Thursday, 12 March 2009

Gastronomic: Part Two

Ah, what a difference a week makes! No sooner had I watched in awe at "Heston's Victorian Feast" that I find out that Mr. Blumenthal's restaurant had been closed down because 400 customers complained of feeling ill!
So cue the jokes in the second of the series - a Medieval Feast. At some point during the initial history part, the Black Death was mentioned and suddenly from the corner I heard "Is that what you're gonna be serving in your restaurant then?"
It was funny, if in slightly bad taste (but then again I laugh at the strangest of things). But alas, no Black Death was served. Instead for appetisers there was Meat Fruit. Yep, meat disguised cleverly and convincingly like fruit. The plums were the least appetising (made out of an ingredient you're likely to see on something like I'm A Celebrity... 'nuff said). But the parma ham grapes sounded nice, I would've eaten that.
Oh, but the starter was vile! Blood sucking lamprey! Urgh! Even the guests couldn't stomach it - the raw head and tail were put either side of a griddled middle piece with the spinal cords of the little monsters fried and served as a garnish. Blech. Blood sauce as well. Double blech.
The main course looked at sounded nice. Pigeon pie baked the Medieval way. I.e. inedible crust but everything else about it seemed quite nice. At least until I realised how it was going to be presented. There is a showpiece for every one of these installments, and this week it was four and twenty blackbirds baked live in a pie. Only Heston replaced them with pigeons since blackbirds are now endangered. So, crust baked using some industrial equipment (steamrollers, cement mixers etc - it was one heck of a big pie!) he started putting the pigeons under the crust. When it came out and the lid was removed the birds flew everywhere.... and the dinner was taken out from the big pie. I don't know about anyone else but I wouldn't want to be eating a pie that's been near any sort of bird, let alone a pigeon (what if it hadn't emptied its bowels in a little while - actually one of the birds did on one of the guests' heads).
Dessert was clever but incredibly messy. Edible tablewear served with pork pie. Yeah, pork pie. Not real pork you'll understand but faux-mincemeat made from rasberry sorbet and vanilla ice-cream, strained through a grid and solidified with liquid nitrogen. Aha, really. Still, I wouldn't want to eat the crust which appeared to be a real pork-pie crust instead of a sweet treat.
Ooh, I can't wait for the exploding cockatrice next week!

Thursday, 5 March 2009


This is an image of some normal food - to me this looks like a little bit of steak with some mash potato or pastry placed on the top with a tomato and cream sauce (ooh, getting hungry!)

Now imagine this - absinthe and strawberry jelly, turned luminescent green and wobbling backwards and forwards thanks to the help of... four stripped down vibrators. Yes, really. But then, what would you really expect from pioneering yet insanely strange gastronome Heston Blumenthal?

The jelly was just the dessert in his show, Heston's Victorian Feast, based on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and other elements from Alice In Wonderland. The appetiser was based on the Drink-Me Potion that turned Alice small. So he managed to find some way to separate six pink fluids, flavoured like pineapple, burnt toast, turkey (and I shockingly can't remember the others), and keep them separate in a strange shaped glass so that it wasn't a taste disaster. But still, surely creating mock turtle soup that is made like a cup of tea is going a bit far? Well, apparently not: for the main course there came an entirely edible garden. Everything from the soil to the pebbles was designed to be eaten. And that included a variety of insects such as worms, locusts and wasps filled with a tomato paste using a syringe.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this show though was the fact that he mixed the production and eating of the food with little interjections about the history of the different foods, showing where his inspiration had come from. It was quite fascinating seeing what the Victorians ate, who ate it and what it believed it would do to them and society. For instance, in the hard economic times of the Victorian age, insects were suggested as food because they were in vast supply in the country! Wonderful bites of trivia!

Oh, everyone who is able MUST tune in next Thursday to watch his Medieval Feast - it promises to be the same mix of OTT gastronomy and informative nuggets!

Confessions Of A Shopaholic/ He's Just Not That Into You

Hmm, so against every moral film bone in my body I have seen both "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "He's Just Not That Into You" in the past couple of weeks. And I am afraid to say that I actually enjoyed "Confessions"! Shock horror!
So here's the reason why... okay, I don't have a reason why - Rebecca is a silly clothes-obsessed woman that is daft and in massively in debt. Hmmm, nice portrayal of women there Miss Kinsella... Still, it's light and frothy and since I was feeling so awful that day Isla Fisher's performance actually put a smile on my face. And I deny anyone to say that the Miami dancing scene isn't hilarious - the woman sitting next to me (not my friend, a person I didn't know) was in so much of a kink that she nearly keeled over on the floor. It's quite sweet as well - she does sell all of her clothes collection to pay off her debts and prove to the man that she loves that he means more to her tan Prada and Gucci (although they were an odd match... he wasn't anything like her at all!)
So then on to "He's Just Not That Into You", which is not nearly as insightful as it believes it is - after all, doesn't nearly every girl realise that boys hitting you really means that they hate you rather than like you? Well, this is the "revealing" segment that the film begins on. The stories with Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connoly in them are quite tedious and predictable, but Gigi's story is quite funny (I liked her, she was a little bit like me), and Drew Barrymore is very likeable. Actually, she probably didn't get enough screen time. All of the stories were linked, so you had to work out who was seeing who and manipulating who etc.
The best part, actually, was after the little titles introducing the various segments of the storyline (when he's not calling you, when he's not sleeping with you etc.) Here, semi-known celebs such as that woman who plays Angela Petrelli in Heroes (know what I mean about semi-known now?) reveal some little stories that link to the title of that particular segment. This was the most inventive part of the filming. This was the only part that felt more independent movie-maker rather than big-bucks Hollywood rom-com.
Still, both films are enjoyable as part of a night out - best enjoyed chilled with friends on a gloomy day (rain, depression, whatever) and preferrably with a bag of popcorn to chow down on!