London is one of my favourite places in the world. At any point there is so much going on, new restaurants to try, exhibitions to see (I really want to see Body Language and Andy Warhol Photographs 1976 to 1987). Whenever I visit, which is becoming more regular now Dan works in the city, I go with an impossibly long list of things I would like to do. Ever since the summer when a friend surprised her boyfriend with drinks at Aqua in the Shard and raved about how good it was, I have been desperate to go.
^^^walking across London Bridge at dusk^^^
After a couple of hours exploring Soho last week, we finally got round to visiting Aqua. I cannot get over how incredible the views were, even from only half way up the building. The whole London skyline was stretched out before us. The bar was completely packed, but we somehow managed to wangle a space next to the window. On the side by the river, looking out over the financial district. We didn’t stay long as we had evening engagements, but we did make time to pose for a couple of embarrassing touristy photos. Making a speedy transition from posh bar to fast food, we stopped into the McDonalds opposite the Shard for a cheeky double cheeseburger to go, which was quite the juxtaposition of experiences!
^^^at the bar/Financial District/view over London Bridge station^^^
For someone who will celebrate nearly any holiday whether it’s native to this country or not, I’m really not a big fan of Valentines Day. Enforced romanticism on a specific day has never worked out spectacularly for me. This year, between the stresses of moving house, and having to stay late at work on the actual day, our usual paired down steak and a movie will probably be downgraded to take away and an episode of Brooklyn 99. I will however take any chance to cover a normal dessert in as many hearts as I can, but that’s just because I am above all else, a girly girl!
^^^Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf/St Pauls/the top of the stairs had the best views over London/Shard from below^^^
My original hope for this pie was for it to be the rich pink of forced rhubarb that is in season at the moment, but as I couldn’t find any it is now the green of the tinned variety. If you want to use fresh rhubarb poach and let it cool before you start this recipe. This tart dessert makes for a fantastic finish to a rich Valentines dinner.
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Chocolate and Cranberry Valentines Shortbread
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Rhubarb Valentines Tart
recipe from Jamie Oliver
250g Plain Flour
50g Icing Sugar
125g Cold Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash of milk
Blitz the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs.
Add the egg and vanilla and blitz until combined.
Add a small splashes of milk combining well between additions until it forms a firm dough.
Remove from the food processor onto a floured work surface and split in two.
Roll each half into balls and then flatten.
Wrap individually in clingfilm and place in the fridge for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
When chilled, roll the pastry out until 2-3mm thick, reserving a little for the heart topping.
Grease and flour your pie dish then line with the pastry.
Cover with baking parchment and fill with baking beads/rice and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the beads/rice and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.
1 tin of rhubarb, drained
100g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten – reserve a little of this to glaze the pie
In a bowl mix together the fruit, sugar and eggs with a fork until the rhubarb loses it’s shape and becomes a paste.
Pour into the pie crust.
Roll out the remaining pastry and cut out several little hearts
Place on top of the rhubarb filling and brush all exposed pastry with the remaining beaten egg.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
Leave to cool, and for the filling to set, then serve with ice cream, custard, or cream.