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Everything posted by ChristinaM

  1. Thanks for the positive comments. The river fish idea is an interesting one, and I'll try and explain the problems we can have with it; 'our' rivers are obviously the Tay and to a lesser extent the Isla and Ericht, all three are tied up like the proverbial gnat's chuff with all fishing rights basically sold to the highest bidder (no probs there, some of our regular guests are fishers, and very nice they are too). Any local wild salmon would most likely be poached (no pun intended) and the water bailiffs might have something to say! There is also a very strict catch-and-release policy in force at the moment. Most of our sea fish is caught on the East Scottish coast, which is not far away. We do have a lot of foraged ingredients, notably wild garlic, chanterelles and other fungi and a lot of locally shot venison and wood pigeons. Local customers supply us with rhubarb, plums, apples, quinces etc whenever possible. I prepare hand made chocolates which we give to diners and also sell in boxes. Wes (one of our chefs) grows veggies for us and I have recently planted a herb garden. Obviously all this is promoted on the menus as things become available. we keep our prices low as Jonny (Head Chef) is an absolute whizz at sourcing ingredients and avoiding waste. I'm really grateful for all the feedback you are giving me It helps to know that we are getting SOMETHING right! I take the point about the menu font, maybe time for a change?
  2. Thanks for replying, much appreciated. The reason I didn't put the name in is as mentioned in the first reply, vultures! However, I shall be daring and post a link to our (not very good - we're building a new one) website. http://www.theanglersinn.co.uk/ We have been in regular contact with one of the local papers and they are, to say the least, a bit 'sniffy' about editorial! We had a charity event a couple of weeks ago, which we were delighted to do as it was in a great cause and the people who came had a lovely evening. Both local papers mentioned the event without naming the venue! We do special offers, we give meal vouchers for local charity raffles etc., we make a big splash when the local race meeting is on. Our USP is not very U! Basically it is flexibility. We provide fantastic food quite a bit cheaper than other places in the area and we also cater for small events and private parties, providing special menus for birthdays, celebrations etc. What the customer wants, the customer gets. For instance one of our local regulars is celebrating his golden wedding with us tomorrow night, we have tailored a buffet to his needs, given him the best price we can and sole use of the restaurant. We will move heaven and earth to make sure a good time is had by all. Sorry, I'm wittering. It's just so frustrating, happy customers, a great atmosphere, a restaurant that any and all feel comfortable in (our customers range from the local 'aristos' to our KPs and their families & all points in between). And most importantly, damn good food!
  3. Good morning fellow Egulleters, I'm throwing myself on your mercy and asking for your thoughts and advice. A year ago my husband and his brother used the money they had earned from a previous family business (a very well thought of country house hotel) to buy a small(ish) restaurant located just north of a prosperous large town in Scotland. We brought in an excellent chef who we had worked with before, polished up the service, tidied the place up generally, spread the word as best we could etc etc. We now find ourselves in a fairly hideous position...the customers who do come in love the place, rave about the food -which is truly excellent- and repeat business is good, but we are finding it impossible to get new business in and turnover is just not good enough, by a long way. We have advertised extensively in the local press but cannot afford to do more on that front. We have had charity functions and we really do go the extra mile for our customers. We cater for vegans, people with allergies etc., willingly and happily. We use the very best of local produce and are as seasonal as possible. We are members of the Scotch beef Club, the slow food movement and our chef helps out at local schools. There is one obvious thing missing; we have never been reviewed. Our two local papers no longer do restaurant reviews and the Scottish national press don't seem to be interested. The UK press don't seem to venture north of the border very much. I'm the first to admit that none of us are great self-publicists - in fact we're rather shy But our wonderful chef is very charismatic and happy to handle that sort of thing. What do we do? I realise money is short for a lot of people at the moment but that should be another strength for us, we are told again and again how reasonable our prices are.... Honestly, all suggestions gratefully received. Thanks for giving me a place to rant!
  4. The AA has guides for hotels, restaurants (and pubs), so perhaps they save money by doubling up and reviewing both hotel and restaurant at the same time? You could well be right. In all honesty we weren't so bothered about the carpet thing, it was a good excuse to replace them! But the owner managed thing made us very cross indeed as my husband and I were in and out of the place every bloomin'day!
  5. Wow! What a totally brilliant program that was... An emotional roller coaster if ever there was one. I've just watched the whole thing over 3 days and am now knackered! I was more than happy with the result but would have liked the other finalist to be someone else ideally. One important thing Masterchef Australia showed me is that manipulating results, bitching, backstabbing and swearing all the time is not necessary to make great television. Fond as I am of Masterchef UK it doesn't compare at all, it's like the difference between Cadbury's Bourneville (pleasant enough) and Valrhona Manjari (the real deal). Edited to add that it's worth persevering with as the first few episodes are a bit dire.
  6. Hello Annie and welcome to the forum. Speaking as a (former) hotel owner I can best answer your original question by saying that Michelin and the AA are streets apart in one -IMO- very important respect, and that is that there is very little that is anonymous about an AA inspection! This is something that wasn't touched on during the Michelin tv program mentioned in another thread. For instance we strived for a depressingly long time to get a third AA rosette and were eventually informed that 'they' didn't like the the carpet in the hotel's hall! What relevance this had to the food is anyone's guess. Suffice to say we changed the carpet and got the 3 rosettes.... we were also informed that the AA prefer owner-run hotels, something we couldn't fulfill as we had an extremely good manager and no desire to get rid of him. This lead to a lowering of the hotel's overall percentage rating. All a bit potty if you ask me, it's not like we were part of some soulless chain!
  7. It was the guy with the short black hair who was putting everyone down. He did make it to the winners foursome though. ← Michael Isabella. He also said something about, "one less old lady to worry about" when the one contestant chose to keep her immunity. And during the quickfire he made a comment about how there's no way a girl could keep up with him. Gail commented about his asshattery on her blog ← 'Asshattery', love it! How do those sexist attitudes survive in this day and age? He should meet my daughter, she's a commis chef and she would eat him for breakfast, probably having sat on him and squashed him flat first. The Sous chef she works immediately under took the p*ss out of her when she started her job, she chucked a cabbage at him and shut him in the cold store! And she's NOT some huge, valkyrie type bruiser. They are good friends now.... Top Chef seems to have really upped the game this time, Michelin winners, James Beard nominees...I wonder if they are trying to put more distance between themselves and Hell's Kitchen?
  8. Guilty confession time, I'm loving it, as usual I hadn't realised that the new season had started so spent a happy few hours catching up on Youtube last night, total bliss. As usual the contestants are a very mixed bag, mostly incompetent and even more accident prone than ever. I am concerned for PTSD guy (Joseph?) as he obviously has some serious issues, I really hope he gets some help.
  9. That's exactly it, I have rather a large number of old aquarium heaters, most of them without thermostats of their own. OH has always taken the view that aquarium heaters are much safer and more reliable if controlled by an external thermostat and so far he's been proved right! A pair of 500wt will heat 6 gallons to about 90F in 15-20 minutes. I shall have to experiment...If not I'll try the deep fryer next.
  10. Thanks adey73 and joesan. Any excuse to get myself back onto ebay! The kettle idea is a good one, I've been known to do that to do an emergency water change in one of the (with actual fish) aquaria.
  11. Yeah, we are scratching (hehe) our heads for ideas for a suitable dust bath, hoping to combine it with a grit source? I don't know. Use a large litter box maybe? We are notorious for over thinking things. Before you know it, we'll have a veritable Chicken Disney World! ← Nice one! I doubt you could combine the two as they probably wouldn't want to eat what they bathe in! A small pot of oyster shell is enough, they don't eat much. Generally they will make their own dust bath remarkably quickly but if not a large cat tray with chinchilla sand in would make a great Disney World style 'chicken spa'. i am embarassed to admit that when I bought the 4 new layers my youngest daughter and I decided their 'house' was too plain for our little treasures so we painted it leaf green with white eaves and door
  12. protein. that's why skim actually makes great foam for espresso drinks. high protein content, no fat. thus the instability. but, when heated, it can set the protein and you get a little more stable foam. i think mcgee covers this pretty well in "on food and cooking". edited to add: you don't even need a bamix to do this. you can use a french press (i think i posted this in another forum or thread), rapidly moving the mesh up and down in skim milk to create a nice thick foam and then heat for a few seconds in the microwave to make a great espresso drink. ← Or alternatively heat first...OH does this every morning for his coffee. He uses a milk frother that looks like a very narrow French press with a much taller cylinder, it works really well.
  13. Thanks joesan. I could, of course, use more than one heater, one of the reasons I thought of them is that they are very responsive. I'm thinking of a small tank, maybe 18"x12"x12", how much water should I use in terms of gallons (or litres)? I am now going to look at an aquarium thermostat and see how high it goes.... The other bonus is that all aquarium eqipment is food-grade.
  14. Carlux, I am not surprised you are really hacked off, that is totally dreadful. I am disgusted by the way you have been treated. The only real problem I've had has been with attachments, particularly the grater. The grating drums themselves are fine, good, strong metal but they are attached with a stupid plastic ring. long story cut short I used mine for grating frozen beef heart for my fish and the ring just shattered and flew across the kitchen! Kenwood Uk's reaction was to tell me it wasn't designed for grating frozen meat, so I pointed out to them that there was nothing in the instruction booklet that said I couldn't so they sent me a new one. I also had a blender disintegrate once but they replaced that very quickly. I then bought the glass one instaed as it seemed more hygienic. As i said in my previous post Partmaster UK carry a great range of parts and I would be more than happy to send anything needed to european Kenwood users who are otherwise stuck. I don't know what Partmaster's polices are for sending outwith the UK, but I'm here to help if needed! I've actually had far mor problems with my Magimix food processor, the bowls crack all the bloody time and they wanted £65 for a new one! Scandalous! The newer one is 'only' £35, just as well as mine has just cracked again....Oh well, time to get creative with the duct tape I suppose.
  15. When I come across this sort of thing, it drives me into a real rage. I want to tell them where they can "stick" their $%#@ butter. I know I can look it up on-line, yes, but I hate having to write "translations" all over my recipes. It should work from the get-go, as far as I'm concerned. It would be solved by a simple switch to proper weight measures, as others have noted. We really should organize a letter-writing campaign to publishing houses. As for the spiral binding, I suppose I could have guessed the publishers were behind that outrage as well. What other industry makes its product with the assumption that purchasers won't ever use the product they've bought? Aside from exercise equipment manufacturers, that is. ← Drives me potty too! There are so many wonderful US published books but the measurements are really off putting. The idea that a 'cup' of flour is completely different weight-wise to a 'cup' of sugar just does my head in
  16. I love my chickens I actually have two lots, a trio of 'oldies' who live at the bottom of the garden, they don't lay anymore (the oldest is 12 years old) so they live in gracious retirement with the resident wild ducks, pheasants and partridges, we have had no trouble with wildlife (mink and stoats where we are) but my dogs (Chows) did create a fair bit of havoc in years gone by. The other lot are the layers, 2 Sussex Stars (Light Sussex crosses) and 2 Bluebelles (Marans crosses). Both breeds are rated at 330 eggs per year and my goodness they live up to that! No need for artificial light or anything like that. When they stop laying they will join the other three at the bottom of the garden. I am lucky enough to have a small (tiny) walled yard adjoining the house where they are completely safe, even the resident cats don't bother them. This is important as they share the yard with my daughters' two giant rabbits! The only problem I have is that the chickens have developed at taste for rabbit food and the bunnies just love layers pellets and flaked maize! The main advice I'd offer to the OP is to make sure that your chicken house is easy to clean, a removable nest box is a real boon, as is a slide-out floor if you can manage that. I also put a couple of bales of straw out in the yard one a year as the chickens enjoy pulling it apart and it helps keep their feet clean. Oh, and watch out for lice and mites, they live in the cracks in the henhouse and can cause misery for the chickens, plus egg laying can really suffer. There are good organic powders available for dealing with these. And (particularly if you live in a soft water area) make sure the birds always have oyster shell grit available or you will get thin shelled eggs.
  17. ChristinaM


    Has anybody got any idea where us poor deprived UK peeps can watch this? You tube is hopeless (though v. good for other things)?
  18. An aquarium bubbler is the standard for on-the-cheap sous vide systems using rice cookers. ← Interesting. I've been thinking about fish tanks and sous vide (I really can't afford/justify the expense of a 'proper set up). Apologies if this has been covered earlier in the thread, I did a search but the results weren't helpful! Could I use a small fish tank, aquarium heater and seperate thermostat? Circulation could be easily provided by a small aquarium powerhead. Aquarium heaters are available up to at least 500w and are very efficient and reliable. My husband likes the idea as he reckons he could insulate the whole tank with polystyrene tiles to save energy!
  19. Hello Saladfingers, I hadn't realised you were in the UK too All I can tell you as regards building a culinary career (....drumroll....the beginning!) is to report what has happened with my middle daughter. She did a college course (local FE college) and found it very useful. She was there from September to May 2007/08 for 3 days per week. it was called the 'Professional Chef's Award Course' and (most relevant for you from what you have said) it did wonders for her confidence. She too is very thin skinned so it was an ideal stepping stone. She had worked for a few months in a 3 AA rosette kitchen doing pastry but was quite badly treated and her confidence had plummeted. She took almost a year off and basically sat in her bedroom College really did the trick! At the end of the course she was sent for a fortnight's work experience at a local hotel with a 2 rosette kitchen and at the end of it they begged her to stay! She got a starting salary of £13,500 (not bad for a 'baby' commis). She's really settled now, obviously the work is hard (10-12 hour days are the norm), she gets tired and stressed at times, but the brigade is friendly, the Head Chef is nice and she has a fairly enjoyable love/hate relationship with the Sous Chef - as far as i can see it involves lobbing cabbages at each other, trying to lock each other in the walk-ins, that sort of thing She has made the 'larder' section her own. They are hopeful of a third rosette soon too! Best of luck to you, if there's anything else I can tell you, PM me. Oh, I should probably add that she got quite a generous bursary and travel expenses from the college, which was really helpful but I don't know if this would apply to you?
  20. Manton, thanks for this thread, it is a really great read. It's also brought up a couple of interesting points for me, a UK reader. Namely the 'who gets to call themselves a chef' thing! There seems to be a wide variation between the US and UK, in that over here 'chef' seems to used much more, a cook being (usually) someone who works privately or in an institution (school or hospital for instance). As far as I can tell we don't seem to have line cooks over here, we'd call the commis chefs. One of my daughters is a commis, she did a year at college (technical college, I suppose, as opposed to university type college), was headhunted from her work experience (externing?) and her job title was instantly 'commis chef'. Or, as we used to call them when the family owned a hotel 'baby commis'! as in "Oh God, there's a bunch of baby commis coming to try out this week. Batten down the hatches and go to deffcon 7" . When she gets promoted she will be a chef de partie and then sous chef. All the chefs in her brigade are referred to as "Chef" by the waitstaff etc. The other thing that interested me was the reference to women-as-chefs, attitudes etc. She sems to be seen as very much one of the boys which is fine, but the (female) pastry chef is seen as a sort of fluffy pet by the others, which really annoys my daughter! Thanks again for all your posts, can't wait for the next one.
  21. ChristinaM

    Dinner! 2009

    No pictures I'm afraid, I'm not that organised! Night before last I made my first recipe from the French laundry book....nothing very exciting, just pasta dough but it came out brilliantly. What a fantastic recipe, the dough was so well behaved! I didn't need to flour my work surface when I kneaded the dough and, for once, nothing stuck to the pasta machine. What a bonus I served the pasta with a simple home made pesto (heavy on the pinenuts, I like them best). It was totally yum. Last night youngest daughter was a bit miserable so I offered to make her eggs benedict. I then remembered I had no muffins, no ham and no lemons for the hollandaise...oh dear. Nothing daunted I found a solution. Two diagonally cut slices from a baguette I had handy made the bases, then some really good smoked salmon on top. My chickens had kindly produced two very fresh eggs that afternoon so no problem poaching them. I made the hollandaise using lime juice, which I feel helps bring out the salmon flavour. Anyway, it was a great success and daughter cheered up instantly. tonight will be blue cheese souffle I think, I have a nice piece of St Agur in the fridge, which could do with being used up. wish me luck! As you might have gathered my chickens have gone into egg laying overdrive so we are eating eggs by the dozen to clear the decks
  22. Tragic indeed. Unusually for when a celebrity dies, in all the comments I've seen nobody has a bad word for her, she was universally popular and loved which speaks very highly of her. I hope that is of some comfort to those she has left behind.
  23. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the Amazon reviews, it appears that mine followed the pattern...the knob fell off. And in the case of mine the thread was broken so I couldn't put it back on. Grrrrr. I was wrong:blush:, it's not the JB prince one I've ordered, mine is more like the one in genarog's post and about the same price which is really good for the UK.
  24. I broke my Cuisipro yesterday and I am NOT happy. it was only the third time I'd used it. I am replacing it with the one mentioned in mjc's post and I hope it lasts a bit longer!
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