Monday, February 27, 2006

Harden those arteries!


After Saturday’s beer festival, let’s not forget the forthcoming Leeds Beer, Cider & Perry Festival on the 16th, 17th and 18th March in the Pudsey Civic Hall.

Sun 26 Feb 2006

A very funny (odd) food day today.

The morning was supposed to start with a big cooked breakfast until we discovered the bread was stale and, somewhat shockingly, we were up before the shops were open. Quite a bit of humming and ha-ing about what to do … but we procrastinated for long enough and realised that we were too hungry to wait for the shops to open, to go and buy the bread, and then to come back and cook breakfast. We also realised that the greasy spoon on the other side of the road was open.

So we started the day with the £3.75 all day breakfast at the Eastgate Café (it’s on Eastgate, opposite the British Gas centre). For your money you get 2 fried eggs, 2 (fried) sausages, 2 rashers of bacon, 2 slices of toast, beans, tomato and mushrooms AND a cup of either tea or coffee. Obviously brilliant hangover food – wasted as neither of us actually had a hangover. Nonetheless a lovely breakfast. Everything about a good full English is a guilty pleasure. Instant coffee with not quite enough milk. Sausages that are dense and scarily smooth and uniform in their filling. Sausages that are fried! Dubious mushrooms. A couple of spoonfuls of heated tinned tomato. Toast which is not quite as hot as you’d have it at home. All stuff you just normally wouldn’t eat and yet, when it all comes together in a breakfast it’s an absolute joy!

Well fed and happy from breakfast the next culinary (not using the word at all advisedly) stop was for a coffee while walking into town from Headingley. It seems that by about half 2 on a Sunday afternoon Leeds’ student population has awoken and ensconced itself in every single café in both Headingley and Hyde Park. After much head scratching and road crossing we found ourselves in Chichini on Hyde Park Corner. It looks more like a sandwich bar than a café and the coffee was absolutely nothing to write home about. While not ostensibly bad it wasn’t good either …

Hoping for an improvement on the food front (and, in my case, still recovering from those god awful pork scratchings) preparations started for the very tasty sounding salt crusted prawns with garlic, ginger and chilli from Australian Gourmet Traveller’s January edition. I am tempted not to repeat the process here as the outcome was less than ideal. However, we did come up with an alternative which we’re going to try out in a couple of weeks’ time.

In the interest of culinary rigour here is how NOT to make your salt crusted prawns. We took our prawns and de-legged and de-headed them and removed their little guts. We then blanched them in boiling salted water for about 30 seconds and refreshed them with cold water. We dried them and dusted them with cornflour and salt and then we deep fried them (in batches) and drained on kitchen towel. We then heated some sunflower oil and chilli oil and added crushed garlic, sliced chilli and grated ginger and gave it a quick stir fry. At this point things went wrong as the recipe called for ¼ cup of salt to be added. Since these were, after all, salt crusted prawns, the salt went in, followed by the prawns, some sliced spring onion and a splash of shaoxing rice wine. Then serve up with rice and soy sauce on the side. See how tasty it looks!

BLEAH! The salt was totally overwhelming! There was much face pulling, deconstruction of the dish, reconstruction of a much better dish and ultimately, while all the prawns were eaten, much discarding of the SALT and remainder of the sauce. How disappointing!!!

To add to this, the gewurztraminer we’d picked out to go with the food was not a great wine (which will teach us for buying wine from Morrisons).

We’ll give this one a rest next weekend but I (at least) am determined to make my version of it in about a fortnight’s time!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should get in touch with GT and let them know about this - after all they have been voted the world's best food magazine for 2005 - we must not let them get complaisant.

11:20 am  

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