Food to (almost) die for
Wednesday 23rd October 2013, 1:31PM BST.
Suddenly bucket lists, those collections of things to do before you die – or, as the phrase goes, kick the bucket – are all the rage.
The practice has spiralled in popularity following the 2007 film of the same name in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred as two terminally ill characters on an adventure to sample all those experiences they always wished they had enjoyed.
Now there’s a Food Lovers’ Bucket List, dreamed up by Kenwood and a panel of experts including critic Giles Coren, Waitrose magazine editor and sometime MasterChef judge William Sitwell and Great British Bake Off finalist Miranda Gore Brown.
It’s not as heavy and emotional as Nicholson and Freeman’s road trip – think death by chocolate rather than actual death – but nevertheless it was a serious business for those who helped to compile it.
Simon Rimmer, best known as the cook on Channel 4′s Sunday Brunch, was among those deciding what had to appear in the top 50.
“There are many things that play a part, aside from ego and desire of those on the panel,” he explains.
“First, we had to know where to pitch it. With myself, William and Giles, the natural inclination was to think about the most amazing thing we’d ever eaten, or the most unbelievable experience, but then you think what your mum might want, what my kids would like or what I’d like them to do.”
As a result, alongside visiting certain restaurants around the world, there are some simpler, yet truly rewarding experiences among the 50.
Cooking a curry from scratch is one of them, for example. Not something that should trouble even the most amateur home cook, and not needlessly extravagant, but something we should all do at least once.
Catching a fish and cooking it on the beach is another. OK, it’s not something you could do each day for your tea, but it does sound quite romantic. Baking a chocolate cake with your children is a third choice, and perhaps typifies the idea of the simple pleasure.
“When that one came up everyone around the table just said ‘Oh yes, absolutely’,” says Rimmer, who says he’s done around 40 of the final 50 on the list.
There were three items he was particularly keen to fight for, and number one was Betty’s Tea Room in Harrogate.
Rimmer loves the place – he had his wedding reception in the York branch of the tea room and says he’d recommend a visit to anyone.
“It’s deliriously overpriced, but the level of service and quality of food make it worthwhile. You might pay £7 for a piece of fruitcake, but then if you were sitting opposite the Place de l’Opera in Paris, you wouldn’t moan about your nine-euro coffee, you’d just admire the view.
“These aren’t about everyday experiences, I’m not suggesting going there is something you do on your way to work.”
He wasn’t quite so lucky with ‘eating cold baked beans from the can’ and ‘eating a doner kebab’ – perhaps the rest of the panel don’t know what it’s like to be a hungry, drunk student – but his choice of fish and chips made the grade.
“I even stated which chippy it should be – and that’s Seniors just outside Blackpool,” he says, explaining it exemplifies everything that’s great about a local institution.
“It was very tough deciding these things, and the meetings were fraught with lots of shouting,” says Rimmer.
“The thing is, if we’d been asked to make a list of 500, we could’ve done it, but I’m very pleased with the 50 things we’ve chosen. I honestly think it’s a list for everyone.”
Here are some bucket list experiences for you to try at home.
French onion soup by Jean-Christophe Novelli
Bucket List experience: Making your own soup
50g unsalted butter
1tbsp olive oil
1kg red onions, thinly sliced
1 sprig fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 bay leaves
3tsp caster sugar
750ml dry white wine
350ml hot vegetable stock
1tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
For the croutons:
1 garlic clove, peeled
180g Gruyere cheese, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the oil and gently cook the onions for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Add the herbs and seasoning, sprinkle over the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are melting and glossy.
Pour in the wine and raise the heat. Bring back to the boil and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes. Add the hot stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.
When you are ready to serve the soup, preheat the grill. Slice the baguette diagonally and dry-fry in a heavy-based pan without oil or butter. While it’s toasting, rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of the pan to infuse the bread. When the baguette pieces are golden brown, top with the sliced cheese, grind over the pepper, sprinkle with the paprika, and grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.
Just before serving the soup, add the lemon juice and stir. Ladle into hot bowls and top with the cheesy croutons. Serve immediately.
Chorizo scotch eggs with pepper chutney by Simon Rimmer
Bucket List experience: British ale with a Scotch egg
6 hard-boiled eggs, cooked for a maximum of 6 minutes
175g sausage meat
75g finely diced chorizo
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp finely chopped chives
Oil for frying
Plenty of salt and white pepper
For the pepper chutney:
1 red onion, sliced
4 red peppers, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
8 gherkins, chopped
100g demerara sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
Mix the sausage meat, chorizo, parsley and chives together and season generously. Divide into 16 pieces and press flat. Shell the egg, then roll it in flour to make sure it has a dry surface and the other things stick to it properly. Roll it in a little beaten egg, then wrap the sausage/chorizo mix around it.
Combine the polenta and breadcrumbs. Roll the eggs in breadcrumbs/polenta mixture. Deep fry at 180C for four minutes, turning regularly.
To make the chutney, fry the onion, garlic and chilli for three to four minutes to soften. Add the peppers, and cook for two minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar, boil for 10 minutes, and take off heat. Finally add the capers, gherkins, season and cool.
Serve the chutney with Scotch eggs and a little pretty salad garnish.
Chocolate fondants by Felicity Cloake
Bucket List experience: Chocolate Fondant Pudding
(Makes 2 puddings)
60g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra to grease
1tbsp cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
1tbsp plain flour
Pre-heat the oven to 200C and put a baking tray on the middle shelf. Grease the inside of two small ramekins or pudding moulds. Put the cocoa in one and turn it to coat the inside, holding it over the second mould to catch any that escapes. Do the same with the other mould.
Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Allow to cool slightly.
Vigorously whisk together the egg, yolk, sugar and a pinch of salt with a hand mixer, until pale and fluffy. Lower the speed of the hand mixer, add in the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour. Spoon into the prepared moulds, stopping just shy of the top. At this point the mixture can be refrigerated until needed, or even frozen, as the puddings will not wait around once cooked.
Put on to a hot baking tray and cook for 12 minutes (14 if from cold, 16 if from frozen) until the tops are set and coming away from the sides of the moulds. Leave to rest for 30 seconds and then serve in the ramekins or turn out on to plates if you’re feeling confident. They’re great with clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.
The food lovers’ bucket list
1. Baking chocolate cake with your kids
2. Takeaways with posh plonk
3. Afternoon tea at Betty’s (Harrogate)
4. Eating Beluga caviar
5. Dining at Chez Panisse (California)
6. Eating a hot dog at a baseball game
7. Coffee and croissants in a Parisian café
8. Fresh British asparagus
9. Collecting and cooking fresh eggs
10. Breakfast at The Wolseley (London)
11. Bread and butter pudding
12. Cornish clotted cream
13. Catching and cooking a mackerel on a beach
14. Marinated BBQ’d lamb
15. Crispy crackling
16. Curing raw fish at home
17. Cooking a curry from scratch
18. Growing your own vegetables
19. Dining at Racine (London)
20. Chocolate fondant pudding
21. Fresh seafood by the sea
22. Fresh honeycomb
23. Chocolate eclairs
24. Set lunch menu at Le Gavroche (London)
26. Blackberry picking
27. Dining at L’Enclume (Cumbria)
28. Visiting Jamaa El Fna Square (Marrakesh)
29. Homemade mayonnaise
30. Woodland glade picnic
31. Learning to joint a chicken
32. Baking your own bread
33. Lunch at The Walnut Tree (Abergavenny)
34. Cooking a perfectly-timed Sunday roast
35. Making your own soup
36. Early morning breakfast at Carnegie Deli (New York)
37. Making your own marmalade
38. Making homemade ice cream
39. Tapas in San Miguel market (Madrid)
40. Pork pies
41. Dawn fry-up at Smithfield Market (London)
42. International wine trail
43. British ale with a Scotch egg
44. Sushi at Tsukiji fish market (Tokyo)
45. Takeaway fish ‘n’ chips
46. Guinness at the Stag’s Head, Dublin
47. Dining at The Seahorse (Devon)
48. Wild British strawberries
49. Toasting a haggis with whisky
50. Street food in Asia
- To download the free Food Lovers Bucket List booklet, visit www.kenwoodworld.com/foodloverslist
Three of the best: Butter
Lurpak Slow Churned, £2.49, Tesco (from mid-November)
Smoother and much more flavoursome than regular Lurpak, which can be quite bland, this is perfect spread on hot toast or delicious bread.
Kerrygold Pure, Asda, £1.60
Now blended to be softer and therefore more spreadable, Kerrygold is especially good on a scone or slice of fruitcake.
Guernsey Dairy Salted Butter, Ocado, £1.59
Bright yellow, indicating a good amount of salt, this is butter how your parents always tell you butter tasted when they were children. Excellent for cooking too.
- Simon Rimmer has worked with Kenwood to help identify the ultimate 50 food experiences of a lifetime, which have been compiled into the free Food Lovers’ Bucket List booklet, available to download from www.kenwoodworld.com/foodloverslist