Watercress and Antiquaries

One of my perfect days, because honestly I could think of a lot of things that could make a day perfect, would include eating hot toast and flipping through a great coffee table book. A big vintage book with a floral printed cover and stiff spine, a book that would make me feel like an antiquarian.

I stumbled upon a book binding and antique bookseller in Bath called George Bayntum- Fine Bindings and Rare Books. The building itself had an air of mystery, not like a modern book store with punchy, eye-grabbing book covers drenched in fluorescent light, but jewel-toned leather beauties swathed in afternoon sun from dusty windows.

When we climbed the smooth stone steps to the Antiquary Room we found a space lined with books that looked as if it had not been touched since Jane Austen decided to move to Bath in 1801. Thomas, an Englishman, and I browsed through first edition after first edition of Byron, Tennyson and Milton. Along with a few stranger titles including “Painting for the Imitation of Wood and Marbles”, “The Art of Beagling” and “A Widow and Her Friends.”

“A Widow and Her Friends”
Because toast and books go so well together, I had to include toast in my perfect day of rare book browsing. I had gone to Alresford, the watercress capital of the world, for the annual Watercress Festival (yes, that is a real thing). So of course with vintage books and toast on my mind, and watercress in abundance, I whipped up some toast topped with avocado, hummus, rainbow peppercorns and watercress.

And oh what a delight it was. Creamy, crunchy and with a subtle peppery kick from the cress, it definitely hit the spot on an overcast English day. So go out and touch the pages of an ancient book, nibble on a slice of toast and I’ll be sending you quaint English vibes.

(I don’t think you need the recipe for toast but it seems comforting to have it anyway.)

Avocado Toast with Hummus and Watercress

Whole grain bread, thick cut

Hummus

1/2 Avocado, very ripe

Fresh ground rainbow peppercorns

A small grab of Watercress

Directions:

Pop your bread in the toaster and while it crisps up something delightful, cut your avocado into thin slices. When your toast is just slightly crunchy and golden brown, spread on a dollop of hummus and the avocado, then crack on some fragrant pepper and finish it off with a sprinkle of fresh watercress.

Now grab a book and your toast, and curl up in front of the Pride and Prejudice movie to set the mood.

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