Archive for September 2008

A Newsletter

September 28th, 2008 — 3:38pm

Yes, that’s right – a newsletter. I find myself with lots of things I want to tell you about and so Food Stories is having its first ever news bulletin. How quaint. First off, a little French food story. My partner and I recently visited his family at their home in France and I had to hold off telling you about it until after I posted my Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 post (this was to avoid revealing the then upcoming delights of the stargazy pie). You see, we had a practice run on that pie, where Mark Hix’s rabbit and crayfish version was re-created (largely by Chris’ mum I must admit!) in all its glory.

We followed Mark’s recipe pretty much to the letter, with a few minor amendments like using shortcrust pastry (Chris’ mum is an excellent pastry maker) and less stock. You can see that no flavour is wasted as the heads of the crayfish are used to make a seriously reduced stock.

The rabbit was cooked first, before stripping all the meat from the bones and mixing with the crayfish and sauce. Four crayfish are reserved for the crust – you just make slits in the crust and pop ‘em in. The way they are holding hands reminds me of the famous painting The Dance by Matisse. Oh come on, surely you can see the resemblance….

Didn’t it turn out well? If you are going to try making a stargazy pie, I recommend the rabbit and crayfish version, as the rabbit gives the pie so much flavour and lots of meaty body. Although my later fish version was successful, the stock needs to be reduced much more and a lot of fish added to fill the pie – otherwise it can go watery. 

This all led on rather nicely to the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event – read all about my meal (and about the history of stargazy pie here). Of course, it wasn’t just me who took part – 23 other bloggers form around the world did too. Here are the other posts is you haven’t read them already –

A Tomato Garden Party [Jersey Bites]
Behind the Kitchen with Chef Hu-Nam Kim [Zenkimchi]
Aha Aina – Recapturing the Global Flavours of the Luau [The Accidental Scientist]
Criminal Tastes – An Illegal Supper [The Nourished Kitchen]
No Menus – An Underground Restaurant Affair [No Recipes]
Eating with Tuscan Locavores [Wandering Italy]
Eat Like a King; Feast for a Maharaja [Passionate About Baking]
Eating Art: a Tasting Menu Inspired by Masterworks of Art [Feeding Maybelle]
Mid-Autumn Festival Banquet [Red Cook]
The “Found on Foodbuzz” 24 Item Tasting Menu [Food Wishes Video Recipes]
From Matambre to Empanadas – An Argentine Dinner [La vida en Buenos Aires]
The Four Corners of Carolina BBQ Road Trip [Hugging the Coast ]
A Sweet Trompe l’oeil [Cakespy ]
Hot Weather Lunch [Food Junkie not Junk Food]
First Annual Farm to Table Dinner [Miami Dish]
From provence to the Catskills – a Voyage from David to Bertolli [The Constables’ Larder]
Welcome to the Chateau – an Evening of Wine, Food and Art  [Chateau Petrogasm]
Aussie BBQ Bonanza – Celebrating Diversity [Fig and Cherry] 
Chocaholic Heaven [Culinary Escapade]
Royal Dining of the Nemanji? Dynasty [Palachinka]
East Meets West in a Tropical Garden City [Noob Cook]
Farmers’ Market Iron Chef: Battle in the Kitchen [Food Woolf]
A Spanish Menu – My gift to the Winners of the Olympic Games [Spanish Recipes]

The day after the event, we waved goodbye to summer (we had a weekend of extraordinarily good weather for September), with a final little BBQ dinner, using up the last of the tomatoes from our balcony in Chris’ fresh tomato ketchup – yum! I used up some herbs with that home made mayo oozing out the sides. 

I haven’t spent all my time hanging around my balcony of course, I’ve been out and about as usual – remember that cheese and wine tasting at La Cave a Fromage? I was a little sketchy about the details of the cheeses (and the wine) but have since received accurate info about exactly what was scoffed and quaffed and so here it is…..(cheeses clockwise from top right)

Brie de Melun
Lord of the Hundreds
Old Gouda
Mucca Blu
Cabecou Feuille
Sainte Agathe – red
Vin de Pays du Var – white 
Here’s what some others thought of the evening -
Unchained Guide 

Last but most definitely not least – a fantastic time was had by all last week at a London bloggers meet-up organised by my friends at Trusted Places. You don’t have to take my word for it though, there are lots of embarrassing photos to look at – find them in the Trusted Places Flickr group here

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15 comments » | News


September 26th, 2008 — 6:03pm

So here is another review that is a long, long time overdue. I have been cooking from Sally Butcher’s book, Persia in Peckham (Sunday Times cookbook of the year) for over a year now and it remains one of my favourites. For those of you not familiar, the book contains not only some incredibly exciting recipes, but is also jam packed full of passion – for the food of Iran and its culture but also for the community in which Sally and her husband live, Peckham. She brilliantly conveys the message that, although Peckham gets a rough deal in some respects, it is still one of the most vibrant and buzzing communities in London – and I agree. After all, it is practically my manor – being just a short walk away.

I’m not the only one who is a massive fan of Sally’s recipes. Sam and Sam Clark of Moro fame are firm friends and fans. The first time I wrote about Persia in Peckham (a recipe for Persepolitan roast chicken), I also wrote about Moro East, completely unaware that the respective authors knew each other. Tuned in to some cosmic food energy maybe? My reason for visiting Persepolis on this occasion was for the final ingredient in a recipe I have been working on for years and one that I have finally, finally perfected. What is it? Well you will have to wait until next week to find out. I am going to bask in my own private glory until then. Of course, they had the ingredient. It was like slotting the final piece into a jigsaw puzzle and for that I am eternally grateful.

The shop, Persepolis, is exactly the same as the book in that it is like opening the door on an Aladdin’s cave. On entering, you are greeted with bright colours, floor to ceiling excitement, exotic ingredients crammed into every nook and cranny. Intoxicating smells waft across from the huge selection of sweets and baklava in the window display.

I spied these smoked sturgeon minding their own business in a quiet corner. The shopkeeper (Sally’s husband? sorry I forgot to ask your name amidst my excitement! Edit: Sally has since informed me that his name is Jamie/Jamshid), explained that this Iranian delicacy is traditionally eaten at New Year, fried or steamed and served with herbed rice (usually dill). Apparently it is delicious but is incredibly salty, so you therefore only need a very small piece.

I walked around the shop, frantically scribbling on a scrappy piece of paper, just to make sure I didn’t forget anything.The shelves are absolutely jam packed with all manner of spices, herbs and exciting jars of undiscovered foodstuffs.

There are dried fruits, including sour cherries (SO delicious), sour orange peel, figs, limes and seeds, including roasted and salted and black melon seeds, which I shall be rushing back to get my grubby little mitts on (visiting the day before pay day, perhaps not the best idea….).

I also want to stock up on some of the exotic teas, along with dried flowers – chamomile flowers, rose buds and ‘green flowers’.Time to start working out what to do with them!

You can also buy all manner of legumes, lentils, dried herbs (sabzi) and mixes for falafels, pasta for ash-e-reshteh (a kind of soup) and reshteh polo (Iranian noodles).

All ingredients are offered up with a good dash of humour. This is exactly the kind of thing I love about shopping in small independent shops, the personal touch. You wouldn’t get that in Tesco now would you?

Food isn’t the only reason to visit Persepolis though, you can find tagines, rugs, hookahs, tea sets, books, ‘I love Peckham’ stickers, shoppers, t-shirts and even greeting cards. Yes, greetings cards, specially commissioned with a unique Peckham stamp.

This is what makes Persepolis special, not only do the owners keep their shelves stocked with the most dizzying array of ingredients, they are a true local shop. Sally is a passionate and active member of the Peckham community, hosting story-telling evenings, promoting local events and artists and even producing a newsletter to keep us up to date on the whole lot. Yes, Peckham has its problems but Sally does what many others don’t and that is highlight the positives. The community is a proud, diverse and vibrant one and Persepolis is right at the heart of it.

28-30 Peckham High Street
SE15 5DT
0207 639 8007

Persepolis is open from 10.35am – 9.59pm (yes really) – 7 days a week.

13 comments » | Peckham, Shops

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: The Very Best of British

September 20th, 2008 — 10:23pm

“24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blog Posts.” This is the idea behind the global ‘live-blogging’ event organised by Foodbuzz. The team called for entries from bloggers around the world. The task? to create a unique meal, an ‘ultimate meal’, in fact. Now my ultimate meal changes on an almost daily basis but something I always feel passionate about is the fabulous cooking history we have in this country, which often gets a bit of a bad rep. So, get yourself comfortable with a glass/mug of your favourite tipple and let me tell you a little food story about a few things British.

When I first started this blog, I chose the name Food Stories because I wanted the name to reflect the way that food experiences form such an intimate narrative running throughout my life. The dishes and ingredients we are surrounded by obviously play a part in shaping our tastes and culinary identities and although I enjoy cooking and eating food from cuisines the world over, I think it is important to celebrate the produce that can be found right on my own doorstep.

So why did it take so long for people to realise that the UK has some truly wonderful ingredients on offer? For some reason, people in Britain were not always interested in eating high quality, slow, seasonal food – my how times have changed! Now you have to think about getting up early to race to the farmers market and beat the crowds as eager shoppers crowd around the new season’s asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes. People are demanding higher standards and are more interested than ever in the provenance of their grub. There is a resurgence of interest in traditional dishes  – check out my British One Hundred for a personal list. I for one can’t get enough of this UK food revolution and I am so happy to be cooking this meal, an opportunity to champion some fantastic ingredients and put a twist on some traditional dishes.

The British summertime has now well and truly drawn to a close and the past couple of weeks have brought a chilly nip in the air. Despite this, today is bright and sunny, which is what I had my fingers, toes and everything else crossed for, as this meal will be eaten al fresco. Throughout the summer, my partner and I have enjoyed so many evenings together on this balcony, lingering over good food and wine, chatting until the sun sets and listening to the sounds of the city in the background. This meal is like a farewell celebration of summer evenings and a nod to the changing seasons, welcoming the new autumn produce.

As I said, this year the weather has already turned cooler and we have experienced more than our usual share of rain. You might not think it, but there have been benefits to this unusual weather and one of those is an extended samphire season. For those of you not familiar, samphire is a succulent, which grows around the British coastline and has the most wonderful flavour of the sea. It is fantastically unique, has a totally addictive crisp texture and is the perfect (and I am not exaggerating when I say perfect), accompaniment to fish. It is delicious when cooked simply with butter but for this meal, I am using it in a warm salad together with spinach, lemon-scented, tangy sorrel and – a really traditional British snack – the humble cockle. Did you know that a cockle is actually capable of jumping? Not just a pretty face.

I have always had a fascination with the (sadly dwindling!) UK seafood stall, where you may also purchase delights such as whelks, mussels and eels. Eels? Yes, really. As many of you know, I am a Londoner but even I can’t really stomach the jellied variety. Prepared differently however, the humble eel can be totally delicious, which is why I am including a piece of smoked eel as the crowning glory to this salad. And so the first course is nearly finished – just a warming through of the leaves, samphire and cockles in butter and a splash of malt vinegar for a British sea side feel. Oh, and a final sprinkling of seaweed salt, because I’m feeling well, a bit flash.

The main event this evening is a dish that has many memories for me – it is a stargazy pie (an updated version – not the traditional pilchards…). My Dad’s side of the family are Cornish and I spent many summer holidays there as a child. I remember quite clearly the moment I found out about the Stargazy pie.  A quick phone call to Dad and he told me the name of the pub (of course it was in a pub) – the Ship Inn at Mousehole. Yes it is a real place but no, it’s not pronounced as it sounds – more like “mowzel” and is renowned for fishing, not mice. The stargazy pie is traditionally baked on Tom Bawcock’s Eve (23rd December), when the residents of Mousehole gather to celebrate the efforts of previous resident Tom Bawcock who reportedly made efforts to relieve the tiny fishing village of famine.

My childhood memories aside, the pie recently came to public attention when Cornish chef Mark Hix revamped it for The Great British Menu using rabbit and crayfish and won through to cook for an Ambassadors dinner at the British Embassy in Paris. The dish not only captured the heart of the British public, but also my partner Chris who demanded we re-created it when we visited his family recently in France. They already had a rabbit and some langoustines when we arrived – it was meant to be. The final pie was stunning (the pic below is pre-baking). I would like to claim the glory but it was Chris’s mum who did the lions share. Just check out the way those langoustines are holding hands.

The pie was that good with langoustines that I wanted to make it again and so came up with an all-fish version, harking back a little more to the original. I used chunks of monkfish for a rather decadent pie (best eaten as an occasional treat, due to concerns over stock levels) and finished with those beautiful pink langoustines. To accompany the pie – what could be more British than mushy peas? I am going to arouse controversy now by saying I actually prefer a lighter mushy pea to the traditional marrowfat version. I like the fresh flavour and bright green colour. To finish the dish, I made a fennel scented version of the famous cockney parsley sauce known as ‘liquor’. The sauce is traditionally served with pie and mash, to form a meal which has been eaten all over London since the 18th century. Pie, mash and eel shops can still be found in London, mainly in the East End, including Manzes which has been going since 1902.

When I started to think about a finish to the meal, I just couldn’t get the idea of a summer pudding out of my head. Traditionally, the pudding is a glorious combination of summer fruits, such as raspberries, redcurrants and strawberries, encased in a layer of white bread (or brioche, if you like that kind of thing – which I do). The pudding is then left to rest (preferably overnight) while the bread absorbs all the wonderful berry juices and stains a dark pink. It essential that you serve the pudding with cream. As I said, it’s no longer summer in Blighty but I still came across some plump raspberries, which are also enjoying the benefits of a rainy summer. I supplemented them with some blackberries and blueberries and served the pudding with clotted cream infused with an elderflower liqueur.The beautiful perfume of the elderflower works really well with the summer pudding and would actually be even better (I think) splashed in with the berries.

By this point the sun is setting behind our flat and is casting the most incredible light across the park in front of us – an orangey-red glow. We muse about the meals we have enjoyed together on the balcony and also the food we have grown there, tomatoes, salad leaves, herbs and (almost) potatoes. I feel proud of the meal I’ve created because many of the ingredients bring back dear memories. The day has been pretty much perfect, shopping at Borough Market this morning for the ingredients (here’s my photo tour) then home to the kitchen for a good few hours of non-stop cooking with a few glasses of good wine. Out to the balcony to enjoy some unexpected but oh so welcome September sunshine, conversation, laughter, wine and of course, some damn fine fare…

Salad of Cockles, Sorrel, Spinach and Samphire with Smoked Eel

Simply warm through a handful each of spinach, samphire (blanched), sorrel and cockles in a little butter, adding a splash of malt vinegar at the end. Heap onto a serving plate and warm through bite size pieces of smoked eel. Sprinkle with seaweed salt.

Stargazy Pie with Monkfish and Langoustine

I adapted the recipe from Mark Hix’s version here. Instead of the rabbit, I added monkfish when the sauce was cooked and replaced the crayfish with langoustine. I also used a litre less stock.

Mushy Peas

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook two peeled garlic cloves for 10 minutes. Add 3 generous man-handfuls of frozen petit pois and cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain. Return the peas and garlic to the bowl, then add 2 heaped tablespoons chopped mint, a knob of butter, some seasoning and a splash of milk. Pulse with a blender.

Parsley Liquor with Fennel (adapted from this recipe)

I followed the recipe to the letter, although I softened some very finely chopped fennel in the butter at the beginning, before adding the flour. I also added a touch more malt vinegar.

Summer Pudding
I made two puddings in 12 cm moulds. Each pud was enough for 2 people

Take 400g berries (I used raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, which is unusual. Normally red summer berries and currants are used) and add to a pan with 1 tablespoon water and 50g caster sugar. Heat through very gently until the sugar is dissolved and the juices of the berries have started to run. Line the pudding dish first with cling film – leaving a large overhang and then with slices of brioche, taking care to overlap and patch where necessary. You don’t want any juice leaking through. Fill with the berry mix – almost to the top (saving some for sauce) and seal with more brioche. Spoon some of the remaining juice onto the top, seal up with the cling film and put something like and unopened can on top to weigh down. Leave in the fridge overnight.

For the cream, I just mixed a good dash of elderflower liqueur with some clotted cream. To serve, loosen the pudding by pulling gently at the cling film and turn out onto a plate. Spoon some of the remaining juice and fruit on top and round then edge and finish with a dollop of cream.

37 comments » | Blogging Events

La Cave à Fromage

September 17th, 2008 — 8:36pm

(Photo by Chris Osburn for the Qype UK Flickr set)

OK, so I realised I don’t know much about cheese (apart from what I like) but hey, I’m more willing than ever to learn. Yesterday evening, I was invited to a cheese tasting at La Cave à Fromage by the lovely people at Qype. Among my fellow diners were Rob and Urbanite from Qype, Chris Osburn from Londonist, Lea from Unchained, Timinator (who is lactose intolerant – that’s dedication), John from GCap Media and the lovely Krista from Londonelicious (who even did a bit of live blogging!).

On arrival, we were each presented with a slate, upon which the La Cave people had lovingly placed wedges of different types of – you guessed it – cheese – and some fig paste. I can’t remember the names of all the cheeses (bad blogger, slaps on wrist..) but I can remember a little. The first (top right) is a brie, good and ripe, followed by a hard, ewe’s milk cheese called ‘Lord of the Hundreds’  with a long finish – the gift that kept on giving. I thought I could taste a slight nuttiness too. Our host and shop owner Amnon told us how the sensation of crystals (often mistaken for salt) in hard cheeses is actually the reaction of enzymes in your mouth – who knew?

The name of the third cheese I’m afraid I can’t remember but it was another hard variety, followed by a creamy, tangy blue and an oozing Epoisses. Finally, we tried a goat cheese, which was quite unlike any other I have tried – like a little fluffy cloud in texture and extremely peppery in flavour. Amnon suggested we taste the cheeses alone first, then take a sip of red or white wine and note how a completely new flavour is formed.

While we’re on the subject of drinks, I think I can confidently say we were all surprised when Amnon produced an “alcoholic drink” made from whey – yep, a tipple made from the by-product of cheese-making. Waste not want not that’s what I say. It was 12.9% abv if I remember rightly but it tasted far stronger. I thought it tasted a bit like sherry while Krista thought it tasted like port so you’re on your own with this one. Anyone out there tried it?

The staff were so passionate about the cheese and it was so, so good that I really felt embarrassed about some of the supermarket offerings that have previously passed my lips. Everything in the shop is carefully designed too – no counters or glass barriers, so the customer can really get up close and personal. It makes perfect sense – how are you supposed to feel when everything is behind a glass case? Say no to obstacles between you and your cheese.

I have to say, I am more than a little envious of South Ken residents at this point. They have the most fantastic selection of cheeses at their fingertips, delivered with a serious dollop of passion. Sorry, did someone say delivery? Because they do that too, of course.You can enjoy your own tasting at La Cave or just pick up greedy amounts of fromage to take home along with some cured meats, bread, wine and a warm fuzzy feeling..

La Cave à Fromage
24-25 Cromwell Place
T. 0845 10 88 222

16 comments » | Shops

Rabbit Lasagne with Mushrooms and Sage Bechamel

September 12th, 2008 — 7:22am

Hot on the heels of my British One Hundred, I wanted to cook something celebrating a favourite listed ingredient and one which I feel is seriously underrated – the rabbit. Why do we not eat them more often? Perhaps it is the cute factor putting people off? (OK, so baby rabbits are unbearably cute but I’m not asking you to eat them).

I’ve often heard people saying they don’t eat rabbit as it has ‘too many bones’. Well you don’t need to worry about that in this recipe, because the meat comes off the bone before it is layered into the lasagne and to be frank, I haven’t found this a problem anyway. The UK countryside is practically overrun with the little furry ones so there is a real need to keep the population down and, practicality aside, they taste bloomin’ fantastic, are lean, nutritious and cheap to boot.The rabbit I picked up today is an absolute monster, massive, humongous. It’s enough to feed a whole family or, to make a big ol’ lasagne.

The butcher also gave me some lamb bones for stock, which is simmering, spluttering and plop-plopping away on the stove as I write this post, the delicious scent wafting through every room and most likely out towards the neighbouring flats too. There is something deeply satisfying about making stock, it couldn’t be easier to chuck everything into a pot, cover with water and simmer and yet you are left with the most amazing base for so many dinners, soups, risottos, gravies etc. I like to roast the bones and vegetables before adding them to the pot as it gives a deeper, richer flavour but this is not necessary if you don’t have time.

I used some of this stock in the lasagne (use whatever you have available), which I combined with a good splash of white wine. The final rabbit sauce also gets a good hit of (amongst others) tomato, thyme and mushrooms (see below for note) – rich and deeply comforting. Each pasta layer is then cloaked in a dreamy sage-scented bechamel. Roll on autumn, I’m ready!

Rabbit Lasagne

[We ate the lasagne with some salad leaves from our balcony and some finely sliced fennel in a lemon-olive oil mix, which cuts through the richness of the lasagne]

1 large rabbit, jointed
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
100 ml white wine
1 generous sprig thyme
1 litre stock
2 bay leaves
1 generously heaped tablespoon tomato purée
1 small bunch parsley leaves, chopped
200g mushrooms, cut into chunks (I could only find oyster mushrooms and their flavour was a bit lost in this lasagne. I suggest using a more strongly flavoured fungus in your lasagne)
6 ripe tomatoes, de-seeded (and skinned if you like) and roughly chopped

For the sauce

400ml milk
50g butter
50g flour
Parmesan, grated (a good handful, or to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped sage
salt and pepper

Cheddar cheese, for grating
Lasagne sheets

– Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
– Heat some oil in a pan – 3-4 tablespoons (I like to use a roasting tray which I put directly onto the stove top and then transfer to the oven later). Add the rabbit pieces and cook on a high heat until browned on all sides. Remove the rabbit pieces and set aside.
– Add the onions, garlic to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring.
– Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme, cook for a minute, then add back the rabbit pieces. Add the stock, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and set the rabbit pieces aside.
– Remove the thyme and bay leaves form the pan, then reduce until thickened by approximately half. During this time, shred the rabbit meat from the bones, then add back to the sauce along with the mushrooms and parsley.

For the bechamel

– Bring the milk to almost boiling then set aside.
– Melt the butter in a pan, then add the flour and stir vigorously to form a roux. Add a little of the milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated, stirring constantly.
– Add the parmesan and stir to combine before adding the sage and seasoning.


– Turn the oven to 180C/350F
– Rabbit mixture, lasagne sheets, bechamel, rabbit mixture, lasagne, bechamel etc. Grated cheese on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Meat Stock Recipe

4 medium meat bones
1 carrot
1 stick celery, in quarters
1 onion, halved
2 juniper berries
4 peppercorns
Pinch salt
2 bay leaves

– Roast the bones and vegetables for 30-40 minutes in a 230C/450F oven.
– Remove and add to a stock pot along with 3 litres water, bring to the boil then simmer for 1.5-2 hours, removing the scum every now and then. Drain through a sieve. Cool and freeze until needed. It will keep for a month or so.

29 comments » | Main Dishes, Meat, Pasta

The British One Hundred

September 3rd, 2008 — 5:31pm

Ok, so British food gets a pretty bad rep (occasionally quite rightly so – see item 63 on the list) but there are so many British ingredients that are well worth celebrating. The Omnivore’s Hundred got me thinking about my own personal list and I could resist no longer (considering I only posted the Omnivore’s Hundred this morning, I didn’t resist very long). I’m so interested to find out what bloggers from around the world think about some of these entries and to see how many you have eaten. Of course, being a UK resident all my life, I’ve scoffed down nearly all of them – hardly surprising. How many have you tried? Anything I’ve missed that really should be on there?

(If you would like to post the list on your blog and link back here, please do so, I would love to see all that British fare spread around!)

 Edit: Apologies, I forgot to add the rules/guidelines/instructions/whatevers…

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Link back to Food Stories, if you would be so kind.

1. Grey squirrel (oh, how I’ve tried!)
2. Steak and kidney pie (one of my all-time favourite pies)
3. Bubble and squeak
4. Spotted dick (now come on, it’s a pudding people….)
5. Hot cross buns
6. Laver bread
7. Toad in the hole
8. Shepherds pie AND cottage pie (bonus point if you know the difference!)
9. Scotch egg (I’ve had excellent versions like the one at The Real Food Festival and bad ones, very bad ones…)
10. Parkin
11. Welsh rarebit
12. Jellied eels (I can’t eat the skin though)
13. Stilton (and now we have the wonderful Stichelton too)
14. Marmite (I love it, by the way..)
15. Ploughman’s lunch (I will never tire of the Ploughman’s)
16. Cucumber sandwiches
17. Coronation chicken (now THIS is another reason why we have a bad rep)
18. Gloucester old spot (my uncle keeps them in his back garden)
19. Cornish pasty
20. Samphire
21. Mince pies
22. Winkles
23. Salad cream (I used to be literally addicted to cheese and salad cream sandwiches, which is one hell of a dirty snack)
24. Malt loaf (LOVE IT spread thickly with butter)
25. Haggis
26. Beans on toast
27. Cornish clotted cream tea
28. Pickled egg (for the really hardcore, there is an old English pub tradition of putting an egg in a bag of crisps and shaking it about then eating it. I know this because I have worked in a lot of pubs in the past and talked to a lot of people from a certain generation!)
29. Pork scratchings (like I say, I’ve worked in a lot of pubs)
30. Pork pie (essential picnic food!)
31. Black pudding (William Rose do a great one if you are nearby)
32. Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s relish (I use this for seasoning)
33. Earl grey tea
34. Elvers
35. HP Sauce (got two bottles on the go right now)
36. Potted shrimps
37. Stinking bishop (I’m game though)
38. Elderflower cordial
39. Pea and ham soup (Niamh made a gorgeous one recently)
40. Aberdeen Angus Beef
41. Lemon posset
42. Guinness
43. Cumberland sausage
44. Native oysters
45. A ‘full English’ (how else would I cure my hangover? Well, apart from oysters, they are the BEST CURE)
46. Cockles
47. Faggots (practically grew up on ‘em)
48. Eccles cake
49. Potted Cromer crab
50. Trifle
51. Stargazy pie (not the original, but my own)
52. English mustard (brace yourself!)
53. Christmas pudding
54. Cullen skink
55. Liver and bacon with onions
56. Wood pigeon (see top picture)
57. Branston pickle
58. Oxtail soup
59. Piccalilli (I like it with number 30)
60. Sorrel
62. Chicken tikka masala
63. Deep fried Mars Bar (one bite! SO disgusting)
64. Fish, chips and mushy peas
65. Pie and mash with liquor (although I didn’t eat it in Manze’s, London’s oldest pie and mash shop but I will soon as it’s just down the road!)
66. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (with gravy)
67. Pickled onions
68. Cock-a-leekie soup
69. Rabbit and Hare
70. Bread sauce
71. Cauliflower cheese
72. Crumpets (one of my most favourite things in the world)
73. Rice pudding (I am not a fan)
74. Bread and butter pudding
75. Bakewell tart
76. Kendall mint cake
77. Summer pudding
78. Lancashire hot pot
79. Beef Wellington
80. Eton mess
81. Neeps and tatties (eat them with your haggis)
82. Pimms
83. Scampi
84. Mint sauce
85. English strawberries and cream (sigh wistfully….)
86. Isle of Wight garlic
87. Mutton (massively underrated)
88. Deep fried whitebait with tartare sauce
89. Angels on horseback (I really want to try these)
90. Omelette Arnold Bennett
91. Devilled kidneys
92. Partridge and pheasant
93. Stew and dumplings
94. Arbroath smokies (I ate one in Canteen recently and it was outstanding. Apparently, they do one of the best number 45’s in London)
95. Oyster loaves (sounds interesting though!)
96. Sloe gin
97. Damson jam
98. Soda bread
99. Quince jelly
100. Afternoon tea at the Ritz (It’s a British institution and I haven’t done it!)

I can’t wait to hear the responses to this. I am bound to have missed something absolutely essential and I know I will kick myself when someone tells me…

(The picture at the top is a salad I made recently using UK pigeon breasts, beets and watercress. It has a pomegranate dressing and is finished with more pomegranate seeds and walnuts).

33 comments » | Memes

The Omnivore’s Hundred + Huevos Rancheros

September 3rd, 2008 — 9:58am

I am finally free of extra work commitments and therefore back to more regular blogging – hurrah! So here we have the best ever meme style list thingy ever to do the rounds – it’s the omnivore’s one hundred. I now know that Jill and Andrew from Very Good Taste had no idea their little list would be so popular.

When I started reading the list and realised I had never actually eaten huevos rancheros I was stunned. So I made some. I have to say, my Food Stories version was pretty fine. I used chorizo and greens in the beans and although very untraditional, ohmygod – they were so good. Especially, with the salsa, avocado, jalapenos and blobs of creme fraiche with a fried egg on top. A sprinkling of coriander and a toasted tortilla to tear into bits and use as a scoop for all the good stuff….

So, onto the list. Here are the rules if you would like to play along…
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

1. Venison (love it)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (ta da!)
4. Steak tartare (I LOVE steak tartare. There is something about the meltiness of raw beef. When it comes to actually cooking steaks, I like it just ‘shown the pan’ too)
5. Crocodile (once – can’t even remember what it tasted like)
6. Black pudding (quite a lot, actually. Chris likes it on Saturday mornings)
7. Cheese fondue (Chris doesn’t like melted cheese on Saturday mornings or any other day or time of the week)
8. Carp (at least, I don’t think so)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush (I like to BBQ the aubergines in the summer)
11. Calamari
12. Pho (I know, I can’t believe it either, it’s a bit of a huevos rancheros situation isn’t it?)
13. PB&J sandwich (I only recently got over my fear of the PB. I had a serious craving for it one day after hating it for years. I ate some on two slices of toast and then abandoned the jar. I did, however, try this when I was a child)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (We were recently in Reykjavik, Iceland and wanted to visit the famous hot dog stand Bæjarins bestu, which means ‘Towns Best’ but we ran out of time. If the queues are anything to go by however, those dogs are good)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (my dad used to make a lot of fruit wine)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (don’t do it – well, not unless you eat a lot of chillies)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (so many that I don’t even bother telling you about them any more)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas (had them at lunch yesterday in fact)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (I had to look this up! I would try it but I can say for certain I would not finish it)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (more than a few)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo (I honestly don’t think so)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (so high on the list you wouldn’t believe!)
42. Whole insects (I ate a fried cricket and Ros, Julia, Bron and Pete were my witnesses. Pete ate a chocolate coated scorpion and Ros ate, well, a bit of everything! She really took one for the team I have to say…)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu ( I wouldn’t risk it thanks)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (oh, maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner….)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (more than a little overrated I thought)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (these sound good, I love Japanese pickles)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (friends will not let me forget how I once ate some chicken nuggets when VERY drunk so I am in for some serious teasing about the fact I ate a fair few Big Mac meals when I was a teenager)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (I had never even heard of this but if I ever visit Canada, I will try it)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (a whole lotta offal gets ate at Food Stories HQ)
63. Kaolin (I would try it but I don’t really get it)
64. Currywurst (sounds pretty good!)
65. Durian (there is a shop selling fresh Durian just a 10 minute walk from my front door – I passed by only yesterday and saw a big box of them outside. I must take the plunge!)
66. Frogs’ legs (a subtle, slightly fishy flavour methinks)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (despite our previously stated love of offal, we haven’t got around to this one yet)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (many a forgotten night…)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (I’m sorry but that sounds disgusting)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (not….yet)
85. Kobe beef (see above)
86. Hare (Chris and I were both a little disappointed with the flavour of hare as we expected it to have a much stronger flavour)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (I may have eaten it in Iceland but I’m not sure – long story)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (Belazu rose harissa is delicious)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (I had gravadlax and Scottish style smoked salmon, but not lox – to my knowledge)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

So there are 37 items on the list that I haven’t tried and a few that I never will. Some of them will be sampled as soon as possible though, such as the Pho and curry goat. The list is very US-centric, so it’s not surprising that some of these items were completely new to me – the Hostess Pie and s’mores for example. It is a personal compilation of course, so if I were to make my own, I would add things like marmite, ploughman’s lunch and grey squirrel, which I tried to track down at Covent Garden Night Market but couldn’t find. I was also surprised to find that I haven’t blogged many of the items on the list, something which I shall be rectifying in due course!

(If you would like to make the beans I used for my huevos rancheros, fry some cooking chorizo, add onions and garlic and then beans (a ratio of 2:1 pinto and kidney) and some stock (just a little to loosen). The throw in shredded greens and let it reduce a bit before mashing the beans up a little. I also added a little cumin. They were fantastic)

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