Personal and undiluted views
Christmas pudding

30 days ago

Photo article from the Welsh Hovel - hey presto Plum Vodka!

Daughter Olaf arrives this afternoon but will be gutted to hear that what sits below will not be ready for two months.

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265 days ago

Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel: Gosh what an amazing cook serves up Christmas lunch

A triumph for the hard-working chef i.e. me. At the head of the table in a stunning new Indian shirt from his Grandmother sits Joshua. In front of him in order:

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271 days ago

Photo Article: Oops Joshua and I forced into emergency and chaotic Christmas Pudding making at the Welsh Hovel

I discovered last week that the one Christmas Pudding I had saved for two years and was planning to use this year had been got at. I am not sure when or where given that our two killer cats have made this a mouse-free zone. I suspect the damage was not caused by mice but by something else. Anyhow it is panic stations as, if various folks are happy to break the insane laws we live under, we will have two Christmases here: one with the in-laws and one with the younger generation later.

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669 days ago

Tom Winnifrith Bearcast: On Christmas Pudding day that Gary Newman is just far, far too kind

A hectic day of domestic goddessery is almost upon me so it is a short bearcast. In it I take the argument on Great Western Mining (GWMO) far further than Gary does in his article of today. Gary is damning but even that is too kind. Then it is on to Sy James Place (STJ) and the rest of the charlatans in the wealth management industry.

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669 days ago

Photo Article from the Welsh Hovel - Christmas Puddings made

I thought I had one saved from last year. But I guess it either got lost in the move or my memory is playing tricks on me. And thus, yesterday, the Mrs, Joshua and I all made a wish as we stirred as I created two puddings for various family gatherings.

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1731 days ago

Photo Article: Christmas Meal Dummy Run - it was just perfect

Yesterday was Christmas day number one as my daughter came down to Bristol for a Christmas meal. I am rather worried that having scored a perfect ten on this one it will be hard to up my game for Christmas Day itself.

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1769 days ago

Photo Article: Four Christmas Puddings almost ready - thank you Darina & Myrtle Allen

You are meant to make your Christmas puddings six weeks before Christmas to allow them to age and mature and so, leaving it to the last possible moment I have now just done that. The recipe is from a cookbook from the Queen of Irish cooking the amazing Darina Allen although she says that it is from her mother in law Myrtle, the founder of Ballymaloe. I think that Myrtle is still with us though she must be 92 by now and I am lucky enough to have visited the famed cooking school near Cork several times.

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2451 days ago

Tom Winnifrith’s Tip of the Year No 4 – Buy Optibiotix

As I noted in my ten macro themes for 2015 article (HERE) the analysis that Steve Moore and I serve up is bottom up – that is to say company specific – not so much macro driven. But the odd macro think session establishes useful tramlines for the investment process. My firstsecond and third share tips for 2015 are already live and so onto Number 4.

This is not the classic value proposition that Steve and I normally go for. I admit that it is speculative but should say that for reasons I cannot quite work out it is the largest equity holding in RMPC’s modest portfolio. Well one reason is that the shares have done jolly well. We tipped Optibiotix (OPTI) at 8p on the HotStockRockets website a couple of months ago. It is now 17.25p-18p. This is definitely one to buy at up to 20p and I reckon we will see 30p before very long.

The company is a play on obesity and related issues, something at the front of my mind having just enjoyed my third Christmas meal with Christmas pudding in 4 days.

OptiBiotix has, already during its brief six month life on AIM, 

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2451 days ago

Christmas day Reflections 2014

For some reason I dozed off between the end of Skyfall and the tome to go to midnight mass.  As such when waking up on Christmas day the stockings of myself, the Mrs and the cats were opened in something of a rush. Santa clearly thought that we had all behaved well in 2014. Clearly he does not know about how Oakley, the three legged cat, likes weeing on the inside doormat.  And thus we were all well rewarded and after a splendid breakfast cooked by yours truly we wandered off to St Cuthbert’s Brislington.

Built in 1933 this church could easily hold 350. As it was with the Mrs and I in attendance there were 15 in the congregation plus vicar and organist. It is not as if midnight mass at Brislington is packed – there cannot have been more than 35 in attendance in 2013. One fears that a couple of cold winters could see just the mrs, the Vicar and I attending Christmas day 2018. We were the youngest in the congregation by a long chalk: what is happening to the C of E?

It is just that Christmas has become one great big godless consumerfest celebrated across the world by folks of whatever background. My 13 year old daughter Olivia – deprived of the alternate Christmases promised by her mother Big Nose 10 years ago, has never once attended Church on Christmas Eve or Christmas day. That I rather regret.

The Mrs and I do not take communion as I am very much lapsed in my faith and the Mrs has grave doubts. But we try to think of what Christmas is about and it is not as the Radio DJs insist on saying “all about family and friends”.  However much the PC brigade insist otherwise Christmas is about Jesus. The fact we celebrate this festival and the traditions involved are down to Jesus. We give each other presents because we are celebrating God giving us his only son, whether we regard that as fact, belief or fantasy. To deny the involvement of Jesus in Christmas seems fatuous to me.

The sermon was bland enough but at least this C of E vicar managed to resist the urge to pray for peace in Palestine, the C of E codewords for “all power to Hamas”.  And with that

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2459 days ago

Merry Christmas to you all from Oakley, Tara, myself & The Mrs

Yesterday I posted my Christmas message in Greek to readers in Kambos. Today in English a message from myself, The Mrs and our two cats Tara and the three legged Oakley pictured below.

We all celebrate Christmas in different ways. For the Mrs and I it is a traditional day. Midnight Mass here in Bristol, perhaps with a swift sherry at the Conservative Club beforehand. It is on the way to Church after all!

And then stockings in the morning. Well I know she is getting one as she has been well behaved all year. I cook the duck and trimmings, presents, calls around the world to family and friends and then a collapse as we await Downton Abbey.  It is on Boxing Day that the travel nightmare of family days starts with a Greek Christmas with the wife’s sister and Greek Husband in Hertfordshire. Goat followed by Christmas pudding.

For Oakley & Tara it is just even more food than usual and, yes, they have both been fairly well behaved and so get a stocking too.

Whatever you do, we all send you are best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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2476 days ago

One Hour to Christmas Pudding in Kambos

There was a certain confusion about what to do with it. Do I put it in the oven said lovely Eleni? But with help from a truly bilingual member of the community we are underway. One of the Christmas puddings brought from Real Man Pizza in Clerkenwell is now steaming away in the private kitchen of the lovely Eleni at Kourounis taverna. In about an hour it will be ready. I hope. My friend Nikko finished his harvest and pressed his oil today. I now have 2.1 tonnes of olives at the factory. The last bags will come down tomorrow morning and then we press.

I shall take home a couple of cans to rebottle and use as Christmas presents for the chosen few as The Greek Hovel olive oil. The rest we sell and Eleni will pick up the cheque and repay me in the summer. So we celebrate the (almost) end of the harvest with something no-one else here in Kambos has ever tasted before. Fingers crossed.

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2482 days ago

Christmas Menu starts serving today & yes that includes Christmas pudding pizza at Real Man

It is the official start of Christmas at Real man Pizza in Clerkenwell. The normal menu is still running but as of today we have two Christmas menus which you can see here.

All the traditional fare is included as well as a few of our own house specials including the Real Man
Christmas Pudding Calzone (a folded up pizza). It may sound crazy but with brandy butter it tastes
awesome.

We tend to get rather busy in the run up to Christmas so if you plan a visit it might be worth booking your tables in advance on 020 7242 3246

Merry Christmas from Maribel, Tom, Darren, Aziz, Reda, Victoria et al

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2868 days ago

Countdown to Christmas at Real Man Pizza – 32 puddings produced

Making three Christmas puddings is easy. But scaling up to make 32? It was fun! Pounds and pounds of currants and then pounds and pounds of sultanas, candied peel and a while pot of mixed spice. Fifteen apples, 45 eggs and six lemons gave in to the cause.

But the real joy was the alcohol. It was an opportunity to polish off a bottle of white rum and a bottle of calvados (apple brandy).



And then to pour into a huge mixing container three quarters of a bottle of Italian brandy and the same amount of Masala wine (a drink a bit like sherry). Our Christmas puddings will have a bit of a kick.

As a bonus there are a few of our 32 which post steaming have been left to rest for a few weeks with a healthy dose of Shetland vodka to add to the mix – they will be serving a special purpose.

What do 32 Christmas puddings look like? Well here are 15 so double up and you might imagine.



We will start serving our full Christmas menu at Real Man Pizza, Clerkenwell's finest Italian restaurant, from December 1st.

For details of that full menu & for Christmas bookings (meals or parties) CLICK HERE

Trade is already getting pretty hectic ahead of December so for a meal, normal or Christmas, at Real Man from here on in we would advise making a booking by calling 0207 242 3246 from 10 AM any day.

 

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3186 days ago

Experimental Christmas Pudding Report

As you may remember, my Christmas rituals start in November with the cooking of a Christmas pudding. The day I eat a Jamie/Delia/Hugh. Heston Christmas pudding is the day I have given up on life. This year’s recipe was somewhat experimental. And yesterday it was steamed and served up and …if I say so myself it was a triumph.

The pudding slipped from the bowl in perfect shape. The texture was spot on, smooth with a firm layer on the outside and soft, moist and alcohol charged on the inside. The decision to drop candied peel and replace with a range of dried fruits including apricots worked well and swapping breadcrumbs for oats was a winner. It meant that the pudding was a slightly lighter shade of dark brown than normal but it actually have it just a bit more texture.

Combined with homemade brandy butter ( the simplest thing to make and anyone who buys that in a store deserves to be shot), chilled in the fridge for twenty four hours, it was – if I say so myself – a triumph. This year’s experiment becomes next year’s recipe. 10 out of 10.

The main course: goose, excellent, honey glazed carrots, worked a treat as did the sprouts ( are sprouts getting bigger or am I imagining that?). Roast potatoes and parsnips could have been a tad crispier. With a sweet chilli side sauce: 8.5 out of 10. Let down by the neeps and spuds.

Overall, not bad. Think I might need to do a few shifts in Real Man Pizza’s kitchen to get those spuds right for next year.

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3216 days ago

Cooking my Christmas Pudding – Damn the celebrity chefs it should not be that Hobson's choice

Today has been a day interrupted by my Christmas pudding. Last night I made it. There was stirring and making of wishes and today it has been steaming away happily for six and a half hours. In thirty minutes the heat gets switched off and it will be put in a cold dark place until I celebrate Christmas which this year, will be on Boxing day. I have always made Christmas puddings. I am a bit late this year but it is something my late mum used to do and it is great fun. For me Christmas sort of starts when I mix up a recipe.

This year’s recipe is a tad unusual in that instead of breadcrumbs I have a few oats in there. It tasted great when I scooped out the mixing bowl last night. It means the pudding is a slightly lighter brown than normal. I do not expect a crunch on Boxing day just the usual fruity taste (raisins, currants, apricots, apples, cherries with zest of orange and lemon) and obviously vast quantities of brandy. And then there will be a high octane brandy butter to go with it. I hope my cats like brandy.

But I read in the newspapers that for most folks the choice is not what to wish for as they stir but whether to buy the pudding of Delia, Jamie, Hugh or that loathsome man who advertises stock cubes like he really uses them in his 5 star restaurant.

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