Happy Valentine’s Day & a Recipe from Bournemouth…

First off I want to share the following, and wish you all a Happy Valentine’s day.  I know it sounds corny, but I love you all.  You were there for Fay and I in our time of need,  and we will never forget your kindness, generosity and caring.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts….



This update is from the big guy in Bournemouth, and he has put on an apron to do it (yup he does that a lot)… For those of you who don’t know, John Howland is a very good cook.  Best part though is being around him when he’s in the kitchen.  Most everything he prepares takes time, and at least one aperitif and a bottle (or two) of wine.  By the time you sit down, eat dinner, have dessert and a nightcap, you have no idea whether the food was good or bad, but you waddle home with a smile on your face.

I suspect these are treasures only John and I enjoy, but que sera, you lose.  Life is much too short….


Chef Howland…


It’s good to know Dick and Fay are getting back to some form of normality in the wake of the disaster that struck them with such devastation. This MalSal is for Fay and anyone who’d like a break from fast food.

Southern Fried anything is always finger licking good; so too are burgers; US-style BBQ’s; corn dogs; cornbread; Gumbo; chilli, and seafood are just a few of the edibles I often like to get on the outside of; however, even these delicacies can’t hold candle to the French who have the world licked when it comes to simple food made good. I hear some of their metal detectors are pretty hot too, but I digress.

Across the length and breadth of Britain (and I’ll bet it’s the same in the US) a plethora of eateries are springing up, always overpriced and just aching to be the ‘in’ wine bar, gastro-pub (read gastric), bistro, and the like, who ravish, pillage, and generally reduce one of the classic dishes to an insipid pap masquerading as authentic French rustique with the obligatory eye-watering price tab. I am of course referring to that Burgundian masterpiece, Coq au Vin.

This classic with roots going back some say 2,000 years to the romans, has always been regarded as country, or rural fare – peasant food even. Though generally deemed to have originated in the Burgundy region of France, other provinces have adapted it by using their own local reds, or even, white wines.

What follows is arguably one of the best takes on this classic and comes courtesy of my great hero, imbiber, wit, television chef, gourmet, and bon viveur, the late Keith Floyd, who I once had the pleasure of buying a large glass wine in the bar of The George Inn, Wallingford, a fine old Oxfordshire market town, for the price of his autograph on the back of a bar chit. Floyd’s mantra was unassailable; if a wine is not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough to cook with.

Coq au Vin

Easily feeds four:-

1 x 2kg capon (free-range cockerel) jointed

150g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces (or lardons at a push)

20 small onions (whole)

125g of butter

½ a glass of brandy (or a good slurp)

1 litre red Burgundy

1 Bouquet garni

2 cloves of garlic (whole)

Salt and ground black pepper

1 level tablespoon of sugar

200g small (Chestnut) mushrooms

Garlic croutons

Here’s how:-

In a large pan (a cast-iron skillet is ideal) fry the chicken pieces, chopped bacon, and onions in half the butter. When the chicken browns, throw in the brandy and flame to burn off the alcohol. Pour in the Burgundy; add the bouquet garni, whole garlic cloves, salt and pepper.

Bring the pan to the boil; add the sugar, cover and simmer for about three (3) hours or until the chicken is cooked. Then, in another pan, fry the mushrooms in butter. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and keep warm, discarding the garlic cloves and the bouquet garni. Add the mushrooms to the sauce in the large pan and simmer for five (5) minutes.

Make a beurre manie (kneaded butter) with the remaining butter and plain flour, adding to the sauce a little at a time. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Arrange the chicken pieces on a deep platter pour over the sauce and garnish with the garlic croutons.

Serve with boiled potatoes and /or a fresh sliced baguette to soak up the juices. Wash down with a decent Burgundy. Bottoms up!


A similar version, compliments of Willams-Sonoma


Amazing Facts

Did you know that you can jump from the top of the Grand Canyon to the bottom without a parachute?

Yes, that’s right, but only once.

Did you know Adolf Hitler was a keen golfer? …….

Yup, he even wrote a book about it titled “How to get out of a bunker with one shot”



I’ll see you in the bar….John Howland




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