Saturday, 22 January 2011

Top 10 of 2010

So, where else can you read the ramblings of someone with a interest in random 'things' and far too much time on their hands? Yep, that's right, it's all here in the new, improved and hopefully more regularly updated version of my blog.

With Christmas just a dim and distant memory, bills piling up on the doormat and slimline everything what better way to cheer up than a reminisce?  And I like lists.

2010 in a nutshell:

My Tomato Plants

After finally moving to house with a garden I was bitten by the green thumb.  Planting my tomato seeds far too early meant the Ewing had to put up with the kitchen and lounge being engulfed by leggy triffids but it was all worth it when they made it out into the garden and one finally ripened. (Never has the humble cheese sandwich tasted so good) Thankfully many more followed and the stubborn green tomatoes made a rather delicious chutney.

Strawberry Picking

What better way to spend a glorious June morning than picking sweet English strawberries warmed by the sun.  The ones that actually made it back home were quickly dispatched with some cream or made into my first attempt at jam. (The gooseberries we picked were a different matter: after being scratched to ribbons by their thorns the poor goosegogs are languishing in the freezer waiting for inspiration to strike.  Recipes on a postcard to the usual address)

"Armchairs, mint sauce, new potatoes properly cooked, brown bread, marmalade, beer made with veritable hops.”  George Orwell.
Homemade cakes, local ale, a snooze in the afternoon sunshine and some morris dancing.  Lovely.

Tucked in a little mews away from the hoards of shoppers on the Portobello Road, and featuring over 12,000 original items from the Robert Opie Collection, this museum is a gem.  I was in my element looking at old Heinz bean tins, chocolate bar wrappers and 70's crisp packets.
And anywhere with a display devoted to Bovril, food of my Gods, has to make the top 10.

My cousin's wedding
Everybody loves a good wedding. Not only did the day go swimmingly well, and bride and groom look resplendent, but I also got to spend a wonderful long weekend with my aunt, Uncle, Dad and cousins.  We all ate too much, including a fabulous rib of beef for Sunday lunch, drank too much and had a lot of laughs. (And a three day hangover.)

Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong
Renowned for being the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world, their delectable Cha siu baau and their no reservation policy, it was well worth the early start to get a seat in this tiny Kowloon eatery. Melt in the mouth porky pastries, meatballs with mandarin peel and crispy turnip cake made for a delicious and interesting  breakfast.

Eating and Drinking in Sydney
I confess that this entry is a bit of a cheat as it was impossible to chose a best bit from my birthday trip down under. So here we have: ribs (well, the remains of them) from Hurricanes in Darling Harbour.  Delicious and worth the interminable wait on a Saturday evening. 
Bill Granger's ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and banana for brunch at Bill's in Surrey Hills.  Fluffy perfection while hanging with the beautiful people.
Moreton Bay bugs with avocado, beetroot, mint, hazelnut, baby leaves, citrus dressing and ocean trout roe.  A mouthful to say and even nicer to eat at Cafe Sydney. 
And finally something to wash it all down.  No not the many classy cocktails consumed at The Blu Bar, Opera bar and Cruise Bar but sambuca shots with my Dad and the Ewing at The Golden Sheaf in Double Bay.  A great idea at the time but not so good when we had to fly back to the UK the next day.  

Cascade Brewery Hobart Tasmania
An imposing building standing in the foothills of Mount Wellington, and housing the oldest brewery in Australia, the Cascade tour was an informative, interesting and inebriated afternoon.  Highlights?  Unsurprisingly the tasting tutorials at the end. 

Once a year the first green Williamette and Cascade hops of the season are harvested to supply only enough for a single days brewing. And the Brewery bar is the only place on earth where you can drink the First Harvest Ale on tap.   At pushing a tenner a pint it's pricy but pretty perfect.

A lovely, if not a little chilly, day spent at the Birmingham Christmas Market eating Schwein Axe and drinking Glühwein was finished off with great gig at the Symphony Hall.  A lively and good humoured performance was capped by a rousing encore of 'Me and the Major' and a kebab on the way back to the hotel.

Yes, I know those knee deep in the white stuff for four months of the year may scoff at our paltry smattering but for those not stuck sleeping at Heathrow or in a tailback on the M8 it was fun while it lasted.  This picture postcard scene was taken on the way to the pub on the Wiltshire/Dorset border on Boxing day.   After our trek it was lovely to get home, and relax in front of the fire with an amazing selection of cheeses and a little drop of vintage port.

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