I left off the last the post with my visit to Borough Market. If only I could have stayed longer but I had to meet my aunt and take the train to a old market village called Thame. The couple who were getting married generously put us up in the Spread Eagle Inn. No snickers at the name,it cracked me up too. But this Inn is very historic and has seen many a prominent visitor from Charles II to Evelyn Waugh. The groom to be’s handsome son and friend Toby picked us up from the train station. They offered to show us some neighboring sites. Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Winston Churchill), Oxford, and Waddesdon Manor (home of the Rothschild’s) were close by. Tempting as all that was , we wanted to freshen up after being up all day and exploring London. The boys warned us that unfortunately the yearly town fair was going on at that very moment on the High Street in front of the hotel. The roads were blocked off, and we entered from the back. The boys were called off to pick up some more people and take care of wedding stuff,so we were left to explore the village and maybe meet up later. I was thinking a quaint crafty fair like Chicago. What greeted us was a full blown carnival with warnings of the teenage hooligans who get rowdy. It was hard to see the shops and beauty of the town with all the carny nonsense. The Inn locked off the front doors to prevent entry from the crowds. It was too late to shop, so we went back to the Inn for dinner. No one was in the restaurant but we had a decent dinner from the new menu. I had a rustic pate with red onion marmalade, crispy prawns with crispy noodles . Auntie Mame had salmon and sorrel. You don’t come across sorrel often. We retired early to faint sounds of the fair and never made it for drinks.
The morning of the wedding we went down to the restaurant again. I ordered the full English breakfast of eggs, black pudding, grilled tomato, sausage, and beans!
I liked blood sausage, so I felt I could do the black pudding. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste as tasty as blood sausage. It was a lot of food and I was praying the beans wouldn’t kick in at the wedding. We shared a taxi over to Nether Winchendon House, a medieval Tudor mansion the wedding was held at.
The family it belongs to is related to the Spencer- Churchill family and still live there. However they rent it out for filming, corporate events, and weddings. The wedding was lovely and unstuffy. All the ladies wore hats, but we were asked to be creative with them and use existing hats and embellish. The couple took their vows under a mulberry tree with their ‘Vicar’ friend. This ceremony was symbolic as their real / legal wedding would be in Chicago. The couple had an enormous sense of humour and deep love for each other, their family, and friends. Endless champagne, wine, beer, etc as we walked the estate and took pictures. The wedding lunch was held in a hall on the grounds.
Besides the catered lunch, they had a pig roast outside! In fact there had 2 pig roasts. One for the lunch, and one for the evening buffet. So much good food. At this point I didn’t care about being fancy and gobbled up the roast pig and cracklings. The best! We broke up the eating with outdoor activities . The couple hired acrobats who brought all sorts of equipment for the guests, I hula hooped, walked a tight rope with the guidance from the ground,walked on stilts, etc all in my big hat! My aunt has these hysterical photos so I haven’t got them yet. By 11:30 we were exhausted.I even got picked up by two 25 year olds. One actually proposed marriage and kept calling me Dorthy. They found it hard to believe I was almost 15 years older than them.Flattery! Back to the Inn, and we flew home the next day. I have to say that was the most joyous , humorous, real wedding I had ever been to. If my day ever comes I plan take a page from them.
I leave you with this recipe I adapted from BBC’s Olive Magazine. Over the next few weeks you see me use ideas or items I got from over there: The original recipe from Chef Valentine Warner was a baked Mushroom and Celeriac Tarte. I wanted to incorporate some slow cooked beef shank I had with leeks and mushrooms. The inspiration was using a thinly sliced celery root as my crust. It didn’t come out as caramelized and perfect as the magazine( to much liquids which I drained), but it was very good. Even Certain Someone who doesn’t like celery or the root liked this.
Glamah’s Celeriac Tarte with Beef , Leeks, and Mushrooms
2 beef shanks
1 large leek cleaned and sliced
1 small celery root
1 cup of mushrooms coarsley chopped
salt/ pepper to taste( I used a seasoned sea salt spiced with cumin and mint)
1/2 cup of Cooking Wine
3 cloves of Garlic
Slow cook the beef shanks with with wine, garlic, and salt. Cover and cook in oven for 2 hours. Clean mushrooms and leeks. Add to beef. At this point you can remove the meat from the bone and chop up to cook with the vegetables.Cover and let roast on oven another 20-30 minutes.
Wash and peel celery root. Cut into manageable quarters. Take a mandolin and slice thinly.
Take a cast iron pan and melt butter to coat it on the stove. Arrange the celery root slices to cover. Add the meat and vegetables.Be sure to drain excess liquids . Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Take out and invert pan onto a plate( like making a tarte tatin).
Slice and serve.