Wednesday, 26 October 2011

D.I.Y. Garnish

Sipping a well deserved cappucchino at Carluccio's the other day, after a long walk on Hampstead Heath, I clocked the simple table decor of terracotta pots of coriander and rosemary.
Image: Ingrid's iPhone
It is a simply brilliant idea for the table at home ... D.I.Y. Garnish.
Family and guests simply nip or snip off as much of the herbs as they desire and add straight to their own dish. Could anything be easier or tastier?
Just pick up a couple of herbs in the supermarket and add them to pots, terracotta or otherwise and you are all set.
After the meal you may want to move the herbs to a windowsill for a dose of sunshine, if sun's rays do not stretch as far as your table. Of course all living plants need water too - obvious but strange how many times I seem to forget this basic fact!

Herbs for the table: coriander (cilantro to some), chives, rosemary, french parsley or oregano for starters.

Mosaic made with images from Martha
For a bit of fun add a little felt bird  or mouse!
But best to keep these herb pots inside if you don't want an unwelcome snail at your table.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Bringing home the Bacon

Let me take you on a little trip, through the narrow country lanes of mid Suffolk, to a shop that is almost good enough to eat.
 Our destination: Emmett's of Peasenhall.

Although it was my first visit, plenty of esteemed foodies like Rick Stein, Delia Smith and the late Queen Mother, no less, have extolled the merits of the delicious hams and bacons available here. Whether it is black cure, mild cure, orange cure or Christmas cure - all the pork comes from pigs that are reared outdoors, on one of four local Suffolk farms, and cured in-house. 
In fact, Emmett's have been curing hams and bacon on the premises for more than 200 years.

If you are not in the neighbourhood, don’t despair - the online shop will help you bring home the bacon with just a few clicks.

But ... be sure there is nothing to replicate the sensory delights of walking over the threshold of this quintessential English food shop. 
The tasting table that greets you is set with delicious tapenades, aromatic olive oils and chutneys to spice up your life. 
As we ventured further, we were in raptures over the giant 3kg slabs of chocolate - tasting it ensured  a sensible small piece made it home - had to leave the mega slab for another time.

But ... bacon was what we had come for and our sampler packs of lardons, sweet cure bacon and Suffolk ham have convinced us that from now on, Emmett’s is our default bacon source. I challenge anyone to not taste the difference, whether it is in a quiche lorraine with lardons or a sourdough bacon sandwich (both of which I cooked for the family in the days that followed)

Be sure to allow time to sample the lunch menu on offer in Emmett's cafe - our Suffolk ploughman’s platter was delicious and introduced us to the heavenly date and lime pickle, from Sri Lanka no less. The enormous Emmett’s salad was bounteous and filled with every goody from the deli - ham, nectarine slices, olives, garlics, artichokes and fresh salad greens. (Good choice Alice and Astrid!) 

My Favourite buys:
~ Bacon lardons for your quiches, macaroni carbonara and soups for starters
~ Date and lime pickle for adding spice and zest to any cold plate
~ Promise you will not leave without indulging yourself with a small large piece of chocolate - up to you whether you plump for dark, milk or ginger filled.
Meeting Mark Thomas, the passionate owner and bacon guru, at the end of our visit was a special treat. Next time he has promised to show us the smokehouse where all the curing and smoking action happens.
With Christmas on the horizon you can order hampers or sampler packs as delicious gifts to make yourself or someone else  very happy. Or maybe drop a hint to someone close to you about your Christmas stocking this year!
Click here to view Emmett's catalogue

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Remembering Steve

Image: Getty Images
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."
Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011

Steve Jobs and Apple have had a huge impact on my life. From the first time I used a Mac computer back in 1992 I was a devotee. Starting with a LC computer and a memory of 40 megabytes, our basket of Apple's has grown and enriched our lives. 
Thanks Steve for all the creative possibilities you have brought to our family. 

If you have time do listen to Steve's 2005 commencement speech at Stanford - it says so much about the man and how he made a difference.

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