Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Londonniversary!

Autumn has arrived in London, which means I’ve been here for a whole year now. It’s a good time to celebrate my anniversary with this city: the slow-walking tourists have mostly left, and the clouds have lifted. It’s nice and sunny, but not so hot that I have to endure pasty white British flesh slowly turning lobster red as sunbathers in Hyde Park delude themselves into thinking they can get a tan. This season never fails to lift my spirits. I think it has to do with that whole ‘back to school’ feeling, the buying of new school supplies (with good intentions of actually keeping myself organised – at least until Thanksgiving), the new outfits, and the challenge of new courses. What can I say? I have always been a huge keener.

Then there’s the fall food, the last of the fresh fruit and vegetables mixed with spices and heartier fare. Last weekend I made pumpkin muffins, and perhaps this weekend I’ll make a very American apple pie. Maybe I’ll even watch some college football highlights with Michael! Gah, why does this always happen? I have to confess that the crisp air and falling leaves always leave me nostalgic for the sort of wholesome, small-town American childhood I never had, but grew up watching on TV. The kind of childhood I’m convinced my husband had, one with football players and cheerleaders, county fairs and gourd centrepieces. He’s American, and all Americans are exactly as they appear on TV, right?

But back to the deliciousness that is fall… I really do think it’s my favourite time of year for food. I just love soups and stews, and fall is the perfect excuse to make something with a little more substance (and a little less health-nut husband-friendly). Also, I’m a sucker for anything I can make in a large batch and eat over the course of the next couple of days. This month we were lucky to be able to eat large quantities of this type of food when we were in Budapest.

The city was beautiful, but what really impressed me were the food and wine: chicken paprik├ís, porkolt (stew – what we call goulash) and gulyas (a thinner meaty soup), stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, bread to mop up sauce, and of course the paprika. The wine was abundant and of amazing quality. I’ve since learned that Hungarian wine is set to become the next big thing.

The weather was quite hot, so we were pleasantly surprised by the cold soups on offer. The first night we were there, we had a cold peach soup that was so good we had to return to the restaurant a few days later to try their cold plum soup. It was difficult to decide which one was better, but we both agreed the plum won. It was a bit like melted sorbet, but not as sweet and much thicker with a hint of salt and some cinnamon and nutmeg (no photos, so I leave you instead to salivate over these delicious salamis). I am eagerly awaiting the next 2 minutes of London ‘summer’ so I can try to recreate the soup at home.

Yes, London really feels like home now. We’ve had our peach/salmon flat painted white, and instead of worrying about how I’m going to find a job, I worry about how to impress my boss and teammates. And I’ll drink to that. So here’s to us, London, there’s none better! Cheers!