Archive for April, 2005


In my last post I hinted at a “devastating two-pronged bid” to reclaim my Kitten King title, starting with the exciting Daily Kitten service. Ever since I’ve been receiving e-mails from frustrated kitten worshippers desperate for news of the second part of my fiendish plot*, but I’ve had to embargo the press release for fear of the impact it might have on the stock market.

Until now, that is. Now I’m thrilled to be able to introduce the most devastating development in kitten technology since the self-cleaning litter tray. I give you… wait for it… Kittenwar.

It’s utterly fantastic.

I should actually point out that although the site was my idea, it was 100% constructed in the North of England by legendary coding boffin Tomsk. I merely stood on the sidelines waving my arms hopelessly about while he buried himself in stuff I don’t understand. So hats off to he.

*not actually true.

kitten commerce confession

I have a confession to make. I’ve sold the random kitten generator.

Built in ten minutes four years ago, the site has developed over time into a minor Internet landmark, bringing happiness to millions of kitten fans and at least two servers to their knees. I’ve decided to move on, though, cutting the apron strings, aware that at some point a child must face an uncertain future away from the comfort of the generous parental bosom.

I’ve no idea what the new owners have in store for the site – they’re a shadowy and mysterious Ukrainian outfit – but I hope they look after the kittens. It’s the very least they deserve.

And me? I’m going to plough my piles of lovely e-profit back into the web. Obviously I’m very upset about no longer being the kitten picture king, so I’m launching a devastating two-pronged bid to reclaim my title, and the first fruits of this labour are already online.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Daily Kitten.

Ooh, and I can book my holiday to North Korea. Hooray.

google map claptrap

If I wasn’t so busy today producing work of unparalleled genius, I’d have been playing around with the UK version of Google Maps, which has just gone online. While they’ve not yet introduced the rather dandy satellite technology the underpins the .com version (where you can zoom in on my friend Eric’s house in Chapel Hill, NC), great fun is to be had by searching for terms and then ridiculing Google’s answers. For instance: search for wankers, and the first result is Amnesty International. There’s plenty more. The results of a search for indie shite include both the Rough Trade Shop and The Dublin Castle. How apt. Search for poofs, and you get G.A.Y. and the National Union of Journalists. The worst food ever? Wagamamas. Tory Scum? The Countryside Alliance. Cheap Sluts? Yates’ Wine Lodge. Perhaps most impressively of all, a search for Nazis in London pulls up a list including Google’s old friends Yahoo. Someone call Simon Wiesenthal.

son of pork pie

My Lamb In Hay post from a couple of weeks back prompted a small amount of controversy, not least from one e-mail correspondent accusing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of being a reclusive, sherry-quaffing opium addict. And while my version of the dish wasn’t a complete success, I’m prepared to give Britain’s favourite Chef-in-need-of-a-haircut a second chance, for two reasons:

  1. His Meat cookbook, which I’ve been reading, comes wrapped in a clever wipe-clean binding. Why this is not common practice in culinary manuals, where a stray fleck of blackberry jus or an accident with the Bourguignon sauce can render the cover of the most expensive tome bin-worthy, I don’t know.
  2. I got really drunk with his literary agent once.

So there I was, wandering around the food hall at Selfridges, listening to NWA on my iPod, when it struck me. I would make a Pork Pie, combining one of Hugh’s more testing recipes with my own unceasing lust for the Pâté en croûte De Porc, as they probably don’t call it in France.

First up is the stock. I attempt to get some bones from my butcher of choice, a fine establishment run by Kent and Sons in St. John’s Wood, but apparently Tuesday is bone day, so I end up buying a fistful of pork ribs which I’ll have to eat in order to free up the scraps I need. Combined with leeks, onions and carrots, the stock is ready for cooking.

I let it simmer for a few hours, and begin to prepare the pie itself.

What is lard? Until proceeding with this project, I didn’t actually know. One quick Google later I discover that it’s an abbreviation of Laryngeal Reflux Disease, a manifestation of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease that occurs in the laryngeal region. This doesn’t sound quite right, but it’s required for the pastry, so into the mixing bowl it goes. Add some butter, a couple of beaten eggs, some salt and some water, and before you know it my 20cm high-sided springform is ready to accept its porky payload.

The meat itself is a mixture of finely chopped pork shoulder, minced pork belly and streaky bacon, combined with chopped sage and thyme leaves, ground mace, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Except that I’ve forgotten to buy some bay leaves, so my version doesn’t have one. And some cayenne pepper, which I do have, but forget to add. Oh dear. But it does look quite splendid as it waits for its pastry hat, as you can see below.

Carefully, I add the lid, manually crimping the edges. This task requires a great deal of patience, which I don’t really have, something which will come back to haunt me later on… but right now it’s ready to bake.

I start by baking the pie for 30 minutes at 180° before dropping the temperature to 160° for an hour and a quarter. At this point the point the pie is removed from the oven, glazed using a beaten egg, then returned to the heat for a final fifteen minutes. I retrieve the pie from the heat one final time and begin the most delicate part of the process, adding the stock I prepared earlier through a small hole cut in the top of the pie. What I don’t realise is that my lack of patience earlier in the procedure has caused a small tear to develop in the crust and, once the liquid has reached it certain level, it escapes through this fissure as fast as I’m able to add it. It’s too late to start again, so into the fridge it goes, cooling overnight. The next morning, it’s ready.

Wow. Would you look at that? It’s a pie of rare and tremendous beauty, if you ask me. To get an idea of the size of this beast, the picture below shows my creation alongside a copy of Hassidic New Wave’s avant-jazz-klezmer classic “Psycho Semitic”.

Finally, it’s time to eat. A couple of slices are carefully separated from the main body of the pie and rested on plates. After pacing up and down for a while I nervously raise a portion to my lips and take a bite. It’s delicious. The herby fragrance of the organic pork, nestling gently in a bed of ambrosial jellied stock, exquisitely wrapped in delicious pastry – it’s a sensation, if I do say so myself.


seven questions

I was going to do an entry listing ten questions I’d like answered, but I could only think of seven. So instead, I’m doing an entry listing seven questions I’d like answered. Here they are.

  1. If Maradona has a cocaine problem, how come he’s so fat?
  2. If you open an Excel document, why are you always prompted to save your changes when you close it, even if you haven’t made any?
  3. Why are Friday night TV schedules filled with the kind of programmes that only appeal to people who are out on Friday night, and therefore won’t see them?
  4. Why do restaurants serve salt and pepper? If you’re a chef with years of training behind you, someone who’s producing a menu featuring the finest of delicately blended dishes, then the last thing you want is some idiot customer covering your creation with salt and completely altering the flavour. Surely?
  5. Why is Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard continually referred to as inspirational, even though the players around him regularly perform below-par? Inspired, maybe, but inspirational?
  6. Why is it that I’m convinced I could make Mariah Carey happy, despite the lack of supporting evidence?
  7. What the fuck am I supposed to do with 50 gmail invites?

Answers on a postcard.

tannoy trauma

A few years ago I went to see the mighty Northampton Town play Leyton Orient. It was my birthday and, unbeknown to me, one of my friends had contacted the club during the week and asked them to read out a half-time dedication. The first half ended, the scores from the other games were read out, then suddenly the tannoy boomed out:

A special message, this one – we’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Mr Fraser Lewry, and wish him luck as he appears on Stars In Their Eyes this evening as Mick Hucknall.

Cue much hilarity amongst my friends, and much jumping up and down and pointing of fingers.

Yesterday I also went to see the mighty Northampton Town play Leyton Orient. Next week it’s my birthday, and I’d completely forgotten about the traumatic events of my previous visit. At half time, the PA crackled into life and I heard:

We’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Mr Fraser Lewry, who’s just been voted Northamptonshire hairdresser of the year. This messages comes from all his colleagues at the Blow and Go Salon in Enfield.

Please remind me never to go to a football match on or near my birthday ever again.