Partridge, quince and old cemeteries

This is I believe my one hundredth post. For those who are reading I hope that you have enjoyed these odd jottings about food and music. If you have enjoyed please feel free to add a comment and/or pass on the web address to others who may be interested.

Last night I drove with Paul to Manchester to watch Mark Mulcahy at the Night & Day Cafe. It was a pig of an evening, sleet and rain swirling around the motorway and coming down in great wet gobs. The Night & Day Cafe was on old pub with a long bar, giant moose head hung on the wall and a small stage at the end. They were selling Wainwright Bitter and I regretted the decsion to drive.

Mark was wearing an ill-fitting red suit and pink shirt and he was joined by a bass player and a key board playing drummer. As I said to Paul it must require some kind of special coordination to play a drum kit with one hand and your feet and use your spare hand to play the keyboard.He must have been good at rubbing the top of your hand and your chest.

They played a mixture of songs going back to Mr Mingo from Surprise Surprise. I shouted out for All For The Best but as Mark said, “That was greedy”. Throughtout the hour and a half he was on stage it was his voice that held it, moving from a soft growl to falsetto all in the same song. Sometimes it was just Mark on stage with his guitar and they then moved onto (almost) foot on the monitors powerpop. There was a nursery ryhme simplicity to some of it, with lyrics going through the letters of the alphabet and animals escaping from a zoo, breaking down to band and audience making random animal noises.

I am pleased to say that he stuck to the one guitar rule, although there was a second guitar at the back of the stage that did not get touched. The quieter moments were perhaps the highlights especialy at the end when he took us through Hey Self Defeater – the song Nick Hornby wrote about in 31 Songs.

After the show there were no t-shirts but I was able to pick up a couple of CDs I didn’t have and Mark came round and shook my hand and signed his new 7 inch single.

We have been listening to the CD’s this evening.

As anticipated I had partridge again to eat. When furtling around a week or so ago trying to find a suitable recipe for quince I came across a book by Christopher Lloyd that Julie gave me a few years ago, Gardner Cook, and amongst the good things he had to say about quince there was a recipe for Stewed Chicken and Quince. It was from Jane Grigson’s Good Things  and in the margin he’d noted ‘so good and easy’. It looked readily adaptable for my partridge.

Given my day at work I fully anticipated that the partridge, taken out of freezer last night to de-frost, would have been found by a cat and eaten. But it was still there and ready for cooking.

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I heated some oil in a cast iron pan and threw in the partridge to brown. An onion was finely chopped and thrown in, followed by some ginger and garlic. Once that had cooked through it was seasoned well with salt, pepper and hot paprika. That then cooked through before a glass of water was added and brought to the boil. At this point the Jane Grigson recipe said that the chicken should be cooked for an hour before adding the quince that should have been fried off in butter. I departed from that I simply added the quartered quince to the pan which was covered and all went into the oven for 40 minutes.

By then the quince was collapsing and the partridge cooked through.

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I have cooked a partridge three times now over the the last five or six weeks and it is difficult to tell which was the best. Perhaps that is because of the bird. There is good meat on it and once it has been done over with a knife and fork the small bones and carcass lend themselves to being picked over with fingers and teeth.

 

After all that perhaps worth finishing with a quote from the book I am reading on the moment:-

When things get too much for me, I put a wild-flower book and a couple of sandwiches in my pockets and go down to the South Shore of Staten Island and wander around awhile in one of the old cemeteries down there.

Joseph Mitchell –  it would be nice to do it as well as he does.

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