The Loch-in

Loch Fyne restaurants have got lots of things right in their approach to family dining. http://www.lochfyne.com/Restaurants/Locations/Bath.aspx

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In the Bath branch, the relatively cold decor is warmed by the glowing staff who are not only attentive but also engaging. This was of particular interest to the smallest people in our party (aged 2 and 6) as it made them feel welcome in the restaurant-going experience and that they were not there to be occupied by crayons  and paper alone.

My mum, a great fan of plaice, chips and peas at any eating establishment, was amazed at the renage of nosh on offer and, despite a lack of plaice, found something to satisfy her particular appetite.  She’s fussy and not adventurous – a dire combo.

The kids wrestled with lemon sole goujons (they really wanted a burger, I fear) and I managed to resist the crab salad. My mother-in-law would have approved of the haddock and chips that I did choose and, had she been present, would have tried to steal some. It was too good to have left any.

The robust use of spices in my wife’s Thai-style squid salad was a hit and even though the waiter’s wine recommendation was uninformed and duff, everything else got top marks – even the crayons were a success.

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Filed under eating out with kids, Family dining, fish restaurants

Bread vs Bed – a budding baker’s dilema

A nourishing read for the budding baker

Will my foolish poolish look this good?

Foolishly seduced by the combination of Arsenal playing in the Champions League tonight, a bottle of Shepherd Neame Spitfire and Richard Bertinet’s book ‘Crust’, I have commenced a recipe involving a poolish ferment.

I am a fool. I have made this recipe before on a lazy weekend and should know better. It takes ages.

I used a good splash of the ale in the ferment and drank the rest. I am a little more foolish as a consequence.

I started the poolish ferment at 4.30pm and, after working the dough, resting and proofing and shaping and all, I may get to bed by 2am.

Mind you, Arsenal did win 5-0 and I’ve got lots of Eddie Izzard Marathon Man to watch into the small hours.

I’m full of beans now (10.36pm) but if I grow drowzy, this coul be a very foolish poolish.

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Teaspoons breeding in a sink near you

If you live, or have ever lived in a student house, you’ll be aware of the way in which teaspoons seemingly breed, then…disappear.1 teaspoon

It’s the damp conditions on and around the draining board that seems to encourage propagation yet apparently dry work surfaces just next to the sink can also stimulate rapid growth.

In New York’s Chinatown, an ignorant American travelling businessman was once warned that the adorable Mogwai (or Gremlin) should never be wetted. Seemingly this same approach should apply to teaspoons. They should be reserved for spooning chutney or yogurt.

In our office, there is a particular problem with breeding teaspoons. I have observed a great flush of breeding teaspoons early in the day. I first thought this was the great dawn spawning of cutlery but in fact, it seems to happen between 8.30 and 9.05.

I have thought long and hard about how to keep a lid on the multiplying teaspoons, a phenomenon often followed by a great scarcity of small spoons. Keeping all teaspoons in the dark, for instance the cutlery drawer, would probably work.

Another option is to direct some of my office colleagues to the respected website
www.useitthenrinseanddrainityounumpties.co.au

If you have also experienced similar crimes in the kitchen, please report them to me and I shall share in your moaning. 

In the meantime, I shall endeavour to stir things up in my own sweet way and wash up all that I use.

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Filed under Cutlery, Teaspoons

Dried apricots look like elbow skin

My friend and colleague Rhiannon offered round a bag of dried apricots last week and, as she did so, likened the dull orange discs to that patch of baggy skin on your elbow.DRIED_APRICOT

While David Dickenson, Hull FC manager Phil Taylor and Dale Winton are sure to have the brightest elbows, Barrack Obama may have elbows that are reminiscent of un-dyed organic Prunus armeniaca. Perhaps cannibals prepare them as delicacies for food festivals and family parties.

Rhiannon’s comparison sparked a debate about other body parts that recall food (steady, now). Others have gone further and suggested that foods that look like body parts actually nourish that part of the anatomy – http://www.bartonpublishing.com/blog/2008/05/27/gods-pharmacy-foods-that-resemble-the-body-parts-they-help/

I can’t see that pickled onions really help with my vision but they can make my eyes water…but so can a good mustard sneeze.

If you have thoughts on which bits of your body are like something from the fridge, do let me know. If, however, you’re hoping to see images of rude food in the style of the BBC That’s Life series of the 1980s, you’re unlucky this time.

Or are you? – http://fabulously40.com/article/id/2159

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Filed under Food & the Human Body

Frogspawn Swallows Garlic

wild-garlic-flowers

Down in the hollows on my drive home I spied some wild garlic growing in healthy luscious tufts.

The swallows are no longer solitarily sitting the telegraph wires but are instead chasing each other across the meadows, while the frogspawn is plump and ready to pop.

Spring’s icy dawn is readily giving way to warmer rays by noon and the Jacob lambs are busy chasing their chocolate-coloured splodges.

The leaves of the wild garlic are wonderful when roughly chopped into a soup of spring vegetables or perhaps a few can be stuffed inside a chicken ready for roasting (recipes for a proper wild garlic stuffing anyone?).

I’m keen to try the leaves as a fragrant wrap for sea bass to take place of tin foil. Inside the fish I shall add a lemon wedge and a little butter but will the leaves allow the fish to steam while retaining the cooking juices?

Cooks from less sophisticated cuisines use leaves all the time in this way but they do not have to clean my oven…

If it works, I shall serve with some new potatoes and, if I’m lucky, some early season broad beans.

Finally, could I serve young frogspawn to accompany a plate of British Sushi??

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The Great Sandwich Shape Debate

Isn't it marvellous

Isn't it marvellous

I intend to explode the myth that triangles taste better than rectangles when it comes to sandwiches and I implore you to help.

How can triangles taste better? They might look a bit fancy-dan and their two neat pointy corners might make them easier to tackle. But what about when you need filling up and it’s a man sandwich that you need? How then can a triangle satisfy the urges of a hungry hound? Never, say I.

There’s several Facebook groups and other forums promoting the virtues of the triangle sarnie. How quickly their so called members have forgotten their loyalty.

The new debate that rages pits the humble rectangular sandwich against the triangle and I for one, want to pledge my support and undying passion to the true nobility of the sandwich arena.

A chunky doorstep of a sandwich can only ever be rectangular – only the French would have real doorsteps in a triangle shape. A really good doorstep does not benefit from pointy corners. It needs right angles, it needs mustard and it needs three sides of crust.

I urge you to join with me and kick these triangles while they are down and to champion proper sandwiches, only ever in their rectangular form.

My favourite fillings:
Chicken salad, mayo + white pepper and salt (granary bread)
Green back bacon and Dijon mustard (white bread)
Cheese, hoummos, coleslaw (granary)
Banana, Nutella(white bread)
Marmite – just marmite and maybe some butter, nowt else. (white or wholemeal)

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Spudulike

The potato plants are beginning to show their green fingers through the soil but there is little else to report in the garden. The raised beds look somewhat neglected and even the fledgling chilli plants have been scorched by the heat of the April sun.
More time must be invested in the garden this weekend and even the children will be employed in the necessary weeding and digging and seed sowing.
It’s the hottest April on record, so says Jonathan Ross. What does he know? He knows nothing of the termoil of the foodie gardener; slugs, water shortages, cold snaps, poor quality seed, cat poo.
The ‘3-week’ salad leaves have taken at least two months to mobilise due to the chills of March and are now parched. No wonder Tesco is taking £billion every week. All of the grow-your-own community is starving with hope. Having said that, Tesco’s offer on Charlotte potatoes is too good to ignore and they shall be enjoyed with poached white fish and oily chirizo this evening.
These spuds will have to bridge the gap between Easter and early July when our own salad potatoes will be ready for harvest.
What are you planting and eating?

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Filed under Charlotte, grow your own, potatoes, ross, salad