Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crumbs and Dirty Dishes Supper Club: The Porky Edition

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I’ve just come back from filming an edition of Market Kitchen. The one thought in my mind? I love pork. No. I really, really love pork. Almost as much as I love steak.... debatably more. Chefs Rachel Allen and Charita Jones cooked up a storm with Berkshire rare breed pigs: I wont the spill the beans about the dishes – you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled on Good Food channel towards the end of January. It will be worth it.

In the meantime, the supper club has been going well. I’m rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation about Sunday’s upcoming Christmas edition, complete with roast goose and homemade mince pies. Mmmn. But the last one was arguably my favourite so far.

It’s sad to say but the torment of the pork shoulder roasting overnight was unbelievable – every five minutes I would wake up to a waft of fragrance. It was worse than a child on Christmas eve.... Overall it was in the oven for a good 12 hours and literally falling off the bone with a good layer of crackling. Absolutely gorgeous.

The menu:
Parmesan and chive scones with red onion marmalade
Slow roasted pork shoulder with anchovy sage potatoes, braised fennel and greens
Vanilla pannacotta with spiced pears poached in red wine
Cheese and biscuits

Photos once again by Nadine El Hage
January’s Supper club will be on the 16th – Four courses £20, ten places. Get in touch at

Recipes to follow soon....

Spending time in Cali.... Los Angeles Edition

OK. I am officially rubbish. Goodness knows how many dishes I’ve cooked and thought well, wouldn’t that be perfect for the blog. And how many times I’ve been out and thought oh I’ll just take a photo for the blog. But somehow. The blog has managed to stay in stasis for a few weeks.

But my recent trip to America was just too good to miss out on sharing with you fine folks.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve maybe been a bit snooty about people who go to America on holiday all the time – I mean where is the challenge in going to a country where they speak the same language? Pooh pooh to that. Well I take it back.

So let’s get down to business. The food. Well the first thing is that there was absolutely tonnes of it. If I talked through every dish I had while I was out there, we would be here for bleedin’ ever. So this is going to be a shortish run-through of the things that found a special place in my heart...

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

Ever heard the Notorious B.I.G song ‘Goin’ Back to Cali’. Well, I’ll tell ya, it’s a treat. I believe the lyrics go a something like this:

Frequently floss hoes at Roscoe's
If I wanna squirt her, take her to Fatburger
Spend about a week on Venice Beach
Sippin Crist-o, with some freaks from Frisco

Well ladies and gentlemen, this is Roscoe’s... And while I’m not down with the flossing of hoes (dont even want to think about what that means) I can say hand on heart that Biggie made a damned good call on this place.

The name of the restaurant says it all, chicken and waffles are the main attraction here. That is a plate of southern fried chicken, huge fluffy waffles drowned in a vat of maple syrup. Sceptical? I was but can see the appeal of this gorgeous little heart-attack on a plate. If you’re going at the weekend be prepared to queue.

I’m saving Fatburger for next time. Speaking of burgers...

Bob’s Original Double Deck Hamburger
Bob was a big boy. He ate lots of his own burgers, probably washed down with quite a few of his milkshakes too. Bob's is one of the original diners

They are very nice. For me though, half the excitement was checking out the vintage cars gathered in the parking lot for their weekly meet. Swing by on a Friday evening and hang out with the drivers who are a massive fount of (slightly obsessive) information about their Beach Boy-styled cars! Then chow down on a big juicy burger.


After lounging around in my sandals and summer dresses, Melisse cropped up a refreshing breath of formality. Chef Josiah Citrin serves up a gorgeous amalgamation of haute-French cuisine at this Los Angeles institution. We were almost more impressed by the service than by the food and the food was excellent. Watching the waiters however, was like watching a well-rehearsed and much practiced ballet. Dishes were served with a flourish and worked their way through a catalogue of the most delectable ingredients....a trio of foie gras, artichoke soup, wagyu beef.

Asia de Cuba
Asian and Cuban food? Asia de Cuba pulls off what could be a disaster of flavours with excellent style. It’s no wonder that this is one of the Sunset Boulevard hotspots... That and the rather cute waiter....

Santa Barbara Wineries – Kalyra & Fess Parker
I couldn’t go to California without heading out to some wineries. So when Rachel had the brilliant idea of visiting some of the wineries from Sideways in Santa Barbara County, I was enthusiastic to say in the least. We started off with Kalyra, a small winery in Santa Ynez headed up my Aussie-born winemaker Mike Brown.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert but the Sangiovese caught my tastebuds’ attention ...

We moved on to the larger, more industrial Fess Parker winery a fifteen minute drive away where the pours were on the generous side. Hence the notice...

I find it hard to get excited about wine in the same way that I do about food but the woman behind the bar was incredible and her passion was infectious. So Rachel and I got a bit tiddly and passed out in the car back to LA. The end. I did pick up a Riesling that I’ll be cracking out at the Christmas Supper Club in a few days. I loved it at the time, but the subsequent hangover obliterated the reasons why... will keep you updated.