If you’ve been following the VIFC chronicles you may have noticed that so far we’ve only had time periods or ingredients as themes. Last month the first celebrity chef theme was selected, and we got Mr Rick Stein to draw our inspiration from.
In a short biography I give you Rick Stein: restaurateur and TV type, OBE, tall, capricorn, Oxford University graduate, actually named Christopher. Mr Stein has done a bunch of TV shows about fish, Asian food, British food, Spanish food and other stuff. Most of us know of Rick Stein. He seems nice enough. Nice like slippers. I have to say I wasn’t desperately thrilled by this draw, despite having scored a dessert which usually makes me both happy (as I can make cake) and relaxed (as I’m quite good at making cake). But I don’t own a single Rick Stein book, and a quick squizz on the BBC food website wasn’t very inspiring and confirmed what I had suspected from my limited recollection of all the Rick Stein I’ve watched- he doesn’t really do desserts. He does curries and paellas and tossy fish and chips. Eventually I procured an actual book from my friend H and found a couple of options that looked practical and tasty, even a cake which I have to say looked divine but didn’t really agree with my somewhat meagre September meeting budget as it needed a lot of olive oil and white wine. I’ll come back to that another day though.
In the end I opted for a cranachan from Rick’s Coast to Coast book- whipped cream flavoured with honey and whisky then combined with toasted oats and fresh raspberries. A simple traditional Scots dish that I was able to bang together between day job and evening appointment. It was ok, though I must confess when I tasted the cream-honey-whisky stage it was divine and I could have yummed the whole bowl. Somehow it lost something, to my mind, once the oats went in, it just wasn’t as moreish. I might have used the first stage just to dollop onto a good apple pie or maybe a flapjack.
As you might expect over the evening we saw plenty of fish and a damned fine curry, a very nice soup and some great little steaky bites followed by three opulent, dairy heavy desserts washed down with a couple of accompanying pints of Thatchers. I can feel my stomach stretching at the memory. But apart from walking home with the sensation of having recently ingested a bowling ball the main impression I left this night with was that actually, it’s not as much fun when you’re just recreating the works of another, culinary master or not.
Because there were no stories of searching, no tales of the terrors of trying to match chocolate to a starter or find an authentic 1920s recipe for custard. We looked up a chef, found something, and did it. As usual, everything was good but it wasn’t quite the same as previous outings of our little club. Perhaps I’m just not that switched on by Mr Stein’s work, or perhaps I should have had another pint and cheered the hell up. Who knows.
So that was that, props again to Stu for providing most of the photos. Next month we’re back to a much emptier canvass with the simple theme of ‘vegetables’ where I have a great open option of main course. I hope those who got a dessert manage to find some inspiration.
Until next time, I’m off for another pint.