|Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /|
I've been living in Coventry for 10 years so it's only appropriate that I chose a local recipe for the letter 'C'. The Coventry Godcake is a triangular pastry filled with mincemeat but it's also a local name for the triangle of grass you get at a road junction.
I first encountered the `grass triangle' version of the godcake in a book a couple of years ago and I've since been noticing them everywhere. There are many in the countryside surrounding the city and beyond, including one well known example outside Kenilworth Castle. I know of one in the city itself, at the junction of Stoke Green and Binley Road.
I rolled the pastry out before cutting it into squares then the squares into triangles. I put a teaspoon or so of the mincemeat in the middle of one triangle then brushed the other piece with milk and pressed it down to form a seal. I made 3 cuts in the top, brushed with milk and sprinkled brown sugar on top. They were baked for about 15-20 minutes at gas mark 7.
The Christmas Lights were switched on in the city centre tonight. Unlike previous years, when they have had celebrity musicians present (such as Roy Wood last year and The Hoosiers a couple of years before that), this year the council tried to save a bit of money and had some local bands performing instead. As usual, the festivities took place in Broadgate.
I do like a nice cup of coffee and in my last job I would regularly get a latte from the canteen and several filter coffees per day from the communal kitchen in the department. Since I'm not working at the moment, I thought I would investigate some of the coffee shops in the city centre, concentrating on independents and avoiding the big chains.
I sometimes go to Ikea where I can get a free drink using my 'family card'. I often buy a cake or a bar of chocolate (or if I am there during breakfast, a bacon sandwich) and sit and relax for half an hour or so but the coffee is fairly unremarkable and not really strong enough for my liking.
I occasionally walk down Far Gosford Street and most of the time I find myself popping into Windsor's for a take-away coffee. I usually choose either the americano or a latte. They are good value at under £2 and actually taste of coffee. The shop is run by a local charity (The Coventry Cyrenians) who provide assistance to unemployed or homeless people.
For many years I would avoid drinking coffee in cafés because it was rare to get a drinkable cup. Filter coffee would always be too weak and espresso machines weren't very common back then. I would choose a cup of tea instead. These days it is much easier to get a good cup of coffee, although a bad cup of coffee is still fairly common. There are some good independent coffee shops out there, such as Windsor's, and I'll try to make an effort to explore a few of them.
We had lunch at Feast Junction, which is the re-branded and re-launched `Dragon Phoenix' near the ring road. We were last there back in 2006 and the place has been completely updated since then.
The food looked like fairly standard all you can eat buffet but the range was good and everything I tried was good. The food was split into several areas, with salad, soups, starters, mains and desserts. I had something from everywhere apart from the soups. The various different curries and oriental style meats were all good. I also liked the dahl and the paneer. The only real disappointments were: 1) the crispy seaweed wasn't very crispy, and 2) they had run out of ice cream cones in the dessert section, but the chocolate fountain was running so that probably made up for the shortage of cones.
I do like cakes so I recently decided to look out for any shops or bakeries in Coventry selling nice looking cakes. A few weeks ago I noticed a cake stall on the market with a nice looking display of cupcakes so I decided to try a couple.
I started off with a chocolate orange cupcake and a red velvet one. The latter wasn't as red as some which I've had (probably down to the quality or intensity of the food colouring) but they were both good.
I was back today to try a couple of other cakes. This time I bought a viennese sandwich (filled with cream and half-coated with chocolate) and a carrot cake. Both of these were good too.
I regularly walk past some of the 'street food' stalls in the city centre and sometimes think about trying one of the sausages from the bratwurst stall but until this week I never actually got around to it. I decided to give the half metre bratwurst a go, complete with onions and german mustard. The sausage is so long, only the middle half fits on the bread.
It's pretty good value at £4.50 and the sausage is good quality and tasty. I did notice that they advertised chicken bratwurst on the side of the stall so I'll have to try those next time I'm passing.
I used to write about local eateries and review local restaurants fairly regularly but I haven't done that for a while. There are a few places in Coventry which I mean to try out in the next few weeks, including various shops, restaurants or take-aways. I won't promise that it'll be a weekly thing but I'll try not to leave it too long between reviews.
I'll get the ball rolling with my visit to Love Shake in the West Orchard shopping centre. They do a wide selection of milk shakes (made using chocolate bars), fruit smoothies (made using a mixture of juice and frozen fruit) and locally made ice cream. I chose The Immunizer which is a mixture of equal amounts of strawberry, kiwi and pineapple, topped up with apple juice. then liquidized.
The use of frozen fruit means the fruit keeps its vitamin content but also means you get an ice cold smoothie which you can't drink too quickly without freezing your throat. The fruit flavours come through well and you can taste them all within the mix.
I'll have to pop back to try their ice cream next.
Last year, in the run up to the Olympic Games, a giant statue of Lady Godiva left Coventry and travelled to London. Today the statue returned to Coventry and journeyed around the city.
We only popped in for a couple of hours on the saturday, to wander around the festival and have a look at the various stalls. When I was in the main arena last night I noticed a Nando's outdoor catering trailer and when I mentioned it to Emma, we decided that was where we would get our lunch from. Emma went there for a chicken pitta but I decided to go to he caribbean food stall next door for a tray of Jerk Pork with rice.
The meat was diced belly pork which had been coated in a spicy marinade and was served with more spicy sauce poured on top. It was different to the typical saturday lunch we have at home, which is usually something quick like pasta or a wrap or toastie and made a nice change.
The headline act on the main stage tonight was Echo and the Bunnymen. They were supposed to appear last year but the festival was cancelled due to the wet weather. That was a shame because I wanted to see them since I missed them at the Leeds Festival a few years ago (it was a choice between them and Iron Maiden), so this year after 3 attempts, I finally managed to see them live.
I knew 3 of the songs in their act: Seven Seas, Under a Killing Moon (which McCulloch introduced as the best song ever written) and The Cutter.
|Story location: Home / photography / gallery /|
Many years ago I experimented with Infra-red photography using black and white film which was made by Konica and was sensitive to the longer wavelengths. The film was relatively insensitive to some visible wavelengths and I worked out that I could use an orange filter to get a decent Infra-red effect where foliage came out bright and the sky was dark. A couple of the photos are shown here.
Last week I decided to have another go but this time using my digital camera so I ordered a set of filters. These block visible light and only let through longer wavelengths. The sensors used in digital cameras are all sensitive to infra-red light but the cameras also include infra-red blocking filters, otherwise normal daytime photos will have a various amounts of IR light potentially bleeding through into the picture.
A bit of research on the web suggested that older cameras work better than newer ones since newer cameras have thicker or more effective filters. My Nikon D40 should work but will require fairly long exposures to compensate for the IR blocking filter.
This morning I took my camera, filters and tripod for a walk. The filters start at 720nm, which is deep red, right at the end of visible light. Looking through this filter, you can just about see bright light sources. The other filters are 760nm, 850nm and 950nm. These block all visible light and only let through progressively longer wavelengths.
Photos taken with the 720nm filter show a moderate IR effect, similar to photos taken with the Konica film I had previously used. Blue skies are darkened, a bit like a normal red filter with standard black and white film, and Foliage appears bright. With the longer wavelength filters, the sky gets darker which increases the contrast between it and any IR reflecting objects in the scene, such as leaves or stone.
I was surprised to find that the autofocus still worked using the 720nm filter. I focused at the start of each test then locked the focus on the lens (by setting the camera to manual focus but leaving the lens in autofocus) so I didn't check whether focus worked with the other filters. The camera's metering worked with all the filters but I had to add an extra stop or two of exposure compensation.
A tripod is essential when using these filters, since the exposure went from 1/200s with no filter, to around 1s with the 720nm filter, up to 15-20s with the 950nm filter. If I only carried one filter around with me, it would be the 760nm. The IR effect is stronger than the 720nm filter but the exposure is only slightly longer, at around 2-4 seconds.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
For this years Heritage Open Days, we visited a few places in Coventry and Kenilworth, choosing places we hadn't been to before. We went to a few places in Coventry on saturday. Although we had been to Kenilworth quite a few times, we had never actually been to Abbey Fields, so we went there on the sunday.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
The Ricoh Arena has been temporarily renamed the City of Coventry Stadium and is hosting some of the Olympic football matches.
Mexico v Gabon
It looks like, at long last, the almost continuous rain has ended and summer has arrived. The garden is growing again, and some courgettes seem to have appeared on one of our plants almost overnight.
When I left work this evening, it was a bit toasty in the car. The thermometer actually measures the temperature underneath the car rather than inside but I can easily believe that it was over 40c, since the car is practically a mobile greenhouse. The temperature originally read 42c when I first got in but by the time I got my phone out to take a photo, it had dropped a degree.
Some of the fruit and veg stalls at Coventry market sell bowls of fruit and veg for £1. We occasionally buy things like bowls of peppers but this morning we decided to also get a bowl of fennel. Now this is a vegetable which we occasionally buy from the supermarket but then it's only 1 bulb at a time. This time we have 5 bulbs of the stuff to use so we're going to need to be a bit creative.
We have a pizza book which has dozens of different recipes for toppings and sauces. One was a fennel sauce which has diced onion, fennel and garlic which is fried then simmered in tomato sauce. We gave that a go and topped it with salmon, anchovies and capers. And cheese of course. I might try it again if we find ourselves with excess fennel again.