Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bara BrithBara brith, also known as 'speckled bread' (the literal meaning of the original Welsh-language name), or Welsh cake, is a yeasty doughy type bread stuffed with dried fruit. It is traditionally made with raisins, currants and candied peel.

We bought a loaf in the town of Cardigan in Wales, but it traveled back to London with us. I still haven't tried it as I think there are too many raisins and dried fruits in it for me. Will wait 'til it hardens to a brick-like state and throw it at the neighbours when their TV is too loud! (which is almost every night, but when it gets warmer and they keep their windows open it sounds like open air cinema at the NFT - that speckled bread might scare them into turning it down, only if they hear the wallop when it hits their window?!)

I keep wanting to call it B'nai B'rith which is the oldest operating Jewish organisation in the world. Back home in Toronto, I used to drive by a B'nai B'rith sign every day around the very Jewish neighbourhood, Bathrust and Lawrence, which I lived on the border of.

The others enjoyed the bread/cake and the bakery, Y Popty, was busy selling many loaves of it, I love that bakery's name! You have to visit Wales once in your life or if you live in the UK, once a year to gaze at the signs and listen to the language.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What you always wanted to know about sausages
  1. The word sausage comes from the Latin word salsus, which means something salted
  2. Sausages are eaten at 71% of UK BBQs - not a surprise?!
  3. 50% of British households buy sausages at least once a month
  4. Sausages were called 'bangers' during WWII because they exploded when fried, due to the high water content- I always wondered why they were called that
  5. Sausages are mentioned in Homer's Odyssey

There, now you have some dinner party fodder in case you were stuck!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend in WalesSome pics from the weekend at Bergy's farm in Wales! There was lots of:
  • Free range chickens - eat your heart out Jamie Oliver, Bergy knows how to raise the loudest and funniest chickens in the UK, they have the best life and seem to love being there prancing around all day
  • Sheep and little lambs - Bergy saved one caught in a fence and they are in the 3 fields surrounding the house
  • Horses, tractors, vintage cars & donkeys - all at the parade held in Cardigan - it was a sight!
  • Laughs - if you know Berg and Princess K - need I say more?
  • Funny Welsh signs and speaking - could it be German with a lisp? It could be anything as I couldn't understand a word!
  • Big country, big blue skies, gorgeous sunshine and fresh air - which tired us city gals out for some strange reason?! We walked to the top of this hill.
  • Naughty animals - Dylan jumped on the turkey when I was giving it too much attention and while collecting eggs in the barn a cock pounced on my bucket full of eggs as it thought it was feed - the spilling of the bucket made a few eggs crack - Berg wasn't too pleased, but it was his errant bird's fault!
  • Big breakfasts - using the eggs I collected, Bun even had a blue goose egg!
  • Antagonizing the turkeys so they could make the funniest sounds - they loved it and so did we!
  • Hot flashes - the Aga replacement makes the house soo warm - is that what menopause would feel like? You could walk around naked comfortably.
  • Oohing and aahing - at the amazing renovation to the farm - we loved the enormous upstairs bathroom with standalone tub looking out over the fields. The renovator in pic below.
  • Oohing and aahing 2 - a little chick hatched out of the incubator and it was the cutest little thing to hold - all wet and scared, the next day it was a little bigger and a little fluffier. The pen with the day old chicks is the sweetest thing to look at
  • Welsh tea cakes - like little pancakes but you can bring them with you in a little bag and you don't need syrup they are sweet enough
  • Funny animal movements - from the peacocks jumping on the roof, cats sleeping in the trees, ducks waddling in a funny manner to escape being too close to us, turkeys strutting past a mirror thinking it was a potential new mate, cocks fighting, chickens sunbathing and Dylan finding furry treasures in the fields - the animals entertain all day with their quirks and behaviors

Funny ducks & gobbling turkeys!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fabio Picchi, Florence's Babbo NataleFabio Picchi is a large, broad man, with a large white beard and a mass of white hair who looks about 7 foot tall, probably because I felt like a mini beside him, even in my kitten heels! He looks like Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Big, cheery, white hair and white beard. It looks like it would be great to have him as a grandfather as he seems so jolly - I bet you would get a good view from atop his shoulders.

The kitchen view from our table- the buffet table is to the right of the pillars.

He has a loud, theatrical voice which bellows out descriptions of food that is served on the buffet table at Teatro del Sale. The man has an intense presence and his passion is clearly visible in his three establishments in a corner of Florence (Cibreo Restaurant and Trattoira, Cibreo Cafe and the Teatro del Sale). The pics are from his establishment called Teatro del Sale (theatre of salt).

Fabio said once, not an exact quote, I read this somewhere via his PR lady, ‘food is a bit bland without a bit of salt, salt is the spice of life,’ and I agree that without a little theatre, music and dance – one’s life can also be a bit bland.
The establishment is a restaurant/ theatre. There is a hectic pre-theatre buffet service where Fabio calls out dishes and people rush to a little wooden table to claim a few dollops of greatness, depending on how quick they are (we had amazing clams, bbq’d meat, pasta, soup, tripe, freshly grilled sardines and lovely deserts).

Fabio believes in the slow food movement and buys local produce and supplies for his restaurants – nothing shipped in from China or Japan, so you eat seasonally – which is how it should be.

After everyone is done scrambling to and from their table to the kitchen area (see pic), the red curtains are drawn on the kitchen (the chefs should take a bow as the whole time you are watching them perform their magic on your dinner), all the tables are removed and seats are arranged in front of the stage. The venue used to be a 13th (?) century convent so there are lovely domed ceilings and a great historic feel to it. I am not a music expert but the acoustics seemed fantastic in there.

After all the shuffling there is a show, we saw a jazz quartet perform, which were lovely. My partner who was full with wine & food had a mini snooze when the lights were turned low, but the conditions were perfect for it - the music was relaxing and if I could’ve got comfortable I would’ve had a mini kip too.

The experience kind of reminded me of Christmas at our house when we were young; loud, noisy, lots of food, theatrics by my aunts and uncles –then tables shifted aside and kids entertaining the adults with tricks and songs. Teatro de Sale is professional –none of us could really sing and dance well, unless you count my sister and I’s short lived ballet lessons!

Get there if you can – it is a great experience and you will eat well!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ed's English onion soupAnd lamb dinner he made at the Carlton for was delicious! Busy week and weekend, updated posts to come this to bed early on a Sunday evening ;)

Friday, April 18, 2008

A little Fiji refreshment Look what arrived via special delivery today...a little reminder of last year's lovely holiday.

I have to still fill in my post below, but at one quick glance, one of the photos has salts from around the world. I remember the black salt being from Hawaii - is there such a thing as too much choice?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enoteca Pinchiorri

Pics from Michelin starred restaurant, Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence...more to follow.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hamburger helperThis cute hamburger press was just laying out in the aisle of a food market in Florence. No real worries of health and safety in Italy. When I got back Kiwi Rabbit made hamburgers with a fried egg, pineapple and beetroot on top. I have never seen that in my life before, apparently it is a Kiwi thing. Those crazy Kiwis!
It looked good but I didn't have a taste, will have to try that combination of flavours next time. Have only had beetroot a few times and am getting to like the taste now, I think I love that it is doused in vinegar, anything sour is fabulous to me. Why do they not sell Bick's pickles in London?!

Off for a run as the muffin top is not going down, instead it is growing, especially after Ed's gourmet meal last night. Ed the pub man made us a fabulous meal which included the much discussed English onion soup - will post about it soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gelato glorious gelato!

All I wanted in Florence was some simple Italian pizza and some gelato. I didn't get either at the places we needed to visit as the restaurants were too posh for that. I did manage to cancel a lunch at a lovely restaurant in the wine region of Chianti and instead nip to San Gimignano to have a slice of pizza and a gelato... Ahh the simple pleasures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Etymology of CalogeraI spoke to a lovely lady this morning named Rena Salaman who has published several cookbooks about Greek food and Mediterranean cooking (her latest pictured above). She has given me very helpful & constructive feedback on my cookbook proposal and also told me something I didn't know.

Rena is Greek and recognized the name Calogera, which was my grandmother's, as being of two Greek words meaning something to the effect of a good person (Calo) who was married to a monk or someone who was a nun (Gero).

When I Googled it via Behind the, it came up as Calo (kalos) beautiful and ger0 (geron) elder. It was the name of a 5th century saint, a hermit in Sicily (masculine).

See and my mother never liked her name?! I will take it as beautiful elder which is perfectly befitting of a grandmother. Now there are so many options, I can call my mother: Momma Dolce, Beautiful Elder or Calogera - Momma take your pick?


More on St. Calogero
...during the whole of the first week of July we meet St. Calogero the hermit, considered by farmers the protector of summer harvests. The festival culminates with a contest between the tambourine players of St.Calò. The hermit Calogero, born maybe in Carthage or maybe in Constantinople and reached Sicily in the 5th century AD, earned the fame of saint because, apart from expulsing the idolatrous priests from Mount Kronio, nowadays Gemeriano, he was a performer of miracles and cured the sick with the vapours of the caves of Sciacca which he understood contained therapeutic values.

The cult of the saint is linked to the miracle which took place in 1578, when Sicily was shaken by a strong earthquake and the company of St.Vito, after various attempts with processions to other saints, tried to promise a procession to St.Calogero if he saved the town, which happened punctually. From that time on, as a thanksgiving, the procession has taken place every year on the Monday after Pentecost and St.Calogero is considered the co-patron together with the Madonna of the Soccorso.

Also in Aragona we find many devotees of St.Calogero, venerated by the offers of the characteristic votive bread. They consist of offerings made of bread rather than wax, in the form of human arms and legs that are blessed and then conserved to be eaten in times of difficulty or sadness.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yes that is a lamb's brainEating 'cervello' or the brain of lamb was another first in Florence, my father would be proud of me. It tasted like a mix between a hard boiled egg and mashed potatoes with a chalky after taste.

It wasn't bad at all - just a bit scary to take the first bite. It's texture was the most interesting /unusual part. Since it was served in one of the best restaurants in Florence I knew it would be cooked well, which it was. It was seasoned with olive oil and garlic and baked in the oven in this little foil envelope.

Thanks to the wonderful staff and chef at Cibreo for our wonderful meal.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


A hidden gem right outside Southwark tube station in south London, Baltic was a great place to go for a meal in a relaxed setting. The pictures on their website do it more justice.

I vowed not to eat out for the rest of the week, as the Florence trip filled my desire for dining out for a v. long time (well at least a week!), but made it through a lovely vegetarian meal with no wine and just a tiny scoop of mango sorbet.

It is a busy week at the office so postings have been sparse and will come shortly. I did have porridge for breakfast and am planning on having a light salad for dinner tonight. Pilates and a run are on the cards this week but there is another outing tomorrow night at Shoreditch House that is sure to be filled with more wine and food. I know it is a tough life!

Another article awaits, which is to review 5 patio bars in the Docklands but may pass that assignment on to someone else, any takers?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tuscan return

Back from Florence where the food, art and culture mix to give you an intoxicating experience. If they could remove half of the loud and annoying tourists, it would be even better.

Pics and tales of food adventures to follow, there was a lot of wine and olive oil consumed with various delicious dishes. Back into London Town today, a day later than expected as flights were cancelled due to a light dusting of snow at Gatwick airport – the Canadians can laugh at this as I recall landing in TO one year during a massive blizzard thinking the plane would skate down the runway into the 401.

Unfortunately the cancellation wasn’t all that bad; it meant a night at luxurious Hotel Lungarno with a room overlooking the Arno and another gourmet meal. Isn’t life tough?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gourmet Pizza Company - Gabriel's Wharf
Pics from the pizza kitchen at Gourmet Pizza Company located at Gabriel's Wharf along the Southbank. These two were very smiley and as I waited for Craig we had a lovely chat about their pizza expertise. The pizza and service was great and it had been a very long time since I had eaten at the quaint little restaurant perched near the Thames. No pics of the pizza as this was a spontaneous shot taken with my camera phone, which I finally figured out how to use. It actually takes very good quality photos, non?

I would recommend Gabriel's Wharf on a nice day for some pizza, drinks and people watching on the Gourmet Pizza patio or on some of the other patios in the little enclave.