Tuesday, 23 September 2014

i am listening to...

a painting, a song and a poem for autumn

Autumn Effect at Argenteuil by Claude Monet.

Today we celebrate the autumn equinox. The word 'equinox' is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are of equal length. The Druids call this celebration Meán Fómhair and honour the the Green Man, the God of the Forest. Other Pagans will celebrate the festival of Mabon, which marks the decline of nature and the slow coming of winter. Summer is waning, the autumnal winds have arrived...

Autumn is my favourite season. Soup, jumpers, crisp mornings. Every September I tend to listen to the above, one of my favourite songs by Patrick Wolf, on repeat as the month comes to its chilly close. Also, here is a beautiful poem from Ted Hughes:

The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head,
The stalk of a lily,
And still cannot go.

The second sorrow
Is the empty feet
Of a pheasant who hangs from a hook with his brothers.
The woodland of gold
Is folded in feathers
With its head in a bag.

And the third sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the sun who has gathered the birds and who gathers
The minutes of evening,
The golden and holy
Ground of the picture.

The fourth sorrow
Is the pond gone black
Ruined and sunken the city of water-
The beetle's palace,
The catacombs
Of the dragonfly.

And the fifth sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the woodland that quietly breaks up its camp.
One day it's gone.
It has only left litter-
Firewood, tentpoles.

And the sixth sorrow
Is the fox's sorrow
The joy of the huntsman, the joy of the hounds,
The hooves that pound
Till earth closes her ear
To the fox's prayer.

And the seventh sorrow
Is the slow goodbye
Of the face with its wrinkles that looks through the window
As the year packs up
Like a tatty fairground
That came for the children.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sunday, 14 September 2014

parkway greens

We used to have our fruit and vegetables delivered to our front door in neat cardboard boxes, but since we've started shopping at Parkway Greens, which opened very close to our home earlier this year, we've been completely converted. It's become something of a ritual, our Sunday morning jaunt to leafy Parkway. We'll pick up what looks good (everything) and come home and cook with it. Sometimes I'll even have leftovers to take to work on Monday morning. I don't miss the cardboard boxes at all, convenient though it was to have everything delivered, because now we have somewhere local to shop - a beautiful green store stuffed with colourful, interesting produce. Last weekend we bought these courgette flowers (what a treat!) and stuffed them with ricotta and mint, before deep frying briefly. Absolutely delicious, and just as good as those I ate on the Amalfi Coast back in August.

D. made pasta which we ate with three types of mushroom and lots of herbs (from our flourishing balcony garden), garlic and parmesan.

I made a blackberry and blueberry galette (a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, who coincidentally also shops at Parkway Greens). This was fabulous, and I've actually made it two more times since last weekend, I'm almost afraid to admit. Sticky, dark, glistening and gooey, it's a perfect autumn pudding.

Even more blueberries, which I sprinkled over ricotta hotcakes this morning.

gant rugger autumn/winter 2014

I'm a big fan of Gant Rugger's horticulture-inspired autumn/winter 2014 collection. This suede and shearling jacket in particular could well find its way into my wardrobe come the colder months.

Olive green wool and a fur trimmed hood? Heaven!

A very lovely leaf print worn with tan leather gloves.

Enjoying the layering up with a grey wool waistcoat here (and the scarf in pocket).

Sunday, 7 September 2014

two good meals

We've been for two very good meals this week. The first was supper on Tuesday evening at The Palomar in Soho, where the food of modern day Jerusalem is warmly served. We sat at the beautiful zinc-topped bar overlooking the open kitchen and shared a variety of small dishes - sweet, buttery bread served with tahini and tomato dips, assorted mezze (featuring a delicious, oily aubergine dish), a knockout bowl of polenta topped with a rich mushroom ragout, asparagus, Parmesan and truffle oil and a striking, fresh salmon tartare. The small space was buzzing and lively and the music was loud; it felt like a new and exciting way to eat out in London. I recommend!

The second good meal was breakfast this morning - we ventured into town and drank hot chocolate and ate eggs with potatoes, onion and bacon over the Sunday newspapers at Fischer's on Marylebone High Street. The food (classic Austrian fare) is not particularly groundbreaking, but, as with The Palomar, the atmosphere is overwhelming and transportive. At Fischer's it's all about the ritzy elegance of Mitteleuropa - gorgeous panelling, marquetry and mirrors, distressed, hand painted wallpaper, waiters in green waistcoats and golden ties and a magnificent station clock looming over it all. Timeless and dreamy, the whole experience is pure Grand Budapest Hotel.