Saturday, October 30, 2010

Are you ready for some American Football?

The 2010 NFL International Series game will see the San Francisco 49ers take on the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium tomorrow. I will be there with over half a million people, many American expats living in London!

First we stopped at the Texas Embassy for a little "American" refreshment (Oh so good!) and then we walked to Trafalgar Square for the first-ever NFL fan rally! Whoo-hoo, just in time for the 49er's cheerleaders, they call themselves "The Gold Rush".

I guess if you couldn't decide which team to cheer for, this is the perfect jersey to wear!
And then ..... it rained!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Look closely!

The younger, more fashionable cousin of Harrods 'Harvey Nicks' started out life in 1813 as a simple linen shop. Today this classy retail store offers designer clothes, furnishings, and food. The Fifth Floor Cafe has spectacular views of Knightsbridge and a great spinach salad! But my favorite part of Harvey Nicks is the window displays. They are always sleek, innovative....avant-garde!

Just look what they have done with clothespins.......

and spiral notebooks.......

and yellow pencils......

The Christmas window displays are going in this week - can't wait to see them!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Please don't feed the peacock!

Leeds Castle sits alone on an island and is the result of over 900 years of alterations and changes. It has Norman foundations, a mediaeval gatehouse, a Georgian tower, and is still decorated as an elegant country residence. In fact, the wealthy American heiress, Lady Baillie embarked on a complete refurbishment including a swimming pool and golf course. Today the castle is part of a trust and can be rented for conferences, banquets, and WEDDINGS!
Can you imagine?

The castle is surrounded by a 3,000 acre estate. Beyond the gardens is an aviary, a vineyard and a maze. Wondering around the grounds are dozens of peacocks and black swans, the symbol for the castle, as Lady Baillie was the first person to import them to the UK from their native Australia.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We STARTED the day with wine!

Well, we started our day at the Bodega Talai-Berri vineyard and after hiking to the top of the vineyard - what a view! - we had a glass of wine. Txakoli (pronounced chack-oh-lee )is a local white "fizzy" wine from this region and people enjoy it throughout the day. Even the grape pickers were having a glass with bread for their morning break. It is poured from a great height so the wine breaks in the glass, oxidizes, and releases the aroma and flavor. It is a fun, light, bubbly, wine that goes well with seafood, especially anchovies and bonito tuna.

Jon, our fabulous guide, dropped us off for a brisk walk along a rocky coastal path with waves breaking and showering us with sea spray. Our destination was a tiny fishing village at the end of the path.

Once we reached the quaint fishing village of Getaria and caught up with Jon, we were treated to a lunch of grilled fish BBQ style. The fish were cooked in wire cages and placed right on the grill...I actually watched the chef remove the hook before he cooked the fish for us! FRESH fish has a whole new meaning for me!

OK, now who wants to go back to San Sabastian and do this all again???

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cocina Vasca (Basque Cuisine)

Our gastronomic trip to San Sabastian would not have been complete without a Basque cookery class under the direction of celebrated local chef Alex Barcenilla in his restaurant kitchen. We reached the picture-perfect village of San Juan by crossing the inlet by boat. With our aprons on and eager to start we were introduced to our fresh catch of the squid, sardines, fish throats, and a huge hake.... the kitchen started buzzing! I must admit I jumped right on the dessert station -fried milk- which required some tricky measuring but the sardines had to be cleaned, the squid skinned and inked, and the fish had to be scaled and team mates were brave sous-chefs!

Kokotxas is the delicate flesh growing in the throat of hake or cod fish. It is considered a delicacy and Chef Alex was a master as he demonstrated the method of shaking the heavy cast iron skillet to combine the gelatin of the fish with the olive oil until it emulsified to resemble a light mayonnaise consistency.

The best part of cooking is eating! We enjoyed our gourmet lunch of Basque delicacies and local wine on the square overlooking the harbor filled with fishing boats...even with a few raindrops it just could not have been a more perfect setting!