It's all about gin today.
Just presented Nell's teachers with an end of year gift - the sloe gin that she and I made together. We will miss ritually shaking it in the cellar each week to make it change from boringly clear alcohol to a shocking red-pink (claret?) sloe-flavoured gin.
I always think of gin as quintessentially English, but years ago before we counted carbon footprints Pete was invited to the juniper berry harvest for Gordon's Gin in Italy. Here he watched old ladies on the Umbrian hills of Italy picking the berries, drank samples heartily and then wrote about it. And if juniper berries give Italy the ownership of gin, linguistically it's closer to home. The word gin is a corruption of the French word for juniper berry (a very Wikipedia fact).
Plus very excited to see JJ and his business partner James use gin (although Lady Arran may have gone for vodka) to win Raymond Blanc's The Restaurant on 17 Dec 2009. Success came after yet another lucky contest where JJ's cocktail-thinking got him out of another culinary scrape by serving up a blackberry flavoured gin mix instead of chocolate souffle in the final task. Masterful! Find out more here.
I've become an adoring JJ fan - recently Pete had a party at JJ's atmospheric London Cocktail Club, 6-7 Great Newport Street below the Arts Theatre. And as result of those cocktail-fuelled conversations generous JJ (then hanging in at the 3rd of the TV shows) came to the London College of Communication (LCC) to let my class of Year 1 media students interview him. His reward? Another jam jar portion of that famous sloe gin... The picture above shows some of the LCC students with him. And no one winked, remembering perhaps JJ's discomfort when Raymond Blanc caught him doing this.
So the plan for this Friday night is to celebrate the girls' end of term and JJ's spectacular win with my own mix of gin and silly (aka tonic and ice), and all because the sloe gin is taboo until after Christmas. FYI this is an ancient Baird tradition which if broken would set my dad's ghost on me shouting "gutless worm" and other well remembered phrases.