Archive for August, 2007

Fela Kuti

This morning I discovered, completely by accident, that it takes precisely the same time to walk to work as it does to listen to Fela Kuti’s You Gimme Shit I Give You Shit from his (no-doubt seminal) Live in Amsterdam album.

Is this some kind of record?

Meat Meat Meat Meat Meat

Meat is murder: lovely, tasty murder.

When I left my job recently, my distraught colleagues rewarded me for seven years, 10 months and 19 days of unrelenting perfection by buying me an eighth of a cow.

The beast, butchered then hung for 21 days, is now in my procession. You can see all its bovine bits displayed below in the blogjam bedroom (I don’t usually photograph meat in the boudoir, btw, I just thought the blood matched the colour scheme quite nicely). Eagle-eyed readers may also have spotted the rather magnificent cat-shaped lamp, and be interested to learn the it’s the only feline-themed item I own (apart from the websites, of course).

I’m not sure what to make from all this meat – apart from some kind of beef igloo – so I’d like suggestions for recipes. Here’s the list of cuts and weights.

Cut Weight (grams)
Topside 1475
Topside 1427
Top Rump 1350
Silverside 1221
Silverside 1145
Rib 1125
4 x Burgers 955
Stewing Steak 719
Braising Steak 700
Mince 668
Rump Steak 623
Fillet Steak 586
Skirt Steak 571
Stewing Steak 569
Mince 563
Rump Steak 550
Braising Steak 512
Braising Steak 501
Mince 499
Stewing Steak 458
Mince 402
Sirloin Steak 394
Stewing Steak 377
Braising Steak 372
Braising Steak 314
Total Weight: Shit-loads

Any ideas? I already have the skirt steak marked out for a serving or two of Uccelletti Scappati, but the rest is awaiting your input. Go mental.

Slab Attack

I’m beginning to think that the nice people at Hotel Chocolat are out to kill me.

Not content with forcing me to eat a mammoth easter egg a few months back, this week the company elected to torment me further, posting a Rocky Road slab and a goody bag to the blogjam mailbox.

First: the goody bag.

Keen-sited readers might notice that the bag is empty. This is because I’ve already eaten the contents, which comprised: a selection of six deliciously creamy truffles; a 100g chunky slab of delicious milk chocolate with delicious cookie pieces; two delicious chocolate dippers to swirl into a delicious hot drink and nibble; 180g of deliciously creamy caramel drops; and some entirely average chocolate flakes ready to melt in hot milk.

Why is it that you can’t buy quality drinking chocolate? Charbonnel et Walker make a half-decent version, but you can’t find anything of the standard found at the brilliant Paul chain of bakeries, the otherwise catastrophic Apostrophe, or the excellent Caffe Vergnano. Why? WHY? Hotel Chocolat, I demand that you rectify this cowardly cocoa chaos – I need my nightly dose of top-end phenethylamine, and I need it now.

The chocolate slab is the real treat here. As well as being most toothsome it’s enormous, about the size of a medium sheep’s head.

Note: not actual size.

It’s so vast, and so chunky, that I’m convinced Hotel Chocolat are missing a trick or two. As well as selling it as food, why not also offer the slabs as building material, or as sporting equipment, or indeed as some kind of alternative weaponry?

There are endless variations on this theme, of course. Hotel Chocolat, while making sumptuous artisan fare, are in many ways naive, and the slab offers a myriad of opportunities they’re quite obviously not taking. This is perhaps why they send me these samples: they appreciate my lateral thinking, and the degree of hard-nosed business acumen I bring to the table, an attribute that the firm so sorely lacks in-house.

I hope this entry helps.


At first glance, Auschwitz is not what you expect. You’re so used to seeing those chilling, horrific, black and white images of the camp, it’s almost a surprise when everything doesn’t shift to bleak monochrome the moment you arrive. Instead, it actually looks quite beguiling, Butlins dressed up in barbed wire. The sky is a brilliant blue, silver birches line the avenues between the red-brick barracks, and it’s flooded by camera-happy travelers in brightly-coloured clothing. It’s almost impossible to reconcile what happened here with present-day reality when the site is so dominated by coach-trip tourism: at lunch I overhear a British guest uttering the familiar, ‘we must never let this happen again’ line, before moving on and complaining about the coffee she’d just been served, all without missing a beat.

It’s only inside the barracks that you really get a flavour of the Nazi brutality – the vast cabinets full of human hair and empty suitcases and discarded children’s shoes; or the grim pictures of emaciated twins, victims of Mengele’s grotesque experiments in human fertility; or the corridor lined with thousands of individual portraits of prisoners, each given two dates: deportation, death.

After lunch we’re driven a couple of kilometres to Birkenau, where the Nazis ramped up the killing as the Allies drew closer. I talk to our guide, a nice Polish lady with a soft, sad face, who tells me she’s been showing tourists round the camp for seventeen years. Originally she found working at Auschwitz hard to cope with, and now forces herself to stop thinking about the dayjob when going home to her children. It’s not that she’s become inured to what happened here, but it does probably explain why she delivers the appalling story with all the detached formality of an air-hostess revealing the location of the emergency exits. It’s the only way to cope.