On souffles, birthday presents and perpetuated traditions

Home! At last!

After a busy week with my family back in Italy, after having spent way longer than I would have liked on various means of transport or stuck in traffic jams, airports, train stations, after a week of sleep deprivation, I can finally move back to my old habits. I celebrated by using two of the presents my boyfriend bought me for my birthday.

Among other things, he bought me two books by the French Culinary InstituteThe Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts and The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine. They are HUGE. They easily weigh 6 pound each, much to my boyfriend’s disappointment: after having brought them home from work, one month after my birthday he still looks at them in hatred. They are basically textbooks. Both start with an overview of tools, appliances, equipment and go through hygiene issues like the proliferation of bacteria and the different types of contamination. Now I can’t watch Jamie Oliver or Rachel Khoo without cringing. But above all, they thoroughly explain basic techniques and recipes. An example? Puff pastry alone takes about 20 pages. They are beautiful books and I love going through them and learn random things. I am still to brave the perfect chicken stock: as willing as I am to improve my skills, the FCI’s method is just not compatible with my daily schedule.

Having my boyfriend ransacked my Amazon Wishlist, another present I received was a set of ramekins. I’d added them after watching Masterchef, fascinated by the way Michel Roux Jr described their cooking process ad the importance time had for a perfect souffle. Being on a perpetual diet, though, I abandoned my initial idea of making a chocolate souffle and went for a cheese one, taking the recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine.

This was also an excuse to take photos using one of the new fabrics I bought last week in Wanstead. Wanstead Fabric Merchants has been inaugurated about three months ago causing quite a lot of buzz in the village: it replaces another business which sign was so perfectly in tone with the look and feel of the village that it had become an institution. I love the idea of a community so keen on design. And I love the fact that the new owners took the villagers’ concern into consideration, creating a sign that is  even more stylish and charming than its predecessor.