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12 posts from November 2008

29 November 2008

FAO those of you reading this via RSS

If you do read this site via the RSS feed, can you please check that you're using this feed: http://feedproxy.google.com/Silverbrow_On_Food.

The Feedburner feed still works, but seems a bit slower than the Feedproxy/Google link above.

If you're not reading this via RSS, you really should get with the program. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, it's time to learn.

28 November 2008

New head chef at The Dorchester's Grill?

If my commenter 'anomm' knows what he's talking about - and I have a very strong hunch he does - then it seems that Aiden Byrne is being replaced at The Dorchester's Grill with fellow Liverpudlian, Brian Hughson.

Until recently Hughson was head chef at Rhodes W1. I haven't eaten there yet, but the reviews are positive.

I'd never heard of Hughson until 'anomm' named him. Here is quite an interesting double profile of both Byrne and Hughson and here's a video interview with Hughson and Rhodes when they won their first Michelin star earlier this year. It's a shame that Rhodes waffles on so much.

If those positive reviews are down to his cooking it seems possible that The Grill is yet again going to outshine the rest of the hotel's restaurants, which is no bad thing.

27 November 2008

Silverbrow on Food one of top 10 food blogs around the World

Seriously?  No shurely, not.  It can't be.

Well, so says The Times and I'm not one to argue with The Thunderer.

I'm rather chuffed to be on The Times' website, I have to say. 

But I'm really chuffed that the article was written by Simon Majumdar, one half of Dos Hermanos.  The man knows more about his onions than a frog with a string of them around his neck.  He also knows a fair bit about blogging.  It may not be fair to describe the Evening Standard as a pudding, but it does provide some proof of my hagiography by listing him as one of the 1000 Most Influential People in London

Which is why I'm chuffed.

Whilst I'm in such a good mood with Simon, I'm going to plug his forthcoming book Eat My Globe: One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything. I haven't seen it so I've no idea if it's any good and it's not out for yonks. But, read his blog and the assumption has to be that it's going to be excellent.

Check out the other blogs on the list, they're ones I read and admire.  They, unlike me, deserve to be there.

26 November 2008

Inspiration or humiliation?

Ferran Adrià
Photo credit: Evening Standard

I can't help but feel it was a bad idea to take Ferran Adrià to a pie and mash shop, despite his declaration of love for the place.  Doesn't their extinction, compared to say, fish and chips or kebab shops, demonstrate they're an anachronism?

The pie-man seems a gracious sort:

Manze's pie-maker Hugh Maguire, 38, who turns out 900 meat pies a day, was asked how he would feel if a version of his dish popped up on the menu at elBulli, on the Costa Brava. "I might be a bit annoyed," he said.

25 November 2008

A night with Ferran Adrià

This is cross-posted on The Guardian's Word of Mouth blog. The post over there also includes a video of Jay Rayner with Ferran Adrià.  I seem to be unable to embed it here, but here is the link.

It would be trite and a little too convenient to describe Ferran Adrià as "...a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Nonetheless, there is something about the man that is hard to pin down. It's not just that he's chef patron of elBulli, repeatedly ranked the world's number 1 restaurant, you want to know more. Can all the hype be true? I wasn't the only one hungry for answers. Over 900 of us filled the Queen Elizabeth Hall last night to hear him interviewed by Jay Rayner.

The premise for the London visit is Adrià's new book A Day at elBulli and except for the gratuitous flogging and signing at the end (I succumbed), the book didn't make much of an appearance. If there was a theme to the evening, it was that Adrià was at pains to make clear that what he does is no more scientific than almost any other cooking.

He kept referring to a new language and that to create a new language you need a new alphabet, new grammar, new tools and processes. He argues that his style of cooking is this new language and that, with every new technique, he's building up the alphabet.

He once again refuted that his style of cooking, or that of Heston Blumenthal, could be described as Molecular Gastronomy. Instead, he was keen to demonstrate that his food had deep roots. He argued that his cooking is a progression from the food and culinary techniques most of us practice at home. He clearly sees progress as vital, but is desperate that it isn't seen as elitist.

During the evening he showed a series of videos demonstrating his techniques. One of the most popular was the combination of coconut milk, a Thermomix, a syringe, a kids balloon (blue) and the obligatory iSi whip. The result - a coconut made of coconut milk - sounds a bit flat in black and white, but looked stunning on the screen. As did an espuma stuffed tomato juice balloon and the jelly and sorbet strawberries which, though they sound horrific, looked outstanding.

And that's the risk with his type of food. It often sounds and even looks ridiculous and so it is an easy target for the critics, but as Adrià pointed out, there are many horrendous mistakes made with pizzas and omelettes and these rarely warrant column inches. He argued that chefs who wanted to experiment shouldn't worry about mistakes as long as they remained "humble and honest".

He was into his humility. He seemed to get dewy eyed reminsicing about his lunch today at Manze's. Yes, that Manze's, the pie and Mash shop. It turns out an Evening Standard journalist thought it would be a good idea to take him there. He described Manze's as "fantastic" because of its honesty and history (if Manze's have a PR team, this has got to be their wet dream.)

So all in all, it was a great evening. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Adrià came across as warm and humourous, even in translation, and yes, very intense. He clearly feels the focus on the science is a distraction and wants people to understand what lies behind his food. I think he did a great job of explaining that. Then again, from the repeated moans and groans of pleasure at the videos, he may well have been preaching to the converted.

There was a Q&A session at the end. I was tempted to ask a question but frankly felt a little intimidated. I had two thoughts on my mind. First, what impact would the economic downturn have? Second, where was he having dinner afterwards? I've no idea his thoughts on the first question. As for the latter, the bigwigs at Phaidon, his publisher, took him to The Wolseley. I hope he had a better time than others have recently. I'm not sure where in London I'd take the world's greatest chef. If he hadn't had eels for lunch, possibly The Golden Hind or St John?

Where would you take Ferran Adrià for dinner?

24 November 2008

Ferran Adrià in discussion with Jay Rayner

As promised, I'm planning on liveblogging Ferran Adrià's talk in London tonight and you can follow it below.

If all goes to plan, I'll start at about 7.30pm GMT.  If you can't make it live, or take Douglas' comment to heart, you should be able to use the box below to read the transcript afterwards.  But just to reiterate, that is if the technology works.

20 November 2008

I'm wired

My caffeine intake on most days is a latte from Monmouth (double shot of espresso), maybe a Diet Coke and then a double espresso in the afternoon.  I'm pretty careful not to have caffeine much after 5.00pm.  If I do I'm awake all night.

Today, I had my usual at brekkie, an abstemious green tea at lunch and a double espresso after lunch.  I then had four double espressos tonight.  So I'm wired.  I've spent the day exhausted and now I'm wide awake, typing with heart palpitations, beads of sweat running off my forehead and clammy palms.

And all because of Square Mile Coffee Roasters' Taste of Australia event.  I've never been to a coffee tasting and this was a bit of a revelation.  Most - but not all - of my fellow sippers seemed to be caffeine pros.  I was just there for the fun of it, and it was great.

I enjoyed learning about the four coffees we were tasting, I enjoyed my long and disturbing chat with Chris about cookbooks and kitchen utensils and I enjoyed at last meeting James.  We've been in blog contact, we've emailed and I'm responsible for people randomly turning up for cups of coffee.

I agree with Chris that Seven Seeds was my favourite, it was fruity, chocolatey and I thought there was a hint of dill, which it seems is no bad thing.  Seven Seeds' video gives you an idea of just how geeky these coffee addicts can get.  Brilliant stuff. (As an unrelated aside, if you want to learn how to get high-def YouTube videos, check out Jason Kottke's suggestions.)