Archive for December 2010
I have not really got the means to go sales shopping with any great intent this year, but if I had the £, I’d totally pick up this wallpaper:
Costiness: £29.95 (was £58) from Anthropologie
Oh! and I was lucky enough to get one of my previous loves as a Christmas present, thanks to my darling husband. Sometimes wishes do come true…it’s gorgeous.
Just got my OU results for this year. I am studying for a BSc in ICT with the Open University and took two modules this year, which led to two exams and a lot of nailbiting. With the OU, you have to achieve a grade in both the coursework and examinable components to get that grade.
One of my modules was a 30 credit compulsory module, T224, in computers and processors. The other was my 60 credits of free choice for my degree, and I chose T211 in design and designing and intend to go on and do a second course (T307) to achieve a diploma in design and sustainability after my degree.
T224 – Grade 2 pass (that’s a 2:1, got a Distinction in coursework and decent Grade 2 in exam despite my maths).
T211 - DISTINCTION!!! I only dropped 8 marks in the exam, I got a Distinction in the coursework too (you have to in both parts to achieve a grade with OU), but to get 92 in the exam… I am so pleased.
I can do this…
I’m not sure where I’d find the occasion to wear it, I’d probably have to organise one myself, but I do love this Longline Embellished Jacket:
Costiness: £75 (alas!) from Miss Selfridge
Harry Styles (16) from One Direction whispers into the ear of X Factor winner Matt Cardle:
(He says: “Think how much pussy you’re gonna get!”)
As mentioned before on this blog, the independent food space Dock Street Market recently opened in Leeds. Fish & chips “with a difference” purveyors Fish& have a pop-up canteen there at selected times from Fridays to Sundays at the moment. Best to check the website to keep up to date with opening hours. Food is by Fiona Rotheray, who established the award-winning Mill Race organic restaurant in Leeds, among other things. The fish is MSC-certified from sustainable sources, so you aren’t going to get cod – but you can feel better about eating fish.
I won a competition on The Culture Vulture for a free Fish& meal for two, so husband and I dutifully turned up last night – having told them on Twitter when we fancied coming – to find they really had reserved us a table, which was lovely, and we could have anything we wanted. Husband plumped for fish in lemon, lime and chilli batter and I went for the traditional beer batter. We both had chips and crushed minted peas.
These were served at a table with a smart gingham cloth, wine glass of herbs (in lieu of a vase of flowers) and candle, plus wooden cutlery already laid. At a nearby table, an array of condiments and paper napkins could be found. There is table service for those who choose to eat in, but the cutlery is as I have described disposable, and the food is served in a fairly standard takeaway tray. This was slightly disappointing, as I prefer really crockery and cutlery when I am not getting takeaway, but this is a new venture and of course a pop-up rather than permanent canteen at this stage. I’m hoping both cutlery and trays adhere to the environmental awareness hinted at by the fish – natural materials are not automatically more sustainable than polymers. A slightly dull digression there, having spent much of the past year studying product design and sustainability.
Both fillets of non-specified white fish (I suspect Alaskan pollock) were a decent size and meaty, and quite juicy. Not quite as fresh and lightly cooked as I’d prefer, as when cut into the fish mostly stayed put, rather than falling apart in thick white flakes. However, I’m a picky sod and it was still very tasty – local chippies have sometimes served up fish cooked so long it was like leather, and so old that while not actively dangerous, it held together like tough beef before disintegrating into tiny bits.
The batter was thin, as it has been on previous occasions at Fish& tastings, and this is my preference. It could have stood to have been a little crisper, but I do have a sneaky fondness for crunchy crazy curls at either end of the fillet and it was fine as it was, even if it wouldn’t have made for good scraps (I believe elsewhere in the country these are called “bits” – the leftover shards of batter, which should be crisp and not soggy). My beer batter had excellent depth of flavour, and I tried a bit of the citrus/chilli batter, which was zingy and well-balanced.
Both of us loved the crushed minted peas – neither of us fans of the traditional mushies – and husband declared them the best peas of any kind he had ever tasted. Praise indeed. They also gave a welcome injection of colour to the dish. I was musing to myself what they’d do to the humble baked bean. Haricot beans slow cooked in tomato sauce with molasses in the original American style (but no ham hock else I couldn’t eat ‘em), maybe…
The one downside to the meal was the chips. I shouldn’t complain, as it was free, but I’ve had Fish& food twice before so I’m guessing this is not the normal state of affairs. The first time I tried their fish & chips, at their Culture Vultures event, the chips were crisp and golden and skinless. The second time, at the Dock Street Market launch, all I was able to grab was chunky potato wedges, which understandably held up better on the cocktail sticks on which they were served. I was hoping to repeat my first experience, but while the chips were perfectly edible, they were a tad overcooked and I suspect not in hot enough oil. They reminded me of my mum’s. Since about 1988, she hasn’t cooked anything unhealthy or ordered chips out, but when I was little she had a chip pan and wire basket (not deep fat fryer) and made chips on some Saturday lunchtimes. They were darker brown than chippy chips or oven chips or fries, often left the skin on, and were a bit soft and strangely sweet-tasting. They were cut more like slices of wedges rather than chipped (by the latter I mean elongated cubes). These were very similar, down to the skin on. I’m hoping it’s just because we went late on and it’s only the second weekend of the canteen. I still ate ‘em! Plus the nostalgia thing gave them a slight boost. However, to me chips should be golden, crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, and cooked at least twice (a gentle fry to break down the starch and make them fluffy on the inside and coated on the outside with a robust starch layer, and then a blisteringly hot fry to crisp up).
Overall score? 7.5 out of 10, not at all bad for a new venture. Plus I’m excited by the potential if they keep experimenting with flavours (pan-fried masala fish and a herbed breadcrumbed fillet also available, but I’m intrigued by further batter ideas).
Costiness: £5 for fish & chips, 80p for peas. No difference in price for eat-in/takeaway. Portion size – just right for one person, maybe a little heavy on the chips and a little light on the size of the fish.
Comparison with other chippies:
Our local, Daisy Fisheries, charges £3.90 for fish and chips, and a portion serves TWO of us (seriously large) if we also have beans (70p there, but we usually use our own). Their mushy peas are 65p, for them as like ‘em. They get 8 out of 10 for me, 8.5 on a good day (when the fish is freshest and the oil is at its hottest). I always wait and have mine cooked from scratch, I won’t eat stuff that’s been sitting around. Takeaway.
Posh chippy, The Magpie in Whitby, charges £5.90 for takeaway (one fish, two chips usually does us both – the fish are massive) with peas at 90p large and 55p small (same for beans). To eat in, where you get lovely crockery and cutlery and bread & butter and salad and wonderful service in a nice room if you can stand the queues, it’s £9.95 for small (still twice the size of a Fish& fish) and £11.95 for regular (enormous) or £14.95 for large (special order only, would feed a football team). I often end up having the kids’ portion, at £6.95. Their restaurant gets a 9.5 from me (and I love lots of their other dishes) despite the cost, but the takeaway is variable quality from 7 to 9 out of 10 in my experience. The fish is always absolutely fresh and of the best quality, as you’d expect.
Do I recommend Fish& – absolutely, and I think the potential I see now could well lead to an excellent chippy with a twist in future. I’m sure they’ll get a 9 from me in time. If they do me a cumin, coriander, ginger and rose harissa batter…