Friday, June 29, 2007

Over the hill...

And not so far away, lies an inevitable point. Now, consider what you like about climate change (and I've got a few opinions), but at some point we will be faced with oil decline. Rising prices and a massive cultural and economic shock will follow. There is a new buzz phrase soon to trundle past Climate Change. It's called "Peak Oil".

Various sources believe it's a lot closer than we think. Either way, at some point we have to face it.

This Rte Documentary hits the nail on the head. Certainly, rising prices will drive new technologies and change in logistical arrangements, but oil is more pervasive than just what you put in your car, and those technologies need effort expending now, not later.

So, there are some people out there who are facing the change. A movement has started to grow in the UK, called Transition Towns. These are towns, starting on journeys that will take their energy usage down so the impact of Peak Oil is not quite so dramatic.

One of the features of a transition town model, is that of local community involvement. Our town, Newport, Pembs, is embarking on that journey, and it's a very affirming experience. I just hope that we can look back one day and realise that the small pebbles we're kicking around now, were enough to start a change big enough to help us through...

Here's hoping...

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Circle of Life

Eat what you're meant to.

I reckon.

Following the BSE crisis the government realised that feeding animal protein to herbivores probably wasn't sensible, so it banned it.

Now the industry is trying to reverse that decision (see article below for starters), in the name of more profits for slaughterhouse by products. They believe that opening up this source of protein again will help consumer prices. Now, chickens eat meat. Ours love worms and woodlice, but I still can't envision a flock of chickens hunting a pig down. Why feed them pork?

The question is. Should meat be "cheap"? Meat should be expensive, trouble is we all want plump breasts, and lean loins and fillets. The demands of production determine the price. How many more food scares do we need before this filters through?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Getting my goat.

Goats make great cheese. Or rather people do, from goats' milk. Now, kid meat isn't a usual site in most British butchers, so I jumped at a chance at my local farmer's market to try some from a local cheese maker. Now, maybe I was phased by the enormous price he'd put on it - some 6 quid or so for something near half a kilo of stewing meat, but I wasn't terribly impressed. There's much to recommend it - the meat was beautifully tender, and it's good to eat the by products of dairy production (e.g. veal), but it simply lacked in flavour.

So, I'm on a mission. To find out whether kid meat can be better. For a meat so lauded by the likes of Mr Blumenthal, there must be better. Maybe it wasn't hung for long enough? In the meantime, I won't be putting kid meat on the restaurant menu...the goat's cheese however is amazing and certainly will feature.

The search continues...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eat the Seasons...

That's what it's all about.

Or rather this is :

Eat the Seasons

A new site dedicated to seasonal eating. I need say no more. There's no excuse now. Even if you live in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sticking my neck out...

I've got a thing about necks.

In this case, lamb necks. Or even better, hoggett necks.

In the rush for the shank that gripped the gastropub "revolution", plenty of other great animal bits were left behind. Such a fad for the shank has seen it appear on so many menus, that I think the country is getting a bit bored of it.

Well, if you've never tried it, then next time go for the neck. What you're after is pieces, bone in, cut straight through the vertibrae. They come out looking a bit like chunks of oxtail. Indeed, the result is fairly similar. You'll normally get three good chunks out of a neck.

What to do with them? Well. Any good braise is fine. With the bone in, you'll get plenty of flavour, but it won't hurt to bolster it up with a good stock. Seaon and sear them until nicely golden to get those caramelisations going, and then soften and colour your veg in the same pan. Deglaze and top up with stock and aromatics. Bring to boil and leave for as long as it takes. A couple of hours in the oven at 135C should do. The meat will fall off the bone just like oxtail, with succulent fibres of meat intertwined with those tremendously moreish sticky bits that are the hallmark of a good braise. Play with the ingredients to your hearts content. The method's always the same...

Happy slow cooking...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Floor of destiny...

My restaurant has a floor.

This might seem a bit of an odd post, but it kind of explains the time gap between the last post and this one. i.e. the building of the restaurant. The floor in the dining room suddenly makes the picture come together. So, from here on in, a bit more time to blog, and a few more recipes!