It’s been a week of contrasts from wonderful San Sebastián in Spain a week ago to a dull and damp Bank Holiday Monday back in London yesterday. But good food isn’t dependent on either location or weather thank goodness. Although a location as great as San Sebastián and a good dose of sunshine certainly help. Here’s my week:
Tuesday – Last Day in San Sebastián
I’ve already written quite a bit about the wonderful pinxtos in San Sebastián (click here) but when it came to breakfast, Annie and I stuck to orange juice (always freshly squeezed to order), croissants and coffee. On our last morning we found a great little café just round the corner from our hotel, called Irubi.
It was an artisan type café with excellent coffee and pastries and books lining some walls. As everywhere in San Sebastián, it was very friendly too.
Wednesday – The Cupboard Was Bare
I had an early start to the day, leaving the house at 6.30am to look after Freddie for the morning. I’d arrived home from Spain quite late the night before and by the time I was heading home at lunchtime, knowing my fridge was bare of anything suitable for lunch, I bought one of Your Bakery Whitton‘s fabulous little quiches. They are quite the best I know. This one had a filling of spinach and chorizo.
Thursday – Côte on the Run
After a rather hectic day, I rushed into London to meet up with my friend Tina for an early supper. She’d suggested eating at Côte Bistro in Covent Garden. I’m a fan of Côte and think it’s one of the better chains and often meet local friends at the Richmond branch for their great value early evening set menu. However, probably on the back of my busy day, I found the Covent Garden branch’s rush rather annoying. It was very busy on arriving with a queue but I saw Tina and went over to the table. Tables were squashed in tightly and the waiter rushed us with our order and food came very quickly. It felt a bit like being on a conveyor belt; they clearly wanted to move people on quickly with that queue forming outside. It did calm down a bit. Presumably some people were there for a meal before going to the theatre and in a hurry, but we weren’t asked … and we weren’t rushing anywhere. The food, however, was as good as usual and I had a very nice sea bass as my main.
Friday – A Film and Meal in Bloomsbury
Well the carrot cake wasn’t actually eaten in Bloomsbury, but the South Bank. I was meeting a friend to see the acclaimed film Dheepan at the Bloomsbury Curzon and, having had only a light snack lunch, wasn’t sure I’d last until 8.30ish after the film when I’d booked a table at the Carluccio’s near the cinema. I therefore stopped off en route at Le Pain Quotidien near the Royal Festival Hall for some of their wonderful carrot cake (that comes cupcake sized) to keep me going. The film was excellent and we had a good supper at Carluccio’s – but I didn’t remember to take a photo of that, so hence the carrot cake for my Friday photo!
Saturday – A No Plan Day
As I was walking to Your Bakery Whitton in the morning, Jonathan called and I said I’d buy some pastries to take on to them. When I saw the bakery had some of their fabulous weekend special fagottini I couldn’t resist buying some for lunch. Filled with cheese, ham, spinach and other things, they are wonderful and it feels like a special treat when they’re not available every day. As it turned out, I ended up staying at Jonathan’s for the whole day. Lyndsey was ill in bed with a cold so it was a day with the boys – Jonathan and Freddie. Come evening, Jonathan went back to my house on his motorbike to collect some ragù Bolognese from my freezer for our supper.
Sunday – Summer Steak & Gelato
This was the day I had a fancy to cook steak and made the chimichurri sauce to go with it and wrote it up on the blog (click here). I had dessert in the wrong order. It was nice enough weather in the afternoon to head into Richmond and buy myself ice cream in one of London’s best places for ice cream, Gelateria Danieli. I chose strawberry sorbet and salted caramel and then sat on a bench on the edge of Richmond Green to eat it and enjoy the view, before cutting down to the river and walking along the Thames. Back home I had another fancy in the cooking department and decided to make some labneh. I hung my salted Greek yoghurt for about 4-5 hours in the fridge then divided in half, rolling it into little balls to coat one lot in dried oregano and flavour the rest with cumin and chilli. I covered them in olive oil (click here for recipe).
Monday – Memories of Spain
In the evening I made the mushroom and chestnut risotto that I wrote up on the blog (click here). Knowing I’d cook that in the evening, I had a simple snack lunch toasting a large slice from a sourdough loaf that I’d bought a couple of days before in Your Bakery, then cutting it in half and putting one ball of the labneh on one half and mashed avocado with some leftover chimichurri sauce on the other.
The simplest things can still be excellent.