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Thanksgiving for one - What would you make?

Similar to someone upthread - I'm an ex-pat Kiwi in London, so no Thanksgiving but I have done a Christmas Day alone. Potted shrimps on melba toast with buck's fizz for breakfast, cured meats, cheese, stuffed vine leaves, olives and more champagne during the day, then an early dinner of duck.

I watched Gone With the Wind, skyped friends and family, got pleasantly tipsy and had a great day.

about 20 hours ago
ultimatepotato in Home Cooking

Returning food too often customer banned

I'll bet nothing has to change on the plate for her to be satisfied, as it sounds like a control/power issue manifesting itself in ridiculous behaviour.

A group of my friends meet up occassionally at a curry house we used to live around the corner from. The food is great, but very very rich, so I'll usually order too much and leave with a shopping bag full of take out containers. Last time we were there my favourite waiter said "and will you need the plates today, or would madame just like it to go from the start?". He's amazing. And this anecdote means nothing, except I bet that Raj from Paramount could put this 'lady' in her place.

Gordon Ramsay: Victim of Sabtotage or Publicity Stunt?

Curious as to whether this was official opening night or the soft opening. I got invited to book for the soft launch (to clarify I had signed up to the mailing list, I wasn't "invited" invited) and when I put in my expression of interest I was told that the soft launch was already full, but they welcomed me to make a reservation for once the restaurant was officially open (obviously at full price).

Maybe this rubbed people up the wrong way and they filled up the slots intending not to go. It seems a strange tactic to me, even if it was one single rival - is the rival going to block book forever until Ramsay goes out of business?

Edit - just read my emails - the soft opening was on a Friday, and the article mentions Saturday, so it must have been the real opening.

Four meals in Edinburgh. Looking for some tips.

Was in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago - 2 great meals at Café St Honore http://www.cafesthonore.com/ and Fisher's http://www.fishersbistros.co.uk/ - we went to the branch in Leith, then realised there was one down the road from where we were staying on Thistle St, very close to St Honore.

Nov 12, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Man eating nothing but Olive Garden speaks out: “I have not had one meal that was not just perfect”

There's something a bit strange about his phrasing. I'm not going to yell "shill", but his comments do read a little like a PR firm has been tasked with putting together a script to appeal to a target market.

The only thing that really grinds my gears is the comment about not gaining weight because he ate Gluten Free pasta.

Special Lunch in London

http://www.launcestonplace-restaurant...

Might fit the bill for you - I haven't eaten there recently (over a year ago) and had a delicious lunch. Opentable still says that they have space available, and this is noted on the website as addiditional opening hours (which fits in with your days):

"Please note, throughout December, we will be open on Monday evenings for dinner and Tuesdays for lunch."

Nov 07, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

new some new soupspiration...

Sweetcorn and chipotle, red bean and rice (I've put together one before and thought 'I may as well have just opened a tin of Amy's Kitchen because that stuff is great') West African Peanut Soup, Tom Kha Pak and lots of variations on spicy thai flavours with coconut milk, tofu, rice or rice noodles - they're all relatively easy to keep vegan if you blend your own spice pastes.

I also do a jerk chicken soup which is potatoes, black-eyed peas, coconut milk, jerk paste, rice, stock, coriander and chicken - I'm sure it would be quite hearty with replacing the chicken with another type of bean.

Wonderful "not fancy" asian places in London ?

+1 on Rib Man and The Frenchie (Duck Confit)

I tend to head through Spitalfields itself, pick up a few baked goods and sweets there, hit the Sunday Upmarket, then head down Brick Lane.

My technique is to go early, go hungry, take plenty of cash and get the heck out of there by 1pm. Some people love the slowly moving crowd - I'm little and it just frustrates me when I get pegged in.

Oct 14, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Interesting "foodie supplies" stores in London – spices, bulk choholate, speciality cheeses etc..

I think you mean New Loon Moon for the store in Chinatown.

Oct 14, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Eatery around Convent Garden

Do you have a style of restaurant and a budget in mind?

Rules and Simpsons on the strand - traditional British
Meat Market - burgers
Opera Tavern and Polpo - tapas
Hawksmoor - steak
Mishkins - Jewish-style deli
Sticks 'n'Sushi - erm, sticks and sushi
J Sheeky - seafood

Sep 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

MasterChef Canada coming to Cooking Channel

If it's the debut season that has just recently played in the UK, then it's fun enough to watch. Some of the contestants are bat-shit crazy (keep an eye out for Kaila, when I first saw her I would have sworn it was Crazy Amy from the Amy's Baking Co episode of Kitchen Nightmares).

The most entertaining and knowledgable of the judges is Alvin Leung. The challenges themselves - I think they were heavy on pastry/desserts and not as focused on perfecting skills as the UK version - however, that could all very much be in the edit.

I had no idea immersion blenders were so dangerous!

I was once sitting in the ER waiting room with a broken wrist, next to a man holding his hand in a bloody rag.

He'd put his hand into the lawn mower blade.

While it was running.

People have a great capacity to do stupid things even when our brains are shouting "what are you doing, you moron?"

And seeing as I'd broken my wrist horizontal bungy-jumping, and had snuck past the minimum height/weight chart, I included myself in the stupid club that day. Me and One-hand McGee, chilling out in the ER, reflecting on our life choices.

Table etiquettes in France - anything to watch out for those from New Zealand?

Advice from a fellow kiwi - please note that this is Paris-centric:

In most casual to mid-level places, you won't need to wait and be shown to a table. Walking in and asking for a table will generally just be met with a polite "of course, please take a seat", or if you want to sit outside then usually you would just sit at a table. A waiter will then come and greet you and offer a menu.

Service is relaxed. A bill is usually not presented until you ask for it, and you aren't hurried out. Lingering over a coffee or glass of wine (I'm often a solo diner in Paris and like to take my time) has never gotten me shifted along, only some friendly advice to make sure that my bag is secured.

There aren't too many strange rules, or pieces of cutlery, unless you happen to order snails or crustaceans, then you might receive tongs, crackers and special forks.

Tipping is quite normalised, but is not excessive - a few euros to round the bill up, rather than any kind of mathematic equation of food bill - tax + drinks less mark-up to the square root of 3. Service is often included - simply ask.

The stereotype of rudeness from Parisians is not something that I have witnessed with any frequency. I only know a handful of phrases in French, that I use in an attrocious accent, and usually it gets me a smile for making a lame effort and a response in perfect English. The only server who I can actually remember being rude to me was a waitress. She was simply in a bad mood because I was after a late lunch and she wanted to have a break before dinner service - this was explained to me by the nice chef who delivered my lunch when grumpy-pants flounced off. He stayed to have a glass of wine and tried (in vain) to teach me slightly better pronounciation.

Whenever in doubt, use the Kiwi card. Declaring "thank you so much for your help - I'm from the other side of the world" usually wins points and starts the inevitable conversation of what NZ is like.

Aug 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in France
1

Solo dining at the Fat Duck?

I can find reference to it on this blog post (2 years old) that says that you can't book for one: http://www.spottedbylocals.com/blog/s...

And this tripadvisor review - but also just over 2 years old:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUser...

I would still call them, but you may need to put an ad out for a dining companion.

Aug 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Would you give up cooking or eating?

I'd give up eating. Didn't have to think too long about it either!

Aug 14, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

Surar-free cake??? icing?? and no dyes??

Coconut cream - vegan, gluten free and you don't have to add sugar.

However - it's best when you use it to ice the cake right before you serve it. It is no-where near as stable as you can make buttercream.

Christmas Season in Europe

Bruges, Trier and Luxembourg City are some of the smaller places I've been close to Christmas. All beautiful.*

*The smell of glühwein/vin chaud makes everything christmassy and magical. The taste, not so much - but it does keep you warm!

Aug 12, 2014
ultimatepotato in Europe

Anyone familiar with Naked Wines?

I used them for a while in the UK after receiving a £50 voucher and had relatively good experiences - mostly I would accumulate a few months of cash in the account and buy a case for a party. I'm no wine buff, and my budget is in the cheaper range (£10 a bottle is what I'd spend in the supermaket).

My only negative - I closed my account because I moved to an apartment above a shop that had no where to drop a parcel if I wasn't in and was also located within a 5 minute walk of a Waitrose, Tesco Express, Budgens, Oddbins, Bottle Apostle and Spirited Wines branch. So....not really in the market for a delivery service without defined delivery slots. Anyway, I got a little bit fed up with the follow-up calls, especially as I told them that I was no longer able to receive deliveries.

No idea how the US outfit works for people, but I wouldn't have trouble backing the UK for people who have my kind of budget (not much) and knowledge level.

Aug 08, 2014
ultimatepotato in Wine

Worst Cooking show Buzzwords

Flavour profiles
Next level
A riff on...
Deconstructed
Fusion - that word, it doesn't mean what you think it means.

I Wish I'd Kept…

When I was 14 our family moved house (in NZ), and we did a huge clear out of things that had been hidden away in the extensive storage we had.

Out went a fondue pot, a set of saucepans and a set of casserole dishes. All still in the boxes, all barely used since my parents received them as wedding presents in 1977 (and in the stunning 70's style of bright orange and random floral and geometric patterns).

It all went to charity shops. I was about 21 when I realised that I wanted it all back. However, even if I had known that I wanted to keep them at aged 14, we wouldn't have had the room to keep them around until I moved out.

I could rectify the situation by hunting things down on ebay, in charity shops and at vintage markets, but it wouldn't really be the same. And it's crazy expensive in London now to go to "thrift" shops.

Jul 21, 2014
ultimatepotato in Cookware

OK..SO I HAVE A BAGEL...WHAT DO YOU PUT ON YOURS?

I usually have cream cheese with either prosciutto, bresaola, salami (favourite at the moment is brianza) or coppa, with some rocket or little gem lettuce.

Jul 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

What's your favorite way to cook?

I like to be alone in the kitchen with music playing and a big glass of wine. I like to start with clean surfaces (years of house sharing drove me up the wall) and clean as I go, also re-using things where I can (rinsed or washed inbetween uses) so I don't have 12 spoons and 7 small bowls and a glass jug to clean before I even get to the plates and main cooking dishes. After living on my own for 18 months, I've recently moved into a flat with a friend. She has quite the timing of wanting to get a glass of water just as I need to drain pasta, or wanting to get something from the cupboard I'm standing in front of while chopping things up. But I've known her for 12 years, and she's always done this, so it's quite easy to throw out a five minute check i.e. I'm going to need the sink in 5, so if you're thinking of water grab it now!

Much, much more manageable than some of my old flats, where people would decide that they needed to cook "right now" and just start crowding you. One old flat mate had a nasty habit of saying that my cooking was making him too hungry to wait, then he'd complain about the "meat juices" contaminating whatever he was trying to cook at the same time as me. I moved out before I snapped and took to him with a wooden spoon.

Overcooked Chicken Breasts - Help

Simmering doesn't do much for already cooked boneless/skinless breasts, as they lack the fats and connective tissue that softens in other meats. Once it's dry, it's dry.

However I'd still chop it and have it in chicken salad sandwiches, because I don't mind a good dollop of mayonaise. Add it to a soup with rice and sweetcorn, or as a pie filling, or like you said a sloppy joe. Cut it fine and surround it with plenty of liquid and other (nicer) textures.

bacon, avocados and cheese---oh my

Does it need to be hot? Is it part of a buffet spread? I'd think along the lines of small club sandwiches or mini bagels. Even pinwheels, although I know how much flak they can get on here thanks to gummy and/or dried out wraps. You can bake trays of bacon, use a soft cheese and either slice the avocado or mash with some citrus to stop the browning.

Also, just googled savoury avocado muffins, and this could be a good fit - http://www.food.com/recipe/avocado-an...

Jul 02, 2014
ultimatepotato in Home Cooking
1

Mastechef: The Professionals. Marcus takes over.

Oh yes. Chefs are the new rock stars, or something like that.

Jamie Oliver was my teenage dream, then I moved on to the moody bastards.

Jun 18, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Mastechef: The Professionals. Marcus takes over.

I'll miss Michel Roux - he was kind, even when critical, and his working relationship with Monica appeared to be warm and genuine.

I don't think Wareing is right for the show in the format used previously, but who knows how it will be edited? He has been used before to make the contestants wobbly with the fear of disappointing him, and they've commented in post interviews that he literally just appeared for the judging, said a few words about their efforts and then vanished - perhaps he'll now be protrayed as more of a mentor.

Also, I have an irrational crush on grumpy, arsehole-ish celeb chefs. I only got over my shameful fancying of Ramsay when he started to do more and more of his formulaic American shows (nothing against Americans, it was the production company that stuck so doggedly to an awful 'concept' and Ramsay who signed a contract). So yes, I find Wareing attractive. Even though I know I shouldn't.

Jun 17, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Why is making a good diet so hard?

I'm sorry - I was compiling my list based on a combination of panic items that hit the headlines.

And mildly extracting the urine.

Not meaning to propagate misinformation.

Jun 03, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

Why is making a good diet so hard?

rice - be careful with that arsenic
broccoli - GAS! GAS! GAS!
kidney beans - lectin poisoning. Make sure they are cooked for at least 2 hours at 1000 degrees or you will immediately develop a sense of humour
spinach - don't eat it raw - you're destroying your thyroid
cauliflower - you'll stop absorbing iodine!
egg whites - SALMONELLA, OMG.
salmon - Parasitic worms!
mackerel - Mercury! You might go the way of Jeremy Piven, and forget all your lines!
chicken - pumped full of growth-boosting hormones
beef - ye gads, is CJD still around? What about foot and mouth?
turkey - dear oh dear, that turkey has the stuff that makes you sleepy

There is no perfect diet that all people can follow for optimal health. Excpet maybe a combination of breast milk and Guiness. Work out what's right for you, what fits in with your lifestyle (that's physical activity and moral and ethical considerations) and try to stick with it.

Easy apps that could be a meal?

Does the vegetarian eat cheese? Is anyone off the wheat?
Bruschetta - mozzarella, basil, olive oil, garlic, grilled eggplant, tapenade, mushroom 'pate', marinated artichokes - so pretty much your panini idea.

Mini filo tarts with spinach and ricotta filling. Mini quiches - make them in muffin tins.

Savoury scones.

Small skewers of chicken (fried tofu for the vege, or for everyone instead of chicken if you're going all vegetarian), either grilled in honey and seasame glaze or accompanied by a thick satay dipping sauce.

Summer rolls - rice paper wrappers around vermicelli, herbs and julienned vegetables.

Vegetarian sushi rolls.

Mini samosas and pakora.

Stuffed vine leaves.

Hmmm, I think I like finger food too much.

Food porn as man bait

How does the old joke go? "Turn up naked. Bring beer."

I consider myself a fairly decent cook. The men in my life seem to agree. But I don't think I've ever lured one with food before dating them, and it certainly hasn't kept them in the relationship, although I do get calls from time to time asking for the recipe of something I'd made them in the past.

Maybe I should refocus my energy on making a decent pizza and the rest will take care of itself.

Jun 02, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food