Monthly Archives: January 2013

street life, it’s the only life i know

Not really knowing what ‘street food’ is, I thought I’d give ‘Andy Bates Street Feasts‘ a whirl.  Half a hour later I was kinda none the wiser.

The Good Food website introduces our host thus: “Andy Bates, aka Pie Man, is known for his hearty, traditional British street food which he sells on his stall at Whitecross Street market”.  Until recently I worked quite near to the market but never ventured that far for my lunch.  Shame really, I will take a trip sometime soon I’m sure.

The Pie Man Andy Smith not to be confused with Andy Bates

The Pie Man Andy Smith not to be confused with Andy Bates

Programme wise we’re subjected to funky music and numerous ‘coming up next’ montages along with a promise to show us “grab and go grub” [eye roll].

Mr Bates takes us on a culinary trip to Wales and St Davids Market where he chats cheese and selects three to use for his cheese and leek quiche.  “This cheese is made with love and dedication so it’ll taste GREAT!”  I think it takes a little bit more than that, Andy.

He relocates to a kitchen and declares, “let’s start building a quiche!”  This is very similar to a HF-W recipe I regularly use and the finished article looks pretty darned messy.  Is this street food?

Next up is a forage with Jonathan Williams.  They trawl a local beach for seaweed and samphire – make sure it’s edible seaweed, folks!  A dish of sea bream on a bed of bladderwrack was created on the shores then off we went indoors for a “100% VEGETABLE PIE.”

The Pie Man Andy Bates not to be confused with Andy Smith.

The Pie Man Andy Bates not to be confused with Andy Smith.

Now, I love a good pie and I also love a vegetable or two, so this was sounding promising.  It was a great looking pie and even the gelatine aspect (aspic 🙂 ) of it didn’t phase me.  Overall, the programme improved as it was in danger of falling into the Naked Chef/Aaron Craze style of nonsense. Good job, Pie Man.

I still didn’t feel that I had been convinced of the concept.  Mind you, I could’ve just read wikipedia:

“Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a hawker or vendor, often from a portable stall.[1] While some street foods are regional, many are not, having spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are also classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals.”

OK, I guess it’s just me.  I prefer the idea of sitting down and eating my food – eating chicken noodles while walking or munching my burger while stinking out the 243 bus is not my idea of fun.  Maybe I need some more fun in my life.


“me on a plate”

Nothing fills me with more horror than the utterance of those four words.  It’s bad enough when a Masterchef contestant claims to be the physical embodiment of meat and two veg but, as MC Ireland begins the round of final 16, our haughty hosts gave them specific instructions to do just that.  The tables heaved with fresh, local produce and they could select whatever they liked in order to show the judges what they’d be if they were served up for dinner.

Sadly there was no recreation of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover although there were a couple of microplane ‘incidents’.  A quick look at the closing credits proved that ‘Medic Willie Wade’ earned their wage that week.

MC Ireland

So, what did we have from our cooks?  Apart from some blue plasters here and there we had quite a few desserts; a trio of strawberry treats and gooseberries with custard and biscuits.  There was also a bonkers dish from Kevin (the blow torched salmon guy) who smothered another fillet of the fish with chocolate sauce – I ask you!  He then created a garnish using a bulb of fennel that “looks very phallic to me!”.  Needless to say, he got rinsed but he did tell us later that he stood by the dish and thought they made a mistake.

Mary’s strawberry trio went down a treat but her station was atrocious – bowls of food on the floor, utensils everywhere.  She got through no problem but knows to never work like that again!  Shane’s gooseberries were a particular highlight for Nick Munier who seems to share Gregg Wallace’s sweet tooth.  He devoured the tea cup of custard and muttered something about wanting to lick the plate clean.  Well done Gregg, you should be proud of yourself.

One of the cooks decided that ‘me on a plate’ would involve many orange ingredients to match his red hair (beef with carrots and pumpkin) and we had Asian chicken kebabs with papaya salad from Nadia which elicited the following;

Dylan:  “It’s like something you’d pay £6 for in a Thai restaurant”
Nick:    “If that”

Ouch.  However, the heartbreaking moment came when, with 30 seconds to go, Jackie realised she hadn’t heard the judges calls to start plating up.  Turning to Pierce she asked why he wasn’t plating.  He replied, “Errrr … I’ve already done it, time’s up!”  Cue tears, trembling of hands and the realisation that she’d be hanging her pinny up within the hour.  Jackie was called last to the tasting table with nothing to bring, poor love.  Still, she got sympathy from the judges and a big hug.  Kevin, Nadia and Mandy also left MCK and then there were 12.


An article in which someone makes a startlingly uneducated case for Italians being startlingly uneducated about what food does or doesn’t contain piggies

The local diet is about as Mediterranean as chicken tikka masala. There is mortadella, a sausage known elsewhere as Bologna, the forefather of American baloney.

Then there is Bologna’s world famous ragu, the pasta sauce known in the UK as bolognese. This is a city where meat rules supreme.

Surely this is a pure distillation of trolling? From the idea that Mediterranean food is all olives and feta (or whatever it is they think) to the concept that somehow the original Italian sausage that led to the US perversion is somehow non-Italian, to the so-baffling-as-to-be-actually-surreal attempt to portray ‘ragu’ as somehow more British than Italian.

Weird. Weird and troubling. But wait, some analysis of farming!

There is cotechino – a huge sausage they boil and serve with lentils on New Year’s Eve. Then there is zampone – similar but stuffed into a pig’s trotter.

It is a speciality of Castelnuovo Rangone – a little town near Modena which once had more pigs than people.

Yes, that is how farms work. If you have more people than pigs then your farming has gone wrong.

I have no issue with her not eating meat but being totally wrong about everything is another thing entirely.


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

a stew boiled is a stew spoiled

Just as the new year looked to be devoid of Masterchef, my thoughts turned to the world darts championship and avoiding Hobbits.  How pleased was I upon seeing an advert for Masterchef Ireland?  VERY.  The briefest of promo revealed a kitchen, an apron or two and a couple of male judges.  Who were they?  Will this follow the UK or OZ format?  All will become clear in a matter of days, my friends.

2nd January 2013 soon came around and our judge’s were chef Dylan McGrath (once of Michelin starred restaurant Mint, now owner of Rustic Stone in Dublin) and restaurateur Nick Munier, no stranger to pressurised atmospheres as the former maitre d’ for the Hell’s Kitchen TV show.

Masterchef Ireland Judges

‘Giggles’ and ‘Smiler’ aka Munier and McGrath

Right, let’s not muck around here, people, we know the drill by now.  The format follows the newer, UK format and the judges are grumpy.  Nuff said.

The auditions take place in Dublin in what looks like a studio based, warehouse mock up and family are on hand to give support to their loved ones.  Once through the sliding doors, our nervous wrecks are informed that they have 45 minutes to cook a dish plus 10 minutes to plate up and, get this, CLEAN DOWN!  I guess all MC contestants all over the globe are required to do this but it’s honestly never occurred to me.

Among the wannabe chefs we have Miana, a 23 year old au pair from Mauritius; Grant, a South African who cooked kangaroo in a cherry and red wine sauce (Nick commented, “I hope it jumps in my mouth!”) and Sinead made an average wonton soup.  Dish of the day was Mary’s scallops which perfectly illustrated that food needn’t be different in other parts of the world.  Wherever you go, there will ALWAYS be a scallop snuggling up to a pureed cauli or cubed pancetta and there will ALWAYS be a massive, shitty smear across your plate.  Mmmmmm, shitty smear …

Read the rest of this entry »