Thursday, January 18, 2007

A short break

I'm taking a short break from blogging for a while to concentrate on my writing.

Whilst I love the world of blogging and have enjoyed the company of my cyber-friends, it's been a distraction. I find myself constantly checking on my ever growing list of favourites to leave comments and exchange pleasantries.

This is how it goes:

Write two lines of novel, check blogger, write two lines of novel, check blogger. At this rate my book will be completed in fifteen years time!

It's sad but I gotta do it. I've got to immerse myself completely for now, but I'll be back in a few months time. It's going to be hard and needless to say, I'll miss you all. As a famous writer once said ' I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork'.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A question about aubergines

Often the best dishes come from things you have hanging around in the fridge and need using up. I made stuffed aubergines last week from a few ingredients that were rapidly approaching their sell by date. OK so I can't take all the credit, I had seen a similar recipe somewhere but you can pretty much stuff anything you want into an aubergine as long as it's edible.

What you need for 2 people:

2 x aubergines
3 x good quality sausages
10 x cherry tomatoes finely chopped
2 x Garlic cloves finely chopped
1 x chilli finely chopped
a handful of breadcrumbs
a good handful of parmesan
5 torn basil leaves
Olive Oil
Black pepper

Fry the onion, garlic and chilli. Once the onion is softened, take the sausagemeat out of the skin and add to the pan and fry. When the sausagemeat is cooked, add the tomatoes. Scoop out the flesh of the aubergine and fry in a separate pan. When everything is cooked, mix together adding a handful of breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper and basil. Put some olive oil over the aubergine shells, fill with the mixture then cook in the oven at 180c for about half an hour.

The question is this: Do you really need to salt the aubergines first? I always used to do it as I was told it reduces bitterness, but have recently discovered (after a bout of laziness when I couldn't be bothered to do it) that it doesn't really make any difference. I've since read that apparently these days, the bitterness is bred out of the aubergine so salting isn't necessary. It is however when frying. As the aubergine contains almost 90% water, when fried, the water escapes and is replaced by oil. So that would explain why I get through almost a whole bottle of olive oil when I make parmigiana!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Roy Ayers Ubiquity @The Jazz Cafe, Camden Town

You know when people talk about what they'd like to do before they die? Seeing Roy Ayers was one of them. We saw the jazz funk man last Friday during his annual residency at the Jazz Cafe and it was amazing.

It was our first time at The Jazz Cafe. It was slightly disappointing at first as I expected something a little more classy but instead we were greeted by a scruffy venue with a few couches in the corner. Maybe I was expecting something a bit more like Ronnie Scott's. We got there early to have a drink and we sat on the couches by the entrance which are so close together that when it began to fill up, people had to climb over each other to get to the bar/toilet. Forty five minutes before he was due to start we made our way to the front of the stage. As people started to fill the main area, it felt more like a real music venue. Small enough to feel intimate and big enough to create a great atmosphere. There are also two bars in the main area making it easy to nip through the crowds and get a drink.

I first heard Roy Ayer's voice on Masters At Work latin/jazz/salsa project Nuyorican Soul (1997) which includes the song 'Sweet Tears'. He started playing his trademark vibraphone when he was five years old which was given to him by famous vibes player Lionel Hampton. You'd still think he was five the way he plays them now at the age of sixty six!

The gig was fantastic and he performed classics such as "Everybody Love the Sunshine", "We live in Brooklyn" and "Searching". He performed a couple of unknown songs towards the end and the atmosphere seemed to flatten, but nevertheless it was an fantastic experience. As the gig ended and his band members waved CDs around we contemplated waiting for his autograph until a big Italian guy leaped on the stage and grabbed Roy Ayers to have his picture taken. We decided it was time to leave. On the whole it was a great night only spoiled by the fact that on several occasions throughout the gig we had to push our way through the crowd to go to the toilet. That's what you get for drinking beer. Next gig I think I'll stick to the shorts.