Thursday, December 13, 2007

HELEN'S MOUSSAKA. changed my childhood memories.

helen made moussaka the other night. i've never been that partial to this dish, because i think my grandmother made a well greasy one.helen's however, was so delicious and homely, and yet the cheesyness was light and not claggy either. the trick, she says, is in using mascapone for the topping, and lots of cinnamon in the meaty bit. and she used 6 aubergines to feed four of us. so it does require a serious vegetable commitment. which i'm always a fan of. i wonder whether the addition of some chocolate would give it yet more depth? i may try it out.we had a lovely dinner at pat's with will too, the latest addition to the south london are some of the naughty market children who pester me in the nicest possible way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Sunday was a very lazy day due to two smashing parties the previous night, envolving lots of dancing, rice and peas on the Walworth road, one or two whiskey shots too many with Alice, and hanging out with boys in bands who were probably too young to be drinking.
So Raf started the day off with the ace idea of homefries which I had an inkling of in my memory from New York breakfasts. So I chopped and peeled while he made excellent apple and orange juice. The trick to the homefry appears to be a little soy sauce and some cayenne pepper. And actually slightly burning the potatoes so that they begin to stick and brown and balance the sweet sweated onions and garlic. It’s breakfast comfort, along with eggs and bacon.
After more sleep and tv we needed another feed (the pattern on Sundays being that of a baby. Sleep, eat, small bout of fresh air, sleep, eat, sleep). Settling for Madhur Jaffrey curry vibes, we made a light lamb and spinach gingery curry (once the weavels had been removed from the coriander. Nearly a complete crisis) and carrots in coconut milk. But the best bit in my mind, was the cucumber salad. Basically pickled cucumber.
METHOD FOR CUCUMBER SALAD: Skin and slice the cucumber (skinning highly recommended by Dot Cotton)
Chop a chilli and add to 100ml white vinegar. Heat this in a small pan with 50g sugar to make a syrupy pickle dressing. Some of the liquid should evapourate. Pour over the cucumber and let it sit for an hour. You can remove from the plate or leave it swimming in this gorgeousness. The thickened vinegar really knocks you between the eyes, and chilli is moreish and tickly.
Sleep, film, sleep...
Monday again.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

en cocotte.... just one way of doing it.

The Elk in the Passage, in camden passage, do really tasty eggs en cocotte. alice and i once ploughed our way through a piping hot one there, and i was struck by the dish. i thought i'd recreate it the other night because i had an impromptu dinner with helen and zahra, two of my absolute bestest. we do lady dinners with a little too much wine, really well. en cocotte can be almost anything, that is, any thick sauce, in a ramekin, with an egg pon top. the classic, as we had, is a quite sweet and thick tomato sauce. but i've seen mushroom, ham and cheese, chorizo.. all sorts. i like this dish particularly, because eggs are my favourite. they are just so clever. so perfectly formed. so well packaged. they almost make me believe in god.
for classic eggs en cocotte, fry an onion in some olive oil, and then add a finely cubed courgette and 4 tomatoes chopped into 8 pieces each. when the courgettes are turning transparent and the tomatoes are beginning to break down at the edges, pour in 100ml of passata and simmer on a very low heat until it is a thick sauce. add a teaspoon of sugar, pepper and salt, and even a dash of balsamic vinegar. if you own ramekins (then you are begining to grow up) spoon the sauce into 3, leaving enough room at the top for an egg (about half and inch). if you don't have these, then one nice ceramic dish will do. place in a preheated oven at 180C. when the sauce is hot, crack in the eggs and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the eggs are firm. serve, as we did, with little roasted new potatoes and a big green salad.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Potatoes, Pepper, Thyme and Courgettes. a meal in itself

when we were children, my mum used to make this amazing summer hash of courgettes and potatoes with thyme and lemon juice (that i still bore on about til she makes it). it was so fresh and zesty and full of flavour, and on a hot day, these fried vegetables were part of our refreshing garden picnics... part fried that is, and then the lemon juice softens the crispiness and melges the pieces into a more homogeneous whole, together. last night i did a roasted winter version with little waxy potatoes and yellow pepper and courgettes, with a lemon thyme from my balcony, thus combining the two childhood aromas in the one herb. the results were really good, and the perfect accompaniment to Trinny & Susannah and text tennis with haz. if i'd had a whole chicken at hand i'd have roasted it with lemons and had that with it too. but i had the veggie pauper version instead! xxxx

Monday, December 3, 2007


my dad and I went round to flora’s last night. And she devised a very well thought out soup: carrot, with wilted spinach leaves, and a yoghurt and nutmeg dollop in the middle. It was one of the most intelligent and careful things I’ve tasted in a long time. Because the carrot and yoghurt relate, being sweet and sour, consecutively, and the nutmeg and spinach are a marriage that bring out the best in one another. So it was an academic and sense triumph. Like flora herself.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


i've been making parsnip and caraway soup all week. it's delicious for this time of year, being full of sweetness and also substance. it makes quite a thick and hugging soup. my friend joel has pointed me towards the addition of ginger. so now it has a teaspoon of cinnamon, a thumb of ginger, 3 cloves of garlic and a tbsp of caraway seeds, and is a perfect balance of aromatics.

but my real triumph yesterday was charlotte's amaretti & chocolate cake. my dear friend charlotte, when i was ill, brought round a left over side of this dense joyous cake. straight after dinner (an amazing feast by her) i quizzed her for the recipe. i've slightly adapted it because i didn't have any amaretto at hand:

125g butter melted in a baine marie with 150g green & blacks espresso chocolate.
120g sugar beaten with 3 eggs yolks until it is light creamy and pale. Hold whites aside in a very clean metal bowl.
Combine these two mixes, being careful not to cook the egg mix with the warm liquid chocolate. therefore mix them together very quickly.
Add 70g crushed amaretti biscuits to the chocolate mix and also 60g plain flour.
Whisk the egg whites until they are forming firm peaks. Add I tbsp sugar and continue to whisk as you might when making merangues.
fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix, with a slotted spoon but be careful not to beat out the air.
Turn into a 8” greased tin and crumble over a few more amaretti biscuits to make a topping. bake for 30 minutes at 180C. turn the oven off and let the cake sit for a further 15 to dry it out. Remove to a baking tray and cool a little.
You could serve this warm.
It’s especially good when the centre is still quite wet and tempting. one of my customers had a slice, and promptly ordered a second, all for himself. that's success.
right-ho, i'm off to make more chutney.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ORTIZ TUNA. favourite new thing....

this line caught tuna is amazing. i sell it at Rosie's but it comes from Brindisa (there's a shop at borough market and exmouth market). it's a totally different experience to the usual tinned tuna, and is line caught so it's easy on the conscience too. it genuinely does smell of the sea.

i made this salad with it, using some nice french beans par boiled , zingy capers and simple black olives, and a mustard heavy vinaigrette. you should try it.
spotted at Rosie's Deli today: david lovelock, being sweet, and the lovely new Rose Kentish making pastry. also David Titlow and his dad Peter.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


3 sticks of celery
2 carrots
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
5 tomatoes
100g pumpkin
2 slices of pancetta
200ml stock
1 bunch of basil
1 tbsp double cream
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
pepper & salt.

Anna and i combined our ingredients last night. at first it looked unlikely and then i realised it was actually a delicious Zuppa di Verdure. ready steady cook in brixton, if you like. sometimes i feel like soup is a lesser meal, but this is so good, you'll be stuffed with loads of flavours and hot vegetableness, and feel full to the brim.

METHOD: heat an oven to 180C. skin and cube the pumpkin. place it in a lined backing tray along with chopped pancetta, a little paprika and oregano, and some drizzled olive oil, and put in the oven. warm some olive oil in a pan on the hob, and saute the onion and then shortly after, the chopped celery. sweat until they are both becoming transparent. add finely chopped garlic and tomatoes at the same time. simmer for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are breaking down. add stock and simmer for a further 15 minutes with the ripped up basil in there too. take off the heat and add some double cream (just enough to melge the flavours but not be a 'cream of..' soup) and blend. season and return on a low heat. by now the pumpkin should be soft and the pancetta crispy and tasty. heap into the middle of the zuppa, as you would croutons. and add the olive oil from the pan. it's really succulent too.

Monday, November 26, 2007


i've had a weekend of citrus vibes. on saturday morning i made a really tasty but light tart: ALMOND CRUST ORANGE TART. the addition of nuts to the crust makes it a little more subtantial and the juice in the custard makes for a seriously delicate light filling. so it makes a really contrasting experience of textures, which in my mind/mouth is a good one. in honestly, jaz and i devoured a fair amount of it before our customers had a chance.

PATE SUCREE but instead of the full amount of plain flour, use 1/3 ground almonds.
100ml CREAM
4 dsp SUGAR

blind bake the pastry in a 6" tray for about 15 minutes or until it is dried out and beginning to golden around the frills. grate the zest of the two oranges and mix with the juice of one. add the eggs, sugar and cream and beat thoroughly. pour into the pastry case. bake for about 1/2 an hour or until the orangey custard is set. eat it still warm if possible.
and then on saturday night i went on a south london marathon, first going to meet a lovely butcher at borough market, then swiftly eating a steak in battersea for gervase's birthday at the mega santa maria del sur restaurant. then on to bowling in elephant and castle with some ladies, before culminating at cafe tris for toddla and raf's records. the next day we were all in need of some goodness. and so this pile of fruit became our tincture for the day. put through a mega smoothie maker it smacked us all into the day with it's sharp but medicinal vibe.
today i'm nearly human again.

Friday, November 23, 2007


dani and i went out on a little celebratory crawl around soho the other day. and ended up in the exquisit and cosy restaurant, Andrew Edmunds. i'd always walked passed thinking it was probably very expensive, but actually it's really reasonable. especially easy to swallow as the food was my favourite kind. unpretentious but very insightful, classic and yet bold too. and the atmosphere is brilliant, just like soho should be: squashed, dark and full of hubub. we shared 3 unbelievably good starters all of a fish vibe:
OCTOPUS SALAD which was really meaty, almost like chicken, with warm little potatoes and morsels of chorizo. a very happy connection of flavours, perfectly balanced. and also lovely light dressed crab, and finally a little castle of smoked mackerel with roasted beetroot and horseradish cream. this was really lovely too. i used to shy away from beetroot because i'm anal and it's messy and stains, but the tenderness with the fish flesh, and the horseradish kick was a perfect plate of alternating textures and surprises. GO TO ANDREW EDMUNDS. 46 Lexington Street, W1. GO GO GO. i think it'd be a stylish first date venue if that's your thing.

then we decided to hit madam jojo's to see African Boy, a brilliant boy who pens funny lyrics about the african community in britain. apparently they spend a lot of time in Lidl. we danced away, and watched idiots dance on stage. because they think he's the joke. but actually he's having the last laugh. although an unusual pairing, i'll be checking out both andrew edmunds and african boy again very soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

SUNDAY LUNCH FEST. belly of pork, gratin, and Nigella's amazing Syllabub.

it's cheeky to say.. but i seriously surpassed myself yesterday. it was so cold and grizzly but i made a late lunch to conquer the elements, along with some pale sherry and red wine aplenty, for popey, don livione, tom savage, das klo, em and raf. we had a really cosy afternoon literally chewing the fat. it's one of my favourite ways to spend a sunday.

BELLY OF PORK, stuffed with........
50g flaked almonds,
150g sausage meat,
3 cloves of garlic
100g apricots
a bunch of spring onions.
i rubbed all of these together with my hands to make a chunky colourful mix.
the crackling was ace (because i put this mega sausage in the very hot oven for the initial half hour of roasting), and the meat really tender and wet, from the delicious fat surrounding it. with this we had potato gratin and red cabbage stewed with red wine vinegar and cloves. this seems really appropriate at the moment. maybe it's the rain, and that christmas is coming, but cloves conjur a little good will in my mind, and make for a warmer body.

but pudding... seriously. SERIOUSLY SYLLABUB. it's my new favourite thing. and is apparently as old as medieval. i'd already stewed apples with cloves and cinnamon, as that's a sympathetically fitting pudding for roast pork. but i topped this with a nigella syllabub made with sherry. i've adapted it for what was in my larder. all you need to do is put all the ingredients into a bowl, EXCEPT the cream. let it sit for an hour or so to meldge. add this to the cream and whisk. however, make sure you use a hand whisk, not a machine. you are not looking for really tight and firm whipped cream, but rather, a soft feminine sort of peak. when the cream has reached this soft light summit, spoon it over the fruit puree, either in one shallow pudding bowl or in individual coffee cups. refridgerate for an hour or so.

Friday, November 16, 2007


i'm really enjoying my cheese this week. we are doing a special wintery ciabatta at Rosie's with DRY CURED FREE RANGE SUSSEX HAM, and MRS KIRKHAM'S LANCASHIRE CHEESE, with my plum and chilli relish. it's going to be total sell out. this lancashire is a mild crumbly thing with creamy flavours to boot.
one morning this week became a particular cheese fest. me and smiley salivating over a new roundel i'd got in, called CASHEL BLUE. i'd read about in a food magazine so thought that was as good a reason as any to order a lump. and it turns out that it's just amazing: creamy and rich like stilton, and yet not harsh. it's varied, and full of suprises, as all good artisan cheeses are. smiley even said he could smell the farm yard in it! anyway, we had a lovely time, me, smiley and the cheese. added to this we've also got in the brindisa classic, DIAZ MIGUEL MANCHEGO, in big hunks. it's a well matured hard one and it would be perfect with the apple puree i've got bubbling away on the hob right now.

have a lovely weekend: i'll be cooking mostly. sunday lunch is approaching fast. and the belly of pork is on my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

BROAD BEANS. Kebab House styleeee.

me, my dad, and my brother went on a jaunt the other day up the goldbourne road. and found ourselves a delicious kebab house. it's so impressive when you see tabbouleh that isn't just a mound of carbohydrate, but rather a parsely salad with flecks of grain, and tomatoes, with lots of wet flavour. and i nabbed some delicous broad beans that seemed more spanish: with mint and chillies. really good hearty filling stuff. the broad beans would be particularly easy to recreate as you can buy them frozen. i keep a bag in my freezer, for when i can't bring myself to leave the house but need a feed.


just heat some olive oil and fry 3 or 4 spring onions. throw in a few handfuls of the beans and let them defrost for 5 minutes or so. finely chop a handful of mint (i keep a few plants growing on my windowsil) and some garlic and a small chilli. add at the last and give it all a good mix around and hold on the heat for a further few minutes....

after the kebab fiasco, i made my way to kathy's for tea in maida vale... lemon drizzle cake, tattinger, chocolate brownies and cucumber sandwiches. just as delicious, but couldn't have been more different.

spotted in the deli today: lots of filling spanish alubias bean soup with paprika.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

TEA TIME AT ROSIE'S. and a mackerel gratin...

We had a really great tea party yesterday. tash & radish, mara, dave, ali & charlie, viola, gaelle, zezi, little lucy, bharat & kylie, keith & olivia, me and stav, and lots of others drifting in and out.


and after all that cake we went and had a refreshing pint at the brilliant Efra Pub on Kellet Road, where they do an ace jerk chicken too.

The next party that we do will probably be a mull, nearer to christmas.

AND FOR THE MACKEREL GRATIN: once the pints had been drunk, dinner and a night in was calling me. with zezi, i hunted down a mackerel fillet. (i already had some big new potatoes off the market, along with a couple of celery bunches.)
so i ran into my presently derelict kitchen, quickly chopped the celery into chunks for roasting with lots of olive oil and salt, and set to a mackerel gratin (that i'm sure nigel slater recommends):

4 big potatoes
1/2 bag of baby leaf spinach
a nob of butter
100ml single cream
1 mackerel fillet
100ml milk
100ml edam or gruyere

preheat the oven to 220C. peel and finely slice the potatoes (with a mandolin if you have one). place on a low heat, with the milk and cream and butter poured ontop. gently cook, stirring frequently as the milk and potatoes get pretty sticky. when they are nearly cooked, crumble in the mackerel and set aside for a moment. lay the spinach out in a ceramic baking dish and pour over the potato mix. grate over the cheese, and lots of seasoning. bake for 20 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden and the edges still bubbling and wet.

i ate this with cheap red wine, rupert everett making me laugh, and my nail varnish drying. really good comfort food, full of creamy hugs and an ideal lady evening.

Friday, November 9, 2007

SAFFRON CHICKEN. it's waiting for you.

i cooked this in a flat spin last night before running out of the door to yoga. on my return, two hours later, it had reached perfection. so it's a highly recommendable dish when you've got stuff on. it's my mum's dish, and was one of our favourites as children. the rice gets all golden and brown around the edges of the pot, some bits all crispy like fried rice, and other bits all stodgy and comforting. tuck in. we've got the tea party tomorrow so i've been baking all morning... these delicious looking banana and toffee and walnut treats. and also sweet heart shaped rose biscuits, which i may make my moniker.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 red peppers
3 tomatoes
1 courgette
1 onion
150g provencal pitted olives
1 dsp tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic
300ml vegetable stock
4 chicken pieces
300g basmati rice
1 pinch of saffron
1 cup red wine
preheat the oven to 220c.
heat the olive oil in a metal pan which has a matching lid that is oven proof. add the pepper to this, finely chopped into little cubes. Then add finely chopped onion and courgette and let these vegetables sweat away on a low heat so that they begin to sweeten. (5 minutes or so.) Mean while make a vegetable stock and add to this the pinch of saffron, the tomato puree and the wine, in order to infuse. Set aside. Add the chicken pieces to the pot along with roughly chopped tomatoes and crushed garlic. Pour over the stock mix and olives, and simmer this for another ten minutes or so on the hob, before adding the basmatic rice. Cover the pan, and place in the oven for twenty minutes on this high heat, before turning the oven completely off, and leaving the pot to sit there for 2 hours… while you go to yoga. When you get back, you’ve got a delicious meal waiting for you, still piping hot, and perfectly cooked. Add lots of pepper and salt and serve with a baby spinach salad with a plain olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


RISULTO. tasty cold monday stuff.

last night i made a delicious risotto: with courgette, spinach and smoked mackerel. the right balance of fresh-still-just-crunchy vegetables and the creamy flesh of rich mackerel, which is as luxurious as butter.

here it is. it makes for 2.

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil and a little butter
2 courgettes
2 big handfulls of baby spinach
2 smoked mackerel fillets
150g risotto rice
300ml bouillon stock
1/2 lemon
100g pecorino

really finely chop the onion and garlic, and fry in a little olive oil and a small nob of butter. when it begins to turn transparent (and be careful the garlic doesn't brown and burn. this really changes the flavour) add the courgettes and rice to seal it. when the grains also begin to turn a little transparent at the tips start adding the stock slowly. nurture it for about 15 minutes, continually stiring and adding stock. squeeze over the lemon juice and add the two handfuls of spinach so that it wilts down. continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until it is soft enough but not sloppy. crumble in the mackerel at the last, along with the pecorino, finely grated. when serving, grind loads of pepper, but most probably not any salt as you'll get that from the spinach and the stock too.
eat loads of this. it's seriously good warm comfort food. and the mackerel feels like it's doing you good.
spotted in the deli: raj and octavia from 'don't panic', talking bizniz.

Monday, November 5, 2007

THE ISLE OF WIGHT. Full of delight.

this weekend i really sampled the delights of British food, whilst on a jolly to see The Draytones and Motion Pictures play a fantastically retro gig. it was in an old football club, blustering and cold, and reminiscent of an old school disco. the isle of wight though, is a fine advertisement for british fayre: we had fish and chips (before the gig, in a freezing changing room) that were seriously crisp, and the haddock really tasty. and the next day, on the sunny sea front, light crab sandwiches and a sweet herring ploughmans. food inevitably tastes better by the sea but this really was super food. i even delved into the realms of chunky pickled onions and gloopy coleslaw. it was all an absolute delight. lets eat it more. however on my return to the metropolis, i've made a lemon and polenta cake. a classic italianate thing full of polenta crunch and sweet lemon love. but back to england... seriously. we should all eat more tartar sauce and crispy fish, and embrace all these good delights. in fact, in honour of this i've recently been making chutney. it's such a deliciously old fashioned thing to do. i've started with apple, and also plum (with chilli) and will be shortly making chunky sandwiches with these sweet vinegary things, and free range sussex ham, and mild cheddar... i can't wait.

Friday, November 2, 2007

BREAD. a great grazing food.

i think i ate a whole loaf of bread yesterday... alice and i had been out to a hallo'een party and were feeling the effects of the jaegermiester and usual sisterly late night ramblings, so i decided to get up early and bake mum's soda bread. breakfast and indeed mornings are one of my top things ever. i love making tea for someone, helping them get their day started, the smell of melting butter, and my mum's marmalade. and ofcourse the indescribable comfort of the smell of baking bread. and bread, like hard cheese, is a boredom food; that is, when hungover, every time you pass through the kitchen, you hack off a piece, for your journey through the home. and before you know it you have eaten the whole bleeding seedy lot. SPOTTED IN THE DELI: felix and roco sharing espresso. zezi and stav frolicing over records.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

MERINGUES. i've conquered the art.

so, with the left over egg whites from yesterday's tart, i've made lovely meringues. FIRM. PURE. SWEET THINGS. since buying a new metal bowl they are proving a lot more successful than my previous rather flimsy attempts. and, of course advice from mum... that meringues go in a very low oven, so as not to brown them.
1 egg white to 60g of sugar, beit icing or caster sugar.
you need to whisk the egg whites to merry hell, until they are stiff as anything, and then gradually add the sugar. i use one of those lovely old hand operated two pronged whisks with a double cog. at this point you can also add things like coffee essence, or a dramatic reduction. i've seen them with streaks of wonderful dark blackberry, like little ice sculptures. place them on a greased backing tray, and place in a very low oven. even 80 degrees and let them dry out and solidify, leaving sticky bottoms (the best bit).
these really remind me of our old family kitchen. and also of good double cream. a marriage made in heaven.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HALLO'EEN. ain't nothing but a P thing.

yes, it's a pumpkin thing. and i know i've been banging on about them but now it actually is hallo'een so i can roast to my hearts content: this morning i made a pumpkin, goats cheese and herb tart. the pastry was particularly good because of my new/old ceramic rolling pin. i can't believe i get excited about things like that but the difference in using one of these is immense, especially if you have a marble work top too. this is because it's cold on both sides of the pastry. and i used a couple of egg yolks to bind it too. the tart had a life of it's own. piece by piece, over a period of an hour, it ran out of the shop. the soft and light texture of the egg custard, well peppered, with the floury body of the pumpkin, and the creamyness of the sharp goats cheese, was a perfect menage a trois. the herbs were thyme and parsely, but if i'd had sage, i'd have used that too. with the leftover egg whites i'm going to make meringues.... i'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

DUCK BREASTS. good with hot sweet sauce.

last night me and my mum cooked duck. i've improvised a new sauce, which is sweet but a little chunky too. i'm calling it a Sweet Onion Sauce.

2 onions
150ml red wine
2 tbsp jam (damson, plum, elder etc)
1 orange
a little olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
pepper and salt.
200ml water.

heat the oil in a frying pan whilst finely chopping the onion. i'm learning to spend more time on prep. it's worth it. fry the onion until it begins to go transparent. add the red wine and dissolve in the jam at the same time. simmer away for a few minutes before adding the orange juice. keep watching and stiring and making sure it doesn't get dry and stick to the bottom of the pan. continue for about 20 minutes, adding water a bit at a time if necessary so that it forms a nice gravy texture. add seasoning at the end. decant into a warm bowl or wide brimmed jug. it was perfect with rare duck breasts and loads of spinachy-mash.

Monday, October 29, 2007

CANELA. drinks with zezi.

and then i went on to canela. i've been here once before and came back to redescover a delicious wine that i'd drunk too much of. it turned out to be 'green wine' called Arca Nova. Vinho Verde DOC 2006. slightly fizzy and dangerously morish. we love it here. small and intimate and again, lovely staff. it quite set me up for a night on the tiles. i'm going to go here all the time now for lady meetings. and it makes me feel quite grown up to know a wine on the list.

WEST LONDON. It's growing on me.

I'm not usually a big fan of west london. but i started off my weekend with a trip to the lovely R Garcia and Sons on Portobello road. exactly what all food shops should be like. the food range is great, spanning from the average continental stuff like tinned pulses, to much more swanky Brindisa type foods - superior chorizo and line caught tuna. it feels fair and good and right and a visual treat. the packaging in these places is always multicoloured and hugely appealing. like christmas all year round. and with the hubbub of the market going on outside, it makes for a great saturday jaunt. added to this, you can step next door to their minimal cafe. the happiest staff i ever came across. the setting is minimal in a modern barcelona way, but the food, incredibly traditional. this makes for a really nice contrast. Churros - the deep fried stuff for dipping in that wonderful thick spanish hot chocolate. Simple tapas. morcilla de arroz- spanish black pudding wrapped with a grilled slither of red pepper sitting on a herbie rice. Lemon and polenta cake. i ate the most wonderful treat that i spied at the back of the counter: queso fresco con membrillo y almendras. that is, a moulded fresh cheese, drizzled with a cinnamon syrup, a smudge of quince jelly and three crunchy almonds. sitting at the coffee bar, with this, and a perfect coffee (a long machiatto) and a beautiful little boy, drowning in chocolate was a joy. the cold dense cheese, and hot refreshing coffee. a stollen ten minutes that only spurred me on to go clothes shopping and have a frivilous lady like afternoon. if west london was like this all the time, i'd move here. i usually just bump into boys from my past though!