Sunday, 30 December 2012

It's been a funny old year...

Ah, the post Christmas pre New Year slump. That time of year when we can barely raise ourselves from the sofa except to stagger to the tin of Roses in the corner.

It's also a time of year that invites introspection. We look at the days the months that have passed us by, strutted their stuff on the stage of 2012, we wonder what, if anything, we would have changed about them.

So much has happened this year for me, so much has changed. And yet there are things that have stayed the same. My weight, for example. How it is possible write what is ostensibly a weight loss blog for two years and basically see little or no change is some sort of half assed achievement, no? When it comes to the Watching of the Weight, I'm like the little kid at the back of the class who can only win a prize if they make one up for him ("Tommy: the award for sharpest pencils goes to you!") But I will never stop trying and maybe that is one of the reasons to write a blog - it helps me to keep on keeping on.

2012 has taught me many things. It has taught me that I am stronger than I had ever supposed that I was. That change should not always be feared. That my family and friends are pretty amazing and will support me no matter what. And really, I suppose, that while I shall always dream of being a bit thinner, I am capable of this strength and worthy of this love, regardless of my size.

What do I want from 2013? I want it to be a year of personal growth (the non literal type, you understand). I want to commit myself to being mentally and physically healthy, I want to work hard and I want to laugh out loud a LOT. Anything that follows on from that can only be good.

Wishing all of you love and joy and the happiest of happy New Years.

Friday, 28 December 2012

2012: the food what I ate

2012 may not have been a vintage year for weight loss (ha! What else is new - Ed) (brief pause to stab Editor with a sharpened bread stick) but, as always, I ate some jolly good food.

It was a year where two of the most memorable dishes I consumed were sandwiches; the lobster roll at Burger and Lobster:

And the monster Reuben at Mishkins:

Which confirms to me a truth always half suspected - sandwiches are probably the best foodstuff in the world.

We didn't do an awful lot of "fayne dayning" this year but I was still fortunate to sample some amazing food in some amazing restaurants. Both of my favourite posh-nosh dishes contain one of my all time favourite ingredients, sea bass. Perhaps in 2013 some sort of sea bass sandwich is in order?? There was this little beauty of a plate at Le Gavroche: sea bass with red rice, braised fennel and North African spices:

And then, at my beloved Star Inn, a pan fried fillet with crispy spiced whitebait and a foaming bisque:

If we're talking seafood, then the unfailing amazingness of the produce in Ardnamurchan deserves a special mention:

And finally, I have to show you what may well be the prettiest pudding of the year - nay, ever:

Again from the Star Inn - a chocolate plate par excellence.

Let us hope that 2013 brings more sandwiches! More seafood! More chocolate! And more amazing memories.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who read and comment and make me smile on a regular basis...

To those of you who have popped by on a whim or by the happenstance of a Google...

To those family members and friends who keep half an eye in this direction...

To all of you I wish peace and joy and the merriest of merry Christmases.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

And so we begin again

Since September, my attempts at losing weight have, if I am honest (and where else should I be but here on my blog) been half arsed. As excuses go, having to come to terms with a new job, moving to a new city and finding myself sans husband and companion of eight years in a single foul swoop, is a pretty good one but excuses are only ever that – never reasons.

I have found it hard to look after myself properly. My eating habits have become erratic. My cooking mojo has wandered off. Whereas when we were two,homecooked meals were served every night as a matter of course, now they are a rarity. I wonder what instinct it is that makes it so easy to care and nurture others but not oneself?

But. Enough already. The coming of the new year is a good opportunity for me to pick myself up, shake the dust of this last twelve months from my shoes and start again. And ok, it might be starting again for the eleventy billionth time. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to restart – eventually, one of them will culminate in a big band finish.

This January I am going to try and be very kind to myself. Lots of quiet evenings, early nights, simple food, gentle swims. I may even book myself in for a couple of much needed beauty treatments. I am going to remind myself that even in the singular, I deserve to be treated well.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Walking in a winter wonderland

This weekend saw me make my inaugural trip to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. I don't know how on Earth this has passed me by before; basically a Christmassy themed fairground where it is de rigeuer to wander round with a plastic glass of mulled wine clutched in one hand and a Bavarian bratwurst in the other - a very me sort of place.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Girlie talk and Italian food

Sometimes, what a girl really needs is to go out with other girls, have a couple of cheeky g&ts, some lovely food and a good gossip.

Now, readers of this blog may well be aware that D and I are/were (I'm still not sure what tense is appropriate so I'll hedge my bets) huge fans of J Baker's Bistro Moderne in York, to the extent that we seldom ate out anywhere else when we ate out in that fair city. But Le Langhe, an Italian deli and cafe which serves restaurant food at the weekend, had been on our radar for a while, and on the basis of tonight's meal could well merit future visits. Le Langhe is something of a York institution, twice up scaling it's premises in the last decade, and we often visited the deli to buy the amazing Italian meats and cheese on offer (they do this Barolo cured ham which is to die for) but had never made it for dinner. Shame on us.

A, a friend of mine from university days, booked it having heard good reports about the food although word on the street (she's the mother of a small child which seems to give her access to all kinds of privileged information - sort of like jungle drums for parents) was that service was a bit hit and miss. And we did have to wait a good five minutes for menus because the printer had jammed, but other than that the waiting staff were perfectly friendly and sweet, if a little gauche. Also, despite the limited number of covers, there was no table turning going on that we could see - we were booked in for seven and left a leisurely two hours later.

The menu wasn't huge which I personally consider something of a plus point. A and R both opted for main course pasta dishes which looked and smelled delicious - especially the pumpkin and goats' cheese pappardelle. But, when I saw calves liver with pancetta and sage on the menu, I couldn't resist. I adore offal.

This was scrumptious - well cooked, the liver tender with the faintest blush of pink, the pancetta crispy and salty, the medicinal note of the sage well balanced and underneath it all, a neat little portion of creamy potato gratin to squish into the iron rich gravy. Also worth noting was the really interesting wine list which served a decent number by the glass - I tried a red called Dolcetto which I don't think I've come across before, which ripe fruitiness went beautifully with the food.

We had eschewed starters in favour of desserts and they didn't disappoint. First up was a lemon and prosecco sorbet to cleanse the palate:

And then a delicious hazelnut tart with figs and chocolate mousse for A and I while R opted for pannacotta. The tart looks rather dull and brown in the picture but as with the main course, I was impressed with the way the flavours had been balanced - the delicate taste of the nuts holding their own against the honeyed sweetness of the dates.

So, happy faces and replete tummies all round. It's not the most sophisticated restaurant in the world, but the cooking was of a very high standard as far as I could see and I definitely want to take another look at that wine list. They offer a seven course tasting menu which, on the basis of tonight's dinner I am very excited to try out next year. I never need much of an excuse to visit my beloved York...

Le Langhe,
The Old Coach House, Peasholme Green,
York YO1 7PW
01904 622584