9 items from 2011
It's the time of year when TV chefs are forced into the kitchen to roast fowl. But what makes the perfect Christmas food programme – and which of this year's offerings are closest to it?
Ah, the festive feast that is the Christmas food "special", where any chef who has been on TV in the past 12 months is forced back into the kitchen, shoehorned into wintery garb, and made to stay there until they've come up with a new way to stuff a turkey. (As every television producer must eventually learn: there's nothing festive about novelty. The chef might want to showcase a quite brilliant Polish recipe for carp in aspic – the audience bays for roasted fowl.)
Given that the main course of all of these programmes consists of the same half-dozen recipes – also featuring "really crispy" spuds, a quirkily-shaped mincemeat confection and something mulled which includes at least two ingredients »
- Felicity Cloake
'Hog warts, after all, are exactly the kind of ingredient that would slot snugly into Heston's Blumenthal's repertoire'
Wizzard's Roy Wood and Lapland-based burglars aren't the only ones who wish Christmas came daily. Now that the religious, domestic and emotional significance of the season has been parlayed into the kind of ballooning household expenditure usually associated with national defence budgets, big brands can't wait to put their stamps on it. This year, Waitrose has co-opted some relatively new iconography: Harry Potter. Hog warts, after all, are exactly the kind of ingredient that would slot snugly into Heston's Blumenthal's repertoire, paired with gnat cataracts and shavings of unicorn verruca, perhaps.
Here, inside the slightly prosaic "Waitrose School of Christmas Magic" we observe Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith as teachers. In Heston's case his trademark precision and imagination have degraded into a self-imprisoned, Dr Moreau-esque distraction. Streams of lab assistants prepare the »
- Rhik Samadder
Delia Smith Cbe – Britain’s best selling cookery writer and joint majority shareholder in Norwich City Football Club – has been named as a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation at a dinner to raise funds for the charity.
Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Ball at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, also raised money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Lady Elsie Robson is taking the opportunity to announce Delia’s new role.
Lady Elsie says: "After my husband died I asked a small group of friends if they would help support our ongoing efforts fighting cancer through the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Delia was one of those people and, very kindly, she immediately agreed. Since then we’ve been waiting for an appropriate occasion to announce her support.
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Like an old friend you haven’t seen for a while, the Premiership is back. Last week was a novelty, stirring the old emotions, nostalgia in the air, recounting those glorious moments from seasons passed. Now, already it’s taken for granted, consumed once again by the utter banality that is the routine of existence. Still, we love it all the same right?
On that cheerful note, here is the weekend round up.
The first game to kick off the day was every pie seller’s dream, the Tyne-Wear derby. It was the 145th time these two had met in a competitive fixture, not particularly anything in the way of a landmark number but still, I’m never one to pass up on the sharing of pointless trivia. Sunderland have spent the majority of the Premiership years living in the shadow of their once (sort of) illustrious (kind of) neighbours, »
- Jack Hussey
Ferran Adrià today closes his award-winning restaurant El Bulli. Are we coming to the end of our love affair with liquid nitrogen and molecular gastronomy?
Ferran Adrià is not closing El Bulli, the world's (ex-) best restaurant, tonight, he is simply "changing, moving on … improving", a process that involves, erm, closing it. It will reopen as a "creativity centre" in 2014. He announced this decision two years ago, the reason given being that it loses half a million euros a year. Insiders counter that it was a kind of loss-leader, the high concept of the place cross-fertilising other ventures. Or, as Joe Warwick, co-founder of The World's 50 Best Restaurants by Restaurant Magazine, put it: "He has so many commercial endorsements coming out of his arse, I can't believe he's short of money." He meant it in a nice way.
There was a second reason given, though, which was the weight of »
- Zoe Williams
Agave nectar, Mexican chilli sauce and wheat-free noodles: it's a gourmand's delight in Gwyneth's kitchen
This week, Gwyneth Paltrow appeared at the London Roundhouse to run through the store cupboard essentials from her new cookbook. We've come a long way since Delia Smith who, memorably, always has capers in her larder. Paltrow's least esoteric ingredient is olive oil. The rest, you might be able to find, but will you know what to do with it?
Light agave nectar: in terms of viscosity, a cross between sap and honey, this is a sweetener produced at a low temperature and, like so many foods deriving from the Mexican plant world (tacos and, um, cheese), it has a low GI; it's an excellent solution, then, if you are a raw foodist who is prone to weight gain.
Sriracha: a tasty chilli sauce for people who don't want to say "chilli sauce" because it »
- Zoe Williams
Jamie Oliver has been named as the TV chef most British people trust. The celebrity cook - famed for his drive to encourage people to eat healthier - beat his contemporaries including Delia Smith, The Hairy Bikers, James Martin and Nigella Lawson to take the top spot in the Reader's Digest Most Trusted Brands 2011 survey of 2,357 people. However, while Jamie has the trust of the British population, he does not appear to be faring so well in America, where 'Jamie's Food Revolution' has been temporarily replaced with recaps of celebrity reality show 'Dancing With the Stars' after suffering »
Rosemary Gill, who has died aged 80, was part of the team that redefined the popular BBC children's television series Blue Peter in the 1960s. The programme had a weekly postbag of around 8,000 letters, which, as well as competition entries, included countless ideas from children about what they wanted from the programmes being made for them. These inspired the Saturday-morning show that Rose produced in the following decade, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.
Rose knew how much children enjoyed swapping things. The TV programme Z-Shed, an experimental phone-in series inviting viewers to talk to experts about matters such as bullying, homework and pocket money, had proved how good children were on the phone – they were far less waffly than many adults. That show's presenter, Noel Edmonds, was a young, long-haired DJ from Radio 1 with minimal TV experience.
For a nation that doesn't know how to eat properly, why are Britons so obsessed with cooking shows and celebrity chefs?
Why do we have so many cookery shows? I mean, it's not as if we're a nation of gourmets? Business at Greggs is booming. We live off crisps and biscuits. Chicken Cottage is spreading across the British high street like food poisoning. (I am reminded of Mark's reflection when he succumbs to a KFC in Peep Show: "Here I am, eating food out of a bucket, like a human horse").
Such culinary delights give lie to the myth – perpetuated by the legions of evangelic, egomaniacal TV cooks – that they are in any way "educating" or inspiring us. And yet the rash of cooking programmes continues unabated.
This week alone sees new series of Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets, Heston's Mission Impossible, and Jamie's Dream School. The two burglars who present »
- Jim Shelley
9 items from 2011
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