Archive for January, 2009

Great British Food Fight – Jamie and Gordon on Channel 4

Friday, January 30th, 2009
Gordon Ramsay

Channel 4’s Great British Food Fight rounds off tonight with Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare, stock issue script by now but I have seen mention of it on Twitter and some blogs so thought it interesting from that point of view. The makeover restaurant is in Sheffield so “sheffieldblog” have twittered a link to their blog mentioning it, interesting to see if there will be any comments during or after the show runs tonight (Friday 27th). Actually, wouldn’t it be great to get the restaurant owners on Twitter as the show runs? A super idea for Channel4: Stick your make-overees and wife swappers on Twitter during and after their shows and watch the response. Liven up a jaded formula and make it interactive.

Jamie Saves Our Bacon was Thursday night’s offering where Jamie made some good points about the pork industry in the UK versus the rest of Europe.  He highlighted the terrible conditions some of Europe’s pigs are reared in and asked how come the awful ‘sow pens’ have been outlawed in Britain since 1999 but not to be fully banned in the rest of Europe until 2013. I am not sure on Ireland’s take on sow-pens but any evidence from Food Culture West Cork and Ummera would point to the very opposite and some royally treated West Cork porkers, check out this post from Ivan Mcc in praise of Irish Pork (the event is over but the sentiment remains). Best rule of thumb is buy local and know your source.

Jamie’s show had some good points and interesting guests and would have made for a decent hour long show. However C4 decided to pad it out an extra thirty minutes via a series of disgusting pig births, deaths and sexual arousal’s. All topped off with a rather silly ‘Pig Brother’ where humans volunteer to be kept in the same conditions as pigs. I won’t elaborate.

Make your own Big Mac with Todd Wilbur

Monday, January 26th, 2009
2007 Todd Wilbur

I happend accross a chef called Todd Wilbur at the weekend. Apparently Todd, based in Las Vegas, has sold a couple of million recipe books on how to clone food from chains such as McDonald’s, TGI Fridays and KFC. He used his lab (kitchen) to reverse-engineer things like Twinkies and Big Macs, once he finds out what they are made from he reproduces them. Simple huh? I have never tried any of his stuff or read any of his books but he’s a pretty entertaining cook and has screen presence.

Here is his take on the Big Mac. If you were to get this right your kids would either love your ability to produce McDonald’s food on tap, or they’ll resent you for depriving them of their treats in life. Some things are about more than just the raw ingredients, the first step are the burgers and a year later you’re sending your kids to school in home made Nikes. Where does end? Interesting character none the less, take a look.

If you try it, the burgers not the shoes, let me know how it turns out.

Big Chef Takes On Little Chef [Channel 4, Mon 9pm]

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
2007 Heston Blumenthal and Little Chef

Little Chef, the budget conscious roadside eatery, is suffering from lack of business and Channel 4 have an idea to revamp it. A restaurant makeover program where a celebrity chef revamps the menu and gives the punters quality food within a strict budget. We’re familiar with the plot at this stage however Jamie is laid up suffering from serious over exposure to TV crusades and Ramsey is suffering a similar fate on restaurant makeovers. Who are you going to call next? Some genius, and I mean genius, gives Heston Blumenthal the gig and the three part series to follow the chef-magician as he attempts to revamp the fortunes of The Little Chef is born.

Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant is world renowned. His dishes are extraordinary and are priced to match so what is he doing at Little Chef trying to cook scrambled egg? The attraction of the show is the sense of a car crash right from the start. CEO Ian Pegler has an idea that he can get Blumenthal dishes for £6 a head, Blumenthal asks him to come to the Fat Duck and pay £250 in order to see the difference. Pegler’s overt disappointment and amusing David Brent style comments at the first draft menu tasting chip away at Blumenthal’s resolve making some excellent scenes but also demonstrating the chef’s commitment as he maintains his professionalism while being hung up on and enduring some pretty rude behavior.

As Blumenthal deals with Pegler another skirmish develops between the fiercely loyal Little Chef Restaurant Manager (an employee of 30 years as he frequently reminds us) and Heston’s staff as the Fat Duck take over a corner of the Little Chef kitchen. The manager’s fear of what the Fat Duck team may do to his beloved Little Chef is palpable and backed up with “you’re not better than me, don’t think you are” style comments.

Excellent show and fair play to C4 for not drawing it out as a six parter, I hope the remaining two are as good.

2007 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie

Saturday, January 17th, 2009
2007 Georges Duboeuf Felurie

Time for a quickie wine review, had this a few weeks back and thought it was really nice. The Gamay grape, which accounts for the majority of grape varieties grown in Beaujolais region, gives it a light and very fruity taste. Not a robust red by any means, which I guess is typical of a Beaujolais, but smooth and loads of taste. This is a really nice, elegant, red.

For detailed wine reviews and more check out Robert Francis Wine based in Galway or Curious Wines from Cork.

SuperValu Grange Home Delivery Service

Friday, January 9th, 2009

I love my local SuperValu. I’ve mentioned them on the blog before as an example of how to run a supermarket. They do a fantastic job with their fresh produce, support of local suppliers, advice on cuts of meat and how to cook them from Denis the butcher and, for the most part, their customer service. They even provide a free home delivery service for your shopping, something Tesco charge you €6 for. You can do your shopping and leave it in the shop for them to deliver or you can send in your order each week and they will do the shopping for you. We have been using the latter for over two years now with mixed results. Things will go great for a few weeks and then it goes wrong. Below is an example of the type of thing that happens about every six weeks:

Last week we faxed in the order, the confirmation came back to say it was received at 9:36am for the usual delivery time of around 5pm. 6:30pm came and no shopping so we phoned to be told they never received the fax:

“Yes you did, I have the confirmation right here. 9:36am.”

“Well, you see, the fax goes to the office upstairs and they have to bring it down to the shop for us. If they don’t bring it down then we don’t get it. I checked with them and there was no fax this morning.”

[I’m not deterred. I’ve been in this situation before, to be told that they never received the fax only for the shopping to mysteriously appear a day or so later]

“You don’t have a dedicated fax in shop itself?”


“Can I email?”

“Yes, send it to”

“That’s a personal email account, what if that person is not in?”

“We’ll get it.”

“Does that person work in the office upstairs and have to print it out AND bring it down to you?”


“Well now I have two things to go wrong instead of just one, I’ll fax my order in again tomorrow.”

“Ok, but phone after to make sure we have it.”

Re-faxed the order, phoned and confirmed receipt and the shopping arrived on time. Minus bread and eggs and a few more minor things. Does a large supermarket not have bread and eggs in stock? Now I can’t make the kids sandwiches for the morning. Sometimes the missing items may be something we’re waiting on for dinner but we got wise to that and don’t order anything we need that night. This is typical of a recurring series of small issues that get annoying over time:  strawberry yogurt replaced with banana; receiving 6 of an item when I asked for 18 and so on. Simple mistakes. On one occasion when I asked the supervisor why this happens I was told something to the effect of “they (the guys who do the shopping) would pick up anything”. If you are that aware of the problem then act on it! I’m not writing this without having tried to talk to the staff but it seems futile so here we are. I feel guilty as this is a free service but it’s a service I am having trouble using.

As I’ve said this is a great shop let down by the home delivery service, not by the guys like Irmantas who do the delivery but by the back-end organisation. Do it properly or not at all. With two children in the house I need to know my shopping is coming and is coming with what I ask for. Sometimes the shop will ring and tell me when they don’t have an item and other times the shopping will arrive with half the stuff missing. Sometimes they will include the original list so I can see what I am missing other times they won’t. Sadly, two years of inconsistency and uncertainty have resulted in us deciding to take a break from the service and try the weekly shop in a different supermarket. A different supermarket not out of any slight against SuperValu but one we happen to go to at the weekend to pick up a few bits and pieces. It’ll take an extra 15 minutes to get the extra shopping but we’ll have what we want and I won’t have to phone up anybody after.

I will still go to SuperValu for my day to day items and to get meat from the butcher as I think it is a brilliant shop. If anybody from SuperValu (Mr Lyons or Mr Ryan) are reading I hereby pledge to buy you a fax machine for the shop if it means I can rely on your service. Thanks for reading this far.

Mulled Wine

Friday, January 2nd, 2009
Mulled Wine

Here is the first low-fat recipe for 2009. Mulled wine. I know I should have posted this before Christmas but it had been a year since I made it at that stage and I couldn’t remember my recipe. After a week of practice and hard work tasting I have honed a recipe so thought it wise to record it now so we have it for next year.

2 Clementines (2 mandarin oranges or a regular orange will do)
1 Lemon
1 Stick of Cinnamon
1 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and sliced in two.
150g Sugar
500ml Water
2 bottles of Red Wine. Cheap stuff will do just fine.

Get a large pot and add the zest of the two Clementines. Peel one and add the slices to the pot. Stick about 15 cloves into the other and add. Zest the Lemon into the pot, slice the body in two and add. Add your stick of cinnamon and ginger. Boil the 500ml water and dissolve the sugar in it. Add to the pot. Add the wine. Cover and put on a very low heat. Do not boil it, just heat it gently. To serve either sieve the whole lot into a fresh pot or sieve by the glass.