Table setting at The Conran Shop, Marylebone High Street
Friday 01 December: Day 2 of preparations for our family Christmas lunch this Saturday.
It is a very cold day here in London. We start off well with not only our regular sourdough toast, but also a clementine curd cruffin, delivered by The Newt‘s dedicated van and courier. It is a very small-sized pastry, but it is crisp, rich and sweet, and so perfect with a second cup of tea and coffee.
The main job of the day was to collect the porchetta from the Ginger Pig in Marylebone High Street. When I asked for my order, the butcher said the weight tipped over the 3 kg mark and asked if 3.5 kg was ok. Do Chinese people like pork?
The porchetta needs to be removed from the wrapping and the skin dried. I offended the butcher on a previous occasion when I said that it is not possible to produce crispy crackling once the skin is scored. Given that the porchetta is a bespoke order, I kick myself for not remembering to ask for no scoring on the skin. The skin can be salvaged by repeatedly rubbing salt on, which draws out moisture. Before I do this I pull out some remaining hairs with a pair of sharp tweezers. You really do not want to go anywhere near pig hair, once you realise that this is used for e.g. paintbrushes and shoeshine brushes.
As Junior 3 was away most of Thursday and Friday with work, the potatoes (Friday’s job) were peeled and par-boiled on Thursday night, along with the first round of dishes for our Saturday Christmas lunch.
Junior 2 specifically requested Cauliflower Cheese and the cauliflower was prepared today. A particular stress when we have a large gathering is that our food waste collection (for composting) is only collected weekly on a Friday. So I try to prep all the vegetables by Thursday night or Friday early morning before the bin truck arrives. If I could not compost the stems and leaves of the cauliflower, I would consider pickling the stems and adding the leaves to a stir-fry. On this occasion, though, it is one task too many.
Today the mince pies arrived: regular ones from Konditor and Apple Crumble mince pies from The Newt
The first of our cheeses: Montgomery’s Ogleshield, Driftwood goat’s cheese and Fosse Way Fleece (a sheep’s milk cheese). Nottingham Cousin is bringing the Stilton
For dinner we ate the remainders of a fish pie I made earlier in the week, along with a salad. There is a box of Christmas decorations in a dedicated box under the stairs, which I say to Mr Gochugaru will be like Pandora’s Box if opened. I am really not good at displaying pretty things. Where others see a decorative object, I see a dust trap. By way of setting the scene, I will use all of my red plates, cutlery, serving plates and bowls, light some candles, play some festive music and maybe even fold some linen napkins. Less than 48 hours after the lunch I leave for Kuala Lumpur, and I have not even started packing. If only I could pack in my sleep…