Tag Archives: Nutella

Macaroon wars

It started with Rachel, who brought her chewy and moreish macaroons into the office and proceeded to ply us with them – not once, but several times – as she perfected her technique.

Not to be outdone, Monaz – a Leith’s graduate – produced dinky and delicate, perfectly smooth and enviably uniform pink ‘macarons’, with a brittle crust and Nutella filling, for our delectation.

Charmaine was next up, handing round yet more delicious homemade macaroons delicately scented with Earl Grey.

I’d actually planned to avoid this particular bandwagon, but curiosity finally got the better of me and the other week I found myself throwing my hat into the macaroon ring. I spent another rainy Sunday afternoon amusing myself by piping miniature dog poo-esque spirals of meringue mixture onto a baking tray and trying to bring sugar to the soft ball stage with only a glass of water for guidance.

Waitrose provided the recipe. I whipped out the piping bag for another showdown. And here’s the result.

Chocolate pistachio macaroons

Not perfect... but not so shabby either

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Czeching out the local grub

We’ve just spent the Easter weekend in Prague, and what an unexpectedly delectable trip it turned out to be. Even the humdrum hotel breakfast had dense bread rife with pumpkin seeds (bread that went some way to excusing the square sheets of yellow rubber, glistening pink ham and dubious-looking pâté laid out for us to put on it).

I’d been told that eating out in Prague is tricky – any place on a main road is to be avoided, bills need to combed acutely for mysterious additions and special tourist prices sometimes apply. Our Czech friends gave it to us straight: if they don’t smile at you as you enter, turn around and walk back out. Luckily, they also gave us a list of fail-safe places to try.

First up was a museum café, Klub Arkitektu. I was expecting a National Trust-style clattering canteen and imagined us in a queue holding wet trays, waiting for ladles of hot food, then choosing from a stodgy selection of solid-looking cakes before reaching the till. (You never know how close others’ version of ‘a nice meal’ is to your own unless you’ve eaten out with them, and in the case of these friends, we hadn’t.) However, I was proved decidedly wrong when we walked into a trendily furnished, dimly lit, low-ceilinged stone cavern and were served two hearty courses each for ₤16 all-in: a pungent cream of garlic soup with smoked cheese on toast and honey and almond cake for me, a spicy and tender beef goulash with (the first of many helpings of) dumplings, then apple strüdel for my date.

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