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Category Archives: Meat

STICKING OUR FACES IN IT

Here up on the eighth floor at BdGTTt Towers we don’t just snark and drool at the telly box – no, just occasionally we get out and about into the ‘real’ world. So this Sunday past me, Fanny and guest Brenda Cheesecake went on a blog outing (blouting?) to the heaving Good Food Show at London. Although, given how tied in with the telly box it turned out to be, this was an entirely appropriate day trip.

The immense Victorian shed that is the Olympia Exhibition Centre was packed to the gunwhales with stalls, people, and tasty samples. Real wonderland stuff, the full flowering of the home-and-garden wing of the British Food Revolution. Everywhere we looked, the ‘artisanal’, the ‘bespoke’, and the ‘all-natural’ beckoned.  Whitley Neill gin, orangey and exotic. Vestal elderberry liqeur. Mr Todiwalas pickles (Christ, these were good). Clonakilty black pudding. 9bar honeyish, yummy energy bars. Diablo’s curious toastie waffle irons (bakelite!). Sipsmith’s gin and vodkas. RealAle.com. The Artisan Smokehouse and their smoked oils which I can’t wait to try with some roast potatoes. The Garlic Farm plaits, The Cornish Cheese Company and whoever was doing the funny little beetroot candies that tasted a bit like the post-dessert thing they give you at The Square   …all got a lot of interest or a sale out of me. Upstairs was ‘The Wine Show’, where I was particularly taken with an Argentinian Torrentes from Cupari Wines. SALE. There was a ‘VIP section’ with some more serious dinners which didn’t look very VIP, like every temporary ‘VIP’ section ever installed, anywhere. Pleasingly, pretty much everything bar a couple of the sponsors were mostly small, independent stalls – you were usually talking to to the people who made whatever you were gulleting. Big Food mostly kept its nose out.

But that was only the half of it. There was a (ta da!) MasterChef ‘pod’ where all our favourites banged a few pans and smiled for the audience. We caught a glimpse of Ash Mair (MC Professionals winner 2011) doing his stuff (isn’t he busy with his new restaurant?), and watched Shelina (MC winner 2012, lest you need reminding) bang together a red snapper dish with crab courgette flowers with the usual Mauritian seasonings and a couple of great tips about not letting fish curl. The ‘pod’ was MC’d by James Nathan (MC winner 2008), who asked Shelina how her post-MC career was going with just a hint… just the tiniest hint, of…. what’s that?…. hmmm… anyway, Shelina explained what she was doing with her hotly-awaited new cookbook and her cookery school as James explained that he’d been cutting fish for Rick Stein for the past couple of years. Such is the way of things.

Anyway, all that was just a warm up for the special event in the kitchen-equipped ‘Supertheatre’ out back. We take our assigned seats (this was an extra fiver) and even get a warm-up man. We missed Hollywood & Berry on Friday, but on Sunday we get Wallace & Torode’s Laughter Show. They dance on their entrance! They hug! They banter! They tell us they actually met fifteen years ago, but have been working together for only eight! John cooks fillet steaks with plenty of excellent tips (beef being, of course, his chosen specialised subject) while Greg bangs out some Turkish-ish biscuits with enough ‘sweethearts’, ‘darlin’s’ and ‘angels’ to pad an entire Eastenders story cycle. The visibly lighter Mr. Wallace informs us that he’s lost two stone, but doesn’t tell us why. Both of them seem to be actually enjoying themselves. First class family entertainment, anyway.

We wander out, and Fanny squeals at the sight of Michel Roux Jr. just walking about, like a normal person! Anyway, there’s more things to nibble on, and plenty more to see (we don’t even get round everything in several hours). A cynical person could survey this temple and see a lot of middle-class people gorging themselves on free Yakults and pickles like Daily Mail Roman emperors, being sold to, indifferent to the wider problems of British food. Theatre. Entertainment. Bread and circuses. There’s some truth to that. But there was also a sense of possibility and connection and inspiration that I hadn’t seen at similar things previously. A sense of joy, actually. Food in Britain. Everything you need.

Afterwards, we repaired to the nearby Cumberland Arms which managed to serve me the best pub roast I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot. Well done.

 

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baking bad

SIGH Unfortunately I have to blog the good, the not-so-good and the bloody awful.  The Fabulous Baker Brothers are getting a repeat on More4.  Baking powder? Ex-squeeze me?  Yes, if there’s one thing I don’t want repeating on me, it’s this.

Now, I like to think I’m a reasonably nice person who tries to see the good in most people.  I feel bad at bitching for no real reason and I often default thus: “oh, I’d have a drink with Gareth Southgate no problem but his post-match interviews leave a lot to be desired …” etc.  However, even I would struggle to nip down to the local boozer for a drink with the Herberts (even if I was in Chipping Sodbury).

A butcher, a baker ...

I would politely request that anyone currently finding Rachel Khoo annoying watch one episode of FBB – you will never complain again.

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TORODE! TORODE! TORODE!

On Saturday Kitchen’s Best Bites on Sunday there was a rare re-run of John Torode actually cooking something, a jammy beef rendang. The MC mask is off, he looks really relaxed, fires off gags, and his Australian accent is a lot more noticable (g’day!). Lovely knifework too (like all proper brigade chefs he can do that thing with an onion that drew blood from me the last time I tried it). The segment featured at least a couple of plugs for his book John Torode’s Beef, which has one of the most unattractive cookbook covers I have ever seen:

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“John. John? Heeeeyyy. Don’t worry about the hair. Can you sit on this throne (THRONE!) in stagey blackout and look a bit diffident? Then we’ll get the trainee designer to stick billion-point Machine all over the cover like it’s 1996 or something.” Weirdly, I went past the Dalston Oxfam shop on the bus yesterday and there was a copy in the window, his bored-puppy face watching the hipsters stroll by.

It seems to be pretty popular with Amazon buyers, if fairly sticking-to-the-knitting. Also, when I Googled for ‘john torode’s beef’, the first auto-complete was for ‘john torode’s wife’. The public have declared their real interests.

 

it’s saturday morning and who’s gonna play with me

So, y’know, with my head jammed with thoughts of Masterchef, what’s for dinner and what restaurant will I be taken to for my birthday [hint, hint] I can’t help but rise bright and breezy each Saturday morning and wonder “who’s on Saturday Kitchen today?!”

In recent weeks the producers have really pulled it out of the bag – Jamie Foreman was pretty awesome, Chris Isaak took me back to my youth and this week, Jennifer Carpenter.  Yes, she’s a glamorous, svelte lady but she tucked into her cream tea (Cornish or Devon, not quite sure) with complete abandon.

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oh, oobee doo, i wanna be like khoo

Yes, I admit, I was skeptical upon seeing the adverts for a forthcoming show about a pretty lady in Paris – blurgh!  But I actually quite enjoyed it.

Maybe I stupidly fell for the lovely clothes, the nice lipstick and exciting atmosphere of gay Paris.  But what I did like was the size of her kitchen: she could stand in the middle, reach out and touch each wall.  Impressive.  Her simple French dishes were created on a little gas ring, grill and oven with the fridge doubling up as a chalk board (nice idea but there’s a far better Etch-a-Sketch in Chez Fanny).

Yes, I wanted to be one of Rachel’s hip mates, squeezing in to her petit appartement to eat madeleines stuffed with raspberries and curd and drink tea.  Well, maybe one day I will.  Rachel runs La Petite Cuisine a Paris out of her miniature flat so one day, I’m sure …

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where every day’s food science day

PBS continues it’s wacky food adventures leaving behind Jose Andres and finding America’s Test Kitchen’s Chris Kimball.

Chris is our bow-tied head master of the test kitchen, home of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.  Here they take a classic dish, do some science and make it perfect.

This is a pretty fascinating show that incorporates gadget testing along with a Letters to the Editor segment.  The episodes I saw tested apple corers, barbecue meat trays and kitchen knives.  Much of show focuses on barbecues; how to get an even cook, what tools to have and how to take care of the grill itself.

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patronising, moi?

I imagine when creating a cookery programme the producer, director and the talent themselves discuss or, at least, think about the overall tone of the show.  Do they aim their programme at novices or those who entertain regularly for their family/friends?  Should all the ingredients be available cheaply from a high street supermarket or is it OK for the wallet-busting wild garlic or truffle oil to be purchased at Borough Market?

We all know what happens when one assumes and overall I think people get it right for their audience – you know what you’re getting with Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith.  Expensive or decedant things can be made at home for a treat now and again. Read the rest of this entry »