Ten days of feasting, family and fun and now New Year. The menu, a simple Chicory and Radicchio salad with fresh Pecorino followed by Spaghetti Bottarga. The guests, aha here is the magic, just Mr.P and moi. The dress; smoking jacket for him, a long black number for me. The wine, probably Italian, but that’s not my department. Location; the farm. Carriages; probably before midnight (and that will be a first this holiday). Surprise event; flooding!
Hideously simple but utterly divine, is my prediction for this evening, (apart from the flooding, please make it stop raining). Not everyone’s cup of tea I agree, and hardly a wild glitzy night, but the last week or so has just been a blur of wonderful food, gorgeous people, amazing presents, late nights, early mornings, wind, rain, more rain and even more rain. We have eaten everything from the traditional roast turkey on Christmas day, to our own home reared lamb, mutton, partridge, duck, veal, 9kg of Green Gammon, in practically every combination. Veal cooked in hay, an Alpine raclette, Bang Bang Turkey, Middle Eastern Shepherds Pie, French Onion Soup, Hot and Sour Thai Squid Soup, Crab Linguini, Fois Gras, Cured Mackerel, I think you get the picture. We have pillaged what is left in the garden, beetroot and chard, raided the sheep shed for the hay, and made a small dent in the freezer of frozen meat! and a very large dent in the Christmas cake.
Father Christmas did a fine job this year and brought a library of new cookbooks, ‘Polpo’ A Venetian Cookbook, ‘salt sugar smoke’ Diana Henry, ‘Limoncello and Linen Water’ Tessa Kiros, ‘scandilicious’ Signe Johansen, ‘Sugar & Spice’ Gaittri Pagrach-Chandra and brilliantly ‘What to do with the Cold Mutton’ 1887! Some had been on my wish list others were a complete surprise (no guesses there) and some a really pleasant discovery. Take ‘Sugar&Spice’, kindly bought by my sister because of the name, the same that I chose for the catering company I set up in 2001 and subsequently sold in 2011. It is written by the brilliant Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, who wrote the highly acclaimed ‘Warm Bread and Honey Cake’ which I sadly don’t have in my collection but whose recipes I have followed through other blogs. The name is a giveaway, so no points for guessing the content of ‘Sugar & Spice’, it is a wonderful compendium of everything sweet, naughty and nice. An absolute must have for the ‘little people’ and probably for that matter big people, a great addition to my ever increasing library.
Unsurprisingly there was a healthy dose of Italian books. ‘Polpo’, inspired by the huge success of their family of London restaurants, sadly none of which I have been to, is a really clever book. I particularly love the fact there is no spine to speak of, thoughtfully removed prior to being launched into the heat of the kitchen where it would have invariably disappeared anyhow. It contains heavenly photos of Venice and mouth-watering recipes that will certainly feature on our menu shortly. ‘Limoncello and Linen Water’, exquisitely named with charming photos, it is a nostalgic trip into Italy with age-old family recipes, a real gem uniting past and present. And for the finale, my Swedish prayer was answered, ‘scandilicious’ happily arrived along with the wonderful ‘salt sugar smoke’ by Diana Henry who I simply adore. She is an author whom it is impossible not to like. A truly inspired, wonderfully well-travelled, sensible, brilliant chef. My mission in 2013 is to cook more of her recipes – without question my favourite family chef of the day. And finally the trump card, ‘What to do with the Cold Mutton’, a book written well over a century ago with some totally cracking recipes, watch this space, I promise to use it!
So no lack of material to propel me into the new year. The question is the agenda? Where will this funny little blog take me next and what adventures lie ahead. Somehow, and in spite of the wonderful daily obstacles set up by the pink and blue I have managed to write, and write on a somewhat consistent basis. I do love it and am always astonished to discover people using the recipes and following some of my random culinary advice. I hope you will continue to enjoy reading lardersaga, reincarnating the recipes and putting up with my endless drivel about how food obsessed my life really is!!
Happy New Year, may it bring you all plenty of joy and happiness, and hopefully a little more sunshine!