We are on the cusp of Midsummer, the time surrounding the Summer Solstice. Beautiful verdant green trees and hedgrows and meadows. Lush and overflowing. When I ride my bike through the countryside, I feel as though I am moving through a mansion of rooms made of birdsong. The rivers are slow and lazy, simply taking their time. Sometimes, the smaller streams just dry up into a necklace of warm sunpools.
Here’s what caught my eye after dinner tonight –
It’s the beginning of a long Summer weekend. Steve has work tomorrow near London. I’m riding out with him and plan to explore the area while he’s at work. Then we have a room booked at a country house hotel (set in 32 acres of parkland!) near the South coast. We’ll get there in time to watch the football (I forget why tomorrow night is important) and have dinner at the hotel, if it’s any good.
Then on Saturday, we’ll visit a stately home nearby (and very probably have a cream tea), hit IKEA in Southampton for some stuff for my studio and a pair of summer thin voile curtains (which I plan to screenprint) for our living room windows and John Lewis to pick up a couple of things for our home. And then return home.
Today was really hot and totally sunny. We’d picked up some new asparagus from a market stall in Exeter yesterday and planned tonight’s meal around it.
Easy and relaxed. Grilled food and some reheated leftovers.
Steve brushed the filetted (pronounced /ˈfɪlɪt/ in British English and /fɨˈleɪ/ in American English; from the French word filet, pronounced /filɛ/) local Creedy Carver chicken breasts with olive oil, then sprinkled them with salt and pepper before putting them under a hot grill. Then tailed the asparagus and steamed it for about 8 minutes. He then put the asparagus under the grill for about two minutes. All the while, heating up some very good patatas brava in a skillet from last night’s supper. I made my simple aioli sauce from saffron threads soaked in some boiling water, mixed with two cloves of garlic put through my Suzi garlic press and Hellman’s mayo.
What a feast!
We had a Pimm’s Cup to start (which I’ll feature on one of my next posts) and a bottle of The Siren rosé, a South African label. Not bad at all and I really like the label.
When we were on honeymoon in Italy, we caught a ferry to Capri for the day and sailed past the very three islets which together form “Li Galli”: Gallo Lungo, Castelluccio and La Rotonda. Their names derive from the cult of the Sirens and their iconography. The sirens were depicted as part human, part animal creatures in the figurative art of ancient Greece. The animal part of the siren was not the fish of enchanting Medieval images, but an entirely feathered creature with only the face of a woman. From here the name “Li Galli” was derived, because the birdlike image was easily recognisable. Much more on this later.
To finish, we are having Marks & Spencer Crème Brûlée. Probably my favourite alltime dessert. I used to try to make it from scratch. Well I mastered the crème part, but never got the brûlée part right. This may be my next cooking milestone. In the meantime, there’s always good old M & S!!
Here’s one from my Summer Mix playlist – Summer Breeze from jazz icons guitarist George Benson and vocalist Al Jarreau teaming up for a breezy, enjoyably melodic session.