Mrs Portly Is Unwell

Actually, she’s fine, but I’ve always rather liked the Jeffrey Bernard reference. Bernard, for those who don’t know of him, was a famously louche journalist who wrote a column called Low Life for The Spectator and who habitually hung around Soho drinking dens with the likes of Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon. Continue reading

Audley End and Mrs Crocombe

Image of Audley EndHave you met Avis Crocombe? You really should. In the 1880s she was head cook to Lord and Lady Braybrooke at Audley End, a lovely old house near Saffron Walden in Essex. But 180 years after her birth she’s come roaring back to life as an internet sensation. Continue reading

Remembering Matthew Locricchio

My friend – our friend – Matthew Locricchio was the loveliest, warmest, funniest and most generous and talented man. You’ll probably have gathered from the past tense that Matthew is no longer with us. You’d be right but in another way you couldn’t be more wrong.  Continue reading

Country Life

I hadn’t realised quite how much I’d come to hate my job until I lost it. Rather than plunging deep into ‘how do we pay the mortgage’ anxieties I found myself literally dancing round the garden. It took me a full week to come down from that euphoric high. Continue reading

In Defence of British Cooking

I’m at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery this weekend and although we’re pretty much guaranteed some delicious meals, with so many overseas delegates in attendance, it made me wonder what they really think about British food.

Our cooking lost its way after the Second World War and P.E.D. (Pre-Elizabeth David) we lived in a culinary wasteland of Brown Windsor Soup, grey meat and soggy veg. Right? Wrong! Balderdash, codswallop and poppycock.  Continue reading

The Splenetic Diabetic

I was going to write about strawberries today, with a recipe (how well do you know me?) that inevitably involved fats and carbs on top of, or rather underneath, the fruit. Then I read a post by my friend Nicola Miller, who has just been diagnosed with diabetes, and who now can’t even eat a single juicy peach without doing complicated mathematics and without suffering unpleasant consequences.  Continue reading