Fine time, in part recovering from August and also on its own terms. A brief trip to Edinburgh that included one of the most memorable meals of my life. And on the home front, just enjoying the effect that a reasonably moist summer had on the terrace.
The trip was to the 1st Biennial Conference on Food and Communication at Queen Margaret University. It was huge fun to be back in Edinburgh after quite a while, and to see one lovely old friend, the kind with whom the intervening years just don't matter. We also managed a very stimulating discussion that flexed some ill-used intellectual muscles.
The conference was well-organised and interesting and deserves to live up to its ambitious title. I'm grateful to the organisers for allowing me to attend as a podcaster, but it wasn't easy. The schedule was packed, and there was nowhere quiet to snag people for a recording. I did manage to get one good interview on prison food there and another one about recipes and miscommunication down the line later. The big problem is that QMU is out of town, and people were staying all over, so there was no question of fixing interviews outside conference hours.
The meal of my life
As for that meal, I have wanted to eat at the Edinburgh Food Studio for as long as it has been in existence. Longer; since I heard from Ben Reade that he was planning to open a restuarant. Ben was the very first guest on Eat This Podcast, but more than that he was in charge of the experimental kitchen at Noma, and is still experimenting like crazy in Edinburgh. Luckily for me Peter Hertzmann, another frequent guest on Eat This Podcast, was also at the Food and Communication conference and had worked as writer in residence at the Edinburgh Food Studio a couple of years ago. He booked the dinner.
The space is clean and spare, with some mad scientist decorative touches and a very soothing ambience. Two large tables and a smaller one dominate the room, while the right hand wall is dominated by a giant whiteboard, on which is the menu. It is a measure of the chefs' inventiveness that nothing there has a name. It has never been made before, at least not often enough to have been formally named. You all sit, refectory style, on benches at the big table, which is a little bit awkward unless you are very gregarious, at least to begin with. Ben kicks off the evening by explaining a little bit about what the Studio is about, and then goes through each of the dishes on the whiteboard, giving a bit of background. And then, as heavy lorries thunder up and down the Dalkeith Road outside the open front door, the dishes start arriving.
From the stunning smoked butter that graced the superb bread, through to the sublime stewed Victoria plum with yoghurt ice cream, every single thing was a marvel. I decided not to spoil my enjoyment by attempting to photograph anything, but I did make notes:
- A single radish with a mustard mayonnaise
- Mussels, steamed and then fried until crispy, in a sauce and on a slice of seedy toast
- Mackerel with a creamy yoghurt and dill dressing, sprinkled with toasted cracked rye (or was it rye breadcrumbs?)
- Roast smashed carrots, with kale, cheese, walnuts and ?
- A deeply sweet broth of onions and other alliums, set off with meaty flakes of salt cod
- Duck breast, not pink but bloody, with beetroot and foraged sea aster
- Sorrel granita
- That stewed plum and ice cream
There's a version of the meal that pairs a wine with each dish, but we preferred beer. And to top it off, of course a whisky, but which one? Ben asked me what kinds of whisky I like, and after some thought suggested an Old Perth 1996 Cask Strength. (It might have been this one.) It was perfect. Right on the money and proof that single malts are not necessarily the be-all and end-all of whisky.
Although I always say, when people ask me what Eat This Podcast is about, that I don't do restaurant reviews, consider this not so much a review as a very strong recommendation.
Our Daily Bread
I spent quite a lot of time exploring options for publishing a book of the wheat and bread podcasts, even going so far as to contact, out of the blue, the offices of my dear, departed former literary agent. They asked for more details and haven't yet replied in over five weeks. For now, I've got my sights set on Unbound. There's quite a lot of work to prepare it for their judgement (although not as much as for a conventional publisher) but it is work that will need doing whatever route I eventually take. My hope is to submit before the end of the coming week. I reacquainted myself with Scrivener to get going on this.
Steps trended up nicely over the month, though sleep is more or less level. I am still walking more and getting to bed earlier than the global average. Fascinating to discover that sleeping 61 minutes more than the global average is now "much more than the global average" A month ago it was somehow "close to the global average". Progress. Somewhere.
Logged 131 hours for the month and worked on 20 of the 30 days. Not counting five days away in Edinburgh.
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Managed nine posts for this here main website, although two of those are sort of also old posts. Back in March 2008 I started writing 50 daily posts of exactly 100 words each. As I slowly pulled old posts back in here, I skipped those as they seemed to be too much work for too little reward. Then all sorts of people started talking up the virtues of writing daily, and the creative goad of constraints, so I decided to bring those exemplars in and to update them where necessary. There's a tag and I am doing batches of five at a time, but not saying how often I will find time in future. And once they're done, maybe I'll try all over again.
Automate sharing from reading.am to Known. This is ready to go, just needs a
cron job. However, the entire Read later, bookmark and annotate workflow needs dissection and implementation.
Continue to get micropub working with Grav; I have Bookmarks and Notes operational but the templates got into a terrible mess.
Upgrading my phone to iOS 12 has introduced at least two bad things. One is surely the upgrade's fault; selecting text on the screen has become much more difficult. There's often no response at all. And I don't think it is because the screen is dirty or any tosh like that. The other is harder to account for. I track sleep automatically with my Garmin Vivofit. Since the upgrade, it has me going to sleep somewhat later, often an hour or two later, than I know I went to bed. And I know I wasn't lying there trying to fall asleep. Not sure even where to start looking to troubleshoot this one. Maybe return to Sleep cycle?
Pull data out of exist.io
Will plough ahead with preparing the book of Our Daily Bread. Also looking forward enormously to a return to IndieWeb Camp in Nürnberg. Need to try and decide on a project to work on with all the help that will be available there.