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Dippy egg and soldiers

The Perfect Soldiers Toast Cutter makes the ideal soldier.

Last weekend — with our bountiful supply of Easter eggs — we had a simple Saturday supper of dippy eggs and soldiers.

Huh?

Well, dippy eggs is British shorthand for soft-boiled eggs, still in the shell, with the top lopped off to make for easy dipping. The soldiers are simple buttered toast strips to dip into said egg. It is easy, simple comfort food. The kind of food you dig into after a warm bath, pajamas and maybe some retro episodes of  “Wonder Woman” or “The A-Team” on TV.

And for those who are insecure about their toast cutting ability, there is a Perfect Soldiers Toast Cutter, which cuts eight perfect soldiers.

PS. I should add that steamed asparagus also make perfect soldiers. More refined, but still every bit as delish.

British pub crazy in Monterey

We spent the long weekend on the Monterey coast and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine in the middle of January. We really are so lucky to live in California!

I’m not quite sure if there is a huge population of Britfolk in Monterey but for a population of 408,000, the city has not one, not two, but five British pubs to speak of.

* The Crown & Anchor, 150 W. Franklin St., Monterey. (831) 649-6496.

* The Bulldog British Pub, 611 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. (831) 658-0686.

* London Bridge Pub, Wharf Number 2, Monterey. (831) 372-0581.

* Brittania Arms Pub & Restaurant, 444 Alvarado St., Monterey. (831) 656-9543.

* Bullwacker’s, 653 Cannery Row, Monterey. (831) 373-1353.

We went to London Bridge Pub since it welcomed kids and had a kids’ menu (I’ve since discovered that Bullwacker’s is also welcoming of wee ones …) and were instantly transported into your typical British pub atmosphere, which is actually very comforting. There was plenty of London signs, Guinness ads, tea pots and British posters as well as a menu with the usual suspects – pasties, bangers and mash, curry and rice, cottage pie. With a pint of Boddington and some fish and chips, I was, as they say, happy as Larry.

Just who exactly was this mythical Larry?

My guess is that he was a British ex-pat who made his way to Monterey and discovered a home away from home.

In praise of pig skin

Happy 2012! I hope you had a good New Year’s!

We had some friends over on New Year’s Day for a very big lunch. The main course? Pork tenderloin with crackling. It was no easy feat to find a butcher willing to sell such a piece of pork with the skin still on it. This is California, after all. The butcher asked repeatedly if we really wanted the skin still on it. He would be happy to remove it. It was really no trouble.

But no. We wanted the skin and it stayed. My husband prepped the pork the night before in some way that involved the hair dryer. I didn’t ask. Sometimes you have to leave Brits to their own devices. Sometimes you’re better off not knowing.

Photo credit: Felicity Cloake

What I do know: after the pig spent some time roasting in the oven the next day, it was simply gorgeous and my apologies that I had forgotten to take a photo. The skin had transformed into this thick, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that was indeed cracking good crackling. Blistered, buttery bliss. The crack cocaine of the pig world. We don’t eat like this every day, of course, but once a year, on New Year’s? Hell yeah!

And served with stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed carrots and swede (translation: rutabaga), red cabbage and apples, Yorkshire pudding (yeah, I know it’s not the usual accompaniment, but sometimes it’s just what is required), as well as a pavlova with fresh raspberries for dessert, we ushered in the new year with our bellies full and happy, thankful for everything that we have.