Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Best Show on TV? Mos Def!

BBC 2 have confirmed that they will be airing The Wire in its entirety as of 30th March (albeit at the ridiculous time of 11.20pm) as blogged by the Guardian. Great news! Not that it makes much difference to me since I have already purchased all 5 series box sets. This critically acclaimed drama, revolving around the drug culture in western Baltimore but also encompassing social, political and educational dimensions, is quite simply the finest television series I have ever watched. It perhaps even surpasses The Sopranos in terms of the quality and sophistication of the writing, which i did not think possible. If you only watch one TV show again, make sure it is The Wire.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Calm Down, Calm Down. Rafa hasn't lost it after all.

Saturday 14th March 2009. A swinging of the championship pendulum? Liverpool emerged from Old Trafford yesterday in glorious fashion, picking up all 3 points and breathing new life into this seasons title bid. Ludicrously, Alex Ferguson claimed his was the better side on the day and were unlucky not to have claimed at least a draw. The rest of us witnessed a display of maturity, discipline and ruthlessness that will hopefully give the Merseysiders the confidence to go on and pick up maximum points from their remaining fixtures. Against a side who had previously conceded just 5 goals at home all season, this was quite a statement. Steven Gerrard was in inspired form, adding weight to Zinedine Zidane's claim earlier in the week that he is currently the best midfielder in world football. Fernando Torres looks back to his best, having completely humiliated Nemanja Vidic, a player let's not forget who is being touted for Footballer of the Year. Sami Hyypia had Shrek Rooney in his back pocket all afternoon, barely breaking sweat in the process. But it was the underrated Brazilian, Fabio Aurelio, who picked up Man of the Match. Aurelio seems to quietly go about his business but always looks assured defensively, and is willing to get forward and supply pinpoint deliveries from the left side. Such was Liverpool's domination by the end of the match, even Dossena got in on the act in injury time! The mass exodus of Old Trafford following the Italian's lobbed goal was one of the more satisfying aspects of yesterdays events.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that in Gerrard andTorres, Liverpool possess the two finest footballers in Europe at present. Keeping these two fit will be key to the rest of the season. Manchester are still in a strong position and huge favourites to claim an 18th title. However, contrary to media hype, they are not the best side ever to have played the game. They have a potentially difficult run in including Arsenal and Aston Villa at home, a Manchester derby and away fixtures at Sunderland and relegation battlers Hull City. Liverpool showed yesterday that if you press them and set about them in a positive manner, United are far from unbeatable. As Gerrard noted in his post match interview, this result will hopefully give other teams the belief that they can also take points from Old Trafford. Though he will not admit it in public, the petulant, ungracious and utterly detestable Ferguson will be nervous. He knows his sides confidence will have been rattled by yesterdays result and performance. Is the pendulum swinging again towards Merseyside? Make a note in your diary......


A friend of mine recently expressed his frustration at being unable to cook an edible poached egg. I must admit, poaching is probably the most difficult form of egg cookery to master. Most amateurs end up with something that resembles little more than hardened yolk with most of the egg white disintegrating in the water, which ends up looking like 'egg soup'. The secret (apart from using an egg poacher) is to protect the egg from the water. There is no white wine vinegar, whisks, swirling or any other convoluted method you may have read about in other recipe books. All you will require is a mug and some cling film.

To make the perfect poached egg, line the inside of a normal sized mug with a sheet of cling film. Break the egg into the cup then lift out the cling film and egg, scrunching it at the top so it forms a parcel. It should resemble something like a goldfish bag that you would see at a funfair. Place the egg parcel into a pan of simmering hot water, making sure that the scrunched part is hanging outside of the pan. Let this simmer for approximately 3-4 minutes. As ever, it will require your own judgement as to when the egg is cooked to your liking. When ready, lift the parcel out, unwrap and carefully slide onto a slice of buttered toast. This method avoids the sometimes rubbery texture you often find when using purpose made poacher. I guarantee there is no better way of cooking an egg.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

World Book Day

As today is World Book Day, I’d like to invite readers of DAOILAL what their favourite book is. Mine is the epic ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ by Apsley Cherry Garrard, which is a powerful account of Scott’s Antarctic Expedition between 1910-1913. Garrard, who was the youngest member of the expedition team, describes the extreme hardships the party had to endure over the three years, including of course Scott’s ultimately tragic Polar Journey. He also portrays the sheer natural beauty of this vast frozen continent, his various encounters with the native wildlife (including Killer Whales), and the difficulties in overcoming such isolation. At its heart, The Worst Journey, aided by Garrard’s modest style, is about human spirit and humbles the reader, forcing a reappraisal of the true meaning of courage and endurance.

As a sideline, I'm not one of the 42% of folk who have lied about reading Orwell's 1984. It is in my top 10, although not as good as Down and Out in Paris and London!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hernandez's Haute Cuisine # 3

I think I raised the barrier to new heights this evening with a quite simply sublime madras curry. For this dish you will require:

1 chicken breast

1 onion (diced)

1 clove of garlic (crushed)

1 tin coconut milk

cumin powder

tumeric powder

fresh coriander

baby spinach leaves

ground fenugreek

curry paste


rice to serve

First of all seal the chicken by frying in a little olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute (take care that the garlic does not burn). Next, coat this mixture with a tablespoon each of the cumin, tumeric and fenugreek. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Then add roughly a tablespoon of the curry paste. You can use whatever variety you wish - I like my curries fairly hot but not overpowering so I used Madras paste on this occasion. I should note that using paste may be seen by some as cheating, but since I am not a Michelin star chef (yet) I see no harm in taking this minor shortcut. Let this mixture simmer for around 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently. When almost done, add in the coriander and spinach leaves and simmer for another 2 minutes. It should then be ready to serve with some basmati or Thai fragrant rice, a wedge of lime, some naan bread and a nice cold glass of beer. Fantastic!