Category Archives: Ramblings

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I know I’ve been neglectful of you these past few weeks. I haven’t written on you nearly enough, or updated the spurious little bits of trivia along your right hand column. My readers must think I’m an idiot – it would seem I’ve been reading Conrad’s The Secret Agent for about 6 months!

And there are bits of you that I’ve left a bit askew – The Secret Larder page, for example…just what the hell is going on there?! It’s all bulbous and nigh-on unreadable.

What’s happened to the searingly insightful, deeply informative yet hilariously witty weekly news round-ups, you’re probably asking. There hasn’t been one for yonks.

I can but apologise. It’s been a busy couple of months. I went to Australia. I ran a marathon. I put up some shelves. But I’m here now, and I vow to get this blog back up and running, to write more delicious recipes, random thoughts, and food news round-ups. I’ll fix your wonky pages, caress and coddle you, burnish you to a fine, coruscating glow. Oh! What fun we’ll have.

Yours ever faithfully,

James T. E. Ramsden.

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How was your Burns Night?

I awake bleary-eyed and mealy-mouthed after a t’riffic Burns supper with my pal Jack, a true Scot and one of my oldest friends. The picture above is of us dressing up as the kings of Scotland and England when we were young ankle-biters.

Jack and his flatmate Jack (a helpful coincidence after one dram too many) fed us on vintage homemade wine, roast woodcock, partridge, and, naturally, haggis. Their attempts to make their own went as far as ambling into Sainsbury’s and asking if they had a sheep’s pluck. They didn’t. Not that it mattered – the Macsween’s version is, despite protestations to the contrary, not bad at all; pleasingly peppery and with a good, offally pong. Or maybe that was the homemade wine.

Anyway, this is really a tribute to a great Scottish legacy. It’s such a wonderful tradition – the whisky, the haggis, the fact that you spend five minutes complimenting your dinner before eating it…I can’t really think of any ‘English’ tradition that compares. The Scots celebrate with passion, grace, and love, while we Sassenachs oscillate wildly between purse-lipped awkwardness to pavement-spewing, drunken incontinence. Sure, I know at the weekend the streets of Glasgow encompass some of the more refreshed gentlemen on these shores, but, when it comes to celebrating, the Scots have it right.

So how was your Burns night? Did it pass you by entirely, or did you find yourself elbow deep in haggis?

This is our dark, blurry, and slurry attempt at Burns’s Address to a Haggis.

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Smoked black pudding

I spent the weekend in Aberdeenshire, where I met a man whose name was John. John had recently started smoking black puddings fat with hazelnuts and port, and very kindly gave me some to take back south. It is stupendous – I recommend you get in touch. Continue reading

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Recipe | Shepherd’s Pie

Hello! First of all my apologies for going AWOL for rather longer than promised. Finishing the book somewhat took it out of me, and what with all the other jazz going on with supper clubs and various articles I neglected the blog. But I’m back. *Doffs cap*. Continue reading

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TTFN

I’ll be hibernating for the next couple of weeks to finish my book (writing, not reading) so it’s ta ta for now. See you on the other side…

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The Eggs Factor

There have been tears and tantrums. The judges Katy Salter and Oliver Thring worked through the night to reach an agreement but, eventually, after several gallons of coffee and a not inconsiderable number of chocolate digestives, decided that the rightful winner of a Clarence Court ostrich egg and a bottle of Heidsieck champagne should be:

Long pause…

Feast with Bron’s slow cooked ham and eggs, a dish which the judges proclaimed:

“A perfect egg dish, gentle as the heat that sets them. We love this modern approach to a classic French way with eggs.”
Bron uses a steam oven, but says:
“you could do it in a bain marie in a very low oven – just keep an eye on the eggs and whip them out as soon as the whites set. You might get a slightly different texture to the egg but it would still be a luscious treat…..”
Congratulations Bron – egg and grog on their way to you.
Thanks to all those who sent entries in – they all looked fantastic. And thanks to the esteemed (and I know incredibly busy) judges.

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A very fine pork pie

Listen, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we’ve all been tricked. For decades we’ve been told that Melton Mowbray was the home of the pork pie, and I suppose to an extent it is. The EU even granted the town its very own ‘Protected designation of origin’ (PDO) a couple of years ago, meaning that only pies made in Melton Mowbray could call themselves ‘Melton Mowbrays’. But Continue reading

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