Category: Food

Posted by Philip on September 24th, 2016 — 2:30am

I have become fascinated and obsessed with coffee in the last year. Proof? Check out this spreadsheet.


Yeah. You’re not even seeing all of the columns.

So, I want to talk about some of the best cups of coffee I have and I’m going to do it here. It’s not going to be as good as this guy’s material but it would be harsh to expect anything to be.

Comment » | Food

Mosque Kitchen

Posted by Michael on November 12th, 2011 — 9:37pm

Where: 33 Nicolson St, Edinburgh

When: Closed on Fridays for prayer.

What: Hearty curry and naan for a very ‘chep’ price. I recommend the channa masala, however the blonde is now regretting it – mind you, curry always tends to ‘repeat on her’.

MJ out.

1 comment » | Food, Scranalysis

The Brown-Johnston Classification System

Posted by Michael on May 23rd, 2011 — 8:50pm

Dunedin 22nd May 2011
A boysenberry and ambrosia ‘double’ from Rob Roy’s Dairy, Dunedin.

So I recently co-thought of a system to rate ice-cream. It was because I was so surprised the pure volumeage of ice-cream I consumed from Rob Roy’s didn’t have any icicles in it. It was so smooth. I basically thought, ‘Wow, this is, like, Tier 1 ice-cream.’

Regular ice-cream: anything from the regular to the non-descript to the shite

Tier 1: perfectly smooth ice-cream, good on flavour too

Tier 2: perfectly smooth and awesome on flavour, e.g. Brymor, Bi-Rite

So there you go, the BJ Classification System.

∼MJ out.

4 comments » | Food, Scranalysis, Travel

Now I Can Die in Peace: How Michael Found Salvation Thanks to the Auckland Italian Restaurant Prego

Posted by Michael on May 20th, 2011 — 5:26am

Location: 226 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

Auckland 20th May 2011
Loadsa money!!

Scran: Everything at the moment reminds me of The Fast & The Furious so I’ll try to restrain myself and not construct any parallels between Prego and, say, Tokyo Drift, third installment of the Fast & the Furious franchise. The fate of any article heavy on pop culture references always lies in the balance. Anybody who has read Chuck Klosterman’s musings on Marilyn Monroe vs Pamela Anderson knows what I mean. So instead I’ll just talk candidly.

I never go to Italian restaurants in the UK. I just don’t see the point. Here’s my rationale: I am fairly adept at cooking Italian food, so why pay a bomb for it? Particularly when the choice isn’t going to be between braised oxtail and spaghetti al nero di seppia. It’s going to be a pasta or pizza dilemma. Indian food on the other hand? As a rule the restaurants are: lean on the wallet; rich on the selection of stuff I can’t cook myself. Are you feelin’ me? I think you are.

In Auckland the Asian food is f**kin’ A so when the Englanders decided to class it up last night and go to Ponsonby’s European chic restaurant Prego there could have been a bit of a schism. Fortunately I thought I better of it and kept schtum…

So how did it pan out? Well it was our last night in Auckland and I didn’t have the pasta. I didn’t have the pizza either. I had the baked whole snapper, a fish (along with John Dory) I have wanted to have pretty much since my first day in New Zealand. Job done. I ate snapper. A perfectly cooked snapper with tarragon, onions, olives and peppers. That’s as good as scran gets. Everyone else enjoyed their meals if that’s of interest. We all enjoyed the shared bread starter – a lot better than most Italian bread, which can be a bit hard and chewy. I destroyed my ‘budino di datteri’ dessert: sticky date pudding (Italiano?) offset by sweet, piquant slices of poached pear and a ginger ice-cream full of warm spice.

Postprandially there seemed to be a fairly ubiquitous consensus that Prego had just delivered the best meal of our stay in Auckland. I don’t know if it was my best meal. It might have been. It didn’t surprise me. But then should that matter? Does price also matter? I know it was four times as expensive as my other two best meals. Was it four times as good? Definitely not. For that reason I’m putting it as number 3 on my list of places to go in Auckland for scran. Next time: numero duo.

Price: $60 for three courses (including wine)


Burr: 4

∼MJ out.

1 comment » | Food, Scranalysis, Travel

A Study in Cabbage Pie

Posted by Philip on May 17th, 2011 — 9:52pm

Glaswegian readers will be aware of Roots & Fruits*, the popular green grocer, florist and deli. I bought a pie there last week that was one of the most unique and tastiest pies I have ever eaten. A Study in Cabbage Pie is my attempt at emulating and then bettering it.


I spent a few hours last night reading about cabbage pie. The cabbage pie appears to be a Russian dish and all recipes I read used the same principles of cabbage and sliced or diced boiled eggs in a white sauce or very little sauce at all. The pastry used varied, with some using the standard short crust or puff, and some opting for a more bread-like encasing, resembling a calzone.

Roots & Fruits’ cabbage pie

All I could remember about the pie was that it contained cabbage, onions, butter beans and tarragon. Whereas these ingredients would probably have made a 0 burr pie, I wanted to aim higher. It was obvious that I would have to come up with more ingredients to boost the flavour without encroaching on the cabbage, which I wanted to keep as the star of the show. I am almost certain that the R&F pie did not include eggs, and regardless, I firmly believe that boiled eggs would not add anything to the pie. Though, I reserve the right to change this opinion. Of course, I could have gone to R&F to find out what was in the pie, but where would the fun in that be?


1. Meat?

The Roots & Fruits deli sells only vegetarian produce, therefore, there would not have been any meat in the pie. Now, as a non-vegetarian, the most obvious question is whether the addition of meat would enhance or retract from the pie. Last night I had toyed with the idea of adding rabbit to the pie, however, this seemed to be a step too far, and is perhaps something for a future iteration of the recipe.

One of the most fundamental principals of cooking is this: fat is flavour. Without the restraints of creating a vegetarian pie, it seemed silly not to include animal fat in the recipe. I wanted to be careful of not over-powering the cabbage flavour with meat, and so went for a handful of smoked bacon lardons.

2. Savoy or green cabbage, red or white onion?

In hindsight, This is an area I should have looked into more. In my experience, I have found green cabbages to yield a sweeter flavour when compared to the Savoy, and the sweetness is something I wanted to achieve in this meat-lite pie. Additionally, I was not sure the wrinkled texture of Savoy would have been pleasant when biting into the pie. Sweetness was also the reason I opted for red onion over white.

3. Cream, creme fraiche or milk?

It was obvious to me that the sauce would have to be a white sauce. I had initially decided to go with creme fraiche, however, a last minute worry about this giving the filling too much of a tartness meant that I switched to single cream.

4. Filling in the blanks

I wanted to keep the ingredients as first principles as possible, as it will be easier to modify the recipe when there are fewer elements involved. English mustard and garlic were the only other ingredients I felt were needed for the filling. My Chinese instincts mean that I rely too much on garlic as a base of flavour for all of my cooking. However, I felt that it was justified this time round.

Ingredients for cabbage pie 0.1:

I am not confident enough to define quantities yet, so I will omit them this time round.

Short crust pastry
Egg (for glazing)

Green cabbage
Red onion
Butter beans
English mustard
Single cream
Dry tarragon
Salt and black pepper


As you can see, I went for a ready made pastry, because I really was not in the mood and as any chef will tell you, pastry cooking is not real cooking. What I did do, however, was press a handful of chopped walnuts into the pastry. The bottom of the encasing was then blind-baked – a new technique that I learnt for this.


I made sure to really brown the lardons before adding in the rest of the ingredients. I cooked everything for around 15 minutes on a low heat to ensure that the onion and cabbage had become completely softened. The cream, mustard and tarragon was added at the end.

The sauce was slightly too runny and so I added beurre manie to thicken it – the second new technique I learnt.


I applied the pastry top, painted it with egg-wash and cut an all-important cross in the centre of each pie, before placing the pies back in the oven for around 15 minutes.

Concluding thoughts

I was unable to taste the walnuts, and my gut feeling is to remove them from the recipe, rather than forcing the issue by increasing the amount in the next iteration of the cabbage pie.

The bacon lardons turned out to be a worthwhile gambit, as it added an extra dimension to the flavour that would have been actively missed if it hadn’t been there.

I had mentioned earlier that sweetness was something I wanted to achieve, choosing to use green cabbage and red onion, and choosing not to use creme fraiche. I had not considered that the pie may turn out to be too sweet, which was the case here. Next time I will stick with my gut instincts and use creme fraiche.

The filling tasted good, but it was even tastier with tomato ketchup. I am now wondering whether this is something that can be helped. Could the tartness of the ketchup be something that should be incorporated into the cabbage pie, or is pie inevitably better with ketchup applied to it post-cooking?

These are all problems that need to be solved in the second iteration of cabbage pie.

* I had originally included a link to Roots & Fruits, but it seriously lagged out my browser. I’m not messing around, I’m talking NHS computer lag. If you still want to visit their website then click here at your own peril.

5 comments » | Food

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