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Everything posted by shilly

  1. I've bought a spectacular rib of beef from Northfield Farm (which is at Borough and also does mail order), for a recipe from "Cooking for Two" by the Roux brothers. But I've also bought a pretty ordinary rib from the same place. I guess you can't always know which cows died happy.... On the topic of salting, Nigel Slater recommends salting grilled meats at the time you flip them. It does the trick for me, but I wouldn't be sure I could tell the difference in a blind tasting.
  2. Hi there Does anyone know where you can buy organic pink veal bones for stock in London? I'm after a shop, rather than mail-order. Thanks Steve
  3. Hi there Too many replies to discuss them all, but a number of people have picked up on my point about the importance or otherwise of a titular chef's presence to the experience. I understand that it is arguable that a top-flight kitchen can function at its peak whether or not the head chef is there -- on any given night. I find it more difficult to understand that the same would be true for a top-flight kitchen where the head chef is never there. I mean, isn't the whole point--in fact the definition--of a great head chef that they can make a difference to the quality of what comes out of the kitchen doors? I cannot see that this is possible if they are never in the kitchen, and the sum total of their contribution to the experience is a name and some ideas. Perhaps, again, I'm being old fashioned--I think of chefs as being chefs, first and foremost--not menu consultants.
  4. I agree that having the titular chef still cooking doesn't guarantee that the food will be any better than it otherwise would. But I must say that I do feel a bit cheated if a star chef's contribution to a restaurant is no more than a name and a brigade cooking in the appropriate style. If I'm being asked to fork out a lot of money, I like to think that there's a chance that the kitchen, if not the food itself, will that night have received the personal attention of The Great Chef. I also agree that there's no point in having a poor website. But if a meal will cost me hundreds of pounds, I'd like to be able to get as much as possible out of the experience, which includes being able to find out about the types of food and wine that are served and the relative prices. For instance, the guides quote prices of about 200 euros per head for dinner at Lucas Carton. But they also warn that wine can make a huge difference -- and wine/food pairing is something that Lucas Carton is known for. I don't want to go if the cost of getting wine that does justice to the food is going to be out of my reach. So I was disappointed not to find indicative prices for food or wine on its website (although there's several menus). Of course, my next option is to contact the restaurant and ask them... but it does seem a leetle bit OTT to do that!
  5. Thanks for the advice, everyone. I have now booked a table but am considering changing it. I have booked at Lucas Carton, hoping that: a) the service would be noticeably different (although not necessarily better) than posh British service -- perhaps more specialisation of roles, more forthright advice? b) the setting would be quite different from any top British restaurant (Art Noveau, a feeling of old-fashioned luxury, etc etc) c) the dedication to food and wine pairing would be as interesting and exciting an approach as it appears to be -- although I don't know how much you have to pay to appreciate it properly but I have a feeling it might be more than I can afford. Hearing that Senderens doesn't often cook there is a bit disappointing, as is hearing that it might be over the hill. I was hoping for something reliably fabulous! The month-to-the-day booking system for L'Ambroisie isn't very appealing, and I can't find a website for it (call me old-fashioned, but I do think a top restaurant should have a decent website to whet the appetite and give fair warning of damage to the bank balance...) Thanks again Steve
  6. Next year, I finally get to go to Paris for the first time--although we'll only be there from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday evening. I'd really like to go for a great meal when I'm there and I wondered if anyone has advice on where we should consider going for a (posh rather than bistro) meal that will show the difference in approach, style and service between top restaurants in London and top restaurants in Paris. I know that restaurants are individual places, but what I'm wondering is "where should I go for a meal that I couldn't have in London?" At the moment, I'm tending towards the idea of Lucas Carton, for the setting, for the food-wine matching and for the service. But you may (will?) have other ideas.... Thanks in advance for any ideas Steve
  7. You might want to try Rasa or one of its sister restaurants. We've always had excellent food there.
  8. Good Italian delis will do white truffles to order. I have bought them from Lina Stores in Brewer street in the past.
  9. I have two that are getting a bit battered and bruised: Recipes from Le Manor aux Quat'Saisons I bought this ten years ago when I was just getting excited about food and cooking, and I haven't stopped using it since. Going to Le Manoir 5 years ago for the first time was a pilgrimmage, not least for the quandary of having to choose between the dishes I'd been cooking to see how they're done properly (eg his recipe for salmon tartare), the dishes I'd never dared do (eg bresse chicken in a pig's bladder) and recipes that weren't in the book. FWIW, I particularly recommend the salmon tartare if you're new to posh cooking (it's pretty easy and looks lovely ), the jerusalem artichoke mousse for wintertime when you think you're in with a chance...., the summer fruit soup when the family's round. I could go on, but I won't But that's for special occasions. Day-to-day, I rely on Verdura by Viana La Place for inspiration. Tasty, hearty, healthy--it's just right. And not a pretty photo in sight.
  10. Here's where I contradict myself....a bit I don't think that drug-testing employees is necessarily a sign of vanishing trust between employers and employees. It must be a question of time and circumstance: I am very happy for airline pilots to be drug tested, but I am unhappy for the same to happen to chefs. Airline pilots don't generally consider this requirement to be an affront to their dignity, any more than most doctors are insulted about the lack of faith shown in them by the public through the legal requirement for them to sign up to a code of conduct. The lack of trust in such situations is not a comment on the worth of any individual person, but a reflection of two things: a) some people will behave 'badly' from time to time b) this can potentially cause great damage to others (planes falling from the sky, Harold Shipman etc etc) Conversely with the first example, I'm not happy for market forces alone to determine which kitchens have good hygiene practices....despite knowing that hygiene regulations can lead to absurdities such as attempts to ban unpasteurised cheese.
  11. Could you say why you find it repugnant? I find it a purely common sense response to a growing problem I would be interested to hear the other side S Hi there My reasons for thinking it's repugnant are essentially those set out by FatGuy, but the most important are: a) my private life should be that. Private. My employer has very little business saying what I may or may not do when I am not at work, so long as my ability to work is not impaired. Even then, special circumstances may apply--I only want to work for an employer that will cut me some slack from time to time (I'm not a chef, can you tell ) God knows, the converse certainly applies -- each of my employers has expected extra effort from me from time to time. Impairment of ability to work needs to be broad enough to encompass reputational risk to the employer from things like repugnant illegal activities (but not repugnant legal activities) b) the practicalities of drug-testing are such that it is unlikely to work particularly effectively, and the chance of a false positive is quite high. Given the potential consequences in terms of loss of earnings, this is a dangerous road for employers to go down if they get it wrong. Steve
  12. This has been an engrossing thread -- thoroughly enjoyable and nice to see passions running high! I was struck, when reading this, that the American chefs have a clear idea of what's needed to run a professional kitchen successfully; but I was also struck by the fact that in Europe, most of what they want and get in the US (relatively weak unions or none at all, at-will Ts&Cs, etc) is outlawed! Yet there are still successful kitchens in Europe, producing great food in an environment that is heavily regulated and frequently unionised as well. I doubt that European restaurants will stop producing great food even if they do institute drug-testing regimes, although I find the idea repugnant. Steve
  13. I was at Emma too, and my memories of the food are that it could be pretty good from time to time. Formal hall was pretty crap, but lunchtimes were tasty enough, and posh dinner (eg 10 or 20 quid a head) gave the kitchens enough budget to do some tasty stuff. Seeing the ball menu reminds me of when I arranged food along with a good friend in 1994. We were absolutely rooked by a local supplier who provided about half the quantities we were expecting. But the kitchens did a great job for the posh dinner, which pulled in a fair old crowd, and I was pleased with the menu we chose. It was themed in colours (pinks and whites) and for £13.50 a head or thereabouts we managed some nice grub, mostly derived from the roux brothers' classic cuisine book: smoked salmon mousse covered with a piece of smoked trout marinated escalopes of chicken sauteed with basil and black grapes / three mediterranean tarts for the veggies strawberry shortbread biscuits great cheese from the cambridge cheese company and great port organised by a posh feller who went to London and bought it at auction for £6 a bottle, which we thought was very slick, as it was much cheaper and much better than buying from the college coffee and bits
  14. Hi again Having had a better look at your post and a look at your website, I realised that you might think picnics don't quite fit the bill... You could always go for a curry. London has loads of good and cheap curry houses, but they're outside the ususal tourist stomping ground. The Time Out guide to London had a comprehensive listing -- I haven't been for one in ages so I can't advise you more precisely. Sorry. A warning: the British have never been very good at cheap food. Cheap usually means processed to buggery, especially when eating-out. For instance, IMO, if you go for a 'Great British Breakfast' you'll be eating crappy, industrial rubbish such as grey sausages filled with stuff you'd rather not think about (especially in London) unless you either go posh -- which pretty much defeats the object -- or eat at someone's house. Others will probably disagree, of course...
  15. Hi there Holly It's unseasonally hot here at the moment (i.e., it's early summer and the sun is shining in London ) -- so if the weather holds out, can I recommend that you consider that most English of pastimes, a picnic... I have two favourite ways of doing this and eating really well: 1) Central London: head to Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden for cheese, crackers, olives and chutney; then go to Milroy's in Greek Street and pick up a bottle or two. Next, head for I Camisa in Old Compton Street in Soho for Italian bread, cold meats, marinated veg, pesto etc. Finally, take your wares to Soho Square either for a local picnic or walk five more minutes and head to St James's Park to sit on the grass. On your way back, you could have a look at Fortnum and Mason, which is great fun. 2) Cambridge: an hour's train ride from London and very pretty. There's a food market in the city centre where you can pick up fruit, veg and more. And then there's the the Cambridge Cheese Company in All Saint's Passage where you can pick up cheese along with everything else you might want. If there will be two or more of you, it's always fun to hire a punt and have your picnic while floating along the backs and enjoying the view. Enjoy your stay!
  16. Hi there Jay I wondered if you had any recommendations from your Mallorca trip? We're off in a couple of weeks.... Steve
  17. We ate there about four years ago and were really disappointed. We were hoping for great British beef, perfectly cooked -- we got a tough piece of flavourless meat and came out feeling both stuffed and unsatisfied. The prices were very high as well. We were at a loss to understand how this could be, for a restaurant that makes such a fuss about sourcing and careful cooking. Steve
  18. Confusingly, there are two organisations based in the UK with similar acronyms: the Marine Stewardship Council and the Marine Conservation Society. IMHO, the latter offers much more in the way of practical guidance -- it is the source of the list of fish to eat and avoid mentioned earlier in the thread. Its website is http://www.mcsuk.org/ and it has details of the lists and also its book, "The Good Fish Guide". It has this to say about sea bass: Avoid European seabass unless line caught or farmed: trawl fisheries target pre-spawning & spawning fish, also high levels of cetacean by-catch. Presumably, by farmed it means "responsibly farmed"....
  19. Well whaddya know. Newbies learn something every day....
  20. Marina O'Loughlin reviewed this place in today's Metro and raved about it....
  21. shilly


    Zhoug This is a hot Yemenite paste often served to accompany falafel, shwarma and salads. It is very potent and is reputed to have the ability to extend your lifespan, if you eat enough... but treat it (and eat it) like wasabi -- a teaspoon would be very painful indeed! The hotter the chillis, the better -- and if you have the time, muscles and energy to bother crushing your chillis to a paste by hand, your zhoug will be even hotter. The "h" in zhoug is an aspirated sound and the "z" is quite soft (although IANAY so my pronunciation is far from perfect) 400 g green chilli peppers (fresh, not dried) 100 g chopped flat parsley 100 g chopped coriander (cilantro) 20 g finely chopped garlic 1 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground cardamom salt and pepper The amounts given are relatively arbitrary, especially given how much chilli peppers will vary in potency -- you should experiment to see what you like. Either crush or process the chilli peppers to a rough puree. Add the herbs and crush or process again. Add the spices and do the same once more. Taste (carefully!) and adjust the spicing/seasoning accordingly. Eat and enjoy! Zhoug keeps for a long time in the fridge -- several weeks. Keywords: Side, Vegetarian, Easy, Vegetables, Kosher, Dip, Hot and Spicy, Middle Eastern, Food Processor ( RG454 )
  22. Dear all Thanks for the tips! I've had a look at the good grips range and there are a couple of items there that I like the look of. Incidentally, they have the best terms and conditions in the business... take a look: https://www.oxo.com/info/terms.html I'm going to try the filling with hot water lark as well, although I'm not sure if I'll be able to get the water hot enough to evaporate without risking cracking the glass Steve
  23. Dear all Since getting married a couple of years ago, we've been the proud possessors of some very nice Riedel glassware (mostly Vinum, with the exception of two glorious -- but very very delicate Sommeliers Sauternes glasses). We've greatly enjoyed using them, but are always struggling to keep them sparkling clean. We don't put them in the dishwasher as we've found that our other glasses have tended to cloud over time if we do. So we've been washing by hand. But some of the glasses have a relatively narrow neck, which makes cleaning detritus off the bottom of the glass difficult (we once made strawberry champagne cocktails, which were a complete disaster to try and clean out of the champagne glasses). Additionally, we have a problem drying the glasses without getting watermarks, and the glasses always look smeary after drying. How do others clean their glasses? What do restaurants do? Steve
  24. shilly

    French Kosher wines

    Hi there Pan For some particularly orthodox Jews, wine must be flash pasteurised if it is to remain kosher when served by non-Jews. When wine has been treated in this way, it is known as mevushal. The technique is considered by some to reduce the quality of the wine, but winemakers who produce mevushal wines argue that modern technology has advanced to the point where there is no perceptible effect on the taste. Steve
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