- Created: 10 September 2017 10 September 2017
- Hits: 95 95
We at InDulwich tend to do things at our own pace and if we are on trend it is more by accident than design. I did remember an article in the Guardian declaring edible flowers to be the “summer’s hottest food trend” but it was returning from a summer holiday to discover that nasturtiums had taken over the garden that stirred me to action. They and strawberries had been battling for garden supremacy, snaking across the patio, enveloping a bench and surrounding pots. The strawberries had put up a valiant fight but the vibrant flowers and lily pad leaves of the nasturtiums had been victorious. I knew the flowers were edible but a friend remarked that the leaves were too and the die was cast. It was time to fight back and in fashionable style.
Our nasturtium flowers are a bright yellow with smudges on red on the inside, though the odd one is an exciting red or orange. The taste offers a soft but still pronounced sweetness, followed by an unexpectedly hot pepperiness, with a wrap of something that tells you it’s a flower. The leaves are a little less sweet but still pack a decent pepper punch.
I take a packed lunch to the office, usually including a salad made with whatever is in the fridge. The one in the picture is golden beetroot (a current favourite), yellow pepper, cucumber and nasturtium flowers and leaves.
I pick a few flowers and leaves each morning but there is so much new growth, that I haven’t made much of a dent in the nasturtium tide. The flowers look too lovely to do anything with but pop them in my mouth but what more could I do with the leaves?
The obvious thing was to try them as a spinach substitute, just steamed. This was not a great success and yielded a couple of surprises. The first was the strong smell, as the oils are released. Apart from a slightly unpleasant aroma hanging around the kitchen for a while, that wasn’t important. The other surprise concerned the flavour. Sweet and peppery had turned to bitter. I‘m not averse to a bitter edge to flavours but this reminded me of a hideously bitter tea substitute I’d bought in communist-era Poland. The nasturtium leaves weren’t as strong as that but they did make a poor spinach replacement.
For a second experiment, I fried some onion and garlic and then threw in the leaves. I decided to cook them for a little longer than the faux-spinach, so put in a little liquid – just water – and covered the pan. This was much better. The sweetness of the onion offset the bitterness, which seemed less anyway, presumably from cooking them longer.
A photographer friend once told me that food is the hardest thing to photograph, so apologies of my effort isn’t up to scratch. Anyway, nasturtiums are the gift that keeps on going and I’ll be munching on them for a while yet. If anyone has any suggestions of other ways to cook the leaves, I’d love to hear them.Add a comment
- Created: 05 September 2017 05 September 2017
- Hits: 389 389
There is Montepulicano d’Abruzzo wine everywhere in London but how do you sort the truly remarkable from the truly ordinary? Well, it is all in the taste, and considering that I have visited this winery, tasted their wines and enjoyed them emphatically, here is a very decent tip:
Cantina Zaccagnini, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo - a rich full bodied red wine with smooth silk tannin, cherry, spice and a hint of chocolate. Perfect for a whole range of dishes especially roasted foods but equally pleasant with lighter dishes or with cheese.Add a comment
- Created: 17 August 2017 17 August 2017
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When the new version of Beauty and the Beast was released, an Icelandic woman sent a message via Facebook to her daughter asking if she would like to see it. Realising she had directed it to the Finance Minister by mistake, she sent a quick retraction. ‘Oh well, I’ll see it later’ came the reply.
- Created: 18 July 2017 18 July 2017
- Hits: 1709 1709
We once spent a weekend in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It rained steadily and heavily. We had a room in a cheap B&B. We had an energetic five year old with us. A lull gave us half an hour on the beach but the rest of the time was miserable. We divided it between some mediocre cafes and an arcade where our four year old played air hockey (fun at least) and had her first taste of a shoot ‘em up video game (hmm....). We dived into a cinema that was showing Top Cat: The Movie. It was desperately awful, even our daughter thought so.Add a comment
- Created: 06 July 2017 06 July 2017
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Walking around the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate Modern there is an unmistakeable intensity in the air. It’s always been there since our first encounter in the sculpture garden of The Maeght Foundation, Saint-Paul de Vence in the South of France. Giacometti achieves something in his creations many other sculptors can only dream of; he imbues them with the fiction of life. The sensation of presence lasting only a split second, a first glance, emanates from the work in front of you. Add a comment
- Created: 19 June 2017 19 June 2017
- Hits: 365 365
There is something about oppressive hear, when the air thickens and the sunlight bears down like a thing with mass. Movement slows and becomes more deliberate. Hurry is pointless.Add a comment
- Created: 19 May 2017 19 May 2017
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It’s a sultry summer night, 23 July 1977. After much pleading, the thirteen year old me is allowed to stay up for the first half of BBC2’s double bill of horror. The film is Son of Frankenstein and I am sucked in by the heavy gothic atmosphere, the weird, expressionistic sets and lighting, the haunting music played by Bela Lugosi’s Ygor and finally, Boris Karloff’s monster.Add a comment
- Created: 12 May 2017 12 May 2017
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The Cultural Revolution was a particularly brutal period in Chinese history. In 1966, Chairman Mao unleashed a torrent of violence and ignorance that aimed to purge the country of revisionists, the bourgeois, the traditional and the capitalist.Add a comment
- Created: 09 May 2017 09 May 2017
- Hits: 2158 2158
Having lived in West Dulwich for the last 3 years, I have become aware that is a bit of a desert when it comes to dining out locally. While other places like Herne Hill seem to have an ever growing choice of eateries and drinkeries, West Dulwich has Cafe Rouge and the god awful pub-come-wedding venue, the Rosendale. Add a comment
- Created: 05 May 2017 05 May 2017
- Hits: 817 817
Yesterday would have been Margo Durrell's birthday. There was always a little bit of confusion about her age because she used to chisel off a year here and there. She died in 2007 at an agreed age of 87. So to commemorate her 97th birthday I have written this short piece. Add a comment
- Created: 02 May 2017 02 May 2017
- Hits: 797 797
Ever since art school I have found the most famous works of Hockney, such as the Hollywood portraits and interiors, very sterile, soulless, lacking any vital life element. He has an architects knack for precision, producing works that are void of spirit. Add a comment
- Created: 26 April 2017 26 April 2017
- Hits: 662 662
After we published the first part of my South Circular ramble, from West Dulwich to Woolwich, we received a message from a reader in China (we have a reader in China!). He said he’d forwarded the link to a friend who had lived in Dulwich for forty years and the friend’s response was “should have turned left out of the station”.Add a comment
- Created: 20 April 2017 20 April 2017
- Hits: 1202 1202
I have recently received several links to press relating to the forthcoming series of ‘The Durrells’, the ITV adaptation of the books of Gerald Durrell. The success of the first series has guaranteed a second and, I am told, a third. Add a comment