MacTweets 19: Jawbreaker Toffee Popcorn Macarons


The theme for this month's MacTweets, the monthly blog challenge for which various bloggers confront their fear of the dastardly macaron, is Ball Park Snacks.

Nigel Slater wrote a lovely piece in his book, Eating for England, about our failure to produce chic, fit-for-purpose street food. The same applies to the food served in football and rugby stadiums, where the most common foods on offer are pies, or burgers. Not really a snack, I'm sure you'll agree and we certainly don't have the range of food on offer that is routine at baseball stadiums. But as the stereotype goes, we tend to drink so much at these events, that something substantial is needed to soak up the booze.

In case you're wondering, I don't consider Wimbledon to be in the running for this theme, given that it is an annual, not seasonal event. Also, I've been to Wimbledon. For me, it is not a fun day out. Look at the rules. What a bunch of stiffs. Also, 25p for a strawberry? Get out of it!

I'm writing this post on the second day of the London Sevens, the crowds at which I can hear from my window.

Despite living a stone's throw from Twickenham Rugby Stadium and having attended the Sevens on many occasions, I am none the wiser as to the rules of rugby. This is because for me, Sevens has only ever meant one thing: car boot picnic!

Tea Wars: Sausage Pie with Onion Gravy

Sage & Onion Sausage Pie 7

The family meal, if you believe the more tawdry newspapers, is a dinosaur. It seems to be accepted that this is A Bad Thing, being that families who eat together, stay together. This belief is also found on British television, most notably via the Bisto family, who themselves have now become extinct. In case you were in any doubt as to whose fault this is: yes, it is women who are to blame.

The Bisto Family: So Happy to Be Together. Look at their happy, happy faces.

As a member of the demographic scourged by the Daily Mail, I wonder how women who work, commute and keep house (in Tabloid World, men do not help with housework), are also meant to put a home cooked meal on the table every night and make pleasant conversation with those around the table, who’ve contributed sod all to the effort.

The notion that families are going to break up if they don’t eat a ‘proper’ meal in the same room at the same time is rather quaint propaganda. The reality for the families that I know with young children, is that mum and dad take turns on making the evening meal, depending on after work schedules, play dates and who wins the argument about who is more knackered that evening. Tummies are fed, baths are had, children go to bed content.

Family meals were difficult enough in our house when I was young and we had a mother who didn’t work during the week and a dad who was home by six. My sister and I were not bad children, but we were, shall we say, challenging. If we’d had a mother who worked full-time and had to endure our ungrateful whining at the end of a full working day, I believe I may not be here today, seeing as I would be scampering round in Epping Forest, having being brought up by wolves after being thrown out of the house aged seven.

The Battle of Tea and The Timing Thereof

When going to friends’ houses, tea would be served at half past five, after we had changed out of our school uniforms, done our homework and watched some television.

In our house, tea was on the plate at half past four, only three hours after we’d had our lunch and three whole hours before we went to bed.

Real Food Festival 2011: My Greatest Hits

At last! The Real Food Festival, held in London this weekend, finally gave me an opportunity to try Gower Cottage Brownies.

Brownies not pictured, because they are all gone!
I'd heard nothing but superlatives about these brownies, but had shied away from buying a whole box without trying them first.

They are absolutely beautiful, perfectly sized fudgey mouthfuls of MWAAAH. I really must insist that everyone in the UK buys a box. At £15.99 including postage, they are a bountiful bargain; the brownies also freeze very well, if you can stop yourself form scarfing the lot on the day of delivery.

My two other favourite sweet finds at the Real Food Festival, came from Auberge du Chocolat and Sweet Things.

I spent a very educational 10 minutes being taught by Anne from Auberge that I don't actually dislike dark chocolate; I just prefer dark chocolate with fruity notes. Anne helped me determine which of the bars I liked best and I went away feeling like I'd had a personal shopper experience.

I made a beeline for Sweet Things upon arrival, having read the glowing recommendation they got from Anne at I Heart Cupcakes, who'd been at the festival earlier in the week.
I bought a Red Velvet cupcake.


The frosting was completely perfect. The cake was a proper red velvet, i.e. not just a chocolate cupcake with red food colouring (naming no names, but I think a lot of English cupcakeries don't understand the difference that using the correct recipe makes).

A New Place for the Random Stuff

I've made a new place to deal with my nesting syndrome.

Random Things I Like will be a place for me to record all the things that I see or read that I'll want to refer to in future. It will also catalogue anything that I've bought or want to buy, that I think the world deserves to know about.

At the moment, that seems to be pretty much lamps. Hoping it will be more than that, given time.

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Food Heaven and Hell: My Royal Holiday Weekend, Part Two

So, yesterday saw the degustation of some of the most unimpressive and expensive cupcakes I've ever bought.

Happily, today's gorging was much more positive.

London's South Bank is, in my opinion, the most interesting place in London.  There are a constant stream of events and exhibitions on, in addition to the ever present venues which offer, film, theatre and other arts.  The BFI of course, is my favourite place to noodle away an hour or two with a beer and sandwich.

This weekend has seen the South Bank host the Real Street Food Festival. I practically ran down there this morning, determined to get my edging-towards-pudgy hands on some churros and some ChocStar ice cream!



Simply put, there were some absolutely mega stalls in force.  Lucky for me, I'd come armed with two friends, so I could 'share' their purchases and get a bit of everything on offer.  I forgot to take photos of everything in the excitement. Also, it was very, very windy, hence everyone clutching their food at the share tables, terrified that a rogue gust would send burritos flying into laps, as it did on a couple of occasions. So it seemed unwise to faff around with positioning and set-up for photos and best to just get stuck in.


First up, sangria from St-Germain. Before lunch; I know. I'm not really sure what was in it, as Andy was dispatched to buy it and was too embarrassed to ask ("It's your blog; YOU go and ask!"), but it was peachy and melony and like Pimms, but with St-Germain instead. Very nice and light. Plus, a very cute Citro├źn HY dispatching the wares.

Food Heaven and Hell: My Royal Holiday Weekend, Part One

I'm sure I speak for the entire country when I say that I could get used to these four day weekends.

I was pretty relaxed about the royal wedding during the run up, other than being mildly amused by the number of people dedicating their time to talking about how they didn't care about it, akin to those who spend Valentine's Day talking about how they hate Valentine's Day.

But I found myself flipping over to BBC1 for 'a quick look' at the day's proceedings at 8:30 a.m. and four hours later, was still transfixed. In short:

- I liked Beatrice's hat.
- I am unsure why the motorbike convoy escorting the wedding vehicles had to wear hi-visibility jackets.
- Prince Harry has sealed his place at the top of my 'Strangely Attractive' list, although I have no doubt that I would still hate him if I were to ever meet him, being the posh Wayne Rooney that he is.
- I could have done with a toilet break, as I'm sure could have the presenters, who started to look 'squirmy' as we entered the fourth hour.
- The collective 'urgh' uttered by women across the land on seeing Sally Bercow entering Westminster Abbey with Grant and Phil Mitchell.

After a day of sitting and kvetching, it was time to get out in the sun and to check out some cupcakes. We spent an hour at the paddling pool in the park trying not to get splashed or covered in sand, then waddled down to Upsy Daisy Bakery in Stamford Brook.

We were greeted warmly, but things went downhill from there.