Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jimmy Doherty's Farm Food and Wine @ Vinopolis

Thanks to those lovely people at Londonist I was able to procure a couple of tickets to the above session. My companion was French and
has spent many years in Taiwan and China so could easily be described as a foodie.

Apparently Jimmy Doherty is some kind of TV pig-breeding good farming evenagelist type, but not having a TV, I wouldn't know about that. Also involved were Paul Kelley the Turkey Guy and Nigel Bartle the Tomato Geek.

First up Vinopolis itself. With the Thames Festival going on, Vinopolis was a haven of calm and in itself and amazing building.

Jimmy Doherty @Vinopolis

Then were were all seated, the presenters took their places at the table and Vinopolis' resident wine expert Tom Forrest.

All the speakers were excellent and above all passionate about
their subjects.

So, to the tastings.

First up, we were were presented with pork sausages and roasted tomatoes. Jimmy described them as "both kinds: meat and meat with herbs". These are 97% meat and a tougher chew than your average supermarket banger. Accompanying these were a Malbec from Marta's Vineyard (geddit?) and an IPA from Greenwich brewery Meantime Brewery. Everything was lovely and the common vote gave the edge to the beer with the sausages.

Jimmy Doherty @Vinopolis

Next was the belly pork. Oh yes. This is Chinese soul food so we were anticipating it and were not disappointed in the least. Accompanied by a Booker's Vineyard Blanc de Blancs which was so full of apples it was perfect. Much ooh-ing and aah-ing ensued.

Jimmy Doherty @Vinopolis
Finally the turkey. We were also treated an exhibition on how to properly carve a turkey. I have to say, this was much better than the usual rubbish we serve up on Christmas day but not quite as stunning as the first two. Kelley's impression of the male and female turkey calls more than made up for it. The wine was a fizzy Shiraz which was a real perception-challenger.

In between all that, there was lots of chat and interesting questions. Some factoids I noted down:

o If hail hits Andean vines, it sets them back four years.

o Screwtops on wine are *great*. Especially for picnics.

o Flavour comes with maturity (something I keep telling my girlfriend).

o The fat in matured meat tends towards unsaturated

o Don't try to sell "love sausage" opposite a church

o Dry tomato seeds on a paper towel and grow them!

o Bees are really, really important to tomatoes! In fact, to all agriculture.

o In the absence of bees, use a vibrator to stimulate the pollination.

o We only grow 60% of our food. Food security is important.

o Look for black hairs on your pork and turkeys. It's a sign of a rare(r) breed.

o We eat 36 million turkeys a year.

o All turkeys originated from Mexico.

o Food labeling like "organic" is misleading. Bartle's tomatoes don't use pesticides but can't be classed as organic as they're grown in gro-bags. Inorganic apples have no pesticide residue when they arrive in the shop, yet organic apples may well have elevated copper levels from the "organic" pesticide.

o Real turkey takes half as long to cook and should be rested for an hour before dismembering.

o Make stock!

o Using bananas or ripe tomatoes to ripen green ones is an old wive's tale. Tomatoes should be ripened on the vine. Got green tomatoes? Make chutney.

o Bartle heats his 20-odd acres of greenhouse with heat drawn off from a power station

o If you see tomatoes from "Norfolk, UK", they're Bartle's. Buy them.

That's all.

I'll leave you with one word that sums up these guys and what they do: "passion".

Saturday, September 13, 2008

London on sea

London on sea
Originally uploaded by davehodg
It may catch on...

Victor Menace, Troubadour

Victor Menace, Troubadour
Originally uploaded by davehodg
The light was awful but this should give you some idea of the bouncy ninja gypsy that is Victor Menace.

Way better than that Gogol Bordello rubbish.

Monday, September 08, 2008

God: a modest proposal

Here's a proposal:

Before all kinds of religious people start imposing their morals on us, everything from opening hours to censorship, from creationism to wars, could you all, and I mean you Jews, Christians and Muslims on behalf of the Abrahamic faiths, just get together and agree on *one* version of the truth between you. By all means then put that up for inspection by the rest of us. It's all too confusing trying to take in all these differing ideas.

Just an idea.

Until you sort yourselves out, we should remove all religiously sources laws and rules from our schools, governments and so on.