Fragrant Crispy Pork Belly with Parsnip Puree

My wife showed me some pictures my youngest sister posted on Facebook last night. She and her husband (check that; her husband – my youngest sister is married. How old am I?) treated themselves to a trip to The Fat Duck, home of the food wizard-cum-scientist Heston Blooming-utter-nutter-thal or whatever his name is.

She noted that the menu took about three hours to get through, which it should do given it’s £200-a-head. The pictures of the food items looked very familiar – and they are to many foodies of course because you see them on TV – whisky jellies, snail porridge (which looked alarmingly green – I mean like fluorescent green), various foams, foggy mist-like creations and so on.

Heston Blumenthal is an interesting character – well known over here in Blightly; elsewhere I don’t know. He is the antithesis of the better known Gordon Ramsay. Where ‘G’ is a shouty, sweary cartoon-like creation, Hessie is more menacing – shaven-headed, thick rimmed spectacles, piercing stare.

But my personal preference in the celebrity cook stakes is Tom Kerridge. A man mountain, Kerridge cooks things that I can relate to – food you can find in a gastropub. Things like bacon joints braised in maple syrup, carrots cooked in loads of salt, butter and sugar…you get the idea.

But just because it’s food that you understand, and looks like something you recognise, doesn’t make it any easier to cook. Oh no. Try pork belly.

IMG_2053

Continue reading

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Additional Bacon (because one pig ingredient is never enough)

You know when you do something by the numbers? To the letter. You don’t deviate from the path. You follow the instructions. Step-by-step.

And it still goes wrong. It doesn’t work, or it tastes weird, whatever it might be.

Sometimes I actually quite enjoy it when things go wrong. Take my ‘homemade Crunchie bar’. Total disaster but much more interesting reading than if it had gone to plan. Or my ‘prolapsed pear and chocolate pastry’. Looked like it had erupted; great picture!

But for my latest attempt at recreating something I saw being made on TV, it wasn’t that it didn’t look right, it just didn’t taste that great. It was like my school reports – ‘Could have done better’.

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Lentils and Bacon ticks most of the boxes for me – I mean there’s pork belly and bacon in there, so what’s not to like?

IMG_9761

Continue reading

Why I drove for six and a half hours to eat Sticky Asian Pork Belly

A few weeks ago I visited a company in Devon, to see whether we wanted to buy them. It being mid-August I couldn’t decide whether it would be better to drive down or get the train. I mean the train is, in theory, quicker, easier and less stressful than driving.

In reality though, getting the train is a pain in the arse. To get to the station you have to cross London, which takes longer than getting from London to Devon. This country lacks in many ways, but nothing worse than public transport.

So I drove. 168 miles. Took 3 hours. On a Thursday afternoon in the holiday season that’s not so bad. Me in a suit, everyone else in shorts and towing caravans.

The road to England’s very own holiday region is great, so long as you don’t use it in the holiday season. Someone even wrote about it:

the-a303

The A303 is one of those wonderful British roads that the authorities have semi-modernised; it goes from one lane to two lanes and then back to one lane and so on and so forth. The result is a total pain in the arse as you stop and go with traffic filtering and everyone slowly getting pissed off.

Then there is Stonehenge. It sits a few hundred yards from the road about 80 miles from London. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting England for the first time, but you wouldn’t go back. Yet everyone slows down to look at it as they drive past. It’s a bunch of rocks people. Rocks. Back in the day you could sit on them and eat your sandwiches. Nowadays the local History Police shoot on sight if you get within 100 yards.

Stoned

Stonehenge – Rocks and Nutjobs

It’s weird going to the South West of England on business. Normally you go there for holidays. I met my colleague and we went to a pub restaurant (the Harbour Inn) in Lyme Regis. I had Sticky Asian Pork Belly.

IMG_8568

A revelation. Delicious. Sublime.

Continue reading

Monkey Magic – Red Braised Ginger Pork Belly with Pickled Chillies

A while ago Conor Bofin (he of the man meat) posted about monkfish and linked it to a distant TV program called ‘Kung Fu’, starring David Carradine (I could right now go off on a random tangent about Mr Carradine and his nocturnal activities but seeing how this is a ‘food blog’, I suppose I shouldn’t). I used to watch that show and it reminded me of another, less well known program, called ‘Monkey’. (Honestly watch this, the music gets really groovy, for 1978).

Continue reading