Saturday in Carcassonne, Mr Michelin and Some Hearty Fair.

Meet Carolyn, Frank and Gill my colleagues on the Gourmet Discovery Course at ‘The French House Party‘ in the featured image,  Australia, Ireland and the U.K. are represented and we all share an interest in food!  Today was to be taken up by a visit to the market at Carcassonne, a gourmet experience at the 1 Michelin starred La Barbacane, and our 1st cooking session.

I have visited numerous French food related markets over the years and they always seem to show produce at their best, always fresh, bountiful and ‘abundant’ as the recently departed chef, Antonio Carluccio used to say.

All the markets have a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables, sometimes fish, and poultry swinging around a rotisserie spouting fat and aroma simultaneously, local specialities proudly displayed and Carcassonne was no different.fullsizeoutput_adeOne stall particularly caught my attention, extremely intricate pastries that were absolutely stunning, you can see an example in the picture above, Middle Eastern in origin and showing how food culture has spread across the world.IMG_0248Remi Touja has a Pâtisserie in Carcassonne and we passed by on the way back to to our next stop. Remi is top of his league and at 28 was working in Le Parc Franck Putelat,  a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Carcassonne, winning top awards for his work and we were going to have him teach us the following day. I have had the pleasure of  Mark Tilling as a tutor for a day who was 7th in the World Chocolate Masters Final in Paris in 2009,  so appreciate the skills that can learnt from such talent in a few hours, all very exiting.hxdbc+W3T1yBYZh807GnhwI am not a ‘car person’ but when we arrived at the entrance to Cité de Carcassonne we were surprised to see numerous Citroen cars from ‘yesteryear’, like a scene from Paris in Day of the Jackal they were in remarkable condition and seemed very popular. Our reason to visit the famous location was to eat at a renowned restaurant, the only 1 Michelin starred restaurant in the walls of the Citadel, La Barbacane7EA70CB8-AD66-4A65-95B7-62D0E62493DCSuffice to say service was excellent, the food was excellent, the location was excellent, the weather was…. well you guess? Every dish showed its true light through well balanced flavours, quality ingredients and expert cooking we all were very pleased with the first of our ‘gourmet’ experiences, big tick in the box to Moira, our host for organising this visit.P1040077It often the local translations that can cause much amusement when travelling and this trip was to be no different, I always though cults should be avoided at all costs, now back to St. Raymond for some cooking with Laurent Jeannin and some hearty fare.

This was the first time the team of Frank, Carolyn, Gill and myself, Jules had worked together, and even more so in a kitchen producing any form of edible plated food, it was great fun. We jelled very quickly and started sharing life, jokes and global experiences which made the next few hours fly by.

Laurent is the newest member of the team, the previous mainstay Robert, retiring at 78 year of age, who I remember from previous trips as having a kind manner and being very calm and understanding. Laurent was a younger version and did very well, directing our efforts to produce some delicious hearty food as can be seen above!

Duck, Beef and yes, a Soufflé were produced over the three hour session and the end results were very tasty indeed. Laurent helped us with plating techniques and the end results were very pleasing to the eye.

As an aside, as I write this at 23:15, I have a miniature FM analogue stereo radio plugged into my head and have counted 20 or so local radio stations all pumping out tunes, mostly French but very enjoyable indeed.


……………Until next time……………..L8ers…………………

Wolves, Castles & Stockings! Another Week at The French House Party, Here is the story so far, please do Read On.

7A8CF24E-7DFF-4EAF-AC1C-D487E4AF871C.jpgIt was 03:45 and I was awake with excitement as I was about to start another cooking vacation at The French House Party, the plane to Toulouse was due to depart at 07:35 and I had a taxi to take me to the airport arriving at 04:30!

I have been before, twice in fact it’s that good and circumstances had provided the opportunity for another trip, something I would not hesitate to embrace. The location Pexiora, near Carcassonne in the south west of France is a delightful village, the Domaine St. Raymond, a tastefully converted barn with properly equipped kitchen, swimming pool and tennis court allows relaxation when time allows is the base for the Gourmet Explorer, a 5 day 6 night cookery experience with lessons from various Chefs, and 1 with a Michelin star so the event covers a variety of skills and cuisines.P1040067.JPGAs well as structured tuition there are a variety of trips organised depending on the time of the year, our 1st was to be to Domaine La Louvière, a vineyard in the Malpère region at the foot of the Pyrenees and what a lovely trip it was to be. The soil is a challenge in this region and the word Malpère means ‘poor stone’, a reference to the poor agricultural ground that Is required to produce grapes, in fact it has its advantages but requires a lot of manual labour to produce the best results.fullsizeoutput_a27I think the the brand is awesome! Gem Harris, the Australian general manager explained the philosophy of the organic vineyard and wine production, and the brand which stems from the wolves which used to gather at the foothills of the Pyrenees, watching ready for the hunt. Each wine has its own special identity, the eye catching graphics produced by an Austrian lady which I think are just brilliant and very unique. We tasted several of the wines on offer of course and had a tour of the productions facility which was very modern and clean.P1040071Interesting was the use ‘Bat Huts’ to encourage bats to nest around the vineyard, they are great at keeping the insect population naturally low without having to use non-organic practises. If you subscribe to ‘Naked Wines’ in the U.K. these delicious wines are likely to become available in the near future.

For my own palate, La Muse (€12.50) and the more expensive La Souveraine (€17.00) were both stunning, great value for money and I ended up buying enough bottles to take home in the suitcase, hopefully they will arrive home in one piece! If you are in the locale, please pop in and say hello to Gem, he is extremely knowledgeable and very passionate about La Louvière and wines in general, well worth a visit.9B905136-ECF7-41E4-9FE1-48D3144897DAOn arrival back at Domaine St. Raymond we were treated to a delicious 3 course meal and a cheese course, well we are in France!

More to follow, its Saturday afternoon as I am writing this 1st post and we are off to Limoux to taste some more drink and food, but more of that later. Come back again soon for an update on events.









Monjayaki – A kind of Goo, and Other Japanese Deliciousness. Cooking with Tim Anderson of Masterchef Fame.

mount-fuji-rising-above-houses-in-japanIt’s been a while, too long in fact since I have donned a Chef’s apron and spent time learning some new skills and techniques of the culinary kind so the opportunity to spend a day with the Masterchef 2011 winner, Tim Anderson was too good an opportunity to miss!

The last (and only) time I have attempted cooking Japanese was in January 2016, a Katsu Curry type of recipe which blended Simon Rimmer (of Sunday Brunch fame), with the Hairy Bikers and it did taste very good, so posted it on the blog so I could repeat if Bertinet Cookery School is in Bath, I have been visiting frequently over the last few years and been fortunate to spend some with some fantastic chefs. On the train journey in I searched YouTube for evidence of Tims’ cooking, other than the Masterchef series where I had seem him win in 2011, and found a few videos to watch and get into the were 9 of us cooking and I teamed up with David and Jamal as we set to the various recipes that were given to us at the start of the session. We were going to cook some of the food in Tims’ new book TOKYO Stories, which is an excellent read as it guides you through the city like a food tourist, providing hints and clues as to how to get the most out of the ‘bonkers’ city. Thank-you David and Jamal for being great companions during the cooking experience, your company and chat was really nice and made everything so how about ‘Noodles in a Bun’! Yakisoba Pan is just that, the finished dish is further up the page and consists of, yep, Noodles in a Bun. The trick is packing loads of flavour and texture into the Noodles and adding various accompaniments such as ‘Aonori‘ (Sea Weed strips), ‘Tonkatsu‘ sauce (like HP but better), ‘Kewpie‘ Mayonnaise (a richer umami hit than normal mayo) and pickled Ginger. it was surprisingly tasty and everyone was silent as we ‘chowed down’!photo-27-04-2019-13-39-40.jpgTim gave us lots of anecdotes and talked of his many travels to the ‘bonkers’ city that is Tokyo which was fascinating, explaining how things work so buy the book and you will find out all about it. Menchi Katsu was another interesting wholesome dish, spiced Beef and Pork patties which were bound with Panko Breadcrumbs, Eggs Yolks and Cream. Coated in Panko and deep fried they were rich and juicy.Photo 27-04-2019, 11 11 24It was a very ‘hands-on’ day, lots of prep getting dishes to a point of readiness and then cooking at the last minute. One interesting dish out of the menu used Salmon ‘scraps’ cooked into fried Rice, a great way of ‘eeking’ the last inch of flavour out of waste that would normally be thrown away. Tim showed us what to do before we all set about doing our own.Photo 27-04-2019, 13 10 39The sessions are always relaxed at the cookery school, but each ‘team’ creates a bond, shares life experiences and its amazing how you very quickly forget about the week before or think about the week ahead, there is a ‘bubble’ that you enter and its surprisingly relaxing, even though you are all busy, working together preparing great food.Photo 27-04-2019, 12 41 44We were progressing really well so our chef tutor Tim decided to go ‘off piste’ and chuck in an extra dish which he demonstrated to us. Monjayaki, a kind of Goo it’s just that, weird indeed, but, very tasty. It’s a ‘not omelette’ sort of dish, with various ‘stuff’, in our case Kimchi (made by the lovely Jen, head helper and overseer at the school), some sweetcorn out of a can, some spring onions and a ‘not quite batter’ which was the goo, finished with Mozzarella Cheese which melted and crisped at the edges. Photo 27-04-2019, 13 37 17Another ‘treat’ was a cocktail using a Japanese ingredient, Umeboshi a  dried fermented Apricot kind of fruit. We all tasted a small piece, KAPOW! A bit sweet, a bit salty, a bit sour, in a intense kind of way it was………interesting! Muddled in a glass with Gin, Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth and in our case Byrrh it certainly packed a punch, slightly sharp and sour but very tasty and went well with the food.Photo 27-04-2019, 13 43 59So, another fantastic day with a great bunch of people all sharing a love of food. The Bertinet Cookery school is extremely well organised, properly equipped and always uses top quality ingredients. Tim Anderson was brilliant, made everyone real relaxed and showed an extensive knowledge of Japans food culture, another day I won’t forget, and new skills to practise in the future.

In 4 weeks I am off to France again to the French House Party on another culinary adventure and will be posting pictures on Twitter (@Julian_G4UET) Instagram (g4uet) and there will be blogs updates each day If I get time.


………………………………….Until Next Time………………L8ers……………….



Argentina – Polo, Maradona, Beef, Pigs Small Intestines and Sweetbreads!

Looking into the ‘Devil’s Throat’ on the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls was quite surreal! A few days earlier, an 11.5 hour flight from Heathrow had bought 30 or so of us workmates on a trip of a lifetime, a reward for (very) hard work well done, and I was in the group.2018-12-10 12.31.45The landing point was Buenos Aires in Argentina, only 6,910 miles from London and our base for the first few days was the delightful Four Seasons Hotel on the edge of the city, brushing the River Plate which is the widest river in the world, 140 miles at its mouth.

Argentina has not really been high on my bucket list, other than the area of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego which has always appealed due to the amazing landscape and ‘rawness’, so the opportunity to visit South America was not to be missed, and we would also be going to Brazil, but more of that 07-12-2018, 00 40 12A buffet had been organised on our arrival which was very tasty and the 1st introduction to Argentina’s ‘style’, albeit at a top end hotel the selection was very good with Ceviche which has its origins in Peru and Beef, obviously on the menu as an Argentinian staple. A lovely selection of beautiful desserts finished the meal for those with a sweet tooth. photo 06-12-2018, 17 42 09Following lunch, free time enabled us to explore and stretch the legs after the long flight so with the nearby Recoleta Cemetery being a short walk away, a famous land mark where ‘Evita’ was entombed that’s where most of us randomly headed, in my case via some deli’s to see what was on offer!!photo 06-12-2018, 17 41 53The deli’s were very good, with a surprising selection of cheese, something you do not associate with South America!

The first ‘proper’ meal out was at a local restaurant ‘Cabana Las Lilas’, one of the 10 best restaurants in the world according to the New York times and also awarded for its fine wine cellar, they have their own Estancias or ranches where their best Beef is 07-12-2018, 00 58 53There were several interesting new ‘tastes’ on the menu at this lovely waterside establishment, the ‘Provoleta’, a grilled chewy cheese pictured above, not unlike Halloumi in texture but without the bacon flavour it’s marinaded in herbs before being given the fire treatment!photo 07-12-2018, 01 34 05Pommes soufflées, crispy twice cooked puffed potatoes which were really delicious, the skill in making these is something on my list of things to do in 2019!! BUT, they do need a decent slug of salt to make them 07-12-2018, 02 31 58There was of course meat, and lots of it, Steak done three ways, Chorizo Sausage and Chicken it was all very tasty and washed down with copious quantities of Malbec. Chimichurri was the sauce of preference and is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar. Dessert was a simple but extremely tasty Tarte Tartin with Vanilla Ice Cream. #Stuffed!!!photo-07-12-2018-11-07-22.jpgRush hour in Buenos Aires is intense, 4 lanes solid for what seems likes hours but the sun was shining on the 1st full day in Argentina, and there was lots on the agenda to get done, next stop brekkies!!

Breakfast was very good indeed, the highlight being the most delicious home (Hotel) cured ham that was on offer with fresh sour dough bread and ‘proper’ tomatoes and local cheese. It’s so nice to try the local produce and a real treat to miss the heavy fried offerings that usually don’t work due to availability of produce, or interpretations that miss the point! The meat ageing fridges were visible and you could see the love, care and attention afforded to the produce.2018-12-07 18.46.08Anyone for POLO? The coach arrived on time and took us south of Buenos Aires to ‘Polo One’, a massive area with 2 Polo Pitches and all the facilities to make for an interesting day.

Our host was a national Polo hero and now retired from active playing, he commentates on ESPN, and trains Polo Players all over the world, his brother still plays and was in the special match organised for us after the history and game had been explained to us, with top players from India, Chile and the one that had flown in from Singapore the day before, it was one hell of an experience!

Each of our numerous meals had a menu (as above)  and in this case was an ‘Asado’ , a barbecue of assorted meats. To get the taste buds going we had ‘Choripán’, Chorizo Sausage in Bread and a staple of Argentina’s street scene along with ‘Empanadas’ the famous small baked pasties with either Meat or Vegetable filling, both were very tasty washed down with suitable refreshment.

Then meat, more meat and even more meat, and the ubiquitous Malbec Red Wine which was always very popular for some reason!  The event was fantastic, the Polo was amazing and we were made to feel really welcome, an experience well worth looking for if you get to this part of the 08-12-2018, 01 03 08The restaurant ‘Sucre’ was our destination for the evenings entertainment food wise, a 20 minute coach ride from the hotel, the suspicion was that meat might be on the menu, and of course it was!

We were presented with options for each course and my eye was attracted by ‘Grilled Sweetbreads’, never had those before so that course was easy! Mains included the ubiquitous Beef, along with Fresh Atlantic Fish of the Day and a Pesto dish, so I went for Fish. Not being a sweet fiend (diabetic Type I reasons), I normally go for the cheese course but the speciality of the house was Dulce de Leche Lava Cake with Banana Sorbet, so that was the job done!

So, the Sweetbreads were delicious, will defo order them again, the fish was unfortunately overcooked and for me the dish didn’t really work, the Pak Choi was so tough you could not cut it with the Fish Knife, the dessert…..BOOOOOOOOM! A nice Chardonnay worked throughout. Despite the Fish it was a nice meal and I got to try something new.2018-12-08 15.48.02I’m not into football but that did not stop the enjoyment of the next day, visiting the infamous ‘Hand of God’s’ (Maradona) football club Boca Juniors at La Bombonera Stadium, in the La Boca area of Buenos Aires. Following the tour free time enabled us to see the colourful district and sample some more…….meat!

Menus are dangerous! Gran Paraiso ‘Parilla al Carbon’ sits in a lovely sheltered courtyard and serves traditional food, at the entrance the chef is doing his magic to various cuts of meat, and ‘other’ items as will become clear.

If you order the Parrillada Completa (complete Barbecue), your selection is served on a miniature barbecue with hot coals keeping things very warm indeed! So surveying the menu some options hit me straight away, ‘Chitterlings’, hmmmm, Pigs Small Intestine, they sound……interesting. Yep, lets go for those and oh, a Barbecue for One and the Baked Potato thingy.

My colleagues went conventional and ordered steak, ribs and stuff along with beers, I was on the wine as usual! The food arrived and OMG, enough for a family of four was presented before me as you can see above. Blood Sausage, Kidney, Chorizo, Ribs, Flank Steak, Pork and Chicken, along with the interesting looking Chitterlings, yummmmm. It worked out at £27 for my food and drink, and it was very tasty. The Chitterlings I would say might be an acquired taste, which I acquired very quickly, another item off the menu bucket list!

Following lunch we wandered the colourful streets, walking off the calories ready for the evenings events and another delicious meal!!  Anyone for TANGO!!file-05-01-2019-18-04-48.pngArgentinas other passions include Tango. La Boca, the area we had been in earlier had numerous displays of dancers strutting their stuff on the street, but the evenings treat was a ‘proper’ show with a nice meal beforehand.file 05-01-2019, 18 16 39 This was probably my favourite meal during the 5 day tour, the Burrata was simple but very tasty, the Lamb Ravioli with Sage Cream was stunning, the Chocolate Marquise was rich, very rich, in fact the portion size was massive and could have been halved, with the accompanying sauce doubled and it would have been perfect.

The Tango show was absolutely stunning, the dancing exquisite, the singing beautiful and the live band delivered an amazingly tuneful experience which was thoroughly enjoyable. #Stuffed_Again!

If ever you are in Buenos Aires the show is held at the ‘Faena Hotel’ and well worth booking for a proper Tango experience. Time for bed, up early tomorrow!

The Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas is located on the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls, the only Hotel in the National Park and a 5* Paradise. The views of the falls are stunning from the viewing point very close to the hotel and if you are lucky as I was, you can see Toucan’s in their native habitat, and in my case a baby Toucan which is in the header picture, mind blowing!!

We had left Buenos Aires 1st thing and with a flight of only 1 hour 15 mins, and successfully navigating border crossings etc. were soon ready for our next adventure, we were now in Brazil and going to get………. Wet, Wet, Wet!img_4593It’s difficult to describe the feeling of tons of water falling down on you, the waterproof cameraphone stood up to the deluge and I have about 15 minutes video of the numerous times our skipper drove the boat into the water at different angles. Above is a capture of our other boat with the rest of the gang getting a thorough soaking, it was an experience I shall never forget. You can see several videos of other people doing this on Youtube if you want more detail!!photo 10-12-2018, 00 15 11When in Brazil and all that! The evening was the last of the trip and so everyone was talking about the numerous experiences, Polo, Football, Tango, Waterfalls, Getting Wet and of course the food.

Our last evenings food was, as usual very good and no surprises Beef was to be the main event. Tilapia Ceviche led the parade with a selection of desserts finishing things off the evening flew buy with much laughter as our hosts said well done to all of use for making the trip, and gave out a few awards in jest for various events. I won the David Bellamy award for the Toucan Pictures, well chuffed I was indeed.

Caramel Bananas for Breakfast anyone! I think I was first to eat the following day, not that I was keen to start the journey home but we had a ‘whats app’ group and my habit of posting breakfast pictures did sway a few people in their choice of food. This morning I went for a freshly cooked omelette, which was lovely.

We had a walking tour of the falls after breakfast, following a farewell drink and packed lunch we headed to the regional airport to fly to Sao Paulo, and then to Rio de Janeiro before heading back to London, quite a trek but well worth it.

I will leave you with some pictures of the falls, stunning they are the largest in the world.  After nearly 12 months break from the food blog I will be kicking into action this year so watch out.

……………………….Until Next Time…………….L8ers……………..








Tajine Malsouka, بسطيلة, Pastilla, nope not Chicken, Confit Partridge, and some Catalan Spinach!

Photo 10-11-2018, 12 33 51I have been taking a break from the blog and cooking in general to recharge the culinary batteries, and try and seek new inspiration from a number of foodie sources including books, cookery competitions on T.V. and researching produce and concepts.

I will apologise upfront, this is not a simple or quick recipe, it was prepared over nearly 3 days but, broken down in stages the amount of time actually spent in the kitchen is only a few hours!Photo 10-11-2018, 11 41 27This dish is inspired by an entry in the book NOPI, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. Its a gorgeous book, full of dishes from the restaurant of the same name but subtly simplified to make them more accessible, but nonetheless they are still complicated.

Having read the recipe, description and processes my mind started to wander and think about my interpretation of what seemed a very tasty, but complex Filo Pie, with its origins from Morocco and the Savoury/Sweet Pastilla.Photo 10-11-2018, 12 10 40Our family LOVES game, especially Partridge and a recent trip to our local meat supplier Casey Fields Farm Shop in Ashampstead had allowed the purchase of a few birds which were really fantastic value for money. The plan was to section the birds, roast the carcass, make a Partridge Stock and confit the meat. Photo 10-11-2018, 12 29 57The work was planned to start on a Friday evening, but due to over running work wise I started on the Saturday morning, I have done some butchery over the years so the sectioning was done pretty quickly and I soon had a pile of breasts and legs which were placed in a dish with Garlic (about 3 chopped cloves), Juniper Berries (about 10, crushed), Maldon Salt (2 Tablespoons) and Selim Pepper (from Steenbergs), and some Fresh Thyme and covered with cling film before sticking the in the fridge until the following Morning.Photo 10-11-2018, 12 01 40.jpgThe carcass’s were placed in a roasting dish, treated with Olive oil, Fresh Thyme and Maldon Sea Salt, before placing in a 160 degree (fan) over for about 2 hours to cook. After 75 minutes I put a halved red Onion in as the birds finished roasting.Photo 10-11-2018, 23 41 12Once the roasting was complete, the carcass’s were put in a large pot along with the aromats and about 5 litres of water. I looked at the recipe for guidance as to flavours, it used Chicken Stock so I added some dried Porcini Mushrooms, Tomatoes, the roast Onion, Peppercorns, Star Anise and a ‘faggot’ of herbs, Bay, Parsley and Coriander. I didn’t add Salt until later, and to taste, and then sieved the stock removing all the solids, that was the Partridge Stock done!Photo 11-11-2018, 10 02 41First thing on the following Sunday morning I was up early and got the Partridge Breasts and Legs cooking, after washing off the Salt and marinade ingredients, at about 115-120 degrees, in plain oil.  Ovens differ so you want to see the ‘occasional’ bubble rising to the surface and may need to adjust the above temperature a bit.Photo 11-11-2018, 12 28 56I let the meat cool down in the Oil for about an hour before removing, covering and sticking in the fridge whilst other stages were completed. The original recipe called for a layer of ‘Catalan Spinach’, which needed some Pine Nuts to be roasted and coated in Smoked Paprika, which only took a few minutes. There was also a Sweet/Sharp component made from some currants, steeped in warm Sherry Vinegar and Brandy until plump.

Photo 11-11-2018, 10 25 59photo-11-11-2018-10-16-19.jpg

As you can see, there is quite a lot to do, a number of processes to complete and some great flavours being developed with the home made stock and various elements of the dish.Photo 11-11-2018, 13 24 29The stock was just the base for the intense and complex flavoured sauce that the Confit meat was going to be added to. Caramelised Onions and various other flavours were added to a pan and cooked down before adding some of the stock, which was then left to simmer for about an hour or so! If you want the recipe then the book NOPI is where to get it from , it’s a great investment for any keen cook. I used the recipe as a guide as I wasn’t using Chicken, so missed some of the stages that were not needed.Photo 11-11-2018, 14 23 50The second layer of the Pastilla was the “Catalan Spinach’, a creamy cooked down delicious combination of the Pine Nuts and Currants, Garlic along with Spinach and Double Cream. You need to ensure the mix is not too wet, otherwise the final result may make the dish soggy. Photo 11-11-2018, 15 27 27So, we have sectioned some Partridge, Roast the carcass’s and made a tasty stock, salted and marinaded the Legs and Breasts, and then done the confit treatment. Prepared the various ingredients for the Catalan Spinach and started to make the final sauce for the meat. Give yourself a MASSIVE pat on the back and SMILE, I certainly did!!Photo 11-11-2018, 15 33 20Again I did not follow the recipe and strained the sauce, then reduced it added salt and kept tasting until I felt it was rich and velvety. I picked the meat off the legs and pulled the breast apart into small pieces and then added the sauce to coat, not drench the are almost done, and now its Filo time! I have two ‘favourite’ pan’s, from Netherton Foundry in Shropshire, they are made of spun iron, very robust and made to last. The ‘Prospector’ pan was to be my cooking vessel for the Pastilla (I used my Netherton frying pan to complete the sauce) so started by brushing some melted Ghee on the base (to help crisp the pastry), before layering several sheets of Filo pastry at 180 degrees to each other, slathering more Ghee on each layer as you can see above. Its quite delicate so be gentle with your brush as it can tear!photo-11-11-2018-15-50-17.jpgI used about 8 sheets of Filo for the size of pan I was using, overlapping each time to create overhangs that could be played back over, and then filled with the Partridge layer, you can see from the picture above that the mixture is not too wet, but the meat is well coated nonetheless. The Spinach layer was added on top of, lay a sheet in the middle of the Pastilla and gentle tuck the sides all around your pan, as you can see above. Your tucking in a blanket before gently bring the outer layers back over the top, brushing Ghee on each layer as its sealed, and you should end up with something similar to the picture below. Give yourself ANOTHER pat on the back!Photo 11-11-2018, 15 55 17Breaking down the dish into various stages slightly simplifies the cooking but it’s still a challenging dish to make and to be honest, I was pretty tired after what was a 2 day cooking event! I made things more difficult but choosing to use a Partridge Confit and kept double checking the processes to make sure nothing was missed, and where adjustments were made, everything was on track. The Pastilla needs to cook in the over for about 45 mins to 1 is a Sweet/Savoury dish so needs finishing with a coating of icing sugar after it has been turned out of the pan (so the bottom is on the top). What was it like, my chief taster was very sceptical and was not sure that it was going to be any good, dead wrong, it was absolutely delicious and quite a surprise. We had some Harissa roasted Butternut Squash and a Cous Cous Salad with Feta, Pomegranate and Herbs and felt very satisfied.Photo 11-11-2018, 17 16 24So here is my Confit Partridge Pastilla, yes its a bit of work but break into stages and even I managed it, take a leap of faith and have a go yourself.

I’m off to Argentina in a few weeks for a trip with my employer and if there is anything good food wise to write about, it will get posted shortly after.


………………………..Until next time L8ers……………………………



Excuse the Picture, The Pasta was STUNNING!

I’m watching Heston Blumenthal stuff a Cod’s head with Veal Mince at the moment, a recipe from Charles Elmé Francatelli a famous chef from the 1800’s and Queen Victoria’s favourite dish apparently!

Whilst in New York recently a number of meals had been organised to ‘feed the troops’, along with some Rooftop Bars to enjoy the Manhattan Skyline and soak in the atmosphere of the city that never sleeps, it was an amazing experience.P1030939New York has strong ties to Italy (amongst other countries) and that was very evident from some of the restaurants we ate in, although one of the stand out dishes came from Tao, a Pan Asian establishment with attached Night Club.LKwmP6YITLOkh4Bk00BFCQThe menu seemed endless, Hot Endamame, Chefs’ Sushi, Chicken Gyozas, Pan Roasted Halibut, Dry Aged Sirloin and Broccoli Drunken Vegetable Pad Thai the flow of food just didn’t seem to stop. It was all beautifully presented and very tasty indeed. The restaurant was huge, and floor walkers with radio communications kept in contact with the Chef’s to ensure the food was cooked at the right time and that no table was left waiting for the next course.Photo 30-05-2018, 10 47 36All the food was good but one dish was just amazing, the ‘Satay of Chilean Sea Bass with Miso Dressing’. It does not look much but the texture and flavour was sublime, perfectly cooked fish (to the point as Rick Stein might say), it was silky, moist and packed with flavour, my favourite of the whole evening and in the top three of the trip.428rK9AOS42cIKw99DmkdwThe following night we were at Cecconi’s in DUMBO! That’s Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a restaurant that looks over at Manhattan from Brooklyn, the other side of the river, we were to follow dinner with another rooftop bar but it was raining so it was not quite rooftop!VIW0Zgo0Q8ev5ObyMwBsGQThis was Saturday evening and I had spent the day eating on the Brooklyn Culture and Food Tour, the location of Cecconi’s was our last stop on the tour and over the road was the Chocolate Shop I had been in a few hours earlier with my foodie chum!

I was going to face a new challenge over the next couple of days, I had run out of my Metformin, used to help the Insulin I inject every morning get absorbed by the body so less carbs was the order of the day, and hopefully I had enough in me to get home (I did)!G2%X5mLsR52W5TGXioTk9ACecconi’s was a typical Italian restaurant, homely, cosy and carb heavy with Risotto and Gnocchetti but luckily there was Chicken on the menu so I was sorted, the starters included Calamari Fritti with Lemon Aioli and Chilli which was very tasty.

The stand out dish for me is in the previous picture, Burrata, Heirloom Beetroot and Aged Balsamic Vinegar, simple but the flavours just sung.fullsizeoutput_78e.jpegNow onto Il Cortile situated in Little Italy, right next to Chinatown! Over 11 dishes on the menu for our group at this 40 year old traditional restaurant which has a reputation for amazing Italian food cooked exceptionally well. Everyone commented on the Antipasti, the Baked Clams and Fried Prawns were really good, the Roasted Italian Loaf was something new, never heard of that before!ulhzrx1oqpmsuckipidgg.jpgI went for the Veal Scaloppini for mains, it was very tasty but I think the Veal could have been cooked less, it was a bit to over for my liking but still nice.poritib1rwmlwbaypql6bq1.jpgThe stand out dish was definitely the Capellini with Peas and Prosciutto, it was amazing, absolutely stunning and the picture is the featured image of this post, you have to visit just for this dish, its that good.s8BgBI3TTf6U0737ZOQfVAI did gain a few ounces over the 4 or so days and had the chance to taste some great food. New York is mad, manic and full-on, but you do slowly get used to it, the range of cuisine is enormous and you can get fed for not a lot if you know where to look.


………………………………….Until next time……………………L8ers………………….






Food…..A Trip to New York

I’ve been very fortunate over the past 8 – 9 months, with lots of hard work achieved a couple of paid ‘reward’ trips through work. The first was Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi Island, the flights were hard work but the effort was worth it, time to visit sites of personal interest in-between organised entertainment, including a Police Bike Escorted Tour across the City on the back of Harley Davidson Motorbikes as well as high end restaurants and a personalised tour of the Petronas Twin Towers!!Photo 31-12-2017, 15 43 14More recently, just a week ago, the destination was a few days in New York, a place our family was due to visit last Christmas but due our son being ill we had to cancel, so the trip was on again, but the family was going to be staying at home this time.IMG_1563It was by sheer chance that the trip coincided with the 9Th Avenue International Food Festival, a two day event that was started many years ago by Lili Fable that attracts THOUSANDS of visitors over the 2 days it is held, she is still active at the 3rd generation family run Greek ‘Poseidon’ pastry shop, they still make Phyllo Pastry by hand, and I had the pleasure of meeting her and her retired husband on this trip, a true honour.IMG_1560We were fortunate to have a ‘free day’ which provided the opportunity to look at other food options and I was lucky enough to discover ‘The Brooklyn Culture and Food Tour’, a 4 1/2 hour excursion across the river to see another borough of New York, and experience the imigrant food culture that had developed over the years, this trip was working out really well and I discovered a fellow foodie in our group who was keen to join in, perfect.+2z3EgKqRVC3TTdF%6MsNAThe morning of the Brooklyn food tour was wet, very wet, in fact it rained almost the whole day. Luckily for me and my new foodie chum our tour was in a very comfortable mini-coach, which took us over the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn where we started things off with BALLs, Meat Balls!26C3A472-D883-4EFA-BC9A-A10EFCBE3832This establishment had pedigree, being owned by chefs with Michelin star experience, and the Balls were GREAT. The restaurant concept was explained by the Manager, we were to bump into the ‘BALL’ brand again during the Food Festival the following day! You pick your preferred ‘BALL” add sauce and away you go, but there are more options including Balls Benedict, all available until after 2:30 a.m. in the morning!soTVAM6cRvOhFx1KHNNmWgJust around the corner was another ‘Ball’ establishment, this time Middle Eastern and Falafel were the order of the day at OASIS in Williamsburg. They were delicious and just cooked, if Falafel are older than 20 minutes then bin them Rick explained, as he pointed out the closeness of both the restaurants to the Metro and constant footfall. Great food and passing traffic enables both these restaurants to do a roaring trade. I have NEVER seen Labneh for sale, another first!creaxbC1T4W6JtgWqaNflAThe next stop took us to Poland, another first and we ploughed through locally made Sausage and mashed Potato, Pierogi and various other delicacies at Krolewskie Jadlo (King’s Feast), which were really tasty. The sausage was nicely spiced and had a firm texture the mash smooth and silky.mzJ1MLkbSkit4R2bxomZtAPierogi is something I have always wanted to try and luckily it was on the menu, stuffed with Potato and Cheese they were absolutely yummy, crispy cases and soft fluffy insides.7Xm%QBV%RxO2Xg4wt8tTCgAmerica seems to like Pizza, it’s probably a staple of the diet and there were lots of small Pizza stores all over the city selling flabby looking cardboard bases, coated with not particularly nice looking toppings!N8Go9i6uQSeNvY1tySxYMATable 87 was a ‘proper’ Pizza Restaurant, we watched the artisans stretch, spin and coax the freshly hand made bases before adding a San Marzano Tomato Sauce, and Fresh Mozzarella before putting into a 500Deg coal fired oven! They skilfully watched the Pizza  cook and turned to ensure an even cook, removing when ready and finishing with fresh Basil and Olive Oil.Koe6DDdTTxejMfykwoSR%AThe result was outstanding, very crisp base, full of flavour, a beautiful Tomato Sauce, chewy Mozzarella Cheese and the waft of Basil which had been wilted by the heat of the Pizza and nothing else, Wowzer!JlTjrQbCSLu4AciMXHO4og What do the Italians excel at? Cakes. The next stop was an artisan bakery which had shelves of amazing looking cakes, pastries and Marzipan crafted fruit, our next taster was Cannoli and my they were really very good indeed, freshly made and filled with slightly sweetened Ricotta Cheese.18E0566F-6B9F-484D-9C9B-674C46E62A9CThis establishment had been the in the neighbourhood for years, in fact as we had driven round Brooklyn Rick was explaining the importance of each area and how they had developed over time, it was really fascinating.pxP2Jl1iSjSGRFd46BvosAThe last stop was DUMBO! Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and we were all well fed and educated on all things Brooklyn, a borough I personally think has a lot to offer and would be missed by many visitors to New York as most will go for the more ‘famous’ sites.P1040002Jacques Torres is also known as Mr Chocolate and we were to try a couple of his ‘specials’, very tasty they were too. We had the option of walking back over Brooklyn Bridge but the weather was still pretty poor so any photographic opportunities would not have produced any where near decent results as you can see from the couple of touristy pictures I took whilst the opportunity arose.P1040003The food tour can be found HERE and it was worth every $, Rick our guide was very knowledgeable and made the 4 1/2 hours really interesting both from a food and culture perspective so if you ever find yourself looking for something different to do whilst in the Big Apple, give it it a go, its great fun.W42_419th_ave_food_fest_FP.13642321_stdOMG! Argentinian, Brazilian, Cajun, Cuban, Spanish, Dominican, Ethiopian, Greek, Haitian, Irish, Moroccan, Ukrainian, and many other kinds of cuisine are being cooked during the annual two-day festival on 9th Avenue in New York during May! Apart from the nights out on rooftops bars and fantastic restaurants I had managed to squeeze in Dr Laser (holographic studios) and the Brooklyn Food Tour already and it was the last full day in New York.DSCF3453The morning had taken us to Grand Central Station for a tour, followed by a tasty brunch at Cipriani Dolci and I did have breakfast that morning, something I was to later regret! Our tour guide helped me find some Graham Crackers, a present for our son to make some ‘proper s’mores’ and during the conversation I remembered the Food Festival, which happened to start just around the corner from he lived so he walked me to the start and introduced me to the founders of the event, owners of the Greek Restaurant Poseidon, it was great hearing of their enthusiasm to get visitors to come to Hells Kitchen and taste the world!DSCF3483It was VERY busy, I remembered my foodie friend and dropped him a text message, he was on his way within minutes and on arrival made similar comments to me, OMG, what a MASSIVE festival, there were thousands of people walking up and down 9th Avenue smelling and tasting food from all over the world.DSCF3475Unlike the previous day it was hot and sunny, with a threat of a thunder storm we hoped the rain would stay away and it did, we wandered up and up and up looking at all the different cuisines on the way. Unfortunately I was stuffed from breakfast and brunch so it was smelling and drinking water for me as we were out again that evening!DSCF3457We had never seen so much food from so many different countries, it was overwhelming but in a positive way, it was sheer chance that the even coincided with the trip and we were both so glad it did.DSCF3468As we were walking back my friend was tempted at one particular stand selling ‘Fried” Ice-Cream, yep you read that correctly, tennis ball sized and covered in breadcrumbs before before frying and crispy brown and icing sugar added!DSCF3488I declined the opportunity but it was apparently absolutely delicious, they certainly smelled very good indeed. we had walked what seemed miles in the heat but had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, on neither of us will every forget so it ever you find yourself in New York around the week after Mothers Days, check your dates and try and get to this awesome event, and maybe do the Brooklyn Tour as well.


…………………………Until next time……………..L8ers………………






Mirepoix (Not the Place), Tasty Stuff & January’s Foodie Experiments

Photo 17-01-2018, 20 02 51January has been very difficult, Flu has been the significant event and I think I have seen Floyd cooking in India, The Far East, France, Italy and South Africa to name but a few! There is a common thread in many of the recipes he shows, the Mirepoix.

I am starting to get a bit more adventerous in my approach to cooking in that I am looking for ‘guidance’ when attempting something and then veering off-piste and seeing where I end up!

The Pie is one such example, cooked well they are a thing of beauty but make a mistake and yuch, and unless you can find a pie brand you really like going it alone and making your own is definitely the way to go.

I decided to use a home made rough-puff pastry using a Michel Roux recipe, it’s brilliant and only takes a few minutes to make if you follow the link HERE. I scaled down the amount as I was making a small(ish) Pie and went for 125g each of flour and butter.

The filling was Beef Mince and Peas, but the flavour started with a Mirepoix of Onion Carrot and Celery cut Brunoise (small dice), this was to feature a lot in Januarys cooking experiments. You just sweat the vegetables gently and not brown them, if you then add tomato pureé as I did, it becomes a pincage! I did add some finely chopped bacon before this stage to build on the flavour layers which adds a smoky element. Don’t forget to Season to taste at this stage.Photo 17-01-2018, 18 55 10To shape the Pie I used one of those White Enamel tins, lined with some cling film after I had rubbed some oil over the surface, the Pastry was then laid into the dish on the film, add the (cooled) filling and cover. The Pie can then be (gently) lifted out, inverted and the edges sealed with a fork, It worked a treat as you can see above adding an Egg Wash to brown before cooking.

So back to our Mirepoix again, this time with a dish inspired from more distant shores, but first some mise en place.Photo 06-01-2018, 18 42 43Stuffed Mediterranean Vegetables are another one of those dishes that can be ergh, nice or amazing. I’ve done them a few times but decided to see what could be done with some refinement and playing with flavours. Previously I have only done a Pepper version as they are easy, just cut the top off and bake with a filling, job done.Photo 06-01-2018, 16 47 41Let’s introduce the Aubergine into the recipe and look at the process of baking and using the centre as part of the stuffing. I used the paring (small) knife to gently cut around the edge of the Aubergine about 1 cm in, you can see in the top right picture, then carefully cutting a criss-cross pattern using the larger knife, remembering the shape and altering the depth as you cut, the middle is deeper than the edge! Photo 06-01-2018, 17 44 32Brushing liberally with Olive or Rapeseed Oil and seasoning with Salt and Pepper they were baked for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees. I turned them over flat side down and gave them another 15 minutes after another brushing of Oil as the top did not seem cooked, you can see the final result below. You then need to carefully scrape out the cooked centre and chop, ready to add to the filling later.Photo 06-01-2018, 17 45 23So we now start with the Mirepoix again, this time I swapped an Onion for a large Shallot, which is a bit sweeter. Add the Lamb and brown, some Garlic to taste, the chopped Aubergine, some Tomato Paste. Going for a Middle Eastern angle further enhancements included Rose Harissa, Coriander, Cumin and Preserved Lemon finely sliced and some chopped Mint and Coriander Leaf. Texture came with some toasted Pine Nuts.

I have not included quantities as I tasted as I went, so for example Cumin is quite Pungent, so I used less then Coriander Powder. Don’t forget to season with Salt and Pepper before moving onto the next stage.Photo 27-01-2018, 12 45 05The lamb mixture can then be used to fill the hollowed out Aubergine and in my case Red Pepper’s with the tops and pith/seeds removed, then baked in the over for about 35-40 minutes. Photo 06-01-2018, 17 26 47.jpgServed with some Greek Yoghurt with added Rose Harissa and chopped Mint its absolutely delicious and worthy of any dinner table as you can see below.Photo 06-01-2018, 19 45 11A new book came through the letterbox and hit the floor over Christmas, ‘Comfort’ by John Waite it’s a great addition to the bookshelf although it’s spent more time in my hands thumbing through the pages seeking more cooking inspiration.

I was looking for something different to try one Saturday and had Fish and Potato on my mind, remembering a recipe I found it in John’s book, but not having all the ingredients I slipped off-piste again and here is how it went!Photo 19-01-2018, 19 20 31Firstly, a baked Potato which I always start by piercing all over with a fork, and then rubbing butter all over the skin to ensure a crisp finish, followed by a sprinkling of Sea  Salt.Photo 19-01-2018, 18 11 42.jpgI had some red Romano Peppers in the Organic Veg Box so started to think about a nice Piquant Sauce to make, so popped one in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes, this makes removing the hard indigestible skin easy and heightens their sweetness.

The Mirepoix was again the starting point, this time the humble Leek was also finely chopped and added to the rest of the sweating vegetables. I also added some Plum Tomato’s from a tin, but removing the seeds by hand first so only the flesh went into the saucepan. Finally I added the roasted pepper which had been chopped up first.Photo 19-01-2018, 18 42 23.jpgA couple of pieces Cod had been removed from the Freezer earlier and popped in the Microwave to cook, not ideal but time meant that it was the easiest thing to do and as the Fish was going to be mixed with Potato it was the way I went on this occasion. Once cooked it was mixed in with the scooped out potato and Ras-Al-Hanut spice added along with Salt and Pepper to season.Photo 19-01-2018, 18 22 40Once the Mirepoix/Pepper/Tomato mix was cooked it went into the Ninja processor and got a good whiz as you can seen above.

I wanted to add some more texture so used some old Sour Dough Bread to make Breadcrumbs, added grated Grana Padano Cheese and mixed in some Rapeseed Oil.Photo 19-01-2018, 19 01 18The Potato Skins were fried to make them crispy again, and then filled with the Potato?fish mixture before being topped with the Breadcrumbs/Cheese and going in the oven to finish. The sweet (piquant is more appropriate) Pepper Sauce was gently warmed on the hob and we were soon ready to serve.Photo 19-01-2018, 18 41 46So what started out as a John Waite dish (which I do intent to make), turned out as my own version with a quite spicy Sweet Pepper Sauce, with the crispy Potato and Fish filled skins it tasted delicious.

Next time I will cover off Mexican experiment and see where it took me and the Ox Cheeks, I hope you enjoy the January efforts and please feel free to let me know if there is anything you would like to me have a go at.


……………………………Until next time…………………….L8ers………………


Revisiting Rendang Pedas Ayam & Malaysia, oh, And ‘Oca’!

Photo 23-12-2017, 22 06 27It did not take long after the trip to Malaysia to get the urge to cook something that would remind me of fun times. I have cooked ‘Rendang’ twice before, one at ‘Season Cookery School’ with the fabulous Jackie Kearney aka The Hungry Gecko of vegetarian and vegan food fame using Jackfruit, and previously I have attempted a Rendang using Beef Short Ribs which didn’t go quite right and needed more cooking.

Norman Bin Musa is a bit of a super hero when it comes to Malaysian food and has won many awards and accolades for his skill and expertise in all things Malaysian.  Honoured with being appointed the Kuala Lumpur Food Ambassador by the KL Mayor in 2015, and being featured on such programs as Toms Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch he is a pretty damn fine Chef, winning such prizes as Chef of the Year at the Asian Curry Awards in 2012 and many more!Photo 23-12-2017, 16 38 56I have several Malaysian cookery books in my ever growing collection, one being Normans’ ‘Amazing Malaysia’ it’s a cracking book and contains an authentic recipe for a Chicken Rendang, one his mother used to made so off to the Asian Supermarket for the ingredients and we were good to go.Photo 23-12-2017, 17 32 44To accompany the Rendang I decided on plain Basmati Rice and Pak Choi, enhanced with some of the flavours above, Kecap Manis a Sweet Soy Sauce being one along with the Sesame Seeds to add some texture and crunch.Photo 23-12-2017, 17 42 33A unique flavour to Malaysian cuisine is Kerisik which is grated, toasted and ground Coconut. The last time I made this I used a microwave oven, which worked but things got very hot indeed so this time I followed another method which involves melting some creamed coconut from a block, and cooking it in a saucepan until the right colour has been reached.Photo 23-12-2017, 17 46 54You can see the start and the end of the process in the pictures above. The aroma of Kerisik is like a ‘Toasty Caramel Coconut’ flavour and to me Is very unique in this style of cuisine. I am working on a dessert using Kerisik at the moment and have been publishing the ‘slow’ progress, it is heading in the right direction nicely though and the full version will get released when it’s completed over the next few months.Photo 23-12-2017, 19 02 24The spice paste, once processed in the bender needs to be fried off, the deep orange colour is due to the fresh Turmeric I used, rather than powdered it’s more intense in both colour and flavour being very ‘earthy’! The recipe calls for 20 dried chilli’s soaked in water which might seem a lot, but the dish was not as hot as you might Chicken is then added and given a good mix to cover the meat in the delicious spices, then some bruised Lemongrass to add some freshness, finally the Coconut Milk and the whole thing bubbles away until all is done.Photo 23-12-2017, 19 18 03The Tamarind, Kerisik and Kaffir Lime leafs are almost used as a seasoning, I found the dish needed more Tamarind to balance the flavours but that may just be my palate, it was a delicious dish with flavours dancing around on the tongue, I think the best Rendang I have done so far by a long way.Photo 23-12-2017, 19 59 13The Pak Choi is simply put into a saucepan with a little water and as it cooks add some Kecap Manis and sprinkle the Sesame Seeds. It only needs a few minutes to cook and adds a slightly bitter, irony dimension to the whole meal.Photo 23-12-2017, 20 07 48If I had a New Years resolution, it would be to practise plating, and remember to wipe things clean before taking pictures but I usually end up just wanting to serve and eat, and things end up a bit rushed #musttryharder!!

I finished the plate with some Crispy Fried Onions and a sprinkling of Coriander and all was done. It’s a very tasty dish and quite easy to make if you have the ingredients to hand.

It’s worth investing in Norman’s book, there are lots of recipes that are quite simple to make as long as you read carefully and follow the text. At the back of the book there is a great chapter on ‘The Malaysian Storecupboard’ with pictures and details on the fresh and dried ingredients you will need.

So, Oca.

Photo 04-01-2018, 10 43 35In this weeks Organic Veg Box delivery there was a surprise, Oca, what the hell is Oca!! There was a description on the box and a quick look on the internet and all was clear, New Zealand Yam!  Opening the box revealed some knobbly tuber like critters the size of a thumb, they can be eaten raw, as well as roasted or boiled like a Potato.Photo 04-01-2018, 10 42 23So I decided to cook some for tea just to see what they were like, not really expecting much as they don’t look particularly appetising, but how wrong that was to be!Photo 04-01-2018, 20 24 50 I think it’s the Chef James Martin that says everything tastes better with Butter! In a small pan they went with some Oil and a bit of Butter, roasting for about 25 minutes and giving them a shake every 10 minutes to make sure they were cooked all the way through, then briefly drained on some kitchen paper.Photo 04-01-2018, 20 40 23So, Oca, wow! They were absolutely delicious, slightly crispy on the outside, tender flesh in the middle, with a hint of lemon. I had noted some people commenting on there being no Lemon flavour, with ours it was definitely present, and very nice too. They could probably have been seasoned a bit harder with s touch more salt, but this is one vegetable I will be looking our for, thank-you Riverford Organic for introducing this fine produce to your customers.

…………………….Until next time………………..L8ers………………


Rillettes – French Deliciousness (If you like fatty stuff)! and Tamarind Springs in Kuala Lumpur

Photo 20-12-2017, 12 22 59Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on, streaming to my iPad as I pen the 1st blog of 2018. River Cottage HQ is about to open and rather than let one of his prize pigs go, the menu will be based on Beef rather than Pork, along with an Asparagus starter, all 40 portions. Fish is also on the menu, trying to find a ‘monster’ Lobster in the locale fails and it’s actually a massive Conger Eeel that ends up on the plate!Photo 20-12-2017, 12 29 12I have very fond memories of past trips to the South of France where my brother lives, the preferred time being late Autumn when the Olive picking season is in full swing. He has some trees in his garden and the process of picking and taking down to the ‘Olive Pressing Co-Operative’ is an annual ritual. It was during one of these trips that I discovered ‘Rillettes’, similar to Pâté it’s rich, fatty and delicious spread on crusty Bread.

You can buy it in a ‘well known higher end super market’ but at over £2.50 for 110g its not cheap, so why not have a go at making it myself! At a recent cookery class at my favourite school ‘Richard Bertinet’s’ we had some Rillette’s and after asking, Richard was more than happy to share the recipe, it’s in one of his books ‘Cook: In a Class of Your Own with Richard Bertinet’ published in 2010 and subsequently I found a second hand copy in excecllent condition, complete with CD, It’s now sitting on the shelf along with Crust, Dough etc. I think I have all of his books!Photo 20-12-2017, 12 39 46Taking 1Kg of cheap pork cuts (shoulder and belly), and some Duck or Goose fat a very slow confit takes place over several hours, the addition of flavours such as Garlic, Thyme and Rosemary add extra interest to the final dish.Photo 20-12-2017, 15 37 20You might find, as I did that the Pork had not broken down completely due to the low and slow process (3 – 3/12 hours give or take), the temperature was not high enough to break down the connective tissues so I turned the heat up a bit and within 30 minutes the job was done.Photo 20-12-2017, 18 24 43At this stage you will need to KEEP the cooking fat AFTER draining it, don’t throw it away, it’s integral to the dish!! The Pork does not look particularly tasty at this point but carefull pulling and tugging to seperate the meat from any unedible bits and we are nearly there.Photo 20-12-2017, 18 43 15Given some time to cool a bit you will have a dish of ‘pulled Pork”, the drained and strained Fat, and Salt and Pepper. I added 60%-70% of the fat into the meat before starting the next process, I did warn it’s fatty stuff but believe me, it’s delicious and you don’t have it that often.

This dish needs LOADS of seasoning, you will need to add, taste, add, taste, add and taste until that magic moment happens and you pallette will say YEEEEEESSSSSS.Photo 20-12-2017, 18 59 28I had some Kilner jars which were sterlised in the oven for about 20 mins at 115 degrees. In Richard’s book there is a section where it talks about various ways of potting the Rillettes but you will have to invest a few pounds to find out like I did, it’s worth it, it’s a very good book with lots of hints and tips.Photo 20-12-2017, 19 06 06Once the Rillettes is packed into the jar, some of the Fat is poured over the top to seal in the goodness before adding the lid and popping into the fridge to cool down, job done.

We tried some a couple of days later, my in-house taster agreeing that it was amazing and took us both back to fond times in southern France. The cost worked out out just over £1 per 100g and I had just over 1Kg worth sealed in the fridge for the future.

So, back to Malaysia and a trip to Tamarind Springs, a lovely restaurant about 20 minutes outside the city. We arrived on the Harley-Davidson motorbikes we had spent the morning on, touring the sites with the Police escort which I still keep thinking about.Photo 24-11-2017, 10 32 00The dishes were varied and delicious taking in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam tastes dancing over the pallette. During lunch we had a tropical downpour which was a welcome release from the heat, it poured it down.

The restaurant was very good, friendly service and awesome food, another experience that will not be forgotten.Photo 26-11-2017, 06 52 47The following day we were on the island of Langkawi and had some free time to wander around. A group of us hired a taxi for the most of the day and toured around the island a bit which was great fun, especially finding the hawker stalls selling home made fresh food to passsers-by.

That’s it for now, I hope you have a go at the Rillettes recipe, it’s very tasy and really quite easy to make.

………………………Until next time………………L8ers…………………