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Everything posted by Duncan

  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?
  16. Is it possible that Mrs Brown was well-enough informed to disagree with your assumptions? ← It is indeed possible she quizzed the chef about the sourcing of the meal, but at a high level banquet it is probably safer for her just to leave the meat rather than risk a resumption of the 100 years war. I see the Times didn't actually attempt to make their article balanced: No mention there of humanely raised rose veal (even if this time it wasn't they should still mention it), and this is the first time I've seen it suggested that the problem with foie gras is that the livers expand painfully: I wonder what evidence Peta think they have for that. To my amazement the Daily Mail report of the same dinner seems much more balanced.
  17. The evening we were at Kitchin the chef was busy in the kitchen (there's a window into the kitchen so we could watch what was happening). I have no idea whether this was an atypical evening.
  18. That one resurfaces every Christmas: it was true (although it was only £9, and even that only if you stayed on the line for the full 6 minutes of the recorded message), but the premium line involved was shut down on 29th December 2005. The official statement from the regulator PhonepayPlus in 2007 says Edit: and the pdf referenced above says: so I think Erica should definitely contact them.
  19. 6 trays and 7 packets of seeds? Seems a strange combination, but I expect each pack does more than one trayful. Also the sprouting kit (2 tier sprouter plus 23 packets of seeds) would keep anyone going for a while. I also find it surprising looking at the individual packs of 'Living Greens' seeds that they vary in size from 500 seeds (purple radish) to 6000 seeds (rocket victoria). Presumably its the size of seed that matters to the producer, but I expect you'll get a lot more rocket than radish.
  20. You can probably buy growing kits online. Try searching for "micro greens". This article looks useful, also this one. The telegraph article links through to Gregg's Veg who will deliver the actual salads (but I can't see on their website how much you get for your money).
  21. Apart from getting late cancellations I think there is no point in emailing any time except when they say: mid October. Send them an email early on 15th October. Opinions seem to vary, but I asked for a specific date for my wife's birthday (and also said I'd accept any other date). I think they probably select more specific requests first, and they do seem to like doing birthdays: that's a pure guess but based on a 100% success rate (one application, one success).
  22. I didn't say that. I said: 'many' doesn't imply that all chefs don't aspire to Michelin stars, it just means there are many competent chefs working in restaurants which are never going to impinge on the Michelin radar.
  23. Based on a couple of weeks holiday each year, it seems to be awash with Morse, Inspecteur Barnaby, Poirot, Miss Marple. I don't believe any of them are known for their cooking skills.
  24. While I'm not convinced that your assumptions are correct, I think you answered your own question. In France the restaurants largely focus first on serving decent food and there are many which do this very successfully without ever aspiring to Michelin stars. Restaurants like that do also exist in the UK, but these TV programmes are showing a worrying proportion who seem to think that the badge is more important than serving good food to their customers. I guess by definition the people you see on such shows are looking for a quick way to fame without putting in the hard work. TV show or Michelin star: its publicity and exposure they want.
  25. Well if that was for the show they must have changed the format significantly from last year, or perhaps they were filming one of the elimination challenges so it wasn't actually open when you tried to go in. They only actually end up running the restaurant at most 2 nights a week, but if it was one of those nights I'd have thought that you wouldn't have had any problem getting a table. Getting fed on the other hand might be harder.
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