It’s nice to be finally settling down to a bit of blogging. I had resolved to do this weekly but the last ten days or so I’ve had my head down getting two magazines finished… actually, one of them isn’t yet finished but I reckon I deserve a break.
At this point I would like to tell you about all the lovely exhibitions I have seen and food I have tasted but I’ve barely been out (sad face). I did have my friend Mary Bea and her household round for food the other day, and I inflicted my latest mac and cheese experiment on them. I have been a mission to make an amazing mac and cheese for a few years now, ever since two memorable meals – one at Heston Blumenthal’s Bray pub, the Hind’s Head, and the other at the utterly delectable Spuntino restaurant (part of Russell Norman’s little empire) in Soho. If you haven’t been there then go, GO NOW! Norman pretty much invented the scuffed, stripped back, bohemian/utilitarian look we see everywhere these days – you know: squirrel cage light bulbs, white subway tiles, distressed floors revealing bits of old ceramic tiles that may be original or may have been carefully hacked about to look like they were just recently uncovered beneath a smelly carpet.
You have to queue for a seat (I’d say table but it’ll be a bench at a bar) but what a glorious wait it is, with nibbles and beers and happy hipster staff, and once you sit down you really are in heaven, because there isn’t a dud dish on the menu.
The Spuntino version of mac and cheese is big on cheese – so much cheese that it felt as if I was eating just mac with big manly, bar-brawling cheese and no milk or flour or other such niceties. Washed down with Camden Hells beer, it has taken on legendary status in my memory – a big, heroic dish that I would happily have as my last meal on Earth.
The Heston mac was a musky, truffly, mushroomy version with nary any cheese, and the intensity of flavour floored me. What I would give to get into that kitchen and learn what they do to those mushrooms!
Since those two meals I have made many mac and cheeses, experimenting by adding parmesan, gruyere, gouda; dribbling in truffle oil; whizzing up mushrooms in the blender. I am ashamed to say that nothing has come close – and that includes last Saturday’s effort, which was way too dry for anyone to be able to properly taste the gorgeous extra mature Cheddar that went into the sauce.
Hey ho, there will be other mac and cheeses, and hopefully other willing victims – and at least I got to eat some of Mary Bea’s gin and tonic cupcakes. Yes, you read that right. It shouldn’t work, but it so does – especially when you add a lime buttercream topping.
That’s about the sum of my recent culinary adventures, and as for art – well, I’m hoping to get down to Tapestri café and restaurant in Llys Glas (the old police station) on Orchard Street in Swansea tomorrow for a liquorice allsorts kind of exhibition featuring pretty much every kind of artist you can imagine, all bound together by a shared fascination with the Victorian past of that part of Swansea. Over 20 artists are taking part, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with. If you fancy it, it starts at 7, but there will also be an ongoing exhibition on the walls of Tapestri for the coming three weeks.
Also on my must-see list is the new show by Mike Jones and John Cooper at Swansea’s wonderful Attic Gallery. I really respect the Attic because they have such a discerning eye when it comes to artwork, and they build up strong, lasting relationships with their artists. Mike is my all time favourite Welsh artist – an honest, heartfelt channel for the spirit of the South Wales valleys with their mining and farming histories, who draws and paints with an astonishing fluidity and expression. I’m less familiar with John Cooper’s work (my fault, not his) but will report back after I go to the show.
Right now, however, I’m off to write another article. Luckily the hubby is out at band practice, so aside from feeding our very quiet and retiring French student there are no other distractions. None, that is, except for three dogs that have not been exercised for two days. Shame on me. There will be big treks at the weekend.
I’ll leave you with a pic of Mike Jones in his studio, taken by me for a recent article I wrote on him for the Western Mail. I’m still learning when it comes to photography but I felt that this effort was ok.