Talking turkey

It’s pretty much the hottest day of the year and I’m about to eat a full Christmas dinner in deepest Berkshire. Just what is going on. Especially as I’m not turkey’s number one fan. It’s okay but to date its not had a guaranteed place on my christmas table….

When I was a kid we always had roast turkey for Christmas dinner and it was good, but it never seemed as nice as the excitement it generated amongst everyone else. For me it was never quite a tasty and juicy as roast chicken. Maybe the plethora of trimmings overshadowed it …. what with tons of chipolatas wrapped in bacon, my mum’s top notch roast potatoes and my gran’s secret chestnut stuffing I’m not sure the turkey had much of a part to play. At least not for me.

So once I got to be in charge of cooking christmas dinner I varied what was on offer. If we were having turkey cooked for us elsewhere close to Christmas. I’d cook something else. If we were hosting the main event I’d stick with turkey (and still secretly wish it could be chicken we were having), if there was just the two of us well then I had free rein beef, duck, goose,chicken, pork, ham all possibly except lamb eaten over the years.

So is this turkey different? Well for a start I know a lot about where its from and how its been reared. On the basis that an animal that has lead a happy life is supposed to taste better then this has all the hallmarks of being winning. It’s also been cooked by Brenda Copas and is about to be carved by her husband ‘Old Tom’. What the Copas family don’t know about rearing, cooking and carving turkey probably isn’t worth knowing. They’ve been rearing turkeys since 1957 and still use traditional methods and breeds. All the turkeys are grown to maturity and the different breeds provide the size variation rather than many producers some of whose turkeys are slaughtered younger to provide smaller birds. Copas say that for traditional breeds its the way the turkeys are reared rather than the breed that creates the flavour.

We’ve visited the farm and met the turkeys (curiously inquisitive animals whose odd looks belie a docile nature). We’ve heard about what makes the turkeys special:

– grown to full maturity

– only raised during the traditional breading season and not year long

– raised outdoors in orchards, grass fields with maize banks for foraging

– access to shelter at all times and spend overnight in big roomy barns

– slaughtered with the highest possible welfare standards and low stress environment

– dry plucked by hand

– game hung for 10-14 days

– hand prepared and packed

Tom carves, plates are handed round and after a toast we tuck in. Its good, very good. Lots of flavour, moist, tender. The breast meat is excellent with a good balance of delicateness and proper flavour to satisfy everyone the legs are gamier and much more remisent of other birds. Some of each is a good contrast. Several people have seconds (this is getting rather like real Christmas) some of us are pretty full so save a little space for dessert.

So will I be switching to turkey every Christmas??

Wisely sheltering from the sun

That’s a really difficult one, now I know what excellent turkey tastes like and how to cook it…well its definitely much higher up my list but I’m a contrary thing and I’d probably still vary from year to year depending on who I’m cooking for. One things for sure I’d be seeking out a Copas turkey and if I was too slow and missed out (after all they do only rear about 50000 turkeys each year) then I’d be looking for something that was reared in a similar way from a farmer with high standards.

Copas Turkeys have a Great Taste Awards Two Gold Stars (2010) and having been a judge for the 2011 awards I know how high the standard is to achieve that .

Order your Copas turkey online or through one of the butchers who stock them. Be quick they sell out fast.

I was a guest of the Copas family and  Story PR.

Reviewing stuff

I’ve been reviewing stuff here since the early days of the blog in some shape or form. Usually stuff rather than eating out experiences, there are plenty of people doing eating out reviews way better than I ever could hope to. I’ve also done mini reviews on both of my posterous blogs.

Sometimes the stuff I review has been sent to me for free, sometimes I’ve paid for it with hard cash, sometimes its been an exchange or barter of a truly old fashioned type – some of my help in return for food.

Just as I don’t review every single thing I buy I don’t review everything I get sent.

But somewhere along the line I thought it might be fun to have a rating system for the reviews.

So today I bring you…. (drumroll, trumpet fanfare)…..

…..Oh yes its…the…..

goodshoeday ‘shoe’ rating system (TM) ….gsdR(TM) for short

The reviews will be totally honest and the rating will be a genuine reflection of what I think but its also a little bit of fun, shoes instead of stars.

If you want to read my review ‘policy’ check here

If you want to understand how the gsdR(TM) system works then take a look here

And keep a look out for that gsd X shoe rated item stamp….I just know you’ll be seeing on slapped on rated products across the land very soon (once I’ve ironed out a few minor legal points that is…)

Oh and you can find my posterous blogs via the side bar links over there on the right >>>>>>

Competition time

I’ve not run a competition on the blog before. I’ve thought about it a few times and played with different ideas but never actually taken the plunge.

Until now.


Well two things really, someone offered a lovely prize, one I’d be happy to have myself and when I asked Twitter the verdict was resoundingly that competitions are GOOD….. I assume everyone is hoping to win. So good it would seem that one cheeky chappy (he knows who he is) suggested I design the rules such that he was guaranteed to win, very naughty. And I won’t be doing that.

So what’s the competition and what’s the prize?

Well the prize is this hamper of goodies:

which has been supplied courtesy of, who provide a wide range of hampers, chocolate gifts and mothers day baskets.

I particularly like the fact that as well as the food goodies it comes in rather nice looking boxes, but that’s probably because I’m a bit of a stationery and storage fan, as evidenced by some of my posterous posts.

So what do you have to do to be in with a chance of winning? Well you have to post a comment on this post by 20th September telling me what your favourite stationery item is. I’ll then pick a winner using a complex spreadsheet formula or much more possibly a random number generator. If you don’t list a favourite stationery item your comment won’t be included in the draw and if you comment more than once the earliest comment that meets the competition rules will be the one that counts… Dan there is little chance of rigging it in your favour….

Over to you to try and win the hamper.

Please note the hamper will be dispatched direct form the supplier so if you are feeling very generous you could choose to send it to someone as a gift. Note that delivery can be anywhere in the UK except the Channel Islands, PO Box or BFPO Box addresses.

E17, the food, the place, but mostly not the band

I just looked up E17 on wikipedia…..where it tells me that it can refer to:

Well I never and I just thought it was the postal district adjacent to mine famous for its dog track (now defunct), being the birth place of William Morris (pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement) and well all sorts of other unlikely people passing through like Ian Dury and Florence Nightingale’s dad!

But today I journeyed their not to find evidence of famous past residents but to sample its farmers market and shops. There’s a farmers market right in my own lovely high street that has now been going for a year and I love it, but its only once a month so that leaves a lot of weekends when something better than the supermarket should be the source of my food. Walthamstow farmers market is every week and despite it being a mere 2 miles from me and having been there since 2007 I’d not managed to go until today. That’s London for you, you’ll traipse to the other side of town for something you’ve heard is great but you’ll forget to check out what’s almost on your doorstep if the journey is in any way convoluted and believe me going a short distance in London is often harder than you might imagine. But spurred on by the possibility that Dallaways specialist cherry grower from the Kent/Sussex border was likely to be there off I headed, via a convoluted route of course.

First stop was to go and meet up with Lynne of A Greedy Piglet, who is Chingford way, then in her car we went back down to Walthamstow and explored the market…and the shops…and we found loads of great stuff…

On the farmers market itself we explored all the stalls…..and bought goodies from the Giggly Pig (trotters, faggots, sossies), Ted’s veg stall (radishes, patty pans, broad beans), one of the two bread stalls (100% rye loaf), Muck & Magic (Tamworth breed crackling, Red Poll mince beef, Norfolk Horn lamb mince), the herb plant stall (horseradish, french tarragon) and Alham Wood (cheeses and milk) and of course the cherries we had come for.

Then we headed for a stroll along the shops dipping in the fish shop (amazing selection of fish all looking super fresh, live crabs, salt fish) and the halal butcher (boiling chickens, cows feet, goat, mutton) to check out the produce for another day. And on into the various (green)grocery/minimarts. Walthamstow being the culturally diverse place that it is these were a mix of Turkish, Caribbean and Indian influenced shops. In all of them the staff were super helpful and rather amused at two somewhat past their first flush of youth English women exploring their shops wide-eyed like kids having a Charlie and Chocolate factory moment. After much ooo-ing and ahhh-ing we invested in dhal, pomegranate seeds, mixed aubergines, sweet peppers, puri shells, flat breads, daktyli bread, flat peaches, apricots…and I think that was it….

We struggled back to the car with out heavy bags sampling the warm flatbread as we went….then home and to work out how to fit it all in the fridge.

Please note that the items listed were our joint haul of food I did NOT buy all of this myself, though I may have bought somewhat more than half (cough)!

Supermarket safari

I love going away on holiday. I love the different sights and sounds and tastes. And in particular I love the supermarkets. Yes that’s right the supermarkets. Not the food shops or markets but the supermarkets. The specialist food shops and markets are good too but you have to know a modicum of the language in question or be a dab hand at gesticulating to get something close to what you want and I mostly got stuck at “dos cervezas por favor”. So I say bring on the exploration of another nation’s food culture through it supermarkets (or indeed lack of them). They can even act as handy research libraries ahead of a trip to a real food market. After all it really helps to know that salt cod looks a lot like chunks of smashed up concrete….

So without further ado here is a foray around two (yes two) supermarkets in Bergen, Norway.


Look its actually called Safari – brilliant!

First up some potatoes with nice Aztec styling:


Ah look no beers for us today its the wrong time on Saturday afternoon so the beer is all hidden away:



Fiskekaker, fiskeboller, fiskepudding…..fiske pretty much anything. Wonder if its as good as the ones down at the fish market in town……


And erm……fløtepudding (apparently its an extra creamy fish pudding kind of thing)


Oh and some sild, sild and more sild (herrings marinated any which way you choose)


Look lomper (potato cakes) – apparently the wrapper of choice for your hot dog!

And more Roses cordials then you’d ever see in the UK:


Ah, excellent, Lapskaus…..


Right lets try another supermarket (apparently this one is posher than Safari!)


Blimey reindeer stew – tons of the stuff


Oh and a different kind of baller (potato dumplings I think)


Blue cheese (a Norwegian take on gorgonzola I think we can safely assume)


oh and some frozen reindeer meat


and last but not least weird kaviar spread stuff….


Fascinating :)

See how much more you now know about Norwegian food. Always explore the supermarket before making a a fool of yourself in a real shop.