Food corner

"... there’s no despair in a seed. There’s only life, waiting for the right conditions – sun and water, warmth and soil – to be set free. Every day millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings."

Janisse Ray

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Sunday lunch at The Nut Tree Inn

The boyfriend loves a good freebie. Actually, that’s a lie – he likes any old freebie. He once entered an online competition 3 times to win a Mars football; he doesn’t play football and they sat in the bottom of the cupboard for a year, along with all the mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner that he pockets when he stays in a hotel, until he realised he could get a few quid for them on ebay and sold them (the footballs, not the toiletries, which are still there despite my attempts to shift them).

I had thought that nine months working for a company who not only provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner, but free snacks, 20 per cent free time to spend on whatever he likes, free booze on Friday afternoons plus stock options and big bonuses would have cured him of this obsession, but a fortnight ago we went for a weekend away in rural Oxfordshire and what do you think was the first thing he did when we got to the hotel room? Yep, that’s right; checked the cupboards and bathroom to see what he could loot.

Another of the many perks of his job is that he has two memberships for the National Trust. This is a blessing and a curse.  Don’t get me wrong, I like visiting nice country estates and gardens every now and then, but I do not want  to visit every National Trust property within 100km of London simply because I can do so for free. On the other hand, a trip in the car to a country estate inevitably means pub lunch and, as it turns out, the home counties are choc-a-bloc with great places to eat.

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Middle Eastern mezze no.7: Fattoush

For those of you who haven’t heard of this delicious salad, Wikipedia offers a detailed explanation:

Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread (khubz 'arabi) combined with mixed greens and other vegetables ... To make fattoush, cooks use seasonal produce, mixing different vegetables and herbs according to taste, while making use of pitas that have gone stale ... Sumac is usually used to give fattoush its sour taste.

As you can gather this is not an easy dish to write a recipe for since the only constant ingredient is bread, and even with that there is a choice, albeit an obvious one. Toasted stale bread versus crispy, crunchy, shards of golden goodness; you know which gets my vote. 

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Middle Eastern mezze no.6: Baba ganoush


Back to the Middle East for a few days and then onto new things. The boyfriend will breathe a sigh of relief (a rather garlicky one); he does love a bit of mezze, but everyone has their limits.

Next on the list is baba ganoush, which I have just discovered means "My father is spoiled like a child by my mother". And I thought the Turkish version was a mouthful! I have also always called it a dip, but according to Mark Hix, in Turkey it is considered a salad,

You might think this is a dip, but I'm insisting it's a salad because that's what my local Turkish restaurant calls it. Their aubergine salat is more roughly chopped. My smoother version is one of my favourite mezze dishes, and forms part of a salady selection to start a meal with.

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Orto have been there

Updated on Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 7:55PM by Registered CommenterVix

Updated on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:02PM by Registered CommenterVix

One of the things that sucks about living on the other side of the world from your home town is that you miss some fairly momentous occasions. My regular readers may remember that I missed my sister’s 21st birthday last year; this made me very sad, but it provided a good excuse to splurge on an extravagant meal for two at Tetsuya’s. Then in March I missed my Aunt Sally’s 60th birthday hosted by my parents – the first ever gathering of the extended family from the NZ side in Sydney. And now I have been sent photos (along with rave reviews) from the opening night of my sister’s boyfriend’s new restaurant, Orto Trading Co.

Chris Low (some of you will have come to know him as the Windang King), Anne Cooper and Louise Hunt were the team behind Baffi & Mo cafe in Redfern; Anne and Louise were the co-owners, Chris the chef. They sold up last year and took Chris with them.

Turns out the folks that brought us Baffi & Mo, mustachioed cafe at the vanguard of the Redfern rush, also have green thumbs. Orto translates from Italian as 'kitchen garden' and the new bright and airy space in Surry is decked with sprouting bottles, tin pails of potted herbs and garden tools that hang above the kitchen pass. (Cleo Braithwaite)

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Anzac biscuits for Anzac Day (just)

I am interrupting my Middle Eastern mezze theme because it is Anzac day in Australia, just.  I have had this post prepped and ready to go for two months (since I last made Anzac biscuits) so that I could post them on the day. Well, I may have been organised in that regard, but I completely forgot about the time difference and, though it is a perfectly reasonable time of day here in the UK, I have just realised there is only one hour and 15 minutes left of Anzac Day in Australia and it is already over in NZ. Ah well, Anzac biscuits are good at any time of year really. In fact, I don’t think I have ever made them specifically for Anzac Day myself.

For the benefit of my UK readership,

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War One. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. (Wikipedia)

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