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Miss J

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  1. Miss J

    Dinner! 2002

    I am relieved, for your sake, that that's all it means! More seriously - I think - can you enlarge on the "facing heaven" chilis? Or is that a sort of poetic description of just reglar old chilis. Anyway - enjoy. I may be dining on small pretzels at a Manhattan gin palace known as "Jimmy's". Wilfrid, facing heaven chiles are a type of chile recommended for Sichuan cookery. You can find a pic of them here. Being a girl whose bloke is not fond of chile, and is especially not fond of chiles in soup, any time he's going to be away for dinner has become known in our flat as a "spicy soup and foreign films night." Tonight the film is Amelie. Pretzels are my favourite snack, by the way. So your night on the booze is actually quite appealing. Miss J
  2. This is both an honest question and a plea for information. Which cachaca is your favourite? I got turned onto it when I started drinking caipirinhas (which was quite late in life, as I had to learn how to pronounce both the cocktail and its main ingredient first). When I decided to learn how to make my own caipirinhas, I went down to the fabulous Gerry's on Old Compton Street, where they stock several types of every spirit known to man and beat, and bought a bottle of Pira Pora cachaca. It's quite nice. But...is it the one I ought to have bought? Give a novice caipiriniha maker a clue... Miss J
  3. Gavin - blimin' eck, we must have missed each other by a matter of hours. And I too was felled by the tarte tatin in Thursday's heat. Wilfrid - I went to Le Pigalle because you said it was nice. So there. Miss J
  4. Miss J

    Dinner! 2002

    Friday night, home alone in front of the telly. Boyfriend is out on a stag night, is due to crawl into bed reeking of lager and kebabs around four this morning. And we all know what that means - Miss J can have a flaming chile fest! Tonight I'm finally test driving Boiled Beef Slices in a Firey Sauce (or Shui Zhu Niu Rou, for you Chinese speakers out there). Bascially: a big, steamy bowl of finely sliced beef steak in a rich broth fragrant with chile bean paste and spring onions, topped off with a drizzle of sizzling oil enriched with finely chopped, fried facing heaven chiles and very numbing Sichuan peppercorns. And a wee bowl of rice on the side to calm my mouth down every few minutes. Bliss. The endorphins are AMAZING up here... Miss J
  5. No - and I'm kicking myself because there were a few lunch menus kicking around (3-course set meal), and I glanced at them and promptly forgot EVERYTHING written on them. Sorry. :confused: Miss J
  6. Even last night? Thomas, it was positively tropical out there. If I hadn't been in Soho, I would instead have chosen to be lying out in Hoxton Square with one of the Lux Bar's divine caiprinihas in my hand. Back on topic - I'd vote for dark rum and fresh juice as well. Miss J
  7. I happened to be drifting around Soho last night (with nothing but the most wholesome of motives, I assure you), so I decided to drop in on La Pigalle. I can fully support Wilfrid's assessment of the place - good, simple cooking, moderate prices, warm home-y service. And French. The owner and waitstaff speak French at all times, making it clear that - although they'll graciously switch to English if you're really having trouble working things out - they think it would be a fine thing if you tried using as much French as you have back to them. This adds a whole educational component to the meal, and I'm tempted to visit regularly so I can haul my pitiful high school French up to a decent conversational standard. The owner asked me if I had been sent over by one of the other restaurants up Berwick Street, and when I told him that his food had been recommended to me he promptly brought over a complimentary kir. So I was already well-disposed to liking the food by time my steak-frites arrived. My entrecote was perfectly bleu (I had asked for it very rare) with a good caramelised crust and a magnificently artery-choking slab of maitre de hotel. It was perched on a few slender green beans and carrot batons, and came with a large bowl of Wilfrid's perfect pomme frites. (And they are very good, although I'm far too partial to fat chips to be able to judge whether or not they were perfect.) There was also a pretty flourish of lightly dressed green leaves - just enough to cleanse the beef fat from my palate at the end of the meal. I swigged from a glass of undistinguished but still pretty moreish French Cabernet Sauvignon between bites. For dessert I had the day's special, tarte tatin. It was a generous portion of beautifully caramelised, tender apples and slightly underpar pastry accompanied by a plume of squeezy-can whipped cream. Nothing gourmet, but pleasant and comforting - like apple crumble. It would have gone down a storm if last night hadn't been the hottest of the year so far. As I was finishing my coffee, I noticed that the table next to me had ordered the soupe de poissons and were happily spooning what looking like quite a nice rouille onto croutons from a small pot in the centre of their table. Although I was very full after the tarte, it made me wish I'd ordered a starter. Service was charmingly relaxed, and the people who drifted in on a Thursday night were clearly local workers who seemed used to practicing their French with the staff. From what I could see, there was a concentrated effort made to suit each party's "dining pace" - one table of three was in and out in less than an hour, while another loudly convivial table of six was there when I arrived and barely onto their mains when I left. And as for me, I was able to read a book, chat with the staff in my very rusty French, and mosey my way through a couple of courses without once feeling like a conspicuously Lone Diner. My bill came to £23 altogether. Definitely a nice little 'local' find in the centre of Soho, and worth whiling away a weekday evening in. Miss J
  8. Miss J

    Roasting a Chicken

    Later this year? Man - cabrales, you really plan ahead! Putting a few carrots (in particular) around your bird makes the juices taste fabulous, btw. The first time I did it I was just trying to get rid of a few carrots that were on their way to petrifying on the bottom of my fridge, but I was knocked sideways at the difference it made to the jus. My bird is typically - organic, brushed with goosefat, stuffed with half a lemon and popped in the pan with carrots, whole (unpeeled) shallots, the giblets and a wee bit more goose fat. The whole thing is sprinkled with a little seasalt. The pan is later deglazed with wine and/or a bit of chicken stock. Left to my own devices, I usually serve it with mash. But my partner thinks that all roasted meats should come with roasted potatoes, so ever since I got a double oven I've been able to indulge him. Miss J
  9. I suspect it's just that particular family rather than anything else. It sure intrigues the kids when we're cooking out there, though - they ask questions about EVERYTHING we're doing. They're so puzzled. And I think they also find that seeing my boyfriend do the cooking (as he always does when its outdoors) fascinating...they're all boys, so seeing a grown-up bloke doing anything is interesting to them. Very cute.
  10. I bet you have a lot of friends.
  11. That sounds amazing...I'm going to give it a try this weekend. I'm sure it will be an evolving process! I really only "discovered" Indian food when I moved to the UK. I started on formula curries, but was lucky enough to find sources for regional cooking in London and am always looking for new sources of the "real thing." I try to cook Indian food, although my Indian cookbook range is still pretty small and I'm not entirely sure which sources are the best. (Access to someone's mum would be great, but...) My very nice neighbours,whose background is Pakistani, sometimes will give a few cooking tips over the garden fence - but not that often, as the family members I usually see are the kids. (And they're more fascinated by my cultural habits - every time we cook on the BBQ, we end up with a row of little faces hanging over the back fence calling, "Why are you cooking your food outside? Are you going to eat it outside too? But WHY?" ) So I'm really into the India board...it's a great source of info. Thanks Suvir! Miss J (edit disclosure: correcting my terrible spelling this morning!)
  12. Of course you can. Let this be the Adam Balic of gardening threads. Miss J
  13. knews9, your flat sounds like my old one (pre-garden flat). I found that a few herbs worked well in sunny windows - mainly basil (both sweet and Thai), although I was always tempted to get a little bay tree as well. In my very limited experience, I think as long as you've got some sun you can usually grow herbs indoors. You just may be a bit restricted when it comes to how big they can get. Miss J
  14. Thanks to everyone for some great suggestions! helena - bronze fennel is definitely on my list. I've found a great herb supplier (Jekka's Herb Farm), which posts seeds and young plants all over the UK. They also have a website which is a bit difficult to use, but does make it easy to order things from the comfort of my desk. Jim - I'm very into your idea of growing rocket. It sounds like it's got all the qualities I'm looking for: easy to sow, easy to grow, long lasting, edible and loves lots of rain. I'll keep the shallots in mind for later this year. Hopefully I'll have a really obvious place to put them... Liza - lavender is a good suggestion too. And I'm particularly interested in candying the flowers to use on desserts this summer. (Between that and the geranium petals, I'm thinking I could have some very pretty puds on the go.) Stellabella - I'm not sure about growing aubergines, as I think I'd need a greenhouse to get a good yield (which is a shame as there's some really attractive ones out there). I think some peppers would be good (which helena also suggested), especially as I'm such an unreformed chilehead! I'm not sure I can get a large variety of chiles in the UK, though - I may have to stick to sweet peppers. It's interesting that everyone has mentioned herbs, which is good on a logistic level as I can get Jekka's to just bus out a whole load of baby plants when I get tired of sowing-my-own. I really like the whole process of gemination, but I've only so much room for seed trays in my little flat, which means that it can take a while to get a whole bunch of plants from packet-to-beds. And after reading the tomato thread I've got a couple of fantastic-sounding tomato plants to go looking for too. So hopefully I'll be up to six or seven tomato plants as well as everything else... Roll on the summer! Miss J
  15. Don't tease us, Suvir - what all was it? What were its flavours? What did you eat it with? And nooooooo, I haven't had it or made it. But now I'm very, very curious about it... Miss J
  16. Hurrah - thanks for this report, mogsob. Between this and Wilfrid's earlier post, I've now got two reasonably-priced French restaurants on my must-try list. Miss J
  17. Wow - I've just had a rummage through the freezer, and it's turned into a marvellous illustration of his & hers shopping: Hers: Curry leaves Kaffir lime leaves Homemade chicken stock Frozen petit pois Frozen corn French sweet butter Haagen Daas Dulce de Leche Panchetta (pre-cubed) Bag of ice Loaf of rosemary and black olive bread His: Fish fingers Oven chips Garlic bread Frozen pizza Frozen onion rings Mint-choc-chip ice cream Translation: She freezes things she uses for cooking (generally). He freezes things he eats when she's away, or when he's come home from the pub late at night. (Though I have to confess I'm partial to a fish finger sandwich then, too.) Miss J
  18. Helena - Bronze fennel sounds great! Does it need any special care and attention? About the geraniums - I've currently got some a plain red geranium in a hanging basket donated by my boyfriend's mum. Can I put the petals into salads? Or should I get a particularly scented geranium to use in other things? (And what other things? I haven't heard many good geranium-petal suggestions lately...) Miss J
  19. Interestingly, there's a note in today's Guardian about London's ever-growing cocktail culture, and apparently the head barman at The Cinnamon Club is experimenting with a vodka-and-lassi combo. The whole article is here. Abomination? Inspired cross-cultural fertilisation? Has anyone ever tried anything like this? I thought the note about aerating the cocktail to counter the heaviness of the yoghurt was interesting. Miss J
  20. So, I'm a Londoner with a teeny little patch of back garden (that's a yard to you North American types) and I'm taking my first fledgling steps with seeds, young plants, and the rest of the green thumb business. (My dad's entire family is addicted to this sort of thing, so I suppose it's no surprise that my first patch of earth has caused a deep desire to make things germinate.) And because I'm an egulleter, I've also got a preoccupation with growing good things to eat. But here's the issue. In spite of its small size, our garden needs to look nice and fulfill all the roles of a wee London garden - private outdoor space, property-value improver, barbeque party centre and source of envy to all of one's gardenless flat-dwelling urban friends. This means that racing into full-scale food production is not a viable idea. (Unless someone knows how to create bee-oo--tiful veggie borders...I'm very open to suggestions.) So, at the moment I've got: A very big, old, enthusiastically cropping Bramley apple tree right smack in the middle of the lawn (makes GREAT pie!) An even bigger, older Victoria plum pressing against the back fence Tomatoes in pots on my patio (beefsteak and plum) Herbs in pots (moroccan mint, sweet basil, thai basil, french parsley) Nasturiums (currently germinating, soon to be moved into hanging baskets) Borage (going completely insane in one of my borders) Sunflowers (currently germinating, soon to be in the sunny border) Courgettes in a window box (the better to keep an eye on them so I can pick 'em when they're young...I spent many, many years of my young life watching my dad hike up & down the street trying to give away our surplus of oversized courgettes) ...and that's all so far. (Almost literally...except for the trees, we basically started off with a blank space.) So I'm very enthusiastic about doing more. What else can I do? What looks nice (ie nice flowers/foliage), and produces things I can eat? I'm thinking maybe a bunch of nice salad leaves might pass as ornamental as well as tasty... Miss J
  21. Miss J


    If it's very fresh, it's really good with browned butter and sage...
  22. Miss J

    Dinner! 2002

    Priscilla - the kedgeree discussion happened in the Anglo-Indian thread. As for this weekend's cooking - Saturday was the FA Cup Final, which was won by the mighty Arsenal FC. Amid the wild celebrations that followed, we did a bit of a backyard barbie for 10 ravenous footie fans: Chicken Wings 1 - marinated for 48 hours in kejap manis (sweet soy sauce), light soy, a bit of sugar, star anise, and cinnamon cinnamon sticks. Stretched onto bamboo skewers for grilling and basted with dark sesame oil. Chicken Wings 2 - marinated for 48 hours in a paste of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, and sugar and finely minced roasted peanuts. Stretched onto bamboo skewers for grilling, and served sprinkled with fresh coriander. Chicken Wings 3 - marinated for 48 hours in a paste of garlic, ginger, birds eye chiles, fish sauce, fresh coriander and shallots. Stretched onto bamboo skewers for grilling and basted with chile oil. (Yep, they were HOT.) Potato Salad - Jersey Royal new potatoes boiled in their skins, then halved. Dressed while still warm with minced shallots and panchetta cubes sauteed in olive oil, and minced raw celery, red wine vinegar and my extra-virgin Ligurean olive oil. Finished off with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a dusting of Malden sea salt. A big mixed salad of soft & spicy leaves, blanched sugar snap peas, cucumber, celery, salad onions and courgettes, dressed with a vinaigrette of lime juice, zest, grapeseed oil, fresh coriander and salt & pepper. Lots and lots of country bread from Baker & Spice. For dessert: lashings of Haagan-Daas dulce de leche ice cream with homemade crisp almond biscuits (cookies). All this and we'd been to a gig in Birmingham the night before. It was a triumph of preparation! Miss J
  23. I do - every jot. I also do all the set-up and clean-up in the kitchen. And I wouldn't have it any other way. My bloke is a marvellous man, but he's demonstrated on more than one occasion that he's not THAT interested in what he eats. A lot of this comes down to the fact that he's got around 10 percent of a 'regular' sense of smell (he can't distinguish basil from parsley, even when I've crushed a handful of each and he's practically buried his nose in them). And as well, he's got a certain amount of the 'traditional' guy-approach to food: if it involves browning meat and adding some bottled sauce, he's perfectly happy. Which is why, many years ago now, he ended up seducing me over a plate of Chicken Tonight. (Which I suppose is also good evidence that I'm not ALWAYS focused on food above anything else... ) So I plan, shop for, prep, make, and clean up after all our meals. I've also started taking on responsibility for our garden, especially the edible bits of it. But he does EVERYTHING else - laundry, hoovering, bathroom, the bulk of the DIY, dealing with builders, etc. I realise can't imagine a better situation if I'd ordered it, really. Miss J
  24. Well, I have a connection to 'the homeland', albeit a few generations old. But then, the Canada my (Canadian) grandmother grew up in was a much more 'British' place than it is now. So I'm sure there's many Canadians who are familiar with British cooking because at one time it was very easy to find. (I still miss my gran's eccles cakes, even though she was third-generation and probably didn't think about where the recipe had come from.) As for M&S in Paris - yes, I've heard for a while that the sarnie selection is hugely popular. But then I was dead impressed by the sandwiches in the UK when I first arrived as well. Never before have I found such a sophisticated take on what can fit comfortably between two slices of bread. And finally, on the closure of M&S in Canada - we lost Boots, too. But that doesn't mean it's because people didn't love them. My fellow British Columbians also fondly remember Woodwards and Birkes, both of which were edged out of the market by (whisper it) American chains with bigger buying power... Miss J (Of course, I like pie so my opinion is of no consequence . )
  25. cabrales - you've just discovered the depths my dippiness can reach. For some reason, I thought you were posting to egullet whilst travelling...more proof of just how susceptable I am to convincing myself on ANYTHING. Lesley - thanks for pointing that out. I'd been writing on the basis of driving ridiculous lengths in search of a good meal, which most people don't do when they're on holiday! I'm afraid that (in my recollection) there simply isn't much in the way of truly high-end food closer to my old stomping grounds. When I was growing up outside Port Alberni (the 'gateway' town on the way out to the Pacific Rim villages of Tofino & Ucluelet), the standard by which all local restaurants lived or died was their pizza. That's to say, they had to serve it - it really didn't matter whether or not it was good. Therefore, we had a Greek restaurant that delivered pizza, loads of steak & seafood houses that delivered pizza, a German restaurant that delivered pizza, and a dining & dancing place that - yes indeed - delivered pizza. There were two attempts, in my memory, to open authentic Italian restaurants that did NOT serve pizza. They both failed, and were eulogised by my parents for years. There's a number of restaurants in Tofino - and when I worked for BC Tourism one summer as a high school student, I was taken out to a number of them - but I'm afraid really don't have enough up-to-date information to recommend anything. There's lots of emphasis on salmon though. In fact, there's a number of places where you can get good hot smoked salmon in all sorts of cures, and I really recommend it. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I really like the salmonroni (cracked pepper smoked salmon) and the Indian candy (sweet-savoury smoked salmon). And the farmer's markets are great, too, if you've got the time and inclination to check them out. One other observation - when I was last back in October, my parents took me to a chain that's been spreading wildly through the province. It's called Earl's, and it was surprising good for the price (both on a food and service level). Nothing fancy or particularly excellent, just decent well-prepared food and knowledgable service. A very good small town option. And I don't think they served pizza. Miss J
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