Monday, February 21, 2011

The Perfect Weekend

Those of you following me on Twitter will have figured out that I had a bit of an intense week with exams and revising and coursework and other fun tidbits. So it’s an understatement to say that it was a relief to finally make it to the weekend… it was well worth the wait. In fact, I might go so far as saying that it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time.

It started with quince cheese. A few weeks ago, my partner in chutney/pickle/jam/supperclub crime, Natalie and I were browsing through our local Turkish shop picking up ingredients for what was to evolve into the lime pickle.

Happily browsing through the vegetable section, we came across what I would describe as one of the ugliest fruits I have ever seen in my life. After a bit of rooting around the labels section we saw that the rather unfortunate looking fruit were quinces.

Tick tock went the brain. I have always loved quince jam, and, on my jaunts to Spain, the dusky membrillo (a form of quince cheese). For a long time too, fruit cheeses had rather appealed. 1+1= 2. And that was how the idea of the quince cheese came into being.

Brilliant as things are in theory, sometimes they are a bit trickier to execute in real life, as we found out on Friday night. The rudimentaries of making quince cheese are not that hard to get your head around. Essentially you peel and wash the fruit, deseed it, boil the hell out of it for a few hours, push it through a sieve, add sugar and boil the hell out of it a bit more before putting it into your containers of choice.

If only it was that simple. I’m never a fan of peeling things, however, it was the coring that proved to be a bit of a bitch, to put it politely. Somehow, it was only once that was done, we were a few glasses of bubbly down each and it was past 10pm that we realised that the rest of the recipe was going to take at least 4 hours.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble

What better reason to put on a soundtrack of eighties tracks and err air guitar to Toto – Hold The Line? None that I can think of. It totted up to around 5 hours in total. And at one point it looked like, well, like vomit...

But my goodness, I had a slice yesterday on a slice of Black bomber and it was heavenly.

That alone doesn’t a perfect weekend make. Those who have been reading for a while will know how forthcoming I can be about BAD dates. However, to balance the table a bit, for once I am going to tell you a bit about a good date (two to be precise, in one weekend).

The first involved True Grit and dinner at a local Spanish restaurant Galicia. Those that live within striking distance of Croydon would do well to make a beeline for this empire-sized restaurant who somehow manage to consistently serve up gorgeous tapas time after time in a convivial and friendly setting.

269-275 High St
Croydon CR0 1QH
020 8686 0043

The second involved (hold your breath)…. Leaving London. Well to get to Sussex, which isn’t that far but sadly, is a lot further away from the big smoke than I get most weekends. We went to an absolutely gorgeous place called The Hatch…..

It was delightful. Small, cosy and deservedly popular – you’d do well to reserve a table if you head down on a Sunday, as it was, we bagged the last available table arriving bang on the dot of opening. Though there’s quite a large menu involving quite a few fishy dishes that looked rather tempting, we’d come for the roast and that’s what we got…

The beef was tender, rare, juicy and saucily accompanied as you can see by the usual trimmings and lashings of gravy.

I did not take a picture of the sticky toffee pudding that rolled out for dessert but safe to say, the moment it ended was one of those moments. You know the ones where you honestly wish you could order the same thing right away and relive the unadulterated pleasure without a) feeling sick from being so gluttonous b) your stomach popping open and spraying everyone with the contents of your gut.

Colmans Hatch
East Sussex TN7 4EJ
01342 822 363

The rest of the day was spent tramping around Ashdown Forest, visiting Pooh Bear’s haunts and generally realising how overrated growing up is and how fun jumping in the mud with your wellies is. Maybe not quite enough exercise to burn off the luncheon calories but dammit, a pretty good way to start anyway.

And there we have it, the perfect weekend. Lets hope there are many more to come.

Local love (a short snippet)

Although I’m no longer a resident of my much-loved Brixton, that’s not to say I cant show it some local love. It’s a brilliant destination for those wanting to try something a little different and ‘brave’ the so-called mean streets of Sarf London. Anyone who hasn’t been to the recently revived Brixton Village should. It’s a fun amalgamation of market stalls, shops and independent restaurants that has people flocking to it, particularly at the weekend.
Particularly close to my heart is The Olive Tree – a small family run restaurant serving Iraqi and Moroccan food, it’s a lovely place to while away an afternoon with a few unknown dishes and a traditional mint tea…..

41-42 Brixton Village, Unit 43-44,
Coldharbour Lane,