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Category Archives: Fish

dressed to depress

What did you want to be when you grew up?  A friend dressed as a ballerina to a recent party themed on that very question (it was a strong look with a definite 80’s vibe) and it got me thinking.  I have never wanted something so bad that I would dedicate my whole life to it.  An ice skater … no, a vet … actually, directing music videos is what I want to do.

Now that I work from home (in none of those fields, sadly) I have the time to plan meals and do a bit of cooking but realised I could never have a career in food when creating a birthday meal for him indoors.  He’s all about the beer and food matching and all that jazz so I made a effort … and a monumental mess.  The smoke filled air turned blue then I dropped the C-bomb as beer hollandaise flew over the floor and myself.  The moment of truth had arrived: I can never apply to be on a cookery show.  I think it was Mat Follas who once said if you want the cameras to leave you alone just swear – they’ll edit it out.  If that’s the case I would only appear entering the Masterchef kitchen and later in the silent line-up before my name is called and I’m told to leave, “and take your potty mouth with you.”

Which brings me, vaguely, to this season’s Great British Menu.  I’m not a regular watcher by any means: I find it confusing.  Jennie Bond presented, then there was a public vote, then you got a mentor chef, then … It’s hard to keep track. I probably wouldn’t have watched this year to be honest but I noticed a familiar face in the trailer for the ‘South East’ heat: ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott.  The Typing Room has been highly recommended by friends and I was greatly impressed as he took in the Masterchef cooks for a lunch service recently.  He was patient, seemed like a decent bloke and you cannot guess the number of things he can do with a cauliflower.  I’m a sucker for open kitchen arrangements (see my love for Pizarro and Konstam (RIP)), it’s near my favourite cocktail bar and judging by his performance thus far ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott likes a swear or two.  “Who turned the [beeping] timer off?”  “No [beeping] way did you guys deserve a 5!”  No, they fucking didn’t, ‘Rising star’ Lee Westcott!

GBMenu

Matt, Lee, Daniel & Mark with the thousand yard stare

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wwjtd?

Something I’ve heard on more than one occasion this year on Masterchef is “but you don’t even LIKE [insert foodstuff]!  Why on EARTH are you cooking with it?!!”

Calm down, John.  Is he really saying that he a) only cooks with ingredients he likes or b) he likes every food known to mankind?  I read somewhere that our favourite antipodean chef is allergic to crabs (no sniggering please) and that once he tastes the contestants food he nips off to have a shot of adrenaline.  Now, that’s hardcore.

I understand that there are types of food or certain ingredients that one might abhor – my own food hells are coffee and olives (EVIL, EVIL) and I can’t say for sure that I could give a fair and balanced critique of a coffee cream parfait.  I would, however, attempt to cook one in the hope of wowing the judges although my ability to taste as I went may hamper my efforts.

As I peruse a menu deciding between meat or fish, pudding or cheese,  I know what to avoid.  I may go so far as to chose a great sounding dish and pick out the offending fruit but don’t feel I should be divaesque with demands to “hold the olives!”  If a chef deems that they bring all the flavours together, who am I to quibble?

John and Greg’s apparent shock at Afsaneh’s attempt at cooking liver was well founded in the end.  Even though she knew it didn’t need much cooking, it was very over done.  As two experienced food guru’s I believe their dismay is pure entertainment.  Many years ago they found it hard to believe that chocolate and beetroot could be combined to make a tasty cake.  Well, it did and you can find it in many gastro pubs around the country.  They must be aware of all the new food trends and blends so, just maybe, they like to flatter the amateur in to thinking they’ve discovered a new flavour combination.

 
 

the roux, the whole roux and nothing …

Recently concluded on Good Food is The Roux Legacy, a ten part series focusing on the legends that are the Roux family.  For the first time all four chefs unite to cook their dishes, recount some amazing stories and generally bicker like most families do.

The subjects of this programme are fascinating, the overall feel of it however is quite dated with a synth soundtrack and the occasional VT wipe …. niiiiice.  [I have just been advised that the main music used is Marillion]

As someone not old enough to know, it was a revelation to be told the Roux story – opening Le Gavroche when the quality and availability of British food was, by all accounts, appalling in 1967.  Their one ray of sunshine was Billingsgate Market where they would buy all they could and advise the traders what types of fish they should be stocking.  They became known as Mickey and Albie and pretty much transformed the way markets and shops were run.  In more recent years M&S had regular access to the Roux kitchen and changed how their own fruit and vegetables were packaged – green beans, for example, were top and tailed and stored in small, plastic trays – something you often see presented this way these days.

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oh, danny boy

Thus far my journey through the culinary TV listings has been pretty good.  Enjoyable in fact.  It had to end sometime.

Let me introduce you to Danny Boome:

Danny by the Sea is an ITV Anglia show from 2005 being screened on the Good Food Channel.  This is 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.  An ex-model from Cambridgeshire takes us on a trip to Cromer.  As a fan of seafood Cromer seemed a lovely place to visit – the fishermen were great, the pier was nice – I would’ve prefered to be shown around by Jamie or Rick, is all.

I got a distinct whiff of Naked Chef (backwards baseball cap and baggy jeans) as he cooks a Cromer crab risotto for the fisherman and larks about with the end of the pier crew.  Ever the lad, we even get the classic jokes: “Many an afternoon I spent on the pier trying to catch crabs!”

Danny’s second dish of the day was a slightly odd looking crab cake which his guests seemed to like.  With many shots of the glorious surroundings there were even more of his cheeky chappy face.  Pretty shellfish if you ask me.