Tuesday, 13 April 2010

No Sex Please We're British

I don't know why but some folk seem to have this impression of me as a bit of a cheeky so and so, particularly with regards to this little project of mine. I can't see the problem really. I'm just asking people to feed me, that's all. OK so I'll often come at them out of the blue, assaulting them unexpectedly through a series of bombarding emails, brusk direct messages on Twitter and nasty comments on blogsites. What's wrong with that?

I don't do that really of course, no I like to think that my approach comes across as sage and thought provoking. Whenever I ask the question "have you ever heard of Where's My Pork Chop?", I like to think that it has the same impact as "have you ever considered donating blood, life assurance or a future in plastics?" To my mind, it is certainly a contemplative question and one we should all ponder carefully.

The 'ooh you cheeky monkey' factor cropped up recently when during the finale of the recent MasterChef series, I started probing Dhruv, Alex and Tim on Twitter to see if they would be up for taking part in WMPC. Given some of the reactions from my fellow tweeters, you'd have thought that I was offering to pull them all off but I was simply testing the water, just to see if they would be interested. It's not like they're the first MC competitors I've propositioned. I've been gently tickling Thomasina Miers for ages now, though have laid off from that lately due to a court injunction she had issued against me. I even managed to get hold of Mat Follas' email address, sending him a entertaining and witty invite to take part but I haven't heard anything so that was a total waste of money. But why am I bugging, sorry appealing to former MasterChef winners to take part? Well, I'd simply like to up the ante and start getting higher profile faces involved, you know like proper cooks. HA! Opps, sorry, I really was being cheeky there! No, in reality I am just trying my luck so Dhruv, Alex or Tim, if you do happen to read this please consider it and seriously.

Because I now know where you all live.

After saying all of that though, I am delighted to say that the most recent participant in WMPC has had a brush with television fame so I am getting there. It took a few months of wrangling and co-ordinating of diaries but I finally got to meet up with Mathilde of Mathilde's Cuisine before Easter. This Gallic blogger who also works in Food PR is indeed a busy lady but still managed to find time to take part in a recent series of Instant Restaurant shown on BBC2 which pits two amateur cooks against each other, opening a restaurant in their own homes for one night only. Sure the programme was jumping on the whole underground, pop-up, Come Dine With Me roundabout that seems to be the formula for food telly at the moment but Mathilde carried herself with great aplomb and came out victorious in her particular episode. She was clearly passionate and focused about food, especially her native French cuisine and it was obvious from the start that she was going to win. It also helped that her opposite contestant was a complete chancer with a fetish for Johnny Depp and couldn't really cook for toffee. One distinct thing I remember from watching the programme was wondering how much that drunk Frenchman got paid and how easily I could do that for a living (you probably have to watch the programme to have a clue what I am talking about).

So I met Mathilde for the swap at Chilango in Fleet Street and judging by the queue snaking out of the door, it does seem that the public has taken the humble burrito to heart. Being in public relations, Mathilde had naturally procured some vouchers for the said burritos so all I had to stump up for my WMPC meal was a mere couple of bottles of Corona. We found a spot in the crowded and narrow bar and then proceeded to chow down over a natter. I should mention that I've met Mathilde quite a few times now so it was good to catch up and chat about food, ideas and life in general. Mathilde is getting married later in the year and having got 8 years under my belt I was able to impart what I hope were some pearls of wisdom but nothing could have prepared me for one of her questions. I had just given a rundown of the impact that children have your life (insert here the words joyous, tiring, hilarious, draining etc) when Mathilde made the innocent enquiry "and the sex, 'ow ez it with your wife?"*. I have to say, at that point I had just gulped down a mouthful of steak and guacamole and very nearly choked before composing myself and replying with stereotypical British restraint "yes, well er we keep the flames alive er yes". I don't know what embarrassed me more, the question or the bloody answer but I do know that afterwards I felt like some black and white character from post-war British cinema. Damn you Mathilde and your liberal continental attitude to life! Luckily, normal service quickly resumed and I don't think that she noticed my blushes. Besides, it was soon time to get back to the office and Mathilde had to get to Gatwick to fly off to Amsterdam with her fiancé for space cakes and illicit pre-marital how's yer father no doubt (disgusting)

So what did Mathilde cook for me? Well I have to say that this was the simplest meal that I have had so far but it certainly didn't lack in the flavour and sustenance department. Mathilde had whizzed up a sauce made from port, cream, mushroom, lemon and a dash of tomato paste which was to be heated and given me some ham to slice up and stir through. And in turn, this was to be served on a bed of mixed rice. Like I said, simple and as often is the case when you take that route it was delicious. The sauce which was salmon pink in colour did look slightly odd so I added a sprinkle of chopped parsley for photographising purposes but still it tasted wonderful. The port and cream added a certain richness but it was far from heavy or cloying and went well with the ham. I was surprised to discover that she left out onion when making the sauce but only because Mathilde is a fervent campaigner for this vegetable. The rice had been perfectly cooked and provided an ample base for this filling supper. I have to add as an extra that the ham that Mathilde had bought from Downland Produce was sublime. It was full of hammy, porky goodness and so so good and I need to find out where she gets it from.

Thanks again Mathilde, your contribution was très bon (you saucy wench).
*Since posting there has been some debate as to whether Mathilde actually said that or whether it was all lost in translation. I know I definitely made the 'keeping flames alive' comment so it's staying in (despite my further embarrassment!)

Mathilde's Ham Supper served in a Port, Cream and Mushroom Sauce on a bed of Mixed Rice

Sublime Ham

Parsley added for photographising purposes

Must find that flame, must stoke the fires, must......eh? How the hell can anyone manage that?