Archive for the ‘GRUB’ Category

A Design For Life: Liberty London Girl’s Friends, Food, Family


2I own a lot of recipe books, and I bet you do too. And I’m equally willing to wager only a tiny proportion of them are covered in flour and greasy fingermarks like a well-used, well-loved recipe book should be. The one I refer to most often because it contains delicious recipes that look impressive but are relatively simple to make, is Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Bites. But I think that might change very soon, as the latest addition to my kitchen windowsill is Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl’s new recipe book,Friends, Food, Family.

Last year I was one of the lucky, greedy guinea pigs who enjoyed the bounty of Sasha’s dinner table while she exhaustively trialled the recipes for her book so I can confirm that they are very tasty indeed. And last week I attempted one of the mushroom-on-toast recipes to prove that they were easy to follow too.


But what comes across in both the words and the pictures in this beautiful book is a message that’s more important than how to make a Victoria Sponge rise (though this is obviously crucial information.) What Sasha delivers is a lesson in living well – enjoying the company of your nearest and dearest, nurturing them with the food you make, yes, but also nurturing yourself by creating shared moments of kinship.

Drunken dinner parties where you set the world to rights over bottles of prosecco and something warm in a casserole dish, Sunday lunches that go on for hours with children and small dogs crawling around under the table, impromptu picnics, al desco snacks that lift the spirits rather than crushing the soul.

Sasha makes her point elegantly and emphatically: cooking good food should be a pleasure, not a stressful chore. Buy the best ingredients you can find and afford, cheat whenever possible to minimise your time in the kitchen and maximise your time at the table, because ultimately what matters is the memories you make, not whether the soufflé rose properly.


Peppered in between the recipes are handy lists based on Sasha’s travels – the best flower markets in cities across the world, ingenious ways to arrange flowers to look fancy, and a killer dinner party playlist featuring Taylor Swift and Patsy Kline – all drawn from her experiences as a globetrotting, multitasking blogger and editor. Oh and praise be, she calls them FAIRY cakes NOT cupcakes and if that doesn’t convince you of this book’s credibility I don’t know what will.

Interview: The Little Book of Lunch

Sophie & Caroline

Sophie & Caroline at Somerset House (2 minutes from Penguin HQ)

Last month Penguin editor Sophie Missing and ex-Penguin now Kew Gardens-publicist Caroline Craig‘s first cookbook was published. The Little Book of Lunch is full of ideas from the raw (‘Rainbow Rescue: your five-a-day in a jar’) to the baked (salted caramel brownies in the ‘Bribing Colleagues with Sweet Treats’). These are recipes for office people with imaginations because even if you can’t usually manage more than one take-in a week you will love flipping through this gorgeous collection of inspirations and amusing asides on al desko etiquette and lunchbox-styling tips. 

What was it like being on the author-side of the project as current/former publishing-employees? Did you experience any (un)pleasant surprises?

SM: It was actually really fun to see the other side of the process. And an eye-opener of course, because I was used to seeing things from the publisher’s perspective. I think I was terrified of annoying our publishers though!

CC: Yes, it was really interesting. As Sophie says we were mainly trying to be the kind of author we enjoy working with… Hands-off and letting the experts do their jobs! Don’t know if we always succeeded though…

What’s been your favourite part(s) of the process?

SM: It’s all been pretty exciting… doing the shoots was incredibly fun (though hard work) and a bit of a whirlwind. Seeing the proofs (and having what you’ve written suddenly look like ‘a real actual book’) is always exciting too. Mostly though, it’s been amazing to hear that people who aren’t our friends or our family like it, and enjoy the recipes. That’s the best. And a massive relief.

CC: I loved writing it so much! Sitting at my laptop in the kitchen at the crack of dawn with a cuppa… It was also wonderful writing as a partnership: Sophie and I would bounce off each other and I think our writing was all the better for it.

I loved the section on lunchboxes which made me feel inspired as well as deeply ashamed of my own scrappy Tupperware boxes. What are your favourite lunch receptacles and where did you find them?

SM: Caroline is the queen of the attractive lunchbox. She inspired me to buy a rather chic (if I do say so myself) aluminium one from Objects of Desire. It could double as a handbag. Muji is also good and practical.

CC: To be honest there are some mornings when I’m in such a rush I’ve been known to grab the first thing to hand to transport my lunch… a plastic  bag… a tea towel. But yes, I do love my enamel tiffin tin too! Read More…

Dear carnivore, you’re boring.

Ha, burger joints are like, my mecca or something.

Yes, yes, I know. You’re a girl who eats burgers therefore you’re totally ‘normal’ and make a great girlfriend because you can go to MeatLiquor with your boyfriend and not spend the whole time pushing deep fried gherkins reluctantly about your plate but seriously… I don’t need your finger lickin’ food diary all-up on my google reader. Please find something else to blog about and wake up to the fact that YOU ARE NOT AN ANOMALY.

I hate to diss a sista but what (for the love of God!) is this modern day obsession with girls showcasing their carnivorous dark side like they’ve kickstarted a new phase of female evolution? Without wanting to hurl a honey-glazed rib in the workings of their cool campaign, I eat red meat too but manage to resist the urge to market myself as a burger-loving man fantasy, who wipes her greasy mouth on the sleeve of her Celine*. *I don’t own any Celine. It’s my fantasy within a fantasy.

Her words: “Who cares about clothes? Pah! I’m so much more interested in gorging on this hangar steak”

Her inner monologue: “Shit. Perhaps the torrent of tears I shed later will loosen the oil spill that just happened all over my Hermes”

Lux Lisbon doesn’t eat burgers, but if she did they’d look like this.

Just like all of our lives are conscientiously edited to look like scenes from The Virgin Suicides (without the suicides), these blogs promote an image of fun-loving women who are more fun-loving than most because they’re accompanied by a big fat slab of medium-rare meat. Since when was an appetite an accessory and why is it sexy (!?) to opt for offal over insalate?

I, for one, am bored of looking at pictures of gorgeous girls salivating over plates piled with cow. I will gleefully go to Hawksmoor and Instagram the hell out of my meat feast but I will not subject my Facebook friends to pictures of my jaws clamped provocatively ’round a carcass.

Eating is fun and restaurants are hip and by all means keep telling me where to go get my iron-fix but please stop making me feel like chicken is for wimps. I quite like chicken and I DO worry about getting ketchup on my dungarees. That’s why I bib myself into oblivion, eat ’til I’m sated, then head home with béarnaise sauce in my hair. This is also why I’m not a food blogger, but I’m beginning to think i should be… #man-fantasy

Pamflet Salon 2: Picture This…

The Pamflet Salon as witnessed and drawn by the terribly talented illustrator Andy Bumpus - thanks Andy! x

Pamflet Salon + Gizzi Erskine = FOOD FIGHT!

And so to Drink Shop & Do for the second Pamflet salon, this time with the theme ‘food fight!’. Phoebe began with a few words… “Food has an effect on all our senses, not just taste; and as well as triggering touch, smell, sight and sound, it triggers our memory and our emotions. We associate particular foods, dishes or meals with memories of people – our granny’s roast potatoes, our mum’s vegetable soup – and moments in time, particularly childhood, as well as places. We talk about comfort food and emotional eating, use it to celebrate and commiserate. (i always  associate sausage rolls with funerals.) we can bond over it, or judge each other on it (i always had weird things like Za’atar and kumradeen in my lunchbox, and only occasionally envied the other kids their plastic ham sandwiches.) but i think we tend to assume that women have a particularly emotional relationship with food, and that’s not necessarily the case – you only have to read Nigel Slater’s autobiography, Toast, to understand that men make deep emotional associations with cooking too.’

We then welcomed chef, food writer and stylist (and DJ!) Gizzi Erskine onto the stage (well, the stagey corner) and she talked us through two of her favourite recipes from her latest book, Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic (Virgin Books, 2010). Chicken in Weeds is a luscious-sounding supper based on a dish her mum used to make and her salted, rosemary-infused millionaire’s shortbread was described in such a mouth-watering fashion that every salonette present will be baking this weekend!

Gizzi’s philosophy is ‘everything in moderation’ and she is a passionate advocate for a variety of cuisines having worked the kitchen of St John and inspected the fridges of the noble British public (in Cook Yourself Thin), believing that we should allow food to be ‘an extension of our personalities’. She’s passionate about encouraging young women to cook and eat well and is spreading the word through her column in Company magazine and her regular appearances across the media. She’s got to be one of the hardest-working chefs on the scene so it’s not surprising that she can whip up her trademark beehive in under 5 minutes (it’s awesome in real life too!).  Gizzi’s own career has been hugely influenced by her family – she remembered the books on the shelves at home ranging from Larousse Gastronomique to The Pooh Corner Cook Book and her mum’s regular dinner parties with guests like Paul and Debbie Daniels (‘kitchen magic’?) made food lots of fun.

We couldn’t have a visit from the uniquely chic and elegant Ms Erskine and not ask her about her style background and she talked to us through discovering indie via her beloved older sister’s Cure cassette aged 8 and then her various dalliances with punk and psychobilly in her teens, trying out  some serious hair experiments along the way! Right now she’s into retro-glam 60s style, wearing vintage shift dresses and swing coats and regularly selling pieces on eBay because there’s not enough room in the flat she shares with her boyfriend to keep them all. Music, then, has been much more of a style-inspiration than what’s in fashion or who she ‘should’ be wearing on the red carpet, and that’s another reason why she’s such a brilliantly unique, uncompromising woman to see in the public eye. If you don’t already have her book, we can’t recommend it highly enough.

For the second half of the evening we discussed Margaret Atwood’s groundbreaking debut novel The Edible Woman (first published in 1969 and written when she was in her early 20s) featuring Marian, a heroine with a rather complicated relationship with food (and her boyfriends). The Edible Woman‘s not Atwood’s Great Novel, but it’s an eyeopening snapshot of an age we’re all obsessed with – the early 60s when women were on the brink of a revolution but were still stuck.

Thanks as always to the gang at Drink, Shop & Do for being such wonderful hosts, Virago Books for providing the lucky salonettes with copies of The Edible Woman, Wild About Flowers for a stunning bouquet for Gizzi and, of course, Gizzi herself for being such a fascinating and stylish special guest. *hearts*

Photos courtesy of


"Vogue loves...Indie mags: Hogarthian graphics and modern feminism from Pamflet"

"It makes me feel less despair to know that somewhere deep inside the Jordanization of modern Britain there are still a few angry feminists out there." Zadie Smith

"Pamflet is the photocopy-quality soapbox for two young, sarky post-feminists from London who want women’s rights and the right to wear pretty things, and want it, like, yesterday." Sunday Times Style

"They’re funny and honest and write about fashion with feminism so I’m obviously all over it." Tavi