Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Chocolate Week

This week is chocolate week in the UK, usually I only realise it after it's been and gone. I'm afraid the big Chocolate Show at Olympia is a bit expensive for me, (not sure where I got this idea, I think I must have confused it with some of the other events, because on looking back I found that it was only about 14 pounds or so, so try again next year) but look out for special events and tastings at department store chocolate counters.

I managed to get a taste of some chili chocolate by Melt. The chocolate had chili seeds in it, but I didn't really taste much chili heat, maybe I didn't get any bits of chili in the pieces of chocolate that I tasted. Still, the chocolate was very smooth and creamy, I was really impressed.

I also tasted two very different chocolates from Madagascar, one from Madecasse, which was supposed to have lots of citrusy notes, but I don't think I was able to taste them, and another 70% chocolate made in  Belgium by a chocolatier whose name I can't remember because I had not heard of him before (I think it is Benoit Nihant). The second one I really liked.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Spring Watch 2014 Part 3

Our tulips have finally started to bloom, maybe a couple of days ago. Most years they start to come in just as the daffodils are finishing, but this year they're a bit later, which seems odd because we've had a mild winter. My lilies of the valley seem early, in contrast. Some seem to be well under way, about an inch or more above ground, and with flower stalks forming already. Usually I start to see them coming up around the beginning of April, and by May the first they're in bloom, except last year, they were somewhat later.

What I think is an ornamental crab apple near the local library was in full bloom today - a spectacular dark purplish-red. The pear trees are also in full bloom.

The bees are happy in the back garden at the moment - lots of purple flowers to keep them busy - we have spring-flowering heather, lots of pulmonarias, and the rosemary is still in bloom.  A borage plant that seeded itself in the front garden is also currently in bloom.

Having seen Jamie Oliver, I think, as well as probably James Wong, on TV telling us that various types of flowers are edible, we decided to taste the rosemary flowers, not expecting them to taste of a lot,  but surprisingly they taste very strongly of rosemary!

Spring Watch 2014 Part 2

Peach blossom

Went for another walk around the neighborhood to have a look at the spring flowers on the Sunday before last, March 23rd. The pear trees were just about to blossom, just not quite there yet. We saw some of the first tulips, some pale greenish white ones, and some pale greenish cream ones, delicate colours that I really like. I remember when I was first in England, complaining that all the tulips here seemed to be red! We got hailed on briefly two or three times during our walk, only for a few seconds each time, small hail that looked like large salt granules. We saw more camellias and magnolias in bloom, some just starting, some nearly over. The peach trees that D grew from seed  were also in bloom, pretty, largish violet-pink flowers. My white hyacinths had also flowered - they have a lovely but very, very delicate scent.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Seasonal Foods 2014, Part 1

So far this year we have had oranges.

The Seville oranges are usually in the shops in January,

Seville Orange
Seville orange

but this year we also found the first blood oranges from Sicily in January, somewhat earlier than usual.

Sicilian blood orange
Sicilian blood orange

This year we also discovered something new, green oranges from Jamaica. They were lovely and sweet when you eat them as recommended on this website.

Jamaican green orange
Jamaican green orange

D made a lovely Seville orange meringue pie, using the recipe from Rachel Allen's Bake.

This is a link to a Mary Berry recipe for Seville Orange Meringue Pie:

Spring Is Breaking Out All Over

Today was sunny for the most part, but there was a strong breeze at times, and after an unseasonal 19 degrees last Sunday, it felt rather cold.

Back from yet another job interview early in the afternoon, I changed into warmer clothes and decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood and catch up with the advance of spring, afraid that I might have missed the magnolias.

It was a lovely afternoon for a de-stressing walk,  with the sun shining, and lots of spring flowers everywhere, it just lifted your mood.

Our daffodils came out around the 22nd of February, this year, not at all early, in spite of the mild winter, and are just about finished, but there are still plenty in the neighboring gardens. Tulips are not out yet, but there were lots of hellebores in full flower, some snowdrops and primulas,  small purple hyacinths, and lots of bergenias. The forsythias are in full bloom, a glorious splash of yellow. Most camellias are just starting, and I saw two of the ones with bubble-gum pink flowers that I really like. The mimosa tree is in bloom, and so is the deeply coral japonica quince (Japonica glistens like coral, in all of the neighboring gardens,...). One lovely dark pink magnolia was in full bloom. The large one at the top of the road was mostly over, and starting to show leaves, and some of the early flowering cherries are in bloom. A lovely time of year.