July 3, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 4:48 pm

As you might have gathered from my posts this year, I haven’t done any cooking at my place for literally months. There are several reasons for this. For a start, Goon’s flat was literally three minutes from conveniences such as a tube station, a decent supermarket (well, decent in the sense it wasn’t one of those dodgy 24-hour corner stores) and was on a busy road so getting back home late at night didn’t cause any safety issues.

Then there is the fact that, although my flatmates are very nice people (in contrast to the nutters Goon ended up with), the flat itself left a bit to be desired. The plumbing is dodgy, it’s impossible to turn the shower on without a wrench and the storage space situation is ludicrous.

For example, this is our fridge, BEFORE I attempted to put my groceries in there.

fridge 

That’s supposed to hold enough for the occupants of two double rooms and one single room. Potentially five people could live here permanently. In practice sometimes there could be six staying in the flat at one time. Help!

And, while the kitchen looks pretty there are more storage issues. You’d think from that photo that there was a good deal of space. But the cupboard under the sink is a dummy, the one to its left has the washing machine in it and the one on the far left houses the fridge. There’s not a lot of room for crockery and glasses.

Ros' Kitchen

And finally, I thought I’d mastered electric ovens but now I need to master an electric oven with no legible temperature markings.

unreadable cooker dial

The last of these little problems caused me a bit of trouble when Goon asked for a roast chicken for dinner on our first night in the flat. I got myself down to the amazing Whole Foods market in Kensington, picked up a lovely free-range, corn-fed bird, whose skin I stuffed with sprigs of tarragon. I also smeared some mustard under and over the skin and stuffed the cavity of the bird with onion and smoked garlic. When I came to put the bird in the oven, I had no idea where to set the dial so I thought I’d pop it in at the highest temperature for ten minutes to crisp up the skin then go for the number that looked like 160 C and hoped for the best.

I noticed that this oven got way hotter than I expected. After just a few minutes the skin of the bird had obviously crisped up a lot, so I turned down the heat early. I set it to what I thought was 150C but the bird still cooked in under an hour!

The next day, flatmate Ken gave me an explanation for what happened. The unreadable markings on the oven apparently went all the way up to 250 C. That’s a good 30C hotter than I wanted for crisping my skin. Also, when I turned down the heat it got left at 180C, not 150C. No wonder it cooked so bloody quickly!

Fortunately, I checked the oven just in time so we got a chicken, which was not quite as juicy as I’d have liked, but hadn’t yet reached the stage of being overcooked. The skin was nice and crispy though and the mustard gave it a good flavour and suprisingly dark colour. But, five minutes longer, and we would have had one dry and possibly inedible bird!

mustard, tarragon roast chicken

And then came the final problem of the evening. While my two flatmates appear to be better cooks than any of Goon’s ex-cohabitants, our kitchen is mysteriously lacking in decent knives. This was the only one that we could attempt carving the chicken with.

my knife

It’s a good knife, but rather old and in need of sharpening. Plus it’s not really big enough to carve a chicken. Goon did his best but we ended up with a rather messy chicken, hacked straight down the middle.

Hopefully things will get easier as I learn the use this oven of doom. In fact, I imagine I will learn to use it properly just in time for me to move out of this flat in September. Ah, the joys of student life. Thank God it’s nearly over.

July 2, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 3:56 pm

This post has been waiting to be published for a few weeks now. I was delaying it because I  wanted to get pictures. Then I found out the store I’m going to tell you about wouldn’t let me take photos. Why some people turn down free advertising, I’ll never know! :roll:

On a Monday evening, a disgruntled Goon was in Tesco dealing with the customer services team. He was trying to get them to tell him what had happened to our £70 shipment of wine. They were having a hard time explaining how it managed to get lost between the warehouse and his flat, which was roughly 800m away.

Goon wasn’t expecting the phone call he was about to receive. He answered and from the other end of the line came….

“OHMYGODYOUARENOTGOINGTOBELIEVETHISPLACEIT’SUNBELIEVABLETHESTUFFHEREISINCEDIBLE IT’S THE BEST SHOP IN THE WORLD!!!!!!”

that was my reaction after spending five minutes in the new Whole Foods superstore on High Street Kensington. It really is that amazing. I have never even seen some of the stuff they have on sale here before.

Where do I begin?

BLUE MUSHROOMS!

A CHEESE SECTION THAT’S BIGGER THAN MY FLAT!

An UNBELIEVABLY EXCITING FISH STALL WITH RAZOR CLAMS, CRABS AND GORGEOUS LOOKING TUNA!

WILD RABBIT FOR £2.99!

RANDOM VEGETABLES I HAVE NEVER HAD! (What the hell is sapodilla anyway?)

BANANA LEAVES! NOW I CAN MAKE PUERCO PIBIL! :D

My planned quick investigatory glimpse into the shop turned into forty minutes of jaw-dropped amazement. This place is a foodie’s wet dream and it’s so big I actually got lost in it. I was so totally overwhelmed that in the end I only left with two items, some bulgar wheat and a french brie-like blue cheese, which was damned tasty. I went back the next day once my pulse had returned to a normal level. Then I did the same the next day. And the next….

The only thing missing from this shop is a decent selection of game meats, but then, it isn’t the season for many things.

And the staff here are actually competent and friendly! What’s that about? Most assistants on supermarket counters don’t have a clue about what they’re selling but the cheese guy at Whole Foods actually Knew enough to be able to make recommendations!

I walked home very happy, thinking that between the great butcher round the corner, the equally good fishmonger, the Whole Foods market and Waitrose, I was never going to want for anything again.

Then I got home and remembered that there was three things I definitely want for. A gag to shut up Goon’s blonde flatmate*, a key to lock her in her room* and some motivation to finish my thesis. But other than that, I was left with a feeling of fulfillment.

Here is the Whole Foods website. Go visit the shop! It’s great!

 

*Obviously these no longer apply since we’ve moved out of Goon’s flat, but at the time I REALLY wanted that gag. 

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