Mon, Jan. 3rd, 2011, 11:01 am
…and not the god awful screen rendered turd with Claudia Winkleman. I saw 10 minutes of it and decided that if I ever have the chance I will run a bulk eraser over the stacks of hard drives that they use to store the master recordings for the good of mankind.
So, this year I watched 52 films. Lots less than in previous years, but I’ve been too busy drinking (and have probably missed out a few from my list).
Here’s the big list (in sort of reverse order) and the traditionally pithy reviews. Italics are rewatches, bold is in the cinema:
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Sun, Oct. 31st, 2010, 11:11 pm
As I already posted (in overly effusive and probably annoying style) over on my booze blog I have decided to take part in the joys of Movember this year – growing a moustache for November in aid of men’s health charities in general and prostate cancer charities specifically. My approach to it is slightly different to most people’s – I’m used to having facial hair (and have done so for about 10 years) so the initial removal of said hair (from my face) is the important bit for me. Anyways, I done did that already, and have photos to prove it:
The final picture of my naked jowls will have to wait until my blotchy face has recovered from its trauma (ie. tomorrow morning) and I hope (if I remember) to document my incredible moustache growing prowess over the next 30 days. I suspect it will not be successful – the first time I grew a beard I was asked if I was Amish. I really don’t like the abbreviation ‘Mo’, -tache is much better. Aug-tache isn’t as good a name though and would have led to Australians (the lovely chaps who started the whole thing) with chilly faces.
So, if you want to be lovely and sponsor me then you can over on my ‘Mo-space’ on the Movember site. At the time of writing I have raised £5, go me.
I done went to Edinburgh, as has been my wont on occasion over the last few years. Yet again I went to the festival and stayed in the excellently located flat with the wonderfully uncomfortable beds that I have the last couple of visits, and I went to see many things. I was also good and didn’t let my hunger for booze blogging materiel get in the way of wandering around between shows and spent most of my time surprisingly sober. I did get food poisoning from a dodgy shepherds (actually cottage) pie, that only led to me missing one planned show (Simon Munnery – the first half was, according to comedy buddy Michael, excellent and new, but the second half was stuff that you have probably seen before if you’ve seen him in the last couple of years), but other than that things went swimmingly.
There were a few things that I wish I’d made time to see, but above all of them is Joe Power. Yes, Joe Power of being exposed as a fraud (although only by inference) in Derren Brown’s recent TV series. His show has had the level of success that I would have hoped, although he has had some with people paying just to heckle and walk out before the end. Michael Legge wrote up a lovely account of his experience with him on his Award-Winning Blog. I really dislike Joe Power, although as I’ve never met him I think it’s fairer to say that I dislike the concept of Joe Power.
For those who like the sound of my voice, me, Michael and other comedy buddy Will Howells did a podcast. Well, we spoke and Michael turned it into a podcast. It’s here, but also clickable on the little thing below:
So, things what I done saw (most of which are represented in ticket and flyer form above):
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Hello lovely people. As I posted the other day the NomNomNom 2010 voting is now open and you can be lovely (see opening sentence of this post) and vote for my team!
Strange hand position due to a large gooseberry stain on my shirt
Voting for me and Melanie (The Tarragons of Virtue) is good because:
- Warm fuzzy feeling, etc, etc
- Mel could win some knives
- I could win some gin.
Mel likes knives, I like gin. Anyways, please click over to the website and do some votiness. Due to the voting system that Annie Mole is using you can vote once a day, so if you do feel like stuffing a ballot box please feel free to click over every 24 hours. I might even share the gin with you.
As I posted a couple of weeks back, I decided to do NomNomNom again, this time teamed up with Melanie Seasons of OmNomLondon. When discussing the division of labour for the day we decided that I would be entrusted with the burning of meat to make our centre piece and after some researching around on the internets we found a recipe on the BBC website and settled on a Loin of Pork stuffed with Apricots and Pine nuts. Before the day I had a couple of practise attempts (with a loin and a rolled shoulder, with the loin winning on ease of cooking and taste) but the recipe didn’t change much between start and finish.
- 1kg boned pork loin, butterflied
- 1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
- 2tbsp chopped sage
- 2tbsp fresh thyme
- 30g crumbled bread
- 30g pine nuts
- 10 dried apricots, chopped
Firstly I gently fried off the onion with some of the sage and thyme, until it was very soft and translucent. I then combined it with the bread (the inside of a fresh french stick made into breadcrumbs as best as I could) apricots and pine nuts. This mixed together into a fairly dry stuffing which I added a little seasoning to.
On the day we got our piece of pork from The Ginger Pig and the butcher boned and butterflied the loin for us. However, he also recommended that we didn’t stuff it as I had done in my experiments (simply dumping the mixture onto the butterflied pork before rolling it up, as seen in the piccy above) and cut a small pocket in the meat which we filled with our stuffing. This meant that nothing fell out during the cooking and everything looked prettier on serving. I then rolled it up and tied it with string (I used cocktail sticks to hold it together in my experiments but the nice butcher also threw a small ball of string into our bag, along with the ribs that he had removed when preparing our joint – I had them roasted for my dinner…they were very nice).
To aid the creation of crackling (the most important bit of most porky dishes in my opinion) the butcher scored the skin while preparing it. I then thoroughly dried the top, rubbed it down with salt and olive oil before sprinkling some more big sea salt crystals on top along with the remains of they thyme and sage, and a few good grinds of pepper. It went into the oven at 250°C for about 30 minutes before cooking for a further 30 at 160°C and finishing at 200°C for 20 minutes (unintended but fortunate as it really helped the crackling). It came out pretty much perfect, although maybe slightly under done. I cut a slice for the judges and finished it off in a pan to ensure that it was cooked all the way though, leaving the rest to rest, during which it did finish cooking – the perils of cooking to a time limit with only a vague plan.
The crackling was great, really crispy and flavoursome, but the pork was maybe a little dry – some fruity gravy to go along with our peas and creamed leeks would have made it perfect.
We didn’t win, that honour going to Rachel and Danny – Pilluelo and the Catalan Queen, but there was some rather good food knocking around for us to dig into afterwards. Plans are already afoot for next year…
Ta muchly to Annie Mole and The Cookery School for looking after us (especially the lovely Marcella, who put up with me being frantic in a kitchen for a second year running, and the guy who cleaned up the wall that I covered in stewed gooseberries when I dropped a bowl) and to all the lovely people who loaded us down with goodies when we left.
There’s also a post over on my booze blog about our dessert…
Thu, Jun. 24th, 2010, 10:51 pm
A year has passed and I’ve managed to yet again inveigle myself into the realms of the food bloggers of London – for the second year running I’m in the finals for NomNomNom.
NomNomNom is, quite simply, a cooking competition for bloggery types. You turn up at The Cookery School on the chosen day, dump your gear, run off to the nearby market and purveyors of tasty foods, and then return to cook a three course meal for four people – one portion is served to the judges, the other three shared around the hungry competitors. We’re encouraged to go for as local food as possible, respecting seasonality and organic growing, all of which is helped by the nearby location of Marylebone Farmer’s Market and The Ginger Pig. We also have the restriction of having at least one dish prepared without any cooking, for added interest.
Last year I teamed up with Kang, of London Eater, and cooked some rather tasty things (accompanied by raw veggies), but this year me and Mel Seasons of om nom London (and also my companion behind the bar at the Blaggers’ Banquet, as immortalised in photographic form in the local paper) have appeared on the scene as the mighty Tarragons of Virtue, and we will brush all before us into a tidy heap before placing them hygienically in a bin. They didn’t ask for a team name on the application form this time, but we have one anyway.
Photo (c) Carmen Valino
Our menu is decided (well, as decided as the deliberately vague descriptions we’ve given will allow. Experimentation will be done) and contains pigs, raw things and whisky, so all the food groups are covered. The big day is on the 11th of July, when we and 9 other teams will compete for the coveted title of NomNomNom Champions 2010. Hopefully this year I won’t serve a Michelin starred chef raw carrots but will cook tasty things, both of which did happen last year, although only half of them by design.
There will probably be posts about experimentation to follow (especially as I have a nice empty day on Saturday) and hopefully glory in triumph, or at least free drinks in defeat. In the meantime, here’s what I done did last time:
Fri, May. 28th, 2010, 08:35 pm
The iPad is now finally released in the UK and thus can the local holy faithful of Lord Steve buy the latest sacrement and make sure that he can afford enough baby orphan stem cells to run the immortality tent that he regenerates in nightly. ALL HAIL LORD STEVE
I am turning my back on the holy one and am not buying one. I say that now, but my weakness for shiny things is famed and the constant “SHINY SHINY” tweets from my various acquaintances almost turned me to the buy side. Thom not having received his yet, despite an early preorder, was a final nail into the coffin of my resistance, as being able to purchase one in person before the one that he ordered a month ago arrived would be schadenfreude enough to run my sorrow powered anger engine for months. Needing to buy food and having the Waitrose at Westfield being my most accessible supermarket on the way home (and also purveyor of fine meats and boozes) was also not helping. It looked like all signs were pointing to shiny acquisition. However, I managed to do my shopping with only a quick glance in the direction of the Apple store (all good acolytes can point in the direction of the nearest Temple at any time) and on my return home I saw this in an email which has happily reinforced my resistance coffin with shiny adamantium:
To quote Token from South Park – I’m out.
After the shock of seeing a shirt and deciding that it needed and iron last week (something that I have never thought before) it was only a small surprise that I looked in the mirror and decided that maybe my hair ’style’ was maybe a little silly. As such I took the great step of going to a de-Samson’ing salon for a ‘trim’. This was part of the result:
I sent this to picture to my parents as a notification of the situation.
They didn’t seem particularly concerned
I’ve been hiding my actual ‘new look’ from the general public in an attempt to elicit more amusing looks of shock when I remove my ever present hat (even more important now that I have sunburn and cold to contend with…well, I did before but I was denying it), but for you special people who read this on occasion there is a sekrit image online showing my new beauty.
I ironed another shirt this morning. From it here it can only be a downhill roll to cardigans and keeping my bedroom tidy…
I’ve not done much cooking recently, but I was struck with a craving for things that were bad for me the other week and put together the following tastiness – Confit pork belly with creamy bacony lentils.
Pork Belly (I used a bit that was about 1/2 a kilo)
3 cloves garlic
Heat your oven to about 140degC while you prepare the pork. Score and heavily salt the skin of your pork belly, making sure to rub it in the salt to all the slits you have made. Leave to one side while the oven heats up. Stick enough lard to cover your pork belly (about 3 blocks in my case, although I should probably have used 4) in a casserole dish and place in the oven to melt. When melted add the peppercorns, bay leaves and the garlic, lightly smashed. When you get bored of waiting/allowing the pork to salt, stick the pork belly into the lard, hopefully completely submerging it, and return to the oven for some time.
Mine puckered up a bit during cooking, raising it out of the fat
I cooked mine for 3 hours, but 4 might have been even better. Once the cooking time is over remove the pork from the fat and place into a container deep enough to allow it to be completely covered in fat. Strain the lard into a jug and then pour over the pork, again hopefully completely submerging it. Cover and when cool place in the fridge. Leave for some time (I divided mine into two pieces and the first one lasted a week before I had to eat it, the other is still in there).
When you want to cook it, take the container out of the fridge, allow to return to room temperature and then remove the pork. Scrape any remaining lard off (although leaving a bit isn’t a problem) and keep it somewhere cool for next time you want to do this. Place the pork on a trivet and put it in a hot oven until it is at an appropriate eating temperature and hopefully has crisped up on top (mine didn’t) – hopefully about 45 minutes. While that is happening cook some lentils in water until tender and then add them to some dry fried bacon lardons and add a dash of cream.
Slice the pork belly and serve on top of a pile of lentils. Eat. Make “Nom” noises.
I think I needed the oven to be hotter when reheating as it didn’t crisp up on top. It might even need a quick fry skin side down before or after the second cooking. Either way, it was really rather good – the pork was meltingly tender, although another hour in the initial cooking might have made it even more so, and lightly flavoured with a hint of bay, pepper and garlic. The remaining piece that I have in the fridge talks to me on a daily basis, begging me to eat it. I will be strong for a while yet.