Jul 04

Culinary Blindspots

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Culinary Blindspots

I like to think that I can cook a bit, you know, I read lots of cookbooks, watcgh plenty of the food channel, can turn my hand to most things and do a decent job. However…. there is one thing that I just, no matter how hard I try/much I prepare, that I can *never* get right. And that’s the bloody stir fry, yes, student staple and every housewives fall back dish. And what’s more I don’t know why. Take last night, all my veggies were the same size and prepared before. The tofu was marinated nicely. Everything seemed spot on….. Until it came to cooking it, started it too early compared to the rice, had it too cold, added too much water and then didn’t have it hot enough to steam the greens. Cue chefly paddy being thrown and a tasteless dish served up.

I’m leaving it to Vicky from now on, and sticking to slow foods

Jun 04

the Sporting class war

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the Sporting class war

So I happened to be walking past a sports shop in Leafy Uxbridge and noticed the new England football shirts were 25 quid, then I saw the other nation’s were a steep but usual 40 quid. Then though, I saw the England rugby shirts……

75 quid??????? What fresh madness is that? Is it a device to keep out undesirables?

May 04

Alton Brown

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Alton Brownspeaks a lot of sense, Vic and I watched quite a lot of his show while in the States and are now petitioning UK Food for them to be shown here , so good ar ethey, anyway, here’s a sample:

“If I?ve said it once I?ve said it 97 times: there are no bad foods, just bad food habits. If I?m fat (and I?m not saying that I am) it?s not Ronald McDonald?s fault, or ConAgra?s fault or Ben & Jerry?s fault, or my mom?s fault or anyone?s fault but my own. I don?t support lawsuits against fast food any more than I support lawsuits against cigarette companies. Anyone who doesn?t know cigarettes are bad for you is an idiot. Anyone who doesn?t know that eating too much fast food will make you fat?ditto. In fact I think I may organize a class action lawsuit against people who stage lawsuits against corporations who they think should take responsibility for them. Criminy! Most corporations can barely take responsibility for themselves much less others.

If I?m fat it?s because I?ve shoved to many calories down my pie hole. I don?t need to chat with Oprah about it and I sure don?t need to consult that loathsome profiteer ?Dr? Phil. I just need to stop eating so much and exercise more. ”

wise words indeed

May 04

whose Spanish cuisine rules London?

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whose Spanish cuisine rules London?

Last year Vicky and I visited Moro, often touted as being one of the best restaurants in London for Iberian cuisine and had a fantastic meal with terrible service (see the archives for a report – around August last year) Anyway, last night we were lucky enough to visit a new contender – Fino. Fino is situated just off London’s restaurant strip mall that is Charlotte street, an unassuming entrance leads you underground into a very very pleasant space. A small cocktail bar off to the right, and more steps down to the dining room, tables are nicely spaced (although we reckoned that only one table would give you a really good amount of privacy. Anyway, the food, at Moro we ate traditionally – starter, main, dessert. At Fino we decided to go with the gourmet tapas selection – plenty of small dishes coming as they are ready. In order they were…..

Pamb Tomaquet (not sure of all their spellings to be honest)
Lovely sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and then a tomato is squashed on – a hearty way to start a meal (and a good work-out for the teeth too)

Selection of Carcuterie
Great chorizo, some salami style sausage and some slices of meltingly good Jamon

Pimientos de Padron
Small peppers (they offer a lottery style thrill in that one in ten are supposed to be firey hot – the rest sweet and mild)chargrilled into softness with plenty of flaky salt sprinkled on – good stuff

These were simply split in half and grilled – very sweet and succulent with a lightly smoky flavour

Served in a light broth that was enriched with small pieces of ham and onion/garlic – these were sweet and tasty, really really fresh

Crispfried squid
Simple squid rings (and tentacles) in a light batter – all the better for extra salt and a good squeeze of lemon

This we thought was it, and felt slight;y gipped as we were still hungry, but our plates were cleared and so we thought about pudding, but all of a sudden the stars of the meal appeared:

Chorizo with tomato
An unlikely star but wow, it wasn’t because it was the best chorizo I’ve tasted (which it was – sweet and spicy withought getting too sickly as these things can)it was the tomatoes – one bite and I was transferred to my old next door neighbours greenhouse which was full of tomato plants – they were soft, juicy and so flavourful – a real woonder. These and the chorizo combined to make one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten all year.

Veal loin (well we think it was veal – very lightly flavoured and the only thing else it could have been is pork – but it was pink in the middle…)
A lovely bit of meat – slightly pink in the middle and with a crust that had plenty of pimenton in it – thus it was sweet, smoky and intensley savoutry all at the same time.

We had just enough room left for dessert now, and were glad we did – some fresh fried doughnuts with vanilla ice-cream were a gron up kids treat, while the santiago tart, laden with almonds and dried fruit was like having Christmas in the summertime. Capped off with a ridiculously strong Poire William and a great armagnac we left full and satisfied.

The bill wasn’t cheap (bulked out by a very good white Rioja) at over a ton, but the question to be asked is “would I go again?”

I’d go there every day for weeks if I could.

May 04

new products corner (not nicked from the Grocer honest)

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new products corner (not nicked from the Grocer honest)

new ice creams for the summer – Yorkie and Toffee crisp from Nestle (that’s pronounced Nessels)

new walkers flavours (limited edition)
greek kebab
Tomato and Basil
feta cheese

An Austrian company is making a chocolate orange liquer

Bottles of Dasani = available for 99p on e-bay, but T-shirts are 45 quid!

Mar 04

I’ve been reading a lot of recipes for Cassoulet lately

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I’ve been reading a lot of recipes for Cassoulet lately and they are all completely different. I made mine with duck legs, haricot beans, salted belly pork, some spicy/smoky sausages and some lamb neck fillet. It tasted great, from what I remember……. You see what none of the recipes advise, but should be there in flashing neon is that Cassoulet takes a long time to make, drinking constantly while making it is akin to a decent session down the pub, so go steady when you make it, or you may have trouble taking the duck meat off the bones while serving up, just like me.

Feb 04

more updating

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more updating

The rabbit has been cooked now – he/she got fried and then casseroled in cider, along with lots of carrots and some fennel, onion and red pepper – num num. Fiddly to eat though, the main meat of a rabbit seems to be a barrel of meat right under the rib cage, a chicken like texture but a meatier taste. The juices though – oh my they were great, so savoury.

I understand the horse sausage was like a mild pepperoni, ie it had less of a kick…arf!

Feb 04


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well, so far we ain’t doing too well, the veal was lovely, cooked with creme fraice and mushroom. The horse sausage is with it’s true owner – Msr Hopkins and the clams? – they ran out of shelf life last night (pub distracted us) but…….. they are still alive, they were placed in clean (salty) water last night and all opened up and closed when tapped, but dare we eat them?……………

Feb 04

Booze cruises to France are a dangerous thing

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Booze cruises to France are a dangerous thing
Once again we came back from France overladen with Food and booze, here is a rough list of what came back with us, through this week I’ll try and list out what we’ve done with it all:
Big lump of Horse (this has already been eaten, simply roasted with a gravy from the browning pan de-glazed with fortified Shiraz)
2 duck legs confit
a slab of salted belly pork
a couple of spicy sausages
boudin noir (with onions)
boudin blanc (with ceps)
4 slabs of assorted chocolate (one of the flavors has chilli in it)
some veal escalope (to be had tonight with a mushroom and creme fraiche sauce)
a big bunch of swiss chard (braised in garlic to accompanythe horse last night – and very very nice)
a horse sausage.
a big slice of pate de campagne.
a box of almond clams

That’s about it, apart from numerous bottles of beer and wine (but no weightwatchers wine – WEIGHTWATCHERS WINE!?!?!?!??!)

Stay tuned for updates, but I sense a Cassoulet coming on.

Nov 03

I’m not the world’s biggest rugby fan

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I’m not the world’s biggest rugby fan and indeed I’m still not sure that I’ll be watching the World Cup final on Saturday (it clashes with Soccer AM), but this story is pretty interesting on Jonnie Wilkinson’s kicking style and routine. I always wondered quite what he was thinking as all the tics and twitches reveal themselves.