Friday, 29 June 2012

Lord of the Rillettes

Over the years, I have discovered that there are certain responsibilities in life that I am not entirely sure that I should be left solely in charge of. Firstly, don't leave me in charge of my own children, for that route leads to chaos. Many's the time has Mrs FU come home to discover a living room turned upside-down, settees arranged into an island camp with flour dotted about the place and cushions soaked from water pistols. By all accounts 'Pirates vs Dinosaurs' should be played outside. And don't leave me in charge of a fire, for that route leads to danger. Oblivious to the combustible nature of things like sheds and fences and dry grass, there has been many a time when I have inadvertently sparked a mini-inferno. All manner of insects, small mammals and birds seem to flee the area whenever I load up my Sankey Premium Incinerator for a bit of a burn off. And most definitely, do not ever, ever put me in charge of making rillettes, for that route leads to........erm, empty terrines dishes and no actual rillettes to serve.

I always start off with the best intentions. Pork belly gets slapped onto the board and patiently and carefully I slice away a thin layer of be-nippled skin, leaving behind a fine band of fat and white lined, deep pink meat which is salted thoroughly but not excessively. The flesh is then plonked into a tray along with some crushed garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a smattering of thyme and then topped up with some water. Or if I am feeling flash, some wine. Or Strongbow, if that's all I've got. Into the oven it then goes, covered with foil, on a low, low heat, for at least three hours. After a while, smells begin to permeate the kitchen and seep out throughout the house. I could be upstairs in the bedroom, sorting out my socks and pants when all of a sudden, I'll feel a ghostly, aromatic finger tickle under my chin and then comes the Pavlovian response.

"Come Dan, it's time," whispers my brain and slowly, I make my way back down, trance-like, stupefied, head leaning slightly backwards. The oven door is opened and the tray is retrieved with fan blaring, the foil is peeled back and beautiful, porcine steam billows forth, intoxicating my nostrils further. An independent arm reaches up to the cupboard and scrambles about for a stainless steel bowl and the shrunken, tender, quivering belly is placed gently inside, brushed clean of caramelised garlic and withered herbs. A pair of forks are taken from the drawer and slowly and gently they begin to shred. As the moist ribbons start to appear, I stare down and focus just for second before my face starts to numbly morph into this dopey, lecherous repose. Think of Frodo from the fil-ms, every time he vinegar strokes that ring of his and you'll get the picture. "Taste it Dan," whispers Sauron, who curiously looks a lot like Nigel Slater and so I lift a forkful of hot, succulent, fatty joy to my mouth. And then I am gone, vanished.

When I appear again, the room is dark and cold. The moon shines through the window and the light bounces off an empty, hollow, stainless steel bowl that lies in between my splayed legs. I touch the bowl and then I touch my face and it feels greasy. And then suddenly I feel greasy. Greasy with hatred and contempt. I've done it again. I've eaten all the f-king rillettes again.

And this is why Mrs FU has made the rillettes for our supper club tomorrow night, as I can't be trusted anymore.

Especially since we've put duck in this one.

 One Rillette To Rule Them All
And deeper into the abyss

Friday, 22 June 2012

Is It Fudgy?

It doesn't happen that often but every once in a while, I have the misfortune to come across the sort of swollen, pompous, know-it-all, misanthrope who's only endeavour in life is to look down their snotty nose and lixiviate their ill-formed, arrogant opinions all over the place. Spluttering, through rubbery lips and with an air of disdain, the words they speak are usually only ever self-serving, sneering and sardonic. After issuing forth, they will often then gaze down from their imagined pedestal or cushioned cloud of indulgent wind and smirk, safe and warm in their own smug coitus. Their unwanted declaration the equivalent of a five second wank.

For want of a more crisper, concise description, for now, let's just call them 'Food Snobs'. And like I said, I've met a couple in my lifetime.

I'll never forget the suited gentleman queuing behind me in the sandwich shop who guffawed after my order.

"I think you'll find it's pronounced chor-ee-tho."

Or the sommelier who bulked at my appraisal of a glass of red.

"Hmm, farmhouse isn't really a word I would associate with this. Earthy, straw, robust maybe but definitely not farmhouse."

Or the time, when asked what I like to do with leeks, a well known food writer and editor, retorted, somewhat vehemently, "Well well, make soup eh? My God, that is so imaginative."

Naturally, I take these sorts of encounters in my stride, often compositing a scenario in my mind where I simply smile back and then suddenly lunge forward and rip their heads off with one bare hand, Wing Chun style, blood spraying everywhere, howling like Bruce Lee. And then I am back in the room, carrying on with the rest of my day. However, a couple of weeks ago, a particularly horsey female character very nearly got the real deal.

I was in Neal's Yard Dairy in Borough Market, set with the task of buying some cheese, as you might well expect. In fact, prior to this, I had put a shout out on Twitter asking what I should buy and the resounding response came back as "Cheese", therefore confirming my suspicion that the majority of my followers are sarcarstic bastids. Although, thankfully, I don't believe them to be snobs. Well, maybe some of them. Anyway, in the shop I approached a rather solemn but helpful and attentive, bearded cheesemonger (another thing, why are there mongers in cheese and fish but not in meat or baking? I'd like to meet a meatmonger one day) and simply said that I was after an all-round selection. Without further ado, he pointed me towards the goats cheeses, asking if I had any particular favourite and I replied that really, I knew sod all about goats cheese. So with a swift swish of the knife, he peeled off a slice Tymsboro, an ash-coated unpasteurised cheese and handed it over. As I put it up to my mouth, I was shoved forward and a scatter gun shriek burst my left eardrum.


I turned around to look and zero in on where the penetrating, nasal cawing was coming from and behind me stood a Barbour quilted, doggy smelling, faux-blonde bouffant with flashing eyes and hints of rosacea. She stared at me hard and long and brusquely asked yet again, "Well, is it fudgy?!" At least I think that's what she said, I suspect that class and years of in-breeding had left her without adenoids or any propensity to form words such was her clippyness. I simply shrugged, as if I no speakadaenglish and so she huffed at my apparent moronity, scooped the remaining goats cheese that was on Beardy's knife and then went to the other end of the counter whilst shovelling it into her mouth. Or maybe it went up her nose. I can't remember.

The rest of the shopping experience went past rather uneventfully after that. Beardy and I just carried on with our business and I left Neal's Yard happy with the decisions I had made. Yet as I walked back to the office, a sense of paranoia and annoyance crept up on me. What was that all about? Was she simply making an enquiry in her own special way? Or was she, via some extraordinarily loud bleating, asserting her own authority on the matter? "I BLOODY WELL KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT AND YOU DON'T, YOU PLEB!" It sort of felt like that. And that narks me that does, that sort of bloody food snobbery. So I have been making enquiries, as part of a plan to fight against it, to strike out whenever it occurs and stamp out this disease once and for all.

It comes in the form of a stamp actually, a custom made rubber stamp that will languish in the inside pocket of my jacket alongside a red ink pad. It will say "Food Snob." With "twat" in a smaller font and in brackets. And if I ever come across this sort of pretension again, I will simply pull the stamp out, calmly emboss it with ink and casually and silently press it on the forehead of the perpetrator. And then walk away.

It's not quite the same as ripping heads off but it will be just as satisfying.

 Tymsboro (lovely, tangy, creamy but not really that fudgy)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Rotisserated Pineapple with a splash of TibuRon

 A Pineapple

To be frank, the past few days have been a bit of Blur. I jumped aboard a metaphorical fairground waltzer last Thursday and have only just got off this morning. During the mad spinnings and the queasy dips, corks have been popped, lager has been sloshed, the clams never opened but hey, the duck sausages, at least they sizzled and spat with life. Rotating round and round further still, brides were snogged, and some old friends too, flags were waved, shoes and socks became drenched, arms were linked, tequila was slammed and a back tooth was broken. Tears, laughter, snot and screams of joy on bouncy castles, rock star poses, water balloons and cake. Lots and lots of cake. All set to an Elton John soundtrack, complete with gyrating wig and the flashing colours of red, white and blue, red, white and blue, everywhere. Gawd bless 'er and the feverish, manic grip that takes hold of our country, the days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers. Bank holiday comes with a six pack of beer and then it's back to work............


So yes, here I am at my desk this morning trying to piece together the muddled events of the public holiday and I am sure that at some point in proceedings, we grilled some pineapple. After checking the pictures on my phone, it seems that we did and spying the caramelised, juicy husk brought it all back. A downpour, a retreat to the kitchen and a proclamation that we didn't need a bbq to cook our pineapple, for we had the Rotisseratorisor! If you haven't tried hot, sexy, grilled pineapple before, you should. Even if the fruit is still a tad unripe, cooking pineapple brings all it's inherent tangy, sweetness right up to the surface. It also helps if you coat it in icing sugar of course. The real swift stroke of genius came when I decided to melt some plain chocolate, adding a healthy dash of TibuRon, to drizzle over the pineapple. TibuRon for the uninitiated is a coconut and tropical fruit, rum based liquor that you can find in Aldi and is just the kind of random purchase you would make from the el cheapo German superstore. Along with fishing rods, pipe cleaners and frozen doner kebabs. TibuRon by itself is disgusting. But blended finely with the chocolate in a glass bowl over a bain marie, it gives this dessert just the right alcoholic kick, enthusing much gusto and screeching of the national anthem. The alternate one I mean. To a crowd of stern looking patriots.

Oh the embarrassment.

I think I need a holiday to get over this holiday.

 Naked pineapple
 Sugar is a great sweetener
 Plain chocolate
 TibuRon - Drink of Champions
 Rotisseratorisingating a pineapple under a grill takes about 30 minutes
God Save The Queen! The fascist regime! They made you a moro.......ooops