a fear of stuffed tomatoes…

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A box of misshapen ripeness such as this is irresistible to me, particularly towards the end of summer when they sell for but a few Euros and,  beguiled by their allure, I buy not one box but several. That’s a lot of beguiling ripeness with which to contend. Conjured images of bubbling saucepans and rows of squeakily sparkling glass jars fade and transmogrify into a labour intensive nightmare as the gap between fantasy and home narrows with each turn of the car’s wheels. I dream of preserving tomatoes and I assiduously preserve those dreams but not the tomatoes. Last year’s olive preserving hopefully will serve as a lesson to me…..I preserved our olives as part of a film and not part of our diet which was a mistake. There now exists, in the dark recesses of our larder, a glass wall of preserved olives. There is not enough time or Martinis for me to do justice to such a horde and I shall not make the same mistake again …. neither with olives nor tomatoes. And there I shall leave it. There are as many paeans to tomatoes as there are olives in my cupboard but notwithstanding I shall offer but one more. This is more a paean of praise to Rachel Roddy, a food writer who I’ve recently discovered and whose writing I greatly admire and whose recipe in the Guardian for Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Potatoes changed forever my view that a stuffed tomato was a wasted tomato. Read her words and take heed of all of the tiny details for therein lies the magic of this dish…

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Posted in 2016, Baked Stuffed Tomatoes and Potatoes, Baking, Cookery Writers, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Mediterranean food, Parmesan, Photography, photography course, potatoes, Rachel Roddy, Recipes, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

on a round trip…

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The seemingly endless summers of my childhood have made a welcome return. Maybe not the very same ones, but there are moments when a particular combination of sensations takes me clearly back in time. I have found that the station signage on my round trip of life, as predicated by Shakespeare, has become clearer on the return trip. Sitting in cool shadows on a seething silent summer’s day reminds me of those careless too short days which passed without my noticing. Like a puff of dust in the distance as a visitor’s car descends below the horizon taking with it names and details but leaving a taste, the flavour. Sherbet, warm,long defunct fizzy drinks; nothing was chilled, I don’t remember ice early on. I don’t remember cool early on and I somehow wish I had never got to hear of it. Ice brought pleasure. Cold drinks with ice cubes were memorable. Cool was a curse …unless you were Sting. I was too noisy on the outward leg of the journey to enter cool. But now I’m quiet and unconcerned. This summer’s day is not cool but, where I sit cutting open a ripe yellow dribbling peach, it is and I am.

Posted in 2016, Art photography, Childhood memories, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Fruit, Memory, peaches, Photography, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Food, France and Photography …in early September

 

Early September in France….crowds gone…time for a peaceful holiday…one that involves spending time in a lovely corner of France where you’ll  not only eat excellent food and drink good wine whilst learning a bit about food photography….or about taking any sort of pictures and making them look good….but also get the chance to see some of this quiet and little known corner of France….and eat in some of its excellent restaurants.

I’ll be teaching on this Vendée Holidays photography course running from 12-16 September this year…. check out their site on: https://vendeeholiday.co.uk/photography/ for details and booking forms.

Posted in 2016, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Markets, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, swimming pool, Vendee, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

not faking it ….

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There is a trinity of enhanced pleasure givers without which I would consider my store cupboard to be bare. These three are the saucy undies of the kitchen. The Ann Summers peek-a-boo, knickerless crotches that will serve to stiffen the flaccid sinews of dull and lifeless cooking. They are on the top shelf of the spice rack (pace 70’s) out of the reach of children and picky eaters who loathe them.This glorious mess of lugubrious, glossy, emerald studded flesh, carelessly draped with curves of silky citron is composed of that trio of ticklers: anchovies, capers and lemon zest. It is these that will make Sally scream when she meets Harry and she won’t be faking it.

The wonder of these three ingredients is their synergy. It’s so easy to kill a dish, with ill considered additions,when the tasting spoon is delivering disappointment, yet simply swirling anchovies and capers into a pan of hot butter will produce a piece of magic that changes the ordinary into extraordinary. Only recently, I did this very thing with a deeply dull bread crumbed turkey escalope that had hidden in the freezer waiting to be consumed in the final months of a siege which had not as yet transpired whereas the end of its freezer life most certainly had. Encased in its crisp, golden outer casing, having been floured, egged, parmesan crumbed and fried in butter, there was no suggestion of the dullness that lay beneath. No sooner had upper and lower teeth met than the tongue had shared with the brain information that their owner was eating a dreadful mistake and something about it needed to be done quickly. The brain had anchovies and capers swirling around in a pan of hot melted butter before you could say anything interesting, adding a squeeze of lemon before ordering the hands to pour it carefully over the horrid thing that their misguided owner had just been eating. In the briefest of moments the gestalt of tongue, brain, and nose were transported. Magic indeed.

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anchovies and capers making scallops even better than ever.

 

 

Posted in 2016, 70's, anchovies, Art photography, capers, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, harmony, Humour, lemons, Parmesan, Photography, photography course, scallops, Uncategorized, Vendee, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Food Photography Course in France – Sept 2016

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From the 12-16 September 2016, I’ll be hosting a food photography course, run by Vendée Holidays.UK, at a beautiful old house deep in the heart of the Marais in the Sud Vendée of West France. The area is a treasure trove of wonderful produce boasting both Parthenais and Charolais beef, fish and seafood from the Vendée coast and islands, vegetables from the fertile farms of the local Maraichers and superb local butter, cream and eggs ( from black Chalonais hens). Much of the cooking will be done in the summer kitchen in and on a wood fired oven and a plancha, which offers a wonderful opportunity to photograph the drama of open fire cooking. The huge open sided barn, which houses the kitchen, performs as a the most desirable daylight studio imaginable, not only for the quality of light but also for the liberal amount of space which is perfect for group lessons and practical photography. Check out the details on:

VENDÉE HOLIDAY – DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE

Posted in 2016, Art photography, Baking, beef, Chicken, clay oven, Cooking, cote de boeuf, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Meat, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, pizza oven, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vendee, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Food Photography Course – September in the Vendée

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Getting down to dinner at the end of an exciting day of cooking and photography.

From the 12-16 September 2016, I’ll be hosting a food photography course, run by Vendée Holidays.UK, at a beautiful old house deep in the heart of the Marais in the Sud Vendée of West France. The area is a treasure trove of wonderful produce boasting both Parthenais and Charolais beef, fish and seafood from the Vendée coast and islands, vegetables from the fertile farms of the local Maraichers and superb local butter, cream and eggs ( from black Chalonais hens). Much of the cooking will be done in the summer kitchen in and on a wood fired oven and a plancha, which offers a wonderful opportunity to photograph the drama of open fire cooking.  The huge open sided barn, which houses the kitchen, performs as a the most desirable daylight studio imaginable, not only for the quality of light but also for the liberal amount of space which is perfect for group lessons and practical photography. Check out the details on:

VENDÉE HOLIDAY – DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE

Posted in 2016, Art photography, BBQ, beef, Chicken, Chicken, clay oven, Cookery School in France, Cooking, cote de boeuf, Digital photography, Fish, fish cookery, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Meat, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, pizza oven, seafood, skate wings, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Wine, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

a bunch of whoppers….

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Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Radishes have an unmistakable affinity with untruths  or, as they’re more commonly known, lies. Good ones are well formed and attractively packaged in bunches which seductive combination is irresistible, even if you don’t know what a radish is or what it tastes like. When such radishes are on offer the trusting souls who have come to market are happy to believe the cheeky street trader’s patter that promises a once in a lifetime offer of the crispest, most peppery radishes that you will ever come across in this and the next life, and, having no reason to suspect that such as he would speak anything but the truth, will not wish to offend by having the temerity to ask to taste one. ….and they, even though the radish, when tasted, turns out to be limp and watery, will still proudly display the outwardly beautiful bunch loathe to admit any hint of dissatisfaction. ….and so on…..however, these particular radishes are radishes and I ‘m not lying. Big, in the radish world ( not the allegorical world) is not necessarily beautiful as the sole judgement of a radish lies ( that word again) in its taste. Big red apples provide the yard stick for taste disappointment which has always made me wonder about Adam. However, the Big Red Radishes that I bought recently from our local supermarket were both breath taking and  fire breathing…..but  some chilled unsalted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt, together with good bread and wine balanced the peppery heat and the cool crispness of the flesh perfectly. A very tempting radish indeed. I wonder if Eve’s surname was Johnson…

Posted in 2016, Cuisine bourgeoise, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Photography, radishes, Shopping, Uncategorized, wine, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

I wish……

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…..that I wasn’t so utterly depressed by this recent manifestation of democracy which seems to have made nobody happy……gleeful. angry, mocking, aggressive….but not happy.

Posted in 2016, Digital photography, Emotion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Hard cheese….

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Trolleys are to restaurants what gurneys are to hospitals. They carry the tired, the sick or the dead.  A cheese trolley says more to me about a restaurant than money ever can by which I mean that it is so often the case that the appearance of  one is supposed to act as added value to an already expensive event. I can understand what a cheese trolley is getting at, even though I disagree vehemently with it, whereas money and I are strangers ; be that as it may, but it is money that makes the wheels go round of the overladen tumbrel of half eaten cheese that rumbles  relentlessly towards the linen napped table where the trolley pusher will be able to eclipse the conviviality of contentedly replete diners, happily talking traditional post prandial bollocks, by subjecting each individual to a weird theatre of knife pointing accompanied by a tedious litany of immediately forgotten cheese names. The presence of the trolley will hold the other diners in its thrall, ending conversation while the chosen cheese choosee makes his selection from names that were already familiar to him as he’s forgotten or failed to understand the names recited to him by the cheese pusher who, at the end of this grotesque example of cod gastronomy, will wheel away his trolley, now slightly heavier for the joie de vivre that his cheese knife has excised from each and every diner.

One good cheese in perfect condition is ideal….such as the Mimolette in the picture. Choice, like most things, is bad for you if you have too much of it.

Posted in 2016, Cheese, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Mimolette, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

on retaining one’s paddle when up that creek…

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There is a creeping despondency in the air that is almost tangible. This glum onset of what should be bright summer is eerily apposite. I am truly grateful not to live in the mainstream of life any more and to have had the good fortune to have run aground in this tiny tributary of peace where something as trivial as the intense flavours of a dish of roasted peppers stuffed with pesto and cherry tomatoes and eaten in the company of my wife brings a smile to my face and a glass to my lips.

Posted in 2016, Alistair Little, Art photography, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, Drinks, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, peppers, Photography, tomatoes, Vegetables, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments