Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The 21st Century Housewife Meets the Original Domestic Goddess

Although we had a really fun day on Saturday at MPH, the BBC Motor Show in Birmingham, and Top Gear Live with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May was all very exciting, the whole thing was, for me, totally eclipsed by the BBC Good Food Show at Olympia in London on Sunday. As regular readers of this website will know, I’m a huge fan of Nigella Lawson. I have always admired her relaxed and joyful attitude towards food and cooking and I think her books are just amazing so I was thrilled to be able to meet her on Sunday. As you can see from the photograph of us both (that’s me in blue on the right), she is just as relaxed and friendly in person as she comes across in her writing and appears to be on television. I have met quite a number of high profile people over the years but I have never before met anyone in the public eye who was quite as genuine and unaffected as she was.

The whole day was hugely enjoyable. I’ve been to the BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham several times before and one always feels like they are about to be either squashed or trampled, but somehow Olympia in London is a more forgiving venue and although there were a lot of people there I did not feel even remotely claustrophobic. There were a huge number of exhibitors and lots of samples which of course we all love. From food to wine to pots and pans, if it had to do with good food, it was at Olympia this weekend. There was also a Restaurant Experience which allowed you to taste small versions of signature dishes from top London Restaurants. You could taste as many as time and your budget allowed, with wines to match. We were lucky enough to have VIP tickets, which allowed us access to a private dining area to enjoy our choices in. After a few pleasant hours spent tasting, sampling and purchasing, we went to the Icon Theatre to see Nigella’s presentation at 3pm. She was demonstrating how to make her edible Christmas Tree decorations but she also spent a good half hour doing a very relaxed question and answer session. The nice thing about her demonstration was that she made you feel like you could actually make what she had, and that it didn’t matter if it wasn’t picture perfect, it really only mattered that you had fun doing it. It is such a refreshing attitude in these days of “perfect” this and “perfect” that! Nothing against Martha Stewart or Anthea Turner, but I always feel vaguely inadequate when I look at their flawless projects. I much prefer Nigella’s attitude – particularly as I am a recovering perfectionist! I left the presentation positively inspired and ready to do lots of Christmas baking this year. By the time I met Nigella, she was on her second book signing and had just finished her second presentation of the day – but you would never have known it when I spoke with her. Despite the chaos reigning around her, and the huge number of people waiting (lucky for us our VIP passes meant we were escorted to the front of the queue) she was very relaxed. By the way, she has a new book out – Nigella Christmas – which has some great new recipes along with lots of ideas for Christmas that properly implemented mean you get to enjoy it too! It’s also a gorgeous coffee table book, full of wonderful photographs as well as her inimitable writing.

After the Good Food Show finished and our numerous purchases had been carried to the car, we went to Pizza Express just round the corner from Olympia for dinner. This branch was located in what looked like an old bank, with amazing architecture – gorgeous wood panelling and beautiful ceilings. It’s hard to find a restaurant open on a Sunday evening in London as most of them close after Sunday Lunch until Monday but Pizza Express were open thank goodness. It’s good quality food with a casually elegant edge at competitive prices – my kind of place for a quick bite to eat.

We got home just in time for an early night as the 21st Century Husband left for Paris Monday morning at 4 am (ouch!). It’s been a while since I have been up at that hour of the morning but I was waiting with him when his car arrived to take him to the airport. Thankfully he is back home tonight, so it’s just a short one. We are heading into another busy week!

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