Sunday, May 16, 2010


Spending yesterday's warm and lazy afternoon rifling through Southbank's book market, I picked up an old gem - really to give to a friend, but which I couldn't resist reading myself. This morning was stolen by 2 hours of solid contentment in the old and woody smelling pages of Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee. A 1959 Penguin edition no less.

Not only does it have the perfect title to get anyone in the summer mood, but it is written in that way that makes you want to get sodden in mud puddles like Loll, be so small in the long grass that it becomes a treacherous and interminable jungle (I still know the feeling), and be dizzy on summer cider...

'Huge and squat, the jar lay on the grass like an un-exploded bomb. We lifted it up, unscrewed the stopper, and smelt the whiff of fermented apples. I held the jar to my mouth and rolled my eyes sideways, like a beast at a water-hole. 'Go on,' said Rosie. I took a deep breath...

'Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie's burning cheeks'

Oh what joy. Now that definitely calls for a Westons...

Saturday, May 15, 2010


In celebration of last month's wild garlic - now on it's last legs - guest blogger, Matilda Moreton, shows us how it's done with some snaps of her foraging finds and her wild garlic pesto:

Now that spring is truly upon us, hail storms and all, you have the opportunity to gather the first of this year’s bounteous wild harvests on Hampstead Heath …

Wild Garlic (Allium Ursinum), also known as Ramsoms, is not hard to identify - it is unmistakable by its smell. The all-pervasive whiff of garlic that follows you through the woods might daunt you, but in fact the leaves can be used in large quantities as the taste is not as strong as the smell.

Take a look in the damp, shady parts of the Heath, along walls and hedgerows, beside streams or ditches. The plants are also distinguishable by their flowers - umbels of bright white stars that shine out from the dim woodland carpet. You will have to wait a few weeks for the flowers but the broad floppy leaves are just appearing now in great quantities and will last through till May.

For my wild garlic feast this year I was on one wheel in between Easter trips here and there and did not have many ingredients to hand, so decided to scrunch and chop the leaves and bottle them down in olive oil to be enjoyed on my return. Here, the essence is to hold the tip of the knife down hard with the left hand and chop the pile of leaves like crazy with the right, stopping before the garlic has turned to pulp. Hey presto - pesto! The nuts and parmesan are entirely optional – the main point being only to preserve the garlic for later.

I also did just have time to make a fresh lunch of wild garlic toast that was greeted with applause by hungry travellers. Just back from France, we happened to have a stash of the delectable grey Guerande salt, that my friends in Brittany had pressed into their pat of butter - so once the garlic leaves were chopped up they were squidged into the butter with some of the magic grit and spread on toast – et voila – the best things are so simple…

Crunchy garlic flower salad

1 crunchy cos or romaine lettuce

1 handful of chopped assorted wild garlic leaves

A few small leaves of garlic mustard

1 handful of assorted garlic (and garlic mustard) flowers

1 crunchy cucumber

A dash of blue cheese perhaps?

And highly recommended with fish on Friday!


Saturday, May 1, 2010


For the next few weeks, my blog will look malnourished, starving hungry and unloved. Why? Because it's crunch time - and not in the good sense.

Time to hang up the apron. To shelf the cookbooks and bring out the library books. Pens must put away the pans.

Finals are looming and I'm pretty sure my degree mark will suffer if I start twittering on about fish pie in my Italian grammar exam... So, here's an apology - one that I am not happy to produce. Of course sustenance seals success and I will still be eating. Just not writing. Unless I just can't stay away...