Sunday, November 29, 2009

(Wo) Man overboard

Phew, it's been a weekend and a half. A tidal wave of effort that paid off hugely in the end. I spent all day Friday making tray after tray of macarons.
This time they all worked after a dismal effort of three batches on Thursday that flopped without rhyme or reason just when I was getting cocky. I've been a major pain in the arse to live with lately too as it got closer and closer to Saturday and my cushion sale at Brondie's house in Norwich.
I always make it a policy to wear the same colour as the things I'm baking.. (It can be a nightmare rushing upstairs to change between batches though!)
Whose idea was it anyway to make 5 different flavours of macarons? Caramel fleur de sel, blackcurrant, pistachio with chestnut filling, tangerine and saffron. Making them was fine but filling them all and packaging them all took me about 9 hours in the end. Cute boxes though eh?
At 6 am on Saturday morning I decided that we needed more cake for people to eat as they sipped tea on the couches so what else but eclairs?
Then we finally made it to Brondie's where the gorgeous Clarissa titivated it all to look really posh. Warm and welcoming on a rainy day in Norwich.

Billy, the perfect doorman in suit and tie.
His Mumma Brondie looking like a complete bombshell.
The star team Clarry & Zebedee
And my darling Ricardo who had remained resolutely optimistic and an absolute darling that I will never be able to live without. Here he is making Lobster Thermidor for our dinner when I was at my lowest ebb on Friday night.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mugwumps, love bumps

This is my earworm at the moment thanks to Kelly. I love the way these girls make it look so easy to sing such perfect harmony. Ricardo and I are going to do our own rendition as soon as I can figure out all the words. I'll put it up here when we do. As Wikipedia says..."The song is notable as a hit single where the title is not in the lyrics".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Velvet luxury

Last week I went with my friend Heather to a (secret destination) fabric place in North London. We had a ball as usual. It's so nice to spend time with someone who loves fabric as much as I do. There were mountains of materials and lots of random bolts of velvet in mostly really cack flesh tone colours but right up the top at the back of a huge stack were some truly gorgeous colours. Colours I've been looking for my whole life.
I know you're not as obsessed by fabric as I am but I've truly been searching for pumpkin coloured velvet my whole life. I wish they had had more, I would have bought it all but I only managed to get a couple of metres of each colour.
This Granny Smith apple is as good as it looks in this photo. Don't you just want to bight it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blackcurrant ones!

I've been so obsessed with these little pillows of joy lately that I had to get up early yesterday morning and see if I could improve my technique. With a few twiddles of difference I managed to get the best batch yet.
I've still got to figure out how to do a liquorice filling for the next flavour and try to find some boxes for them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Truly exotic cushions this time

My buddy Clarissa came round yesterday and helped me photograph some new cushions for the exotic cushions website. Phew, I rang her in distress as I'd run out of ideas and my photos were looking really boring. As soon as Clarry came though there was an explosion of crushed velvet and the room looked like a Sultan's harem. Just wish I had time to lie back sip mint tea, eat pomegranates and gossip with Richard's other wives.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More Food porn

Here are some photos of my latest baking attempt, chocolate and coffee eclairs. They were much harder to make than expected , you have to have a really steady hand and the icing started to set before I could get them all iced. I've left the kitchen in a dreadful state and am thinking about making another macaron attempt!! Look out, at this rate I'll end up with diabetes.

Here's a little bit of cushion porn too.
Here are the latest cushions. This colour of crushed velvet is called Heather! It's my new favouritest of all time and the citrusy lemony green ribbon trim is the one I bought on Wednesday at the Cloth House, really expensive but oh so worth it. Need to find a wholesaler that would sell me small amounts. Does anyone out there know of one that has this kind of quality?

Friday, November 06, 2009

London fun

I went to London with my friend Heather on Wednesday and had such a great time. When you're not from the UK you see it much more as a tourist and it's such a beautiful city. Arriving at Liverpool St Station always gives me a buzz for a start as it's so huge and airy.
Heather says people are much nicer in London these days too. A few people stopped and asked if we needed help while we were spinning the map hopelessly around. The tube was really clean with new moving image advertising (that you can't actually see moving here but I'm sure you get the general idea) that reminded me of Blade runner as the ones on the actual stations are HUGE.
It's always amazing popping out at Piccadilly Circus and seeing Eros. Small but perfectly formed.
Our main reason for going was to see an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Sculptures by three English Artists who were around just before the 1st world war. It was called 'Wild thing' from a quote by Ezra Pound who, upon meeting one of the sculptors, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska for the first time called him "a well-made young wolf or some soft-moving, bright-eyed wild thing". The exhibition was good but lacking somehow. I thought there would be more drawings of the reliefs Epstein did for the controversial British medical association . Much was made of his work called 'The rock drill'. A huge macabre figure which must have inspired Ridley Scott for his Alien with it's foetus inside the monster's chest.
Most of his work was rounded and sensual and I really wanted to touch it. It's given me a taste for Epstein's work and I want to see more.
Another reason for going to London was to do some 'Market Research' on the elusive,fashionable and fragile Macaron. There is a rash of them in London. Here they are mounted up like a marvelous summer umbrella in Laduree in the Burlington arcade. The gold stalactite drip castle effect on the walls of the shop left something to be desired though. I was too self conscious to go in though and kicked myself for the rest of the afternoon.
Here are some more in a very groovy Japanese patisserie just down from Laduree in Piccadilly.
I did however summon up the courage to go into Fortnum and Mason across the road. It really is spectacular in there.
This gorgeous purple was every where inside.
Purple and turquoise with swans and feathers. Wow, check out the feather chandelier.
and this towering display of boxes of truffles.
There were more macarons but I didn't take any photos (this one is from a blog called 'The girl who ate everything')
This is is the stunning sculpture outside the Royal Academy my Anish Kapoor. If you click on it and blow it up really big you might see Heather and I waving at you.
This is a detail of the gates at the R A.
After the exhibition we wandered down Carnaby St where they had these funky blow up Christmas decorations, I need to get some.
Another reason we went to London was to look at the fabric shops in Berwick Street in Soho and I was not disappointed. Every colour of Thai silk you can imagine.
Some incredible fabrics including this one with strange beaded blisters. There was one with peacock feathers sewn all over it, reminding me of a dress I made at Art school that was covered with overlapping peacock feathers (a complete nightmare when you wanted to sit down).
Look at this for fabric heaven.....
The best of the lot was the Cloth house at number 98. I managed to find the exact shade of Heather coloured purple silk satin that Fortnum and Mason had used in their window display as well as some purple ribbed silk and a beautiful citrus yellow flower trim , all of which I've already made into a couple of cushions. Will take some photokoes tomorrow.
We had to have a lie down and a cup of tea after all that so we headed off to Liberty for some Earl Grey (well we managed the cuppa) and yep you guessed it a trio of Macarons!! Then an inspiring wander around the shop. We still had some time up our sleeves so we headed over to Harrods to check out the Laduree shop there and this time at great expense to the management, I pushed the boat out and bought 6 macarons for Ricardo the Magnificent. The best I've ever tasted, especially the Bergamot DO they do it.
Phew that's it for now. Enjoy the visuals and go forth & make yourself some of those most fashionable of treats this weekend....