Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Masterchef UK – because John and Gregg

It's back to the kitchen for the top 14, as seven of them compete for a place in the top eight. That's a lot of maths right there but bear with me. Seven have already competed (the "red aprons", who sound like an aerial display team but who were apparently "very exciting indeed") and now the seven "blue aprons" have to cook for John and Gregg.

Jen's food, according to Gregg, looks good and tastes good. I would assume that is the point, but I may be missing something. She tells us that her dad is her inspiration and that he cooks a roast dinner every Sunday that she and her brother go home for. That would be moving if it didn't mean she was so cheap.

Gregg is silently laughing at a joke they must have edited out. He looks like a clown at Luna Park and I'm waiting for someone to throw a ball in his mouth. But no.

Natasha's food is also delicious apparently. I don't know why they don't just give up now as everyone is supposedly so amazing. More shit cooks, I say!

Natasha seems to be cooking an entire cabbage in a fry pan and then John makes a hilarious joke about her dish and how she's got some lamb with some lamb and lamb on lamb. Oh it's hilarious. Really it is. It goes on an on – the world of lamb! – stop, my sides. John, no more. No really.
She tells us what lamb dish she's cooking (fillet of lamb, if you care any more) and burnt cabbage. I could have told them that. However it does sound nice so I'll eat my words later. Sadly I won't be eating any of her lamb. Let's say lamb again.
John says he's surprised how modern the dish sounds and Gregg looks puzzled. There's no potatoes he almost weeps, complaining that burnt cabbage is normally something you send back. My sides, my sides. And I don't mean dishes. See what I did there?
Make it stop.

Liz is another favourite and she's making a stew-inspired sauce because her mum couldn't cook. I think that is what happened. I was too busy peering at her kiddy photo and the empty bowl in front of her in it. She says she ate a lot of tomato sauce sandwiches as a kid. Just before the photo was taken, apparently.
Gregg says something inappropriate-sounding about taking a steaming hot bowl of comfort food and making it look sexy.

Then he says he loves Juanita. Who tells a story about her mum catching octopus when she was a kid and then having sandwiches. Not sure if I missed something there but then John and Gregg tell us we have things made of crab and tomatoes and olive oil capsules and I have NO idea what she's making.

Stuart has the best handlebar moustache I've seen for some time. I have no idea if he can cook, but.
He's set his own benchmark, apparently, and according to John it's way up there. By his moustache, one assumes.
Which is near his mouth so at least he can taste it.

Billy is what Gregg calls a risk taker, then Gregg tells us that a duck curry pie illustrates "the adventure of Billy". If I were Billy I would hope for more than that. ..

Billy says he's doing a take on beef and oysters. AS IF THAT IS A THING.
It's not a thing is it? Is it?
Gregg doesn't think it will work. Gregg, I think you're right about the pie – please God, don't get more adventurous than that, Billy.

Chris is a personal trainer and he's making a blondie (which apparently is like a brownie) with apple in it. If that doesn't sound like something a trainer would cook I don't know what does.

Billy comes up to let the judges taste his steak and oysters... John looks like he's about to cry with joy. Gregg is elated. Billy seems shocked they like it and all the other contestants feign enthusiasm and support. Gregg mentions tasting the sea, which pleases him no end. Is that like smelling burning toast when you have a stroke, I wonder... Or BURNING CABBAGE? Gah, it's all making sense now.

"Jen, let's see your roast dinner please," Gregg then says, somewhat creepily. I keep forgetting Jen's 27 – I think of her as 15, for some reason. Could be her posh voice and bad dress sense. And her cheapness and her total disrespect for her father. Go to your room, Jen.

Her roast looks nice but there are no veg and Gregg criticises her large potatoes. They both say a lot of things that basically mean it's bland, and Jen looks ready to cry.

Liz's stew-inspired sauce, which turns out to be, well, a stew, looks good and the judges are blown away by her beef. John loves her herby dumpling. I have never said that before, and never will again.

Natasha makes lamb – remember? Gregg has a go at her for putting little edible flowers on the plate next to her burnt cabbage – "you want to go pretty and hearty and you're stuck between two worlds," he says, as if she's a vampire. Then John says he wants more of everything. Except burnt cabbage. Burnt means one thing, he says. And that is? Well, it's burnt isn't it.
Gregg's voice goes all gravelly and thick as he says, "I  love the crispy lamb belly, you can give me that all day long." It conjours up an image in my head I don't want.

He likes the burnt cabbage though so poor Natasha has no idea if she's done well or not – poor, erm lamb, her world (of erm, lamb) isn't a nice place to be right now.

Juanita's dish, says the woman doing the voiceover, is inspired by crabbing with her family. I am not sure how I feel about it based on that but it looks pretty and has about 57 components including a million versions of tomatoes and "encapsulated olive oil". I have decided to try and make that for tea tomorrow. Gregg thinks she's a genius. John says it's exceptional. Everyone else murderously tries to look happy for her.

Chris's blondie looks nice and John loves his sorbet. But – horror – he hates the blondie and finds it cakey. It's a cake, John, says the world.
Could Chris be the shit cook we're all dreaming of?
Gregg likes it, though, as he was "brought up with big thick sticky puddings"  – can't imagine where that was or how his brothers and sisters feel about being called names.
I'm here all week. Try the lamb.

Stuart has made apple crumble and custard with 47000 extra things on it. John loves it and says it has the flavours of bonfire night – but I don't think he means singed eyebrows and burning paper. Stuart blushes, which makes the end of his mo stand out even more. He's stoked as he had never made the dish before a week ago.

Time for the decision – and the "blue aprons" head out into the waiting room with the "red aprons" (presumably back from flying in formation somewhere) and John and Gregg discuss them all.
Mike, who must have been in the first round, unless he's even more unmemorable than I think he is, says he thinks he's done enough personally, but doesn't know if that's enough for John and Gregg, Which is kind of the point of the show so he won't win.

Gregg and John are saying "lamb" a lot – must be about Natasha but I'm not paying attention as I'm waiting to see John's face again when he talks about cabbage. Ooh good  – he does disdain well.

Everyone comes back in now to learn their fate. They all look thoughtful and slightly down... the music is sad and depressing. Someone is going to cry... but it's not Stuart, who looks defiant in the face of defeat mostly because he looks like an army colonel from the Raj, and because he gets through.

Juanita and Billy get through. Liz gets through with her stew. Shit cook Chris's blondie gets him voted out and says, "I thought I'd maybe done enough but clearly not."
He and fellow mensa member Mike, head off to the green room to have more scintillating conversation. Or not.
The rest are through and the music gets all chanty and rousing. "Great bunch of cooks," says Gregg, as if that isn't the point of the show.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Masterchef: Yes, Marco

Marco Pierre White is back in the Masterchef kitchen so we're all going to just have repeat ourselves endessly. Yes Marco, yes Marco, YES MARCO, three bags effing full, Marco.

Tonight it's like a bad dream  - the three losers from last night (Matthew the dentist, Reynold the cute desserty student and Billie the model girl with too much eyeliner) have to do a pressure test. Reynold is so worried, he tells us he's going to do his absolute best.

Well, welcome Reynold, to Masterchef.

Perhaps you should have thought of that yesterday....

Matt Preston tells us that when it comes to speed in the kitchen, nothing can compare to Marco Pierre White... and I don't think he means drugs. But maybe he does. Marco looks smug. But that also may just be his face now.

He's cleaning his glasses so maybe he just can't see.

Matt is gleeful. Could be his new side-swept hair. Could be the fact that the contestants have to cook along at the same time and same pace as Marco.

Reynold is worried. We know this as his Adam's apple moves furiously.

George is wearing a woollen vesty jumper thing over a shirt. He doesn't look happy about it.

Matt is going on and on about keeping up with Marco, so everyone is getting nervous.

Marco tells us what what they're doing.

"My little lamb chops en crepinette," he winces, trying to focus without his specs.

Matthew is on to him. "There's no way," he says, "this is going to be a simple lamb chop." Derrr.

Marco continues. He mentions tongue and ham and something else. Pigs somehow are mentioned, I think. Marco puts his glasses on so now we know he's serious.

Then he takes them off.

Then Gary tells us only one of them will be safe, then that two of them go into elimination at the end of the week. It's confusing me. The rules have changed and now they have to cope with Marco and his glasses.

"The first job is easy," he says, over the top of his specs. They have to butcher the lamb along with him, as he reminds them to say, "Yes, Marco," then TELLS US HE DOESN'T LIKE TO REPEAT HIMSELF. Obviously he's never heard himself repeating himself. Endlessly. Ah well.

Marco is like Dexter, chopping thing up and saying things like, "Pull back the flank" and "run the knife down the ribs". Is it wrong that it sounds sexy?

"Billie is on fire," says someone as I look away for a second.
Shit, I think, that's awkward in the kitchen.
But no, she's just metaphorically on fire.
She's just beating the two boys with her butchery skills.
She's keeping up with Marco.

Matthew is finding it hard already.

Suddenly Gary is upstairs leaning over the balcony. Why?

Now we're being told that Matthew has chopped his, er, chops up, when he should only have chopped one bone off. Derr Matthew, remind me not to get you to look at my teeth.

"Clean your bone," says Marco. Swoon.

Matt is on the balcony too. Why?

Reynold's ahem, bone, is a lot longer than Marco's. Don't you hate that?

Marco is now only talking in single words.

"Watching" he states. "Trim" he says.

"Have a look at his finished chop," says George's jumper from - you guessed it - the balcony.

Billie has done it wrong, too.

Marco is already putting his meat in the fridge. Billie is starting again. He tells her to push much harder.

Now he's making chicken mousseline and by the time he's said that he's already put it in the blender. Reynold and Matthew just realised he's doing something, and have caught up. Billie is still trying to cut her chop.

Marco is glaring over his glasses. This won't end well.

Marco has eaten his meal and washed up. No, he hasn't. Quite.

Marco is looking down his nose at Billie disapprovingly.

Now he's adding cream to his mousse. So are Matthew and Reynold. Billie is now happy with her chop. Thank God.

Now Marco is dicing pickled tongue.

"I'm watching you, Reynold. Are you watching me?" Marco asks seductively. As he chops tongue on a chopping board.


"Reynold, are you on the ham?" Marco asks. Thank the Lord, Reynold is. Billie meanwhile is finishing her mousse. This is exhausting.

Matthew is moving from tongue to ham, he tells us. "You've got enough tongue there," agrees Marco.

"I'm trying to watch what Marco is doing, he's cutting them up nice and finely so I'm just trying to do the same thing," says Matthew, as if that WASN'T THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CHALLENGE.

Then the truffle. Yes, Marco. Billie is catching up.

Then he gets the chicken mousse out of the fridge.
"Chicken mousse, yes Marco" he shouts.
He puts the chopped tongue and ham and truffle in with the mousse and mixes it up then holds the bowl under Billie's nose so she can see what he's done. "Do you see?" he asks.
He moves it towards Reynold. "Do you see?" and then waves it nowhere near Matthew.

Now Marco has got his chop back. He's seasoning it. Yes, Marco. Season it generously. Yes, Marco.

He's putting the mousse on the "presentation" side of his chop.

Then he begins to get the crepinette. "Do you see?" he yells, holding it up like a towel in front of his face. It's pig caul.  That's intestine. He doesn't tell us that. I looked it up. Matthew tells us it's stomach. He looked it up too.
"It's not damaged," Marco tells us. It looks damaged to me, I think.

They have to wrap their chops in it without there being any holes.
Billie calls it a "crapinette". At least I think she does. I'm too busy being disgusted.

Matthew still doesn't realise he only has a single chop. That isn't a sentence you hear a lot.

Sara is worried for Matthew but he seems oblivious.

"Show me your cutlets" purrs Marco to Matthew. Matthew shows Marco his cutlets.
"That's not a double cutlet, that's a single cutlet," Marco tells Matthew. Derr.
"You're in trouble" he says, though it's unclear if he means today, or with him, or what.

While Matthew tells us he can't believe he's messed up the lamb and it could send him to elimination, he's not actually doing anything to fix it. He's putting it in the tray.

Matthew, you're disappointing me. Again, don't ever come anywhere near my teeth please.

Matthew decides he has to push on and hope his "flavours match Marco's."

I vomit a little in my mouth.

Reynold's bone is too big. Bwahahahhaaha.

Billie's crepinette looks like it may burst open.

They're all screwed.

Marco tells them to get their leeks, their asparagus, their herbs and their butter (Yes, Marco) and prepare the garnish (Yes, Marco) beginning with peeling and trimming the asparagus (Yes, Marco).
"Watch how Marco's holding it," says George.
"Trim the asparagus on a 45 degree angle," says Marco, brandishing a spear at them.
"Do you see?"
Yes, Marco.
"Let's take our pencil leeks. Pencil leeks, come on!" says Marco. He's leaving everyone behind on 45 degree asparagus.
"Get the baguette leeks," he scolds. "They're the slightly larger ones, Matthew" he admonishes.

"Slit them down the middle, half way down, to get the grit out," he suggests.

First thing I will remember today. Nothing worse than a gritty leek.

Ahem. Back in the room.

Wash your leeks (Yes, Marco) and take your baguette leeks and dice them. Yes, Marco....

Reynold is in a world of pain, unable to get precision and speed happening at the same time. He has precision down pat, but is falling behind with speed when it comes to his leeks. Billy is charging ahead, her leeks are chopped already.

"Where are your mushrooms?" yells Marco to no one in particular.
"I can't see them!" he says threateningly.

Put your glasses on, I think.

Matthew looks for his mushrooms and tells us they look like mouldy asparagus. Which is nice.
"You have to scrape and wipe the mushrooms," Marco tells them, thrusting his hand in front of them to show them. No one is looking, they're too stressed.

Matthew has scraped and wiped his "mouldy asparagus" and is now suddenly in the lead.

But that all changes when they're told to put the lamb chop in the steamer. Matthew has size issues.
"I know I don't have a double chop like he does" he moans. "This is going to make it hard," he states the bleeding obvious.

Jessica tells us she's really worried about Reynold. "His meat should have been in the steamer ages ago," she frowns. "And I've no idea where his head is."

Hopefully not in the steamer where his meat should be. Lawks.

This is stressful.

Reynold is lost, he says.

"I'm watching you, Reynold," says Marco, seductively. "Are you watching me?"

Reynold says "Yes, Marco," but I'm not sure he is.

Matthew has run out of truffle. He used it all in his mousse. He's worried as now not only does he have a tiny chop but he has tasteless sauce.

I won't continue with that line.

Matthew picks bits of truffle out of a plate of leftovers.

Marco turns his lamb. He says it should take twelve minutes to cook. Matthew is warbling on about how his is smaller and needs less time... he is SUCH a size queen.

Now Marco is cooking the various leeks in various pans. He pulls parts of the pencil leeks off. It's a lot of fiddling around with leeks, this dish.

Billie's lamb is cooked, she thinks. Marco suggests she should follow her instinct about it. George's jumper tries to help but he just makes Matthew panic again and he spirals out of control about how his meat may be overcooked. I'm beginning to hope it is.

"Check your lamb cutlet, Reynold," says George's jumper. "Feel it," he says.

"It's not ready!" says Reynold, who is back in the game now that Matthew is losing his shit.

Marco now adds the mushrooms and asparagus to a frying pan then tells them to add their cutlets to the pan and roll them around. Billie is worried she will over cook her chop. Reynold realises his may now be over cooked. Matthew is imploding I imagine. We don't get to see.

Marco begins to plate up. He puts the leeks in the centre of the plate - Matt tells them all it's crucial to watch but no one seems to be.

He folds the other leeks on angles. Billie is the only one who seems to be doing it correctly. Reynold's complaining about his "giant bone" hanging off the side of the plate. Fnarrr.

"Dress, dress, dress, dress!" says George's jumper. Ironically.

Matthew's whinging about something else now. Something is ruining his presentation. Turns out to be the enormous amount of butter he put in his leeks.  I don't know why he doesn't just go home.

He's re-plating. It's torturous.

Marco is brushing his chop with juice. Adding parsley. He's done. And miraculously, so is Matthew.

Marco comes over. ''You've done fantastic haven't you," he says - to Billie.

"That's a big bone" he says, to Reynold. Obviously.

"I like that Jackson Pollock touch" he tells Matthew (Marco code for "that's a mess," I am thinking)

"Come and have a look at mine and tell me if there is a difference."


"It was fabulous working with you," Marco guffaws.

"Thank you for allowing me to keep up with you," he chortles.

All fun and games now. Yes, Marco.

Looking at their plates, Billie's looks the best. She knows it. She's saying all the right things about them all getting the elements on the dish and how it will be close... but she's cocky and she should be.

First one to get tasted is Billie's...  Marco loves it. He says she should be pleased with herself. No worries there then.
Matt says something about her asparagus but everyone knows no one cares what he says today.

Next up is Matthew and he's already whinging about the size of his meat.  And the testing part of the pressure test. And the, erm, pressure part.  Marco says some nice things. Patronising but nice.

Lastly Reynold and his giant bone.  His meat and leeks are slightly overcooked. George's jumper likes his technique with the tongue. It's a Carry On film right here...

I'm on the edge of my seat. I don't want Matthew to win....

Marco's turned all nice.  He's smiling squintingly at them... put your specs on Marco.

George's jumper is running through their faults. It's nerve-wracking.

And Billie wins. Thank the Lord.

She smiles at Marco. Who squints back at her... It's Billie, Marco. Yes, Marco.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare -The Granary

Gordon Ramsay is driving in rural Hampshire, talking about how he's bought a "tiny country cottage" around here - by which he probably means a mansion. The c***.

He's looking forward to lunch, he tells us, obviously setting us up for his own bitter disappointment. He's going to The Granary, a 200-seater owned by Nigel Nedhugh, an entrepreneur (only, it appears, in the sense that he looks like a wanker and drives a posh car). This is going to be good. 

Nig can't understand why the place isn't busier. He's losing 4K a week but still manages to drive a chopper and show Gordon around the area from the air. 

Nige had a posh club where people paid 2K to join and rub shoulders and other body parts with people like Jordan and some guy from Eastenders. But  - surprise  - no one wanted to go... Now he's still got the place but is running it as a restaurant that no one wants to eat at. 

Poor Nig.

He calls his menu "Modern British" and has a chef called Martin who is supposedly all over it. I immediately feel bad because I dislike him on first meeting and then it turns out he's helping tearaway teens - he learnt to cook in jail and is now wanting to help others. I'm a bad person.

He has young blokes Pete and Paul in the kitchen and they're total lads, but they love cooking... You just know one of them is going to end up being really good at it.

Nig shows Gordon around and Gordon hates the interiors. Nig gets his back up. "There's not a fing here 'e likes," he says. No Nig, not even you.

Gordon can't get his head around the menu - they say it's modern British food and yet there's shark steaks and Moroccan chicken. 

Nig waits for Gordon to tell him he hates it all. 
So do I. 
And he does.
"That tastes fucking ghastly," he says, supportively. "But don't get all defensive. How's your lamb?"

"Beautiful" says Nig, defensively.

They go like this for a bit, I feel someone may lose an eye. Nig starts trying to attack Gordon's menu, but we're not at Gordon's restaurant now. Nig, give it up.

Gordon orders the steak and says it looks like someone was sick on his plate. 

Finally Gordon goes into the kitchen to meet Martin and the boys.
He tells them he hated everything on the menu, but says he liked how the vomit steak was cooked. Peter blushes. It's cute. But then Gordon tells him off for moving the pans while he's talking and Martin tells him to show some respect. It's a roller coaster. A loud, uncomfortable roller coaster filled with shark meat and plates of sick.

Gordon tells us in the voiceover that everything about the Granary is fucking wrong. Yeah, I think we got that already, Gordon.

Nig is having a fag. It looks like he's crying.

Possibly he is.

Gordon is going to test them by having 90 locals come in and eat, to see how well they cope.

30 minutes in and people are sending food back left right and centre because it's cold, and, well, "fucking ghastly" I imagine. 

One table has been waiting 2 hours. which begs the question, why didn't they just go home? 

But I digress.

Martin decides he can't do any more. He strides about saying he's been stitched up and he doesn't want to do "no more", then walks out saying, "it's bollocks". 
Nig soon follows and accuses Gordon of stitching them up.

"Why did you do this to us?", he asks, a fag tucked behind his ear for when things get too much.

He has a point, Gordon. 

Gordon says, "Don't be so ridiculous!" He calls Nig a weak man. Nig tells him to fuck off. 
It's better than TV. Except it is TV. 

Martin comes back in and tries to sort things out. He said he had a "funny five minutes there". But he realised that he was letting people down. What a guy. 

Nig, on the other hand, has to have a fag and a drink. And a whinge.

Gordon tells them they're fucked, but to never give up - which is confusing, to say the least.

Then he says "We'll get it right, OK?" It's all tough love 101. I feel duped.

Gordon asks the locals why they don't go there and they all say it's too expensive and that they don't want to eat shark. Some of them say other things but I'm trying to work out if one of them used to be on Eastenders.

Gordon has a plan. You can tell because he is looking off to the side of the camera and telling us about it. It involves getting people excited about produce... and probably taking shark off the menu. 

He drives a tractor along a bumpy path with "the boys" - Martin, Pete and Paul and some guy I've never seen before but who must work there. 
He's taking them to pick their own veg, presumably as picking beetroot is the best way to get them excited in the way he wants. Weird.

They're all laughing at how useless they are at digging up carrots. Ah, bonding.

They're having the best time ever. 

"Instead of nicking cars, you're nicking carrots!" someone guffaws.

Oh, how easy it is to rehabilitate the young...

"Martin, are you excited?" he asks, as Peter brandishes a carrot in the air. 

"Superb," says Martin.

I'm not sure the vision of the carrots should have come in right there.

Gordon is telling us how cooking saved him from a life of petty crime (he crashed a car whilst uninsured, he says. "Who still uses the word 'whilst'?" I think).

He takes the boys aside for a little chat about how he was just like them but that he changed everything and did it by staying focussed. "You can stay focussed," he adds.

They tell him Martin keeps them on the straight and narrow. I like Martin. Martin for President. 

Now Gordon is going to show them how they can serve 90 people without having dummy spits and too many fags (Nig, I'm talking to you). Apparently the secret is roast pork. Who knew. 

Each table gets a roast and loads of veg. Inspired. The pork is from down the road. He gets Peter to carve at the table and the poor thing is so shy he can't talk, much to Gordon's amusement. "I was shitting myself" Peter says. Unsavoury in a restaurant setting, I would have thought.

Nig is happy. Not a fag in sight. Gordon gives another pep talk about letting your work shine so the shit takes care of itself. 
Suddenly Gordon brings them chickens and they have to make henhouses for them - it's a team building exercise that Nig fails at, and it's a worry for Gordon who has 100 people coming in for dinner. If Nig can't build a henhouse, apparently, he can't run a restaurant. I'm not sure of the rules but I'm imagining Gordon knows better than me.

He's back in the kitchen now, telling us he has to get on and teach the boys how to make some British classics. Starting with mushroom on toast, which, if I were a betting man, I'd say would surely consist of mushrooms and ahem, toast?

Ah no. he adds an egg. That's why he's Gordon Ramsay and I'm not. The c***.

Anyway, he's also now letting Pete cook calves' liver. Which may or may not be a compliment.

Tonight they have 48 air traffic controllers from the local airport coming in. There are so many gags to be made. 

Gordon tries, saying "they know how to avert disaster, I only hope I can do the same." 5/10 Gordon.

Once again Nig can't handle the heat and food is going to the wrong tables (those air traffic controllers didn't help, then? Boom! Surely a 9 out of ten?)

Nig is outside having a fag. He's talking about how stressed he is. 

He comes in for the debrief and everything kicks off. He won't talk to Gordon.

Gordon calls him fat. 
Nig calls Gordon a twat.
Nig then calls Gordon a c***.

It's great.

Gordon asks him if this is how he runs his business.
Nig calls him a knob.
Peter laughs and tries to contain it by stuffing a Red Bull can into his mouth. 
It's so uncomfortable, it's amazing.

Nig walks out. He will need more to buy loads more fags at this rate.

Gordon comes and talks it out  - suggesting Nig needs a restaurant manager. Nig doesn't light up. Things are looking good.

Gordon suggests a family day at the restaurant - a food fair. They set it up in record time, suddenly there's a petting zoo and food stalls in the carpark.

Nig spends his time taste-testing all the chutney. 

Gordon sets the young chefs a challenge to create a salad from local veg and the winner will see their dish go on the menu. They get all competitive. We discover the other young chef is called Sean. 

Only in time for him to lose the challenge and never be heard from again. Shame.  

Pete wins. Of course.

Gordon forces Nig to wear a chicken suit to entertain the kids at the fair day. It's like a dream. Don't smoke anywhere near the suit, Nig, I think - flammable. 
Gordon makes a joke about Nig being "plucking mad". It's a laugh a minute. Now Nig is all in love with Gordon and tells us, from inside the suit, how much Gordon wants to help him. I want to shake him and say, "Yes, but he's making you dress like a chicken Nigel!" but I can't... it's painful.

The love fest continues as Gordon unveils a new sign for the restaurant and he and Nig joke about the logo being a big fat cock and is that what Gordon thinks of Nig? Except you know Gordon means just that. 

Now he's redoing the menu for the opening night. He's worried that Martin won't be able to hack it. He's giving them all a pep talk (and by "pep" talk, I mean just telling them all to "fucking do it".)
Martin is full of confidence. This doesn't bode well.

It's all going well until Gordon tries to make Martin a bit more assertive in the kitchen. Martin loses the plot a bit and then Pete and Paul get antsy and Paul tells Gordon to fuck off. It's A-class TV. I'm on the edge of my seat.

Outside Martin and Nig are  - surprise!  - smoking fags and whinging. They tell Gordon they will get the hang of it without him and that they'll be great. Gordon doesn't believe them. Nor do I.

6 weeks later and Gordon is back. Turns out it's just in time, as Martin is leaving to go work with troubled kids (awww Martin!) and Paul has already moved on, but Pete is still there, and - wait for it! - Nig isn't being a dick. 

Pete cooks red mullet for Gordon's lunch and Gordon loves it. Pete is beside himself with glee. 

Everything is running smoothly - they were right! Maybe it was Gordon who was the problem all along.. Did I say that out loud?

Gordon gives the customers comment cards and asks them to rate the food. They all love it...
"I like the young chef, can I have him cook me a steak" he reads from one. 

Pete grins, "Did they leave a number?" 
"I wrote it," laughs Gordon. They all chuckle. 
"Better than Gordon's food!" he reads. 
"Did they really say that?" asks Pete. 
"I wrote it" says Gordon...
"...No I didn't" he adds. 

Awww. What a soft c****!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Masterchef: The Professionals

There's nothing better than Masterchef for a little intrigue and oil splatters... and of course Gregg Wallace, the master of noisy eating.

It's the second last episode of this series and there are only four competitors left - Brian, Sven, Jamie and Danny - the boy band you have when your boy bands are all in whites, a little chubby and a bit geeky. With glasses and accents you can't understand. But, boy can they cook.

They're battling to go cook in Spain, so it's all on the line here... one of them won't make it.

Gregg and his henchmen Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing are standing there looking foreboding.

Welcome back, Gregg says, in the most unwelcoming tone ever.

The music swells. It's like a death march.

"What you have to do right now", he tells the increasingly shifty and unhappy looking band members cooks, "is make us your best dish."


They have two hours.

They all begin rolling things and dipping things and Thermomixing things. A step up from the amateurs on most cooking shows. They're frying things in butter at every turn.

"Chefs, you have one hour," says Greg. "Let's make sure it's not your last hour, shall we?" he says, somewhat menacingly. I can only hope he's talking about in the competition and not just generally...

Frantically pinching raviolis together with chubby fingers, Jamie tells us he had a little wobble at the chef's table. I'm not sure if that was a bad thing or not, but according to his face, yes it was.

Sven is piping something back into an egg shell.

Everyone adds another packet of butter to whatever they're cooking.

Brian has made rolled rabbit loin with a million things made from turnip and mushrooms. It looks amazing. The "rebbit", according to NZ chef Monica, was cooked perfectly. And Gregg loved it, too.

Sven has made a faberge egg. A faberge egg? It's covered in pasta. it's lobster mousse around a quail egg and langoustine and it looks like lego. They are in two minds about it - Monica and Gregg love it, Marcus thinks it's terrible. I'm with Marcus.

Danny has made poussin with panfried hearts and turnips and a consommé with chicken fat. Gregg says it gives you a kiss on the cheek when you want a snog. Danny says snog this, and punches Gregg*.

 *this may or may not have happened.

Poor old wobbly Jamie has made rabbit with livers, his finger-pinched pasta filled with braised shoulder, carrots and rabbit sauce with peas, capers and tarragon. Marcus nods at him as he takes a bite. Good sign.
Monica say when she eats his food she doesn't want to share it. Jamie smiles.
Gregg calls it one of the bet rabbit dishes he's ever tasted.
And then Marcus says if he was a rabbit, that is how he'd like to be cooked and served.

The RSPCA take the show off air.

Jamie's nearly crying. Oh no he IS crying. Bless. He's possibly thinking about all the little bunnies who want to be in his dinner now.

Danny gets the boot for his poorly seasoned poussin and his violence against Gregg. Maybe.

Jamie is delighted to go through and tells us something no one can understand but it has the word "massive" in it.

Now we're in San Sebastian in Spain. The culinary capital of Europe and the home of Mugaritz, the restaurant. Chef Adoni Luis Aduriz makes food we can only dream of, apparently, but worked with Ferran Adria at El Bulli and was inspired to make food that looks like art - illustrated for us here with vegetable tiles and berries made from bubbles of beetroot, plus edible stones make of potatoes covered in clay.

 Looks easy enough, boys.

Here they come in slow motion like a Westlife video. Jamie mentions something about something blah blah something... very... amazing, I think...

First up they have a masterclass with Adoni. They're making "decadence" - a dish with smoked cream and truffles with flowers complete with a sugar fork. A sugar fork, for crying out loud.  Then eucalyptus smoked lamb with cultivated mould. Yes. Mould. It's cultivated over two days and then the mould is put over it, like a "blanket" says Jamie. I assume.

Adoni writes a note saying "forget everything".  Which, given the intricacy of his dishes, seems a bit odd. But then Jamie goes out in the garden with Adoni's offsider and they have a conversation where I'm sure neither of them understands the other one. Forgetting may be good.

Then they have to create a dish inspired by what they've learned even though they were told to "forget everything". I'm worried.

Adoni smilingly says he's nervous. You're not the only one, Adoni.

Sven is making something with squid and peppers.

Brian has an ox heart tomato. He's not cooking it. He's infusing the flesh with lemon thyme and onion juice. My head is exploding a bit...

Jamie is using peaches and grilling them. He is planning to infuse them with spices. He's saying something about hoping Adoni likes it.

That is the whole point Jamie, glad you could join us.

Adoni and his offsider sit at a table  - he's looking like a mild mannered professor ready to go postal.

Sven is first  - a dip of red pepper and squid meringue. Sven is seemingly impressing Adoni with his dip. It's perfect, according to Adoni. It looks like a pebble topped with baby poo, says the rest of the world.

Forget everything indeed.

Next up, Brian is topping his tomato with a pickled fresh dahlia and some caviar. It looks amazing, like some kind of tuna dish. Adoni likes it. Double thumbs up. And a clap. Brian sits outside and sighs... raw food? And it worked? Wowser. Wouldn't get away with that in Aberdeen, he chortles.

Jamie's making a freeze dried yoghurt sorbet... he tells us about it but I'd be lying if i told you I got one word of it. Except at the end I hear, "let's hope it tastes as good as it looks!"

Each peach half has been spiced with green peppercorns and cloves and an assortment of other toppings including crumbled brioche.... it looks gorgeous. Adoni says he understand his restaurant too well. Jamie then proves he may have understood it but we will never understand him, by telling us how he feels. I think.

Next Adoni is letting them all cook for guests. The three chefs climb the stairs in unison. It's very moving. It's like watching people going to the gallows.

Sven is making a few things, including a ravioli filled with what looks like a garden. Adoni's offsider tells him to slow down, saying "make it nice, don't make it twice". Wise words indeed.

Brian is making something weird in a mortar and pestle that will involve the customer crushing it themselves. He's happy because it's not a lot of work. Finally he will make a colourless fish dish with milk pearls and white fish.

Jamie's making something with steak and blue cheese paste - he says something cute about liking cheese. I think I'm in love with Jamie. He then makes an apple juice pastry with pressed flowers in it. I love him a little more.

Service kicks off.  Must have missed the cod throat skin Sven is cooking. Feel a bit queasy.

Sven does well. Everyone loves his food.

He will remember Adoni wiping his plates forever, he says, somewhat weirdly.

Brian makes his tomato for his entree. Then plates up his weird mortar and pestle concoction. Gregg loves smashing his up, adding "a dish that is so much fun shouldn't taste as good as this." He's the master of the soundbite, old Gregg.

Brian has such a good time he's debating whether to come back for the final at all.

Now it's Jamie and no one knows what he's saying but he's caramelising the blue cheese steak so he's happy. It makes his audience ecstatic. Next he makes his peach dish with some added smoke for show, with a mandarin leaf for flavour. And lastly his hanky dish... in a box. It's a triumph.

Though seeing Gregg eating a wet looking hanky is not great television.

Adoni hugs him. Jamie says something poignant. Perhaps.

A little look back at their time and a threatening few words from Gregg - "I want to see them recreate all that in the final cook," he says, no pressure at all - and our boy band walk off into the distance, to prepare for the finale.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery

Gordon Ramsay says he's going to teach me to make amazing food standing on my head. Which is possibly against OH&S rules.

But here I am. Listening to his wisdom as he tells me he's going to be holding my hand, as "it gets better and better". I'm worried already.

This week it's simple suppers. He says they are the key. To what, I'm not sure.

Spicy Tuna Fishcakes are apparently going to change my life. Which isn't how I saw things panning out but I'm willing to be convinced, Gordon. He's convincing the laydeez by talking to us in Sexy Gordon voice. None of the shouty man we're used to on his other shows. This is a man who does the washing up AND offers a foot massage.

Canned tuna, ginger, water chestnuts.... all kind of sexualised by Gordon's whispering voice. It's not hot in the kitchen yet, but I do worry old Gordo is getting hot under his whites. He's massaging and slicing and inhaling it all like a Japanese businessman at one of those knicker machines.

Gordon adds his eggs and gets his hands in and yes, he groans. It's perturbing, but ok, they DO look good.

He's making a dipping sauce.

I'm not sure I am strong enough for this.

Next up he is talking us through the grater and peeler that changed his life. A speed peeler and a box grater. It's endearing how happy he is about "bits of kit" as he calls them.

Now he's all excited about bread. He's making three things that will mean bread becomes... er, well, a staple. Fennel and Feta flatbread looks delish and easy, like a very cool pizza. I'm warming to his delivery - the nuances are worth the slightly dirty feeling. Honest.

More bread and it's baguettes this time, to make bruschetta and add garlic and caper berries with pecorino and cherry tomatoes. "Paying attention to the edges," he whispers invitingly. "Add a twist of pepper," he continues, seductively.

Next is a white bean crostini with olives and anchovies. Delish. Even he thinks it's incredible.

"Incredible," he whispers.

Gordon tells me power is knowledge in the kitchen. But his hand gesture for the word "knowledge" is to make like he's cupping some giant  breasts. Whoah there ...

Now he's telling me about his top five soft herbs he can't live without. Basil, parsley, coriander, tarragon and chervil.  Yikes now he's talking about hard ones.

I don't think I can do this.

Oh it's ok, it's just rosemary, thyme, oregano sage and bay leaves. Calm down all.

OK we're in to desserts. Puddings should be a pleasure not a chore he says. Home made ones are always impressive he gasps.

Griddled pineapple with spiced caramel is his pick and he may be right. He's griddling the slices of pineapple and sprinkles them with sugar to glaze them. Now he's making the caramel - never stir it he says, rather forcefully. Then suddenly I blink and he's whisking it  - I don't know what happened but it seemed to involve cream and butter.

He's now telling me how to chop basil and suggests we place the leaves on inside the other. Who has time for that Gordon. Not with all this seduction going on.

It's really important to get comfortable with the knife, he says, as he shows us his gnarly fingers. Then he says that cutting with a knife is "all in the wrist action". It's a schoolboy's dream. And he hasn't finished yet. He brings it home with his tips for cutting stuff up. "Up and down, up and down". I need a hug and a nap.

Now he's giving us some quick fire cooking tips. Want a boiled egg? Add an egg to boiling water  for eight minutes, finish with a splash of vinegar and plunge into iced water.

Salad dressings.  Asparagus...

It's all too much. I can't cope with his tips. there are too many.  I can't help feeling that some of them are not tips at all, they're just things everyone does. Cook asparagus in water. Make a salad dressing. Buy his app. Oh. I see...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Come Dine With Me Couples - Merseyside edition

We are in Liverpool where three couples will take turns cooking for each other  - and scoring each night as they go. Who will win?

First up are Sandra and Graham, who met in the army and seem determined to be the funny ones. They do this by being obnoxious and semi-abusive to each other throughout the course of the night.

Graham calls Sandra a "slop jockey." Snigger.

Their menu involves beef medallions, and couple number 2 - Joanne and Simon - seem impressed with the cut of meat. They don't normally like posh things, they buy in bulk and they don't care. Joanne giggles as Simon talks. Then Joanne giggles some more.

Helen and Adam are couple number 3. They're knobs. He is already wanking on about all the 3 Michelin star restaurants they've been to.

Back to Sandra and she's slapping Graham in the face with the fillet steak. Then she makes him drop and give her ten.

Oh, they are so funny.

Starter for Sandra and Graham is chicken mousseline and mushroom douxelle pasta. The name of which has the expected effect on the others - Simon has no idea, just thinks it sounds posh and therefore is scared, while Adam and Helen look impressed.

Dessert will be something unpronounceable to Simon.

Joanne giggles.

Time for the first dinner party.

Sandra and Graham get changed and Sandra reappears suddenly looking like a dominatrix - choker necklace and boobs out. Graham tells Sandra Jo and Simon's names, and already hilarity ensues when she wonders if they're both men. Oh you.

Helen and Adam turn up with a magnum of champagne, the douchebags. Helen is already sounding hysterical and shrill. Helen's hair is the only thing I can look at. It's remarkable. Tall, curled, pinned, loose. It is every hairstyle ever, all in one.

Dinner begins.

Entree goes off without a hitch. "You'd get it at a posh place," says Simon. High praise.

Helen's hair is defying gravity.

Adam criticises the wine.

Simon says he loves Ferrari but doesn't have one... and Helen jumps in to wank on and on about how she's had 4 Porsches. The world weeps.

Then Graham and Sandra do a little singing for everyone. It's horrible.

They make their dessert and Helen must have had too much champers as talk turns to nicknames and she asks if Sandra calls Graham "big Sarg". He makes a joke about a big "saus-sarge" and she a) laughs shrilly or b) gets an AVO out on him. (clue: it's "a")

Joanne calls Simon her "big baby boy" and then says he's known at home as the "bum monster".  Simon explains he's called this because he likes to chase her and bite and pinch her on the bum.

Make it stop.

Day 2 and it's Joanne and Simon's time. Adam hedges his bets saying he gets the feeling they don't know much about food but then says he wouldn't be surprised if they did. He's making no sense but no one cares what he says anyway so it doesn't matter.

Turns out Simon doesn't cook much. But they're making American style pulled pork and says the word spicy about 15 times while Joanne giggles. Oh, bum monster!

Entree will be scallops and fruit skewers. Helen loves scallops. Adam says something. I wasn't listening.

Sandra and Graham find a photo that shows Simon used to be really overweight. But now he's a fussy eater and has a tattoo of the number 26 - he weighed 26 stone - on his "fridge hand" so when he goes to eat out of the fridge he's reminded how fat he was. This is poignant. Joanne giggles.

There's a lot of chat about the scallop /fruit combo. Not a winner. Adam patronisingly says they're cooked well.  Simon should eat him.

The pulled pork is too spicy for Sandra and Graham. Who knew?

Helen whispers she doesn't like pork. Or spicy food.

Adam complains about the wine.

Then Adam asks Simon where the meat comes from and wanks on about how he spends a lot on meat and you can taste the difference. Simon nods patiently but clearly wants to punch him. Then he patiently explains to us what a wanker Adam is. Not in so many words.

One more night to go. Helen and Adam are now spraying Glen 20 all over their kitchen for some reason, and talking about Michelin stars again. If they use the phrase fine dining one more time I'm going in.

Bum monster sums it all up in a nutshell.  "I don't want to put them down but they're a little bit more boring than we are."

Their entree is sea bass with prawns. Dessert is a creme brûlée and Helen puts them in the oven. Adam sits and watches the oven get to the right temperature while Helen reapplies her lipstick.

They're doing venison for main, with red cabbage. Adam tells us it compliments the venison  - he knows this because he's had it in a few restaurants before. And he's a fuck-knuckle.

The other couples arrive and nose about their house, looking at photos.

Turns out in some photos you can see that Helen has tattoos all over herself. This is because she is "fun" and "wild".  Adam takes photos of food, which Simon can't understand. "I'll take photos on roller coasters and things like that, but not in the pub - 'oh look at this pastie'," he guffaws.

Hang on, bum monster - the only place you take photos is on roller coasters?

Adam and Helen have horrible black plates and glasses but bring out different glasses for each course because they've done wine matching with their dishes. Of course. Because they're "strong advocates of it" apparently.  I don't think Adam knows what that means.

The others are all appalled that they have different glasses for each wine. Sandra and Graham think you only need a wide-bottomed glass for red and a small glass for white, Simon thinks wine either makes you gag or not. I think you're "advocating" to the wrong audience, Adam.

No one likes the fish entree.

They talk about the food photos. Adam tells us they're also big advocates of fine dining. I stab myself in the eye with a pen.

He hold up a picture from Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck - "that's a faux grow dish" he says. I gauge a little harder.

Adam is wanking on about his personal favourites and shuffling through the pics, showing bad shots of Heston's snail porridge. "That's a good one," he says. Everyone is asleep.
"I think it's a great interest of mine", he says. No kidding, says the world.

He has a meat probe. I know what he should do with it.

They bring up the tattoos. And then Helen says it's because they have a rock side to them. But then Adam shows his "fantasy-based" tattoo and everyone in the universe laughs. This is because it cements his position as biggest tool ever.  Helen now thinks their crazy side has won them over. Adam advocates this. Then ruins it all by wanking on about dessert wine.

Joanne tries to be nice, saying that Adam has been taking them on a food journey.
Bum Monster says "It could have been a short journey which we would have enjoyed, instead it was a lengthy journey."

Three cheers for bum monster.

Adam is garbling on about citrus cutting through the sweetness. I didn't know he was still talking.

Time for the scores and Sandra tells us she wouldn't cry if she won. Graham says he would
And lo, they do. And they both do. Bless.

Simon is gutted  - but makes a good point about getting two free meals.

Adam can't talk anymore. Helen says the will have to go to another Michelin star place to drown their sorrows. Adam pretends to cheers to the winners while inside he's thinking about Heston's snail porridge. It's his happy place.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food - episode 6

Tom Kerridge is a lovely, large, smiley West Country English chef – and despite appearances Tom can put together a delicate plate of food. 

His pub, as he tells us, is the only 2 Michelin star pub in the UK. He's all over the micro herb. 

But he also makes fish and chips and good old country cooking. And it looks delicious.

His whole show seems to be based on lovely West Country English things he recalls from his idyllic Famous Five-style childhood and now produces in a 2 Michelin star fashion at his gastropub. And that isn't meant to sound as snide as it does. I'm just jealous. I too grew up in the West Country of England. And I have no Michelin stars. Not that I'm bitter.

The opening of the show is all kids running around a picnic table, eating ice creams and letting them drip down their arms, while adults laugh uproariously at, one can only imagine, middle class jokes about the working class.

I could be wrong. They could be drunk. 

Either way it's very, very, very English. 

Tom tells us he's going to make baked beans from scratch, promising you'll never go back to the tinned versions. Heinz executives around the world laugh nervously, wondering if it's time to take their kids out of private school. 

But they can't stay mad at him for long. He's so lovely – a big ball of enthusiasm covered in tattoos with the Best. Accent. Ever. I could sit here all day and listen to him say "butterrr" or "lumpy sauce". Sigh. When he says his omelette is "right good for dishin' up" I want to hug him.

He also promises that he can make a roast chicken fun. Apparently this is just a matter of baking it in hay and cider – thinking back to my childhood, I don't know if that would cut it. Just sayin' Tom, my loverrrrr.

He then moves on to making his roast chicken  - gathering "herrrrbs" from his "garrrrrden" and getting his "ciderrrrr". When he grabs a long white piece of material and suggests it looks like he's about to make a wedding dress, I'm saddened to hear it's just for making a muslin bag for the chicken. 

What does she have that I don't? 

He makes a sauce to go with the chook that he says is like an English summer time. My memory is wasps, ice cream and stinging nettles but apparently England has changed since the 70s and the taste of summer now means cooking juices from the chicken and some hay. This explains my lack of Michelin stars. 

He's now making his homemade anti-Heinz baked beans with a recipe that involves bacon, haricot beans, brown sugar and an Aga stove, cooking them for hours over a low heat. They look nice enough.

Time for a blurry shot of Tom the background while we see some tulips in the foreground.

Tom's telling us how to make Sodabread. It's actually something I may make. It looks delicious.
He piles the beans on top of his home made soda bread before tasting them and declaring them "the best Baked Beans on toast" and then... he sits alone and eats them in the kitchen. Why? Where are all the kids and drunk middle class people now??  Have the Heinz people kidnapped them? 

And then Tom says something about faggots and how he grew up on them and how he wants to convert us all. 

A nation turns off the TV and writes in to their MPs. 
Then he says they're just like sausages. 
Some people turn their TVs back on. 

He says faggot about 50 times in 5 minutes and no one knows what to do. 

He goes to the butcher to get a whole bunch of pork to make them. 

The shopping list includes one pig's heart and just a little piece of liver. 

Yeah that should be plenty, say those of us with no interest in offal, retching. 

But he's so happy to be making faggots you can't look away. It's like a medical drama with an accent as he minces bits of meat that no one in their right mind would want to touch. 

And, irritatingly, every time he says faggot, the 14 year old inside me wants to snigger. I feel like a have hay fever, I'm nearly exploding so much. It's exhausting.

He skived off school for faggots. Snigger.

He has six lovely faggots now. Snort.

Gently pick up one of your faggots. Harumph

Enough. They're made, they're like sausages and they're delish. OK? 

They go well with his onion gravy. He makes this by roasting onions for two hours while it seems he stands around in the kitchen listening to the radio and tapping his trendy trainers. 

His faggots are firm now. Garump.

I need to lie down.

Now he's making an apple and toffee crumble pie. It's like all the good words in the world together at once. He's as excited as we are, making his own toffee like a giant, casually dressed Willy Wonka. He goes on to stew some apples - cooking them in butter with orange peel and cinnamon. He talks about crumble like it's the best thing ever, he's so happy to be making this dessert he can't wait to serve it. But first he needs some help and he hangs out the window calling to.... the drunk adults who haven't been kidnapped by Heinz henchmen after all.

The drunk adults then turn out to be his wife, sister and brother in law. Awks.

The kids who were running around with the ice creams before turn out to be his nieces and he ropes them in to help create the crumble pie – cracking the home made toffee and adding it to the top of what is surely the most delicious creation known to man. Certainly known to Tom. He's beside himself. 

It's served with clotted cream ice cream and a taxi to the hospital. 

One of these things may not be true.

He asks the kids if they like it and one says "I  like the apple in it." Tom laughs. But inside you know he's broken.