Postcards from Tuscany

London is predictably hectic but it's nothing compared to my parents' life in Beijing. So whenever we're reunited, Nathaniel and I try to take them somewhere peaceful, green and slow. Back in 2015 we all spent a glorious week in Tuscany. I tried hard to minimise time spent on digital devices, even when it came to photography. As frustrating as it sometimes became, I lugged around and shot on an old-school SLR (my Contax 645) and rekindled my love for film.

And then... London life got in the way again. For two years these rolls of film sat in my fridge, half-forgotten, until my friend and fellow photographer Chrystal kindly offered to develop and scan them. I'm so happy with the results!

Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Postcards from Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug

Every time I receive a set of scanned film, I'm reminded of the magic of the whole process. Nowadays I shoot on various digital devices (Canon 5Diii, a Sony a7rii and the Google Pixel) but it's worthwhile to slow down and think through each click, rather than blinding shooting 10 in a row with a "I can fix this later" attitude. Quality over quantity, always.

Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe

* Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest. All opinions are my own.

Feasting with loved ones? ...yes please. Hearty comfort food to combat the November chill? ...I'm with you so far. Festive spices like cinnamon and nutmeg? ...bring it on! Turkey? ...meh. I'll admit I'm a very harsh judge of the traditional Thanksgiving (and Christmas) centrepiece. You can spend literally days and weeks prepping the gobbly thing and, in my opinion, it still won't beat a nice rack of beef ribs or a roast goose. Nevertheless I accepted my invitation to a Thanksgiving gathering at Rail House Cafe with an open mind.

Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug

The verdict – pleasantly surprised by the turkey! How huge were these turkeys if the breasts are this big?! I imagine it's easier to ensure the meat is cooked through perfectly than with whole birds. Also, the magic of the sous vide is a game-changer. Alongside the Norfolk roast turkey, we devoured cornbread and sausage stuffing, mac and cheese, cream corned casserole, glazed sprouts and bacon, green beans and praline... all drizzled with Calvados gravy and cranberry orange relish.

Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug

No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without at least two types of pie – a wise lesson from my American buddy Katie. Rail House Cafe served up pecan pie and pumpkin brûlée pie with whipped vanilla cream. Cinnamon old fashioned cocktails (made with Calvados and Bourbon-soaked cranberries) completed a wonderful feast.

Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug
Thanksgiving Gathering at Rail House Cafe | Skillet & Shutterbug

This festive menu is now available at Rail House Cafe as well as its sister restaurants Riding House Cafe in Fitzoriva and Village East in Bermondsey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Truffle Hunting in Tuscany

Chasing the last light of summer, I escaped for a weekend to the hills of Tuscany to celebrate my birthday with a few friends. We stayed in the breathtaking Vita Nova Casa Vacanze, chilled by the pool and ate way too many platters of Tuscan antipasto misto. We also participated in a truffle hunt with Pedro the Lagotto Romagnolo – organised by Mugello & Tuscany – along with a pasta masterclass to cook with our haul. I hope you enjoy this video:


Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug
Truffle Hunting in Tuscany | Skillet & Shutterbug