A curious mushroom liqueur

cepe essence culinary speciality bottle
Photo from http://www.distillerie-perigord.com

We found this intriguing liqueur in the supermarket in France last weekend; it seems to be an alcoholic essence of ceps. Here’s the blurb from the bottle:

Sublimez simplement vos plats avec la Spécialité Culinaire au parfum de Cèpe. Notre spécialité culinaire est élaborée au cœur du Périgord à partir de cèpes soigneusement sélectionnés.
Idéale pour déglacer, mariner, flamber vos volailles et autres viandes ainsi que vos poissons. Peut également être utilisée pour parfumer vos risottos, veloutés et purées. Versez 1 cuillère à soupe par personne en fin de cuisson, remuez, servez. (Aucun assaisonnement supplémentaire nécessaire).

Rough translation: “Easily enhance your cooking with this cep essence ‘culinary speciality’. Our culinary speciality has been created in the heart of the Périgord [province] from carefully selected ceps.”

“It is perfect for deglazing, marinating, or flambéing poultry, meat and fish dishes. It can also be used to flavour risottos, soups and purées. Add one soup spoon per person at the end of cooking, stir and serve. (No extra seasoning is required).”

Never having seen it before, I’m fascinated to see what can be made with this unusual product. The only recipe provided on the distilling company’s website is for a very rich-sounding scrambled eggs with ‘virtual’ ceps, which doesn’t appeal much!

I’m thinking of adding some to garlic mushrooms or a sauce for chicken or steak. It is very strongly flavoured so it’s probably not intended for drinking, although having Googled, there do seem to be mushroom flavoured cocktails around.

Have you ever used essence of ceps?

Advertisements

Christmas Countdown | 21 | The Waterloo Battlefield

While we were in Brussels, we took a day trip to the Waterloo Battlefield. T. is a big Napoleonic history buff, so this was a favourite for him.

As you may know, 2015 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle. There has been huge investment in a new museum and various commemorations, culminating in a series of large scale reenactments in the summer, with thousands of participants and spectators. However, we visited in December on a week day and we had the whole place practically to ourselves.

A note on getting there: Waterloo is not particularly easy to get to on public transport. The site is very much set up for visitors to come by car and by coach. There’s either the W bus from Brussels Gare du Midi (takes an hour or more through Uccle) or the train to Braine l’Alleud and then the W bus going in the other direction. Either way, you end up at a seemingly random traffic intersection where you’ll have to pick your way to the start of the shiny, new, 200th anniversary footpath and entry road.

On the plus side, the Lion Mound is clearly visible above the trees and the bus drivers are helpful, so you’ll know you’re in the right place!

On the bus to Waterloo jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Trying to look continental on the W bus.

The Panorama and the Lion Mound are the oldest parts of the memorials at Waterloo. The Panorama dates to 1912 and has a famous immersive oil painting/mural with 3D elements and sound effects.

Inside the Panorama.
Inside the Panorama.

The Lion Mound was completed in 1826 and famously commemorates the Prince of Orange, William II of the Netherlands, who was wounded in the Battle. The views from the top are perfect for taking in the shape of the battlefield and the key sites.

Waterloo Lions Mound jennybegoode.wordpress.com
The Lion Mound – you’ll need to be fit, it’s 226 steps.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Diagram of battle lines.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Panorama from the outside.

The new underground museum was incredibly good and overwhelmingly detailed. I’m sure even the most dedicated military history buff would learn something new. For me, the political, philosophical and economic contexts were more interesting, as well as plenty of human history about the soldiers etc. We liked the interpretation information, which seemed to be working hard to take a neutral/historical standpoint.

Waterloo Council of War jennybegoode.wordpress.com

Apart from traditional exhibits, like artefacts and mannequins, there were loads of hi-tech and interactive elements. For example, the audio devices (which we didn’t really use) have various historical figures acting as virtual tour guides to choose between and the highlight of the museum is a 3D movie experience on a 180° screen, which was thrilling – make sure to save time for it at the end.

Waterloo new museum jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Hi-tech elements. E.g. the guillotine had a slideshow of those who met their fate!

Waterloo Uniforms jennybegoode.wordpress.com

Eventually we moved on to Hougoumont Farm. A shuttle is provided for the short hop, but we opted to walk as we were running out of time before closing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHougoumont Farm jennybegoode.wordpress.comOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We found the video installation, into which we were hustled at Hougoumont, a bit disappointing. It was very loud and bombastic, taking place in a darkened barn and involving a lot of moving parts (which we could see breaking down before long). It seemed very long and unfortunately, by the time it was over, it was almost too dark to see the memorial to the British soldiers who fought and died in the Battle.

In hindsight, I think we should have gone to Hougoumont first and the museum later on, but of course in the summer, it wouldn’t have mattered so much.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hopefully these notes could be of use to anyone planning a trip to Waterloo this year. There’s also a good Telegraph article about all the various sites you can visit in the area here: LINK. and here’s the website for the Memorial complex itself: LINK. Incidentally, we got a combined ticket – which included entry to the vintage Panorama, the Lion’s Mound, the new Memorial 1815 and Hougoumont Farm – for 16 Euro. There’s a 19 Euro ticket which includes a couple of other museums in the area – I think you’d need a car to see them all in a day!

On the road to Hougoumont jennybegoode.wordpress.com


This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒

Christmas Countdown | 19 | Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel, London jennybegoode.wordpress.com
My Aunt, Mum and Sister enjoying afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London.

Earlier this month, I said I would report back on the gluten free afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London. My Mum, Sister and Aunt like to meet up in London now and then for a day out and a catch up.

I’ve never suggested afternoon tea before, although I’ve been with friends several times, as my Mum is gluten free and I’ve always assumed that it wouldn’t be worth it for her. After all, the main part of afternoon tea is sandwiches, cake and scones!

I was convinced to give it a go after chatting to the maître d’ at the English Tea Room and I’m so glad I did. The bread used for the gluten free tea was indistinguishable from the normal bread. I have no idea how that’s even possible!

The gluten free scones were excellent too. And as far as I could see, the only difference between the gluten free cakes and the normal cakes was the lack of choux, which is totally understandable.

On top of all of that, you get charming service and a live pianist. We’ll definitely be back.


This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒

Christmas Countdown | 18 | Brussels Christmas Lights

Grand Place at Christmas jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Grand Place at Christmas

So earlier this month we went for a long weekend in Brussels. I lived in Brussels a long time ago and I haven’t been back for years, so I was really looking forward to the trip. Little did I know it would be taking place the weekend before we moved house!

Grand Place at Christmas is always good value. It’s not filled with Christmas Market stalls, so you can move around, there’s a son et lumière and a crèche with live sheep (no really – apparently they used to have other animals too, but people would steal them!)

Grand Place at Christmas jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Grand Place at Christmas

The main parts of the Christmas Market are around Bourse (the Stock Exchange) and Place Ste Catherine (lots of fish restaurants). It blows my mind that the Boulevard outside the Bourse is closed to traffic – it used to be a super-highway!

Bourse at Christmas jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Bourse at Christmas
Ste Catherine at Christmas jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Ste Catherine at Christmas

We didn’t go on the big wheel because it was absolutely freezing and blowing a gale!

The Grande Roue jennybegoode.wordpress.com
The Grande Roue

Now, these daisies were up on the inner ring road near Trône metro station and I’m not sure if they are Christmas decorations or there all year round. It certainly wouldn’t be unimaginable for the Brussels local government to decide that junctions could do with brightening up. This is a country that used to put heart-shaped filters over red traffic lights at Valentine’s. I wonder if they still do?

Christmas daisies? jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Christmas daisies?

Finally, one of the new European Parliament buildings. It’s not Christmassy, but I love this rainbow effect!

European Parliament jennybegoode.wordpress.com
European Parliament

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒

Links I found interesting this month

Richard Long exhibition at the Arnolfini, Bristol 2015 https://jennybegoode.wordpress.com

One of my favourite types of blog posts to read is a round-up of links and stories from around the web. Not only is it a great way to find new and useful things to read, but it also means I’ll be able to find the links to those interesting articles later on! With that in mind, here are some items I found interesting this month:

• An oldie, but a goodie: “Why the modern world is bad for your brain“.

Twitter jokes collated.

• I used to play those point-and-click escape-the-room games online; now there’s a live action version in Bath (Bath Escape) and two in Bristol (Puzzlair-4D and Fathom Escape)! I wonder who would like to try this out with me?

• Last weekend we went to see an exhibition by Richard Long at the Arnolfini in Bristol (photo above) – I first saw one of his exhibitions in St Andrews in 1997 and his work has always stuck with me. Definitely worth checking out and it’s free entry!

• This article about living on a ketch made me want to stop house hunting and buy a boat.

• I recently rediscovered Kerstin Rodgers’ blog and alter ego ‘Ms Marmite Lover’. I love the way she writes about the places she visits – blending a whirlwind of sensory impressions with contextual information and her personal reactions, all delivered in a matter-of-fact tone – evocative but not gushing. It’s exactly what I need to get enthusiastic about travel.

• Finally, I can’t stop watching this astonishingly beautiful tilt shift video of Bristol:

“Fashion on the Ration”


“A decline in clothing standards may be accompanied by a decline in self respect and a consequent slackness of the mind.”

– Memo from the Women’s Group on Public Welfare regarding the Make [Do] and Mend campaign, as displayed at the Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition, which is on till the end of the month. I visited earlier this week with my Mum – a rare chance to get away.