Happy 2015 to one and all and may it bring you joy.
Now that Christmas and New year are out of the way I am getting nervous about my arrangements for “The Big Trip” so forgive me readers if I seem a little distracted in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile my friend and fellow community gardener Rosemary Moon, has been busy recording podcasts for her new website Rosemary Moon featuring whiskey and food. She invited me to taste a dram with her over a kolokoppitta which she made for the first time from “Androula’s Kitchen-Cyprus on a Plate”. The whiskey she chose to go with it was called Monkey Shoulder, an unusual name for a whiskey, at least it wasn’t monkey’s armpit??? A blended whiskey it was light and fruity and went down well with the crispy little pies. Rosemary is lucky enough to have an Aga cooker so the cooked results are a little closer to a wood fired oven than say cooking with gas or electric.
We talked about cooking and food of course but the main drift of conversation tended towards the process of self publishing. This idea has set me thinking of doing a few podcasts while I’m away so watch out in future. Here is a link to the podcast.
Last week I went to see my good friend Rosemary Moon who is a food writer of long-standing and founder of our Community Garden in Tangmere. She has a new website http://www.rosemarymoon.com/ on which she shares her passions of food and whiskey. Using her name to great punning effect the headings are Moonbites and Moonshine. Unfortunately as I was due to drive somewhere after my visit I couldn’t take her up on a very tempting offer of a wee dram while I was there; well before the sun was anywhere near the yardarm I might add. Lately she has been exploring her love of whiskey and combining it with food to see how the one compliments the other. There is a great podcast here on her site,http://www.rosemarymoon.com/moonbeams/where she meets a smokery owner in Scotland and discusses which whiskeys would bring out the flavours of certain of their products at Rannochs smokery. This podcast idea is a new venture for Rosemary, great page title is Moonbeams, cool huh? While I was there she took the opportunity to do another one with me all about ‘Androula’s Kitchen’ and we chatted away for half an hour.This will be coming soon on Moonbeams. I hope to emulate her and get a couple of podcast productions under my belt when in Cyprus visiting a variety of growers and producers of all kinds of stuff. She asked me if whiskey is widely drunk in Cyprus and I mentioned that actually brandy seems to be more prominent as of course Cyprus produces its own. I was about to embark on the story of how the Brandy Sour, Cyprus’ very own cocktail, was first created but we ran out of time. On my visit to Forest Park last year however, Mr Eraclis entertained us with the story. A young King Farouk, fond of western ways and cocktails while a guest at the hotel ,which he was frequently, was wanting a thirst quenching drink and the very imaginative bartender created this cocktail to help the King enjoy his tipple, quench his thirst and all the while seemingly appear to be abstemious. Here Helen Smeaton of Travel Secrets gives you the full recipe http://www.cyprus-travel-secrets.com/how-to-make-a-brandy-sour.html I must try one someday, I’m not a great lover of brandy myself, I do prefer a whiskey but I can imagine this could be very refreshing.
This weekend we were very lucky with the weather as the sun blessed us with its presence and shone on the righteous…. as well as us. So we made the most of it and went in search of a couple of local churches built in the 12th century as you do! They were both quite small and the first in Tortington just outside Arundel, had some beautiful stone carving of the Romanesque period with unusual animal heads depicted. This church was once probably part of the priory that existed here. You can read all about it here http://www.sussexchurches.co.uk/tortington.htm It was tucked away down a lane in an area I hadn’t explored before, I made a mental note to return one day and explore the footpaths signposted.
The second one was much plainer but the setting was fabulous as it was perched on the side of the Downs with a vista of the Sussex countryside at its best in array before us. I do love this time of year with its smells of damp leaves and the sight of golden foliage with the sun shining through makes me feel all mellow mists. I feel very lucky to live in this part of the country, the rolling chalk and flint Downs, fields of patchwork with ploughed patterns creating so many shades of sandy brown, unbelievably rich green grass with sheep grazing, dense patches of wood of oak and hazel, beach and chestnut. Then we have the coast nearby with another kind of breathtaking beauty and serenity.
I am drinking in the beauty and lushness. I am surely looking forward to a complete contrast when I venture to Cyprus in February for a long spell. I will be pursuing these same past times of walks and looking at Romanesque churches in a different landscape. I hope for many photo opportunities when the beauty of Cyprus will equally enthral and enchant.
I have finally got around to trying to put together a few video clips of the cookery demonstration I did at West Dean College with Rosemary Moon in February here is the first on Trahana.
Please excuse the coughing and the scraping of spoons on crockery in the background!!
Well the planned talk demo at West Dean College is getting nearer and my time seems to be getting eaten up with so many other demands that I seem to have the feeling of running towards it but wanting to put myself in reverse or on the spot. I will just have to make myself sit down and ignore the other things until I’m happy with my plan for the talk. Of course I have to write this blog first and then go and do some painting but apart from that! I have managed to collate most of the photos in some order and have a rough outline of the food part, with lists being drawn up. What I fear the most is not giving value for money so I could end up over compensating with too much food; very Cypriot, or too much information. You know the sort of talk when the speaker bombards the audience with endless bits of information and facts that they end up looking glazed. I want to keep it entertaining as well as informative. My hope is the audience will leave feeling they have tasted some good food but also learned a little about Cyprus.
I will have to aim to emulate my helper and instigator of this event, Rosemary Moon who is an experienced food writer and demonstrator and gives a good line in banter when she delivers her demonstrations. I think once I’ve worked out a clear running order of when to do the cooking and where to do the talking I should feel more confident.
Just writing this blog has just inspired me to leave off and pop over to my West Dean notes and jot a few things down that occurred to me, so you could say that I am working on several fronts at once. I am thinking of making another trip to Cyprus in September to do another little sales push and mingle as well as follow a few interest while I’m there. There are still many place I want to see and landscape I want to spend time with as well as revisiting old friends and haunts. Writing about it always makes me even more curious and wanting more.
I might have mentioned before that I belong to a community garden in my village of Tangmere. All the members live in the village (more or less) and we come from a wide range of backgrounds and made up of all ages from aged 2 to late sixties, with varying degrees of gardening knowledge. The title of ‘garden’ suggests lots of beautiful flowers and we do grow flowers to attract bees and insects that will help keep the pests at bay, but the prime aim is to grow a variety of vegetables and fruit.
The driving force behind the garden is our ‘leader’ Rosemary Moon http://www.moonbites.info/ who was the instigator and got the whole thing off the ground. Galvanising volunteers into clearing and digging a waste plot of land overgrown with brambles and trampled on by horses to produce the organised vegetable garden we have today.
She is a food writer and activist and very generously holds cookery demonstrations about 6 times a year, in a large house in the village to raise funds for the garden. They are well attended because apart from being a very inventive and great cook she is also very entertaining. She is assisted by another garden member, Angie, who conjures up heavenly and mouth-watering deserts full of naughty things that are bad for you (?) Everyone gets a plate full of tasters at the end and go home very satisfied.
At these events of course after the cooking and eating is quite a lot of washing up and volunteers from the garden are called upon to help out, rewarded with their own plate full of tit bits of food. At our last demonstration at the end of November I offered to get my hands wet, it happened to be the same week I received the delivery of my books. Rosemary suggested I bring some along to the demo and she did a lovely bowl of Village Salad taken from the book to accompany the meal and gave me and the book such a wonderful endorsement I was almost blushing!!!! It was a great evening and I managed to sell a few books which was an added bonus.
Photos courtesy of Lois another member.