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Saturday, 30 January 2010

So good I went back twice...

There is a once shabby and down at heal arcade called the West End Arcade in the centre of Nottingham which appears to be undergoing an upgrade in style of late. Passing by the other week I couldn’t help observing the appearance of a chic new crêperie establishment called Aubrey’s traditional crêperie. It has been open and doing very good business since September 2009.

I called in for a savoury galette on Friday and it was so nice that I left my calling card with Meg the owner and popped in again early this morning for a late breakfast crêpe. Her venue is tiny but packs in an enormous amount of under stated French style charm. As I was settling down for pre-crêpe coffee a group of five people arrived and we created a space for them by moving two tables and I moved over to the wall table under the quirky mirror and white wall tiles.

My previous days’ galette was a sumptuously warm and unctuously creamy Camembert galette complemented with sliced pear, honey, walnut and leaf although I must admit that I was also severely tempted to try the merguez sausage galette too. It promised to be cooked with Breton cider and served with a cracked egg, wholegrain mustard and caramelised onions. Both items were very reasonably priced and under £5 each.

Meg also advertises that the galettes are naturally gluten and wheat free and made to a traditional Breton recipe. After I had finished today I had a quick chat with her and got the impression that she would return to her training ground in Brittany tomorrow such is her passion for this style of cooking. She also told me that she likes to get her ingredients from authentic sources and keeps a business connection with the critically acclaimed deli, Delilah, in Nottingham from whom she purchases her cheeses as she can be secure in their provenance.

The crêpe that I had for my breakfast there today was delicious and the honey and blueberries and raspberries married extremely well with the fluffy white ricotta cheese filling. A mixed fruity sweetness offsetting the slightly tart flavour of the ricotta cheese filling. Very satisfying.

The crêpes at Aubrey’s can be made with using a dairy free batter on request and the ingredients are locally sourced utilising organic produce.
Overall, a very friendly and authentic experience. I’ll be back. Again.

PS: The West End Arcade is opposite the Library on Angel Row, Nottingham.

PPS: Aubrey's opening times are 10am - 6pm Monday to Saturday.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The chores

That’s a good expression, isn’t it? The chores. When I was a teenager living at home with my two step sisters we were all obliged to help around the house with practical tasks and they came under the encouraging heading of ‘doing the chores.’ Not ‘helping out’ or having fun doing the pots or sweeping the garden path (my Sunday job) but as the dictionary describes it: chore. n. a tedious or routine task. esp. a domestic one.

As teens we all had our grouchy moments, but they came on full force when the thrice daily washing up duty reared its ugly head. We were asked (sorry, told) to take the job in turns with a rota system. "Come on kids, do your chores" Mum would say. Dad would just grunt and retire to the living room with his Sporting Chronicle newspaper.

One of us 'kids' would wash, one would dry and the other , put the pots away. It was very tense making. Everything was encouraged to be inspected. The drying person would inspect the washer’s results and the put away person would inspect the drying person’s results and we all hated doing the washing up per se. Numerous arguments would occur and tantrums happen as me and my sisters flumped grumpily into the front room to moan our great displeasure to our parents. “She’s left egg on this plate! It’s all greasy! The water’s cold! It’s not fair – he ‘put away’ the last time!” Oh joy. Washing up after the traditional roast Sunday lunch was the worst, all those roasting tins with baked on remains of roast spuds and Yorkshire pudding. Then there were the piles of saucepans and plates, bowls and cutlery for three teens, two adults and our baby brother. And at Christmas! Oy, don’t even get me started, my life!

The chores were all about 'inspections' like in the bloody army. We teenagers would have to line up for 'inspections' as to whether we had washed behind our ears, knecks; whether we had cleaned our shoes until they shone; whether I had brushed the garden path so not a speck of dust ruined the aesthetics of the concrete walkway and garden steps. Once, I even had to crawl on all fours to snip the long bits of tough grass (interestingly called 'the soldiers') on the lawn with scissors after mowing it as short as a bowling green. And then, it was minutely inspected by Sergeant Grumpy whilst I stood 'at ease'. lol.

Now I am an adult all this domestic drama seems laughable and I have to wash, dry and put away all by myself. I’m cat sitting for my neighbours at the moment so presently I have their little cat food bowls to do as well.

“Those cats, they treat this place like a hotel, never do their chores. Harris, it’s your turn to lick the pots. Miaow? Oh, you did it last time? Yeah right and you left grungy cat food all on the side. Moan moan moan. That’s right, you just slink off. I’ll do them myself, don’t you worry. Just you wait until your Mum and Dad come home. I’ll let them know what lazy little…”

Saucepans on parade.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Does size matter?

I don't dislike pasta. I just don't eat that much of it. Recently I bought two bags on offer for a pound each. Big pasta shells. I'd never had big pasta shells before. I never even gave the size or shape a thought. Pasta is pasta, isn't it? Some time ago I ate a couple of portions on two seperate occasions. The rest sat in a plastic tub in my pantry. Dried pasta staring out onto an uncaring world. Pasta by on the dried goods road to my plate. It probably sat there a month wondering why it wasn't loved. My subconscious had decided that it didn't like it and despite what they say, size does appear to matter. I think that because it was bigger than penne pasta (my fave) I also thought it was more chewy somehow.

I found myself making a wierd decision last night, that of buying two replacement bags of penne pasta and dumping the dormant one in the rubbish bin. I don't like wasting food really.

I cooked some of the replacement, tube like, penne pasta last night and had it with some meatballs. It was great and preceeded by a garlic baguette all to myself.

Does size or shape really matter? Have you ever turned against a pasta shape or size without real reason?

Friday, 8 January 2010

It's official!! My first blogiversary is today.

Well, pop open the champagne or make yourself a chip butty and enjoy it with a mug of strong tea. It's official!! My first blogiversary is today.

Gosh. From no comments and shy uncertain beginnings to sixty plus followers and over eighteen thousand hits. As I said in the last post, many thanks to all my readers for sticking with me and enjoying my posts.

The weather here has turned and we have had some snow in the UK and the usual problems concerning ' not enough salt/grit to keep the roads and paths clear have become a popular topic on BBC Radio Nottingham today.

Personally, I have been in the kitchen most of the day preparing a courgette tian, a courgette bake including, flat leaf parsely, garlic, parmesan cheese, eggs, boiled plain rice, a lot of fried sliced courgettes, fried onions and button mushrooms. This took about two and a half hours to make and it is now cooling on the oven top ready to be reheated for a guest and myself to enjoy for lunch tomorrow with a baby leaf and vine tomatoes salad. I'm hoping that the snow won't stop my friend from coming over and enjoying a nice cosy meal and a glass or two of red Argentine Malbec wine.

With the weather turning I thought that I would go into the local village Co-op store and stock up on canned goods.

I like to buy their own 'Simply Value' brand tins because the ingredients are fine and a good saving on the branded ones like Heinz. Whilst there today I was astounded to see jars of goose fat amongst the butter and margarine items. Next thing we'll be having kilner jars of duck confit or ready made cassoulet filling the shelves!

I am enjoying cat sitting for my neighbours at the moment. They seem to be enjoying their cat food treats, although one of them turned his little pink nose up at canned tuna. Perhaps I should have opened the tin. Whatever you are doing, keep warm and enjoy some winter fuel in your diet.

Phil x

Disclaimer: This is not one of my neighbours cats kipping in the snow!