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the brain works very weird at this hour

Yessssss, I managed to find an obscure lyric from a song called Alaska.  Get me.

OK. let’s not beat around the bush.  Poor, lovely, beardy Iain was sabotaged by the most evil pensioner in Britain, Diana.  Well, that’s what you would think by watching the furore unfold Wednesday evening and throughout Thursday.

After an exceedingly pleasant evening beginning with Expendables 3 (everyone needs more Dolph in their life, right?) and finishing with some yummy Chinese, we returned home and switched on Newsnight to find Kirsty donning a pinnie and introducing the ejected Iain Watters.  WHAT?  This would never have happened on Paxman’s watch.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

the original masterchef

BDGTtT was shocked to hear the very sad news that Ross Burden died on 17th July.

ready steady cook

 

A self taught cook, Ross studied zoology in Auckland before embarking on a career in food.  After moving to the UK in the early ’90’s he took part in the original Masterchef (1993 series) hosted by the legendary Loyd Grossman.

Most people first became aware of Ross as a team captain in BBC’s Ready Steady Cook where a goody bag containing ingredients totaling no more than £5 was presented to the professional chef by a member of the public.  Presenter Fern Britton loved to flirt with Ross, with his twinkly eyes and Superman good looks.

Although he seemed to disappear from terrestrial television after stints on This Morning and Kitchen Invaders Ross kept busy making numerous food and travel shows.  He also presented wildlife programmes for National Geographic.

Returning to New Zealand, he returned to education and I was very pleased to see him as a judge for the first series of Masterchef NZ.

ross-burden

 

Always happy to tell it like it is, Burden wasn’t shy in giving his opinion on a certain Jamie Oliver.  “If you think he’s tasty then you’re either prepubescent or you’re in a Zimmer frame … That man is an utter prat.”

Thanks, Ross.  You will be missed.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in BBC, ITV, Masterchef New Zealand, New Zealand

 

not on menu, my food ever is. made special for me, was this!

I admit, I needed some kind of kick up the backside to get blogging again.  That kick has come in the delightfully shaped boot of the new series of Masterchef.  It feels like only yesterday that Scott won my affections but, sadly, not the Professionals title and it was just a few weeks ago, surely, that the amazing Natalie took the amateurs trophy.  During that time I have put the keyboard down and picked up the numerous cookbooks that adorn our shelves.  Well, who knew cooking could be so much fun?

With yet more tweaking the series has been a joy thus far.  No ‘mystery box’ to start, we have a ‘calling card’ round where contestants cook what is essentially their signature dish.  If Luke’s future lies in the culinary world he will be forever remembered for his vegetable samosas.  Has there been a more successful opening dish in the history of Masterchef?  Anyway, whilst I wanted this post to contain nothing but 250 point type exclaiming ‘LUKE MUST WIN, WE LOVE HIM’, I shall discuss the utter gloriousness of the Luke The Robot Dude later.

if this man does not win, i'm leaving the country

if this man does not win, i’m leaving the country

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Ze Taste, c’est ….setting a new and fabulous benchmark for melodrama in reality cooking shows

Many reality cooking shows, such as Masterchef or the Great British Bake Off, attempt to insert a melodramatic, tense element by playing spiky music, leaving implausibly long gaps before judging announcements and having presenters hover around the contestants bellowing ‘ARE YOU STRESSED? ARE YOU A BIT STRESSED? DON’T BE STRESSED!’

And I’m not saying that The Taste doesn’t do this because it totally does. However, it gains the edge because it barely has to. Instead, it has Ludo Lefebvre:
errhonheehon
I am British, the contestants on this season are British. We have been schooled, over decades, not to react to things with anything more than polite alarm (‘gosh, how awful’ may be employed in the case of natural disaster) let alone anything that could be misconstrued as melodrama.

I want The Taste’s Ludo Lefebvre to follow me around, reacting to things for me. Anyone who saw him in episode 4, screaming at slightly incorrectly portioned beetroot juice in the way one might after having discovered a severed head in one’s desk drawer, or jumping up and down in a kitchen in episode one, shouting ‘PUTAIN’ will know that this is a not so much a man (although at the same time, indisputably a rather glorious man) as a one-person arsenal of all of Tumblr’s reaction .gifs.

He is the drama that you need in the show- Nigella (our lady, our goddess and let this never be seen as criticism) is radiant in dresses that I would probably need to hand over my annual wage just to touch and it would be worth every penny, her slow-mo eyelash sweeps are spectacular, I have never felt more assured that my decision to become her by the time I’m forty is a sound one. And Anthony Bourdain is the cantankerous old friend who is never not fun to be around. The person you put up with dragging you to a ridiculous grill joint because they’re also going to get your meal for free and then you will go and drink bourbon with rock stars.

But they cannot be a genre of television, they can just be on it. Ludo is life and fire, death and slightly overcooked clams, he would set fire to ze world because he urgently needed to smoke some aubergines, he would kill a man just to watch him die if that man was so stupid as to overcook a steak, he would make love to you on a bed of brioche. There is a structural problem with The Taste (which is to say, being the best cooker of small-things-on-spoons does not necessarily make you the best cook) but this is all forgiven in the face of such glorious, blissful subversion of the melodramatic reality cooking competition by literally sourcing the most dramatic person on this earth.

(I urgently want to be on the next season, just so Ludo can shout at me, at least once.)

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Ludo Lefebvre, The Taste

 

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a spoonful of sugar

Hello everyone!  Fanny is back.  Miss me?

Fanny

Oh, OK.

So, after a brief period of hibernation, I decided the time had come to get back into the swing of things – I admit, I’d been sidetracked by Tom Kerridge and Masterchefs Australia and Professional but the triple whammy of Bourdain, Lawson and Lefebvre was too much to resist.  Yes, The Taste has come to town.

Originally created for American TV Channel 4 ditched the four judge idea and the slimmed down panel are the aforementioned Anthony Bourdain (now known as Tony), Nigella Lawson (now known as Poor Nigella) and Ludo Lefebvre (widely known as WHO?).  Having worked together on two seasons for the ABC channel there is clear familiarity between the three with much eye-rolling and banter which, I think, work well.

Nigella

“all I needs is a spoon and the right pot”

The show’s premise is all about simplicity and back to basics; you can learn all the techniques you want or create a five course menu but The Taste is all about ONE SPOONFUL OF FOOD.  So, it’s a shame that the show itself seems a little confusing.  Don’t let that put you off.  Episode one in summary:

  • 25 contestants
  • professional or home cooks
  • one hour to create your food
  • judges taste with their backs to a glass wall
  • contestant can hear the comments then enter the room
  • feedback and verdicts given
  • if more than one judge says yes, contestant chooses which mentor to follow
  • each judge is looking for four contestants
  • successful contestants are given an apron

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it’s chriiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaas!

With some time off work, this is the time for me to catch up on some writing, you lucky people.  What better time to sit down and discuss the phenomenon of festive food and it’s televisual counterpart.

I began my journey with the legend herself, Ms Fanny Cradock.  There were two quick episodes on Good Food Channel, one focusing on mincemeat, t’other on Christmas pudding.  In episode one, our main ingredient is described as “the Cinderella of Christmas” and such delights as mincemeat pancake, galette and OMELETTE (eggs with flakes of butter, nothing else) are created, right before our eyes through a fog of icing sugar.  Icing sugar on everything and about a centimetre deep too.  The speed in which she works is pretty astonishing: no messing about.  Fanny would do very well in the omelette challenge with James Martin, I can tell you.  Eggs are mixed together, pastry unfolded and costume jewellery glistens in grease.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 1970’s.  The next recipe is for a tart.  Pastry is lowered into a shallow, round cake tin and filled with mincemeat.  Fanny cracks on saying “I’m not going to explain it all to the older people, you know all this stuff.”  Nice to see – basically, “you’re all old enough to know how to make bloody pastry and form it into a tart shape, now let’s get on with it”.

We move swiftly on to a Swiss roll filled with, yep the ‘meat.  The sponge is pre-prepared and handed over by Sarah (aka Poor Sarah) and various maxims are uttered such as “everything is so much better when you know how”.  Thanks.  We are advised that you need a good quality rolling pin – not one with handles though: “that’s the best kind, the professional kind.  Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get a rolling pin in your stocking”.  If I did, I might be lucky enough to hit my husband round the head with it.

Fanny and Sarah

Delia Smith is a more recent Christmas icon.  Carsmile still swears by her instructions for turkey or goose from the ‘Complete Illustrated Cookery Course‘ 1992 edition (originally published in 1978).  As is the way on speciality channels, we are served up a whole evening of her 1990 series, Delia at Christmas.  This particular episode began with the words “I don’t agree with vegetarianism…” but she humored us with a selection of recipes for cheese terrine, stuffed peppers and ‘sausage’ (cheese and herb) rolls.  An issue with the screening of classic shows is the aspect ratio as Delia invited a friend over to explain the delights of fizzy wine.  “You don’t have to stick to Champagne,” said the very wide sommelier, “there’s other fizz out there like Cava or this stuff from India!”  I’m not sure if I was more excited about the Indian wine or the amazing shoulder pads.

The following installment was the legendary “36 Hours of Christmas” and I started to wonder why programmes continue to be made on the subject of Christmas turkeys.  People moan about dry, tasteless meat but once you know the best way to do it, why bother with anything else (“everything is so much better when you know how”)?  Now we are acquainted with Delia’s technique, I don’t care about Gordon’s recipe or even Jamie’s version.  But the more shows I watched, the more I noticed the seemingly endless ways of cooking the festive bird.  Lorraine places a bag of frozen peas on the breast before it goes into the oven to slow down the time it takes that part to cook, Nigella sticks her poultry in a gigantic red bucket (to match her silky, red dressing gown) with herbs and spices to add moistness and don’t even get me started on the stuffing controversy!

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bitchin in the kitchen

Shit sandwich.

Worst. Programme. Ever.

Worst. Programme. Ever.