I’ve decided it’s quite fun to do these ‘My Week in Food’ posts occasionally. It gives me a way to mention favourite places I go to regularly but can’t keep writing full posts about; or maybe somewhere new that I don’t want to write an entire post about; and it gives an insight into what I’m cooking up in my kitchen.
Tuesday – Return to Mustard
I suggested to my friend Liz that we went to Mustard on Tuesday evening. I wanted to see how things were going since I was invited to the soft opening at the end of February (click here). We had their great value set menu (available until 7pm) at £9.95 for 2 courses. I had some roasted vegetables to start followed by fishcakes. The decor is attractive with its brasserie feel and looks great in the evening with the dimmed lights. We saw co-owner Lawrence Hartley and I said I hoped they’d open one nearer to Twickenham soon!
Wednesday – Train to Waterloo
The photo is a slight cheat – taken on the previous Sunday morning at Your Bakery Whitton. I did actually go there on Wednesday morning with Freddie. Their croissants and coffee are the best around. But my main meal outing was in the evening. My friend Tina was in London for the day and she suggested with meet at the Carluccio’s at Waterloo station before she got on her train home. It’s an easy journey for me on a fast train from Twickenham and since Waterloo station has been done up it’s all smart and swanky on the raised concourse with its fashionable shops and restaurants – almost a destination in itself. I’ve used this branch of Carluccio’s a few times when I’ve been in London and thought by the time I get home it will be too late for a meal – so it’s convenient to pop in there for something to eat. You can’t book. This makes sense because of the fast flow of people coming and going. But it does mean a wait. We were told the wait was 20 minutes; in fact it was at least 30. However, we were happy chatting in a seating area inside, and by the time a dish of their Traditional Lasagna and a glass of wine was put before me, the wait didn’t seem so bad. But I did forget to take a photo of my food!
Thursday – Film and Tagine in Mayfair
I met a friend at the Curzon Mayfair on Thursday evening to see the film Hail, Caesar!. Starring George Clooney as Caesar, it boasts an impressive cast of the famous – Ralph Feinnes, Tilda Swinton and many others. The reviews have been good but we found it rather weak; only mildly funny. Afterwards, we went to the nearby Sofra for a meal. I really like Sofra and its Turkish food (click here). We often have a selection of mezze to share but with the rain pouring outside we went for a more comforting lamb tagine, and it was really delicious.
Friday – Good Friday
You have to have Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. It was a lovely sunny morning and I couldn’t make up my mind whether to walk to Your Bakery in Whitton or Corto Italian Deli in central Twickenham for morning coffee. I chose Corto and then when I saw the hot cross buns decided I had to have one of those rather than a croissant. They were really good; wonderful spicy. I asked if they’d got them from their usual bakery. Yes, said Romina, they came from Stefano. Oh, I replied, Stefano at Your Bakery? So, it turned out, I’d sort of combined a visit to both of my favourite places!
I’m not religious in the formal sense but I do like to eat fish on Good Friday – tradition I suppose – so I took a fish pie out of my freezer; one from a batch of 4 I’d made recently. Then Jonathan rang later in the morning to invite me to join them for pizza at Ruben’s Refettorio. Well, how could I resist? Aren’t Ruben’s pizzas just about the best around? I stuck with non meat and chose a Margherita with an extra topping of mushrooms. It was wonderful and great fun to be there together. We ordered Freddie a slice of their focaccia with vegetable topping as we thought it was a softer texture for him, but he clearly wanted a taste of my pizza too when he saw it put before me, so I shared a little.
Having another meal in the evening seemed indulgent but I couldn’t refreeze the fish pie! Anyway, it was delicious – modesty aside, I do make a great fish pie! And it’s always worth making in bulk so there’s one ready to take from the freezer when there’s no time to cook or you’re just feeling lazy.
Saturday – Baking
I was due to visit Nicola and Rachael on Easter Sunday and Nicola asked if I’d make a Torta Caprese for dessert. I decided to make it heart shaped with a chocolate ganache icing and add some Easter toppings. I bought little chocolate eggs in Waitrose and chick-shaped biscuits in Carluccio’s. I’ll admit it looks rather homemade – but then it was. It tasted wonderful though – gloriously rich chocolate and almond cake, which we served on Sunday with crème fraîche.
Saturday evening I took an easy route via the freezer again, warming through some Bolognese ragu to go with pasta.
Sunday – Easter Sunday
My daughter Nicola is a great cook and had some rolled lamb ready for the oven when I arrived on Sunday morning. We were 10 adults plus Freddie for lunch – Jonathan and Lyndsey were stopping for lunch on their way to north Wales to see Lyndsey’s family for the Easter week. Lamb is the traditional meat in UK for Easter lunch. We began with nibbles and champagne; then a lovely asparagus soup that Rachael’s mother had made before the wonderful lamb with potatoes dauphinoise and a gorgeous selection of other vegetables.
It was a fabulous meal and we had to have a bit of a break before eating slices of the Torta Caprese.
Monday – Storm Katie
There had been weather warnings for a few days: Storm Katie was blowing in from the Atlantic. Strange how they’ve suddenly decided to name these big storms! ‘Katie’ sounds so benign but in fact was a feisty storm with winds of 106mph, though confining herself to the south of England. Monday morning I heard on the radio that planes were coming into Gatwick and making 5 or 6 attempts to land before giving up and going to an airport further north. I was further north – near Birmingham. It seemed a good idea to stay on until Katie had calmed down. It was quite sunny in Worcestershire so we went for a walk in some National Trust gardens and had a snack lunch in the café.
I set off home around 3pm. It wasn’t until I hit London at the far end of the M40 and on to the M25 that the traffic got bad, rain fell heavily, and it was slow progress home. I resorted to the freezer again for supper: some aubergine and tomato sauce I’d made for Pasta alla Norma a week or so ago, freezing a leftover portion. It was perfect. I topped it with some pieces of mozzarella and it was a fine way to end a lovely Easter weekend.