Sherry; that fortified wine sipped by senior citizens in small stemmed glasses or guzzled from brown bags under bridges by varicose vagrants. Sherry is produced the world over, but only those wines that originate from the Cadiz province can take they name Sherry, all others must take the name Apera. The Spanish wine making tradition owes itself to nearly 3000 years of conquest and colonisation from the Phoenicians, the Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks, and even the Islamic Moors, whom without there would be no sherry as they introduced distillation to the region with the alembic “still”.Read more
What is a dumpling? The definition varies; some say it can be made of flour, others potatoes, maybe even rice or bread. It can be a ball of dough or a thin piece of pastry. It may have a filling and contain cheese or meat or vegetables, or it may stand alone. You can fry it, boil it, bake it, steam it, and stew it. In essence, a dumpling is whatever the hell you want it to be. You could just about fling a bowling ball into a hammock and call it a dumpling if only you can find a unique way to serve it.Read more
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers and Betty Botter bought some butter, but it made her batter bitter, but Betty Botter was a bitter batter baker, and Peter Piper, a forgetful forager and truly neither were triumphant at their traditional trades. Perhaps if Betty Botter and Peter Piper had pooled their possessions to better their baking, then their businesses would be booming. When baking with pickled and preserved produce what’s principle is a balance of sweet, savoury and spicy seasonings, cased in a cracking crispy, crumbly crust.Read more
Once while absently attending the isles of my local liquor warehouse I purposely stumbled upon a glimmering black bottle. Apathetically intrigued as I vacantly viewed the description on the label which read “Double Chocolate Stout” I placed it into my basket with controlled abandon. I pondered in wondering certainty as to what I was to expect from the bottles contents; to me the sound of chocolate and beer were like chalk and cheese and yet if this brew could satiate my thirst it would be a minor miracle.
Arriving home I immediately procrastinated; I had things to do and articles to write but the glimmering black bottle sang a siren’s song. A chilled glass in one hand and an opener in the other, with deliberate speed I cracked the seal and heard the deafening whisper of gas escape its sumptuous prison. I poured a large sample of this chocolate stout and enjoyed its bitter sweet aroma as it slid like rough silk into the glass. After my first sip it was my unbiased opinion that this Young’s Double Chocolate Stout was Terribly Good! It’s as though James Squire and Willy Wonka hit it off at a party and wished to be “alone together” and this beer was their sinful lovechild.
Suddenly delayed from doing anything else, I hypothesised experiments and The Culinary Barbarian’s Oxymoronic Chocolate Stout Osso Bucco with Pearl Barley and Leeks was born.
4 cuts of ossobuco (about 1 kg)
2 bottle of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (one to stew, the other to drink)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 large red onion, 1 cm cubes
3 medium carrots, 1 cm cubes
3 sticks of celery, 1 cm cubes
1 small swede, 1 cm cubes
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of beef stock
¼ cup plain flour, sifted
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bunch rosemary
Butter for frying
Pearl Barley and Leeks
1 ½ cups pearl barley, soaked and rinsed
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 large leek, diced
2 cups of chicken stock
- Sift the flower, paprika and pepper onto a large plate. Coat each of the pieces of ossobuco in the flower, shake off any excess flower. In a large heavy based pan, heat a small nob of butter until bubbling and brown each of the pieces of ossobuco on both sides to seal. Set aside.
- Add a little beer to the pan to deglaze it and reserve the liquid. Add another nob of butter to the pan and when bubbling, sauté the garlic onion and celery, and carrots and swede until softened. Return the reserved liquid to the pan along with the remaining beer, tomato paste and beef stock, and stirring to mix. Simmer to reduce liquid by ½ (about 20 min).
- Pour into your slow cooker and arrange the rosemary so it sits directly under the ossobuco. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8. If the liquid is too thin, you can finish this in the oven. Carefully remove the ossobuco to keep them intact and pour the remaining ragout into an oven safe pan. Place the shanks back on top and partially cover. Cook for about 20 min at 200 degrees C.
Pearl Barley with Leeks
- In a large saucepan, over medium heat, sauté the carrot, celery and leeks until translucent.
- Add the washed barley and stock and simmer until tender and the stock is absorbed.
To serve, plate the osso bucco atop of the barley with plenty of ragout and serve with crusty buttered bread.
Greece. You couldn’t find a place in Europe with more history and culture. This is the birthplace of the founders of Western Civilisation. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. A region of temples and architecture, mathematics and sciences. The Greeks taught the Mediterranean aristocracy; Greeks during the Roman Empire were the crème de la crème of tutors and were the architects of the libraries of Alexandria. They were the creators of the theatre which gave way to western storytelling and evidently led to film and television in the modern age.Read more
Ancient Aztec Warriors, wielding weapons of obsidian, outfitted in armour of animal skins. Spanish Conquistadores, controlled by kings and queens to capture and colonise Mesoamerican Men in search of gold and glory. Revolutionary’s wrapped in bandoliers of bullets and sun-shading sombreros, seizing sizable haciendas from Henchmen and despicable Dons to protect the proletariat. All have one thing in common, apart from this writer’s clear love of alliteration; at the end of a campaign, they would wind down in the evening with a beverage made from the heart of an ancient plant that takes 12 years to grow from seedling to harvest. I’m talking about the Agave Azul, or Blue Agave which from its sap is made that most loved eau de vie Mezcal, and the Champagne of all Mezcal is Tequila.Read more
Ladies and Gentlemen, Wenches and Rogues, I am proud to announce the birth of my second born, and my first Man Child; his name is… Archer, and, if I do say so myself, I say, he has the perfect name for the son of a Culinary Barbarian. A strong, regal name. A hunter! A Warrior! A provider! When his foes hear his battle cry, they will flee in fear!Read more
North Africa, there are fewer places on the planet with more history. It is home to Rome’s greatest rival, The Empire of Carthage. The Empire’s greatest hero Hannibal, the general not the cannibal, marched his army of Phoenician Regular Troops, and European Mercenaries and elephants across the Alps to attack the Latin capital. Sure, it didn’t work well, the Romans eventually defeated them, razed Carthage and salted the earth so that nothing would ever grow again, but I say it just adds more seasoning to their dishes.Read more
Some of the best things in life are the easiest to obtain like, love, laughter, friendship, or the sacking a monastery on Lindisfarne. You don’t have to try too hard to be happy, simply take the easiest route or the path of least resistance and you too can sail home with a swag bag chock full of golden religious relics. While you’re out at sea, why not cast a net and see if you can drag in some dinner to share with some friends on the journey home.Read more
Nothing gets the heart pumping, the skin flushing, the pupils dilating and rivulets of perspiration beading down a brow quite like my favourite of spices, the chilli. It can liven up any dish; pizza and pasta, soups and salads, curries, casseroles and even cocktails, enhancing the flavours and giving a zing to the senses. We Barbarians understand that chillies are not for everyone’s pallet just as not everyone can grow a beard, or chest hair. What I’m actually saying is, if you don’t like chillies… You aren’t really a man! And this is fine; but you’re probably more comfortable sipping a shandy with our country’s Minister for Women. For those that prefer to douse their diet with a seasoning of spice… read on.Read more