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Monthly Archives: February 2013

On taste alone, Kumquats really don’t deserve two posts.

But I thought it would be nice to update on how we prepared them etc – as that bit was good fun.

1) Slice the Kumquats up into smallish chunks

2) Bring a mix of sugar and water to the boil

3) Add the kumquat chunks and reduce

4) Serve!

I’d love to say delicious. But alas…

Wist and I went along and saw Ethan Johns in concert last night.
It finished late, but I thought I’d quickly slip in a food challenge nonetheless.
Well, to be honest, it was a premeditated food challenge… weeks in the
planning.

You see, in early January I bought a pack of Kumquats from Sainsbury. A
large pack, for just shy of £1 sterling.

I popped them in the fridge.

And forgot about them.

They went off.

No matter I thought, I’ll just pick up another pack from Sainsburys next
time I’m there.

Alas, the next time I was there they were out of stock. 

And the next week.

Tesco weren’t stocking them for some reason, and neither were Waitrose.

A cold sweat gripped me as I pulled out my phone and scanned a blog about
kumquats.

‘Generally available between November and January.’

Ah.

Oh.

I’ve missed the season.

So no kumquat until November 2013, but the challenge finishes in June…

I was beaten.

Then one bright, breezy February day, Wist suggests we take a stroll to
Fortnum and Mason as they have Kumquat marmalade.

(Surely THAT would count, I figured.)

But marmalade didn’t need to count – Kumquat’s were still on sale in Fortnums!

Sure they were £14 to the kg, but they were fresh and in the country nonetheless.

We bought three whole kumquats.



It cost just shy of a £1 sterling.

And candied them as a post gig snack.

They were pretty bitter – certainly needed the extra sugar I think. 

And I wouldn’t choose to have them again.

But nice to have tried something new in the citrus family.

UPDATE
1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

Isn’t it strange that you can live somewhere for quite a long while, without knowing everything that happens around you.

On Sunday evening, I went along to a local pub I know and watched a brilliant acoustic night with some brilliant acts.

And it turns out that it’s a weekly event!

First up was Raevennan Husbandes – who played a pretty set. She had a nice voice and her songwriting was dainty and light.

Then Liz Lawrence – a pop & soul songstress that played a house gig we ran a month or so ago. She’s brilliant and well worth checking out.

Next up was Lewis Mokler – not my cup of tea, but he was very Ed Sheeran and I can imagine some people liking his sound.

Rather randomly – Jamie Lawson ended up playing ‘I wasn’t expecting that’ after Lewis Mokler had finished. Wist and I saw him play at Union Chapel months and months ago – and we thought he was brilliant – so a really welcome surprise.

After all that – the event organiser, Kal Lavelle, played. And she was pretty bloody good too!

Well worth popping down to it if you ever get the chance.

On Thursday morning I pressed the buzzer at Faber & Faber in Bloomsbury (the hugely famous publishing house of T.S. Eliot, William Golding etc) and headed in to take part in a two-day training event run by the London Strategy Unit.

The course intention was to offer a strong foothold in commercial strategy – and it certainly delivered.

The first day was jam-packed with interesting talks and workshops from the guys at LSU, along with industry luminaries including Russell Davies and Andy Nairn.

Imposing a ‘no powerpoint’ rule on the speakers sounded a little avant garde, but actually delivered a huge step change in the way you interact with what’s being said.
No longer can you blank out the guy/girl speaking, copy down the bullet points on screen and then let your mind wander.
Instead – you’re forced to listen to every last word.
And by forcing you to listen to every word, you have to sift through all the information yourself and self-select what all the important points are.

I’ve never scribbled on a pad so fast – and by the end of the day I felt so mentally drained I went to bed at 8.30pm.

(On that – Russell Davies did use powerpoint. But he also had us making free-standing spaghetti towers  and drawing 30-second ads.)

Photo @bigdjstevens

The second day was a little different.
We were set a client brief in the morning and given half an hour to crack it.
Each group presented their solutions to the room, and were then critiqued on content & presentation style.
We were then given several hours to work on the same client brief – with the feedback from the first go fresh in our minds.
Group work can sometimes feel like the long way to an answer (depending upon the dynamic) – but I was lucky to be working with three really bright, interesting planners from Proximity and the whole process was light and fun.
After everyone had presented – we received another round of feedback before heading down to the pub.

Brilliant training course & highly, highly recommended.

Is there a better way to celebrate St. Valentines than a visit to St John?

Delicious & delightful Valentines meal with Wist at St John Bread & Wine (Spitalfields).

St John was set up by Fergus Henderson – a chef famed for his philosophy of nose to tail eating.

So first up in our meal – Smoked Sprats & Horseradish.
Beautifully smoked and beautifully fresh.

Next up – the elusive Ox Heart.
Served with a tasty celeriac coleslaw.
The heart is the only muscle that’s continually working – so should be the toughest of all meat – but the way it had been cooked meant this one was flavoursome and tender.

For our main, Wist and I shared a huge Hare and Trotter pie, with buttery cabbage.
The meat was gamey and well cooked and the pastry was insane – so rich and flaky.

Incredible Valentines Day.

UPDATE
1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat