Lunch, from DeBeauvoir Deli.
The Gannets love this soup. There is something utterly comforting about the creamy whiteness of it, and it’s perfect for this time of year. So easy to make and so impressive to serve. If you are serving this as a starter for guests it’s easy to make the day before and refrigerates well for at least 2 days. Simply reheat and prepare fresh garnish. A bowl served with some fresh crusty bread and butter makes a wonderful lunch.
Recipe after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
The Gannets have dreamt of such an adventure for years!
In October 2011, Molly Baz, a New York chef working at a Michelin-starred restaurant, set out with her photographer father Doug Baz on a road trip through large swathes of the American South. Molly and her father photoblogged the entire journey which NPR has covered in a delightful interview on All Things Considered.
The Gannets were recently down on the Wales/England border doing some work. To treat ourselves at the end of the week we decided to find a good farm shop to take a haul back to London with us. One clever Gannet remembered that Trealy Farm Charcuterie was located in Monmouthshire (where we were working), but we were disappointed to find out they didn’t have a any kind of retail shop. Another, even cleverer Gannet got on the phone and hunted down the Trealy Farm office, and charmed them into letting us visit their distribution office near Usk…. and so off we set.
Trealy Farm is an artisan business using traditional methods of curing, smoking and air-drying, along with some modern innovations and technology, to produce wonderful meaty goodness which is rarely produced in the UK. Delicious salamis, chorizos, air-dried and hot-cured products made with lamb, pork, beef, wild boar, venison and rabbit. All of their products are produced from traditional breed, free-range animals sourced from their own farm or other select local farms.
We found owner James Swift charming and agreeable, and happy to discuss his work as well as ours! (Apparently he was a music critic before he was a charcuterist.) (Which isn’t a word, btw, but should be.)
The photo above is only part of The Gannet’s total haul, which included lots of salami (fennel, wild boar, veal & lemon, sobrasada, pepperoni, chorizo), boudin noir, Bath chaps, beef pastrami, air-dried ham, beef and pork, and cured sausages (toulouse, fennel and chorizo).
Apparently Trealy Farm don’t have an outlet in London and rarely get to any of the markets, though they have plans to try out Broadway Market in Hackney soon. We seriously considered whether we should give up our weekends to selling sausages for them. Maybe just give up everything else and sell sausages for a living. As we joked with James.. you can’t download a salami!
Correction: A recent trip to Wales took us within 25 miles of Trealy Farm, so we took a big detour from Monmouth out past Usk to visit and pick up some of their delicious charcuterie. James, the co-owner, was very gracious and managed to gather the vast quantities of our Gannet-style order, which was then augmented to heroic proportions through the addition of our travelling companion’s selections.
After a full day’s rest, I felt up to cooking something and this morning’s order was bacon butties, a bacon sandwich usually made with big slices of bread, dollops of ketchup and a “fair amount” of bacon. They are very popular in the UK and go by many names.
The Trealy Farm “Monmouthshire cure” bacon has a good amount of fat on it, which is where all the flavour is. I fried the bacon in its own fat over a medium/medium high flame to get the fat to crisp up properly. Fat renders fat, so I once enough had rendered, I took each piece of bacon, tilted the cast-iron skillet and held each rind underneath the fat until the rind was well-cooked. After I sliced the fresh French loaf from our bread machine and laid out the bacon, I removed the excess bacon fat from the pan, turned off the heat and deglazed the pan with ketchup, mixing and reducing the bacon-y ketchup mixture until it became a thick paste. A dollop of that went on each piece of bread, and laid out four pieces of the thick bacon on one half, topping it with the second slice.
The Gannets have frequently visited the lovely town of Hereford and environs over the last few years, but this plucky city has been eclipsed by its neighbours where food is concerned–at least if the chaotic consensus of internet fora can be believed. Poor Hereford, so close to Ludlow and Abergavenny and so far away from fine dining! It is within this context that we were very pleasantly surprised by Thai on Wye on West Street, right in the centre of town. We had just finished a hard day at work and were looking forward to a good meal. In the spirit of keeping our options open, we decided to give all the restaurants on our short list a once-over, but we were especially intrigued by the reviews the two Thai restaurants in the town centre had received on the various review sites. It was still a coin toss from the look of the menus, but we opted for Thai on Wye after I noticed there were actual Thai people eating there who did not appear to be staff or the staff’s family members.
As we were sitting down, we received a warm welcome by the only server in the restaurant that evening. She proved to be very much “on the ball” and made sure we had everything we needed the whole evening. Her friendliness and attentiveness, along with the top quality of the food at Thai on Wye were the main reasons we returned there for another meal two nights later and why we can recommend them without reservation. This is simply the best Thai food we have had in the UK. Yay Hereford!
There are many choices on the menu, which could use a bit of re-organisation, perhaps by grouping the dishes together according to course and style rather than by main ingredient (usually meat). In fact, the menu started off with the best method, but got a little lost. We feel most people order according to style, and it has the knock-on benefit of keeping vegetarians out of the “veg ghetto” located at the end of the menu. Nonetheless, we spotted a few favourites and proceeded to order far too much–we are Gannets, after all.
The tom yum goong sour and spicy prawn soup was excellent–this deceptively simple dish is usually our litmus test for Thai restaurants. The yam nua beef salad was slightly less piquant and just as delicious. The see krong moo op, or spare ribs in sauce were succulent, with the meat so tender it nearly fell off the bone.
Our server asked us how spicy we would like each dish; spicy was spicy.
Our mains were a comforting yellow curry with chicken, ped makham crispy duck (which the menu recommends), and beef mussaman (mad sa man), which was wonderful and would have been just as good with some local lamb. All of the flavours were distinct and the freshness of the ingredients really came through.
The star of the show turned out to be the crispy duck. It had a lovely tamarind sauce, with the right balance of sweetness to off-set the sourness of the tamarind. It was so good, we ordered it the second night as well, along with a dish our server recommended–pla manow sea bass in a sweet sauce made with lemon juice and chiles.
The Gannets will be in Monmouth soon, which isn’t far away from Hereford at all. Thai on Wye should be expecting us for a third round, this time with reinforcements!
Thai on Wye
15 West Street
Hereford HR4 0BX
Telephone +44 1432 376769
I have been on a quest to find meals which take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Again – the heat of the British “Summer” and the fact that I’ve been working lots of hours lately just mean I don’t want to be in the kitchen much. This meal is again inspired by Olive magazine (who seem to have come up trumps this month. I don’t rate my presentation much, much the flavour was fantastic.
- Pork steaks – 300 g (I used pork loin)
- Chinese five spice powder – 2 tbsp
- red chilli – 1, sliced
- spring onions – 1/2 a bunch. sliced (white parts only)
- yellow or red pepper – 1, cut into chunks
- babvycorn – 100 g, cut into chunks or left whole, as you like
- mange tout – 100 g
- cashews – 100 g
- tofu – 300 g, cut into chunks
- seasame oil – 2 tbsp
- groundnut oil – 1 tbsp
- Cut the pork steaks into small chunks or strips and toss in 1 tbsp of the five spice powder (a freezer bag is good for this).
- Likewise sprinkle the tofu with the remaining five spice – you will need to be a bit gentle with the tofu or it will disintegrate into crumbs!
- Heat a wok or non-stick frying pan and briefly toast the cashew nuts in the dry pan until slightly brown. Set aside.
- Add the groundnut oil, then toss the pork in and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the sesame oil to the pan and fry the tofu, gently turning until it begins to crisp up nicely. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the chilli, spring onions, pepper and vegetables. Stir fry for about 1 minute.
- Add a splash (about 3 tbsp) of water and cook until the vegetables are just tender.
- Return the pork and tofu to the pan just long enough to heat everything through. Add the cashew nuts last. Season to taste.
- Serve over rice or noodles with soy sauce or chilli flakes on the side.
We have been having Summer in London this past week (well, apart from the day where it pelted down). For those of you outside the UK, that means the temperature has climbed all the way up into the 80′s and London has slowed down. It’s not so much that the 80′s is so hot (sorry that’s about 30 Celsius for those of you who have converted to the New Math) but that (a) we’re in the city, and (b) the city has no air conditioning. I think Harrod’s might have air conditioning, but you have to ride on the tube where the temperature is just a few degrees above Hell to get there, so most of us don’t bother.
Warm days of course mean wanting to spend less time in the kitchen, but as we’re cutting down on our takeaways in this house, and we still want to eat, we have to do something. This salad, though it does involve a bit of time near some hot pans, is pretty quick and painless and it was a big hit with Him Indoors, who said “that’s my kind of salad, baby”. Meaning of course that the ratio of green stuff to bacon was acceptable for him. It’s inspired by a recipe from Olive magazine, though I took sufficient liberties so as to feel it’s my intellectual property.
Ingredients (Serves two gannets generously)
- new potatoes 750gm (organic if possible)
- eggs 4
- pancetta 140gm (more or less is fine too)
- olive oil 3 tbsp
- mustard 1 tbsp (dijon or anything but bright yellow stuff)
- red wine vinegar 3 tbsp
- rocket 150gm (or watercress, pea shoots, anything you like)
- Boil the potatoes until just tender.
- Boil the eggs for 5-7 minutes. Or if you are truly lazy and saving on washing up, just put the eggs in the same pot as the potatoes about 1 minute before they are done. Turn off the heat, scoop the potatoes out into a colander using a slotted spoon and leave the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 6 minutes.
- Once the potatoes have cooled (run them under cold water if you’re in a hurry), slice them in half or in quarters lengthwise.
- For the dressing (do this whenever you have 2 minutes to spare) mix the mustard, vinegar and olive oil together. Use the proportions that you find most pleasing, more vinegar if you like a tang, etc. I used a lovely “dragon’s breath” mustard which was made with paprika, garlic and horseradish – yum. Just what you like, but avoid bright yellow American mustard or English mustard of course.
- Heat the pan and cook the pancetta until nice and crispy and brown. Remove to a side dish temporarily.
- Put the potatoes into the hot pancetta grease and fry until nicely brown (how brown is a matter of taste – I like golden for this salad, otherwise it becomes more like chips with salad dressing, which is a step too far even for me).
- While the potatoes are cooking, peel the eggs and slice them in quarters.
- When the potatoes are done, stir the pancetta back in for 30 seconds to warm it up.
- Put the potatoes and pancetta into a big bowl along with the rocket and add the dressing. Toss it all together and season to taste.
- Plate it up and place the segments of egg on top.