Food corner

"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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A new personal record at La Plage Casadelmar

On holiday in Corsica I broke a new personal record, possibly even a world record, for:

a) Most money spent on a single bowl of pasta

b) Most stupid tourist ever

It all happened quite by accident.

The M&2V is a great holiday companion – he’s easy breezy, good at directions, up for pretty much any activity, likes a drink and, most importantly, knows that food is my thing and let’s me eat “wherever you want, honeybun”.

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Preserved lemons

I’ve been eagerly anticipating today for two months now. Birthday? Holidays? No! My preserved lemons are ready.

I love Love LOVE preserved lemons. They transform any dish into something special. I mostly use them in Middle Eastern inspired dishes – tagine, cous cous, Ottolenghi-style salads. They also add an interesting twist to fish dishes, dips and seafood pasta.

I used Amalfi lemons from Natoora for this batch, so I am especially excited about them, but any unwaxed lemons will do. You need to leave them for at least two months before using and they get better and better with age. These ones are still yellow, but my Dad used to have some so old they had turned brown. You can still use them, just be aware that their flavour intensifies with age so you don’t need to use very much with very mature ones.

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Short & Sweet: Darjeerling Express

Style: Indian (Bengali)

Budget: Mid-range 

Venue and atmosphere: Just looking around you can tell that this is going to be a different kind of Indian restaurant. Garish colours, white tablecloths and religious iconography are replaced with modest tones, wooden furniture and tasteful black and white photographs. The dining room, which opens onto the top balcony of Kingly Court, is light and airy, the summery feeling amplified by splashes of colour from the blue tiled sections of the floor and pot plants, which are dotted around at different levels.

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Dad's Empanadas

The best thing about making Dad’s Mexican mince is leftovers. Leftovers = empanadas.

These aren’t really traditional Argentine empanadas – the ‘Mexican’ is clue there – but I grew up with them, so they are my fave.

I ate my body weight in empanadas twice over when I visited Argentina in 2009. Empanadas vary hugely from region to region. The best I found were in Cordoba, where they were beefy, salty, juicy and fried. Further North they start adding more sugar or fruits, like raisins, which I am not a big fan of in savoury foods.

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Dad's Mexican mince

I had a craving for my Dad’s Mexican mince recently. We used to get so excited when we were little and came in the door to that unmistakable smell of stewing meat and spices.

Before I moved to the UK it was one of several recipes I made my Dad make in front of me so that he couldn’t “forget” any ingredients. To this day, I still haven’t quite managed to master his “benchmark aioli” and I have always thought that maybe there is something he is not telling me. The Mexican mince, on the other hand, I watched him make step-by-step so there was no room for items to be lost in translation.

Apart from the optional ingredients, this is to the letter. That isn’t to say that it is traditional – I have no idea, my Dad isn’t Mexican – but it tastes damned good and better than any I’ve tried elsewhere, but I have to admit that I haven’t been to Mexico so, until then, I will reserve judgement.

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