Mostly Concerning Food
(Apologies for any photographs not opening. I’m puzzled by this and am trying to resolve the problem. Please suggest solutions)
My alphabetical travels took me to Welbeck and introduced me to a first class food shop within a moderate cycle range…and mostly along country lanes. I think, as people of a more up to date exclamatory turn of phrase would say: result!
I’m weaning myself off supermarkets. A task made all the easier by Tesco’s implosion. I’m not against supermarkets in themselves. If they were really good and did enhance the quality of life of their shoppers then I’d be in favour. They don’t. Tesco is merely the one that has most forgotten such precepts as service, good products, attractive surroundings, good knowledge of food and treating the customer with respect. The Welbeck Farm Shop scores very highly on all of these and I recommend it to anyone in the Sherwood Forest area. The ice cream is fabulous and is worth the journey on its own. The first ice cream I’ve found that is better than the ice cream I make myself. (I shall have to tease the recipe out of them and up my game a little bit…no point in making ice cream unless it is the very best ice cream that can be made).
I’m not totally convinced of the in depth knowledge of the girls behind the cheese or cake stalls but don’t doubt for a second their intention to learn. No Saturday job demeanour here. The butcher is already time served and ready with the benefit of his expertise. It all looks good but it’s September 30 and we’ve long planned to have a couple of month’s meat free before the Christmas feasting season starts. Vegetarian diet starts October 1st. The ribs of beef look stunning. A dozen of these make quite a sight. A serious consideration for Christmas. Not for us though. I know that Steven is cooking beef for Boxing Day.
I choose the flat rib (Jacob’s Ladder) of beef and reluctantly ask him to take it down from a three rib piece to two. I haven’t seen beef in better condition for a long time. At home I brown this before surrounding it with quartered onions, celery and lots of carrots and about half a pint of water. It cooks slowly for the rest of the afternoon at 130c and gets served with new potatoes and the vegetables from the pan. With either horseradish (T) or mustard (me) it is exceptionally good. A strange way to celebrate the coming season of vegetarianism but an excellent way to give meat a proper send off. Flat rib has become very popular in gastro pubs. It’s got its share of fat (hence the flavour) so it isn’t for fussy eaters. The fat comes in one band through the middle though so is actually very easy the remove and slip to the dog. (There is quite a lot of dog and cat interest while we are eating this.) It feels like something that would have been served in a farmhouse kitchen in the 1920s.
Ogleshield is a craft cheese from Somerset. Made from the milk of Jersey cows it is encouraged to develop a rind by washing in salt water. The cheese is flavoursome, soft and a very welcome addition to any cheese board. I haven’t tried cooking with it yet but apparently it melts superbly and is a perfect cheese for a burger for those not frightened of giving the taste buds something to do. To cut off the rind or to leave the rind on has been an unanswered question ever since I encountered my first piece of brie back in the early 70s. I used to assiduously remove the chalky outer in those days simply because the skin or wrapper came off everything before we joined the Common Market. Even apples were peeled on posh occasions. These days I usually leave the rind on.
Here the Ogleshield is served on some simple crackers with three sorts of chutney, beetroot chutney, plum chutney and Steven’s green tomato chutney. All went very nicely with the cheese.
I got Wednesday off as a reward for cooking both savoury and sweet courses last week. Sam was in charge of the mains this week and served up this delicious cheese pie based on recipes she and Charlie have enjoyed in Greece. The pie contained Feta, Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses. It was served with green tomato chutney. I enjoyed the first slice so much I had to have another. I wasn’t the only one. A superb start to vegetarian autumn.
Back by popular demand and eaten with great enjoyment, Steven’s chocolate fondant puddings. Anyone who thinks we might have been disappointed to get the same pudding twice in three weeks hasn’t tasted them. They were as good as the cheese pie and that is praise indeed.
Fabulously buttery biscuits. Light, short and crumbly. I had two of these.
A picnic at the foot of Clifford’s Tower in York. I feel quite fit and toned at the moment but the photograph suggests that I might want to trim down a little. I decided to enjoy the hummus and roast vegetables sandwich (Lucky Days Delicatessen), the mushroom quiche (Bettys) and the Yorkshire Curd Tart (Bettys) before starting the diet. To be fair, the first thing I did on finishing the picnic was to climb to the top of the tower without wheezing.
My £10 Waitrose* challenge was a piece of Gorgonzola cheese, some Serrano Ham and some fresh figs. I got the ham sliced at the deli counter where the supervisor got the first assistant to demonstrate to the second assistant how to slice and wrap this treat. I occasionally make the mistake of buying it pre-wrapped. It is much much nicer if you have it freshly sliced. (And far more entertaining if half the shop is involved.) Food doesn’t enjoy being wrapped in plastic. It may make it look clean and neat but you never get to see how clean and neat the factory was where it was packed.
The ham may be Spanish and the cheese Italian (I didn’t check where the figs were grown) but they went perfectly together. The lettuce and tomatoes came out of the garden.
If we get a referendum I am voting to stay in the European Community. We never had Saturday lunches as good as this before 1973.
Q. A small pot of raspberries. What could be nicer?
A. A small pot of raspberries with double cream.
We go and see films on Sunday and miss the shops. What could be more traditional than a ‘make tea out of what you’ve got’ meal? Scones and gooseberry jam. Make do and mend or the food of the gods? Both.
Griddled tortillas with Emmental cheese. Served with some rather good coffee.
Saturday breakfast Waitrose style. A decent bacon sandwich and a free cup of coffee.
Picnic lunch between films. Smoked salmon paté, crusty French bread and raspberries. Not the most exotic of locations. Cinema car parks usually aren’t.
A cautionary tale. If you are ever tempted by the desire to have a mug of hot chocolate don’t decide that the “special hot chocolate” must be that bit more, well, er, special. It’s ten pence more and is a perfectly nice mug of cocoa ruined by the addition of a layer of the foul squirty cream. Lesson learnt.
Breakfast Chesterfield station, Thurdsday morning.
Free coffee and crisps on the train ten minutes later.
Fresh tomato risotto. Unbelievably nice and a great way to use up some of the tomato glut.
A flat rib of beef, also known as a Jacob’s Ladder. The best beef meal I have had all year. My birthday is in early December. I have already decided that the meal that said farewell to meat eating for a couple of months will also welcome back the carnivore in me.
One of the simplest and most delicious meals. Put it in the oven. Go out for the afternoon. Take it out of the oven and serve.
It’s an excellent week to try something you’ve never had before or something you’ve been missing. Have a good week.
*How come Waitrose gets left out of my anti-supermarket stance? Two reasons:
1. I don’t actually spend very much. More a work to rule than an all out strike. By the time I’ve claimed my free newspaper and cup of coffee they are hardly getting rich on the Johnson pound.
2. Nice people serve good food at appropriate prices in a decent environment. They haven’t forgotten the importance of manners and respect.
** The Underground Man by Mick Jackson appears in several of these photographs. I read it as part of my research for the post I published on Wednesday. Not a bad book.