Sunday, 7 February 2010

100 posts: what's it all about, then?

This blog and I have reached a mini-milestone. It's taken just over a couple of years to get here, but we've finally made it: 100 posts.

'100' sounds vaguely important, doesn't it? I feel I should be celebrating, or doing something momentous, such as cooking some outrageously inventive dish, or coming up with a suitably profound insight into the world of food blogging.

But that's not really what this blog's been about. So far, it's been a rather eclectic mix of restaurant 'reviews', several recipes, a peek at a few cookbooks, and some random other stuff. Focussed and organised, it is not. It's not even a reliable indicator of what I cook or eat - I blog only a tiny fraction of all that. Sadly, there aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week.

I have, however, learnt a few things along the way (notably, that I prefer to eat my food while it's hot, rather than faff around photographing it, and that British daylight really isn't up to the job for much of the year), and that the more I learn, the more I learn that I've got lots more learning still to do. Hmm. There endeth the first (and only) lesson: food blogging = mini life lesson.

And, of course, it's been fun. I've discovered an amazing array of food bloggers (for me, it all started with the wonderful mattbites), been to some great restaurants and food 'events', tried new recipes, and revisited old ones. I've trialled new products, reviewed cookbooks, and interviewed a few of my food heroes. When I started this blog, all those months ago, I had no idea that it would bring me so many opportunities.

Above all, though, it's been about the FOOD - about making it, eating it, trying it, sharing it, and enjoying all that it brings. Food is my raison d'etre, my modus operandi, and quite probably my most powerful memory bank. I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, dang it, I WILL celebrate - with 3 photos from last week that neatly sum up some of what 'a forkful of spaghetti' has been all about...

1. Cheese, lovely cheese


Or, to be more precise, Yarg, lovely Yarg. Cheese has always been a big part of my life. As far back as I can remember, when smelly cheeses were largely unknown here and the cause of much instant suspicion, my dad was buying wonderful and weird cheeses and bringing them home like a proud hunter. Where he got his love of the stuff from, I don't know. It certainly wasn't from his upbringing. But I share that love, and now that he no longer lives or works anywhere near a decent cheesemonger, I take particular pleasure in tracking down cheeses for him that he may not have come across before. I'm fairly certain he's familiar with Yarg, but that won't stop me buying him another truckle at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Carefully wrapped in nettles, it's gorgeous to look at - but it's better still to eat. Despite its slightly chalky, crumbly appearance, it's actually a smooth and creamy cheese. Buttery, tangy, earthy, and with a hint of the salty sea from the Cornish coast, it's subtle and extremely moreish. The baby pictured above came to me from the kind people at Lynher Dairies. Apparently, they're also offering heart-shaped truckles for Valentine's Day. If your lover is a cheese lover, then this is surely a perfect gift.

2. Chocolate, in (almost) any form

brownie cookies and milk

'Real' chocolate has been my big discovery of the past few years. As a child, I was never into all those sickly Cadbury and other confections, and so never really ate much chocolate. Easter eggs would go untouched. Christmas tins would go unopened. Chocolate cakes, however, and some chocolate biscuits, were a different matter altogether. And now I understand why. It's all in the cocoa. Cakes were made with the real stuff, whereas the chocolates of my childhood were not.

Now my life is happily punctuated with real chocolate, and London, even more happily for me, is studded with some truly great British chocolatiers. Paul A Young, Demarquette, L'Artisan du Chocolat, Melt, Damian Allsop... I salute you all. And a special mention must go the Mother of them all, Rococo, and its founder, Chantal Coady. I've got messy in the Motcomb Street kitchen and learnt a tremendous amount over the last two years about all things cocoa from Chantal and 'Prof Choc', Laurent Couchaux - from the secrets of ganache-making through how to make a perfect mousse to how to taste chocolate properly.

But while my stash of real chocolate is a relative novelty, my love of chocolate biscuits, cakes, and desserts still thrives. Last week, I made a batch of deeply dark, all-chocolate chewy, fudgy cookies. With a glass (or mug, in my case) of cold milk, they are one of my life's simple but indulgent pleasures.

3. Eating out
Let's get a few things straight. I love cooking, and I cook a LOT. Most of it is functional, and goes largely unblogged - the evening meal - but I enjoy it no less for that. But - and it's a big but - I do also love eating out from time to time. Whether it's being cooked for by friends or eating at a restaurant, it's all good as far as I'm concerned.

Eating in restaurants does, of course, lend itself to a special kind of expectation. I'm fascinated and awed by what some chefs come up with, and my tastebuds revel in trying something new. I usually make a point of ordering things I can't readily get hold of, have never eaten before, or know I'll never make in a month of Sundays. Sometimes expectations are sorely disappointed; sometimes they're spectacularly exceeded. For me, it's all part of the adventure.

At the very tail end of last summer, I was lucky enough to visit Pierre Koffman's 'pop-up' restaurant. From start to finish, the meal was superb, and the experience will live long in my memory. Last week, I received this through the post:

Koffmann menu

A menu from the night, signed by the great man himself! I was, and still am, ridiculously chuffed. Claire, his partner, had been as good as her word. She took a note of my name on the night and promised she'd get Pierre to sign a menu for me. Weeks and months passed. Nothing. I wasn't unduly disappointed - I still had the memories of one of my great dining experiences, and Koffmann is, after all, a tremendously busy man. How could I possibly be disappointed?

Now, though, that memory is forever signed and sealed. I'll be framing it and putting it somewhere that I can see it every day. The autograph thrills me, the cartoon amuses me, and the menu serves as inspiration and a reminder of a truly great meal and experience. I couldn't ask for more.

And that's what food is all about, isn't it? Fun, experiences, memories.

What will my next 100 posts bring? I have no idea. But I can guarantee you there's a lot more fun, experiences, and memories still to pass this way.


Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Well done on your 100th post and sticking with it for 2 years. Wonderful that your signed menu showed up eventually!

Lovely to see you the other day, we'll have to do it again some time.

Bellini Valli said...

100 posts is definitely something to raise the roof about. Congratulations:D

Douglas Blyde said...

...well done!

Julia said...

Horray! And here's to another 2 years.

Choclette said...

Congratulations. Great choices, I enjoyed reading this post. Chocolate of course, I heartily approve of. I was also pleased to see our local cheese. Yarg is well respected amongst the local jobseekers as the nettle picking provides a good source of seasonal employment. I've thought about doing it once or twice myself!

Cakelaw said...

Congrats on reaching 100 posts! Loved the photos - they were fun, and I am rather fascinated by the cheese (you'd never get anything wrapped in nettles here).

scandilicious said...

Awww...that's quite a milestone! Congratulations, and that photo of Yarg is absolutely mesmerizing. A great blog, here's to the next 100 posts :-)

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Well done on reaching the 100th post milestone. Here's to many more posts and happy blogging years.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Sarah - thank you, and yes, we will!

Val, Douglas, Julia - thanks, all!

Choclette - that's interesting info re Yarg and employment for nettle pickers. I'll have to eat more, then ;)

cakelaw - the nettles make it very pretty, but also lend a certain something to the taste, too

scandilicious, George - thank you :)

Graze and Guzzle said...

well done, i'm just about to release my 4th post only another 96to go!

Catherine said...

Congratulations on your 100th post! I think Pierre was just waiting for this milestone, to make it more special for you ;)

Manggy said...

Happy blogmilestone, Forky! I look forward to the next 100, full of lovely restaurants, awesome cheese, and of course, chocolate ;) (and maybe some spaghetti along the way.)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Graze and Guzzle - 96 to go? No problem... ;)

Catherine - if only that were true! Still, nice thought!

Manggy - cheers, Mark. It really is about time I did something with spaghetti, isn't it?!

Choclette said...

Weirdly, after coming across your blog the other day, I read my copy of True Loaf, only to find you had written an article in it. I've been using spelt for years now as my main flour and love it. I only started using ordinary wheat wholemeal, when a local mill started grinding local wheat. Spelt is still the staple though.

Nicisme said...

Congrats on your 100th post!
I love to read your blog, especially when you go to those posh restaurants!
You have quality over quantity, something lacking in quite a few blogs these days!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

congrats, and here's to more
epsecially those restaurant reviews!

paul said...

Congrats on 100 posts, as said earlier quantity and quality! If i may be so bold, another great aspect of blogging is the friendships and sharing of knowledge across the globe!

Next stop 200 posts!

WizzyTheStick said...

Congratulations! I look forward to the day when I will achieve a similar milestone. Just found your blog and I am glad I did, it's wonderful.

Foodycat said...

Congratulations! It is a milestone. I'm on a big cheese kick at the moment - taking advantage of the fact that I can get absolutely amazing cheese in the UK (and you really can't in Australia).

Margaret said...

Congratulations! I am looking forward to seeing your next 100 blog posts.

Graphic Foodie said...

Congratulations on the 100th post. I really enjoy your blog!

Johanna GGG said...

congratulations - it is a good milestone - and glad to see the posts will continue to roll out - love to see what you are up to and your gorgeous photos and have squirrelled away a few of your recipes to try

Pia K said...

better late than never, congrats! its important to celeberate milestones in life, small and large, so i hope you treated yourself to something special...:)

love, love, love the cheese photo! would not mind, at all, that rhino etc mug. and yes, please, chocolate my way!

and now i think it would be more than great to hear a bit about about the new family addition in blog - falling into the category of random but very important stuff - did you go for cinnamon, sugar or vanilla? :)

James said...

Ahhhhh you ate on the rooftop - so lucky!

Happy 100!

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