Normal service will be resumed…

Go on admit it. You did, didn’t you? Yes really you did. I know you did. What? Missed me, of course. That’s nice. Its nice to know someone spotted I wasn’t around. Cared what I have to say. Missed my amazing blog posts. Oh you didn’t. Right. Surely you did. Well I missed you at any rate. Is that enough or do I have to apologise as well. Okay I know I was absent without leave so to speak. But you know sometimes these things happen. What, you don’t just want an apology you want to know what I was up to as well. What every last minute of the 36 days I was gone for? You sure you won’t get bored, after all it might not be that exciting might it. Or you might find out something you don’t want to know or…..

Well okay here you go….

Blogging is a curious thing and I’m sure we all have ideas when we set out blogging about how often we want to blog and the kinds of things we want to talk about and then some kind of reality hits us. Blogging is quite time consuming. To write a reasonable post of any length takes time and a certain amount of care. That’s not say its not fun but sometimes the ideas dry up or more often there are so many ideas and not enough hours in the day to write about them all. So those well laid intentions go a bit skew wiff and sometimes the blogging just has to take a back seat to the rest of the stuff.

So for 36 days the blogging took a back seat – well probably worse than a back seat, more a didn’t really get a spot in the car and stayed at home sulking seat but anyway. It was definitely a case of too many ideas and not enough time. I already had a huge backlog of things I wanted to talk about and then a whole bunch of deadlines kind of came rushing up close together.

For the record here are some of the things I got up to:

I took 20 trips to the supermarket, 4 ocado deliveries and 2 trips to the farm shop. Yes really. I’ve embraced the idea of regular day-to-day food shopping I’ve just failed so far to translate it properly into local, artisanal, whatever, whatever.

Look an Ocado van (copyright
Look an Ocado van (copyright

I ate three meals every day, many based around cheese and pickles; twenty of them in cafes or restaurants. None of them at my desk.

I went on a photography workshop at Scandinavian Kitchen with a whole load of other food bloggers and tried to concentrate on learning about good composition. This was not that easy with Food Urchin chomping on hotdogs in the background.

Dan & hotdog (copyright Dan's wife)

I immersed my self in data. I thought. I analysed. I described. I drew funny spider diagram thingies. I went off on tangents only to return by another route. I read more social science theory than is good for one person in a week. And then wrote 5000 words of my dissertation. Fortunately its all about twitter and food and blogging, how handy ;0

I went to a wonderful gin cocktail evening at the Dorchester with the very lovely Sipsmith’s maker of fabulous gin. I compared notes about making flavoured vodkas at home with cocktail and spirits maestro Jared Brown. I now have a whole new batch of gins and vodkas to get on the go and a dangerous desire for a still.

I did two sets of financial statements for clients. And three VAT returns. It’s a good job they are truly lovely clients. I don’t do that just for anyone.

Me looking curiously like Winona Ryder....
Me looking curiously like Winona Ryder....

I went and had my hair cropped sort of a la Winona Ryder. It must have worked I’ve been asked for my autograph several times in the street.

I celebrated 3 birthdays with people, one of them my own.

I blagged and blagged for goody bags. I ferried the entire contents of Sainsbury’s dairy dept from Scandilicious flat to Hawksmoor. I stuffed goody bags. I went on the hunt for missing ingredients. I served food. I worked on the pass. I dried dishes. I handed out goody bags. I made donor lists. YES I was part of the wonderful Blaggers Banquet.

Blaggers Banquet Goody Bag
Blaggers Banquet Goody Bag

I spent 3 days in the Marriot Northampton with 15 lawyers. I tried to get them to understand what blogging was. And Facebook. And LinkedIn. And Flickr. And Twitter. And why it was important to have worked out how they would or wouldn’t use it and why. I think they understood.

I allowed myself 2 weekends of R+R in the lovely Suffolk countryside. I ate. I picked sloes and rosehips. I ate some more. I brought back bootfuls (that’s car bootfuls not any other kind of boot) of some of my favourite Suffolk foods. Pinneys. Purely Pesto. Lane Farm/Suffolk Salami. Maple Farm eggs. Peakhill farm veg. And on. And on. (Please see the side bar for links to some of these).

I went to a wonderful cooking with tea workshop run by Teanamu.

I slept, sometimes.

And amongst all that work levels started to pick up with more new jobs coming in, more marketing opportunities and more interest. Lots of really exciting possibilities. Starting up a business a few months before the recession has been an interesting ride but being your own boss is wonderful. Even if it means blogging has to stop now and then you still have the freedom to juggle how each day looks and that is priceless.

I’ll be blogging some of the things I got up to separately (I hope), especially the 20 trips to the supermarket, and also plenty of other things. The blogging isn’t going to stop this was just a temporary hiatus.

Normal service will be resumed.

Thank you for waiting.

Prosecco prosecco prosecco

Matching food to wine or wine to food? Well normally I decide what I want to eat and then I think about what wine might go with it. I’m no expert at all, I stick mostly to ‘standard’ rules and also to wines I like. Occasionally I’ll go a bit off-piste, or someone will introduce me to something different, then I’ll revise my rules a bit. But its always the food first and the wine second.

In the last few weeks there’s been chance to turn this on its head. Try the wine and then wonder what to eat with it. Maybe if you have an extensive cellar this is a game you can play regularly….

“Darling I’ve found another bottle of that Puligny-Montrachet 1978 stuff, do you think it would be best with ……”.

These weren’t quite those kind of chances. Instead they were regular priced wines looking for new partners. First there was the Casillero cook off, great fun, great recipes and finding out that a wine I probably wouldn’t have looked at (I often avoid big brand names) was actually eminently drinkable. And now Niamh over at Eat Like a Girl is luring us with the possibility of prizes to try our hands at matching prosecco to food. Specifically Bisol Jeio prosecco and a chance to eat at the chefs table at Trinity.

Prosecco isn’t something I know much about and tempted by the possibility of a free tasting to help inspire food choices I popped over to Niamh’s (almost an institution) stall at Covent Garden on Thursday to see the lie of the land. I had a chat with Niamh about doing the stalls (hard work, great fun) and sipped the prosecco. Pears, peaches, off dry – but what to make to go with it. In my books prosecco, like most sparkling wine, makes a lovely aperitif but its maybe not quite so easy to have with food.

A little bit of googling and reading and a few thought came to mind…..pears…well they go well in salads with blue cheese and often walnuts. Pears and peaches…sometimes served with air-dried hams. A sweetish fruit and salty theme was emerging. I’d also got a hankering for something autumnal, earthy…

On the day I decided to experiment my husband turned out to be having beer in Bath, that’s the town in Avon and glass after glass of hoppy malty brown liquid, rather than any other beer/bath combination that might spring to mind. This meant that I had been abandoned/left to my own devices/was delighting in the perfect moment to do exactly as I wanted* (please delete as applicable). This was fortuitous, mostly he’s not a fan of sparkling wines, of blue cheese, or sweet/tart combinations and that’s right where I was heading.

Off to purloin ingredients from the local, erm, (super)market to combine with some goodies I already had in the fridge. I was aiming for English meets Italian. Italian wine, English inspired dish. This is where I ended up:

Goodshoeday’s autumnal sort of salad (for 2 people as a light meal or starter)


6 small beetroots
½ small squash
2tsp salsa di mostarda (I actually used some of the sweet pickle juices from my pickled cherry plums)
extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil (I like Hill Farm – and no they haven’t sent me any for free)
Blacksticks Blue cheese
Smoked cured ham (I used Richard Woodhall Black Combe Ham)
¼ savoy cabbage

Roast the beets in their skins for 1*1 ½ hours at R6/200C covered in foil. Top and tail, peeland cut into quarters (remember to wear rubber gloves), and keep war

Peel and core the squash and cut into small chunks. Roast in rapeseed oil for 40 minutes at R6/200C.

Shred the cabbage fairly coarsely and steam for 3-4 minutes so it retains some crunch.

Toss the beetroot and squash in the salsa di mostarda and some rapeseed oil.

Arrange 3 slices of ham on each plate with a gap in the centre. Pile the steamed cabbage in the middle then add beetroot and squash, add slivers of cheese and serve.

It was delicious though I have no idea whether it goes with prosecco of any type let alone the Bisol Jeio – the supermarket was clean out of prosecco all the other bloggers must have got their first.

Fresh from the oven: English muffins

This is my first ‘Fresh from the oven’ bread baking challenge. I missed out on the first two because, well because, I was just too slow off the mark signing up. Anyway I’ve joined up now and I’m hoping its going to a be a fun way to do some different breads and also chat with other food bloggers and improve my breadmaking.

As soon as I’d signed up and logged on I took a look at the challenge and thought ‘hmmmm interesting, not tried that before, best do some reading round the matter’. This is a technique I term displacement activity i.e. read up on things rather than getting on with doing them, instead why not mull them over, learn something new, contemplate different angles, ponder, maybe be buy a new and, of course, necessary piece of kit to aid the process.

English muffins
Cooking on the griddle

And then….

I was sitting around on Wednesday thinking:

‘um must be time to do another loaf of bread what shall I try?’, and

‘hmmmm haven’t written a blog post for ages AND haven’t blogged any of my bread exploits’

when suddenly I thought:

‘*******! I’ve got to have posted my Fresh from the oven challenge on Friday and I haven’t even done it yet’.

Big whoops – talk about in a world of my own.

Anyway very fortunately for me, Claire over at Purely Food, who set this months challenge, had picked English muffins and a quick squint at the recipe revealed that it didn’t require any exotic ingredients – in fact I had everything I needed right there in the cupboards. So I was sorted for a day of bread making yesterday. There’s nothing like taking a project to the deadline I always say…..

The recipe Claire had given us was from the River Cottage Handbook (#3 Bread) (see it here) but we are free to use other recipes or adapt as we see fit, all in the spirit of experimentation and sharing tips and techniques. I decided I’d stick pretty much with the recipe but halve the quantities as it said it made 9 muffins and that seemed rather too many for two people one of whom remains to be convinced that muffins are worth the fuss (lets hope these homemade ones are a hit). I also adapted the kneading technique to the one I learned from a 1 day Dan Lepard masterclass I attended back in June.

Here’s my thoughts on the recipe and how things went:

  • halving 325g makes it difficult to weigh out on lovely old-fashioned balance scales – I think I really do need electronic scales
  • I always weigh the water – weird but more accurate; remember from at school 1ml = 1g
  • I should have used 5g of yeast but the sachet was 7g so I put the lot in
  • I used extra virgin rapeseed oil instead of sunflower – because that’s what was to hand
  • the dough wasn’t as sticky as I expected initially so I added another splash more water – kind of undermines my accuracy of weighing the first bit as I don’t know how much a splash is
  • I used the Dan Lepard kneading technique – i.e. several short kneads spaced out
  • it was a warm-ish day so the dough seemed to rise quite fast, it only took about an hour to double in size
  • halving 9 gets 4.5 you can’t make 4.5 muffins I chose to make 4 instead
  • I cooked it on an oiled flat cast iron griddle
  • the muffins came out pretty giant
  • it’s hard to tell how brown or otherwise they should be on the outside as there’s only a picture of one split and toasted – I think mine are probably too brown

All that remains is to test them at breakfast in a bacon and egg McMuffin style. I shall report back.

UPDATE 30/08/2009:

The McMuffin style breakfast worked really well. We toasted the muffins lightly then buttered them, added 2 rashers of bacon (unsmoked), dolloped on some ketchup and topped with a fried egg (easy -overed) then popped the top of the muffin on and munched away. I was so busy eating I forgot to take a picture (ddoh). They tasted really good although we didn’t wrap them in greaseproof as Mathilde had suggested (see her McMuffin brunch post here),Ii might do that for extra fun if I had guests staying.

Overall I’ve been really pleased with the muffins and I’ll do them again, its nice to try something different. The texture came out nice and even and they stayed good for 3 days – don’t know if they would last longer if I’d made the bigger batch. Curiously the semolina flour on the outside makes them taste slightly salty even though they aren’t. They made a tasty change from soft rolls and they were scored 7/10.

The remaining two muffins have also been eaten at breakfast; yesterday with blackberry curd:

english muffins
muffins with blackberry curd

and today with sausages. Look:

english muffins, sausages
muffin with sausage and ketchup

Meeting with the ‘enemy’?

Last night I attended an event affectionately known on Twitter as #BPRSummit. Sounds really high powered and like it could be about trying to fix a major world issue such as climate change or war or something? Whilst it wasn’t quite as serious as all that it was about trying to get the food blogging community and food PR’s to have a discussion about how they might or might not work together going forward instead of randomly (and often justifiably) slinging mud as has happened a fair bit of late.

The event was conceived and organised by Sarah of Spoon PR and Tim Hayward of The Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog and Tim did a call to arms last week outlining some of the problems that have arisen: food bloggers being referred to as food blaggers, talk of a ‘code of ethics’ raising hackles and some food PRs running woeful campaigns and alienating bloggers. So it was that a group of bloggers and PRs met at the Rubens Hotel near Victoria to thrash things out.

A few of us bloggers met first at a nearby pub and spent half an hour mulling over what the evening would hold, would it be a useful and helpful discussion or would it turn into an almighty spat. At 6.30pm (BST) we duly wandered over to the hotel to find out. Here we were directed to one of the conference rooms where we were greeted by Sarah and badged up (red for bloggers, blue for PRs).

In the spirit of all good summits we had a panel of expert speakers to kick things off and then we would move to an open Q&A. Tim (as quizmaster/chair) got the ball rolling with a brief round of introductions and thanks. Then the serious work began.

First up we heard from Kelly, Jacob & Adam of Luchford APM who act for the likes of Daylesford Organics (although Luchford don’t only work with food companies). They explained a little bit about how they work and suggested that for PRs to work well with bloggers there is going to need to be trust on both sides. They seemed keen to understand what bloggers do or don’t want from PRs, food companies and restaurants and also how they approach blogging.

Then it was the turn of Anthony of Silverbrow on Food who explained his motivation for blogging (personal enjoyment) and some good and bad PR experiences he’d had:

bad = an approach to review bacon when his blog is strictly about kosher food – oh dear!

good = Starbucks PR convincing him to try their new instant coffee despite him regularly being openly dismissive of Starbucks.

The difference being all about how the PR approached him and the fact they either clearly had or hadn’t done their background research on what his blog is about. A straightforward lesson maybe, but one that the subsequent comments from bloggers on the floor demonstrated still needs to be learnt by many PRs.

Next it was on to Sarah of Spoon PR, a much smaller operation than Luchford, a different approach and an equally impressive client list (e.g. Petersham Nurseries). Sarah explained that she only works with food companies because that’s what she’s passionate about. Its obvious she’s already very tech savvy but she was also very clear that she wants to learn how bloggers work and how they want to work with PRs.

And finally on the panel another food blogger, Oliver Thring from Thring for your Supper. He echoed much of what Anthony had said and emphasised the fact that bloggers want to be taken seriously by PRs i.e. not treated as some amorphous mass of cheap resource to be ‘spam’ mailed but instead individual relationships should be forged.

And then to the floor. Rather than questions it was more a case of people throwing in their thoughts on the overall relationship that needed to be built or adding their comments on how the world looked from where they stood either as blogger or PR. I’d say the PR’s got a bit more of the airtime that the bloogers…but I think we all learnt a fair bit, bloggers and PRs alike.

The discussion threw up the following points:

  • many clients of the PRs are resistant to being involved in blogger events because of the bad press surrounding a minority of bloggers
  • the PRs seemed genuinely keen to engage properly with bloggers to the mutual benefit of both sides
  • the bloggers want to be treated properly not as spam fodder
  • both sides always need to be clear what ‘the deal’ is for any particular PR/blogger activity
  • events during the working day aren’t going to get much response as most bloggers have day jobs
  • lots of bloggers talking about the same product or event or restaurant at the same time makes for less interesting reading perhaps PR’s should phase any campaign
  • some bloggers feel that approaches direct from company and restaurant owners are better than from a PR company
  • some bloggers are never going to accept ‘freebies’ its not what they do

Overall the event was a good way to start bloggers and PR’s engaging with each other but there’s much debate still to be had. The issue of ethics and a blogging code didn’t really get aired and there were few traditional journalists there to put forward their views or concerns.

And then, as if set as a test, the bloggers were told there were goodie bags to take home….now then who didn’t blag one eh??

I’ve been adopted!

By Karen, and she’s in Harve, Montana! Go on, go check the map like I had to.

Now lets get a few things straight here I don’t mean I’ve been orphaned all this time and finally found someone to adopt me at the fine old age of, well lets just leave my age out of this shall we….

I mean that as a relative ‘newbie’ to the world of food blogging I’m taking part in Kirsten’s (over at Dine and Dish) Adopt-a-Blogger initiative. I found Kirsten when I first started swirling round the foodie blogosphere and landed at Tinned Tomatoes where I spotted the ‘I’ve adopted’ badge. Now ‘Blogging for Dummies’ tells you to get to know your fellow bloggers and to take part in blogging events and the Adopt-a-Blogger seemed like the ticket. I get to have someone older and wiser (in blogging terms) to call upon for three months with my questions etc, probably get new traffic and the adoptor gets the joy of guiding someone through some of the maze of the blogsphere. Great.


After Kirsten has matched us all up we get to meet online and start to chat, it’s kind of like a latter day version of pen pals. To take part we’ve promised to introduce each other to our respective worlds and at the end of three months to blog about what we’ve each learned. I’ve already been badgering Karen with lots of questions and tweaking my blog to incorporate some of her tips.

Anyway without further ado here is Karen (of Karen Cooks), as cross examined by me, in her own words:

GSD: Tell me a little bit about yourself, where you live and what you do when not food blogging?

K: I live in the U.S.  I lived in the Southern California and Arizona deserts for 42 years prior to moving to Havre, Montana last summer.  When I’m not food blogging, I’m cooking!  I like to garden and also do mosaics.

GSD: Why did you want to join ‘Adopt-a-blogger’ and what do you think being an adoptor will be like?

K: I thought I might have something to offer a new food blogger… there are so many things to figure out and hints and suggestions that one might not know about.

GSD:  How long have you been food blogging, what made you want to start and do you have any other blogs?

K: I started my food blog in August 2008.  I was reading another food blog and thought “I can do that!”  So, I did!

GSD:  Tell me about the Eagle webcam.

K:  I found the Eagle webcam during my many travels around the internet.  The webcam is in West Virginia and poised on a nest built by Bald Eagles.  Here we can get a glimpse of a three eaglets, now almost 2 months old and their daily routine. It’s been fascinating to watch them grow!  I think they are beautiful birds. 

GSD:  How would you describe your style of cooking and who do you normally cook for?

K:  Most of the time I cook just for me and my gardener, aka husband, although I love to cook for company.  I love to read cookbooks for inspiration on making my own dishes.  I guess my style of cooking would be ‘see it and make it with changes to suit our tastes’.

GSD: I can see some interesting items on your freezer list in the ‘Roasted Grape Tomato, Spinach and Asiago Pasta’ post, tell me about the regional dishes, specialities of ingredients you enjoy?

K: We are hunters and fishers, so we eat a lot of game.  Cooking wild game at times can be challenging as the meat may tend to be tough.  I’m always on the lookout for different wild game recipes.  

GSD: What are your Top 5 dishes/foods and what, if anything, makes you go ‘urgggh, no thanks’?

K: I’m definitely not a picky eater, but there are a few things that I’ll pass on.  One of them is menudo, a Mexican soup-type dish made with tripe and hominy.  I’ve tried tofu  several different ways, but just don’t care for it.  Other than that I guess I’ll pretty much eat anything!  LOL

GSD:  Who are your favourite cook book authors/cook books?

K: I really don’t have a favorite.  I love to read cookbooks but have stopped buying them.  There are just so many good recipes on the internet.

GSD:  What’s your couldn’t live without kitchen gadget? 

K:  This is a hard question.  After thinking about it, I couldn’t live without my silicone spatulas.  I use them for everything!  And of course my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!

So please go check out Karen’s blog yourself for lots of good stuff including the latest Montana snow (on 13 May!).




Err, hello, um, what’s all this #livelocal thing??? 

I’d seen a bit of twittering about this (hence the # tag – used in twitter to make searching easier) and wondered what it was so I headed over to Becca’s blog to find out more. Here I saw that Becca was about to spend the next 7 days (she’s started today I think) trying to only eat foods that had been grown with 100 mile radius of where she lives in Sydney, Australia.

Interesting challenge I thought and then also spotted that it was a wider initiative to get people to undertake projects and habit changes that were locally focused,such as cycling to work. 

Hmmm wonder if I can join in and what I could do. A few tweets later and I’m signed up at LiveLocal as the first UK participant (woo hoo I’m a global first – yes quite!). Then to thinking about a plan. I like Becca’s local eating idea and I already try to buy local food but its pretty easy to realise that you can do much more and that also you might have to make some sacrifices along the way.

I decide to investigate where a 100 mile radius allows me to source food from using this map tool and find that as well as a the whole of the South East and much of the Midlands, Calais and Boulogne are within 100 miles! I’m not quite sure that northern France can be called eating locally when I live in East London. So I think again, I want to do something that starts to shift my eating habits to local and decide on the following: 

  • my cupboards and freezer are stuffed full of things that have been lurking for sometime, so first part of the challenge is to start munching through these. I’ve already probably burnt a giant carbon footprint acquiring them so I really should get on with making use of them.
  • dried and frozen foods aren’t going to cut it for a whole week though are they so anything extra I need has to either come from my herb garden or be sourced from an area bounded by the Thames to the south, the east coast of England, a line up from the western edge of the M25 and a line cutting across from Norwich. I’m guessing this about the same area as 100 mile circle (or less) but seems to make more sense as to the direction I should look for food stuff.
  • I’m only to walk, cycle or take the Tube/bus to the shops but I can incorporate shopping into an existing car trip.
  • I’m going to think about everything I eat or drink and wonder about its provenance and whether I can change how I buy it. I know right now I’m not going to give up coffee so am I buying the most ethical I can and I am supporting a local roasters.


It seems easy on the face of it but I think it’s going to be quite hard, but I’m enjoying thinking about how to be more local in my choices. I’ll be blogging about how I’m getting on so come back to find out more. Wish me luck!

Eating Eurovision: Part 2 Russia – bring on the blini…..

They say you should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper. And today I am trying pretty hard….I’ve breakfasted like King Harald V of Norway on brown cheese and flatbrød and now I’m about to lunch like a Tsar (or Roman Abramovich) on blini and vodka. Its all good stuff and in aid of Eating Eurovision (a rather mad project thought up by journalist and food blogger Andrew Webb) – 25 food bloggers eat 25 cuisines within the M25.

I got Russia out of the lottery pingpong ball bag and also opted for Norway as an extra.

And that is where I came unstuck.


I woefully underestimated how long it would take to track stuff down, get it, eat it, write about it. I did Norway first because I thought it would be really hard to find the foods I wanted but actually it wasn’t so bad, finding Russian contacts and leads has proved much much harder. I thought there were lots of Russians in London and maybe there are but I didn’t find any. I found a possible deli in Queensway (Kalinka) but after buying my Norwegian cheese mountain had no time or strength left to get there to check it out. I’d spotted various restaurant options but time was short and I wanted to do some actual cooking. 

Then I thought of vodka tasting at Potemkin but my friends could not be convinced to leave the grotty surroundings of the pub they had started the evening in to walk less than half a mile, they suggested the nearer Polish bar but that’s Polish so how was that going to help. I bet vodka isn’t just vodka you know, I bet it has hundreds of subtle nuances. Oh and to be fair to my mates by this time it was pouring with rain so we would have got drenched.

So having drawn some blanks and having been pointed at blini by fellow Tweeters – I thought lets make blini (and wash them down with a splash of vodka). I was tempted to go to a Lithuanian deli in Leytonstone I’d spotted during internet research for a (very) vague bit of almost authenticity but having seen @hollowlegs tweets about her Lithuanian restaurant eating I decided maybe not. Anyway I needed a recipe first, now I might have hundreds of cookbooks but curiously not one of them is about Russian food. Surfing the web throws up lots of blini recipes and some earlier surreptitious reading of books in Foyles suggested that actually mini blini are okay but the real deal is to have big huge proper pancake size blini – oh yay lunch sorted: big savoury blin (apparently the singular of blini according to wikipedia…hmmm doubtful) followed by big dessert blin.

Sorted right? Wrong. By this time it’s already past the deadline to post and I’ve only just decided what I’m doing. Oh dearie dearie me. 

And there are only two choices in such circumstances: don’t post and FAIL completely or CHEAT.

So I cheated. Yes I did what we were not supposed to do I went to Waitrose bought the most Russian looking things possible, came home, cooked, ate and made myself listen to the Russian entry on repeat as penance! I could have cheated more by pretending the vodka we already had was Russian but I didn’t, maybe that makes it all ok?

My blini were good, they were rather thick so could perhaps be classed more as oladi (which are well, big fat blini) and very filling. I did a bit of a cheats recipe (what not more cheating) and followed the recipe on the bag of buckwheat flour using baking powder instead of yeast to get the raised texture but it worked fine. The 100% buckwheat flour makes a very brown looking batter. For the savoury topping I had sour cream, Russian (i.e. beetroot) cure salmon and chopped quails eggs and for the sweet more sour cream with warm raspberry compote I quickly made from frozen raspberries. Then I had a splash of Russian vodka to finish it all (and me!) off.

I am very very full now. I’ve had two hearty cuisines only a few of hours apart – perhaps fine if it was snowing and minus something scary outside but a little much for spring day in London. If I’m lucky it’ll mean I sleep through tonight’s competition and don’t have to watch all those crazy acts again. 

I’ve also learnt that if you bite off more than you can chew you’ll get indigestion somewhere along the way but on the other hand, as Tennyson almost said:

‘Tis better to have tried and cheated than to have never tried at all’. 

Yeah right!