Meringues: Delicious to Eat, Best Avoided as a Dress

Ahem, part of me really loves this dress…

You wouldn’t really believe this is supposed to be a wedding blog would you, given that I’ve been writing it for approximately three months and have made scarce reference to the WEDDING DRESS.

There are many, many talented fashion bloggers out there so I felt my own attempts at describing a dress or attempting to correctly name different parts of it (fishtails? Peplum? A-line?) would just be embarrassingly bad. So, I desisted and contented myself with the odd trail through wedding dresses for sale online.

They all looked very similar – sleeveless, strapless, kind of column goes into wide bit at the bottom thingie. [It’s that kind of keen fashion observation which guaranteed that Vogue’s editor with a job offer wasn’t going to materialise.] And blimey, the amounts of money you could spend on a dress that really can only be worn once was incredible.

The charity Oxfam have wedding dresses in 11 of its stores (sadly, I live nowhere near any of these shops) and there are various online options – second-hand dresses for sale, eBay etc. I hummed and haw-ed with a non-wedding dress option and found a fabulous red dress at www.sexyher.com. I even tried it on, it was a fab fit and pretty flattering.

But at the end of the day, the pink, frothy tidal wave that is weddings has sucked me up. I think I need to go and try on dresses in a shop while taking advice on shapes that will suit from an assistant who will no doubt manage to persuade me to go for a garment way beyond the price I had initially imagined. (£100. Yes, seriously.)

To this end, a girly weekend beckons. I’m off to Dragonfly Designs and A.N Other (I’m not being coy, I intend to be spontaneous and head to one of the shops that doesn’t do the appointment thing) armed with my fab mother, sisters, a good friend and their sage advice.

[Wee aside – sister in the middle is bitterly disappointed that DD doesn’t do the whole glasses of champagne while trying on dresses thing; she’s an avid watcher of Don’t Tell the Bride so she knows the whole wedding routine thing like the back of her hand.]

Finally an update on Nigella. The coffee ice cream was absolutely lovely – gorgeous flavour and lovely texture. I decided to try her Tuscan fries recipe. ontroversially, she puts chips in cold oil and heats them up. I wanted to believe, I really, really did. The chief taster (not moi, as a wee bittie frightened of fried carbs) opined that the chips did taste nice as they were helped by the addition of garlic and herbs to the oil. Crisp chips though, they were not…

The Toast of the Town

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

The working week brought a tale of two different public speaking experiences. Firstly, I ran a training workshop. My audience was small and select – I felt confident, articulate and knowledgeable.

The following day, I attended a meeting. I didn’t agree with what one of the speakers was saying and raised my hand to clarify – at which point he invited me to come up to the mike. Argh, disagreeing with someone in public and then being asked to explain in front of roughly 100 people. Soothing it was not.

I’m talking about public speaking as I’d rather like to make a speech at my wedding. I plan light-hearted and hopefully witty words no longer than five minutes and possibly a multi-media presentation (!). I’ve been planning this speech for a while now and I’ve got a KILLER last line.

But should one voluntarily add the stress of public speaking to one’s wedding day, when there is a get out clause – I could follow tradition where the bride is supposedly the centre of attention, but remains oddly silent. Standing up to speak in front of a lot of people is a bit of a scary prospect. What if I muck up the jokes or I get heckled?!

If an approaching wedding adds incentive to all sorts of self-improvement plans (I will be thinner, more toned, clearer of skin, tighter of triceps, free of diet coke), then public speaking practice and confidence is possibly the most worthy of those goals. Not to mention the enhancement it gives my future career prospects…

And finally – I’ve been enjoying Nigella’s latest TV offering and today made her super-easy coffee ice-cream. I permitted myself a tiny lick of the bowl pre freezing and it’s FAB. I don’t even like coffee either.

 

The (Mucho) Joy of Chocolate

Ridiculously proud of the shine on those chocolates…

Friends, I experimented with the idea of home-made favours. I took my Lakeland chocolate mould, I made whisky truffles and I filled said chocolate mould (beforehand coating the moulds with a thin layer of plain chocolate) with the truffle mixture and I sighed in a Nigella Lawson style domestic goddess ‘I make my own’ stuff type contentment…

I did NOT. Yes to filling the chocolate mould, yes to the making my own truffles, but absolutely no to the ‘sighing in contentment’ thingie. Two-thirds of the way through lining the chocolate moulds I got bored and shortcuts were taken. The blasted truffles did not seem to stick together. My hands got seriously dirty. Chocolate worked its way underneath my nails and made me look like a dedicated gardener (reader, that could not be further from the truth).

In short, the whole exercise was a lesson in why people buy chocolates for their favours. Mind you, in true chef privilege style I did taste some of the truffle mixture and it was a bit wow-ee. It’s pretty easy too so here goes…

225g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids and above naturally)

75ml double cream

3tbsp whisky*

1 tsp vanilla essence

Finely chopped hazelnuts (or other ideas, see below)

Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a non-metallic bowl in the microwave. Put on for 30 seconds at a time until the chocolate has melted. Stir well, add the vanilla essence and leave to cool till room temperature. Add the whisky, then use an electronic whisk to beat the mixture for five minutes until it seems lighter and is paler in colour.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so until firm. Roll the chocolate mixture into balls (about walnut-sized shape) and then roll in either cocoa, chopped nuts, grated white chocolate or icing sugar. Eat within four days. They should be kept (covered) in the fridge.

If you do make them, please let me know and tell me what you think! You can substitute the whisky for Cointreu or Bailey’s too.

 

 

*I want to love whisky. It’s such a romantic drink. Think whisky, think sitting in front of a roaring log fire having hiked four or five hours up and down hills, think ancient clan chiefs sneaking the distillery away from the excise men (and Rabbie Burns was one!). Unfortunately, it still tastes pretty cough mixture to me.