It’s finally feeling like Spring may have reached London (at least just for one day), so what better time to post about these gorgeous gardens in Japan.
Once a year, the wisteria of Ashikaga Gardens comes in to bloom, and puts on a real show. The trellises extend for more than 1,000m and the vines are grown over tunnels so you can walk under the blooms.
I’m sure these photos only give a sense of the spectacle, and no hint of the scent.
They really are something to behold.
Hint of pink #spring #blossom (at Southwark Cathedral)
I found this recipe in a magazine last week, it is supposed to be cooked with hogget, however it’s pretty difficult to find so I just used a small shoulder of lamb. I had spent an industrious day in the garden, taking advantage of the what I am hoping is the beginning of spring and the end of winter, so was a comforting end to a busy day.
The sauce is rich and lovely with the diced veges, you really needn’t a side dish and the sharpness of the green sauces offsets the sweetness of the lamb.
1 leek, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finally chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
6 cloves whole garlic
8 banana shallots, peeled and kept whole
300ml red wine
500ml chicken stock
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
2 sprigs of rosemary
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 handfuls flat leaf leaf parsely
large handful mint
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovy fillets
Zest 1/2 lemon
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
150ml olive oil
salt and pepper
Whizz it all up, keeping it a bit chunky to a paste consistency.
For the lamb:
Preheat to 160C. Brown the meat in a large roasting dish then remove. Add the veges and cook for a few minutes to soften, don’t let them colour. Season the meat generously and add to the pan with the stock, wine, prunes, herbs and bring to a simmer. Cover with 2 layers of foil, tucking in so it’s tight. Roast for 2 hours, baste, then put in for another hour or so. Check to make sure the lamb is falling off the bone.
When done, remove from the sauce and keep in a warm place, and reduce the sauce if need be.
Serve the sauce, veges with the lamb and a dollop of green sauce.
Would be (was!) great with a glass of shiraz.
The Old Vic. #london
Ok, it’s not winter but Spring, but you wouldn’t know it. The only positive thing about this freezing cold weather is it is a perfect excuse to make a warming, comforting stew. Yesterday I braved the sub-zero temperatures to venture out to the butchers to get some meat with the view of making a slow cooked dinner, of any kind.
They had some oxtail in, so bought a few of these and cooked a delicious, very simple and rich stew.
Oxtail with prunes and bacon
Oxtail (I used 3)
Bacon, 4 rashers cut in to strips
1 cup prunes
Bunch of thyme, leaves stripped
2 onions, cut at the root to keep in quarters
1 cup red wine
1 cup stock
Cook the bacon in oil until brown and remove. Add the onions and thyme and cook until caramalised and remove. Dust the oxtail in seasoned flour and add to the pan, browning on all sides.
Add the prunes, bacon and onions, stock and wine back to the pot and slowly simmer with the lid on. After about three hours, check for seasoning. You will end up with a rich, unctuous sauce. I served mine with celeriac puree.
And of course a glass of red - a rather excellent rioja. Perfect.
Every year the RCA hold a secret postcard sale, where they ask student, artists and others to contribute a postcard to the exhibition, and later for sale.
The ‘secret’ bit is you don’t know who the artist is until you purchase the card and turn over to reveal the signature on the back. In the past they have had Tracey Emin, Yoko Ono and Anish Kapoor - all which often go on to be sold by the lucky purchasers for many thousands of pounds. This year they have artists including Paula Rego, Bob and Roberta Smith, Billy Childish, and creatives from the world of fashion - David Bailey, Orla Kiely, Eley Kishimoto, Burberry’s Christopher Bailey. Also celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser (he of the I HEART NY logo) and Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park.
We went along on a freezing Thursday night to have a look, I had no intention of buying as it literally is a lottery what you get - you pay to enter the lottery and then the first 50 drawn get first dibs and even then you have to queue up on the Saturday morning they open the sale. No chance when it’s possibly the coldest March in London in history - I’m not that committed.
I also don’t know much about art, so would have just gone for what I like, which I think is the best way to go, although of course it would be rather nice to buy something for £45 which could then go on to make thousands of pounds.
I liked this linocut from Karen Williams:
And another monotone linocut by Matteo Adinolfi:
And this colourful, simple abstract from Albert Irvin:
(perhaps I’m not so bad at spotting ‘em after all). Obviously at the time I didn’t know who produced these.
There were quite a few cards using humour, this by Andy Altman:
Playing on the ‘secret’ bit of the exhibition There was also a ‘bollocks I was hoping for a Tracey Emin’. Another riff on that (apologies for the blurry photo):
Unfortunately for the artist, there was no Tracey Emin in the exhibition this year so the ‘is it, isn’t it’ wasn’t quite as strong as it could be. Of course you would think Emin wouldn’t do that…or would she?
This made me chuckle, by Stevyn Colgan;
And one of the few I could pick, this one by Manolo Blahnik.
And this Nick Park:
Turns out he had quite a few in there but I missed them, there are over 2,700 postcards so it does get rather overwhelming.
So well done to those that got what they wanted, and hopefully the RCA met their target of raising £120,000 to help young artists.
Daffodils in the dark. #spring. #snow
Sign this morning in Old St, Shoreditch. Luckily I’m going straight on #streetart
Evening London. From Waterloo Bridge.