Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blog Meeting 5

The best attended blog meet-up so far. About 22 members of "The London Bloggers Meetup Group" turned up to the Camel and Artichoke near Waterloo on Tuesday night. I drank a couple of glasses of very acceptable house red, talked to complete strangers and then went home.

It was a good choice of venue, the reserved tables upstairs gave us all room to sit comfortably. The people I spoke to were all suitably sociable - but then you wouldn't go to such an event unless you were, I suppose. They do food there which I will bear in mind for a future occasion. And it was very easy to hop on a train back to Wandsworth Town when came the time to leave.

Well done Andy for organising it.

For previous incarnations of this group see: "Blog Meeting 3"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Our house is not Georgian

But not too far off. We had previously thought that "Our house may be Georgian". Subsequent research shows that it is at least 1861. It is looking unlikely that it is earlier but we (that is Mary) has not definitively ruled it out.

We have been using to research family history but it is also very handy for house detective work using the census records.

We know that our house and our immediate neighbours were Myrtle Villas in the 1860's; we have a reproduction Stanford map of 1862 which shows that clearly. And there in the 1861 census are 1, 2 and 3 Myrtle Villas. Living at number 2 are:

Sarah Banister 44 [ ] Coffee House Keeper
Elizabeth Banister 40 [Sister] Coffee House Keeper
Isiah Carver 62 [Head] Land Proprieter
Julia Carver 24 [Daughter]
Ervan Williams 20 [Lodger] Chemist

Working forwards, 2 Myrtle Villas turned into 28 North Street in 1871 and then, sometime in the early 20th century, turned into Fairfield Street.

Working backwards, the 1851 census shows the adjacent terrace 1-8 North Terrace (now the site of Fairfield Drive) but the next property listed is Tonsley Hall with no Myrtle Villas.

However some of the people at 3 Myrtle Villas in 1861 turn up in the earlier 1851 census at Ebenzer Place, also in Wandsworth. It is faintly possible they renamed the houses, took the census in a different sequence and we were still there. So the final jury is still out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jazz on a Sunday Night (Take 2)

This Sunday it was the turn of Jan Garbarek* at the Royal Festval Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival.

We had never heard of him until a few years ago but our copy of the Rough Guide to Jazz kept falling open at that page so Mary figured we had to go buy an album. The first one we bought was the haunting and evocative Visible World. Since then we have acquired several more so when we saw that he was appearing it was a no-brainer decision to go and see him.

It was a fine concert, two hours without an interval. It was a quartet but to my untutored ears there was a definite pecking order in the band. Surprisingly Manu Katché on drums was the driving force then Jan Garbarek on sax with guitar and keyboards definitely playing second fiddle (sorry could not resist).

The FT said:
"When Jan Garbarek last toured the UK, he played in cathedrals. His music fitted: icy, architectural slabs of devotion.

At the London Jazz Festival, the Norwegian saxophonist presented a very different proposition. He had mislaid two members of his usual touring quartet. Eberhard Weber, his double-bass player, is ill, and was replaced by Yuri Daniel, a Brazilian resident of Oslo playing an electric guitar that might have been carved from teak. And the Parisian Manu Katché took the place of the percussionist Marilyn Mazur. Katché at his best is an indispensable drummer, giving a jazzy fluidity to rock records just as often as he lends a rocky energy boost to his jazz dates.

This youthful, hard-driving rhythm section was a challenge to which Garbarek rose. He could occasionally be seen slapping his thigh, which in someone so austere was as surprising as if he had stripped to the waist and gone stagediving."

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Full review on "FT Review".

* Wikipedia on Jan Garbarek

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jazz on a Thursday Night

We went to see Al Jarreau* at The IndigO2 with our friend AndreaA. We ate in Thai Silk beforehand and then straight in for a prompt start, no support band.

Al was performing with the NDR Big Band who opened up then Al was out with the first number. The first half of the concert was a variety of standards, the second half he did a set based around numbers from Porgy and Bess with a suitable amount of scat singing. It was a wonderful concert, we enjoyed it tremendously.

Mary had bought front row seats, literally, I was in seat A22. It is amazing to be that close to the musicians, you could see every expression and the sound quality was superb. Though not close enough for some worshippers who went to right up to the stage and were gently asked by security to move away.

Another joy of the O2 is how easy it is to get home. half a dozen stops on the Jubilee line to Waterloo, then 13 minutes to Wandsworth Town.

* Wikipedia on Al Jarreau

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jazz on a Sunday Night

down at the Park Tavern. Brother-in-law Pete plays double bass and does occasional pub gigs. Last Sunday he was playing at the Park Tavern.

Since it is only 10 minutes walk from home I hardly had any excuse for not popping along. So I left Mary relaxing after a Sunday evening roast and toddled over for a very pleasant hour and a half listening to dinner jazz and drinking a couple of pints of Young's.

The pub has a very comfortable atmosphere almost like being in your own livng room: comfy chairs. roomy, well lit, friendly bar staff and a clientele that looked agreeable.

I got talking a a group of blokes who were obviously a) old mates and b) into the music. Turns out one of them has a trulli down on the coast at Castellana Grotte: Small world, eh?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sibling Dining in Soho

Saturday it was another siblings and partners dinner*. It was Jane&Pete's turn and Jane wanted to hold it in Soho so we could all see the finished flat (those of us who had not already). The flat is too small and not equipped for supper for six so we met at the flat, inspected and then went off to Le Deuxieme for a very enjoyable meal.

I was down in Farnham last Wednesday doing some family tree stuff with Mum when Dad remarked how much it pleased him that we siblings not only got on well but also enough to want to get together socially. And it's true we do.

* Previously: Sibling Dining, Akira's Cousin, Family Dining, I'm Up on the Eleventh Floor, Family Dining 2, Siblings in Puglia.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Chateau Climens Dinner

Another BBR extravagant wine dinner. Hosted by Oliver East, Bordeaux Buyer, Guest Speaker Bérénice Lurton, Owner.

Before we arrived we were thinking, like others, "Are they really going to serve a dessert wine with every course?" The answer was "Yes" and "Don't call it a dessert wine", says Bérénice, "it is a sweet wine".
Berrys' UKC Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, Le Mesnil
2004 Cypres de Ch. Climens, Barsac
Lobster bisque - with lobster beignets & chervil oil
2004 Ch. Climens, 1 er Grand Cm Classe, Barsac
Ballotine of foie gras with Sauternes caviar jelly & crisp bread
2000 Ch. Climens, 1 er Grand Cm Classe, Barsac
1996 Ch. Climens, 1 er Grand Cm Classe, Barsac
Gallotine of quail in pistachio & truffle mousse & sauce Marsala
1990 Ch. Climens, 1 er Grand Cm Classe, Barsac
1977 Ch. Climens, 1 er Grand Cm Classe, Barsac
Vanilla mille feuille with caramelised pear
Berrvs' selected coffee and chocolates
The 2004 Cypres, their second wine, was warm, light and fruity with a hint of mushroom on the nose. An interesting contrast to the Climens '04 which was darker and heavier and sharper showing the acid that would help it age.

The 2000 was fresh and light and very enjoyable. Not so the '96 which was distinctly musty on the nose with hint of white spirit and not as sharp as the '00. Others thought so too and they changed the bottle and brought us fresh glasses. The '90 was excellent with a "brisk" flavour and a lovely golden colour.

The '77 again had a hint of mustiness, not so much "noble rot" as plain rot, a disappointing final wine. I don't think this dinner showed the Chateau to best advantage.

Some years back we bought a half case of the 1990 and are down to our last bottle with nary a duff bottle so this will not put us off the chateau - just be more careful in our choice of vintage.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Italian Themed Dinner Party

Our thanks to Mino and Zia at the Truddhi cookery school for teaching us what we needed to give a most successful dinner party on Saturday. The plan had always been to host a evening based on what we learned there. So on Saturday we persuaded usual suspects Bob&Lynn and John&Andrea to be our guinea pigs - not that they took too much persuading :-)
Antipasta mista con focaccia
We bought a variety of meats in the local market* sliced using our deli-style meat slicer bought following an earlier trip. The focaccia worked much better than an earlier trial bake though whether it was the yeast, the time to rise or the ambient temprature we are still working on.
Orecchiette con cime de rape
Home made from flour and water, every ear individually hand rolled; time consuming or what! The recipe was pretty much the one Mino demonstrated on Rick Stein's programme and was a great success.
Coniglio ripieno al forno
We bought the rabbit from Randalls Butchers in Wandsworth Bridge Road and Mary very patiently filleted it. She stuffed it with a mixture of fried giblets, breadcrumbs and egg** then tied it with string into two neat parcels. Baked with potatoes and lashing of olive oil.
Torta limone con lamponi
I was pastry chef and made a tart filled with lemon flavoured Confectioner's custard (creme patissiere) set wih gelatine and decorated with rasberries.
And of course plenty of wine. Even though I say it myself the evening went very well. Mind you with the right company that is pretty much guaranteed. A bonus was that most of the preparation was done in advance; the absence of last minute cooking meant we too could relax and enjoy.

* Origin within the EU for personal consumption so legal! [1] [2] [3]
** [11-Nov-07] Mary has asked me to add that the stuffing also included parmigiano, pecorino, parsley and garlic.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Street Life (2 BE or NOT 2B)

That is the question. Shall we take the Bentley or the Aston Martin?

bentley and aston martin

Sunday we went for a walk, the six of us plus two children, to walk off Saturday's DP (more on that later). Our route took us along the Thames path as far as Putney bridge then back along the north side to Battersea bridge. On the way we passed this pair of cars parked outside a "des res" in Chelsea.

One may envy his wealth but you have to grant that the man has a sense of humour.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fourteenth Wedding Anniversary

If you are looking for an Italian restaurant in Wandsworth I can thoroughly recommend Ti Amo.

It had previously been an Italian restaurant called Al Ponte which had been good. We used it as the venue for Mary's 50th birthday celebration. Then it closed down for a while and has recently re-opened under new management as Ti Amo.

This week we had our fourteenth wedding anniversary and thought we would give it a try; see how the new owners were doing. I would say it was even better than before. The pastas were all fresh and mostly made on the premises as were the desserts. For me it is one of the tests of a good restaurant; I like to ask, "which do you make and which do you buy in".

We enjoyed it, rated it highly and will certainly be going back. Mary's review on

"Oct 30th 2007 MG - gastronaut Overall rating: 8

Food 9 | Service 9 | Ambience 7 | Value 8 | Toilets 8 | Recommended 9

There has been a restaurant in this location for some time but Ti Amo is the best yet by far. Good choice of interesting dishes on the menu, representing a variety of well-known and more unusual italian dishes. Everything was very well-presented with excellent quality and flavours. Service was friendly and attentive. Wine list is shortish but with interesting choices and a good selection of wines by the glass. Location, looking out onto the river, is great."

We marked it down a little on ambience but that was only because it was a quiet Tuesday night with only one other table occupied. A busy weekend night might well have more buzz.

Ti Amo, 3 Dolphin house, Smugglers Way, Wandsworth, London, SW18 1EG