We have reached our final week in Great Brittan. It will be sad to leave; but, I have to admit, I am looking forward to sleeping in my bed and bathing in my bathroom. There are small conveniences I forget after I have been out of Europe for a while. For example, I like to use a tap that has the water combined into one spout. How do the English think you can wash your hands when you have to wave back and forth under a freezing tap and a scalding hot tap? Also, I am not comfortable with the lack of a top sheet on the beds. Nobody uses a top sheet here. We are provided with a bottom sheet and a duvet. I like to have the option of a light top sheet in case the duvet is too warm. Dorothy was very wise when she realized, “There is no place like home.” Obviously, these inconveniences are trivial and the trip in its entirety has been amazing, regardless of the hand-washing situation. I really do love it here.
A lot has happened. For starters, we left Dorset and headed to London. We knew Knotting Hill Carnival was in full swing but didn’t consider it would be a hindrance to our journey. We were very wrong. Somehow, we parked our car and got caught in the Carnival for two hours pushing our suitcases around like a bunch of lunatics in a sea of one million drunken people. An Uber driver who didn’t know his way around London followed this ordeal. By the time we made it to our destination, we were starving and exhausted. We happened to find a Lebanese restaurant. They started us off with olives, pickels and chili peppers to dip into a yogurt sauce and a chili sauce. We went nuts and ordered another two of these dishes. It was that good and we were that hungry. We ordered Halloumi cheese, hummus, falafels, chicken schwarma, and a lamb dish. The food was incredible. We ordered so much that we ended up taking most of it home to finish at breakfast the following morning.
After a couple of days roaming around London and eating at my friend’s Mexican restaurant again, we headed to Bristol. This is the home of Banksy, the graffiti artist. We visited the art museum and were able to see one of his pieces there. Bristol is a great city. It is very artsy. The studio, which creates Wallace and Gromit is located there. Many of the houses are brightly colored. You see beautiful rows of bright blue, pink and yellow houses. There are several places where graffiti is allowed and encouraged. Music is a huge part of the culture and the University has several classes specializing in the creation of music. Of course, the food is amazing as well. We finally had our first Indian meal since we arrived. It was out of this world. Daphne’s boyfriend, who believed he didn’t like Indian food, is now a huge fan. Thank you, Bristol.
Then, we made our way back to Hungerford and Hopgrass. Hopgrass is the house where Claud grew up and the location where we celebrated his father’s eightieth birthday. Claud’s parents have four children and sixteen grandchildren. All of his children attended and all but two of the grandchildren were there. Claud and I cooked leek and potato soup and a salad. We heated up the Yorkshire puddings and heated up the peas. Claud’s mom made dauphinoise potatoes, gravy and beef wellington. She also made cheesecake with a raspberry coulis and plumb crumble with a custard topping.
I don’t think I had ever seen beef wellington before this party. I was really impressed by the grandeur of this dish. They looked so elegant and difficult to make. I thought it must have been hard to wrap the beef with the pastry. I also believed that the mushroom pate inside must have been tedious since it could almost be a meal in itself. Then, I asked Cherry, Claud’s mom, how she did it. It is actually not that hard. She walked me through the process, which I have written below for you. You really should give this a try. You will undoubtedly impress your friends and family. Cherry made two huge Wellingtons and not a bite was left at the end of the meal. I am definitely going to make this back in Las Vegas.
Time: One hour
2 pounds fillet mignon
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil,
2 tablespoons butter,
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups mushrooms,
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
teaspoon truffle oil
1 17 ounce package
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a skillet to high heat. Rub the fillet with salt and pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan. Add the meat once the oil is hot. Add half of the butter and rosemary. Sear the beef on all sides. Place beef on a plate. Lower the pan to medium heat. Add two tablespoons oil and remaining butter. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring regularly. Add Worcestershire sauce and cook another three minutes. Pour onto a cutting board and drizzle on the truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface. Spread the mushroom mixture over the pastry, leaving a one inch space around the edges. Eggwash the edges. Set the beef in the center of the pastry covered in mushroom mix. Carefully wrap the pastry around the beef, pinching the edges to seal. Move to a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Cook for forty minutes, or until beef is cooked how you like it. The ends will be cooked more than the center. Serve with gravy and vegetables.