Winter is here (where did these past few months go?! I apologise for my 3 month long internet hiatus) and brought with it dull, grey days of rain, frozen breath and the necessity for radiators to be turned up to max. I’ve got into the habit of changing into comfy clothes (all of the Christmas jumpers) approximately 5 seconds after walking through the front door. Full-on hibernation, hot coffee and fluffy slippers mode.
I woke up last Saturday morning eager to get ready and out of the door as quickly as possible, catching a morning train to London armed with my camera and a rumbling tummy (I really should have eaten before brunch. I don’t fare well without breakfast).
Alex and I met via Instagram just over year ago and have been friends for a year, writing and sending letters from opposite ends of the world, but last weekend we met in person for the first time. On the walk to our pre-agreed brunch spot – Kopapa – from Covent Garden tube station, my heart was pounding. I was worried I’d make a bad first impression. That perhaps I wouldn’t fulfil her expectations after our exchange of letters. I was terrified I’d say something silly or spill coffee down my front (I do this rather regularly of a school morning, oops). Regardless, I tried to ignore the butterflies and left chilly Monmouth Street behind as I entered Kopapa to see Alex standing at the bar, waiting for me. We hugged instantaneously; dispelling any doubts of our first meeting from my mind.
We ordered avocado toast with chilli, goat’s cheese, mint & lemon oil for myself and hot-smoked salmon on toast with spinach, poached eggs & yuzu hollandaise for Alex. Plus, of course, two flat whites.
After practically inhaling our brunch (or, rather, we would have had the crust on our toast been easier to cut…) we wandered around the area together, chatting as we meandered through stalls, soaking in the Christmassy spirit of Covent Garden and savouring the drool-worthy smells from the food kiosks.
We hopped on the tube and took a trip to Borough Market, which is an absolute foodie’s dream. Both Alex and I have bonded over our love of good food and good coffee and being together in Borough Market was a treat. Sometimes when you meet someone new, it feels like you’ve known them forever. You somehow sidestep the slightly awkward beginnings of a new friendship and immediately feel relaxed. It was like that when I met Alex. Of course, we know so much about one another from our letters, that it is as if we’ve met dozens of times before.
Alex and I are already planning our adventures for the next time she’s over in London, visiting from Singapore. I’m so lucky to have found a friend in Alex; from the Instagram platform, to pen and paper, to face-to-face.
This is my take on one of Alex’s recipes: Overnight Yeast Brown Butter Waffles (I KNOW). I subbed out the all-purpose flour for wholewheat, sugar for agave nectar and almond milk instead of whole milk. Then I added allspice to make the waffles even more festive. Merry Christmas to you all x
ALEX’S YEASTED OVERNIGHT WAFFLES (makes 4 waffles)
- 30g unsalted butter
- 125g wholewheat flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp agave/maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 200ml almond milk
- The night before you want to make your waffles: Prepare the brown butter. Melt butter in a saucepan over a medium heat; it will start to bubble and darken, as Alex wrote: “from a yellow pool of liquid with odd white bits into a golden amber”. Set the browned butter aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the wholewheat flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and yeast. Whisk in the egg and and sweetener of choice (I used agave) and add the almond milk in three parts, whisking in between.
- Add the vanilla extract and brown butter, gently folding everything together.
- Cover the bowl with a piece of cling film and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- The morning after: Preheat your oven or grill to the lowest heat possible. Remove the bowl of batter from the fridge and turn on your waffle maker. Turn it to its highest setting.
- Use a small ladle to pour in the batter, following the instructions on your waffle iron’s manual for cooking.
- Once it’s done to your preference, remove it from the iron using a spatula and pop it under a low-heat grill to keep the waffles warm whilst you make the others. Ladle in more batter for your second waffle. Keep checking on the waffles under the grill to be sure that they don’t burn!