What does a food blogger do on a birthday? Well, actually, if it’s midweek of an Easter week and you’re at home, the day is similar to any other … but, if you’re lucky, with a few wonderful treats too.
Like any other Thursday it began very early – out of the house at 6.30am – to head to Jonathan & Lyndsey’s to look after Freddie for the morning. Freddie was still asleep when I arrived and at just two, even when he woke up, he was completely oblivious to it being Nonna’s birthday. Once the day was under way, we left the house and made the short walk to Your Bakery Whitton.
Birthday or not, where else would I want to go for a good coffee and one of baker-owner Stefano’s wonderful croissants, which one sees being lifted on big trays through to the shop from the kitchen at the back, straight from the oven. Replete with delicious pastries, an excellent flat white, and babyccino for Freddie, we set off once more.
Now the weather is warmer we regularly make the mile journey to my house, by foot and buggy, mainly in the hope of catching sight of my cat who, unfortunately for Freddie, is toddler-shy and tends to make a fast escape when she hears us arrive. But Freddie is ever hopeful, calling out to her, ‘Bella, Bella’, and is sometimes rewarded with a brief sighting and even an occasional cuddle. On the way there and back we pass through Kneller Gardens, a lovely little park with the River Crane running through it.
Kneller Gardens opened in 1931. The land was bought from the Jubilee Farm Estate and the park developed to meet the demands of the rapidly growing local population due to the large number of new houses being built in the area. The park contained the first children’s playground in the Borough of Twickenham (which no longer exists and has been swallowed up by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames). The quickest way to walk from my house to my son’s is through Kneller Gardens so it’s a popular little park for us with its river, tennis courts and a café as well as the playground. Freddie’s greatest excitement is watching the ducks and moorhens on the river, especially when a duck flies in and lands, skimming along the water. This makes him laugh and claps hands. Yesterday we saw the first moorhen chicks of this spring and soon there will be ducklings too.
Later, when Freddie was safely delivered to nursery for the afternoon, I went round to see my dear friends Jane and Terry for tea. They live in my ‘old’ road in St Margarets. They’d bought cake from the deli-café in the ‘village’, Zoran’s. It’s a great café (which I haven’t yet written about on the blog), where you’ll witness great industry in the tiny kitchen in the basement where food is prepared, including wonderful cakes that are taken from the oven and left to cool on racks within sight and smell. We ate a gorgeous lemon polenta cake with yoghurt on the side, served on pretty plates.
Jane and Terry gave me two great books as a birthday gift: Street Fight in Naples by Peter Robb about Naples’ ‘unseen history’ and The Silver Spoon – Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
The second book’s ‘parent’ is The Silver Spoon, first published in 1950, which has become the most successful book on Italian cooking globally and is still well respected and admired by chefs. It’s a kind of encyclopaedia of Italian cookery and I’ve thought about buying it many times. I was thus really pleased to get this regional offshoot – and of wonderful Naples and the Amalfi Coast. It’s full of fabulous recipes and amazing photos of food and the area that made me long to go back to Naples (last visited in 2010).
In the evening I returned to Jonathan & Lyndsey’s and because they’d been at work all day I suggested we make life easy and have a takeaway. We actually love takeaways! We only ever get them from our favourite local Indian restaurant, Tangawizi. We like going to the restaurant but since Freddie’s arrival we more often order a takeaway delivery. Freddie actually loves the food too and will tuck happily into a medium-hot curry! But we were eating too late for him last night, so enjoyed it once he was asleep in bed. Jonathan added a few things to the two dips that come with the pappadums, and fizz was opened for it was after all a birthday.
As the birthday person, I got to choose my favourite dishes for our main course.
It was as good as always.
I’d had a lovely birthday and a number of treats. Nobody had had to cook – including me! – but we’d eaten well by making the most of what our local bakers and restaurants had to offer. But my birthday doesn’t end there … more family arrive over the weekend to celebrate with me and nine of us will be eating at Masaniello on Saturday night!