All posts filed under: archive

23rd January 1942, Cod a la Biscaienne

Today is Armistice Day so a good day, I thought, to share with you something we found amongst my Grandfather’s papers. It is a menu from the Troop Ship HMT Thysville, setting out Breakfast (love that the Oats are branded – not just any old oats!) Luncheon and Supper for Friday 23rd January 1942. On the back are lots of hand-written names, notes and messages, mostly in Afrikaans/Dutch.  I do not know where the ship was going, but do know that my grandfather served in the Military Policy and the Royal Artillary in Burma. Does anyone have any information on this ship? I would love to hear it. In the meantime I thought I would share this menu, I do wonder if this was for officers or all ranks, but have no idea. There are two courses – Brandade of Cod a la Biscaienne and Ragout of Mutton Printanier that I can find no on-line recipes for, if anyone can help with the ingredients for these I would be extremely grateful. Thank you. Advertisements

Nottingham Goose Fair Gingerbread Cake (and the Trentside Cheese Riot of 1766)

Seasonal Fairs were traditionally an important means of selling and buying produce from the surrounding countryside, hiring workers for the coming season and for socialising and celebrating. Given that most roads were not much more than dirt tracks it was important that the fairs took place before the roads became muddy and impassable in the winter. Many towns had several fairs and we can see their roots in shows and fairs that still take place today – the Newark County Show held in May was originally a hiring fair for farmers to take on agricultural workers for the coming summer, and Nottingham’s Goose Fair still to this day takes place around Michaelmas, at the beginning of October. Nottingham’s Goose Fair is over 700 years old and is the oldest and largest travelling Fair in the country. It is now, of course, solely a fun fair but originally Geese were driven from Norfolk and Lincolnshire to Nottingham for sale. Geese are at their best at this time of year, and have always been the traditional dish …

Pole-Dancing? Puppet Show? Nah, Burger Joint Baptism

Finally, I will round off our recent short trip to New York with this place. Check it out next time you’re in mid-town Manhattan (as you do). In the Parker Meridien Hotel on West 56th Street is a “secret” burger joint, (called “Burger Joint”, got that?..). It is so secret that we had stayed there a few days before we discovered it. I kind of knew it was there, but we just wondered why hordes of tourists and bus-loads of visitors were turning up to queue just at the back of the pristine lobby of the hotel next to a floor-length red velvet curtain. We thought it was some sort of Theatre or Puppet Show or maybe a bit of clandestine pole-dancing.  Must be a good show, whatever it is, we thought, as the queues were enormous and seemed to be there most of the day. Eventually we asked at the desk, and yes, you guessed it, behind the red curtain is the burger bar. Okaaaaay. Reviews say this is one of the best burgers …

More Manhattan Musings – Frankies (no apostrophe) Dogs to Go

We headed over to Grand Central Station to check out the famous Oyster Bar, but it was Sunday, so it wasn’t happening. What else was there for it but a hot-dog then? not exactly a “street dog” but close enough for now. For me, a hot dog is a Frankfurter in a soft finger roll, with crispy blackened fried onions and sharp English mustard and I love them (I do try to avoid the mechanically-recovered chicken versions, but a good pork “dog” is a fairground and Bonfire Night staple). The crucial thing about eating a hot-dog on the go is that fillings must be under the Frankfurter, otherwise as soon as you bite into it, the majority of the filling will be down your front and on your shoes…. is it only me that thinks this?  Apparently so, as no one but me serves them like this anymore, especially not in the US if  my New York experience is anything to go by. I have also, until now, never spent $6.25 on a hot-dog. Still, this …

Corned Beef Hash and Clam Chowder – Come take another walk with me, down to Battery Park, NYC.

And another Huge Breakfast Back to New York and check out this breakfast. Astro’s American Diner in Mid-Town Manhattan. Just around the corner from our Hotel, we found this old-school breakfast joint. Astro’s has been on 6th Ave and 55th Street for over 30 years, we stumbled across it looking for an early breakfast (it opens at 6am) and we were the first customers in. Not knowing the patch we just hoped we had chosen wisely, but not to worry, within half an hour the place was completely full, so clearly the locals knew its charms. Seems to be largely family run by New York Greek/Cypriots and if you are hungry and heading for a heavy day of sightseeing, this will set you up nicely, and the coffee is strong enough to stand a spoon in and just keeps coming.              Husband had the (huge) corned beef hash, with eggs –  and managed to finish it, Daughter had the waffle and Canadian-style bacon and I had the pancakes, American bacon and two eggs, over-easy …

Aw Shucks, do you swallow or chew? Oyster season is upon us……

I know, I know, sorry. But, hey there is an “r” in the month and, love them or hate them, the oyster season has started and I can’t help but get a bit giddy. I am a big oyster fan, so I thought I would dedicate this short piece to the briny, slimy, tasty and expensive joys of new season oysters. So, in the best tradition of food blogging –  here are 6 things you may or may not know about oysters  (“pearls” of wisdom, you may say):- 1 There are only 5 main types of Oyster, but there are 100s of varieties and their shell, shape and flavour change mostly according to the very specific area and type of water they inhabit. Oysters are always “local”. If you are in the UK, go for Native if you can, rather than Rock (but both are good). Most types of Oyster (apart from deep sea ones) don’t make pearls. I know, bugger isn’t it? 2 I am an “ostreaphile” – an oyster lover. Get me. 3 …

Welbeck Pudding – more batter, more Bramleys…..

Nottinghamshire traditionally had a reputation for excellent batter puddings. Welbeck Pudding is no exception but it is unusual as it features a flour-free batter  (which is a bit like a souffle or meringue topping) with the Nottinghamshire Bramley Apple as its base. What’s not to like? Well, actually, I have slightly altered the original recipe I found as it didn’t work for me with so little milk. Welbeck itself (see my post on the Harley Cafe and Welbeck  Estate) is in North Nottinghamshire and from the 18th Century formed part of the “Dukeries”, the great estates  and Royal hunting grounds around Sherwood Forest owned by 5 Dukes. Welbeck Abbey, home to the Dukes of Portland, is a vast and architecturally complex mansion, with a network of mysterious underground tunnels. It stands on the site of the original Abbey which is thought to date back to 1153. I cannot find any reference to why Welbeck Pudding is named after the House, perhaps one of the cooks developed it as someone in the family had a wheat intolerance (as …

Huge New York Breakfasts – Rue 57, Mid-Town Manhatten – American, French Brasserie with Sushi Bar. Yep. Really

Our last day in New York, so we needed setting up for the long day ahead. We had spotted this a few days earlier and decided, given that the rain (the only rain we had all week) had put paid to our notion of boating in Central Park we would treat ourselves to a leisurely breakfast. Rue 57 is just a few blocks from Central Park in Mid-town Manhattan (I am getting the hang of this, of you see), and a short walk from our hotel. Executive Chef, Rich Robson has brought a bit of Asian influence to traditional European dishes and then thrown in a large dose of American. The thing about American Breakfasts I have found, is this – they are huge. Even American, French, Asian ones, are huge.   Daughter tried to go light with a Smoked Salmon, cream cheese and tomato Bagel, she’s a growing lass and she loved it, but couldn’t finish it. I went with gloriously indulgent Eggs Florentine with Bacon, Spinach and Shitake mushrooms. It was so huge …

Katz’s Deli, well, you kinda get what you deserve…

Now, I know this isn’t very cool, but this is such a famous deli, infamous from the Harry met Sally film (which I have never seen, but I am familiar with the scene in the deli, just as everyone is) and, I haven’t eaten much traditional Jewish food, that I thought, “what the hell, we’re tourists, got to be done”. So we did.   Katz’s is quite an experience. For a start, it’s a tardis. It looks like your average corner shop/deli from the outside but inside it is vast, and it is heaving. The minute you enter the door you are assailed by the bright lights, the huge numbers of people trying to get in and trying to get out, the huge bouncers on the door and the hollering staff, herding you between counters and serviced tables. You are handed a ticket per person in your party on entry – with no explanation as to why, but warned on pain of death you will be fined 50 dollars if you lose one, and possibly …

Table 30 at 21 Club – where Bogart met Bacall

Heard of the 21 Club, or just “21” as it is often known? you probably have, and if you haven’t you have probably seen it or heard of it in one of the 40 or so films and TV series it has featured or been referenced in.  21 Club is a New York icon. It is one of the last remaining original New York “Speakeasies”. It opened in 1930 at 21 West 52nd Street and was raided many times during the prohibition period, although the owners were apparently never caught. A system of levers was used to tip the shelves of the bar so that the bottles of booze would slide down a chute and into the city’s sewers if a police raid was underway. The Club also had a secret wine cellar located (and still located) in the basement of the neighbouring building (which was previously accessed through a hidden door in a brick wall). 21 is also a haunt for movies stars, Presidents and celebrities (although apparently President Obama hasn’t yet made it …