Orlando Gough

Put the kettle on
Put the kettle on
It is the British answer
to Armageddon

Never mind the taxes rise
Never mind the trains are late
One thing you can be sure of
and that’s the kettle, mate.

What ever happened to tea? Once it was a central pillar of our national identity. Probably because for a long time it was a central pillar of our national economy. Tea – opium – silver: a brilliant trade triangle masterminded by the East India Company, using methods that seem, in retrospect, amazingly modern; for example, the off-loading of the dangerous and ethically suspect part of the trade – the delivery of the opium to the Chinese – to intermediaries, enabling the Honourable Company itself to remain apparently squeaky clean. The opium, essentially, buys the tea, which is shipped back to Blighty where it becomes a symbol of a decent kind of Britishness, upright, hard-working, true. A brilliant sleight of hand.

It’s not whether you lose
It’s not whether you win
It’s whether or not
You’ve plugged the kettle in.

May the kettle ever hiss
May the kettle ever steam
It is the engine
that drives our nation’s dream.

Then, gradually, insidiously, tea turned into coffee (while in parallel, almost, the empire collapsed, and cricket turned into football). How can it have happened? It seems to have been part of the Europeanisation of Britain ushered in by Elizabeth David and Terence Conran in the 50s and 60s – French food and wine, Italian furniture, Greek holidays. It was more particularly a Mediterraneanisation, an attempt to deny our climate and live a more carefree outdoor social life (hence those heaters that attempt heat the outside world, a crime against ecology, not to say common sense). And an important aspect of that was the coffee house, with its chairs and tables on the street. Relaxed, sociable. What could be nicer?

Now that innovation has come to bite us. Starbucks, Caffé Nero, Pret a Manger, Eat, Costa etc etc are almost the only businesses left on the high street. Shopping turns into sociability, perhaps. But can you have the sociability without the shopping? I’d like to think you can actually. The high street as a place to meet, and talk, and see stuff together, and do stuff together – it’s a lovely proposition, though one that needs a bit of work.

It’s astonishing that we can drink so much coffee – and eye-wateringly expensive coffee, at that. The standard of the coffee has definitely improved, particularly with the advent of those clever Australian people, with their flat whites, and their enthusiastic obsession with provenance and water temperature. (I went into a delightful independent coffee house recently, and drank a delicious cup of coffee, but had to leave prematurely while the barrista was telling the nth person exactly where the beans came from, how he was planning to make the coffee, and what it was going to taste like: ‘…washed Yirg….updosed….pulled longer….clean and light, creamy body and mouthfeel, strawberries on the nose…’ – a mixture of porn novel and wine-tasting manual.) But what about our health? Are we getting over-caffeinnated? Are we drowning in frothed milk?

And this is where tea might be stealing back into the picture. A suspicion that tea might be better for us, particularly green teas and rooibush teas and herbal teas. (Are those horror stories about herbal teas just rumours, or is there some truth in them?) As we run more half-marathons and spend more time in the gym, are we going to return to the old decent morally upright tradition of tea-drinking?

Long live the kettle
that rules over us
May it be limescale free
and may it never rust

Sing it from the beaches
Sing it from the housetops
The sun may set on empire
but the kettle never stops.

PS The poem is by the great John Agard, who has also written a wonderful poem about coffee – or rather a poem about heaven and coffee – which affirms the coffee dishonourable, tea honourable principle:

You’ll be greeted
by a nice cup of coffee
when you get to heaven
and strains of angelic harmony.
But wouldn’t you be devastated
if they only serve decaffeinated
while from the percolators of hell
your soul was assaulted
by Satan’s fresh espresso smell?

PPS Now, not only has the empire collapsed, tea turned into coffee and cricket into football, but the weather’s changing. Is nothing sacred?

We’ve published a book of Orlando’s recipes full of similar tales. For more about Orlando Gough Recipe Journal click here.


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by TOAST ( 19.12.13 )

Lia Leendertz

Autumn is here, and with it comes an urge to step outside despite – or perhaps because of – the chill. For autumn is beautiful. When the photogenic baubles were being handed out, autumn was at the front of the queue. Spiders webs covered in dew? Flame red leaves lying on green moss? Tree branches weighed down with an embarrassing abundance of rosy apples? Yes please, I’ll take the lot. Autumn is a looker alright, and is all the more precious for its fleeting, transitory state. So much of its beauty is the beauty of death and decay: one big storm and all could be blown away, and we will be left contemplating the bare twigs and mud of winter.

If looking for a beautiful place for an autumnal day out, think beyond the arboretum. Yes they are spectacular, and you will admire stunning glades of turning trees in yellow, orange and scarlet, but so will every man and his auntie. Whole fields are put aside for arboretum car parking at this time of year, and that crisp autumnal wander starts to feel a little commoditised and over populated. Anyway, there is more to autumn than leaves, and here are a few places to see the rest.

 

Exotic planting at Great Dixter, East Sussex

There are some plants that wait for the end of the year to explode into life, and Great Dixter is a fabulous place to see a garden designed specifically for this very moment in the year. The Exotic Garden was one of the late Christopher Lloyd’s great triumphs. He tore out an old, diseased, but Lutyens designed rose garden to make way for the hardy bananas, cannas, dahlias and verbenas that grace this garden until it closes at the end of October. A real riot.

Fruit at Brogdale, Kent

For mellow fruitfulness, visit the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale, basically a vast and hugely varied orchard. Home to the world’s largest collection of fruit trees and plants it boasts almost 4000 varieties of fruit including apples, pears, cherries and nuts. Their Apple Festival is held on the 19th and 20th October.

Grasses at Knoll Gardens, Dorset

Ornamental grasses look beautiful in autumn and winter, holding their shape yet swishing about at the slightest breeze and particularly beautiful against low autumn light. Knoll Gardens is the place to see them en masse.

The dahlia bed at Rousham, Oxfordshire

Dahlias are the flower of autumn and Rousham is the place to see them as a grand spectacle. The dahlia bed is 7ft wide and 150ft long and runs along a south-facing wall, and dahlias have been grown in it for 70 years without a break. This makes for a spectacular and hugely colourful show, right up until the first hard frosts blacken the foliage, and the plants are lifted for winter.

Autumn skeletons at Pensthorpe, Norfolk

Garden designer Piet Oudolf is the master of perennial planting that dies beautifully. He uses perennials that last, holding their skeletons and shapely seed heads well into winter. Although the garden he has created at Pensthorpe is at its colourful height in August, it turns into a beautiful, sepia version of itself in autumn.

 

Photo of Rousham dahlias by Alexandra Lehna, via flickr. 


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by TOAST ( 01.11.13 )

The fifth in a series of pieces written to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada. Each focuses on an element, albeit a non-traditional kind.

After staring at the above photograph endlessly, returning to it often, Daisy Garnett‘s mind was consumed by Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s poem Mont Blanc. ‘It feels just plain wrong and fraudulent to try and write my own lines when he has already written everything I want to say, and in a way I never, ever could.’ And so, here Daisy presents the the first two stanzas of Shelley’s ‘wonderful, consummate’ poem Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni.

I

The everlasting universe of things

Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,

Now dark—now glittering—now reflecting gloom—

Now lending splendour, where from secret springs

The source of human thought its tribute brings

Of waters—with a sound but half its own,

Such as a feeble brook will oft assume,

In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,

Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,

Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river

Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.

II

Thus thou, Ravine of Arve—dark, deep Ravine—

Thou many-colour’d, many-voiced vale,

Over whose pines, and crags, and caverns sail

Fast cloud-shadows and sunbeams: awful scene,

Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down

From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne,

Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame

Of lightning through the tempest;—thou dost lie,

Thy giant brood of pines around thee clinging,

Children of elder time, in whose devotion

The chainless winds still come and ever came

To drink their odours, and their mighty swinging

To hear—an old and solemn harmony;

Thine earthly rainbows stretch’d across the sweep

Of the aethereal waterfall, whose veil

Robes some unsculptur’d image; the strange sleep

Which when the voices of the desert fail

Wraps all in its own deep eternity;

Thy caverns echoing to the Arve’s commotion,

A loud, lone sound no other sound can tame;

Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion,

Thou art the path of that unresting sound—

Dizzy Ravine! and when I gaze on thee

I seem as in a trance sublime and strange

To muse on my own separate fantasy,

My own, my human mind, which passively

Now renders and receives fast influencings,

Holding an unremitting interchange

With the clear universe of things around;

One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings

Now float above thy darkness, and now rest

Where that or thou art no unbidden guest,

In the still cave of the witch Poesy,

Seeking among the shadows that pass by

Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee,

Some phantom, some faint image; till the breast

From which they fled recalls them, thou art there!


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by TOAST ( 25.10.13 )

The eighth of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Tommi Miers is an English cook, writer and television presenter who studied at Ballymaloe Cooking School. In 2005 she won the BBC TV cookery competition Masterchef and subsequently worked at the Petersham Nurseries Café. She is the founder of Wahaca, an award-winning Mexican restaurant group whose dishes are inspired by the food markets of Mexico, using free-range meat, sustainable fish and recycling everything down to the food waste. Her cooking style uses seasonal, locally sourced ingredients with inspirations from her travels abroad.

Tommi nobly allowed us to photograph her on what should have been their restful Sunday afternoon at home, while her kind and patient husband entertained their two young children in the local park. They couldn’t have been nicer to us, intruders though we were.

Thomasina has generously shared her recipe for Mussels linguine with smoky chipotle cream with us (and you)…

I cooked this dish in the semi-finals of Masterchef and I am convinced it helped me to win. This incredibly quick and easy recipe provides a stunningly simple, delicious plate of food. The smoky, sweet heat and creamy, silky sauce is a wonderful foil for the soft spaghetti and mussels.

 

Ingredients

1kg mussels in their shells

200ml dry white wine

25g butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

the leaves from 4-5 sprigs of thyme

1 tablespoon Chipotle purée

150ml double cream

sea salt and black pepper

a small pinch of caster super

350g linguine or spaghetti (fresh makes all the difference)

a small handful of coriander, finely chopped

 

Method

Cook this in front of your friends to really impress them and get them to help you clean the mussels at the same time! Clean them under a running tap, pulling off the beard between finger and thumb or with a knife (the beard is the bit of tough fibre at the hinge of the mussels). Discard any open mussels that do not close when tapped sharply against the work surface.

Boil a large pan of salted water for the pasta and in a small pan (or microwave) heat the wine until it is warm. Heat the butter and a tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and when the butter is foaming, add the shallots. Turn the heat down to medium so that the shallots do not colour and sweat them for at least 5 minutes. Add the cream, season with salt, pepper and the pinch of sugar and simmer for 5 minutes whilst you cook the pasta and mussels.

Put the pasta on to cook (if you are using dried you will need to cook it for a bit longer). In a large pan big enough to hold the mussels, put the rest of the oil and heat until it is smoking hot. Tip in the cleaned mussels and cover, shaking them over the heat for a minute or two. Add the wine and shake for another few minutes. As they start to open, transfer them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard any unopened mussels. Add the chipotle cream to the mussels.

Drain the pasta when it is al dente and drizzle with a little oil. Strain the mussel juice through a fine sieve into the cream and toss through the pasta, put the mussels on top. Scatter with chopped coriander and serve the pasta in heated deep bowls.

 

Recipe from Mexican Food Made Simple by Thomasina Miers. Published by Hodder & Stoughton. 

www.thomasinamiers.com


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by TOAST ( 24.10.13 )

Orlando Gough

Well.

 

Saint Delia says that Masterchef is a nonsense because most of us can’t cook an omelette. And a new saint, Saint Felicity, says that that’s nonsense, as we’re not necessarily interested in cooking omelettes, or soufflés, or baking cakes;

what we want to cook is exotic stuff like Chicken Jalfrezi.

Who knows? Judging by the ranks of ready meals at the supermarket, Saint Delia has a point. Judging by the fact that the word ‘jalfrezi’ is now in the English Dictionary – raising the mouth-watering possibility of using it in Scrabble – Saint Felicity has a point; though she rather bizarrely followed up by devoting her next column to a recipe for Victoria Sponge cake.

Omelettes, soufflés, cakes, chickens…… Somehow it’s all about eggs.

It’s a moment to celebrate the egg

as glue

as the inspiration for Humpty Dumpty

as a crucial ingredient in the pick-me-up egg nog

as the indispensible component of a cooked breakfast

as an instant meal: scrambled, boiled, fried, poached, omelette

and by extension, if you have more time, frittata, tortilla, eggah, kuku

 

as a way of elevating something to the status of a meal – for example:

asparagus by itself, not a meal………asparagus with poached egg, a meal

 

as the central component of eggy-peggy language (for anyone outside

the society, it’s a secret language created by putting the syllable ‘egg’ after

every consonant – so for example ‘Felicity’ becomes ‘Feggeleggiceggiteggy’)

 

as a symbol of rebirth – hence Easter eggs, and hence the Easter Day sport of

egg-rolling in the village of South Stoke just outside Bath. You hard-boil your

egg, and decorate the shell (this year’s eggs included Boris Johnson and the Pope).

The eggs are rolled down the steep main street of the village. First to the bottom

is the winner. It’s very messy – the eggs roll under cars and into the gutter, and

the shells begin to come off. The competition is fierce and disturbing, and the

smell is even fiercer and more disturbing….

 

the yolk as a basis for emulsification with oil (what genius discovered that?):

mayonnaise, sauce tartare, sauce rémoulade, sauce verte, not to mention

hollandaise sauce, Béarnaise sauce, sauce Maltaise, sauce moutarde….. magic!

 

the yolk as a partner in liaisons with milk and cream, a basis for custards,

mousses, ice creams…..and as a means of thickening broths and soups

 

the yolk as a binding agent in egg tempura, and therefore a component of

some great masterpieces of Early Renaissance art

 

the white as a rising agent: soufflés, cakes, meringues, choux pastry,

gougère, Yorkshire pudding,….. and as a means of clarifying broths

 

the shell as an example of a perfectly designed container

 

as something not get on your face

as the perfect protest missile

and so on.

 

Try this Pipérade –

it’s a standard Basque dish, but you don’t find it served very often here in Britain.

Chop two medium onions; cut open, de-seed, and slice three small red peppers. Fry them gently together in olive oil for ten minutes. Add four chopped garlic cloves and six chopped tomatoes, and cook gently for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut three thick slices of white bread into cubes. Make croûtons by frying them in hot olive oil till golden. Beat eight eggs, season with salt and pepper, and add to the vegetable mixture, stirring all the time, as if you’re making scrambled eggs. Mix in the croutons, and strew with chopped parsley.

This dish is remarkably similar to the Tunisian Chakchouka, and the Turkish Menemen. Though in the Basque country it’s served with fried slices of Bayonne ham, which is hardly likely in Tunisia or Turkey.

Experiment with different herbs – mint, basil, coriander….

Good with green peppers instead of red.

Serves four.

We’ve published a book of Orlando’s recipes full of similar tales. For more about Orlando Gough Recipe Journal click here.

 


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by TOAST ( 22.10.13 )

The seventh of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.

Rachel Khoo is an English chef, writer and broadcaster. Born in Croydon, she studied at Saint Martins and worked briefly in fashion p.r. before moving to Paris where she learned patisserie at Le Cordon Bleau. She has written two cookery books published in French. Her third book, The Little Paris Kitchen, is also the name of her first TV series, famously and engagingly shot in the kitchen of her small Belleville apartment – where she also for a while ran a tiny, two cover restaurant.

www.rachelkhoo.com


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by TOAST ( 18.10.13 )

James Seaton

Westering by canoe and trail

some lakes half frozen, some clear

bleached grass underfoot

rolling clouds

Our new november 2013 collections – for women, men and house&home – are now available on our main site. 

 


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by TOAST ( 15.10.13 )

James Seaton, Toast’s co-founder and Creative Director has written words to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada.

By dawn light, where the river divides to west and east, the water deep, slow flowing. Big shapes take their stately progress across the land – the St Lawrence Seaway, two and a half thousand miles from lakes to sea.

The docks were quiet. To the west Montréal rose, high buildings reflecting the morning sun back at us. The beauty of details, unintended; rhythms of tone and mass in stacks of weathered containers; piles of steel rails waiting to be shipped west; layers of paint fading to zincy rust on warehouse doors.

By evening light: the bright cranes; the great buildings criss-crossed with conveyor corridors – a vast abstract composition full of raw rhythms expressing… what? The vigour and optimism of 20th century industry? All lying quiet now. Overhead, FARINE FIVE ROSES flashes gently on and off in tones of vermillion, soft against the dusk.


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by TOAST ( 07.10.13 )

 

The fourth in a series of pieces written to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada. Each focuses on an element, albeit a non-traditional kind.

By Nat Lucas.

Where once slipped burnished reflections in silver-grey, the flash of a passing express or arrows of geese rising up from the river, now laps the canker of rust. Bound unwillingly on steel framed beds these colours chime with autumn hues and vie to shrug their spore onto a careless passing sleeve. Illustrious names weep together – burnt orange, yellow ochre and cadmium red, shackled in a mottled bruise.   

Derricks gaze sightlessly into water; shoulders hunched against the bite like king penguins taking turns at the edge of an ice locked huddle. Cold chilled they sweat and wait, mustered at the command of ghost squads of stevedores. Hamstrung by rust they will swing and hoist no more.

Exposure hastens the rasping tongue of corrosion, the weakening flakes and slow dull notes of fatigue. Singing cables whipping above the festooned pier turn brittle when the bulbs go out and folds of litter bag the shore. Emasculated rivets drop unheard from the underbelly of the pontoon.

The transcendent form of Hart Crane’s The Bridge (1930) seems the stuff of fables from these bashed and fettered sheets:

 

“And Thee, across the harbour, silver-paced

As though the sun took step of thee, yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride, -”

 

The manufacturing heartland is strapped into a rust belt. Pounding, flaming cities shrink to arid necropolises for machine tools stripped of salvageable parts. Rust blooms over conical towers, the past proud spires of factory husks, while vegetation hastens to reclaim old ground. Crowds shuttle in to stare toothlessly at the ruins. ‘Decay tourism’ has set up its stall. 

Metal memories are embedded in each one of these thousand shallow rough bubbles. Darker stains describe the best of times. Tremulous chariots for three point turns, mobile sanctuary for courting teens, are stacked wrecked shadows. Worn out, but held in fond regard, weathered in human harness unlike those cloud bothering, plunging elevatored monoliths.

To read the other pieces in our Element series, click here.

Excerpt from The Bridge by Hart Crane 1899 – 1932. Published 1930, Black Sun Press.


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by TOAST ( 07.10.13 )

By John Andrews.

‘To plead fashion, is like following a multitude to do evil’, so said the words on the pages of Winnie Black’s new ideal for living, The Female Emigrants Guide – Hints on Canadian Housekeeping by Catharine Parr Traill, the famous authoress of Backwoods of Canada. Winnie lived by every page and had done so since arriving as a settler’s wife in this the new world of the Canadian colony in the year 1860.

Donaldson’s Tailoring Shop stood on the main street of the town so young it was yet to be named and it was here that she was bound to collect the suit for her Ernest so that he might look smart in church. The money in her pocket, just over a dollar, was all they had left and rather than spend some of it on seeds that seemed bound to fail she had taken the decision to put it all on a suit so that her husband would look good before God. He could take care of the rest, ‘unless the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it, unless the Lord keep the city the watchmen maketh but in vain…’

Donaldson himself handed over the parcel, ‘It’s an old suit Mrs. Black but I’ve adjusted the trowsers and the jacket will fit a thin man. Mr. Black is thin is he not?’ Winnie let go of her last dollar and waited for change. Ernest was thin alright. He’d gone from an ox to a goat in less than a year. Grape jelly did no good. Whiskey did worse. Donaldson pushed the dollar back over the counter. ‘There’s no charge Mrs. Black. The suit came from the man found drowned last month up in One Fish Pool’. Winnie swallowed. Then she remembered that as a settler’s wife she was of ‘good temper’ and was not ‘peevish’ and would not be ‘discontented’. No, she would not let Mrs. Traill down. She would accept Donaldson’s charity. She thanked him as he held her smile for longer than he might, grasped the parcel in both hands, and left the shop.

It was not until she had walked home, a walk out of town of so many miles she lost count, and had hung the suit ready to air that Winnie noticed a peculiarity in the jacket. When the sun shone through the dirty window it spelt something out across the inside of the lining. She stared at it, not for the first time since her arrival here thinking she had lost her mind, and then started tearing at the seams. On the inside back there was a double lining into which were some words cross-stitched in the colour black,

‘The Last Will and Testament of Edward Cooper’

‘Under one of the trees you passed on the way to find me you will discover a small box, within which is a ‘Canadian’, a nugget of gold I once stole in desperation. Good luck to you, I hope I was not too heavy to lift from the water. I will be God’s now and a murderous thief no more. One Fish Pool seems as good a place as any to start again.’

www.andrewsofarcadia.com


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by TOAST ( 04.10.13 )
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