Thursday, 26 February 2009

Bocca di Lupo

After nothing short of a fiasco, we finally got the corner table we wanted at Bocca di Lupo. We did our usual trick of demanding pen and paper from the waitress in order to spodishly finesse our order. I voted for the fried bread with speck and squacquerone cheese - mostly because I liked the sound of squacquerone - and pork and foie gras sausage with faro. Delicious beyond words was Artichoke a la Giudia - a perfect heart of the veg deep fried to crispiness but unctiously soft in the centre. Seven or 8 plates later and still, Archie, Ol and I were hell-bent on tasting the Sanguinaccio: a pudding paté made from pig's blood and chocolate, which you spread thickly on slices of sourdough.

Paul Smith's autumn collection at London Fashion Week was right up my street.

Friday, 20 February 2009

It'll be months before it's warm enough to wear this pretty frock, as it's not really the kind you can team will wooly tights and a cardi... I love that it hangs like a sack of potatoes but is made from the sweetest Liberty print. It looks like it would get all nicely creased after one wear and, in my book, all the best dresses have pockets.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

February malady

Gently warm some calvados in a pan, over a low heat. Pour into a glass and sip slowly: a soothing and delicious remedy for a sore throat.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Winter salad

Purple sprouting broccoli with walnuts and pecorino

Purple sprouting broccoli
Walnuts, shelled and chopped into big chunks
Extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon salt and black pepper
Pecorino cheese, sliced into thin shards
Sourdough breadcumbs
Cook the broccoli in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain well, and tip back into the hot pan. While the broccoli is still hot, slosh on some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, carefully coating the broccoli. Sprinkle over the walnuts and cheese and gently fold together. Decant to a serving plate. Fry the breadcrumbs in butter, until golden, and scatter over the salad before serving.

Beautifully serene, inspiring and nicely scruffy-round-the-edges photography of the new spring collection at Cabbages & Roses.

Monday, 16 February 2009


A break in the February downpours is my excuse for channelling Pocahontas and donning these suede moccasins.


Saturday night we dined at Magdalen in London Bridge. I loved the ox-blood walls and bentwood chairs and paper tablecloths, wine by the carafe and tinkling piano on the stereo... not to mention the potted crab, spiked with cayenne, served a miniature earthenware pot. Scallops with garlic and breadcrumbs, fish stew with gurnard and mussels, roast lamb with butter beans - and pudding: a sticky, glossy tarte tatin - with two spoons (well, it was Valentine's Day).

Thursday, 12 February 2009

I live in London and work in a central-heated office, so really it's only in my parallel life that I would have need for this sheepskin jerkin from Bamford, and lovely Cornish willow log basket. Perfect for my inner shepherdess.

Rhubarb and pomegranate fool

Pot of organic double cream
Bunch rhubarb
Brown sugar
Large pomegranate
Flaked almonds, which you have dry-roasted in a pan (don't let them burn!)

Trim the rhubarb and cut into 3cm pieces. Tip into a baking tray, sprinkle with some water and scatter over a heaped tablespoon of brown sugar. Toss well, using your hands. Cover with tin foil and roast for 10 mins in a medium oven until soft, but still holding its shape. Take the rhubarb out of the oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks.

Cut the pomegranates in half, and scoop out all the seeds, carefully removing any white pith. Set aside.

Scoop out the cooled rhubarb from the baking tray, and separate the juice (setting it aside). Tip in the pomegranate seeds into the cooked rhubarb, gently combine, and then very gently fold the fruits into the cream – do not overmix.

Using small tumblers, spoon the fool in layers – the cream/fruit mix, followed by the rhubarb juice – creating a marbled effect. Finish with the cream/fruit mix, and chill for an hour or so before eating. To serve, top with a sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I love fennel: fat, white bulbs with their bright-green wispy fronds, the stringy crunch and tart aniseedy taste. I like it raw as a salads with olive oil and seasalt (with slices of Wiltshire ham); roasted slowly with garlic; baked in a softly unctuous gratin... but it won't be in season for months - not until June - so I will have to make do with other fennely treats until then: Wild Fennel tea by Dr Stuart's, and Kingfisher Fennel toothpaste.

Dulce de Leche

Wrap a banana in tinfoil and bake in a hot oven for 15 mins. Melt a scoop of Dulce de Leche in a small pan. Unwrap the banana, slit down the middle with a sharp knife and pour the sauce in. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve with a scoop of crème fraiche.

Monday, 9 February 2009

How extremely exciting that Anthropologie - the US store I love - is finally opening on Regent Street at the end of the year. I'd like these lovely things in my shopping basket...

The drawer under my bed that stores my scarves is fit to burst. Nestled amongst the moth balls there are thin cotton neckerchiefs in prints and polkadots to wear with jumpers or tied in a turban on my head on holiday, gauzy scarves with Indian embroidery that are too cosy to consider taking off on arrival at the office, enveloping shawls for telly watching, tartan cashmere for Wiltshire walks... This one would be a dream purchase - from NY label Matta, available at The Cross Pricey but lovely.

Wintry Sunday lunch for four

Roast pork with fennel; apple and potato puree with watercress; kale

Roast pork with fennel

1.2kg organic, free-range pork loin (off the bone), skin well scored
Two cloves garlic
Heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
Maldon salt
Olive oil
Large onion
Large sprig of sage
Glass of Normandy Calvados

Take the pork out of its packaging as soon as you can, put on a plate (skin side up), cover it with a clean tea-towel and bring it to room temperature. Spread the skin liberally with salt and really massage it into the scored skin. Leave to absorb for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 230c.

Crush the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt to make a paste. Add the fennel seeds and mix well. Using your hands, rub this paste into the flesh of the pork – don’t get any on the skin.

Slice the onion into thin strips and place in a baking tray. Slosh with olive oil, toss well and then heap the onions in the centre of the tray. Put the sage sprig on top of the heap, and then put the pork loin on top.

Cook the pork in the hot oven for 20 mins, then turn the heat down to 180c, and cook for a further 1 hour and 20 mins.

Take the pork out, transfer to a chopping board, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 20 mins.

Put the baking tray onto the stove on a low heat, carefully scoop out the charred onions and throw them away. Tip in a small glass of calvados and scrape with a wooden spoon to loosen all the charred goodness in the tray. Allow to boil and reduce slightly. Add some sloshes of water if the gravy is looking too thick. Pour into a jug, with a spoon.

Apple and potato puree with watercress

2 English apples
A bag of Charlotte potatoes
A bag of watercress, roughly chopped
Organic milk
A pot of crème fraiche
Maldon salt
Black pepper

Peel the potatoes and chop into chunks. Peel and core the apples and slice. Bring to the boil a large saucepan of salted water, and boil the potatoes for about 15 mins or until tender. After 10 mins, add the apples.

Drain the potatoes and apples and return the pan. Leave to steam for about 5 mins. Add half a pat of butter, season with salt and pepper and mash well. Gently heat a slosh or two of milk in a separate pan (don't let it boil) and stir through the puree. Put the lid on and set aside.

Put the watercress in a separate saucepan, with the crème fraiche, and over a low heat stir for about 2 minutes to wilt the leaves; do not let it boil. Season with salt and pepper, and then put the mixture in a blender and blitz until smooth.

Gently reheat the potato/apple puree, and gently reheat the watercress puree (in separate pans). Pour the watercress puree into the potato puree and fold once or twice to very loosely combine – do not overmix (it looks prettier if there are ribbons of green).


2 large bags of kale
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Plunge the kale into the water and boil for a minute or so (or less - test the leaves; they should have bite). Drain well, carefully pressing all the water out of the kale (try not to bruise the leaves). Gently heat the olive oil in the pan and then toss through the kale. Decant this into a warm serving plate and sprinkle with salt.

Friday, 6 February 2009

I wish Japanese label 45rpm sold their stuff in London. I'd be shopping there an awful lot if they did.

I love eiderdowns, and beds you have to climb ladders to get into. Picture by Polly Eltes

Tea tastes nicer in truly lovely Irish spongewear by Nicholas Mosse

The perfect drizzly February afternoon pick-me-up: a cinnamon bun from the Nordic Bakery on Golden Square Piled in wicker baskets and wrapped in linen teatowels to keep them warm. I love their postcards, too.

All my favourite dresses look like they've been sewn from tablecloths, and here is an extremely fine example. I love it so much it actually annoys me whenever I look at it - because I bet she bought it for £1 in a charity shop and there isn't a single other like it in the world. I would wear it every single day this summer if it was mine. I love her sunglasses too. But I think her hat's a bit silly and if the dress was mine I wouldn't wear it with black jeans and boots, but bare legs and sandals from K Jacques.
I abbbasolutely love this wintry outfit/scruffy hair combination on Clémence Poésy. It makes me want to be in Paris. From

Clogs: satisfyingly chunky and clunky and clip-cloppy, cosy for your toes, and made from wood - for goodness sake, what's not to love? Thick grey cashmere tights are a favourite accompaniment for mine, which, incidentally, are not the cheap imitation "clogs" which are stapled together and fall apart after one damp outing. No, mine are the proper Swedish handmade clogs, carved from alder on lasts and nailed together by men in overalls who stop for herring on ryebread at lunchtime. Troentorp Toffel

The steel-grey sky above Shepherds Bush this morning, the sugary dusting of ice on the roofs of every car in our street, made me more than ever want to be waking up in this log cabin, deep in a Nordic forest somewhere, lighting that pot-bellied stove and hunkering down for a wintry hibernation. I love this fabric from Volga Linen, don't you?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Welcome to Han Picked - a chronicle of lovely things picked by Han.