Wednesday, October 19

compilation 1: autumn.

Frost gathering on the edge of iron framed window panes. An oily pink sunset smeared behind a dark skyline. Double layerings of socks and still my toes are growing uncomfortably numb. The clock on the wall reads six p.m. and I’ve decided it’s officially not summer any more. London is currently awash with an inter-seasonal glow that causes everything to blush with cozy anticipation. It’s an elixir we readily swallow in order to forget the inconvenient reality of the impending deep freeze. Ahh autumn, the season where appetites become enormous, cheeks retain a perpetual hue of wind-lashed rosacea, and most of us are plagued by an immediate desire to mull everything.

So let’s celebrate this delusionally giddy pre-winter époque with a few fall flavoured treats.

1. Sister Arrow.


Zoo Flask


Sister Arrow is a London based artist who cites influences including nature, metaphysics, sci-fi and caves. Maybe I'm just clinging onto spring but these prints are heavenly; candyfloss paradise in a bottle. And there's even enough melancholy in these photos (taken at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens) to satisfy any cravings for the bare trees and gloomy weather afoot. What a versatile gal. 

[You can buy her work through comics//zines//prints publisher Landfill Editions.]

. . .

2. Sensational Knitwear by Sandra Backlund.

Just when I had made up my mind that there was absolutely no way a knitted dress was ever going to look cool, I discovered Ms Backlund. Now the thing about most mainstream knit dresses is that they are often little more than thick-woolen, skin-tight pullovers that just happen to grant you the favour of covering your bum. No wonder wearing one feels about as flattering as wrapping a towel around your waist. It's an unfortunate truth that the noble endeavor of designing a garment which fulfills our dueling desires for something "sleek" and "substantial" often leads to unsatisfactory conclusions.

But that's exactly the ethos that Buckland rejects, and this subversion is the key to her brilliance. To embrace the sweater in all its glory is to embrace the chunk. Think bulky, layered, intricate, choatic, towering and gorgeous. I want in.

. . .

3. Autumnal Food.
Marcus Nilsson

Autumn can often feel like a season devoted entirely to eating and drinking. There's the traditional America culinary orgy of Thanksgiving hulking around in the middle of November, Germany's beer-themed Oktoberfest holding a rightfully hedonistic slot and Britain's bonfire night, once an occasion of patriotic commemoration, now seems more readily assigned to the practice of cider drinking and sausage eating. All accross the Northern Hemisphere we've countless dark evenings to fill full of long meals supplemented with experimental recipes and unnecessary extravagances. Venison and red wine? Butternut squash and crème fraiche? Yes yes yes!

Like a squirrel hoarding nuts for winter, in autumn all paths lead to the pantry. Even fashion can’t keep its mind off the dinner table with continual references to trendy beverage-themed hues and an affinity for animal products (fur and leather) giving way to fetishism. Buts that’s all right, because now is the perfect moment to fuse glamour and gluttony. Why, just the other day at work a beautiful girl rode in on her beautiful bicycle with a fresh, lush sprig of figs woven into the frame of her rear carrier-rack. The combination of the elemental elegance of the cycle and the organic opulence of the fruit was fully inspiring and mouth-watering all at once... Oh now we're just rambling. Lets get on with the eating. 

This time round we'll keep it simple, focusing on roasting: autumn’s favorite cooking method. Here are some tips from the ones who know best:

Roast Figs with Honey and Ricotta
 by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall

A great hasty pud. Roasting the figs with honey emphasises their perfumed sweetness. Serves six.

6 figs
6 tbsp honey
150g ricotta
50g thick Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract or the seeds scraped from half a vanilla pod

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Cut an X into the top of each fig and squeeze gently to open it up. Trickle a little honey into each fig – reserve about half of it for serving – place in a tin and roast for 10-15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.

Beat the ricotta with the yoghurt, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spoon some of the mixture into the top of each fig and trickle on some more honey just before serving.

Roast Saddle of Hare
by Susan Campbell and Caroline Conran (Poor Cook)

1 saddle of hare, preferably marinated for two days as this makes it more tender and tasty and improves the flavour of the gravy
4 rashers of bacon
Butter, beef dripping or pork fat
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pint single cream or top of the milk

Take the hare out of the marinade and wipe it dry. Remove the silvery membrane over the back with a sharp knife. Preheat the oven to Reg 7/425. Melt about half an once of butter in a frying pan. Dust the saddle with flour, brown it on all sides in the butter, take it out and wrap in bacon rashers. Roast in butter for 20-30 minutes, basting often. Add half a glass of water five minutes before it is cooked. Take off the bacon and put the hare with the rashers on a hot serving dish to keep warm.

Pour off some of the butter from the roasting tin, or scoop it off with a metal spoon. Add a minute sprinkling of flour to the juices in the tin; let it bubble a moment and stir in the cream. Heat gently, taste for seasoning, and pour the small amount of thickish sauce over the saddles. 

Carve lengthwise strips parallel to the backbone and serve with pureed potatoes or celeriac or hot beetroot.

 Roast Pumpkin
by Fergus Henderson

What is vital here is the pumpkin. It must be an organic blue pumpkin, which can be obtained at health-food shops. Once you have tried one, the large, orange, woolly variety will become a thing of the past in your life. 

As to the roasting, simply cut in half, scoop out the seeds, then cut into moon crescents. Place the pieces in a baking tray, skin down, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven, basting occasionally. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Check with a knife to see when it's soft. 

Be careful not to overcook your pumpkin as it will dry out.

Thursday, October 13

robin friend.

Untitled. from The Belly of the Whale.
Untitled. from The Belly of the Whale.
Untitled. from The Belly of the Whale.
Untitled. from Furlongs.
Untitled. from Greenhouse.
Untitled. from West Country.

Caught this work at the graduate show Anticipation, staged in the ultra-hip-ly named Ultralounge (so hip my spell-checker won't stop auto-correcting it) beneath Selfridges. Loads of beautiful work on display but this artist seems to have stuck with me. I'm still using a postcard featuring that first image from "The Belly of the Whale" to bookmark my half read copy of Moby Dick.
So it must be a good thing.  

all images ©  Robin Friend

Monday, October 10

henry hargreaves.

I have a weakness for food photography. 

 Scrap that. Lets call it a strength. A passion! An indulgence... 

Sometimes nothing feels more delectably permissive than to allow myself a soft chair and a few well chosen cookbooks to feast my eyes upon. Oh yes indeed, aesthetic appreciation co-mingles with pure lust upon those sweet pages; pages which can satisfy both a taste for composition and the fantasies of uneaten delights.

And while I do usually tend for favor those portraits with a more rustic, realistic semblance, I am just as easily seduced by the ridiculous, the colourful, the dramatic or the whimsical. Well, this time it's probably just the colourful. Colour is the best. Always. I'm a total sucker. 

Anyway, there's many a hyper-glossy questionably-real food-as-art photo floating around out there and most of them do make you feel a bit ill. But these ones made me dribble. Just a little.

Check out Mr. Hargreaves' website for his excellent collection of shots on a variety of subjects, including, to his credit, a few "rustic" suppers (and by that I mean meat and potatoes and wooden tables. The good stuff.).

[Images ©  Henry Hargraves. via Dripbook]

Tuesday, October 4

a long evening at the v & a.

Went this weekend for a bit of late night carousing at the Victoria and Albert. A gorgeous place which never ceases to amaze as a sheer monstrosity of all things lush and splendid.

Having spent the majority of the evening getting sidetracked by some delightfully frothy espresso martinis, my company and I failed to make last entry for the Postmodernism headliner. All was not lost though, as we did have just enough time to sneak a peak at The Power of Making, which was conveniently free and ten meters from the bar.

Guest-curated by designer Daniel Charny, this comprehensive presentation of assorted crafts asserts in its introductory wall scrawling that "Making is the most powerful way that we solve problems, express ideas and shape our world. What and how we make defines who we are, and communicates who we want to be....The power of making is that it fulfills each of these human needs and desires. The knowledge of how to make is one of humanity’s most precious resources."

A bit on the grandiose side, but hey, we are standing in the world's largest house of "objects", i.e. the museum home to the biggest collection of decorative art and design. And it's not an entirely overblown sentiment, nor a showing unfit for such an introduction. I'd be the first to admit a tendency to deify craftsman and craftswomen. There is something indescribably cool about someone who can make things. It's got old-world glamour and more than a hint of rugged sex appeal. As with the marble sculptor versus the oil painter, it is the hands rather than the paintbrush which become the artistic instrument we fetishize. A "maker" is gifted with not only a creative vision but a brutish command over the physicality of that vision.

Anyways, thoughts to ponder. Some highlights to follow:

Sueshiro Sano. A third generation Japanese ship builder who turned his wood working skills towards making some absolutely stunning mahogany bicycles. Sweeeet!

Marloes Ten Bhömer. Dutch born London based designer of kooky shoes. Amazing. Check them out. This chick is totally taking over where United Nude leaves off.

Dalton M. Ghetti. Former carpenter who somehow manages to tread the line between kitschy and totally adorable with these miniature pencil sculptures.

Also present was a crochet grizzly bear, some amazing knitwear by Sandra Backlund, and a very sleek dressage saddle.

Oh, just go.