Excuse the hiatus in all things culinary but the combination of building works, a bastard of a flu and the World Cup have put blogging a little way into background. Fear not, Monkey Gland has returned, though there may have to be the odd break as I type whilst I shout at the TV and offer a host of footballing platitudes to no one in particular.
I've never been one to try and replicate the food I eat in restaurants when I am at home. It always seems a bit of a push to me and when I have attempted it from recipe books or from memory it always ends up with me using most of the kitchen equipment in the cupboards and being slightly depressed at the end of it all. The results are of course never the same and with good reason. It's not like I get back from the cinema and then attempt to drive my car at a hundred miles an hour through heavy traffic whilst being chased by the KGB. That probably says more about my movie watching habits that anything else. It's not that I am a bad cook, but there are things better left to the pros, be they British spies or cooks.
Sometime you come across something so simple and so good to eat you feel that you just have to give it a go. This is poached eggs with whipped yoghurt and chili butter and it is on the brunch menu at The Providores and Tapa Room on Marylebone High Street and it is a delight with a chunk of crusty bread on a Sunday morning. The simple rich tones of the egg with the delicate whipped yoghurt and then the bite of chili really works. The whipped yoghurt was a revelation. The process of whipping makes the yoghurt silky smooth, it doesn't thicken, it just becomes delicate and light. A superb way to start the day now that the temperature has risen and summer has finally arrived. Of course, now the World Cup has started bacon sarnies are more appropriate but hey, there's only so much bacon one man can eat. It's a lot. But only so much.
Eating in restaurants is to be entertained. Be it by the skill, wit and drama of a chef with three Michelin stars or by a Chinese Elvis impersonator with crispy duck it doesn't really matter. It's a question of feeling that I have been taken on some sort of journey. I have friends, and we all know people like this, that will order the steak whenever they are in a restaurant, and I mean whenever. They are the reason why they always have the steak on the menu. It always bemuses me slightly, I mean, why? I can cook a bad ass steak at home. I know where it's come from and I know exactly how I like it. I want to be challenged and provoked or comforted and soothed by food I'll never make at home, that I'll never even attempt.
It begs the question then, why is it I buy so many damn cookbooks from restaurants? I'm looking for inspiration I suppose, looking for something different, a combination of flavours, a certain way of looking at an ingredient, looking at the book as more of a document, more of a record of a way of thinking that a rule book for recreating something I'll never quite master. Or I might just be a sucker for a picture of cooked fish.