Monthly Archives: May 2015

Good Eatin’: Oi Fish! Stop Staring At Me!

List Item: Try 500 of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

Okay, so today is one of those great times that I am able to continue a longer goal whilst also finishing an item on my list. I didn’t even mean to buy fish today… it just happened when I saw it laying there at the fish counter in Morrison’s.

Food items: Crème Fraîche D’Isigny, Caperberry, Mustard Oil, Taro, Turbot

First let’s have a run down of the five items I managed to get done in one bumper meal with a lot of leftovers for tomorrow.

The crème fraîche D’Isigny and caperberries were both used to make a pasta salad that I found on the Tesco website. I know I was meant to use low-fat crème fraîche for this, but when there is a list food to be done… forget about it. The crème fraîche D’Isigny was incredibly rich with a refreshing sour edge and worked really well with the pasta salad. The caperberries, which I put in as a substitute for capers, are something I just like to snack on since they have the taste of capers, just bigger and with a crunch. Apparently the caperberries are good in a gin and tonic… I have no idea about this.

Next came the mustard oil and taro. I found a recipe for roasted eddoes and, since taro and eddoes are basically the same thing, I figured that I could take this and substitute in the mustard oil I recently bought for the general oil. Here’s the thing, I know there are issues with mustard oil; issues to the point that the USA won’t allow it to be sold for consumption due to alleged issues regarding heart health.

However, I figured a one time eating of this would be okay so I will be throwing away the bottle. It’s not as if I would eat it regularly anyway. It smells great when you open the bottle and it lent the taro a slight heat and a sweetness when I roasted them in it. The taro… was very similar to potato, just a bit nuttier and slippery when wet.

That leaves me with the turbot…

List item: Cook a whole fish
Progress: Completed

Right so, I have never cooked a whole fish. I have shied away from this for the reason you can see in the above picture, it feels like the fish is sad and is staring at me having resigned itself to its fate. I actually felt really weird having to slash the flesh and stuff it with herbs. So weird, that I covered the face with a slice of lemon so it would stop freakin’ staring at me with those weird flatfish eyes.

As you can see, I managed to actually cook it successfully with a recipe from Good Food (although I didn’t add the butter because I didn’t see the point). The turbot itself was an incredibly delicate white fish that managed to fall off the bone as I was carving it. I read in the book that you can eat the fins… I chose not to indulge as I could feel the head’s disapproval. Writing this a few hours later I am feeling some residual fish guilt…

Progress: 365/500

Good Eatin’: Happy Valentine’s 2015

List Item: Try 500 of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

Say it with flowers. Say it with chocolates. Say it by dragging your engagement partner on a 5 mile walk to the next town so you can try and find ham in a nearby Polish food store. Sadly, this was not to be and I walked home without any wedzonka krotoszynska, but with a Subway in my belly and some other list items I managed to find along the way.

Yes, this is how we spent the morning of Valentine’s Day. We don’t take it too seriously because our anniversary is close and we value that more. Still, it meant we were able to get some list foods for the future (and we had a curry for dinner using a Hungry House code so all is well).

Food item: Challah

Valentine’s Day is nowhere near Rosh Hashanah so I am not sure why they were selling challah bread as this more circular shape instead of the more traditional braid. Still, one should never look a gift horse in the mouth (or the house as I originally typo’d) so we bought a loaf.

As breads go it is very similar to brioche in the sweetness but the crumb feels a lot denser, like a bread that would very quickly go stale if left out for too long. Later, we found this to be true with uneaten slices ranging from completely fine to as stiff as chipboard.

Food item: Sour Cherry Jam

Turns out that the type of sour cherry jam you get varies a lot on the country of origin. By the look of the label and the way it is described in the book I think this is more on the Turkish side.

As jams so this is not as thick as I have come to expect. Instead of being more jelly-like, as with other jams, this felt more like sour cherries being preserved in their own syrup. This went very well with the challah as well as with some mature Dutch cheese.

Food item: Bombay Duck

I am fortunate to live in an area with a lot of Indian restaurants that deliver, with one of them offering this salted and dried fish as a starter. Now, thanks to the book I actually knew what this was… unlike a lot of other people apparently.  3-5 minutes later we received a phone call from the restaurant with them seeking to double check that we actually knew what Bombay Duck was or if we thought it was something akin to chicken tikka. Bless, I can only imagine the number of complaints.

When fresh the Bombay Duck is a rather fearsome looking type of lizardfish, but here is had already been processed so it looked rather brown and shrivelled, also it was so warm from being recently fried. This is not a starter in the traditional sense, or maybe it is the fact that I can’t imagine people just sinking their teeth into this.

This is up there as one of the saltiest things that I have ever tasted, and this is coming from someone who liked anchovies almost immediately. On it’s own it is something I could eat, but I started pairing it with other things we got in the takeaway and found it worked better as a sundry than as a starter. If I ever get this again, a possibility, I need to remember to crumble it into my curry or to snap it into pieces so I can dip it in the pickles/chutneys.

Progress: 360/500

Let’s Get Literal: King John

List Item: Read the complete works of Shakespeare
Progress: 9/37

Time for my first look at one of Shakespeare’s histories. I figured that it would make sense for me to read them in ‘chronological’ order rather than by when they were written. As such I start off with King John,  which I was curious about since it is one of the lesser known ones and about a figure who is generally vilified.

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As I was reading this play, the main thing that struck me was the role of religion in this play. I have read things outside of the play talking about the depiction of John and whether he is headstrong or ineffectual, but far more interesting to me is how Shakespeare depicted the rift between King John and Pope Innocent.

It is a historical fact that this rift occurred when an archbishop of Canterbury that was picked by the English was disavowed and replaced by the Pope. The aftermath of this, including the ex-communication of King John, leading to the catalyst to the rest of the play and his eventual downfall seems crazy to me. Now, I know that it would be bad form for Shakespeare to have written in support of the Catholics (seeing how this was written in the reign of an Anglican queen) but the fact that a lot of what could be interpreted as bias is close to the truth is rather disturbing.

On the whole, I can see how this play would be beautiful to watch with all the military flourishes and a fair few costume changes (not to mention that, if done well, this play will have to try and age John during the long period of time this covers), but it was hard to warm to John. It  is just that on a purely character level there really is not much to him.

Philip the Bastard and Queen Eleanor are far more interesting and they feel as if they have a lot more depth to them, with the latter being the funniest character in the play as she goes about insulting the French enemies.

My favourite scene is, as illustrated above, between the king’s loyal follower Hubert and the captured prince Arthur. All through the scene the spectre of the fate of Arthur (who was historically 18, but reads more like a 12 year old) hangs above you. Hubert has orders to gauge out the eyes of the young prince and then kill him. It’s gruesome and the way that Arthur begs for his life, and actually succeeds must be brilliant to watch, since it was good to read.

Schedule Change

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I don’t know why I’m using a picture I took of the class skeleton back in 2007… but I just felt like it.

Basically, this is just a small announcement on how the blog is going to change slightly. Instead of my normal scheduling (Monday: album, Wednesday and/or Thursday: other and Saturday: food) I have decided to go a bit more random and just post what I want every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The problem I have been having is that either album or food would scream ahead leaving me to play catch-up and focus on something rather than let it happening naturally. This might mean that there is a run of movie post, album posts or food posts, but if that’s what is happening in my life then so be it.

The final straw for me is the post that is to come today for when I read King John. In real time this happened less than a week later than Julius Caesarbut due to how scheduling happened they are a month apart and that is just stupid.

Thank for for reading. As always Kirby and myself are grateful.

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Good Eatin’: Happy Anniversary

List Item: Try 500 of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

It is rarely a post that goes by where I don’t mention in some capacity that I have a partner. It’s a consequence of the fact that six years later our lives are basically merged. Well, in this post there is proper relevance for his mention.

In February it was our anniversary and we decided that we would return to a local Italian restaurant called Toscana, the venue of our first proper meal out in London 5 and a half years ago. A return visit to that restaurant was a long time coming and, as luck would have it, not only was I able to have a lovely meal with good company but also get three more foods ticked off.

Food item: Whitebait

This was a stroke of real luck since this plate of whitebait, prawn and sardine was one of the specials of the evening. The term ‘whitebait’ is an odd one since it is an umbrella term for a lot of immature fish of a certain size. So, I don’t know what type of whitebait I was eating.

What I do know, however, is that this restaurant chose to make them into whitebait fritters, something that was not readily apparent when looking at the plate. I certainly prefer them this way than fried individually (had that at a Chinese restaurant where I was not able to deal with all their melted eyes staring up at me) mainly because they kept more of the fish flavour here without becoming too crunchy.

Food item: Calf’s Liver

On this blog I have already expressed my love for liver pate. I don’t feel as strongly about actual liver, although it is still something that I really enjoy. The main problem is that I find it rather difficult to cook because the window of deliciousness that exists between raw and dry is so brief that I always miss it. Then I am stuck with badly cooked liver which annoys me  greatly.

I had never had calf’s liver before this. Lamb’s liver? Yes. Chicken liver? Yes. Calf’s liver? Finally, yes. It was deliciously tender with that slightly irony after taste. It went extremely well with the bacon and the onion and red wine sauce too. Was not so sure about the random salad leaves, but hey ho.

Food item: Lemon Sorbet

As you might be able to make out in the picture, this lemon sorbet was served in a hollowed out lemon. They had been frozen together and probably could do a lot of damage if hurled in the right direction with its cricket ball like hardness. Don’t worry, no windows were smashed and no patrons were harmed. Apparently this is just how my mind works sometimes.

This lemon sorbet was the perfect way to end the meal after quite a few strong flavours. It was refreshing and a superb palate cleanser. I had some hesitation about getting this since it was rather cold outside, but I finished it with no problem since the restaurant was perfectly heated.

Progress: 357/500

Also, since I forgot that this was a thing on my list I can also cross something off since he is, after all, the best friend that I could ever have.

List item: Makes friends with someone from a different country
Progress: Completed