Well, I am pleased to say that Andrew wisely listened to my pleads (demands) and bought me a lovely – and huge – Cocoa Loco egg again this year, so I’ll be munching on chocolate for a few weeks (even I can’t get through 1.2kg of delicious rich chocolate that quickly). Of course that means I need to try and bit a bit more restrained with the rest of my diet so I don’t end up getting huge, so with that in mind I’ve planned this week’s menu accordingly (ignore tomorrow – Andrew has demanded something dippy and cheesy so blame him!).
- Monday – chicken and gnocchi bake using the leftover chicken from Saturday’s Cookbook Challenge (recipe to follow)
- Tuesday – lamb pilaf using leftovers from today’s salt marsh lamb shoulder – here’s the recipe
- Wednesday – oxtail stew
- Thursday – I am out for a traditional Indian meal with some friends
- Friday – salmon and vegetables
- Saturday – I’ll be out for a friend’s 40th birthday party so will most likely be eating pub food and birthday cake!
- Sunday – roast duck crown
Breakfasts after the gym will be my office eggs, and lunches will be roasted vegetables … with rice cakes and nut butter for snacks. That sounds nice enough doesn’t it? The odd chunk of chocolate (as long as I keep it as the odd chunk rather than massive brick-sized chunks) shouldn’t do me too much harm in that case (famous last words as I put on a stone in weight over April!).
This last week has not, I confess, been particularly restrained. But it has been delicious! The best part was Friday, when Andrew and I took a wander down to my favourite street in London – Marylebone High Street – to do one of my favourite things, spend money on household goodies. Actually we were actually in the West End to buy a new dishwasher (which won’t be delivered for a couple of weeks so we’re still washing up by hand, which is dreadful), but I couldn’t resist pottering along this street because it includes my favourite shops: Fresh cosmetics (I am addicted to the Sugar Lemon range), Emma Bridgewater, La Fromagerie (although I usually shop at the original shop in Highbury as I used to live by it), and my new passion: La Patisserie des Reves.
This patisserie truly is one of dreams. I first heard of it when our lovely French friends treated us to a Paris-Brest pastry from the Paris store last year. Alex and Rachel explained that the patisserie was established in 2009 by renowned French patissiere Philippe Conticini and hotelier Thierry Teyssier. They are known for creating French classics perfectly: Tarte Tatin, Mille-feuille, Eclairs and my favourite Paris-Brest.
Each pastry is a little work of art, displayed in glass domes in the store. These edible artworks don’t come cheap, averaging at around a fiver per pastry for an individual treat if you take them away (it’s more expensive if you eat them in store). This ain’t no Greggs though.
Andrew and I bought ourselves to two pastries each for the Easter weekend: I chose a Paris-Brest and chocolate eclair; Andrew chose an apple tarte tatin and a Baba au Rhum. Andrew also insisted on buying an apple turnover to eat for lunch: the pastry was spectacularly buttery and light, filled with sharp, soft stewed apples. The combination was wonderful, and with each bite you could taste the quality of the ingredients.
Despite my best wishes, after a dinner of fish and chips from Toffs (naughty us!) we couldn’t find the room for our posh puddings, so ended up eating the eclair and tarte tatin last night after a roast chicken dinner (from my Cookbook Challenge). That means we’ll be eating the other pastries tonight after the slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and frankly I cannot wait.
Obviously we had to try eachother’s cakes last night, and I have to admit that we both preferred the tarte tatin. Although I make a pretty good one myself, this had a mountain of soft caramelised apple on top of some streusel pastry which seemed to defy gravity. The eclair was too rich for me: it was literally encased in a tube of dark chocolate (no line of ganache across the top of the eclair) and it was too bitter for my taste. The chocolate creme patissiere inside the eclair was lovely and creamy, and the choux pastry had a hint of salt, so if you do like dark chocolate you won’t be disappointed with the eclair – it’s just not to my taste.
Now I am off to dish up my lamb and get eating … again. It’s also 3 years ago today that we bought our first home … affectionately (or sometimes not) known as the money pit, so we’re going to crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate.