The sun is beating down outside, the sky is clear and I’m in here. I have been poorly for a couple of days. Eating on the show has been really hard. The food was good but my stomach wasn’t. I woke up this morning with my eyes glued together but good old Doctor Footlights and the show must go on. Now I’ve got ointment in my eyes, which makes typing a little misty, my stomach is less angry. I’ve also taken loads of arsenicum – a homeopathic remedy – and all being well, I’ll be fit as a fiddle tomorrow.
So, I’m pretending it’s raining outside so I don’t feel bad about not running along the river, with a gentle breeze and the boats skimming over the Thames, the sun shining on the swans….
I loved today’s show.
Richard Phillips was on.
You need to know how he arrived on the tellybox. Way back, about 5 years ago, I bought my local paper. A very classy picture of a handsome dude appeared on the page that flogged restaurants and beauty products. The top picture was Richard Phillips looking into camera, like a matinee idol. He was advertising his cookery courses and his restaurant at the top of the town. The long and short of it was that Jim and I went along to his restaurant – the Michelin-starred ‘Thackerys’ in Tunbridge Wells – for a trial meal. The place is glorious, if a little effete. The food, however, is so good that no conversation was needed between myself and the old man. which is good in itself.
The tastes and smells still linger, from little cups of foamy soup, to assiettes of four differently prepared duck, great wine and wonderful chocolates to complete. When the bill came, the Phillips had taken care of it. So, a screen test was arranged, not because we had a free meal but because the food was so exemplary.
Richard was shy.
Richard had never seen a telly camera before, let alone worked a studio.
Richard had no idea how bloomin’ handsome he was.
For most of the screen test he was bent over his food like mad scientist. And then his food was show on the screen, eaten and drooled over and the rest is history. Now he has an agent, another restaurant, a legion of fans (including me), and he says that when GFL comes to an end, he’ll give me a job in his kitchen washing pots. It would be an honour.
Today he cooked a mixed sea food stew with a ginger sauce. Okay, we’ve all had mussels and clams and langoustines, bass, salmon and monkfish, but not all fused together in a buttery sauce made with white wine infused with real ginger. Not to mention the bed of sauerkraut that it was piled on. I said not to mention it.
And then little Sophie Wright brought the weight of her 20 years to bear when she delivered a plate of creamy mash, a side dish of roasted veg in honey and thyme topped with the best lamb shanks since Mr.Ed Baines made them three years earlier. Lamb shanks cooked in balsamic vinegar, red onions and red wine. Lamb Shanks have gone up in price because all the chefs have made demand bigger than supply, so think of them as a special dish for a wet weekend.
I am not telling you about the passion fruit delice for pudding, but what I will tell you is that temperature is the name of the game when making mousse. Add whisked yolks to hot milk and you get scrambled egg. The other way round and you get a good old creme anglais. Hark at me, custard.
We also had a little lad from Glasgow on the phone who has created simple jam from his gran’s secret recipe. We tasted it whilst he talked about selling it from his garden, making it in his kitchen and getting an award from Gordon Brown. Now Waitrose are buying it. It was like the Dragons’ Den with sugar on top. Which reminds me, don’t miss Thursday – we’ve got the reggae singer who got £50,000 from the Dragons’ Den for his secret peppery sauce. He’s got seven kids from different mothers and he’s going to be singing to me.
I’d better wear my chastity belt.
Happy munching. Talk tomorrow.