Monthly Archives: February 2013

music to wash gills by

… or something (sorry!).  Laura Barnett wrote a fairly pointless Guardian piece on music and food which seemed to be nothing more than an advert for a terrible sounding album of bog standard tunes accompanied by a set of sleeve note recipes from Gino D’Acampo.  It’s THREE discs containing 54 songs that can be found on any generic box set.  Jessie J, ABBA, Ronan Keating, One Direction … I could go on, but I might vomit all over my keyboard.  It seems to be aimed at a female clientele which also annoys me but I guess there’s no accounting for taste (theirs or mine).

Cooking Songs

I’ve not listened to music on the radio for the last few years so my own personal choice is to listen to 5Live as I love hearing Steve Claridge wax lyrical on the defensive frailties of Portsmouth FC and Pat Nevin moan about the quality of music played before the match at Stamford Bridge.  Most of all I love to annoy Carsmile with the football phone in on 606.  Of course, there is nothing better than dancing round the kitchen, knife in hand, singing along to T-Rex or Girls Aloud or Marilyn Manson … I highly recommend Sleigh Bells as a good kitchen band too!  Turn the volume up, and off you chop.

I’m not sure why our Laura’s wearing headphones in the Guardian article, a health and safety issue waiting to happen, that.  She goes on to discuss matching your cuisine to your tunes; a bit of fado with your feijoada or bhangra with your butter chicken … mmmmmm … it’ll no doubt get you in the mood but feels a bit restauranty.

The Turntable Kitchen which, I’m reliably informed (via twitter), Lauren Laverne has a subscription to is all about ‘connecting food and music’.  We can all connect food and music.  By ourselves.  How we want.  Thank you!  That gets my goat.  Mmmmmmmm, goat …

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this makes me feel like the only one at a karaoke who doesn’t want to sing.  I want to laugh at the silly men talking about sport and shout at the idiots who think Arsene Wenger should be sacked.  But it’s also great to shout “PENNSYLVANIA 6-5 OH OH OH!!” every now and then.


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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Adventures in Cookery


to eat, and to drink, and to be merry

I was a little surprised upon hearing of the return of the classic BBC series ‘Food & Drink’.  Surprised yet pleased.  I was a little ‘meh’ about it being hosted by Chef Michel Roux Jr.  I know, I know.  He’s a legend and I love him dearly but this was a great opportunity to launch a new face on the cookery telly universe.  Or is it better to be guided through this culinary journey with a familiar and lovely face like his?

Food & Drink launched in 1982 thus I was too distracted by Adam Ant and Shakin’ Stevens to notice Simon Bates and Jilly Goolden.  I did discover the series in later years but memories have become faded and blended with those of early Delia and Rhodes.

Chris & Jilly & Oz & Michael

Chris & Jilly & Oz & Michael

Anyway, it’s back, back, BACK!  And not in some studio set up a la Saturday Kitchen, oh no, they’ve stolen Lorraine’s stark kitchen diner from which to create some yummy food and discuss the latest consumer issues (they’ll be a bit busy if it’s been filmed in the last few weeks!).  F&D II, or F&D Babies (y’know, like Muppet Babies but with chefs?), does introduce one new face however.  The resident drinker is Kate Goodman, a wine merchant from Manchester and pretty good she is, too.  It must be thing – all wine types have that extra bit of enthusiasm, don’t they?  Think of Olly Smith and Susy Atkins.  Enthusiastic.  Kate selected three drinks to accompany a pork and apple recipe created by Michel and Tom Kerridge: a cider, a non alcoholic spiced apple drink and some wine.  Being a West Country boy, Tom was quite taken by the alcoholic apple juice but there was no beer selected much to the chagrin of Carsmile.  There have been guarantees that real ale will make an appearance at some point which will please the growing army of beer connoisseurs.  Even as someone who does not partake in beer drinking I agree that discussing the option of beer matching with your meal is becoming a ‘thing’ and someone should definitely bring this to the fore.  Pete Brown?  Sophie Atherton?



Back to the matter at hand.  Do we actually need F&D in 2013?  There are more cookery shows than you can shake a whisk at (I know, I’ve bloody watched enough), Stefan Gates as well as Jimmy Doherty explain where your food comes from and chefs tell us at any opportunity that ingredients must be LOCAL and SEASONAL.  Still, we got to see our F&D hosts chow down on mealworms and have a real, highbrow debate on finding alternatives to eating meat which was basically, “YUCK!  That’s minging, that is!”  Next week: Gizzi discusses foie gras.

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in BBC, Michel Roux Jr


FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY {slight return}


The rather over-named and definitely over-shirted Paul Winch-Furness has done a piece for the BBC website on photographing your food. You can view all five half minute episodes here. Unfortunately, it’s an exercise in dumbed down that makes you want to shout “like, durrrr!” at quite a few sentences. (I don’t blame him, I blame a hand-holding poor-things meedja culture that is terrified of actual expertise. There seems to be a received wisdom that knowing a great deal about a subject and displaying that knowledge turns people off rather than drawing them in. Not here.)  So we get a useful tip about tapping an iPhone to get it to take a light reading mixed in with ‘ambience is important’. He recommends using your phone rather than a chunky great DSLR – presuming, of course, that you have a smartphone with a decent camera. Thanks, shirty!

I wrote a piece about taking photos in restaurants last year. A large problem seems to be the tricky point of etiquette about the correct behaviour. It’s apparently acceptable in your souped-up gourmet junk food joint (which the Guardian gave a long-overdue kicking recently) to Facebook your brioche bun with kimchi topping, but in anything with Michelin aspirations and up, there seems to be more of a backlash developing. As three-star Moe Issa explains in the New York Times:

“It’s a disaster in terms of momentum, settling into the meal, the great conversation that develops,” he said. “It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes.” Mr Issa is happy to supply diners with professional photos the next day, though Mr. Hall said “people want to e-mail their photos to their friends right then and there; instant gratification.”

You got it, Moe – unfortunately, an awful lot of ‘foodie culture’, as developed in the decadent West over the past few years is about showing off. The combination of disposable income, digital photography, and internet everywhere has resulted in a perfect storm of gluttonous public narcissism. “Look at me, fuckos, I’m at Dabbous!” Although Ollie Dabbous, when asked by Square Meal, seemed to have a balanced view:

To be honest I read the reviews in the press but I don’t have time to read bloggers’ stuff. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and as long as they’re happy I don’t mind. A lot goes into food photography so it does the dishes a slight disservice when bloggers take photos in the restaurant – the lighting is never right. But if you have paid for the meal you can do what you want as far as I’m concerned. You can let it go cold, you can go for a cigarette – and you can take photos of it.

About twelve years ago, I was in a slightly-upmarket Chinese restaurant near Highbury Corner in London. We gradually realised that Gilbert & George were sitting nearby, at the most prominent table in the joint, along with another arty-looking man. We also gradually realised that they seemed to be ordering food; when it would arrive at the table, they would photograph it, and then it would be sent back. They weren’t eating anything. Just photographing it. Was this distracting? Yes. Was everyone in the restaurant eventually watching this performance rather than enjoying their own food? Of course they were. I’m not actually a huge fan of G&G’s work, but was I glad to have been there? Of course I was.

UPDATE  – February 14th:

I am grateful to commenter Simon Legend for pointing out a piece on the Quietus website by Pavel Godfrey exploring these issues further:

“If it were just about the caché of a certain space, though, we would be seeing more pictures of exteriors, signs, kitchens, awkwardly smiling waitstaff. Instead, we see the food itself, a celebration not just of where one is eating but what one is eating, and of the act of ingestion itself. Just as the food becomes incorporated into a living body, its image is assimilated into that body’s digital shade. It’s akin to leaving food for a household god, but in this case the god demanding nourishment is the self, projected into the internet as a carefully engineered complex of images and “likes.” The amateur food-photographer has a fetishistic relationship not just to the chosen dining spot, or food, but to their self-representation. It means nothing to them – indeed, it appears right and proper – to disrupt their own meal for the sake of feeding their externalized, reified persona.”

You can read the full article here. For a slightly less serious take, go here.


Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Uncategorized