Friday, 18 February 2011

Thame Food Festival September 24th 2011

Yes, I know it's ages away - but I just had to tell you some fabulous news. I've been asked to become Patron of Thame Food Festival and it really is a great honour.

I've lived in the area for thirty four years. In 1976, my parents and I moved from Pinner in Middlesex where I spent the first ten years of my life. We arrived with a dog, two cats and ex-battery hen, Matilda to the village of Great Haseley. My parents converted a barn at the top of Mill Lane and we quickly became part of village life. I was so lucky to grow up there - a great community with an extremely safe enviroment. On weekends and holidays, I spent my days in the fields making camps and fooling around with my friends and only came in to eat and sleep. We were safe and sound and I loved every minute of it. I wore wellies everyday until I was fourteen - when I discovered boys could be more fun!

We always shopped in Thame and over the years I've seen many changes. The high street has survived by remaining independant of many chains and I hope this lasts. In the last few years there has been an enormous food revolution around our small islands and Thame hasn't held back. We are so lucky to have many food shops, restaurants and cafes. I've filmed here a few times over the years at places including, The Farmer's Market, Aga Shop, What's Cooking and A Piece of Cake for ITV and the BBC and I've always been so proud to have known and been part of Thame for so long. It really is the most beautiful market town.

I've watched Thame Food Festival grow over the last three years and last year I was completely blown away by how much bigger, better and well supported it was. So many stalls selling delicious produce, great workshops, demonstrations and plenty to eat and drink, see and do. So when the committee asked me to become Patron of the festival, I took seconds to agree.

We aim to grow the festival and each year make it an even bigger success. We want to become the Abergavenny and Ludlow Festivals of the south east! In fact, we'll be better!

If anyone is interested in being an exhibitor this year or indeed want to be part of Thame Food Festival in some other way, then please get in touch with the organisers. They would love to hear from you.
Please have a look at the website and blog on the link below. It's full of wonderful pictures of last year and also has a great video - you may spot me on it! Although, forgive me, I was having a particularly bad hair day - I just didn't realise it until I saw the film!

Looking forward to seeing you there!
Lotte x

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

McLaney Burn's Night

Every year, always and without fail we celebrate Burn's night in the lane. It's an excuse to behave like children, drink far too much than is sensible and of course eat some delicious Haggis - among other delights.

And every Year, always and without fail we feel utterly appauling the next day - but I have to say it really is worth every aching head and interesting bruise (Crossing the lane in the dark, full of wine is a dangerous past time! Not for the faint hearted).
We are really very fond of each other, and a neighbourhood party on a freezing January night really cheers us up.

There is also a little bit of fund raising that goes on in the background too. Any money left over from the food and drink kitty is put to a good cause. Be it the children's village cricket club, football club, or the Twinnie's nursery. This year however, we decided to use the money to fund our own speeding campaign in the lane.
We are quite frankly sick of the eejits who treat our little lane as a rat run. Of the large lorries - way beyond the legal weight tonnage - who end up taking out trees, verges and my WING MIRROR in the lane by their over excited Sat Nav.
I am personally sick of the people who really don't give a monkeys about our children and older generation that use the lane to stroll to the school bus or shops. When asked to politely slow down, we are usually shown variations of the fingered salute or told to 'something' off! Nice.

A few weeks ago we got together and privately purchased some '20 mph' stickers for our wheelie bins. On rubbish day, we stuck them on and placed the bins outside our cottages. Oh, but we were proud. Little green soldiers, lined up on a mission. The red, white and black signs boldy directing the drivers to drive a little more carefully.

Did it work?
Not entirely sure - but our next stage of the plan will hopefully make more of an impact. Funded by the silly night on the tiles, our customised wooden signs will soon be placed in the verges, on the trees and in our front gardens.
We are planning our slogans, short and sweet at the moment. '20 is plenty', that sort of thing. Personally I favour 'Don't live here? Well don't drive down here!' but I'm wondering if this isn't a little unfriendly!

So, as with all of our previous Burn's nights, we eat a different course at a different house. This year, I started it all off with Fizz and nibbly things at mine. We moved to Caroline and Nick's for the starter, Phoebe and Dave's for the main, some of which was prepared by Robyn and Simon, and finally we fell through the door of Rob and Julia's - for pud... and cheese....and whisky.
A little later, we all fell through our own front doors and some of us actually made it up the stairs before falling asleep!

First and most importantly, the Burn's night cocktail - guaranteed to set the pace for the evening. This year, I sprinkled some edible glitter into a champagne flute, added some of my evil-home-made plum vodka and then filled what space was left in the glass with cheap pink fizz. Marvellous. And hic.

My nibbly things were nice and substantial - my version of that instant cheese fondue - the baked camembert. It was removed from it's packaging, placed back in the bottom of the box, wrapped in foil and cooked at Mk6 200c for 20-30 mins until all soft and floaty to the touch - when pressed, feels a little like a waterbed! While this was cooking, I sliced an onion and cooked it slowly in 1oz butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup until soft and caramalised. I then scooped the lid off the cheese and spooned the onions on top.... Scrumples.

I added some capers and tons of chopped parsley to my little garlic bread nibbles - a strange looking paninni bread I picked up at Waitrose a while ago. Found them in the bottom of my freezer and thought ... why not? The capers added an intense saltiness to the bread, which was dipped in garlic butter - not spread - so as to ensure a crispy and buttery nibble!

My third dish was a fennel seed spelt pancake, topped with creme fraiche mixed with diced beetroot and chives. This was then adorned with a slice or two of cooked smoked salmon, a little bit of beetroot and some gold edible glitter! Why glitter? Well because I can I suppose - and because I like it on....everything!

And so to the rest of the meal...please excuse the hazy photos - the lighting was softer and so was my grip on the camera... ( I blame the plum vodka)...

Delicious Cullen Skink care of Caroline...

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, with the supporting cast of the very wonderful underated curly kale with heaps of of Phoebe, Dave, Robyn and Simon...

Reading the 'Ode to the Haggis'.... badly.

Now, I don't have any pictures of our time at Rob and Julia's. Only one of the pud.

Two reasons. Number one - I was so in love with the Raspberry Roulade, I completely forgot to take any other photos. And number two? I fell asleep shortly after I ate it!