JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A perfect shopping expedition

The sun's shining at last, we're about to go on holiday, and I've just come back from the perfect shopping expedition in my home town of Henley on Thames.

I started at Patisserie Franco-Belge, where I bought a white sandwich loaf. When I was a child, the Saturday morning queue outside Franco-Belge used to snake out of their lovely medieval premises right round the corner - that was in the days before Henley had a supermarket. This morning, I went to the more industrial premises they moved into about 20 years ago, no queue at all, but I was served by the same smiling lady who has worked there for most of my life.

Then round the corner into the Market Place to the butcher, Gabriel Machin, for a piece of steak to put into the bread to make a travelling sandwich for Monday's drive to Scotland (I will post about this remarkable sandwich as soon as I get a connection next week). I had to explain to the smiling butcher exactly what I was going to do with his steak so that he could cut it the right shape - much merriment in the shop, which was full of customers. This butcher is under fairly new management, and at least as good as ever; in fact, I like it better now. I remember going there once or twice as a child (my mother used a different butcher, now defunct), the butchers used to write a ticket for everything you ordered, and you'd take it to a booth in the corner of the tiny shop, to pay a little old lady who would then hand over your parcels, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.

Then down to the Bell Book Shop to pick up Lettice's holiday reading. That's another shop I've been using all my life; it opened when I was a teenager, just beginning to want to buy books. Now my house is full stuff I've bought there, although, these days, I prefer the sister shop in Marlborough, the White Horse Bookshop.

Off to Waitrose, for big flat mushrooms, cherries, vinegar, and a crab for supper tomorrow night. Lucius and I are off to a wedding now, staying overnight in Tunbridge Wells, then on to a lunch party on the coast near Chichester, back home, pack, and then off at the crack of dawn to catch the last ferry for Mull on Monday evening. A few days there, then a week in Edinburgh, and the flat I have rented is near both a lovely secondhand bookshop and the wonderful marvellous magnificent Scottish-Italian deli Valvona and Crolla.

Out of the car park by 9.50, and home by 10, to find coffee made and on the table. Bliss.

On the way home I drove past the river, to see if the floods are subsiding. The answer is yes, but slowly. These photographs were taken a couple of days ago, just before the peak, about two inches higher than this. Now it's back to these levels.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wonderful that you still shop in the same shops from so many years ago and awesome that the same people are stilll helping you!
Certainly the river is out of bounds! Sun and receding water - that sounds good.

SueCooksWild said...

Have a wonderful time on your vacation/holiday! Can't wait to hear about that steak sandwich. I was wondering how you were doing with all that rain. It was fun to follow you on your shopping trip. Henley sounds like one nice place. Have fun.

katiez said...

Lovely shopping day! All of those shops must be such fun.
Have a great holiday - are you in Edinburgh for the festival?

David Hall said...

Hi Joanna

Where are you going in Scotland? We are off next week too, my brother lives there just North of Aberdeen. He used to live on Arran, I love it up there and really excited about seeing him. He has just about recovered from Hodgkins disease so been a horrible time.

Right, onto happier things, I'm intrigued about this crab, vinegar and cherry concoction, or is there no connection at all between those ingredients?! I'm working all day so will be posting my 10 minute (yes, 10 minute!) crab curry recipe which we had on Friday night.

All the best

Cottage Smallholder said...

I hope that you have a great holiday and that when you get back you will have fun doing this meme. I have tagged you for the seven random gardening facts meme. Follow this link

TopVeg said...

Look forward to hearing what you find in Valvona and Crolla.
There is a lovely deli in Oban if you are going that way & have time to look before catching the ferry to Mull. Have a lovely holiday.

Joanna said...

Just back from a wedding, and a lunch party held after a different wedding ... two lovely family parties given by old friends. Off first thing in the morning, to catch the last ferry to Mull tomorrow evening (so, yes, TopVeg, will be in Oban, and will try to be there early enough to visit the deli).

When I've packed, I'm going to make the amazing steak sandwich, will photograph all the steps, and post as soon as I get a connection. I am also going to make pickled cherries that I found on Pomiane a day or two ago and that sound wonderful. And the crab is to go with spaghetti for a quick supper tonight when the boys get back from their cricket match.

Mull first, then a few days at the Edinburgh festival - David, have a lovely time in Aberdeen ... I love it there too, we've had wonderful holidays on the Aberdeen Angus border near Edzell ... enjoy your time with your brother ... and let's hope for no rain and NO MIDGES!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I have quite a few books bought from that book shop. Henley is a wonderful place to potter round.

Enjoy your holiday. It sounds like lots of fun.