Monday, May 30

The start of 'things you must try'

I can see now, it’s going to become a bit of a habit. On those mornings when you wake up without an alarm and you slowly lean over to pull the curtains away from the windows, away from keeping the light out of your bedroom, because you want to be able to see the tops of the trees. It’s spring here so they’re green and still swaying in the breeze that was left over from winter.

It was last Thursday that caused this habit to form. Alarm went off at 8, and I pulled on my exercise gear to get my walk on all the way down to the markets. TPP was out on the streets that particular morning (The Parisian Pee’r). We see him all over the city, always in different disguises.

At 8 the markets weren’t busy as this is early here in Paris for those who have the luxury of buying their vegetables, cheeses, breads and meats from them daily. And every morning, all the time, there’s really quite a culture down there on Rue Richard Lenoir at the Bastille Markets. I think it’s the yelling that I’m most fond of. Or have become most fond of. At first you instantly think; abuse, yet again. But then after time, it is the one thing that you have become to understand about the French. They’re not yelling as such, they’re talking… loudly and urgently because what they are saying is apparently very important. The other day at work the owner came in and said (yelled), “make sure this bread is used up!” My job has nothing to do with bread, I don’t touch bread, I don’t order bread, I don’t talk about bread. It was all very confusing. “I’m not supposed to take bread out to customers,” I said. He replied (yelled), “No I know but I’m just saying (yelling) it should be used up! It’s waste!”

Once you come to these markets and when you get to see how long this particular cheese stall is, that it takes up a considerable amount of space, you will understand why this particular stall is the one I have chosen alliance with. In the twenty minutes of cheese-window shopping on Thursday morning amongst the affectionate yelling (because everything in this market is really very important), I saw a large white bucket and written on the side in blue linked letters was this; ‘fromage blanc.’ Right away I thought that I must try this. And so I bought a small tub for 79 euro cents and I bought some strawberries, almonds, fresh dates and a banana because it makes sense in my head that all those things would only go well together. I came home and placed them all in a bowl in layers, just like you would assemble a tiramisu. My first spoonful consisted of only fromage blanc. Thick, creamy, nothing tart, nothing sickly sweet, just everything perfect and leaving your desire for something creamy completely fulfilled.

And then once I had finished my entire bowl of breakfast (about half an hour later because I am trying this thing of eating slowly), in retrospect, I wished I had left out the banana, strawberries, almonds and fresh dates, because this is something that you don’t want to add anything to.

However, if the occasion calls for a friend to accompany your fromage blanc seulement, I would recommend the following:

Fromage Blanc with raspberry compote
Fromage Blanc with only fresh dates (I can imagine this would have gone well)
Fromage Blanc with caramel sauce and a sprinkling of granola (Grace this is for you)
Fromage Blanc with cake, any sort of cake…

Thursday, May 26

The Art of Eating

There's just an urgency. Sometimes, when you're in your apartment and even though you've been out walking that morning, when it was quiet, when shutters were closed and the last cigarette butt hit the gutter at 5am, you still feel impatient to have the experience that only this day could ever be. And so you're sitting in the sun on your balcony eating a bowl of sliced banana, green apple, raisin, coconut and lemon juice while you watch all the people strolling under your home, who you never thought you’d experience the feeling of jealously over, but they’re all out there, in that wonder of not Paris in the spring time (as a fond friend of mine, Frank, would sing), but amongst all those other people living this strange, strange life of being a person made up of experiences.

Carpe Diem Cafe

This takes you out on your very first experience of going to lunch, to a lovely restaurant, on your own to eat magret de canard and sip a glass of Bordeaux over two hours of people watching and writing. And when you look at those bread baskets filled with real French baguette, it makes you want to lean in towards the table beside you and just like Meryl Streep from Julie and Julia exclaim, “French people, eat French food, everyday!”

And they get to eat it slowly....

Which is something that is lost today; this art of eating.

Every morning at work we all eat breakfast together. Chefs come out from their hot sticky rooms filled with high gas stoves, pastry chefs pull their cakes out of the ovens and glaze the morning scones, servers finish wiping the tables for our very first customers of the morning and we all pull out our chairs, pour granola, soy milk and our very own store-made jam into our bowls. Most of us rapidly speed through breakfast to get back to our jobs as customers come in timidly asking if we are open (wondering why we are all sitting down, chatting and eating breakfast together at 8:30 in the morning). But one of the owners seems to embrace the pleasure of eating at the table with us. His bread leisurely lies in front of him while he sips his tea and then causally picks up his knife to spread a centimeter of butter over his toast, followed by just a 'taste' of raspberry jam. This moment of sitting down around a table with people he sees every day will not be lost on him.

Sarah, on the evening of lemon and mint risotto, re-reminded me about the experience of food being for the experience of people. Never before had I sat and eaten a meal at such a slow pace...

And it was brilliant.

The missing time constraint allows every nibble to become involved. There was opportunity for my taste buds to wrap around every flavour. My body relaxed, legs; leant down under the table and rested on my side-turned feet, hands sat on my lap and shoulders were light against the back of the chair. And I realized then, in that moment of loving being so occupied by what was going on, that it's all about the intermission between each morsel. Because in that intermission, you get the most important task of asking the person sitting in the chair directly opposite you, to share a tiny part of their story. And that person then becomes heard.

And even if there is no one there to share this occasion of food with, then at least you can take your time to be present with what you are surrounded by in that particular moment.

After lunch I walked home from Châtelet to République through Le Marais and I bought this; a cup of nutella, pistachio and amaretto gelato, becuase I wanted to walk slowly and eat slowly, all the way home.

Potentially the best gelato in Paris; Amorino.

Carpe Diem Cafe
21, rue des Halles,

Monday, May 23

A Manner of Mushrooms

“Why are there so many types of mushrooms?” She looked upset as she turned from each basket to another. Some squidge with deformed caps, some brown but not because they were dirty and then some perfectly white and mushroomy. “We don’t need that many, no body needs that many mushrooms.” He lifted his shoulders and then let them drop all of a sudden. She reached her hand forward as if she was going to decide which type to use this evening by picking each one up to feel its weight and texture. He imagined the Shiitake being squeezed by her fingers, the gills pressed by her nails until they easily tore. “Those might be a bit strong for what we’re making tonight?” Her hand hovered over the umbrella-like caps and then moved on to the other basket.

There in the smaller basket was offered a shriveled dark brown and grey variety. “Who could possible want to eat these?” She seemed maddened and on the point of tears. He came up close to her, just allowing his shoulder to brush against hers and he felt her arms rest a little. “These are dried,” he said, but not in a way that sounded as if he knew more than she did. “I think they’re called Porcini. You know how you like those mushroom risotto balls I make? Those are made with porcini stock.” She nodded her head slightly. He leaned in towards her shoulder, ushering her towards the basket beside the porcini. “Are they always dried?” He looked at her, “they’re dried today,” he answered.

Her mouth tilted up at the edges. Her eyes seemed happier. “These are white button mushrooms, right?” He nodded, a bit relieved. “Can we use these in tonight’s dinner?” “Yip, definitely, we could use these.” But then he pointed to the Crimini, a small brown mushroom. She looked over in the direction of his hand. “They look kind of similar to those ones, what are those called?” She pointed back to the white mushrooms. “Those are Agaricus, these ones are similar, but these have a bit more of an intense flavour.” She looked from white to brown, white to brown. And then her eyes settled on the brown Italian sort.

“Bonjour monsieur, nous voulons 750 grammes, s'il vous plait.”

She took the brown bag in her hands and seemed thankful that it was all over. “What do we need now?” He looked up, allowing his eyes to run along all the stall fronts of fresh vegetables from this morning's harvest. “Fresh thyme and rocket.”

Inspired by Antonio Carluccio's, 'The Complete Mushroom Book: The Quiet Hunt,' a present I recieved from my sister, Rachael, and her husband, Matti, this last Christmas.

Butter and Thyme Mushrooms on French Sourdough
perfect with a glass of red wine

a bag of mushrooms (Crimini or Agaricus or your favourite)
1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped and rubbed (or dried thyme)
1 Tbsp butter
one thin slice or gruyere (completely optional)
extra virgin olive oil (the green stuff)

Slice your mushrooms. Heat the butter in a skillet. Add your thyme and allow the butter to foam. You may need to add a little oil if it seems as though there is not enough cooking liquid in the pan. Add your mushrooms and coat them with your butter and thyme mixture. Cook, stirring them around the pan every now and then. Once mushrooms start to release a bit of liquid, this means they are cooked enough. Usually around 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, on a plate place your slice of sourdough and top it with a slice of gruyere (this is of course optional). Wash your rocket. Once the mushrooms are done, scatter them over the sourdough. Top with the rocket, shaved or grated parmesan, drizzle with oil and a litte extra salt.


Sunday, May 22

Sunday with Company

Home alone and I feel in love. Sunday in Paris (again). Neko Case is singing about Pauline, she does that a lot in my apartment. Today the wind is blowing and our washing on the balcony is swaying bedraggled, the door slams, five flights down at 4 in the afternoon the café below my window is filled with couples, young families and old friends who are manging on their brunch because Sunday in Paris is brunch day for those who don’t work.

I spent a morning and an afternoon standing in this kitchen that is coloured with silver metal and decorated with large industrial pots and whisks and boxes of crushed thick salt that you would just love to let your pantry at home embrace. And there’s this list in a big black book lying on the shelf in front of you and in the page marked with a pen is today’s date. Sunday May 22nd. And on that page is a list; choux, fenouil, courgette, radis, aubergine, concombre, champignon, but it’s longer than that.

Every time something is pealed, cut, washed, dried, placed in a gigantic oven tray (that my arms are too scrawny to hold) and then covered and stored in the walk-in-fridge, you get the most rewarding task of taking that pen in your hand and pushing down the point with your thumb and then crossing that item off: choux. And then you look underneath choux and it says fenouil and so you start all over again.

But then it’s home time and I remember that my flat mate, who is currently in Amsterdam, bought me a gift the other day (the day I couldn’t be in New Zealand to meet my niece). After cooking dinner for a family that evening, I had arrived home and just sitting there propped up with so much haughtiness was a square cut piece of traditional French strawberry cream cake, the cheapest bottle of faux champagne, a card with the words ‘Congratulations Aunty Danielle’ written across the front and a pot of fresh mint, just growing all tall and lanky-like out of a black plastic pot which made me instantly think; Lemon and Mint Risotto!!!!! Nothing could be so perfect as new spring lemon with aged parmesan on this sunny warm day in Paris.

Sunday and Paris and I just had to try my new mint plant out on someone. I invited a friend, Sarah, over for dinner. On the way back to my new potted plant I stopped in at the U, the cheapest supermarché beside Canal St Martin, and I bought Arborio rice, 2 lemons, a dirty 3 euro bottle of white wine, shallots, chicken stock and parmesan and I came home and looked in my fridge and found a boite of white asparagus that I had bought from the market earlier on that week.

I want something novel, I want almond meal, I want Parmesan, I want red onion and I want thyme I thought.

Lemon and Mint Risotto
(for two)

1 Tbsp butter
4 small shallots, finely diced
2/3 cup of Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken/vegetable stock
zest of 2 lemons
3 Tbsp lemon juice
fresh mint chopped

In a pan allow the butter to foam slightly. Add the shallots and on low heat sauté till very tender. Add the rice and stir for around thirty seconds to fully coat the rice in the shallot mixture. Turn the heat up to med/high and add the wine all at once. Allow to bubble while stirring the hole time allowing it to evaporate fully. Add 1 cup of stock and stir every now and then. When completely evaporated, add the remaining stock in ladles, adding the next ladle of stock once the previous stock has evaporated. Continue until the rice has come to the texture you prefer (probably tender still with a firmness).
Zest the lemons into the risotto and add the lemon juice and the parmesan. Mix well and taste. Add salt and pepper and perhaps some more lemon juice here.
Stir through fresh mint just before serving.

Roasted Asparagus with Almond Goodness
(for two)

Bunch of asparagus
half red onion finely diced
1 garlic cloves finely diced
100g almond meal
1 tsp fresh/dried thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan

Sauté red onion and garlic till well tenderized. Take off heat. Add almond meal, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix really well with a spoon till a paste forms (you can use a processor except I don’t have on yet!).
Peal the asparagus (if they are especially fresh then you could get away without pealing them) and snap the ends at the ‘natural’ break in the stem. Place in a single layer on an oven tray and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Roast till your desired texture (I prefer with a crisp, therefore 10 minutes).
On a large platter place the Almond Goodness in the centre slightly spread out. Top with aspaprgus and drizzle with the left over oil from the roasting pan. Sprinkle over the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, May 16

Gnocchi With My Hands

And it’s like that you know, when you’re standing there at your kitchen bench looking down at your hands, hands covered with the dust left over from flour and patches of wet dough, and its spring outside and you’ve just spent the morning at the markets buying ingredients to make a dinner of gnocchi from scratch with.

A thick fresh cream and aged blue cheese is just sitting there in your fridge with dozens of mushrooms that have been picked that very morning from somewhere in the French countryside, but right now down in the streets it’s quiet because it’s a Sunday in Paris and people don’t start to wake until just before midday, cafes still have their shutters down but you, you’ve been up for hours to watch the morning unveil itself so you can spend a day in the sun way up in your tiny Parisian apartment listening to Ray LaMontagne while you make cookie dough to store in your freezer for future snacking and a homemade Italian meal of gnocchi involving a creamy mushroom and blue cheese sauce.

But you’re just looking down at your hands that are in the middle of creating. And this moment, it’s like an answer and you can’t quite believe you get to live this way, in this life, in this country, making food with the vegetables you bought from the very people who harvested them, and the only thing you can be is thankful because it’s all too much, and you’re too exhausted from wondering how long this will all last for and so you just decide to enjoy it and to try and see how it can be shared.

Russet Potato Gnocchi

Enough for 5-6 people as a main course.

2 large russet potatoes
1 cup standard flour
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

It is said that gnocchi is best when it is made from russet potatoes and so I went from stall to market stall in search of the most beautiful looking pale beige potatoes with dark brown speckles and I bought two. Then I came home and boiled them in salted water till they yielded to the slight piercing of a sharp knife and I pealed them and pressed them through a very fine sieve on to a floured workbench, all with my own hands, to come up with this:

And I sprinkled over a little chili powder because it was the only spice I had, an embarrassing amount of salt because salt is the only thing that goes with everything, and a reasonable amount of flour to form this dough that I am making for the very first time. And then I worked the conglomeration, with my hands, until it came together.

A well was made to cradle one beaten egg and then there was gentle kneading and an addition of a bit more flour until it came together into an easy ball.

I rolled the dough out between two sheets of baking paper until it was ½ an inch thick and then cut it into 1 inch wide strips,

And then on a lightly floured surface, rolled the strips into rope-like pieces,

And cut out 1 inch long pieces of gnocchi, placing them in the fridge until I was ready to cook them, about two hours later.

A pot of salted water was brought to the boil and decreased to a steady simmer and the gnocchi was added, one piece at a time, and once they had risen to the surface, they were removed with a slotted spoon and were added to my mushroom and blue cheese sauce.

Friday, May 13

Food and its Audience

I don’t know how to bridge this gap.

We went into this industry because we loved food. It meant a lot to us; not just the taste, but the creating, the encouragement of health, eating from what we found in the ground, the transforming of food, combining of flavours, the chemistry of eggs, flour, salt and butter, having you sit down and talk with us and allow us to present something beautiful on a plate for you.

And that was it: for you.

My freind Victoria made this for me this evening: Roasted carrot, sweet potato and goats cheese salad with sautéed pumpkin seeds and rocket.

Food had meaning because it was for people. A café, a restaurant or a market stall is always there to fill a need for others. And so that is why we pursued the food industry. It made sense.

Now that we’re in it we have a certain amount of hours a day that must be filled with prepping and roasting, pealing and poaching, boiling and cutting. And it’s still all for the people sitting outside our kitchens of silver metal and high flames, bulk crates of aubergines and industrial sized fridges with huge sliding doors, because before you were hungry and now you’re content. But you sit down and are served by others who didn’t create what you are eating. Those people are in the kitchen. And this may be going into something much bigger than this page has room for, but those chefs, they also didn’t pull your carrots from the dirt, pick your dates from trees, sift through wheat for the flour in your bread or even slaughter the animals that now lay dormant on your plates. There is no; “I did this for you, to make you feel, or to know that…” We have all sat at that table. I have been a guest at that table.

There is a gap, a giant hole where table and kitchen have become disconnected. Molly Wizenberg wrote in her book A Homemade Life, “I never saw the faces of the people who ate what I had prepared.” There is an unknown space here. And I’m not sure whom it is most sad for. For you, sitting at that table not knowing the story of your meal and the stories of the people who contributed to it. Or is it most sad for us? We don’t know you, you eat our food, food that caused us to venture into this industry because it was supposed to connect us to you. But we don’t even know your names. We don’t know what you really desire and the reasons you may not be pursuing those desires. We don’t know if there is something holding you back, if you created it for yourself or if it is something that happened to you. We don’t know what makes you most excited about life, what gives you that feeling of complete overwhelment? We don’t know why you needed to have that meal with that person. We don’t know how to help you.

We went into this industry because of you. But even though you’re just outside our kitchen, we still don’t even know you. Because after it all, after the pealing and snapping of 300 asparagus stems, after the taste-check of the simmering parmesan and tomato risotto in our heavy based skillets, and even after the washing and wrapping of a dozen crates of fresh coriander, what we really want is to have a conversation with you.

Saturday, May 7

The Situation is Really Just Continuing.

Ottolenghi. Have you heard of this place? The food philosophy of these people? It’s adding to the situation.

Listen to them:
‘We only produce things that we would want to eat ourselves.’
I can trust this.

“We cook to feed and to share, applying the same instincts as a home cook.”
Um, wow, this is my dream.

“We are desperate to share our fixation with anyone who feels similarly.”
And… that would be me.

But it’s not only their food philosophy, have you had a slice of their apple and olive oil cake with maple butter icing? What about their chocolate and pecan cookies or flourless orange and almond cake with chocolate ganache? I walked into their Notting Hill store and whispered, “Hello, I live here.”

I have this friend, and she indulges me in my fantasy dinners. Dessert for dinner is how we have community. Just before I left New Zealand I invited Grace over for dinner and she replied, “Shall I bring the Movenpick?” I love her. I got to work right away preparing David Lebovitz’s butterscotch cream pie and Ottolenghi’s apple and olive oil cake with the most velvety maple syrup butter icing to have ever passed through your mouth, lightly smudge your lips and sit effortlessly on your tongue to mull for a brief moment before it melts and fills your mouth with so much flavour you could quite possibly cry. And so I made it, but I will get back to this shortly.

As far back as I can remember there has had to be a reason for things. Perhaps I have made it this way. For instance; food. We can’t love food just for the sake of taste. That isn’t enough for me. Because if you think about it, taste in itself is meaningless unless it is experienced by people. It relies on us for its existence. Therefore, its dependence on people deems it significance.
We have quite a responsibility here.

It is no wonder then why the love of food has become such a shared human experience. There is meaning in sitting down and having a meal with friends, family or strangers. Food and flavour and cooking connect people to each other. And the euphoric ingredient of taste only enhances this connecting experience. I am convinced that the inseparable combination of taste, therefore food, and community is fundamentally meaningful in this world.

And so I want to encourage you to experience what is meaningful and the best way I thought I could do that was by letting you in on this apple and olive oil cake that actually creates so much feeling in your body that you could experience nothing but enjoyment over being with the people you are eating it with.

Apple and Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

Adapted from ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.’

In making it from home with an oven I was still in the process of getting used to, the only thing I would do to improve this cake would be to cook it for about 10 minutes less to ensure it is moist enough.

280g good quality flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice/allspice
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml olive oil
160g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1cm squares
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites

For the icing:
100g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g soft brown sugar
85ml maple syrup
220g cream cheese, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 170°. Grease a large cake tin and place baking paper on the bottom and the sides.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, spices, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together. In a separate bowl, beat the olive oil, vanilla and sugar together until it is thick and smooth. Beat in each egg at a time. Stir in the apples and lemon zest and then the flour mixture. Next whisk the egg whites until they are thick and stiff and gently fold it in to the batter. Make sure not to mix them too much as you don’t want too much air too expel. It is totally fine if there are still visible traces of egg white. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, but make sure you check it regularly so it doesn’t loose its moisture and take it out of the oven just as the batter is cooked, no longer. Ensure the cake is completely cooled before you cut it.

For the icing beat the butter, maple syrup and sugar until it is thick and very smooth; about 8 minutes. Then add the cream cheese and continue beating until it is smooth.

Once the cake is cooled, with a sharp long knife slice the cake horizontally. Be careful removing the top layer that it doesn’t break in half. Often fish slices are good for this. Use half of the icing on the top of the bottom layer of cake. Replace the top cake layer and use the rest of the icing to ice it.

Enjoy your dinner!

Notting Hill Store
63 Ledbury Road
London W11 2AD

Friday, May 6

Everybody Must Get Sconed

She was the first person to legitimize this obsessive dialogue of food within me. She drew it out of me and it felt strange to have a companion within this conversation. “Oh god, that was the best I have eaten in a while,” and then she would laugh nodding her head as if to confirm, ‘I’m one hundred percent serious,’ but in a thank-you-so-much kind of way because she was so stoked. “Oh I know, oh my dear goodness how could something taste so good, it’s all about the combination; the ham, portobello mushrooms, the capsicum, which you wouldn’t expect but the sweetness… and the salt, oh my!” And then she would laugh with me/at me (I never would have minded which), “But then you eat way too much and I was actually riving around on my bed last night,” and I would just have invited more laughter which sounded like a chorus that I could have recorded on a tape machine and played over and over again because now I don’t live in the same country as her and it’s harder to remember what this confirmation of the love of food sounded like. And then she would smile and tell me, “that’s a great way to describe it; riving.”

Some people will just always be someone to remember. This morning I was cleaning my new apartment (as of yesterday) which was so dirty you could literally see the black dust on the top of the toilet and I was listening to Neko Case. “Hey when she sings, when she sings, when she sings like she runs,” and was in that moment reminded of my permission into food obsession; Michal. She taught me how to make scones. I say this with great enthusiasm and respect. The process of a scone is, well quite that, a process. I have caused people to make noises of joy from flavour sensation with these bad boys.

I’m doing this new thing where I share recipes. I know there are people way ahead of me here and have posted ‘grandma’s special crumble’ or ‘the family secret’ for everyone to see, but I am a little protective over successes. The way I see it, if I’m the only one who can produce the best sultana chutney in the Eastern Bays, then people are going to come and eat with me, at my table. Which is always a great result. But in this new thing that I’m doing, I am inviting you to have people over to your place to eat with you, which can’t be a bad thing. So here I go, it’s baby steps…

Just Your ‘Add-anything’ Basic Scone Recipe

Adapted from Michal’s original recipe.

If you don’t have enough time you can substitute the grating of the butter with chucking the flour, baking powder and butter in a processor. This comes up just as great but I feel, not as authentic.
If you want to make sweet scones, add 1/3 cup sugar to the breadcrumb-like mixture in the first step.

4 cups good quality plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g cold butter
½ tsp salt
1 cup natural plain yoghurt/sour cream
½-1 cup milk
1 whisked egg (just for egg wash)

In a large bowl sift flour, baking powder, salt and grate in the butter. Rub all together with your hands until the entire mixture looks and feels like very fine bread crumbs. If you don’t have the time for this step (however there is nothing like feeling that oneness with your food), you can throw the flour, baking powder, salt and butter in small chucks into a food processor and process till the same consistency.
With the breadcrumb-like mixture in a large bowl, add the yoghurt and milk and very gently mix with your hands until nearly incorporated. This is the trick, not to mix too much.

At this point you can add whatever you desire; grated gruyere, bits of ham, grated zucchini, etc…

Either lay the dough out on a floured surface (do not knead) but lightly spread it with your hands until it is about 4cm high. Either cut into squares or grab handfuls from the bowl into sort-of-circles and place on a oven tray in with a good amount of room between them. Brush each uncooked scone with egg wash.

Bake at 180° in a fan forced oven until lightly golden and the dough is cooked all through. This will probably take around 12-15 minutes.

second image taken from

Sunday, May 1

The Situation

Sometimes you’re just sitting there in a pub in Notting Hill and you’re sipping a G n’ T or a Pimms with a really good friend and then an idea pops up. One of you mention something like, “I can imagine…” And then the other one exclaims, “Are you serious! I can definitely imagine that as well!” And then you both look at each other and a smirk wraps around your faces as if you’ve understood something that no one around you could possibly comprehend or even consider. And now you both share a secret that needs to be nurtured for a year or two before it can be implemented.

Well that’s exactly what happened last June. Except we weren’t in Notting Hill and we weren't sipping on G n’ Ts, although that would have made the experience a lot more memorable. We were driving up my street in Auckland towards my house. And she was dropping me off and I had just asked her what she wanted most from the next two years and she had answered, “I want to go to Paris and take Le Cordon Bleu courses.” And I sat there in her passenger seat and thought to myself for just a second and then I said, “I can totally imagine living in Paris next year too.” And we looked at each other, just for a brief second because she was driving and we were coming up to a corner, but that smirk spread across our faces and we knew something from then on. We knew what our lives were going to look like for the next two or so years.

Sometimes things are completely unexpected. Last night we made cumin rubbed rack of lamb that rested on a sweet beetroot puree with a Moroccan vegetable tagine. This afternoon we were sitting in a pub in Notting Hill sipping G n Ts and in three days time we go home to Paris after an amazing holiday in London.

But you see, the unforeseen just keeps on coming. Because they said that Paris was the capital of food. And so I moved to Paris. And then they said London was one place you had to visit while you are in Europe. And so I went to London. But now I know that London is the capital of food. And now I want to move to London. And to be honest, it’s a bit of a situation.

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

Adapted from Neil Perry's tagine recipe in 'Good Food'
(accompaniment to any fish, poultry or red meat dish as well as a vegetarian meal all in itself)

For the paste:
1 brown onion, cut in chunks
3 garlic cloves, pealed
2cm ginger, pealed
1 lemon juice
handful of parsley
handful of coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder

Throw it all into a blender untill a thick paste forms and set aside.

For the tagine:
7 shallots, pealed
2 carrots, pealed and cut into large pieces
2 Tbsp honey
few Tbsp lemon juice
vegetable stock/water
5 prunes

Mix the shallots and carrots with the paste.
In a heavy based pan, add oil and allow to heat, then saute the shallots and carrots for around 8 minutes untill lightly golden. Add the honey and lemon juice and mix well.
Add the vegetable stock (or water if you don't have any stock) and only just cover the vegetables. After about 10 minutes add the prunes and allow to simmer lightly until the vegetables are at the desired texture.