Last weekend’s (unexpectedly extended) stay in England included a trip to the best farm shop I’ve ever visited, the HFG Farm Shop at Beeston, Norfolk. We were in Norwich visiting the Engineering Couple and my kinswoman, their beloved Irish terrier, Bridie, who, knowing my love of food, brought us there after a morning spent tramping and on the river in their Canadian canoe. Outside the shop were long stems of brussels sprouts and sparkly Christmas wreaths but the real treasure was inside. Tables were piled with home baking – hungry from our morning’s activities, Paradise Slices, Flapjacks, Shortbread and Date Slices immediately caught our eye – while groaning shelves of jams, jellies, oils, vinegars and chocolate lined the walls. A freezer was stocked with a multi-coloured selection of loose frozen fruits and baskets of locally grown vegetables were stacked high at the end of the room. The food available was more than tempting and, although I did resist, I still managed to walk out of the shop heavily laden with the aforementioned baking, brown paper bags of spelt and wholewheat flour from Letheringsett Watermill, a warty celeriac, a selection of nobbly Jerusalem artichokes and, because I never can resist something gingery, a bottle of Great Uncle Cornelius’ Finest Spiced Ginger Non-Alcoholic Apertif.
I didn’t have much time for shopping on my recent Berlin trip but I did manage to make a selection of purchases around the themes (although I didn’t notice this at the time!) of cherries and chocolate, mostly from the fantastic Kollwitzplatz Saturday Market.In the cherry category we have:1 x bottle of Griotka cherry liqueur from Prague Airport. Very useful when you arrive at a cold cottage late on Friday nights, especially when sips of the liqueur are alternated with sips of caramelised cinnamon hot chocolate.1 x bottle of kirschwasser or cherry brandy from Berlin. Still unopened. I’m limiting myself to one bottle of alcoholic cherry drink at a time!1 x small tin box of Pulmoll cherry sweets, also from Prague Airport.1 x bar of Nestle Noir Cerise chocolate. Decided to pass this to the family – it then disappeared too quickly for me to test it.1 x jar of amazing cherry-laden jam from Scandinavia, I think, that I ended up buying after starting a conversation with a Very Persuasive saleswoman in Kollwitzplatz Market.
I recently got a mail from a New York PR company about a Nextbook podcast featuring one of my favourite cookbook writers, Middle Eastern food enthusiast Claudia Roden. Nextbook’s interviewer, Hugh Levinson, visited her kitchen in London and talks to her while she prepares Poulet aux Dattes (Chicken with Dates) and Salade de Tomates et Poivrons Grillés (Grilled Tomato and Pepper Salad), both from her last publication, The Book of Jewish Food.
The second episode of Richard Corrigan’s show, Corrigan Knows Food, will be on RTÉ One this evening at 7pm. While I think Corrigan can sometimes go a bit overboard (his recent Late Late Show appearance was embarrassing, to say the least) when he’s on form, he’s an enthusiastic presenter and inspiring cook. Why, however, someone felt the need to shoehorn the man into a badly-fitting magazine format, is a mystery. Anne Kennedy has a good review of the first programme in the series here on Greatfood.ie and you can watch the show online here.
The dates and presenters for Savour New Zealand 2007 have just recently been announced and, as a participant at the 2005 event, I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone with even the slightest interest in food and wine. It takes place in Christchurch, from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 April 2007, and this year Lauraine Jacobs, Cuisine magazine food editor, is the Programme Director.
In Berlin most of this week to present the Other Voices website at the Prix Europa internet competition. A total of 22 sites are nominated for the Exploration award, each of which has to give a half-hour presentation. Our area of the competition is fortunately limited to three days – long, intense and tiring but also incredibly rewarding. It’s not often you get the chance to sit down with your professional peers to discuss and share concepts, ideas and inspiration from all over Europe. As for getting to see Berlin, forget it. The most I’ve seen so far is through the window of the bus that takes us to Potsdam every morning or from a taxi speeding through a hushed late-night cityscape. I’ve a free day on Saturday though – perhaps time to explore some markets and discover Berlin – and, of course, have some close encounters with German food – for myself.
In yet another of my infrequent series of alerts about Irish food programmes, a new RTÉ Radio 1 show called Boiled, Baked and Basted started on Saturday night. It features chefs talking about the favourite and most inspirational cookbooks in their collection (Bibliochef, perhaps?!) and the first show has Paul Flynn of the acclaimed Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan talking about books by Marco Pierre White, “scary hero” Elizabeth David, the esteemed list-topping Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson and two books that speak directly to my love of Middle Eastern food – The Moro Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark and Arabesque: A taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon by Claudia Roden. If you, like me, are interested in cookbooks (in my house you’ll find piles of cookbooks by the bed, on the dining table, in the living room, and a row to reference on the kitchen counter) you’ll find this programme very interesting.