Apologies, I’m aware this post is a little ahead of schedule. The photo of a Christmas tree, although an offering of good cheer, may not be welcome yet as, yes, I’m aware it is still November. Christmas is the last celebration of the year, so someone please tell me where the year went? That flighty 2018, it whizzed passed in a Ferrari, screeching its tyres. So, albeit for this rogue Christmas tree, is anyone feeling festive yet? (I’m still waiting for the return of summer, I’m owed one last day in my dusty sandals.) Without Thanksgiving here, I feel like I’ve been twiddling my thumbs for the next big celebration, another foodie occasion that requires more than a rummage through the fridge or a last-minute stop at the local supermarket after work.
Not to say our dinners haven’t been up to standard recently. Calum and I take it in turns to rustle up the evening’s fare and we’ve treated ourselves to sweet and salty chicken fried rice, prawn, sweet potato and mango curry, or simple omelettes oozing molten cheese. Nothing has been particularly note-worthy for this old blog here though. Dinners have been a little squashed, a little rushed, merely to fit in around life. Which has become hectic these last few weeks.
The new cafe is up and running. With a fully-functioning kitchen my colleagues and I are working on the line like cogs in a machine, churning out plates of merguez sausages and eggs benedict, or bent over vats of boiling vinegared water cracking in egg after egg. Or we’re playing around with the specials board (now just hear me out… never ignore the specials board… thanks) roasting pheasants slathered in butter, pan-frying hunks of cod, and whizzing up cavolo nero pesto.
Meanwhile, for once, my evenings are squashed with activities too. It started with Hannah and the ballet. We strutted nonchalantly to our seats clutching free gin and tonics, the ice clinking loudly during all the slow meaningful moments. This excursion was followed by a night of comedy and a beer, then a pantomime staring my friend Joelle along with another frisky gin and tonic. To cap off this whirlwind week, I joined friends for (more) gin cocktails after work. A day at the stove surprisingly doesn’t offer opportunity for lunch so I was guzzling those bad boys like a camel at an oasis, before making my garbled exit and skipping home… with two beers in my bag. So, after a sociable, busy, and somewhat alcohol-heavy week (which, as I am no longer in my prime, takes its toll) I would like a time out.
Life has a terrifying habit of catching up with us. You blink, or in my case this week, you drink and all of a sudden it is a month to Christmas and you want to put the tree up and you’re planning advent calendar exchanges with your boyfriend. (Is that last one just me?) Not only that, I am tired. Managing a kitchen is no easy feat. It is time for slow, delicious languor. So, on Monday I rummaged under the bed to find the box with the reusable Christmas tree (a real one would be the devil in a flat, there are enough mattresses left out on the pavement so I don’t want to add to this collection), the lights, the baubles and built it as I ate leftover bread and butter pudding and drank tea. The bread and butter pudding in question is in fact naughtier than most, made with stale croissants and a take on Paul Hollywood’s recipe – instead of cherry jam I sandwiched the croissants with a little butter, orange zest and whisked vanilla and nutmeg into the custard. The crust was crisp hiding the smooth, dense and creamy filling, zingy with fresh zest. I ate the pudding cold out of the baking dish, and again the next day for breakfast.
Christmas will be with us soon. First, let’s relax, take a spoon to that dessert dish and await its arrival with festive anticipation. We all need a time out sometimes.