Good Food Blog
Food TV round-upPosted at 10:00AM, 18 November 2009 by Kate Coffey - Writer
People don't honestly watch Gordon Ramsay's F Word to learn new recipes, do they? It's edited at such breakneck speed it's hard to take anything in and his one-word cooking instructions ('boil!' 'seal!' 'serve'! 'done!') hardly help matters (presumably complete grammatical sentences are a bit too girly for him).
Gordon's tendency to not so much present to the camera as square up to it was quite apt this week as it goes. Things hotted up in the F Word kitchen when two competing Indian restaurateurs nearly ended up in fisticuffs over the integrity of chicken masala. Not to be outdone, Gordon demonstrated his own impeccable hunter-gathering skills when he went to shoot venison, halal-style, before cooking it al fresco in his Ken doll camouflage pants. The F Word is cooking for adrenalin junkies, packed with more machismo than a stag night in Cardiff.
Presumably this is the reason producers have brought Janet Street-Porter back to the programme. Her weekly segment about the perils of rearing animals destined for the cooking pot is surely the time when the entire viewing public turn the volume down and go and make a cup of tea. The cooking pot would presumably be a blessed relief for the animals who have to put up with Janet Street-Porter's crass commentary for their short miserable lives. In fact, if presented with said cooking pot, you get the feeling they might willingly jump in headfirst.
After all this, River Cottage comes as a breath of calm air. It's a bit like taking a meandering stroll through a Beatrix Potter novel. Ever the seasonal chef, this week Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall decided he was going to attempt to convert his local cider lovers at their annual do with his very own homemade pear cider or 'perry'. Though he and the revellers were so clearly squiffy by the end of it that it was doubtful they were able to tell the difference between pear cider and White Lightning.
There is something very reassuring about watching River Cottage, it warms your cockles
Other highlights included offal stew and free-diving for scallops, after Hugh had practised holding his breath under water in the bath for an impressive three minutes (do not try this at home). His Landshare campaign continued in the Peak District with good souls planting trees while Hugh cooked ham hock stew for them in the drizzle... with no camouflage pants in sight. There is something very reassuring about watching River Cottage, it warms your cockles. Watching it you know somehow everything is going to be ok.
In The Restaurant on the other hand, nothing is ok. Of course this series can only be classed a food programme in the loosest sense of the word. It's more like a culinary version of The Apprentice. Only instead of a gruff Alan Sugar barking out 'you're fired!' at the end of it there's Raymond Blanc chirping "you vill not open ze restaurant vith me!"
This week the six remaining couples got keys to their very own restaurant to host their respective opening nights, which were of course a disaster. Raymond was notably absent for much of the show, as if he has finally realised that he is fronting an entertainment show on a par with, say, The X Factor, rather than a genuine search for gastronomic talent. The fact that JJ and James (The Restaurant's equivalent of Jedward) are still in the competition speaks volumes. The producers have evidently decided that their proclivity for Scotch eggs, basking in each other's Gucci-sunglassed reflection and high-fiving is a show highlight.
Raymond's sidekicks Sarah and David (the equivalent of The Apprentice's Nick and Margaret) are clearly unimpressed. Sarah now wears a semi-permanent look of incredulity on her face, as if she can't quite believe she has put her professional integrity on the line for a bunch of culinary klutzes in a celluloid circus show. David meanwhile said about two words for the entire programme. Perhaps these were the only two words that were not expletives?