Here is the view from my study window, over the herb garden:
The bright yellow you can just see in the distance under the rose arch is oil seed rape in the field next door.
Thanks to Soba for dropping me in it - its going to be really hard to follow such a wonderful blog, actually such a wonder run of the recent blogs. I'm not sure what I can tell you or what more there is to say after my previous two blogs http://forums.egulle...topic=33730&hl= and http://forums.egulle...opic=51320&st=0
Nor am I sure about his advance billing of "spend a week in the countryside and get reacquainted with the glories of English cuisine amidst summer's bounty". Where we are is not really proper countryside. We are about 5 miles outside Cambridge on the edge of a village, in the soft south of the country - more suburban than real countryside. My cooking is a mixed metaphor, and rather plain rather than a glory of English or any Cuisine. As for the promise of "Strawberries and clotted cream", Strawberries will certainly feature, but its the wrong side of the country for clotted cream. That is more like Devon or Cornwall. Here we eat Strawberries plain, or with pouring or whipped cream, or as Eton Mess (strawberries, meringue and whipped cream all mushed together).
Let me explain where we are in the academic year to give some context to the week. This week the undergraduates are taking exams. Traditionally the weather is hot, but its unusually rather cool today. In Cambridge your degree depends mostly on the final examinations, assuming the other requirements, such as residence have been satisfied. Very few subjects use continuous assessment. There is a nice tradition that examiners can ask any question they feel appropriate, regardless on whether it has been taught or not. It's therefore quite a tense and stressful time for the students, and towards the end of the week I will have piles of exam scripts to mark. Then all hell breaks loose, and May Week begins. May week is, of course, a fortnight in June. It used to be in May, way back when, but then the University term got longer. Many garden and other parties are held, outdoor concerts and play, much Pimms and other summer drinks are drunk, culminating, in two weeks time in the May Balls. These are lavish affairs given by the colleges (some every other year), Black tie, and champagne all night.
My college's May Ball menu: http://www.emmamayball.com/menu.php
Clare May Ball: http://www.srcf.ucam...all/2005/?taste
Fortunately that will be after the end of this blog, and the weather will traditionally turn cold and wet to dampen their ardour. I used to supply fireworks for the Balls. I can't resist this snap. I apologise for the quality. Its a copy of one that hangs in my study The building is the Wren Library, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, at Trinity:
I lit that one. I don't do fireworks for the Balls anymore, as its a young persons game, and the budgets aren't enough anymore to get me out of bed. After the Balls, term is over, and the undergraduates go on their way. Its a bitter-sweet time, as student friendships romances come to an end or are fulfilled, and the students go out into the big wide world, or at least until next academic year. Left behind are the residents, the graduate students and those of us who have to teach them - I'm teaching an MBA elective in Entrepreneurship for the next few weeks. They have brutal 3 hour classes, instead of one hour lectures. Let me mention my book that is the basis for the course "The High Tech Entrepreneurs Handbook", Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-273-65615-5. Its very good.
Back to the subject of the blog. On the first Sunday of May Week (called Suicide Sunday), in the evening, Trinty College Choir takes to punts on the river and sings sweet Madrigals (and a little babershop). If it doesn't rain, which it normally doesn't, God being a Trinty man, it a beautiful and romantic occaision. If you are there (8pm) come and say "hi". I help punt the choir with some friends and wine stewards of the some of the colleges (some wine will be taken), and we arrange a serious picnic. In a way this blog is a slow build up to the Madrigal picnic. Your suggestions please for what we should eat. Finger food, cold for a dozen or so people, easily transported and eaten on the river. So far I've planned a surprise loaf filled with smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches.
Others will supply Asparagus, Anne's famous Brownies (very gooey and slightly coffee flavoured), and of course, strawberries. What else should we have, especially for the protein component? Tea Eggs? Fishy balls? Chicken legs? Ideas please.
Now comes the complication. To make the smoked salmon sandwiches I intend to bake the bread (naturally), and smoke the salmon (lox). I've recently discovered how to use my brick oven as a smoker. While I'm smoking I'll make bacon.More about that later. What else should I smoke? This is cold smoking - not above about 90F, so not chicken or the like which is hot smoked.
Also this week I hope to potter in the garden, and with luck persuade Daniel Clifford, the chef at Midsummer House (which I started, now Michelin 2*) to share some time. That might not happen, as he is frantically busy this week, so may get tagged on the end.
Fat squirrel has just come to vist to see if we have left any bird food out, and I mut prepare for my lecture, and this afternoon's discussion on how the University should treat IPR, currently a hot political topic.
Are these pix too big? This will probably be an image intensive blog, and I don't know how good people's abndwidth is out there..
Edited by jackal10, 07 June 2005 - 02:41 AM.