Friday, October 06, 2006

It is one of those blustery, wet english days. The line of trees beyond our back hedge and across the bridle path roars in the wind. That, and the foxes screaming the night before, make it seem an adventure to be living here. I am so glad to be inside in the warmth, looking out at the wildness.

It was off to London again for me on Wednesday - the first session of my new Tamil for Beginners class at SOAS, the University of London. My aim is to speak a sentence or two to the giri's grandmother when we next meet, as at the moment we can't say a word to each other. Our current mode of communication is beaming enthusiastically! Tamil has an entirely different alphabet and script (extremely beautiful), with 247 new letters to learn. Let's just say that I'm glad of the inclement weather forcing me to stay in and practice wobbly, curling attempts at writing.

Arriving at Charing Cross station with two hours to spare before class, I dashed around with a shopping list for a dinner we're hosting this weekend. First stop was the delicious Neal's Yard Dairy. This is an extraordinary place for all but vegans. Great, curving wheels of cheese stack up as far as the building will allow, and the staff will let you taste just about anything. Not sure what you want, but know what you're thinking about? They are only too happy to discuss menus and make suggestions. I was on a mission for Irish cheeses, and it is the only place I know where Gabriel, Coolea and the like are readily available. Gabriel, what a name - makes me think of the archangel and Handel's halleluja chorus! And by the way, it is really good hard cheese.

My next culinary stop was at the droolsome Rococo Chocolates. This place is seriously dangerous to your health. I recommend broken chocolate and artisan bars - their chilli pepper chocolate is incredible: dark, bitter sweet and mild but with a lethal kickback.

Rushing to campus, I swept briefly into Stern's, definitely the best in town for global, and especially African, music. They have a funky caf attached these days. Although I was ostensibly gift buying Amadou & Mariam's DIMANCHE A BAMAKO, I couldn't resist buying something for me too. The Stern's site lets you listen to samples of every track before you buy. On DIMANCHE A BAMAKO I recommend you start with track 3, Coulibaly - guaranteed to get toes tapping. Amadou & Mariam are both blind - they met and began singing together at a school for the blind in Mali decades ago. For myself I bought Ali Farka Toure's SAVANE, a far more reflective blues-based album, produced after his death earlier this year. I have previously blogged about him, so won't repeat myself here. Try track 4, Savane to see what all the fuss is about with regard to his skill at the guitar.

I'll have to get out my raingear - it is still howling and miserable out there, but I have a dinner party to cook for and the local farmers' market calls. . .



Blogger Danielle said...

Dove chocolates here in the US has started making an organic dark chocolate bar with citrus spice. I was expecting something orange-y, but it had some spice with a kick to it! Very different, but yummy. We don't have much chocolate or sweets like that here.

5:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in London (outskirts) and we have many foxes, too --- I was sitting at home the other day and one came right up to the window and stared at me. Then sauntered off. He or she was a bit ragged, but so much "presence".

8:07 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Danielle - Rococo also does "arabic spices" and "cardamom" (both of which I've previously tried - who could resist?!), so I guess the spice and heat options for chocolate are quite varied. All lovely, in my survey to date!

Maxine - aren't foxes so interesting? We used to have one that came and sat on our compost heap in the winter (I guess because of heat generation?). Their screaming is very eerie - I thought it was a child shrieking, the first time I heard them.

10:06 pm  

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