keeping it simple

  

Thirty degrees in the shade. 

It’s been a gloriously hot, sunny weekend so far, and that calls for chilled local wine, grills on the plancha and salads.

Keeping it simple. Too hot for any faffing around or the oven. Too hot for complicated salad dressings. 

Maybe it’s an age thing, but I’m getting lazy now. 

Today I didn’t even mix up a dressing for the salad, just put the bottles of walnut oil and balsamic vinegar out on the table and drizzled the leaves with them as we ate. 

Necessity-the mother of invention

 So, the one thing in the kitchen of the Greenwich flat that doesn’t work is the grill. 

Much poking, prodding and adjusting of settings later it still sits there in the oven as dead as a parrot, taunting me with its uselessness.

Shame really, as I’d bought myself a nice steak for supper tonight to cheer myself up for not being able to get home to France this weekend, and I much prefer it grilled. I’d forgotten that it was out of action.

Armed with my copper frying pan and a determination that was born of necessity I set about creating a bit of a different taste experience with my steak to compensate. I raided the cupboards to see what I had.

Garlic, smoked paprika, herby zaatar, olive oil, salt, mustard and cracked black pepper were all mixed up into a gloopy wet rub and slathered generously onto the resting steak. 

I got the pan smoking hot – damn the consequences with the scouring pads and washing up afterwards – and a minute and a half on each side later it was rare inside and smokily and crustily perfect on the outside.

  
Sliced over a mixed leaf salad I could hardly tell it had never seen a grill..

  

Pink is beautiful, pink is best

 

 So, lunch on Sunday was at the small but beautifully put together Carpe Diem Restaurant at Pessan in the Gers, France. 

A gem of a place with only a few tables and an even tinier menu. But all good.

It was over thirty five degrees in the shade and one of those dry, baked days with a searingly clear blue sky.

Lunch was lovely as always (see the ratatouille and prawn starter I woofed back) but the real surprise star of the show was a bottle of ice-cold local pink wine.  

Which hardly touched the sides. 
  
Partner and I aren’t really great fans of the local Cotes de Gascogne ros├ęs, preferring the Provence or Fronton pinks, but this was delicious. Not too dry, not too sweet, slightly fragrant and very refreshing. Just the ticket.

Luffy is off to browse t’interweb to see if she can source this in quantity! 

And is reinforced in her view that especially on a hot and dusty day pink is always best…

Cherry Glut

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We have an ancient cherry tree in the garden, age unspecified and unknown, but definitely past it’s prime.

Or so I thought until this year when it suddenly pushed forth such a profusion of delicious fruit that I took a double take.

Is this it’s swan song before the lichen takes over completely and it molders into sterile retirement? Or were the weather conditions miraculously perfect at those strange but critical points in the fruits development?

Whatever the reason it’s remarkable to see and fantastic that there will be enough for us to gorge upon, several cherry clafoutis, and a feast for the Jays in the garden for some weeks to come.

Sweet and juicy, am loving this unexpected cherry glut!

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Lime Hit Lobster

It’s been a grey, sadly chilly weekend from a weather perspective, and Luffy decided to try to shame it into a semblance of summer with a pointedly summery lunch.

Fast cooked lobster tails, simmered for two minutes so that their sweet flesh remained succulent, dressed with a simple garlic and lime zest butter and served on a bed of young salad leaves, this was a glorious combination.

The lobster flesh was as sweet as a nut , the lime butter added a citrus, salty kick as if we were eating it with a margarita chaser, and we sopped up the juices with the young, soft leaves until replete.

All we need now is the sun!

  

The Meat Emporium

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Dinner last night was at the remarkable St.Johns restaurant in Smithfield, London. An old smokehouse now converted into an emporium of reverence to all things edible between tusk and tail.

Here you will find cuts not normally on restaurant menus, such as heart, liver, tripe, sweetbreads and crispy pigs ears. All delectably cooked, with simplicity and honesty, and served with panache.

The highlight of the meal was their signature dish starter of bone marrow, parsley and onion salad, rock salt and sourdough toast.

It was the best thing I’ve eaten in years.

The marrow was silky soft, deliciously creamy and deeply savoury. The flat leafed parsley salad, sprinkle of crunchy rock salt and the crispness of deeply good sourdough toast completed a taste experience that knocked my socks off.

If you get a chance to worship at this Emporium to Meat, go. Bite someone’s hand off for an invitation. Sell your children for a table.

I’m a convert!

Anneli’s Wonderfully Warming Chicken Gabure

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Snow is blustering around both London and the Gers along with a bitterly cold wind, driving us to huddle around the woodburner. Winter has us all at last in its icy grasp.

Time for warming stews and soups, and a garbure is a wonderful fusion of the two.

Normally made with duck locally, a Garbure is a local, rustic stew- soup made with cabbage, garlic, beans and meat. Totally delicious. Anneli had the inspiration to replace the local duck with chicken, and I have to say that it was an inspired modification.

The full recipe is here http://www.delicieux.eu/p=3270

This recipe just uses the shredded meat from the legs (and the meat from the wings in my case as that was what I had left) from a roasted bird, and I have to say with the onion, leek, garlic, cabbage and beans it was more than enough.

Never have a couple of chicken legs fed so many.

Do try this. Comfort food at its absolute best.