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  1. I believe it depends on the type of improvement. The facilities manager where I work was quite upset when the canteen lost a star after an inspection found a tap on a sink wasn't working properly: it had apparently been working earlier that day and was fixed the next day but they were still docked down to 4 stars. They got the star back immediately though because it was a one off technical failure; she told me that if it had been a failure in their processes it would have needed multiple further inspections to verify that the process was both fixed and being followed.
  2. We're going to Oud Sluis in a few weeks time and I want to try to book a taxi in advance. Getting there for 7:30 sounds easy enough, but does anyone who's already gone have any idea what sort of time we'll be wanting a taxi back to our hotel again?
  3. The Sun is reporting that TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson has been arrested for shoplifting on 5 occasions at the Tesco store in Henley-on-Thames. They quote their source as saying: He's had money problems recently, so I do hope it's just stress and he can get over it.
  4. I'm not so sure about that rumour now. The source that suggested the rents were high seems to have been the BBC and when I found the relevant article it actually seems to have been a quote from the owner of another business complaining that all rents in central Cambridge are too high. It might be interesting though to drop them an email and see what they say.
  5. I see today that Fitzbillies (cake shop and tearoom) in Cambridge has ceased trading: World-famous city cake shop ceases trading Anyone who has spent any time in that area will recognise them as one of the great Cambridge institutions. Especially famous were their Chelsea buns (and if you think you know what a chelsea bun tastes like, then until you've tried the Fitzbillies version you really don't). I spent much of my undergraduate career nourished by Chelsea buns, or rather by the reduced price rejects that they sold to impoverished students. It is reported that the high cost of rent is what drove them over the brink: if true that's particularly bitter to me as it's my old college that owns the building.
  6. Thanks stomsf, Chris and Mikels. Next time I'll definitely try a quick dunk in hot water. Thinking it over I suspect it may have been the fat I added which had been sitting in the fridge a while (I mixed the seasoning into a paste with some fat so as to avoid anything actually liquid in the bag). We had the second ox cheek last night: this one without any worrying aromas and very nice it was too. BTW, I must say that I'm pretty impressed with the Sous Vide Magic. Now that I've calibrated it against the slow cooker I'm using it seems to be able to hold the temperature to about +/- 0.2C
  7. I got a Sous Vide Magic for Christmas which I'm using to control a slow cooker. This weekend I had my first go at cooking something for a very long time: 2 ox cheeks, one with a Porcini rub similar to the one Chris Amirault suggested recently for short ribs, the other in a beer marinade. The first cheek was cooked at 60C for 33 hours by the end of which time there was obviously some gas in the bag and a slightly cheesy smell. It didn't smell off as such, so we ate it and it was very nice but the cheesy smell lingered for some time afterwards. I assume that I was unlucky enough to get some thermophilic bacteria in the bag and in future I should probably recognise this and bin the food straight away. My question really is whether there are any steps I can take to minimise the chance of this happening again? The other cheek I left in for another 12 hours then chilled down in ice and is currently sitting in the fridge for a day or two. It doesn't look like I've any problem with that one.
  8. In today's paper I saw an advert from Tesco claiming that their asparagus takes 48 hours from farm to shop. For some reason that doesn't make me want to rush out to visit Tesco, I think I'll continue going to the local farm shop where not only is it picked the same day, but once picked the bunches spend their time upright in water (or they also do PYO for the purists).
  9. We've tried Waitrose pork chaps a few times, but I'm not sure we've got it right yet. The problem is that while it's easy to find recipes like the one you suggested which tell you how to prepare Bath chaps from the raw materials (including curing them) the Pork chaps that Waitrose are selling are already cured. They're not rolled, they're not cooked, but they are salted. Very heavily salted. I think they're too thick to roll the way Bath chaps are usually done.
  10. That's a common factor every year: the desserts are always weak. I think many of the chefs depend heavily on someone else at their establishment for desserts so they find themselves a bit out on a limb when they have to work on their own. We went to La Becasse the Friday evening that Will Holland got through (see signature for link to blog). There were some really nice and imaginative dishes so yes, do go if you get a chance (no asparagus though we did get asparagus the next evening at Mr Underhill's).
  11. There's a tiny bit more information at http://ow.ly/14Zkj
  12. Head in the direction of Little Clarendon Street and/or Jericho and have a look at the menus in some of the restaurants to see what you fancy. We had lunch in Pierre Victoire a few months back and it was pretty decent brasserie food (but I've no idea how they do for dinner). Branca in Jericho is supposed to be good (but we haven't been there for several years). If you fancy Lebanese then try Al Shami. There are plenty of other options in that area if none of the above take your fancy.
  13. Whose home are those supposed to be a taste of? Edit: Oh, I see: Fish & Chips versus Prawn (or at least Lobster) cocktail. But what on earth posessed Shaun to choose a dish he can't taste?
  14. He didn't quite predict our menu selections correctly on our recent visit (claimed to have forgotten that duck confit was one of the options). We had the tasting menu which is slightly smaller portions with choices for main and dessert (so e.g. the sticky toffee pudding is only large instead of enormous). All very tasty. Keep up the good work Adrian.
  15. Yes, Judy and I went to Nathan Outlaw's at the start of April. I posted a very brief writeup on my blog, mostly just a list and photos of the courses, but we enjoyed it a lot. We had the tasting menu so we got a good range of Nathan's dishes but none remotely similar to the ones listed for the competition. So is it 'Iron Chef Uk', the Duck Egg battle tomorrow?
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