Monday, April 25, 2022



You’ve probably been worrying about my lack of oyster knives.  You may recall I broke a couple:


The local kitchenware shop was no help so I went online.


I found one I liked the look of but it cost 15 quid plus delivery, whereas I could buy 4 plus a pair of gloves for about the same price. The gloves are 'Cut Level 5"!! and no, I don't trust them at all.

I ordered the set, but then I had to wait.  The supplier did keep me informed with updates about the order's movements around China, and I admit there was some anxiety, but finally it came.


Not a bad haul for the price, I thought.


And then I went down to the fish man at the local farmers’ market.  He had some oysters – which isn't always the case.  They were, I think, the biggest oysters I’ve ever seen in England, though I think I may have seen bigger ones in Japan, from Hokkaido.

Photo by Caroline Gannon; and yes that is a UFO outside the window.


The new knives did the job, though when it was over I saw that one of them was bent like 
this, which may not be the very best sign of quality:


On the bright side it didn’t break – and I have 3 others in reserve

Meanwhile I am left with some very big oyster shells, which I like, and the feeling I should DO SOMETHING with them


Norman Mailer apparently used to draw faces on the inside of his oyster shells but I’ve seen no examples of this.


The internet is full of crafty and creative things to do with oysters shells.  Here’s just one of the things I shan’t be doing with mine:

 Below - Geoff and his Hokkaido oyster - in fact not quite as big as I remember it.



Monday, April 18, 2022


 We bought a shark.  Its teeth weren't all that pretty, dear.



I can’t tell you the species but it was a small shark, and also a cheap shark.  The fishmonger was asking two quid per kilo and this one cost 2.40, and it came gutted.


A bit of marinating and then pan frying 

produced this result:

One thing I’ll say for shark (or at least this particular shark), it really only has the flavours you bring to it, and I wish we’d put in more of everything. But on balance it was a moderate success.  Sometimes that’s more than enough.


I had in fact looked up shark on the interwebs to find a recipe or two and was confronted by stuff like ‘Shark meat: delicacy or deadly?’ Is Shark Meat Scrummy or Satanic?’


I paid no attention, obviously, but the alleged trouble comes from mercury.  Sharks grow old and big, they’re top of the food and so mercury accumulates and concentrates in their flesh. But one small shark seemed safe enough.  


However I did read about Jeremy Piven, who in 2008 gave up his role in a Broadway production of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow after suffering from weakness, dizziness and nausea, diagnosed as having a "high mercury count." His doctor said "He was eating sushi twice a day for years ... and this is the problem."  Others thought it was a different problem.


Mamet said that Piven was leaving the play "to pursue a career as a thermometer" which is not one of his very best lines, but not bad.


But anyway, Piven survived. And we have too.









Monday, April 11, 2022


 As I wander the city streets around London, or most other places else for that matter, I often look at the ground to see what’s been discarded, and sometimes I even photograph it.


Of course vomit is the one of the things I sometimes see, and although it’s occurred to me to photograph pools of sick, I’ve always thought better of it.


Obviously I am a terrible square.


Those funsters Bompas and Parr have opened a pop up ‘Vomit Vault’ at the Crypt Gallery just off Euston Road, and inside you can gaze at multiple pictures of vomit on the streets of London. The images are compelling and disgusting in equal measures.  There’s a book too, titled Salute to Puke.


In many ways this seems a natural progression of the Bompas and Parr enterprise. If you’re fascinated by the food and drink that goes into the human body it’s only natural to be fascinated by what comes out.


The serious, or at least somewhat serious, point seems to be that the reappearance of vomit on the streets of London marks a return to post-pandemic normality, a ‘sign of economic and social recovery.’


At the opening night party there were some ‘do it yourself’ cocktails that could be imbibed and then used to replicate some of the images on the walls.

But I managed to restrain myself.


Photo: Caroline Gannon

The lighting conditions in the vault made it hard to take photographs of the exhibits, which some may think just as well.


Those bleached out spaces are the colour prints on light boxes. The actual images look like this:


Art lovers can buy them in various forms and editions and have fun deciding where in their   homes to display them.   Prices are from 21quid to 630 smackers. 

The real joy of the exercise is that Sam Bompas is a man of such charisma that he can drag you to a crypt, make you look at pictures of vomit, and come out thinking you've had an uplifting experience. 

Here’s a link to Bompas and Parr:

Sunday, April 3, 2022


I don’t know Grace Dent and she doesn’t know me.  

We were once co-judges of a food and film competition but we didn't judge in the same place at the same time, so we never met.


Nevertheless I think she’s a good thing.  And as I continue my steak tartare research and experimentation, I wondered if she might have something interesting to say on the subject.  Well of course she does.


Her Guardian review of Six by Nico was illustrated with this image


I'd have thought that caption 'little more than a "meaningful glimpse of a dish"' was quite a put down, and I'd feel pretty well cheated if a waiter delivered that to my table, in in the review Grace sounds quite approving.


Less so with Tom’s Kitchen, reviewed in the Evening Standard, describing ‘the drab, under-seasoned steak tartare which arrived with a colossal mountain of rocket’


And even worse was the Bistrotheque at Cultureplex, Manchester reviewed in the Guardian, ‘A chunky steak tartare with a neatly placed,wobbly yolk looked pretty, but was jam-packed with capers that quashed any subtlety of flavour in the meat.’


Well I don’t suppose Grace Dent will be eating my tartare any time soon, which may be a blessing for both of us, but on I go.  I decided to try a venison version, in part because venison is so hard to cook - leave it in the oven a couple of minutes too long and it goes dry as a coir doormat – that raw seemed a reasonable method.  This was my venison tartare.


It thought it hit the spot but the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the absence of raw egg yolk.  I think this may partly because of an Oedipal issue – my dad, when he was feeling under the weather, started the day with a raw egg in sherry.  I was appalled in the way only a teenage boy can be by his father.


The idea still gives me the willies, but I thought maybe I could handle the yolk of a quail’s egg.  That's it at the top of this post.  It looked fine at least it did until the moment I poured it into little well (or dent, if you will) that I’d made in the top of the the steak at which point it burst – but the overall effect, and the taste, was surely much the same. 


Did I need the raw egg yolk?  Not really. Did I think I was making and eating something more authentic?  Yes.


And since you ask, those chive sprigs are local, artisanal and grown by me.  Yes, I have been self-sufficient in chives since at least 2019.