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endless autumn

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  1. Thanks Judith and Rogelio - the mushroom season has been appalling in Britain, but I don't know what the rain has been like in Teruel/ Aragon etc. I hope there will be a good supply by January, but in any case, whatever is available may well be better (and better value) than what I might get in London...
  2. I'm passing through Teruel in the first week of January and wondered if I would be able to get hold of some truffles. I won't be able to make it to the truffle market in Mora de Rubielos (sp.?) so wondered if there were any shops which might sell them. A long shot, I know... ps these truffles seem to be T. melanosporum - same as Perigord truffle - does anyone know if the are as good?
  3. Wild Harvest (see here) have milk-fed lamb but it's coming to the end of the season. I gave them a call and if you go along tomorrow morning (it's in New Covent Garden) they should be able to help.
  4. I've been trying to buy some for ages. The furthest I have got is by pleading with friendly farmers to kill their pride and joy a few weeks early. I have a couple of potential sources, but they are not Pauillac or Pre-sale. Rather, one is an Oxfordshire farmer who supplies usually to Waitrose and the other is someone in Northamptonshire, whom I've never spoken to. Apparently Harrods/ Harvey Nichols sometimes sell the stuff, but it obviously would be super-expensive. I remember there was an article somewhere with Sam and Eddie Hart of Fino talking about Milk-fed lamb and where to get it. You could ring the restaurant or their PR company.
  5. Morels don't take up too much water, so can be rinsed without ruining their texture. It's not a mushroom that is particularly prone to infestation, though, so I think you were just unlucky (try looking at any dried ceps, and they'll be full of wormy little holes).
  6. Morels are expensive at the moment: c.£50 a kilo at least. Try Booths in Borough Market, or call Wild Harvest in New Covent Garden: 0207 498 5397. Don't go to posh Food Halls: they are ridiculously expensive and the produce is left to dry out all day in the air.
  7. Lots of food writers seem to live in Highbury: there's Godfrey's Butcher, La Fromagerie, and you're not too far away from Steve Hatt for fish. To the south (easy walking distance) is Islington, which has a few good places to eat out, a decent farmers' market (a bit too processed, perhaps), some worthy bakers etc. To the north (an easy bus ride) is Green Lanes for fruit, veg, herbs, meat, bread - almost anything actually - from Turkish supermarkets. Excellent restaurants too. Dunno how expensive it is but I know a couple of people who live there who aren't by any means super-rich, so it might be worth a try.
  8. The neighbours cure meat either by hot-smoking it, or drying it in the sun. They preserve a lot of fish (mostly small) and some tarry lumps of meat this way, but the results aren't necessarily that appetising. (There are a lot of things Malawians don't do simply because they don't have access to the ingredients or equipment, so although it may seem a good guide as to whether curing like this is possible, it doesn't dishearten me too much that it isn't much practised.) I suppose hot-smoking might be a way to go, but the local wood isn't that great: there's a large Eucalyptus plantation nearby, pine is sometime brought down from the forests up the mountains, and the native miombo (is this right?) woodland is protected... I think this explains the tarriness of the smoked meats. I guess I may have to try a sort of salting, but the salt they have is fairly nasty: iodine-enhanced rock salt, as the sea is so far away. I'm sure I'll work something out...
  9. I think it's unlikely to get that cool: I will be in Malawi towards the end of the rainy season. At night it could be cool-ish, but if it isn't pouring with rain (and even if it is) it will still be rather warm (80+F). I will have a go and see what happens - though I'm a little worried about various bugs laying eggs in them...
  10. Mandola is fine, and it's a nice place to go to. Prices have gone up a lot recently but it is BYO and hence quite fun and rowdy. There are a couple of Ethiopian restaurants around Kings Cross: the one MobyP referred to is on Caledonian road, half way between Kings Cross and Caledonian Road tubes on the West side. There is supposed to be another one around there too, I think. There is another one in Kentish Toen called Lalibela, which I haven't been to but which is supposed to be quite good; it's on Fortess Road. There used to be somewhere in Stoke Newington (I think) which made you pay an extra £3 to have your dish served in a hot iron pot. Dunno if it's still there. I stumbled into a new Ethiopian/ Sudanese/ Eritrean place right up at the top of Green Lanes (beyond the Northernmost snooker hall, on the left-hand side). It was opening the day I went in so things were mixed. There was a meat and okra dish which was disappointing (isn't it West African anyway?) but a bean dish and a lentil dish were excellent and there were myriad ground chilli sauces/ condiments (one with over 50 spices so they said...) Anyway, I liked it: the owners were lovely and the food was good, if not great. Otherwise you could try the Calabash in the Africa Centre which is a facsimile of the Air Kenya Transit Lounge in Nairobi Airport.
  11. Forgive my ignorance, but wondered if anyone could help... Is it possible to make cured (i.e. dried/ semi-dried) chorizo/ salami in hot and humid environments? I will be living somewhere with typical 90% humidity and temperatures >30C, and no airconditioning/ cool rooms. Is it possible to leave meats to hang in these conditions?
  12. cheaper yes, but less likely to work. If there was a good supply of excellent value butchery implements I imagine the butcher would use something more suitable than an axe... I think I'll improvise with a B&Q hacksaw and a mighty cleaver. Thanks for suggestions.
  13. only there for 10 weeks or so, but that makes c.210 meals (plus more if I manage to find space for a new meal between elevenses and lunch). There may be internet, but intermittently at best. If it is working I'll try to post a few reports.
  14. I'm off to Malawi, which has excellent potential for self-sufficiency. The local butcher will sell us a cow for about £25. If we let him cut it up, he uses and axe and - though he is surpisingly dextrous with it - the joints which result are rather unconventional. Another problem is aging the meat, as there is little room to hang and it's very sweaty and hot. The only way to get around this is to mince and freeze a large proportion of the animal/ brine and cure some of the rest and set up a ridiculous Heath Robinson/ Jeffrey Steingarten auto-aging pen in the fridge, which involves balancing a couple of handheld fans on the shelf to ensure correct circulation of air. I wil only be doing this with one joint at a time - I wonder if I can freeze the beef and age it later? I doubt it. I suppose I cuold wet-age some of the rest of the beef, just by vacu-packing it but I'm not sure how successful that would be and whether I have enough room in my luggage for a vacu-packing machine. The things which are available at the market are: bananas, white beans, black beans, peas, onions, tomatoes, orach, spinach, aubergines, dried fish, salted fish, fresh fish, eggs, chickens, flour, scary black meat (don't ask), maize flour, cassava (ugh!), potatoes, mangos, chillis, prickly pears and some other things which I can't remember. In the garden I will have: chard, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, basil, parsley, coriander, chervil, courgettes, chillis, aubergines and some other things planted in advance by my other half. (Though a rampant chicken has eaten quite a lot of the seedlings.) Other things I can buy include: limed birds (still alive, stuck on a twig: apparently they don't taste the same if not plucked while tweeting); huge catfish (capable of hauling themselves about half a kilometre across land, they claim); goats; pigs (riddled with tapeworm); anything which has just been killed (various antelope). There will hopefully be other delights I'm not yet familiar with. My favourite thing is a fish called mpasa, which they call 'Lake Salmon', but when I looked it up, it didn't seem to be a salmo at all. Never mind, it tastes delicious. It has greyish-pinky-white flesh (I don't think there are higher-order crustacea in Lake Malawi, but I am probably wrong/ not very good at googling for the relevant facts) and tastes so sweet it reminds me of peas.
  15. New request: I'm off to a country with few butchery skills and wanted to take out something so that I could chop up some animals myself. I've been to Pages and had a look at their super-cleavers and bone saws, which were understandably expensive. I've looked on nisbets etc. (usual suspects) but can't find much there. Anyone any ideas for sub-£100 butchery equipment big enough to work its way through small goats and pigs and pygmy cattle? Thanks...
  16. The chef who won the star (coincidentally a a Mr Drake) left to set up his confusingly-named Drakes in Ripley - I've seen a couple of reviews of his food there.
  17. I was amused by his laudatory review of Bibendum, where your own Mr. Lyons and I had a rather amusingly inept meal delivered by somnolent staff. Andy and I weigh in (heavily) about midway through here. ← Aren't you guilty of judging the restaurant on exactly the criteria you objected to upthread? I know that you are under no professional obligation when reporting on this site, but Nigel Slater's review of Bibendum carries no more or less weight in light of your experience there. He has probably been more than once (which you may well have been as well, I suppose).
  18. Just to add to the argument: the 'best' place in the world to eat needn't necessarily have the best restaurant, the greatest consistency, or the greatest variety. Rather, it could have a number of restaurants peculiar to it; or, it could fulfil the three criteria above (in conjunction) more satisfactorily than any other city. Like Top Trumps. I'm not saying London does (and I've hardly eaten my way through London, let alone through other cities) but it might score on these points.
  19. Michiaki doesn't have a sake list in the same way that Roka has a shochu (misspelt?) list, but there are six or so. I had a fruity, herbaceous Daiginjyo, which was served ina beautiful little glass decanter, balanced over a bowl of ice. The cocktails are hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons.
  20. The two restaurants which fulfil the food criteria are Royal China and Michiaki (new Japanese), though I'm not sure how great their wine lists are. Other non-Euro restaurants might include Deya, Levantine, or good old Maroush, which is perhaps a little rubbish, but enjoyable nevertheless. (Who could fail to be impressed by a perspex bridge over a fishpond?) Though The Orrery isn't necessarily far enough divorced from what he might get at home, it does have a decent enough wine list, I believe.
  21. What about Frankie's? People seem to be quite keen on it and it's not so far from the West End. It's certainly supposed to be dramatic, if not quite theatrical.
  22. Vida Nova (SIR Cliff Richard's wine) is really quite nasty, but if you buy it, you can sell it to confused people on ebay who think that it is worth something. The Ian Botham Aussie plonk is also poor, but I doubt he is heavily involved in the winemaking process.
  23. I don't think reservations count for much at NT. They would have managed to fit you in somehow, even though it might not have seemed possible. I think they might be doing up half of the place at the moment, which might account for the fact that they 'lost' your reservation.
  24. Why stop there? There are already hideous fruit-flavoured wines on the market and South African winemakers have been shown up for adding artificial flavourings to their Sauvignon Blanc to make it more Sauvignon-blanc-y. I think this question falls into the same category as blending wines at home: something which theoretically might make inferior bottles marginally better but will never have such a dramatic effect as to be worth the bottles you ruin. In any case, the taste of oak is hardly an improving factor in all wines and is certainly not the main point of ageing. (A Mosel riesling would be murdered if you were to add vanilla extract: the taste which would result would in no way resemble that of an aged riesling.) Keep the vanilla extract for your cakes.
  25. Christopher Gray of The Oxford Times is wonderful. There was a particularly good review of a Harvester in Didcot, near ASDA, which he and Rosemarie very much enjoyed. Rosemarie's mother may have been present as well, but unfortunately his reviews are not available online, so I can't check. I think he may have gone to a Beefeater last week.
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