No flash in the pan

Good grief. It’s been a while since I posted. Bloquerones is putting me to shame. I had a bad cycle accident a month ago which put me out of action but it hasn’t stopped me from hunting and gathering. I thought I’d do a roll call of some of the fine platos served up El Meson de los Tempranillos in the last few weeks.

Cobb salad (Cavewife’s favourite - dig the blue cheese)

Mutton cutlets (not rocket science butchery in the end - look how red the meat is)

Mutton noisettes in butter (rare as hell)

Pork belly w/cumin & lemon (idea stolen from Morito, Exmouth Market)

Venison shank (delicious but might go easy on the bottle of madiera next time)

Beef heart salad brunch (always raises an eyebrow) 


Off to collect the steed from Honor Oak soon (seat got trashed in accident) and then on to Hilly Fields market for Saturday shop. It is a sunny day and I want to get some good snaps of this slightly ailing market (Brockley, smockley) and the best olives in London. Adios amigos.

Exploding Buses before Breakfast

It’s been a while since I posted after great trips to Valencia, Newcastle and Paris so I thought I’d return with a BANG.

Yes that is the remains of a number 343, just off Telegraph Hill, that I saw coming back from the Farmers Market this morning. It was a bit chilling actually. Evoked 7/7. I don’t know what happened but I’m sure it will be in the local news soon enough. 


It was a good gather today. The usual veggies and olives. Phil Miles (Godmersham Game) was there for the last time (season over) so I snapped up a load of venison mince and three shanks (to be cooked in an interesting and tasty way tommorrow). I also picked up some belly (for Sunday lunch), skirt, shin, calves heart and 2 goose eggs from the Stuart-less Stuart Stall (I wonder where he is - should have asked).

Lot’s of amusing coverage in the media this week about a study that proves red meat will KILL you. I think it says more about the media (and science reporting) than red meat which (if well-sourced) is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Ask yourselves what level of scientific rigour you would expect for such a conclusion to be drawn and then look at how the study was actually conducted.

Quite a gap.

I’ll take my chances thank you.

So without further delay…here’s breakfast. Ox heart, egg, various colourful and crunchy veggies, all on a bed of spinach. Drizzled in good olive oil. Splash of sherry vinegar. Yum.  

Great Fat Roll Call #1: Dripping

I picked this up in South Manchester last week at an indoor farmers market.  


It is beef or lamp fat that drips from meat as it cooks. When I slow-cook a beef joint I’ll usually collect the juices and chill. The fat that collects at the top can be reused, the ‘jelly’ makes a great gravy, sauce or just another secret ingredient to add to the next hot pot.

You can get this in the supermarket but I get a little queasy when thinking about the origins of these cheap little white blocks (disclaimer: I didn’t ask about the origins of the pot above but I’ll make a bet it comes from a better place). Keep your eyes peeled and look for fat sourced from grass-fed and pastured ruminants. I managed to get some from Ginger Pig a while back. 

Some eateries have been getting on the chips-in-dripping bandwagon but The Fryers Delight (my local work chippy) did this a long time ago. 

According to ‘Fat’ by Jennifer McLagan, dripping is 45% saturated fatty acids (SFA), 42% mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and 8% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). This is similar to suet (fat encasing the kidney) and tallow (general term for fat that has been rendered from ruminants). 

Fats from ruminants (those mammals that spend an awful lot of time chewing and digesting grass and other plant-based food) are outstanding fuel sources of SFA/MUFAs (as can be seen above) but they also have a good ratio of omega 3 to 6 PUFA.   

The higher stable SFA (and lower unstable PUFA) content makes dripping less prone to oxidation (whether storing or heating). It also tastes magic.  

Get frying.

Bacon and Eggs

The good thing about going primal is that you can eat as much bacon and eggs as you want (within reason). If you like a big bacon and egg breakfast (like me), here is what you do.

Snip, with kitchen scissors, along the fat (my late beloved Nana taught me this) of as much impeccably sourced streaky as you want. Chuck them in a big frying pan on a medium heat to sizzle in their own fat. When starting to crisp, arrange the bacon in rows and empty a bowl of impeccably sourced eggs over the top. Pepper to taste and cover with lid or baking tray.

When the eggs are done as you like (and this takes practise), slide onto a warm plate. If you are sharing, it needs a bit of ‘surgery’ to create two portions.

Discard excess fat.

Joke. Pour excess fat over eggs. Eat with a big smile on your face.

Here is the result. I was a bit greedy but I just dig swine.

theredtin said: when i was in tbilisi two years ago i had goat's testicles with egg. have you ever seen balls for sale in south london?

Not the sort of balls you’re talking about.

A Right Royal Cycle

Yesterday Cavewife was in Town to have a pedicure and meet a friend for lunch.

I had a day to myself! I was going to do something different. I love cycling but rarely cycle for the sake of cycling if you get my drift. I’d recently bought The London Cycling Guide and there was a good circular route around Greenwich. I also wanted to see if any food suppliers of repute were in the area and a flick through Good Produce Guide came up with The Fishmonger Ltd, Royal Hill.

I set off by way of Brockley Market (heaving and a bit off-putting) and joined the river at Depford Creek. This was the start of a good cycle that was spoilt a bit by the works at Cutty Sark Gardens (for Olympics I guess) and between O2 and Greenwich proper (lots of diversions). That said, plenty of highlights: flask of tea to warm fingers at Royal Observatory, Morden College, Charlton House and the stretch from the Thames Barrier. It was a cold crisp day so not many pictures taken.

The Fishmonger Ltd is a great hard-to-find shed in a little foodie enclave on Royal Hill. It was a bit late when I got there but still busy and a decent selection. Prices seemed a little steeper than Sopers and unsure what the daily price check was about (a little cold to hang around) but certainly somewhere to revisit.

I also popped round the corner to a bustling deli called The Cheese Board (great selection). Picked up some butter, picos blue cheese, soup, hummus and white wine for the oxtail stew I’m making today.


There were some other good shops. Drings - an old school butchers that looked very reasonable (eggs + dry cured streaky) and next door, a green grocers called The Creaky Shed (celery).

This street also has some good pubs and is close to the Greenwich Picturehouse. Greenwich can be a bit touristy and busy but it has plenty of top spots. Like Royal Hill.  

Is nothing safe?

Certainly not my card playing. I didn’t see much change from £100 at the first poker game of 2012. It was held at SOTR Poker HQ by my old mucker FJK. A good night and great food (burgers and bangers) put on by the host.

This post is not really about the poker but about alcohol choices. The typical arrangement is lager. Lots of lager. I try and avoid it (in the UK) now - it usually tastes boring, contains gluten and bloats me up a treat. Wine is the tipple of choice but wine is a poker recipe for disaster (and ridicule…unless you are drinking a cocktail).

So I decided to experiment with ‘Robb Wolf’s Norcal Margarita’. 2 shots of 100% agave tequila, juice and pulp from one lime, ice & soda water. A simple and clean drink. No gluten & low sugar. I’d had it before and it was perfectly drinkable. No fireworks but something to sip over the course of an evening and get out without too much damage.   

But this one tasted great.

I put this down to the quality of the spirit and the fresh lime. But it seemed too sweet, too moreish, too good. After 3 generous tumblers I was floored. Not exactly drunk, just sluggish.

What went wrong. My plan had failed.

It got me thinking. I’d bought soda but had been offered tonic water. What really is the difference between soda and tonic water? I did some research.

Uh oh.

Soda water: Carbonated water, sodium bicarbonate

Tonic water: Carbonated water, sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup - HFCS), citric acid,sodium benzoate, flavourings (including quinine), sweetener (sodium saccharin).

The potted culinary history of quinine defies belief but I’m not to bothered about that. The bit that startled me is the presence of HFCS. In tonic water. But should I be that suprised?

Blaming the reaction to three large cocktails on an ingredient in the tonic water may seem a little far fetched but the truth is that I don’t drink sugary drinks (and certainly avoid anything containing HFCS). HFCS is linked to a lot of bad stuff but I leave it to the readers to look-up the experts  (i.e not me).

Taubes NY Times article -

Lustig lecture -

Could this insidious ingredient have actually affected my energy levels and concentration that badly?

Or am I just a bit pants at cards these days?

[Update at 12:48; 05.02.12: FJK has gently pointed out that there was, in fact, no HFCS in the slimline tonic he offered on the Friday night! It did contain the artificial sweetener, aspartame, which may have had a similar effect but I cannot blame HFCS for any real or imaginary reactions this time.]    

Brunch Part 1

I typically eat two (large) meals a day. I rarely snack unless I come across a golden food opportunity (like an oyster stall or seasonal berries). A few years ago I was convinced that unless I ate three square meals and especially breakfast I would keel over and die. Breakfast was always at work and it wasn’t cornflakes. It seemed a struggle to force down the cold leftovers at 9am but hey….everyone has to have breakfast right? Then I heard Dr Briffa mention skipping breakfast with no adverse affect (like boils or withered limbs) so I gave it a shot.

Easy. Liberating.

I now try and eat ‘brunch’ around 11ish and if not wet will aim to feast in the garden outside the office. Exercise (3 flights), fresh air, solitude (miss the ‘lunch hour’) and hoperfully all the benefits of the sun (vit d etc etc). 

Calling it ‘brunch’ also makes it easier to get away with eating last nights offal.   

travelling-ape said: i went travelling in india/nepal/mongolia last year and had sheep's eye soup. i found sheeps eyes in east london, but don't know how to go from there. have you ever cooked eyes?

I’m afraid not. I can only assume you found them tasty. One day I’ll try brain but don’t tell Cavewife.

Check out the Skirt.

At 8:00am I turned on the crock pot (I prefer the US name). Inside was the beef skirt (2kg), 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, 1 onion, bay leaves, pepper and a few frozen cubes of stock. At 7:30pm I turned it off, let it cool and drained.

I usually discard the soft veg but that seems wasteful. The stock can be reduced to make a rich sauce and the fat (dripping; which acts as a handy stock lid when it cools in fridge) can be used to fry or roast veggies. As for the skirt….well check it out. A glistening, unctuous heap of tender triple A beef.

Sure it’s not quite as nice cold but still pretty good. Just add a spot of english mustard, a few pickled onions and you have a very fine lunch. Handsome.