London, I have a soft spot in my heart for you. Though you never surrendered a flat of my own to me, we had great times together when we hung out four years ago. I crashed at my endlessly generous friends’ houses for months on end while I walked around and explored your nooks and crannies and did dishes for my keep. We had Sausage Sundays which, believe it or not, involved eating sausages on Sundays. I did a few hectic shifts at Dragon Bar. I was poor but happy. I met F. there.
Last week, we came back to visit and despite the teeth-grittingly cold weather (in May, London, shame on you!), you were as awesome as ever. Seeing old friends never fails to make me happy, especially when the seeing involves not only large quantities of Vietnamese food at Cay Tre but also, on a separate occasion, brunch.
Inside-picnics (in deference to the weather) were had in the country at the house of my favourite potty-mouthed chef who emptied his clothes out of his wicker hamper for a makeshift picnic basket just so it would feel like the real thing when we were unpacking the victuals.
We saw a show which amazed, surprised and delighted us.
And while it was with no little trepidation that we visited the new Dragon Bar – the memories made there all those years ago were superlative to say the least – it came through! A little more sophisticated, a little less grimy perhaps, but still Dragon all the same. More grown up is what it is now and perhaps we are too.
London, to me, is a brown sugar kind of place and that’s another of the reasons why I like it: it’s cool but doesn’t mind looking like a bit of a geek. This sesame and ginger slice would have been a perfect addition to either our picnic or brunch; it’s moist, gingery and the slight nuttiness of the sesame seeds makes it sort of nana-ish but in a baked good, that’s something to strive for, no?
Tell me, do you have fond memories of London?
You’ll notice the middle three photos are rather old fashioned looking – F. took them on his Diana Mini.
Sesame and Ginger Slice
This is from Murdoch Books’ “Chunky” series Sweet Food. I halved the recipe and did it in a loaf tin but I give the full recipe below.
125 grams (1 cup) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice (I used lebkuchen spice)
140 grams (3/4 cup) brown sugar
125 grams (generous 1/2 cup) melted butter, cooled slightly
55 grams (1/4 cup) crystallised ginger, chopped finely
25 grams (1/5 cup) toasted sesame seeds plus more untoasted to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and grease and line a 20 x 30 cm slice tin.
Sift the first 5 ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
Beat the eggs and brown sugar together until light.
Mix the melted butter into the eggs and then fold the flour mix into the wet mixture.
Fold in the ginger and sesame seeds and pour into the tin.
Sprinkle with more sesame seeds to taste and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly coloured.
Fall upon it greedily.