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Everything posted by ermintrude

  1. I'd suggest anyone who is not sure about if they like St Johns go for a dishes or two off the bar menu, very occasionally they have some of the classics on there. It will give you an idea what you can expect. Sometimes me and my work colleagues, who are up for it, pop in there for lunch. Can be brilliant - pig spleen, Squirl broth or not good at all - e.g dried beef (Like bressola) a portion so small a mouse would still be hungry, and no warning from the staff. You can get 2 dishes and a pint (Glass of house wine) for less than £20 If you do pop in and it fits in buy some bread, it's very good.
  2. But Keith Floyd was generally several sheets to the wind (or it appeared so) when he cooked on TV which would explain the OTT spices, but he had a great charm and presence, god rest his soul.
  3. Also arrowroot and dont forget things like Xanthian Gum and all the gels (Alginate, Gellan etc) out there that can be used as plain gels or fluid gels and melt when heated or not depending on what you use, not that simple to use but useful none the less. Bit OTT for a standard apple tart though.
  4. Completely out of my head and not tried it. When I wanted to make truffle oil ice cream I used Sucro and Glice from Texturas to emulsify oil and water into a cream equivalent that then was used to make the ice cream. If you did something similar you could try one of the following:- a) High calcium in the water fraction and drop the emulsion into an alginate solution (Freezing the spheres before may help) b) Alginate or Gellan in the water fraction dropped into a high calcium salt water bath Or perhaps freeze drops of oil at v low temp, the paint with calcium gloconate (or chloride but taste issues) solution, if the drops are v cold you should be able to paint on and it will freeze, you may need several coats if your not using liquid nitrogen. Keep frozen then drop into a alginate bath to spherify (Thinking would an emulsion batch work here ?) Just some ideas, sorry have not been able to do the work, just throwing some ideas at you.
  5. Last time I was in Birmingham on business wanted to check out some of the better restaurants BUT I went on Monday and they are closed, can see why as Monday is generally a quiet day but a pain none the less. Still in general in the town there are many decent eateries, I found a nice Italian, slightly overpriced for what it was but great service.
  6. Difficult one, sometime I feel taking photos can result in less appreciation of a meal, however I if done subtly without impacting other diners I can't see a reason to say no. However if photos of other diners (not your party) or flash is used then that's a definite no no. In the correct circumstance for a shot of the whole table say then this would be something your server would take, if they were happy, so they could get the shot that did not intrude on other diners but also got your table in. If there was some aspect of a meal where the photo may "give the game away" or reduce the experience of a future diner by seeing it then the restaurant may wish to refuse. Or if it was known that another diner did not wish to be photographed then excluding all photo's would be necessary to minimise any risk. So far every restaurant I've been in has not objected provided no flash and focused just on the food.
  7. It's the market - get used to it. Interesting to see that free trade etc that has been imposed on many nations is now an issue back in the homeland. Oh well just get an expert in
  8. Doing them Sous Vide will work but seems over kill when tey can be done just as well on a hob, with good control and stirring. Or use a thermomix or the new kenwood if you want to do custards etc, with no attention they are perfect for that.
  9. After purchasing my SVS last Thursday ate the Ox Cheeks after 72 hours. I made a compound butter from thyme, chopped bay leaf, crushed garlic, pepper and Dijon mustard and covered the cheeks with this. Then sealed 1 per bag at left in the SVS at 60 degrees Centigrade for 72 hours. After 72 hours, the bag was now full of dark fluid and did not look that appetising, de-bagged and tasted the liquid and way low on seasoning, tried a tiny piece of the meat and very tender so got a pan v hot, pored in the liquid and reduced by 1/2 whisking to make sure the butter fat was incorporated added the cheeks a good seasoning of salt and basted for 30 secs, then served with some boiled potatoes. I must say the cheeks were meltingly tender and the reduced juices made an amazing sauce and overall it was stunning. I am making these again.
  10. Marmite Chocolate is now on sale called "Very Peculiar" Bought mine in Robert Dias. It's 2% Marmite, not that strong but you can smell it and it's there on the aftertaste
  11. It's on C4 in the UK and I love it, narrator Dave Lamb's comments always make me smile. The clash between people is hilarious, often some of the best ones are where it all goes wrong (food wise) but so much fun was had they won. It's a great, what I call, background programme so fab to have on the back to back episodes on a Sunday when your sorting stuff out.
  12. Probably not - make sloe gin, even with the worst gin it will make it drinkable.
  13. Regarding induction hobs, if your not used to using them then can be difficult as they can make pans heat up very quickly get the setting wrong and easy to burn or over cook. Also since they heat the pan not through the base if using heavy thick pans it can heat up quickly but be slower to cool. Heavy iron pots unlike when used on gas are not ideal, go for thinner pans, I have some great pans made by spring that are 5 layer Stainless/Aluminium/Iron/Aluminium/Stainless not cheap but brilliant on an induction hob. As the iron heats up, aluminium diffuses and gives even heat, Stainless for cleaning/looks. When heating to a high temp avoid a sharp temperature gradient in the pan, i.e. very hot at the bottom, cold at the top then step through the induction power levels, unlike convention hobs that depend on convection that are slower to brings the pan up to temp, induction get's there very quickly, while this not important with water but as things get more viscous and convection in the pans contents reduced this becomes more important. Also if if you don't get the setting correct it's very easy to overshoot especially at the base of the pan, the delay in a conventional hob gives you time to reduce before the gets to high. Stiring helps with the above issues. Ultimately I do believe that a good induction hob is the best heat source, as it's fast, efficient and clean but it does takes getting used to. I've know chefs/cooks hate mine at first but 2 weeks later they want one. For ultimate flexibility I would go for mixed gas and induction.
  14. You could try this chlorophyll paste recipe is from www.ukthermomix.com The recipe is for a thermomix but you could probably adapt using a thermometer and stick blender. ]Chlorophyll Paste - Tom Cockerill, Entropy Restaurant[/b There is an enzyme within green plant matter called chlorophyllase, which at moderate temperatures 66-77˚C, attacks the bright green chlorophyll pigment within the plant making chlorophyll water soluble. This is why green vegetables cooked in water that isn’t close enough to the boil lose their vibrancy, since the bright green pigmentation leeches out into the cooking water. This recipe uses the thermomix’s controlled heating & puréeing functions to deliberately cause this effect in order to obtain the pigment for culinary use, and the ice used at the end minimises the cooking time to prevent the pigment itself from dulling. Ingredients 750 gm water 250 gm washed baby spinach leaves 80 – 150 gm soft herbs (depending on desired strength of flavour) 500 gm ice cubes Method Weigh the ice into the bowl of the Thermomix. Crush by Turbo pulsing several times and then tip out the crushed ice into a large mixing bowl. Weigh the water directly into the Thermomix bowl and bring up to precisely 70˚C (approx 5-6 minutes/ 70˚C/ Speed 1). Stop the Thermomix, remove the lid & weigh in the baby spinach & herbs. Blitz on full power 6 minutes/ 70˚C/ Speed 10 and then immediately pour into the bowl of crushed ice. Pour the contents of the bowl into a sieve lined with muslin. Ideally leave to drain over night. The resulting paste left in the muslin is the chlorophyll. This may be kept refrigerated for up to two days. Janie's Tip: Chlorophyll Paste provides a natural colour & flavour base for a variety of uses: added to soups at the last minute it gives a bright verdant colour, it also works well with cream based sauces, risottos & mashed potato. Any type of soft herb can be used when following this recipe to impart a distinctive flavour to the finished dish. Many thanks to Tom Cockerill, Chef/Proprietor, Entropy Restaurant, Leicester. "Which" Good Food Guide, Best Newcomer 2006.
  15. The basics info needed are opening times, location, sample menu this must always be easily and accessible. if you use flash, silverlight or are heavy on graphics ensure that the home page has an easy to find link to a HTML graphics site. Ideally the meu and prices should be current, HTML preferred but PDF acceptable. If you have intro graphics etc always let me skip them. Nice to watch once the 10th time its annoying. Use a cookie to turn on first time off after. No music unless in an intro, but preferably no. If you have a mobile site, always allow me to be able to get back to the full site and vice versa. Try the site out on the 4 major browsers and their various versions and use several mobile devices to test as well.
  16. I must concur with Gareth about the pigs trotter, as when I ate there a couple of weeks ago not a single morrel in mine either, one tiny sliver in my companions, and the sauce seemed to provide most of the flavor. Of the starters the snails were good but the scalops with squid ink a bit bland overall forgetable but what was outstanding this was the pistachio souffle for desert.
  17. ermintrude

    Per Se

    When at the french laundry I asked for a wine pairing up to the value of the food, we had excelent wines and the final bill was well below what I was expecting.
  18. Hardware store - the torches sold in cooking shops from my experience do not hold enough gas and do not get hot enough. A head that attaches to a canister, something like this http://www.clickonstore.net/blow-torch-quick-torch-head-with-canister-p-1084.html (No connection) is what I have and it works a treat, someone bought me a chef one but, no where near the heat and ran out of gas to soon.
  19. For me once I discovered I could do this, I now always steam my eggs. Having several wet/soft/hard boiled eggs in the fridge that can be used over the next few days is a joy. Also for your question, eggs a few days old may be the best for boiled. Use the fresh for poached and etc etc. The timings are for a thermomix starting from cold. (Only 6 at most) 500g water from the tap Varouma temp Time: - 11 min or less white not fully set, a wet one but useful. - 12 min solid white liquid yolk - (Om nom nom nom - note to self, stop this) - 13 min almost hard boiled, yellow yoke, with a dark orange semi solid middle. - 14 hard boiled - 15+min hard boiled but going to powdery yolk Once cooking time is complete plunge into cold water, however if you need to server hot then times change (E.g a guess -30 secs if searving 2 mins later - but test it). Anyone got timings for an ordinary oven? A Steam Oven Other steam cookers Making eggs to a "type" is not easy, Thermomix gives me 6 "As I want them" what if I need 600 ? To be honest I wouldn't but I know people who would.
  20. Interesting question. I love lemmon posset however it manges to set after just boiling double cream for 2 to 3 mins then and adding lemon juice, it sets, no eggs needed. Example recipe http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/536253 But when I make a crème brulee it takes the same amount of cream and 6 egg yolks, and get the temp wrong and it splits. But I've never had a posset go wrong one me. Bet the answer in in McGee but it's late and off to bed
  21. Best by, sell by - these are dates when it has been determined products are at their best. Something canned in 2001 may be best before 2003 however if canned correctly should still be edible in 3003 (what it tastes like is another matter) this goes for a lot of preserves. But when something says use by then use it by then unless you preserve it in some way (freeze etc) once it goes past this date it's risky. To be honest these dates are often a worst case scenario. E.g. From production to store (Chill chain perfect but for safety lets deduct some time), in store in the chill cabinet picked up, put back on top so not at ideal temp, After purchase was put with ambient goods in the back of a car and after other retail took four hours to get home. And if used before the used by date no problem. My gripe is often, as use by is a worst case scenario, good food is thrown out. Smelling/Taste may indicate that things are bad but often the most lethal pathogens leave no trace, so unless you know exactly what happened to your food to the current date then use by dates should be adhered to. (However myself I use some common sense - but that's up to you). The cheese issue, I used to be a cut the mould off guy, however after talking to a microbiologist the mould is only the fruit, throughout the cheese a mycelium is spreading, and these can bad to consume even when the cheese looks ok. Most of the time cheese mould is non toxic or even beneficial but there are some vicious ones around so unless you know what mould/fungus is on your cheese then throw away. I must admit we seem to be hyper adverse to anything these days. Some of the best foods around need bacteria, mould and fungus. Perhaps these days we insulate and protect ourselves to much - "A pinch of dirt before you die" was a quote I remember from my grandmother. I must admit, best before or sell by dates can be stupid, I once bought malt vinegar (in a newly changed bottle so no more than with a month old) with a best before date a year later, how stupid can you get. Often manufactures, I believe, use this to increase turnover or more likely decrease the risk of legal action. So me I ignore the dates unless it's a use buy date. For use buy dates I use my experience to judge (At my own risk)
  22. Genuine London Gin http://www.sipsmith.com/ tried this at taste of London and very nice it was to, quite junipery.
  23. This will be my last post on this issue. You all make valid point but this one occasion where all the little niggles added up and resulted in me emailing a complaint. If I had had major issues I would have obviously have complained there and then, not paid service charge, invoked other options etc. But I emailed as I believed that the Hardwick would want to know as some of the issues were in their control and pointing out the flaws would help them improve service. If I had received a "Were sorry .... regards" type of letter that would have been end off story, and would have put it all down to probably just a off day, we all have them. It was there reply that did it, and that reply, not the problems I mentioned, is why I will not eat there again. Politeness costs nothing but impoliteness has cost them a customer.
  24. Here is what went wrong:- I took my mother (72) and her fiancé Ralph Hibbard (70) out for a birthday meal. Firstly on arrival we were asked would we like a drinks, I asked if they could do a dry martini cocktail, after leaving and coming back (I assumed they talked to barman) I was told yes. So I said ok, very dry with a twist. What I got was a whole measure of dry martini with a shot of gin in a tall glass with a ice and a slice. It was not pleasant, I raised this and it was taken away and another shot of Gin added. Normally I would at this point have said "Forget it" and asked for a Gin and tonic but as my mum does not like a fuss shut up and sipped at it. Next we were sat next to a large and noisy party, my mother has tintus, her fiancé has a hearing aid and I had a cold. Due to to noise it was impossible to have any form of conversation, at times sharing things via an iPhone was the best communication going. I did look around to see if there was another table we could move to but the place was busy. I can't blame the Hardwick for this as it was bad luck to be sat next to such a large party and who did extend there stay over say a usual 2 hours. Next food was ordered and I pushed the boat out on the wine I think a £60 bottle, which is high end in Wales. Starters arrived and were eaten, very nice. Next a long long long wait for the main course, so much so we'd practically finished the bottle of wine, so I ordered a 1/2 bottle (£35) so we could drink with our main meal. Again food was no problem. Finally we declined desert and ordered coffees and drinks and two of boxes of chocolates. Two coffees arrived (we had ordered 3), 1 set of chocolates (We had ordered 2), and a premium brandy. I chased up the coffee for mum. the missing chocolates also ordered two more premium brandies (after tasting mine mum fancied one, and I wanted a top up.) However by the time the two of us had finished our coffees nothing had arrived. I was now not very happy, I had the distinct impression that the servers were doing there best, but things were way off kilter back stage. From the barman, delays to main, mess up's with coffees etc. I'm know how things are, even the best restaurant can have an off day, however due to the above I thought I should bring it to their attention. I was expecting to get a "Were sorry....... " however the terse response I revived made me see red. For the record here is the email record, email was sent on returning back from the meal (Not so detailed as above). The response and my reply to which they did not respond. ----- Original Message ----- From: "Stuart Millinship" To: <info@thehardwick.co.uk> Sent: Saturday, July 24, 2010 11:02 PM Subject: Hardwick website enquiry Dear Sir, Under a booking of Hibberd, I took my mother (72) and her fiancé Ralph Hibbard (70) the toyboy out for an evening meal. The bill was paid by myself Stuart Millinship who traveled down FromLondon for this. It was a not a good experience and having eaten here before unexpected. Firstly on arrival we were asked for drinks, I asked could you do a dry martini cocktail, I was told yes so I said ok very dry with a twist. What I got was a whole measure of dry martini with a shot of gin in a tall glass with a ice and a slice. It was vile, I raised this and it was taken away and another shot of Gin added. Normally I would at this point have said "Forget it" and asked for a Gin and tonic but as my mum does not like a fuss shut up and drank it. Next we were sat next to a large and noisy party, my mother has tintus, her fiancé has a hearing aid and I had a cold. Due to to noise it was impossible to have any form of conversation, at times sharing things via an IPhone was the best communication going. Finally we declined desert and ordered coffees and drinks and two of chocolates. However they forgot my mothers coffee, and only 1 set of chocolates, I got attention and chased up the coffee for mum plus two more premium brandies (after tasting mine) however nothing by the time we had finished our coffees and said I want to go. I cancelled drinks, coffees and asked for the bill. I can not fault the food in anyway but the experience was highly disappointing for a birthday treat for my mum and her fiancé, compared with my last meal at the Hardwick. Stuart Millinship -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----Original Message----- From: Faye Mear <faye@thehardwick.co.uk> To: Stuart Millinship <stuartm@myself.com> Sent: Thu, Jul 29, 2010 10:49 am Subject: Re: Hardwick website enquiry Dear Mr Millinship Thank you for your e'mail regarding your recent visit to our restaurant. Your comments have been noted. Kind Regards Faye Mear the HARDWICK ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi thank you for your reply, and I am pleased that you have "noted" my comments. However in your email there was no recognition or apologies for the problems I experienced, from a restaurant of your calibre. I did not expect this service. I realise you could not do anything about the large party next to us, as it appeared you were fully booked,but a simple recognition of the issue would have helped defuse the issue. I was not looking for a freebie, or anything like that but pointing out this meal had problems. If you did take the time to look at my bill, you will see an extra 1/2 bottle of wine (due to delays) but why did I leave a £22.50 gratuity, in fact our server originally skipped this option as she could see I was not happy. However I made her redo this so I could add a gratuity, as felt the problems were not front of room but back stage. I.e a barman who cannot make a Martini, delays before main course the mess up with coffees etc.. What was a basic complaint you managed to change to an affront. just by a simple email. So again I refer you to your back office staff. Since I live in London and only see family a couple of times a year I guess not visiting your establishment again, if in my control, is the best way to go but will do my best to spread the word that the Hardwick has great food with a bad attitude if you have an issue. Shame. All the best Stuart.
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