Does the world need another guide to Venice? Probably not, and yet I can’t stop myself from joining the chorus. Truman Capote was right when he said, “Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueur in one go”. It’s a sensory assault on the eyes, taste buds and sometimes even the nose. Walking through its myriad of canals and shady piazzas is like stepping into a baroque painting and catching a glimpse, of another, grander time.
There are few things that say English summertime quite like a glass of homemade elderflower cordial with icy cold water and sliced lemon. Its tangy, botanical flavour is the perfect accompaniment to a sunny day, especially when paired with a sneaky tot of gin! Now that the summer months are upon us, I must confess to being something of an addict, and enjoying a chilled elderflower refresher most evenings.
The weather has been glorious over the last few days, and at last we can all relax into summer. As usual the village green is a hive of activity over the warmer months. We’ve taken to eating supper in our front garden, glass of wine in hand, while watching the evening cricket match.
Cooking with rhubarb is still something of a novelty for me. I’ve spent much of my life living in hot countries like Hong Kong and South Africa, where delicious fruits and vegetables were always abundant, but sadly rhubarb was never one of them. Over the last couple years I’ve grown to know this peculiar vegetable, and after a few false starts, we are now the firmest of friends. There is something quintessentially English about it, enjoyed on a spring day in the garden while soaking up the first of the year’s sunshine.
I’ve always favoured simple and rustic food over fine dining and this bean and bread soup captures everything I love about cooking. There is nothing cosier than a big pot of Ribollita bubbling away on the stove, ready in time for an intimate and easy supper at home.
With every tousled country lane and picturesque hamlet, the Chilterns capture a little more of my heart. Covering around 324 square miles and stretching from Berkshire to Hertfordshire, the chalky Chiltern Hills are one of 38 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. People have been farming here for thousands of years, shaping the landscape we see today. Once described as the “Larder of London”, farmland still covers nearly two thirds of the area and the network of local food producers is thriving.
When I visited Chiltern Charcuterie a few weeks ago in the picturesque village of North Dean, they were hard at work making salami. It was an impressive operation as the team expertly tested flavours.
In early 2014, Kate Marston unexpectedly found herself in the Waterstones on Hampstead high street. Her husband Ben was in hospital nearby after a wrist operation and she needed to kill time while he recovered.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring the mesmerising Chiltern Hills. Tomorrow marks the start of the first ever Chiltern Food Festival and to celebrate I’ll be sharing a series of posts showcasing its vibrant food scene.
Creamy puddings are my weakness. From crème brûlée to panna cotta, hand me a spoon and I won’t be able to stop. This easy creamy baked yoghurt pairs perfectly with any kind of fruit, but is particularly delicious with berry compote.