31 January 2012

oop norf

I was in Scotland. This was entirely Neil's fault. He foolishly suggested his whisky collection needed a clean-up, and I had leave to use up. Foolish. These focussed things need a name, and to reflect death of bottles, and referencing another less well known whisky event, this was called 'Whisky Undead'.

I spent a few days in Edinburgh before heading over to Glasgow and the whisky cleanup. Again, very little snow up that way, so a bit chilly but nice. Wandered around the revamped Museum of Scotland, which can get a bit confusing being spread over many buildings and levels. But interesting. I learnt more about the early globalisation by Vikings than I expected to.
And lots of early record players. Mmmm shellac. Can't wait until Steve Wilson releases on it...

Unconsciously I'd ended up in Scotland on Burns night. So after some beer and food, and wandering around, I ended up at the SMWS rooms. Reasonably quiet in there, but was nice to have a couple of drams. Ended up chatting to the pipers who were filling in time before the haggis malarky in one of the dining rooms. They regarded Burns night as a great way to earn far too much money for doing nothing, can't say I blame them for that. Oh and the old one was called 'Old Jock'.

Spent the morning at the Modern art gallery which was cool - not quite so taken with the sculpture stuff, but the exhibition of  Cadell was great. I'd never heard of him either, but his use of strong colours, and in particular black, worked for me. Not as taken with his paintings of Iona, but the rest of them made up for the landscapes. He seemed an interesting mix of impressionist and yet quite influenced by the linear nature of Art Deco. Worked for me.
And all this for 7 quid. I know. Ridiculous.

Wandered around the old town a bit, and came across the surgeons museum. It seems to be in a state of flux with a number of displays of the diarama / context kinda stuff you see in modern museums, and a large number of old school cabinets. All containing lots of pieces of dead people. Many of these focussed on how guns/warfare caused people to have had better days. Great stuff.
Interesting look at how mustard gas (?) caused general badness to lungs. Oh and the expected collection of cancers, polydactyly, and general mutants. Gotta love those Victorians.
Oddly, no gift shop. I'm guessing that'll turn up in a year or so as it moves to a more modern version of a museum.
I enjoyed this, or rather I enjoyed the curiosity cabinet approach. the newer displays didn't do anything for me.

Oh, obviously visits to Artisan Roast occurred too. Or as I prefer to call it, the Deluxe of the North. The good news is that they are opening their own online shop, so the ordering problems through Pekoetea should be alleviated. Pekoetea don't appear very good at keeping the webpage reflecting actual stock levels.

Friday involved meeting Neil to view some Turner's. The Vaughan bequest to the National Gallery, which is only brought out in January. I know, it's like everythign came together. It's almost freeky how the mass of colour gradually reveals more and more detail - in his later paintings. The earlier stuff is far more classically defined. Oh go on, have a guess which ones I like...
WE had wandered through a not very good exhibition before this, but didn't do much for me.

Then we found beer. Something I could grow to like. May have ended up at the other SMWS rooms (in Leith) for dinner and, oddly, whisky.

Saturday meant a gentle wander to Glasgow, and then a trip up to Glengoyne, a distillery we've been known to appreciate. Tried some whisky. Tried one only available from the distillery, although it's now online, and found that it was good. Reviews shall follow.

Whisky Undead went ahead, and involved whisky, food, great company, and the killing of 4 bottles. Ideally we'd have killed more, but many bottles were more full than expected, and it wasn't a heavy session of boozing. Honest.

Nice brekkie on Sunday, and a long train journey. Damn stupid Sunday trains.

Huzzah for Scotland!!


2 January 2012

Cooking with Bruce: Murgh Khubani

And for the last blog of the day - I know, nothing for weeks, then three in a day. like buses, or mammoth genomes.

Murgh Khubani 
In theory this should have apricots, however I had none, so this is my take on one. It's probably called something else. The original recipe uses chicken - which I've included here - but I used quorn.

500gm chicken, chopped
1/2c dates  [original had apricots]
1/2 sultanas
1/3c hot water
2/3c natural yoghurt
2t coriander powder
1t cumin powder
1/2t tumeric
1t salt
1/2t ground black pepper
1/2t chopped chilli
1t garam masala
2T ghee
cinnamon stick
3 bruised cardamon pods
2 finely sliced medium onions
2t grated fresh ginger
1t minced garlic
1/2t saffron threads steeped for 10min in 1T hot milk
1T chopped coriander
2T cream

Steep dates, sultanas in hot water for mins. Mix yoghurt with spices (down to garam masala), add chicken pieces and marinate for 2 hours.
Heat ghee, add cinnamon stick and cardamon pods and cook until it's aromatic, add onions, ginger and garlic and cook until clear. Add chicken and marinade, simmer 10 mins. Add date/sultanas and some liquid if it needs it - mine didn't.
Mix in saffron/milk and the chopped coriander, simmer 5 mins. Remove cinnamon and cardamon, stir through the cream. serve.

Must be time for a rest now. Too much blogging...

Cooking with Bruce: Tortilla's

A couple of recipes will follow. I think one them may have been stolen from cuisine, originally, but I can't find on their website so meh.

Piquillo Pepper and Potato Tortillas with smoked paprika aioli
4 medium potatoes, peeled, diced 2cm
olive oil for frying
1-2 red onions, finely chopped
salt and ground pepper to taste
6-8 piquillo peppers, chopped
5-6 medium eggs
2-3 T milk

(obviously these are largely guesswork)
Boil spuds in salted water for 5 mins, drain and cool.
Heat oil in frying pan to cover the base, fry onion gently until soft/clear and add some salt. Add spuds and peppers, fry 1 min, season with black pepper.
Whisk eggs with milk, and pour over spud mixture, lower heat and try to spread the egg mixture around the pan. This (in theory) helps it cook evenly. Your mileage will vary on that.

turn out onto plate, and either grill to finish, or place in low oven to finish. Serve with aioli

3 egg yolks
1T white vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1t smoked paprika (use good stuff, otherwise it's just not worth it)
200ml olive oil (or slightly less)
1/2 lemon

Whisk yolks, vinegar until light and fluffy and increased in size. Then while whisking add the oil until it's nice and thick. mix through the paprika and garlic, then a squeeze of lemon.


Bike ride

The weather here is stupid. It's winter, and it's been 10-12 C over the Xmas/New Year period. No snow, just lots of rain interrupted by lovely sunshine. I don't think I'm complaining, but I am confused.

Anyway, that's meant I can go bike riding and so I pottered off today, heading to Breedon on the Hill. It's not much of a misnomer, there are hills involved getting there (for any NZ'ers reading this, ok more a rise or small undulation...). And it's main feature, a priory, is up on a hill which I couldn't be bothered heading up to. The village itself is pretty, couple of nice looking pubs (which I managed to avoid). I was a little grumpy that google maps said it was about 8mile from home, and that only took 20-25 mins. which seemed a little short to me. I didn't think I was pushing it, as it was a bit greasy - hell, I even used my brakes. Both of them. Sometimes at the same time.
I took a nice scenic way home, through Worthington (very pretty) along a bike trail called the Cloud Trail - not sure why, but it was. Then back through Osgathorpe.

I've decided to make use of my Tracks app on the phone more, and so here's a map of the ride:

View 1/2/12 11:51 AM in a larger map

Other trivia:
Moving time: 1h18min
Distance: 25km
Ave Speed: 17.34km/h
Max speed: 43 km/h (I'm not convinced on this)

Exciting stuff!

1 January 2012

Quick roundup of exhibitions

I've made it to a fair number of exhibitions this year, in fact looking at the Guardians top10 for the year, I'd hit 7 or 8 of them. go me. I'm all about kulture. The only one we missed that we wanted to get to was the daVinci, tho we did consider turning up and queuing one morning in the vague hope of getting tix. But didn't.

John Martin 'Apocalypse' 
I caught this in Sheffield after the bikeride, having decided to wander along to an art gallery. Martin was a favourite of the people and disliked by the art snobs. And this was the first major retrospective in over 30 years (yes I am stealing from the blurb there). It's had rave reviews from a number of papers since it's turned up at the Tate. I didn't like it.
I think Martin sums up, to me, everything I don't like about the Victorian style of painting. It's overtly romanticised, it's hyper-nature, and especially in Martin's work, there's a 'don't fuck with god' theme rocking it's way through everything. The paintings are big, bold, and thematically huge. But left me cold. I could see how his imagery influenced fantasy art, although given his limited popularity after his lifetime, whether it actually did or not is another question.
That's from the Tate, one of the prints you can buy - click here.

L.S.Lowry - Nottingham Uni
I like Lowry, and it was certainly one goal while over here to see more of his paintings in the flesh. We caught a fair number in Manchester while we there, but then an exhibition just up the road kinda fell in our lap. We came across it thanks to the local BBC news. Generally a waste of time, it redeemed itself. Once.
Nottingham Uni have an art gallery (news to me too!) which had a major exhibition of Lowry's work.  Go see it.
Brief review that one. Um yeah, had everything I wanted and more. His delicate portrayal of northern life kinda sucks you in, and makes me wonder how much influence he had on the eastern european animated cartoonists.  There's a lot more to Lowry than his working class painting, there's collections of caricatures.  I particularly enjoyed the increasing sense of isolation and separation in his later works - after his mother died - helped no end as I was playing Kate Bush's 50 words for snow, which fitted perfectly the desolate landscapes dotted through the exhibition - something I didn't realise he did, no people at all in these. 
A large number of cartoons I thought emphasised the affection Lowry seems to have had for his subjects, and they demonstrate the weirdness he does with perspective occurred in the drafts for the paintings. Cool.

More importantly, I got to see one of my favourite Lowry's, not one of his industrials, rather it's of a graveyard. I dunno why I like it, possibly the influence on Tim Burton? Who knows, anyway here it is:
That's from the Abacus Gallery who do prints of it.

This reminds me, I was going to go back again. Hmmm must sort that out (yeah, that's how much I liked the exhibition, oh and it's free. WTF?)

Gerhard Richter - Tate
I like him. And since we were down in London before I went to a Marillion gig, and then to Belgium, hell why  not take in an exhibition. And it's a rather major exhibition. There seemed to be something for everyone in this, history (confronting the nazi heritage, 9/11, baader meinhof), isolation, comedy, landscapes to lose yourself in. Some of it's confrontational, some comforting. Pretty much everything you want in an exhibtion. And even better, it wasn't packed. Something to be said for early Weds afternoon viewings... I liked that he wasnt stuck in one medium, he seemed to dabble in everything. There's links to many prominent 20th C painters (Rothko, Twombly etc), which probably explains why I like Richter. Hard to pick favourites, but I did enjoy the grey series. 

Rather than picking one picture, here's a link to pretty much everything.

Ford Maddox Brown - Manchester Art Gallery
We enjoyed our trip to Manchester - we decided to make a long weekend of it with Tori Amos being the Friday night, then wandering around pubs and art galleries on the Sat/Sun. Oh and music shops. Yeah, Manc seems to tick the boxes for us, good food, beer, music and art. 
Ford Maddox Brown was a pre-Raph painter. I prefer slightly more obscure or later stuff, but I enjoyed this exhibition. He'd come up recently on Antiques Roadshow as they showed the murals in the Manc Town Hall, which is probably what prompted us to head in. 

There's other exhibitions I've pottered along to, but those ones I wanted to comment on.

Next up, possibly gigs, or food.