Friday, 30 September 2011

The long week is over . . .

It's been a long but on the whole lovely week. Yes, the weather has been a bit freaky but wonderfully so. It has enabled me to sit outside in the garden for three consecutive evenings. Mind you, this is England and we could be drifting around in snow this time next month.

Not related to Noel . . .
Food of the week came courtesy of the excellent Anrew Edmunds on Lexington Street, London. It's something of a hidden gem and there is the issue of being crammed on to hard church pews but believe me, it's worth it!

Person of the week has to be, as mentioned before, the joy that is Jo on Great British Bake Off. She thinks she can't do it. She has a 'moment'. She realises that she is a damned fine baker after all. I would happily scoff one of her mousse cakes to the point of vomiting. Maybe not quite the ringing endorsement she's after.

Song of the week for me has been the addictive 'Ouch that hurt' by Dionne Bromfield. Until this little gem burst out of the wireless set, I'd given la Bromfield a wide berth because of the Amy Winehouse connection. I was wrong. Dionne is a class act in her own right and good luck to her.

Grandma we love you . . . as long as you don't sing
Mis-placed optimism of the week came courtesy of 278 year old singer Lys Assia, winner of the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. With a grim chanson that would have Vera Lynn gagging, Ms Assia is attempting to represent Switzerland again next year. I think the UK should retaliate by sending Dora Bryan or Anita Harris. Facebook campaign anyone? Thought not . . .

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Baking for Britain!

Too many cooks? Never!
It's official. I'm obsessed with a bunch of women baking scones in a tent. OK, perhaps I'm not being fair on the domestic goddesses who are conjuring up pastry-based magic on the outskirts of Ilford. "The Great British Bake Off" has been a Great British success this autumn. Next week will see Jo, Mary Anne and Holly will battle it out in the final. Will souffles rise? Can a surprise pie point a contestant towards the winner's rostrum?

The final trio are as different as any finalists could be. There's Mary Anne (maverick baker), Holly (driven, professional, air of desperation) and Jo (lovely, never more than thirty seconds from a total pastry-induced breakdown). These women know exactly how to make a cup cake runneth over with goodness and I've no idea which one of them will be victorious.

I wonder which one of them is baking the celebration cake?

Great British Bake Off Final 2011
Tuesday 4 October
8.00 pm BBC2

Saturday, 17 September 2011

On your marks . . .
Like a moth to a flame, yours truly found himself drawn to the Central Line and the inevitable visit to Europe's largest and possibly most monstrous high altar of retail therapy. I speak of Stratford City East where it's a case of 'come one come all' - and spend.

That was certainly the case today as I wove around gaggles of shouting teenage girls (note: if your gut is hanging over your trousers like a flabby spacehopper, maybe try a skirt?), slow moving Benidorm Madges, lads with camp Justin Beiber hairdos and the weary and puzzled (me). I'm hardly representative of the crowd Westfield are hoping to pull in but come on, who are half of these 'high street names'. Which 'high street' are they talking about? Bratislava?

She's lovin' it . . .
The food courts are interesting though. Sadly the most popular franchise seemed to be McDonalds (oh look, it's the lumpy teenage girls again) but there were some interesting looking Lebanese, Moroccan and Vietnamese places. Not that I went to any of them. There's always next time.

One of the best bits of the expedition was having the chance to view the Olympic Park from the comfort of John Lewis. Apparently it's the official Olympic shop of choice or something. Hurrah for that. And hurrah for the shop that managed to make me part with one hundred and forty quid on things I never knew I needed. I think they saw me coming . . .

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Pointless exercise . . .

Premature late middle age is setting in. I find myself settling down to, nay looking forward to, the lightest of late afternoon light entertainment. Take a bow "Pointless", BBC1's slice of comfiness, best served with a warm scone and a cup of milky tea.

"Oh what's the point?"
The show is ridiculously simple and barely a distant relative to BBC4's scary "Only Connect". In "Pointless" we are presented with four competing duos - usually a middle-aged husband and wife, a couple of camp young men with bad hair, two overweight sisters and a couple of clueless students. The hapless contestants then battle to provide the least likely answer to a given question. The team with the lowest score proceeds to the next round and so on ad infinitum.

Hosting this cosy interlude is comedian/actor Alexander Armstrong who peers at the contestants through screwed up eyes, possibly wondering what on earth brought him to this juncture in his career. Still, the thing works in a mild, uncomplicated way and is much more palatable than having Anne Robinson snarling at you.

Go on - give it a try! Reach for the malt loaf, your favourite slippers and something totally "Pointless".

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Strictly Not Watching . . .

Show us a leg Edwina! On second thoughts . . .
I've never seen "Star Wars". I've never purchased a Bob Dylan CD. I've never hurtled down Mount Snowdon on a tea-tray bellowing Celine Dion's greatest hits. Surprisingly, to some people at any rate, I've never seen an episode of "Strictly Come Dancing". It's not that I've gone out of my way to avoid it or that I start fizzing at he gills everytime 'Sir' Bruce clatters into view. Or that northern woman. No, it's just the suffocatingly. cosy, twee world of has-beens in big frocks isn't a big enough draw. I suspect that the BBC kicks off each year with a list of stereotypes to be included in the show - magazine show presenter, fat 'comedy value' entertainer, fruity sixty something woman, sports star nearing the end of a career, faintly recognisable totty from a soap . .  check this year's bunch. They are all there. All we need for a full house is Colonel Gaddaffi and the bloke from the Go Compare adverts.

For me, eventually, it will be an evening in front of "X Factor". Yes, I know it's a load of old nonsense too and admittedly, I haven't watched any of the 'nuts and sluts' auditions so far. However, as the dark nights creep in and the mellow fruits have been harvested, whatever that means, yours truly will be found open-mouthed and ranting at Louis Walsh and co. There is no hope . . .

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

To Twitter or not to Twitter?

Charlie Brooker - ranting on a page near you
Ok, so I've been hooked up to Twitter for a wee while now and admittedly, I'm a bit bored. That's probably my own fault given the eclectic nay random selection of people who I decided to follow. Some of them have really got the hang of tweeting - step forward Charlie Brooker, Julie Hesmondhalgh (Hayley from 'Corrie') and even the slightly acerbic Lord Sugar. Sue Perkins is a joy as is Clare Balding. However, there seem to be a whole bunch of 'celebs' who think that "Hi!!!!!!!" constitutes a conversation. Also guilty of such behaviour is a well-known BBC radio presenter, another down-to-earth soap bloke & a comedy actress.

There are some nuggets of gold though. One reknowned playwright often provides a minute-by-minute analysis of 'Big Brother' and a 'grand dame' of British TV acting reckons she might just end up in the high court because of the content of her tweets.

Any tips for entertaining Tweeters? I'm all ears (although not in a 'Martin Clunes' way . . .)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Hooked on Downton . . .

Have I chilled out too early in the year? OK so autumn seems to have been thrust upon us but does this mean that I should be allowing myself to cosy down with a box set? Oddly though, I've picked a couple of ITV1 shows to ease me into the season of mellow fruits and harvest festivals. Currently I'm knee-deep in 'Downton Abbey', the stirring tale of life in't big house where her ladyship rings the bell for tea and below stairs, three hundred extras start lobbing macaroons on to cake stands.

"Where's Mrs Bridges? Sorry, wrong show . . ."
Her from 'Benidorm'
The latter, of course, never happened and therein lies the problem. Prior to settling down with the Downton mob, I watched the Red Nose Day version, 'Upstairs Downton Abbey'. Not the best of ideas as I now snigger my way through the real thing, hoping to see the footman fall over, the blind cook chuck flour everywhere and her from 'Benidorm' sporting knitted hair.

If you love the series proper and have never seen the spoof, treat yourself to a viewing on You Tube. I'll bet a pantry girl's wage that you will watch series two in a very different light.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

All hail Mary Berry!

Don't mess with Mary . . .
I have a new heroine. Ladies & gentlemen I give you Mary Berry, cook extraordinaire. Here's a woman who can get me salivating over a lump of foccacia bread. She's currently wrinkling her nose at some of the offering (many of them burnt) on BBC2's 'The Great British Bake Off'. Our Mary may look like a gentle old dear but get the consistency of your quiche wrong and she's in for the kill. Hats off too to the contestants on the show who rise  (unlike some of the cakes) to the occasion and for whom I have the greatest admiration. Anyone who can knock up a batch of twenty four cup cakes under duress gets my vote.

Anyway, inspired by the shenanigans on Beeb 2, I've gone out and purchased a quiche tin. I have Mary's cooking bible and now all I have to do is assemble the ingredients. Wish me well . . .