Cowie has been in training for months in order to take on the grueling Eton triathlon. Whilst I've been sensibly asleep she's been making waves in Balham swimming pool... doing circuits legging it around Clapham Common or cycling around Richmond Park. You won't meet many fitter people, let along girls, than Cowie.
As the weekend loomed towards the end of last week attention turned away from Dwayne Chambers and his cocktail of performance enchancing drugs and fell on Cowie's carbo loading regime. Cowie is normally fairly averse to all things carby, particularly wheat. So we decided to go for an oriental and Italian theme.
On Friday night we went to Fujiyama in Brixton. I went some time ago with Ed and Adam which made Cowie pretty vexed. For once I was early so I propped up the bar with a bottle of Tiger and a bowl of steaming hot edamame. Delicious. Who needs crisps when you can add a tonne of salt and soy sauce to your beans!
We decided to go all out and ordered gyozas, yakirori and sahsimi. The salmon and tuna sashimi were delicious. Massive hunks of fish with a good white dividing line of fat. I must confess I am far from being a sushi expert - but we enjoyed it. My only niggle was that the wasabi paste was a bit floury and didn't quite seem right. Maybe they thought we couldn't handle the good stuff.
Our gyozas and yakitori were both in a different league to what we normally wolf down in Wagamamas. Delicious.
For our main courses we decided not to hold back either. Cowie was already hinting that maybe we should order one dish and share it! Rubbish! This was all about carbo loading so we went for chile men and a beef and rice dish that turned up with some iffy miso soup. Everything but the soup was very tasty and filling - with our emphasis being on the energy rather than the quality for once.
All this slipped down with the aid of some very gentle green tea. For such a large amount of tasty food you really can't complain when the bill comes to 40 quid including a tip. It's just a shame that the real cost of the meal was over a hundred because Cowie got a parking fine! Again!
We'll be back to Fujiyama but maybe next time on a bus...
I woke up on Saturday with a smashing headache and blury vision. Either a few cups of green tea had given me a hangover or I was ill. So I went shopping in Balham for provisions for Cowie's pre race dinner.
We are spoilt in Balham to have such an impressive range of delis. The Fat Delicatessen provided me with the risotto rice and pasta that Trinity Stores couldn't muster up. But in fairness to them they did provide me with some gorgeous jarred tomatoes, wild mushrooms and aubergine. Chadwicks supplied me with 2 large free range chicken breasts with the skin and wing still attached.
My menu for Cowie was broadly Italian and again intended to get as much energy inside her body as possible. We started with a rich wild mushroom risotto and then moved onto an aubergine and chicken pasta dish that doesn't really have a name but was really tasty!
For the wild mushroom risotto all I did was sauted some shallots and a sweet onion in plenty of olive oil and then added some diced smoked streaky bacon. When the fat had come out of this and the onions had softened I added 2 large thinly sliced cloves of garlic which have me a sensational head rush. This sizzled away for a bit longe before I added the risotto rice which crackled and hissed like a snake with space dust in its mouth. Then I added a large glug of white wine which reduced down to nothing very quickly.
Whilst this was going on I rehydrated some dried wild mushrooms from the Fat Delicatessen and then used the mushroom stock to top the risotto up with. Half an hour later the rice was cooked and the risotto was almost ready to serve. I turned the heat down and fried some wild mushrooms in butter and olive oil and grated as much parmesan as I could find.
I beat the parmesan into the rice and topped each plate off with a spoon full of freshly sauted wild mushrooms. All of this was seasoned liberally and wolfed down with a glass of very cold white wine. Bliss.
Next step was to create a pasta mega dish. I sauted the chicken having seasoned it agressively in a hot pan with some onions and garlic. Once the skin was coloured I turned it over, added some white wine and reduced this down till it was sticky. In went a squeeze of lemon juice before transfering the chicken to a baking dish to sit on top of some tomatoes.
This cooked for around 20 minutes in a hot oven whilst an aubergine and some peppers turned from being inanimate watery vegetables into gorgeous, sweet flesh!
Some fresh egg pasta cooked in a pan of hot water whilst a very classy tomato and aubergine jarred sauce heated through.
Yum. I was certainly full. We ate it whilst watching the perfect film for the ocassion... GI Jane!
Needless to say Cowie did brilliantly in the triathlon the next day. She came 23rd overall out of 120 in her category. And then even more impressively came 270th out of 1120 including male and female competitors! Roll on Beijing/Blenheim!