Almost before we knew it, full autumn and Amy’s birthday were upon us, and with them a flurry of delicious food. One of our favourite snacks from the UK is the humble Jaffa cake, and so (inspired by the entertaining Pimp That Snack) I attempted to create a larger and more cakelike version using a basic sponge cake, orange reduction and dark chocolate icing. As things turned out, I had far too much cake mix and we ended up with a towering three-layer affair that was nonetheless delicious.

Inspired by Jaffa (1)Inspired by Jaffa (2)

On Amy’s birthday itself, I scoured the local shops for Japanese ingredients (very little doing, other than wasabi), and had a go at making vegetable sushi. Despite the decades of training required before Japanese chefs are allowed to do anything other than count rice grains, I managed to produce a few decent rolls including an inside-out one. There was a small crisis when I arrived to Amy’s apartment to discover that we had disassembled our sushi rolling mat while trying to make a dice tower, but I made do with Amy’s paintbrush roll wrapped in cling film.

Just as we were about stuffed with rice and seaweed, a whole host of Amy’s friends descended on the apartment and we began the serious task of making chocolate-dipped biscotti. This took several hours, during which we finished off the excellent wines we got from Pieroth in anticipation of their December sale.

Autumnal tombThe following weekend, with the ginkgo trees dropping their leaves like rain, I went on one of my regular wanders around the hills of Yongin. Once again, some local ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus karpowi) almost gave me a heart attack with their habit of hiding in the undergrowth until one approaches within 2″, at which point they fly up with a great clatter of wings and escape. We made cinnamon rolls upon my return.