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Tim Hayward

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Everything posted by Tim Hayward

  1. This is a genuinely baffling philosophical question. You obviously have a right to enjoy your evening too and I completely sympathise with your disinclination to approach the table directly. More often than not, being loud and gregarious, I find myself sat at the other table. If someone complains I would either (depending on how much I've drunk) be quiet and try to calm the rest of the table or get louder. Either way, the intervention puts a serious crimp in my table's enjoyment of the evening. As far as the staff are concerned, it's usually a matter of allowing the maximum number of people to enjoy themselves without breaking things or hurting themselves. It's less of a financial decision than a Utilitarian one - greatest good for the greatest number. There seems to be no rational solution. The English have, however, developed a solution to this Gordian knot of social interaction. Everyone stays exactly where they are, doesn't complain and engages in weapons-grade tutting. Sooner or later, one fierce soul will tut in such a way that other tables can hear. This forces other tables to form a judgement and take sides, tutting in favor of one or other protagonist. In this way, discomfort spreads from table to table like a fungal infection Within minutes the entire restaurant will be staring daggers at each other like Veronese street gangs without a word having passed anyone's lips. Society used to be so rigidly codified that one could be sure on booking that a restaurant didn't welcome the sort of people who might discuss group sex and bondage. There were also more bohemian boites where, I'm sure, one could discuss such important matters freely, without fear of offending anyone. I'm personally glad those days are behind us. Many people, my Wife included, are of the opposite opinion. As an aside, though I find your concern for your future Mother-in-law's moral purity entirely laudable, did you ask her if she was offended? I have a mother in law, of similar age and from a small provincial town who, though seemingly a model of upright probity, is actually as shockingly liberal as a Buenos Aires cocktail waitress in matters of sex and intoxicants. Check in with her - you may be pleasantly surprised. Sorry you had a rotten evening. Better luck next time.
  2. If I could put in a vote for my local Sushi Waka on Parkway in Camden Town. It's small, unpretentious has a pretty extensive Japanese clientele. There's a tatami room upstairs but I've yet to graduate. I understand that sushi is authentically a sort of informal, post work snack thing. This place really feels like a local izakaya.
  3. Anybody got a decent working recipe for proper fried chicken? I lived in the North Carolina for 4 years and never managed to successfully extract the secret from the in-laws. Proper chicken at a family reunion by the creek tastes like nothing on earth. Each cook in the vast extended family vying to outdo each other. Everybody would let go some secret - marinading in milk, cornflour in the breadcrumbs, some unspeakable process involving a hypo full of RC Cola but I've never been able to replicate it. I have a horrible feeling it has to involve four things... 1. Unbelievably cheap and crappy chicken parts 2. Gallons of fat 3. A ton of salt 4. Eating south of the Mason Dixon line in 100% humidity Any suggestions?
  4. I wish I knew. I got the bird from a stall a Borough and the bloke gave me a load of old chat about the Poulet de Bresse which I believed. This was a while back now when Borough was populated by chancers with muddy boots, flat caps and a plausible line in bull rather than the staunch champions of free rangery who presently occupy it. I should have rumbled when he told me that the letters KFC on the box stood for 'Kwality French Chicken'. T
  5. Me too. It was a 'Special Reserve' as well. Label Anglais' site talks about healthy feeding, allowing outside grazing, permitting full growth without hormones and uses the term 'Fully Free Range' but makes no mention of barns, sheds or deep litter. As far as I've been able to find out (and this is by no means easy) a bird can be barn-raised - predominantly indoors in what most civilians would consider quite intensive conditions - and yet still be marketed as free-range if it has access to outdoor space. Hock burns would tend to back this up. Wrenching the wheel back to the original thread, WH are our best suppliers of fantastic chicken. I have to imagine they represent an example of best practice across the industry. With that in mind I wonder how much difference an avian lockdown would actually make.
  6. If I might humbly point you at the following... http://www.fireandknives.com/newsletter/newsletter4.htm ... it's a protracted cry of anguish from the day they dragged me, weeping from my Lacanche
  7. Not stupid at all. My apologies. Hock burns are dark brown/black lesions on the scaly 'knee' or hock of the bird. In big shed chicken farming, the litter on the floor of the barn is not changed regularly so a high concentration of excreted ammonia builds up. This causes chemical burns. Burns on the chest mean the bird spent a lot of time lying flat in old litter rather than running round a barnyard picking at grubs. I'm not trying to make any kind of moral point here. I just think that shutting up our treasured free-range stock is too often just a matter of shutting a little used metre square door in the side of a hangar-sized barn.It shouldn't make too much difference to supply. And if it starts to be claimed as a reason to put prices up then we're being duped.
  8. I'm getting increasingly confused about the whole free-range/indoor/outdoor debate. Wyndham House openly declare that their free-range birds are kept in large sheds but allowed 'access to the open air'. I bought a bird from their premium free-range selection on Friday and it had hock burns not only on the knees but on the breast - invisible behind the large label. The Wyndham House guys are pretty insistent that their stuff is as free-range as we want to go - anything free-er is going to taste like stringy old boilers and have less breast meat than a feral pigeon. Personally, I sort of begrudgingly go along with this. The chicken tastes great, I pay a high (fair) price for it, it was well fed, and someone killed it so I could eat it - we're ultimately involved in food production here so the notion of actually lowering the quality for some idealistic vision of poultry happiness is at best unrealistic at worst hypocritical. The only part of this which bugs me is that there still seems a level of deliberate obscurantism around what actually constitutes free-range. For the record I think Wyndham House are more honest about this than most.
  9. So although the plans were definitely well on their way she was crucial to their plans and to the general devpt of the area. I think she still has some involvement in what opens there. ← Does she really wield that much power? Divertimenti and Ginger Pig were there well in advance of La Fromagerie
  10. Roughly about the time John Fothergill died. ← I love the way it took you 3 seconds to come up with that response - It took me three days to understand it. I will now chuckle happily for three hours.
  11. I just finished the second part of Ruth Reichl's autobiography, 'Comfort me with Apples'. In talking about her audience as LA Times food critic, she makes a really interesting distinction between people who are passionate about food and people who love restaurants. In Los Angeles, restaurant going was a competitive sport from the beginning - another arena for celebrity to conspicuously consume. Reichle, under strong influence of Northern California (specifically Alice Waters) championed the notion that it's all about food. I would argue that, since the eighties, London has been going in the other direction - it's becoming less about the food and more about (hideous word) lifestyle. Perhaps this thread is drifting into Reichle's knotty schism.
  12. For me it's a lot to do with the marketing. Specialist restaurant PR has become such a mature and efficient industry that the sizzle on a new restaurant invariably outshines the steak. It's become an essential and largely unquestioned part of the business plan. Puff in the style sheets, whispers that Gwyneth eats there, making the place seem entirely unbookable by non-celebs. The whole process is arse-achingly predictable and applied without thought or variation to every new venture. There's a cumulative effect to all this - making eating seem more of a commercial than a sensual experience. Restaurant dining in London is beginning to feel like being gently and repeatedly mugged. This has nothing to do with cost - I love an expensive meal as much as the next man - it's just the constant, nagging feeling, that at every point in the process that you're being taken for a ride by some shiny arsed marketeer. Anybody got any idea when 'hospitality' became an 'industry'?
  13. Perhaps you need to be a Brit to understand this but, a canned corned beef sandwich in thick white bread.
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