Eric Chavot swears on Saturday Kitchen – I get traffic!

The Capital Hotel’s Eric Chavot played a blinder on last weekend’s Saturday Kitchen. He was amusing, watchable and enigmatic, and the dish he created looked fab. Shame he let slip the f-word towards the end of the show and thus gave the Daily Mail free rein to vilify him …

My terribly clever WordPress dashboard registered a healthy dollop of traffic around Eric’s name after the programme, which spurred me to explore the chefs and cookery writers delivering the best footfall for me on this blog. So, pop pickers, here is my top ten of Lewis blog foodies. Dah Dah, da-da Dah, der der der, der der der, Dah Dah, da-da Dah … etc.

But what does this tell me about the relative pulling power of food stars, and the nature of chefdom, apart from the fact that I should clearly cook a dish from Marcella’s classical Italian repertoire every night if I want to grow my audience?

First, isn’t it interesting that two of the darlings of the food scene, Fergus and Alain, are way off the pace? Both are great chefs, and Alain occupies a place in the stratosphere of chef legends; but clearly their entrails and extravagance haven’t struck a chord with my visitors. Could it be that few domestic fridges harbour foie gras or trotters?

Second, how revealing that the top three should be booktastic, all, Madhur and Marcella having forged long and glittering literary careers from producing standard texts, Jun having only weeks ago brought out a popular new tome, Simple to Sensattional?

The message is that producing books of recipes that are attainable, tasty and rooted in a specific regional cuisine ensures a loyal following. In years to come, Jun (a really nice fellow) might have built up such a canon or work. Meanwhile, I would expect his name to be searched on less and less in the coming weeks, as more of his peers bring out new books. Ah, but “Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate”.

[The post was brought to you by Emily Dickinson and WordPress]

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How Fergus Henderson messed with the vernacular of cookbooks

fergus-hendersonTurning through Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson of St John Restaurant is a revelation, from both a culinary and a linguistic viewpoint. Not having a snout, ear or brain to hand, I haven’t as yet tried any of his fascinating recipes (bear with me, I shall.) But if they taste anywhere near as good as they read – sparse, dry, unfussy, expressive of hearty dining – they’ll be fantastic. Here are ten great one-liners and turns of phrase from the book. Some sound like centuries-old adages.

  • Once you have your clear broth, reheat, meanwhile placing the garlic leaves in the bottom of the soup bowl or bowls. Pour the hot soup over these, give them a few moments to get to know each other, then eat.
  • Finish off with a healthy topping of parsley, dropped in the dumper-truck style (rather than sprinkled) onto the floating toast. Now eat.
  • One whole fresh chilli (optional, but a good addition as if kept whole it will give a subliminal warmth, a mysterious wayhey).
  • Now remove the collar from its winey bath, and dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel.
  • Serve with swede mash (if possible made with goose or duck fat). The pink ham and the orange swede look like a sunset on a plate.
  • Visually, as well as gastronomically, there is a great serenity to a plate of tripe and onions.
  • You have got the gamey meat, the soothing, nutty chickpea, and the stimulating gnya of the spring onions.
  • There is nothing finer, after having a good stock up your sleeve, than having a reserve of chutney.
  • Eat with Mayonnaise that is not too stiff, as this does not make a friendly partner for your crab.
  • Splash and rub your rabbit with oil, season enthusiastically, then surround with dried fennel twigs from end to end and tummy to back (so it starts to look like a scene from the Whicker Man).
  • I believe it is important to have the parsley sauce in a jug so the eaters can express themselves with their pouring.

[This post was brought to you by a grapefruit candle and the occasional glance at an LS Lowry harbour scene.]