Eating

A cuckoo blew on my BBQ

At present I’m savouring the Netflix series ‘Chefs Table’. Composed of six episodes profiling six different chefs from around the globe. I’ve been eeking them out so have yet to watch them all. I have found each programme to be an inspiring look into each chefs approach as to how they express themselves. They are so connected to their land and seasons, which is hardly surprising, to see how they deliver their ethos or message on a plate I have found quite extraordinary.

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To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often – Winston Churchill

Applying the vein of my last blog post to life couldn’t meaningfully start until we got Christmas out of the way. Since then I have found mindfulness and the act of rationalising come from the most curious place. The end of last year saw me back in the operating theatre having having another knee operation, a year of being pretty much out of the kind of action I like to be in left me unkindly out of shape, physically and mentally. I’m still a way off any form of high impact exercise but remembering  the ancient adage “70% of rock hard abs happens in the kitchen” I decided to reach out to a nutritionist to see what might be an appropriate dietary path for me to take. We settled on the Metabolic Balance programme and I have to say in the short period of time I have been doing it I have been astonished at how it has proved more than effective at shaving a few inches off the waistline but has also thoroughly swept all of the cobwebs out of my addled mind, recharged my extremely fatigued batteries and given me a new focus on what and how much I put into my body over the course of a day and what else I put into the day for that matter. It’s flipped everything upside down and returned me to the values of simple and productive living. It’s slowed things down and seen me applying myself to one thing at a time so much more effectively than I have been able to do for so long, which in turn has made my time incredibly productive. I’m feeling good!

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Starting my day as I mean to go on.

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A reason for Lunching

I came across this simple lunch idea a little while ago through Esther Walker’s twitter site, she writes the rather witty Recipe Rifle, which makes me laugh quite a bit and I do admire the manner in which she writes. Since starting this blogging I’ve begun to take notice of peoples writing ‘voices’. I’m not confident I’ve found mine yet but am sure with persistence I WILL FIND IT and life will be marginally better or at least blogs will be easier to write.

Anyway, a reason for taking a little break out of the day today was to put this little doozey together. I don’t know where Esther got this idea from, she just had a picture with a brief description (being twittter and a tweet, duh) or if I’m even making it properly but it works and it’s DELICIOUS.

 

Toasted Sourdough with Lumpfish Caviar & Yoghurt.

Take a couple of pieces of Sourdough bread, rub with a little raw garlic and toast. Once toasted spread with greek yoghurt then lumpfish caviar. Top with chopped parsley and a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. Hey Presto….lunch. Two slices of this with a little snappy salad set me up finely for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coldbuster to the Rescue

It seem as though half of London has been afflicted with the same nasty chesty throaty thing that’s kept me in bed for the past couple of days. Now I can only go so far with a Lemsip (aren’t they grim?) and feeling half normal this morning, I peeled myself out of bed and went for a bracing walk with the dog. Out to collect lemons and honey and a little bunch of rosemary to make by far the best cold cure I have ever come across. It’s the Coldbuster from Allegra McEvedy’s Leon cookbook. I swear by it and now many of my friends do too. I like to add a little sprinkle of dried chilli flakes, a friend adds a whole jar of Manuka honey.

It never fails to make me feel better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 You’ll have to excuse the ropey photographs, I’m not that well.

 

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch. – Orson Welles

I’ve had a lot of work to do over the last few months, well of course I have, I’m running Ben Pentreath Ltd along with starting my own business. At the moment I am working three days a week, Tuesday to Thursday at the shop with the remainder of the week working on designing and producing my range. I have to admit I’m finding the work work balance a little tricky to get the hang of. By the end of three most enjoyable days working at the shop, I’m normally chomping at the bit to get on with making more candles, applying a couple more layers of lacquer to the Intaglio Boxes and gessoing, well, everything and also wanting to get started on turning a new idea into something tangible. I can blast on with that for four days happy to be lost in my world of Bridie Hall at Home only to return to other work on Tuesday totally spent because I didn’t have a weekend. Although it’s tough I am willing to accept that this is the way it is going to be for the foreseeable future, I’m not such a weekendy person anyway. My solution, as I think I may have mentioned in a couple of my other blogs is a decent lunch. This I consider my weekend, my mini break if you will, once possibly twice a week for a couple of hours I go somewhere, normally Brindisia (get there at noon for a table) in Borough Market, Ottolenghi or Pips Dish Pop Up on Upper Street or the Marquess Tavern near where I live in Islington and get stuck in. A couple of glasses of wine along with the full three courses if I’m on my own, loads of small things to share if I’m with a friend and just….. relax. Sometimes there is a little more wine and a little less food, the company is always excellent, I’m quite easy going about it all going on for a little longer if it has too. That’s when I consider it a holiday. This, normally followed by a short afternoon nap (I have it down to a perfect 40 mins) and I’m back refreshed and rearing to go.

In the last couple of weeks I have eaten the following at the Marquess Tavern.

 

Potted Shrimp on Toast

 

Ham Hock Terinne – If I was stuck on a desert island this would be my luxury

 

Warm Goats cheese with lentils & Beetroot

 

 

And this from Pips Dish on Upper Street

Beetroot and Hamhock Terrine was just the beginning!!!

 

 And also over the last couple of weeks I have managed to start production on a couple of new images and patterns for trays. They look like this.

 

16″ Camellia Tray – They are HUGE and gorgeous.

 

Caning pattern tray – the first prototype!

 

So, I guess it’s a Work Lunch balance that I’ve perfected. How does everybody else do it?

I feel like I do everything at the wrong time. I like to garden first thing in the morning before I go to work so it’s normally all in order all the time. I like to go to bed quite early on Friday and Saturday nights because I really like waking up really early on Saturday and Sundays to get stuck into Bridie Hall work and I don’t really like going anywhere any other time ha!

Putting down the Ritz

Last Friday as a farewell treat to my dear friend who has been helping me out for the last month we went for High Tea at The Ritz. Have you ever been for High Tea at The Ritz? The rooms are spectacular, a nod to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with some strategically placed Union Jacks, a stroke of genius. The people were a complete let down (sorry people) or rather the women, groups and groups of women of a certain age with a certain style of dress playing make believe at The Ritz before, no doubt, heading off to a matinee. It was so disappointing and I was rather ashamed that I was one of their number (is it wrong to say that?). So while we enjoyed our tasty little sandwiches, scones, creme caramel, strawberry flan, petit fours and litres of tea (all perfectly fine) after taking in the grandness of the Palm Court there was very little left to look at and it got quite boring quite quickly. I suppose I had been hoping it was going to be filled with people that actually stay at The Ritz and that Joan Collins would be there and the people watching would be out of this world, instead it was women slipping out of their high heels and into their more comfortable homely pumps, smuggling the menus into handbags even though they were allowed to keep them, I started to calculate how many of those menus must now be displayed on the sideboard in peoples homes across the nation, it was so boring I started costing out how much revenue I thought the Palm Court would take in a day and concluded it is probably The Ritz’s bread and butter, that’s how little there was to watch. Before long (maybe a half an hour longer than I would have preferred) it was time to go and I was glad, not before noticing the carpet on the stairwell going down to the loos, simply perfect, I wish the people could have been as much fun as the carpet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jubilation

We’re feeling it because we’ve reached the end of a mammoth weekend of watching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee footage on T.V. Deciding, due to the poor weather, not to leave the house in search of bunting, hordes and beacons but taking the same approach we take to Christmas (if we don’t leave the country) and fill the stores, invite friends around, cook endlessly, eat endlessly, drink gin cocktails inappropriately early, fall asleep at the table, wake up to repeat the process all the while keeping up with the Royals on the telly. They wore us out! We can’t imagine how they must be feeling, I can’t help but feel Prince Philip had it sown up when it came to getting his Hall pass.

Although we were holed up we did not stop making things all weekend long….

Rose made the best newspaper papal hats we’ve seen.

 

Belinda regaled us with the most patriotic of sponge cakes (yes that is a watermelon in the background, we have a rather spontaneous approach to events like this ).

 

And I made some Chicken pie love – finally getting using my Pie Bird!

 

Spare us some Asparagus

It was a welcome sight visiting Borough Market on Friday to find the asparagus hailing from Norfolk instead of North Africa. I have to admit, I notice the difference in taste when air miles enter the equation with asparagus. I prefer to enjoy it for the few weeks of the spring growing season in the U.K. and leave it at that. So I was happy to buy myself a bunch (is there an official term for a bunch of asparagus?), and along with a loaf of Sourdough from Neal’s Yard Dairy, lunchtimes were sorted for the weekend.

Sometimes heaven is a poached egg with asparagus & shaved Parmesan on a slice of grilled sourdough.

 

 

 

Sunday breakfast

What a promising start to the day. We’ve just finished our first breakfast in our newly decorated conservatory, on our new table, sitting on our new chairs, using the new tray and drinking coffee out of our new/old china set. It’s a really good feeling!

It’s taken so long to get this room together, it’s so pleasing it’s finally working. All I have left to do is artfully arrange the books & objects in the shelves and put up the wall sconces, then it will be fit for a blog of it’s own. Before and after pictures, sourcing & everything.

No time today, first I’m sowing some vegetable seeds then off to the shop to help hang the ‘Theatre Britannica’ exhibition with Ed Kluz and Robin, after that walking to the Southbank for a late lunch/early dinner with Alannah.

Tomorrow I will be finishing off the latest batch of increasingly popular Jubilee plates and making up the first “Scholars Set” of platonic solids to become a part of my Grand Tour Collection. After a repeat of this mornings breakfast no doubt, maybe bacon instead of porridge.

Have a relaxing Bank holiday.

 

 

 

Too much weather & a drastic measure.

The recent wet London weather has really been getting to me. I think I have physically felt my vitamin D levels deplete, whatever that feels like. The sky has been grey for as long as I can remember- am I living inside a Tupperware container? Last week, I had to do something about it.To down tools, stop checking the weather forecast, stop moaning about it, stop swearing at the sky asking it if it knew where Spring was. If Spring wasn’t coming to me, then I was going to go find it.

There aren’t many times in life, when all a girl can do is log on to a travel website and book a trip to St Tropez, but this was one of them.

 I found the charming Hotel Pastis online (the main reason we ended up in St Tropez), booked four nights and two flights and away we went, with  nothing more on the agenda than to read, sleep, eat & be in the sun. I cannot tell you how restorative the sunshine was after such a long spell without. 

I felt my mind clear and I found peace. I was greatly inspired. I designed and drew out a new range of trays and all of my packaging labels.

I read a short, useful book called “You are what you wear”, and when I came home I emptied my wardrobe of everything I have never worn which was one of the best feelings.

I was reminded of how simple the Mediterranean diet is, so since I have been back I have carried on eating fish with mozzarella and tomato salads for dinner.

And if I feel the weather blues creeping back, I close my eyes and imagine the feeling of the sun on my face poolside and start planning my next escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How dinner has been since we’ve been back. 

 

 

Of course all was forgiven. On the way to work the first morning back I walked through this small park as I normally do where it was raining blossom petals.