Holiday, heatwave and health…

I’m back, or at least half back. I seem to have left my health on the other side of the Atlantic and have spent the four days since my return coughing, spluttering and eating nothing but paracetamol (that’s acetaminophen to my US readers). And, rather depressingly, though I may have lost my appetite I haven’t lost any weight as a result. Oh and I am missing the most brilliant week of late summer weather this country has seen in 25 years. Lucky me. Hopefully, with several more doses of Covonia, vitamin C and painkillers I will be back to normal by Monday but until then, alas, I have nary a recipe to share with you. However, since I have been to the land which, long before the UK was out of culinary short trousers and gym slips, invented the now-ubiquitous coffee bar with sofa, cupcakes and smoothies, here are some of the things I tried, loved and brought home.

On New York’s High Line I had what I can only describe as a whoopie pie ice cream sandwich: inbetween a soft cinnamon/red velvet/chocolate chip soft cake was a circular disk of ice cream. Gorgeous. And if I hadn’t had one of those then I would have had a Mexican ice lolly from La NewYorkina: who needs orange or lemonade when coconut, tamarind and avocado or grapefruit, pineapple and jalapeño are on offer?

Over in ‘inoteca, a name very close to London’s own Vinoteca, I had Italian cheese served with a dish of honey, raisins and, I think, nuts. I avoided the honey, obviously…followed by some octopus cooked with orange and almonds. Lovely, though I can never get used to the American idea that cheese is an appetiser.

In Milford, Michigan I had food envy since my mum’s choice of scallops with salsa verde and truffle risotto beat the veal escalopes hands down (what was I thinking?) and, since the weather was beautiful there was a rather large ice cream for dinner the next day: coffee and chocolate mixed with fresh pecans and almonds.

Finally, of course, I had to go shopping. But these days the clothes are less enticing than the cookery shops and magazines. I bought a Kuhn-Rikon knife in Williams-Sonoma, having coveted Anne’s (and, yes, of course it went in the hold), a brilliant hand-held palm peeler (having tried Mark and Evelyn’s) and some diddy Martha Stewart spatulas (didn’t try them; they just looked nice). I bought a ton of magazines (from Saveur to Real Simple), read the owner of Prune‘s memoir (I didn’t love it, though I still want to try the food…) and made the Italian plum cake in David Tanis’s book. What with discovering him at the same time as reading David Lebovitz’s book, I think I need to start saving for a trip to Chez Panisse. My favourite discovery though (thanks again Evelyn) is the Sweet Paul website, blog and magazine. The design is really similar to Donna Hay’s, the information bounces from food to homes to crafts and I’m already planning to make one of the very simple recipes as soon as I can eat something. More of that on Monday. It’s nice to be home!

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