Tag Archives: food

Gone to the market to buy a fat pig

I’m a grocery store, supermarket kinda girl.  I generally like buying my meat shrinkwrapped with a use-by date.   It’s fast, it’s easy, I don’t have to talk to anyone or reveal my lack of meat-buying nous and it’s – you know – OK.

But there’s a butchers on the edge of Wimbledon that we regularly pass by on the way to Richmond Park.  It’s nice looking.  I reckon it just may be where rich people buy their meat, and even if you’re not rich you need to have a reasonable net worth to shop there.  I’ve only ever bought cheap cuts there myself.

My brother makes some amazing ribs.  Tender, fall off the bone, sweet and crispy on the outside ribs.  The kind of ribs that would show a Memphis native that a Middle Tennessean has got ’em beat both ways on BBQ.    When he visits us in the summer, we usually set aside a day to make some ribs.   But the first time we tried this set up we had problems sourcing adequate ingredients.   We had been to a number of supermarkets and found some measly little piglet ribs smeared in suspicious red sauce in a little foil tray.

So, I suggested we try the butchers as a last resort, I’d never been in before.  We got there and saw some ribs in a slightly less scary sauce, but still marinaded up.   “Do you have any plain ribs?” we asked.  Out they brought the most amazing full side of ribs, plump and full of meat.   We had to get it cut up to fit in my giant boiling pot.  There was a slightly false start when they began cutting them into single ribs, but the butcher realised his mistake when my brother and I shouted “No!!!”

My goodness, high quality meat makes a difference.  Delish.

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I had planned to go to  the supermarket to buy a pork shoulder for Christmas, but was dreading the heave.

We passed by the buther shop  yesterday on our way to Simon’s birthday walk in the park.  We’ve had some lovely solitary walks in the park on his birthday in some very strange weather.  One year it was freezing mist and the park was silent but for the ice droplets falling from the trees.  Magical.

But yesterday was just plain miserable.  Rain.  Cold, cold drizzly rain falling on frozen paths.  It wasn’t even as festive as sleet.   We walked, slipping down (and Simon falling once) down to Isabella plantation and fed the ducks.

Who were very grateful for our meagre crusts.

Actually it was pretty amazing.  I counted up almost 30 pair of Mandarin ducks.  And a solitary wood duck. (These are pics from last year, because it was too wet to get my camera out.)

And then, because we were feeling very damp and cold.  We left.

In an attempt to salvage our journey I suggested we stop in the butchers on the way back and pick up a pork shoulder.  Which we did.  Excellent service as usual.  Freshly cut from a larger joint.   This year is the first time I’ve ever tried cooking pork shoulder and it’s pretty fantastic.

I’m even more excited about trying it with a really nice piece of meat.  A Merry Christmas indeed.

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On our visit to Wisley on Sunday I had a purple cabbage coleslaw in the restaurant.  It was fantastic and I thought it would make an excellent accompaniement to our pork shoulder roast.  But I can’t quite find just the right recipe for it.

However, I did find a recipe for a congealed coleslaw.  Yep, that’s right – coleslaw in jello (or jelly if you prefer), but there was no picture of the final product.   Which made me think about the Weight Watchers recipe cards which made me laugh til my sides hurt the first time I saw them – which unfortunately was at work.

And no my memory was not faulty.  Here’s what we could be having along with roast pork.  (Only sadly, I have no jelly mould).

Chocolate blind spots

The British are awfully fond of their own chocolate.  And why shouldn’t they be?  It’s made to their own tastes and preferences.   But they’re wickedly derisive of American chocolate…or as it’s often phrased “your so-called chocolate”.

Bill likes British chocolate

As Cadbury’s the British chocolatier for the masses faces a hostile takeover by Kraft or a possible friendly-ish merger from Hersheys the American chocolatier for the masses, chocolate is a hot topic in the news.  Yesterday’s PM news on BBC’s Radio 4 featured a blind taste test with an expert chocolatolgist to decide which was better, Cadbury or Hershey.     The chocolate dude admitted that a blind taste test was pointless, given that he knew which was which.   And then he went on to slate the Hershey bar for texture, taste and a dubious set of ingredients.  And oddly he criticised it as well for the rampant sweetness of the Hersheys (which is the same criticism I have of Cadbury’s chocolate – at least with Hersheys I can taste some cocoa).

I grew up on Hershey Bars.  I like them.   I prefer them.  Given a plain Hersheys or a plain Cadbury’s Dairy Milk – I’ll take the Hershey’s every time.  A Hershey’s kiss – chocolate perfection*.  The pleasure of unwrapping, the cute little paper flag, the perfect not-too-melty-but-not-too-solid plop of choc on the tongue.

I don’t want to diss British chocolate – it’s alright.  But I just want to make a defense for American chocolate.  It’s yummy.  It doesn’t deserve the criticism it receives this side of the pond.  And it may just be the thing that saves the integrity of British chocolate.

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* Well, it was until my palate was educated with really good chocolate, boutique confections from the Continent – and occasionally from the UK.