Posts from March 2014

Mushroom Risotto

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Risotto is such a delicious and comforting dish and also really easy to change it up in easy ways by just adding new ingredients. One of my favorite ways to make it (a little bit due to nostalgia of our first year of marriage when I made this all of the time) is to add in a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms. I whipped this up one weekend after a visit to the farmer’s market in Marylebone and paying a visit to the mushroom stand. I tend to go a little off the cuff when it comes to cooking, so some amounts might not be exact, but just sort of go with it…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Arborio rice ( or a handful per person)
  • one small onion diced
  •  olive oil
  • handful of dried mushrooms (I like to use a mixture but any variety will do)
  • handful of fresh mushrooms, cleaned and hand torn (I like to use shitake or porcini)
  • one glass of white wine
  • 1 Litre chicken stock
  • 2 large handfuls of freshly grated parmigiano cheese (try to get the best quality you can as I think this makes a big difference)
  • salt & pepper

Method:

Start out by heating up some water to almost boiling, remove from heat and soak the dried mushrooms in this water and set aside. Heat chicken stock in a sauce pan to keep warm. Meanwhile, heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat and add the onion, cook until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add in fresh mushrooms and arborio rice and cook for a minute or two until the rice becomes a little glossy. Add in white wine to rice and stir until fully absorbed. By this point you can drain the soaking mushrooms but reserve the water and give the mushrooms a little chop or two. I like to alternate adding in a cup of chicken stock or a cup of the reserved mushroom soaking water to the rice, always stirring until fully absorbed. Continue to do this until the rice is at the doneness that you prefer (I like for it to be a little al dente). Remove from heat, add in the drained mushrooms and most of parmigiano and stir. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a sprinkle of parmigiano on top and enjoy with a glass of wine!

*shot on a Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 400*

Natalie & Ed / SE4

A portrait series of people who call London home.

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How long have you lived in London?

Ed: 13 years

Natalie: All my life- London born and bred!

What makes someone a Londoner?

Ed: You can’t remember the last time you went to Leicester Square.

Natalie: Impatience. Especially when it comes to public transport and ensuring we look as miserable as possible whilst on public transport!

North London or South London?

Ed: South, although when I lived North I swore I would never live ‘on the other side’ so I’ve defected!

Natalie: South!!!!

Favorite thing about living in London?

Ed: There are so many things to do at any one time- we are spoilt for choice.

Natalie: So much to do, drink and eat!

Least favorite thing about living in London?

Ed: There are so many things to do at any one time- I’m rubbish at making decisions!

Natalie: Queues…

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

Ed: So many to choose from! The Island Queen in Angel is an awesome pub.

Natalie: Love a cocktail at St. Pancras Hotel.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

Ed: Meze Mangal in Lewisham is amazing.

Natalie: Meze Mangal.

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

Ed: Cycle. Failing that a top-deck bus ride.

Natalie: Taxi.

Where do you go to get away from the city?

Ed: Rarely leave the city, but it’s always good to head back home to Poole on the South coast.

Natalie: To my mum’s in the suburbs!

Babylonstoren

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Itinerary: A week long trip in the wine country of South Africa (just outside of Capetown) as a belated 30th birthday celebration.

Travel Time: An 11 hour flight from London to Cape Town followed by a 45 minute drive to our hotel.

Accommodation: The main reason we chose to visit this part of South Africa was because of the hotel Babylonstoren. I had seen it mentioned on a few different blogs and travel guides over the years and had kept it in the back of my mind for when, if ever, we might head to this part of the world. Situated in the Drakenstein valley, Babylonstoren is a hotel, farm and winery all in one. Most of the grounds near the Cape Dutch-style guest cottages have been cultivated into beautiful gardens. It is really one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever been.

Highlight(s): Being my first time to set foot anywhere on the continent of Africa, I had high hopes for this trip and it did not disappoint. The beautiful weather, abundant sunshine and hospitality of everyone we met certainly helped, but the real winner of the trip was where we stayed. My favorite thing to do was take a lazy late afternoon walk through the expansive gardens. You might come across the chickens headed to the hen house for the evening, guests enjoying a cup of herbal tea in the greenhouse or maybe stumble upon a new section of the garden you had not explored yet. Most days were filled with grabbing breakfast at Babel (the restaurant on the grounds and where most of the edible things from the garden ares used), followed by a run or maybe a swim in the pool and a massage in the spa, then off to explore either a nearby winery or drive to the beach or Cape Town. And in the evenings when we returned to our cottage, we were always greeted with a lovely aperitif before heading out to grab dinner.

One evening when we came back to our cottage, we opened the door and were greeted by an owl that had somehow managed to fly down the chimney into our room! I, very bravely, ran as fast as I could out of there! The poor little thing was more frightened than anything and eventually we managed to open the back door to the cottage while it was hiding under a table and it flew out on its own.

It was hard to say goodbye to this place once it was time to leave but if we ever find ourselves in South Africa again, I definitely plan to stop by for even if just for a little visit.

 

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*shot on a Rolleiflex with Kodak Ektar & Portra 800*

The Shard

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I love to have family or friends visit us in London because it makes me go out and enjoy parts of city that I keep meaning to visit but don’t simply due to getting caught up in the  busyness of everyday life. So back in January when my sister and brother-in-law visited, I knew I wanted to take them to The Shard to get one of the best views of London below. The 87-story skyscraper was completed in 2012 and the viewing deck opened to the public back in February of 2013. There are two levels to the viewing area, the second of which is open air which is a little scary at first but I got over this pretty quickly. We managed to book our time for about 20 minutes before sunset on such a clear day you could see for miles and miles- I don’t think I really understood how huge this city is until I saw it from so high above. I know a lot of people complain about the price to get up to the viewing area, but my thinking is this isn’t something you do everyday, more of a special occasion type of thing. Plus once you are up there, you can stay as long as you like- no time limit. So why not take your time and take all of London in for a bit?

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Mark / E9

A portrait series of people who call London home.

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How long have you lived in London?

On and off for around 13 years.

What makes someone a Londoner?

Indifference.

North London or South London?

Neither… go East!

Favorite thing about living in London?

The energy. Anything is possible in this town.

Least favorite thing about living in London?

It has to be one of the most expensive places to live!

Favorite spot to grab a drink?

Downstairs bar at The Hawksmoor (Spitalfields) with a glass of Four Roses bourbon.

Favorite spot to grab a bite?

By myself at Wong Kei, Chinatown. Go alone, join a sharing table and enjoy the company of some real characters.

Taxi, Tube, Bus, Bike or Walk?

The tube mostly! Taxis when I’m on a date, walking when I’m on a high, and buses when I have all the time in the world.

Where do you go to get away from the city?

Tuscany.

Mark is an incredibly talented filmmaker. You should check his work out here!

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