Category: Cookery

CADAC vs Cobb

Between my activities with RAYNET and off-roading, and my love of food, I wanted to find a way to do some decent portable cooking. Better than warming stuff up on a camping stove, anyways.

The two contenders – that several people seem to debate, are the Cobb barbecue and the Cadac grill. They are different animals – and ultimately I want both for different reasons.

The Cadac is a gas bbq, with space, from the reviews, to cook burgers and sausages for eight people. You can stick a pan on it, and it comes with flat (bacon and egg) and ribbed (steaks) cooking surfaces. It’s a portable gas barbie, basically.

The Cobb is a portable oven. Charcoal fired, and popularised by the “Hairy Bikers”, it’s a good way of cooking a proper roast or similar out in the field. But it’s not something that can be used for quick grilling of steak, or really for a quick breakfast. If you want to do a roast in the field, it’s the equipment of choice.

So which did I go for?

Ultimately, the Cadac.

It’s a bit cheaper, but the selling point is that it’s really for quick cooking. Grilling a steak, cooking breakfasts, perhaps roasting some veggies. It’s the weapon of choice for the next two events.

I’d like to add a Cobb as well, but funds aren’t unlimited. So I’ll stick with the extra grill space for now.

Googling my dinner

We’re having veggie risotto for dinner tonight, but I decided that I wanted some Proper Protein (TM). Perusing the fish counter at the supermarket, they had Vietnamese River Fish. It was described as having a flavour similar to tilapia, which was good enough for me.

I’d never heard of it, so while dinner is cooking, I had a quick Google to find out what it is.

Mine will be served simply grilled with lemon and a knob of butter. My mouth is watering…

Fancy cooking rant

I’m more than partial to a nice dinner. Somewhere between three and five courses is about right, followed my liquers and coffee if you can manage it. It should leave you feeling well fed, but still able to walk to the cab to get you home.

This is the story of a dinner at L’enclume, which sounds fantastic but I expect cost between five and ten times what I’d be prepared to pay for it: I’d go to £100 if there was a (small – 50mls or so) glass of wine to match every 2-3 courses. But not one of these courses was actually a meal. When it comes down to it, they’re all basically the chef showing off, and there’s a maximum number of courses in a meal which should be the chef being clever: one.

If I’m entertaining (and I need to be organised enough to do more), I aim for one course to impress and two to delight. In other words, I cook one course purely to show off. It might be the souffle to start, the perfectly roasted potatoes with the meat, or the secret weapon creme brulee. And if I can figure out how to insert accents when editing this blog, I’ll come back and add them. That’s partly because if I’m cooking, that’s all I have time for, and partly because food is about the enjoyment in eating it, not the smugness factor of the chef.

If Heston Blunenthal at the Fat Duck (almost on my doorstep) or the chap at this place wants to invite me to prove me wrong, I’ll happily take them up on the invitation. But I’m not sponsoring the vanity of these guys by actually paying for the stuff until someone can prove it’s worth it.

Oh, and if you’re can cook that well, how come you can’t hire a web designer who understands that the usual screen ratio is 4:3 or 16:9, not 37:3!

British Starbucks are filthy

British Starbucks are filthy or so says the report on Boing Boing this morning.

I’m sorry, I think Starbucks is the most overrated coffee on the planet.  I can get a beer for the price of a medium sized latte, and now I find they expect me to clean up after them?  Sorry, at anything up to £4 for a cup of coffee I expect waitress service within seconds of sitting down, and she’d better be cute, too.

Oh, and coffee that I actually like, rather that something I’m just drinking for a bit of a change.

Starbucks: Real coffee is made with a drip filter machine, not an espresso press.  It should be hot as hell, black as night, and sweet as a stolen kiss, and in the cup within 10 minutes of hitting the “brew” button.

Gordon F***ing Ramsay

I watched “The F Word“, Gordon Ramsay’s latest outlet for his bad temper and vitriol last night, and while it was very funny, I was almost annoyed with myself for enjoying it.

What’s with the “Celebrity Cookbook Amnesty“? Anyone want to send him his OWN cook books to throw in the skip?

While the guy can clearly cook, and his passion for getting people to cook more is laudable, last nights menu managed to contain absolutely nothing of merit. The starter was basically raw tuna rolled in some sesame seeds. It was described as seared, a word that always worries me when I see it other than in the middle of a recipe. Searing is something you do to seal the juices into meat before slow cooking. It’s not the last thing you do before putting stuff on the plate. Either cook it properly, or serve it raw. Stop f***ing around and being flash.

The main course was basically another starter: a sliver of sea bass balanced on a few florets of broccoli. If I order sea bass I expect the whole filet, not a third of it, and I expect a main course to have more than one vegetable. I’d have been stopping at the kebab van on the way home for something to fill me up.

And the dessert? Doughnuts and apple fritters is something I’d expect from a cheap chinese restaurant, not some high class pretentious place. Argh!

The show did have two redeeming features, though. The first was a taste test between his quick bouillabaise, and Janet Street Porter’s fish stew. JSPs was clearly more appetising, a delicious looking tomatoey concoction with lots of lovely saffron. Gordon’s looked like it was served in pureed overcooked grass, a nasty brownish green coloured mess that I’d have sent back without tasting.

And the second? Cliff Richard saying he might pay £2.50 for one of the wines he’d tasted if he was giving it to people he didn’t like – it turned out to be from his own vineyard. Which, I think, speaks volumes about many celebrity endorsed brands, which have more to do with the marketing value of their name than the quality of the product.