Apologies for the radio silence, gentle readers. I spent a glorious long weekend in Rome last week and since returning to harsh reailty in London I have had little time or inclination to blog. Soon I hope to tell you about my jumble of impressions – the crush of tourists on the Spanish steps, nuns shopping in the Porta Portese, the paper-thin pizza crusts, the cat colony of the Area Sacra, the poppies in the Forum ruins, the sheen of rain on cobblestones, the carillion of St Paul’s Within the Walls when I flung open my shutters in the morning, the grapefruit gelato from San Crispino, the legions of fake Prada bag sellers, the soul-pleasing beauty of the Pantheon and the kamikaze scooters. But that will have to wait for another time.
For Now Passionate Cook Johanna and I would like to announce a few foodblogger get-togethers over the coming months – see if you’d like to join us!
LEARNING TO COOK … INDIAN (9th June 2007)
We keep hearing that the favourite British dish is the curry – but how many people can actually make one at home? I personally have always thought it was too much hassle to mix your own curry paste, and I probably was just scared of the endeavour – not knowing what differentiates a good paste from a great, or where to get the ingredients, etc.
On the other hand, anything homemade always plays in a different league, so we are curious to find out more about Indian cooking… and We’re inviting other foodbloggers to join us.
Padmaja of Spicyandhra has kindly agreed to teach us some basic, but vital, moves in the world of Indian cookery and what’s best, participants can even decide what we want to learn about: chapattis, masalas, vadas… whatever tickles your tastebuds. Spaces are limited to 8 so that we can all get our hands dirty – sign up ASAP to secure your space!
DATE: Saturday 9th June 2007 from 1pm
LOCATION: The Passionate Cook’s kitchen in South-West London
COST: We’ll be splitting the bill for ingredients
HENLEY FOODBLOGGER PICNIC (7 July 2007)
Well, the tulips have been and gone, the trees are green again and the boys in lycra are on the water every night. That can only mean one thing… it’s almost time again for the Henley Royal Regatta!
Ah, yes, Henley. Rowing since 1839. Royal Patronage since 1851. And a foodblogger picnic since 2005 Not in order of importance, of course!! The regatta is the only London event that Nick and I have attended every year since arriving in the UK in 2000 and I absolutely adore it. It is probably one of the most prestigious world events for rowers and has been going since 1839 (the Royal sobriquet dates back to 1851 when Prince Consort Prince Albert agreed to become the event’s patron – since his death the reigning monarch has always agreed to be the event’s patron). But it is also a fascinating, utterly English social occasion. To be honest, rowing is a bit of an elitist sport and it certainly attracts a very particular crowd of rather well-heeled English people and visiting international teams. Add to this the fact that there are certain tents/enclosures along the 2km course that enforce a dress code of blazers for boys and skirts, heels and hats for girls – and you have a recipe for the most perfect people-watching conditions imaginable!
And then of course you get the normal people like us, who arrive in jeans, walk a bit further along the course, away from the competitors’ tent and the Stewards’ tent, past the food stalls and makeshift cafes to the Remenham Farm enclosure. There we fling our blankets on the grass right by the river’s edge, unpack our Pimms and food and settle in for the day to watch rowing in front of us and an endless fashion parade and snippets of half-overheard conversations from the constant stream of people walking behind us. There is loads to watch as you quietly pickle yourself with Pimms, loll about (hopefully!) in the sun and tuck into the world’s best picnic food as made by your fellow foodies. Perfect
Sound like your idea of fun? Take our quick quiz to find out if it’s for you:
- Are you a food blogger?
- Do you live in London or, anywhere within a day’s travel of London?
- Did our previous events look like fun to you?
- Are you tired of being the only person in your group who photographs everything before they eat it?
Well, if so, then why don’t you join us on Saturday 7 July 2007 for the third UK food bloggers’ Henley gathering. You are welcome to bring friends, family, partners and kids (although you may spend the day trying to keep them out of the River Thames…!). I will be co-ordinating food and drink, so if you want to come, please could you drop me an e-mail including:
- how many are coming (just you, you and partner etc.)
- what you plan to bring by way of food (let the imagination run wild here folks!). Do remember though that a) it’s a picnic and cutlery may be in short supply and b) the food will have to survive a reasonably long train journey – an hour from Paddington Station, longer if you are coming from further afield. I also think that this year we need to be strict and each try to bring only one or two things at most – last year we had an obscene amount of leftovers
I will let you know closer to the time about details such as maps, directions, train times and the like – for now, please just let me know if you are planning to attend so that I can keep you abreast of developments.
HONEY TASTING (8 September 2007)
Here’s a little riddle for you: What food never needs refrigeration and never spoils; was used in over half the known medicines of ancient Egypt; and was reputedly what Cupid dipped his arrows in?
Hint: (to steal a joke from Blackadder) It starts with a bee…
Give up? It’s honey, of course – that magical viscuous golden liquid that bees create from plant nectar and their own enzymes, and that has been sought after by humankind for millenia. But we’re not here to study the history or the chemistry of honey – I am far more interested in its ability to reflect its origins, because honey has an almost unparalleled capacity to tell you at the first sniff or tiniest taste exactly what it was created from. Think, for example of chestnut honey, acacia blossom honey and lavender honey: three very different beasts indeed. Honey can range from very dark brown to nearly colourlessly pale yellow, with the darker colours usually corresponding to the more strident flavours. In the USA alone there are 300 different types of honey from different floral sources, including avocado, blueberry, clover, orange blossom, sage and wildflower. There is even a type of honey that is poisonous to humans, made from azalea (rhododendron) blossoms. You have been warned!
Fascinated yet? Well then why don’t you join some like-minded bloggers for a honey tasting. After our very successful and educational butter and salt tasting last year, we thought we’d tackle something sweeter this time round. We are hoping to taste at least 10 honeys from around the world – more if people can dig out their stored sweet treasures brought back from trips abroad months or even year ago. I know it’s a long way off, but the way my diary goes, it’s better to get a date sorted out now, so here are the details:
DATE: Saturday 8 September
PLACE: my house in East London – details to follow later
TIME: 2pm or thereabouts – then we can segue effortlessly into high tea – or cocktails!
RSVP: Please send me an e-mail if you are interested in attending and I will put you on the guest list
More details to follow in the summer. Until then – remember to look out for unusual honeys that we might want to taste