Whilst winning awards is generally considered a good thing, I think that based on life experience, they may be something I should avoid based on my surname. Really, it’s pretty simple. 4 letters. Pronunciation could be ambiguous, but I always make the spelling clear. So there are the usual mistakes: Lurry, Lewry, Lowry. However some of them make far less sense to me. Jack Curry in the programme at my first form swimming gala for example. I kid you not. In hindsight, maybe I should have taken it as a racial joke, but at the time it was just baffling. Of course I therefore had no choice but to finish last on purpose so my name would not be read out, the result in no way reflecting my prowess in the pool. Try as I might, I could not find the programme in the loft, so instead you shall have to make do with this picture of a man I found who actually is called Jack Curry
However my favourite has to be Jack Casiraghi. Again, not joking. To be fair, that one was more of a misunderstanding. Back in the days when I could actually be bothered to run about, I played for a local school football team. Beginning of the season and Chelsea signed a new striker, Perluigi Casiraghi, whose name I had printed on the back of my shirt. About 2 months into the season, Casiraghi gets badly injured and never plays football again. Consequently, he’s not around for long enough for anyone in England to really know his name. So I went the whole year wearing the shirt anyway, and come end of season award ceremony, I’m invited up on stage to collect my ‘manager’s player’ award (that’s right, I was once sporty), addressed as Jack Casiraghi. I felt correcting them would just be awkward so I went along with it.
Well, if I ever win a food award I’ll brief the master of ceremonies thoroughly. We may be a few years off that yet, but the 50 best restaurants in the world awards last night can give me something to which I can aspire. Noma were unable to hold the top spot for a fourth year (which would have equalled El Bulli’s record) and instead El Celler De Can Roca was announced as best restaurant in the world 2013 having been close to the top for several years, describing itself as ‘a freestyle restaurant committed to the avant garde’.
Many see the awards as pointless due to how subjective food is (although surely this is the same for any kind of arts awards – food as art, another blog post I keep meaning to write!) and the idea of being able to rank restaurants in such a way as worthless. Personally, when looking at the 50 best restaurant awards, I think it is a useful tool when understood to be a snapshot of the world of haute cuisine, highlighting restaurants that have been at the top of their game for the past year. The nature of the voting, carried out by 900 chefs, restaurateurs and food critics, means that a restaurant that has only been open a year can end up in the list alongside restaurants that have been around for 30 years. There is nothing wrong with this, as it is intended to be a very ‘current’ award (unlike the Michelin guide for example), but it does mean that it is, I would argue, liable to follow trends in a way that some of the other rating systems might not, e.g. I find it hard to believe that all the restaurants that use foraged foods that have appeared on the list with increasing frequency in the past few years are necessarily cooking better food than those that aren’t.
For anyone so inclined, lots of information about the winning restaurants here and plenty of food porn here http://www.theworlds50best.com/
At some point I shall hopefully get around to writing a bit more in depth about the different food ‘ratings’ systems that are used and offer some (albeit amateur) insights into the benefits of each (Michelin stars, aa rosettes, good food guide and the 50 best restaurant awards etc). However, such a post might actually require some careful thinking, so it’ll have to wait.
Right, given this was supposed to be a blog about Tante Marie I should probably talk about that now.
Cooking this week has been fairly relaxed so far. On Monday, we made chicken liver pate, melba toast (also named after the opera singer in addition to her peach dessert), and pate demi-feuilletee – or flaky pastry, which is basically halfway between rough puff pastry and puff pastry. Then today we used our pastry to make a quiche Lorraine which was nice but I don’t think quite worth it for all the work of making the pastry.
Personally I thought that the roasted butternut squash, spinach and toasted almond salad was far nicer. One of those occasions where it highlights that technical cooking offers no guarantee of superiority over something incredibly simple.
The only real stress thus far was the cigarettes Russe, which resulted in much cursing and burning of fingertips as people attempted to roll them. And for anyone curious, from the 30 seconds I shall count as my ‘research’, they are so called due to the fact the Russians traditionally roll their cigarettes diagonally, rather than using the width as the edge, the same way you roll the biscuit.
If I finally get my act together, I might try and post a bit on food and art later this week rather than writing another meandering train of thought...Might being the key word there.