Memories in a Jar

 

  • Chantarelle mushroom soup
  • Liquorice lamb with roasted vegetables & sweet carrot jus
  • Fish frikadeller with curry remoulade
  • Open pie with rye crust and rice & smoked cheese filling
  • Pancake tart with apple & rosehip sauce and blackberries

Finally time to do some contemplative writing again, after a busy summer. It’s been good, making friends for life over breakfast while running a B&B, enjoying all the fresh local produce in the restaurant & having manic days while popping up with Oren at festivals as Gwyl Arall and Gwyl Gardd Goll.
Now, with the wind blowing around the house, autumn has definitely arrived and brings a bit of melancholy with it. Nature is starting to show its more sorrowful colours in the deep red & purple of aubergines, plums, blackberries, elderberries & grapes. I would love to spend some time in a vineyard in Southern France to experience the buzz of the harvest and the anticipation of the wine it will make.

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The chill in the air and the first yellow leafs are telling us to hurry up, gather our produce and preserve the summer for the dark days to come. It is the season of jam & chutney making. No wonder there are no jam jars left in Caernarfon’s hard ware shop as we bought the last ones for the green tomato chutney I made. No point in waiting for the perfectly glossy full bodied but hard & green tomatoes to get some colour. Better off putting them in a jar where they will remind me of the good summer I had growing them.

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Of all the jams, rosehip must be my favourite. Ever since one summer as a small boy I helped pick Mrs. Blauw lots of them from our bushes, and she gave me a Matchbox Ford tractor as my reward. Mrs. Blauw was one of the few people to recognize the value of these fruits of the flower of love. They need a bit of work, with their little devils of thorns and millions of rock hard seeds. But after a good cooking you end up with a scented syrupy goodness – full of vitamin c.

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All in all a good symbol of the sweet memories I am left with after the hard work this summer.

 

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The Art of Travel

surprise Hungarian menu

Of course, blogging is part of arm chair tourism.  With modern technology, we can communicate with anybody anywhere who can tell us everything about anything. We can travel the whole world without lifting our ever growing behinds from our seats. We don’t need to go to China, we just read about it on the internet. We don’t need to taste exotic food, we just buy a whole world of cookery books without ever using them.  I wonder how many people will, after reading a recipe in a blog, actually cook it?

As the world is getting smaller, it is getting more & more difficult to submerge yourself into the unknown.  We don’t want to let go of the control we have over our environment.  Instead of stepping into the world, we let the world come to us, through our mobile phones & computers, with more & more apps as new control mechanisms.

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But I like to be surprised. I just love wandering aimlessly in big cities, never knowing what is around the corner. Maybe it is all Budapest’s fault.

In the summer of 1989 I embarked on my first solo travel, a month touring (then still communist) Hungary.  At the eve of the revolution, Budapest was a very vibrant city. There were concerts all over town every night, and because they were so cheap they were attended by people from all different classes. I saw my first Opera. Daytimes I picnicked in parks, discovered a massive variety of little shops  – one specialised in bow ties  – and had cakes & coffee in all the  classic cafés. Ah, Dobos Torte in Café Gerbaud!

It’s funny how food plays such an important role in my memories of that holiday, even though I wasn’t a chef back then. The cold cherry soup I had in scorching summer heat is still ranked among the best things I’ve ever tasted. But Tokaj and Eger Bulls Blood wines, Gundel pancakes and Chicken Paprikas could easily be added to that list.

English wasn’t widely spoken – the older generation spoke a bit of German. So ordering something from an Hungarian menu was a bit of an adventure. But you soon learn the words for soup, chicken & some cooking techniques. And you can’t go wrong with Goulash.

I fancied making Goulash this week. But the rest of the menu will be a surprise. Because I like cooking for people who are willing to take a risk. It adds to the spice of life.  Eating at Oren is rising from your armchair, let go, and go on a culinary travel where you never know what is around the corner.