Sunday, 31 January 2010

A food packed weekend

The vegetable stock is simmering on the stove, we've just inhaled lovely mushrooms cooked in butter and olive oil, on buttery toasted rye bread, I've flicked through the Observer Food Monthly mag and it's time to write a post. I haven't done so for far too long, mainly due to being sick and also hosting my second supper club on Friday night. I do love reflecting on a really great foodie weekend, so thought I'd just briefly sum it up here.

As I've said, Friday night was supper club (photos "before" and "during", above and below). With 6 of the 18 guests not eating meat, this one was a little challenging, but everyone who came was just so lovely and brought such excitement with them, I couldn't help but get wrapped up in the adrenalin. Think I've been on a high ever since and starting to experiment with new recipes for the next ones.
Saturday morning was brunch at Lantana in Soho. My sister (a barista in another life and complete coffee snob) has been searching London for a decent cup of coffee and Lantana has been on the hit list for a while. It's worth queueing just for the amazing coffee. I could be biased but I think Australians do brunch like no one else, and this cafe (owned by Melbournians) is no exception - gorgeous corn fritters, french toast with poached pears and pistachio mascarpone, a halloumi stack, and incredible toasted sour dough (with Vegemite or peanut butter of course). Service was a little hit and miss and it always worries me when waiters don't write down the order, but we couldn't fault the food.
Saturday night was a lovely, relaxed and intimate dinner at Can Be Bribed With Food's place. Carla and her house mate, Lesley, hold dinners periodically with friends of friends and maybe even their friends (if you ask nicely). Both gorgeous gals have Latin American origins and are passionate about educating Londoners about their food - I think they're doing a good job!

After settling in with Cusquena beers and empanaditas, we were served a gorgeous black bean soup with chorizo and jalapeno cheesy quesadilla - yum yum yum. The soup was gorgeous, dark and inky looking and I could have eaten a vat of it.
The whole menu was written in Spanish and sounded far more exotic than it will now sound when I translate it into English (I also completely forgot to take a photo of the menu, so I know Carla will be cringing at my inept description - this was not aided by our table being too busy enjoying ourselves to remember to also take photos until half way through eating). Our main course was beautifully cooked cod in coconut milk, spicy rice and fried plantains. So the photo is not great, and I didn't write down exactly what was with the fish, but I can definitely attest to it being lovely.

A pineapple upside down cake with rum cream was dessert - a cake Carla's mum made when she was little. Both the texture and taste were perfect. A lovely ending to a great meal, made better by the company and down to earth atmosphere created by our hosts.
Thanks Carla!

I have mentioned previously Farm Direct, which is a great little business delivering produce straight from farms out of London to the foodies of Islington. This week's Farm Direct newsletter announced that Robert of Farm Direct would be holding pheasant plucking lessons on Sunday. Fantastic!
Y and I met a friend for coffee and then headed to the little brick garage, opposite our favourite little French cafe, Le Peche Mignon (where we later went for olive oil and amaretti biscuits), for pheasant plucking. To be honest, we observed (and Y snapped away on her camera) another Islington resident and Farm Direct customer @midnight_cowboy pluck a pheasant, and then remove some decent sized breasts from some pigeons (which we both agreed looked scarily similar to those in Trafalgar Square - the pigeons, not the breasts).I wasn't sure if I'd get squeamish, but fascination took over and I was not fazed at all. I was surprised to find the throats of most of the birds stuffed full of corn, berries, grains - clearly they'd been disturbed mid-meal, and, as @midnight_cowboy surmised, were then too full of food to be quick enough to fly from the hunters!Such a brilliant idea to bring a little bit of the country to the city, and also a lovely way to meet some other like-minded locals. If you live in Islington you should definitely check it out (as well as all the other great produce Farm Direct have on offer). You pay 5 pounds and get to keep what you pluck.

Hope you've had a similarly food filled weekend.
Just one more thought - talk of pheasant plucking of course got the infamous pheasant plucking song stuck in my head. After some discussion on Twitter, I downloaded the song for a laugh. I've set out the words below (it's harder to sing than it looks!), but you really should download and have a listen.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son
I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker comes.

Me husband is a keeper, he's a very busy man
I try to understand him and I help him all I can,
But sometimes in an evening I feel a trifle dim
All alone, I'm plucking pheasants, when I'd rather pluck with him.
I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's mate
I'm only plucking pheasants 'cos the pheasant plucker's late !
I'm not good at plucking pheasants, at pheasant plucking I get stuck
Though some pheasants find it pleasant I'd rather pluck a duck.
Oh plucking geese is gorgeous, I can pluck a goose with ease
But pheasant plucking's torture because they haven't any grease.
I'm not a pheasant plucker, he has gone out on the tiles
He only plucked one pheasant and I'm sitting here with piles!

You have to pluck them fresh, if it’s fresh they’re not unpleasant,
I knew a man in Dunstable who could pluck a frozen pheasant.
They say the village constable had pheasant plucking sessions
With the vicar on a Sunday ‘tween the first and second lessons.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's mum
I'm only plucking pheasants 'till the pheasant plucker's come.

My good friend Godfrey is most adept, he's really got the knack
He likes to have a pheasant plucked before he hits the sack
I like to give a helping hand, I gather up the feathers,
It's really all our pheasant plucking keeps us pair together.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's friend
I'm only plucking pheasants as a means unto an end !
My husband's in the forest always banging with his gun
If he could hear me half the time I'm sure that he would run,
For there's fluff in all my crannies, there's feathers up my nose
And I'm itching in the kitchen from my head down to my toes.

I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's wife
And when we pluck together it's a pheasant plucking life!


Craig said...

Sounds like a great weekend. Hoping to make one of Carla's get togethers soon.

Will you be reciting the pheasant plucking song at your next supper club?!

SophR said...

There should be a warning before that pheasant plucking post - BEWARE not for the faint hearted or those that hate birds so much seeing them so close up may make you queasy... :)

mei said...

great idea! i am totally going to do that. 5 pounds and my own pheasants? YES.

Margaret said...

Oh my, how wonderful for you, making a dream come true. The bird photographs are one step too far for me though, I'm afraid!
Love the latte art because I am a devoted coffee fan and try to only go to places where they are passionate about coffee.
Great posting - good luck with more supper clubs.

Lex said...

Craig, I was going to perform the pheasant song, but now that you've ruined the surprise, will have to change my plans ...

Sorry for the gory photos Soph & Margaret!

Check it out Mei - now that you've conquered haggis, nothing can get in your way!

Greedy Diva said...

What a great weekend. I totally agree with you that Melbournians know how to put on a decent brekkie!

The London Foodie said...

Great posting, and I love your blog!

Luiz @ The London Foodie

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