Last month, I left this little blog with promises of more stories about my trip to Japan. Here are the highlights of my time spent in Tokyo (at the start and end of the trip):
As you probably saw on my last blog post, I went to visit Japan last month. It was an incredible trip and I cannot wait to go back (because I know I will, there is so much more to explore over there!).
A few weeks before going on the trip, my good friend Rebekah (of Honeysuckle Life) and I decided to plan a little weekend of designing, cooking, styling and photographing under the theme of a Japanese Fall Feast. I used the trip to Japan as my inspiration by tasting different dishes and flavours over there and coming up with four recipes. (See the links to Rebekah's beautifully designed creations and tutorials at the bottom of this post.)
I have left this little blog a bit lonely for the past two months, showing the same image of a delicious yet now old blackberry and almond Chantilly roulade.
In the meantime, a lot happened. Lots of it involved work, but also a really amazing trip to Japan last October.
This trip nearly happened in July as it was our honeymoon but after a bit of pondering and realising that visiting a country when it is at his hottest weather would not be wise (think huge heat wave and typhoons), we chose to go there in October. And actually, it was a really good decision! The weather was great, nice and warm but not so hot that it would have made it unbearable to walk around (we had a lot of walking planned in the mountains and cities). Plus, we got to see the first notes of some amazing Autumn colours all over the country.
There is a lot to say about Japan!
Call it a Swiss roll, jelly roll, cream roll, roulade or gâteau roulé, all it is really is a delicious dessert and I could eat a lot of it!
Its light and thin sponge base is traditionally baked in a rectangular baking tray. It is then spread with cream and/or jam and delicately rolled in the shape of a small log. The great thing about this dessert is that it can be made in a lot of different ways with the large choice of jams and preserves that can be found these days.
Since it is blackberry picking season, I used blackberry jam for my recipe (it is also a berry I am very fond of, as seen here and there).
As Summer reaches its end properly this Sunday (yes, I stick to my French seasons calendar), I want to grab on its last moments of warmth until it is back in June next year. It may be grey and misty outside but I know I can put Summer on my plate one last time with some delicious courgettes, a bit of tomato and the aroma of oregano.
Next week, I will officially welcome delicious and seasonal Autumn ingredients back in the kitchen.
The other day, as I walked among the fallen leaves on the wet ground, wrapped in warm clothes from head to toe, my scarf flying in the wind... oh wait! Am I really writing this when Summer is barely over? I guess I am. I feel a bit sad that I already have to pull out warm clothes from the wardrobe when the Summer ones have been barely touched.
But guess what? There's one thing I am not sad about. And that thing is the thought of delicious warm dishes that are more suitable to colder seasons. In my head, there are thoughts of heartwarming vegetable soups, wonderful stews, weekends of scrumptious and indulgent roasts (I already had one of those meals yesterday, thanks C.!), and lots of warm desserts. And then, one thought is stronger than the others: butter, cream, cheese! More butter, more cream, more cheese!
Yes, in all my French-ness, colder months rhyme with indulgent months. And pulling out my favourite recipes of cheese fondues, tartiflettes, raclettes and anything and everything that involves cream and/or molten cheese covering the rest of the ingredients.
Before anyone worries about the high level of fat content in what I just wrote (it does feel calorific just reading this, I know!), I do balance this with a healthy diet of vegetarian soups and meals, a lot of grain based dishes, roast vegetables and fruit.
But more seriously (or not), let's go back to all that story of cream and let me tell you about a French classic and favourite of mine: the gratin dauphinois (also know as scalloped potatoes).
Two years. Well, two years since last Saturday that I started this little food blog!
After a busy few months and July that went like a flash, I finally get to have a mini celebration here with you my lovely readers. And on a personal level, this little celebration adds itself to another anniversary that is also quite important to me as I moved to Ireland ten years ago!
I look back at all those years that were punctuated by different jobs, travels, moving to Australia for three years, coming back to Ireland, meeting great people and friends along the way, developing my career as a photographer; and it happens that those past two years that started with the blog were the most productive and creative so far.
I am very grateful for what Crème de Citron brought to me. I have met some really lovely people thanks to it, some of those meetings becoming friendships. It allowed me to push my boundaries in terms of creativity and more than anything else, photography! I have been using it as a place to share the recipes I love making and sharing, but also as a platform to improve my food and lifestyle photography skills. The lack of blog posts over the past few months actually means I have been busy with food photography work for clients and this to me is the greatest achievement this little blog gave me over the past two years.
Thank you all for your continued readership along the way. And a special merci beaucoup for those who really encouraged me over the past two years, you know who you are!
Now to celebrate, scroll down for the recipe of an easy chocolate and nuts marbled cake. I love making a little sweet thing to bring along to a friend's house, be it for an afternoon chat or a creative morning like the one I went to recently (and I made mini terrariums that time, that's what I call a 'gardening' achievement on my part!). I brought along this easy to make marbled cake to share. Let's swirl the batters and bake a cake!
About three weeks ago, I was in Dingle to work on a photo shoot with Jette Virdi for the new Dingle Cookery School opening soon. Despite the fact I will have moved to Ireland ten years ago in July, I had never been to Dingle, a place I had heard so much about. I was really not disappointed. This place is just beautiful and I will make sure to go back very soon.
Among the two days of food photography taking for the school, there was also a lot of eating. There were obviously the tasty dishes prepared, cooked and photographed for the school's website.
There also was an amazing meal at Out of the Blue. I really love seafood and going to a restaurant that only serves this on its menu was truly fantastic (you will not actually find anything else than seafood courses on the starters and main courses menu). Having been raised on the seaside in France (Atlantic Ocean side), I was really excited when I saw the menu that evening as a lot of the dishes sounded very familiar to me. I chose to have two starters as they were very appealing. First, we were greeted with a little taster of a pan seared scallop on a delicate bed of spinach puree. Scallops are my favourite seafood so this was a great way to start the meal. It was followed for me by a most flavoursome langoustine bisque with sauce aïoli. This produced a big smile on my face, I could have easily had a second serving if I had not ordered another dish. I have had bisques in the past that were either too salty or did not taste like the seafood it pretended to be. This langoustine bisque was just perfection. My second starter was a monkfish cheeks vol-au-vent. Delicate layers of puff pastry with melt-in-the-mouth leek, beurre blanc sauce and the wonderful monkfish cheeks. Monkfish is an ugly looking fish but it is oh so delicious!
Describing those dishes and speaking about Out of the Blue has made me crave for more. I am really looking forward to my next trip there!
And then, there was the ice cream!
About two weeks ago, I was at Stansted Airport in London waiting for a flight back to Dublin after five days of really enjoyable holidays. We were welcomed there by our lovely Australian friends and among all types of fun times together, I have to admit I did have some real tourist moments. The last time I had properly visited London was more than twelve years ago so it has effectively changed a lot in the meantime. Apart from a couple of rain drops, and me stepping right into a huge puddle of water (because I was marveling at the Anthropologie shop windows, so it's a good excuse), we were very lucky with the weather and managed to fit a lot of things in.
We started our holiday with an epic evening run through the many types of transportation London has to offer on a strike day. Our friend R. was in the Irish play 'Translations' by Brian Friel at the other side of town and we wanted to make sure we would be there and see him on stage.
What ensued were a few days filled with food, sight seeing, theatre, sunshine, happiness and friendship. What could you ask more of a holiday?!
Last week on Good Friday, my lovely friend K. and I met for a day of sunshine and food enjoyment on the seaside. We jumped on the Dart and headed South of Dublin to Blackrock.
After a delicious lunch of fish and chips in the market, we decided to take a walk along the coastline to take in as much sunshine as we could. We eventually found ourselves at the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire where, even full after our lunch, it was hard to resist not joining the long queue of people at the Teddy's ice cream stand.
When the sun is shining and you find yourself in Dun Laoghaire for a walk on the seaside, sitting on a bench with a Teddy's 99 in your hand, the sun on your face and in good company really makes for a great day.
Ireland has given us already a few days of pure sunshine and happiness in the Spring, let's see what this Summer will bring us!