Monday, 23 August 2010

Aisle Find it Somehow

Yesterday we were cooking for the in-laws. Since my eldest was born nearly seven years ago and my wife returned to wok part time about six months later, they have been fantastic in supporting us with looking after the mini me’s.

Friday was the last time they were going to be needed on a full time basis as our youngest starts fulltime school in September, and I am off work until then. So we thought it would be nice to invite them round for a meal to show our gratitude for what they have done for us on the last seven years.

I also love cooking a special meal. Sometimes the regular meals are a bit bland and functional, but when I put a bit of time and effort in, i like to prepare a decent meal. This was a good opportunity to do something I consider a pseudo hobby. So I was up early and planning the menu. I had already decided that the centrepiece of the main course was going to be belly pork but how it was to be prepared and what would accompany it and bookend the meal was still up for grabs.

After traipsing through a fair few recipe pages on the interweb, we eventually decided on a meal plan: -

Watercress Soup

Belly Pork with Cabbage and Pancetta,  Caremelised Apples and Spring Onion Mash with a wholegrain mustard sauce.

Sticky Toffee Apple Pudding and custard.

I was pretty keen on purchasing as much as I could from our local independent retailers and as we have have a couple of village type shopping areas locally I felt pretty confident. I went to the greengrocers first and bought what I could from there (all the veg and fruit bar the watercress luckily). Unfortunately, the butcher only had belly pork in the special mixes that they pride themselves on. It is one of those butchers that, rather than selling you the meat, they like to sell you the meat in another form. Try and get a chicken from them and they could um and ahh for ten minutes. Ask them for chinese chicken, chicken supreme, coronation chicken or the house special chicken with a blend of herbs and spices, then they will ask how many gallon you want.

Luckily I knew of another butcher on the other side of town (going into town wasn’t recommended because it was the day of the internationally renowned flower festival so parking was impossible). I popped into the other butchers and low, they had the required item. Except they didn’t quite. The whole idea of belly pork (apart from being my father-in-laws all time favourite of all time mate) was to get a nice piece of crackling for my eldest. I must never introduce her to pork scratchings. She would never eat anything else if I did. Well the beautiful piece of pork belly that this butcher could sell me was devoid of fat. Excellent butchering skills but not what was required. I thought belly pork was supposed to be a fairly cheap cut of meat. Not if you factor the cost of the petrol to actually find a piece.

It was third time lucky as I made it to village number three, although being stopped by an out of towner who needed directions to a place that didn’t exist did slow me down a tad.

So that was nearly all the main ingredients sourced (I know, I watch too much Hairy Bikers). All I needed now was the stock cupboard items that we had run out of or don’t usually stock. Things like the condensed milk, cream and, of course, the watercress.OK then, let’s go and see The Man. If you’ve never seen Dave Gorman’s America Unchained, basically, The Man is Mr Corporation. It could be a multinational petrol company or hotel chain. In this case it was Tesco’s. We have been taken over by Tesco’s locally. not only do we have the large Extra store but we also have an even more Local store (and there are at least two other Express and an additional Extra within 5 miles that I can think of). I didn’t expect to get the watercress  at the local store so of to the Extra I went.

Of course the Extra store isn’t big. It’s huge. And that means it would stock all the things I needed. First port of call would the veg aisle to find the watercress. And there it was all bagged up and ready to eat. The only problem was that I had severely underestimated the price of watercress. To make the quantity of soup that was required would involve getting 8 bags of the stuff costing nearly the same as the piece of pork that had been purchased. I prefer leek and potato soup any way and as I didn’t think the extra expense would add the equivalent value to the meal (too much school governing makes you think like that) I bought leeks and potato (best value achieved).

All the other items on the list were soon identified and placed in the trolley except for the condensed milk. It wasn’t in the cream and milk chilled section, but then, I wouldn’t expect it to be there as it doesn’t need to be chilled. OK where could it be? How about with the custard and rice pudding. Apparently not. How about near the tinned fruit? It’s good, but it’s not right. I even checked the jams and preserves aisle, which then transformed into the rice from around the world aisle via the obvious route of chocolate spread and marmite. There was only one thing for it. Fighting against all my masculine inclinations I … I .... I asked an assistant. As luck would have it it turned out to be an assistant that didn’t know where the condensed milk was and couldn’t point me in the direction of someone who did. I took this as a sign that asking for directions was something that should never be attempted again. Ever.

I paid for the items in the trolley and decided that I would send a delegation to our little corner shop or failing that, the Tesco’s Local for the conny as it wasn’t something I needed straight away and I could crack on.

We had a lovely evening. The soup and pork were great. The sticky toffee apple pudding, for which the tinned milk was required, needed ten more minutes than the recipe suggested but turned out fantastic (thanks Simon Rimmer). And the condensed milk broke a record for the largest amount of food miles covered to get something from 100 metres from home.

No comments:

Post a Comment