I loathe rye bread. Really, truly do not understand it.
It’s either so dense it’s a brick, miserable and damp, or it’s sliced so delicately, it crumbles on contact, disappearing into a mass of crumbs, so quickly and comprehensively that it’s hard to believe it ever formed a loaf. I spent one miserable afternoon cutting countless slices of the thinnest rye bread into tiny triangles to top with smoked salmon for a garden party, more rye crumbling from the sandwiches than staying on them.
How do you write a food blog post when the world is falling apart?
Like most of the world, or at least the world I inhabit, I sat frozen in front of the television in the early hours of Wednesday morning, feeling stupefied and stupid. Unoriginally, I felt like I was watching some kind of dystopian satire; the conclusion, so unexpected, was foregone by 6am.
This week has been a week for hibernating. The moment the clocks going back feels almost Cinderella-esque to me: at the stroke of midnight, darkness descends like a blanket, and I want to run away and hide. My mornings are so early that I don’t feel the benefit of the brighter starts, but feel keenly the gloom of my journeys home, my dark grocery shops, and my tentative steps out of the house any time after about 4pm.
I made my first wedding cake this week. It was, without doubt, the most nerve-wracking bake I have ever done, and could probably even compete with some of my scarier criminal cases in the nail-biting stakes.
This week has seen our household knocked down by colds. Nothing actually serious, but instead that dreary, endless low-level poorliness that struggles to justify time off or desertion of duties. We have armed ourselves with lemsip and positive mental attitudes, as if we can think ourselves well. My desk is a graveyard of balsam tissues and vitamin blister packs. But there is only one thing that has made me really feel a bit better: porridge.
This soup was, to be frank, a catalogue of disasters. I am not sure that I’ve ever got into such a mess making such a simple dish. It is therefore testament to how fantastically satisfying and delicious it is that, rather than write off this weekend’s culinary escapades and do my very best to repress all memories of them, I’ve instead chosen to immortalise it in this blog post.
By the time you read this, I will have undergone and, I hope, survived, my first technical lecture, my first demonstration, and my first practical of the school year, and already have blithely moved on, and be up to my elbows in mousseline and crème pâtissière. But right now I am a wibbling wreck of nerves and inadequacy; right now I am just a girl standing in front of a patisserie course asking it not to burn her.
Two years ago, Sam and I visited Siena on holiday. And since then, Siena has been my favourite place in the world.
It’s quieter than Tuscany’s biggest city, Florence. It has a breathtaking palazzo, an incredible Gothic cathedral, sleepy streets lined with even sleepier wine bars. I thought it was unbelievably romantic the moment I saw it. And I discovered, soon after arriving, that it’s home to some of Italy’s best food. So when we found out we would be returning to Florence for a wedding this September, it needed no discussion: we were going back to Siena.
A couple of weeks ago I made blackberry vinegar, and since then I’ve been looking for just about any excuse to use it.
This is the perfect vehicle for that condiment. It would, I should say, be a glorious dish, even without the vinegar. It’s dark and moody and autumnal, but light enough to eat whilst the weather still occasionally throws an uncomfortably humid day at us. But it is brought to life by the blackberry vinegar: the combination of the crunchy, salty duck skin with the sweetsour, fruity vinegar is perfect.
Last week was the wedding of two of my closest friends.
We’ve been friend ten years almost to the day; we’ve been friends through engagements and bereavements, we’ve shared drunk tears and sober laughter. We’ve read the same books, we’ve held the same babies, and we’ve watched the same people get married. They are so inextricably a part of my life and who I am.