Category Archives: Chefs

Gordon Ramsay, Ricky Gervais, African Cats and Nescafe

An Unlikely Way to Save a Species: Serve It for Dinner

The headline is slightly misleading in that the eater approach to conservation works better for plants than for small animal populations but overall worth considering. Strange to think that if left alone, many of these species will die out. Of course, on an existential note, what does it mean to be, only because you are edible.

Gordon Ramsay and James May eating bull’s penis and rotting shark and then cooking…

And now Gordon Ramsay and Ricky Gervais

And from DetectivesBeyondBorders a coffee discussion:

From Timothy Hallinan’s Thailand-set novel A Nail Through the Heart

“Twenty or so years ago, in one of the first invasions by a Western brand name, Nescafé shouldered aside the much more labor-intensive processes by which the Thais made some of the world’s best coffee, replacing taste with convenience.”
“But Rose [who is Thai] grew up with Nescafé. She adores it, hot, tepid or iced. He has seen her eat a teaspoon of it, dry. … [Rafferty] takes a sip, rolls it around in his mouth like red wine, and revises his opinion. It’s an interesting drink if you don’t insist that it’s coffee.”

I suppose that might work..I do remember when down in Mexico and then later in other coffee growing lands being puzzled about the ubiquity of Nescafe.

African Food – Mystery Meals

This wonderful little gem from someone who is not entirely up on the current (or is it just North American) slang.

Cats and Dogs – One man’s pet is another man’s meal. Ghana’s Volta Region is the place to eat pussy (tastes like chicken) In Nigeria dog meat which is roasted like beef is also belived to improve your sex life.

And back to coffee

Bargains found at



This coffee is first eaten by Weasels which then regurgitate it, no one knows why they do this but it is then collected by locals in remote forest areas and then cleaned and roasted.

It has a unique rich chocolatey flavour and is best served as an espresso with a dash of condensed milk, just as they do in Vietnam.



This is the rarest and definately most extraordinary coffee in the world! This coffee has been selected for us by Paradoxurus Hermaphroditis. Better know as the Common Palm Civet Cat. It prowls the Sumatran coffee plantations at night, choosing to eat only the finest, ripest cherries. The stones (which eventually form coffee beans) are then collected by cleaning through the droppings by the natives who collect it.

Kopi Luwak as it is known, is considered to be the world’s finest coffee by Native Sumatrans. This coffee has an Intense but delicate flavour and no aftertaste, which is unique in coffee. This flavour is due to the fact that the coffee has been partially fermented by passing through the system of the Civet. Only about 500 KG’s of this coffee are found each year.

But seriously, the coffee in this town’s restaurants…

Not long ago I was out at the Red Ox and though the meal was not great, parts of it were quite good but what was rather annoying was that the coffee after was of the quality one would expect while waiting to have your muffler changed. And perhaps what was most irritating about the experience was how common it was. The same thing happened a few months ago at the Hardware Grill as well.

Why is this even possible? Do chefs and eatery owners not realize that the last impression does in fact last. Brown swill will discolour the most remarkable dinner for me.

One would expect that with the amount of effort that is taken to pair not only parts of the repast, but the wine with the food, that some notice would be taken of the coffee. Its really quite strange. Theories anyone?


James Barber: In Memoriam (Nov 2007)


James Barber died November 29 while reading a cookbook at the kitchen table on his small farm while soup simmered on the stove. He was 84.

He was not the first cook that I watched on television. The first was probably Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. He was entertaining and though he was showing how to prepare a meal I learned more about enjoying food and wanting to eat well than to actually cook.

James Barber taught me about cooking. A warm and humble man with a soft British accent, one who had come to cooking after many trades, was my original make do cook. I remember quite well when he was talking about preparing a dressing and how if you didn’t have vinegar, lemon juice will do and if not that just about any citric juice, and a light bulb went on in my head. To any cook this is simple stuff but to me at the time it was a revelation. And then I made his simple ginger pork and pears, and if you don’t have pears, apples and it was not fabulous but it was just fine.

He was quite low key compared to the celebrity chefs of today, more the warm presence, kind of a west coast Friendly Giant of cooking. Not as flashy, not self obsessed at all, and most of all utilitarian. He was a little like Anthony Bourdain in that food and eating was more about the company you kept and the deep basics of food rather than theatrical flourishes.

I haven’t seen Barber in over a decade though I just ordered his last book, in order to hear his voice once again.

Probably burning a little right now is a little stir fry concoction I have going on the stove, a mishmash of things, a very James Barber sort of meal. Thank you James for starting me on the path. I’ve made a few complicated dishes but I always come back to the good simple food that Barber championed.