Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I'd never really thought about this before but after walking away from a recent WMPC exchange with Charlie of Eatmynels, it suddenly occurred to me that to the uninformed observer, what had just happened might seem....well slightly odd. And since I've started this little project, it's obviously happened a few times now. These episodes of oddness I mean. Picture the scene. One bloke (curly hair, athletic type) turns up to Farringdon Station on his bike, hops off and inspects the contents of his Freitag. Another bloke (bald with glasses but still curiously handsome) comes walking down the street, lugging a heavy rucksack. Baldy Bloke approaches Bike Bloke and they shake hands. Bike Bloke pulls out a carrier bag from his courier bag and Baldy Bloke looks in, looks back up, smiles and give the big thumbs up. Baldy Bloke then pulls a great big fat marrow out of his rucksack and hands it over to Bike Bloke who smiles and gives the big thumbs up back. They then put the respective swapped goods into their own bags, shake hands again and leave the scene, going off in opposite directions.

Now if I had been viewing this transaction from outside The Castle, the pub across the road whilst supping a beer, my furtive imagination would have come up with all kinds of conclusions. I'd definitely be thinking "what the bloody hell is going on there then?". Particularly if I had seen Charlie beaming the way he did when he was holding said marrow in his hands. But it's funny isn't it. In this frantic, heaving, belching sprawl of a city, where it's head down, plough forward, it's highly unlikely that any passer-by would have noticed the exchange. Wouldn't it be thrilling though if you actually stopped for a minute and took a close look around you. What if you spied someone dropping a loaf of sourdough into the lap of a customer at a coffee shop before disappearing out into the street. Or if you noticed a passenger on the tube slip a leek from out of their newspaper and hand it to the person sitting next to you before jumping off at the next stop. Or say if you saw two people sit down at a park bench each placing a paper bag on the floor between them, which they surreptitiously switch before suddenly walking off. Ha! Wouldn't that be great? OK, maybe I'm getting a bit carried away but keep your eyes peeled, it is quite possible that I am not alone and that food exchanges are happening all over the place. You never know.

After all that pontificating I better get down to the business of talking about Charlie's contribution to WMPC which was well worth the price of that big fat marrow, plus some runner beans, french beans and Desiree potatoes. These potatoes by the way are a revelation, not only for their taste but for the fact that we had completely forgotten that we'd planted them in the first place. When I first dug them up at the weekend, I shouted "Bloody hell, we've got red ones!". I'm waffling again, onto Charlie's mexican feast. I vaguely recall when I first met him at the Catavino Wine and Food Bloggers get together a few months ago, that he had been professionally trained and spent some time working as a chef proper. So I was looking forward to seeing what he'd rustle up when I got his name in the diary. Even more so when he told me that he would be providing his Chilli con Carne which won the People's Choice Award at the recent chilli cook-off at All Star Lanes. And plus Charlie had even committed to cooking the rice just before we would meet, talk about ticking all the boxes! But did his chilli meet this heightened level of expectation?

Charlie con Chilli

Well of course it did. Much as I am aware that this exercise is becoming a bit of a lovefest for other blogger's cooking, Charlie's chilli really hit the spot. I don't claim to be an expert but this meal carried a real air of authenticity as he also provided two types of salsa, crème fraîche and cheese to accompany. The Chilli con Carne itself gave just the right kick, hot but not too over bearing (the addition of a scotch bonnet for decoration did worry me for a second) with lovely warm undertones of cumin and smoky paprika. The chunky meat was a nice change from the usual mincemeat texture and absorbed all the flavours well. The salsas were great, nice fresh flavours with the tomato pushing in just bit more heat whereas the sweetcorn with coriander cooled the tastebuds down and I swear there was beer in it but maybe I was just hankering after a Corona. The rice was fluffy, clean and tender having just been cooked and I was very intrigued by the little spheres in the crème fraîche, pink peppercorns Charlie? A very worthy champion indeed.

Cheers Charlie and apologies for alluding to you having inappropriate ideas about the marrow but you did say that you were going to "stuff the shit out of it"!

Sweetcorn Salsa


  1. Very nice Dan. Your WMPC idea is bearing fruit indeed. Insanely jealous about all the food you've been eating. This looks great - Im a massive fan of Chilli. Well done Eatmynels.

  2. Eeeek, the more I read of others' efforts the more nervous I feel about participating! :)

  3. I love the idea of lots of secret food swaps going on all over the place - like freecycle only much better