Monthly Archives: January 2012

thrift, cauliflower leaves

I bought a cauliflower from the hippy veg stall on Cambridge Sunday market, inspired by its tight, creamy curds to make a cauliflower puree. It was a lovely thing to go with roast chicken, like a feather light, silky bread sauce flavoured with bay, cloves and onion.

I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the plentiful leaves and stalks I’d snapped from around the centre of the cauliflower. (Mum always insists they go into cauliflower cheese along with the florets and she’s right, I think, it’s nonsense to discard them.) The next day – and this is the point of this post – I cooked them until very tender in a big pan of boiling water. I drained them, dressed them in garlic, pepper, dijon mustard, wine vinegar, turned them out on a plate, still steaming. I put over a good amount of extra virgin olive oil, a fistful of crunchy Maldon salt and another grind of the pepper mill.

It was one of those gourmet experiences that comes out of thrift. As I was eating the tangle of tenderly peppery, earthy winter stems, with their straightforward, punchy dressing, I was thinking, this is the sort of thing they put on the menu at the River Cafe, on grilled pugliese sourdough, the sort of thing Patience Grey might have written of, Elizabeth David judged judicious! Not because it’s complicated or clever or inventive, but because it makes something honestly wonderful out of something very simple – and satisfying because I could very easily have thrown the stems away.

It made a lovely little starter anyway.

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new year, old idea

Last year I thought I could devote myself to writing a wine blog. This year I want to go back to writing about food, too, so I’ve revived my old blog title, which I’m fonder of. I┬álove wine – I’m looking for new jobs in wine just now, as I’m moving to London from Cambridge in the next few weeks – but the trouble is, unless I upload my notes from work, which can be rather prosaic, I just end up writing about what I drink at home in the fug of half a bottle. Invariably that will be sherry, champagne or minerally whites. That will get dull.

So this year I want to write about cooking again, I want to write about wine when I want to – there are so many things to say – but not always. I’ve just started reading Brillat-Savarin, spent the first weekend I’ve had to myself for a long time dipping into Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David, roasted a chicken with butter and tarragon and eaten it with dijon mustard and maldon salt. It’s got me going.

I also found these pictures of mum and me last summer. We lit the barbecue because it was cool, drank Tio Pepe, claret and chianti with steak, and tomato and basil salad, smoked some cigarettes. That, really, reminded me what good food and wine are all about: the lovely experience of eating and drinking, and the way it lodges a taste, the memory of combined flavours and sensations, in a particular time. I want all this to refocus me and my writing this year.