This Sunday is traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday. The Sunday before the beginning of Advent when plum puddings were made at home to allow enough time to be matured ready for Christmas. All the family members take it in turn to stir the pudding mixture whilst making a wish for the new year.
Plum pudding has lost favour over the years for the more favourite Christmas Pudding. This year I am in charge of bringing a Christmas Pudding to our family celebrations. I dusted off my Nanny’s Christmas Pudding recipe which has been well used and loved over the years. As you can see below there are ticks to make sure none of the ingredients is missed off and plenty of splashes of brandy on the pages.
I may have changed it slightly this year, I wanted to get as much flavour into the fruit as possible so may have added a touch more brandy than my Nanny’s two tablespoons of brandy or beer. I soaked the fruit overnight in a combination of alcohol’s, juice of an orange and the spices. It was hard not having little mouses sneaking little tastes of the fruit while it soaked. A change that my mum has made over the years is using ground almonds instead of fresh breadcrumbs which helps with the richness of the pudding.
I have my great grandmothers silver sixpence which I have planted one in the centre for Christmas day to bring the finder wealth and good luck in the year to come. Just hope no one clips a tooth!
Over the last year or so I had a growing passion for bean to bar chocolate. I think it started when I signed up for monthly Cocoa Runner parcels, exploring all the wonderful single origin bars that are out there in world chocolate. I find it fascinating how the different beans and different processes after to produce such a unique bar compared to everything you can find made in mass batch chocolate manufacturers.
Since then I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some beans and make a bar of my own. My super awesome cousin visited Dandelion Chocolate, in San Francisco who I’ve been a big fan of their chocolate since picking up my first bar from Paul.A.Young. On her return she came bearing the best gifts ever for me… My very own cocoa beans!!! Beyond excited to get making my very own chocolate bar from scratch.
Another friends birthday was upon us and another excuse to find somewhere for a fabulous lunch to spend far too long talking and laughing too loud whilst tucking into some divine food.
Jen picked very wisely in the form of Plum + Spilt Milk, based in the Great Northern Hotel opposite the rather grand St Pancras station. Surround in deep navy and gold whilst sinking into deep leather booths.
We have had the grand total of one hot sunny day this Summer. It just so happened that for this one glorious day I so happened to have arranged to go on an ice cream tour around London with my cousin. That’s right an ice cream tour! Set up by the mastermind of Chocolate Ecstasy Tour which I and my cousin have enjoyed last year and you can read about our chocolate adventure here.
We met the wonderful Jennifer in Soho, along with four other ice cream fans in Snowflake, Soho. Whilst getting to know everyone on the tour we tucking in fluffy straight from the iron with lashings of melted chocolate, all washed down with a rich thick chocolate milkshake. So a light but delicious start to the tour!
We tried eight of Snowflakes, award winning gelato made on site every day with organic Jersey milk, organic cream and sugar. From left to right – Strawberry, Salted Caramel, their Great Taste 2014 Supreme Champion Award Raspberry Sorbet and Dark Chocolate. The raspberry was indeed supreme and beyond fresh and tart. Of course, Salted Caramel was going to be one of our favourites too.
The hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue. The lights and sounds of Time Square. The tranquility that can be found in Central Park. Lady Liberty staring on from her island. There is no denying that New York is a very special place. The beautiful combination of so many people coming together and sharing their culture and importantly their cuisines. I first visited New York for my 19th birthday and ever since then I’ve been smitten. I was just blown away with the varied food on offer on every street of Manhattan. One highlight that sticks out in my memory and the place I make sure everyone who is planning a visit goes to is Zabar’s on Upper Broadway. Zabar’s need to be seen by your own eyes. Barrels of coffee. Cheeses after Cheeses. Sides of salmon being hand filleted. Hunks of salt beef. What makes them special is that there is kitchenware shop above so you can get all the kit to make your creations with. As well as a deli next door serving traditional Jewish dishes and where I had my first taste of chicken soup & matzoh ball. Sold!
Of course, I sadly can’t be flying over to New York every time I have a craving for good hearty and wholesome Jewish food. Lucky for me the only Jewish deli has opened in Bristol and it’s incredible! Aron’s Jewish Delicatessen, on Chandos Road is an absolute gem and needs to be visited asap.
My housemates and I rocked up for a Sunday brunch and went away with full stomachs and silly grins on our faces as to how happy the food at Aron’s made us.
Maps of Brooklyn and Manhattan line the tables just to fuel my wanderlust. Aron’s Delicatessen’s co-founders Marta Aron and Steve Varcoe originally met in Budapest before moving to Bristol in 2013. They missed home cooking and decided to open a restaurant serving Hungarian Jewish “comfort” food made with top quality ingredients from Bristol and the South West.
I went for the Salt Beef Hash with Fried Eggs. Unassuming name on the menu led to a plate of complex flavours. Hefty chunks of home brined salt beef, in a mustard and paprika coating with fried tender crisp-edged potatoes and perfectly oozy fried eggs. A decadent way to start the day but sets you up for a good one.