I love suet. I know it’s as unfashionable as lard these days, but I love the stuff. A fluffy suet dumpling on top of a rich stew is such a winter treat that I will bear a lot of cold grey days just to have the excuse to embrace this most British of dishes. I also love the rich stickiness of Christmas dishes filled with fruit and suet and welcome sweet suet dishes that are a stunning vehicle for custard. But despite this love, I have never made a proper steamed suet pudding before. The sticky soft texture that is so dinky as dumplings, scares me in larger quantities. I have visions of sheer stodge, something you could kill someone with if handled incorrectly. Add in the traditional filling of kidneys and I feel a moment of blind panic. So it makes perfect sense that I offered to cook one for several friends on Friday night… Read more
It may have been noted by regular readers of the blog that Mister North and I do like a bit of game, but I have to admit to being rather challenged when he got a pheasant recently from Stansfields of Todmorden. Thanks to a childhood experience of a pheasant that had been too well hung and gone into a whole new realm of gameyness, I have been dubious about eating this beautiful bird for years, but the suggestion of using the tin of foie gras or libamáj that Mister North picked up in Hungary as a sauce with it convinced me otherwise!
Neither of us had ever eaten foie gras before and while I’m aware of how it is made and that a lot of people find it incredibly cruel, I have to say that I have always wanted to try it at least without getting into a huge debate about the stuff, so being able to test it out at home with someone with a similar mind set was ideal, because more than anything, I was worried it would be too rich and I wouldn’t like it…
The recent Whitsun Bank Holiday was in fact such a grey and sunless day that it required a certain something to perk it up. The perfect antidote to a drab London day was to visit a small corner of Brazil in London in the shape of the traditional barbeque restaurant Rodizo Rico…
I went with my friend G who is the only other person I know in London with such carnivorous tastes as myself, because let’s face it a churrascaria de rodizio is a disappointing night out for a non meat eater. The appeal lies in the unlimited quantities of freshly grilled meats that arrive at your table every few minutes and much as I love grilled vegetables, they simply wouldn’t cut the mustard here!
Back in the gamebird season Miss South visited the depths of the snow-covered Pennines to see in the New Year: in respite from the cold we took solace in cooking homely hotpots and sitting in front of the fire, reading cookbooks. One of these was the massive River Cottage Meat compendium by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in which he raves about the joys of snipe and woodcock. As luck would have it, next time we visited my favourite butcher he had both birds freshly delivered by his game man, and I could pick up a brace of prepared fowl that coming weekend after they’d been hung and dressed. Miss South had unfortunately gone back to London by this stage, so after I picked up the plucked woodcocks they went straight into the freezer, awaiting her next trip north.
Mister North was in London for the evening and it would have been sacrilegious to miss the opportunity to eat out together. We considered several cuisines before deciding on Portuguese. The South Lambeth Road is one of the borough’s best kept culinary secrets with its large selection of Portuguese cafes and bars, perfect for anything from a full meal to a custard tart and a coffee.
After some deliberation we decided to eat at Bar Estrela which is one of the largest and best known bars in this bit of Little Lisbon. We’ve both eaten there before and were keen to see if was as good as we remembered. Read more