Tastes of paradise – in my kitchen
Here’s what’s in my kitchen at the beginning of July (take a closer look and read the captions by clicking on an individual image, use the arrows to navigate).
Do we buy souvenirs in a desperate bid to extend our travels? I’m trying to remain in a tranquil, happy place – in spirit, if not in body – that was the result of a week in the Philippines. Various edible mementos have made it into my kitchen reminding me of shiny, happy people, blue skies and seas and some different and beguiling tastes.*
While local veg is getting thinner on the ground, ripe juicy fruit from the region is flooding into Dubai and filling the shelves of our supermarkets with its aroma. Some of our supermarkets I should say, as several stick resolutely to importing under-ripe, hard, tasteless and expensive fruit which would qualify for a silver card as an airline passenger. My kitchen has a selection of cherries from Syria, apricots from Jordan, grapes and mangoes from India and some nectarines from Tunisia which burst so violently with juice that I’ve had to stand over the sink to eat them.
As usual the return back to Dubai was improved by ordering something from Le Clos. Bags were handed over to me on arrival containing Stellenrust, Tolpuddle Pinot and some Sacred pink grapefruit gin. This went into the cupboard with a bottle of Don Papa rum – I’ll keep up the Filipino tradition of giving visitors to the house a nip or two (which they can’t refuse), perhaps in a dark and stormy?
A few pics of the Philippines from Instagram
Veggie teen has a rampant sweet tooth that baffles me (I haven’t). As she’s vegan this month this puts most chocolate out of bounds so she was delighted to sample Pana Chocolate which is raw, organic, handmade, vegan and also contains no processed sugar (relying on agave syrup instead). She loved it. I wasn’t so sure about the texture, although enjoyed the very dark versions especially the mint. I’ve made another batch of salted caramel for her today as she wasn’t able to eat it or these muffins during her vegan month of June.
Some people just manage to choose the most thoughtful gifts. I was honoured to be asked to speak for an hour at a recent workshop held by legendary food writing guru Dianne Jacob at the Dubai International Writers Centre. She brought me a sachet of dried sour dough from San Fransisco; just thrilling. I’m going to activate it after the summer so I can tend to its needs alongside Prudence.
I’m leaving strict instructions for KP to keep Prudence, my sourdough starter, alive as I’m off to the UK this month. My feet will be planted firmly in stout walking boots striding across the springy grass of the Brecon Beacons in a couple of weeks time. Just. Can’t. Wait.
Before I leave for the summer I usually do a big clear out of my spice cupboard and restock in September (especially as this year I’m going to my first Indian wedding in Hyderabad). I couldn’t resist a jar of special spice mix, known as B’zaar or Biz’har, that is used in Emirati cuisine; most families make their own. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that you can buy some made to a personal secret recipe (which is never revealed). Stocked at Baker and Spice and The Change Initiative.
If you are wondering what’s in other kitchens around the globe, visit Celia’s page and follow the links in her side bar for this monthly event. You can also look back on past goodies in my kitchen here.
*I travelled to the Philippines as a guest of Cebu Pacific Air and the Philippine Department of Tourism so some of my edible souvenirs were gifts, as was the Amira rice and Pana chocolate. Opinions my own.
What’s in your kitchen this July?