Saturday, 27 July 2013

Charcuterie the craft of salting smoking & curing

Recently I was approached by New York publishers WW Norton & Company asking would I be interested in reviewing a revised & updated version of Charcuterie by authors Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Of coarse I was delighted and bursting inside with pride that I had been asked, you see I've had these two men on my wish list of who I would most like to meet and work with for some years now and this request felt like I was a step nearer to that goal.

Having read the revised copy that was sent to me recently, my gut re-action was to respond to the publisher and jokingly say " I think it's the 2nd best book on the subject of charcuterie in the marketplace" however these guy's havn't yet met me so I'll withold using my sense of humour and give a sensible and worthy response.

For several years now whilst travelling mainland Europe including France and sometimes beyond to teach charcuterie, I'm often faced with Michael & Brian's book in the classroom, this set's a standard for my teachings for I know the students having read and studied the book their knowledge bar will have been set very high indeed.  Their books I already include as tools and points of reference in the many classrooms and cookery schools I teach at throughout the United Kingdom including supplying the information where to buy them, such is the importance that I attach to the content.

I can't finish this blog without a quick reference to their book "Salumi" as I feel it is their strongest work so far. The book has a calmness about it, as if the men themselves are now comfortable with their subject and this portrays right throughout their book. Imagine being in good company and eating alfresco with some de-canted red wine along with some freshly baked bread, cheese and salumi, yes you can?, well that's how their book reads and feels whilst thumbing the pages....

The men say themselves their knowledge has deepened since first writing their book Charcuterie as it does with all of us whilst on our culinary journeys, however they have been wise enough to revise and update their original book in order that we can benefit from that learning.

This is a book that will go down in the time of history as being one of the most important references to the craft of salting, smoking & curing...

Le Charcutier Anglais - July 2013

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Soil Association Organic Food Awards 2013

A brief glimpse of the Soil Association Organic Food Awards on day two..

Early in the morning setting up

Chef how did you do it all?

Boy or a Girl !

It's a huge honour to be asked to judge food at any awards function and even a greater honour to be asked to judge the top organic food in the country, here are a few pictures that demonstrate the detail in excellence.. 
A beautifully crimped pasty

A Hand Raised Pork Pie

Refreshments were supplied all day in order that we could clean our palates inbetween sampling..

The early morning sun added just enough heat to sample these oils at the best temperature

Pasta's & Pulses

The samples went on and on..

and on and on and on..

Trevor deep in thought and hard at work finding the soup section challenging...

Take another slurp Trevor!

And another Trevor and another.....

Geetie did you really say that would make great baby food? 
Michelle with the best re-action of the day
"by jove that was good"

Guy Watson and his team debating a Gold winner

Jo Wood deciding to have a lie down while the debate continues

Now the chicken, we had long legs, short legs, plump legs and they all had to be eaten, phew this is a hard job..

Not to mention we also had to eat some small birds, big birds, plump birds.....I have to mention here without giving the game away, one of the best tasting chickens in the blind tasting turned out to be a British traditional breed...

A lot of time and butchery effort went into this entry, well done who ever you are... 

Now we have to eat all the lamb entries..

I just need to mention something so I'll slip it in here. As with all food competitions they were some poor entries, so to you guy's I would like to say this; please think about presenting your entry in the very best way you possibly can, ask yourself have you done enough, can I do it better? Frustratingly some of you were only a whisker away from a gold award. If it helps you to achieve your goals, then consider hiring yourself a professional to push your entry to the next level. Sorry, just trying to be helpful "Rant" over!   

They were racks of lamb, cushions of lamb, chump of lamb and much more...

Chef said he was setting his timer, he promises he wasn't tweeting!
We also had to eat bacon, sausage and much more on the day, in fact a sausage Gold winner chosen on the day also happened to be the best in the history of the competition, also a surprise Hot Dog entry was also of very high quality. A few other entries that took me by surprise were an excellent Ketchup and a Mulled Wine satchet that had been perfectly blended, I wasn't expecting to be excited by these entries as they are not normally on my radar as was a Chowder Soup which was not rated in the competition by the other judges, but I can tell you I ate the lot so nice I thought it was, so if that was your chowder, Well Done!

There is no doubt that Organic food is some of the best there is available as judging on this day proved, so if you get a chance, buy some organic products and try them for yourself, there's no better reward for a producer than a sale. Believe you me the producer would rather have you the customer than a Gold award, however the Gold award does demonstrate that you can trust the source and you can be confident in knowing that the producer has made every effort to provide you with the very best possible.

Did I tell you that the Duke of Cambridge the venue for the competition also made us lunch, can you believe it, having to eat a lunch on top of all that....

Go on, choose Organic you know it makes sense.....

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Meatup 2013

Steve & Dick discussing should they have another coffee!

Hmmm  Cappuccino or Latte?

Is Denmark is a good place to go on holiday...Lol (that always gets a good re-action)

Health & Safety Officer insisted stallholders wear gloves, it's not necessary, this is so wrong!

Rob Weschenfelder, he's a big lad isn't he?

If anyone asks we are talking about work!
Nice Birds!

A Classic - every butcher should have one..

Tim thinking about exporting to Japan
What do you think of Danish products.....(body language says it all)...Lol

Dukeshill Ham - been there great set up! 

Lucas team skiving again...

Lovely meat display, well done who ever did it..

What captions would you give to any of these photos?