Monday, November 26, 2007

Diet: week 19th November

. . . And the wheels fell off this bus.

OMG. Oh, the shame:

1 x apple Danish

3 x full-fat caramel lattes

2 x M&S cream slices
3 x chocolate bars (one of them a mars bar)

2 x packets crisps

1 x tube Pringles (the crack cocaine of crisps, and 750 calories a tube!!!)

4 x M&S custard tarts

1 x massive wedge carrot cake

1 x very large sausage roll

1 x M&S freshly baked chocolate chip cookie

I’m thinking keeping a food diary and noticing what I am eating is skewing the results: I am Schrödinger’s greedy cat. Diarising is forcing me to obsess; therefore I eat more!

This Sunday I shall bake Nigella’s nectarine and blueberry galette as a reward IF I manage to be good all week.

Here goes.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hedgie's First Law of Croissants

The more difficult crumb-control, the better the pastry. So, if your black cashmere polo neck is festooned in golden crispy flakes, the pastry is very good indeed.

I am enjoying a quick pitstop in the V&A's new cafe, an ambitiously large space opened last November - fairly quietly, I think. I don't recall much press notice at the time.

This is possibly because the poor old V&A was the innocent victim of a grotesquely philistine ad campaign back in the benighted 80s – “An ace café with quite a nice museum attached”. Thatcherite values gazumped the Victorian ones that inspired the museum’s foundation, and suddenly it had to raise money – fast. Cafes and shops were the way forward. The museum is still trying to live this down.

But the truth is the café then was actually dire - a greasily pine-clad, unclean health-hazard situated beneath ground level. The corridor leading to it was dubbed ‘broccoli court’ by V&A staff in honour of the overwhelming smell of boiled brassica that thickly fogged the air.

The new café is a brilliant success. It has moved back to the three original Victorian café rooms – one of which was the first public commission of William Morris & Co. The whole cafe complex now forms the climax to a splendid axis through the centre of the museum: from entrance hall to shop to courtyard garden to café.

The Victorian café rooms are magnificently over the top but at the same time oddly and charmingly practical – Gamble designed his grandiose neo-baroque hall with ‘wipe clean’ tiles ceiling to floor.

For the refurb, the V&A has spread the café into the three galleries between the Victorian rooms and the courtyard – these have been renamed the garden rooms. The centre one serves the food; the two flanking rooms are cleanly minimalist (so restful after the Victorians): all slick lines, white stools and dove-grey banquettes. Gorgeous. The V&A commissioned McInnes Usher McKnight Architects for this project.

The coffee and pastries are excellent too (handled by Benugo), so for me the whole thing has definitely become a place to go in its own right, as well as being a stylish adjunct to a museum visit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bah! Humbug!

I am turning into a recluse – really must get out more. This weekend was a complete washout, in more ways than one.

Saturday turned into a duvet day – I barely made it out bed. I snuggled up with a book and copious mugs of tea. Usually, duvet days invlove packets of Sainsbury’s Belgian chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies but mercifully for my diet not this time.

The duvet day stretched into Sunday.

Basically, the most exciting bit of my weekend was washing my woolly jumpers and bleaching the bathroom. Actually, bleaching was exciting – who knew how effective bleach could be? Only one mold spot left standing and that is slowly being worn down by liberal applications every few hours.

It’s not as if I lacked options – I was invited out to dinner on Saturday (but passed) and even more excitingly was offered tickets to the Arcade Fire gig at Alexandra Palace on the Sunday.

Now Arcade Fire is my favourite band of the moment and I actually tried to get tickets earlier in the summer – all sold out. So I should have been really excited and grateful that the universe had opened its bounty to me. But not. Sorry, Universe.

So, instead of having an exciting write-up on the Arcade Fire gig, I am blogging about bleaching the bathroom.

Sad, sad and sad.

Diet: week 12th November

2 x full-fat latte
2 x packet crisps
4 x chocolate bars
1 x apple Danish

Obviously, can do better! But was good on cutting wheaty carbs out of lunches and dinners; also watched potato intake.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I was amused to see cardigans have become so fashionable again - they were a wardrobe staple of mine years ago.

Anyway, I felt I had to pay my respects fashion-wise before it was too late. Obviously, any old cardi was not suitable: I didn't want to end up looking like grandad. So I decided to head up to COS ("Collection of Style"). Apparently it is supposed to be a m ore sedate, upmarket H&M with classic stylish pieces.

The shop is in Liberty's old Regent's Street premises. Very stylish, with welcoming and helpful (but not overly assertive) staff. Got my cardi - quie gorgeous, very fine black silk/wool mix with a light grey edging. I bought it without trying it on. £39.

A bad idea for a fat boy.

Also, the contrast edging does no favours whatsoever for the fatter boy belly profile :-/

Considered taking it back, but I think I'll try to get by wearing it unbuttoned.

diet week 5th Nov

1 x pack crisps

1 x choc bar

2 x full-fat sugared lattes

Not bad. Was good with carb control - no pasta, hardly any potatoes etc

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Food of the Gods

One of the best things about my midlife crisis is finding new things to try that hadn’t really crossed the radar before.

This cheese is just remarkable. Apparently, it is the second most stinkiest cheese in France and was allegedly Napoleon’s favourite.

I’m getting a picture of ‘ol Boney being a bit of a sniffer – famously, he wrote Josephine to stop washing as he made hi way slowly back to Paris from Austerlitz on horseback (or something) – definitely a boy who liked his women stinky and his cheese stinkier.

WARNING: You are banned from eating this cheese on public transport in France.

But if you can get past the smell sheer heaven awaits. It’s like Camembert on steroids – everything about it is Bigger: the texture is smoother, claggier, more mouth coating; the taste is huge: powerful, rounded, complex – even the deeply wrinkled, soft and dusky orange rind has a melting ‘eat-me-now’ quality.

And remember I am eating a supermarket cheese – this gorgeousness is available in Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range. Fantastically well done, Sainsbury’s.

I was attempting to spread the cheese on a granary roll (sublime marriage of textures) unsuccessfully – the cheese is so oozy it ended up all over my fingers. I didn’t wash my hands so I could enjoy the stinkiness some more (definitely no intimate moments with A. N. Other at chez Hedgie last night). In France, they eat it with spoons. Who knows how Napoleon ate it. He may have spread it across Josephine.

Epoisses was invented by Cistercian monks in the 16th Century. Whatever evil the Catholic Church has committed over the centuries, this one is definitely on the side of the angels. On the other hand, no purely saintly organization could have come up with something so good.

More Epoisses lusciousness here and here.

Go on. You haven’t lived until you try it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

weekend news roundup - Jean Charles de Menezes and Sir Ian Blair

I remember the news the police had shot a terrorist coming in one morning at work. Everyone was so pleased but my stomach lurched. In fact, my comment at the water-cooler was it would be great if the person shot did in fact turn out to be a terrorist.

It was horrible to be proved right, and even more awful to realise how dubious I am about police competence.

The shooting of Jean-Charles de Menezes was a complete tragedy. The pressures the police were under were huge, and actually I could sympathise with their position were it not for the appalling way they have handled the aftermath –video footage going ‘missing’; Jean Charles’s character being besmirched; resisting a proper investigation; and now Sir Ian Blair absolutely ruling out considering his position as leader of the Met.

Andrew Rawnsley in last Sunday’s Observer made the most eloquent case for Sir Ian’s dismissal:

“We too often talk about this or that trifling controversy being morally outrageous. The editor of Blue Peter lost his job because of a bit of malarkey over the name of the programme’s cat.”

So I do think it would be appropriate for Sir Ian and his political bosses to have a rethink on this issue.

Monday, November 05, 2007

just say no

My name is Hedgiecc and I am a carboholic. When I find myself baking cakes to celebrate National Pudding Day – and then eating them all myself – problems are looming. I have never been so large.

The fightback begins here – no more chocs, no more crisps and no full-fat caramel lattes (on saving money grounds as well). Also all carbs will be viewed with suspicion.

Last week I had two packs crisps, 3 coffees, and no chocolates. Good! I also avoided sandwiches for lunch – instead having soup at around 11 and then fruit in the afternoon.

Excellent progress: hopefully the tummy will start receding visibly soon.

Apologies on getting all Bridget Jones, but this calls for desperate measures.


The weekend started with a bang at the Clapham Common bonfire night fireworks display. According to Time Out, this is one of the biggest displays in south London, with some 100,000 visitors. The fireworks were provided by Festival Fireworks, winners of the Italian Pyrotechnical Association World Championships. 

And very good they were too. There were a fair sprinkling of unusual ones, and after half-an-hour it climaxed spectularly, if slightly out of synch with the music (Starwars theme).

Usually one can see Wandsworth Common’s fireworks from Clapham, but this year Wandsworth Council decided to cut back on fireworks. Let us hope Labour Lambeth keeps up the tradition, even now they don’t have to demonstrate heavier fire power than the Tories.