Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stitches Close a Slice of Festive Spirit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stitches Close a Slice of Festive Spirit

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM GUTTERIDGE

IT was the veal stock that started it, that and my hangover from the night before.

In a bleary 6am haze the morning before Christmas, my finger got confused with the carrot I was trying to slice.

Luckily, veal and human blood taste pretty similar when they've been simmering together for a few hours.

Los Angeles brings out the chef in me, which is surprising, because most people here see little point in cooking. The choice of restaurants makes it a foodie paradise; from the heavenly In-N-Out burgers to the incredible range of steaks, sushi, Italian and Mexican.

I guess that's why many of our friends' magnificent designer kitchens house brand new, unused utensils. Why bother to cook when you can sample the world's cuisine just down the road? However, for Christmas lunch I had to make an effort. And, because Gelson's, the US equivalent of Waitrose, sells veal bones, I had the chance to prepare something I can rarely serve back home: a proper sauce with the roast.

I've never understood why in Northumberland, which has so many fine ingredients, it's almost impossible to get hold of veal. Butchers look at me with disbelief when I request it, yet I defy anyone to make a rich reduction, exploding with meaty flavour, without home-made stock.

Don't believe Marco Pierre White in those Knorr ads. His veal stock, which appears in most of his classic recipes, takes a whole 12 hours to make and the aroma is more penetrating than the rarest perfume. That's why I got up at dawn to start the vegetable chopping, but I hadn't reckoned on the sharpness of the pristine knives in the kitchen drawer.

The queue for the emergency clinic stretched out the door. Holding my middle finger in the air, in case the wound should reopen and drip blood on the carpet, I felt like an imposter. …

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