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Devon 2 May 2013 Urban
foraging with wildnerness
guide Mark Lane.
Devon 4 April 2013 A machine is threatening to come
between me and my wife: a shiny, gorgeous, exciting and beautiful sous
Devon 27-29th June, 2011 A rare and too brief
visit to Topsham by my brother David and his partner Robin
who were over from Virginia. We share a
love of Italian wine, food and cooking, and cycling amongst
other things. So it was a chance to ride, cook and eat together,
and to dust off some special bottles...Here's
a taste of what
we ate and drank.
Devon 18th May -- We
make pappa al pomodoro for
Devon 29th April to 1st May -- This
year’s Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink was probably
the best ever. Coinciding with the Royal Wedding on the Friday, the
atmosphere was amazing as the crowds came in to watch this special
event on a large outdoor screen set up in Northernhay Gardens, and
afterwards to enjoy a feast of West Country food and drink. Here's
a brief report.
2011 -- A
stroll down Exmouth seafront with Guy to the fish shop at the Pierhead.
What's good today? Those Lyme Bay scallops look
sensational, just the thing for our Sunday supper.
Devon February4th, 2011 -- Today
hundreds came to this lovely village to remember and celebrate a
young person whose life was far too short. Afterwards, in the Uplyme
Village Hall I felt privileged to sample Pip's
Devon January24th, 2011 -- TS
Eliot was wrong: January – not April – is the cruelest
month. If ever there was a time of year that mixes memory with
desire, it is now. After the excesses of the holiday period,
and at the start of a new year that inevitably is full of hope
and the eternal, deluded belief in the capacity to change, January
promises the chance to change who we are - if only we go to the
gym more often (ker-ching) or take up the latest crack-pot diet
(ker-ching)...Well, I'm sorry,
I'm not having it.
Devon November 13, 2010 -- Our day (unabridged): went
fishing; very windy; lost favorite hat; Kim rescued it;
caught a sea bass; made simple ceviche.
Italy October 21-24, 2010 -- "Just meeting is a
miracle," said Carlo Petrini, proudly and humbly. My report
about the fourth
edition of Terra Madre, the remarkable bi-annual global gathering
of food communities.
Devon August 18, 2010 -- My dismal attempts to catch
sea bass are already well
chronicled. However, this summer we
have had some exciting success. We fished over the August Bank
Holiday weekend in Lyme Bay off Exouth and were lucky to catch
a real beaut.
Devon August 18, 2010 -- The gals away, just me and
Guy, so we raid the cellar for a special bottle for a
Devon June 29, 2010 -- Mario Fontana brought us a summer
truffle from his home in the Barolo wine hills.
Devon June 20, 2010 -- A dream-like evening in Topsham
for Nello's Longest Table.
Devon December 6, 2009 -- Is this the craziest thing
I've ever made in my life? Guy and I have a moment of turducken
madness. . .
Devon January 21, 2009 -- Topsham's
first wassail in
more than 70 years takes place, with singing, banging, and the
liberal consumption of much local cider.
Devon January 21, 2009 -- Here's the recipe for Lizzie's
apple cake, enjoyed outdoors under the apple trees during the
and Mathayes, Devon November 21, 2008 -- This week has
been a great occasion for Slow
Food Devon: Carlo Petrini's visit to Dartington. Andrew Whitley
also launches his Sustain Real Bread Campaign, and we visit the
McCaig's Otter Brewery in the rolling Blackdown Hills of East
Devon. Here's my report on an amazing few days.
Italy 27 October 2008 The 3rd
Terra Madre gathering
of world food communities took place this week in Turin, bringing
together more than 6000 food producers, fishermen, market organisers,
chefs, academics and youth delegates to discuss issues, problems
and challenges. Once again, it was an inspiring occasion.
Italy 21 September 2008 We have been traveling to Venice
now for more than 30 years and have stayed in any variety of
places, from grand 5-star hotels to no-star dives that frankly
we’d rather forget.Just
last weekend we found ourselves in Venice again and had the chance
to stay in the Residenza
Art Deco. It is worth recommending, as the place is
not only lovely but also (very rare in Venice) available at a reasonable
Devon June 15th, 2008 Nello's
Longest Table, a truly
amazing occasion and a tribute to a special friend. Here's what
Devon June 13-15th, 2008 A report on the Topsham
Food Festival, a hugely successful and enjoyable weekend of
events and activities centred on, what else, food and drink of
Devon June 13-15th, 2008 A fabulous weekend of food
and drink celebrations will be taking place during the first Topsham
Devon April 10-13, 2008 We enjoy a magnificent celebration
of Tuscany and South West England in the Slow Food tent at the
5th Exeter Festival of South West England Food and Drink.
Earlier in the week, we were involved in an important initiative
to twin Tuscany and South West England at the Festival
Conference. Afterwards, those involved and guests enjoyed a
Celebration Dinner at Michael
Caines at ABode Exeter. The brilliant
menu devised by Ross Melling was inspired by Tuscany and utilised
the finest West Country produce, accompanied by a selection of
Devon and Tuscan wines.
21st, 2008 We enjoy an evening of masks,
foods and wines, Venetian style at the Bath Priory.
Devon January 20th, 2008 What a huge and satisfying
relief: the first Slow Food Devon Topsham Market was a huge and
resounding success! Here's a brief
Devon January 1st, 2008 I am delighted to report that
the Slow Food Devon Market will
be transferring to Topsham's Matthews Hall, usually the third
Sunday of each month, starting on January 20th. See you there!
Devon September 13, 2007 The Topic for this year's Oxford
Symposium on Food and Cookery was "Food and Morality",
a fascinating theme that gave scope for any number of provoking
and provocative papers and presentations. Food writer and friend
John Whiting's presentation entitled Eating
the Earth traces traces the destruction of our edible environment
back to the days of the Stone Age hunter-gatherers.
Devon September 4, 2007 Since it's her final
day before school starts, we asked Bella what she wanted for
her special 'last supper'. "Michal Caines' crab risotto," she
said without a moment's hesitation. Only problem, no crab in
town, so we make a variation with
scallops and red gurnard.
Devon August 30, 2007 Guy
and Claire leave for Nottingham on Saturday, so tomorrow is Guy's
'last supper'. Naturally I'm cooking
the proverbial fatted, um er, not calf but duck. Of course it
has to be duck.
da Pera, Portugal and Topsham, Devon August 14, 2007 A
summer dish I always look forward to is arroz
do mariscos, one of my favourite foods in the world.
This Portuguese hotpot inevitably comes bubbling to the table,
piping hot and straight out of the oven, a magnificent celebration
of the sea.
Italy March 17, 2007 A week
in the wine hills of Romagna cycling is good for the soul as well
as the legs.
Salterton, December 3rd ,
2006 A picnic of salade
niçoise and vin
Budleigh beach in remembrance of Joan, a very special friend.
Le Langhe, Italy November 11, 2006 Mario Fontana's mother
Elda shares with us a masterclass in making agnolotti
al plin, the classic stuffed ravioli of the Barolo wine region.
Cumbria November 1, 2006 Autumn half term saw us head up
to the Lake District once more for a week of walking and relaxation
in what we consider the most beautiful corner of England, if not the
world. Fells walks work up prodigious appetites for hearty, warming
foods, slow-cooked four hours such Helvellyn
braised lamb shanks.
Devon October 22, 2006 The grape harvest at Geoff and Anna's
Pebblebed vineyard is a great communal event. Afterwards everyone
feasted on steaming bowls of Anna's
Pebblebed harvest soup.
Devon January 16, 2006 Burns Night at
The Globe, Lympstone is enlivened by a happy piper.
Devon January 16, 2006 Turning grapes into . . . bread! Bill's
sourdough bread, made with grapes from Pebblebed Vineyard, is
a huge success!
Devon December 9, 2005 Following on from Guy's big birthday,
Marc celebrates a milestone half-century with a duck
Devon December 1, 2005 The South Devon Chili guys are in
town once more and it's tomatillo
Devon November 2, 2005 Happy 18th birthday, Guy! Here's a
little story that recalls our travels in Spain when you were just
three years old.
Devon September 2, 2005 'Mummy
mackerel' does it again...We go fishing on our anniversary.
London July 6, 2005 A remarkable feast at the Jade
Garden — duck tongues, chicken feet and much more —
thanks to Uncle Red Bear.
, Devon June 18th, 2005 The Melanesian Brotherhood are back
in Devon, and in honour of their visit Alex Leger prepares a Solomon
Islands pit barbeque!
Devon May 23, 2005 To my way of thinking, crab is even finer,
infinitely sweeter than lobster. And our local Devon
crab, landed at Exmouth and boiled straight away on the quay,
is the best there is.
Devon May 16, 2005 For the sixth year in a row, a
pair of swans have nested in the riverbank underneath our garden
wall, just off the Topsham Quay.
Devon May 6, 2005 Every four weeks, the knife
sharpener comes to Topsham...
Devon April 29, 2005 Here's another way to enjoy Gerald Ridgeway's
incredibly good Topsham mussels: Thai style
in a green curry sauce.
Italy and Topsham, Devon February 16, 2005 I’m still
basking in the warm glow of my recent trip to Le Marche. Here's a recipe
for coda di rospo —
monkfish cooked Ancona style, as I enjoyed with the Recchi family.
Italy January 26, 2005 Le Marche, the central Adriatic region
of Italy, is one of the country's still unspoiled and undiscovered
areas, as well as the source of wonderful things to eat and drink.
On returning home after a too brief visit, I recreate the favourite
dish of Portonovo, spaghetti
coi moscioli — spaghetti with mussels.
Devon January 19, 2005 Some of my friends in the US may be
contemplating what to eat on Super Bowl Sunday. Here we're considering
what's on the menu tonight for the most
remarkable football (soccer) match (or mismatch) in many many years:
our local team minnows Exeter City versus mighty Manchester United
in the FA Cup replay.
Devon November 15, 2004 The heady, pungent, almost overpowering
aroma of tartufo bianco filled the dining room of Michael
Caines at the Royal Clarence on a cold and wintery Monday evening
as we came together to enjoy the Ride for
Life 'Festa di San Martino' with our great friends winemakers
Mario and Luisa Fontana of Cascina Fontana over from their home in
the Barolo hills of the Langhe for an evening of stunning wines and
foods and above all friendship.
Italy October 21-25, 2004 Imagine the whole world (or nearly)
coming together to break bread, share food, wine and culture (metaphorically
and literally) all under the vast single roof of Lingotto Fiere in
Turin, Italy. This is the Salone del Gusto,
a biennial event staged for the fifth time in 2004 from October 21-25.
Devon October 20, 2004 Oh dear, the ongoing
saga of the vinegar has taken a turn. Mother, it seems, has roared
back to life with a vengeance. . .
Devon, October 8,
2004 I've long maintained that our local Topsham pub,
The Bridge Inn, is the best pub in the world and my friends have
allowed me this seeming indulgent statement though it is by no means
without foundation. Now confirmation is at hand: the Bridge has just
been acclaimed 'Beer Pub of the Year' in the Good Pub Guide 2005.
Hams, Devon, September 9,
2004 A favourite food from long-ago memories is salsa
verde, made with tomatillos,
or green husk tomatoes, that tart, chilli-hot salsa, redolent
of pungent cilantro, an indispensable taste of Mexico. I never dreamed
or even hoped that tomatillos would ever be available here
in Devon, so I was absolutely astounded and delighted to discover
recently that the South Devon Chilli Farm at South Milton near Kingsbridge
now grows them.
da Pera, Algarve, Portugal August 28, 2004 It’s amazing
to realize that we’ve been visiting the Algarve for more than
a quarter of a century! In those long ago halcyon days, the mercado
at Armação da Pera was a simple, covered affair,
quite small, charming, the sort of slightly grubby, picturesque place
tourists love to wander through and photograph.
August 21, 2004 Salty from the sea, with that powdery
white layer on our skin that is the crusty feel of summer, we nose
the boat on to the quay, make fast, and swagger up the steps, happy
once more to have reached the best fish restaurant in the world (or
at least in our world): Sueste.
Devon June 9, 2004
New Zealand comes to Devon with a tasting
of Kim Crawford wines accompanied by a seafood meal at The Turf in
an evening organised by Andy Tarry of execellars.
March 28, 2004
The Exeter Festival of South West Food
and Drink, which took place this weekend in the city's Northernhay
Gardens, was an outstanding success and demonstrates that Exeter lies
at the heart of a local and regional renaissance in good things to
eat and drink.
January 1, 2004
New year, new moi? Every January, it's the same old thing.
A year of excess culminates in an orgy of festive eating and drinking.
There's only one word for it: Blubber....
Devon December 12, 2003 It was with the greatest pleasure
that Kim and I visited Meriel, Caro and Mervyn at the FORCE Cancer
Charity this morning to handover a cheque for£10,500, the proceeds
from the Nello Century Cycle Challenge 2003. While there we had
the chance to visit the site of the FORCE Cancer Support Centre.
Devon November 2, 2003 Duck dinners on birthdays seem to
have become something of a family tradition here. Which is absolutely
fine by me. So for Guy's birthday today we enjoyed pan
roasted duck breast with, um, well, with Cherry Garcia sauce.
France August 18-22, 2003 On my most recent cycling adventure,
Paris-Brest-Paris, I was able to experience at first hand (sometimes
most painfully) the relation between energy consumption and performance.
Food as fuel, in other words.
Devon July 10, 2003 Imagine our surprise and astonishment
when we discover in our boat, yes, eight, count 'em eight duck
Devon June 29th, 2003 It's hard to believe another year has
gone by and it's time already for the 4th Nello Century Cycle Challenge.
Read a report of the day, and enjoy the
mouthwatering menu for the now famous Nello Pasta Feast.
Devon May 30th, 2003 A near perfect day, down the coast
to Dartmouth for lunch, purchase some freshly
picked crab, and on the return passage Kim catches ten mackerel...
Devon May 2nd, 2003 Has the foodie
culture that we as food writers have helped to create become something
of a rod for our own backs?
Devon November 15th, 2002 Can you be ‘born again’
if you were never there in the first place? Yet I’ve seen the
light and like all that have travelled this road before me, I’ve
got to spread the word, share it with you, go tell it from the mountain.
I have — simply to say the words gives me a tingle of untold
pleasure, knowing the incredulity with which some of you may greet
this — I have discovered the wonder and mystery of…. Brussels
Devon September 10th, 2002 We were extremely sorry when our local
organic farm shop, Highfield, closed earlier this year. However, we
have now found a more than adequate replacement through the Riverford
Organic Farm vegetable box scheme which supplies us with a weekly
box of delicious, locally grown organic vegetables.
July 21st, 2002 Not for the first time, I find myself in something
of a personal crisis, having a 'bad foam'
July 12th, 2002 Out to sea on a lazy Sunday afternoon, we
catch a red gurnard...
July 7th, 2002 This, the 3rd Nello Century
Cycle Challenge, proved to be a real challenge for
cyclists who tackled three different routes: the now classic
100 mile pedal, a new and testing 55 mile journey through
deepest Devon, and a tough mini Tour de France Mountain
Stage for the children. It was the sort of event that worked
up prodigious appetites, which were by all accounts well
satisfied at our evening 'Picnic in the Park'. Many cyclists,
friends and families brought their own splendid picnics
and enjoyed the special atmosphere which is "The Nello",
while others enjoyed this year's Nello Pasta Feast.
is often said that Britain and America are two countries divided
by a common language. It can certainly be true when it comes to
the language of food. Some foods, lets face it, just dont
translate. Take meatloaf, one of my alltime favorites.
Devon, January 2002
Oh dear. I've been in something of a personal crisis
since the holidays (and I bet I'm not the only one). Up until Christmas
Day, everything was fine and in check, weight-wise. But the scales
never lie, do they? So here's my Ode to Fat.
Devon, December 2001
Its that time of year again, Thanksgiving, and
almost without thinking, I find myself reaching up on my bookshelf
for my mothers ancient and well-worn copy of The Joy of Cooking
by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. This book brings back
so many memories, and makes me reflect
on the nature of food, memory and food writing.
Ivy's Bay, Cornwall, September 9, 2001
Eking out the last of summer while camping at Mother Ivy's allows
me to reflect on one of the simplest and most delicious foods of all
time, the perfect bacon buttie.
near Armacao da Pera, August 21, 2001 Piri
piri chicken is a classic food of Portugal's Algarve, something
that we invaiably enjoy whenever we visit this popular region. But
of course, there is piri piri and there is piri piri. Here I share
my thoughts on this intriguing, delicious and sometimes dangerous
Devon July 1, 2001 Over 150 cyclists take
part in this year's 2nd Nello Century Cycle
Challenge and afterwards get together in true Nello style and
spirit for a pasta feast at the Topsham Rugby Ground. Read about it
and start training for next year's ride and feast!
Devon April 4, 2001 A discussion with GFW
food writing colleagues brought me consider how traditional foods
evolve down the generations. So, on the occasion of a last cycle ride
and 'boy's'g night with John Brandon before his impending move to
New Zealand, I thought I'd rustle up my version of bulgogi
Korean barbecue Topsham style. And would you believe
it, Brandon still won't divulge the real recipe for his bread and
Devon March 14, 2001 As Britain finds itself
in the midst of another grave agricultural crisis, we report on the
Foot and Mouth situation in Devon and dream of walks across Dartmoor
or along the Devon Coastal footpath, afterwards retiring home to enjoy
a slow cooked feast of foil-roasted Exmoor
The Lake District January 1, 2001 An escape
from damper climes to the lofty, snowy heights of the gorgeous Lake
District, and the opportunity to enjoy some exhilarating fell walks
and simple, hearty foods, such as Bar Woodall's
Waberthwaite Cumberland sausage with onion, beer and Bisto gravy.
Devon November 20th, 2000 Just days before
Thanksgiving and we find ourselves with a major
crisis on our hands: no tinned pumpkin to be had anywhere in Exeter
Italy October 24th, 2000 The 1st
Slow Food Award for the defence of biodiversity took place in
Bologna and for we 550 international jury members, who had gathered
from 82 countries representing 5 continents, it was a privilege to
be part of this remarkable and inspirational event.
The Algarve, Portugal August 21st, 2000
Patience is required when you visit the Marisqueira
Rui in Silves, especially in summer. For, though located inland
about 10 km from the coast, this is one of the most popular shellfish
restaurants in the Algarve. The wait, believe us, is well worth it.
Devon August 7, 2000 A rare chance this summer to get away on
the boat with a passage to Brixham. Along the way we
fish for mackerel, one of the most delicious and undervalued fish
in the world.
Islands and Topsham, Devon July 22, 2000 A remarkable and extraordinary
evening sharing food, music, and friendship
with Melanesian monks from the Solomon Islands in the Leger's garden.
Mrs. Kate Pwaisiho, wife of Bishop Willy of Melanesia, also shares
with us her recipe for Solomon Islands
Devon July 2, 2000 The 1st Nello Memorial Century Cycle Challenge,
a 100 mile cycle over the roof of Exmoor and back, took place in memory
and honour of a great friend. In fitting style, it was as much about
physical challenges, cycling and the shared camaraderie of the road
(see 'official' ride report),
as it was about food and wine. Some 86 cyclists took part and in the
evening over 200 of us gathered together on the Topsham Recreation
Ground to enjoy an unforgettable Pasta Feast
in true Nello style. I hope the menu whets your appetite and encourages
you to take part next year!
Devon January 28, 2000 On Thursday nights in the winter, the
Sunset Cricket Club transforms into a disparate and sometimes desparate
group that only half tongue-in-cheek calls itself The Dangerous Sports
Club. Each week it is the turn of one of the members to devise
a suitable activity, entertaining, enlightening, edifying, dangerous,
or otherwise, which always ends, inevitably, in a pub. But nothing could
have prepared us for last nights event, possibly the most dangerous
and challenging ever devised: Bingo!
Devon 21 January 2000 There are many things in the world that
Ive never tasted or had a chance to experience, and there are
many things that I am not that fussed if I never try in my life. But
I have never had the opportunity to experience real sturgeon caviar,
and given that this is considered one of the great delicacies of the
world, the occasion of some friends birthdays seemed a suitable
time to rectify this omission with a caviar
Devon December 31, 1999 This year New Year's Eve celebrations
were tinged with great sadness and it was mainly a private affair
spent together with close friends. Food and wine, as always, provided
some considerable consolation, however, which is as absent friends
would have wished. For the record, here's a glimpse at what we enjoyed
on the night: Our New Year's Eve Millennium
Devon November 23, 1999 Ciao, Nello.
A farewell and an appreciation to a great friend and a great chef.
Italy October 25, 1999 It occurs to us: Why not use that slightly
sweet, dense, deeply coloured torbolino made from Cabernet
grapes that wine which is not yet wine to make a risotto
with the bitter, tenacious radicchio di Castelfranco Veneto?
A marriage of sweet and bitter, transformed through our elbow efforts
(and a liberal dose of parmigiano reggiano, a hefty nugget
of good sweet butter) into a sublimely simple and typical Venetian
Devon September 17, 1999 What a glorious September it is turning
out to be. This is definitely my favourite time of the year: the morning
rains we've had in the past few days have given way to warm, lingering
autumn sunshine and the sort of weather that, elsewhere, ripens grapes
and adds an intoxicating anticipation to the harvest time to come.
We visit to Highfield Farm Shop just down the road and discover that
we're in the midst of a most fortunate glut of
red peppers, sun-ripened, sweet and densely flavoured, not insipidly
crunchy like the picture-perfect Dutch red peppers found in most supermarkets,
but more like the knobbly red peppers you get at this time of year
in the South of France, Italy or Spain. It gives me an idea...
Devon May 17, 1999 A life and death drama of nature is taking
place literally outside our kitchen window before our very eyes. Some
two and a half weeks ago, a pair of mute swans
nested in the marsh grass of the Exe estuary, just two or three metres
from our house wall between us and Topsham town quay. The female has
laid seven enormous eggs, and not surprisingly, she and her consort
are very proud of them. But the struggle to survive the high spring
tides is a very real and ongoing one. By sheer coincidence, during
this same time, the Guild of Food Writers e-mail discussion list has
initiated an exchange of correspondence on eggs, which has left me
feeling rather ambivalent if not a little queasy...
11, 1999 A gastro-philosophical question: Does the fact that a
taste is forbidden or illicit make it all the more appealing? I pondered
this question today when, after dropping Bella off at school, I strolled
past our butcher's shop and spotted a sight I had not seen in some
considerable months: neat bundles of ox-tail
tied together with string, proudly on display in the front window.
4, 1999 A modest resolution for the New Year: to eat more pulses.
After the windiest (hah!) and rainiest, most miserable in fact, holiday
season that I can remember we seem to be craving the comfort that
such satisfying and filling foods can bring, such as this delicious
southern Italian inspired paste e ceci,
pasta and chickpeas with spicy Italian sausage.
17, 1998 "I'm afraid," wrote my brother David in a Thanksgiving
post-mortem e-mail last month, "that I am forced to the conclusion
that there are some poor souls in the world for whom stuffing
is just not that big a deal." Hard to believe, actually: certainly
in our family, it has always taken pride of place, the turkey (or lately
sometimes goose) being a mere adjunct, or side condiment, to the far
more serious main element, the stuffing.
Exeter November 22, 1998 "When are we coming to you again
for tea?," Bella asked Anna, inviting herself -- and us -- with
her usual six-year-old forthrightness to one of Anna's
spendid farmhouse teas. Tea for us is an unusual meal that we
rarely encounter these days, so it's a treat that we look forward
to as much as the children.
Devon and Burgundy, France, October 26, 1998 As we look forward
to Bonfire Night, a celebration not so much of Guy Fawkes but rather
of pagan winter rituals, we look beyond to the bleaker prospect of
days drawing in ever shorter and shorter and to limited opportunities
for decent afternoon cycling. Fall-into-winter, though, it must be
said, may have other compensations. Not least the chance to enjoy
again simple, classic comfort foods that are at once as easy to prepare
as they are satisfying to consume. Burgundian coq
au vin remains one of our all-time favourites. We hope you'll
enjoy this version, based on a recipe from our first book, The
Wine & Food of Europe.
Devon and Alicudi, Sicily October 20, 1998 Is summer really over?
I guess so since the clocks go back this weekend, officially signalling
the end of BST (British Summer Time) and the onset of days that shrink
to pitiful brevity (by December it is sometimes dark here by 4 pm).
But in fact, we've actually enjoyed some of the best weather of the
year in recent days and weeks. So why don't we kid ourselves for a
few days longer at least by preparing this classic and delicious summer
Italian favourite, spaghetti al limone,
the scent of lemon like a breath of warm wind carried to us by Aeolus,
god of winds.
Devon, October 15th, 1998 A number of friends have asked me for
the recipe for the salt duck which I made
for the Addio -- it is one of those dishes
that is actually embarrassingly simple yet stunningly delicious. I
urge you to try it!
Devon, September 13th, 1998 Two weeks before Nello and Karen's
wedding, the boys and I help Nello celebrate his Addio al Celibato,
farewell to, er, celibacy, with an outrageous
meal to remember, cooked by all fifteen of us! The evening kicked
off with a poem unearthed for the occasion
and suitably apt for Nello, written by ex-Abbot Gadso (or Gadzo) da
Vicenza in the 16th century.
July 26-28, 1998 The rain has finally let up, for a brief spell
anyway, and not a moment too soon for the start of our Annual Tandem
Mystery tour, this year first to the Cornish north coast at Boscastle,
then down to Fowey and across to Looe. Leaving a day earlier than
planned (to escape the forecast rains), we enjoy a tough and testing
cycle across Dartmoor, then arrive home famished to find the cupboard
bare, or nearly so: not to worry, just enough to throw together our
favourite "stone dinner" of
spaghetti al tonno -- spaghetti with white wine, tuna and capers.
Devon July 22, 1998 July, in spite of continuing miserable weather
in what has been one of the worst summers in memory, has been an active
and exciting month. Lots of party and picnic food, too, like these
simple but delicious corn fritters, best
served piping hot off the griddle with a Korean inspired soya, vinegar
and cilantro dipping sauce.
West Midlands and Isola della Scala, near Verona July 15, 1998 My
mother-in-law Jean brought us a big bag of peas, just picked
this morning from her garden in the Midlands. "Great," said Kim,
"we'll make risi e bisi,the
Venetian's (and our) favourite rice and pea risotto.This classic
is exceedingly simple, but you do need to choose the best ingredients.
The finest rice to use, for example, is Vialone Nano, cultivated south
of Verona in the flat paddies of Isola della Scala, milled in the
16th century water-powered Riseria Vecia Pila of Gabriele Ferron.
USA July 4th, 1998 The Fourth of July is not a day that we usually
make a song and dance of here in Topsham -- let's face it, the celebration
is, after all, to commemorate the early American Yanks getting shot
of the Brits once and for all. For our Topsham School PTA Fourth of
July celebrations, I gave a flavor of the day by preparing a massive
pot of that perennial favorite, Marc's famous
and genuine brisket of beef, slow-cooked for hours in sweet gunk,
sticky and greasy, and served in a bun.
Ohio, USA June 23, 1998 This June has been the wettest on record,
they say (but so they seem to every year). Let's face it: at that
time when Wimbledon fortnight and the Lords Text Match roll around,
there is always a certain amount of precipitation in the air, and
we'd be surprised if not disappointed if it were anyway else. On a
brief visit to Gambier, Ohio to take part in the Kenyon Review Summer
Writing program, I had the chance to stop over and see my sister Michele.
We sat out in her garden on a steamy, city-hot evening and chilled
out with a deliciously fresh summer meal: first, in honour of Wimbledon,
an apéritif of Pimms, refreshing and packed full of fruit and
sprigs of mint, then a bowl of spaghetti
served with this simple, pungent raw topping, followed by steamed
salmon with our favourite avodado
and cilantro salsa.
Brittany, France May 29, 1998 Summer half term, the kids on holiday,
and our now annual cycling and camping trip to Brittany: there is
nothing finer, we assert, than loading up the bikes, leaving the car
behind at the Plymouth docks, and cycling on to, then six hours later,
off of the ferry in Northern France, totally self-contained, with
little fixed plans, the world literally our oyster. This year my sister
Michele flew over from Cambridge, MA to join us. On returning five
days later to an unseasonably cold, windy Devon, she prepared for
us her famous black bean soup, incredibly
tasty and satisfying after days lived outdoors, carrying heavy weights
up the short, sharp, sometimes savage hills of Brittany ("I'm
no weight, I'm your daughter," I hear five-year-old Bella protest).
Devon May 20, 1998 Enjoying the glorious early summer weather
in Topsham, we've found time lately to get out on the river in our
dinghy, to cycle to Dartmoor's fabulous Hound Tor by way of Moretonhampstead
and back through the gorgeous Teign Valley, and to enjoy simply prepared,
fresh foods outdoors in our river garden on windless, warm evenings
such as these delicious local griddle-seared
scallops with tomato, avocado and cilantro salsa.
Devon May 9, 1998 Our Italian friend Paola cycled over to visit
us this weekend, and she brought her paiolo with her
in a knapsack, together with some almonds, sugar and a few
torrone croccante," she told Guy and
"You can help me." Thus after dinner, enjoyed for
the first time this year outside in the garden, Paola set them
France and Exmoor, Devon April 27, 1998 Where has April gone?
The start of the month saw us preparing for Paris and Kim's epic completion
of her first marathon on Sunday the 4th. It finishes on top of the
world -- or at least on the roof of Exmoor -- and the now classic annual
century cycle "The North Devon Horseshow". Read all
about our exertions and enjoy our post-cycle feast: Marc's
pollo alla cacciatora.
France, March 23, 1998 Well, not quite Paris just yet, but the
coundown for Kim's first marathon, which takes place in the French
capital on Sunday April 5th, is definitely on. Kim's training has
gone well, and in the last few weeks, she's completed three long 20-mile-plus
runs, and so feels as prepared as she can be for the big day. Not
much we can do at this point except encourage her and keep her well
fed in anticipation of the day. Fortunately, we are all pasta lovers,
so carbo loading is not a hardship for any of us! Here are a couple
of favourites pasta recipes -- maccheroni
coi ceci and orecchiette with
broccoli -- which I enjoyed myself enjoyed at about the same time
last year in preparation for my cycle
from Topsham to Venice.
Topsham, March 2, 1998 Ever since I was a boy, growing up in the
Bay Area, roast duck has always been my favourite birthday feast.
In those days, it involved a journey over the Bay Bridge from Berkeley
to SF to visit to Chinatown, an exotic adventure in itself for a small
I still like nothing better than roast duck on my birthday, and so
now does Guy. It stands to reason, therefore, that by default so should
Kim, especially when Guy and I are cooking dinner for her birthday.
There is not, sadly, an equivalent to San Francisco Chinatown here
in Exeter, and anyway, it's more fun to make our own version of authentic
Peking duck ourselves!
Devon February 24, 1998 Shrove Tuesday, or "pancake day" and
the kids are excited! "Can we have savoury pancakes as well as
sweet for tea?" Guy asks this morning. Of course. We'll have
some Breton galettes de sarrasin
or buckwheat pancakes.
Devon February 10, 1998 "When travelling through France,"
writes Kim, "we can never resist stopping at the little local
pâtisseries and gazing at all the beautiful fruit filled
tarts in the windows. The classic galette de pommes
is one of Guy and Bella's favourites. It really is very simple
to make and always looks absolutely stunning. I warn you though,
there will be no leftovers!"
Devon January 14, 1998 Winter in Devon is not without its compensations.
At this time of year, for example,the Financial Times launches its
annual "Lunch for a Tenner" scheme, which provided us yesterday with
the opportunity to revisit one of our favourite restaurants, Gidleigh
Park, a country house hotel and restaurant set in its beautiful
grounds and gardens on the edge of Dartmoor which boasts one of the
finest restaurants in the country. It was a chance too to see again
our friend Michael Caines, Gidleigh's young and prodigiously talented
chef. We were fortunate indeed last year when Michael was the guest
chef for us at Nello's Ristorante for one of our Ride
for Life gastronomic fundraising evenings in aid of cancer research
and I'm delighted to reproduce here again his recipe for a delicious
French classic, boeuf bourguignonne
prepared in Michael's inimitable style.
da Pera, Portugal January 1, 1998 Happy New Year from the Algarve!
We've got plenty of favourite places to eat , but to our way of
thinking, nothing beats Serol, a wholly local and unadorned restaurant
on the seafront of Armaçao, the colourful fishing boats
winched up the long beach in front.Try our version of the outstanding
Algarve specialty, amêijoas na
clams cooked Algarve style in the cataplana, a dome-shaped
primitive copper pressure cooker, for a real taste of Portugal. But
watch out for the piri piri chillies.
Devon 30 December 1997 How I love fish from the cold waters of
our English Channel and Atlantic, netted by local trawlers and landed
at fishing ports such as Exmouth or nearby Brixham. Indeed, it is
easy to undervalue such plentiful and still relatively inexpensive
white fish such as cod and hake, but when really fresh, the firm fillets
can be as sweet and as sea fresh as anything you've ever tasted. One
of the simplest and most delicious ways of preparing the latter is
the Basque classic merluza en salsa verde,
hake in green sauce.
Tuscany 21 December 1997 Kim made
panforte, the exquisitely simple Sienese speciality, the other
night to enjoy with friends (together with one of our few remaining
bottles of Vin Santo di Calavria) in front of the fire, and the aroma
of spices and honey and roasted nuts immediately transported us back
in time and place to happy memories with friends. The recipe comes
from our first book, The Wine and Food
Devon 8 December 1997 Just as we had all begun to think that it
was safe to eat beef again, this week's government ban on the sale
of beef on the bone has made us all think again. For the record, and
at the time of writing, we still are eating beef occasionally and
will continue to do so not least because we continue to have faith
in our excellent local butchers. Indeed, the cold weather makes this
beef braised in Belgium beer a warming
Malden, London 3 December 1997 An invitation to take part
in a discussion over lunch on Korean food for the BBC Radio
4 Food Programme with Derek Cooper yesterday provides me with
an opportunity to share a recipe for bulgogi or
Korean barbequed beef, one of my all time favourite foods.
If you are interested in learning more about Korean foods,
please check out our Flavours
of Korea based on our book of the same name.
Devon 20 November 1997 Salmon, it seems, once an occasional luxury,
is now so prevalent due to farming methods that it has become almost
an everyday staple. We regularly enjoy salmon steaks and fillets for
a tasty and relatively inexpensive mid-week treat, as in this recipe
for char-grilled salmon with avocado, prawn
and cilantro salsa.
Oaks, West Midlands 17 November 1997 In honour of Kim's Auntie
Dinny's 70th birthday, the entire Jordan family -- all eighty-one
of us! -- gathered yesterday for Sunday lunch at Casa Tino's, David
Jordan's superb and popular bistro-style restaurant in Mere Green
where Chef Richard Turner, who oversees both Casa Tino's as well as
Loyds in Knowle, prepared a simple but stylish meal which was enjoyed
by all. I hope to post his recipes from yesterday's gathering here
in due course, but in the meantime, here's one of his recipes for
a favorite classic, minestrone soup with
St George, Devon 10 November 1997 It's apple time in Devon!
If you have never tasted real Devon "scrumpy", then you haven't lived.
The real stuff, produced from mixtures of local bittersharp and bittersweet
cider apples, is gloriously harsh and rasping, rich in acid and tannin
and definitely something of an acquired taste. We love it, er, no,
not actually to drink but to cook with in place of wine, its character
adding an unmistakable "taste of Devon", as in this delicious pork
and apples in cider.
Mexico 27 October 1997 No, unfortunately we haven't just nipped
over to Acapulco for the weekend (though now that the clocks have
gone back and the nights are drawing in so quickly we would sorely
love to). This week's recipe for ceviche,
however, comes from that crazy, wild Mexican resort (well, Mexican-ish)
on the Pacific seaboard. We made it for our friends, Debbie and Steve,
who have just returned to Devon after a year in Southern Californian
and who are perhaps feeling just a tad homesick for the vivid colors
and flavors of the West Coast.
Devon 20 October 1997 Earlier this summer, we enjoyed a bread
workshop at Quay Cottage with our friends Anna Evans of Real Cakes
and Andrew Crump, an old mate and accomplished professional baker
who works at Bread Works in Charlottesville, Virginia. We (and the
kids) enjoyed a whole day of kneading and knocking back and made a
selection of really fine and unusual breads. We will pass on some
of Anna's recipes and breadmaking tips in due course, but in the meantime,
by popular demand, here is the delightful recipe for Anna's
Rye and Wholewheat Bread which we enjoyed with last week's lentil
Devon 12 October 1997 A sudden cold front that has brought fresh
northerly winds following the mild Indian summer we enjoyed throughout
September has meant that we've started having log fires in the evenings
now. We've also begun turning our thoughts to warming foods which
taste so good after outdoor activities in the cold. This weekend,
the tides were just right for some end of season sailing on the River
Exe, and we returned exhilarated and glowing as well as hungry for
this filling favourite, a thick, bowl of piping hot lentil
soup enjoyed with Anna Evan's homemade bread.
Tuscany 7 October 1997 An invitation to attend the Sagra del
Vino in Montescudaio, a medieval wine town off the Tuscan seaboard
below Pisa, gave me the most welcome opportunity to escape into the
wine country to discover some astonishing and high quality wines as
well as to enjoy simple Tuscan foods, such as the classic La
Ribollita, a hearty vegetable and bread soup.
Devon 16 September 1997 Walking back from the Post Office, a
blackboard outside the Galley Seafood Restaurant beckoned me in: "Live diver's
scallops £6 dozen". What a treat for a Monday meal: Seared
scallops with mâche and cilantro salad.
Devon 15 September 1997 A sudden early-autumn glut of local, organically
grown courgettes (zucchini) provides us with a chance to feast on
this simplest of pasta dishes -- spaghetti topped with courgettes
fried in olive oil and garlic.Spaghetti
Devon 2 September 1997 An elegant and delicious seafood ragout
for our 19th wedding anniversary: Trio of
Fish in a Rich Red Wine Sauce
Ivey's Bay, Cornwall 29 August 1997 Trying to eke out the last
days of a glorious summer, we head to North Cornwall, well prepared
in case on unseasonal weather with a delicious Daube
de Boeuf Provençal.
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