“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 28, 2012

Bargain Brekky

I have mentioned the Spice Of Life restaurant in two previous posts. The Spice Of Life is a glorified staff canteen really, in the basement of the William Harvey hospital, and it is rather fab. We went there yesterday for some tests, and while in an extended waiting period decided to seek refreshment in said eatery. Big sign on the wall reads Breakfast Special - any 5 items plus 2 slices of toast and a small tea or coffee for £3.60.

Sold. 3 Breakfast Specials please! Choices were bacon, sausage, egg (fried or scrambled) hash browns, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes. So here's the pics.

Eggs fried to order!


Now, in light of the fact that the lovely and delightful Laura is expecting our child, we are likely to be spending more and more time at The Spice Of Life restaurant in the months to come. And at these prices, I do not mind one bit.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lotus Egg

So last time here on Name This Food! I asked the question:
What's this?

At long last I can reveal that it is that ever-popular Chinese dish

Egg Foo Young!

So what is it? Egg foo young, also spelled egg fooyung, egg foo yong, egg fu yung, or egg furong, is an omelette dish found in Chinese Indonesian, British and Chinese American Cuisine. The name comes from the Cantonese language, and literally means 'Lotus Egg'. Egg foo young is derived from Fu Yung Egg Slices, a mainland Chinese recipe from Shanghai.

How does one prepare it? It's prepared with beaten eggs and minced ham. It may be made with various vegetables such as bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sliced cabbage, spring onions, and water chestnuts. When meat is used as an ingredient, a choice of roast pork, shrimp, chicken, beef, or lobster may be offered.
In Chinese Indonesian cuisine, it is well known as Fu yung hai or sometimes spelled as Pu yung hai, the ingredients of the omelette usually made from the mixture of vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts and cabbages, mixed with meats such as crab meat, shrimp or minced chicken. The dish is served in sweet and sour sauce with peas.
In Western countries, the dish usually appears as a well-folded omelette with the non-egg ingredients embedded in the egg mixture, covered in or served with sauce or gravy. Chinese chefs in the United States, at least as early as the 1930s, created a pancake filled with eggs, vegetables, and meat or seafood. In a US regional variation, many American-Chinese restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri serve what is called a St. Paul sandwich, which is an egg foo young patty served with mayonnaise, dill pickle, and sometimes lettuce and tomato between two slices of white bread. (Whew! Thank you, Wikipedia, you are indeed the fount of all human knowledge.)

Want a recipe? Here's one from the great Kevin Lynch of Closet Cookinghttp://www.closetcooking.com/2012/01/egg-foo-young.html

So - what's the next Name This Food! food?

Name This Food!

Cheesy In More Ways Than One

I am something of a charity-shop nut. I love scratching around in those place and finding choice items, and today's foray into Oxfam was no exception. I picked up a book that I used to own a copy of back in the early 90's. 

Produced in the early 70s by the Cheese Information Service (who knew that such a thing existed?), you could only buy this from your milkman. Who has a milkman these days? Very few, sad to say. This copy (3rd edition, 1974) had another hidden treasure inside. The original flyer advertising this very book.

Only 45p plus two extra pintas!
Now those of you fortunate enough not to have lived through the 70s in the UK may not get the whole 'pintas' reference. It comes from a 1960s milk advertisement that encouraged you to 'DRINKA PINTA MILKA DAY', back when milk was assumed to be healthy and not fat-laden. The 'pinta' bit just sort of stuck.

Some of the recipes contained within are well, let's say interesting.

It seems you can do anything with cheese. I'll be revisiting this book from time to time on these here pages. So until then,

Kooshti Sante!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prezzo Again

Let's start by listing some positives about Prezzo, which, if you were not already aware, is a national Italian restaurant chain.

  • They have lots of yummy Italian food.
  • They have frequent good offers via email or web.
  • Errr... that's it.
Not wishing to diss Prezzo in the slightest, but they are on the upper end of reasonable, and can veer towards the pricey. Which is why today Laura and I ate there as we had a voucher. Buy 2 main dishes and the second one is only £2. Good deal.

I found it hard to decide on my meal, as the entire right side of the menu and most of the left side sounded amazing. Finally we made our decisions.

Laura had the Italian Burger. What made it Italian was the addition of a slice of prosciutto. Pretty thick burger too, and nicely cooked.

My choice was the King Prawn Risotto, which had large chunks of smoked salmon in there as well as prawns, and some nice bits of leek. I liked this, but it went awfully fast (risotto is one of those things that is easy to just scoff) and I'll probably try something different next time. I want a dinner to last a bit. By the time I was halfway through this, Laura was barely into her burger, and she gave me some of that, too.
The main problem I have with Prezzo (bearing in mind that I have only ever visited my local branch in Tenterden) is the service. Not that it's slow - far from it. It just seems that the vast majority of the wait staff are from other parts of the world, and therefore since English is not their first language it inhibits them from fully connecting with the customer, so one can be forgiven for feeling that their waiter or waitress is somewhat indifferent towards their guests. I know from experience as a waiter and caterer that you need to make your guests feel like they are cared for, but all I get in Prezzo is a feeling that they want me to eat and pay and leave, although when it came to getting the bll it took some time. Like I say, I've only been to the Tenterden branch and so my view my be somewhat skewed. But the food, I can't fault.

Kooshti sante!


A few of my recent foodie discoveries...

These are light textured -  a bit like Quavers. No potato in the ingredients list though - mainly lentils. The flavour of a genuine korma is very nicely replicated in these crunchy yet melt-in-your-mouth snacks. 
A nice drop of plonk! Inycon wines have so far been very nicely received in my house. I have thus far sampled their Nero D'Avola (lovely) and their Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay (nice). I picked up this Fiano on sale a Waitrose for £4.66 - normally around the seven pound mark. Well worth a go.

Not heard of Burt's Chips yet? Where have you been? Delicate pesto flavour on big, robust, crunchy potato crisps. For more info try www.burtschips.com

Like a cross between mini rice cakes (think Snack-A-Jacks) and regular crisps. Very nice. www.popchips.co.uk

Like chunky marmalade - but ginger! Lovely.  www.duerrs.co.uk

Nice marmalade made in Seville - where else? laviejafabrica.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I like a nice wine, but sadly my uneducated palate only goes so far. After you get past a certain level, say about 7 or 8 pounds, the nuances of higher-priced wines are lost on me. I can't really tell the difference between a £15 wine and a £50 bottle. So it goes. However, I do know what I like. Here are a couple I can recommend.

The Whale Caller, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc/Colombard from South Africa. £4.99 at Waitrose. Damn good plonk for the money.

Domaine De Pellehaut 2010 Gascogne. £6.99 from Liquid Pleasure. Another decent medium-dry white that won't break the bank. Lovely.


Went to The Vine Inn this afternoon. I was instructed to go by Laura. How sweet is she? Actually, I was sitting waiting in the pub while she was at the Tenterden Fish Bar in Station Rd, opposite the pub. Since she knows how much I hate standing around in takeaways waiting for what seems a veritable age, I sit in the pub while she procures the food. It's the perfect arrangement.

The Vine is a beautiful pub, let's face it. It's undergone a major facelift in recent years and is a far cry from the day when I began drinking. It was pretty much the roughest pub in Tenterden back then and I avoided entering it.
Anyhow, there I was this afternoon suffering from a severe lack of inspiration. What did I want to drink? I could have had anything I wanted but nothing was speaking to me. Suddenly I thought, I'll try something I've never had before, and I spied in the beer fridge a bottle of Shepherd Neame's 1698, a bottle-conditioned strong Kentish ale (6.5% - they are not mucking about when they say strong!) Nice beer!

Brewed to an original 300 year old recipe from Percy Neame's Brewing Book, this beer commemorated the founding of one of England's few remaining regional, family breweries. This is a complex beer, reddish in colour, and you can smell the hoppiness and a whiff of wheat; but then, both delicate and strong flavours pour across your tastebuds. Strong then light, Autumn then Spring. This is a delightful beer and one to drink on its own, to savour its nuances. A beer of which Percy Neame should be rightly proud. Oh, and Shepherd Neame Brewery: please do not wait another century before you raid Percy Neame's Brewing Book for another recipe - the guy clearly knew his stuff.

You can buy it in Oz at http://www.beerstore.com.au/beer/celebration-ale-1698-beer
In the US and Canada, you'll have a hard time. I have just looked through about 12 or so US-based online beer stores and while they mostly have great breweries listed such as Bateman's, Hook Norton, Wells, Fullers and Sam Smith's, sadly Shepherd Neame beers are not in evidence. Keep your eyes open though, and let me know.e

Monday, April 9, 2012

Krush Groove

One can never really explain how it is one ends up inside a branch of KFC - you just end up there.  We were recently at the KFC in  Ravenside Retail park in Glyne Gap. Glyne Gap is that area to the west of Hastings that isn't quite Bexhill-on-Sea. And we were hungry. So we popped in. 

KFC are promoting two new items on their menu - the first is the Dippin' Feast, which is actually not quite as good value as the Deluxe Boneless Box despite being almost identical. The other is the Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Box Meal. 

Levi Roots, as you may or may not be aware, is a chef of West Indian extraction who became an overnight success a few years back by being the winner of Dragon's Den with his Reggae Reggae sauce - a recipe handed down by his grandma and tweaked by Levi. He's now a household name and has all kinds of products in the supermarket bearing his name, from sauces to one-pot meals to frozen dishes to pizza. KFC, ever the savvy marketers, know a good bandwagon to jump on when they see it and so they had Levi add his name to a 'new' sandwich - the Reggae Reggae Fillet Burger. Except it's nothing but the regular Fillet Burger with a bit of Reggae Reggae Sauce slapped on top. Nice, but not exceptional.

What I did enjoy, though, was the new star in the KFC Krush'ems galaxy, the Cadbury's Caramel Krush'ems. A Krush'ems, for the uninitiated, is somewhere between a regular shake and a McFlurry in consistency. You can actually suck it through the straw, which is nice. McFlurries always make you feel like your lungs are collapsing, but this is drinkable. And yes, even though they clearly don't use Cadbury's Caramel bars in the manufacture of this beverage, it does approximate the taste of one quite well. Not bad.

My Krush'ems in comparison to its ad. Hmm.

Pizza Express

I've been to Pizza Express a couple of times before and this time didn't disappoint. The thing I like about Pizza Express (well, this one, at least - I haven't been to any other branches, so I can't report on them) is how light and airy the place is.

I love the layout and the look and aesthetics of everything. If you weren't hungry for some decent pizza before you came in, you will be - the place just reeks of authenticity.

I love that you can watch the preparation of the food right in front of you - it's actually quite reassuring if you can see what goes into your food while it's being made.

First order of business - drinks!

Black coffee - of course!
Laura decided on the Raspberry Lemonade. An excellent choice, as it turned out.

She says it was very refreshing - not too sweet or icky, but just the right balance.

We started with some garlic bread with mozzarella.

Love it when it's fresh out of the oven.
My main course was the 'Veneziana' pizza. Oh my. Red onion, black olives, capers, sultanas, pine nuts, cheese...

A little chilli oil on the side.

Laura had the Pollo Pesto Pasta. Bit of a tongue twister, so it was appropriate that it had the curly pasta.

Delicious. Believe me, I had a taste.
Some dough sticks to share on the side.

The service was very good too - quick and attentive without being intrusive. And they got all excited when I explained I was taking pictures because I wrote a food blog, so I hope they read this. I left them my card with the URL on it, so they really have no excuse! Lovely experience and a resounding 4.75 yums out of a possible 5!

Kooshti Sante!

Kickass Cottage Pie

Laura has always been a little unsure of herself in terms of her abilities in the kitchen. It's not that she can't cook; it's that she's had some misadventures in the kitchen at various points in time and this has made the people she cooks for (i.e. her family) naturally cautious, some would say overly so, when she decides to cook for them. They do like to remind her (and me) of one particular incident in her cooking past when she made something, shall we say, unpalatable. And despite the fact that I've heard the story a hundred times they still tell it with gusto as if I'd never heard it before. Well, hopefully all that is about to change, when I relate to you the tale of...

Laura's Kick-Ass Cottage Pie!

It was a day like any other in the household - people shopping, doing chores, playing Xbox, watching TV...

Laura decided she was in the mood to make a nice cottage pie. She had gone to Waitrose to buy a nice casserole/pie dish that was on offer, and she procured all the ingredients, came home and got cooking.

Her cottage pie contained all the traditional ingredients - the nice beefy tomatoey rich meaty layer on the bottom, and the top layer of mashed potato. But then came two slightly UNtraditional ingredients which made it amazing.

Grated Cheddar cheese....

and crushed Doritos!
Pop it in the oven till it's nice and bubbly, and voila! There ya go!



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