Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by naebody

  1. Your husband must be very patient. Either that or you must look like Alicia Silverstone. Anyway, in terms of decent quality restaurants, Rousillion and Morgan M are both able to cope admirably with such perversions. Likewise Foliage and Tom Aikens, although you will have to warn them several times when you book, warn them again when you arrive, warn the waiter as you sit down, etc. Then there's the veggie only places, the best of which are The Gate in Hammersmith and Terre a Terre in Brighton. They always have a vegan option or two. For travelling, this may be a handy bookmark. (You'll probably note that, the further north you travel, the more likely you are to be eating Indian.)
  2. Damn. I was hoping it'd be my observation about how all his new female chefs look like effete schoolboys auditioning for Oliver Twist. (Not that I'm suggesting anything by that. Just saying.)
  3. This thread isn't nearly as good as our previous one on the subject. The general standard of criticising the critics seems to have deteriorated markedly. Either we're getting jaded, or our sharpest observers are becoming too high profile to give an untainted opinion.
  4. One can never be a former alcoholic. Only a dormant one.
  5. Would it be rude to ask why? Anyway, it may be worth dropping a line to this place.
  6. It's never stopped <INSERT NAME HERE>
  7. Not sure about that. The window of my local trad Polish (The Patio) has long been championed by none other than Maschler, with about two-dozen glowing reviews in the window going back decades.
  8. That's the nub of the issue. And, as I say, there's a very entertaining philosophical debate to be had if the two sides would just stop screeching and droning. Is the comfort of one goose worth more than a thousand chickens? Are we against cruelty, or just the cruel and unusual? Etcetera.
  9. Oh God - I didn't think of public opinion. People are idiots, in favour of hanging, Carling and Strictly Come Dancing. Their role in society should be restricted to once every five years, when they can have an either-or choice about who will be deciding what's good for them. This perfectly workable system only fails with matters of ambivalence, which tend to be dictated by whoever's shouting loudest. If the foie argument becomes shorthanded to "rich people torture geese" and pitched directly the disinterested mass, we may as well give up now and move to Périgord. Indeed. That's fascist behaviour. ETA: just out of interest, is preparing ortolan illegal in the UK? And has a British restaurant ever been brave enough to stick it on the menu?
  10. Once anyone in a creative trade feels it is necessary to use the word "represents", they're fucked, basically. The oddest thing is that scallop, peas, squid ink, caviar and gold leaf don't seem even remotely Irish. A true artist would have refused to compromise and offered up potato, stout, clover, Semtex and a punch in the face at a wedding.
  11. I'm not sure that's really a question when dealing with the Pantone chart of grey-areas involved with food ethics. For starters: what are you considering necessary cruelty? Is all cruelty to an animal unneccesary if it makes the meat taste better? My own feelings: I have sympathy for many of the anti foie campaigners, much as a religious person tends to have more time for atheists than agnostics. Involvement in the issue shows they understand the Machiavelian bargaining required every time we decide how far to go to feed our own gluttony. And, just because I reached a different conclusion doesn't mean that I disagree with the argument. Even when the answer's wrong, you get marks for showing your working. The problems begin when protestors use guerilla tactics to enforce their moral preference - not because it impinges on freewill, but because it polarises the issue. And, by polarising the issue, reasonable debate is suppressed. Consider vivisection. It's another complex (albeit more important) debate about degree of evil versus potential for good, and contains a grey area wider than the staffroom locker at PwC. Yet we can't discuss it openly because the anti-viv lobby has been hijacked by a few dozen vocal simpletons. Any attempt at a dialogue is drowned out by people who spend their weekends gathered around a trestle table on Oxford Street, upsetting children with posters of half-faced cats and beagles smoking Silk Cut. If I were working for Glaxo or AstraZeneca, I'd be paying these guerilla simpletons to stay out there shouting about lab-rat rights and repulsing weekend shoppers. If you're a corporation wanting to suppress reasonable public debate about ethical standards, you can't really do better than characterise the opposition as a lunatic fringe. Interesting that the guerilla foie lobby has swung into action at the exact moment the processed meat producers are under scrutiny. Coincidence, probably.
  12. Hm. I'm a bit dim, so even after reading both this thread and our previous knockaround of the subject can't quite pin down where the specific gripe against Heston starts and ends. Moreover, every article I read about similar-minded people (Wylie Dufresne, Grant Achatz, Eben Freeman) mention that they "provoke fierce debate" or whatever, without really explaining why. So I'd appreciate if one of the anti-Heston lobby could talk me though which of these statements (if any) comes closest to their own feelings, and why my impressions are wrong. 1) He has achieved unearned acclaim by using showmanship to distract from some fundamental lack of ability. If we're saying that HB is a below-par cook, then I'll have to admit that my palate isn't refined enough to know where The Fat Duck is failing. Some dishes taste better than others, but I thought that down to personal taste rather than faulty execution. However, just because I can't see the blind spot doesn't mean that one can't exist; perhaps he does gritty macaroni cheese, or puts pineapple in his potato salad. However, if we're arguing that The Fat Duck doesn't deserve to be a M3* and listed among the world's best restaurants: who honestly cares? As we point out every time one of these lists is published: it's arbiary, dumb and futile to compare like with unlike. Is Fat Duck a better restaurant than, for example, St John? You may as well ask if Alton Towers is better than the V&A. And is Fat Duck worthy of more plaudits than Le Garvoche? Is On The Waterfront is more worthy of Oscars than Taxi Driver? Seriously: who beyond the pedants and trainspotters gives a shit? 2) His methods are all show, not intended improve the end product. When I was six, I was taken to a restaurant where they served chicken kiev with a sparkler in it. The firework may have added nothing to the dish itself, but the sight of it crossing the restaurant floor made me so excited I nearly peed my pants. As a wise poster has already noted, I'm a superficial type. When analysed objectively, the most extreme of Heston's ideas amount to little more than a chicken with a sparkler in it. Some may think the fireworks detract from, rather than add to the dish - and to them I can only advise that the Fat Duck is not their thing. But if little bits of theatre can go any way to channeling the inner six-year-old, I can't see the problem. 3) The persona of the self-trained boffin cook is a cynical ruse, and the menu is little more than a list of publicity stunts required to feed his own ego and/or bank balance. I think we can probably assume that young Heston, from the family Blumenthal, didn't fight his way out of the ghetto with a nickel electrobath and a dream. The stories of his pre-three poverty, while probably founded on truth, will have been beaten out of all recognition by his flak. Is this disengenuous? Possibly. Is it lower than shilling stock cubes on reality TV or claiming falsely to have burnt your bollocks on a gas stove? Probably not. Likewise some of the dish publicity: the iPod seagulls, the magic water, etc. Of course these gimmicks are press-release friendly. But that doesn't equate to being press-release gimmicks. As I mentioned in an earlier thread, the out-there theatrics were included in the Fat Duck experience long before the the press caught on. In fact, Heston himself had very little publicity before Michelin gave him the full set. If it's all an ego trip, he's been playing the long game. Just because his enthusiastic amateur professor stylings are media friendly, it's too much of a jump to claim they have been machine tooled that way. 4) He's a bad role model as his techniques suggest you need fripperies to achieve greatness. I never really get this argument. The catering industry has a long tradition of over-reaching and under-achieving, and it'll continue to happen no matter who the role models are. I can name you a dozen restaurants where there's foam aplenty in kitchens that would struggle to turn out an omlette; is that the fault of Ferran Adrià, or of a chef who has tried to shortcut greatness? Likewise, is Carême somehow responsible for the party packs of frozen vol-au-vents available at Iceland? It seems unduly harsh to blame a ship for the flotsam in its wake. It also ignores the potential for good influence. Beyond the liquid nitrogen and the crowd-pleasing silliness, there does seem to be Heston-influenced a movement towards people becoming interested in how cooking actually works. For example, Harold McGee is now available in the cookery section my local Books Etc, which certainly wasn't true ten years ago. Anyone interested in food must surely consider this a good thing. To reiterate: I've no interest in adding to the fight. I'm just trying to understand why the issue of Heston and the wider world of theme-park food generates such heat. And - as the wise posters of this board surely can't be arguing just for the perverse sake of it - I'll be indebted to anyone highlighting a cogent argument not covered by the four options above. Thanks.
  13. Just to clarify: Tom's Kitchen is Aikens' meat-and-two-veg emporium, doing Stockpot food at twice the quality and thrice the price. His chipper is Tom's Place. Its status in London's fry society is discussed here.
  14. Interesting. We're arguing about whether a professional cook's enthusiastic amateurism adds up to anything greater than a slight-of-hand act to sell product. Meanwhile, we're arguing about whether an amateur cook's joyless professionalism adds up to anything greater than a slight-of-hand act to sell product.
  15. Last time I was in Rothesay, which was a few years ago, there was nothing much. It's a bit of a faded-glory timewarp resort, and while the Tourist Board is banging the "local produce" drum you can't really hold out much hope for improvement. Perhaps worth looking at Fowlers (which a Google suggests has been renamed The Waterfront Bistro, for better or worse). And if you enjoyed the gourmet night episode of Fawlty Towers you may get some mileage out of Chandlers. Otherwise, the tearoom and the local chipper are not too bad. Getting off the island, the best is probably Kilberry Inn in Kintyre. There was also a place called Oyster Catcher up near Loch Fyne which was pretty good, although its website suggests that the owner left a few months ago, so all bets are off there. Of course, the reason local places are mediocre and struggling is that tourists tend to stock up their cars in Glasgow. Not criticising your choice, you understand, just highlighting the vicious cycle. Edit update: forgot to mention the Colintraive Hotel, which is just off the island but reasonably accessible by boat. Can't recommend as I haven't been, but it has a reputation of being better than the average.
  16. Indeed. Just found its website on the Internet Archive, including some hilariously selective quotes across the middle. Anyone fancy a sweepstake on whether its building's current residents will last any longer? Anyway: you get it back, Jack.
  17. Thanks, darlin'. Native Oysters with the Five Tastes Rice Flour Rigatini with Cavalo Nero and Chilli Pancetta Sautéed Scampi with Creamy Saffron Sauce Piave with Peppered Pear
  18. Ooh! Oooooh! Over here, miss! John Farley, the London Tavern.
  19. Bit too early for Alexis Soyer at the Reform. So perhaps Louis-Eustache Ude, at the Crockford's Club? I'll be gobsmacked if that's right.
  20. Overheard in Tesco's this lunchtime: "Quick! We need some hummus!" "I think it's over by the cold meat. About 12 different types. 59p a tub." "No! We must make it! But in a hurry! Get me frozen chickpeas, some cumin dust, lazy garlic and a bottle of lemon-fresh Fairy Liquid." "Seriously though, love. There's some of that nice Sabra stuff in the fridge. And it's on special." "No! That's not the right way." " ... because it'll taste better?" "No." "... because it's cheaper?" "God no." "... or because one of the few remaining cooks to take a prescriptive, joyess approach to the craft has seen her speciality of dowdy plainfood encroached upon by the stigma-free ready meal, and can't raise her game sufficiently to compete on the level of food porn." "Go on." "... so she's dug up a stack of Galloping Gourmet recipes, sprinkled in a few supermarket brand names at arbitary points of the copy and told the marketing department to hype it into a revolution?" "Quick! I need an egg to add to this box of Betty Crocker cake mix! I'll not be a proper mother otherwise!" Etc.
  21. So is anyone else prepared to admit that fish + chips is never particularly good? I'm not arguing with the chip element. You can never take a proper chip for granted, particularly when there are so many limp, sallow, reconstituted specimens in the world. But why do we continue to take national pride in giving fish a battering? The deep-fat fryer can only amplify a fillet's lack of taste, and the batter is little more than cladding (insulation for the fish and lagging for your stomach). There may be a bit more mileage in the Jewish origins but even then, looked at objectively, deep-frying fish is a pretty flawed concept in all sorts of ways. That would seem to me the big difficulty with all these F&C Diffusion Collections. While Mr Michelin-Starred Chef can probably use some technical skills to improve the end product, it will only ever be a margin better than the average without turning into something entirely different. There lies the paradox. The less it resembles bland white fish and lagging, the further it has traveled from the stuff you were eating as a nipper on the harbour wall. But the more it resembles bland white fish and lagging, the more likely of people will feel overcharged and cheated. Whichever way, you're guaranteed to be disappointed one way or the other. For me, the fundamental problem with all modern fish & chippers is that they're competing with the Bell Rock in Arbroath circa 1985. And so far, I haven't found any in London that will do me a haddock supper, four Strawberry Skull Crushers, a litre of Polar Cola in a glass bottle and the change in 10p pieces so I can play the Muhammad Ali pinball machine while I wait.
  22. I'm sure "see you next Tuesday" is a phrase JBR hears regularly.
  23. This is a wild guess, but is that pre-celeb Ramsay? Aubergine perhaps?
  24. Yup. Ten points. (Put "pike boudin" into Google and the first 35 hits are all reviews of Cafe Anglais, incidentally.) Anyway, normal service resumes with you, Mr McMayon.
  25. Okay. After 18 pages I think it's time for a wildcard round. Instead of three entire courses, here's a single ingredient from a single dish. Name the restaurant: Pike.
  • Create New...