Backyard Haiku (for NaHaiWriMo)

Spring is breaking out early at Glover Gardens, and the backyard is like a bird sanctuary. I have a new DSLR camera that I am learning how to use, and have taken to carrying it with me as much as I can when I’m outside (weekends only; I have a corporate job with a long commute).  I am not good at schlepping the camera around yet and marvel at how pro photographers lug around all their equipment, ready to seize that great photo op when it appears. There are so many peripheral skills that they have to support the primary one of knowing what would make a great photo, and how to use their sophisticated equipment.

If you’ve been following Glover Gardens, you’ll know that I’m observing National Haiku Writing Month (#NaHaiWriMo) and posting one haiku per day in February. I started late, and it is a little more difficult than I thought, but I’m going to see it through.  Fortunately, the backyard at Glover Gardens is a source of inspiration for me.

joy in my backyard:
Mama Cardinal ponders life
while I sit and watch

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Mama Cardinal looks all around
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Checking me out to see if I’m a threat
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Perched above the feeder to survey the surroundings (is it safe? is it safe?)
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Finally, crunching on a seed
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Looking at me again before going for that next yummy seed

Life is good, for Mama Cardinal and me.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

Comfort Food Alert: My Beloved Da Corradi in London has the BEST Spaghetti Carbonara

I still think of myself as a little girl from a small town who is constantly surprised by her life, and sometimes find it hard to believe that I have a “favorite Italian restaurant in London”. In my 20s, that sentence would have been alien to me; I didn’t even make it to Europe until I was 34. This post is about that favorite little restaurant, and its fame-worthy Spaghetti Carbonara.

Da Corradi in London

 

It’s Not Just My Opinion

Da Corradi’s carbonara was fantastic!

I think that was the best Carbonara I have ever had.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with fresh ham is the best you’ll ever eat.

IMG_0857Online reviewers of Da Corradi, a tiny, family-run Italian restaurant in London’s Mayfair district tucked back in the Shepherd Market, agree with me about their Spaghetti Carbonara: it’s the best.

My TripAdvisor review from way back in 2010 when the Grill-Meister and I visited was titled Marvelous – so good we went twice in one week, proclaiming:

The Spaghetti Carbonara is the best I have ever had – even compared to the same dish in Italy.

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I’m pretty sure they serve this in heaven.

It’s true. I’ve never had a better carbonara, and I’m fairly sure I never will.  It’s that good. Just the right balance of rich creaminess from the egg and cheese, saltiness from the ham, and al dente spaghetti, with a liberal sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.  Close your eyes after taking just one bite and you’ll expect to find Northern Italy when you open them.  I try not to eat heavy food like this very often, but there’s never even a question that I’ll order anything else at Da Corradi. The only question is how much of it I can consume, and the answer is always: more than I thought!

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This pic of the Grill-Meister and me in 2010 reveals that I almost finished my carbonara; I’d like to dive in and take a bite right now
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One of my companions had a marvelous pizza on a visit last October, but I stuck with the carbonara
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Big chunks of ripe tomatoes with garlic and spicy basil atop crunchy sourdough make a tasty and authentic bruschetta appetizer

The food at Da Corradi is hearty-homestyle rather than Mayfair pretentious, and the prices are very reasonable. More reasons to keep coming back!

The Peeps are as Fun as the Food is Good

The staff at Da Corradi are a big part of the overall experience.  They’re cheeky and flirty (in a family-friendly way) and their banter with each other betrays an affection and respect that is charming. They collaborate to ensure that your experience with them is fun, filling, and fulfilling. You don’t exactly have a waitperson, you have a wait-team.

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This wait-team duet kept us in good spirits on a recent visit
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We posed together, a couple of blonde ladies; she was pleased to be featured in the Glover Gardens blog and pretty sure I would make her famous : )

A Celebrity Hang-Out (or Hide-Out?)

In its 40+ years of serving great Italian food, Da Corradi has attracted a lot of admirers beyond this Texas gal and the online reviewers I quoted above.  The wall overlooking the tiny main floor dining area sports photos of celebrity diners who must enjoy the carbonara and cheeky charm as much as I do. While high-end Mayfair is swarming with tourists and beautiful people, Da Corradi’s exact location within Shepherd Market is a little off the beaten path, a perfect place to avoid the madding crowd. Shepherd Market’s web site says, “This unique little enclave is tucked away between Picadilly and Curzon Street, in the heart of London’s Mayfair. A hidden gem known for its wonderful relaxed village-like atmosphere.”

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They Trust Me, They Really Trust Me!

I am blessed with a wide network of friends and foodies  in many locales across the world who feed me, enjoy sharing a restaurant meal together, send me their food pictures for the blog, and give and take restaurant recommendations.  I love love love it when someone trusts my choice of a restaurant; it’s like setting friends up on a blind date and having it work out (only better because there’s no chance of divorce or blame). It feels good to influence where someone has dinner halfway across the world…just call me the restaurant matchmaker!

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My Houston friends; seeing them there makes me long to visit again
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My Norwegian friends; they both had the carbonara

Life is good. And so is the Spaghetti Carbonara at Da Corradi in London.

Resources

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

Variations on a Feline Theme, Because There Aren’t Enough Cat Pictures in the World (and a haiku)

This week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post is about variations on a theme – any photo(s), any theme, any variation. An easy one for me is our feline family members. So, for your cat-picture-viewing-pleasure, here are variations on the theme of feline togetherness at Glover Gardens, Fiona and Godfrey in various poses, with a little haiku to close it out.

Because there aren’t enough cat pictures or random haiku in the world.

you and me, kitten –
we’re in this thing together –
slumber party dreams

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

Excited about Star Anise and Pho

I bought some star anise today to use in a recipe from Food & Wine magazine for Beef Pho. I’ve never used it before and am taken by the shape and oh, the smell!  Its fragrant perfume is redolent of licorice and promise. I can’t wait to make the Master Pho Broth, which cooks down for more than 6 hours.  The Glover Gardens kitchen will be truly aromatic tomorrow.

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Photo of the finished pho in Food & Wine magazine by Eric Wolfinger

The star anise was so pretty that I had to get a portrait of it. And did I mention the smell? Heavenly. It’s time that star anise and I get better acquainted. (Watch this space.)

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Star anise looks like an ornament on our table – so pretty

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

A Little Bit of Americana Deep in the Heart of Texas

Round Top Chili Cookoff
Photo by our friend David

The Grill-Meister and I met some friends yesterday at the chili cookoff in tiny Round Top, Texas (population 90 in the 2010 census). It was overcast and gray and didn’t really seem like a good day for an outdoor festival, but we were committed, so we donned sensible shoes for trodding in mud and brought our appetites. It was a wonderful experience!

The chili was great, but the people-watching was even better.  I didn’t take enough pictures and none of them will win any awards, but I was struck by the sheer Americana of the scene and had to share it.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

The Chili Bee and Round Top, Texas – A Little Tale of Community, Chili and Small-Town Magic

Headed out to the Round Top Chili Cookoff with friends today, I’m inspired to reblog this post from last year. It’s a tale of a chili cook-off fundraiser in a tiny Texas town, two friends, five gallons of spilled chili, dozens of kind people and a chance meeting with the governor.

Each One Unique: A Feathered Still Life

This little bird makes me happy.fullsizeoutput_1ff8.jpegShe just ate a seed from one of our feeders, flew to a tree, and now she sits.

Looking.

A feathered still life.

A perfect and unique little being.

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See her there, on the branch?

Is she contented? Is she contemplating that next seed? Is she thinking what a great day it is to be a bird in the sunshine, in a sanctuary-like environment where the predators wear warning bells and the feeders are always full?

(Glover Gardens predators are lazy indoor felines who enjoy supervised backyard visits.)

Whatever she’s thinking (the bird), what I think when I look at her is that she’s a perfect reminder to be in the moment, and that every living creature is unique and special.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens