Day 58: Herb Omelette
inspired by Balthazar
After my not entirely successful attempt at Tart au Citron, and as I’m feeling a bit low on energy, it’s time to shake things up.
The tough thing about staying at home with no work to do, is that it’s much harder to separate one day from the next. The closest thing I have to a schedule right now is a pint of milk being delivered three times a week. And I still forget to put the empty bottles out for the milkman.
I realise as the days blur into one that as much as I haven’t had a day of hard work in a while, nor have I had a proper day off. Sure I’ve had days where I’ve not got much done, but that’s not the same.
A day off is something you look forward to. Something you feel you deserve because you’ve worked so hard the rest of the week. It seems without the days of work, you don’t really get the days off either.
So today I have decided. I’m having the day off.
Not only am I having a day off, I am having a day out. Not out out (don’t worry). Just out.
For the last eight weeks (or is it nine?) I’ve stayed roughly within a mile radius of my front door. No car, avoiding public transport and absolutely no desire to get on a bicycle means I’m limited to going everywhere on foot.
So I’m pushing the boat out. I’m off to Blackheath. Almost two miles away.
For anyone not familiar with South East London, Blackheath is next to Greenwich. It has a quaint village-y feel that means it has lots of lovely restaurants and it costs a fortune to live there.
But it is very pretty and the heath is a lovely open green space. The tourists may usually flock to Greenwich, but the South East Londoners go to Blackheath for a posh day out.
OK, OK I know its hardly heading into the West End. But this is going out. Not out out.
So I’m off for a day doing whatever I want.
Within social distancing limits, obviously.
Just the thought of an outing puts me in better spirits. I get my summer clothes out from the cupboard. So far whenever it’s been warm I’ve been living in a mix of beach shorts and pyjamas. Not acceptable for going out.
So now I’m ironing my summer clothes. I usually hate ironing.
I brush my hair. Put on mascara. I even put on a necklace for the first time in weeks. I’m accessorising.
I consider painting my toenails and decide that is a step too far. I am, after all, just going for a glorified walk. Plus at this rate I will spend all day getting ready and not have any time left to actually go out.
I pack my bag with sun cream and hand sanitiser. I’m good to go.
By late morning I’m lying on the heath. To the passer by I look like I’m sunbathing. Actually what I’m doing is killing time whilst counting down the minutes until it’s the afternoon. Because it seems more acceptable to eat ice cream in the afternoon. And I just happen to be lying down quite close to an ice cream van.
So at 12.01pm I am walking around the park with my ice cream. Now, this is the life.
Walk completed and it’s off to the shops. Blackheath has certain treats that my local corner shops just don’t stock.
Shepherds, the Blackheath convenience store is possibly the poshest corner shop in existence.
Yes you can go there for your pint of milk and newspaper. But can I also interest you in wild boar pâte? Escargot? Duck confit? Yup, this shop stocks all of the above.
Today’s new addition is lobster soup. I’ve not seen that one before. I guess during lockdown the well-to-do of Blackheath might be struggling to get their lobsters. It must be comforting that you can buy it in soup form at your local shop.
The treats I’m after are slightly more modest. First is dried mushrooms. Don’t laugh. I’m not saying these are an essential. But they’re such a useful ingredient to add flavour to dishes. Plus (don’t tell anyone) they are cheaper here than in the supermarket.
Second is Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins. One of the best biscuits ever. So thin you can eat a whole packet and it almost counts as one portion. Almost.
Finally I’m off to Boulangerie Jade, for a croissant and a coffee. Something that was once a regular occurrence, now a rare treat. As I sit on a park bench eating my pastry, I feel like nothing has changed. Just for a minute.
Back home and back to lockdown reality. Wow I must have been gone ages. I look at the clock. My whole trip lasted less than three hours. How is that possible?
Well maybe it’s a good thing. As much as this is my day off I still need to cook something so I can blog about it. And a croissant and an ice cream isn’t enough to keep me going until dinner.
I look in the fridge and find a tupperware pot with my egg whites leftover from yesterday’s sweet pastry making. OK, something egg based.
Fueled with my new found optimism I decide to make an omelette.
I google “best omelettes in London”. A trip advisor review mentions this dish from Balthazar.
Omelette “Aux Fine Herbes”, Gruyère & Mixed Salad”
An omelette might seem like a bit of a cop out, even for a day off. But I have a confession to make.
I have never made an omelette.
I have tried. But it always ends up as scrambled eggs. Either I break it when I fold it over, or trying to get it to cook evenly means I move it about too much and then it never comes together.
For years I have just got around the problem by making frittatas instead. Add your eggs and other ingredients into a pan. Let the bottom of the egg start to cook on the hob and then finish it under the grill. No folding, flipping or cajoling required.
But a food blogger who can’t make an omelette is ridiculous. If I can confit an egg yolk and peel a quails egg, surely I can do this.
Time to find out.
Since my last omelette attempt I have bought a new pan. It is a small non stick frying pan that is perfect for pancakes, flatbreads, fried eggs. Anything really. And the best part? It cost £2.75 from IKEA.
I chop up a selection of pretty much all the herbs I have. Parsley, basil, mint, sage and thyme. I mix them into the my egg whites and crack in a whole egg for good measure.
Once some butter has melted in my IKEA pan I add the eggs. And then I do nothing. I stand and watch it. Resisting the urge to try and lift up the edges or move it about.
I get some goats cheese out of the fridge (no Gruyère, sorry Balthazar) and crumble that on top.
Then with a spatula (which I’m fairly sure cost more than the frying pan) I fold one half over the other and slide it onto a plate.
My first ever successful omelette.
It turns out the secret to a good omelette is the same as the key to a good day off. Do practically nothing.
Oh, and having the right size pan helps. For the omelette that is. Not the day off.