Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Larder #1 | Celia's Saucer

G'day all and welcome to my new food series, The Larder. 

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen playing with different ingredients or drawing inspiration from delicious things I've eaten or have been kindly sent to taste. Home is also the only place I can borrow my housemate's camera to play with (he won't let me leave the house with it) and try to learn how to take half decent photos. Every weekend I end up with an abundance of both food and photos. The food goes to my office to share with tea but the photos and products?
I thought I'd share them with you.

First up, we have the mighty 'canéle', which is a traditional little cake hailing from Bordeaux, France. Famously flavoured with rum and vanilla, the cakes are encrusted with a caramel crunch and give way to a soft, eggy centre. 

Babelle, however, like to play with convention and have infused the canéle with all sorts of different flavours from rose (pictured below), to peanut butter, cherry and bitter orange. The people of Bordeaux aren't so sure but in London, anything goes and I'm a big fan. They're stocked exclusively at Fortnum and Mason's for now, with plans to expand later in the spring.
Rose Caneles from Babelle UK
There seems to have been a surge of 'single origin' products lately as the consumer becomes more interested in quality and heritage and this hot chocolate from Kokoa Collection is no exception. You may have seen the round discs of chocolate in cafés throughout the capital that are melted into a paste before being blended with hot milk. 

My personal favourite is the 'Venezuela', sourced from Sucre, Sur de Lago and Barlovento. It's a smooth 58% and is velvet-like in the mouth. Luckily, you can now buy it online in your regular Ocado shop from the sweet white hot chocolate all the way through to darkest Madagascan at 82%. 

I've not had another hot chocolate quite like it.
58% Venezuelan Hot Chocolate
Speaking of online shopping, I was thrilled to find these tinned figs from Baldjis priced at an excellent £1.09. Whipping up a batch of fresh pastry, I blind baked my little cases and filled them with these figs, a handful of smashed walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup before popping them back into the oven to finish. They were lovely with a big spoonful of greek yoghurt.
Fig, Walnut and Maple Tarts
And finally, if you follow my Instagram, you'll have seen my well-documented obsession with JING Tea.

Now that I've given up coffee, I need to something to fill the rather large gap it has left in my daily routine.

JING's Rosebud Tea is not only ridiculously pretty but sweet and fragrant. It's just the thing for calming the mind and also makes a great digestive. It does contain a little caffeine mind, but only enough to lift you gently, rather than dash like a mad horse through your veins.
Rose Tea from JING Tea
And so that's it for today's 'The Larder'.

What products have you been enjoying lately?

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Roasted Cauliflower, Fennel and Wild Garlic Soup | Celia's Saucer

Now the spring is here, it's just that ever so slightly warmer. My weekly soup starts to make the transition from hot and hearty, to warm and uplifting.
 Soon it'll need to be light and refreshing but, for now, let's talk early spring flavours. 

Today I roasted a bulb of fennel and a whole head of cauliflower in the oven with lots of big, fat garlic cloves.

While browning, I made my usual base of sautéed onion, garlic, leeks and celery (forgoing carrot because I wanted to keep the colour clean) to help bring that warming, stocky base that every soup needs.
Spring Soup Recipes My half-hour oven timer rang and so I transferred the sweet, sticky fennel, garlic and nutty-smelling cauliflower to the pan and covered it with water, bringing it all to the boil for five minutes just to really make sure those vegetables were soft enough.

A squeeze of lemon juice, a few teaspoons of bouillon and a good blend later, I now have a lovely lighy, fluffy soup for work this week. I popped a leaf or two of wild garlic on top because it's in season and as far as I'm concerned, the more garlic, the merrier.
Spring Soup Recipe Ideas - perfect for the season
And now? 

¡que aproveche!

What new soups have you tried lately?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Jasmine Silver Needle Tea | Celia's Saucer

Nature and JING Tea on the coffee table in springSpring is starting to bloom and colours of the moment are green and yellow; daffodils and crocus bulbs shoot up along roadsides to beam at you from under sullen clouds that burst with sunlight as unexpectedly as the softly pleated grey rolls overhead and cloaks the sky.

There's a fascination at this time of year, every year, that we have emerged from the winter. Buds on the trees couldn't be more exciting, especially the woolly yellow of the mimosa, the sun couldn't be brighter, even though there's a decided nip in the air, and when blossoms and catkins swell, hanging on the branches, we will rise earlier to greet the day and smile at the sight of them.

Despite urban gardens and greenery, it can be a struggle in the drudgery of the city to see as much of the seasons change as I would like, taking pleasure in scattered sprays of flowers and cool, crisp air in the moments that I can. In fact, for this reason, I've been working from home more. The quiet, the peace and the sunshine poring through the sash windows is perfectly conducive for concentrating and enjoying myself.

Having given up coffee however, I have been struggling to find my next 'thing' to fill the gap that it has always so plentifully filled in the mornings. And it seems in JING's Jasmine Silver Needle Tea, I am sold.  
The best white tea A white tea, while it still can potentially contain levels of caffeine, it is light and fragrant and champagne-like in colour. From the Fujan Province of China, the story of how the tea is processed really evokes spring-like scenes that I like to think of when I sip it.

Picked at very first bud, the leaves are laid out to wither in the sun and dried slowly, typically around four days. Once ready, they are layered with jasmine flowers for seven consecutive nights, during which time the sweet floral scent impregnates the tea and gives it that subtle but unmissable quality of cucumber and melon. 
Tea Benefits, Wellbeing and Spring Not only delicious, the leaves are lovely to look at and feel, with delicate hairs and an earthy scent that becomes only more pronounced once brewed. I quite enjoy watching them unfurl in the glass, especially on the second or this infusion. JING makes the perfect tea gift for those who appreciate quality and beauty.
A long-time sufferer of migraines, I have also found this jasmine tea to be just the ticket when I feel an encounter approaching. Just taking ten minutes to switch on the kettle, prepare the leaves (with a little cold water in the bottom of the infuser mug to stop from scalding the leaf) and take a seat on the sofa to gaze out of the window profoundly helps me refocus and relax. Even my boyfriend asks for the 'lovely tea' when he's feeling fraught, which I like to hope really helps him with his music
In a world full of distraction, how do you find a way to bring yourself back down to Earth?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Cafes in Islington | Holloway Road

I had never planned to move to London and yet as I sat at the interview table and was asked if I could pack my bags and move within the week to Islington, I said yes without hesitation. I reasoned that if there were anywhere in the city I'd most like to work and live in, Islington would be it and that was before I even really knew much about it. It just felt right.

How lucky I was that it turned out to be almost as diverse and interesting as my former residence in Barcelona's Raval - a mixture of the modern, the traditional, the wealthy and the not so wealthy and all that comes with multicultural, multifaceted London.

Of course, regardless of where I live, to me the modern cafe is the most important institute and there's certainly plenty in this borough. So many, in fact, I've had to split them into sections.

Think of this as the Holloway Road edition... an ode to the cafes that I love here. And this isn't even all of them. An introduction, if you will.

North London Cafes

Filled to the rafters with natural light, this traditional old public house turned cafe has the kind of windows you could gaze through for hours, watching the busy Holloway Road roar with traffic en route to Archway. 

Illumination aside, it's a fine choice for day and eve alike, with a simple menu featuring 'British Burgers', good coffee and cake and an exclusive cocktail menu when the working day has drawn to an end.

It takes its name from its love for cycling, which is evident from thoughtful paraphernalia and touches throughout the premises. 

Places for coffee on Holloway Road, Islington

Raw, a bit rustic-ragged but full of heart, Vagabond serves up just about the best coffee in North London in their oh-so-very precise ways. 

No frills. Just damn good coffee. Oh, and a lovely little garden for robin-spotting and clandestine meetings. 

The space at Vagabond is also transformational, with a farmer's market and thought-provoking events in their additional rear space. If you're looking for coffee and conversation, this is your cup.

Cafes on Holloway Road, Islington
Ez and Moss, Middle Holloway Road

Totally humble and unpretentious, which can be unusual for London coffee shops, Ez and Moss is warm, serene and the perfect hideaway for those escaping the office, or, simply using it as their own.
I've read somewhere that the staff are a little quiet but if you visit on a regular basis, they are engaging, kind and totally genuine and it's always a pleasure to visit.

A select but clean and fresh vegetarian/vegan menu provides the perfect fodder alongside a consistently excellent coffee. 

Playing Radio Paradise, I've not once heard bad music on the premises - they just get everything right on all accounts. Especially the soup and we all know how I feel about that.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...