Sunday, 26 January 2014

Restaurant Review: The Raby Hunt, Summerhouse

You don't see very many approving words written about the Michelin Guide these days. It's out of touch say its detractors, overly in thrall to the signifiers of the Gallic cuisine it originally described. Too many stars here, too few there. Critics, bloggers and other interested parties scratch their collective bonce as Rogan remains starless in Manchester while in London, Ducasse retains all three. The thing has become a running joke and should just be ignored, they say. And yet, and yet. If it wasn't for the attentions of the little red book we may still not have heard about the cooking of James Close at the Raby Hunt, much less have had the pleasure of settling in for a recent lunch of absolutely stellar cooking. So: thanks Michelin!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Restaurant Review: COOP Chicken House, Newcastle upon Tyne

This is a slightly tricky one to write up. In an alternate universe, not all that far different from the one you and I both call home, I'd be raving about COOP and telling you that you have to get down there post haste. The chicken is amazing, I'd say. Praise the lord for independent restaurants, just what Newcastle - currently besieged by more mid-brow chain places than you can shake a wearied shrug at - needs, I'd proclaim. Back on this galactic plane however, based on the visit we paid them after their having been opened a week, any such effusions have to be significantly qualified.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Restaurant Review: Rupali, and the Curry Hell Challenge, Newcastle upon Tyne

Hell Hath Fury
We're a peculiar species, don't you think? Having bossed the planet into submission with our opposable thumbs and our shit-hot comms skills, we seem to have gotten a bit bored and now many of our number seek out all manner of idiosyncratic challenges and tribulations. Some people lob themselves off buildings, others climb mountains. Others seek their glories in the consumption of stupefyingly spicy food, which brings us to a moist and unrelenting January Friday in Newcastle's Bigg Market.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Restaurant Review: Peace & Loaf, Newcastle upon Tyne

There seems to be a downturn-confounding slew of new restaurant openings in and around Newcastle at the minute. Either there are some foolhardy souls around, keen on ploughing money into new ventures despite the absence of disposable loot in people's wallets, or Newcastle has a restaurant-attending class of citizen sufficient to support all this. Hopefully the latter, obviously. One of the more interesting places to open doors over the last few months is Peace & Loaf in Jesmond.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Recipe: Decadent Baked Eggs

Partly because of seeing this video recipe by the excellent American food writer Michael Ruhlman, I decided to get Kasia some Le Creuset mini cocottes as part of her chrimbo box. Like her, they're irredeemably cute and, I thought, nifty for serving a bunch of different single-portion type stuff. Chicken liver pate, set custards and mini-gratins are all on the radar. But the idea of baked eggs struck me as brilliantly simple, and not a far cry from the coddled eggs we used to get treated to as kids. My dad's recipes for chocolate, not to mention peanut-butter, coddled eggs will, rest assured, never darken these pages...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Unusually sober notes from the plot

What's all this then?
I'm not normally given to taking part in well-branded mass participation larks, especially where they've shoe-horned the name of the month into it. You know the sort of thing: "Stoptober", "Movember" etc. The contrarian in me wants to smoke even more, or shave even closer than normal during such months, in protest at the depths to which, in an increasingly atomised world, supposedly shared experiences have plumbed. Anyway, for all that, Kasia is doing a dry January and I thought it only polite I should do likewise, the upshot being that it was with an unusually clear head and very little malice in my soul that I cycled down to the plot yesterday morning, the first such visit in a number of weeks.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Eating out: A North-Eastern hit-list of sorts

A restaurant somewhere that, in common with the ones in this post, I haven't been to.  Image: Sam Howzit/Flickr 
The end of the year is the great time for people who like a list. All year long things happen, and then at the end of the year we make a list of them, as if their mere happening in the first place wasn't enough. Some lists are clearly just rotten excuses for Channel Four to play a bunch of stock footage for a couple of hours as if it's an actual original tele program, while others can be decidedly more useful. Pitchfork's end of year top 50 albums is a great way of keeping in-tune with the music you should have been listening to over the previous year. Sometimes I download the whole damn thing and then systematically listen to it over the following year. Being musically a year out of date is a small price to pay for having your aural digest "curated" in such a hassle-free way, not to mention the contrarian thrill of being just slightly out of kilter with current hipster tastes.
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