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Posts posted by britcook

  1. Would like to go on record as stating definitively that I have no desire to be In Charge In Seattle.

    I would want to start smaller. Maybe Spokane.

    At least in Spokane you can move around downtown without being subject to the weather, in Seattle you've just got to take the wetness as it comes.

  2. On the basis that your friend wasn't having a laugh (because to find a decent restaurant in a tiny Oxfordshire village is, let's face it, pretty unlikely, and to get a choice practically impossible) you can find a couple of hotels in Dorchester (the George and the White Hart) that do reasonable food but your best bet is The Goose as Britwell Salome (but it's still a pub).

  3. You're pretty much OK with preserved stuff, bottles, jars, cans, that sort of thing so you can get typically English things like Branston pickle, marmalade, decent jams, Patum Peperium, Marmite (although whether you like them is a different matter). Also British biscuits are OK (entirely different to US cookies), digestives as mentioned but also things like Hobnobs might amuse you. USDA does not like fresh food so any kind of fruit or meat is out, you might be OK with cheese but I think the journey will do it any good. British Chocolate is OK again now, it's one of those things that polarises people, some love it, some hate it, you might want to see what you think. Definitely try the beer while you're here but it's just too heavy to think about taking back enough to make it worthwhile. Enjoy your trip.

  4. A further addition about Harts, went there towards the end of last year and standards had definitely slipped in the kitchen and the general buzz around was that our experience was fairly typical. Returned last weekend and am pleased to report that normal service has been resumed (except for a small slip when lamb ordered medium was excessively bloody but that was fixed quickly and with minimal fuss). Food still isn't probably quite as good as World Service but the wine selection is better (and cheaper) and for me the service at Harts still has the edge.

  5. There's a whole bunch of stuff I probably can't cook properly but of the simple things I try I just can't cook a sausage properly. I've fried 'em, broiled 'em, grilled 'em, baked 'em, high temp, low temp, lots of oil/fat, practically dry, thin ones, fat ones and still I can't get a decent result. Either not cooked enough in the middle or a charred shell on the outside (and occasionally both simultaneously). Nemesausage!

  6. I don't know why everybody has a downer on Birmingham, if you're going to be in Birmingham stay there. Take a stroll along the restored canal paths (more canals than Venice), take coffee at one of the many waterside watering holes, check out the Sea life centre in brindleyplace, admire some stylish new buildings around the new bullring, get some serious retail therapy round there too, check out any events at the NEC or NIA, pig out at Cadbury World, and of course eat, too many choices!

    So OK Brum doesn't have any headliner attractions but there's lot's of good stuff to see and do if you're only there for a day or two.

  7. They don't always want to try something 'new', and evidently, cheese-and-chocolate falls into that category.

    Occasionally, very occasionally, you can be surprised by a combo that you thought wasn't going to work but does. Mostly you can put the flavours together mentally and decide whether that's for you or not. Now the brownie is a case in point, I haven't met many Americans who don't love a brownie but that love is not shared outside continental North America, sure some Europeans love 'em but for lots of folk they're too rich, whatever. Couple this with a cheese filling and you've alienated the borderline fans too, you can imagine what it's going to be like and you just say "No way". Some things you just have to grow up with to fully appreciate and the cheese and chocolate brownie is so far outside the European mainstream that to be quite honest I'm surprised you found the takers you did even if subjectively they were TDF.

  8. each to their own, but I find it ludicrous to think that home blending is improving an average bottle.

    I don't think the issue is the value of the bottle either, surely you are taking something a little dull and making it worse.

    what next, why not bring a little something to your favourite restaurant, perhaps some saved special sauce off your big mac would really give things that extra kick.

    I don't think anybody is suggesting this sort of exercise at a restaurant, only either at a tasting or at home. I don't know about you but I'm always trying new wines, a few, very few, make it onto the regular purchase list, but it does mean that I come across wines that are not all that they might be. If I've got other wine around that may be complementary a blend in the glass may be an improvement, maybe not. No big deal either way, I don't think we should be put off from the occasional experiment but on the other hand I wouldn't base my wine buying policy on being able to "improve" whatever I bought.

  9. Pretty good set of guidelines going on here, my boy was definitely raised on these and now is comfortable in any eating establishment. He was also brought up to show his appreciation to the host/ess if dining with friends or to the staff if dining out. A couple of occasions stand out, once at age around 4 we took him for the first time to our local, upmarket silver service restaurant where he behaved well and after an enjoyable meal when the maitre d' (also the joint owner) came to enquire if we had enjoyed it he replied, "I like this cafe, it's better than McDonalds", all adults fell about laughing and he was treated like royalty thereafter. Other time aged about 8 we took him to a decent Italian restaurant and when asked if he had enjoyed the meal he replied, "The food was wonderful, please send my compliments to the chef", the waiter duly conveyed his comments to the kitchen and the chef sent out a panetone for him to take home! Mind you the Italians were always good with kids in restaurants!

  10. Just curious really, but if cloying is not wearing a jacket for all this travelling what is he wearing over his shirt? Personally I find that a lightweight, non-crease jacket or blazer is an essential piece of travel equipment, equally at home on a plane, street or in a restaurant.

  11. I have seen people attempt to do the "chez cuvee" but it begets the question "Why are not you buying better balanced wines in the first place?"

    Balance does not always imply costly. Balance can be found at any price point but it sometimes means inconveniencing yourself, instead of grabbing that two buck with your ten pounds of frozen shrimp and giant bag of dried cherries, drive once more, find a reputable wine merchant and let them help you buy a bottle that you won't have to doctor up when you get home.

    This always assumes that you can find a reputable wine merchant within suitable driving distance and even then he's not necessarily tuned into your tastes or your wallet.

    One of the joys (and hazards) of wine is that it is almost a living breathing substance so what is raw and tannic today is beautifully balanced tomorrow and just plain dull, if smooth, after that. And that assumes decent storage and presentation throughout. At many a tasting I have found wines at all price points which were fine as they were but would have benefited from a little "something" - fruit, tannin, weight, lightness, wood, whatever. Impromptu blends in the glass can often give a surprisingly good result, but also can ruin two decent wines if you get it wrong.

    One of the strengths of the old French system was that they did the blending for you, culminating in Chateauneuf which can be a blend of practically everything. The modern trend for varietals means this balance of grapes is often missing and if you find one that is a little one-dimensional then the judicious addition of a wine with complementary properties can improve both.

  12. I found that I was pulling out the hand mixer only at the holidays to mash the potatoes. Then I learned that a hand mixer is a terrible tool for mashing potatoes

    I keep reading this in many places, don't use a hand mixer for mashing potatoes. Why not? I have tried a ricer and assorted shapes of hand masher but the ones done with a hand mixer are always better. What is so wrong about using a hand mixer? It is, of course, always possible that my manual technique sucks, but I still think my mashed potatoes are better, much better, than most I get to try elsewhere.

  13. His tv company, optomen, have gently confirmed that a bid has been made for the Carved Angel.

    They will presumably be filming him there, then.

    Sorry to hear this. That means another great place will inevitably go down the spout. Mass market tv will undoubtedly bring the hoardes to Dartmouth...


    John Burton-Race has been a great cook ever since his days at Ortolan (I think it was Ortolan anyway) and has only recently appeared on the TV, only then mainly doing non-cheffy (and occasionally stupid) things. So why wouldn't he be good for the Carved Angel? Since Joyce retired the place is but a pale shadow of its former self and could do with a good kick up the proverbials. I'll be down there again in a couple of months and be happy to return to the Carved Angel if Burton-Race is at the helm.

  14. The done-ness of my meat is never an issue, it's just the juice spillage and the serving temperature that are my issues.

    I think you worry too much. If you have cooked a succulent piece of meat then it's going to be juicy, when you cut into it then it's bound to lose juice however long you rest it. If you don't get any juice then you've overcooked it. If the serving temperature is less than your family like then you've rested it too long. As a personal preference I'm not keen on over-hot food but I know some people don't think it's food unless it's piping hot, so get it at the right temp for them and stop worrying about the juice.

    Again a foible but I cook steak in the shortest possible time and then leave it to rest close covered in foil for at least 15 minutes, sometimes more. My guests say I cook "the best steak" so I figure it can't be all wrong.

  15. When I read about creations like this, after I've instinctively turned my nose up, I wonder if I'm not too set in my ways, too snobbish even. After all if you can blend things to give a pleasant beverage (and most wines are some kind of blend to start with, although up to now only of grapes) then why shouldn't the results of putting assorted flavours into wine be acceptable, especially if you can get your head away from the fact that it's "wine". It's like iced tea can be a pleasant drink in its own right so long as you don't try to compare it to properly made hot tea. Sangria, especially in Spain, can be refreshing as long as you don't expect to taste the wine in it (often better if you can't!). The main problem I have with most of these "created" drinks is that they taste totally artificial - "natural flavors" notwithstanding. Maybe these new ones will actually be drinkable but you will excuse me if I'm not at the front of the queue to taste them.

  16. I'm no medico, but I though that explanation was set aside some time ago. see eg Law & Wald, BMJ May 1999 for the numbers (and several other explanations of the French paradox).

    Fascinating article, it seems that (as I said) there is some under-reporting, 20% is the figure quoted, of heart disease but this of itself is not enough to explain the discrepancy. Given their conclusions, under-reporting is more significant than diet but not as important as reporting time-lag.

  17. The "French Paradox" has been with us for some time but subsequent research seems to indicate that diet has very little to do with it (although red wine may have some beneficial effect), but the reluctance of French doctors to certify death as being due to heart disease may have much more to do with it. They apparently have a tendency to omit what Basil Fawlty would call "the bleedin' obvious" and attribute cause of death to all sorts of obscure (secondary) causes.

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