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10 posts from May 2007

27 May 2007

UKTV Food, getting better

I've always been a bit ambivalent towards UKTV Food, the UK's answer to The Food Network. I have snobbishly dismissed much of it as far too populist, their positioning of James Martin as a hunk first and chef second is evidence of that. Nonetheless, I regularly sneek a peak and watch some of the re-runs, especially Rick Stein, Gary Rhodes and Nigel Slater's early stuff. However, some free time over the past couple of months has given me more chance to watch it and in particular get hooked on Heaven's Kitchen at Large and Market Kitchen.

Heaven's Kitchen follows chef-patron Mike Robinson as he sets up his gastropub, cooking school and outside catering business. Mike's pub, The Pot Kiln, is focused on providing great food, especially game, and good quality beer to the punters. With UKTV food making and showing the programme, it is less concerned in the drama that reality TV shows on terrestrial channels hanker after, instead, the programme simply follows life at the pub and seems to be insightful as a result. One thing that comes across particularly strongly in the programme is Mike's love of game. As a result he is often shown shooting and gutting various furry animals - on one show this week he got so excited gutting a hare that it's blood ended up on the camera lens. i find it interesting that there has been none of the teeth gnashing there was when Jamie Oliver killed a lamb on TV. No doubt this is because Mike Robinson is not a household name and that the show does not go out on a terrestrial channel during prime time. It's a shame this doesn't have a higher profile because it might help educate people to have a bit more respect for what ends up on their plate.

Market Kitchen got my attention because it is co-hosted by Matthew Fort, who has to be one of the UK's most knowledgable food writers and Tom Parker-Bowles, who's enthusiasm for food is catching. Some of the segments of the show can be pretty dull, such as which is the best griddle-pan on the market, but their cook-offs between chefs and the presenters can be quite good. Each week they have a guest chef, last week it was John Burton Race. He came across, as usual, as a grumpy git but cooked up some proper cheffy dishes. It wasn't watered down TV food. Similarly, Matthew Fort didn't pull punches when he cooked and simply hearing him talk about food is a pleasure. It is still early days for the programme but so far, I'm enjoying it. My dirty secret is that I have set my Sky Plus machine to record the show daily.

26 May 2007

More on Fairtrade

More on the fairness of Fairtrade on Word of Mouth, The Observer's new food blog.

The more I read, the more firmly I hold my belief that the small coffee grower is towards the end of the Fairtrade chain of benefits. Whereas at the top of the chain are coffee distributors, anti-globalisation agitators and guilt-ridden consumers all telling each other what a good job they are doing.

24 May 2007

Some very nice words from Jay Rayner

It is always particularly flattering when people you respect say nice things about you. Of all the restaurant critics, I enjoy reading Jay Rayner's column in The Observer the most. He clearly knows his onions when it comes to food (as his recent novel demonstrates) and therefore he writes from a position of knowledge, unlike some of his fellow critics. Most importantly for me, Jay is focused on the food, rather than the fripperies.

Given my love for the man, I was delighted to see I received a mention in his first post on Word of Mouth, The Guardian/Observer's new food blog. To quote him:

"Silverbrow on Food [is] the blog of an amateur cook, and Stakhanovite eater, with remarkably Catholic tastes for someone who keeps Kosher."

If Jay says I'm a Catholic communist then I am.

Despite my delight at being able to bathe in the glow of this praise, I was intrigued that the Guardian has decided to start a food blog, and am particularly interested in what their impressive roster of contributors think about hanging with amateurs. From my experience, newspapers have viewed the growth of blogs and other user generated content with a mixture of fear and awe. Of all the newspapers, the Guardian has embraced blogging most enthusiastically, nonetheless, I feel Word of Mouth is a welcome addition to The New York Times' food and wine blogs and adds further legitimacy to our corner of the internet. Unlike a couple of journalists at the San Francisco Chronicle, Jay is courteous enough to acknowledge that us amateurs do sometimes have something to add.

21 May 2007

We're back

After a slog of a flight we're now home, so normal service will resume shortly. We had a fantastic time and saw some truly beautiful parts of the world. We were unusually privileged to be able to take such a long time off work and are immensely grateful for it. All we need to do now is figure out how we're going to do it again, soon.

17 May 2007

The things I love about Argentina, by Silverbrow

Not that I'm obsessed about food or anything:

1. Persicco ice-cream, very possibly the best mass produced ice-cream in the world. Silverbrowess did particularly well today with her "orgasmic" Banana Split flavour. I wasn't too disappointed with my mint choc chip and tiramisu combo.

2. Parilla. Unfortunately, I have so far failed to take any photos of this ode to meat. Last night's was particularly good, with some well grilled bife de chorizo, a moist choripan and some sweetbreads, that might have been a tad overcooked, but tasted silky and unctious nonetheless.

16 May 2007

The things I love about Brazil, by Silverbrowess

Not that I wish to sound shallow or anything, but:

1. Guarana, not only an aphrodisiac but tastes like Tizer, yum, yum.

2. Havaianas, cool in London, cheap as chips in Brazil and look even better when your feet are tanned.  Which mine currently are, at long last.

13 May 2007

Working hard

The recent hiatus in posting is because we firmly believe we can't return still looking pasty white. As you can see, we have work to do.