open kitchen. We often go for lunch, but the restaurant is open all day. It is amazing that we have places like this around here now. When we moved to the area there were cute little cafes and a few down to earth local restaurants. Now we have fine dining and a Conran hotel mixed in with the curry houses. Not bad to have the option of going drinks at Boundary Rooftop one day and dinner at the Turkish kebab grill the next!

13 August 2012

The Scenic Route


The Olympics have finished and there is a sense that we have just witnessed and been part of something really amazing. It feels a little bit sad but I am not sure what to do about it, apart from moving to Rio...

To me the most amazing thing about the London Olympics was the setting - London itself. So many of the events had fantastic backdrops with one landmark in view after the other. Not many cities could compete with that. On Sunday we went to watch the Marathon runners. This picture is taken from where we were standing in Leadenhall Market, a covered shopping arcade in the City. The drinks were flowing and the cheers were deafening whenever a competitor ran past, no matter what nationality. You would struggle to find a more friendly, open and fun atmosphere. Well done London!

10 August 2012

From Sea to Smoke - a Mackerel Fishing Adventure

To be out on the sea with no other boats around...so beautiful.
Although we did meet this fishing boat - a slightly more professional operation than us.
 Anything on the hook?
 Got one!
The catch - small but but lovely!
 Salted fish on the smoker.
 Lighting the burners.
The big reveal!
 The result - and that amazing smell.
Home smoked Mackerel. Amazing.

Mackerel fishing. This must be one of the funnest things I know, and since I was given a smoker a few years ago I like it even more! Smoked Mackerel is on my top ten list of yummy things to eat, so to fish and smoke it myself...just the best.

We like to get up early, pack a breakfast basket with coffee and sandwiches and head out on the sea while most people are still in bed. This is not necessary at all, you would catch just as many fish any time of the day, but the getting up early bit adds some magic to the experience. The tools are incredibly simple, just four hooks and a weight on the end of a long line. We drive along very slowly at two or three knots, throw the lines in and wait. It is hard to know if there is anything on the hook - sometimes you can feel a definite tug but not always, so every so often you have to reel in and check. Seeing a shiny, white-bellied Mackerel on the hook feels like winning the lottery jackpot. My heart pounds when I pull a wildly wiggling fish out of the water.

To prepare the Mackerel for smoking, gut and clean them then season with salt inside and out. The smoker itself just needs some wood chips scattered on the bottom. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver both have tips on how to make a smoker out of a biscuit tin, but mine came from a shop. It has two burners underneath which you fill with spirit. Once lit, smoke will start to appear very quickly and soon the most wonderful smell spreads. These Mackerel were quite small and only needed about 12 minutes, larger fish would take a bit longer. Opening the lid and seeing those beautiful, golden, oily fish is great. And it makes you hungry. Let the fish cool down a bit then have a taste. Still warm home smoked Mackerel - in my book, not a lot could beat it!

9 August 2012

Exotic harvest


This is a dream come true - ripe figs in my own garden! 
I won't be making jam and chutney any time soon as I only have a few fruit, but I am so pleased about this first harvest as it means the fig is in a position sunny and sheltered enough for the figs to ripen. I will pick them at them at the weekend and enjoy them on their own in a ceremonial way.

7 August 2012

Moody weather


How about this for a summer evening sky? A mass of grey cloud like a lid over the small amount of light that still managed to get through. Beautiful.



5 August 2012

An Olympic Day

View of Greenwich from the north side of the river with the spectator stands in the background.








I love the Olympics! I don't want it to end!
Yesterday was a brilliant day. We have been trying to get tickets constantly since they were first released, but have been unsuccessful every time. Until Friday night when we managed to but two for the showjumping at Greenwich Park the following day. Yes!
To get the arena, we went to the Isle of Dog and crossed the Thames under water using the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Very handy. The setting is truly amazing. Right on the river in picturesque Greenwich with the Cutty Sark a stone's throw away. The weather was lovely, the crowd was fantastic and the horses and riders were incredible. So happy that we got to experience an Olympic event first hand, and particularly thrilled to get to visit Greenwich Park which could be the coolest sporting arena ever, I think.
The afternoon was spent on the sofa watching team GB bring home one gold medal after the other. A wonderful end to an Olympic day.