Thanks to everyone who gave me some feedback on last week’s ramblings – especially to those who signed up for this week’s instalment, welcome back (and I promise I’ll keep it shorter this week …!!!)
At the beginning of the week I walked past my high street greengrocer and there was a huge section of the display at the front of the shop given over purely to plums, the rich colours ranging from a deep bruised purple, through the fresh greens of gages to the sunny yellow of Mirable plums, the latter apparently picked from a local residents garden, locavore at it’s finest Given my issues with cake (Eating it. All of it.) I wanted to try a savoury dish with these beauties, and I do love a cheese and fruit paring so I went for this very lovely Plum salad by food writer and stylist Rosie Reynolds
English plum salad
6 English plums, halved and stoned
140g watercress, rocket and spinach leaves
200g Lancashire cheese, crumbled
100g flaked almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
For the dressing
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp English mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 Put the onion in a small bowl with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Combine with the other dressing ingredients in a serving dish. Set aside.
2 Slice the plums and add to the dish with the onions and salad leaves. Pour over half of the dressing and toss to combine. Scatter over the crumbled cheese and chopped nuts, pour over the remaining dressing and serve.
As promised, a bit of pro photography show and tell
– this is the simple natural light set up I used to shoot this weeks dish. Diffused natural light coming in from a window to the right of the food, and reflected back onto the dish with a foam core white board. Direct sunlight is too harsh for food photography, it makes the image too contrasty with harsh highlights and shadows that are too dark, so covering your light source – in this set up, the window – in any kind of translucent material will fix that. A thin sheet, a translucent shower curtain, anything like that will do the trick, you don’t need to spend a fortune buying a specialist photography diffuser.
Two recommendations this week. For lunch the newly opened Burger Theory in Bristol is definitely worth navigating the one way traffic system and tricky parking in the area for. The atmosphere inside was friendly and calm, impressive given that this was only fours days since their opening, and the place was packed out at midday on a Tuesday. I tried one of the four vegetarian burgers on the menu, the Fu-Chi… Tofu and quinoa burger, melted cheddar, chipotle mayo, kimchi, spring onion, pickled peppers, fresh chilies and sticky Korean chili sauce. Spot on.
When the chef has also made all the furniture in the cafe, you know that he has put his heart and soul into a place, and that is very much the vibe at Ceres Coffee in Stokes Croft. The chairs are plastic crates topped with hessian sack cushions (way more comfortable than they sound) and the tables are scaffolding boards perched atop repurposed school table legs. The menu reflects the chef’s Aussie roots, with the portions generous and the produce top notch. I chose the sweetcorn fritters, smashed avocado, grilled Halloumi, Kasundi (a kind of Indian spiced tomato sauce) and poached egg (£8.50). Delish.
I finally got around to opening a book that has sat on my shelves for a while now. “Risotto with Nettles” is an autobiography written by the Italian food writer Anna Del Conte. Anna paved the way for chefs like Carlucci and Locatelli, popularising Italian food and writing eight cookbooks in her heyday, which are still held up as definitive texts for any young chef learning how to cook Italian food today. Part memoir, part history lesson, part cookery book, this book shows a woman who has lived a brilliant rollercoaster of a life – full of love affairs, adventure, and of course good food.
See you next week x