Archive for September, 2007

Things I Made With My Meat: 1

This is the first of a series of semi-regular postings based on the meat mountain in my freezer, detailing the adventures I have turning it all into scrummy food.

This plateful was a month in the making, and my first experience of home charcuterie. Here are the condensed instructions.

1. Take a nice chunk of silverside. Stick it in a plastic box with red wine, salt, orange and lemon peel, rosemary, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, peppercorns, juniper berries, whatever. Cover.

2. Leave it for a week in the fridge.

3. Hang it in a muslin bag for three. It will get quite whiffy, and then it will stop being so whiffy.

4. De-bag.

5. Refuse to be discouraged that it looks and feels like a block of freshly-dug coal.

6. Slice thinly, devour with quality olive oil and a light sprinkling of lemon juice.



I cooked for six at the weekend, and made too much. As a result, I am eating the following items for dinner every evening this week. Well, until Thursday at least.

Duck, chicken and pork tenderloin pate with spicy fruit mostarda

Originally the pate was served with a pear and saffron compote, which was very tasty, but I’ve got lots of mostarda in the fridge, it’s the nicest thing I make, and it goes beautifully.

Burnt Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt

This is basically a creme brulee made with yoghurt instead of cream, which gives it a slightly musky flavour, but it’s equally delicious.

I’m tempted to write out the recipes, but none of them are really mine, so I won’t. The pate is vaguely based on a dish by Gordon Ramsey, the mostarda 100% Mario Batali, and the yoghurt gleaned from the pages of the new St John cookbook, a work of triumphant, dizzying genius.

All this gastronomic grandeur was but a sideshow to the main event, some succulent, drop-from-the-bone slow roasted lamb shanks. Oh yes. But that’s all gone.

I will be printing out application forms for my next dinner shortly.

Kittenwar hits the Shops

It’s been out in the States for a few weeks, and reports of its presence on the new arrivals tables at Barnes & Noble have been creeping in, but today was what I’d been waiting for: being able to stroll into a shop near the office and buy a copy of the Kittenwar book.

And here it is, racked up at the Islington branch of Borders (disclaimer: I added the flashing arrow to the picture, it’s not real). Immediately I’m filled with concerns that have never bothered me about other books: why is it not discounted? Why is it on the bottom shelf? Why does the sign say that titles are cartegorised alphabetically by author when this clearly isn’t the case? What happens if I sign a few? Will people think I’m weird if I hang around for a while, waiting to see if anyone picks up a copy, before nudging them and introducing myself? Should I pick up a handful and add them to the new releases table?

Anyway, I’m very pleased. And so should you be. What’s more, you should immediately buy a copy. And if you’re American, you should immediately do the same.

Otherwise, I will be very sad.

Brian Damage

Brian Wilson returned to the Royal Festival Hall this week, scene of his much-lauded Pet Sounds and Smile triumphs, for the world premiere of his latest opus, That Lucky Old Sun.

Some observations:

1. A man can survive on good will for only so long: the venue was nowhere near full, and this was opening night.

2. The new piece is genuinely absorbing, easily the best work he’s produced for forty years.

3. If you think about it, this isn’t much of a compliment. In reality, he’s not come up with much of any worth since clambering out of the sandpit and into bed.

4. I’d be surprised if he actually had much to do with it. For a man who needs a teleprompter to remember the words of Surfing USA and appears as if he might require help tying his shoelaces, it’s a bit much to expect another ‘teenage symphony to God’ to drop from the sky. That the band-leader insists on introducing our hero as “the man who wrote everything you’ve heard this evening” only serves to reinforce the suspicion that he probably didn’t.

5. He surrounds himself with people who know exactly what they’re doing and, more usefully, exactly what he should be doing. His backing band contain members of Wondermints, a Los Angeles-based power-pop outfit more than capable of compensating for Brian’s shortcomings. From their 1995 debut album comes the following track, Tracy Hide.

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Can you see where I’m going with this?

Cat Insanity

This lady lives with over 100 cats in Novosibirsk, Russia. She feeds them like chickens, scattering dry food around the room. And I can’t imagine what the place smells like, or how long it takes to empty the litter trays, or how much it costs to keep her feline herd in cat-grub, or indeed what would possess anyone to believe that this might be a good idea in the first place.