I was once told by some one in a Yoda kind of way “good meal isn’t expensive only bad meal is”. If you have ever been lucky enough to go to a really good restaurant (you know the type that wins awards and doesn’t serve you vegetables with your food) and enjoyed the meal I would say you wouldn’t be able to recall the price. However you would be able to tell me the numbers of time you have paid £15 for a cold burger or £10 for a stale sandwich.
As I’m writing this (Around 1am Saturday morning) I’m feeling very much like Tom Cruise did in Jerry Maguire (this is about as close to being Tom Cruise as it gets) when he’s in his hotel room writing his manifest (didn’t he lose his job after that?). Maybe it’s the gin I drank (I love gin), food poising from the 2 steaks I ordered (the first one was over cooked but I’ll get to that later) or the air-con in my hotel room (I would turn it off but my hotel backs on to the M25 and the air-con sounds better) but I just had to have a rant.
Over the last few years everybody has become a food critic, the rise in tv chefs and cookery program’s means everybody knows what good food looks and taste like. That is of course the chef cooking my dinner tonight.
I don’t go out for dinner that often simply because as soon as I walk in to a restaurant my mind starts working overtime, £25 for that? It only cost £3 to produce. Will it be as nice as it says on the menu? Could I cook it better? Blah blah blah. Another reason I don’t go out for dinner that often is because 9 times out of 10 it’s a let down.
It’s Friday night and I’m away from home as I’m working the weekend. The first thing I do as I get in the lift to my room is look at the menu for dinner. After checking it out a few times steak is the safest bet. I meet my colleague in the bar, have a drink and we order.
As both of us are ex restaurant chefs we have decided to go for steak (he’s also decided steak is the safest option). We place our orders and start talking about food (we know it won’t be long as no one else is in the hotel restaurant, never a good sign).
When you get 2 or more chefs together is like being 10 years old again in the playground. My dad is bigger than you dad, well my dad drives a better car than yours. However now it’s “I cooked this dish”, “Well my dish is better as I use milk from virgin cows”, “So I once cooked for this person” blah blah blah. This type of conversation can go on for hours, days and weeks especially when the photos on the phone come out.
Sometime later the steaks arrive. One was ordered medium and the other one rare. Both steaks arrive looking like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. My colleague decides to send his back while I take a hammer and chisel to my steak and dig in. Having been beaten after a few mouthfuls I try to send mine back but the waitress is nowhere to be seen so I get up and take it back to the open plan kitchen.
That’s where the waitress is, she’s eating the steak that’s been sent back, I inform the chef (only because he was standing there) that my steak is also over cooked. “11 minutes I cooked the steak for, I always cook for 11 minutes” the chef says (at this point I refrain from telling him I’m a chef and I’ll come and cook it myself). “Please can you cook it less then” I reply.
Our second steaks arrive with cold vegetables (as you might have guessed this isn’t an award winning restaurant and you get vegetables with you meal), chips cooked in oil looking like its come out of a well in Texas and missing peas (It comes with peas so I want my peas).
After explaining the problem to two waiters, a chef and the duty manager the hotels assistant manager comes to see us at which point we give her some feedback and I utter the dreaded words;
“We’re chefs don’t you know”.
How to cook steak at home
Heat your griddle or frying pan over a high heat, until smoking hot.
Lightly brush the steak with a little olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Put your steak in the pan, no more than 2 at a time.
Don’t turn the steaks until good seared markings are achieved, then turn them over and cook on the other side.
Remove and rest for about 3 minutes before serving, this allows the juices that have been drawn to the surface to relax back into the meat.
Cooking times – Based on an 8oz steak
Blue: 1 minute each side
Rare: 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
Medium: 2¼ minutes each side
Medium-well done: 2½ – 3 minutes each side.