What’s the craic, folks? You may have noticed that there has been something of a Taste Scene hiatus in recent weeks.
This was necessary for several reasons but mostly because I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest and I’ve barely had time to eat, never mind write about eating.
However, the butts have been kicked and I’m back and the hunger is upon me.
“The hunger is always upon you, you fat clown.”
God, how I have missed my abusive, inner child.
At the time of writing, I am anticipating a fine meal at a local restaurant. It’s a celebration of the summer holidays arriving coupled with good report cards coupled with that aforementioned hunger being upon me.
Then tomorrow night is the real end of term party (a request has come in from the little humans for tuna sushi and chicken goujons – who am I to argue?) and then it’ll be Saturday and all the usual gastronomic wonders on that most auspicious day of the week. No doubt the hunger will be upon me then and I’ll fire up something on Saturday evening which is both tasty, bad for me and covered in cheese.
Last week, I made my first and second batches of pesto from the basil I grew in the polytunnel. Coupled with pinenuts, a little garlic, olive oil, parmesan and salt, and I was the happiest gardener this side of Christianity. It worked a treat in hot pasta but also as a top level condiment for my lunch-time wraps and sarnies. Unbelievably, it also worked a treat on Sunday’s fluffy scrambled eggs – but that’s another story.
So as you can see, I haven’t lost my appetite despite the hiatus.
As you can also see from the pictures, this week is Product Placement Week. However, instead of influencers receiving their stuff for free, I have to buy mine.
As a busy person (see context remark from earlier), I am all too aware that life moves pretty fast and with the result, we don’t always have time to cook from scratch. More’s the pity.
These are some of the new bits and pieces which have arrived in my world over the past while and which have ultimately saved time and/or expense (or which are just simply great) and which I feel bound to share.
“You should share more of your food and then you wouldn’t be as fat, clown-face!”
Gawd, but I’ve missed this!
Revelator West Coast IPA: £3
The tin shows a Grim Reaper character wearing a rosary and playing the saxophone – an almost perfect illustration of the complexity of this beer. The Grim Reaper depicts the strength of the beer (5.9 per-cent), the saxophone is the tune it will play in your soul and the rosary is for your prayers in the morning if you drink six of them. It’s also piney and resinous and really, really fresh. Deadly gear.
Schwarts Zaatar Seasoning: £2.40
Mix with a few drips of olive oil to make a stupendous dip for crusty bread. Sprinkle onto hummus for a cosmic dimension. Use as a marinade for chicken and then watch yourself getting fatter when you can’t stop eating; this middle eastern extravaganza of taste (sumac, thyme and sesame) takes your snacking to another level.
Batts Real Mayonnaise: 89p
Costy just 89 of your hard-earned pennies, this humble mayo is as good as any of the so-called premium brands and possibly even better. Slightly citrusy but very well balanced and beautifully thick, this stuff is best friends with tuna or chicken or eggs. Also, did I mention it’s only 89p?
Frank’s Red Hot Smoked Chipotle: £1.65
Some hot sauces can be lacking in depth and intensity – but not this one. Frank (whoever Frank is) hit the jackpot with this sauce which works wonders as a simple condiment but also as a base for marinades for meat. Levi Roots used to talk about putting some music in your food. This stuff is the rock ‘n’ roll of food enhancement.
Manhattan Cheddar Cheese Popcorn: (Don’t know how much it is and it’s only available south of the border)
Full of mad chemicals (it’s advisable not to look at the ingredients list on the back), this stuff is as addictive as as drug. It’s fluffy, cheesy, moreish and wacky as Timmy Mallet – you’ll hoover up the contents and then lick the bag clean.
Hash Brown Waffles: £3.10
Better than waffles and better than hash browns, these bad boys elevate a bacon and egg sandwich on a Sunday morning to new and celestial levels. Crispy and salty and entirely processed junk food, these are now ever-present in our freezer. The more you have, the more you’ll eat. God, I’d love one now!
Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella: £4
Slightly expensive but can you really put a price on the divine? Torn or sliced and partnered with sweet tomatoes, salt and fresh basil, this stuff is beautifully bland but beautifully brilliant. You can practically taste the goodness coming from the lush Irish climate. Buffalos in Ireland is a thing!
Kohinoor Tarka Dal: £1.85
Almost as good as my own tarka dal but without the massive effort involved, this is a great store cupboard ingredient. Great over freshly boiled rice and equally as great as a substantial dip for ripped Nan bread, add some yogurt and mango chutney for maximum effect. Rub it all round ye.
Kelly’s White Pudding: £2.50
At least with black pudding there are leftovers following our weekly Sunday fry. But with this stuff, there isn’t a crumb left. Pair with a soft poached egg, crispy streaky bacon and Hash Brown Waffles. Cholesterol be damned!
Kikkoman Soy Sauce: £7.25 for a litre
This award winning soy of Japanese origin is the only soy I find that I need. Exploding with umami and perfect for any variation of Asian cooking, I also use dashes of this stuff in stews and sauces. Is it wrong to take swigs from the bottle? No. No, it isn’t.
Mutti has only recently arrived in this neck of the woods. The king of tinned tomatoes (and all tomato products in general), these are also at the more expensive end of the spectrum. However, they are entirely worth it. And they are also the best. I’m thinking of getting a ‘Mutti’ tattoo.
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