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Anybody else watching the new series (BBC2, Wednesday)? After the train wreck of the last series this one is significantly better, still feels like there's too much padding but more real content. And any show that has Heston Blumenthal as a regular can't be all bad.

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I thought it was great. I now know from Merrilees Parker's report about Tiffin that the food in India is not only delicious but also fantastic. Its also really different from the stuff we get over here and that chicken tikka masala is not a traditional Indian dish.

I liked Richard Corrigan a lot, and I'm sure he'll stop saying "basically" every other word once he calms down a bit. The snail porridge sketch was excellent but I missed Richard Johnson glugging yoghurt drinks as I had to collect my son from his swimming lesson during that bit. I could have lived without Janet Street Porter cooking chicken casserole, but hey, its not a real programme unless its got a celebrity on it is it?

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I thought it was great. I now know from Merrilees Parker's report about Tiffin that the food in India is not only delicious but also fantastic. Its also really different from the stuff we get over here and that chicken tikka masala is not a traditional Indian dish.

I liked Richard Corrigan a lot, and I'm sure he'll stop saying "basically" every other word once he calms down a bit. The snail porridge sketch was excellent but I missed Richard  Johnson glugging yoghurt drinks as I had to collect my son from his swimming lesson  during that bit. I could have lived without Janet Street Porter cooking chicken casserole, but hey, its not a real programme unless its got a celebrity on it is it?

I was somehow perplexed with HB Snail Porridge!

Maybe you could tell me why you think that it was excellent?

Let me try to put some deconstruction in this dish and please do correct if not accurate.

1- Sifted porridge ? what is the point in using porridge and then sifting it to keep the flakes only. Is it for taste or presentation as it might make things rather messy!

2- The porridge is subsequently prepared in clarified butter.

3- A pre-prepared green paste composed mainly of Parsley (if my memory is correct) garlic - butter - ham - maybe almonds and other ingredients is then added to the porridge to form a puree used as a base.

4- The Snails (naked) are then sauteed in clarified butter (again).

5- The green puree is laid on the plate and the snails placed on top. This is again topped with Jabugo ham shredded a la tobacco (ham in puree and one more time separately in a layer) and again topped with shaved Fennel stripes (blanched?) that have been dressed with two kinds of oil (was it sesame and walnut? I think).

Do you concur with the following:

A- There are so many food items and flavors in this dish which makes one wonders about simplicity and unity of taste.

B- Each layer is a taste on it's own and in fact unaffected with the other layer.

C- The snails are simply sauteed and do not borrow any flavor from the remaining ingredients.

D- So are you supposed to eat by layer or cram on your fork as many morsels of all the different food elements?

E- With the somehow pronounced and unique flavor of Jabugo ham and fennel, does one still taste the snails? or is it not supposed to do so?

For a strange reason, watching HB preparing the Snail Porridge has immediately reminded me of Tracy Emin's Bed and the sheep or was it lamb or shark in formaldehyde or even the stupid display of the room with the light switching on and off. I suppose HB food is a Tate thingy and although they are giving art courses on modern art at Christies, I am at awe in front of such culinary avant garde achievements!

Maybe then, you can explain to me how and what should we appreciate in HB Snail Porridge?

Edited by Almass (log)
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I think the porridge oats are sifted so that the end result is less of a paste and has more texture when served. The oats were then served in snail stock (chicken stock in which the snails had been cooked, if I remember rightly), so there's a crossing of flavours right there.

The green paste was parsley butter, which isn't a particularly outlandish ingredient, presumably made up of butter, garlic and parsley (and maybe almond?). The ham mentioned by HB was, I think, the shredded stuff piled on at the end.

Personally, I don't see this as any more complicated than any of the dishes I had in a couple of one star places in France a couple of weeks ago (eg a snail tart from Le Vieux Pont in Belcastel).

PS

Edinburgh

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I was referring to the way Heston came over on the TV - boy-ish charm and enthusiasm mixed with skill and authority - and the content of the sketch - informative, straightforward and entertaining - rather than the dish itself, although I have tasted it and I think its one of the nicest things he serves at The Fat Duck.

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I think the program is toe curlingingly bad. HB was a better than his studio performance last week. I like Corrigan (which is a turn around for me), Merrilee is bloody awful, "I'm making xxxx, this week, get ingredient yyyyyy and put it in the zzzzzz. Actually, we've been testing zzzzzz ths week and this machine came out best"

As for Richard Johnson he seems to be in a continual state of disinterest. Was he contractually opbliged to make the show or des he really enjoy food. It would be nice if he could show some sort of enthusiasm. I also blame him entirely for HB's poor live performance last week.

Incidentally after 3 weeks of eating food in India earlier this year I can confirm that on the whole food equal to or better than that available in North-West India is available in London. From what I hear the best food is only available in private houses.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Almass, the snails are cooked for 3 - 4 hours in the chicken stock before they are sauteed in the butter. The resulting stock is used to cook the oats. I've eaten and enjoyed the dish although I'm sure HB will be the first to agree that the press it gets comes mainly from the name.

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Having been (lucky?) enough to prepare both snails and copious amounts of parsley for the butter, The texture of the porrige is more like a risotto than a porridge and other flavours are clear. The fennel as far as I can make out is simply shaved and marinaded (could be wrong, didn't see that being made), and the ham is piled on top to lift colour and add a further balance to the dish (ham & parsley basically).

might look like hard work, but at three star level it should be, don't you think.

Alex.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

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I thought the programme was really, really bad. I only caught the last half of it and, while the pre-recorded bits were quite entertaining, I thought the bits in the studio were unwatchable.

What struck me was the number of silent periods. Richard Johnson seemed out of his depth, struggling to ask questions while Corrigan (who seems quite watchable on his own) was determined to respond with things he wanted to talk about. It lead to an exchange that was hard to watch. As for JSP, grrrr (which I think is the reaction that the producers wanted). :angry:

On a wider issue, I'm just not sure that a Top Gear-type format works for a cooking programme. It is cheap programming designed to play to the live crowd - from what I saw I felt even HB's participation was there to provoke rather than produce a deeper understanding of the food. It would have been great if the entire 8-9pm slot had been dedicated to him - that could have produced a really in-depth, challenging bit of TV, the sort that is missing from the schedules.

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I thought the programme was really, really bad. I only caught the last half of it and, while the pre-recorded bits were quite entertaining, I thought the bits in the studio were unwatchable.

What struck me was the number of silent periods. Richard Johnson seemed out of his depth, struggling to ask questions while Corrigan (who seems quite watchable on his own) was determined to respond with things he wanted to talk about. It lead to an exchange that was hard to watch. As for JSP, grrrr (which I think is the reaction that the producers wanted).  :angry:

On a wider issue, I'm just not sure that a Top Gear-type format works for a cooking programme.  It is cheap programming designed to play to the live crowd - from what I saw I felt even HB's participation was there to provoke rather than produce a deeper understanding of the food. It would have been great if the entire 8-9pm slot had been dedicated to him - that could have produced a really in-depth, challenging bit of TV, the sort that is missing from the schedules.

Agree entirely, Johnson is meant to be hosting the show and when HB was in the studio last week he left long silences as he didn't have relevant questions to ask. Then when he did ("where is the gravy going to come from?") he proceeded to make HB look completely at a loss as it was clearly not rehearsed. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Also, there was no real information given in the HB roast beef. Cook at a low temperature - how low, how long. They talked about using a thermometer, what temperature should the meat be at?

Personally I find the pre-recorded bits pretty bloody awful as well. Corrigan's trip to see the Welsh lamb ended suddenly as though filming had been cut short by a Union dispute or something.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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As for JSP, grrrr (which I think is the reaction that the producers wanted).  :angry:

I watched it from video so the JSP segment lasted oh, about 30 seconds for me which seems to have been the right decision.

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These sort of shows take a while to bed down and I think the BBC should be applauded for taking a second stab at the format. I want to see interesting and intelligent food programming on the TV and there's no reason, once the presenters settle into their roles and the programme finds its real identity, why this shouldn't grow into something that is very entertaining.

If they are going to follow the Top Gear model, they should go the whole hog. Despite references to understeer and oversteer, horsepower, torque and various other technical matters that I have no understanding of, and an emphasis on cars costing between 30 and 100 grand that I have no hope of, or interest in, owning, I still enjoy the programme. Which goes to show that you can target a show at a niche market and still attract a mainstream crowd. I would aim more content at the likes of the eGullet.org membership and see who else comes along for the ride. But then I would say that wouldn't I?

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anyone see topgear last night when clarkson said at the end, something along the lines of... 'you can email us on fullonfood@bbc.co.uk' to much mirth from the rest of the gang

top gear works because of the presenters, and the quality of the films, full on food hasn't got it right in either respect, the presenters are awful, and the films are badly produced and edited. the only thing i enjoyed last week was richard corrigans appearance.

having said that, i recently watched the first series of top gears sunday night incarnation (we're currently approching the end of series 6) and the difference was remarkable, it really has improved. so if full on food lasts another 4 series (which it won't!) then by about 2008 we could have a watchable show.

and thank god, no roxy isn't on the show anymore.

Edited by fisherman (log)
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corrigan did a bit last night using bought pasta sheets for ravioli/dumplings.

is there a name for these & does anyone know where you can get these (central london) I've been looking for them for a while

thanks

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Wonton wrappers I believe! Available in Chinese groceries in the frozen section.

Program is still awful (apart from Corrigan) Is it actually live or merely filmed "as live", there are so many awkward silences?

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I got an invite to attend the filming of the show which I recieved on 14 June and which said "There are three shows left in the series; 17th June, 23rd and 24th June. The

show will begin at 5.15pm through till 8pm, and will be broadcast live." So that must have meant "as live."

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I'm sticking with it, out of sheer desperate for food programming and the hope that it transmutes into a decent show. That said, I was interested to see the organic pig section, the beer bit (both too short and just skimming the surface of the topic though) and Heston's chocolate/water mousse (but why not close up of the finished product??? Had he arsed it up and they didn't want to show that? Or were the crew incompetent enough to forget that people might actually want to see what the end result looks like?)

Yesterday I videoed it, so I was able to fast forward through the more irritating sections (whatsherface's Vietnamese monkfish thing, the celeb cooking section). I'd recommend this method to anyone with a low irritation threshold.

PS

Edinburgh

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The Organic pigs was interesting although it seemed a little confused in that it mistook pigs for a lot of space as being organic. I'm sure there are pigs with plenty of space that aren't organic.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Watching Full on Food gave me a great idea for a new show, but its a bit complicated so bear with me while I explain it. Its called "The Richard Corrigan Show" and the hook, the gimmick, the USP if you will, is that Corrigan cooks some nice food and explains how to do it in a witty and engaging manner. I know, the British public will never buy it, its far too sophisticated a concept.

Ok then, how about Corrigan travels the world and visits a local market where he has to persaude a local he's never met to help him shop for ingredients, then then go back to the person's house and cook a dish that sums up the place they are in. But they only have 2 hours to do the whole thing! So they're really under pressure and they have to run around all over the place and there's loads of shaky camera work and people shout a lot and its dead exciting. The food is shit, but that doesn't matter. And then they re-decorate the person's house. And do up his garden.

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Big Sigh...

So we had more of the Heston black jacket and Tshirt and the Bruce Willis cut.

There must be something about Chefs wanting to be on TV!

Now we have little Jamie Oliver in the Tussauds Museum and probably very soon will have Gordon Ramsay and the guy with hair Georgio Locatelli and of course Heston.B will be there but in the royalty section.

And the Chocolat Chantilly derived I presume from the Creme Chantilly which is based on beating cream (refrigerated) to introduce air bubbles thus increase the volume and make it lighter. So Heston B beats the chocolate and calls it Chantilly. WoW, dat is some new culinary delving in the mysteries of the Gods.

Nevermind that diluted chocolate with water then re-cooled and chantillyed is completely useless as it is a temporary semi fluid state and cannot be kept in such state for more that few minutes. The taste differential is debatable.

But hey, meet Heston.B where Alchemy meets kids at play.

Edited by Almass (log)
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I really like the programme, although I'm the first to admit that it's not perfect. The highlights for me are definitely Richard Corrigan and Heston Blumenthal, but I am also very impressed by the 'How does your garden/meat grow?' segment. It may not be the most compelling and beautifully shot piece, but there is at least an honourable attempt to present a balanced report on these hot topic issues.

'Full on Food' clearly seeks to be more inclusive and avoids the usual preaching to the converted diatribe. It accepts that not everyone is going to be able to afford to buy organic and seeks out the best of the rest without demonising. This is important if pressure is to be brought to bear on the bottom feeders in the low cost, low quality dregs of the market, which looks all too attractive to uninformed budget shoppers. I applaud them for embracing the media responsibility to cut back on the 'us and them' polarising on the organic issue. Those who are privileged enough to have a choice and a voice on the matter shouldn't throw up their hands in organic disbelief, but try to find some middle ground.

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anyone see topgear last night when clarkson said at the end, something along the lines of... 'you can email us on fullonfood@bbc.co.uk' to much mirth from the rest of the gang

missed that, sky + full of a weeks worth of tour de france but that line sums up top gear, the best programme on tv at the moment by a long stretch. Also deleted a lot of best dish in the world (?) that didn't look too bad but being on friday night i always had pressing meeting with the publican to fit in and never seemed to get around to watching!

you don't win friends with salad

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Nevermind that diluted chocolate with water then re-cooled and chantillyed is completely useless as it is a temporary semi fluid state and cannot be kept in such state for more that few minutes. The taste differential is debatable.

But hey, meet Heston.B where Alchemy meets kids at play.

Veering slightly off-topic, but... can't vouch for the stability of the chantilly or the 'taste differential' (though I'm sure fans of chocolate mousse, Aero bars etc. could) but it's probably worth noting the recipe isn't Heston's. He has often credited Hervé This as the inventor. I understand Hervé collaborator Pierre Gagnaire has been successfully using the chocolate chantilly recipe (along with several other variations) for a few years now.

Personally, I love the fact that the show balances the familiarity of Corrigan's cooking with Heston Blumenthal's science stuff, though it's not perfectly handled - no cooking temperature for the slow done beef, for example. Similarly the discussion of factory farming versus organic was most welcome, but why no mention of the more affordable free range option?

If they can just take a little more care with each topic, dump the celebrity cooking spot, and quit with the near-pointless trips to the far corners of the globe they'll have a damn good half-hour food programme. And no Clarkson - bonus.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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