“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Glamorous Life

Saturday night and here I am, all alone in the house, sitting in front of the old 'puter in my devilishly handsome skivvies. That's right, the 'rents are away for a week in Devon and so I can cavort around the place in me underkeks if I feel like it - and after the day I've had, believe me, I feel like it.  Just me and the cat in an empty house. Ah, yes, Jimmy Stewart, it really is a wonderful life.

It's been three whole days since I last yammered on like an idiot on the blog - so what's new in food, eh?

Last night I was visited by two old school chums, James, my old buddy who lives in Folkestone, and Lucy, whom I hadn't seen in probably 20 years. We were famished after she picked me up from work and so we headed to the local Indian restaurant (Badsha Indian Cuisine) for a bit of takeout. James and I had a pint of Kingfisher each while we waited for our order (being a Friday night they were busy, but it still didn't take very long) and then we got our food and headed home.

By golly, their food is still good after all these years. I used to go there with my first wife when we had a chance to go on a date, and it brought back some serious memories. I had two of my favourite items, Sag Paneer (spinach with cheese in a mild sauce, sometimes known as palak paneer) and Aloo Gobi, an Indian and Pakistani cuisine dish made with potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gob(h)i) and Indian spices. It is yellowish in color, due to the use of turmeric, and occasionally contains kalonji and curry leaves. Other common ingredients include garlic, ginger, onion, coriander stalks, tomato, peas, and cumin. A number of variations and similar dishes exist, but the name remains the same. With this I had some coconut rice and peshwari nan, an Indian flatbread filled with nuts and raisins. Delish!

This morning on the way to work I ate one of the new Marmite cereal bars. (Big thanks to Sam for my Marmite bar!) Billed as 'the world's first savoury cereal bar' these things rock, and at only 93 calories a bar, what's not to love?

Hang on, Jeff, you say. What the heck is Marmite? Marmite, my American friends, is... well, it's... okay. I need help here. Anybody?
Well, it depends on where you're from what it is. It was first produced in 1902 in England and it is a dark brown sticky spread made from yeast extract which is a by-product of the brewing industry. It's got a distinctly pungent flavour with a sorta-kinda soy sauce thing going on and it is one of those things that you have to actually experience to understand its taste, which is unique, and one of those flavours you either love or loathe. I used to hate it when I was a kid, because, well, it was such a strong flavour. However, I have grown to love it over the years. The bar itself is great, but the poster ads for it are kick-ass funny.

In New Zealand, however, the product has the same name but a slightly different flavour. There ya go.

Anyway, on to tonight. I went to the Honeymoon Chinese Restaurant in Tenterden and picked up some choice Chinese tucker, Sis had some Chicken & Mushroom, I had Honey Roasted Pork, Colin had some Duck with Pineapple and Chicken Curry. We ate these with some Special Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice and plain rice and the obligatory but oh-so-worth-it prawn crackers. Yum-o!
Prawn crackers (again this is directed to the Colonials whose version of Chinese food is somewhat different to the version served here in the UK, even down to the names of the dishes - they don't know a Moo Goo Gai Pan from a Mu Shu Pork here in Blighty) are a side dish served with just about every Chinese dish, and are made by mixing prawns, tapioca flour and water. The mixture is rolled out, steamed, sliced and sun dried. Once dry, they are deep-fried in oil (which must be at high heat before cooking). In only a few seconds they expand from thumb-sized semi-transparent chips to white fluffy crackers, much like popcorn, as water bound to the starch expands as it turns into steam. If left in the open air for more than a few hours (depending on humidity), they start to soften and become chewy and therefore are ideally consumed within a few hours of being fried. Storing the crackers in a low humidity environment or an airtight container will preserve the crispness. Packets of unfried prawn crackers may be purchased in oriental stores, or stores that specialise in Asian cuisine. So now you know.

Night all. Slainte!


  1. So did you at least put clothes on over your underwear before going out for Indian food? My favorite local place is an Indian restaurant too. It's the only place in town where the manager has actually bothered to learn my name.

    We Americans do know what marmite is. It's the reason why we make fun of British cuisine! :-D

  2. Oooh, that was a low blow! The key to eating Marmite is to spread it v e r y t h i n l y....


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