Wednesday, May 15, 2019


I think you know by now that we in the Psychogourmet Test Kitchen are pulp-positive.  In the world of pulp, the drinks are stronger, the food is bloodier (though often irrelevant), the men are tough, and the women are tougher. And here’s a small sampling of some pulp covers featuring a cocktail or two.

This first one may be just a little too subtle – 

There doesn’t seem to be much of anything in that shaker. Yes, gin is clear and ice is translucent, yet somehow that doesn’t look like a shaker with a cocktail in it.  However, the martini glass we like.  We always say that 2 small cold martinis are better than a single large one that gets warm by the time you’re halfway through it.  
I’m also a bit concerned that this is a novel of the suburbs.  That doesn’t look like any suburban bar I’ve ever seen, though it is, of course, fictional.
This one I like:

– a hint of racial harmony, a guy with a gun, and a spilled drink which is obviously not a martini – a Manhattan perhaps?  But I do wish the artist was a bit better at depicting feet and shoes.  
 Now, who doesn’t like to test sins? 

A good-looking martini in the foreground but what exactly is she doing with the one in the back – cooling her fevered brow?  I suppose so, but given the lack of clothing (except for high heeled mules) you wouldn’t think she’d need it.  Still, I suppose sins can get you all hot and bothered.

And here’s another guy doing some brow-cooling on a cover that strikes me as just about unbeatable.

I like that the martinis are in a pitcher rather than a shaker.  That’s so old school – although not, if you ask me, the best way to make a martini.  The steak of course is a winner and I’m intrigued by whatever it is the gal doing with that martini glass in her bosom.  I like it, but is it even possible? 
Forget it Geoff, it’s pulp town.

Monday, May 13, 2019


You know, I never quite worked out why my mother took me to see so many Doris Day movies, and in some ways I never quite worked out my feelings about Doris, apart from (obviously) undying and unbending love.

I have no idea what her eating and drinking habits were, rather abstemious I'd guess, but at least she's here with what appears to be a martini in her hand.  I'll drink to that.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


If you do an image search for ‘world’s biggest mushroom’ you come up with a lot of pictures that look like fakes, though obviously not all.

This one seems real enough and the feet belong to Gina Gershon – helluva gal! 

Mushrooms have been on my mind since I bought this substantial, though hardly record-breaking, mushroom in the Co-op in Manningtree. It’s a locally grown Portobello mushroom from Suffolk, and record-breaking or not I do believe it’s the biggest mushroom I’ve ever used in cooking.

But we need to go back before this, when I saw and bought this packet of mushroom sauce mix in the Co-op:

It’s Polish-ish (in fact made by Nestle) and contains, in powered form, four kinds of mushroom: boletus, champignon (which, essentially monoglot as I am) I thought was just the French word for all mushrooms but maybe not), suillus, and xerocomus.  Xerocomus looks like this (not the world's biggest):

I did wonder whether adding mushrooms to a mushroom sauce was a mistake – and on balance I think it was. I should have added chestnuts or sprouts or at the very least lemon juice, but we live and learn.

Here’s John Cage doing stuff with mushrooms (note the lemon):

Sunday, May 5, 2019


Better than those improper hamburgers, well, arguably.  This is a Reuben burger at Byron in the King's Road.  They have other branches too.

'Beef patty, pulled BBQ beef brisket, sauerkraut pickle relish, bacon & onion crumb, American mustard, mustard mayonnaise, beer onions, lettuce, Byron Cheese sauce on the side. '

It was OK, but I'm not sure that Byron and I share the same understanding of the essence of Reuben. 

This is a picture of Arnold Reuben who may, or very possibly may not, be the inventor of the Reuben sandwich.

Thursday, May 2, 2019


“Botanical” as a noun – it’s not really all that complicated a word, is it?  Does it really mean anything other than derived from plants?  In which case it would surely include everything from flour to cactus juice. 

But if you’re going to be making gin (or for that matter vegan face wash) announcing on the label that your product contains botanicals seems to imply that it’s special and you know, GREEN.

Of course gin has always contained botanicals – primarily juniper but some other things too, and I think these things used simply to be called ingredients.

So how about this bargain price smoked salmon, from Waitrose, with a label telling us it contains gin AND botanicals.  Do I need apple and angelica with my smoked salmon?  I never thought I did.  And I definitely didn’t think I needed gin.

It tasted fine and you could definitely taste that there was something a bit out of the ordinary going on in there, but in a blind testing I don’t believe I’d have identified the gin.

On the other hand, since gin has to contain some kind of garden ingredients what could be better than this bottle of Beefeater London Garden gin from the Chelsea Physic Garden?  Botanicals – they got ‘em! 

It’s an ‘exclusive edition’ and if the label is to be believed ‘at its heart is the flowering herb lemon verbena’ – there’s also thyme in there too, plus all the stuff that Beefeater gin usual contains – so you know it wasn’t exactly a wild experimental concoction.  Tasted damn fine though.  The bottle has two labels, one front, one back: the word botanical does not appear anywhere on either of them.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


News just in that Ruben Rueda, the legendary bartender at Musso and Frank on Hollywood Boulevard has died.

This is a great shock though in truth he had hadn't looked well in recent times and had lost a great deal of weight, though he retained the large, tailored, Musso jacket.

I think he made as good a martini as anyone ever has.  Another one bites the olive.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


So we went the Moon Light restaurant in Brick Lane.  It calls itself an Indian though there’s a definite Bangladeshi influence.  They have a great sign:

The waiter was incredibly intrusive but so exuberantly and naively so that it was impossible to take offence. I learned for example that he had recently married his cousin.  And it was only at the wedding that his parents told him that they were also cousins.  Way  too much information, dude.

The food was fine, a very good lamb biryana, a less good prawn balti, and there was a starter on the menu that I’d never seen before or even heard of, so obviously it had to be ordered ‘Biran Mas – Bangladeshi rhui fish gently spiced and lightly fried.’

That described it well enough though I had to wait till I got home to look up what rhui is.  Apparently it’s a kind of carp (sometimes called Ilish or Hilsha) and it was great, though if you’d told me it was a piece of cod I’d have believed you.

As you see above, it came with what I think of as a standard-issue Indian restaurant, salad the kind you can get in any every Indian or Indian-related restaurant in Engalnd.  They always look much the same, which is to say very unappetizing, and as far as I can tell nobody ever eats them.  They come out from the kitchen and then get taken back again.  Do they get thrown away?  Doe they get recycled?  Does anybody know or care?

But I wonder what the waiters and chefs in these restaurants think about it. Do they think the English have a strange, mysterious and ritualistic attitude towards salad.  They think it’s not meant to be eaten, it’s just meant to be there. Like a raddish rose? I haven’t seen a raddish rose for years, though I do think I might have eaten one once, but I don't really remember.