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Monday 28th May


Waiter, There's Something in my Courgettes! Having missed a couple of instalments of this most excellent meme, this month hosted by Jeanne at Cook Sister!, I am delighted to have coincided with what is surely the first ever foodblog meme devoted to stuffing. I went with courgettes with a rice stuffing - not hugely original but oft-repeated with good reason. These courgettes were particularly small and tasty - a good point to catch them at. A slight scooping down the middle of each half made a berth for the rice, which I'd cooked with onion, garlic, allspice, cinnamon and a tiny bit of chilli powder. Then lots of olive oil and into the oven - where I probably should have covered them; one wants a slight crisping of the top but by the time the courgettes were soft all through this was a bit crisper than I'd intended. The finishing touch was to sit them on some warm red pepper purée with a dash of pomegranate molasses and a scattering of fresh mint.


Friday 11th May

We did eat out a couple of times in Paris: something old and something new, as the saying goes. We went back to lovely Ze Kitchen Galerie, where one course with a glass of wine and coffee for 24 euros makes us feel as though we've had a very special lunch. I had squid and octopus, with green apple and turmeric sauce, but also some very cool deep fried spinach(?); C went for cod, which came with the most delicious piperade and brandade with thai herbs. I know it all sounds a bit jumbled, like a Scottish ballot paper, and it could hardly be less like the way I cook, as even at my most experimental I'm a bit draconian about only combining within 'authentic' flavour families, but the chef is very good and somehow it all works. And after a fortnight of delicious but somewhat repetitive Moroccan food, these fresh ingredients and exotic combinations really hit the spot.

The something new was Cojean, which is rather like a French Pret a Manger - salads and sandwiches for quick lunch-breaks, whether you need sustainance for shopping, as we did (at the branch on Boulevard Haussmann, handy for les Grands Magasins), or returning to the office. The frenchness is evident in the little quirks, like the names of the smoothies ('a summer evening in the garden', for instance) and the 'Clotilde' sandwich - which was no longer on offer, but my toasted sandwich with roasted aubergine and fresh goats cheese was consolation enough.


Thursday 10th May


I'm jumping about all over the place in describing our various celebrations (but that's what it's like, you see: happy! jumpy!) but this part is chronologically third: after the wedding reception and the honeymoon we jetted back to Paris for a weekend with the french side of the family. If the words Paris, springtime and newlywed don't convey to you just how fabulous this was, then it is possible that you have no soul. I prescribe an intensive course of hermétherapy: take one dose of exquisitely constructed patisserie at mealtimes until you feel better. The above is from the Celeste line: a cheesecake with strawberry, rhubarb and passion fruit. The white chocolate shards around the edge are studded with fleur du sel. At the party, we had canapé-sized chocolate confections: pH3, the wee chocolate balls - these ones with mmmm chocolate, praline and more chocolate, and mini Plénitudes (chocolate with salted caramel). And we amused ourselves telling the out-of-town relatives "oh, it's just our local patisserie around the corner". Finally (yes, between us we did a lot for Monsieur Hermé's profits that weekend) we took macaroons with us to eat on the train: chocolate/passionfruit; pistachio/cherry; olive oil/vanilla; caramel/fleur du sel; and apricot/pistachio. A very bittersweet moment, eating macarons as the train speeds away from Paris.


Wednesday 9th May

st john restaurant

Photo by a member of the Rhodes clan - anyone want to claim it?

I just want to say a quick word about St John Bar and Restaurant (at Smithfield), where we held our wedding reception. It was perfect. They took us in their stride, whether I was being indecisive, elusive, premature, disorganised, over-organised, or just plain bridal. They knew what would work for a crowd of people and at that time of year, and they made it happen. We had enormous fun tasting and choosing the menu (though I'm very glad we had the help of some food bloggers to give us a headstart on choosing the wines), which in the end looked like this:

Globe artichokes and vinaigrette
Anchovy twists
St John House Champagne

Roast shallots and goats curd (V: Dandelion and shallot salad)
Coteaux du Languedoc, Chateau de Lascaux

Roast lamb, green sauce, seasonal potatoes and greens (V: 'Spring on a plate')
Chorey lès Beaune Burgundy, Arnoux Pere et Fils

Chocolate cake with crème fraîche (V: Lemon sorbet)
Rivesaltes sur Grains, Domaine Boudau

We chose it as a venue because we thought it would fit - and it did. Our motto throughout has been 'no frills', and we wanted the reception to be bright, and clean, and fuss-free. The food generous and seasonal (and interesting but not scary); the wine french, the lamb english. We didn't want flowers, or ribbons, or a colour theme, or speeches, or dancing, or formal photos, or 'wedding food' and a big white cake (not that I haven't loved those things at other people's weddings, and always will: but they aren't us). And that's exactly the way it was: just lots of friends and family in a big bright room full of the smell of food and the sound of happy chatter. Wonderful.


Saturday 5th May


Well yes, it is about time I posted. There's such a lot for us to catch up on - since we last spoke I've achieved several long-term aims: to leave Europe, to eat street food night after night in Marrakesh, to spread the good news of St John to a large number of my friends and family, to throw a party in Paris in April - oh yes, and to sign that piece of paper at the City Hall that makes no difference at all and all the difference in the world. If I may take my turn with the old cliché: reader, I married him. To celebrate we spent a fortnight in Morocco, where we ate pretty well and in some lovely surroundings. The picture is of the be-fountained terrace of our first hotel, where we ate omelettes for breakfast under the palm trees every morning. Later in the day we frequently found ourselves eating tajine for lunch: we had to keep trying just one more to try to settle whether we preferred the sweeter ones, with prunes or figs or raisins melting into the spicy stew, or the sharp, bright ones with preserved lemon. As each one was better than the last, we never quite decided... And in the evenings there was that street food, as the sun went down over the pink walls and orange trees of Taroudant, or in the famous Djemaa el Fna, the main market square of Marrakesh. How to summon up for you the smoke, the crowds, the vats of steaming snails, the sheep's heads, the multilingual banter of the guys from each stall? ("You eat here tonight - is very best stall, is Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver"..."No, no, les amoureuses, eat at my stall - cheaper than his, is Asda price"). Melissa at The Travellers Lunchbox has just written about the stalls in the Djemaa and has some beautiful pictures, and really her two posts evoke the place far better than I can - go see. But as amazing to little old untravelled me, in its way, was to eat a hot, oniony pancake (a rghaif, I think it would have been: a crêpe salée, anyway) in Taroudant, a beautiful old town with a slightly slower pace than Marrakesh, so that you can wander the streets with your supper and see people buying bread, coming out of the mosque, packing up their stalls or just taking a stroll.


Sunday 1st April


I bought some wonderful ricotta on a sunny morning at Borough Market last week and then the weather got a lot colder. So I filled this salad with hot things as well, and enjoyed the contrast between the cold, fresh cheese and hot and comforting boiled potatoes and mushrooms fried in garlic and parsley. The base is chicory, one head of white and one of red, with some mustard in the dressing.