John Hawkins
john.Information john.Journal

Dr John Hawkins

Welcome to my bit of the Maison de Stuff, home to a huge load of pictures, and my daily blog.

My email address is as above - I've put it in an image in a vein attempt to reduce the amount of spam I get.

John's Journal / Blog
Main Index
John's Pictures
Main Index
Main Index (text only)
Recent Updates
John's Travel
Main Index
Other Related Sites:
Maison de Stuff


Posted on 2007/10/22 13:28:44 (October 2007).

[Sunday 21st October]
Our friend Shingo-san had stayed over, and as it had been quite a long evening we all slept in quite late, not surfacing until almost 11. We had breakfast with our guest, and I took him on a quick tour of the gardens (which were looking particularly lovely in the autumnal light this morning) before he headed off back to Reading.

The rest of the day was consumed in a bout of gastronomy. Around lunchtime we went out to do the fairly standard Sunday afternoon food shopping trip, which we more-often-than-not do without having any lunch, a classic mistake when going to a supermarket, and unsurprisingly we bought far more food than we needed.

On return back to the flat I wanted to knock up a quick late lunch, and I knew just the thing.

As noted yesterday I had bought some ceps (also known as porcini) - three rather fine specimens which came to the princely sum of ten pounds. Of course, if I lived nearby the right sort of woodland and was prepared to risk my life, I could be picking these up for free around now, but being in the centre of London, and not such a fan of having my stomach pumped, I am forced to resort to paying for them. Still, I don't mind so much, as these have to well up there in any mushroom lovers' top ten.

Chefs generally seem to agree that when you've got a really good ingredient, you really want to appreciate it in itself, so don't bugger about with it too much. To this end I decided I was just going to chop and lightly sautée the old boletus edulis, with a little hint of garlic, and then serve it on crusty bread.

I must admit I've had several disappointing experiences with wild mushrooms in the past, but today was not one of those. This porcini was very satisfying - it had a rich and fragrant aroma and a sweet flavour, full of umami, and actually slightly reminiscent of truffles.

In the evening I fancied a roast meal and was determined to get some really decent potatoes this time. I had very carefully selected the variety in the supermarket (although the name now escapes me - one I hadn't heard of before), and followed the old rules very carefully - parboiling for ten minutes, giving them a good shake, then dropping into hot oil. They were some of the best I've ever made - really crispy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle.

Chie is very complimentary of my cooking, bless her, and suggested today that we should just give up eating out, on the basis that she much prefers the food I cook at home. Plus it is obviously much cheaper! Whilst I still do enjoy the notion of dining out, I think she may well have a point - I haven't exactly been bowled over by anything I've had at a restaurant recently, whereas thanks to the excellent availability of really good ingredients in London, we have had some great meals at home.

Today's ceps were a good case in point - whilst these were quite expensive, we'd only used one of these in our afternoon snack, so that was about three or four quids worth of porcini. Whilst I was paying something in the region of 35 pounds a kilo, I saw a program where Jamie Oliver and his friend Gennaro were talking about wild mushrooms, and they said restaurants would typically pay more like 25 quid a kilo.

So in the gnocchi with wild mushroom dish I had at the Boisdale on Wednesday, I can't help but feel a bit narked that I was made to settle for some fairly tastless girolles - for a 20 quid dish like that I would have thought there would be scope for some really excellent ingredients. Obviously, labour costs and so on have to be taken into account - but when you think the meal in total came to about 120 quid, I can't help but wonder what an absolute feast you could have at home even if you were only going to spend a third of that.

Comment 1

Your Grandad once had a big compensation payout(for pneumoconiosis). He gave me and your Dad a sum of money to make a dinner for 7 people, as he too knew the value of eating at home. We called it "The Poor Chest Dinner", and I still have the menu in the attic.

Posted by John's Mum at 2007/10/23 17:05:25.

Comment 2

I had garlic mushrooms on toast the other night too - very satifying!

Posted by tom at 2007/10/25 09:44:17.

Post a comment