The Recipe Trail

Conceiving, testing and tasting recipes for TMix+ reminds me of my old life as a restaurant reviewer: it’s great when everything works out, not so great when it’s a clear fail. There were many times on the reviewing trail when I’d leave with the clear knowledge I’d never get those two hours of my life back again. More often than not these visits would end without a review. My policy was to provide negative reviews (or less than glowing) only to those places with reputations that deserved close examination. The problem with that was that we might end up eating out three times in a week, searching for a place worth a visit and worth a push. First world problem, I know, but without reviews of one sort or another, standards can remain stagnant.

So, a recipe that looks a natural for Thermomix might turn out to be a dud, at least at first try. Success is rarely a first go ‘bingo’.

Then there’s the need for more, the right accompaniment to turn a simple dish that may, or may not, be a standalone, into something that brings about a gee whiz, wow from our readers.

So it was with a recipe we’re including in the winter/spring edition, an ice cream laced with cinnamon, honey, orange, vanilla and port. Ice cream pretty well always needs a partner, whether it be a simple juice, a pile of fresh or stewed fruits, chocolate, wafers, or a mix of the lot.

In this case, I wanted a sauce that would add more zip to the initial cinnamon flavour of the ice cream, so it was merely a matter of using the same set of ingredients, and bringing them together in a different way. And yes, this can be done in a pot, but why stand and stir, when the machine can do it for you?

And double yes, this was one recipe that was ‘bingo’ first go. 

Recipe: Cinnamon, port and orange sauce

I’ve always believed the best way to enjoy a ripe peach is to eat it in the bath, but in London, a new restaurant has taken that idea to a new level. This week, the city that has become one of the great food cities saw the opening of what is certainly London’s, and probably the world’s, first “naked restaurant”. “Naked” in this case doesn’t mean polished floors, and sanded brick walls, and no pictures or paintings as decorations. Nor does it mean raw food; it means you, the customer, is in “the raw”. It’s a pop-up at the moment (no pun intended), but Seb Lyall, the founder of The Bunyadi (apparently an urdu word meaning basic, fundamental, primal), in getting-to-be-hip Shoreditch, says the number of people who want to place their extremity on the hand-carved seats suggests the idea might have legs (again, no pun intended). He told The Guardian, “We had 40,000 people apply, and we’ve only got 6000 places. At this rate, we might open it as a permanent restaurant.”

That was last week; the restaurant’s website, notes there are now 45,136 on their waiting list—it’s a ticketed show. You can hear Mr Lyall describing his thesis here. Guardian readers were less than impressed. Amid the multitude of double entendres that dotted through the 1200+ comments (eg. “I think I might avoid the spotted dick*” wrote Hogarth1, to which Nerdgirl42 responded: “or the cocky leeky*”) was this line from Wakinai, summed up Hard To Swallow’s take on the concept: “This must be a sign of people who are completely bored with their lives”.

And, it didn’t take long for the truly creative souls in London to respond with a YouTube spoof:

Pictured above: Spotted Dick (source Wikipedia)

PS: I remember 30 years ago a rude food café tried its hand just down the road from the Prahran Market (that part of Prahran being Melbourne’s equivalent of Shoreditch; at least it was then). A lot of effort was put into phallic and/or busty creations—the concept being on the plate, rather than bits and bobs on display on chairs or behind the bar (no pun intended).

PPS: *Spotted Dick, according to that fine reference book The Glutton’s Glossary (John Ayto, Routledge, 1990) is “a fine old traditional English disk: a sweet suet pudding, typically cylindrical, and studded with currants or raisins. Its name has made it the target of double entendres as leaden as the pudding itself often is.” And why dick? Ayto writes: “The origin of dick is not clear but there are records of its more general use meaning ‘pudding’ in the nineteenth century: an 1882 glossary of Huddersfield terms for instance, gives ‘Dick, plain pudding. If with treacle sauce, treacle dick’.

*Cocky leeky or Cock-a-leekie is, according to Ayto, a “sustaining broth of chicken and leeks. In its earliest medieval versions is was a chicken stew with onions, and also raisins and prunes…Adapted to Scottish conditions, leeks replaced onions.” Interestingly, at first look we reckoned Nerdgirl42 might have got her cocky and leeky askew, but Ayto notes that cocky-leeky was an earlier spelling of the dish. 

Photo of the gin offerings at The Colonnade Bar, Brighton UK. Looks like a nice array if you’re ever in the south of England!

Call out: Tomorrow is World Gin Day, an idea put out by a UK blogger ‘gin monkey’ whose raison d’etre is to review London bars. He/she is a man of my own heart (see Recipe Trail above), and refuses to review any joint that doesn’t reach his standard: “I have phased out 1 and 2 star reviews. Over time I have found many below average, pretty terrible, and downright awful cocktail bars, and more often than not I find that I just don’t have the time or the motivation to write about them. I’d much rather write about great bars and tell you where to find fantastic cocktails than slag off the bad ones, so you won’t see 1 and 2 star reviews here from now on.”

Makes sense that World Gin Day corresponds with the height of the British summer (I use the term ‘height’ loosely: the forecast for London on Saturday suggests a top of 20C, with a 90% chance of rain), but I guess ginnys the world over will take a swig whether it’s high summer, or low winter.

I’d love to put together some gin favorites, in the style of this one from The Guardian, which mixes gin with an infusion of vodka and black pepper, so TMix-ers, please send in your ideas, and we’ll include the best of them in the summer edition—after giving them all a sip or two. 

Photo of the gin offerings at The Colonnade Bar, Brighton UK. Looks like a nice array if you’re ever in the south of England!

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