Saturday, 28 January 2012

January highlights

For the last few days, I’ve been wholly absorbed in planning for a forthcoming five-day trip to Istanbul. I imagine I’ll make it to the Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace, but what I’m really excited about is the food. I’ve even joined Twitter in order to survey expert opinion on the best place for manti, a lamb tortellini of sorts, served in yogurt sauce.

Winter fruit at Maltby Street
Tony Booth’s decision to move his eponymous fruit and veg shop from Borough Market to Maltby Street has added at least 30 minutes to my Saturday morning shopping routine. But damn it if the man doesn’t make it worth it every time. This week there was beautiful Yorkshire forced rhubarb, just over half the price of his Borough competitors. Oranges with flesh the colour of pink grapefruits were 5 for a pound, the Sicilian sanguinello not much more.

Chinese New Year
We celebrated the Lunar New Year last weekend with G’s brother and sister-in-law. There were 14 guests and nearly as many dishes, ranging from wasabi mayo-topped smoked salmon in filo cups to sweet-spicy chicken wings and homemade black sesame ice cream. Little was left of the pomelo salad, but S mixed us up another batch of the tangy, coconuty dressing. (It made an excellent supper when we returned to London, stirred through strips of grilled chicken breast, shredded Savoy cabbage and rice noodles.) And while she claimed that that the turnip cake, apparently an epic labour, was not up to her mother’s standards, chunks of it scrambled with eggs and spring onions at breakfast the next morning was good enough to bring back memories of a similar dish from our Penang food crawl.

Had I known that two professional chefs would be attending the gumbo evening for which these were baked, I probably would have tried to find a way out of my hastily-made promise to bring dessert. But not only did these super-moist, fudgy brownies garner praise from all assembled, but I was able to make them in one bowl with the most basic of ingredients and at least half my attention on an unusually good television documentary. Job done.

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