| Photo Diary | Jostling Shadows

I will always remember Vicenza as one of the most elegant cities that I have visited, and I mean 'elegant' in the most classic way possible.  Vicenza is one of Italy's most affluent cities as well as one of its most culturally important. Known as the 'City of Palladio', it is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

It was a gorgeous place to enjoy a coffee and a walk around to marvel at the grandeur of the splendid classical architecture. Vicenza is spotlessly clean and everything feels rather glamorous. Quite a departure from the places we usually find ourselves in!

We visited Vicenza during August when the summer sunlight and inky shadows were jostling against each other in game of chase across the city. The contrast was quite stunning!

Who is Palladio? 

WE ❤️ ITALY | See more of our adventures in Italy HERE |

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| Home | Bordallo Pinheiro

The stuff we bring into our homes tell our stories in many ways. Even though these are just things and they do not own us, they may hold a tale about our adventures,  or reflect a particular time in our lives, an emotion or person we were with when we acquired an item. Perhaps I am being overly sentimental about things but I really do believe that things should be a physical aide-mémoire to our lives. Like a pop-up scrap-book of life.

In our home at least, our personalities are splashed all over the place like graffiti across every corner. It is quite plain (if you know us even a little bit) to make a guess as to who bought what into the flat. 

For instance, these little dishes have me written all over them!

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Dishes by Bordallo Pinheiro
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Hand painted earthenware cantaloupe bowl by Bordallo Pinheiro. Glass and plate by Alessi. Spoon by Ittala.
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Celery sticks + miso mayonnaise.
Hand painted earthenware fish dish by Bordallo Pinheiro.
Shopping in Vista Allegre, Porto.

Gorgeously boxed by the lovely staff in Vista Allegre.

I bought these dishes in Vista Allegre, a fabulous ceramics shop in Porto. The dishes themselves are made by Bordallo Pinheiro who's history starts way back in 1884. The designer was Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro who was an artist known for his illustrations, sculptures and ceramics.

I was totally charmed by these ceramics. I enjoy cooking and eating and love it so much when my food comes in a considered dish. After all, we eat with our eyes before we do with our mouths and these dishes really brighten up even the most simplest things. I really like the way that Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro took inspiration from the everyday things around him - things so usual in Portuguese life, and made them into charming and somehow quirky items.

I actually have my eye on a few more Bordalo Pinheiro bits. Like THIS aubergine salad dish!

Much to Hiro's despair I have spotted some of these dishes in London at A Portuguese Love Affair on Colombia Road.

FOR THE CURIOUS | See More of our Homeware Blog Posts HERE |

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| Food | 3am Tokyo

I remember arriving in Japan and scorning our jet lag to head into Tokyo to catch our friend playing in a rather snazzy new night venue with some well-known DJ that we have never heard of. Not our music, but it didn't stop me dancing. I remember getting shouted at for taking photos in the club with my phone. The screechy bouncer really annoyed me and I am still patting myself on the back for not getting ugly with him. The good vibes held me back and I ordered another drink instead!

3am. Legs like cookie dough. Bellies like packs of hungry wolves. Brains turning into jelly. We found ourselves in a late night restaurant with spirited staff and the atmosphere and service that you would expect at a more polite hour of the day.

We devoured a glut of soba, hotaru ika (firefly squid), and riced topped with marinated seasoned fish. We left will happy tummies and we slept like logs that night.

❤️ JAPAN | See more of our adventures in Japan HERE |

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| Thoughts | January

Don't be offended, this is just my opinion (just a tiny one in a sea of gazillions of opinions out there) but people who spend the whole of January moaning and wallowing in the doldrums are really irritating me this year. I have to admit that annoyance may well be due to the fact that I have personally decided to make a departure from my usual January blues.

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Cast iron teapot was a gift. Teacup is a vintage find by Noritake.
Candle from Astier de Villatte. Candlewick trimmer from Dipytque.
Confectionery dish from Japan. Mille-feuille from Japan.
Fountain pen was handmade see more HERE
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I decided to my that that in the same way that I would not want to start a new notebook with a page of negativity, I do not want to the start a whole new year that way either. 

Yes January is a bit tough in the wake of the festivities. Pockets are a bit tighter. The skies (in London at least) are a good bit gloomier. But so what? It's hardly a surprise, it is the same year in year out no?  January is the gateway to an entire new year. The possibilities, the hopes and the dream should be bubbling up inside us and making us shimmer with the excitement instead of withering in the dumps. 

This year, I am going to do myself a big favour and see out this month as I mean to go on! Clear my mind and just shine.

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| The Masters | Toothpicks

There are many mundane objects in our everyday lives that hardly seem worth mentioning. Things that we pick up and use without a second thought about where they have come from or how they came to be. And few things are more commonplace that a humble toothpick. That is, until you find yourself with a box of toothpicks from Saruya.

Saruya in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, is the only remaining toothpick maker and retailer in Japan. It was established in 1704 and has been run by the same family for 9 generations now. With over 300 years of mastering the production of toothpicks by hand, each and every toothpick has been and is still skilfully cut and sharpened by hand using a particular type of wood known in Japanese as kuromoji (spicewood) selected for its aromatic qualities, flexibility and durability. 

In these days of mass manufactured disposable things, our respect for such dedication to mastering a craft, traditional methods and a devotion to heritage really only grows. 

In Japanese dining, toothpicks are not only used after a meal, but also to hold certain foods together and to serve and eat traditional confectionery or wagashi. 

Our particular box is made of paulownia wood embellished by hand by the current head of Saruya, a tradition that begun in the Meiji period by the 5th generation owner.

Of course, we do not whip out our box of toothpicks on a whim. We like to share them with house guests who we know enjoy quality, an interesting story. I suspect most are just bemused by our strangeness. As for the paper used in the background of the 1st two shots, that was also made by a master of craft. But that is a tale for another day.

| Why We Care |

After a talk with my father-in-law, I have become quite fascinated by the evolution of Japanese aesthetics through the ages. It is his opinion that the prevalent and rampant materialism of Japanese consumerism is eroding traditional, high quality, masterful products in favour of cheap, fast and easy items or international branded goods. Sadly, we agree and it is something that weighs heavy on my mind when shopping in Japan which is why it is a pleasure to support and own something like this. 

18-10 Nihonbashi Koamicho,
Chuo-ku. Tokyo.

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| Recipe | Aubergine Bake

It is cosy food season here in London. Stews and oven cooked goodness are required to keep us warm from the inside. Here is a side dish that I served up last week, we really enjoyed tucking into the comforting gooey tastiness. Hope you will too!

| Ingredients |

2 large aubergines 
1 pack of mozzarella 
1 small onion
1 carrot
2 cloves garlic
500g passata 
 Olive oil
1 Bay leaf
1 low salt chicken/veg stock cube
2 tbsp White flour
100ml Water
100ml Red wine
2 tbsp Ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Sugar (optional)
Parsley (optional) 
Salt and pepper

| Method |

1. Finely chop the carrot, onion, and garlic. Parboil the carrots for about 5 minutes.

2. Peel and cut the eggplant length ways into 1 cm thick slices and soak in water to remove any bitterness. 

3. Heat some olive oil in a pan and  add the garlic. When the aroma begins to release itself, add the onions and gently fry till they begin to  become transparent. Add the carrot and continue cooking.

4. Pour in the red wine and cook off the alcohol. Add passata, consomme, bay leaf, parsley, ketchup and Japanese Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add sugar if you find the passatta too sharp.

5.  In a measuring jug, mix the flour with 100 ml of water and add to the pan till all lumps are gone then add to the vegetable sauce. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes at then set aside.

6.  Drain and dry the aubergine with kitchen roll or a clean tea towel. Heat a frying pan with olive oil and brown both sides of the  aubergine slices. Once they have slightly browned, cover with a lid and steam for 3 minutes.

7. Preheat your oven to  250°C

8.  Take an oven dish and line the base with the aubergine slices. Spoon on the tomato sauce and then top with the mozzarella. 

9. Bake oven for about 10 minutes  keeping a close eye on the cheese. When it's browned it is ready!

STILL HUNGRY? | More Recipes from The WorshipBlues Kitchen 

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