Cherries — help! / English Vacation Schedule

We’ve got to be doing something wrong.

There are some lovely cherries on sale at pretty much every place you can buy food around here. Stalls out on the square, produce mongers of the wine-and-cheese and imported meats variety, even plain old supermarkets are all offering beautiful, luscious, juicy, dark sweet cherries from places like Turkey, Italy and even Franconia. They’re good — really, really good in yoghurt or just rinsed and pitted as a snack.

Seems like fruit so excellent like these cherries are would be great candidates for baking into cobblers and muffins and all sorts of things, right? That’s what I thought too. But after two attempts, we’re still having no luck. Somehow we’re baking all the good flavor out of those cherries.

We’ve tried a cherry cobbler recipe (last year, and we had high hopes for it; so high that we were traumatized and couldn’t even speak about it until now). It came out of the oven looking and smelling pretty darn nice, but upon digging in, all we could taste was the oatmeal-based streusel over the top of it. It was very disappointing.

Tonight we tried these muffins and we were skeptical, having tried something similar with some fantastic blueberries lately (and being less than nonplussed with the muffin results), but they smelled great while cooking, looked great coming out of the oven (in spite of our odd oven), and renewed our hope. And then:

Meh.

Actually the muffiny part of them was much better than we expected and we’ll be using that recipe again in the future. But again the cherry flavor is Just. Not. There. At least the muffins stand up on their own. But how can I bake with these dark sweet cherries and hope to preserve any of their flavor in the finished product?

English School HolidaysIn other news, it would seem that the English and Germans’ royal relationships* are still manifesting themselves in the school holiday schedule.

The Oyster Guest House

The Joint

96 Canterbury Rd.
Whitstable
Kent
CT5 4HF

phone: (01227) 276942

http://www.oysterguesthouse.co.uk/

Cliff

We came back to the Oyster in December 2005 after our initial visit in April 2003 — both times to visit Ian; this time also to visit Michelle.

The staff at the Oyster is just as nice as can be, and they were about half the price of some other B&Bs in Whitstable we checked on before booking our reservation.

Sarah

I really like the Oyster. The staff is incredibly sweet, the décor is fussy old-ladyish florals (which really fits) and the rooms have big beds which barely fit in the tiny rooms. It all adds up to a B&B full of charm and personality. And the price (for England) is great.

Easy Hotel Lexham Gardens

The Joint

14 Lexham Gardens
Kensington
London
W8 5JE
United Kingdom

http://www.easyhotel.co.uk/

Cliff

I couldn’t believe the room. I don’t think I read this FAQ before we got there (I bet Sarah did, though — she’s good like that). We were exhausted, so after the marvel of the dimensions wore off, we drifted off quickly. Definitely not for the claustrophobic. Still, it was cheap, and we needed sleep. And we heard not a peep (ok, sorry, couldn’t resist).

EasyHotel Room merely the curtain separates this shower from the john

Sarah

A fun concept, but only good in practice if you’re using the hotel solely as a place to sleep, clean up and lock up your stuff. This was the last night for us in England and we only needed to stay in London to get to Gatwick early in the morning – so it was perfect for us! You can get a room with a window, but it costs a little more. The bathroom was the smallest I’ve seen in Europe, but it’s so well arranged that it doesn’t seem so tiny (despite it saying so on the door). Very clean, pretty darn cheap and centrally located. And for how shockingly expensive London is, that’s high praise.