Paul’s Caul… the Spanish cook off

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For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for overs 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. P

SPANISH COOK OFF

After spending a season admiring this guys food, I won’t lie I felt some serious pressure as we prepared for the Spanish cook off. This cook off entailed a four course menu with a canapé, cooked for Grants Dad Derek, the lovely Paula and our respective partners Rachel and of course Lauren. The rules were simple we would go shopping together at the local shops and then each choose a night to put on a slap up feed in Casa Oasis (Derek and Paula’s B’n’B). Grant choose Thursday night so he was first cab off the rank, I choose Saturday so I could gauge just how far I needed to push things. But all this meant was I had a day to stress as his food as expected was top notch. Other rules included you must be dressed at all times and never play Ouiji alone, but lets face it that’s just common sense.

Yes
Yes

The location and the ingredients were the only thing Spanish about our cook off, we may have been sweating a little more than usual and yes we were drinking the benefits of a tax-free live but not much tapas in sight. When we arrived at the supermarket it was a real treat to see a banging seafood counter full of interesting and unusual species ready to confuse travelling chefs who think they know a thing or two about food. But with a huge crowd hovering around it we decided we should start the shop before attempting to order said seafood in a language that we were sure to bastardise.
Yes
Yes

It was about now it dawned on us that nether of us know enough Spanish to successfully navigate around a shop, but with a total disregard for logic our shop began with a couple of donuts for the ladies being whacked in the trolley, lets face it a donut doesn’t need any translation. Next was the veg aisle and it wasn’t the array of goodies we had hoped for, what was there was nice stuff but not a lot of variety at all. So what people saw was two large chefs mumbling dishes under their breath as they tried to conjure menu’s in their heads. Yes we seemed autistic as we said things like “zucchini with parsley, watermelon with chilli and mint, but what the fuck am gonna do with this parsnip… fuck it I’ll grab it anyway” this is as far as I know how all chefs shop, sporadic with a sense of purpose that seems confident, when inside we have next to no idea what it going to be finally placed on plates.
Not the best pic but still hell yes
Not the best pic but still hell yes

Next was the booze aisle so two bottles of 7 euro gin was quickly placed in the trolley along with tonic, so it was back to the veg aisle to grab cucumber and lime, no one said we were organised. Meat was to follow and in the middle of the meat section was a magnificent sight… a god damn Jamon stall, set up like a beach shack that served the most delicious cured legs of black pigs, the nice lady noticed our drool and quickly offered to slice us some samples. I feel she actually feared for her life, as we salivated some more, so in turn she gave us more Jamon. I did like her and her generous ways, so I felt it only right to buy some serrano Jamon, for what I didn’t know but you cant go wrong with the nutty tasting salted leg of the famous Spanish pig. I cant help but now picture a Spanish pig wearing a flamenco dress drinking sangria in a small tapas bar watching football, but you know me and stereotypes, I effing love them.
Yes
Yes

I also have a penchant for black pudding, so when I noticed some Morcilla for 1 euro I didn’t even know what happened, but as I walked away they were in our trolley, I love my brain. Grant had been scoping out the meat section and picked up some mini balls of chorizo but his heart was still at the seafood counter so it was back to the iced up tubs of the Mediterranean’s finest. Mackerel, octopus and razor clams took his attention so the senorita kindly gutted the fish and bagged up the clams, he was nice enough to get me 4 small whole squid.
Yes
Yes

With a full trolley we hit up the register to assess the damage but it was only 116 euro, which is only about 150 Aussie dollars, which is so effing cheap for a full trolley of goodness. Once home Grant started to truly formulate his menu and what he came up with was…

• Paprika caramelized Plantains for a canapé/snack
• Razor clams, octopus with ginger & tomato
• 5.5 minute egg with charred asparagus, egg dressing, chorizo
• Mackerel, spiced aubergine caviar, torched broccoli, roast cherry tomato, saffron sauce
• Banana cake, whiskey strawberries, mango custard, toffee banana & mint

What we were treated to that night was nothing short of spectacular, I wont lie I’m very jealous of the way Grant plates his food, its stunning and just so different from my plating. I was crossing my fingers under the table hoping for his flavours to be rubbish, but no such luck, all dishes were a triumph both visually and flavour wise. My personnel favourite was the octopus and clam dish with a hint of ginger, spring onion and a little chilli… here is his recipe and some photo’s of other dishes…

Oh dear good lord yes
Oh dear good lord yes

Razor clams with octopus

250g octopus
20 razor clams
4 spring onions
1 knob of ginger
1 small bunch of coriander
12 sprigs of parsley (for garnish )
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 Juice and zest of a lemon and a lime
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 shallots
6 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil (3 for garnish )

• Season the octopus with salt, pepper, garlic, chilli and lemon. Either bbq or grill then oven cook on a low heat for around an hour
• Cook razor clams for ten seconds in boiling salty water. Take the clam from the membrane, discard the latter and boil the empty shells to sterilise
• Fry shallots , garlic, spring onion, ginger and finally tomato paste and paprika until shallots are soft and the tomato has been cooked out
• Thinly slice both the octopus and clams and add to the frying pan to combine
• Add the lemon, lime and olive oil and cool
• Once cold add chopped coriander and place mixture into sterilised shells
• For service grill until warm, place on plate and garnish with olive oil and parsley

The bar was not only raised it was fair up me, I wasn’t comfortable with the situation or this analogy but I was very well feed and honoured to be part of a home cooking challenge with such an incredible chef such as Grant. So over the next day I plotted and planned many dishes but with an extra day up my sleeve I did have the upper hand.

Friday came along and it was deep sea fishing in the med for day time activities followed by cooking our bounty as the sun went down, but I still managed to whack out a dessert in the afternoon. I made 6 glasses of ginger and chilli panna cotta and some spiced cookie dough, these made me sleep a little easier, as I had a bit done for Saturday night. But when I awoke on Saturday I checked the panna cotta’s and as I’d had to set them with agar agar they were heaps more set then I wanted, in fact they were rubbery as fuck so I decided to take from glasses and blended then whip to make into a ginger and chilli cream. Then it was my time to finally decide on some dishes so I scribbled down my thoughts…

• Roast pear with balsamic, blue cheese wrapped in serrano Jamon
• Ginger & lime squid on a watermelon chilli & mint salad
• Morcilla, tapenade, asparagus salad
• Herby beef, parsnip puree, confit cherry tomatoes, spring onion
• Chilli & ginger cream, spiced biscuit crumb, coconut rum & mint macerated strawberries, candy floss

All in all I was happy with what I served up, especially since all was produced in a home kitchen with limited ingredients. My squid dish seemed to be the people’s favorite, whilst the morcilla was mine, one day these two might have the same out come. I have before made many versions of this squid dish and I think I have even given you the recipe before so instead I will give you the desserts recipe…

More yes
More yes

Chilli & ginger cream, spiced biscuit crumb, coconut macerated strawbs

Chilli & ginger cream

300ml cream
200ml milk
120g sugar
1 dried chilli
1 small knob fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of agar agar

• Heat all except agar in pan and simmer for 5 minutes to infuse flavours, then whisk in agar and simmer for 1 minute, strain into container and refrigerate
• Once set, blend until smooth then whisk up into nice thick cream. Whack into piping bag

Spiced biscuits

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups plain flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon hot water
1 tablespoon four spice

• Cream butter and sugar then add all ingredients one after another then roll into logs in cling wrap and freeze or chuck in fridge
• When want them just slice into ½ cm slices and bake at 180 until coloured nicely
• To make crumb blend once cold in a blender

Macerated strawberries

• Chop strawbs into ¼’s and toss in Malibu rum and fresh mint. Leave for a while so they all get together
• You can then start the build on the plate, I whack some crumbs down first, then the strawbs in a nice pile then pipe 5 different sized blobs of the cream, crumble some freeze dried raspberries around the place and finish with some candy floss on top of strawbs

The week finally came to end with so many memories of lazing by a pool and eating lots of delicious food. Who won you ask? Well I think the other four people were the real winners, but I give my vote to Grant as his food is always food I wish was something I’d produced, and special mention to Derek and Paula of Casa Oasis for allowing to chef’s into their kitchen and home to do what we do best… cook, eat & drink.

Paul’s Caul… Life’s Good

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For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for overs 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. P

Life’s good

I’m not even going to bother to try and explain why I’ve been so shit at writing lately, I could try to spin some elaborate yarn about my fingers being temporarily paralysed or my eyes not functioning correctly… but lets face it, you haven’t even missed me at all, not one person has written to us saying “where the fuck is that charming man from Paul’s caul gone?” so as far as I’m concerned you are lucky I’ve come back full stop. I’m not going to lie I’m upset and a little disappointed that I seem to be like the rest of your disposable world. That’s it Paul slag everyone off, that will make them want you more, well it cant make you care any less you emotional vultures, you filthy bunch of love sponges.

Well its with teary eyes and a heavy heart that I dust off my pride and give you all one last chance, if I’d don’t get actual tangible love from at least three people worldwide for this post then that’s it, I’m done… ”What is this tangible love you speak of” I hear you ask… well quite frankly all I need is a like on Facebook or a comment on this blog and my easily inflated ego should be right for several hours at least before I turn to instagram or any other form of instant gratification I can get my filthy attention grabbing hands on.

It is at this point I realize that I have fuck all to actual say, I truly haven’t formulated what I’m about to write, but with my nonsensical style I feel I can wing it and just maybe just get you all up to date with what myself and the lovely Lauren have been up to (yes she is still with me. It’s a shock to me too).

Is that a dolphin between your legs or are you just happy to be on holiday?
Is that a dolphin between your legs or are you just happy to be on holiday?

For those with an incredible memory and the space to store useless information, you will recall that we have been living in the French alps, eating our body weight in fromage washed down with vin rouge and running a chalet in what ever time we have left after said eating and drinking occurs. And just in case you need my former sentence translated I shall try my best to translate it for those not so well travelled… when someone says “fromage and vin rouge” it translates to “I’m a complete wanker who has been in France for five minutes and speak fuck all French but like to big note myself on the internet”. Hopefully Google translate didn’t let me down.

The winter season has now come to a halt and I find myself in Spain eating tapas, drinking and spending time with some amazing friends we met in the mountains, for the purpose of this story we shall call them Rachel and Grant, as that is also by chance their given names. Grant is a seriously good chef, which is great for me to learn from and also eat all his tasty food. But with him around I have to lift my game, so boo to having to lift my game whilst on holiday.

Now I’m not going to sugar coat it, I’m just about as happy as I’ve ever been right now. Of course I’m writing this next to a pool, I’ve just played Dobble whilst drinking and frolicking in said pool after going for a spin on quad bikes around the Spanish desert, so of course I’m fucking content and happy… but I mean proper happy, with my life and all that deeper shit that’s essentially a lot harder to obtain.

Fishing off of Spain somewhere
Fishing off of Spain somewhere

I reckon it’s so unobtainable for most people because lets face it, most of us don’t have any idea what we really want… yes we all want money and shiny things but so do fucking magpies and as far as I can see they are some pretty fucking angry birds. But what I’ve always gauged my happiness on is my general content-ness in the everyday comings and goings of life. In this area presently I’m as rich as I’ve ever dreamed I’d be; beautiful partner, travel shit loads, incredible family and friends worldwide and get to cook my own delicious food (well I think so anyway) that pays my way through all of which I’ve just mentioned.

After just spending 5 months cooking in a very nice chalet in Meribel I have now been offered to be the private chef for a lord in England cooking at his decadent estate in the Peak district. This will entail a summer of living in a Downton Abbey like world of Grouse Shoots and hop knobbing with royalty, all whilst still getting to cook them what ever my heart desires. Amongst this we will also get to travel with the Family around their different properties as Lauren will be running front of house for them as well. So all in all not a bad summer about to occur.

I’m not just telling you all this to rub your noses in it, nor am I trying to say that all you need to do is work hard and love what you and all your dreams will come true… because what you don’t hear when I tell you what I’m up to, is that although I’m happy as a pig in shit doing what I’m doing, it is still extremely hard and very stressful work that doesn’t allow you to rest on your laurels at all. We as chefs are always judged with such harsh criticism as people either like what they taste or not, there isn’t much room for creativity and organization to win over a customer that thinks your food tastes like salty pigs balls. Now what I want you to take from my experience in life is that never stop trying things as your dreams and goals will change and if you are lucky enough you may be in the midst of something before you take a second to sit back and realise that you are living your dream already.

A shit place to stay
A shit place to stay

But I’m bloody close to sounding like a god damn preacher so I shall pull up before I start praise our lord the saviour Christ, instead I shall praise our hosts Paula and Derek of Casa Oasis for their hospitality and tolerance of our incisive laughter and consistent G & T ing (coining the phrase, definition- to drink plentiful amount of gin and tonic) they have also allowed us to take over their extremely clean kitchen for our cooking exploits.

Grant and I are each cooking a big dinner each this week with his dinner tonight and my dinner on Saturday night it will be sure to be getting fiery in the kitchen. His ingredients of choice were Razor clams, octopus, mackerel, little weird sausage balls, mangos and Plantains so I cant wait to see what he comes up with.

I have chosen morcilla, entrecote beef, squid, serrano jamon and watermelon for my menu du jour. I will be sure to document the entire battle royal, with photo’s and recipes. But when this is all occurring whilst on holiday with friends in a villa in the Spanish desert then everyone a winner… although we are both extremely competitive so tears may flow.