At the end of February, just as the daffodils started pushing their way through the ground and I treated myself to tulips to brighten my kitchen, we looked to spring and the warmth of the sunshine and the fresh green buds that it would bring. But, we were halted in our steps by the surprising news that we were to be hit by a cold front from Siberia and for the next 10 days, timed perfectly with the school holidays I might add, it was going to be super cold, hitting -4 most nights! So more wood ordered to warm our little feet and more wine to be tasted to warm our little souls.
To share with you one of the gastronomic highlights we have recently enjoyed, Matt cooked a superb meal to celebrate a hard days work and a Saturday night. As we have some events that we are catering this year, it’s a great excuse to try some new ideas and indulge in some fantastic ingredients. Lobster and steak are my all time favorites. We couldn’t decide which to have, so surf and turf (I know it’s a bit eighties!) was the best option.
I always used to think this was a totally ridiculous idea and who on earth would enjoy fish and meat on the same plate! I must now admit, however, that I have been converted and I think it’s delicious! On holiday in Mauritius a few years ago, one of hotel restaurants that was on the beach with incredible views had a daily special of prawn and chicken Mauritian curry, it was out of this world! I can still taste it now. This was the moment when I had to reconsider the idea of surf and turf.
So, back to our Saturday night, Garlic butter with tarragon and dill, served with lobster and the eye of the rib steak (a little trick learnt from the wonderful Mark Greenaway) accompanied by a Swedish inspired pickled salad, making the most of our latest vinegar, raved about in Niklas Ekstedt cuisine, it is called ‘Perstorp attica’. This kind of food is really the epitome of everything I love. It was light and delicate but packed full of flavor. The richness of the butter melting into the sweet, succulent lobster tail, and the perfect steak, cooked medium, melted in the mouth, finished with the tangy salad to cut through the decadence of the other ingredients. What more could you ask for?
Well how about a chocolate souffle cooked by Rosie, yes please! Again, one of my all time favorites, this dessert is light enough to eat without feeling like you have overdone it. The richness of the dark chocolate is delicately sweetened to satisfy the sweet tooth, and with the gentle lift of the beaten egg whites, takes you to heaven! A Saturday night feast for kings!
As the weather had been so miserable, when it picked up, we went to Bordeaux for the weekend. I can not recommend this place enough. I would say it was one of my favourite weekends ever! The atmosphere was great. Everyone enjoyed it, which is easier said than done when you are catering for children of different ages.
We had a very central apartment opposite the river and this made our little adventures out very easy. The tram system was so efficient and clean. The longest shopping street in Europe called Rue Sainte Catherine was lovely. A huge variety of shops to enjoy, but it was all so relaxed and lovely. The sun was shining and people all seemed to be happy, taking their time to potter around, not the usual sense of urgency I would associate with a city centre.
There was an enormous choice of restaurants to choose from. We tried La Tupina which is where Rick Stein went in his weekend breaks series.
As you walk in the door, the fires are what attracts the eye, cooking aver these is one of the delights that makes this restaurant so special. I had scallops to start followed by a steak, both were amazing. Matt had foie gras followed by lamb which was also fabulous. The staff were extremely accommodating and the restaurant itself was very welcoming. The children had a smaller version of what we had and they promptly gobbled it up. It was quite expensive, but the bottle of St Emilion 2010 might have made a bit of a difference. Check out Sienna photobombing in the scales reflection!
The following day, after reading the Guardians top 10 restaurants in Bordeaux, we found a really charismatic bar hidden in one of the many back lanes. We had a set lunch for 18€ which was a bargain! Skate followed by beef cheeks, fantastic. A few nice glasses of wine, a belly full of food, half the price of the night before, everyone was on form.
There was a big fair in the centre of town that unfortunately, we had to walk past every time we went out. This was the highlight for Rosie! Amelia talked Matt, Charlie and Rosie into getting on the most ridiculously dangerous ride there, only to jump ship just before it started, leaving them to suffer the pain without her. Everyone was a bit wobbly when they got off, I thought in Matts case it could have been the six pints but he assured me it was nothing to do with that! Fabulous weekend!
Back to work, if it ever stops raining. The summer kitchen is well on its way now and looking amazing. Planning is going well for the first course of the year, food photography with Ilian Iliev and cookery with Bulgarian chef Vladimir Todorov. The menu sounds out of this world and has been really exciting trying to source the ingredients. The forecast for the week is amazing and the villa is ready to go.
It brings back lots of wonderful memories of our good times last year with so many lovely people, incredible chefs, yoga instructors and photographers. We learnt a lot and feel very privileged to be able to do something we both love.
Keep an eye on our social media for updates on the course this week! Enjoy the sunshine everybody!