Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tonight's Special Guest Star IS.........


Do not adjust your browsers.

This week’s special guest-star on “Where is my pork chop” will be me “Dan” (Another Essex Dan you ask aghast? – yes indeed, we are rather prolific)… lucky, lucky people.

Let me introduce myself. You may know me from the rather fabulous, award winning* blog Essex Eating and also perhaps, for the more eagle eyed amongst you, from a series of “educational” films I made in Amsterdam in the late 80’s, which frankly I’m not proud of …anyway…moving on…

The Roman poet, Juvenal once said "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" Which, translates as “Who will guard the guards themselves?” or as it is more commonly known “Who watches the watchmen?” Who indeed? And how does a Roman Poet have any bearing on Where Is My Pork Chop?

Let me illuminate you….

As you know, FoodUrchin has been quietly meeting scores of bloggers across the capital and stuffing their rather superb food and then writing up the results on this very blog.

The question that quickly became apparent to my keen analytical mind was “Ok, we know FoodUrchin can eat – but can he cook himself?” – who passes judgement on his cooking? He may look like a frankly uglier version of Heston Blumenthal, but that’s no guarantee of anything…Triple cooked chips or McCain’s oven chips is the question…or “Who watches the watchmen?” (See what I did there?)

Just before Christmas, I put this to FoodUrchin and he enthusiastically agreed to respond to the challenge by cooking for me, in a reverse of the WMPC format… I would then review his food on his own blog…he also insisted that I be honest and say exactly what I thought…. supremely confident or unquestionably stupid? Looking at the earnest yet blank look on his face, I wasn’t entirely sure.

I met FoodUrchin on a freezing cold December lunchtime at St Pancras. He handed over a rather impressive, heavy and bulging bag full of takeaway cartons, and I bought him some Churros from the conveniently placed window on the corner of the British Library by way of payment (see my latest post for details of those).

FoodUrchin informed me that as I’d recently returned from Nuremberg, he had been inspired to prepare a German feast for me, with an added WMPC connection – yes, it was Pork!

The contents were as follows…

Pork knuckle, braised in cider with caramelised onions.
Spiced red cabbage with apple
Potatoes layered with chestnut mushrooms and thyme.
Nigel Slater's recipe Christmas pudding

He also emailed me a rather comprehensive list of instructions for re-heating.

The smells coming from the bag as it sat on my desk that afternoon in the office made my stomach grumble…spicy, sweet. I couldn’t wait to get the contents home and into my frankly, rather svelte belly.

Arriving home in the evening, and practically bursting through the front door and running upstairs – I unpacked the contents of the bag and for the first time realised how much effort had gone into this. A hell of a lot of cartons were stacked up on my worktop.

Following the re-heating instructions meticulously, It was with bated breath that I finally served up two straining plates of FoodUrchin’s grub, the smell was gorgeous –like Christmas in Germany actually.

I’d love to say it was inedible. I’d love to say that FoodUrchin couldn’t cook for toffee. (He recently beat me at the Bisol Prosecco food matching competition; his smug grin still haunts my nightmares).

But, no.

This was superb.

The Pork Knuckle was beautifully cooked and moist, the accompanying cider and onion sauce was lovely. The spiced red cabbage with apple, a perfect choice to eat alongside the pork, smelt and tasted incredible.

Now, I promised FoodUrchin I’d be honest, so the potatoes layered with chestnut mushrooms and thyme didn’t live up to their promise…. they were nice, and I scoffed the lot, but they tasted like they’d been ‘re-heated’ this dish probably being something which just doesn’t respond well to being allowed to cool and then warmed up again. But this is but a small gripe.

Finally – the addition, which surprised and delighted me the most, a homemade Christmas pudding! Doing it the justice it deserved, I set light to it with some Brandy and dug in.Wow!

I love Christmas pudding, and over the years I’ve spent ages poring over reviews and tracking down noteworthy examples.
FoodUrchin’s is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted, rich, and decadent – bloody gorgeous basically. I was beyond impressed. I’d happily hand over money for another one.

So there you have it WMPC readers, FoodUrchin irritatingly, put his money where his mouth is and delivered the goods. His cooking is a treat…seriously; I ALWAYS cook and I loved the idea of someone cooking for me for a change, that it was all so well made was just icing on the cake.

Well done FoodUrchin…(you git).

Dan - Essex Eating

*Disclaimer – this statement may, or may not be true.

OK first of all I would like to say that no money, stolen goods or bodily fluids were exchanged for this lovely review so thanks Dan.

Secondly Dan, I really really appreciate your honesty and I am always up for some constructive criticsm but seriously, diss my facking pototoes like that again and I'm going to come around and burn your facking house down you slaaaag.

And thirdly, yes folks, not content with eating your food, I now want you to write my posts for me so if you are interested in a bit of reverse WMPC action (oo-er) then drop me a line. This is truly what the project is all about, swapping meals and swapping stories.

Danny - Food Urchin


  1. Cracking write up Dan, although feel the pressure is now on for my own mission into WMPC territory next week.

  2. Dan, thanks for cooking for me and allowing me the chance to write about it on your blog. It was superb, apart from the potatoes....which, as you like my honesty so much - I wouldn't have fed to my dog. And also, why I'm at it - why wasn't there something to drink in there as well you waaaanker? what sort of half arsed operation are you running here?
    mwah mwah
    Essex Eating

  3. Fantastic as always, Danny/Dan/Danny/Dan ....

    aarrrgh, it's bad enough that you're both called Daniel, this really messed with my brain 0_o

  4. Three points:

    1. I hate to say it but these McCain oven chips can actually give triple cooked a good run for their money - why because look in the bag and you will see they are coated in delicious beef dripping - calorie a go go

    2. Mr Urchin I am still awaiting your response to my email of many weeks ago volunteering to be cooked for on an individual basis by you or are you doing this in the same strict order as we cooked for you. come on get on with it boy!

    3. Mr Essex nice post good writing style the Urchin should be worried.

  5. My favourite line: "I’d love to say it was inedible." Hehehe

    Knowing how much effort goes into a Christmas pudding, and having discussed the topic with Danny, I hope you were extremely grateful for that pudding Dan! That was the equivalent of Mr WMPC giving you his first born - only tastier.

    I will happily receive your food, eat it and be honest about it Danny! - Actually, why don't you come to my house and cook for 18 of my supper club guests!

  6. Great write up Dan and very funny :)

    Danny, the meal sounded wonderful. I'm sure the potatoes were delicious too, but he had to find fault somewhere didn't he?

    You can cook for me anytime, but if it icludes Tiny, make three portions oh and include a bone.

  7. This cracked me up. Nice work. And very impressive flaming pudding.