ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!
ʼʼ

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cordon Bleug


Today's Menu
 

To Start


Pickled Cloves (v)

Whole cloves, steeped in Spirit vinegar, just the way you like 'em.


Double Foie Gras

What could be more delicious than the liver of a force-fed goose? The liver of a goose that's been force-fed with Foie Gras, that's what!


Baked Toast (v)

Slices of finest toast, with figs, hand-baked until dawn. Tastier than watching a film.


Main Courses

Braised Tusk

A whole Walrus tusk, slow cooked in poo wine and garnished mit curds.

Served with your choice of fries, baked potato or Arctic Roll.


Pork Wombs in Brine

Three succulent, tender young pork wombs, stuffed with bletted quince and hand-cured in a spicy brine.

Comes with a big hunk of stale granary bread - perfect for mopping up the briney amniotic juices!


Arse Pie (v)

Our house speciality - a bigger slice than you can comfortably manage, with a salad of deadly vines.


Mashed potato with rice all mashed up together (v)

Served with chips, pasta and chips.


Dessertines


A lime (v)

Nothing more; nothing less.


Choco-nutty-toffee-coffee-fruity-mallow slice

With skipjack tuna chunks and cream.

For parties of one or more a discretionary charge of 12.5% will be added to your bill.


... And relax!

You see, the thing is that a lot of top chefs today are preoccupied with making their food unique rather than making it tasty.

If it can be radical and different and delicious than that's all well and good, but the loss of touch with ones diners is a cardinal sin that a select few can get away with purely because of their fame.

It's a similar pitfall faced by artists and musicians - where originality ceases to be useful in itself and exists purely for novelty value. Everyone can sit around talking about how worthy and unique Steve Reich's music is, without wanting to admit even to themselves that they'd rather be listening to Teh Quo.

How many people actually order Heston's famous Snail Porridge at the Fat Duck? And of those how many actually thought 'hmm, this is delicious; I'd like to eat it on a regular basis'?

I admit that I haven't tried it, and I'm in no hurry to do so, being no huge fan of either snails nor porridge, but I'd hazard that a more prominent reaction might be 'hmm, well, it was interesting... I'm glad I tried it... such a novel idea, isn't it?' - that sort of thing.

Maybe it's fantastic. I don't know. But it doesn't need to be, because the novelty value and fame element ensures a waiting list at the Duck, even in these austere times.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who I admire greatly, took several steps up the ladder of fame by cooking a human placenta and making it into paté. In some circles, this is what he's most famous for, and to some, all he will ever be, which is a great shame.

Celebrity chefs have, I've no doubt, spent most of their careers cooking fantastic dishes, and the creativity and flair for experimentation should be encouraged. (Heston, I want the credit if you steal my pork wombs recipe, I know you read my blog!)

But when radical foods succeed solely because of the reputation of their creator, and the repute itself feeds off controversy rather than quality, we're living in a dangerously hypocritical place.

If the snail porridge had been served up by some anonymous arthritic crone at the Bray parish church fete, the reaction would, surely, have been one of unanimous disgust and few would even have sampled its escargian oatiness.

Cooking shouldn't be conservative, and it shouldn't have boundaries and constraints. Last night, on a mad whim, I fried shards of apple in with my sausages. Never done it before like that. Yeah, I know, really radical.

But it tasted good, which is the important thing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to start braising my walrus tusk and brining my pork wombs, because that's far more radical, and therefore will taste even gooder, obviously.

Or possibly not.

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