Category Archives: American
It was a while ago now but in April we took a trip across the pond to NYC. This was my fourth visit so I’d been up the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building – I’d done the tourist stuff. This time I meant business.
Staying in Williamsburg, we took in the sights of Bedford Avenue, the High Line and some art by Chelsea Pier. Of course, I’m married to a beer freak/geek so we drank at some very nice pubs and as a confirmed wine drinker I was slightly fearful of our guided tour of the Brooklyn Brewery. It was great; I sampled some beer! I didn’t really like it! Never mind. We previously visited the Ginger Man where I consumed a bottle of the only beer I actually DO LIKE. I really like. Carsmile tells me “typical that you like Duchesse de Bourgogne – the only beer that is unlike any other beer!” Unique. Classy. That’s me.
Apart from the wrasslin’, it was all about the food for us this year. Our flat had the Food Network so I got a chance to witness the goddess of fried, sugary, homely food that is Paula Deen in all her glory. I was familiar with Ms Deen through watching Top Chef and was chuffed to see her in action. Wow, so much butter, cream, sugar and syrup. Still, she looked like she was having a lot of fun. Maybe she was on a sugar rush – I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that she may not have her own full set of gnashers. That must help in some way with the awesome amount of sweetness and richness of her desserts. I really think that if Gregg Wallace met her, it might be love.
OK, OK, I had to shoe horn a wrestling angle in there somehow (all will become clear later)… that or a Marx Brothers quote.
There are always trends running through a Masterchef series and this year it seems to be duck, duck, duck (but no duck soup). The current run continues apace with another trend – women! Lots of them! Quarter finals, semi finals. Brilliant. About bloody time. There also seem to be a lot more curries than there have been in previous years or at least of the fiiiine diiiining caliber.
There have been some memorable moments already (the uber posh brothers, the ‘young grandmother’ who was a personal favourite, the dish that made Torode’s heart go thump) but my ultimate moment has to be the trip to Brasserie Joel for a lunch shift with Walter Ishizuka. Anyone familiar with American culture or comedy will hopefully be aware of the genius (and I don’t use that word lightly) that is Mr Andy Kaufman. He was a man of many characters and one of the funniest was Foreign Man with his accent and squeaky voice. FM became known as Latka Gravas in the hit show Taxi. I have no doubt in my mind that Chef Ishizuka is a serious, focused and talented man it just so happens that he speaks exactly like Foreign Man. Walter, I’m so sorry. I could not stifle my giggles and I am so glad that I was not part of that brigade – I would have been thrown out in no time and rightly so. Read the rest of this entry »
Restaurant openings by TV foodie types are often accompanied by the sharpening of knives over at The Papers but an imaginative review with all the right ingredients can sometimes be let down by the execution. The recent hammering given to Gregg’s newest venture by the Telegraph was probably deserved but the flavour was ruined by some noticeably laboured jokes.
Doing the rounds lately has been the New York Times’ furious kerb-stomping of the latest opening by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri. It’s a joy to read – a lengthy tasting menu of sustained disappointment, rage and disgust served up in bitchy bite-sized paragraphs
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives are Fieri’s domain and in his broadcasting job he tirelessly documents and demonstrates an American cuisine that’s grilled, smoked, deep fried and topped with melted cheese. His culinary empire includes the Tex Wasabi chain built especially for those who like the idea of sushi but wish it contained more brisket. This is a chef so Off. The. Hook. that he was Smash Mouth’s first choice when they needed a bro to cook some eggs.
All this makes him a fairly easy target for the refined critical palates of the NYT and there’s more than a hint of snobbery on display. The points are well-made though and, much as I love diners, burgers and BBQ, a 500-seater mega restaurant in Times Square strikes me more as a machine for raking in tourist dollars rather than an ideal place to experience the best in all-American cooking. If your restaurant can’t even get nachos right, what are you playing at?
I think most of us are familiar with Adam Richman’s Man v Food but for the uninitiated let me explain a little.
His culinary road trip is divided in two with our enthusiastic host showing us around the weird, wonderful and tasty sights of [insert American town here]. We see diners, dive bars, curry houses and BBQ shacks. The first half focuses on popular local joints – most have customers who have been tucking into biscuits and gravy, chicken wings or cheesecakes for a long time. There are regulars who have had the same meal every Friday without fail for 20 years. Adam tastes the signature dishes, sees how they are made and, of course, shoves it down his cake hole.
I admit to an assumption that MvF was fronted by a chirpy chap who likes to eat, more of a student type who likes nothing more than to chug down a few beers and eat as many kebabs as possible. But he’s not just that! Each show begins with a quick intro from the man himself: “I’ve held every position there is the restaurant business” so he has the background but he also has the intelligence and vocabulary to match. He will explain that, yes, he may be a few mouthfuls into a 25lb steak but it’s SO GOOD because the sharp onion relish cuts through the beautifully rendered fat on the meat and the dusty coating of semolina on the chips gives an incredible crispness that compliments the homemade aioli. Or something.
After the commercial break? All hell breaks lose. Read the rest of this entry »
That was very nearly the name of this blog. I thought Martha Stewart may not be totally familiar territory but it summed up the site’s theme nicely. I was very happy to spot Martha Bakes on the schedules of the Good Food Channel so, yeah, I dabbled. What of it?
This is essentially Delia Smith for American TV. No fuss and no frills, as the photo illustrates.
Cookery’s favourite jailbird shows us how to make blueberry muffins and popovers (whatever they are) while extolling the virtues of organic produce – Ms Stewart has 200 chickens on her ‘property’. I bet her property is humongous!
A nice touch was to see an ice cream scoop being used to place the muffin mixture into the cases – just the right amount and not much mess. We then move on to the mysterious popovers. Ah, pretty much a Yorkshire pudding, I see. One sweet, one savoury.
Yep, OK, that’s Martha done – not much to see here, move along.
I think if a certain Mr G Wallace Esq were ever a guest judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts he might actually explode.
I’ve watched quite a few series’ of Top Chef and Top Chef: Masters over the years – they have the intensity of your MC OZ (screened six days a week) combined with our own MC: The Professionals. Contestants on Just Desserts are all pastry chefs of differing experience and abilities with their main judge and pastry king being 50’s throwback Johnny Iuzzini. Gayle Simmons is our master of ceremonies (a regular TC judge) and the Arsene Wenger of French cuisine, the wonderful Hubert Keller, completes the head panel.
Season openers always begins with the 12 (or so!) chefs meeting for the first time – it’s a common occurrence that there are familiar faces or the people have crossed pastry paths in the past. The judges turn up and give them their first challenge. “I couldn’t believe how beautiful Gayle was in real life and how Johnny’s eyes starred deep into your soul” was how one chef put it.
Let me tell you now, JD is camp. Very camp. You are beset by a visual feast of pink, chocolate, sugar and cream – your teeth will itch.