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Monday, 1 April 2013

April Fools' Day

The cold weather has kept us indoors, oh how I long to tidy up the garden but it must wait until the wind drops and temperatures creep up a little.

Of course we haven't been in all the time since my last ramblings, last Monday was special,  we ventured to town for Ian's birthday lunch at Simpson's in the Strand. We like presents like that, experiences rather than dust collectors. The lunch lasted about three hours before we grabbed a taxi to Tate Modern for the Lichtenstein retrospective.

Simpson's was fascinating, it was some time since I was there, this time we were downstairs, not in one of the famous chess booths - rather enormous for the two of us - but at the back near the magnificent fireplace so I could people watch. One of my (many) idiosyncrasies is that I like to be at the edge of a room, especially when the room or venue is large, so I don't have people behind me but so I'm on the periphery and it was so at Simpson's.

Whilst viewing the other diners I as surprised how dress standards have changed. There were quite a few wearing jeans, not even with smart tops, one diner looked dressed for light gardening, there were shorts worn, fortunately with thick tights under given the bitterly cold weather but a very scruffy top. To balance, there was one table of city gent types, all in suits and ties, bar one open neck shirt. I'm very old fashioned but I still consider one should dress to reflect the environment but this does make me worry at times when I think I'm not correctly attired.

Many years ago a friend took me to the smart London restaurants, like Café Royal, Simpsons, Stone's Chop House and my Mother, bless her, insisted that I bought some smart outfits so I would feel comfortable and at home in these august surroundings and so I would not let my friend down.

To continue the foody theme, for the first time I have made a Simnel cake, here it is browning the marzipan under the grill,

then the finished cake. Having tasted it a few minutes ago I am mighty pleased, although I think perhaps a few minutes less cooking would have been fine as it is slightly dark under the marzipan but it is not dry.

Not evenly browned, but still tasted fine so if any of my readers are nearby we can offer cake made by me, bread pudding and bread made by Ian. Sorry, all the hot cross buns Ian made have been eaten!


  1. Mmmm, that cake looks good! I've never tried Simnel cake - perhaps next year?

    DH and I aren't ones for eating out, so haven't noticed the decline in dress code as much as you. Mind you, given our increasing disinclination to dress up, it's probably a good thing for us if we ever do eat out. :-)

  2. I tend to buy fairly smart clothes, I'm not too good at casual except jeans. I still have a tendency to dress up a bit to go to London, but that shows my country cousinness!

    I always used to make Simnel cake, the layer of marzipan inside makes all the difference - delicious (as long as it's homemake marzipan, obv!). But I haven't done it for several years, not since we had family living here.

  3. Have to admit to Waitrose white marzipan, now I have new food processor may make some at home..

    Have been watching Paul Hollywood making bread, I think it calls for an early morning start given how long the bloomer I made took to rise in our cool kitchen. We have the special baguette baking trays so I must find my impetus and bake bread again.

  4. From my blog you already know my attitude towards clothes :-)

    I don't think anyone likes being seated in a room with people behind their backs; doesn't everyone prefer being at the periphery when it comes to sitting down for a meal?

    A three-hour-lunch near a fireplace in a good restaurant sounds like my idea of a great present, as opposed to a dust collector :-)