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    Birmingham UK
  1. I think Mary Ann's food would have been too dated to appear in a Robert Carrier cook book
  2. I'm finding the show increasingly frustrating this year. There is at least one chef every week who refuses to make the slightest effort to answer the brief, choosing instead to trot out a restaurant dish with the cliched excuse "the humour is in the eating chef". No it isn't - there is no humour in your food!! This week it's Colin's turn and yet bizarely he keeps banging in the highest scores, presumably because Jason Atherton isn't that much bothered about the brief either. If I was Charlie I think I'd be increasingly bewildered because he seems to be the only one making any effort to produce food to the brief. The best Stephanie can do seems to be coming up with a humourous title to conventional restaurant dishes. Some of Charlies dishes have seemed a bit misguided and probably haven't desered higher scores but I'm sure if the judges had said to him, 'forget the brief, just come up with the best dishes you can' he would be presenting completely different food.
  3. no real explanation as to why Angela Hartnett is judging Scotland either. Can only assume they are mixing the judges up this year
  4. For the life of me I cannot understand how Adam Simmonds got through. Yes, his food looks nice but he never made the slightest effort to answer the brief on any of his dishes. Well I say that, I don't know what the actual brief asked for but you get the impression that somewhere in there chefs have been asked to cook food with a sense of fun. It got a bit tedious watching Richard Corrigan ask whether it was comedy or drama four days in a row and Adam replying each time that the comedy was in the food. No, there was no comedy. He just trotted out four restaurant dishes in total disregard to the brief. I can only wonder how frustrated Matt Gillan must have felt losing to him as he did actually put a lot of thought and effort into answering the brief. I got the impression that Adam got through because the food he presented was to Richard's personal taste so he largely over-looked the small matter of the brief. Poor judging again this year I'm afraid right out of the box.
  5. Yes please, I'd love to see that recipe if you could. Thank you
  6. Any recent visitors to this restaurant. We plan to be on Skye next month and may do lunch.
  7. I think I probably am, I just didn't know the name for them I'd almost resolved to try adapting a recipe for Hungarian kremesh which looks very similar but now you've put me on the right track I can start searching for recipes. Many thanks
  8. If anyone in the UK is looking for a mixer Nisbets (www.nisbets.co.uk) currently have an offer on for the larger heavy duty Kitchen Aid K50 mixer for £395 which is cheaper than many people charge for the smaller Artisan - they only have them in grey or white though. I've just bought one for mixing dough (mainly I make sourdough bread) and beating egg whites for macarons. I haven't tried it out yet but I'm hoping the slightly bigger motor (325w instad of 300w) will help a little with the over-heating. It also comes with an extra stainless steel bowl and has a bowl lift mechanism rather than the tilting head on the Artisan. Kind of wish I'd read this thread first though because I may have bought a second hand Hobart instead.
  9. Whilst on holiday in Skiathos this Summer we visited a pattiserrie in the town a couple of times to take away a box of his absolutely amazing cakes. They were'nt anything like the dense oily phyllo pastry type cakes we've seen and eaten before but wonderfully custardy confections with a very light almost 'brick' type pastry. Of course these could just have been the bakers own creations but I'd love to try replicating something similar. There seems to be a real scarcity of recipes for greek pastries though. Can anyone reccommend any books or websites that might get me started?
  10. I've made some of the lemon bars on David Lebovitz's site and I have to say they are absolutely fantastic. I'm sure this is going to be a bit of a noobish question because I'm new to this whole baking lark (been baking bread for years but pastries are new to me) - the one thing I don't like about the lemon bars is the fact that the lemon curd topping has a fairly matt unattractive appearance. How do I achieve the super glossy look that you see on so many continental pastries - almost as if they have a layer of gelatine on top?
  11. Well if it was me and I wanted to make ice cream I'd throw out the apples, peaches, grapefruit, sour cream, cornstarch, sugar, maple syrup and corn syrup. I'd probably just start with some milk, eggs, cream and vanilla
  12. Thanks for the rec. The direct link to the recipe didn't seem to work but it got me to his site and there are some lovely recipes on it. The Pain d'amande looks interesting. Cheap to make a large quantity which is important at the moment when they are being given away free!
  13. Well I certainly wouldn't mind it developing that way although my daughter might disagree!!
  14. We've recently set our daughter up in a small vintage clothes and jewellery shop in town and she's doing quite well. I decided to start baking a few things to give away in the shop and they are going down a storm - apparently they are being tweeted massively (whatever that means). So far I have tried Italian olive oil biscuits (very much like British shortbread) in Rosemary and Orange variations, an orange Torta de Santiago cake (extremely expensive to make for something thats given away free) and I'm going to try some classic almond biscotti this weekend. Does anybody have any suggestions/recipes for anything else? You might have gathered from the sort of things I've been cooking the area the shop is in is a bit arty so I couldn't get away with a hob-nob but I'm keen to explore more Italian/Spanish offerings. Oh, also any recommendations on good cookbooks that cover the same?
  15. In the last ten years I have visited Le Champgnon Sauvage several times and never experienced anything like the level of problems described. On one occasion we visited with friends and their young son who was deeply into the 'Thomas the Tank Engine' phase of his life. We arrived for lunch and said son promptly set up his entire train collection on the table which he proceeded to play with for the duration of the meal. Helen and her team took this totally in their stride and served food around the engines and rolling stock. There were no complaints from either party or indeed any other diners because he occupied himself with his trains without causing annoyance to anyone else or disrupting the rhythm of service. We had also shown the courtesy of telling the restaurant that one of our party would be a three year old and David, without being asked, had kindly cooked specific courses for him. This is entirely typical of the level of superb service that David and Helen give to their customers. On two occasions I have also written reviews of Le Champignon Sauvage, and each time the reviews have been over 2000 words with absolutely perfect recall of every dish mentioned. The way I have achieved this is not by rolling in with the equivalent of a small television production unit but by the simple expedient of asking Helen for a copy of the menu afterwards and taking any notes of any amuses or extra courses whilst having an after dinner drink. On one occasion I even phoned about a week later to confirm details and they could still recall everything we had eaten. Simple and fuss free. For the last five years I have also worked as a restaurant inspector for an organistion (not Michelin) and have visited hundreds of restaurants in that capacity. In these instances it is obviously imperative to maintain as low a profile as possible without drawing undue attention to oneself. Even so the level of detail I am expected to report on is frightening in its complexity and extends to over 30 pages. In these instances I cannot avoid taking equipment in with me - Notably a brain or more specifically the memory function but I do avail myself of the note taking facility on a Blackberry. I may look like an ignoramus who can't stop texting during a meal but it gets the job done. If I am reviewing somewhere I never lose sight of the fact that I am doing so for my pleasure or business and not (usually) at the express request restaurant Under such circumstances it is beholden to me to do whatever I need to do with minimum disturbance to the restaurant, it's waiting staff or other diners. This, at least to me is the correct approach. Anything else would be bombastic, arrogant, of far too much self-import and quite frankly distasteful. Some people clearly don't agree with me but then I have no idea what their own attitude in a dining room is like.
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