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Tim Hayward

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Everything posted by Tim Hayward

  1. I'm profoundly honoured by your kind comments. Since that article was written I've come to realise that it didn't really exorcise any of my junk acquiring tendencies. Only last week I had to quietly offload a tortilla press and one of those hand-twisty-whirly-apple-peeling dingusses. It was marketed as a 'Shaker Apple Peeler/Corer' which I consider an appalling and grievous slur upon the good people of Lancaster County. I should, however, sound one cautionary note on general chucking-out. I have on a shelf in front of me, a wire whisk, Circa 1930, that I inherited from my grandmother. It's rusty, the paint's almost gone from the handle and it's probably the most profoundly unsanitary appliance in existence. I've often asked myself why I haven't thrown it out. Then, about six months ago, renovating our house, I finally got the opportunity to design a kitchen from scratch. Colour was the subject of protracted and empassioned row which culminated in my wife pointing at the whisk and making an enfuriated but insistent squeaking noise. The whisk was ceremonially transported to a paint specialist and the sublime 'eau-de-nil' green of its crapulous handle was scanned into the mixing machine. Three months later, I was present in a rural workshop as the hand built cabinetry was sprayed the same gorgeous colour. My Granny would have loved it. I guess some things are worth keeping even when we can't quite work out why.
  2. I started a reply to this but it got completely out of hand. If you have time on your hands, it's posted here. As a side issue, I would warn anyone reading this stuff from outside the UK to take it with a large pinch of salt. Our newspapers, appalling chip-wrappers that they are, like to use any pseudo-statistics they can find to create a story. UK PR agencies are increasingly expert in generating this kind of reasearch as it's much easier to do than actually coming up with a real story and writing a decent release. Apart from the Royals, soap stars engineered feuds and upskirt shots of reality show microslebs, 'A recent survey has shown...' pieces are all we have in our blats. In a previous life I worked for the agency that claimed to have invented this technique with a fantastically spurious piece of 'academic' research into the friablity of dunked biscuits - funded, as you'd have noticed in the penultimate par, by a biscuit company Whenever I see a bit of coverage based on a claim as totally bloody unlikely as 'Nottingham as Food Capital' I find myself asking who funded the research. In this case, MSN, attempting to improve their image as a local listings service, have produced 'research' that 'proves' they have intimate knowledge of local eating establishments in a conveniently representative spread of UK small towns.
  3. After your last posting, when I glimpsed your Avatar, I called her straight away to a) check she was still alive and b) get her to hide in the cellar. You are a truly scary man
  4. Anyone else got particular bar/restaurant combinations that are favourites ? ← St John's -> Vic's Bar -> Oblivion On one night after this particular combination I (apparently) fell asleep in the doorway of the St John's Ambulance HQ and, on being woken, had to be physically dissuaded from banging on the door demanding aspirin
  5. London's way too cynical for something like this. It'll end up like the Supper Club in Amsterdam - full of large groups of braying salarymen on corporate jollies and ghastly tourists in search of a packaged 'experience'. My God, a minibus full of adventurous Danish retirees next to a table full of coked-up ad-agency vampires on a 'bonding' evening... in pitch blackness... with alcohol... surrounded by blind people, glass and hot food. You don't need a bib, you need a sack of starved rats and a midget with a nightsight and a Taser......
  6. Dear God what a repellent image.
  7. I'd heard that wooden boards are illegal in UK kitchens as the absorbent surface can harbour bacteria (so much for the Health & Safety Police). The oil is absorbed into the surface and, theoretically, denies space to bacteria. Doesn't McGee have chapter and verse on this? I've only ever had one wooden board split on me and that was after I put it through the dishwasher - the glue dissolved. Butchers I guess, must get away with using a block because the product cut on it is supposed (by the same H&S rules) to be carbonised beyond the point where bacteria could survive. Lets not even get into the regs about different coloured boards and knives. I have a full sized butcher block (mounted on a 1950's operating table base - adjustable height and angle for food prep and photography) which gets washed daily with a bleach solution, occasionally scoured with salt and is never oiled. I always use a small polypropolene board on top of it when prepping anything for my three year old - otherwise the thing is just one big happy disease vector and I love it. I agree with the rancidity point but I've got to admit that, as all the foodsafe mineral oils are sold as extreme laxatives, I'm more squeamish about using them than eating off my table. Come to think of it, as thousands of people probably croaked their last on it before it came into my kitchen, I could well have the most unsavoury prep space known to man.
  8. Get the Hell out of the town centre. Everywhere is either a chain designed to catch trippers or was a crap hotel restaurant til last year and hasn't updated the menu yet. Mitchell Tonks original Fishworks is in Christchurch (Couple of miles East of town centre). There are three other restaurants with pretentions in Christchurch - avoid them all like an angry rash. Bistro on the Beach, in Southbourne, is an experience (night time re-use of a municipal beachfront tearoom) but can be a challenge on a stormy night in march. On the other hand, as a fisherman, you might appreciate being able to beach cast from the outside tables. You could always send your mate to see my Mum in Tuckton. Her corned beef, chips and tinned peas is sensational.
  9. That was certainly a surprise - particularly to the Missus. I can see it works with branded goods and possibly own brand but does the promise extend to produce, meat, fish etc? Is there any way of checking these things like-for-like? (excuse the ex-marketing geek)
  10. In case you missed it there was a fabulous Food Programme on R4 last week on Eastern European food in the UK. Here's the listen again link. I listened to it with a Lithuanian decorator I'm working with. H made a couple of quick phone calls and this morning I got a huge parcel of assorted Lithuanian smoked treats and some splendidly lethal looking liquor. The EU definitely rocks
  11. Is there any definitive source of cost comparison for the supermarkets online? I'm having a huge row with my wife at the moment because I favour Ocado, which appears to be the only decent home delivery service. She's somehow convinced that, because it's from Waitrose, our weekly shop is about three times the price as when I drag my sorry tripes all the way to the bedlam that is Camden Sainsbury's. (Before you ask - no, neither of us actually knows the price of a loaf. Who reads receipts?)
  12. I always find this page useful. It tracks ownership of the fast food chains and is regularly updated. It's aimed at boycotters but is a useful fact checker when pontificating. For our Canadian friends, they now appear to own Tim Horton's. On their corporate site I can only find reference to US and Canadian franchises. There used to be one on the corner of Windmill St and Shaftesbury Av - It was the last place I actually ate a chain burger and I was, as they say, very, very drunk but I remember it tasted fantastic.
  13. Well if you thought that was weird try this one... Sausage Sushi How to carve wieners into amusing shapes... I'm stunned
  14. Via the nerdily useful Lifehacker blog, here's a video clip from a Japanese TV programme on how to peel a potato in one go. Utterly brilliant. The secret is obviously iced water. Video link here
  15. It's also symptomatic of a bigger change. When I first got interested in food it was a real minority interest in the UK. Being an amateur cook and keen on food writing was a weird hobby, particularly for a bloke. The UK media, in the desperate search for page and airtime fillers has relaunched all sorts of interests for the mass - property development, interior decorating, gardening - we're told that 'parenting' is next God help us. Food has also been a victim. To give a specialist interest mass appeal requires simplification - 'dumbing down' if you like. The same number of people cook but a way has to be found to 'engage' with a larger audience This gives us a world of food programmes (watched mainly by people who don't cook) where the behaviour of the participants is the main entertainment and food journalism which is reduced to idiot proof recipes, glossy pictures and palatable cliche. Food has become 'lifestyle' Magazines used to have food columns tucked away at the back where some literate enthusiast was allowed 300 words to ramble agreeably about food. These days, property freesheets have food sections. Chefs used to run restaurants. These days they appear on television. Public discourse on food in the UK now revolves around that which is marketable. Food has become inextricably part of the market - in a sense, further commoditised. (There's no criticism implied or overt in this but take a look at the subject matter on the UK forum as opposed to the US ones. Our longest and best debated threads seem to involve restaurants, celebrities or indeed markets. The US threads seem much more food/cooking centric). Is it any wonder that Borough has turned from a weekly food nerd's convention into Madame Tussauds? I'm not sure if any of this is good or bad. The UK has rescued itself from being the butt of international culinary scorn, nutriton has entered the political arena, the supermarkets are listening to consumers, great ingredients are easily available and I'm getting paid for a lot more writing. On the other hand, prices are high, Borough is a themepark, foodwriting has become a branch of lifestyle puffery and I can't turn on the TV for fear of seing another great chef or writer behaving like a gurning muppet. You pays yer money, you takes yer choice
  16. John Thorne, Jeffrey Steingarten and Jim Harrison have all been on the bedside table in the last couple of weeks. It's refreshing to find writing that isn't afraid to think around food instead of defaulting to recipes. Eating is our most common, universal sensual experience, I can't understand why we stopped writing about it almost exactly as celebrity chefs hit our screens
  17. I loved Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples so it's likely to be a real treat. Her books sadden me though - they're a constant reminder of how the US continues to take foodwriting seriously while we seem to have turned it into a branch of lightweight celebrity/lifestyle journalism.
  18. <RANTMODE> I'm really not looking forward to either 'biography'. In the last few years, Ramsay has gleefully repackaged himself for every new series. First we had the foul mouthed, bullying hardman. By The F Word he managed to morph into a kind of pin-up for the menopausal. We got regular shots of him whipping off his shirt, the utterly depressing sight of him attempting to flirt with C list TV presenters and the word 'Fuck' interspersed with such carefully timed regularity it had to be scripted. I swear there's somebody on his earpiece telling him to up the swearing whenever things get a bit dull and then reigning him in when it looks like it might cause complaints. There's even a tactical toning down between first and second series of Kitchen Nightmares. If this guy is so all-fired bloody emotional, authentic and no-bullshit, how is it he can adapt so brilliantly to the requirements of his producers? I wish Tom Cruise had that sort of range. He's obviously a talented media manipulator - what's in question is at what point that becomes hypocrisy. The reason I loved Kitchen Confidential was because it read like an authentic version of a cook's life by a bloke who also happened to be a great writer. Unless I've got things radically wrong, Bourdain was a cook first, a writer second and a Sleb very much last. I would love to read the biography of an important chef - which Ramsay undoubtedly is. Unfortunately he's such a lucrative property that every word of his lifestory will be managed to support his persona - an image we have palpable visual evidence is utterly mutable. God knows how the MPR one will read but if PR is already revolving around a specious 'Who's the hardest' debate I can't imagine it's going to be any more edifying. </RANTMODE>
  19. Precisely, Dear Boy.... Make sure they all wear tweed and carry tightly furled brollies at all times Breakfast at Simpsons in the Strand, a leisurely stroll through the City to Sweetings for luncheon, afternoon tea at the Ritz or Fortnums, lurch to Quaglinos for a brandy Alexander, cab to the American Bar at the Savoy for pre prandial liveners then dinner at Sheekeys. To deal with the resultant hangovers I shall send over my man with a little preparation of his own devising.... Huzzah!
  20. Well now we're comparing war stories.... I was in Thailand a couple of weeks ago. We sat next to a table of rich Australian couples holidaying together, possibly the most fruitful imaginable environment for a testosterone laden pissing contest. I had no idea I was about to witness the most outrageous display of competitive ordering in history. The first to speak was a harridan of scrotal countenance who had clearly been a trophy in a battle no-one cared to remember. ‘I’ll have the Pad Tai…' ‘No shrimp, no dried shrimp, no garlic’. This delivered as if trying to explain Neitzche to a deaf imbecile who’d been dead for some hours. Next up was a sun-dried voodoo-doll in a Pucci knockoff. ‘I’ll have the same… ‘With no tamarind, none of those yucky leeky things and I want my beansprouts on the side’. The last, a walking collection of epidermal melanomae, realising she’d been entirely outmanueuvered, sparked up with a tactical… ‘I’m not fussy. I’ll have what she’s having’ We watched as the husbands ordered – quite reasonable steak orders though with escalating levels of threat to the waiter if the meat was delivered anything more than freshly slaughtered and pulsing – and assumed the third witch had retired hurt. We should have realised she was just biding her time before the mutual assured destruction of her final strike. As the men’s starters arrived at the table and the weird sisters gummed at their breadrolls she announced in a clear, penetrating voice which froze the entire room… “We’d like ours as starters please”. I swear there was almost a ripple of applause in the dining room. It was like a martial arts death punch or the final move of a brilliant chess game…. ‘My God. The Orlovsky Blitztodt. I haven’t seen that played since Dietrich at the Drown Derby’. ‘Didn’t they outlaw it after that business with the maitre d’ and the flaming brochettes at the Savoy Grill’. At lunch the following day we found ourselves next to the same couples. Their conversation was entirely how far off-menu they’d managed to go in various restaurants around the world. They seemed to have no interest in the food and whenever they’d successfully managed to order some insanely complex combination it was themselves they congratulated rather than the poor bloody staff. For some people, restaurant going is a competitive sport and a bloodsport at that.
  21. Speaking as an ex-maitre d'... Try explaining to a furious waiter why the punters are being allowed to sit in anyone's section irrespective of who's slammed.
  22. Define 'bad'. A conversation about three-in-a-bed bondage sessions with a bloke in a pink trilby sounds pretty good to me
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