It is an exciting time to be in Britain. London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, we are all counting down the days. But before that, it is the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, that gets us all excited at the moment. We have been celebrating this remarkable occasion with street parties (apparently over 10,000 all around Britain), and today over 1,000 boats have been on River Thames for the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant to mark this special occasion, just spectacular.
We were in London yesterday, to soak up this amazing celebratory atmosphere, and I hope these few photos coming up would do justice to visualise the city, dressed to celebrate.
To join in the celebrations, I made BBC Food’s Victoria Sponge Cake with Berries and Lemon Curd, (adapted from Simon Rimmer’s recipe). Being a lemon fan, I enjoyed the addition of the lemon curd in this recipe. The curd’s zingy taste worked really well with the fresh berries and the mascarpone filling.
For the Victoria sponge
175g/6oz butter, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz sugar (I used unrefined golden caster sugar)
1 lemon, zest and juice
3 free-range eggs
175g/6oz self-raising flour
For the filling
50ml/2fl oz double cream
50g/2oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
225g/8oz strawberries, sliced
For the lemon curd:
4 unwaxed lemons, zest and juice
200g/7oz unrefined caster sugar
100g/3½oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 free-range eggs, plus 1 free-range egg yolk
Raspberries and blueberries to decorate the cake
You’ll need 2 x 22.5cm/9in greased and lined cake tins.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Grease and line the cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon zest and juice until well combined, then fold in the flour.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and remove from the tins once cool.
While the cake is baking, make the lemon curd; put the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir the mixture every now and again until all of the butter has melted.
Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk and stir them into the lemon mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined, then leave to cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring every now and again, until the mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally as it cools. Once cooled, you can spoon the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal.
For the filling, beat the mascarpone, sugar and cream together until well combined.
Spread the lemon curd onto one of the cakes. Cover with the strawberries, then the mascarpone filling. Place the other cake on top and dust with icing sugar, then decorate with raspberries and blueberries.
Now back to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations; London is a great walking city and walking is one of the best ways to appreciate wonderful sites. We started our walk from the Covent Garden, where the market has been decorated with lots of flags.
At the side streets of Covent Garden, we discovered a charming, and one of the best coffee makers in town, The Monmouth Coffee, definetely worth stopping by.
The Sofra Restaurant in Covent Garden also offers genuine Turkish hospitality and wonderful mezzes and Turkish delights for a delicious stop.
From the Covent Garden, we walked to the Trafalgar Square, passing by the National Gallery (which houses the national collection of Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge.)
We kept walking from the Trafalgar Square, straight to the Mall, which looked very atmospheric with giant flags at both side. The end of the Mall takes you to the entrance of the Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen.
A giant stage has been built for a star-studded concert, set against the spectacular backdrop of Buckingham Palace to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 60 year reign. The concert will be broadcasted live on Monday, June 4th on BBC1, starting at 7.30pm local time.
And here are a few more photos from our neighborhood Diamond Jubilee Street party;
I greatly admire the Queen. On her 21st birthday, the then Princess Elizabeth made a pledge to the Commonwealth: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service..”. 65 years on, the Queen still continues to honor that pledge, by exemplifying sense of duty, compassion, kindness, tolerance, selflessness and respect for all. So admirable, so well worth celebrating.
It is indeed an exciting time to be in Britain.
Long live the Queen!