When a month ago I took the first breath of the evening fresh air and looked at my four weeks of holidays unwinding in front of my eyes, I suddenly felt a child again, full of projects and ideas scribbled down on sheets of notebook paper. The time expanded and I could not see the end of my vacation beyond the map of my journey.
Then, in the twinkling, here I am again, back to the starting point. I am still not completely aware of what has happened between that first night of holidays and this morning, when I left my light dresses and my flip flops for a more appropriate business clothing.
If I had a magic wand, I would like to live again this past month, I would press rewind on a remote control and review a few scenes that made me laugh so much, or moved me to tears. I would savour again my thirtieth birthday cake or the evening green tea in London, the first beer in Germany with my sister Claudia or the sweet idleness of a few gifted days.
We are here, though. And now? now, there is an American saying that I really find appropriate: when life gives you lemons… make a lemonade! That is, when life puts up hurdles along your path, turn them into opportunity, squeeze out the best, just as you would do with a lemon. Isn’t it genius? This will definitely be my motto in the coming months.
Let’s talk about this lemonade, more than recipe a trick to find an immediate refreshment, made bright with the brilliant shades of yellow and turned on by the light note of fresh ginger.
- 4 organic lemons
- 2 cm of fresh ginger
- 6 tablespoons of sugar
- fresh water and ice cubes
- mint leaves to serve
Squeeze the lemons into a bowl so as to collect all the juice, then grated the fresh ginger and add it to the lemon juice.
Strain the lemon juice and the grated ginger, pressing the pulp into the strainer with the back of a spoon to extract the essence of ginger.
Pour the lemon juice in a jug or a bottle, add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then water it down with cold water. The amount of water will depend on how intense you like it: I usually use 1/3 of lemon juice and sugar and 2/3 of water.
Serve the ginger lemonade with ice cubes and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
And if I could rewind the tape, this would be what I would live again…
I think I have obsessed till exhaustion friends and relatives to the third degree of kinship with my desire of having a proper celebration of my 30th birthday. I’ve always admitted to have a soft spot for my birthdays, and consequently for all the bells and whistles, including celebrations.
Then the chance to celebrate my 30th birthday with a very dear friend who was going to be 40… it was the perfect opportunity to set up a ‘50s style garden party, with the proper music, atmosphere, dresses and makeup, and especially almost all my friends dressed up as pin-ups, Fonzie, Guys and Dolls and Grease! I have wonderful memories of that evening, mixed with colourful straws, bright lights and rockabilly notes!
I skipped Paris, you will not find photos of Paris. I was so smart and bright to check my documents just one hour before my departure, just to discover that my identity card was expired 3 weeks before!
So, when life gives you lemons… make a lemonade! I carved out unexpectedly 4 days of old-fashioned holidays, the kind of holidays I used to have when I was a child, made of swimming pool, sofa and TV in the dim light of a fresh living room, a new book and short trips in the surroundings with friends.
London, eventually. London, again. My holidays in London! Do I sound repetitive? I was beside myself with trepidation, 10 days to spend with Sarka: it was a year since we started planning what to do, what to eat, what to cook and photograph. We enjoyed that days together with Beth, Joslin and Zita.
We have explored every London tube line and colour, from north to south, from east to west, we took advantage of the multicultural choice offered by the city I love the most in the world eating Lebanese, sushi, noodles, and above all we enjoyed ourselves in the kitchen with a glass of wine (they) and a cup of green tea (I). But I didn’t know that there was a surprise waiting for me… a proper English afternoon tea at the Ritz.
We decided to spend the afternoon shopping for the perfect outfit or the fancy accessory that could give you that bit of extra confidence to not feel completely alien in that muffled and far away from everyday life scenery. Then we entered with a beating heart the gleaming lobby of the Ritz. After the second ma’am and lady all my fears disappeared and I felt again a princess, even though only for a few hours. After that dreamy experience crammed with laughter we ran home, but one of my shoes decided to leave a dream, and I almost left my sole. I tried to be a modern Cinderella and leave my slipper on the stairs at the Ritz, but it did not work!
What do the foodies do when they have a free morning? they go to the market! The Borrough Market, twinned with La Boqueria in Barcelona, is one of my favorite places on earth: everything is so fresh, pulsating with life, colours and scents. If you’re lucky enough you could meet Jamie Oliver here, how can I not love this place?
I read Carolina‘s post about Neil’s Yard and I did not want to miss it, a hidden courtyard in London that you discover following a narrow back alley, an explosion of colours.
Portobello Market, Notting Hill. Do I need to say more? I know the film by heart, pauses, accents and looks included. Every time I come to London I like to walk along Portobello Road, because, as Hugh Grant in Notting Hill says…
Notting Hill, not a bad place to be. There’s the market on weekdays, selling every fruit and vegetable known to man. The tattoo parlour, with a guy outside who got drunk and now can’t remember why he chose ‘I Love Ken’. The racial hair-dressers where everyone comes out looking like the Cookie Monster, whether they like it or not. Then suddenly it’s the weekend, and from break of day, hundreds of stalls appears out of nowhere, filling Portobello Road right up to Notting Hill Gate and thousands of people buy millions of antiques, some genuine… and some not so genuine.
… and at the very beginning of the Portobello Market is impossible not to stop at the Hummingbird Bakery, attracted by the sparkle of the windows that makes it look like a jewelry store. Cupcake with rhubarb and custard, or a diamond ring? I assure you that the choice is difficult, and that cupcake was really good!
Fifteen London. Our pilgrimage on Jamie’s footsteps brought us, after Borrough Market, to the Fifteen, one of his restaurants that is definitely more than a place to eat (well), but also a foundation to help young people from 18 to 24 years, to teach them a job and make them discover a passion.
One of the main reasons that brought me to London, along with friendship and love for England and Pimm’s, was the Food Blogger Connect 2011, the first European conference dedicated to the world of foodbloggers. The first time I was there, during June 2010, it opened up a new and exciting world to me and I began to dream a little ‘bigger’, because my dreams and my plans were intertwined with those of other foodblogger friends.
This year, Food Bloggers Connect has been again a major source of inspiration and courage. I had the opportunity to meet and listen with admiration really interesting people who generously told us about their beginnings and the secrets of their work: among many others, Jaden Hair, Babette Bepaj, Fiona Beckett, Jemma Watts and her, the one I was expecting with trepidation, Béatrice Peltre and her Food Photography workshop.
The workshop with Beatrice was surreal, Alice through the looking-glass effect. I was physically on the set of one of her beautiful pictures, and she did everything with measured gestures, with experience, yet remaining a simple and smiling person, willing to explain every millimetric movement of red currant berries in the composition of her shot.
What I will keep in my heart after the London experience are all those we’ll do, we’ll see, we’ll go, we can, whispered in a low voice during late nights in front of the PC with a cup of green tea with Sari, shouted with Beth and Zita on the subway to cover the buzz of other people or scribbled down on a sheet of paper with Emiko during the most relevant and inspiring speeches at Food Bloggers Connect. We can.
I left London in the morning, bathed in a thin drizzle, well aware that I’ll be back soon because my favourite city and I have still a lot of things to do together, and I flew to Stuttgart for the last stop of my holiday. Claudia was waiting for me at the airport, my little sister in Erasmus in Germany for 6 months.
We spent 3 days together, but this time, when she walked me to the airport, no tear-jerker scenes like last time (and the first time I did it all by myself on the escalator, she was quiet, I am just a too apprehensive elder sister). Why? well, I’m not less apprehensive, she was coming back home after 2 days!
My sister, who is no longer a tiny girl but an independent young woman speaking a fluent German, took me around Stuttgart and showed me all she adored of the city that welcomed her for 6 months. I especially loved the wonderful museum of modern and contemporary art: it was truly exciting to see for the first time, just a few centimetres away from my nose, some masterpieces by Gauguin, Picasso, Mirò and Kandinskji.
On the plane back home, I brought with me a notebook, trying to give an order and a priority to the hundreds of thoughts and projects that still occupy my mind, and once home I started to check the list step by step. First, make a refreshing lemonade, because it’s important to make the most out of these lemons!
Second, give you the opportunity to subscribe to my blog feed via e-mail, as to give you a good morning every time I publish a post with a mini email alert in your inbox. Do you like the idea? So just sign up in the top right sidebar of the blog.
Now, I think I have said all I wanted to tell you, so… let’s start with enthusiasm the new Juls’ Kitchen season!
Speaking about lemonade…