Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the gimp in the bright blue mask

friday last did not start at all well. i had a feeling that i had a dentist appointment but could not remember the time. i had been prevaricating for a couple of months anyway; the root canal that was promised had no hold over me. i rang the dentist to find that i had to be there in 15 minutes, cowbridge to bridgend. quick change, no shower and a quick brush of the teeth to remove the last of the morning's conflakes and i was in the car. five minutes late, i arrived. usually you have to wait another 20 minutes or so, while the overbooking sorts itself out and you take up your seat at the time allotted for someone else. usually i'm not a fan, on root canal day, i may have been, had not my thoughts been interrupted by the call for a 'wayne thomas?' Son of a bitch, i was up and walking in. usual pleasantries over with and i'm sat in the chair, huge liz taylor glasses over my own and the whirr of a drill behind my right ear. regular readers of this blog will know that when this tooth really started to kick, i would have done anything to be in the position that i was now in, but now the tooth had stopped kicking. out came the filling and then out came the big metal thing and the bluee latex mask.

i have a 'thing' about knowing what is about to happen to me, so i stopped mr owen in his tracks and demanded, in my meekest voice, 'what's all this for'. 'just put the pool ball between your teeth and bite down' he replied. actually no he didn't, he said, 'this is to isolate the tooth and for the next twenty minutes i had a piece of blue latex obscuring my mouth completely with a big metal frame, rather like a clamp, keeping it stretched. i have a feeling that the cheeky so-and-so was also hanging bits of kit on the side of my mouth. by this time i was too scared to care. i tried to meditate, failed misearbly and then it was all over, new glass stuff in my mouth and a threat of something in three months.

to celebrate, lets have some sweet recipes. the cooking sensation of the moment is the elderflower meringue, so lets have that.

elderflower cordial.

you will need about 15-20 good sprigs of elderflower
50 ml lemon juice
500g sugar
500ml water.

add the lemon juice, water and sugar to a pan and boil for 2 minutes to make a stock syrup, everything should be dissolved. this is a sweet one because i need that for the next bit. whilst hot, add the washed elderflower (there is tons around) and steep in the hot liquid. allow to cool than strain through a clean tea towel or muslin.

elderflower meringue mousse; this makes quite a lot

6 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar
60 ml elderflower cordial
350g caster sugar

place in a large bowl and place over a pan of simmering water, so that the bowl is suspended above the water, it must not touch. using an electric whisk, whisk the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 70 C. take off the heat and continue whisking until thick and stiff. cool and transfer to a plastic container. place in the freezer until needed. this is a great method and can also be used to make queen of puddings, snowdon's pudding, baked alaska etc.



Monday, May 23, 2011

i may have made a mistake

in the last newsletter, just published, i made mention of a smiths gig that i attended wjich featured james as the support act. i said 1985, whereas it was march 1985. i remember this gig vividly because

1. i wriggled to the front of the audience and sratched morrissey's hand in trying to shake it.

2. it was (one of) the gigs during which morrissey was assaulted by sausages. i was beginning to think that i had made this up, because other people told me that this had happened elsewhere. i remember the stage clearing, save for johnny marr, and there being rumours that he would not come back on, having been hit in the mouth by a sausage and maybe having bitten it. thankfully he did return and it is now catalogued on the web that this happened on the 16th march 1985.

'twas a great gig and i must thank nick hallam, with whom i lived in my first year, for buying the tickets.

Monday, May 16, 2011

review madness

i'm a little anal when it comes to reviews. every day i take a look at the guestbook to see if someone has written something, or google the restaurant name to check for new reviews on the web. mostly there is nothing but every so often people write and we get the feedback that we crave. we've been very lucky because mostly it's been very good, occasionally we have a middling one and once in a while something awful. it stands to reason that we cannot get it right every time but, at the time of writing, we were standing proudly atop the list of cardiff restaurants, as judged by the trip advisor crowd. that is soon to change as, i believe, a middling review of the penultimate menu will drop us back down. that review was very fair and just indicates the problems that you face if you want variety; the more you change, the more risks you take, the greater the chance that your taste and those of the diners might diverge. the dishes in question were, for the most part, very well received, but a beetroot gazpacho is probably not to everyone's tastes and tofu burgers will never be anything other than soft.

the issue of taste was highlighted again on thursday when a plate of pineapple carpaccio with sorbet returned to the kitchen with not a piece of pineapple touched. leanne knows that this is likely to turn me into a blubbering wreck but the lady in question did not like pineapple. i put this to jackie later when i went out to speak to everybody and the problem was that we had used lime to marinate the pineapple and this had not been to her taste. she would have ordered the panna cotta but was unsure of the gelling agent, so, for jackie, here is the recipe.

150ml double cream
250ml dulce de leche
300 ml milk
1 sachet vegegel

place into a jug and blitz with a hand blender. microwave on full power for 4 minutes, re-blending after 2 minutes, then each 40 seconds. if you have a probe thermometer, you're looking for a core temperature of 70+ degrees centigrade.

pour into ramekins and allow to set for 4 hours minimum.

these will have a nice wobble. for those who like it a little more risky, go an extra 25-50 ml of cream and really push the wobble.