Thursday, 29 September 2011


I just wanted to say this.

When I was in Alsace last year I went to the war museum. Alsace was taken over by Germany during WWII, being on the border, and cards were put through every door saying (in French) "You are Germans now. Your cry will be Heil Hitler."

The cards had a smiley face on them.

I think the French in Alsace, almost to a man, were thinking (in French) "You can shove that RIGHT up your arse, Adolf."

Yesterday, Jose Manuel Barosso, President of the EU, said "There is nothing wrong with the EU. People just won't do what they're told."

I say, Jose, "You bet your sweet bippy, matey."

I am not alone.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Get in quick

Long time since anything impressed me in the world of nosh.

This one did though. It's a hotel, called the Bishop's Table, in Farnham, Surrey.

They do a prix fixe menu. I like those. You know what you're paying.

And you don't half get your money's worth. The service is ace, the food is FAR too good for the price, the presentation is good too.

This lot won't ever get a Michelin star. They'd have to multiply the price by ten to do that. But I was more than impressed with everything.

£14 for three courses. Only £10 if you only have two. But have the pud, because the pud's good.

Trust me, these prices won't be kept like this for long. They can't be.

Duck terrine. More like rillettes, actually. Served cold. If I had to moan about anything, I'd possibly serve it about 4 degrees warmer, but each to his own. And accompanied by half a scotch egg, made with a quail's egg, with the top neatly sliced off. And pea shoots which are awesome.

Belly of pork slow-cooked, like it should be, on puy lentils that were cooked to perfection, not turned into soup as they all too often are. With potato and apple, and swede, all prefect.

Pain perdu with fruits. But spot on. Blackberry, strawberry, peach.

I can't do it justice. I didn't take pictures and there are some things you just can't do in words. All I can tell you is that none of this came out of a Brake Bros packet. The chef is a chef.

Drinks sensibly priced. Sort of price you'd pay in a pub. And no, you won't get a Chateau d'Yquem '66 but then you probably wouldn't know what to drink it out of anyway.

If you were in one of those noncy places they'd have spent ten times as much on the cutlery. They'd have car parking, which this doesn't. They'd have napkins the size of the table and change them every time you sneaked out for a fag.

If that's what you want, and you want to pay £140 instead of £14, then go to the opposition, the Michelin Star establishment. I believe the Waterside is probably the closest to there, or the Duck.

Or listen to me and give this lot a go. You won't be disappointed. Be quick.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


I have a toy, called a pasta maker. My ambition is to redesign the Ravioli dish so it's edible.

To this end, I make sheets of fresh pasta and I fill it with stuff, then I make an entirely unsuitable sauce for it.

I would like some help. My filling, which works for me, is this:

Spring onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, seasoning, all chopped up really finely and fried in hardly any oil, slowly, until just going gooey. Then I chop up prawns (raw) and add them until pink.

While this is happening I make the pasta. I fill it.

My two sauces so far have been these:

 a tomato-based one, a reduction sauce, with some herbs and spice and a bit of wine.

 a white sauce, with mushrooms, and some chopped smoked salmon and dill.

Both were really good, neither went with the pasta.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Veggie Curry

Don't be put off. It's not really veggie.

You will NEED, in the way of ingredients:

Spuds. Not too floury. Maris piper or summat.
Onions (because everything needs onions).
Mustard seed (black).
Chillis (because it's a curry).
Peppers (red/green/yellow etc.)
Coriander (a shedload), but not dried.
Anything else beginning with "C", to be truthful.
Other veg. Rooty stuff, such as parsnips, swede, carrot, yams.
Okra, aka Ladies' Fingers.
Oil (could be olive but it tends to brown). Ghee would be nice. Groundnut will do.
A lamb bone. Beef will do but lamb's better. Marrow, you know. Butcher's will give you this.
White wine.
Gin and either tonic water or good quality lemonade like Gini.


Beetroot (not pickled).


A Le Crueset (shameless plug) or similar cooking pot suitable for hob AND oven. A lid is essential.


Put some oil in the pan. About a spoonful. Heat it until it is smoking hot. Now, holding the lid with one hand, and a pile of mustard seeds in the other, in one deft movement throw in the seeds and whack on the lid IN THAT ORDER. This is an acquired art.

Wait until the dust settles and the noise stops. Put burnt hand under cold running water until the pain subsides.

Turn down heat to as low as possible.

Put in salt. Lots of salt.

Chop up onions and garlic and chillis and peppers and sling them in.

Let them all go soft, whilst drinking gin.

Sling in coriander (take out of the bag first and remove any elastic bands etc). Don't cut it up or anything silly.

Put in spuds, chopped up. Heat on low for 10 more minutes, give it a stir. Drink gin.

Add all the spice and any other spices etc you feel appropriate. Slosh in wine.



When happy, put in oven on 101 Celsius (no more) for about half an hour. Drink gin and/or wine. It will go disturbingly dry.

Pull it out. If the coriander hasn't wilted somewhat, put it in again for ten minutes or so.

Now add all other veg (BUT NOT OKRA), chopped up, and the lamb bone. Cover with water and/or wine and/or stock such as Bisto, Oxo, that posh Swiss stuff etc.

Cook for anything between half and six hours. I prefer six. Look every now and again, if it's dry add more liquid. Not gin.

Add Okra. Cook for another 20 minutes or so.

Eat. Drink remaining gin/wine/cider/wine/more wine.

Can be served with rice.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Marvo Stars

Wilkommen. Bienvenu. Welcome.

I have no idea how the Michelin Star system, the benchmark by which fine diners choose their venue of choice, works. I should. I eat in many of them. I know that they let me down, often.

So, I, Marvo, have decided to start my own system to let people know the reality of fine dining throughout the world.

No more bull. I have recently travelled the world (all right, little bits of Europe) and have eaten and (become) drunk in some strange places.

As an introduction to this blog, let me say that of the many Michelin Starred establishments of whom I've recently been a guest, I can thoroughly recommend the Ivy (good for celeb-watching) in London, Arzak (pyrotechnics) in Spain, and Toni Vicente (huge brandy snaps) again in Spain. The absence of a recommendation at this point probably indicates that I haven't been there, or that it's actually pants. 

Michelin base their awards on service and food. Broadly speaking. God knows how they come to their decisions. Trust Marvo though, I won't let you down.

My criteria are these:
  • "Wow" factor.
Ah. You've seen through my ploy. Yes, that's it. Food, service, welcome. Anything. But it must be hugely WOW. Because that's why you're not paying £2.99 for a piece of breaded beef in a crap bun.

It needs to start on arrival. It needs to go all the way through the experience. And in the morning, you shouldn't be thinking "Shit. I paid THAT?"

So, in my inaugural Marvo Star blog, I'll not keep you in suspense. I'll go for the killer. If you think you've got somewhere better, faster, more shiny, let me know.


The Jesmond Dene, Newcastle.

Look it up. It's on Google. Trip Advisor. All sorts.

And it's bloody brilliant. Get a cab (only, obviously, if you're staying in Newcastle). A chap, a very nice chap at that, will open the cab door for you. Even if it's a pikey student-type cab.

They have a "tasting" menu. Go for it. It features wow, wow and wow. The head chef, a Pierre Rigothier, has a seriously sharp knife. And he's on Twitter, so if I'm wrong, you can flay him. But you won't be disappointed.

Compare this with certain places (I'm taking legal advice before I name them). Where they serve foie gras, fresh foie gras, in a lump, lightly fried, in a Silence of the Lambs-stylee. Just DON'T. Where they think that a selection of stupid cuttings on a Chinese spoon passes for an amuse bouche. Just DON'T.

All right, it will cost you. Over £100 a head. Plus the fat end of £50 for the wine to go with it. But in the morning, you'll thank me.

That's the first one. I hope the blog gets better.

Thanks for looking.