Thursday, November 26, 2009

Food Bloggers Connect & Walk - Final Update & New Website ... & Late DB

First off, if you will be checking in with me tomorrow on the Daring Bakers' Challenge, I will be posting late, hopefully right after the weekend. We are moving from one house into another and it is complete chaos around here at the moment. I did the challenge and simply haven't photographed it yet -that will be interesting in itself- so if I succeed in what I will be attempting to do with it, I will be delighted for you to come back and check on what I've done, but for now just know the post will be late.

And now to Food Bloggers Connect...

It's time! This Saturday, some of us will be meeting each other for the first time after months and sometimes years of virtual friendship, I can't wait!
The official FBC website is now up with teasers from our guest speakers and all the details you could possibly want about the event so please check it out.
Finally, we've added a Marylebone Village Food Lovers' Walk which will take place on Sunday the 29th. We're meeting in front of the Baker Street Tube Station at 11:30AM so if you're around and would like to join, please do, the more the merrier!

And for all you Americans out there, Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

When the Fall colors found me...

Or was it that I found them...
I know I've been missing in action. As I said before there's a lot going on, but see, I haven't forgotten you all. I just start drafts and then have to go do something else. Before you know it, I've got five drafts, none of them are even half done, and it's been ten days since the last time I posted.

I feel like the leaf in the last picture here; I've yellowed, fallen off the tree and am now slowly drying and waiting to become mulch.
Fall leaves the end
My saving grace is the little one.

Today was my little girl's 8-month birthday. I love that she was born on the spring solstice 8 months ago (even if the solstice doesn't technically happen on the 21st every year, must one really be punctilious about such things?...) I love it partially because the spring solstice is also the Persian New Year, so my little half-Persian noodle was a brand new everything born on the New Year. Perfect.
Fall to Winter with Baby
Anyway, I'm thinking of that because since I found the fall colors, it really feels like fall now, but winter is already on its way since I found them very late this year, and these are some of the last leaves up on the trees right now. Soon it will be her 9-month birthday and we'll move technically from fall into winter, and then it will be the Persian New Year again and she'll be a year old. Time really does not just run but gallops away from you.

Hopefully there are a few sunset moments such as this one left before the winter gloom descends upon us. I will be back soon with more posts. 
Waning Sun

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Egg 1
The store, not the oval body laid by a chicken or other fowl.
It's just around the corner from where we live and it's such a beautiful store.

For a long time I walked by it without realizing it was a clothing store; it looked like a mysterious room with a big window with a light gray shade behind it and the word egg stenciled onto the glass.
Then, just a few days ago, on a slightly warmer day than usual for this time of year, it was wide open as I walked by with the baby and, as I had my camera on me, I asked if I could take some pictures.
egg 4
The space is a converted stable.
It looked ideal, having that long white table to work on, the fabric, forms and other items strewn about.

The very sweet women who work in there didn't seem to mind at all my taking pictures of them while they worked, perhaps they're used to it.
egg 5
There's another, smaller store across the street but there are no clothes in there.  There's always some sort of interesting installation in it though, perhaps it's the "art exhibit" part of the store.

Maybe it's the artisan nature of the workspace that is so attractive to me.  I'd certainly know how to cover that whole table with "stuff" in a heartbeat: drawing, painting, and crafts supplies, my computer, camera stuff, and piles of paper and other things which my best friend lovingly calls "the filing system" (Hey, I know where everything is in those piles, true story). It would be the perfect place to do collages of the kind Leslie does on her beautiful blog A Creative Mint.
Egg 3
They've changed the collection in the last few days, no more tartans, no more bowler hats for now.
The colors are gorgeous, very rich or very muted, they cover the spectrum, but I haven't seen anything egregious yet.

I love this store, have I mentioned that? It might be the space I love even more than what's in it, but I must admit all the clothes look interesting and different, and I like the layout of it all.
Egg store 4
There's room to see and hear yourself think.

37 Kinnerton Street,
London, SW1X 8ES
Egg store 3

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Autumn: Thank you for the plums

Fall: A Crow
So it's old news autumn is here, but I never said I was going to be keeping the calendar for you so this post is not meant to announce that. No, this post is about how the colors are beautiful now and how I have a deep and abiding love for plums.

The autumn colors, of course you have all your myriad shades of yellow, orange, red, brown: siennas, ochres, ambers, umbers, shades you forget exist until you see them again the next fall. You know they're coming, but you can't quite remember the richness or the depth possible; they surprise all over again. In some places it seems like the foliage was set on fire. I looked for those colors that astound you with their translucence, but I didn't find them this time. What we did stumble upon were nooks and corners that looked like they'd been painted by some whimsical forest-dweller.
Crazy fall colors
Before you get to this, to all these shades each trying to best the next one, there is a perfect period where summer and fall kiss each other briefly and make friends. The days are still warm but with a faint breeze in the air,  a slight chill across your back. The sun grows less cheerful, less overbearing in its embrace. It's the time of the plums.

Plums. All sorts of plums. I like them purple the way they are most often thought of, the Damson plums(les Quetsches), but my favorite ones are the perfect little golden ones, the Mirabelles and their regal bigger sisters the Greengages (la Reine-Claude). When I was little, there was a fruit orchard behind the house in the country. Come the end of August, we'd go on the weekends and, with the caretaker, lay large sheets under the trees and shake the fruit out of them. I still remember watching him catch the large branches with a hook on a long pole. Sometimes he'd let me hold on to the pole as he shook, my four year-old body bouncing up and down, the plums pitter-pattering on the sheet as they fell. It was a reward, a prize, being able to eat the mirabelles just off the tree.
Mirabelle-Lemon Myrtle Leaf Clafoutis
It was a challenge, making something with them. Usually they don't make it any farther than the colander; I eat them out of there, just washed, not even bothering to put them in a bowl. But such is the power of Michel Roux and his clafoutis recipe*, which I had tried with cherries during the summer, that I couldn't resist and wanted to try it with the mirabelles, knowing full well that as they cooked, a wonderful scent would pervade the house and I would even be able to smell them as I went to bed. It's unusual, his clafoutis, in that most people don't make it with a crust anymore, but his pâte brisée (short dough) is so flaky and delicate that it's worth a try making clafoutis this way. My little twist on this was using lemon myrtle leaf that Y sent me from Australia, just a tiny bit infused into the milk before adding it to the batter, and there you have it, mirabelles and custard and just a hint of lemon. Heaven.

But what about the Greengages you ask?
Greengage Tart
Well, that's even more straightforward. For the greengages I simply followed Roux's greengage tart recipe*, no mysteries there, no additional ingredients. Greengages do not play well with others. As their name indicates, they are the queen of all plums. Mirabelles are the cheruby Spanish infantas to their stern Elizabethan monarchs. They retain a tart undertone about them even when fully ripe and cooked which is why Roux pairs them with pâte sucrée (sweet short dough) and pastry cream.

Plums. When I can revel in them, I know autumn is on its way.
Fall: Crow and Foliage
This is more of a mild set of fall colors, but I've no doubt that if we'd gone back a week later, the trees might have been about to combust from all that fire within. Sometimes it's hard to know when the foliage will give in to the relentless courtship of autumn; one year it might be a week early, the next it might be three weeks late. Early or late, soft or vibrant, understated or lively, I'll take them all, thank you.

And thank you for the plums too.
A few Fall colors
*If you must have them, I will give you the adapted recipes. If there is little demand, we'll leave this as is.
** For beautiful pictures of Mirabelles, go see Meeta's Mirabelle lemon poppyseed focaccia post.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

A Mental Escape

New Zealand from a side mirror
I'm a bit scattered at the moment as there are several major things happening at the same time, and have several posts in various states of completion in my drafts box, so I thought I'd say a little hello while I sort some things out and ask you a question that is borne out of how I shut my brain off when I get stressed.
I escape to a place I know in my head, and what's soothing to me right now is to think about New Zealand, because it's spring there right now and it's beautiful, so beautiful in some places it's unbelievable, like someone took a picture of a dream and made it reality.
I'll be back soon, but in the meantime...
Where do you like to escape in your head?

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