Bibliocook - All About Food Blog
Growing up in a household where Punjabi rotia and English casseroles each had their own places, Vicky Bhogal revels in placing ingredients from different cultures side by side. In the introduction to Flavour, she talks about making the most of imported as well as local foods, explaining her own democratic approach to ingredients. She revels in comforting risotto as much the tartness of tamarind, the garam masala of her Indian childhood used as much as Italian peccorino.
Last year, on a trip to London, I picked up a spork – a light plastic utensil which features a spoon at one end, fork at the other and serrated knife edge on the fork side – in a kitchenware shop and I’ve rarely been without it since. The last quarter of 2008 was taken up with train trips to Dublin as I worked on the Foodtalk documentary series and, food on the train being what it is – or isn’t – my spork was invaluable.
When we were in college, the Brother’s Housemate came from a catering household. His mother used to make hundreds of superb Christmas cakes and puddings each year, cook for parties and events and, most importantly to us, make the best Caramel Squares known to students.Living on an unbroken biscuit diet of Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers – our habitual study food (oh, the excitement when a white chocolate variety came on the market) – these were manna from heaven. Every time the Brother’s Housemate was able to sneak or was given (we never knew, never asked) a box of them, we would descend on his house like a plague of biscuit-seeking locusts.
I wrote last week about the smoked trout from Old Millbank Smokehouse in Buttevant. If you’re interested in picking some up, Geraldine will have her stall at the Mallow Food Festival on Sunday 23 August with plenty of trout, salmon and some of her fantastic pates and fishcakes. Many of my favourite traders will also be there, including Arun Kapil‘s Green Saffron, wafting gorgeous smells of curry down the street, Gudrun Shinick’s Fermoy Natural Cheese, the Baking Emporium (make sure you pick up a pack of their fantastic spelt cheese crackers) and skin care products that are good enough to eat from Shirley’s Herbal Care. There will also be baking from Nibbles Food Emporium, tasty snacks from Allan’s Crepes and Tom’s Sushi alongside a selection of ethnic foods from the Caribbean (The Joy Store), Lithuania (Vias) and Thailand (Thai Lanna).
When we had the Mallow Farmers’ Market taking place outside Urru last summer, I never missed the chance to pick up a pack of Old Millbank Smokehouse hot smoked trout from Geraldine Bass. Saturday mornings in work were always busy so I had to watch for a gap between customers to make a dive out of the shop before all the good stuff was gone. Geraldine would also have her smoked salmon and, for a real treat, some very fine smoked salmon pâté but I always made a beeline for the trout, a much underrated ingredient and one that I’d pick any day over smoked salmon.
From Burdass-Reared Wold’s lamb to Ampleforth Abbey Apple Tart Tatin, Andrew Pern’s Black Pudding and Foie Gras is as firmly rooted in the food of Yorkshire as his Michelin-stared establishment is embedded in the village of Harome. Andrew’s Star Inn is a 14th century country pub in North Yorkshire which opened 13 years ago. He laughs as he recalls that it all started with just three people – himself in the kitchen, his wife Jacquie working front of house and her mother behind the bar. Now they run a total of seven interlinked businesses in Harome, including self catering cottages, a deli and a butcher’s shop, employing some 120 people.
I’ve always liked to bake. As soon as I was old enough to co-ordinate reading recipes and using a wooden spoon, I was anxious for any cake-making excuse – and most of them involved copious amounts of chocolate. Over the years there have been many good chocolate cakes, from my early attempts using chocolate-flavoured cake covering and marg to (when I started paying for my own shopping!) butter and 70% dark chocolate. This cake, however, although it may not look like much, stands head and shoulders above the rest.