Food on the brain this week: thinking about it, talking about it, planning it, making it, and of course eating it!
One of my favourite things about my new Post-Bake Off life is how often I have reasons to go into Central London now. I see myself as a proper Londoner, but because I live and work in the suburbs it’s easy to forget how awesome the city is. I popped into Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly for tea with my wife Sarah this week. As a builder, I’m a bit of a tea connoisseur and I reckon F&M’s passed the test. It’s a crazy place, though it’s more of an experience than a shop. It reminds me of a Roald Dahl book – a massive sensory overload – hundreds of different types of chocolate, rows and rows of colourful biscuit tins, candied fruit of every kind. I picked up a few Christmas presents and got some ideas of things I’d like to try and make myself. Got me even more in the mood for Christmas.
On Wednesday evening I was privileged to be invited to the World Monuments Fund talk on Architecture & Food in Mayfair and participate as a panellist. I had such a great time. The evening was hosted by Jonathan Foyle, who specialises in Architectural History and is the World Monuments Fund CEO. The other panellists included Julie Humphryes, the very talented architect who designed the Chiltern Firehouse, London’s “most talked about restaurant“. Julie’s firm specialises in renovating historic buildings and making them cafes / restaurants / hotels – redesigning them (in part) around the food that will be served. Also on the panel was the awesome Marc Meltonville, the Food Historian at Hampton Court Palace (amongst other places). Marc seems to have the coolest job in the world and a total passion for it too! I thought I might be a bit out of my depth at the event but I enjoyed every minute of it and met some really interesting people. After the talk, we all went out for dinner and I quizzed Marc all night about food history – he makes it so interesting. I have some great historic recipe books so I might plan my own medieval banquet in the new year. Here’s a little clip of Marc narrating some of the work he does at Hampton Court:
On Thursday evening this week I took part in a live Twitter Q&A with BBC Good Food Magazine for their #GoodFoodBakeSale for Children in Need. Mrs Muamba also took part and it was great to meet her and her husband in person today. It was loads of fun and pretty full on – I was sat at my kitchen table with two laptops open trying desperately to keep up with the questions coming in. Thanks to everyone who took part and thanks particularly to anyone who downloaded my Pudsey Bear Swiss Roll recipe.
I’ve been recipe developing all this week – trying to perfect some of my favourites (like the chicken and mushroom pie pictured at the top of this post) and create some new ones too. My mate from CBeebies, Alex Winters, and his family came to stay this weekend. Alex is down in London rehearsing for panto and we have kids around the same ages, so I used them all as guinea pigs for a few things I’d made – black olive and rosemary focaccia, steak and ale pie and, having been thinking about it for a few weeks now, I gave monkey bread a go too. I’ve got a few ideas how to make the monkey bread a bit more interesting but I was pretty pleased with the stem ginger ice cream I made to go with it. It was really great to catch up with Alex and his family again – I wished him lots of luck with his panto (“oh no I didn’t”, “oh yes I did”).
Everywhere I go these days I hear the same thing: “where’s your pencil, Richard?” So my sister-in-law Kate had the bright idea of me ordering pencils as business cards with my blog address, www.richardburr.london on them – genius! They arrived this week, just in time for me to bring them to the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham today.
So today was the last big food show of the year – the BBC Good Food Winter Show at the Birmingham NEC. I’d picked up from a few people over the past few months that this was the big one – “are you going to Birmingham?” seems to be the question I heard most often in foodie circles recently. So I drove up to Brum today and had a brilliant time. I was so proud to watch Luis doing a live demo today and to catch up with Claire and her husband Carl too. I can’t wait to catch up with them and all the other bakers again at our Christmas reunion in a few weeks. I also spent some time catching up with Frances Quinn from last year’s Bake Off, Lisa Faulkner, and the fantastic Dave Myers, who I met at Strictly last week. Dave and Si invited me to join them in their Hairy Bikers demo but apart from the fact I’m not sure a bald head would fit their image, I have a cold and didn’t want to sneeze all over their lovely food so unfortunately I couldn’t take part! I think today was my fourth food show in the past two months, so it’s a pretty good job I enjoy them so much!
I reckon I need to spend the next week chasing the dog around the park or I’ll be the size of a (gingerbread) house by Christmas. See you next week…!