Classic Ilford packaging

Check these out – lovely.

I used to love the film boxes…

Hare today, gone tomorrow

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.

My good friend Jonathan is a farmer and we’ve got to know each other through the medium of meat. He raises cattle for his own farm shop on the border between Leeds and Bradford (we call it bandit country round here) and from time to time he can get hold of some ‘special stuff’.

On this occasion it was a wild hare. I’ve had rabbit before so I kind of knew what to expect but nothing prepares you for the size of a wild hare: it’s bright eyes on steroids.

Those of you who know me well and follow my tweets will know I’m up for anything unusual from a food perspective and a wild hare is no exception. I have to confess the thought of a jugged hare with all its skin still attached was slightly daunting, so Jonathan kindly offered to skin and draw the magnificent beast.

Game is usually hung for quite some time with all it’s guts still in there to ripen the ‘high’ flavour which is much sought after by aficionados. I, on the other hand, bottled it after hanging it for 7 days or so after following Hugh’s sage advice in the River Cottage Meat Book (my bible in these matters).

Jonathan made pretty swift work of the gutting and skinning of the hare and after keeping the liver and ‘jugged’ blood for the sauce, the head and feet were chopped and we had a rather grisly looking carcass. It’s on these occasions it’s handy not only to have a farmer on hand, but a trained butcher too and of course Jonathan is both.

Next job is cooking the bad boy and that’s a weekend job – this post is the first instalment. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the hare justice and cook it to perfection.

Those of you of a sensitive disposition, look away now…



Death Star Canteen

This made me smile.

I wonder what’s on the menu?


Scotch Whisky Experience

Given that I promised to cut down on my alcohol intake by not drinking midweek, it made my recent trip to the Scotch Whisky Experience all the more painful.

We’d been invited in to talk about  a potential new project and part of the day included a guided tour of the impressive and recently refurbished visitor attraction.

Situated right next to Edinburgh Castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience (I’ll call it SWE from now of if you don’t mind) should be on every tourist’s to do list when visiting the Scottish capital, regardless of whether you like a wee dram or not.

Whisky can be as complicated as wine and an entire  industry has grown up around it in terms of the appreciation and understanding of the amber liquid. I certainly wouldn’t profess to be an expert but  my favourite malt whisky has to be Laphroig Quarter Cask from Islay. Smoky, peaty and containing more than a hint of petroleum (really) it sums up all that is lovely about the art of making really great whisky.

I digress. Next time you’re in Edinburgh, pay a visit to one of the city’s most impressive attractions – particularly the room above which contains the largest whisky collection in the world.

And try not to do as I did, go in the middle of the week when you’re trying to lay off the drink…

Valhalla Dancehall

The wait is finally over.

British Sea Power release their new album Valhalla Dancehall *stifles cheer*.

It has a reassuringly bonkers cover featuring a three-legged horse set amidst a three coloured triangle. For the first time ever, the CD has a plastic tray and a booklet (Rough Trade have splashed a bit of extra cash here) complete with lyrics and everything.

Regular readers of this blog will be well versed in my obsession with the indie rock band cum national treasures that are BSP. I first saw them live in a small tent at a festival, surrounded by foliage and stuffed birds of prey – and the rest is history. I’d go as far as to say that they are my favourite band (am I too old to have a favourite band, I sound like a teenager…?) and I’m listening to the new album as I write this.

Predictably, I’d say that this could be their breakthrough album, but do I want it to be?

Probably not.

Sure it would be good to see the band receive some commercial success to go along with their critical accolades (the last album scraped a Mercury nomination), but I’m not sure that’s really why the band do what they do. I think if they made a shedload of cash with this album they’d only go and buy some dilapidated hill fort somewhere and record the next album there, with Victorian recording equipment, in the depths of winter, probably.

But if they became too successful, I wouldn’t be able to get tickets for the small, quirky gigs they play in social clubs and caverns and the camaraderie the fans enjoy would disappear. They’d play bigger, more soulless venues and I’d just get annoyed.

So even though I think this album is a work of genius, I’ll be keeping it QT. Unfortunately there are some rave revues for this album in the national press that are doing exactly the opposite.

If anyone asks me if I can recommend incandescent, richly textured music chock full of hooky tunes, I’ll shrug my shoulders in a non-committal way and point them in the direction of Arcade Fire.

I think this record is pitched perfectly: good enough to broaden their audience considerably, whilst at the same time it will never be palatable to the mainstream music hoi polloi.


The End

There’s something about an end title for a movie. I came across an entire website dedicated to the classic Metro Goldwyn Mayer end titles from the thirties right up to the early seventies.

I think they’re beautiful – see if you can guess which movies they’re from…