All posts by Monnow Man

Magnus Nilsson and the restaurant at the end of the universe

Looking forward to seeing Magnus and Valentine at the Abergavenny Food Festival, so reblogging the Festival’s post.

The Abergavenny Food Festival Blog

We are all incredibly excited at the prospect of the young Swedish chef  Magnus Nilsson speaking  at this year’s festival in conversation with Valentine Warner.

At just 29 years old he has already achieved a remarkable reputation in the food world.

His restaurant Fäviken seats just twelve diners and is located near the edge of the Arctic Circle. Everything on the menu throughout the year is produced locally.

For the second year running, Fäviken is included in Restaurant magazine’s  The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Magnus is cited as one of Europe’s Top 10 young chefs.

René Redzepi of Noma is quoted as saying: “if I had a chance to go anywhere in the world right now, I would go to Fäviken.” Endorsements don’t come much better than that.

Magnus’ cookery apprenticeship included three years in Paris at  3-Michelin Star restaurants L’Arpège and  L’Astrance before returning  to Sweden…

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Pancetta or bust

Months, literally months after attending a curing and smoking course at River Cottage I got around to making some of my own pancetta. It was easy: the hard bit was worrying that I had made something that would make people sick, but this didn’t happen. These are the pics I took during the process.

CuringRolled

Charcuterie frenzy

When I was a teenager I had phases. There was the cars phase, then computers, followed by tropical fish and logically enough, girls. With middle age it appears that phases are coming back and this year’s seems to be charcuterie: eating, producing and consuming it. When you buy a new car, you suddenly notice how many other wise people have also bought the same model as you. Well, in a similar vein, since becoming interested in charcuterie, I’ve noticed how surprisingly available locally-made cured and smoked goods are in and around Monmouth. So pleased was I by this that did a vaguely arty Instagram photo of some pancetta, smoked pork belly and salami that I bought within ten miles of Monmouth.

My kingdom for a Choucroute Garnie

Sometimes serendipity or perhaps Providence plays a role in the delivery of a meal. One such is a Choucroute Garnie I cooked today. Chance encounters with ingredients that, on their own, don’t promise much, bubble away in my subconscious until I have an “Aha!” moment in which I realise what they could become together.

So it was with the piece of smoked belly pork and kielbasa suasages on special offer at Lidl this week. Buy some then think about about what to do with them. Being a semi-German household there’s always a bit of sauerkraut available. It must be Choucroute Garnie. Of course. Google some recipes. It’s obvious that there is no definitive recipe: it’s probably one of those dishes that exists as a meme, a set of principles. In this case, it’s essentially smoked pork cuts and sausages slowly simmered in sauerkraut, then served on a monstrous platter in its steaming Rabelaisian glory.

But do we have the ingredients? Riesling? Juniper berries, spare ribs, bay leaves, duck fat? Yes to some and no to others. Belt down to Waitrose to get the missing bits and cure the spare ribs overnight. In the morning, I am reminded that Keith Floyd (hallowed be His name) had a recipe for a Choucroute Garnie in his Second Epistle to the Gastronauts, Floyd on France. No spare ribs there. But wait! He adds liver dumplings. I’m about to leap into the car to go and buy some liver when I am reminded by my wife that we have leberknoedeln in the freezer. As one does.

In Our Time for Masons

Suppose you have joined freemasonry recently and are working through the three ceremonies of initiation, passing and raising. You enjoy their uplifting admonitions to personal improvement and want further reading, as it were, to broaden your understanding of the ideas presented in the degrees as well as the intellectual currents that informed them.

Reading, though, is so twentieth-century. You want to listen to easily digestible podcasts that deliver the thinking of top-drawer academics in no more time than it takes walk to commute to work. What you need is BBC Radio 4’s programme on the history of ideas, In Our Time.

What follows then is an entirely unofficial, biased(!) and personal list of IOT episodes you could listen to in the days immediately following each of the three degree ceremonies, with a general category to give a flavour of some of the ideas that inform masonic culture.

1st degree

Initiation of an apprentice Freemason around 1...
Initiation of an apprentice Freemason around 1800. This engraving is based on that of Gabanon on the same subject dated 1745. The costumes of the participants are changed to the English fashion at the start of the 19th C and the engraving is coloured, but otherwise is that of 1745. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Altruism – 23 Nov 06

Friendship – 2 Mar 06

The Oath – 5 Jan 06

Freedom – 4 Jul 2002

Progress – 18 Nov 1999

2nd Degree

The Seven Liberal Arts by Marten de Vos, 1590
The Seven Liberal Arts by Marten de Vos, 1590 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rudolph II – 31 Jan 2008

Alchemy – 24 Feb 2005

Baconian Science – 2 Apr 2009

Human Nature – 7 Nov 2002

Mathematics – 6 May 1999

Nature – 10 Jul 2003

Renaissance Magic – 17 Jun 2004

Science’s Revelations – 29 Oct 1998

The Royal Society – 23 Mar 2006

Pythagoras – 10Dec 2009

Virtue – 28 Feb 2002

Renaissance Maths – 02 June 2005

3rd Degree

English: Depiction of a soul being carried to ...
Depiction of a soul being carried to heaven by two angels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Death – 4 May 2000

The Soul – 6 Jun 2002

Masonic Culture

Politeness – 30 Sep 2004

The Encyclopédie – 26 Oct 2006

King Solomon – 7 Jun 2012

Paganism in the Renaissance – 16 Jun 2005

Empiricism – 10 Jun 2004

Toleration – 20 May 2004