June 2014. Thom and I flew to Prague on a Sunday afternoon, for a few day’s exploration of central Europe. Once we arrived at our hotel, we found a cute, compact city with loads of cheap beer. It was a whirlwind trip – we only had just over a day before we headed off to Budapest, but it was fun.
Even though I have lived in a city with an underground for nearly three years, I find them endlessly interesting. They same goes for beautiful old buildings. I can’t resist pastel coloured architecture.
The famous medieval astronomical clock, the first mention of which was recorded in 1410 . If you’re lucky enough to walk by on the hour, there is an animatronic display – with a bell ringing skeleton and a shuffling of apostles in the windows above the dial.
Two favourites in one image: Thom checking out the view from Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, which overlooks the Vltava river. The beer is at the Prague Beer Museum – a fantastic name for a pub! I had a sip or two of Modra Luna, a sweet blueberry lager.
One of the more pronounceable subway stops and a tourist selfie at Prague castle. (Hi parents!)
A Soviet era vehicle in stylish brown, and the author posing on one’s 70′s era couchette seat on the night train to Budapest. Shortly after this photo was taken we were off, tucked up in bed and chugging through the Czech Republic with a 5:00AM appointment in Bratislava to keep.
The real London Eye. New North Road, Hoxton.
Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich and oh my god, Annie Lennox’s eyes… A classic from 1992. The video is based in part on the film Dangerous Liaisons (starring Malkovich).
Let’s play a game of kitchenary… and demystify some of the language of food. Despite my love of food and great hoard of cookbooks, some terms still escape me. Especially when I’m sat looking at a menu for 3.5 seconds while a waiter huffs down at me – I go blank and feel kind of dumb.
But as they say, knowledge is power and I’m taking the power back! These a few of the mysteries I unravelled over a meal with friends at Beagle, Hoxton on Saturday night:
GIROLLES: Small and fragrant, these golden mushrooms are also known as chanterelles. They have an ‘almost fruity and quite peppery’ taste, and are wonderful enjoyed simply sautéed and on toast. You’ll find them fresh between June and October in Europe- so they’re at their best now.
GNUDI: This is a fun one to say. Partnered with the girolles in a sage butter sauce, gnudi are a close cousin of gnocchi. However, you’ll find these dumplings are simply made with flour and ricotta. This undoubtedly will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon, as they were utterly delectable.
PERROCHE: A soft white fresh goat cheese, with a subtle lemony taste. I had this with a light summer veg salad, including freshly podded peas – however it looks like broadbeans and artichokes are also exceptional partners.
VICHYSSOISE: If vichy means water in French, vichyssoise is the feminine. In cooking, this usually translates to a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. At Beagle, they serve theirs with watercress and buttermilk, which sounds light and delicious – but I am yet to try it.
I’ve been cleaning up my desktop, and I found these photos from the day I caught the train to Margate with my mum a few months ago. For a trip to the seaside; the weather was miserable (demanding we purchase cut price beanies and gloves from Primark) and the glamour was crumbling. We did try to make the most of it though, by heading to the Turner gallery.
The Turner Contemporary gallery is a pristine space perching on the edge of the tumultuous North sea. Opened in 2011, it’s a sight for sore eyes on the lacklustre sea front. You can see it peeping out on the far right of the picture below.
As for the other delights of Margate? Well, we didn’t find that many. There’s vintage shopping to be had in the old town, along with a few quirky antique shops and the occasional palm reader.
To be fair, weather probably played a big part in this trip… It would be nice to zip down there this summer, when hopefully it’ll all be bathed in sunshine. Come on, England.
A neat little glossary of foreign words and phrases, from one of my mother’s old cookbooks, circa 1980. Some of them not unfamiliar to the modern foodie of course; but I for one had never considered exactly what brut meant (preferring just to guzzle, naturally).
Just read Oliver Burkeman’s latest column in the Guardian. This week it’s about the wonderfully named “what-the-hell effect” - the idea that just one won’t hurt, we can try again tomorrow. This part struck a chord:
“The what-the-hell effect is usually interpreted, rightly, as an argument for setting more realistic goals. Instead of promising you’ll eat no unhealthy foods, or spend nothing on fripperies, build in a safety valve: permit yourself one self-indulgent item a day, or a certain amount of money a week. Better yet, replace “inhibitional” goals – the intention to stop doing things – with “acquisitional goals”, focused on obtaining or achieving something.”
This very simple sponge pudding is perfect for using up bits and pieces from around the kitchen, and saves you the five minute walk to the store when you’ve got a sugar craving. Lemony? Check. Lazy? CHECK!
Lazy lemon curd pudding
50g melted butter
50g caster sugar
50g self raising flour (if you have plain flour, add half a tsp. of baking powder)
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. of lemon curd
In a medium bowl, melt the butter. Let it cool a tiny bit, then mix in the egg and milk gradually. Fold in the flour gently. Put 2 hearty tablespoons of lemon curd and a sprinkling of frozen berries in the bottom of microwave-safe bowl. Pour over the batter. Cover, and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on full power, or until the pudding appears set when gently jiggled, and the top is sticky (you might need to check it a couple of times). Serve hot.
Yield: Perfect for two greedy people, or three responsible and moderate individuals.
Nothing like seeing real clothes-horses wearing millinery finery at the UK’s Aintree Races… There’s something quite sardonic about these photos. See more at The Guardian.