When you are invited to spend the weekend contemplating scenery like this, it is only proper that you devote a few days to thinking about food before the fact, so that nothing can get in the way of two days of carefully planned indolence (not to mention that there are no shops, so if you don’t have it with you, you aren’t going to eat it).
The brief: four (maybe five) adults, two children. No hunger.
How could I not fall down the brownie hole once again? We needed snacks. And I needed to try two recipes that my pathetic poor willpower could not resist. “Peanut butter brownies with chocolate chunks” (you see? Though we may argue about whether they are brownies or blondies, seeing as they came out, well, “blonde”):
And continuing with the healthy theme (I had to think of the children!), there was of course the King Arthur Flour recipe for “Tasting is Believing Whole-Grain Brownies”. These I imagined turning into an adult (=boozy) dessert by topping them generously with sticky-brandy-and-coffee-prunes and a dollop of brandied mascarpone. (I tested this latter idea on the hapless Philosophe the night before we left. It worked. So, apparently, does wholewheat flour in a brownie.)
Well, we never got to that dessert (a coconut pie got in the way, as well as a box of those evil Lindt chocolate balls), but we did manage to scarf most of the brownies, and the prunes and mascarpone have been churned to a delightful (=boozy) ice cream, awaiting the attack of Signe’s sweet tooth later this evening.
More importantly, a delightful weekend in the country was the perfect opportunity to get busy with Ottolenghi’s caramelized garlic tart. Three whole heads of garlic, and a lot of goat’s cheese. I was all over it.
That was a damn fine tart/quiche/lunch, and if you like garlic and goat’s cheese you should do yourself a favour and get Plenty and get cooking.
And if you like lobster and pasta and wondered how the twain should ever meet, consider Alfred Portale’s lobster bolognese. That was our (superb) dinner on the first night, and lunch for some two days later.
In fact, after days of eating (and drinking) magnificently, no meal was perhaps more so than our final one, even though to look at the table you may have struggled to see the narrative thread. It was lunch on the stoep in the sun. There was a delicious Asian-y salmon salad. Warm crusty bread and butter. Guacamole. Salami. A slab of White Rock with Cranberries from Fairview (a most delightful little cheese, tart and sweet and cheesy all at once. And so good for your urinary tract!). There was a slice of caramelised garlic tart which no one wanted to claim but still managed to disappear, crumb by crumb. There was a small bowl of lobster bolognese which went the same way.
For dessert there were peanut butter “brownies”. Wholewheat brownies. Some coconut pie. Sticky koeksisters brought by our travelling friend the extra adult the day before. And there was of course also a selection of “sweet shop” goodies from nowhere less than The Fat Duck in Bray (Heston is a genius).
Needless to say we were happy and full when we packed up and got into our cars to roll back to the city. And doubtless already thinking about the next occasion for cornucopia. That’s just how we roll.
We are not unlucky people.