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Jon Tseng

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  1. Not a period piece, but "Economy Gastronomy" is one that's probably suited to the current era of austerity. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Economy-Gastronomy-Better-Spend-Less/dp/0718155726 For a retro-period piece there's currently a series running on the BBC here called "Wartime Farm" about how people made do in Britain during the war (http://www.wartimefarm.co.uk/). Again more kitsch than authentic, but lots of recipes to do with how people simply "made do"... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wartime-Farm-Rediscovering-Skills-Spirit/dp/1845337085/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348161704&sr=1-1 Hope that's useful! J
  2. Thought people here might find this interesting. I was a bit bored yesterday and so I started indexing all of Heston's articles in the Guardian (a UK newspaper) from 2001-03. These cover the period when the duck was a ** restaurant, and a lot of dishes like egg and bacon ice cream, nitro green tea sour etc were being developed. I've always thought these articles were one of the great troves of Heston's material which no-one ever uses because they are buried away in various bits of the Guardian website. Like the Heston at Home stuff they sit probably a bit between normal everyday cookery and restaurant cooking in terms of complexity. Anyhow to cut a long story short it took a bit longer than I thought but I whacked up the full index on my blog this morning - both article index and index by individual recipe (nearly 200 of 'em). Hope you enjoy! J
  3. Oh thats interesting. Didn't realise it was the same shop as the Star! Which presumably means it will be exquisite, pricey and damn near impossible to track down at retail! :-p Still kicking myself for not pre-ordering on Amazon when they were listing it at thirty quid! :-x J
  4. lol, but you forget we're all English so we're far too polite to ask for anything / raise a fuss / not pay the optional mandatory tip if we get crap service &tc &tc :-p
  5. Also check out Terry Durack's book on, er, Noodle. I think you'll find it ticks a lot of your boxes - goes through Noodle types and categorises recipes by type of noodle used.. Durack is the long-standing resto critic on the SMH (also had a stint in London on the Independent). I always find him more insightful than most on Asian stuff, I suspect because he's closer to the action. J
  6. Hmmm. IIRC GR @RHR used to be one of the most egregious offenders in the "yes and this is a caper raisin puree made with raisins picked under a friday full moon by a bloke called fulchert" stakes. Don't know if its improved since then. My main objection to this is simple (same one as my objection to food photography): WHILE YOU'RE FAFFING AROUND MATE MY FOOD IS GETTING COLD!! (probably double important given the lukewarm / 60c limitations imposed by contemporary molecular/sous vide!!) J
  7. Finally finished off scribbling my post on Pei Mei... http://www.morecookbooksthansense.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/the-best-chinese-cookbook-youve-never.html In evidence of her "take-no-prisoners" approach I present the following excerpts... https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B46hxTELCaJZa0d1OXFxZlhqRms https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B46hxTELCaJZeXdRcjl6ZWJXWVk :-) J
  8. lol cheers mate To be fair though not my sleuthing. I just jumped in on a conversation Andy Lynes, Robin Maj and Hardens were having and cross-posted here! J
  9. Interesting one I just came across on Twitter. Dabbous' PRs whacked up a case study... http://www.joriwhitepr.co.uk/images/case-studies/pdfs/dabbouscasestudy.pdf (read it quick. a fiver says it'll be taken down by the weekend). Job well done by all accounts. The interesting thing is that part of said strategy was for Raymond Blanc to pen a glowing review "that was used for press purposes". http://www.raymondblanc.com/BLOGS/The-first-review-of-Dabbous-Restaurant.aspx All well and good, but note that said RB also has a financial stake in the restaurant (see commentary here, here and here) - something he never discloses in his review. Now of course we know that any new resto launch nowadays is accompanied by PRs carpeting reviewers, bloggers and the glossies. And by all accounts Ollie's put in the work and earned the plaudits - good on him. But it do wonder if RB's approach was slightly disingenuous here. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth. J
  10. Ha interesting topic, as I'm just researching a blog post about Fu Pei Mei's trilogy of Chinese cookbooks at the moment. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Fu+Pei+Mei They do not compromise simply because they come from an age (1960-70s) before the idea of making cookbooks "accessible" didn't exist! It's basically a Chinese cookbook written straight for Chinese housewives translated into English (actually its unusual in that the book includes both Chinese and English text). The recipes are great, unvarnished Chinese and entirely authentic. The only downside is the translation can be a bit dodgy. We were just looking through mums favourite recipe (spiced duck cold cuts) and found they had missed out a key ingredient on the translated version. Highly recommended though! J
  11. I suspect the service point is in the eye of the beholder - especially if you're used to big-city fine-diners you might not get the same white-glove treatment when you ventures outside the M25 (I remember being quite miffed by the casualness of the service at Chez Panisse, until I realised that was the point. I thoroughly agree with you on the dishes though. Interesting but they didn't strike the knock-out punch is a good way to put it. J
  12. Not quite storing recipes, but when I'm dashing out to the shops and want to buy for a particular recipe I generally snap a pic of it on my mobile and go. So by extension I guess the perfect software would be some sort of iPhone/Android app which lets you take a picture of a recipe, then scans/OCRs it and parses the ingredients/method automatically then stores/indexes it in some back-end server/website? Dunno if something like that exists but that would be the ideal! J
  13. Hmmm. Not sure where you are, but in the UK authors receive a payment from the library system based on the number of times their book is borrowed to help compensate them... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Lending_Right So you solution is simple. Move to London and borrow! Thinking about it otherwise I would wager than much of the deforestation is caused more by packaging than by books. I can't imagine book sales (especially in these kindle-ed out days) are a major source of paper consumption up against other uses. ebooks I fear are going to take over the world (but for the moment I'm content to lug by 270-odd cookbooks around with me). However until the technology improves significantly they are not going to overtake the full colour large-format experience of a cookbook. Plus I don't think they do a waterproof, flourproof Kindle... yet! J
  14. A few more on my watchlist (this has a more UK bias) Memories of Gascony - from an iconic former *** French chef, long out of print, recently republished. Pierre Gagnaire - 175 Home Recipes with a Twist The Square - Savoury - first cookbook from a longstanding London ** chef. Two Many Chefs, Only One Indian - first book from Sat Bains, a cutting edge Anglo-Indian cheffy moleculary type chap. Ta J
  15. Dornenburg and Page's Culinary Artistry has always been my go-to in that respect... I had a look at the Flavour Bible when it came out but didn't think it added much to the earlier work. Perhaps look at The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit as another entry in that genre? Gray Kunz also wrote a book a few years back called The Elements of Taste which also tried to systemise an approach to flavour combinations, although I'm not sure they quite succeed (IMHO their categories were a little too broad). All the best J
  16. I know. Michel going on the telly has ruined it for everyone! Used to be quite easy to get into the set lunch but now the poor man is just far too popular! lol
  17. PS Glad you enjoyed it Jay! ;-) Alas I've now moved north of the river so forays to Camberwell are few and far between. :-(
  18. lol sorry meant posh vici crab stix. no they don't contain crab (only fishes) but the posh ones are quite tasty and made as quite passable imitations of snow crab legs: http://www.waitrose....ci surimi royal (as well as being inexpensive and presumably if made from fish healthy!) What I would do is boil an artichoke and get a packet of crab stix and zap up a quick batch of aioli (egg + olive oil + garlic + stick blender) to dip. Perfect TV dinner (especially with olympics on!)
  19. No. Tinned crab tastes like cardboard. If you're that desperate for a quick fix maybe chuck in a dressed crab instead. It may be adulterated with mayo and other stuff but the brown meat will still pack more punch than tinned white. I would even venture to say that good crab stix are better than tinned crab. I love the post Vici ones they have at Waitrose (although of course if you could get to a waitrose you'd probably be able to get fresh crab!) J
  20. Note that Time Out is now planning to go free in the Autumn. Hoping to hoick distribution from 55K to 750k. That should (hopefully) mean their reviews get the prominence they deserve. J
  21. To be fair to them, setting up this sort of gig you're on a hiding to nothing. As I've said many times before, how much you enjoy a meal is not about how good it is in absolute terms but how much it beats your expectations. In a place like this expectations are already sky high, which makes it very hard to beat them! Of course its not all tough for the restaurant though given the size of the cheque at the end of the night! re: John Campbell I am in two minds about this. I can thoroughly recommend his cookbook Formulas for Flavour. Despite its naff title it really is an excellent and inspirational book which goes in-depth and slightly molecular without ever getting out of hand. I really is a shame he hasn't written another book since then. However the one time I went to the VIneyard at Stockcross I thought the food was so-so and the service horrendous - its the one time in the UK where we haven't left a tip. J
  22. Jay and Marina are both foodies restaurant critics, which is why I rate them. A daresay Jay is a pompous as the average person on this board... ;-) In London I also rate Time Outs reviews and its annual guide (which I guess is all spearheaded by Guy Dimond) very highly. Because its not a big newspaper the effort is often highly underrated. http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/ For what its worth I would place the TO coverage more highly than Fay Maschler and the Evening Standard, although the latter is more commercially influential. I dislike Fay's habit of visiting restaurants as soon as they open. Pace arguments about "if you're charging you're fair game", I think this habit benefits her profile much more than it gives a genuine assessment of what the average reader will face when (if) they finally get a booking. With regard to Putty Man's comments on cronyism I broadly agree. One trend I notice (which no-one in the press ever highlights - funny that) is the habit for high profile critics to have consultancy gigs on the side. e.g. Nick Lander and Fay http://www.nicklander.com/bodytext__.php?text=myapproach.txt&set=c____ph http://www.aprivateview.eu.com/the-company.asp Fine you can put safeguards in place around fair disclosure of commercial relationships, but at the end of the day it means the critic isn't wholly working for you the reader. They are also working for the restaurant trade. That makes me uneasy. Doubly so because, as mentioned, these sidelines are rarely written about in the press. J
  23. Someone finally takes noticed! Reviewed in today's Sindy. There has to be good reason to traipse across town for a kebab. And this secret sauce might be it.. I really do urge people to check this place out. The grilled meat is scrunchily lovely and if you get bored of it you can always pop across the road to Silk Road for dumplings and, er, more grilled lamb. :-p J
  24. Yes, I noticed this and then noticed it again and again as the press release was uncritically rehashed by every food churnalist in earshot. This sort of uncritical approach to food reporting ("This is happening its great. Its great because its happening. And because the PR company told me too and I'm too lazy to do anything apart from rewrite press releases") really narks me. Actually when I read the press release and the write-up on Hot Dinners a number of alarm bells went off. The first thing that struck me was the number of covers (170 each service according to HD). I thought "Oh that sounded funny - I knew GR@Claridges was big but not that big. Then a closer look confirmed it isn't in the restaurant at all but in the Claridges Ballroom. So why was I worried? Well to put it bluntly if you're doing that many covers you're into the world of corporate catering, not fine dining (you know... a gazillion cold entrees plated in advance, no a la minute cooking and no more than three movements to plate each dish please...). No matter how good you are you are going to struggle to maintain top-level consistency with that many covers flying out of the kitchen (believe me if you could Alain Ducasse or Daniel Boulud would have done it by now!). There's a reason why top tier venues generally run at about 40-60 covers and 1:1 (or higher) staff:diner ratio. It's an interesting compare and contrast to the French Laundry pop-up - far fewer covers and far more obviously trying to duplicate the experience of the mothership. The logical deduction is that Noma @Claridges will not be replicating the top-tier experience, despite charging a top-tier price. Now to be fair Noma is closed at that time so I assume most of the brigade will be coming across (then again they may be using the downtime for stages or a holiday... who knows?) but they are still going to be doing what 4x the covers the restaurant normally does. I think it's pretty clear who's actually going to be doing most of the cooking - staff of the Claridges hotel kitchen. The second thing was the menu. Five courses? The real Noma experience is a minimum of twenty. Even with doodads and inter-courses its clear this is a dramatically cut down experience (dare I say it... like a corporate banqueting menu?). An additional point - if the Noma ethos is about locally foraged ingredients you can forget that if you're doing 340 covers a day. I can't see how they can source ingredients in that quantity consistently without going through standard catering suppliers. The third telling thing was the wording of the release "...where René Redzepi will be in attendance every day, together with his team of chefs from Noma". It may be nothing but it struck me as a rather strange sort of corporate doublespeak. For a start why do they need to go out of the way to confirm Rene will be there (is there a suspicion he won't?). Also why do they say "in attendance" rather than "in the kitchen" or simply "cooking". And does "every day" mean "every service"? As I said maybe its my paranoia but that was another part of the press release which sounded slightly off-key. So to summarise at Noma (the mothership) you're paying about a hundred and sixty quid for a gazillion courses prepared by the crew. At Noma @Claridges you're paying 25% more for five courses prepared by the crew + the minions from the Claridges kitchen. Along with 169 punters sharing the event venue - sorry dining room - with you. TBH I bet if you looked hard enough on sleazyjet you could score a ticket for Copenhagen for close to the difference. Needless to say given its the Oympics the event will undoubtedly packed by the potentates of the IOC, corporate sponsors and ambulance-chasing food bloggers who just want to say they've "done Noma" (or Noma-lite). I regret to say that I haven't "done" Noma, and I very much doubt that will change between 28th July and the 6th of August. J PS Oh one final thing. When the news popped out I noticed this telling tweet from Spoon (a food PR agency). "@ClaridgesHotel congratulations on the Noma signing ... that's a prize that I know many were chasing." You see that's what this sort of gig is to people. It's not about the food or about the experience. It's just a prize to chase. Count me out.
  25. Lol. Well Pollen Street Social was (obviously) last year's Maze. I'd rather say that Tom Aikens (the Mk 2 version) is this year's Pollen Street Social. And might I also add that I wondered if PSS is this year's Texture, but I think actually that would North Road. Although Spalding could potentially be next year's North Road if he throws enough burnt hay and ash at it.
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