Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sit, WWOOF, Good Boy

Ok, so England.

Haven’t talked much about it here, because sooooo much happened that I’m having a hard time putting it into words.

So I’m gonna stop trying and mostly just show you a bunch of photos and videos.

When I arrived in London, I decided to hit up St. John Bread & Wine b/c Laura Wilson, the former chef at Ombi, had lent me her copy of a cookbook by Fergus Henderson. I accidentally buried it under a million other cookbooks on my desk, so I kept it for like 6 months. I wanted to return it with a little present from one of his restaurants. And on my way there, I found this place. I loved the lemon zinger green olives -- will recreate the recipe and post here soon. (Meanwhile pls forgive the cheesy editing on video. I just discovered iMovie and I’m totally dorking out over it.)

The next day I took a 3-hour-ish train ride to Monkton Wyld in the southwest part of England to WWOOF for a story.

I planted trees, dug a trench, cut down bamboo, made bread, clipped herbs, chopped leeks, grated beets, washed dishes, taught a yoga class, and drank lots and lots of tea. I also watched Liverpool play Real Madrid with an English guy who supports Man U and two women from Spain. So fun. The Spanish girls would flip out every time the English announcer on TV said “Fernando Torres." 

Can I say one quick thing on wellies? I wore them every day on the farm, and I kinda love them. Probably b/c the last time I wore them was at the Reading Music Festival almost 10 years ago (!...damn I’m old). I accidentally ended up in a mosh pit, which accidentally put me into the medical tent for some minor surgery on my foot. The nurse wrapped my entire leg (tiny exaggeration) in gauze and said, “You can’t get this wet. You need to get some wellies.” I was like, “What are wellies???” She told me, and I wore them the rest of the weekend feeling so totally English. Or at least like a fisherman from Maine. But I digress…

Some farm graffiti.

In the kitchen.

Sophie, the chef, and the dinner bell.

Steaming apples for juice....Laurie is one of those people who has her own special accent. She grew up in Atlanta. Then moved to Japan. Married an Australian, and then lived in Brighton for a while before coming to Monkton Wyld. 
"The act of giving thanks allows you a few moments of quiet reflection and peace during which your whole being can attune to the sacred act of eating."

Sophie taught me to make this bread with herbs and cheddar. Gorgeous, isn't it? (If I do say so myself.)

This trench might not look like much, but it took me an entire afternoon. I'm damn proud of it, too.

My view from picking roots from the trench. The dirt, the earthworms, the slow steady process of it all – very Zen.

On one of my last nights at Monkton Wyld, we went to a secret-ish PJ Harvey show (the first stop on her tour) in her hometown of Bridport. She’s so avant garde. Loved it.

At a pub after the show Esti taught us how to say “Definitely!” with just a Spanish hand gesture. I've been trying to fit it into American conversations ever since. So far...not working.

The next day while driving into town, Bea noted in her thick Spanish accent that "We made a beautiful party." I've been trying to fit that expression into American conversation, too...And yeah, it's not working either.

Monkton Wyld happened to be near the River Cottage Farm, which has had a TV show on the UK's Channel 4. Totally unexpected coup! So I had lunch at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster on my way into the farm and breakfast on my way out. While there, I spoke with this guy...

The canteen was located behind a market. I mean seriously. Is this food porn or what?

"In a world where our approach to food often seems a kind of madness, seasonality is sanity. It offers the best and quickest solution to the never ending question, What shall I cook today?" - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Then, I took a train back to London and sorta fell into a hen party (like our bachlorette parties, I think). They kept saying they were gonna kidnap me...so I let them. I missed my flight the next morning. So I think that's all I'll say about that.

My England soundtrack:
The Greatest - Cat Power (trying to sleep on the plane ride over)
No One Would Riot for Less - Bright Eyes (kitchen music at the farm)
Blue Light - Bloc Party (kitchen music)
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen (from Tom's freewheelin' circuit training excersie class on the farm)
Black Hearted Love - PJ Harvey (live, baby)
Fools Gold - The Stone Roses (somewhere in Hoxton/Shoreditch)
Make You Feel My Love - Adele (in the airport waiting to go home)
Nashville -- David Mead (flying home)

I think this song sounds like how the end of a trip feels. Maybe a little melancholy, but knowing that you've learned something. Listen...it's awesome. x

Video by jametcalf3 on youtube.

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