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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Edin's Cafe: Nottingham

Last Sunday a group of us went for a few drinks and some food at Edin’s Café (15 Broad Street, Nottingham. NG1 3AJ) after a Sunday afternoon rehearsal of our forthcoming production of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party. The rehearsals have been great fun from the start and we open at The Lace Market Theatre on Monday 5th October and after another successful rehearsal yesterday evening we are almost ‘there’.

Edin’s is a small continental style café with three rooms to dine in. Our group of seven were ushered in the back room and we got some drinks ordered whilst we looked through the paper menu. It included:

Slow cooked ham hock and leek risotto with parmesan and olive oil.

Roast rack of pork with thyme mash.

My spicy meatballs with tomato and chilli gnocchi.

Smoked salmon and lemon in a cream sauce with penne pasta.

Mushroom omelette with salad.

Cajun spiced chicken breast with sauté new potatoes

There was also a blackboard with the day’s specials on and selection of home-made cakes and tapas, freshly made baguettes and wines and food to take away. On that particular day they offered a leek and potato soup with pain rustique which appealed to two of our group.

I went for the meatballs which were indeed ‘spicy’ and they were lovely and peppery but nearly sent me into a coughing fit! Thank goodness for the glass of Stella to wash down the pepper! I had never eaten the dumpling-like gnocchi before and they too appealed to my taste buds. Everyone in our group seemed to enjoy the food and the red wine proved popular with those that were drinking it. The service from the two young women serving was excellent and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

The talk around our table was mostly lively and happy chat about the progress of the play and food and Alison and I (Ali is playing Beverly) went into raptures about the balsamic vinegar – Aceto Balsamio di Modena – in a bottle on the table. We also agreed the Pork in Puy lentils on the daily board sounded good.

I went back yesterday to take the accompanying pictures and make some foodie notes.

Highly recommended and they do a lunchtime offer too for around £5 for two courses. These change daily and can be seen written on the window.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Interview on BBC Radio Nottingham

A week or so ago I got suprise phone call from BBC Radio Nottingham inviting me to appear on the Jo Davies show this afternoon to discuss my passion for food and my former years working in the butchery trade. Always happy to talk about food and having had some previous experience appearing on local radio I was happy to oblige.

I had a really enjoyable hour this afternoon at the BBC Radio Nottingham Studios chatting to Jo (live) about all of the above plus my role in the forthcoming Abigail's Party production at The Lace Market Theatre (5th to 10th October). I even got a cup of tea and a piece of cake thrown in (not literally) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thanks to all at BBC Radio Nottingham. Phil x

Story of the smelly chicken

You remember how I went to M&S to check out their chickens and was alarmed by the ones priced at £13 plus? Well yesterday I decided to go the local Co-Op store and get one for about £5 and once cooked, make it last a few days. I have purchased a few chickens from there in the past and sometimes have been disapointed that the chicken was off and I've gone back and got my money back plus be given another, fresher bird. On that score I am always a bit reluctant to buy chicken from the local Co-Op. I should have known better.

The chicken looked fine as I chose it from the display and, along with my other bits of shopping, I took it home and unwrapped it. Urgh! The underside smelt sweaty, the wings looked bluey red and I felt that the meat was too risky to eat/cook. Back I went to the store with the chicken. They apologised profusely and gave me a double refund plus a promise that the store would look into their fridges and see why a bird that was deemed OK until 28th Sept should be off. Now armed with this re-assurance and £10 to play with I got a bus to a large housing estate called Clifton and headed for one of the few butchers left in Nottingham, the shop owned by Paul Walker - a real proper butcher's shop with a great display. What to spend my free £10 on? There was so much choice and all of it looked fresh.

Chicken from Paul Walkers' butchery shop

I got a chicken for £5 and went for a heavy piece of pork called 'a hand of pork'. It is part shoulder meat and a knuckle of pork. That too was a very good value £5. On returning to my house I jointed the chicken and bagged it up for the freezer and I removed the knuckle joint of the pork and boned the rest, scoring the flesh and then put a metal skewer through the centre to keep the joint from flopping all over the place. I studded the scored skin with cloves and put the joint in the pre-heated oven for four hours at a medium heat (gas mark 5) to slowly roast. I used sunflower oil to roast the pork. Every hour I basted the pork with the hot oil. In the last half hour I dowsed the well-cooked pork with cider to add taste.

Later on I prepared some simple veg and make some fresh apple sauce from two large cooking apples and sugar with a cinnamon stick to add flavour. After the apple had reduced down I popped the sauce in a seive and pressed out the excess water.

The finished meal was delicious and I have enough cold pork left for another two days plus.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A sort of review of Julie & Julia (le film)

As a sort of treat, I ventured into my local flea pit cinema (the Cornerhouse) in Nottingham City centre yesterday morning and spent a couple of hours enjoying the delights of the recently UK released film 'Julie & Julia'. I have to confess (as a UK resident)  a complete ignorance of the US icon, Julia Child, and the eventual massive influence she had on American cuisine through the hard-won publication of her book 'Mastering the Art of French Cookery'. The film also parralled the equally real-life efforts of Julie Powell's quest to work her way through J. Child's opus in just 365 days alongside working full-time and documenting her culinary effforts through an online blog. Blogging in 2002? Will such things ever catch on? I doubt it. lol.

I really enjoyed the film, even down to the romanticised visions of an idealisied 1950s Paris and Parisian shop interiors! Not that I'm complaining! I love this romantic imagery! Dear dear Meryl was pitch perfect as the flamboyant Ms Child and Amy Adams was not to overloaded with sugar as Julie Powell. I did come out of the cinema wanting to cook something but, on investigation of the Marks & Spencers food counter, I found the organic chicken on offer rather too high priced at £13.85!!!! Now where is that live lobster???

Welcome to my kitchen

It is interesting the way that this blog has evolved since its implementation in January this year when the concentration was on local cafes and teashops here in the fine city of Nottingham. Thanks to all you lovely readers worldwide and your great support throughout my blogging, I now seem to be concentrating on food in my home and I wanted to invite you all into my kitchen. It may get crowded! lol

On the days that I feel like cooking up a dish that will last for three or four days or freeze well if I bulk cook I am the most happy - nothing to do with the amount of beer or wine I consume during the cooking process I assure you! hic! Also if I am in the mood to make bread or do the mixing and blending that is required for making buttery French Madelienne cakes which fill my small kitchen with a rich lemony almond scent I feel that I am in heaven. I swear that if I am quick I can catch my neighbours sniffing at my letter box in desperation to somehow devour my delicious cakes as they  barely leave the oven!

Regretably, I don't have a huge amount of guests around to sample my food as I am pretty skint and presently out of work but, when I can, I will enjoy treating a friend or neighbours to a meal or culinary treat. Their enjoyment and friendship are the most important ingredients and I do my utmost to make sure that their visits are a relaxed and enjoyable affair. My immediate neighbour Joanne is a great one for sharing food and I thoroughly enjoy the possiblities for reciprication with her. It makes the world a warmer and friendlier place to live in.

So on that note, I welcome you all to my kitchen and cosy home and please help yourself to any food and drink available. In a fun way I would love to hear what you enjoyed the most from my imaginary table on your visit. WELCOME! DRINK?

PS: If you want to genuinely add to your comments to this blog post please do, but not on the back of self promotion as appears to be the case on the first post today. Ta. xxx

Monday, 21 September 2009

Fancy this?

I'm not a big maker of desserts but put together this little treat of a dessert for myself  after lunch today from ingredients in the cupboard and fridge/freezer. The glass I got for 75p from the local charity shop.

Pears steeped in brandy, fresh orange slices and vanilla ice cream with chocolate flake and a bit more brandy to taste. Yummy!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Lambs liver stew with butter beans

Another bulk meal made from lambs liver, chopped tomatoes, butter beans, onions, coriander,new potatoes and carrots. So easy to make.

OK. Really easy to do: buy chopped tomatoes and butter beans, both canned, and make them the cheapest the local store will sell. Buy new potatoes, onions and carrots fresh. Coriander dried or fresh (preferably fresh). Cooking oil can be sunflower oil or olive oil.

Pre- prepare the carrots - yep, peel and chop, wash spuds and put on to cook through by boiling.
Liver should be washed and then tickled with plain flour and sieved to remove excess. Cook in preferred oil. Bung in chopped onions towards end of cooking.

Open three tins of tomatoes and tip into large cooking pot or casserole. Open one tin of butter beans and wash under cold water. Drain and add to tomatoes. Add chopped coriander and seasoning of a couple of shakes of black pepper. Open a cold beer. Drink and relish.
When potatoes and carrots are cooked through, drain and add to stew.

Scootle (not a culinary term but it means move about) liver around in frying pan to make sure doesn't stick. When cooked through, remove from heat and drain off excess cooking fat. Add to stew. Stir and warm through on oven top for ten minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

I like my toast done on one side (Englishman in New York) Sting

I was in a cheap and cheerful branch of one the pubs owned by Weatherspoons the other day and spied a plate on a table with some very burnt toast left on it. My friend Stephen and I both agreed that it is terrible service to allow even an English fry up type breakfast to leave the kitchens and be served to a customer with such obviously burnt offerings. If either me or my mate had been offered such fare we would have asked them to take it back and bring a whole new breakfast up. Any comments on this? Have you ever had a poor meal and complained? Answers on a stained napkin please.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

flat pack berries 'n gravy with that?

Inspired by the arrival, through my letter box, of the 2010 IKEA catalogue I took the bus up to the north of Nottinghamshire to visit my local IKEA. It must be about two years since I've been there and around seven or eight years since I 'enjoyed' regular visits with my ex-wife. Way back then we would go in for some candles and come out with a whole new wardrobe for me to lovingly bolt together (often with the door or draws the wrong way round!).

This time it was on a food quest and a leisurely stroll round the colourful and labyrinthine sections. I have fond memories of enjoying their cafe food and the basic fun of choosing a small, regular or large meatballs. However, as I got off the bus I was astonished to see that a whole new retail park had sprung up on what was once scrubland and many years worth of local littering and burnt out cars.

Although the choice of foods has expanded in the cafe I still decided to go for the meatballs option. The staff were very friendly and as I queued up I heard the woman serving say 'berries 'n gravy with that?' and 'fries or potatoes?' at least six times to six lots of people. She must say that in her sleep. lol

My 15 meatballs and potatoes 'berries and gravy with it' and a coffee came to just under a fiver, that's five pounds for anyone overseas reading this and was pretty enjoyable. When I paid at the desk I asked the lady if trade had increased for IKEA since the opening of the retail park adjacent. She thought that it had, because to her mind, more folk came to their IKEA cafe because the food was cheaper.

Walking back through the store I smiled to myself with memories of the amount of storage containers we must have bought as a couple over time. We were running our own businesses over the time of our relationship and a visit to IKEA would bring on an attack of the Muppet chef, silly Swedish 'hurdy birdy lurdy' style impersonations and a giggle at the brand names for their goods. All good fun.

On the way out (remarkably empty handed) I purchased a pack of their marzipan and chocolate cakes and a pot of blueberry jam as a pressie for my neighbour. Yummy.