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Category Archives: Rick Stein

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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and finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

Thank you, sir, and now the check.

So, me and my friends would regularly chatter on about last night’s Masterchef or the merits of Slater over Stein.  Eventually, those who did not care for food-based telly programmes (I know, they do exist!) cried ‘shut up and blog it!’.  So, here we are.  It has taken me some time but, once outside of my Masterchef bubble, I have realised just how many cookery shows there are!  Bloody loads.

It was requested that I compile a list of current shows so my fellow bloggers won’t miss a morsel.  Happy to oblige.  It took me a while and I’m considering posting a permanent weekly/monthly list so our readers can also keep up.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

whinging pomms

The nights are putting in but I still get my hit of glorious sunshine in the form of Australian Masterchef.  To make me feel at home this week the producers brought a little bit of Britain to Sydney.

Once a week George and Greg give an hour long masterclass.  They remind us of what was in the mystery box and make some helpful suggestions.  Occasionally a guest will appear through the huge MCK (as they call it) doors.  This week, as soon as Greg introduced the guest ‘chef’ as an ex-model, I knew Ms Pascale would sashay through the kitchen with a big smile towards her Kitchen Aid.

The contestants look thrilled as always (there MUST be times when they have no idea who the head chef or food critic is but they hide it well) and Beau looked particularly delighted to see her; Read the rest of this entry »

 

adventures in cookery pt 2

Having a borderline obsession with Spanish food and liking Rick Stein, I was thrilled at the prospect of his new show as it aired on BBC 2 last year.

Rick Stein’s Spain saw the Steinmeister travel across my favourite country visiting the regions of Valencia, Extremadura, Andalucia and Catalonia to name a few.  As always with Rick you get a bit of poetry here, a reading from Don Quixote there and reminiscences of childhood holidays.  A little later in the year, the series was followed up with a Christmas Spanish Special in London where he cooked a seasonal feast for all the people he’d met along the way and worked alongside Jose Pizarro.  Man, I love JP, he’s my favourite and totally awesome.  It also helps that after recently tweeting my intent to cook a pork stew recipe from his book, he replied “love it!” and followed it up the next day with “how was your stew, did you enjoy it? :)”  YES, IT WAS VERY VERY TASTY, THANK YOU, CANIBEYOURFRIENDPLEASETHANKYOU?

Jose Pizarro with Rick Stein

Ahem!  Anyway, my reason for telling you all this is that whilst glued to the TV, vegging out on the sofa and making Homer Simpson style drooling sounds, I made notes on what recipes I’d like to cook.  Come on, Fanny, stop imagining how lovely this would all taste and do it yourself!   Read the rest of this entry »

 

adventures in cookery pt 1

So, along with discussions of food on the telly, I thought it might be nice to share our culinary experiments with the world.  Have you ever been galvanised by Galton or motivated by Madhur?  I have.  I’ve mainly been stimulated by Stein on his recent Spanish trip – we had a whole day of making tapas.  More of that later.

In the meantime I shall leave you with the thought that this rock n roll chick is about to embark on the creation of her very own wine cellar.  Not just any old wine cellar.  One that, quite literally, rocks…

Yep, some Shiraz chez Fanny.  Not sure why the Sauvignon is from New Zealand though. Soon to be added to the collection, Motorhead, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Rolling Stones and Motley Crue! 

Most of these seemed destined to remain in my cellar, gathering dust – not because I think they’ll be worth anything but I don’t like red wine 😦  It seems a good Cabernet is what all the rockers are dinking.

For those about to booze, I salute you  \m/

 

 

a maid in the living room, chef in the kitchen …

Having just watched David Rocco’s Dolce Vita, it made me consider what the average viewer wants from their presenter.

David is Canadian Italian and a handsome chap, in that eye-twinkling-I know-I-am kinda way.  What with him and that cheeky Danny Boome, it’s just not right.

As a 30-something female, I’m used to having a procession of attractive women give advice on how how to entertain friends, bake the perfect cake or create the ideal Sunday roast – all with a wink and a licking of the lips.  I’m no longer a 25 year old threatened by Nigella’s heaving bosom or embarrassed by Dervla Kirwan’s M&S voice over.  I pretty much expect a knowing look to camera as a sausage is suggestively eaten and find this amusing.  I’ve never met Nigella but I bet she’s a bloody good laugh and knows what she’s doing and it’s all done in jest (I have, however, seen her briefly at a book event and can confirm her ridiculous beauty).

Read the rest of this entry »