Perhaps it was the mere act of contemplating matters sunny yesterday, but the weather has changed.
No … not the weather: the season (fingers crossed).
Lunchtime yesterday was fine enough to sit out at the café in Russell Square and drink frothy latté.
Today has been better yet. There is warmth in the sun and the light has lost the brittle quality of wintery days.
So it seems perfectly in keeping to have turned to the Mediterranean for culinary inspiration today.
A chicken is already in the oven for a long, slow cook, à la one of the River Café cookery books. The bird is stuffed with garlic, sage and rosemary and is sitting in a tight dish with 200ml of water in the bottom at around 80˚C. After three hours, it’ll have butter rubbed on it and Vermouth added to the dish, before being returned to a hotter oven for a final half hour (or until it browns).
I’m going to serve it with good bread and with zucchini scapece – courgettes, thickly sliced and then salted for half an hour, before being dried and fried in vegetable oil with mint leaves.
The body has already been ready for the change of season for a couple of weeks: I’ve been binging on salads most evenings; ludicrously simple things such as plate of lamb’s lettuce, with a few baby beets and some smoked mackerel. Delicious.
At lunchtime today, I borrowed some more inspiration from River Café, cooked myself some broad (fava) beans from frozen and tossed them over a sliced pear, some goat’s cheese and toasted walnuts, dressed with nothing more than a drizzle of virgin oil.
As snowdrops display their beauty in the planters at the front of the flat, these are the tastes to go with it.
It’s been so pleasant sitting out that, when I finally got around to getting the camera out and taking a picture of the Marc Jacobs patent pink pumps for Irene, I was even able to take advantage of the natural light. They’ll go brilliantly with the dress from Monsoon, that I found on my Thursday shopping jaunt.
I feel soothed and relaxed. Chores are out of the way and I can sit out in the garden for a little longer. The days are drawing out and buds are just beginning to peak through on the bushes and trees that I passed alongside the Regent’s Canal as I wandered to the market this morning.
Looking up, you can see silhouettes of the first blossom against azure skies. The birds have been tweeting away all afternoon, driving the Queen B into a frenzy of chuntering and chirruping to herself.
We’ve had a good winter – a real winter. The cold has exhilarated and cleared the senses.
But now it’s time for spring, and everything seems to be reaching out for it.