The Scran & Scallie

030413the-scran-and-scallie-bar003-2It’s a restaurant truth universally acknowledged that, if you’re a well-known chef with a Michelin-starred restaurant, you can charge whatever you damn well please and people will pay it, even when the food is mostly the same mediocre deep-fry fest you can get at any other pub. Or the chippy next door.

This is clearly the philosophy Tom Kitchn’s working off of at his popular Stockbridge gastropub, The Scran & Scallie. Kitchn’s best known for being the owner of The Kitchn and for being the youngest recipient of a Michelin star. The Scran & Scallie opened up a few months ago, and given his reputation, I was intrigued. Though the menu was…not terribly inventive, I thought there surely must be some hidden surprises. The fish and chips weren’t just fish and chips, right? Surely there was some curry spicing in the batter or something to elevate it a little above what you could find in any middling pub?

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Downton Dish: Posh Popcorn

It’s summertime at Downton, which means it must be time for some sort of sporting event/fair/celebration that’s terribly important, despite the fact we’ve never heard anything about it prior to now. This year, it’s the annual bazaar, which has fallen into Cora’s lap while her husband’s away keeping her brother’s ass out of a witness box. Everyone else at Downton is dealing with serious issues, … Continue reading Downton Dish: Posh Popcorn

Downton Dish: Ham and Eggs

Ahh, the Downton pigs. Who knew they’d be so good as a matchmaking tool? And, of course, the person hired to take care of them is completely incompetent because the Crawleys actually really suck at this whole landowning thing. How are these people still rich? Oh, right, numerous lucky inheritances. Anyway, it’s a good thing Blake’s on hand this episode to whip out his surprising … Continue reading Downton Dish: Ham and Eggs

Downton Dish: Molten Toffee Puddings

Surprises come in all shapes and sizes this episode. There’s Robert’s surprise birthday party, with Rose’s ‘gift’ to him (which turns out to be more of a gift to herself), and a few other things, good and bad. Since I’ve been skewing savoury on these blogs the past few weeks, I thought I’d go the sweet route and serve up some cake with a surprise … Continue reading Downton Dish: Molten Toffee Puddings

Downton Dish: Vichyssoise

At last, Alfred’s oft-mentioned interest in cooking is about to pay off…maybe. Our tall footman friend is off to London to embark on a slightly less ridiculous and profanity-laden version of Hell’s Kitchen. The prize? A place at the Ritz, which was (and is) no joke. They don’t just hire anyone, so you’d better know your French classics. Classics like Vichyssoise, or posh potato soup, … Continue reading Downton Dish: Vichyssoise

Downton Dish: Filo-Wrapped Asparagus

Things are heating up a bit for a few characters (in both good and bad ways), so it’s not hugely surprising that one of Ivy’s tasks this week is to make a classic aphrodisiac: asparagus.

Nobody’s really sure if asparagus enhances the libido. It’s status as an aphrodisiac goes back to the Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient theory that holds that plants and herbs which look like a part of the body will enhance or heal the functions of that part. Not too many people believe in the Doctrine of Signatures anymore, but there are plenty who hold that asparagus is best shared with a lover. And really, when it comes to aphrodisiacs, a lot of the power lies in belief and suggestion, right? So whip some of these together, share ‘em with your honey, and enjoy tonight’s (significantly less scarring) episode.

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Great British Bakeoff: Pie? Oh, My!

Kimberleys-winning-bacon-chicken-butternut-squash-and-tumeric-filo-pie-Previously on The Great British Bakeoff: Poor Howard had a terrible week as his custard got pinched and things kept just going wrong from there. He managed to hang on, though, and instead we lost Mark and Deborah. Ruby continued knocking it out of the park, but she was beaten out for Star Baker by Christine, who was flat-out amazing.

It’s tarts week, so feel free to insert your own very obvious joke there. Mel and Sue are wearing fake fat bellies and singing ‘who ate all the pies’. Heh. The Bakewells are welcomed to ‘a life of pie’ and reassured they won’t have to look after a tiger. They will have to do a double-crusted fruit pie for their signature bake. Mmmm, pie. It’s feeling like proper autumn here now, which is strangely putting me in a fruit pie mood. The apples are particularly fabulous this year, so now I want apple pie. Mmm, apple pie.

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Great British Bakeoff: Oh, it’s Just a Trifle

how_to_make_trifle_89033_16x9Previously on The Great British Bakeoff: Ruby had an amazing turnaround while Lucy and her organic, homegrown boringness was sent packing.

It’s desserts week, which makes Christine happy, because she loves desserts. Presumably she wouldn’t be on this show if she didn’t, right? Sue welcomes the Bakewells back and tells them they’re starting off with trifles. Mmmm, trifle. Everyone’s super confident, but the VO tells us this is a test of multitasking as well as baking, because you need all these distinct layers of cake, some sort of jam-like thing, and custard, all of which need to be made separately and assembled. Paul tells us it’s hard to keep all the layers separate, which I’ve never found, and Mary says most trifles are pretty soft all the way through.

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The Great British Bakeoff: Let Them Eat Cake!

gbboAwwww, yeah! It’s the Great British Bakeoff, everybody! I don’t know quite what it is about this particular cooking show, but I’m super hooked. Actually, I do think I know what it is. It’s just charming. People screw up, and they make some truly inspired stuff. The presenters aren’t too serious—they make lame jokes and laugh at their lameness, and we have Mary’s nice grandmotherly routine to balance out Paul’s tendency to sneer and be sarcastic. And you get the sense that there’s some actual support for the bakers, from each other and from Sue and Mel, which is a nice break from the cutthroat attitudes you see on most other cooking and baking shows. I can’t recall ever having seen a person on the show who was clearly cast to be the ‘villain’ character. It’s refreshing. Plus, I always learn something (actually, often several things) and get seriously inspired by the recipes. These people know their stuff. And the tent where they hold the thing is decorated rather adorably in a way that strikes me as so charmingly British. Not realistic British, British like out of a magazine, but still, cozy and a bit kitchy. Charming.

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