In the morning I like what can be called “builder’s tea”, hot, dark, tannic, softened by a little milk, no sugar. By late morning and into the afternoon, tea moves into a lighter mode with Lapsang, a “well-bred” Darjeeling or perhaps a spice-tinged Mariage Frères.
Rosa and I are sitting down for a chat, setting the world to rights. I select a Mariage Frères, with a hint of orange and cinnamon. It is tasteless. I check the tin – use-by date 2008! Wow! How embarrassing.
Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and also on Netflix) is totally mad and at the same time, very sane and inspiring. It’s time to de-clutter the kitchen larder.
Attacking one shelf at a time (both fridge and cupboards) I find neglected things that were once intended to inspire innovation and greatness. I have to face reality. Old sesame seeds (why did I ever need a kilo?) must be rancid and so I ditch them but some whacky things still "spark joy". I arrange them all in a basket and place them, visible, on the kitchen bench. I'll drag them into something, kicking and screaming if I have to. They will be used, somehow, day by day, until they're gone.
An interesting challenge will be the organic beetroot powder - brighten up a risotto perhaps with it, using red wine, fine shreds of red cabbage and some crisp bacon.
Whackiest of all - see at left. There's cuttlefish ink (from Aldi of all places) to blacken some hand-made pasta. I'll top that with a bottarga beurre. (Dried smoke mullet roe that also needs to get a move on, grated and blended into butter.)
The Grilling Papers I found a couple of years ago on a food conference in Chicago. They are very beautiful sheets of cedar, like those wrapped around a fine Cuban cigar. A rolled parcel of fish or vegetables is tied with a cute chive, and grilled or baked. The flavour imparted is not as dramatic as the presentation. (It might be more tasty saving the sheets from your cigars, if you do that sort of thing.) But I have five packets so they will be used this month.
As for the vanilla-infused seaweed flakes, what was I thinking?
After the cleanse, I am invigorated. A hand cream is described as "nourishing" , a facial mask as "invigorating" and now I see a face wash (sorry, cleanser) that will "de-clutter" the toxins of my skin. Ah Marie, what crimes are committed in thy name?
Arabia stoneware teapot designed by Ulla Procope (she of the heavy, heavy, rustic plates) early 1960s.
Cup and saucer, Royal Tuscan Cascade, bone china 1970s.
Mariage Frères tea, Esprit de Noël.
...the whole sitting in front of a collection of glass stacking containers by Wilhelm Wagenfeld (Bauhaus from 1938). (Pre-Tupperware!)
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Getting the year off to a good start and I'm ready to clear out some books. The Friends of the Library annual book sale may benefit. I certainly will. (If you're in Adelaide, you're in luck.) Shelf space and fewer books in piles on the floor will make finding easier.
No point being sentimental about favourite novels. When they were favourites, I wanted to share them. I lent them and of course never saw them again, saving me having to de-clutter them. (Should have kept a record book.)
Cookbooks can be an issue but I find I go back and back to the same ones. (It's the classics but also still Jamie, still Ottolenghi, still Rick Stein.) If you can get one recipe from a cookbook, it's a keeper IMO. So I find I'm discarding some of the more superficially beautiful. I give an example, a sample of the books I pass on...
The above page is from a glorious coffee-table book AKA as a cook-book. Alinea, is a Chicago restaurant headed by wonder-boy Grant Achatz. It's a massive labour of love, beautifully bound, with glorious photographs - and it weighs a ton. It's the work of an inspired (and quite mad) chef - a perfectionist. I never got around to trying anything. I've shortened the recipe below but you'll get the drift.
PB & J - recipe
After the books and the filing cabinet will come the thirty five year old lipsticks, the 1950s plastic ear-rings, the wardrobe. I'm ready to pass on the vintage little black dresses - I will never be that thin again and I won't ever sing like Edith Piaf. I just don't have the eye brows.
"Non, je ne regrette rien."
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