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
I'm a Food Photographer who loves to cook, and I wanted to try something new that sits happily alongside my work. A place where all the food nerdery from my week can come tumbling out in a round up of the food I'm cooking, Restaurants I'm recommending, cookbooks I'm loving and background glimpses into the world of food photography, with a few shooting tips along the way.
I'm calling it Citrus Salt after my two Desert Island ingredients, and It's in it's infancy but I hope you like it. If you have stumbled across it, rather than my rather presumptuously sending it to your email, you can sign up to receive weekly blogs directly to your inbox at the bottom of this page.
This week my head is being turned by two things – Tomatoes & Blackberries.
My hands are permanently purple, (and slightly scratched …) as I can't help but pick the berries off the bushes whenever I walk past them. I turned a couple of handfuls into some speedy Drop Scones inspired by this recipe from Gill Mellor as the starting point. I left out the Saffron as I simply don't like the taste, and I cooked them in Coconut Oil instead of butter as I like Coconut & Blackberry as a pairing. To be clear these are drop scones, another name for small American style pancakes, not the cakey scones that you cover in jam and cream you may be imagining. They were jammy, delicious and took 10 mins to make. I totally recommend you give them a go if you have a couple of handfuls of blackberries looking for a home. Not sure they would keep particulalry well, but as I managed to eat 3 in a row, that's not really an issue…
Then for something a little different, I'm macerating the rest of my Blackberries in White Wine Vinegar to make this Blackberry Vinegar . The fruit has to sit in the vinegar for about 7 days before it's boiled up to make a sticky, balsamic style vinegar so I'm going to have to be patient.
For the past week or so I have picked a (small) handful of tomatoes each morning from a plant in my garden that amazingly I've managed not to kill, but they rarely last long enough to actually make anything with, it's just too tempting to just put them in my mouth and relish that sweet popping as they burst. That said, this Tomato Curry from Meera Sodha in this weekends Guardian turned my head so I'm giving that a go with some locally bought, ripe smelling toms.
It's been a good weekend for Props – a visit to the BigBemmyBanquet meant that I got the chance to look in the fabulous treasure trove that is Rhubarb Jumble on North Street, and bought a glorious retro Kilner Jar, and a 70's style purple and sage green tablecloth.
Look out for them in my Simple Things food features soon.
Part of being a Food Photographer in an age where worn down flagstone floors and old scruffy doors are seen as being desirable shooting surfaces is that you have to acquaint yourself with the delicate art of skip diving and general scavanging. This week I was gifted half a skip door by my friend and talented artist Emma Giacalone. Now there's a woman who knows exactly what I like!
I'm also busy thinking about and writing my Food Photography Masterclass for the Abergavvany Food Festival in a few weeks time. Tickets still available from here - definitely one for Food Bloggers looking to up their engagement with more beautiful shots, or photography fans who are trying to master the dark art of capturing food in the most appetising way.
On the same street as Rhubarb Jumble is the newly opened The Old Butchers, fast making a name for itself with Craft beer and a Crab-centric menu. That said, I sometimes think that a restaurant is best judged by the sides it serves, plus I have been leaning (lightly!) to the vegetarian side recently in a day on/day off kind of fashion, so I ordered the Spicy Fried Cauliflower with Thai style dressing and it was off the scale delicious. Just the right side of sticky without being too sweet with a chilli hit that demanded I try a couple of their craft beers to cool down. They haven't got their website together yet, but you can get a feel for the place from this review
I also visited Bomboloni on Gloucester Road – a long overdue trip as this place has been getting incredible reviews from day one. I shared the Fritto Misto as a starter, light crispy batter with mackerel as well as white fish in the mix. It would have been nice to come across a scallop or piece of Calamari in the mix, but maybe my dining partner nabbed all those. Staying with the fishy theme, I went for Cod in brown butter, sat on a bed of courgettes and topped with spicy wild Rocket. Simple, well cooked food with a daily changing menu – this new Bristol opening deserves every plaudit it's getting right now. Too full for dessert, I will have to make another trip their to try their signature Bomboloni …
Of the recent new releases I would say that Olia Hercules book Kaukasis is a personal favourite. I tasted her food when she was guest chef at Romy's Kitchen in Bristol this year and have been looking forward to this being released ever since. The book is centred around the food of Georgia and Azerbaijan, an area that has a strong food culture but one that has been barely written about. Olia is the perfect person to do it and writes with such deep rooted emoptional connection to the food and people that I hope the area is ready for the influx of food tourism that is about to hit it!
Given the title of my new blog, I have to end on this book the brilliant Citrus by Catherine Phipps. If like me you are a fan of the magical powers that adding Citrus can give most dishes then this is a no brainer for your cookshelf.
See you next week.