Some days are made for ginger cake. They are those days at the end of August - an Australian August, a Sydney august - when there are blue skies and bright sun but a stubborn, resistant chill in the air. I'm not going without a fight, it says. You can't get rid of me that easily. Because we try, how we try! to shake off the cobwebs of winter as we shrug on little chambray shirts and strappy sandals and defiantly parade our first bare legs of the season. And those are the days that you need ginger cake. You need it because it's cold and sometimes only cake will do, and if it's going to be cake you might as well make it something dense but not overpowering, with a handful of grated carrot thrown into the mix, and a practiced, too-easy shake of cinnamon (from the wrist, of course!) and a good cup - or two, if you're particularly generous, which we are, of course - of crystallised ginger which you cut into gem-like slivers and distribute with a fair but gentle hand (noblesse oblige) throughout the honey-hued mix in the scant few moments before you put it in the oven. That's why you need ginger cake. But you want ginger cake because it's really, really,really delicious.
There were other things at this picnic for a trio of friends, too. Some ice tea and raspberry lemonade to drink. A loaf of crusty bread, some butter (not French, but Danish, which is the next best thing), two different types of jam (Rose Bakery's apricot and lavender leaf and home-made cherry and vanilla), Fromage D'affinois, which is a hard-working little crowd-pleaser of a cheese if ever we saw one, and some ham off the bone.
We planned this picnic spontaneously - as most of our food excursions are - over the counter at bread and circus as we saw the glimmer of a shared Saturday afternoon off. Lucinda, whose birthday celebrations we missed last month, was dragged along for the ride, and our duo became a trio. The problem with spontaneous picnics is that the weather doesn't always co-operate. It was just a tiny little bit too cold to be sitting out all afternoon, even this late in August, with just a cotton rug for warmth. As the sun sunk further and further out of sight and the wind kicked up - as winds are loath to do, cheeky little things - none of us wanted to be the first to pike out and make the move inside. Part of this was because of the array of food before us, too good to abandon because of a trifling little wind, but part of it was because of how great it all really was. Spontaneous and unpretentious and totally easy. An afternoon of laughter and advice and confidences shared with exasperated shrugs punctuated by that comforting and even a little therapeutic routine of sharing food. Just some rough-cut bread and butter and jam, some slices of cheese and ham, and a generous slab of ginger cake.
You could say that me and Rachel are food explorers - we go botanising amongst the produce, to butcher Benjamin's phrase - so see us bake a cake, review The Grounds and have breakfast in New York at Cafe Gitane. More food stuff to come, as always!