Now that I have my shiny new ‘not getting kicked out of the UK’ residence card, the weekend jaunts are back on! So far we’ve escaped to Gdansk and Milan for the weekend, have some serious port drinking to do in Porto at the end of the month, and plans to see out the year in Madrid and settle into the new year in Morocco! We don’t have any set rules for choosing our travel destinations – sometimes it’s where the cheap flights take us, sometimes it’s actually somewhere we’ve wanted to go for ages, and sometimes we pull out the random generator and let the magic of an excel spreadsheet pick for us. But there is one thing they all have in common…
Wherever we go, the likelihood of a certain someone and I overindulging is extremely high. Ok, let’s be honest, it’s more like a foregone conclusion. When we’re away, I want to try everything which means by the time we get home, we crave something soothing and nourishing; our current welcome-home-meal of choice is a super simple, but super tasty bowl of dumplings in a chicken and miso broth. The trick to making this snappy dinner? Having a batch of dumplings in the freezer ready to go!
One could make the argument that in the age of the world wide web, there’s no need for reference books anymore because you can just google anything. I’m guilty of this; when my boss and I are debating the meaning of some obscure word, she turns to the Oxford dictionary and I turn to dictionary.com, and I often wonder if the younger generation even know what Encyclopaedia Britannica are?! If they’ve only ever known the internet, why would they bother reading through paragraphs of information in the hopes of finding the answer to their question when you can ask google directly?
Some would say cookbooks fall into this category of defunct reference books because why have only one version of a recipe when the magic of the internet can give you thousands, within seconds. I used to be one of these people but I’ve recently fallen back in love with cookbooks. The internet can give me a million and one versions of a dish but it helps if I already know what I want to cook. Trouble is, a lot of the time, I don’t, and for me, flipping through a cookbook is a lot easier than trawling through the internet. Particularly when the food stylist has done their job right.
The prospect of weaving up and down aisles filled with stalls exhibiting new or unique produce might not excite the mass population, but boy does it tickle my fancy. I love, I mean love, going to the supermarket or farmer’s market, particularly specialty or overseas ones with all those shiny new food products to discover! Last month I popped along to the London Produce Show and got the same giddy-glutton feeling as I wandered around the Great Hall in Grosvenor House, checking out the range of fresh produce on show from around the world.
Then when one had enough of oggling the fresh-food-porn, there were seminars on food trends, marketing and emerging markets or chef’s demonstrations to pass your time. I wish I could have spent more time there but alas, that real life job got in the way, and the main event I was here for was the Media Masterclass featuring Jeremy Pang from the School of Wok and the Nikkei Boys, Jordan Sclare and Michael Paul from Chotto Matte. With my glass of champagne in hand, I sat back and watched Jeremy tell us the difference between a bok choy and choy sum, and the Nikkei Boys explain how to prepare their beef tataki, then sampled the fruits of their labour!
Sausage rolls are like the Alison Holst or Mary Berry of the edible world. Loved by all ages and welcomed with open arms at any occasion, they rebel against food trends and have stood the test of time. I don’t think there has ever been a time I didn’t love a bit of sausage roll- they were always one of my favourites at birthday parties when I was a kid, and now I still make a beeline for them at the office morning tea.
A couple of months ago, on a rather uneventful afternoon I suddenly had a craving for a sausage roll. It had been a while since we were last acquainted (are they not standard fare at the English office morning tea?) and I just wanted to sink my teeth into some porky pastry comfort. I decided to make my own because, how hard can it be? As it turns out, not very, so I thought I would give the old girl a bit of a makeover and voila, how good does she look now?
I can confidently say that most of the omnivores I know start salivating at the mere mention of pork belly, and grin ear to ear whilst licking their lips when crispy crackling comes into view. I won’t insult your intelligence by denying that I am one of those omnivores, and a certain someone? Well I’m pretty sure he loves pork more than I do because he could happily eat ham sandwiches for lunch everyday. If that’s not love…
But let’s get back to the belly- I was day dreaming about that time we had those infamous Momofuku pork buns and decided to make those dreams a reality. Unfortunately Skyscanner was not finding me any affordable flights to NYC, so feeling adventurous I thought the next best thing would be to just recreate them myself. They look simple enough, right?
I once had an argument with my flatmate that everything would taste better with pastry. Naturally there are exceptions, not that I would have admitted it at the time, but I still stand by that claim. I think I’ve always loved pastry goods in one form or another. When I was younger I went through a phase of really loving apple turnovers and custard squares… then it was (and still is) the custard fruit tart or berry danish phase… I’ve always loved mum’s curry puffs and quiches… and I’m quite partial to the sausage rolls or vege tart things they always provide at catered lunches… so my current love? Pies.