Monday, September 28, 2009

"It was weird at the Roadshow... Most of the Antiques there seemed to be mobile, with low value, LOL amazing that"

Ouch! Hahahaha another Cliffism.

Blists Hill Victorian Town near Ironbridge, England in the county of Shropshire was host to Antiques RoadShow recently. I am going to find myself on tellie me thinks. I was up front and centre in the audience crowd on one of the segments they taped on September 17th. We asked a camera guy when it would broadcast and he said February. Watch for me!

This was like my 4th visit to Blists Hill, but there were many additions to the "town." They added a whole new street and have made it come more alive in areas. Also there is a train to a "mine" and incline lift and incline plane.
As I walked around, there were long queues of people waiting to have their personal treasures appraised by different experts. A few very special and interesting in particular were highlighted for the show and one could see the recording going on in different posts.
We were in the right spot at the right time to catch Fiona Bruce recording an introduction to a segment with a Mary Quant collection. ....Complete with a Mary Quant designer MINI.
Here you see the appraising expert and the owner of the collection.
Lights camera action! This Mary Quant segment is the one to watch for, I am right in front of the collection during recording.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goat Cheese Pasta

Remember this guy from the Ludlow Food Festival blog? His goat cheese pasta dish was so good, I had to try a version of it myself. His name is Jamie Yardley from Boyne Arms near Bridgnorth. The recipe has not been posted, as of yet, but have a nose at the website. I wouldn't be surprised if I show up there some night soon for tea.
It wasn't difficult to find the broad beans needed for the dish at the market a few steps away from the castle.
The goat's cheese needed was found at one of the fine cheese mongers in town. This cheese was a great find. It was a ash rind cheese like I made at my stage at France, during culinary school. Memories! Ash is supposed to be good for digestion and while it is funny to look at, the flavour and texture with cheese is nothing to laugh at.

This is the basic procedure developed to use ingredients I had and what I could remember to make this dish:

Blanch the broad beans and then saute' them in Evoo. Add blanched, chopped leeks. Then add spinach and wilt it down. Next add double cream, olives, prepared pesto and cheese. Heat through. Add prepared pasta (homemade and cooked al dente) and my addition of sauteed chicken cubes. Garnish with parsley.

This dish is definately a keeper!

******Edited to include the original recipe I have since aquired from Chef Yardley:

Fresh Tagliatelle Verde with Garden Greens Olives and Brock Hall Goat Cheese

1 portion:
olive oil
garden greens (one handful)
peas, beans, onions (pinch)
blanched pasta
double cream (75 ml)
goat cheese (1/4)
pesto (1 tsp.)
olives (pinch)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan + the greens and bean mixture. Drop a small portion of pasta in a pan of hot simmering water. Add the double cream and cheese to the pan and bring to a boil stirring in the cheese. Add the olives and pesto. Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Reduce over a medium heat until a coating consistency, season and serve garnished with some reserved crumbled cheese.


6 whole yolks
4 whole eggs
2 fl. oz. water
2 fl. oz. olive oil
2 lbs. "00" pasta flour
2 tsp salt

Combine all but the water in a food processor. Slowly add the water until the dough is soft and shiney. Clingfilm tightly and rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Damsons and Cob Nuts

When one visits Ludlow in September, what is left to do but make Damson preserves of some kind? That is just what I did. The oval-shaped plums were introduced to England by the Romans. They were first planted in Damascus....Damson/Damascus- Do you see what they did there? The English introduced Damsons to the Americas, they seemed to take root and do quite well there as well. They have a lovely colour and natural pectin helped them thicken quite nicely on their own. I have made several dishes with them so far.

I also discovered Cob Nuts. They are a nut originating from Kent and are similar to Hazelnut. I find them to have a milder flavour than Hazelnut and also meater in texture. I bought the Cob Nuts and Damsons together so it is only fair they should stay together in my dishes.

Here is more reading about Cob Nuts:

In the reading of that website, it appears that the game Conkers was originally played with Cob Nuts in the 1600's. I have also been collecting Conkers/Horse Chestnuts, which are the well known form of the game. Conkers is played with a nut strung on a string and one hits another conker on a string and the one that bursts first loses. With Cob Nuts the prize is the tastey nut to eat....But, in the case of Horse Chestnuts it is not reccomended. They are slightly poisonous and very different to edible Chestnuts. Although they can be used as a medical remedy for venous insufficiency:

Edible chestnuts have a fuzzier pod, as opposed to the spikey pod of the Horse Chestnut. I love the look of the Horse Chestnuts, they have a lovely looking colour and grain to them. See:

Anyway, back to FOOD!

Beet Salad with Toasted Cob Nuts, Leeks and Damson Vinigarette

Cob Nut Crusted River Cobbler w/ Damson Sweet and Sour Sauce and Creamed Leek Fried Rice

I'm sorry there aren't any recipes. It was an occasion of just making them!

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's a Food Fest!

I made my return to Ludlow (Cittislow) for the 2009 food festival. Previously, I was there working the Slow Food Booth all three days in September 2005. I was a go-for, cooked and served blood pudding, handed out brochures about Slow Food (more info to follow in blogs to come) and Perry, set-up and cleaned-up for the classes on Cheshire cheeses, local honey and also local bread. It was a blast and Slow Food is a good cause, but I had a small amount of time to actually take in ALL of the festival....This year was different! While I still didn't technically see it ALL, I did see quite a bit more. For the one day I was there it was alot! The one thing that is a must next time is the Sausage Trail, since I managed to miss that again. I also hope that the butcher that smokes the duck that I used at The Clive will start that endeaver again. I still have dreams about it.

The series of pictures say and show it pretty well. The one thing it can't show however is the flavour and freshness of the thin crispy crust. This particular pizza is of the pesto variety.

Fresh produce galore, including several seasonal, new to me items to play with such as Cob Nuts (similar to hazelnuts) and Greengages.

Freshly shucked oysters from Essex to taste, I can't pass that up.

Oh, there are loads of speciality foods to sample at the fest. Pickled Green Walnuts are a new one on me. There is enough beer, cider and perry to quench any thirst.
Here we see some Welsh cheeses, including Laverbread cheese....For those that are wondering what Laverbread is, it is seaweed.

You can't go to Ludlow and pass up the baked goods. On one of my trips to Ludlow the flat I stayed in was above a bakery! It was great to wake-up to the smells that came with that particular location.

There are many cooking demos going on during the three day festival. This is the chef for The Boyne Arms near Bridgnorth. He created a pasta dish with broad beans, olives, cream, spinach etc. The starring ingredient was goat's cheese, as it was a goat cheese demo. I made this dish or as close to it as possible....That will feature on a later blog.

Ludlow is known for quality butchers around the town. Also featuring during the fest was Spanish sausages and ham. I had to take some Serrano and Chorizo home with me. It was great for dinner with ash rind goat cheese from Herefordshire on the lightly toasted Ludlow Brown bread and a homemade damson preserves I whipped up (more about that later.) It was soooooo good with Pinot Grigio- three nights running!!!!

Also, Fordhall Farm had a booth going. An organic farm near Market Drayton.

Right, did I mention cider and Perry (pear cider)? This gent was kind enough to show how they do it:

The juice is running without being pressed.
Now we have a stack of a dozen and it is being pressed-Whooooosh..... The wood barrel isn't big enough, so he has to slep it to a bigger holding tank.

The final product,which I tried and can report that it was very nice indeed.
Don't get me started on Ludlow, a place very dear to my heart! Ok, there is much more to tell. In upcoming blogs will be featured the markets, about Slow Food, bakeries, butchers, restaurants. All Ludlow, all of the time.....24/7!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why isn't it called a Monkery?

Buildwas Abbey Ruins

I am not a religious person, but still like the history of it all. I am in awe of just how old the ruins are. The first time I paid a visit was in 2004 and I just snapped pictures from outside a fence. This time I walked inside the walls, as it is open until the end of September. Being inside the still standing sandstone left me wondering what the building was like in 1135 when the floor and roof was intact. Looking up reveals the blue sky and the green grass under feet was most likely wonderful tiles. Inside were a small order of monks numbering from 6-12 at any given time. They made their living collecting tolls to pass on a bridge they built across the Severn river. Being relatively close to Wales the walls could tell of a few attacks from the Welsh. Including an abduction of the monks by Welsh border raiders in 1350. In spite of the attacks, for the most part things were relatively peaceful. Imagine the foundations of their quiet life shaken by a monk called Thomas Tong murdering the abbot!

Please notice the thickness of the walls in the top right picture in the collage below.

Buildwas Abbey near Ironbridge, England was built as a cruciform, Savignac monastry that merged with the Cisterian order. In 1536 "I'm Henry the VIII, I am" dissolved such things as monastries including Buildwas (It's a king thing.) The area was granted to Lord Powys.

Here is a sort of virtual tour:

Where the hired workers stayed....

Well, it's a Crypt....It was a bit creepy to be in there. Sacristy where religious type props were kept and the Chapter House were they held meetings.

Sedilia were there were once ceremonial seats near an alter.
A nature walk around the perimeter of the abbey grounds.

The nature walk takes one to what was once the abbot's house and is now a private clubhouse with beautiful grounds and a place to bowl.

....And here we are back to the abbey. We can see it here through the brush along the nature trail.
I can't wait to make some HDR images from what is left on my camera!!!