Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lamb-heart agnotelli at '108 Garage'; Travels in Time, Space & Tonga (pt 2)


The year was 1773; Captain Cook, the esteemed explorer of yore, stepped ashore the fabled Tongan island of Lifuka. So enamoured was he with the locals and their exuberant entertainments, copious feasting and general revelry - the like of which he'd ne’er seen before back in Blighty - that he graciously bestowed on them the title ‘Friendly Islanders’.

Somewhat ironic - for his hosts were actually planning to chop him into bite-sized portions and serve him up as pre-dinner canap├ęs. Luckily for Cook, the scheme foundered when they couldn't agree on the finer details, such as whether Englishmen go well with ketchup, or whether they're best served as a small-plates sharing concept.

Nevertheless, the term ‘Friendly Islanders’ has stuck forevermore. And indeed, it's been gratuitously appropriated by the most unlikely local services (like Friendly Islander Vasectomies - ‘we snip with a smile..’) But despite their panache for canny marketing slogans, underneath lies an irrefutable generosity, something I increasingly discovered during my med-student placement on these fair isles.
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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Ceviche at 'Ceviche'; Travels in Time, Space & Tonga (pt 1)



Let's cut to the chase. Ceviche. Raw fish dish. From Peru. At a renown London venue, also called Ceviche. Ah ceviche! My dish for the road. Cue tangential preambles to travels in Peru. Such a beautiful country! Such amazing adventures!

Like the time when I inadvertently became a marauding alpaca herder on the High Andes. That was so fun! And of course the time when I went to the airport with a consignment of coca-leaf tea for grandma - she loved a nice cuppa, bless her - only to discover that it's apparently highly illegal, and two burly Customs officers and one cavity search later, suddenly found myself in a dank Peruvian jail for a period of several months, rescued only after I grassed up a fellow inmate, a notorious gangster by the name of El Diablo, whose fierce henchmen still continue to track me down, which is why I now live incognito as a food-blogger. Well, what a lark that was!

And then the time when.. oh, you know what, just screw it. I've never been to Peru, okay? I can't keep this pretence up any longer. So here's the thing - instead of Peru, I'm gonna write about somewhere else, a country that also does ceviche, a place I've actually been to..
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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Grandma Beryl's Chicken Soup



In so many ways, Grandma Beryl was the matriarch of our family and a wise dignified figurehead. She was almost always immaculately turned out, her hair a halo of wispy-white cotton-candy with not a strand out of place. Her elocution was invariably poised and precise, graced with a slight Mancunian lilt, and as mellifluous as any a Radio 4 presenter.

Through the best part of ninety years, us children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would congregate at Grandma’s each week, her home bursting alive with the sighs and squeals of newborn babies, the pitter-patter of toddler feet, children trampolining on the sofa, kids taking penalty kicks in the lounge, and grown-ups sporadically crying out “Mind the ornaments!, all accompanied by the constant clang and clatter of cutlery and plates as they materialised on and off the dining-room table.
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Winter has come; Where there's light there's 'Hoppers'



“The White Witch? Who is she?”
“Why.. it's she that makes it always winter. Always winter, and never Christmas..”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis, 1950.

"At this moment you should be with us,
Feeling like we do.. like you love to
But never will again.
I miss you my dear, Xiola.
I prepared the room tonight with christmas lights,
A city of candles…" 
Three Days, Jane’s Addiction, 1990

My childhood winters were cold Northern affairs. Stretching across the horizon, the distant Pennines lay dark and brooding, looming over Bury like a dormant dragon, its arched back frosted with fairy-dust snow. There, we'd take our sledges and run them down those Lancashire slopes, fast and true: the icy air stinging our watery eyes, the sledge barely skimming the snowy ground below. We were Peter Pan, we were Tinkerbell.
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

'Dip & Flip', Donald Trump, and what's left of the American Dream?

As American as apple pie. So the saying goes. But really what's more American than the hamburger?

In that meat patty lie redolent images of cattle herded over epic Mid-Western landscapes by sun-scarred cowboys. The cheese as flat and enduring as the emerald Wisconsin pastures it was milked from. And if you put the bun right up close, well you can almost hear the murmuring of wheat swaying in the Wyoming wind. In fact, why not just unscrew a Coke right now, put on some Springsteen, and let's hit Route 66 in an ol’ open-top Chevy, for this post is pure 100% Americana.
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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Confessions of a [Rookie] Food-Blogger


Okay, so ‘confessions’ might be a tad misleading. There aren't any sordid stories of wild food-related debauchery; no tantalising tales of matcha-foam parties; and no erotic fantasies involving salacious scoops of Gelupo’s sorbet, a smothering of butterscotch sauce and a coconut-encrusted sugar cone. This article is nowhere near that pulse-racing.

If nothing else, I usually write my blog at 7 o’clock on a weekend morning, and there's nothing less sexy than this hour [..wait a sec while I just dislodge a Cheerio from my 6 year old’s nose, as he and his big brother ecstatically engage themselves in a world-record fart-off.]

Instead, this is an honest reflection on how I got into food-blogging and my early impressions of this strange new world. I'm just a rookie really, still close to those early heady days of excitement, anticipation and confusion. Even now, my heart pounds every time I post; my senses startle whenever the phone buzzes; and I still beat myself each time I've messed up. Yep, starting a blog is a bit like falling in love.
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Monday, 10 October 2016

No Dish For The Road

Well today's dish for the road is.. nothing. Nowt. Nicht. Nada. The big zero. An empty vacuum. An event horizon. Infinity minus itself. There's no cronut, hopper, or shakshuka to review. No flavour, aroma, or presentation to report. The ‘score out-of-10’ is not even nought: there is no score out-of-10.

For on Wednesday is Yom Kippur, a Jewish fast day, when one reflects on the past year and atones for all the bad stuff. At this sacred time, devout Jews spend all day in synagogue, earnestly engaging in dutiful prayer, deeply immersed in the solemnity of the occasion. For now is when heaven’s gates momentarily slide open, the theological stars align, and one’s soul is cleansed anew.

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