Sunday, 27 July 2014

A Weekend Walk #8

While living in London has its merits, it'll never be for me.

I'm a small city or country girl at heart. You know, where everybody knows your name and things are green.

Getting out of the city to some of England's darling counties, is often just the ticket.

And so the weekend past, we did just that.
Yorkshire Towns
Yorkshire Beaches
Beaches in Yorkshire
Yorkshire Villages
Yorkshire Churches and Sky

Thursday, 24 July 2014

An Interview With Tess Ward

I struggle to quantify how I interact with food on this blog as it is an evolving area for me. Inspiration or affirmation therefore, is warmly received from characters on the London food scene with mutual interests, especially since I cook without rigour and by what I feel is instinctively right. This comes from a lot of time, patience and confidence instilled in me by my grandmother but for those who are new or tentative to the kitchen, I can imagine it is quite daunting.

Tess Ward, a fellow foodie, personal chef and blogger, bases her interaction with food by the same instinctive means but at a recent and intimate event that she hosted, she also shared her thoughts on 'clean' food and encouraged us to play with spices, herbs and salts to bring our palates to life by our own rules.

 Nothing was overtly new here for me in terms of playing by response to taste but I was interested all the more in the concept of food that is lower in sugar and less processed and also the method she used to engage us as her students for the evening, allowing us to try for ourselves rather than tell and lay gentle inspirations.

I have since made a fabulously easy spelt soda bread, such as the one we devoured topped with smoked mackerel pate and am keen to make the sweet potato gnocchi we also shared and for which you can find the recipe below.
In the meantime, you can find out a little more about Tess below or head over to her blog, the Yes Chef, to see more of what she's up to. I quite like the look of the cappuccino oatmeal!

Tess, where are you from?

 Why and when did you start your blog/career?
I started cooking at university, I fell in love with cooking and after I finished enrolled at Le cordon Bleu. Straight out I pitched my cookbook to my agent and have been cooking and writing ever since.

What makes you different?
I don't want to feed the world. I want to teach the world to feed itself. The ability to cook is so important. I believe everyone should have a basic understanding of it. 

What's your fave thing to do?

I love yoga. Art galleries, old bookshops and libraries are some of my favourite places for calm. It's much needed in my hectic world! 

How did we meet?
A taster evening, for my tailor made cooking programmes, held at Pipsdish
Describe your blog/job in three words
Creative, spontaneous and beautifully fulfilling.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fink's Cafe | London

Freshly opened on the corner of Mountgrove Road and Wilberforce Road, Fink's Salt and Sweet Cafe is an absolute delight to behold. Having recently moved away from the area, I was crushed and thrilled at the same time to learn that in this little residential nook of North London, a special type of establishment was opening. Formerly a butcher's, a greengrocer's and a military memorabilia store, it's filled with quirks from former days.

Not just a cafe, Fink's offers a deli counter, little-known wines by the box, special olive oil, 'sexy pesto', and much, much more to come. I set straight to interviewing the charming proprietors, Mat and Jess, to find out more about their venture, which sees a cosy future of late morning brunches, early evening glasses of wine and raucous and intimate dining with your friends and neighbours.

If you live in the area, I'm definitely jealous of you.

If you don't, who cares? You ought to check it out anyway.

Where are you from?

M: I’m the country mouse from Somerset but I’ve lived in London for 10-years, specifically in this part for 4 and the rest around the North.
J: I’m from upstairs but I’ve always lived in London. I’ve crept through Camden and Holloway and finally, here.
Fink's Cafe London
Why did you choose this area?

M: I just love the leafy, residential aspect and the pockets of places here- I just LOVE North London. I’ve lived in Arsenal and Holloway and there’s this nice, laid back and easy attitude around.

J: Yeah it’s just a really great spot between the throng of Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington. It was almost crying out for something.

M: Obviously you’ve got the beautiful Clissold Park on one side but on the other, the traffic on Blackstock Road, the parks the schools and the young pros so there’s this ‘everything’ vibe but there was a limit to the places in this particular nook that you could just ‘pop out’ to. I used to struggle to find somewhere to ‘pop out’ to. Now, that’s us.

J: Mmm, you just couldn’t ‘fall’ into a place around here. So we’ve brought together the best of Hackney (where I’ve worked) and Soho (where Matt’s worked) and made a middle-ground so there’s a little touch of each married with this area- we’ve tuned into multiple London cultures.

Fink's Cafe North London
What makes you different or special?

M: I think what makes us different and special is the neighbourhood. We really built this place around servicing THIS bespoke area. So we have everything you might need from a fancy bottle of wine, to a £3 glass from a carafe. If you want a special cheese or literally the jar of biscuit butter from the shelf, it’s yours. 

We’re a little off the beaten track from the shops and restaurants so we know to succeed we ought to have different guises; to wear lots of hats, so that we reach the breadth of quite a wide niche. We want to keep a captive audience and so the experience changes with the time of day and the mood, from a coffee in the morning, to a glass of wine with friends in the evening and then, into the winter, some hot dishes to enjoy straight from our oven.

Salt and Sweet Cafe
Describe the café in three words

Your fridge (but) better? 

That's cheating a little but we like to think we're a bit like a larder or a pantry filled with all the delicious things you'd love to have in stock all the time, not just for parties.
North London Cafes 
What do you love doing in London:
M: Well, nothing for the last 8 weeks but certainly I like going out and eating with friends…These days I really prefer impromptu meetings. There is nothing more enjoyable than a local pub with a few friends or places without agenda. You know, ‘no rules’ places where you can order what you want to the table or grab some stuff on the way to the park or wherever you’re heading off to next, even if it’s home.

J: I love markets. And I love food markets. Broadway Market, Farmers Markets, antiques markets, cheap and crap markets... AND the great thing is I have a good excuse to go to markets now that we have this place. Now when I find a bargain lot of 25 antique trays, they’re mine (and with good reason).

How did you two meet by the way?

E: We’re kind of like an arranged marriage that worked out! Matt is the partner of a friend and we got to talking and transformed my studio into the cafe. Now we’re Finks and business partners. 

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